Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lego Words

Recently, my 4 year old is very interested in words, letters and spelling. He also loves to build with Lego's.    So, I put this little activity together for him.  First, I asked him what words he would like to build.  He came up with a list, which included, spaceship, Mommy, Daddy, Buzz (as in Lightyear), toy, and his sister's name.  I wrote these on cards.  Then, I put a little piece of clear tape on the side of the Lego's and printed the needed letters on them.  He would choose a word and then gather the correct Lego's to spell it out.  He now knows how to "read" all of them.  Nothing like a little play for learning to read!  This activity combines fine motor skills, letter recognition, and reading.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Countdown is On!

We have a super, exciting vacation coming up and are literally counting down the days until we leave!  My son and I made this countdown chain so they could have a visual for how many days we have until then.  Every morning we take another link off and re-count the days.  This is a great activity to do whenever there is something special coming up.  Little kids don't really have a good since of time yet, so this is a concrete way for them to understand it.  

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rice Mosaics

I put this out for the kids while I was cooking.  It kept them so busy they didn't even notice I wasn't there.  I did need to explain to them to shake off the rice and add more glue every once in awhile.  My two year old just squirted her glue all over and then piled on the rice.  My four year old carefully planned out his picture (a spaceship, of course) and glued, sprinkled rice, then shook, added a line of glue and then rice, then shook.  He continued this process until he got the picture he desired.  
All you have to do to color the rice is put it in a bowl, add some food coloring (or liquid water color, if you have any) then stir it up until all the rice is colored. 

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Gingerbread Man Puzzles

Okay, so this is a pretty easy activity to set up for the kiddos.  I simply cut out a couple gingerbread shapes and added some details....buttons, eyes, mouth.  I covered them with contact paper so they would last longer.  Then I cut them into a couple pieces to make a puzzle.  I numbered the back of the pieces so we would know which piece goes with which puzzle.  Then, I just put them on the floor and let the kids find them.  They were happy to put them together as they both really love puzzles.  You could make this as difficult or as easy as your child needs.  As they grow, you could cut the gingerbread men into smaller pieces to make it more difficult.  Problem solving and spatial awareness happening here!

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Under the Table Drawing

I just love when ideas spontaneously come about!  The other day, while drawing at the table, I reminded T to draw on the paper not the table and the idea came to me to go under the table.  Of course, this is really nothing new, we would draw under the table all the time when I was teaching.  My kids, although, had never had this experience.  So I taped the paper to the underneath of the table and we crawled under it.  T got busy drawing with the marker in his toes, which I thought was pretty clever.  It was pretty fun to watch them draw from a different perspective.  This is a good experience in spatial awareness, small motor skills, creativity and pre-writing.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Snowman Game

Since it has started snowing here, I thought it was appropriate to bring out the "Snowman Game".  The object is to put the snowman together piece by piece by rolling a dice that has pictures of the snowman pieces on it.  So, R rolls the dice and it lands on his hat. So, she picks the hat out of the pile and puts it on him.  Then, T rolls and it lands on the smile, and etc.  I pre-cut all the pieces beforehand.  I cut out a snowman shape, orange triangle for his nose, red smile, scarf, goggle eyes, black hat and stick arms.  I used a large, foam dice that I had from another game, but you could use any cube object....and empty tissue paper holder would work.  Just cover it in paper and glue or draw your pieces on.  We had a lot of fun playing this game today. 
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Playdoh, Spaghetti, Cereal, Buttons, Straws....Oh My!

While cleaning out the pantry, I was keeping an eye out for items that we could use for learning experiences.  Low and behold, I found some stale cereal which had holes in the middle.  Perfect for stringing.  Then I saw the box of spaghetti noodles and thought that might be fun to use those in place of yarn for stringing.  So.....we took a small cup, stuffed some playdoh in the bottom of it and carefully pushed the uncooked spaghetti into it.  I gave T a cup of the cereal and he got to work putting it on the pasta.  He saved the straws and buttons for the last to make a "helicopter".  R, again choose to eat the cereal and just string the straws and buttons. You could use any type of cereal with a hole in the middle, Cheerios, Joe's O's, whatever you find really.  This was a really fun, creative fine motor skill activity! 

