Monday, February 1, 2010

Making the Most of it Monday

So I know somedays we get SO busy that we feel like we haven't nurtured our little ones education at all. I think that even on these days things are ok as long as we remember to make the most out of whatever we are doing. So I will start with talking about the grocery store. One of my favorite things to do with Ella after picking her up from preschool.

I was highly impressed with Publix. One day, as I was walking through the store, I noticed little signs everywhere with "conversation starters" for moms to use with their children!

The grocery store is a GREAT place to introduce children to meaning in print, letters, sounds, shapes, and colors.


Meaning in Print: I can't say this enough - READ EVERYTHING TO YOUR CHILDREN. Read cereal boxes, bread bags, donuts, juice containers, etc. Point to the words and read them the title for everything. Soon even the youngest of tots will develop an understanding that those "funny shapes" also known as LETTERS have meaning in every day life.

Letters and Sounds: Point to letters and make their sounds. I have found this to be particularly succesful with items that Ella is familiar with. For example, point to the L on a Lucky Charms box and say, "Look, this is the letter L. Can you say L? L makes the 'L' sound." The best way for children to learn their letters and sounds is by frequent exposure.

Shapes and Colors: Take a trip down the produce aisle and talk about all of the colors that you see. Ask your child what other things have the same color. You can also point out many regular and irregular shapes all over the store. I know that at Publix your kids can get a free cookie. What a perfect opportunity to talk about circles!

-Overall the grocery store can provide multiple opportunities for conversation between you and your little one. Is it possible that bystanders might think you are crazy for talking to your tiny tot with no response? SURE IT IS. But you will be having fun and so will your baby - so JUST KEEP TALKING!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Makin' Banana Rainbow Pancakes

Today is usually a park day for Ella. Dad has dutifully stepped up and taken over park duty since I have been on bedrest. Thanks to the rain park day was canceled. Instead, we filled our morning with reading, some computer time, and rainbow pancakes.

We started by letting Ella help daddy measure out the ingredients for the pancakes. She used the measuring cups and dad helped her talk about the ingredients that were added.

Vocabulary: mix, batter, measure

Ella decided to add blueberries so dad obliged. After that, they added some blue food coloring to the mix and made a few pancakes. When they had used about half of the batter, dad let Ella add some red food coloring to make purple pancakes.

***While the pancakes were cooking I logged onto and Ella came over to go through the letter 'Rr' with me. Then I googled an Elmo's world on rainbows.***

When the pancakes were finished Ella topped them with some extra blueberries and rainbow sprinkles.

Bon Apetit Bebe!

Talking Points:

-These are the ingredients we are going to use to make pancakes.
-What color are we adding?
-What is your favorite color?
-What do you think will happen when we add the color _____?
-What shape are these pancakes?
-What sounds does the letter 'R' make?
-What starts with the letter 'R'?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Aspiring Artists

Today we did something simple that requires little preparation and uses only supplies around the house. Simple drawing. Don't take drawing fo granted! There are GREAT developmental gains to be modeled and learned for little ones simply by drawing! Drawing allows your child the opportunity to explore self expression, develop spatial skills, practice fine motor activities, develop cognitive skills as the problem solve, and enhance language as you discuss what they are or have drawn (early story telling).

Drawing surfaces:

Children can get easily bored with white paper. I have had success letting Ella draw on old shipping boxes, leftover cards, construction paper, scrapbooking scraps, notebook paper, etc. I even have brought a box of crayons with me and let her draw on the paper on the doctor's tables while we are waiting.

If you have access to a dry erase easel expo markers and erasers or chalk and a chalk board are great fun! Easels also provide a great set up for children to develop some of the muscles they will need to begin writing.

Drawing Utensils:

Change it up! ...Pens, pencils, markers, even a wet paintbrush on construction paper will allow your child to take a break from the mundane and get some drawing time in daily.

Let your young child use different shaped utensis as well. Once they have a good grip let them use regular colored pencils to develop a healthy grip for writing.

