Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rainy Day Means Inside Play!

More rain today, which means more crazy kids today.  One way to keep kids engaged indoors is to challenge them to build a marshmallow tower.  Give you kids a stack of toothpicks (don't forget to have a quick safety chat with them about not poking their sister in the arm, ear, eye, etc) and a handful of marshmallows (minis or regular sized) and let them build away.  Tell them you want the highest tower they can build, or the longest bridge, or the  strongest structure. Challenge them to get build a tower that can hold a stuffed animal or that can withstand an "earthquake" (them stomping on the floor beside the tower).  Be creative with what you ask your kids to be creative with!
If you have a couple kids, have them work on team building by collaborating on the challenge.  They're having fun while building spatial ability and teamwork.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The ABCs of Making Alphabetizing Fun!

Want to get your kids excited about alphabetizing? I know, I know...excited about alphabetizing? There's nothing exciting about it, right? WRONG!! When you're a kid, anything can be exciting (yes, even alphabetizing) if the subject matter is of interest to you!

Here's the trick to make something so, so very boring (like alphabetizing) fun for your kids.  Ask your child to list his 3 favorite TV shows (or PlayStation games or sports or Dora the Explorer characters or books or whatever he's interested in), and then alphabetize those!  You'll be amazed how much more "fun" this is, when 1. he gets to pick what's being alphabetized, and 2. it's a subject that he's really into.

Make it harder or more older-kid-appropriate by having your kiddo list 5 or 7 or 10 items, or make it more interactive by having him list 3 and you list 2.

Every child is interested in something - figure out what it is and use that to your (and your child's educational) benefit!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pucker Up, We're Counting Kisses

Pucker up, Buttercup!  Valentine's Day may have come and gone (I think many of us may be a little thrilled by that), but 'tis always the season for kisses! A simple, fun and loving way to practice counting with your little ones is with kisses.  I tell Katie that she is going to 5 kisses and then we count each one as I give them to her.  Other times, she gets 10 kisses.  She loves getting the kisses and tries to "top" the number that I gave her by giving me one ore kiss.  So simple, and yet so effective!
For older kids, try counting your kisses by 2s, 3s, 5s, or ask your child to figure out how many kisses he will get by solving the expression you give him (I'm going to give you 4 kisses plus 2 many kisses is that?)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Offering Choices to Kiddos...Is it Smart, or is it Not Unwise?

Funny mom, Sarah Maizes, just posted a blog pondering, "Is Yelling the New Spanking?" I think most moms (and dads) can relate to her frustrations related to getting kids out the door on time, with homework and lunches complete.  I've copied my response to her below because I think it's applicable to all parents out there! What do you think?

Great post because every parent struggles with this -- getting kids to do exactly what we want when we want them to and not freaking out when they don't, that is. I learned very quickly that so much of what worked when I was teaching kids works on my own kids, which is so weird because I thought my students were such little aliens. Anyway, one key takeaway was offering choices, one of which is a miserable choice and the other of which is the one you want the kid to choose. (i.e. do you want this peanut butter sandwich that I just made or do you want to make your own lunch with the leftover Brussels sprouts?) Kids like to feel empowered no matter what age so giving them the choice is a true win-win! Hope this helps! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sing (and Type) the ABCs

If you're reading this blog, chances are you've got a computer.  Great!  Have you thought about using it to help your child learn her ABCs?  I'm not talking about video games or YouTube videos (though there are some really great, albeit additive, ones out there), I'm suggesting a more interactive "game" between you and your child (and your keyboard.
Simply open up a blank Word doc, enlarge the font and start asking your child to type the different letters.  Katie, my 2-year-old, absolutely LOVES this "game".  She sees me typing away and this gives her the feeling that she's doing the same thing.  I have her sit on my lap with my laptop on a lap board on top and ask her to type "B, for baby" or "C, for Charlie".  She really gets a kick out of seeing the letters she's typed appear on the screen and again, she's having so much fun that she has no idea that she's learning.  We stick with "caps lock" on as she's just beginning to identify letters, but soon enough I'll have her type in lowercase letters as well.

We play this splendid game with numbers, too.  Again, there's no reason you couldn't extend this activity to include spelling practice (type in the word, "bat") rhyming words (type in a word that rhymes with "bat", sums (type in the sum of 3 and 9) and differences (type in the answer to 10 minus 8), and so on.

Keep kids laughing and enjoying themselves, and you'll keep them open to learning endless amounts of things!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Math? Hop to It!

This "winter" has been incredibly warm of late so my 2-year-old and I were outside yesterday playing with sidewalk chalk.  After we had drawn our umpteenth star, flower and family portrait, I decided to make things a little more educational.  So, I took a second to write various letters and numbers all over the sidewalk in no particular order or spacing.  Then, her job was to run and jump on whatever letter or number I called out.  Simple as it may sound, she absolutely loved this "game".  She couldn't get enough of scouting out the 3 or the K or the M.  I made sure to only write the letters and numbers that she is familiar with, so it wasn't overwhelming, but rather good practice.
I got to thinking that this could easily be extended to kids of all ages.  The youngest kiddos, like mine, should just stick to basic identification.  Kids who need a bit more of a challenge, though, could be asked to find sums or differences, or products and quotients.  For instance, if you wrote a 6, 10, 12, 16, 18, and 20, you could ask your child to find and jump on:
- the sum of 4 and 2
- the difference between 12 and 2
- the product of 3 times 4
- the quotient of 40 divided by 2, and so on.

You can cater this to kids of all ages and abilities.  Again, the possibilities are endless, and kids have a blast because they think it's a game more than anything else.  The physical part of running and jumping on the letters and numbers make it more fun than seeing the numbers written on paper and chalkboards.  What do you think?