Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics- Patterning

Patterning is one activity that I have been very consciously working on for months with E, and it is clearly paying off.  This activity is pretty simple to put together for any theme.  I pulled out my sports stickers and started creating patterns.  I verbalized the names of the balls as I placed them, and E's job was to decide what sticker went on the blank.  It was much more difficult for her to just look at the patterns and find the next one, but she has become very good at being able to hear and see the patterns, then continue them. 
We even talked our way through one where the blank was in the middle instead of the end!  I think it is so important to have her hear how I work through a problem by showing her how I look at the pattern including what is behind and ahead of the missing spot.  Being transparent can be difficult because so many of the skills we work on with our kids are second nature to us, but trying to break it down into those little steps can help them become better problem solvers.

The Olympics- The List

E was pumped up for the Olympics after our MOMS club did a big Olympic event the Friday morning before the opening ceremonies.  For that event, we made torches, flags, USA colored ribbon streamers, and medals for the kids to introduce them to some of the more iconic parts of the Olympics.  We watched the opening ceremonies to see a lot of those icons.

We are sports junkies in this house, so when the games started, I knew that we needed to find a way to make watching hours of sports interesting to E.  The first morning of the Olympics, we made a list of all the sports that we would have a chance of seeing over the two plus weeks of the international event.  
After we saw an event on TV, E would come over to the refrigerator, grab a sticker, and put it next to the sport.  We worked a lot on letter sounds to help her find the sports, making this a great time filler, but also a great phonics activity.  Also, each day we would count how many events had stickers by them.  This had her practicing counting up through the twenties.  We will definitely do this activity in two years for the winter Olympics, and probably each Olympics after (don't tell anyone, but E's parents love this activity just as much as E)!

The Olympics- Connect the Dots

 If your house is anything like our house, you probably also have a ton of coloring and activity books sitting around, not getting played with much.  So, as I was getting some activities together to do with the Olympics, I decided to go through all of our books.  I was looking for sports related items that had at least a little bit of educational value.  I had never really thought about dot-to-dots as being educational, but for a 3-year-old girl who is still working on number recognition, they are awesome.  And, I had never taught her how to do a dot-to-dot, so this turned out to be a fun and educational little activity that happens to be sports related!
After E finished the dot-to-dot, we worked on coloring in the items.  I have always been really laid back about her coloring in books (aka scribbling in books), but as I have seen her drawing become more and more sophisticated, I know she should be getting better at "staying in the lines."  We are continually working on this new level of fine-motor skills.

Filler Activity- Toy Cleaning


I'm a garage sale hound.  Over the last few weeks, I have had some great finds.  One was a retiring teacher, where I scored a ton of books.  The other was a family who had probably 30 games for sale, including a few games for E.  I bought her the Cootie Bug game and Don't Break the Ice.  Before playing the new games comes the cleaning.  Typically, I am the one doing the cleaning. But, on this day, I decided that E might get a kick out of cleaning the parts.

Armed with an old toothbrush, a big tub of soapy water, and lots of towels (fabric ones, not the paper ones you can see on the table) she got busy.

And, she stayed busy...for close to an hour.  She LOVED cleaning the parts of the game, and it helped her to anticipate playing the game even more.  She had a ton of fun cleaning and eventually playing the game.  This garage same find was definitely worth the $2.00 I spent!!

Water Creatures- Sensory Bin

 I was so excited about this sensory bin because 1) I had all the materials on hand (!!) and 2) I knew that E would love it!  So, I made it a few days before getting it out for E.  The fillers in this bin include:  blue colored rice, sea shells, sea shell shaped pasta, and rocks.  Utensils include: a magnifying glass, tongs, a shovel, and a funnel.  Other items include some sand paper, blue felt, big leaves, and plastic sea creatures.  And, my favorite part of the sensory bin, the water bag.  I was so excited about this part!!!  I put water in a big freezer baggie, then put on another baggie just to be safe.  Sadly, if you look closely at picture above, you can see that there was a little problem with leaking....
 This picture shows the bin without the water :(.  Not sure what I would need to do differently to make it work.
 E never knew that the water part was in the bin, so she enjoyed the bin just the same.  Her favorite part was digging in the rice using the shells, and she loved hiding the sea creatures.  As always, this sensory bin was a hit that filled a lot of time!  

Water Creatures- Free the Fish Activity

I love the ideas on the web about freezing objects for kids to try to "free" from the ice.  So, I took a plastic bowl, some plastic fish and water creatures, and added water to freeze the creatures in.  I did the freezing in two layers because the creatures sunk to the bottom of the bowl.  After freezing overnight, I loosened the ice, and took it outside with a bowl of water and a pipette.
 Although the dog is disinterested in the whole process, E was very into it.  She started out using the pipette to try to melt the ice.
 Then, she began sliding the ice around to use the heat of the patio to help her.
 Couldn't resist this shot...
And finally, she figured out that the busting the ice method was the quickest and most fun way to free the fish.  We have done this activity many times since this.  I like that it helps with her problem solving skills.  And, it was meant to help with those fine motor skills, even though in actuality it probably ended up being more of a gross motor skill activity.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Water Creatures- Opening Activity

 With our impending trips to the Great Lakes, I decided it would be a great idea for our next unit to be water related.  So, we started out by using a Melissa & Doug Magnetic Habitat Set E has.  We talked about the word habitat, and discussed what kind of animals would live in the three habitats included in the set. 
 One by one, I would hand an animal or creature to E, and she would move around the room placing it on the correct habitat.  We also used to the time to discuss the names of each animal and anything we knew about the animals.
This was a great opening activity to get E's mind thinking about the different water creatures we would be talking about.