Getting Started:

A child's drawings are used as an indicator for readiness when they begin school. Specifically drawing themself or a person. At the age 5 they should typically be able to draw a "person" with 5 parts. How do you develop this? Keep pointing out body parts in pictures, books, and the drawings that you do with your child. Never tell them that they are "wrong" but encourage them to draw more and add details to their pictures. However, if they are done - let them be done. If your child wants you to draw something for them... DO IT!!! Children learn most by watching their moms and dad!

Remember to allow them plenty of time to draw quietly and explore on their own as well. In our house we get pictures ranging from random scribbles and shapes - to intentional forms. Independent experience is important for their creative development.

Talking about Pictures:

As with ANY activity remember to talk to your child about what they have done. Allow them to label and explain their pictures to you. A 3 year old's scribblings may look most like a series of blobs --- allow them to describe what each of these forms are and praise, praise, and praise them for what they have created!

Talking Points:
-Look! Look at all of the colors that you used! What colors do you see?
-Why did you choose those colors?
-What is your picture about?
-How did you draw that?
-What shapes did you make?
-I see lots of colorful lines here! Look at these lines! (circles, shapes, etc.)

The following is a link of examples and descriptions for what is developmentally appropriate for drawing at different ages and stages.

-In the first picture you can see Ella's early attempts at form drawing. I asked her to draw a picture of her daddy. If you look carefully you can see a face with eyes, nostrils (haha), arms, hands, legs, feet, and a squiggle at the top for hair. Drawing faces without bodies is typical for preschool children. I have not attempted to have her draw a body because she has expressed no interest in adding those details yet. She is most interested in adding details to the face; sometimes ears, bows, teeth, etc.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bedrest and a 2-Year Old!!!

A lot of people have asked how I manage bedrest with a toddler. The answer is, "Not without careful planning." For any activity that we will do the next day my husband has to set out the materials that we will need on the coffee table which has been moved next to the couch so that I can lay down and entertain my daughter.

That being said. Here is our bedrest activity of the day:

We read, 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle. While reading short stories I always point to every word that I am reading and allow Ella to turn the pages one at a time. We talked about the pictures, what "hungry means", counted the foods the caterpillar ate, and talked about the word "big."

Question Ideas while reading:

-Look! Look at that tiny egg! What do you think will come out of that egg? What else comes out of eggs?

-The caterpillar is very hungry. What should he do?

-What do you think he will eat?

-Let's count the apples... (pears, plums, etc.)

-Look! He used to be very small! Now he is very big! What else is small/big?

-The caterpillar turned into a butterfly! Look at all of the beautiful colors! What colors do you see?

When we finished reading we used pom poms, eyeballs, clothespins, and construction paper to make our own caterpillar and butterfly. The butterfly wings are traced handprints of Ella.

The purpose of this activity begins with the simple enjoyment of reading which will intrinsicly develop a content reader. While pointing to the words and turning pages you will be teaching concepts of print which are strategies your child will need to begin reading succesfully. The questions provide for early comprehension and vocabulary expansion. While making the caterpillars is more of a craft than an art project, it does allow the child to make connections to the literature and promote further enjoyment of reading time.


For older children this book also provides opportunities to talk about nature, begin reading practice, and talk about the days of the week.

Let's Start Planting!!!

As my daughter makes the transitions from being a baby to a little girl I become more and more amazed at the mind of the young child. I have reverted to the "primary education student" that I once was and pulled out books, frequented websites, and used trial and error to find fun and educational activities for us to do at home. Since I am also a working mom, I need these activities to be super fun and also purposeful for the development of my daughter.

I will be posting effective and simple activities on this blog appropriate for preschoolers and young children for anyone to try at home.

The general areas that I will be focusing on are:

1.) Art
2.) Reading
3.) Language and Vocabulary
4.) Math and Numbers
5.) Spatial Awareness
6.) Science

Please check back often for fun activities to try at home!!!