Monday, January 31, 2011

Tying it all together!

Sometimes, when I was teaching, the best lessons I ever taught were never written down in my plan book. Gasp! I know, right? These lessons would just happen because of the direction my students were going, and I've realize playing with your own children is very very similar!
You don't have to plan, or have all these supplies on hand to make meaningful connections to what you are doing with you kids. You just have to think outside the box a little bit and tie it all together!

For Example:
We played in the 'snow', at my MIL's preschool.

She gave us a bag of sugar cookie mix and a snowman ornament to keep the snow theme going at home.  Well the universe works in amazing ways and that afternoon one of my oldest friends sent me a fun recipe to make snow ball cookies! Ta-Da! (Check out her baking blog, she is pretty good about posting stuff that actually tastes good!)
Picture from:  Kitchen Sweetness 
 I just extended our learning and it literally took no effort on my part, other than grabbing everything out of the pantry! (Not to mention all the fun cooking with mommy brings too!)

Another Extension Example:
We have been reading non-fiction books about zoo animals. I also bought the boys a subscription to Zoobies.  (It is a small, hard paged, short and to the point magazine subscription about one animal each time.)
And, remember our picture cubes from Thanksgiving?  Now they have Eric Carle Animal Cards in them.  The boys find the animals and we say the name and sound that animal makes. I also have certain letters showing on some cubes. Like the letter L for Luke and H for Hudson....
So, no time like the present to take the boys to the Houston Zoo!
So once again, they had all this stuff that we do everyday leading up to the actual real experience of seeing these animals ALIVE!

And my random connection to the zoo:
Some nights after dinner we dance.  Either the radio or whatever CD I have in the player in their room. Tonights CD was the Wiggles.  Hudson kept wanting me to fast forward to the next song and low and behold, we hit the learning jackpot!  The song was called Do the Monkey. (Keep in mind, my kids have no idea who The Wiggles are, or that they make movies, etc. So I made up my own dance moves!!) But it sings about Monkeys, Elephants, and Tigers!
And there you have it, connections being made, talked about, danced around!!!

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Use everyday outings and turn them into something a little more special! ((Like the grocery store; let them pick our some veggies or fruits and go home and let your children help turn it into something yummy! See, this could go on forever!))

I have a few more Valentine ideas too, I will post soon!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Learning with Shaving Cream

One of Carter's new favorite places in our "house" is the shower.

So we've been spending a lot of time in the bathroom lately. He likes to go in and out. Make silly faces against the glass, then like for me to make them back. He squeals so loud, it is so much fun!

So, I started wracking my brain to think of a way to extend this fun and get even more out of it. Low and behold:


I've been dying to do this with my own kiddos every since I taught Pre-K! This was always one of my student's favorite activities! I even used an adapted version when I taught 1st grade and 4th grade!

I just squirted some on the glass pane and let him have at it.

He squished it. Smeared it. Smelled it.

Wrote on the glass with it. (Look at that concentration!) In "Teacher Talk" we say: He is developing his Pre-Writing Skills!

Another Carter masterpiece!

All done! And guess what? Time for a bath! See how easy that is?

Squeeze some in a zip lock to bring the fun along with you. If we didn't have to buy shaving cream imported I'd use more in the shower and in the baggie. But Daddy's got to shave! :)

Teacher Tips: (3 Years Old to Adult. :)
  1. Squirt it on a table or tray.
  2. Have them draw or practice writing using their pointer finger.
  3. Quiz them on shapes, numbers, letters....and Spelling Words! Studying for the Spelling Test can be fun too!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Balloons, Balloons Everywhere!

We've been stuck inside quite a bit lately because....

this is what has been piling up down below (or outside). But we have to eat, so this was on our way to the grocery store!

We have been super busy working out our Gross Motor (those big muscle) skills inside though! I love it when Carter goes down for naps exhausted and slightly messier than when he woke up. If both exhausted and messy, I feel like we've played hard enough.

Carter had so much fun playing with the balloons for his birthday that I decided to keep the fun going!

So I blew up even more!

And filled a few with a bit (about a cup) of random stuff from the kitchen:



A letter "J" magnet from our fridge. Like I said, random stuff from the kitchen.

These changed the way the balloons moved and of course sounded for a bit more sensory learning!

Next, I filled his tent with the balloons!

He loved it so much he had to give one a kiss. Poor thing.

Out of the tent, back in the tent, out of the tent, back in the tent. You know the routine.

He loves this...can't you tell? Ha ha. I ruined the fun by trying to get his attention for a picture.

When you play with balloons use language like:
  • Throw it to Mommy!
  • Please.
  • Thank you!
  • Mommy rolls it to Carter!
  • You're welcome!
  • Shake it!
  • Bounce it!
  • Don't forget about colors and prepositions too!

