Thursday, August 30, 2012

Play to Write- Week 3

We participating in a Wednesday Play Group called Play to Write over at Cherrios and Lattes. This is week 3- Write/Spell Your Name. 
We started this week's practice with some name tracing. Cherrios and Lattes provides the printable for some dotted letters. She suggested doing rainbow writing with this sheet. I showed Jacob but he was more interested in writing all the Jacobs. I started by modeling on the first name. Then I held his hand and we did it together. Finally I let him do the last three on his own with only my verbal prompts. 
He took this very seriously and was very proud of himself! I was surprised at how much he liked doing this activity. He has a long way to go but he did pretty well! One thing I had to repeat was not to go around the o and a more than once. He wanted to go around and around. This is an activity that I think he will want to do again!
The next activity was Missing Letter Name Practice. We started by singing a little song I sing for Jake to teach him how to spell his name.
There was a boy that Mama loved and Jacob was his name O,
J, A, C, O, B
J, A, C, O, B
J, A, C, O, B
And Jacob was his name O!
We sung the song as we completed the activity. He needed a lot of prompting but was able to complete the activity. I think he will do better next time. We will try the activity again and practice this weekly. He enjoys activities that involve his name. 
Looking better! I am proud! His Js are his favorite! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Let's Create

Today we did some painting! I found the cutest little project that I knew Jake would love over at Kids Craft Weekly. It is a digger (Jacob informed me that it is a front end loader) that you can put together. Knowing Jacob's not so gentle touch, I decided to do something a little different with it. 
He started by painting the loader. It was the first time I have seen him take care while painting/coloring. Usually he just scribbles with the paint brush or crayon but this time he was very careful to stay in the lines the best he could. It was fun to watch him with such focus. Now that he has turned three I see him really changing. 
He painted the wheels black and painted around in a circle to fill them. He was not perfect but he certainly took more precision than usual. 
While we let the loader paper dry, Jacob decided that he needed to draw some dirt on the paper for the loader to pick up. I then cut out the loader and helped Jake put it together. To put it together there are letters that you need to match. This was great letter practice for Jake. 
We just glued the pieces down on the paper. Jake then colored some "workers" in the windows and his name on the side of the paper. He also had the dirt and some tree branches on the paper. Fun little project! You can get the printable at Kids Craft Weekly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Play to Write- Week 2

This week we were were asked to make a Sensory Gel Pad by our Play to Write play date over at  Cheerios and Lattes. Check out the great explanations and tutorials over there. We have already made one so we just pulled it out. Jake does not love to use it. I think he feels he needs a bit more structure to be able to write the letters with his fingers. One option might be to create the gel pad that is clear.
He does try and that is all I can ask for! Playing tic-tac-toe was a great idea. That maybe all we need to help Jake learn to like the Sensory Gel Pad! We also did some more line tracing practice. Last week Jake was less than enthusiastic about this so this week when I pulled it out I made sure all my focus was on him (sorry no pictures because of this). I did a couple pages just to give him the idea. He participated and did a great job so much so that he did not need any help. (It is all about the attitude with this dude!)
Another option for practice writing letter with fingers is the I-pad. Yes, the I-pad, I said it! There is an app that Jacob LOVES and I actually like as well! I limit his time on the I-pad but he usually wants to play around the time I am making dinner and it is a welcomed distraction. The App is called Letter School and it is great! The kids are to write the letters with their fingers but the app does more than just have them trace the letter. It is exciting with different ways to trace and even a try at writing a letter with your finger from memory. The app had Jacob when they used grass and a mower to illustrate how to write a letter! There is also fireworks, trains and other examples. They follow a TAP, TRACE, WRITE format where the kids must go through all three examples to get a Star for that letter. Check it out as another option!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dig, Dig Park

We are blessed, here in Nashville, to have great Parks! One of Jacob's favorite parks is one he calls, The Dig, Dig Park. It is an area in a local park that is fenced off with dirt in the middle. There are shovels, buckets, trucks and all kinds of material to use on the dirt. There is also water to create mud!

I try every month to hit at least one field trip every month. Now, of course, we go more than one place a month on outings but my idea of a Field Trip is an activity in the community that relates to our Monthly Theme. I want to make connections from our activities to the community/world. 

This particular space is the perfect place to practice construction. Jacob gets right to work when we go there. He works on digging holes, building with (wooden) bricks, and mixing with mud. No better way to learn about construction than to actually do it! Getting your hands dirty is always fun and great motor skills practice! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Truck Memory

We played a little game of Memory or Concentration. I bought some truck stickers and stuck them on card stock paper. 
I make my own Memory games because Jacob really does not have the patience to play a whole game plus this way I control the pieces and can keep him excited about playing the game. He loves trucks so this game was right up his alley. 
This time I made 5 pairs so there would be a winner with more pairs than the other. I wanted to see how Jacob would handle this if he did not "win." As you can see above he was a great sport and clapped for me for getting the last match. Hope this lasts! My theory is to ease into it and have a great attitude myself and hopefully he will mimic my behavior. 

