Thursday, June 30, 2011

July Theme: Animals

Summer is here and flying by! This month we are going to be spending time learning about animals. Jake, of course, knows about animals and loves animals but I wanted to spend some time learning each proper name, the sounds they make, and what they eat.

I want to reiterate a few points before the download:
1. My plans are not meant to be completed in any specific order. Each day is different and Structured Play time should be a fun learning experience. Pick an activity or activities that fit the mood of your child for that day.
2. Practice activities more than once because repetition is key to gaining new skills.
3. READ, READ, READ- Read everyday and reread stories to allows your child to 'read' the books themselves. This is the first step in literacy.
4. Walk Away- Try to keep Structured Play time 'fun'. If things get frustrating to you or your child, walk away and pick up where you left off the next day. Remember it is Structured PLAY, you are not preparing for SAT Exams. Enjoy every minute!

I will Post about each activity as we complete them to give further descriptions and pictures.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rainbow Fish

The Rainbow Fish is a great book by Marcus Pfister! The story has a  special message and beautiful pictures. After reading the story we decided to make some rainbow fish of our own!
I figured the easiest way for Jake to be able to make these fun little fish would be to cut out a fish shapes from foil and then paint colors over top of the foil fish. Jake LOVES to paint with Bingo Dot paint (Dollar Tree)! So we used those to paint on the color of the fish.
As always, I opened up the book to use as a reference. I do this so that Jake makes connections to the story we have just read and so that he can look to the picture and know that he is making a fish. We free paint at least once a week so I do not feel his creativity is squashed by looking at the pictures but rather these type of activities are just a different way of making art; modeling after another piece. I try to make connections as he is working; what color do you see on the fish in the book? Do you have paint that color? What color are you painting with now? How many fish are you painting? etc...
I think they turned out pretty cute for a toddler version of Rainbow Fish. 

Once they dried we hung the picture on the refrigerator with an F magnet for FISH!





Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June Reflections

Boy, summer months fly by! I wish winter months went this fast and summer months were slow! Another month is winding down and it's time for me to stop and think about what we have learned!
After playing outside and sweating ourselves into exhaustion, we came in to play for a little while. Jake grabbed his ABC Rocks and his 'dig, dig.' I painted these rocks with a letter of the alphabet. He can identify a few letters either by the letter or by a word that starts with a particular letter (Henry for H, his little friend). This time as he was loading his rocks he either said each letter/word or he asked me which letter it was.
What is this one mom?
He would then repeat after me. This is a perfect example of Structured Play. He is playing and has no idea that he is learning. It is all fun for him! If I tried to sit him down with ABC flash cards we would last about 2 seconds. I do not feel anything is wrong with flash cards but they are not for all children and mine is not one of those kids! That doesn't mean he cannot learn! He is learning his letters and enjoying every minute of it! Ahhhh, this is what it is all about!

Some of the other ah ha's this month:
*We know that experiences help learning but that was even more clear this month with our vacation! Each activity had a direct relationship to our trip and whether it was before or after our trip when the activity was completed I still saw him making connections and adding world experience. This all adds to his knowledge base and his literacy! These are stepping stones!
*Watching him take my simple "lessons/activities" to the next level is the best part of my Structured Play time! This month I really started seeing him take activities to the next step and it makes this whole process more gratifying for me! The now I have to watch for him going to the next step and make sure I am staying one step ahead so I can continue to scaffold him appropriately.

Some uh ohs this month:
*Summer is here and we are enjoying every minute of it! I feel I need to make Structured Play time more of a priority. Some days I cut it short to make dinner, some days I skip an activity because he is enjoying himself playing in another activity. This is ok but I want to make sure that his day and activities are diverse. So that he is learning as well as playing! 


Monday, June 27, 2011

Dramatic Play: Boat Ride

This month I wanted to facilitate Jake riding in a boat after our real boat ride so I planned on using a laundry basket to pretend to take boat rides. Well, I did not have to do that at all! We order diapers through diapers.com and receive them in large boxes. As I was unloading the boxes Jake jumped in with his doggy and decided to take a, "Boat ride, ride boat!" I could not have been happier! I wanted to do this activity but him coming up with it on his own was that much better! This is the goal, of course, but does not always happen. Especially with his age and experience.
I had some painting to do so I was going to paint his boat for him one evening then decided, it might not be as cute but so much more fun to let him paint it! He had a blast! We took it outside to paint and he went to town! He did have and used a paint brush but finger painting is fun too!
He now loves his boat even more! He hops in and goes for a ride throughout the day. His favorite thing to do on his boat rides is to fish! 
 His cracks me up because we did not fish on our boat ride but he obviously gets it! He also fills his boat with company, do not want to be on your own on a fun trip to sea! His company is me sometimes but also his teddy, toys and of course a dig, dig! :)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Showcase: Teach Mama

My hard drive was blown on my computer but now we are up and running! 

