Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Simple Glue Ornaments (take 2)

We did this same craft back in October when we made ghosts for Halloween. (See Simple Glue Ornaments for directions.) The boys enjoy it so much that we decided to do it again, but we made a few changes.

I used a Sharpie to draw the shapes on wax paper instead of hot glue. I actually think it ended up working better. I just trimmed off anything outside the lines once the ornaments were dry.

We used glitter glue and I added green food coloring to the Elmer's glue for the Christmas tree.

Also, this time around, the boys made some funny faces that I absolutely had to capture!




I can't wait to add a string and hang them on the tree!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Button Turkey

This absolutely adorable button turkey is a fun way for little ones to practice improving their fine motor skills. How cute would these be on the Thanksgiving table for the kids to play with while they are waiting for dinner? 

They are relatively easy to make, as long as you know how to make button holes with your sewing machine. 

Materials:
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • 2 sheets of brown felt
  • 5 other sheets of felt in different colors (for feathers, beaks and feet)
  • 5 buttons
  • 2 eyes
  • Glue

1. Make a template for all your pieces on cardboard or paper. I just drew the shapes I wanted by hand. Sorry, I don't have any templates to share, but the shapes are fairly easy to make. The body of the turkey is just a circle, roughly 7 inches in diameter (find something round to trace), the feathers are raindrop shaped and about 5 inches tall, and the face is a small circle about 1.5 inches in diameter.

2. Cut out all of your pieces (shown below) plus an extra circle for the back of the turkey. 


3. Lay out your pieces and mark where you want your button holes to go on the feathers. Sew a button hold on each feather. Refer to the instruction manual for your sewing machine for how to do this. I have this Brother machine and LOVE how easy it is to use. It has a special foot for sewing a button hole. You put the button in the presser foot, pull down the button bar, and it automatically measures and sews the button hole. So neat! 

4. Mark where you want the buttons to go on the body of the turkey. Sew them on by hand or by machine. 

5. Using a zip-zag stitch, sew on the turkeys face and red dangly thing. (What is that thing called again?) I applied fusible webbing to the back of these pieces and pressed them on with an iron before stitching them on. This will keep the pieces in place and stop them from slipping on you while you are sewing. 

6. Sew or glue on the beak. 

7. With the feathers OFF, sew on the back of the turkey, making sure to sew the feet into the seam. The back of your turkey will look nice and finish. I sewed on the back with my sewing machine, using a zig-zig stitch again set to 6.0 mm wide. It'll end up looking kind of like a whip stitch around the edge of the turkey's body. 

8. Glue on the eyes and button on the feather and you are done! 

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gifts for 2012: Kid Tested, Mommy Approved

Christmas is right around the corner, and if you are anything like me, you try to get your shopping done early. There are so many fun activities and crafts that I want to have time to enjoy doing with my children, so I like to have all my gifts bought and hidden away, ready to open on Christmas morning.

Toys that enter my house must meet all three of the following criteria:
1. It must offer hours of entertainment.
2. It must require the child to manipulate and play with it. 
3. It must have a proper place in our house.

Tickle Me Elmo, although entertaining, does not meet all of these criteria. It is what I call a "novelty toy," because it's entertainment value quickly wears off and becomes just another toy that takes up space on the floor of the playroom. I would estimate that 95% of the toys that we own do NOT require batteries.

Here is my list of the top 10 toys that every child under the age of 5-years-old should own...

10. Variety of craft materials 
Put together a basket of materials for your little crafter to open on Christmas morning. Many of the materials can be purchased from the dollar store. Glue, scissors, tissue paper, gems, stickers, markers, glitter, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, googley eyes, foam shapes, paint, etc... Bored one day? Pull out some materials and see what you can make. It's also fun to use unconventional craft items and let your child explore their creativity (picture frames, trays, glass jars, etc.).

Painting with water colors outside. 
Gem light catchers. Materials: dollar store frame, modge podge and gems.  
Bracelets made with paper beads that we made by hand. Materials: markers, paper, glue, and pipe cleaners.  




















9. Animals/baby dolls 
We are not gender biased towards toys in this house. My daughter will be getting her first baby doll for Christmas this year and I fully expect to find her older brother playing with it from time to time. That's perfectly fine by me. After all, I want him to be a hands on kind of dad when he grows up. Stuffed or plastic animals are also great toys for children to use for role playing.

