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!

art · STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic

Playdough

Did you ever wonder why teachers in the early years allow, encourage children to play with playdough? Often times parents see playdough as messy. It sticks to things, it gets on the rug and won’t come off. It gets under your nails and often times it smells strange. So why oh why do teachers want my child to play with it?

I’ll tell you why… it’s good for your child. Click here to read NAEYC’s (National Association for the Education of Young Children) article Playdough Power.

Benefits of playdough:

  • fine motor development
  • independent play
  • creativity
  • vocabulary
  • peer interactions
  • sensory play
  • dramatic (imaginative) play
  • science (cause and effect, textures etc)
  • math (size, thickness, number etc)

Ways to encourage and extend playdough play:

  • add tools (plastic knife, dowel for a rolling pin, cookie cutters)
  • read a story before playdough play to encourage play based on story topic
  • add toys (cars, construction vehicles, dolls/plastic toys)
  • provide kid size kitchen tools (pans, fork, knife etc)
  • natural products (rocks, sticks, leaves)
  • provide items to make textures (combs, strainers, buttons etc)

Ways to save your sanity

  • teach your child to clean up the playdough! use the playdough ball to pick up the smaller pieces
  • provide a mat, table cloth or cookie sheet for the playdough to be played on to contain the “mess”
  • provide bins for playdough toys to be collect into at the end of play
  • have your child think of the items to put into the playdough

Make your own playdough and you control the smell!

Basic no cook playdough recipe

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 Tbps of oil (cooking, baby oil, coconut oil etc)
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1- 1.5 cups of boiling water
  • color
  • scent (optional)
  1. Combine flour, salt and cream of tartar in a bowl
  2. add in oil
  3. Put color and/or scent into 1 cup of boiling water
  4. stir to bring together into a sticky ball. if it is too dry and won’t combine add up to 1/2 additional cup of boiling water, but add it slowly or you will put in too much
  5. when it is a sticky ball, let it cool for a bit
  6. roll it out onto the counter and then kneed the dough for a few minutes until the stickiness is gone. This is an important part in pulling the dough together. after a few minutes if it is still really sticky, add more flour
  7. store in an air tight container when not in use and it should last about a month

Colors and scents:

  • kool aid packets is a great way to add both color and scent to dough 2 packets added to the dry ingredients should give the color and smell you are looking for
  • food coloring (gels add more color than liquid)
  • extracts- vanilla, mint, orange, lemon
  • spices- cinnamon, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice

teaching thoughts · topic

Fine and gross motor development

You often hear educators talk about motor development. Typically at this age, we are talking about fine motor development, but lets dive into both fine and gross motor development.

Gross motor development is the use of large muscle groups to move. Your child begins gross motor development before they are born. You can check out gross motor development skill levels here. Many of these skills need the trunk/core to be strengthened. One other thing to realize… your child needs to master gross motor skills before they can master fine motor skills. So, get your child up and moving. They need to throw, pedal, run, jump, twist, kick and more on a regular basis. (plus the more your child does these things typically the more they are able to sit and attend). Think about this, if your child has not developed good core strength, then just the action of sitting is work, never mind attending to task and listening.

Suggested gross motor activities:

  • Lava Jumping: Put different pieces of paper (different colors or write letters/numbers/words) on the floor. Have your child jump from paper to paper. Start by jumping two feet together, move to long strides, and work up to hopping on one foot and then the other.
  • Paper Skate: give your child paper plates to stand on and skate around the kitchen
  • Balance beams: set up balance beams (can even been tape on the floor or chalk on the driveway)
  • Snowball fight: write words, numbers, colors, letters, etc on pieces of paper and crumple them up. Now have fun throwing snow around. After x number of minutes, have your child pick up balls one at a time and read it to you. They then toss the snowball to you, or into a bin
  • Frisbee: learning to throw a frisbee is a great gross motor skill as you turn your torso in the throwing process!
  • Show me how you move: this always a favorite for indoor recess. Show me how you would move if you were a _______. I always did themes winter (snowflake, penguin, polar bear, on ice skates,…) farm (a horse, picking apples, raking the fields, etc..)
  • Hop, skip, jump, gallop

Fine motor development is the use of small muscle groups, and with education typically focuses on the muscles of your hands. You can check out fine motor development skill levels here. Children need to develop and strengthen their fine motor skills to write, cut, turn pages of book, trace, copy and more. These developmental skills are key in education. But, mastering these skills does not mean you child has to use a pencil all day… there are many fun ways to hone those fine motor skills.

Suggested fine motor activities:

  • Playdough: roll, pull, push, cut and more. give your child a dowel and have him/her place their hand flat on the “rolling pin” and push down while rolling back and forth. give them plastic knives and other tools
  • Bubble wrap: have your child pinch and pop, twist and pop, pound and pop… who doesn’t like bubble wrap?
  • Beads and buttons: string with string, pick up with clothes pins, sort, transfer from one place to another with a spoon, tweezers or pincer grip
  • Lego: small Lego blocks are great for fine motor development (and so many other learning skills
  • Playing with hot wheel cars (set up roads together)
  • Stacking blocks, cups and more
  • Coloring, cutting, tearing, gluing and more

art · STEAM · story

First Day of Fall Tree

Today is the official first day of autumn! So… let’s do a fun art project. A torn paper tree. But first. Read the book Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins. This book has beautiful photographs of various trees and their leaves in the autumn.

Why torn paper? Fine motor skills!! Children need to strengthen the muscles in their hands and especially their thumb, index and middle fingers to hold a pencil. But, they are also working on their wrist and forearm at the same time. All these muscles work together while writing, cutting and coloring. Check out these preschool fine motor milestones and red flags.

Materials needed:

  • large sheet for background
  • brown for the tree
  • red, yellow, orange, green — I usually give a 1/4 sheet of each of these colors
  • glue/glue stick

Note I did not say scissors! If you have scissors around they will use the scissors, soooo do not have them out at all! Show your child how to slowly tear the paper holding it with a pincer grip with both hands. Once they see that if you do it slowly and holding the paper closer to where you want to tear they will start to see the control they have over the tears. This is a great side by side project as they will watch how you tear and manipulate the paper!

Now encourage your child to make a fall tree. Remember there is no right way to do this project… there is just your child’s way, and that is ok! If they get stuck, go for a walk and find trees that are starting to change colors or google fall tree images.