Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Writing Series - U, V and W



This week we worked on writing the letters U, V and W. I tried to keep it a "theme-y" as possible. Our plan was to visit a local vineyard for a short day trip so I wanted all of the activities to point to that field trip.

I know that a vineyard is not the first place you might think of as a good field trip for a 4 1/2 year old (and her 1 year old brother) but we've really been into planting and seedlings and seeds and gardening, and I was pretty sure that the vineyard would be beautiful this time of year.


If you are new to our series (or just need the links again), here are some links you may need:
  • Summer Writing Plan (here)
  • handwriting page (here) - write  "U   U   U   u   u   u" or "V   V   V   v   v   v" or "W  W  W  w  w  w" and be careful of all extra links/downloads.


Here's what we did!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Writing Series - N, K & L



It was a great week writing the letters N, K and L! We had fun with our bonus writing activities too :) In all honesty, the bonus writing activities could be used for any letter and a few led to very creative writing time.

I think the thing that has surprised me the most during this brief writing introduction has been how excited Big Sister is about writing between lessons. She wants to write notes to her friends or lists of who knows what or a story about her favorite characters (which currently are Elsa and Peter Pan).


Before we get started, here are some links you may need:
  • Summer Writing Plan (here)
  • handwriting page (here) - write  "N   N   N   n   n   n" or "K   K   K   k   k   k" or "L   L   L   l   l   l" and be careful of all extra links/downloads.

Ok, here we go!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer Writing Series - M & H



We practiced forming the letters M and H this week and both of my children had a great time! I know that Big Sister learned a lot and enjoyed this handwriting experience and Little W, well, he enjoyed the M&Ms and the cars!

And it was an easy week. That was a surprise! We don't have many weeks that seem to flow completely smoothly, but this one did ... and it was so nice! I hope that you are having a nice week, too!


In case you are new, here are some links you'll need:

  • Summer Writing Plan (here)
  • handwriting page (here) - write "M   M   M   m   m   m" or "H   H   H   h   h   h" and be careful of all extra links/downloads.


Here we go!

We practiced H first (since I didn't have any M&Ms). Big Sister got to try out a new writing tool - paint. We do paint all the time, but we've never tried writing with a paint brush. It was a little different since you have to move you hand in a slightly different way than with a pencil. Either way, she was able to practice the strokes involved in writing our target letters.


Our bonus practice activity was driving cars on letter Hs written all over our floor. We used painters tape and made upper and lower case Hs. Then we took out all of the toys that were non-car related and let them have fun!


 The letter M was a little trickier. She struggled a little with controlling her pen to stop at the top of the line, change directions, stop at the bottom line, change directions, stop at the top, change directions again and finish at the bottom.

It always amazes me when something I think is simple, like writing an M or swallowing a sip of water, when I break it down into all of the components is really quite a difficult task with lots of little steps that must be followed for the end result to be correct. (Have you ever thought about all the things that your mouth, breathing and tongue must do in order to swallow? No? Next time you take a sip, pay close attention... you'll be amazed too!)


Our bonus activity for M was forming the letter M with M&Ms. SO FUN! We bought a small box of regular candies and let her go with using them how she would like (with the rule of "you can't eat any until you finish all of the Ms!). After that I checked them out, let her choose 2 Ms full of candies and dumped the rest in a baggie for another day.

On a side note, my original plan was to do this activity with mini-M&Ms but we could not find them at our local convenience store and it was pouring so we didn't go to more stores to find them. So, with the regular size candies, our worksheet letters were too small. It just looked like 3 lines of candies - not what I was hoping for! So, get the updated M-sheet in the packet (here).


Our adventure this week was to the Harley Motorcycle store. They got to "ride" a motorcycle and see a lot of paraphernalia. The store that we visited was at Downtown Disney and the staff was very friendly and totally ok with us trying out the motorcycles. I'm not sure how it would be at a regular dealership but it was fun and I highly recommend a visit to your local store :)






Our next set of letters will be N, K and L... come back soon to see what happened and what you can do at home, too!


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, June 10, 2014

Noooo! Walk around the puddle!



I know that you've probably said something like this "Noooo! Walk around the puddle!" just seconds before your toddler or preschool jumped right into the middle of a puddle. And who can resist? The splash! The fun! The look on mom's face!

Sometimes the call of the puddle is a stronger urge than the memory/listening skills of the child. But what if it's not?  What if your child really does struggle with the concept of "around"versus "through?" Then it is not disobedience, it's a language comprehension issue.

The words "around" and "through" are words that we infrequently say. The less often we say a word, the longer it takes for a child to learn it. Here is a great activity that I recently did with a client of mine to work on those concepts. In addition we glued pictures of cards that I shrunk on a copy machine that has pictures of "around" but just completing this simple activity will give your child a boost in the right direction when it comes to understanding "around" and "through!"

Materials:
   strips of paper (any color, any length ours were 8.5" because I cut a regular piece of paper into strips)
   stapler




Lay out all of the strips of paper and make one into a link. Then encourage your child to put another piece "through" and then wrap it "around." We also included talk about putting the ends "together."



Because it was a fun task and we were creating something, it did not seem like a repetitive drill activity. However, he was exposed to the words we were using in a real life situation more than 12 times. By about the 7th link, I would say "ok, put the paper ...." I'd pause and he would say "through!" I'd continue "wrap it ...." I'd pause again and he would complete it by saying "around." He actually picked up saying "and put it together" before I even had the chance to start it and then pause!

