Puzzles Gallore: Day Five of Pre-school Home-schooling

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Today went better than every other day this week. The big problem I was having is that I hadn’t prepped the “class” before we started. I would set him up with a coloring sheet, and I’d sit besides him cutting and gluing. Of course what mama was doing was SO much more interesting. Frustration would ensue, and it would take a thousand times longer to get everything done, and Caleb would have a harder time getting interested.

The big difference today, is I made sure before we even tried to start that everything was ready to go, and we didn’t start at his desk. We sang Old McDonald, and I signed it for him. We went over what a cow was a few more times, and how they live on farms. Then we moved onto the Nursery Rhyme of the week. I made up a little fold book with the characters to “Hey Diddle Diddle.” As I recited the rhyme I pointed out the Cat, Fiddle, Cow, Moon, Dog, Smile/Laugh, Dish, and Spoon. Caleb loved that he had a book to identify the things from.

Once we had danced and sung, and he was calm, we moved over to the desk and I pulled out a cow puzzle I made for him. First he had a completed one where he matched the cut out spots to. Then he had a blank cow shape to “add the spots to.” I got the idea for it from a bus version our Families Read instructor made for him. This was a fantastic Fine Motor activity. Placing the pieces, matching sizes… Another thing, which you’ll probably notice is, rather than a normal or round cow, it’s square/rectangle based. I decided on that because of our focus on squares for the week.

Speaking of buses and our Families Read instructor… We also worked on this awesome name puzzle today. Caleb loves buses, and he’s a big fan of his own name. He liked mixing up the letters and putting them back together. He loves telling us that, “C is for Caleb!” I started by asking him what it said. Imagine my surprise when he said, “Caleb.” This is an awesome example of sight words. Then I pointed to each letter, said the name, and told him to please say it. It was kind of interested. For “A” he said Ah. For “B” he said AB. We repeated the activity a few times, but he kept saying them that way. C, L, and E he had no problem with. Then I mixed them up and just put C and B where they belonged. He took the reigns and put them back in order, though a ended up upside-down. All around it was a good activity for him though.

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Colors and Counting: Pompom Edition!

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The Dollar Tree is this magical place where home-schoolers and parents go to buy ridiculous quantities of craft supplies, and educational aids. On one memorable trip I walked by bags of 80 pompoms. I may or may not have grabbed five bags… 400 pompoms seems reasonable right? Right?

Now the only question was what to do with these pompoms? Thus the colors, counting, and pompoms game was created! Super simple prep. I took six Styrofoam plates, drew bubble numbers with corresponding circles (aka 2 circles on the plate with the 2, 3 circles on the plate with the 3, etc…), and colored the circles on each plate with a color of pompom. I laid a platter with the pompoms in the middle of the living-room, surrounded by the plates, and Caleb jumped right in. Watching him use his fine motor skills to place the correct color of each pompom on its proper circle was so much fun. We named each color as he put it down, and talked about adding easy numbers.

I totally recommend this activity any time. You could put Velcro on the plates and pompoms so they don’t move around so much.Do as many plates as you want, multiple colors, and any size pompoms. There are so many great options and it’s a very low cost activity with lots of “educational areas” being covered. Enjoy!

Water Beads ROCK!

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Look at that smile! This was a total win. Yesterday we went to the Dollar Tree, and I finally grabbed water beads. They are in the garden/craft section. They come with a vase, and the two packs I got came with three packs of beads. You soak these beads in water over night and they become little jelly balls. Non-toxic, not sticky, easy to clean up… it’s the perfect activity for kids and toddlers!

For us, Caleb is such a water and sensory loving kid that I knew we needed these. He will play in water all day long if we let him, but it ends up with him, my floor, and often me being soaked. These water beads, however, give the feelings of playing in water without actually getting wet.

Talking about fine motor skills though, there is a never ending amount of possible activities you can do with water beads. We spent over an hour playing with them when Caleb first woke up today. We started with them in the pub mix container (yay for recycling) where he could reach in just to check out how they feel. Then I grabbed a bowl and asked him to pour some in. I grabbed a little puppy toy, showed it to him, then hid it beneath the beads in the bowl, and asked him to find it. That was fun. Puppy is one of his favorite words. Then he grabbed cars and started driving in the bowl. That was really cool to watch actually. The beads moved like waves and would cover his hands or the car. Last but not least, I asked him to help pick the ones from the bowl up and put them back into the container. Talk about fine motor skills. Picking up slippery little balls is hard work! He did great though.