Concentration or Memory is an excellent game to play with your children! It is a skill builder in so many ways including; memory, patience, taking turns, matching and being a good winner/loser. Jacob was just able to start formally playing within the last few month but we did try earlier as well. The cards can be used as flashcards and identification cards if your child is not ready. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pre-Writing Practice

As stated in the Sunday Showcase, we will be joining a Wednesday Play Group with Cherrios and Lattes: Play to Write- Write to Read.

Our first week's assignment was some skill building with line drawing and a writing prompt. Both of these are activities we have done before so we were ready to hop right in.
I took two pieces of construction paper and drew wavy lines, jagged lines, castle lines and straight lines. We did our Structured Play time after nap and Jake was a little grouchy. I read a few books first to attempt to loosen him up but he was still not exactly cooperative. I asked him to trace the lines. I helped him with the first line and then he deliberately drew straight over the second line, trying to get a reaction. I just said, "Wow, you did not do as I asked but you drew a straight line, that is really good. I wonder if you can draw a wavy line too?" He didn't exactly jump right in but he did participate. 
And on to the next side of the paper... you can see where his attitude was. At this point I could have put it away and said we would try it again another time. I did not want to do that today because I could tell from his attitude that he was not frustrated or unable to do the task but rather acting out. I did not want to put it away because I thought that would reinforce the negative behavior.
      Jake thinking-'I don't do what I am told to do, act out and be rude, then I don't have to do what I don't want to do!' 
If he were frustrated and having trouble it would have been a different story but this was him being grouchy. I did not get angry or yell. (Which is what you want to do sometimes!!!!) But instead I tried to turn around the activity and his attitude. I said, "Those jagged lines look like mountains and your line looks like a road. I wonder what is happening on that road?" I know he loves roads, trucks, construction, etc... so I thought this might spark some interest.
He went on to tell me a story about the "picture" you see above. The picture was not a story when he drew it - he was just scribbling to irritate me, but he was able to use his imagination from my prompt to tell a story. So we did our next task.
I wrote the story he told me at the bottom of the paper. I asked him to retell it as I wrote. I was very deliberate while I wrote, saying each word slowly so he could see that the letters represented words. I did not push him to tell me more about the picture this time since he was obviously not in the mood to be pushed! This excited him enough to keep going with our line project on the other paper. 
We did straight lines next, which are easy for him. Then went to the castle lines.
He needed help with these lines. I held his hand for the first and he did the other two by himself. He was ready to be finished after this and ready to move on to something else. This was probably not the best day to do this and I do encourage parents not to push too hard and to keep Structured Play fun. But there is a time and place to push enough for your child to engage and to learn that sometimes they need to do what is asked of them even if they do not want to do it right then! I have seen too many families lately where the children rule the roost and I am on high alert with my kiddos to make sure that is not happening at our house too. 
I posted this picture on a previous post to help you understand the appropriate hand grip for your child's age. As you can see from my photos, Jacob is holding in the Digital Grasp which is right at his age level. He will be 3 this month. If your child is holding with an inappropriate grasp for his/her age then you can show/ help them hold it in an age appropriated way. I would not push too hard to have them hold the pencil/crayon the way you hold it yet. This is a developmental motor skill that cannot be rushed. If the child is not ready it will not happen no matter how hard you push. It does not always relate in years but rather development so if they are having trouble in their appropriate age grasp then you might first try some motor skill builders for the hands before too much pushing with the grasp. (Hope that makes sense)

Overall I found our pre-writing practice successful. He did the tasks and he learned a lesson. There was no yelling or crying- the activities stayed fun even if he was pushed a bit! Can't wait for next week's pre-writing activities.
Check out Cherrios and Lattes Wednesday for the next set of tasks.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Alphabet Truck Game

I saw this activity on a blog post over at Little Family Fun. I knew it was something we had to do. I thought Jacob would love it! So I made a version of my own.
I put my version in a file folder. I wrote the capital and lower case letters at the top and put a road and dump truck at the bottom. I then stamped 2 inch circles with a large hole punch and wrote capital and lower case letters. I chose to do the capital and lower case letters on the same color paper to help him identify the letter matches. I will change this as his skills grow. He is not a guy that likes to work on letters so I do not want to frustrate him. I pulled only the first 5 letters of the alphabet for him to work on today.
I drew a line at the bottom of each letter to help him line the letters up correctly. I told him to make sure the line was on the road and he was able to do it without difficulty. He enjoyed this activity with it limited to a few letters. If I extended it he would have lost it! I will do this daily and repeat the same letters and just add one or two to the rotation. 

Truck Puzzles

We love these Truck Puzzles made by Toddler Approved. They are great shape, color, spacial sense and self control practice. I just printed the color and black and white copies and cut the color copy up to use as the puzzle pieces. 
Jake gets a little frustrated if the pieces move around but it is good practice of self control. He really loves these especially because they are trucks so I can keep him engaged even if he gets frustrated. We discuss the parts of the trucks as well as the colors and shapes used to make the trucks. I started introducing the concept that shapes make up everything. After doing the puzzles we looked around the room and pointed out shapes we saw in the furniture. The idea is that we will then practice drawing for ourselves using basic shapes. 
Check out Toddler Approved for these free printables. 

Friday, August 10, 2012


We read Demolition by Sally Sutton this week.. The whole book is about the knocking down and cleaning up of a building. We have a crane toy with a wrecking ball so we got the toys out after reading the book to recreate the story. We went page by page and practiced each part. 
Jake was soaking it all up. When he is learning something he is straight faced and very sullen. He is just making sure he gets it all in. I know that he will be reenacting this over and over in play. I have many parents do not remember how to play or they do not know how to teach play to their kids. It is not about teaching but modeling. Kids naturally pick up toys and move them around to play but it is taking play into a deeper level (getting lost in play) that is what kids really need to learn to do. Play starts from experiences- small children play what they see or what they have done. Using literature to extend experiences is an excellent way to extend play.
Jake played with this scene for over an hour. And then when you add the number of times he plays this you are talking days of fun that this book has added to Jake's play.

Let's Build a House!

Sorry the posts are missing for this week we had company! We still enjoyed Structured Play activities, I am just late to post!
We have these floor mat squares that look like wood. Jake and I decided to use these squares to build a house. We worked together doing this project. He likes to work with someone! He plays on his own very well but when he is "working" he wants a partner. Sometimes he tells me he is the boss and sometimes I am the boss. Today I was the boss!
Safety is always first on Jake's mind! He usually wears his vest, hat and goggles. He started by stacking the squares to get them where we needed them. 
I found a Crayola Dry Erase Book with a Construction theme. It is line practice workbook for pre-writing skills. Jake saw it and fell in love! The cutest thing is that he thought it was "Blueprints." We have been talking a lot about the process of building. He is fascinated by plans and blueprints. Before I could introduce the book he had picked it up and decided it was blueprints. I decided to let him go with this for a while. He looks at the book and sees pictures of tools, trucks and maps. He uses those to "know" what to do!
He did a lot of "work" on the pieces to get them just right and ready to be used. This involved a ton of pretend play. I love to see his imagination at work. I do not have any pictures of our house because we were so busy working that forgot to shoot pictures. (Imagine a 3 sided building with a triangle roof.) That tells you how deep our play became! Taking pretend play into and deeper level of concentration is so important to imagination development. Especially at this age- help teach/facilitate it now and they will be able to do it on their own as they get older!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Showcase- Cherrios & Lattes

This week's Sunday Showcase is a blog  have followed for a while. She has great ideas and activities but beyond that she periodically does terrific posts giving insight into the world of Education for those who do not have an educational background.
This week's post is about reading and writing. She makes a very important commentary about good readers being good writers and vice verse. I found that writing is a key element to teaching reading and more obviously reading a key element to writing. We are going to join her;

Play to Write-Write to Read 

Wednesday Play Group!

I look foreword to sharing our progress here on Structured Play! Check out Cherrios & Lates today!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Using Trucks for Number Practice

We have been practicing counting for quite a while and Jake is great at counting and seems to enjoy numbers in general. I saw this activity on Deceptively Educational. This is an exceptional blog. Please take some time to check out her amazing activities!
We started by gathering some trucks to use as reference. We pretty much have every type of truck so this was not difficult!
Next, I showed him our supplies. Deceptively Educational provided a printable. I printed it and glued it to a file folder. I then pulled out a round stamp and stamp pad. I told Jake we would need to count the wheels in the picture and that we could use our toy trucks to help too. Then we would stamp the amount of wheels for each truck.
He quickly picked up the correct truck (of course) and started counting the wheels. He is very careful to point to each wheel as he counts. I emphasized pointing while counting when we began counting and he usually does it without prompting every time. 
Next we stamped! I continued to repeat the number as he stamped so he would remember how many stamps to make. This was the first time he used a stamp pad and was excited to do this activity!

He did a few and started to lose interest. This is a involved task that takes a lot of concentration. He worked hard and when frustration started to show I asked him to do one more and told him we would finish the rest another day. He did as I asked and then had the idea to use the wheels and stamp pad to make some tracks. I thought it was a great idea and gave him a piece of paper to give it a go. 
I love how he took this activity a step further and thought outside the box so to speak. This was a good learning process as well. The truck may have 4 wheels but only makes two rows of tracks. We were able to talk about why and how this happens. This was an unexpected activity that really made an impact. Gotta love a creative thinker! 

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