In the end we had a cute little necklace that had a meaningful language building activity behind it, but it also gave him the opportunity to talk to his friends at summer camp and his teacher about what he did. He used "around" and "through" a few more times in spontaneous interactions with them.

At home, your child could teach a sibling, parent or grandparent (even an aunt/uncle or friend!) about what they did.

This was a quick and fun. I hope that you enjoy making an Through & Around Necklace at home, too!




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.”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Writing Series - P,B and R


Summer is well on its way and so is our writing series! This week I've introduced how to write P, B and R (capital and lower case!). It was a lot of fun! My favorite part was the extra bonus activities that we got to do - make play dough, go to the beach and play in sand (and the dirt we didn't get to last week!).

I love the idea of the frog hop letters from Handwriting without Tears and the other little catch phrases that they use. If you don't have the pages that talk about these, check out this post (here) and get the pages. Big Sister will repeat the phrases as she writes "long line, little curve, little curve." Precious!


In case you are new, here are some links you'll need:
  • Summer Writing Plan (here)
  • handwriting page (here) - write "P   P   P   p   p   p" or "B   B   B   b   b   b" or "R   R   R   r   r   r" and be careful of all extra links/downloads.


Here we go!  Here's what we did this week:


The Letter P:




After learning about how to make the letter P, we practiced writing.

Then we made some play dough so that we could form letters with the dough. Here is the recipe that I used, it's from my mom (a preschool teacher) who makes this recipe each month for her kids!

Home Make Play Dough (1 batch)

2 Cups sifted flour
1 Cup salt
2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
2 Cups water
2-4 Tablespoons oil (vegetable)
Food coloring

Mix cold. Mix over medium heat with a wooden spoon. Cook until thick. Hint: it is better to undercook this than over cook it. Cool slightly and knead on the counter.


Ok, we made a few modifications to this. I did not want all of it to be one color, so we made it colorless (which is actually a pretty sandy tan) and used 3 Tablespoons of oil. Then I divided the batch into 3 lumps. Working with one lump at a time, I put the desired amount of food coloring plus a drizzle of oil and mixed it up.

This is a great recipe to do with kids because if it gets messed up (and it's really hard to mess it up!) you haven't ruined dinner! She helped by pouring ingredients, sifting,  mixing and kneading (once it cooled quite a bit!).








After we made the play dough, we used it to form the letter P on a paper. We realized that the paper soaked up quite a bit of the oil so we discontinued that and just made letters on the table. After we made a few "P"s we made all sorts of letters. My goal was not just formation of the letter P, but a fun experience with forming any letter.






Then we did the letter B!


B is a letter that we've needed to work on for a while now. Our last name starts with B and her B's looked...well... not quite right! She even said one day, "I wrote a B, but it doesn't look like a B!" This was a good one to practice and she got it quickly.



She was very excited to write in the sand. Sand play is one of her most favorite things to do outside. This was quite a bit easier to do than the play dough making. All I did was pour some sand in an old frisbee and let her write. I knew it wouldn't hold her attention for a long time since she is used to all kinds of toys in the sand, but I didn't want it to be something that took forever. Just a quick, easy and fun writing activity.





Finally this week, we focused on R!


R was very similar to B and P so by the time we got to this, it was a breeze!  But she was excited about the rocks! My original plan was to put shells on the R after we went to the beach, but that plan got changed. I had a bowl of rocks, so we modified our plan. I really wanted to use fish tank gravel, but couldn't find our old bag of gravel, so I made a smaller R and let her go to town.


One thing I want to point out is that Big Sister is writing with a broken crayon. I've heard for years that writing with broken crayons is a great way to teach and reinforce proper grasp of writing instruments. Here is a link to an article by an Occupational Therapist (here).




Our Field Trip this week was to the beach! I originally wanted to go to an ocean beach, but some friends of ours were camping and there's a river at the camp grounds. We went and played at the "beach" and splashed in the water. Just as much fun (but no seashells)! Plus we got to go tubing! If you are in the central Florida area, Kelly Park is wonderful! Check out this post from the last time we were there (here).






If you don't want to go to the beach for B you can make pizza with pepperonis for P (you could even get a small "p" cookie cutter and cut out Ps from the pepperonis to put all over the pizza. Or you can go roller skating or visit a farm to see roosters for R. What ever you end up doing, have fun!


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, June 4, 2014

Summer Writing Series - F, E & D



We have encountered some frustrations recently in regards to reading and writing. Mostly, Big Sister wants to be able to read and write but doesn't have the skills yet. She has the basics of both. She can rhyme, knows her letters and their sounds, can write basic strokes and can write her name (mostly).

But when she wants to write a note to a friend or someone's name on the picture she has made them, she wants to be able to write it by herself. Apparently me writing it on a separate piece of paper for her to copy just isn't good enough. Sigh.

So, I decided that we would focus on Handwriting this summer. We would learn the basic shapes of letters and have some fun with creative writing. Join us please as we go on this adventure!

I have decided to start with upper case letters in a developmental series based mostly on the order that Handwriting without Tears uses as indicated in their Kindergartener's Teaching Guidelines (here). We are following their order for the most part. Some of the letters didn't line up with the weeks that I had already planned events so some modifications were made to the order of the letters. In addition, their program is taught much more slowly. The guidelines indicate 36 weeks of activities. Well, summer is not that long and I wanted to go through all of the letters this summer. So we combined a few sounds into each week - usually 3 (sometimes 2) letters a week. I am not going for mastery of the written letters. I am more interested in introducing the written letters, how to form them, having fun with writing, experiencing writing with different mediums and practicing during real life opportunities.

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