On another note, I wanted to get back to my Sunday Showcase. This week Teach Mama had a very important post that I wanted to share!

Teach Mama is a great website that I subscribe to through my Google Reader. She always has great posts and inspiring ideas! She is a Reading Specialist and former High School English teacher. Her love of reading and teaching drive the site. The site is packed full, you should certainly take time to investigate it thoroughly!

The post I wanted to share, in particular, has very important information for parents. As a teacher, I always spent time sharing this same information with my students' parents. The post entitled, 

learning during read-alouds: 5 things never to say to emerging readers

is something that should be shared with parents and caregivers the world through! I taught a Literacy Night every year teaching these same 5 things never to say to readers. No parent says them to hurt their child, but rather to help. They just do not know that what they are saying and doing is not helping at all. 
One way I explained this to parents, was to tell them that their job was to facilitate reading and not teach reading. Their job was to help their children love books and reading. We all know that we do not learn a new skill under duress, the same can be said for reading. We need to make it fun, exciting, a source of entertainment as well as informative. Check out this posts as well as her other informative posts! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Field Trip: Boat Ride

I really wanted to make sure we took a boat ride while we were on vacation. Jake had never been on a boat and did not really show interests in boats. I knew if he experienced the boat ride he would love boats! We took a boat tour around the Charleston Harbor. (Not on the little boat above).
Jake was so excited to get on the boat. He loved looking around and seeing the water, other boats and the crane on a boat!
I knew when the boat started that it would be a bit shocking to him to feel the motor and the boat moving. I prepared for this by warning him. I told him soon the boat's motor would start and sound like this, "brrrrrrr!" I then shook him slightly in his chair so that he would be prepared and it would not shock him. This worked perfectly because he was not at all frightened! We really enjoyed ourselves! The tour was slightly boring, especially for him, but I walked around the boat a bit with him to keep him occupied.  
The important take away from this experience is that your child needs exposure to as many different situations as possible. All of these experiences help build background knowledge for your child and contributes to literacy, imagination, and life experiences. The best part of the adventure is hearing Jake talk about it now! He even sits on a play-mat pretending it is a boat. Fun times ahead!



Technical Difficulties!

Sorry I am having an issue with my computer! It is super slow and I cannot upload any pictures! I will be back ASAP!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Playing at the beach

This is our first trip to the beach with Jacob and let me tell you it has been the most fun I have ever had at the beach! Experiencing the sand, waves, birds and water through the eyes of an almost 2 year old could not be more fun! I knew he loved to play outside and dig in dirt or a sandbox but the level of excitement he has playing at the beach cannot be matched! Everyday when we leave the waterside he cries. He is exhausted but does not want to go! All that being said, we have not been without challenges.
The first morning we took the dog out to the beach for a little swim and introduced Jake to the water. We just planned on walking along the water but Jake was so excited when he saw the water that he wanted to get into it! we let the waves sweep over our feet. The waves were very strong and one or two knocked him over. He was just pushed down but that created a fear in him. He realized the power of the water, which I think is a good thing! The next couple of trips to the water were tough, he did not want to get in!
We eased him in and let him NOT get in when he was too frightened. It took 4 days but boy today he was all about the water! He spent the entire time in the water. He was jumping over the wavers, throwing a ball in the water, digging up sand under the water and just playing. Taking our time was worth the wait and hopefully he will be a life long lover of the ocean!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shell Imprints

While we are here on vacation we had to find shells on the beach! We collect some everyday so I pulled a few to use to make imprints. I brought along a travel bag of play-doh and some tools. I knew with a toddler at the beach there would be some down time and I did not want that time spent watching TV! (Yes, I am one of those people!)
I gathered our supplies; play-doh (I just pulled out one color), shells- already washed, and a couple tools that came with the play-doh.
Jake has only had one prior experience with play-doh and that did not go so well! He tried to eat it the entire time we played! This time went a lot better as you can see! He was so excited to play/learn with something new!  
We imprinted the play-doh with the shells making all different sizes and shapes. I made sure to point out that the impression on the doh was what was on the shell. He really enjoyed doing this although he pressed a little too hard and sometimes the play-doh would stick to the shell. 
 
