Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nature's Calling - Adventures and Activities

Signs of Autumn are everywhere.  It is a great opportunity to get outside with our little ones and use our senses to enjoy the beauty of the season.  
Time to go exploring:  Whether you head out to your backyard, local park or trail, bring a bucket or bag to collect any small treasures your child finds on the ground, such as acorns, pine cones, leaves, rocks, twigs, etc.   Take time to stop and listen to the sounds of the rustling leaves, singing birds, or squabbling squirrels.  Look for living creatures of all sizes and examine a spider’s web.  Count the birds in the sky.  Find leaves of different colors, shapes and sizes.  Figure out which tree dropped their new found treasures.  Don’t forget to discuss being respectful toward nature.
Autumn Treasure Activities:  There are so many ways your child can have fun and learn from what they found on their nature walk.  Keep their treasures safe in a container outside so that throughout the season they can use their items or add to their collection.  
Here are some basic math concepts that you can work together on with your child.  Begin by “sorting” the items into groups.  Depending on the age of your child, have your child “sort” the leaves by color or size.  Have them line up some items from smallest to biggest to develop “sequencing” skills.  They can create math “patterns”, such as acorn, leaf, acorn, leaf.  They can “count” how many pine cones they found.  They can “add” pine cones plus rocks to find the total.  If you have a lot of acorns you can do a counting game with the numbers 0-5 using an empty egg carton.  Write # 0-5 at the inside bottom of each egg cup in the carton.  Place one acorn in the egg carton.   The first person shakes the closed egg carton then opens to see what number is under the acorn.  They collect that number of acorns from a pile.  Take turns until all the acorns are gone.  Each placer counts their pile of acorns.  The player with the most wins.
Acorn Counting

When all the counting is done, time to get creative.  Set out some art supplies and let them create a collage from their walk.  If they found a lot of crunchy leaves, have them crunch up the leaves and glue on a leaf cutout for a mosaic.  Paint the rocks and pine cones.  Don’t forget to draw faces on the acorns.  The ideas are endless.  Let your child come up with some of their own creations.  
Crushed Leaf Mosaic
What are some of your fun Fall activities?  I have to admit, having just moved here from Orange County, we looking forward to jumping in the leaves.  My son and I used to pretend racking and jumping into a huge pile of leaves, but this year we get to do it.  Happy Fall!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hand Eye Coordination and Just Plain FUN

Here is a fun and easy way to develop hand eye coordination (gross motor skill).
I tied a Wiffle ball onto a string which I tied to a tree branch.  Wiffle balls work great because they have holes on the top and bottom so you can attach the string, they are cheap, and they don't hurt if they hit you.  The "bat" is actually a styrofoam noodle we use at the swimming pool.  We cut it into 2 pieces so we each had our own bat.  Then we were ready to play.
Disclaimer: I actually saw this done at a Star Wars birthday party at a park. The mom put some silver duck tape on the bottom of the bat to make it look like a lightsaber.  The boys at the party loved it!

A few words on Hand Eye Coordination:  It is the ability of the eyes to guide the hands in movements. Why is it so important for your child to develop this skill?
  • In gross motor games, hand eye co-ordination can help your child to catch a ball and hit a ball with a bat.
  • In school, visual-motor integration, which is a vital skill for handwriting, grows out of a good hand-eye co-ordination base. The eyes need to guide the hand in forming the letters and making sure they stay within the lines.
  • Eye tracking skills, which are vital for reading, can also develop through the gross motor games used for hand eye coordination.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kindergarten Readiness

After my discussion with the Lamorinda Mom's Club on Kindergarten Readiness, I wanted to share some websites I found that have a lot of great information.
* In the end, remember that all our children will "bloom".  Enjoy the journey! Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
Kindergarten Readiness:

Transitional Kindergarten:
Please email me with any questions!  I am available to come to play groups to work with your kids as well as give parents new ideas.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Twas the Night Before School Started"

My sister-in-law shared this with me and I thought was appropriate...

Twas the night before school started,
When all through the town,
The parents were cheering.
It was a riotous sound!
By eight, kids were washed
And tucked into bed...
When memories of homework...filled them with dread!

New pencils, new folders, new notebooks, too!
New teachers, new friends...their anxiety grew!
The parents just giggled when they learned of this fright
And shouted upstairs-...

I pray all our children have a wonderful year of growth!
Good Luck with the upcoming school year!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back to School - One More Thing...

Congratulations Moms!  You've successfully gotten your little ones off to school.  Hopefully you were able to document the "first day of school" with their photo.  But there are a few other important items you may want to cover.   Handprints are always fun to see to show their growth as well measuring their weight and height.  I used the Giant Washable Ink Pad from Lakeshore Learning for the handprint.  It is a lot easier and cleaner than paint.

For more ways to organize your child's artwork, check out: