Monday, August 17, 2015

How to Make a Mini Book in 5 Easy Steps!

holding a mini book


This is one of my go-to activities! I love this little, mini-book! And I think you will, too!

I've made books to help children overcome the fear of a fire drill by drawing all of the things that happen and what the child is supposed to do. I've made books to show children how to interact appropriately with others (one of those was called "I use Nice Hands!")

I've made vocabulary books,  mini reading books, sequencing books, sight word books,  "My Classmates" books. My daughter has made just-for-fun books. I could go on and on and on!

Use your imagination as to what you would want to put in a mini book!

Here is a short video of how to make it.




Once you start making these little guys, you'll find 1,000 ways to use them! Have fun!



Here are some stills from the video, if it helps to see the steps more slowly!



1. Fold in half:

folding a mini book


2. Fold in half again:
folding a mini book


3. And fold that in half again:
folding a mini book


Now, you'll have 8 portions:
a single sheet folded into 8 portions


4. Then cut from the folded side to the middle:
showing where to cut a mini book


So, you'll be able to see a hole in the middle:
seeing a hole in the middle of the page


5. Fold it into a book shape so the hole in the middle opens up:
folding the book into shape


folding the book into shape


Keep folding and crease well. Now, you have a little book! A mini-book!
showing the mini book



Next, I'll show you how to make Sequencing books! These are some of my favorites!!




Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Pom Pom Trick to Teach Kids how to Hold a Pencil Correctly!

by Lauren Barnett, MA, CCC-SLP




Do you know why it's important to hold a pencil correctly? Little hands fatigue quickly when they are holding a pencil the wrong way which means they quit sooner, practice less and improve more slowly.


If your child is holding a pencil incorrectly, grab a pom pom and try this!

Put the pom pom in the middle of her hand:

a pom pom in the palm of a hand


Then have her close her pinkie and ring fingers over the pom pom to hold it in place.

pinkie and ring finger holding a pom pom in palm of hand


Then use the other fingers to hold the pencil! It makes it very difficult to hold the pencil in some of the more immature grasps, but it is still possible to hold it wrong (thumb over the pointer finger), so pay close attention! There is a pom pom in there I promise! Its just hard to see!

holding a pencil correctly using a pom pom in the palm of her hand


Don't have pom poms at home and you are ready to try it right now?! Use a wad of tissue!

The Pom Pom trick but using a wad of tissue paper


And just because I can't resist, here are a couple of other tricks to try to get your child to hold their pencil correctly!

The broken crayon technique:

using a broken crayon to help a child hold a pencil correctly


And the mini pencil technique (the shorter the pencil the better!):
using a mini (golf) pencil to teach kids to hold a pencil correctly


If after quite a few tries, your child is still struggling to hold a pencil correctly, talk with an Occupational Therapist in your area!

In the meantime, have fun trying some fun techniques to help your child hold the pencil correctly!

Do you have any other techniques that you've heard of?

holding a pom pom to help kids learn to hold a pencil correctly



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tying Shoes, One CAN DO Step at a Time!

happy prekindergarten child who is smiling because she just tied her shoes


I frequently see teachers and parents try to teach children how to tie their shoes by telling them all of the steps at one time. To me, that seems like reading over an unfamiliar and complicated recipe and then going into the kitchen and trying to prepare the multi-step meal without ever looking back at the recipe. That is unlikely to go well!


These same parents and teachers are usually very good at breaking down other tasks into smaller more manageable steps and teaching those one at a time before moving on to the next step.


Tying shoes should be no different!


This task can be broken down into many, smaller steps. The idea is to teach your child one step until they can do it with ease. Then teach the next step. Practice that until they can do it with ease. Then teach the next step.


The way it looked in our house was: Big Sister needed to get her shoes on so we could go out.  She would like for us to do the whole thing from putting her shoes on through the tying process. We did do that for a while, especially while she was young. But we have Little W now and she's older, so she can learn to do part. I'll show you the pictures of the steps, but I taught her this a while ago, so these pictures are just for demonstration purposes. I did not do it all in one day!


