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!