family activity · story

Next… summer

Hello Readers,

I have missed posting for you, but life has been busy wrapping up life and the end of the school year. Here is a great story for the end of the school year And Then, Summer by Tom Brenner.

As you get read for summer, make a list of your favorite summer time activities. What activities do you look forward to doing this summer? What stories will you read? What games will you play? Will you go to the beach? Will you swim in a pool?

Start by planning the adventures of this week… What will you do in these last few days of spring and as you start your summer vacation?

family activity · story

Pigeon Needs a Bath

This week we will read stories about bath time! Today’s story is Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems. I really like this fun reading of the story. Joel Waggoner really shows the children how to become involved in the story. He reads the story twice, once showing him as part of the story and the second time, having your child help act out parts of the book.

Acting out stories is a fun and imaginative way to connect to the text. This can be done with a new story and helps the children focus on the story listening for the key words they need to say along, or act out. It can be done with a familiar story by having your child fill in the words and phrases as they come up in the text. Acting out stories is a great way to get up and move. It is also a great way to practice social skills such as taking turns and the ebb and flow of conversations.

Reading stories to children multiple times might seem like a chore, but it is really important in their understanding of the story. When you read stories multiple times the children are able to pick up on the words and phrases used by the author. Rereading books builds vocabulary, comprehension and a love of literature… and more! When your child begins to learn to read on their own, teachers encourage multiple readings of a book to build fluency, and to help retain facts and information about the content of the story. When children begin to read independently they are focused on the one word they are reading, and often miss the whole of the story, but when they read the same book over and over they become more fluent and start to recall the details.

So today, listen to Pigeon Needs a Bath and act along with Joel Waggoner. Then later pick out a favorite book and have your child choose the words and actions to add the story they are reading along with you.

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.

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.

family activity · positive steps therapy · teaching thoughts · topic

Gross Motor Development with Positive Steps

Positive Steps Therapy

Positive Steps Therapy and I are teaming up to bring you informative posts based on the therapies they provide. Today’s post is all about gross motor development across the ages. Check out the fun engaging activities to do with your child!

Take it away Positive Steps….

We’ve finally made it to spring! Now that the weather will be warming up, there will be increased opportunities for play outdoors. There are so many fun ways to use items lying around the house to improve gross motor skills. In the current times that we are living in, there has been a large decline in opportunities for children to improve their gross motor skills through organized sports or group play. Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your child’s day to help them improve these skills that are so important for their gross motor development. 

2-3 year olds: 

  • Practice stair transitions using fun game ideas 
    • 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. 
  • Perform animal walks to encourage gross motor development and overall strengthening. Use your imagination and practice being different animals such as bear, frog, horse, or kangaroo. 
  • Balance activities: 
    • Use tape lines on the ground in various patterns (straight line, zig zag, etc) and have them walk along the line on flat feet and on tiptoes 
    • Play Flaming hoops game by using a hula hoop with streamers taped to the top of the hoop. Challenge your child to step through a hula hoop without touching any part of the “flaming” hoop. Change up the game by having them crawl through or lead using various body parts such as their arm or head. 

3-4 year olds: 

  • Ride a tricycle 
  • 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. 
  • Practice throwing small balls into laundry baskets using an overhand throw. ○ Start with very close distance to work on accuracy increasing distance to up to 5 feet away. 
  • Balance activities: 
    • Trial many different creative episodes of Cosmic Yoga 
    • Stepping over hurdles to encourage practicing single leg balance 
      • Hurdles can be created by using any objects around the house such as tying string around two objects or building hurdles out of large blocks. 
      • They can also be created using pool noodles in the yard outdoors. 

4-5 year olds:

  • Be creative and construct your own outdoor obstacle course using various objects around the house 
    • Use string/jump rope to walk on in order to encourage improving balance skills or use string/jump rope to tie around chairs or table legs to create hurdles 
    • Encourage balancing on one foot for 5 seconds or longer 
    • Practice jumping with two feet progressing to one foot by using hula hoops as place markers 
    • Encourage climbing up/down slides or across playsets 
  • Play simon says with activities such as skipping, galloping, balancing on one leg
  • Complete pool noodle sit-ups to work on core strengthening. Lie flat on your back and hold a pool noodle in both hands above your head. Perform a sit up and touch the noodle to your knees, feet, or toes. Call out different body parts for your child to touch the noodle to. 
  • Have a balloon toss competition by keeping a balloon up in the air or try catching it with a funnel to improve balance and upper extremity coordination 

5-6 year olds: 

  • Play Hopscotch using chalk outdoors or play indoors by using tape to make blocks on the floor. 
    • Encourage hopping on one foot and alternating jumping patterns. 
    • You can also challenge child by adding letters to each block in order to help with letter recognition. 
    • Higher level coordination activities: 
    • Jumping Jack Dance Workout 
  • Be creative and construct your own outdoor obstacle course using various objects around the house 
    • Use string/jump rope to walk on in order to encourage improving balance skills or use string/jump rope to tie around chairs or table legs to create hurdles 
    • Encourage balancing on one foot for 10 seconds or longer 
    • Practice jumping on one foot by using hula hoops as place markers 
    • Encourage skipping to various stations
family activity · STEAM · story

It’s finally spring!