I first asked her what she can do. "Show me how much you can do." Ok, she could put on her socks and get the shoes on her feet. Great! That became the expected amount for her to do.

learning to tie shoes. step one socks and shoes on



I showed her the next step: Pull the tongue of the shoe up. That's it. Pull the tongue up. I had her practice again, this time adding in pulling the tongue up. Success! She could do that, too!

learning to tie shoes pull the tongue of the shoe up

Next day... time to put on shoes, again! I had her do the things she can do to get it started. She easily put on socks, shoes and with a cue ("remember to pull the tongue up!") pulled the tongue up. Excellent! Now, I could either let her keep doing that step for a few days or add another one. Since that was an easy step, I added the next step immediately. Pull the laces tight. I told her and showed her. Then, I loosened the laces and let her try. Pretty good. We tried the other shoe. I showed her and told her, loosened her laces and let her try.

learning to tie shoes, pulling the laces tight


We did that for a few days. Then added in the next step: cross the laces. She did all of the steps I know she can do and then I showed her while I told her what I was doing. "I'm crossing the laces." Then, I let her try. No problem. I don't complicate the whole thing by telling her all of the steps that I am doing. I only say the step she is learning at that time.

learning to tie shoes, crossing the laces


Next day, she did all of the steps including crossing the laces and wanted to know what the next step was (now that she has had success and I've praised her for each step that she has mastered, she is eager to learn the next step). Ok, now put the top lace under the bottom lace. It makes more sense when I showed her. We practiced a few times. The tricky part here was keeping the laces on the right side.

learning to tie shoes; put the top lace under the bottom lace


She wanted to pull them tight the wrong way, but that was not the part we are working one. Once she got this step down we worked on pulling it tight. I praised her for getting the step done correctly. (the picture below is her incorrect pulling it tight!)

learning to tie shoes; laces pulled incorrectly


Soon we moved on to pulling the half-tied laces tight. This took a few times of me showing her the right way it lays when it's pulled tight correctly and when it's pulled tight with the laces going the wrong way.  Then, she practiced and practiced. This one we practiced for a while!

learning to tie shoes, pulling the half tied laces tight


The next step is to make one loop. That's it...one loop.  We took the middle of the lace and pull it down to the crossed laces making one loop. She enjoyed doing this part. We started by taking the middle of the lace and putting to the shoe.

learning to tie laces, making a loop by holding the middle of the lacelearning to tie laces, making one loop



What I had her do each morning was go through all of the steps that she can do and wait for me to finish it. So she sat, holding a loop on her shoe until I could get there to finish it!


Ok, the next step was to (this is the way we do it, if you do it the opposite way, change the wording!) wrap the lace around the loop by going toward your body. Practice that a few times.

learning to tie laces, wrap the lace around the looplearning to tie shoes, wrap the lace around the loop


The next step was to push it through the opening where the tip of your thumb is to make a second loop.


learning to tie shoes, push the lace through the thumb hole to make a second looplearning to tie your shoe, push the second lace through and grab the second loop



And the final step was to pull it tight. Ta da!  A beautifully tied shoe that your child can do and learned to do by being successful one step at a time.

learning to tie shoes, pull the loops tight


Now, this may take longer than some claims make ("10 seconds to teach your child to tie their shoes") but most children can't learn a whole load of steps all at once. I prefer the slow and steady with a positive attitude and encouraged child method! I am building confidence in her as well as teaching a skill (a skill that will make mornings go more quickly...one day! The process can be painfully slow in the meantime!)



Ok, the steps are: (can you see why this is complicated!)
  • socks and shoes on
  • tongue up
  • laces pulled tight
  • cross the laces
  • top lace under the bottom lace
  • pull it tight
  • make one loop
  • wrap the lace around the loop
  • push it through the thumb hole
  • grab the new loop
  • pull it tight


Good luck! Once your child knows how to tie his shoe, life seems just a little bit better! Big Sister would still prefer if we did it for her, but it's her job now and we know she can do it!


happy before kindergarten child who just tied her shoes



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Practicing Asking Help When Needed



I don't know about your pre-kindergarten child, but mine feels like she knows everything, all of the time. So, when she doesn't know something or can't get something to work, she gets very frustrated.


