Monday, October 3, 2011

Repurposing puzzle pieces

I am all about re-using educational materials for other uses once my kiddos have outgrown them. We used our letter puzzle (which she's now mastered) to make a new activity. She helped me find the letters of family member's names....I traced them on sentence strips. I placed all the letters from the names and the name strips on her work shelf and she can now match the letters to the names by setting them on top of the corresponding letter. Luckily I had two letter puzzles--because many names have repeated letters!

Take a look at some of your outgrown toys/ can you repurpose them into something your children can use again? It's fun!
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Fairy Tales

We've entered the world of fairy tales full force lately! This is a great developemental milestone, as fairy tales are a valuable tool for helping children understand the world. THIS ARTICLE discusses the theses of Bettelheim, an expert on the value of fairy tales for children.

We really love Paul Galdone's work (with the exception of Jack and the Beanstalk which is a little too difficult for Q to understand the way he wrote it). Here are three of our favorites:

We have also been listening to fairy tales on CD in the truck (we like Elves and the Shoemaker, Tom Thumb, and Little Red Riding Hood--off cd's we got at the library.)

Q also loves this youtube channel--she is fascinated with listening to the lady tell the stories. They seem a little annoying to me, but she eats them up! Most of them involve the lady telling the story while she uses flannelboard characters....

I have my reserve list running strong at the library for the next stories I'll be introducing to Quinn in the fairy tale genre!

I love the vocabulary she's introduced to, the strong plot elements (each story has character development, problem/solution, and setting) as well as the great illustrations many fairy tale books provide!

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Chalk as an art medium

This fall in our kitchen school I am making an effort to do "art" with my daughter and not just crafts. Crafts are projects with a specific end in mind--like decorating a pumpkin with cut paper. Art is exploring with materials and is more open-ended.
Here is an example--we used chalk on black paper. We explored the way it writes and how you can rub it to get it to smear. After we worked with the materials I put them out in her art area for further exploration.

She was not real engaged in this artwork, so we'll try it again another day!

Stay tuned for more posts on our adventures into ART!
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Babies with library books

7 week-old Little Man got his first library book--a board book with high-contrast black and white pictures. We read it to him every day and he stares and stares at the pictures. On days he's not really into looking at it, I just take it away from his face and softly finish reading the I know his little brain is still absorbing the rhythm and sound of language and the flow of words in sentences in stories.
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On Vocabulary development

My mother-in-law is the preK director for her district. At an inservice a couple weeks ago with a social studies expert, the presenter discussed the importance of fostering vocabulary development through conversation. She encouraged using "harder" words when we talk to our kids--her point was that if they are learning what the word means anyhow, we can teach them more complicated words and it really won't be harder for them to understand. Her example was using the word "adjacent" when referring to something that is next to something else. I have really been trying to stay mindful of that in my conversations with Quinn.

Often I will do this by using the word she may already be familiar with, and then rephrasing using the new word. For example:
"Your shoes are next to your backpack--adjacent to your backpack. This helps her use context clues to determine what the new word means.

Vocabulary development is such an important part of developing strong readers--if children don't know what words mean, their comprehension is very low. Introducing new words naturally through conversation is a great way to stretch your child's words a little bit!

I've been working hard not to sell my daughter short in our conversations and just limit her to words she already knows. Her daddy is amazing at this, naturally. I am constantly marveling at the words he uses with her in conversations without me ever talking to him about the concept of vocabulary development. Go Daddy!!