Thursday, July 12, 2012

Frog Story Board

I pulled out the Story Board for this month's theme. I made my Story Board with felt. Then I cut the pieces out of felt as well. You can purchase some really cool Story Boards and "Story Pieces" but they are pricey so I just make my own.
This Story Board activity includes a frog, pond, log, lily pad, and cattails. I modeled what I wanted Jake to do then let him take over. AND boy did he!
I said, "Freddy the Frog went to jump on a log and, splash, he fell into the pond." As I recited the little poem I moved the frog around on the felt board. Jake took over doing the same a few times and then added on to our story. (That is the idea!)
While playing he asked me where the frog's friends were. I said I didn't know so he went and pulled out some of his toys to befriend the frog. He decided the frog and the pond were on a farm. So he pulled his farmer and animals out. The cows drank from the pond and went for a little swim. 
This activity became so involved, I had no idea where it would go. He ended up pulling all his animals out and they did a jumping game. Jake wanted to see who could jump as high as the frog. It was super cute and really fun. 
The purpose of Story Boards are to build reading skills. It is a pre-reading activity. Children are to retell a story using the pieces of the board. It helps with comprehension and recognizing story elements. It also helps with writing skills. For Jake it became a playing prop, which was fine! I was really impressed with where he took it! Totally all his ideas too! Lesson to me, be flexible with expectations because it can turn into more than you ever expect!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Counting Animals

We lined up our animals to do a little counting practice. Jake a is great counter and we are really working on 15-20. He has almost mastered through 20 but needs just a little more practice. We pulled out Little People animals plus a few random others that we have. I have really stressed pointing at the object that he is counting. He tends to count too fast and lose count. Pointing helps slow him down but does not cure him of  losing count. It is all a process.
I have found that it is good to have different numbers of objects each time we practice counting. He was always assuming there was 20 of everything so he would speed count to 20 without paying any attention to what was there to count. Another important skill to practice is having the toddler move the object after it is counted. If using coins or small objects it makes it much easier to know what has been counted. This is not something that is known, it must be taught! If you are working on numbers below 20, just work right above what they are capable of doing. For instance, if they can count one, two, three- work on counting to 4 or 5. You do not what to frustrate them by doing so many numbers they are overwhelmed. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mama and Baby Matching

Today we did a little more matching. This time we used Counting Coconut's Mama and Baby Cards. Again, I printed these last year and reused them for this month's activities. These cards are great for so many different reasons; you can obviously match the mama and baby, you can discuss the name of the animals and babies, and you can discuss how the mama and baby look the same and different.
We started by matching them, that was the easy part. Funny though, last year it was like pulling teeth to get Jacob to do this activity and this year he is so into it! This is an important reminder not to push your child to do too much Structured Play time but rather do some but wait until they are ready for more. It will come! 
This time around we spent a lot of time talking about the baby's name. He does not know the names of many of the baby animals. We talked about how the names were funny in some cases, (goat/kid) and looked carefully at the similarities and differences. These cards are great for all ages. Counting Coconuts is an amazing resource with many more printables check them out! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Animal Matching

I made these animal memory cards last year. I just took stickers and stuck them to card stock paper. I made two of each animal on the same color card stock paper. I showed the cards to Jake and we discussed the animals on the cards.
Next, I flipped the cards over and lined them up. We played Memory or Concentration with them. We looked for the matches. This is the first time we played a formal version of Memory. I took a turn and did not get a match. I was over dramatic describing the process to model what I wanted him to do. I was a bit worried that he would not want to play if he didn't get a match. He stuck with it and we had a nice game! 
When he finally got a match he was so excited! And that pushed him to play on. There were only 12 cards (6 matches) so it was a quick and easy game. The point was to practice memory, detail and playing a game.
I lined up my matches next to me on the floor. Jake just put his to the side, not lines up but close to its match.  At one point he noticed mine lined up and decided his needed to be lined up as well. It was so cute! He decided this on his own and made sure they were just as mine were. This action is just a testament to modeling behavior. I didn't need to say a thing or "tell" him how to do it. He saw how I played and mimicked me. Just a reminder of what sponges they are! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July- Animal Theme

This month is an Animal Theme! What Toddler doesn't love animals? Jacob spends most everyday playing/pretending with animal toys. I love this month's activities and can't wait to get started. We will be out of town for the first week of July so posts will not start until next week. Go ahead and get a jump start without us! 
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 a 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!

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