I frequently coach parents to talk through their everyday problems and explain what they are doing and why. This begins the problem solving / solution seeking skill by modeling what the appropriate thing to do is. (It's also a very good way to address sequencing skills!)


For example: I need to make breakfast. What do I want to eat? I'd like oatmeal. How do I make oatmeal? Hmmm, I need to get the bowl and the measuring cup. Oh, and I need to get the oatmeal out of the pantry. Now, I need to measure the oats. What comes next? Oh! I need to add the water and my fruit (I like frozen berries in my oatmeal). Now, how long should I cook it? Hmmm, I'll read the instructions. Ok, it says 4 1/2 minutes. Great. There we go, now that it's cooking what can I do?



Seriously, everything you do is a solution to a problem.
  • Picking out an outfit to wear (What should I wear today?)
  • finding lunch boxes, backpacks, shoes, etc... to get out the door in the morning (What do I need before I leave for work today?)
  • playing a game or doing any play activity (I'm bored, what should I do?)
  • unlocking the door (I need to open the door, but it is locked. How can I open the door?)
  • getting a spoon to eat a snack (I can't eat my applesauce like this. What can I use to eat it?)
  • using the bathroom (I need to go potty. Where should I go?)
  • driving somewhere (We get to go to Nana's house. How should we get there?)
  • shopping in a store (We need to buy soap. Where is the soap?)
  • everything!

One of the things I like to do is set up situations where my child must ask me for help so they get in the practice of recognizing their need and seeking a solution. Now, we must be careful here that we don't make it so difficult that they never attempt to problem solve on their own.


Here is a picture of her opening new lego packages. We just let her try them before we offered help. She was able to open them on her own. No help needed!


In this next picture, I had asked her to get forks to set the table. When she opened the drawer all of the forks were missing. She pretended to grab at the areas where the forks usually are. Then she looked at me in panic (but didn't ask or say anything). Then she closed the drawer and said "well, I guess everyone is going to eat with plastic forks tonight!" We keep a stash of plastic ware in another area, so she headed there and started to get plastic forks for all of us.  That was not the end result I was hoping for, but it was precious. Next time, I'll hide all of the forks then see what she does!

 



You Can Do It!

When a problem arises naturally (lost shoe, broken toy, friend not sharing, etc...) or you have set up the situation (hidden all of the forks or spoon in the house, or you've taken the swing off of the play set, etc...), your child needs to go through a couple of steps.

  1. Recognize there is a problem
  2. Try to solve the problem on his own
  3. Find the right person to help with the problem
  4. Use the right words to ask for help

We have to guide our children through those steps. So, when your child comes up to you (or shouts from the other room!) "I can't find my ...." Instead of responding "check in your closet" ask "where have you looked already?" After they give a response, you could ask if they can think of any other solutions. "Where else can you look?" or "Where was the last place that you saw it?"

Once the child has made a good effort at solving the problem on his own, then he can move on to step 3 - finding the right person to help. Typically this person is an adult, but could be a sibling who had the desired object earlier.

The right words (for step 4) would include the problem as well as any solutions that have already been tried along with a kind request for help
     
       "Hey Dad, I can't find my swim trunks. I've looked in the drawer, on the back porch and in the laundry room. Do you know where my swim trunks are?"

      "Mom, I lost the marker lid. I checked the floor around the table and in the marker box, but I don't see it! Could you help me look, please?"

      "Little Brother, my bouncy ball is missing. I looked in the garage, the back yard and in the ball-box. Do you know where the ball is?


Make It Just Right for Your Child

If your child tends to give up to easily, coach them on other solutions to try. "I see you looked (sort of!) for your toy in your room. Do you think there are other rooms you could check?" 


If your child gets super frustrated but doesn't ask for help, coach them to seek someone to help. "I see that you are very frustrated about not being able to open that container. Would you like to ask someone for help?"



