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Learning Letters: The Sound Game

27 Mar
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Turtle, banana, jingle bell, pencil, fish.

 

Freestyle is becoming more interested in letters and words. I try to point out letters wherever we see them (every time she sees the box of Cheerios she always points and says, “A, B, C” now!). I’ve also been calling her attention to words in books by running my finger under them as I read and sometimes she does it too as she pretends to read by making up a story based on the picture!

In Montessori, letter sounds are introduced first. This is better preparation for reading and writing. Letter names are introduced later (and from what I’ve read/heard, most children do not have any trouble or confusion with this). Freestyle knows the alphabet song from the children’s programs that we’ve attended and from me singing it to her, but recently I’ve been trying to sing the sounds to her instead. (I remember being so impressed that my Montessori trainer could do it so quickly! Now I can too! Go me!)

So, I decided to introduce the Sound Game to her (note: this wasn’t in Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years. I found this exercise on infomontessori.com.). The Sound Games are a precursor to the Sandpaper Letters.

 

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Freestyle asked, “Me eat b-b-nana?” 🙂

 

The Sound Game

(This is just what I did after some time of pointing out the first sounds of different things in our environment from time to time. A proper introduction and detailed description  of all six Sound Game presentations, including the purpose, age of child, and control of error, available here. )

 

Materials:

Mat

Tray

Few objects around the home that begin with a single letter sound (blends such as shoe and stick are more complicated and should be introduced later)

What We Did:

1. I told Freestyle that we were going to play a game.

2. She unrolled her “work mat” and got a tray.

3. We went around the house and I asked her to look for specific objects that I already planned to use and knew where to find. We used a turtle figurine, banana, fish toy, pencil crayon, and a jingle bell.

4. Returning to the mat, we set down the tray and I asked Free to set out the objects in a row.

5. I asked Free to name all the objects and I repeated it, putting an emphasis on the first sound. “Yes, that’s a f-fish. Do you hear the first sound of the word ‘fish’? It’s ‘f’.” I was careful to say only the proper sound of the word (just the “f,” sounding like a quick puff of air) and not drag it out so that it sounded like “fuh” (incorrect).

6. After she heard all the first sounds of the objects, we started our game. I would ask her to give me the object that started with a specific sound. We went through all the objects.

7. She seemed ready to finish the game after we did it once (I could tell because she started rolling around on the ground and then wanted to ride on the work mat like a magic carpet!), so we stopped. Later, however, we did play again with different objects.

 

We’ll repeat this again and I plan on using the infomontessori site as a guide to continue with the rest of the Sound Games. It’s a great site and I added it to my list of Montessori resources.

 

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Learning to Glue (Mess-free!)

24 Jan

Freestyle has recently been very interested in learning to use scissors and glue after using them at the drop-in school program that we attend. Since they were set out and ready to go, I didn’t do a sit-down formal lesson on scissor use (definitely not necessary to do this for everything a toddler needs to learn, I feel!). I just showed her quickly how to hold them: thumb in the smaller handle hole and her pointer and middle in the wider one (though she is using three fingers right now…is that normal because their fingers are so small? I wonder if I should correct it or let it be for now).

I also made sure she knew how to carry them if she needed to: close the scissors and cover the outside of the blades with your hand, keeping your arm stiff while pointing the handles of the scissors towards the ground. She still needs reminders with this one! It is unsettling to see her walking towards me with them open in her hands!

For gluing, I liked how the Casa students in one of my old schools were taught to use white glue and taught Freestyle that method. I liked how they did it because it was neat and efficient– the child doesn’t end up using gobs of glue and turning their work into a wet and wrinkly mess. I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t like using white glue because it would make the paper wrinkly. When I was in elementary we used  glue sticks more often and I liked how much neater it was, but I do think that white glue is easier (thought messier) for younger kids to use.

So, without much further ado…

 

How to Neatly Use White Glue for Preschoolers 

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I don’t have any post-its at home right now, so I just used yellow construction paper and tape for show.

 

Purpose: To learn to glue neatly and efficiently. A skill that will be used over and over for crafts and school projects! Fine motor skills and precision in movement will be used.

 

Materials:

White glue

Glue mat (an old placemat works well)

Post-it notes

Flat, rounded toothpicks (I couldn’t find any so picked up these bamboo cocktail forks to use for now. They’re large and easy for Freestyle to hold.)

Paper

Cloth (to wipe up glue mat)

 

What to do:

1. Have all materials ready on a tray . Ask your child bring it to the table.

2. Either have pre-cut paper (or other easy to glue items) ready, or have your child cut up some paper to glue (if she already knows how to use scissors).

3. Set out the glue mat and place the page that she will be gluing things onto on the mat. Stick a post-it onto the top right-hand corner of the mat (or left-hand if she is left-handed!).