One popped! I told Carter that it now needs to go into the trash. He seemed to be really concentrating and listening. So I repeated "trash, trash." (I was about to show him where the trash was.) But, he was on the moved and took it right to the "tractor." Very close Buddy!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recycle? You bet!

Do you have as many empty boxes and Styrofoam take-out boxes around the house or in the garage as I do after Christmas? Well here is a fun idea to use and reuse your Styrofoam packaging and build your child's eye hand coordination and fine motor strength all at the same time.

1.) Look in your husband's golf bag or take a trip to the sporting goods store and buy some golf tees (multicolored tees add a little fun)
Give your child a small hammer or wooden play dough hammer and let them hammer the golf tees into the Styrofoam. (The play dough tools are on sale now at Land of Nod!)
He will hammer the tees in and remove them again and again.

2.) Do you happen to have any of those fancy cocktail toothpicks or drink umbrellas in your pantry?
Maybe you have some extras left after the holiday parties. Well gather them up and let your child create a toothpick sculpture. Just encourage them to poke them into the Styrofoam and push them in as far as they would like.

3.) You can do this same activity with pipe cleaners. Let your child snip them, curl them, bend them

and then poke them into the Styrofoam to create a pipe cleaner sculpture.

These activities not only use up the left over recyclable packaging but also:
  • build eye/hand coordination
  • fine motor strength needed for writing
  • imagination and creativity

Get involved! Work with your child to build their vocabulary and language by giving them descriptive words for the material they are using and the process.

Just look at all the skills your child is developing!!! You can't do that while sitting in front of the TV.

HAVE FUN!!!! Remember you have a short time in your child's life to enjoy the freedom of activities like this. ENJOY IT!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentine's Day for little people!

Valentine's Day is three weeks away, and I have a few fun ideas to share with you to give you a jump start!

Art Activity:
Ice cube painting! This is really fun, easy, and not as messy as real paint! And, I save the jumbo craft sticks after they are done, and just reuse them!

Supplies Needed:
Jumbo craft sticks cut in half, foil, and an ice cube tray.
  1. Fill an ice cube tray with water, cover with foil.
  2. Stick craft sticks through the foil into the trays.
  3. Freeze
Grab a box of red (or any color) Jello.
Draw a few hearts or leave the paper blank.
Sprinkle the dry Jello onto the paper, and let your child use the ice pops to paint! 

He is using his five senses! I love it!

Let dry and cut into hearts or hang up as is!!

(I am having blogger issues with the formatting! Sorry)
Tune:  Row Your Boat 
Love, love, is all around,

It will grow with you.
Show it, tell it,
Feel it, share it.
Make it part of you!

I Love You! 
Tune: Three Blind Mice 
I love you!  I love you! 
Yes, I do.  Yes, I do.

I love you every night and day. 
I love you when I work and play. 
I love you in so many ways.
I love you!

  • Candy heart sorting: printable sorting mats and graphs can be found here at ABC School House (also other fun Valentine printables too!)
  • Symmetry:
  • Cut out a heart and put paint in the shape of half a heart on one side.
  • Fold and press down lightly. Ta-da! 

Valentine Mail Boxes:
There are probably about 1,000 ways you can decorate a shoe box to collect valentines in. I chose to make ours like a post office mailbox. It is more 'boyish' for Valentine's Day!

Tape the lid on, and use a knife to cut a hole in the front.

Cut a hole in the back so you can easily remove the Valentines!
Cover the box in blue construction paper.
Add a flag, hearts, and decorations!
    The boys didn't help me with this, but they did sit and eat lunch while I worked on it. We have a party to attend on Valentine's Day, and I thought all the kids would enjoy shoving valentines into the slot! Although, we are going to have to practice doing this!

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    More Fun in the Sensory Table: Cheerios!

    The latest fun in the sensory table is edible!! Needless to say, it has been a hit!

    This was Carter first thing in the morning. He is NOT happy to see the lid on. Can you tell?

    And he's off!! I added spoons and the toys with handles and scoops. I'm going to try and keep these on hand for daily practice. We're gearing up for self-spoon feeding.

    Hard @ Work!

    His work area.


    You do not need a sensory table (sand and water table) to do this! Tupperware works just as well!

    Check out the skills involved in this fun:

    1. Smell, check!
    2. See, check!
    3. Taste, check!
    4. Touch, check!
    5. Hear, check!
    Fine Motor:
    They use their pincer grasp to grab the tiny Cheerios AND use their fine motor skills to grab the tools.

    Self Help:
    This is another Early Childhood skill that the little ones are developing at the moment. Carter's trough-o-Cheerios is defiantly letting him practice "self help." However, we may be practicing Childhood Obesity Skills too....he LOVES going into his room and grabbing some Cheerios! Ha ha!


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