Big Sister tends to jump right to crying when she can't do something. So, we started telling her "is crying going to help you open that fruit cup? If it does, maybe I'll cry too and it'll open even faster! -insert fake crying here - goodness, that doesn't seem to be helping! Maybe if we cry louder! -insert loud, fake crying here.- hmmmm, that's not working either." by this time Big Sister is laughing hysterically at me and saying "Mom! That's not going to work!" So I respond "Well, then we just need to think of another solution! What do you think?" Then she isn't so emotional about it and can more clearly think of a solution or is open to hearing suggestions from us.


In what situations does your child get frustrated? How do you handle it?




Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Found 5! A Fun and Easy way to Practice Letter Identification

a before kindergarten child pointing to a letter on her shirt


Letters are all around us. On signs, products, our clothing! One of my favorite ways to work on recognizing letters is to have children look for the targeted letter in their environment. Then when they find it, do a special dance and make a mark on one of their fingers. When all five fingers have a mark (usually a marker dot), we give each other a high-five.


It's a motivating and quick game that can be played just about anywhere when you are out in the community. You can even do it when you are looking at books together. Or looking at a menu!


marking a dot on a finger for finding a letter in the environment

Pick a letter that is motivating or meaningful. We picked E since Big Sister's name starts with E. I usually play the game with a focus on all capital or all lowercase letters, but it's up to you when you are playing with your child!


Here is what we found at our house and it took only a few minutes to play:

finding a letter on a moviefinding a letter on a game boxfinding a letter in a book



finding a letter on a food containerfinding a letter on a shirt


In all honesty, it has taken me longer to type this post than it did to play! She was very proud when she found each letter E and loved taking the last picture.


Tips for Success

  • for the first time you do this, pick a letter you know she'll do well with! That way next time, she already knows how to play and can spend more time and energy looking for the letters
  • use a light colored marker so that you can wash it off easily (blue takes multiple hand washings and scrubbing!)
  • you can mark capital letters on one hand and lower case letters on the other for some variety!
  • take pictures (like we did) and send them to a family member. Grandparents love to see what their grandkids are learning and then your child will be able to explain what she did which reinforces the activity!
  • this activity can work with numbers, too! Think license plates and aisles at grocery stores! So fun!

The most important thing to remember is to make learning fun. This treasure hunt for letters fits the bill! What will you look for?!



a before kindergarten child finding a letter on her shirt





Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Reading Wands - Easily Practice Reading from Left to Right

a before kindergarten child following along while adult reads



The skill of reading from left to right is not a natural skill. As a matter of fact, in different parts of the world they read in different directions, top to bottom and right to left!

This skill develops as a part of tons of experience both watching another person demonstrate the skill as well as practicing purposefully moving hands and eyes from the left side of a page to the right side.

A good way to start working on the concept is to point to the word at the beginning of the line in the books that you read. Just use your finger and touch the first word. Very easy!


Need something more than that? You can design a Reading Wand (way better than a magic wand!).


A Reading Wand can be something you and your child design together or can be something that you create as a surprise for your child!


Set It Up!

Get together a few materials like popsicle sticks or tongue depressors, goggly eyes, sequins, glue and papers (you can grab your cutting basket you created earlier!).

materials needed to create Reading Wands


You Can Do It!

The end of the stick is where you should focus all of your decorations! That way it draws your child's attention to what you are pointing.
a before kindergarten child creating Reading Wandsa before kindergarten child creating Reading Wands


Lay out all of your craft materials and have fun! I have found that my child is most engaged in activities that I plan if I participate with her (she does just fine being creative when she decides she wants to do crafts).

a before kindergarten child reading along with an adult using a Reading Wand


When you use it during reading, slide the Reading Wand along the words. It's a simple, child created way to draw attention to the words on the page as well as the direction you move when you are reading!


Make It Just Right for Your Child

Whatever your child is interested in would make a good object to glue on that stick. Think character stickers, colors, etc...! If your child isn't interested in crafts, make just one. If your child loves crafts, make a bunch!

Here are ours:

a set of completed Reading Wands


Tips for Success
  • maybe glitter isn't such a good idea! Ha! We'll only use those on books that we own!
  • we have been reading chapter books, so some of our extras became bookmarks
  • if you have extras, you can give them away to friends! Just tell them what they are supposed to do with them!

What else can you do with your Reading Wands?

a before kindergarten child reading along with an adult using a Reading Wand

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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