4. Show her how to squeeze a small amount of glue onto the post-it. (That’s the beauty of using the post-it…your child will have to learn to only use up the small amount that can fit onto it!)

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5. Show your child how to use the toothpick to take a small amount of glue and dab it onto the corners of the piece of paper that she wants to glue onto the page.

6. Turn the paper around and press the corners onto the page!

7. Repeat!

8. Dispose of toothpick and post-it after the activity. Wipe and dry glue mat before putting it away.

 

Go further:

Here’s a great post about using glue with preschoolers on the Teach Preschool blog.

 

Threading Activity: Pasta Necklace

20 Dec

A classic kid’s craft, I say! It’s super simple and you can use whatever you have lying around your house– a great I-just-need-you-to-be-doing-something-right-now activity in a pinch! 😉

 

Making a pasta necklace:

Materials: String, dry pasta, tape, scissors.

To start, string one pasta (piece of pasta?) and tie a knot.

Use the tape to make a “needle” for easier threading. I found that it works best if the taped part is longer than the pasta.

 

 

Threading’s an easy skill to practice in many fun ways! I’ve also written about Threading exercises here and here.

  • Try different types of pasta. You can dye pasta with food colouring or just buy the tri-coloured veggie pasta (yellow, orange, and green).
  • We are going to try small beads next! Maybe I’ll have Freestyle make bead necklaces for her cousins’ Christmas presents or keep that as a ready activity for when kids come over.
  • There are so many toys that let children practice the skill of threading.

 

Learning by Moving: Shapes

13 Dec

Other than naming them for her or pointing them out once in awhile, I hadn’t really sat down and presented Freestyle with a lesson about shapes. Freestyle knows circles, square, stars, and hearts just through everyday osmosis.

Taking advantage of the gorgeous day outside and the generosity of my neighbours’ for allowing us to deface their side of the driveway, I took Freestyle out for a “shape game” that would reinforce her knowledge of these shapes as well as give her an opportunity to kinaesthetically “experience” the shapes.

With sidewalk chalk, I drew a large circle and square, using a rake to help me make the looking shapes. It makes for a decent driveway ruler too.

 

To draw the circle I marked the centre with a dot and then kept the end of the rake on it while I moved the rake around in a circle, making marks as I went. Then I connected the marks. You could also use some string and have someone hold it in the centre while you move the other end around.

 

Shape Game 1: Running Laps (Circle)

We ran around (well, I walked quickly as I had Real Baby strapped to me in the carrier) and around and around…and around and around…and around! I chased Freestyle around the circle and then she chased me. Once in awhile I would emphasize the word “circle”: “Let’s run around the circle. This is a circle.”

 

Shape Game 2: Circling the Square (Square)

We walked and ran along the sides of the square. As with the circle, I’d say and emphasize the word “square.” I have to say, however, Freestyle much preferred the circle to the square! It’s more fun and easier to run around a circle than a square, I suppose!

To draw the square, I marked the centre again with chalk and then placed one of the rake there while I moved the other end to mark the four sides. Then I used the rake again to draw the sides, using the marks as a guides.

 

Shape Game 3: Circle or Square? (Both)

I would call out one of the shapes and Freestyle would run and jump into the middle of the shape. This one she liked too, especially when I would repeat the same shape to try to fake her out!

 

 

I wish there was room to add a triangle, but maybe next time! If you do not have a driveway, you could try a school playground– they may have a four square square and/or a basketball court with a circle on the pavement.

 

 

 

Water Pouring Exercise

22 Nov

Water Pouring Exercise for Toddlers 

Age: Approx. 15 months + . As always, all children are different, so you can observe your child’s readiness. Initially, I introduced pouring to Freestyle using dry items when she was 20 months.

Purpose: This is a Practical Life exercise. The child is developing hand-eye coordination, concentration, practicing aiming for a target, and fine motor skills. If there are spills, she learns to clean up after herself. Once she is able to control her movements and pour accurately, she can pour her own water during meal and snack time, another step towards independence! She can also offer to pour a drink for others (Grace  & Courtesy).

 

Materials:

2 small pitchers, ideally they will be identical

(I used two creamers that I found these two creamers at a thrift store…$0.99 each! They had shelves and shelves of old tea sets and other items that could be used for Practical Life activities)

Water

Small cloth or sponge to wipe up spills

Tray

 

What to do:

1. Have your child carry the tray with all the materials to a table. She will sit in front of the tray and you should sit to her right if you are right-handed, to her left if you are left-handed.

2. Fill the pitcher on the right with a small amount of water. Demonstrate how to carefully pour the water from the right pitcher to the left, and then back again (more details in step 3).

