Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You'll need the sun on your side

For this activity to work, you'll need the weather to be on your side! Pick a day (if possible) where it will be sunny all day. Now, depending on where you live, you might have to wait a while. . .

Here's what you need: a large paved surface, chalk, and a sunny day!
Here's why should do it: It's a fun, hands on, visible way to explore how the earth moves in relation to the sun and learn while playing outside. :)

Here's how you do it: Head outside and trace their feet first, and then their shadow. Write out the time beside their head.

Lawton had to trace my shadow, too. :)
Later in the day, put your feet in your footprints and trace the shadow again. Talk about the differences in the directionality of the shadow, the length, and how the time and location of the sun affected these differences.
Do this as many times as you would like during the day, using different colors of chalk if you can. We were going to trace our shadows again for a third time, but Daddy decided to wash the cars in the driveway and disrupt our experiment. I couldn't complain! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oooh . . . Pretty Beaded Garland!!

Just in case you missed it the first time . . . I posted this last winter and was reminded of this activity when perusing Target tonight. Be sure to stock up (after Christmas if you can remember! :)

Here's what you need: scissors, a bowl or container to "catch" all the cut beads, and strung beads of some sort (make sure, though, that you wee one doesn't find the strand of your grandmother's pearls!)

Here's why you should do it: This is an excellent way to practice hand-eye coordination and those tricky fine motor skills with those sweet, dirty, pudgy fingers! The cut-beads have lots of great uses, too, so don't throw them in the trash!

I think I got this tub for 75 cents after Christmas . . .
Cut a strand of 10-15 beads to make it manageable. Don't let your three year old hypnotize you either while you're at it!

Hold the strand and snip away! Warning: this can be dangerously addicting - just like popping all the bubble wrap until there isn't ONE bubble left!

Here's just one of the uses for cut beads! I wrote his name, put dots of glue along the letters, and there was even more hand-eye/fine motor skills work making sure that bead got on the dot of glue. You see, Lawton does not like to be "gooey" so he concentrated very hard so that glue wouldn't get on his hands!
We also used the cut beads to glue on Christmas trees we made in December. You could decorate Easter Eggs (on paper), make earrings when you draw and accessorize your peeps, and your two year old might want to stick them up their nose or in their ears. Oops! Just checking to see if you were actually reading! This is why you have to be careful if you have little ones crawling around underfoot! You don't have time to take your two year old to the doctor to be probed . . .

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stocking Stuffer Giveaway!!

Check out my other blog for a chance to win a Stocking Stuffer for your little elf!! Winners will be announced Monday . . . and I promise I will have a new post soon!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jingle Bells . . .

All right - here's an idea for the little ones. . .

Here's what you need: a variety of objects, some of which make sound and some of which do not, and a container to put them in. I literally just looked in one basket in our playroom for these objects and didn't put a whole lot of thought into it. . . :)

Here's why you should do it: This is an auditory discrimination exercise in the simplest form . . . Sound? Or no sound?

Here's how you do it: In a perfect world, and a perfect lesson, I would take out an object, shake it gently in my ear then her ear, and nonverbally shake my head yes or no to answer "sound or no sound?" Then, in a perfect world, I would place it on the rug in the correct category and proceed to the next object. However, by watching this clip, you can see that this is not how the "perfect lesson" went. ha! My husband thought we should practice and do the video over again, but then that wouldn't be keepin' it real, would it? :) (and besides, I'm too lazy to redo it over again. . .) But you know, after watching this video I probably should have redone it for MY sake - does my hair really look this bad all the time? And do I really make these crazy faces all the time in real life? Just keepin' it real. . .

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Do you have any left??

Halloween candy that is . . .

We have mostly unwanted candy now, but a week or two ago, here's what we did with all our, I mean Lawton's :), loot. ha!

Here's what you need: Candy. Lots and lots of candy. (or any other sortable stuff.) Possibly paper and markers if your child is old enough.
Here's why you should do it: Excellent math activity. . . sorting, classifying, counting and graphing. And hey, you should have sorted through all the candy to make sure no dangerous things got thrown in the bag (I actually found two very questionable pieces this time). Oh, and OF COURSE you made sure that you found all the dark chocolate Mounds, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers because, um, of course, YOU wouldn't want your child to have an allergic reaction or anything to nuts . . . even if your child isn't allergic. ahem. :)

Here's how you do it: Sort away! And you know what's ODD? When we were sorting, there wasn't a single Snickers or Reese's to be found! Hmmm. . . I sure did think that I had seen a few in there on Halloween night . . .
Note to all the grandparents: Lawton loves Starbursts, Twix, and Kit Kat. (those are usually his first choices anyways.)
If you have a younger child, you might want to choose just two or three different types and then ask a few questions.
  • Count how many in each group
  • Which group has the most?