8. Cars and/or trains 
Our playroom is flooded with cars and trains. I'm not really sure what the appeal is for children, but both my kids play with them every single day. My older child builds tracks for his trains and enjoys pushing the trains along his new creations. I also find him playing with the cars as if they are really people. He has them talk to each other and act out scenarios. My daughter just likes holding the cars and trains (she is 9 months old) and seeing if each of them taste differently.

















7. Costumes
My son wears a costume every single day. We have a full length mirror mounted on the wall at his height in the playroom and he looks at himself at least a hundred times a day. Again, we have costumes appropriate for both genders. My son tends to wear the "boy" costumes, but I have caught him wearing butterfly wings on top of his super hero cape before. This type of expression is perfectly fine by me!

Combine trains AND costumes for even more fun!





















Headband, diaper and tu-tu. 





















High tea with his friend, E. 
















And, I'm not really sure what this is. 




















6. Instruments 
We love the Melissa and Doug instruments. Making music together is one of the few things my two children can do together at this age (L: 4 years; Lil: 9 months) and both have fun.

5. Blocks
Again, Melissa and Doug blocks are what we like best. This is another classic gift that will grow with your child. We build castles, houses, parking garages, tracks, etc.




















4. Duplos/Legos 
If you're child is under the age of 5, then you should purchase him some Duplos. Legos are technically recommended for ages 5 and up. My son started playing with them at 3.5 years, and although he needed some guidance with them at first, he is fully capable of building things with them on his own now at age 4.

3. Playdough 
You can purchase playdough or make your own. Either way, it's a must for any child, any age. It's fun, it's educational, and provides a creative outlet for your little one. These are our favorite tools for our playdough sculpting projects. Each time we take the play dough out I give the kids something different to use with it. Just change up the tools, or make different mats by putting clear contact over a piece of construction paper that you draw on, and playdough will never get old.

2. Kitchen and accessories
We own the Melissa and Doug Corner Kitchen, but there are other brands that I've seen out there that look nice, too. Just make sure you get one that is sturdy and cannot get knocked over. Plastic kitchen set = you picking up the kitchen and all the accessories roughly a million times a day. We also purchased the KidKraft grocery store and plastic fruits and vegetables from One Step Ahead.

1. Magna-Tiles
Magna-Tiles are our absolute favorite toy. Big L loves them so much that he asked for another set for Christmas this year so he could build bigger designs. My 9-month-old also loves playing with them. The translucent geometric shapes casts neat colors on the floor when you play with them in front a window with sunlight. You can build 3 dimensional shapes or dimensional shapes on the floor or on the side of the refrigerator. So much fun!

"Look, Momma! I made a pizza!"




















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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Great (sight) Word Race

I found this fun printable from Reading Resource.net and it has quickly become L's favorite way to practice his sight words during our "Beyond ABC's" learning time. I printed out the game board and put it in a page protector in his binder to use with dry erase markers, so we can play it over and over again with different words. 

L doesn't even realize that he is practicing his graphing skills, too. And, his number recognition skills (from using the die). Oh, and his fine motor skills (coloring in the boxes). I think I love this activity as much as he does! 



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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

15 Minute Lesson: "I See A...on the farm"

15 Minute Beyond ABC's Lesson for I See A... on the Farm



Learning Materials: 
  • Print and assemble this farm mini book for your child's reading level; preK, K or grade 1. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page that I linked and you will find the page templates to open and print.)
  • Print this activity sheet that goes along with the book. (There are other activities sheets for the book, but this is the one I would choose to use with my own son. You may use all the sheets, or none of the sheets and substitute with another activity of your choosing.)
  • crayons
Skills:

Word Working Skill: Sight Words
PreK level book: I, see, a 
K level book: live, on, a
Grade 1 level book: have, name(d)

Decoding Skill: Use picture clues to decode content words (horse, chicken, cow, etc.)

Comprehension Skill: 1) Recall of facts presented in the text. 2) Using prior knowledge to connect to the text. 

How to Divide your 15 Minutes:

You will have to choose which skill to really focus on. If your child is a pro at reading the sight words but is really struggling on the content words, then spend more time on talking them through the decoding strategy. If he can read the book without a single error but can't recall a single animal that was named, then spend more time rereading the book and discussing the text.

Before Reading:
Introduce the sight words and practice with them a bit. You can do this any way you'd like. Play a short memory game with the words, have your child trace the words with different color crayons, paint the words, build the words with letter tiles, whatever!

Show your child the book cover and ask him what he thinks the book will be about. Read the title to him and ask him if he has ever visited a farm. "What did you see when you went to the farm?" Do a "picture walk," just looking and discussing what you see in the pictures without actually reading the book. Your child may point to words here and there and read them. That is okay, but gently redirect his attention back to the pictures and your discussion.