3. Show her how to wrap the fingers of her right hand around the handle (her pointer and middle finger will be wrapped around the handle while her thumb rests on top of it). Have her support the other side of the pitcher with the pointer and middle fingers of her left hand.

4. Allow her to carefully pour the water from one pitcher to the next, and then back again.

5. If there is a spill, that’s okay! It’s just an opportunity for your child to learn that she will need to take more care next time and also to take responsibility in cleaning up after herself.

6. Let her repeat as many times as she’d like– which will probably be a lot!

 

Control of Error: No water will be spilled.

Vocabulary: pour/pouring, pitcher, handle, spout. Freestyle loved the spout and kept saying, “Spou…water come from!” 🙂

 

Freestyle really enjoyed this activity but during our second try she wasn’t able to control her excitement and was lifting up the pitcher in the air with one hand and cheering after she finished pouring. After I tried to gently remind her that we needed to be careful, showed her again how to hold the pitcher, and giving her a fair warning about what the natural consequence of this behaviour would be, I ended up having to stop the activity and take it away. While I’m glad she likes doing it, she will have to learn that there is an acceptable way to handle the pitcher and that wasn’t it! Of course she was very upset but…them’s the breaks, kid.

 

Go further:

  • When your child is ready, she can start pouring her own water from a small pitcher into a glass for snack time and meals! Later, she can do this for the rest of the family– imagine how proud your child will be to be able to do such an important job!

 

My Little Laundry Helper

25 Oct

 

 

One chore I don’t mind doing is folding laundry because I get to sit down to do it!

Freestyle used to like to “help Mommy” by putting all the folded clothes and tossing them back into the hamper so that they were in a messy heap again. She also likes to help carry the hamper back and forth with me.

Now, she is helping me sort the socks. I remember waiting for her to be old enough to teach her about “matching” and “pairs.” So now that’s her laundry job and a real help to me!

 

Matching Pairs of Socks 

1. Start off with just a few pairs of socks, preferably with distinct differences in patterns/colours.

2. Have your child help mix up the pile of socks.

3. Pick out one sock (“This is a purple sock.”) and find the matching sock (“Here is another purple sock. See, it is the same, it matches. They are a pair.”).  Next, pick out another sock and ask your child to find the matching one.

Freestyle just finds the matching pair on her own now.

4. Lay the pairs out side-by-side.

5. Ta Da! Now they are ready to fold.

New vocabulary: match, matching, pair.

 

Laundry jobs for a young toddler (about 2 years old):

  • Matching socks.
  • Sorting out different family members’ clean laundry for folding (my pile of clothes, Mommy’s pile, etc.).
  • Putting her own dirty laundry into the hamper in her room.
  • Folding washcloths (we are going to try this next week).
  • Carefully placing folded laundry back into the hamper/drawers (this we are still working on!).

 

Any other ideas?

 

Colour Activities!

13 Sep

I can see a rainbow…

 

Colour Tablets (A Montessori Lesson)

  • Colour Tablets are a Montessori material that introduce children to colours. They are usually used in the Casa classroom (ages 3-6).Here’s a brief explanation (I didn’t know that Dr. Montessori originally used spools of silk!).
  • There are many DIY instructions online (most using paint chips). That link from Living Montessori Now also includes a video showing how to introduce the tablets as well. Love that site! Another simple DIY link here.

 

Colour Sorting Activities (Easy to DIY)

Colour sorting activities are easy to make using things found around the house.

 

 

Make your own Colour Booklet

  • Materials: Colour labels, scissors, glue, index cards, stapler.
  • I just used leftover paper seating cards (I’m a big fan of using whatever I have in the house!) and stapled them together. Then I cut the labels to fit and glued one at the top of each card.
  • We went through a couple of the colours that Freestyle was already familiar with and she named the colour, found the matching crayon, and coloured the card.
  • We’ll continue to do a couple whenever she wants to work on it.
  • It becomes a book to add to your library that she can “read” to us to review the colours. She was very proud to do this!

 

Colour Collage (our favourite!)

 

  • Materials: Coloured construction paper, flyers, scissors, glue.
  • Write “green” (or whatever colour you’ve chosen to start with) on the paper. Ask your child to point out green things in the flyers. Cut them out for her and show her how to glue them on the paper.
  • Freestyle learned to use a gluestick, which she LOVED.
  • I would show Freestyle pages with green vegetables and fruit so I could name them for her and talk about healthy food and introduce/review their names.
  • This activity had Freestyle visually isolating the colour green from the rest of the colourful page.
  • I liked that this showed Freestyle that there are different shades of green and pointed out that not everything will always be a solid green colour (introducing ambiguity).
  • I feel that this was her first introduction to using scissors (watching me).
  • For older kids, they can do this activity on their own on a rainy day. You can show them to layer the pictures to make a real collage.

Freestyle truly LOVED this activity!