March 20th was the spring equinox. What does that mean? It means it is now spring. Let’s start by visiting SciShow for Kid’s and learning about the science of spring. Then we can listen to the read aloud Spring is Here by William Hillenbrand.

Now take a walk and search for signs of spring. Make it fun! Create a scavenger hunt sheet for your child to use on the walk. Have your child think about the colors he/she might see as signs of spring. Or, have your child think about items they might see. I have created two examples here:

art · family activity · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Today I want to share one of my favorite books to read in my classes Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. Grandpa tells the best stories… Travel to the Land of Chewandswallow where it rains food three times a day. (In my opinion this book is WAY better than the movie!). There are two more books in this series Pickles to Pittsburgh and Planet of the Pies.

Each of these fun books easily lends themselves to lots of fun and creative activities! Write a weather report for the Land of Chewandswallow to go with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. What would you like to see it rain for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Have your child help you plan and cook a meal of their choosing and pretend the ingredients fell from the sky.

Design a machine that the Falling Food Company can use to help move and package the food for delivery, after reading Pickles to Pittsburgh. This machine can be drawn, built, or even just explained from your imagination.

After reading Planet of the Pies, design a box to deliver the Martian pies to Earth. Create a machine to safely catch the pies before the hit Mars. Bake a pie!

Using literature as a jumping off spot for lessons is a great way to expand upon the learning. When children begin to make connections between the story and real life they are more connected to the learning. It will also help with working on comprehension skills as you can ask them to share pieces of the story that connect to the activity you are choosing to do at home.

family activity · story · teaching thoughts

Laundry Time

Did you know that even laundry time can be a learning opportunity? Have your child help you with the laundry, especially his/her own laundry. First let’s read Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash by Sarah Weeks. Now I’m sure you are not going to wash and hang up some of the crazy things Mrs McNosh washes and hangs up in her story, but it is a jumping off point.

Have your child draw a picture of rhyming things (s)he could hang up with Mrs. McNosh.

Have your child collect the laundry from around the house and help bring it to the washing machine (pushing a full laundry basket is great “heavy work” for young children). They can also help put the clothing into the machines.

When the laundry is done, they can help sort the clothes (put the shirts in this pile, the pants in that pile or put your clothes here and your brother’s there). Matching and rolling socks. Then help them put away their own clothes.

If you have clothes pins, these are great for fine motor practice. Your child can use them to pick up pompoms, beads, or other small items. Clip together pictures that match. Pop bubble wrap or so many other learning opportunities while working those fine motor skills.

Ok… let’s get to the laundry!

family activity · story · topic

Scat Singers

Yesterday we looked a little bit at Jazz music. This musical expression is a lot of fun for children. Today let’s look at Scat! First listen to this clip of Louis Armstrong singing Dinah. You will notice that Armstrong uses scat to create the music with out words. Let’s read the story When Louis Armstrong Taught me Scat by Muriel Harris Weinstein.

Want to hear a bit more scat? Here are Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington in It Don’t Mean a Thing. Want to learn more about this amazing singer? Let’s listen to the story Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney or Little People Big Dreams Ella Fitzgerald by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara.

Scat is a singers opportunity to express sounds beyond the words. They play with sounds and phonemes. Phonemes is the sounds that make up words. Children need to play with phonemes and learn to manipulate the sounds letters make on their own and blended together before they try to read the written word.

Today spend some time dancing and singing. Listen to more Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald songs, or find other scat singers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin or many more. Listen to the sounds they make with their voices and how it impacts the feel of the song.

Listen to this song by Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme, notice that there are few actual words, but there is feeling, there is rhythm. Can you use your voice to sound like instruments? Can you express feelings with out words?

Now let’s get moving! Jazz music is all about movement. Can you move your body to match the musical feeling? Make yourself big when the tone goes up and smaller when the tone goes down. Move fast when the beat is fast and move slow when the beat slows down. Play copy me: I move you move and see if you and your child can create some jazzy moves to go along with the beat. Get up and feel the music!

family activity · story · teaching thoughts

What is Given From the Heart

I was looking for something different to share. There are so many Valentine books out there for you to share with your kiddos, but I wanted something with more meaning. Something with more depth of love. I stumbled across What is Given From the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack. This is a touching story about compassion, resilience, gratitude and community. James Otis and his Mama have had a rough couple of months. Mama tell James Otis that “Misery loves company” but, as long as they have their health and strength, they are blessed. One Sunday in February they go to church the the Revered tells about the community creating Love Boxes for those in the community who are less fortunate. He tells them about a mother and daughter who lost everything in a fire. Mama says that she and James Otis need to give something to this family. James Otis struggles to find something worth giving, but plays over and over in his head the words he heard “what is given from the heart, reaches the heart”

Ok.. that was a longer recap than I normally give, but this story is very touching and a worthwhile read. We are living in a pandemic. There are so many families who are struggling to get by. There are so many who need a little more. Children love to help people. They do not always understand the struggle of others, but they know that people need help. What can you do to help your child see how (s)he can give from the heart. Look around your community. Is there a food bank you can contribute to? Is there a retirement community that is on lockdown that your child can mail pictures or stories? Is there a children’s hospital that your child can pick out stuffed animals to donate to or draw pictures? Write thank you cards and bake cookies to bring to the police, fire, hospital.

We all need to remember that we are a community. That we need to work together to help our neighbors. That when we give from the heart, we reach the heart!