During Reading:
Set a purpose for reading by telling your child that when he gets to words he does not know how to read, then he should look at the pictures for help. Model this throughout his reading. Try your very best to not just tell him words that he misses or correct his errors. If he does not correct his own errors, say something like, "Now, does that make sense?" Or, "Is that what you see in the picture?"

After Reading:
Praise him for reading the entire book on his own. Praise, praise, praise! We love to celebrate when we finish a new book. Then, ask your child to retell what he read in the book. What animals live on the farm? Complete the activity sheet that goes along with this book.

Extension Activity: (If you have time left, or want to spend more time.) Have your child draw a picture and write 1-2 sentences about a time he went to the farm, or what he would like to see if he were to visit a farm. If your child is a pre-writer, then have him dictate his sentences for you to write.

Remember, these 15 minutes that you spend teaching your child how to read is not the only time that he will spend learning each day. These 15 minutes are meant for direct one-on-one instruction of a reading skill or strategy. Have fun exploring other farm books, crafts and activities throughout the week, in addition to the other play-based learning your child does.
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Simple Glue Ornaments

Yes, craft projects are literacy related. They allow the child to practice his fine motor skills, as well as develop listening and speaking skills (listening to and following directions, sequencing, etc.). 

Big L had a friend over to play this day, so we decided to try out this idea that I got from Play at Home Mom LLC

Materials:
  • wax or parchment paper
  • hot glue gun
  • elmer's glue
  • food coloring (if you want to tint the glue)
  • gems, glitter, or any other embellishments
  • string, ribbon or plastic lacing cord

Make an outline of the shape you want to make with hot glue on wax or parchment paper. Let dry. Now, your child has a space to fill with elmer's glue. Let him squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, making sure there are no empty spots left. If he goes outside the line, that's okay. You can trim it off when it's dry. 

Embellish your ornaments with gems, glitter, whatever you want or have on hand in your craft supplies.  Let dry for at least 1 day, depending on the thickness of the glue. 


Peal the dried glue off of the wax paper. Trim around the edges to make them look a little cleaner. Punch a hole in the top and add string or lacing cord to hang. We hung them from our chandelier with fake spider webbing. 




We can't wait to play around with this craft some more, changing the shapes, colors, embellishments. I think it'll be a while before this one gets old. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

PART 3 Beyond ABC's: Teaching Your Child to Read in Just 15 Minutes a Day

You've read PART 1: Getting Organized, so you now have a handy-dandy notebook and a place to keep all your teaching/learning materials.

You've read PART 2: Ongoing Assessments, so you know exactly which sight words your child knows, his level of phonemic awareness, his reading level (if he's reading at all), and his comprehension ability.

Now, you are ready to teach...

PART 3: Planning Lessons.

When planning lessons for my child, or for any student that I tutor for reading, I aim to include all 5 components of reading into each lesson. However, only one skill from one component will be my focus during a single lesson. You only have 15 minutes to really focus your instruction, so don't try to cram too much in all at once.

Some examples of what your lesson focus could be:
  • a decoding strategy, (i.e., using the picture to figure out an unfamiliar word)
  • a phonics rule (long a words, short a words, beginning sounds, etc.)
  • a phonemic awareness lesson (rhyming words, alliteration, etc.)
  • a comprehension skill (retelling, sequencing, etc.)
The list can be infinite, but these are just a couple examples to get you thinking. Of course, the skill or strategy that you teach will depend on what your child needs to be taught. How will you know what he needs to be taught? From your ongoing assessments. If you haven't administered any assessments, then you seriously need to do so.

Every single lesson that you teach should include a book. Every. Single. One. This is just a little neuroses of mine. Whenever I observed a teacher in the classroom teaching a small reading group, I expected to see, I don't know, something for the children to read, perhaps? Sure, you can teach a very effective lesson without a book, but what is the point if you remove the one element that gives purpose to your lesson? That's like teaching someone to swim without going in the water. Just let your child dive into a book and practice what you are teaching him! If he's not reading on his own yet, then read the book to him.

I like to focus my entire 15 minutes around the book I am using. I carefully select a book that is not only ability-level appropriate, but fitting for the skill or strategy I am teaching.


Confused, yet? Let me show you what this would look like in action....

