family activity

Go for a walk

Often times families need time to be quiet together. With the pandemic, children are not going and doing as much as typical. We are spending more time in front of screens and less time in nature, not just because of the pandemic, but because of changes in our world in general.

So, go for a walk! This is an opportunity for you and your child(ren) to get moving AND a chance to chat. Each time you go out for a walk, make it a little longer to build up the endurance. Also, make it fun for them. Here are some ways to do that!

  • search for items that begin with a specific letter/sound
  • search for letters
  • search for numbers
  • count the number of birds/animals/cars etc
  • create a graph to fill in on your walk (types of vehicles, items in nature, types of flowers, colors of houses etc)
  • create a pattern to walk in– step, step, hop or hop, hop, hop, touch your toes or so many other variations
  • march
  • have races
  • set a timer and walk without talking until the timer goes off
  • walk to a set location (playground, pond, the mailbox on the corner etc)
  • walk, stop and listen
  • jump over all the cracks
  • walk backwards, sideways, or spinning

The goal is to spend time together. I encourage you as the adult to do less talking and you might be surprised to see that conversations that can occur in the quiet.

story · topic

Families Everywhere

Today we will continue to learn about families. Today’s story Families, Families Everywhere by Megan E. Mills is read by the author. This story explores what makes families. It compares and contrasts some family dynamics and celebrates these differences.

Today talk about other families you know. How are they the same and different from your own. What can you learn from that family? Do they celebrate different holidays, eat different foods, speak a different language? What is the same between your two families?

Maybe do something special for that family or with that family.

The goal is to have children see, understand and appreciate the differences. We want them to see that even when people/families are different from your own, they are still held together with love. And, when we see and appreciate these differences, we can learn and grow, together… in love.

story · topic

Families

This week, I decided we would learn about families. The concept of family is one that children understand, but they only relate it to the image of their own family. We need to help children see that all types of families exist and the glue that holds all families together is love.

First let’s read a story. Today’s story is Families by Shelly Rotner

Now have your child draw a “My Family” picture. Help your child label the members of the family they included in their picture. (make sure to use your “people crayons”). The story states that all families are different. What makes your family special? What do you like to do together? What are some of your favorite memories?

phonemic awareness · story

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes are short poems/songs that children have learned for years and years. These are still important to learn today. They allow children to play with words. Also, by reading these simple rhymes in story book form, we encourage the connection between the text and spoken word. The goal is for children to recognize that they can tell the story. While we do not want children to believe that the way to read is to memorize all the words, we do want them to make the connection between what is said and what is written. We do want them to view themselves as readers. We do what them to gain the confidence that they can and will read books. So… provide your child with books they love. Provide your child with books they know. And read, read and read some more.

Here are links to nursery rhyme books read aloud:

phonemic awareness · story · teaching thoughts

Over in the Meadow

This week we will look at how learning songs is important in literacy development. We will take one song format and listen to a different version of that song. For centuries and in all cultures, songs have been past down as teaching tools. We need to continue this tradition, and recognize the importance of using songs and music as teaching tools.

Today we will look at the song Over in the Meadow. This is considered an “Old counting rhyme”. It has been transformed over and over to focus on other ecosystems. But, we will start with the original. Over in the Meadow, illustrated by Jill McDonald.

Now, let’s listen to Over in the Jungle, Over in the Ocean and Over in the Artic.

The use of this song/story is much more than just enjoying the music, while this is important also. The use of this song works on counting, vocabulary development, rhyming and much more. When children learn to sing songs they are building language skills. When they learn songs that are easily manipulated they learn to play with language. Working on oral language development and listening skills are key pieces to reading and writing development.

Where do we go from here?