This is his 'Oh Wow,' face!
I hate to say it but he loved the tools more than the imprinting, big surprise! My little guys is all about tools! He really got a kick out of this tool-above, that made noodles when play-doh was placed inside and squeezed out. He also liked the shark cookie cutter. When I saw him trying to cast out the noodles like a fishing rod I knew we were on to something! I put a couple sharks out in front and showed him how to 'catch' a fish with his 'rod.' That was a lot of fun!
As we were playing I thought of a way to extend the activity. This is NOT something Jacob is ready for but other children might be able to enjoy making it a game. The idea is that one person (or mom) could imprint a few different shells on the play-doh and the child could try to make an educated guess as to which shell made which imprint. An example is pictured above. Three shells, three imprints. An older child (or a more detailed oriented child) would have no problem doing this and enjoying it!

Vacation can be a time of learning! There are new experiences to learn through but also vocabulary, motor skills and playing new activities. Just try to use your time and exposure wisely!

Dramatic Play: Fishing

Jacob does not have any exposure to fishing so before we tried some play fishing I wanted to make sure he understood fishing. We walked out to the fishing pier near where we are staying for vacation and watched some of the fishermen.
We happened to see two fish being caught. One was a little shark, (that was thrown back in) and the other was a small fish by a young boy. Jacob was able to see the whole process without having to have the patients of sitting and waiting for a tug on the poll.
Initially in my June Plans I planned on making a fishing game but I happened to be a the Dollar Tree and found these little magnetic fishing polls and thought I would save myself the trouble of making them! They are cheap, but for a dollar what can I expect! And they work so that is what really matters!


He loved the activity and now understands what it means to fish!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Beach

We are are the beach!! We have been enjoying every second! Jake was super excited to see all of the sand to 'dig, dig' in! He liked the water at first but was a little scared when a wave knocked him off his feet! We are easing our way back into the water, though! More posts to come when I get a minute! Hope you are enjoying your summer so far!

Fine Motor Skills- Beading

Jacob has pretty strong large motor skills, that has always been a strength. Fine motor skills are another story. He tends to shy away from anything that involves using fine motor skills (Puzzles being an obvious example), but as he is growing he is slowing down and taking time to practice these skills.
We were beading as a fun practice. He loves these large Melissa and Doug beads and the long string with plastic tips that come with them really help him accomplish this task. It is not just getting the string through the hole that we must practice it is also pulling the string through and that seems to be the new struggle. We are working on it and he is doing great! He will work for 5 minutes or so without getting up to move on to the next activity, I view that as a success!
He does like taking the beads off the string just as much if not more than putting them on! Total boy- it is all about Destruction!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hand Print Art: Octopus

Today we did some painting. I planned on making the octopus hand print from this Month's Lesson Plans. I wanted to make sure Jake understood what an octopus was before we began so I pulled a bath toy octopus out and started by reading, An Octopus Followed Me Home. This was not the book I planned on reading but the other was checked out of the library so I made a change. 
We got all of our supplies together after reading the story and discussing octopods. I put out the book to use as a reference and we kept out the toy octopus. I had two paint colors out that reflected the examples we had on hand (purple and green). I let him choose which color we painted our octopus. I also had an extra piece of paper for Jake to paint on in addition to our octopus paper. He really loves to paint!
I painted his palm and four fingers. We have done hand print art before so he new what to expect.
Jake then mimicked me by painting his own hand and stamped his extra paper. 
I drew a face on the octopus to show him that it looked like our toy octopus and had eight legs too!
This is a fun little craft to do to introduce another type of sea creature. 



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Imaginary Play: Ocean Diving

Today we did some imaginary play during our Structured Play time! I love that Jacob can use his imagination! Through my experience teaching, I saw child after child that did not know how to pretend! I remember spending day after day pretending as a child and when I met kids that didn't or couldn't it made me so sad! I started thinking of why they were not able to play! Now I know that it comes down to modeling behavior. My mom sat on the floor with us and played, she showed us how to play and how to pretend at a very early age. Then we were able to pretend for the rest of our lives!
Jake has already mastered the skill! Today when we started playing he picked it up without a hesitation! I cut out fish from foam and placed them on the floor with a blanket over them. I told Jake we were going to dive under the water and catch fish. I modeled for him how to do it, pretending to swim under the blanket then picking up a fish and coming out. 
I told him to try! He loved it and 'jumped' right in! He caught his fish and was proud of himself! We took turns diving and catching fish. When we caught all of the fish Jake did not want to stop and went to get the fish off of our Story Board. He took them down put them on the floor and covered them with the blanket. I just watched what he was doing, when he was finished he pointed at the blanket and said, "water." Then he dove under and caught a fish. He knew exactly what we were doing and continued pretending without my help.
He added the fish to his pile of caught fish and went back to work! The imaginary play activities are some of my favorite activities we do during Structured Play because I see so much in him during this time! 
*He takes turns without me prompting him to do so
*He makes neat little piles
*He can mimic an act after a short demonstration
*He loves playing! 
All of these are things that I see everyday but sometimes just don't take the time to notice! 
Spend some time using your imagination today! 


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