Book: How Frogs Grow (Fountas and Pinnell reading level C)
Lesson focus: Sequencing (a comprehension skill)

Before Reading:
Remind the child that he read this same book the day before. (Yes, you may revisit books!) Ask him what he remembered about the book, and engage in a casual discussion for a couple of minutes. Review content vocabulary: eggs, tadpole, froglet, frog.

During Reading:
Set a purpose for reading by telling the child that you want him to pay attention to the order of events. Which comes first, second, third, fourth? Have the content vocabulary written on index cards and display them in from of the reader as a reference.

After Reading:
Ask the child to put the content vocabulary words in sequential order, matching them to illustrations from the book. (Eggs, tadpoles, froglets, frogs) Have the child dictate a sentence for each word while you write the child's sentences on a piece of paper divided into four sections. Then ask him to draw his own illustrations for the sentences.

"Eggs are in water. Tadpoles come out. Froglets have legs and tails. Their tails get smaller and smaller. Now they are frogs."

I'll post more of my lessons in subsequent posts. But, in the meantime, figure out what your child needs to be taught and start teaching!

Have a question or comment? Leave it below. Or, find me on Facebook.

Also, check out this post and many, many other awesome ideas on Living Life Intentionally's Linky Party #50.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

PART 2 Beyond ABC's: Teaching Your Child to Read in Just 15 Minutes a Day

PART 2: Ongoing Assessments

You will want to spend your 15 minutes a day on targeted instruction, as explained in PART 1: Getting Organized. 15 minutes can fly by, so you will want to be sure to focus your attention on what your child needs the most.

How will you know what your child needs the most? You personally know him better than anyone else does, but after assessing him you may be surprised just how much he can or can't do. As parents, we tend to be a bit delusional when it comes to the capabilities of our own children. However, if you assess him, you will see in black and white what he is capable of doing and what he needs to be taught.

Remember, these assessments are for early emergent readers, children that can name uppercase and lowercase letters and their sounds. Assessments are ongoing, as children are constantly learning and changing. I would suggest reassessing every 4-6 weeks.

Assessments:

Letter Assessment - You can print out the assessment for FREE from this site. Don't let the form overwhelm you. In short, your child just needs to name the uppercase and lowercase letters when they are all mixed together, and give you a word that starts with that letter. Your child must pass this test with 95% accuracy in order to be considered an emergent reader.

Phonological Awareness Skills Test (PAST) - Here is a link to the test that you can print for free online. It's pretty straight forward, even telling you what exactly to say. If your child is lacking in one area, you'll know what to start working on. Read my post on Getting Your Child Ready for Reading, as it includes information on phonological awareness.

Sight Words - I like to use Fry's word list. This site has TONS of stuff that you can use to teach sight words. Print the list of the first hundred words and start with simply asking your child to read the ones he knows and check off the words he gets correct. If he misses 5 in a row, then stop him. Basically, you want to stop assessing before your child reaches his frustration point. Also, if you haven't already, read my post about sight words.

Below is a picture of L's ongoing sight word assessment. It's from Reading A-Z, a reading program that I use with him. It's not a free program, but totally worth the money in my opinion. The blue check marks indicate words that he got correct during my initial assessment on June 9, 2012. My next assessment of his sight word knowledge was on August 16, 2012 and is noted in pencil. The circled words were the ones that he did not know, or did not read quickly enough.


Comprehension - Since your child is not already reading, you'll have to read a book to him and then check his comprehension. Choose a book that is new to your child, has a simple and clear plot, and is not too lengthy. After you read the book aloud, ask your child to tell you what happened in the beginning, middle and end. If your child can not provide a simple retelling of the story, that does not mean that he didn't comprehend the book. Change tactics and instead ask him some questions.