I wanted to share a few other activities we are planning with them. One is taking different containers to scoop and transfer the beads with and to. Tubes are a lot of fun. Pour some in one side and have your kiddo at the other end. It’ll be messy, since they’ll bounce everywhere, but so much fun. You can take bottles, with the smaller lid holes, and have your kiddo drop beads into them. Sorting, counting, working the motor skills… I really recommend having these on hand!

Two Quick and Easy Fall Crafts

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Every other Friday Corey and I go to a parenting/parents financial/life skills class, and afterwards Caleb joins us for a play group. Today we read Brown Bear as a group, and then did a few activities the instructor had set out for us. My favorite, and one that Corey and Caleb spent a lot of time on, was painting with cinnamon! It was just a little water mixed with cinnamon. It looked really cool. The water turned the paper a light brown, and the cinnamon gave the bear’s fur some really great texture. The best part was how great it smelt. I have a ton of pumpkin spice in my pantry that I’ll be doing this with on a fairly regular bases.

The other activity only took a few minutes, but made Caleb very happy. I was working on his curriculum tonight, and that involved a ton of cutting and gluing. While I was working, he asked to help, but I had to say no. As soon as I was finished, however, I threw this second craft together. I ripped a piece of purple paper in half, cut out two pumpkins, two stems, then let Caleb make a few cute in the orange paper left over. While he was cutting, I glued my pumpkin down (the one on the left), and then asked him to do the same. He put glue onto the pumpkin and laid it in the corner. I smoothed it out, and then he glued down the stem. I grabbed us a couple of green markers, and he drew some scribble “vines” on his while I worked on my pumpkin’s vines.

Using a paint brush, gluing things down, placing the stem… these are all great motor skill practice. The more things you do, especially with little pieces, the better your kiddo will get at it all. I wouldn’t have thought to let him cut something a few months ago. Now, after watching how careful he is with everything else, I can totally trust him to be capable. I love watching this little man growing before my eyes.

Three 6-10 Month Activities-Affordable, Easy, and Motor Skill Focused

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Before I go over these great activities, I want to say that the age group I am focusing on is something I debated on. These activities can be used for any age. Don’t say, oh my kid is too young or too old so these wont help. Working on motor skills always help. Some kids are ahead, some are behind, and no matter what these are easy things that can really help children learn.

With all of these activities, remember that these are supposed to be games. These are supposed to be fun. If your kiddo doesn’t respond to them, change tactics. Most importantly, reward them! No one wants to work hard and not be told they are doing good. They will react so much better if you excitedly tell them they are doing well. My son gets all giddy when he does one of these and I say, Good job baby boy! Big smiles are important as well.

Alrighty then… Onto the activities!

1) Animal Magnet Identification- When you first start this, line up all the magnets and just let your child play with them. Let them be interested before you try to force the knowledge. Once your little one has played a while take one off and show them it. Make that animal’s sound and name it. When you name things, whether it’s part of this game or in day to day life, point. It has been proven that pointing connects things for children. Do this with only one or two of the animals at a time till your child gets used to the game. Once you’ve done that, place the magnet back on the fridge and say, Alright (insert little one’s name here) where is the (insert animal’s name here). If they get the right one, tell them good job! If not, say, good try. Show them the right one and just keep working on it until they get bored or overstimulated. For older kids, you can start asking them, Which animal says (insert sound here). So far my son knows what a tiger says. It’s completely adorable seeing him roar right back at me!

2) Baby Ring Toss- This one we started working on a few nights ago and I laughed so hard. My son was being a perfectionist. If he didn’t get it quite perfect and I told him good job, he’d look at me like I was crazy till he did get it perfect. Well, we have this ring that a block will fit into perfectly. We were playing with each piece so I tried to show him he could put the block into it. I showed each piece and placed the ring on the floor, put the block in it, and went ooooo that’s so cool. Getting any item into another item takes some serious motor skills from babies. After showing him how to do it a few times, I offered the block to Caleb and pointed at the ring. Right away he tried to drop it in, got it on the hole at least, and told him good job. Like I said, he wasn’t happy with himself till he got it in perfectly but… This is an activity that you can only do a few times before baby gets bored.

3) Pass- The last one seems like something very simple, but it takes a lot for babies! Hand-Eye coordination, moving your hands just the right way, just the right push… We use balls from a ball pit because it’s a nice light ball that is easy to work with. Sit across from baby and show him to spread his legs and you do as well. Push the ball to baby. Help baby pass it back and forth. When they catch or pass the ball, say yayyyyy good job! It seems so simple but it’s a major thing for little ones to be able to do this.

So good luck you guys! I hope you and the kiddos really enjoy these as much as we do. Remember to make it fun.

Feel free to tell me how it goes for you!

Thanks for reading!