  • Which group has the least?

  • Are there any groups that have the same amount?

  • You could sort by color, size, or flavors, too.

We picked out a few of his favorites and I drew out a graph and let him write the words on it. He liked writing . . . but the coloring in of the boxes? Not so much. Have I ever said on this blog that he does not like anything crafty? AT ALL? Coloring in the boxes was not his idea of fun . . .

First we laid out the candy on top of the paper, and then we colored in the boxes.

The finished product . . . notice we only graphed three kinds . . . he ran out of steam the day we were doing it and then we somehow ran out of candy by the time he felt like finishing. ha!
Oh, and I won't tell if all you have left is dum-dum suckers and boxes of raisins to graph. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's another book giveaway!

Well, the busy-ness of fall has taken over, and that, combined with Carolina, my seventeen month old, who tossed the computer off the couch means I have been a terrible blogger lately. :( Hopefully very soon I will have some new stuff up!

To "make-up" for my blogging slackness, I am giving away your choice of a Christmas book at my other blog. Go check it out HERE to leave a comment to win. Please comment on the other blog . . . this blog won't count. Good luck!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Can you make the grade?

Our Friday plans were cancelled because of fever from one of our friends who was supposed to come over, and I immediately tried to start to plan where we could go. To the Y? To the library for a puppet show? To run errands? To the zoo? And then, I just decided that we needed to just stay home and play. . . by ourselves. . . all day. We are always on the go - with school, playgroups, story time, the Y, constant errands, yadda yadda. Does anyone else feel this way? Would life really slow down if we lived in the country? Or would we just be on the road more? I don't know the answer, but we sure did enjoy ourselves outside (for a LONG time) on Friday. (see Sister's fascination with her belly button? :)
Lawton got excited because we found some signs of fall! Our maple tree is starting to drop a few gorgeous red leaves, and he excitedly started gathering the goods.
Carolina got in on the action, too!
When we came back inside, I thought we could do a quick and easy Momtessori activity (since obviously we have been too busy to update the blog - sorry!)
Here's what you need: anything that can be graded - i.e. like objects in increasing sizes. Pine cones, rocks, leaves, shells, cups and blocks are a few examples. You can have as few as three and increase as much as you want depending on the age and ability of your child.
Here's why you should do it: Grading objects helps in visual discrimination and spatial recognition/concepts.

Here's how you do it:
Spread out the objects in a random pile.
Search for the smallest leaf and place to the left of your workspace.
Keep looking for the smallest object in the pile until all objects are graded.

Yippee for fall!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This is the next best thing . . .

Do you remember this post about sandpaper letters?

Or this post about writing in "sand"?

I have just discovered the next best thing, except possibly even BETTER!

Each letter has its own textured feel, and most of the associated pictures have a touchy-feely patch! (See the bee stripes and the car?) So cute! So, not only can your child trace the letters to as a precursor to writing, there is also an association of the written letter/symbol with the correct sound! Remember my post about sounds? :) (I love this book!)

Here's a close up with my super basic no frills digital camera . . . (the bee's stripes are fuzzy!)

There's even a similar book for numbers!

Just thought I would share! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's the small things . . .

I'm embarrassed to say how excited I got the other day in the grocery store. I mean, really excited. Over this. I jug of fruit punch. Not because of the flavor, or the price, but because of . . . THIS!!! It is a pint sized jug! How adorable!! Why I didn't buy more, I'm not sure, because it was only 33 cents!! For the two local readers (ha!) I got it at Kroger near the dairy section in a display.
And this reminded me of how important a proper pouring lesson is . . .
Here's what you need: A child sized pitcher/jug of some sort, a cup, and a thirsty child! :)
Here's why you should do it: So you don't have to pour them any more drinks! (Just kidding!) Seriously, independence is a wonderful thing, even if you have to mop your newly mopped floor after finally getting around to doing it in the first place after three weeks. Not that I would know anything about that . . . ahem. Pouring also helps develop concentration and coordination - very important skills! Here is a great small pitcher you can purchase to keep filled in your refrigerator if you can't find a jug like mine. (This linked pitcher would be appropriate for an older two/three year old.

Here's how you do it: Teach your child to grasp the handle with the dominant hand and hold the underneath with the opposite hand. You have to model and/or place their hands at first.

(don't you love the Spiderman costume over his nice shirt from picture day at school? ;)
And the thumbs up and an attempt at a wink for a tasty drink all by himself!