I'm going to assume that you have read Dr. Suess's The Cat in the Hat, so in order to demonstrate my questioning, let's use that book. It's plot is simple: The kids were bored. The Cat in the Hat came to the house. He let Thing 1 and Thing 2 out of the box. They made a big mess. The Cat in the Hat cleaned up everything just before the mom got home.
  1. Who (or what) was the book about? (literal recall)
  2. Tell me something Thing 1 and Thing 2 did to make a mess in the house. (literal recall)
  3. What happened after The Cat in the Hat (insert event here)? 
  4. How did the fish feel towards The Cat in the Hat? (inferencing)
  5. What do you like to do on rainy days? (text-to-self connection)
I wouldn't necessarily use The Cat in the Hat to assess an early emergent reader's comprehension. It's a bit long and I usually like to choose prose fiction instead of a rhyming book, but you get the idea. I like to follow this format for questioning:
  1. Literal recall of Major Story Element:
    • Who is the story about?
    • What did the character do when...?
    • Where did the character do after...?
     2.  Literal Recall of Detail: 
    • How many times did...?
    • Tell me one things that the character did to...?
    • What did the character bring with him to...?
     3.  Sequencing: 
    • What happened first in the story?
    • What happened after...?
    • How did the book end?
     4.  Inferencing 
    • How did the character feel when...?
    • Why do you think the character...?
     5.  Text-to-Self Connection
    • Have you ever...?
    • Tell me about a time when you...?
    • What do you do when...?
Reading Level - I can't possibly teach you how to assess a student's reading level in one post, but I can give you the simplified version. Remember, any assessment that you do will be better than none. 
  1. Choose a leveled book. I like to use Fountas and Pinnell's leveling system, and this site has a good list of books broken down by grade and reading level. You can find many of these books at the library. Start by choosing the lowest level that you think your child may be able to read. Here is a list of books for levels A-C
  2. Read the title of the book and author to your child. Tell him in one sentence what the book is about. For example, for The Cat in the Hat I would say, "This book is about a cat who comes to play with some kids while their mom is away. Read to find out what happens." 
  3. Have your child read the book to you. On a sheet of paper keep track with check marks how many words he gets correct, and with a dash which words he misses. If he misses a word and corrects himself, it does not count as an error. If you have to tell him a word or help him in any way, it does count as an error. 
  4. Count up the number of words he got correct and divide by the total number of words. If he scores a 95% or higher, then the book is at a level that he can read independently. If he scores 90-95%, then the book is at his instructional level. This is the level of books that you should be choosing for him to read during the 15 minutes of instruction with you. If he scores below a 90%, then the book is at his level of frustration. It is too difficult. 
Some things to remember:
  • If he gets frustrated before the book is over, then stop your assessment and choose a book at a lower level. 
  • If he cannot read a proper noun that occurs numerous times throughout the book, like the character's name, correct him the first and second time he gets it incorrect and count them both as errors. If he continues to misread it, do not correct him and just count them as errors. However, take this into account when calculating his score. Should you choose another book at the same level to use to reassess? 
  • Is anything else impacting your assessment? Is he tired, hungry or just plan cranky? If so, stop and try it again another time. 
There are many, many more assessments you could administer. These are just the most basic and will help you get started in the right direction.

Part 3: Planning Lessons

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Friday, August 31, 2012

PART 1 Beyond ABC's: Teaching Your Child to Read in Just 15 Minutes a Day

This is the first part in my series Beyond ABC's: Teaching Your Child to Read in Just 15 Minutes a Day. The 15 minutes a day will be spent on targeted instruction for your child. 

Targeted instruction means to
1.) assess your child's strengths and weaknesses.
2.) plan lessons that target your child's areas of weakness.
3.) directly teach your child the reading skills he is lacking. 

This Beyond ABC's series is about more than just doing fun learning activities with your child. Don't get me wrong; still do those fun learning activities. I am a strong believer of play-based learning. But, if you have a child that already knows his letters and letter sounds and you are ready to move beyond just the abc's and teach your child how to read, then this series is for you!

PART 1: Getting Organized

You will want to spend your entire 15 minutes each day actually teaching your child. You don't want to waste time searching for or preparing materials. I have found it helpful to have a notebook with everything that we will need already in it. 

Materials:
  • 1-inch 3-ring Binder (Get something fun that your child will like. Or, let him decorate the cover.)
  • 2-pocket folder with 3-ring holes
  • Page Protectors (Make sure you get glossy, not matte!)
  • Dividers
  • Dry erase markers, fine tip
  • Printer paper and lots of black ink for your printer cartridge. I print TONS of materials and books for my son, so I would suggest purchasing ink refills instead of new cartridges each time you run out of ink. We paid about $11 for an ink refill kit from Amazon and have already refilled our cartridge twice and still have tons of ink left. 

We keep our dry erase markers and a tissue (for erasing) in the front pocket. Or, you can purchase a pencil holder that fits in a 3-ring binder for storing these tools. 


What to put inside:

Label your dividers however you want. We have reading, writing, graphic organizers, and since we also use this binder for math we also have a section for that. It doesn't really matter what you label your dividers as long as it works for you and is organized. It's always easy to change the labels and move things around if you need to. 



The left side of the pocket folder is where you will keep books and print outs of consumable activities. You will put pages that you want to use over and over again in the page protectors (handwriting sheets, graphic organizers, etc.). 