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Faux Indian Corn Update

Just wanted to post an update as to what was happening with our Indian Corn that we were soaking in water.  It is almost completely sprouted.  I am a little bummed that it is too cold to plant.  I envision huge stalks of Indian Corn.  I guess we will have to try again in the spring. If you missed it, check out my post "Faux Indian Corn"

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Balloon Tennis

I couldn't get a really good picture of these two playing "Balloon Tennis".  At least I was able to snap these two, just so you can get the idea.  These "rackets" are from when I was teaching so they are pretty well worn.  I just haven't gotten around to making new ones.  They still work and that is all that matters to T and R.  Just pull a wire hanger (if anyone still has those) into an oval or round shape and cover with a old pair of nylons (I used one leg per racket).  I bent the hook of the hanger around to form a handle and then secured the whole thing with tape.  Blow up a balloon and show the kids how to hit it and then let them go.  Such a great hand/eye coordination game and lets them get rid of some of that energy when they are stuck inside on a cold, winter day!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stringing Straws

An excellent fine motor skill for little hands and fingers is stringing.  R loves to make "necklaces".  I cut some colorful straws into pieces.  Then, I attached some yarn to a plastic embroidery needle.  You can find them anywhere you find yarn.  If you don't have a needle, you can just as easily use a pipe cleaner.  Such an easy, simple activity that has huge results and you just might get a lovely necklace to show off!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Hole Punching

I have collected these little decorative, hole punches over the years.  I used them for scrap booking but haven't done much of that lately.  T found them and thought they were very cool.  So I gathered up all I had and put them in a container with some paper on the table.  They love punching out the different shapes and it is an incredible fine motor skill.  These little bugger are not the easiest to push.  I also put out the regular hole punch for them to use too.  A fabulous workout for those little hand muscles.....pre-writing skills!  Getting those hands ready to hold a pencil and control it. 

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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

One of the kids favorite books is "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the book, the little alphabet letters climb up the coconut tree and then fall down it.  All the capital letters (mommas and pappas) come and help.  So cute and a fun rhyming text as well.  So this morning I drew a coconut tree on the nonstick side of contact paper. The kids were super excited and helped color in the tree.  Then I took off the backing and taped it to the wall, sticky side up.  We have a bunch of foam letters that stuck just right to the contact paper.  We read the story, many times, and the kids helped the letters up to the top.  T, of course, got busy making a "spaceship" out of the letters and insisted that I spell out the words "spaceship".  He spelled "zoom" with my help.  They have been playing with this all day.  Easy and great fun!  Letter recognition, pre-reading, games, spelling are all involved with this activity. 

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stick Man

Actually, if you ask T, it's "Buzz Lightyear".  All I did was set out the craft sticks, tape down the wax paper and hand them the glue.  Then they went to work creating.  R made a "star" or whatever.  I didn't ask them what they were making and that is the point.  It isn't always about making a product but more about letting them have the experience and see what happens.  Creativity! 

When the glue dried, we just peeled it off the wax paper.  He was quite proud of his "Buzz" and rocket ship!
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Faux Indian Corn

When we were at the store the other day, my son spotted the beautiful Indian corn on display.  He was so fascinated with all the colors.  We bought some so that we could explore them closer. 
 One year, while teaching, we discovered that if you put the corn in a little water, it will eventually sprout.  We even planted it and grew some stalks of Indian corn.  When T and R had finished examining the corn, we found a shallow, rectangular tub and put the corn it it. They are diligent about checking it everyday for sprouts.  We then took some pieces of brown paper bags and crumpled it up and straightened it out several times.  We did this to make it softer to work with and give it the "husk" feel.  Then we got our colored buttons and put them inside the "husks" to imitate the Indian corn.  We tied the ends up with a little pipe cleaner.  I think these tiny replicas are beautiful!  You could also use some left over candy corn or real corn kernels for this project.  Great science and fine motor activity.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Shmuzzy Race

We call those little pom-pom balls "shmuzzies" at our house (anyone seen "The Upside Down Show"?).  I taped a bag to one side of the table and gave the kids straws and shmuzzies.  They had so much fun blowing them into the bag.  So much fun....really....my son has been doing this for days now.  He has tried it with all different size shmuzzies and even some leaves.  He has learned exactly how much he needs to blow and how to line up the shmuzzy so it goes in the bag. 

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