Thumbs up from me, too!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Witch's Soup"

This afternoon Lawton and I did a little cooking . . . but not dinner! We made some play dough, which was very quick and easy. Here's the recipe in case you have never made play dough at home! I wish I could give credit to someone, but I just had this sheet in my recipe box from who knows where . . . :)

Here's what you need: (This is per color/batch. I doubled the recipe to make what is shown.)
1 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp. food coloring
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 Tbs. cream of tartar
medium pot and spoon
plastic bag or airtight container Here's why you should do it: What an excellent way to work on fine motor skills! Play dough also encourages creativity and exploration, and cause and effect. If your child really digs playing with the gooey dough, then you might be able to get a few things done around the house - if you trust them alone . . . ha!
I'll be honest - play dough has not been a favorite around our house, not because of me, but because Lawton has never really cared a thing about it. Part of it has to do with his dislike of being messy. He quit eating a blueberry muffin just last night because he was getting messy. Aughhh! (Huge progress has been made, though, in his aversion to mess, and believe me, I am NOT a neat freak - sigh.) He also is just not a crafty kid. He sees no "need" in coloring, painting, etc. and I have really had to work with him to do anything crafty. (This greatly distresses me because I love all things "crafty"! One day I'll show you the art table I made to hopefully spur on his creativeness. . .) So I digress . . . just keepin' it real!

Here's how you do it:
Getting Ready:
1. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium pot.
2. Add water, food coloring and oil.

Cooking: (I stirred once the heat was on)
1. Stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Don't worry if the mixture looks like a globby mess; It'll turn into dough! (see below) At this point Lawton called it "Witch's Soup"! :)
It finally smoothed out . . . (can you see the huge mess my "helper" created?!?)
2. When the mixture forms a ball in the center of the pot, take it out and put it on flat surface. Squish it and roll it around a bit (knead it) once it cools a bit.
3. Put it in a plastic bag or airtight container and store it in refrigerator. Have fun play-doughing!

Friday, September 4, 2009

You want me to do what?

I received a four year college degree in Elementary Education (169 hours because I was a NURSING major until my Junior year - when I discovered I would never get over my dislike of blood and people hurting) and I had never been told what I am about to tell you until I went through my Primary Montessori training (for ages 3-6). We were all amazed at what our trainers taught us and immediately realized it made perfect sense!

Are you ready for this? You teach sounds of letters way before you teach the "names" of letters. Of course, I am simplifying this A LOT, and preschools and kindergartens are (hopefully) focusing on sounds more than when I went through my college training. As I was reading Carolina one of her alphabet books and playing with this puzzle the other day, I thought I might share this insight with you as well. Even though I have known this since oh, say, 2002, it is still hard for me sometimes to call the "sound" of a letter before the "name" in a book or something. Of course, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom must be read with the names of the letters or it just wouldn't be the same!

Here's what you need: Any time you see a letter anywhere, you can do this. Puzzles, books, signs, etc.

Here's why you should do it: If you think about it, the main goal of children learning letters is to understand that letters make up words, words make up sentences, and sentences make up stories - therefore READING and communicating with others. If a child knows the name, but not the sound, they will not be able to learn to read. If the sound is learned and known, then the reading "mystery" will be unlocked and decoded more easily. The name is an afterthought that they will definitely learn soon enough. Did I confuse you? No offense to all the children that can sing their ABC's, but does singing that song really contribute to their sounds, recognition of letters and eventual reading? (But you should be proud of their singing abilities and memorization of a song and tune! :)

Here's how you do it: Okay, I have included this video, not because I think you can't figure out what sounds letters make, but because there is some confusion sometimes on the correct sound. For example, "L" is not "luh", but "lllll". I have (in my southern accent) shared with you the "correct sounds".

Side note: One of my biggest pet peeves is when alphabet books are published with pictures that have the incorrect sounds. (Owl was for O in a book I just got - which is not correct . . . octopus would be though. . . I think about weird things, okay? ;)

It will be hard to retrain your brain to say sounds instead of the names, but in the long run your children will be rewarded, promise!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Give-away!

Just wanted to make sure you knew about the book I'm giving away at my other blog! Click HERE to see what I'm up to and to enter! You have until Sunday night . . . :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recycling jars

Okay, I have another video for you, and I promised I tried to edit it, but just couldn't quite figure it out. So, if you are really interested, set aside four or so minutes and take a peek. (and I'm so glad you thought Carolina was as cute as I think she is in the last video! Thanks for all your comments! :)

Side note: I obviously should have thought about how I looked before I taped myself. Right after this video, we headed to the Y (for obvious reasons - ha!), therefore I have a slicked back ponytail and no make-up. Don't hold my appearance against me . . . You will see that this is a "one shot" deal - once your child sees it, you really can't do it again, at least not for several months. Soooo . . . there was no retaking the video or it wouldn't be real. :)

This is a good "assessment" of sorts to see how your child is cognitively thinking. I remembered this little activity after Carolina "sorted" all my recycling all over the kitchen for me. What a helper! ha!