The right side of the pocket folder is where you will keep your ongoing assessments (more on this later in the series) and stickers. 

Once a week, I set aside "planning time," where I print out and get together everything I'll need to use for the week. So, the left side of the folder is FULL. It usually has 3-4 books from Reading A-Z and several activity pages to go along with the books. I'm not one to write down everything that I plan on doing for the week. But, if you need to, include a lesson plan sheet on the left side pocket with your books. Also, you don't need to spend a ton on reading programs and resources. You can check out books from the library and there is a lot of stuff you can get online for free. 

Here are just a few FREE resources to get you started:
More phonic sheets (vowel sounds)

I encourage you to check out these links and explore the sites for even more resources. 



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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Storytime Co-op: week 6

Theme: Back to school

Book: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr.

Questioning:
Before Reading: 
Have you read this book before? 
Do you have a favorite animals?

During Reading:
What do you think we are going to see when we turn the page?
Have you ever seen a purple cat before?

After Reading:
Do you remember which animal was yellow? red? green? etc.
What did the teacher see?

Learning activity: I prepared some shape cards with a color written on each one. The boys had to read the color word, find those colored blocks and then use the blocks to create the shape. Some of the boys really got into this! We are going to have to make it harder next time. Perhaps I'll use smaller and different shaped legos or pattern blocks. 


Snack: We used goldfish to mark all the letter A's on an "A map." In retrospect, I should have used the letter B to go with Brown Bear, Brown Bear. I created this map in literally 2 minutes using a simple table in Microsoft Word. Just select a large font with a script that is easy for children to read. You can do this same activity over and over again. Simply change the medium for the markers (paint dots, marshmallows, etc.) and you can even have the map formation shaped like letters or geometric shapes. 


Learning Activity: I showed the moms and kids the proper way to grasp a pencil. We used pencil grips to aide in the boys' training. I printed out handwriting sheets with each boy's name to trace. You can create your own for FREE from here


Craft: Brown Bears

Materials:
  • 1 1/2 paper plates per child
  • brown tissue paper
  • 2 googly eyes per child
  • elmer's glue
  • stapler

Cut out 2 ears from the half of a paper plate. Staple ears on the whole paper plate so it resembles a bear. Have children glue pieces of torn tissue paper to the bear and adhere the eyes. Bam! Super easy craft using materials that you probably already have at home. 


We also took the boys outside to act like the animals from the book. It was super hot and sticky outside, so they preferred acting like caged animals inside. 

This storytime co-op was thrown together literally the morning of. Kids don't need anything fancy to have fun. Just be creative and use what you have on hand or can get for free online! 

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fun Learning Activities for Magnetic Pom-poms

First you'll need to make your magnetic pom-poms. This only took me about 10 minutes. I got my inspiration from here

Materials:
  • pom-poms - I picked up a pack of 50 sparkly ones from the Target dollar spot, similar to these
  • magnets - Don't cheap out. Buy good ones that are actually going to stick to something magnetic. 
  • hot glue gun - I used a high temp one. Low temp ones are useless in my opinion, and should only be used by children. 
  • something magnetic to play on (fridge, cookie sheet, etc.)
Activities:
  • Make letters using letter sheets. There are a TON of them that you can print for free from Making Learning Fun. They have both uppercase and lower case sheets

  • Make freestyle letters. I've already written several posts about why this is an important skill for children, here, herehere and here. Now have your child do it with pom-poms!

  • Create freestyle pictures. 

"It's a smiley man with green eyebrows and orange cheeks." ~L
"It's a caterpillar with big orange eyes!" ~L
  • Use as a prop for imaginary play. 

The cookie sheet inspired him to make cookies. Here is he placing the dough on the pan. 
  • Make freestyle shapes. 

He turned his circle into a flower here. 
  • Sort by color, or make some magnetic pom-poms of different sizes to sort by size. 

  • Keep a letter and number of the week on the side of the refrigerator. 

  • Spell words. 

  • Make repeating patterns. 

  • Make number shapes (like you see on dominos and playing cards). 

  • Use to represent addition and subtraction problems, or multiplication and division for older kids. 

  • We could rack our brains all day for more ideas, but the best idea usually comes from the child. Just give him the pom-poms and cookie sheet and ask him what he wants to do with them. Child-led play and learning can often take you in a direction you never even thought of yourself. 

L wanted to make a rainbow on the refrigerator. 
"Hey! My rainbow kind of looks like a king's hat. Take a picture of me, Momma!" ~L
Making flowers.
Never forget to stop and smell the roses!
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