Embracing Story Writing

As a writer and literacy lover I can’t help believing it’s fundamental for my children to be able to express themselves excellently though the written word. For the last 6 years we have used Sonlight as our homeschool curriculum and have loved their way of encouraging children to write and express themselves.

I was however thinking the other day how often a child will say they went to the “beach or park” and then launch into a story about what occurred there but never actually stop to create the scene. I really wanted to have a visual way to encourage the children to think more about the setting and use expressive words to describe it.

So here was the simple plan – an art lesson…. Each child was given an A4 page and using bright crayons they has to draw their favourite place. The trick being that they could add scenery but no people or animals – as those were characters not scenery. Some got this right others not but it was a great first try. We then laminated these pages. Once this was done I pulled out some stickers I had bought. They could each choose about 4 stickers to be the characters in their story. They could then move the stickers around to help them create the story.

This part became so exciting that we forgot all about spending a good amount of time describing the setting but I was so pleased with the stories they created that on another day we’ll do the activity again and spend time describing the scenery BEFORE I give out the stickers.

These pages have been used again and again at home to play with. They have even been taken on car trips. Think this is one idea I’m going to ensure I remember to do again soon!

 

Maths for Lunch

This last week I decided to help our little maidens learn their numbers – during lunch. So we embarked on a fun project that sorted lunch time out for me as well.

We began by making some white bread dough (8 cups of flour, 1 packet of yeast, about 4 cups of luke warm water, some oil and salt) Then at the last minute – much to maiden #1’s horror I added BLUE food colouring.

Once it was well kneaded we left it to rise. About half an hour later each child was given a ball f dough on a floured surface. The older children made all sorts of creatures whilst I helped the girls make their numbers 1-5.

This was a great activity as it worked their fin muscles whilst they were learning something “academic.” For my more visually orientated child this activity was crucial as she could see the number being physically build. She also had the opportunity to touch and feel the number as a concrete object and then even eventually eat it!

Once we had shaped the dough we splashed them with water and cooked it in the warmed oven. The length of time depended on the size of the creations – but once they began to go brown we took it that they were ready.

The kids were delighted with the results.

When offered his lunch….

Lord Dad was a bit concerned about what exactly goes on while he’s at work 😉

But the rest of the household filled their tummies up on blue bread and jam!

This was one of those easy to do activities that we can easily repeat and it would still be enjoyed just as much. There is so much learning that can be drawn out of making normal bread and so much more out of bright coloured number bread.

So take the plunge have some coloured bread for lunch today and leave a comment saying how it turned out.

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Gloop Galore

This last week as part of our pre-school fun we made Gloop. A fantastic preschool (and big brother, teenage sister and mommy activity too)

Now gloop is an interesting substance and activity in that it can be used as a science activity or to explain concepts or it can be made just for fun!

To make gloop you mix cornflour / cornsatrch / mazina together then add some water to it. Now there is no exact amount to add but you want it to become like a dense milkshake. It basically seems runny on top but as you scoop it it thickens. We wanted to add colour to our and we found that the best way was to first add the colour to the water rather than to the cornflour itself.

We then gave each child their own bowl of gloop and some “tools” such as plastic knives, spoons, teaset cups and bowls.

I must say that I think this is the first time, ever, that our 3 little people have sat around a table together and not said a word for about 3 minutes! They tipped, scooped, dug, prodded, squeezed and explored.

Yes, it does make a mess but w efound that if we left it to dry completely most of it could be scraped up like chalk and stored for another day and what was left behind wiped off quite well.

 

Besides keeping everyone busy for a while, gloop is great for fine muscle development, colour mixing, science concepts, and great for building vocabulary.

So happy glooping!

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Shoulder Girdle Game

Developing the shoulder girdle is vital for a child’s preschool development. Children with weak shoulder girdles will battle with a number of activities including handwriting. This is initially strengthened through crawling – so if your child walked early try play crawling games with them a few times a week to help strengthen this – otherwise drawing on upright chalkboards will help with this. If you don’t have a chalk board simply stick some paper on the wall and let them draw on that!

 

Shadow Shapes

Take time today to observe your shadows.

Watch them jump and move with you. Look at how they grow and shrink. Take some paper outside and put it down near a friend or a plant and trace the shadows.

Believe it or not shadows teach a child so much about their position in space, it increase their vocabulary, draws their attention to comparisons, they learn about the sun, light, movement as well as how special and individual they are.

Hint: don’t talk too much. Just make a few observations and let them connect dots, ask questions and explore this exciting extension of their body. (Or even add a few bodies together to make some strange shapes!)


 

Kids Climbing

I will be the first to admit that play grounds are not my favourite places! As much as I love my children and love being Mom I’ve just never managed to get excited about sitting and watching children climb. On a recent picnic I did however see once again just how good climbing structures are for children!

These climbing apparatus not only develop the obvious gross motor skills but a host of other skills as well. A few of these skills are social ones as they need to learn to take turns and not push each other off!


As they watch others go higher and slide faster they are challenged to move out of their comfort zones and will climb to heights they may not have before.

They also learn about their limitations and what they personally are capable of. Imaginative games emerge and hours of fun are created on and under these huge structures.

It was then that I realised that although I’m less than enthusiastic, if I find a calm play park, take a picnic basket and a good book maybe climbing structures could not only provide my children with hours of fun and development but maybe I could read a page or two of my book as well!!

String Painting

Recently we had great fun doing “string painting.” I put some paint into old meat trays and a piece of string for each child, in each tray.


Once they were sitting down they were each given a piece of paper and I put down one tray. They each took a piece of string and streaked it or twirled it around their page. Once that colour was done I gave them the next colour. This was simply to prevent them from mixing all the colours and ending up with a brown page. If I had only used 2 primary colours I may have given them to them at the same time to witness colour mixing! We worked our way through each colour and produced some wonderful pictures. Something I learned was that the string must not be too long as they find it difficult to handle.

This activity is a fantastic one as it not only encourages creativity but introduces exposure to texture and friction. It develops fine motor skills and figure ground discrimination. The figure ground development in this case is interesting as they are actually witnessing the building of layer upon layer. After the activity it’s interesting to ask them what colour we used first and where is that colour now? Or “how come the red is under all the other colours?”

Puzzle Mania

Most children love to do puzzles! Interestingly though it’s not always the number of pieces that determines how hard a puzzle is but also the picture on it!

“I think I Can”

I remember knight#1 being a star at puzzles, then he was given one with many less pieces than her was used to, but it had a picture of a cheetah on it hiding in a tree and he couldn’t do it!

So be aware of this when buying puzzles for little people. Another puzzle hint is that it is often harder for children to build the border first but easier to build the actual picture. We usually start with the eyes and build from the face out. Puzzles not only help develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills but also visual discriminationfigure ground concept and memory skillsamongst others.

Puzzles are one activity that children seem to enjoy doing over and over and they love the challenge of getting better every time and they are so good for their preschool development!

“I Did It!”

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