Here's what you need: two brown paper bags; two jars, one thin and tall (I used an empty spice jar), and one wider (I used a jelly jar I think); and marbles or some other like object. This is important: fill up the tall, thin jar with the objects and then DOUBLE the amount. You will understand once you watch the video. . .

Here's why you should do it: The technical term is "Conservation of Number" - If they are able to understand that the number is the same in spite of the visual differences once the jars are removed, then "conservation of number" has been mastered.

Here's how you do it: Place the jars in the bags without your child seeing the jars. (In their minds the jars are the same size and shape) The glass jars add a nice "clink" and interest to the activity. . .
Okay, now watch the little video and we'll chat at the end.

Alright, so he got a little bored during the whole process, but then I did, too, making sure each marble went into the jar. :) He was confident that they were the same all along, but when I pulled them out, he wasn't so sure after all. (But I think he did question himself trying to decide.)

Notice I didn't tell him, "Of course they were the same because you said it the entire time", but I let him prove and discover on his own by counting that they were indeed the same. This is an important step because it solidifies in a concrete way what he saw and then believed once the jars were revealed.

Go through your recycling and try this out! :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

She makes her Momtessori debut!!

Well, I figured it was about time that Carolina debuted on the old blog! ha! She has been getting into my cabinets and playing with my muffin tins the past few weeks . . . so I decided to "make" her an activity!

Here's what you need: a muffin tin, twelve like objects (I used these fun, sparkly, soft, colorful pom-poms that I had on hand) and a bowl to hold the objects.

Here's why you should do it: It helps increase concentration and coordination and teaches one-to-one correspondence. (and toddlers love repetition so your kiddo might do it over and over and over and over again and you might get ten minutes peace - just change out the objects periodically!)

Here's how you do it: Watch this little video . . . what you see is what you get! I just laid it in front of her for the first time and she went to town! (and notice how she is "counting". ha!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We're on pins and needles around here!

I had my sewing stuff out the other day and I remembered this simple activity from my Practical Life training. Yes, a two or three year old can handle this if you teach them properly. Pins were on my shelf in my classroom and three year olds (some two at the very beginning of the year) would do this!

Here's what you need: a shaker of some sort (salt shaker, Parmesan shaker, etc.), a pincushion, and the exact number of pins that correspond to the holes.

Here's why you should do it: To help increase concentration levels, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Here's how you do it: Place the pincushion with pins on the left and the shaker on the right. (pre-reading skills . . . left to right!) Insert the pins into the shaker holes.

And then stick the pins back into the pincushion! Repeat as long as your child is interested!!
Here are some other alternatives: Use the "fancy" toothpicks instead of pins or put wooden skewers, plastic stirrers, or those little plastic swords (like for cocktails, maybe?) into a Parmesan shaker that has bigger holes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recycled Printing

First of all, my apologies for being so absent. (if any of you really even care?) Anyhow, my last geography stint was pre-scheduled for the two weeks that we were on vacation (fabulous!), and I just haven't gotten back in the groove lately. . .

We have had a rainy week, so I pulled out some paint for my non-artsy boy the other day and had some fun!

Here's what you need: Some of those recycled Styrofoam trays that hold your meat/poultry from the grocery store, (of course washed and sanitized), paint, paper to fit the tray, a writing utensil, and a brush of some sort. And find some cute, antsy, I-need-to-do-something-before-I-drive-my-momma-crazy kid around somewhere, too. ;)
Here's why you should do it: Ummmm. . . we desperately needed something to do, first of all. :) However, it does help with fine motor coordination, writing skills, artistic expression, and you could even get technical I suppose and explain the mirror image concept.

Here's how you do it:
First, draw on the Styrofoam tray. We just used a pen that didn't write (by not clicking it down). You could actually write on the Styrofoam, just make sure that you are really etching a design.
Lawton chose to write his name - but ran out of room. . .
Then cover the Styrofoam with a thin layer of paint.
Press down the paper and rub it all over, being careful not to shift the paper around.
Ta da! But wait, Mom. Why is my name backwards??? Hmmm. . .

I had to convince him to actually "draw" a picture on the next one . . . (You might as well wait to do this until you have more than one tray since you're getting all the supplies out!
Oh, and look what my sister brought for Lawton the other day? An atlas puzzle book of North America! He loves it because it has his three favorite things in one - maps, puzzles, and books! As Maria preached - Follow the Child! ha! Thanks, Aunt Kathryn!