  • Have your child pick their favorite version and illustrate an animal from that ecosystem.
  • Pick a different ecosystem and see if there is a version of that song, or better yet, write your own.
  • Re-write the song using items and animals you see in your backyard, your playground, your city block, or wherever your child has the opportunity to explore.

story · topic

Going Green

Today, listen to the story Mrs. Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli. Mrs. Fox challenges her students to think of ways to use less stuff (recycle), use less energy and use less water. The students then begin looking at the way they use things in their own homes and lives and figure out ways to live a greener life.

How can you live a greener life? Remember to turn off water, electricity and recycle. Those are easy ones. What about the use less stuff part? That is harder. In the story they have a toy swap. Helping your child learn to donate toys and clothes to charities is one thing you can do. Look into your local Buy Nothing Project and give and receive items is another.

Today is a good day to have your child go through all their toys and determine which ones they want to keep and which ones they can either give to a charity or other means of giving away in leu of putting them in the trash.

story · topic · writing

Earth

Today we will listen to Todd Parr read his book The Earth Book. This book talks about the things that you can do to help the earth… and why! Remember a big part of what we need to do in taking care of the earth is taking care of the natural resources we learned about yesterday. Children look to take care of things. Today use the format of Todd Parr’s book to write about what you do to take care of the earth and why! It is important to talk about the whys with children. We want them to understand the reason we reduce, reuse and recycle. Just learning the words and doing the actions is great, but understanding the need to preserve and protect will motivate your child to continue these actions beyond Earth Day, this week, this month, this year, their childhood…

family activity · STEAM · topic

Natural Resources

April 22nd is Earth Day. This is day to celebrate the natural resources we find on the earth and how we can help take care of them. Today let’s look at what natural resources are and how we use them. Start by watching this video about natural resources.

Have your child brainstorm a list of natural resources you use every day. Think about what you can do to help protect and preserve these resources. Did you include air, water, soil, trees/plants, animals? Did you think about the fuels we use for our vehicles, to warm our houses and more?

Have your child draw a picture or two of things (s)he can do to help preserve and protect our natural resources. There are many simple things that your child can do even without your financial support, picking up trash, recycling, turning off electricity and water. As a family you can plant trees and plants, create a composting pile, use public transportation/bikes and walking to use your own vehicle less, and so much more.

positive steps therapy · topic

Therapy Thursday– Gross Motor Insects

If you tuned into my blog last week, you read about my new team up with Positive Steps Therapy. They will be providing tips and tricks to help your child with all sorts of activities that work on improving and increasing developmentally appropriate skills (gross motor, fine motor, speech and language and more).

On Saturday, I posted the first post together on gross motor development. You can check it out here. Today I’m going to share how I would incorporate some of these skills into this week’s topic!

Movement! Children love movement, and movement is key for gross motor development. Here are three links to videos to get your kiddos moving: The Insect Song with Will Parker, Bug ‘n Roll by Pinkfong and Enzo the Bee with Cosmic Kid Yoga. These videos can be watched and followed along. The two song videos you can just listen to the music and you and your child can make up your own moves and actions.

Want to play a game? Create your own dice with insect movements. Grab a cardboard box. Have your child draw 6 different insects, one on each side. Now toss the box to roll it. Whatever insect is on the top, your child must move like that insect. You can let them choose when to switch or set a timer for each movement. This is a great activity to take outside. Some suggested insects and movements– crawl like an ant, flutter like a butterfly, buzz around fast like a bee, jump/hop like a grasshopper, pounce like a mantis, fly like a ladybug.

Here are some of the Positive Step ideas that can be changed into insect activities:

  • 2-3 Feed the frogs – Cut out frogs or other animals or use stuffed animals and place them at the bottom of the stairs. Place pom poms (food for animals) on the first few steps. Tell your child to walk up a certain number of stairs and collect the food to bring them to the frogs. Encourage your child to alternate feet on the stairs. 
  • 3-4 Perform animal walks to encourage gross motor development and overall strengthening. Use your imagination and practice being different animals such as bear, frog, kangaroo, flamingo, horse, and crab. 
  • 4-5 Practice jumping with two feet progressing to one foot by using hula hoops as place markers