### November 2011 archive

One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is when my cousins and I would gather together to make crafts that my Aunt had prepared in advance.  So, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to make a Thanksgiving-themed activity.

As I talked about in my post “Number Sense,” children need to learn that a number is a symbol that represents a quantity.  Counting slowly, touching one object at a time, is one way to start.  Drawing ojects one object at a time is the next step to practice representing a number.  After your child is exposed to counting through hands-on activities over a period of time, they will start to be able to recognize a group of 3 objects as 3 objects without even needing to count.  So, today’s activity is:

1) Print the turkeys Numbered Turkeys

2) Cut out the turkeys; let your child assist you, teaching him/her how to hold the scissors and take small “bites” carefully.

3) Encourage your child to identify the number on the turkey and draw that many tailfeathers on the tukey’s bottom, making it as colorful or simple as they like using crayons, markers, or even paint (with fingers or brush) if you want to make it more of a craft.

4) As always, have fun!

Some of my FAVORITE Thanksgiving memories include writing poems to share for the family before our Thanksgiving meal.  Some were serious (poems that share how thankful we were) and some were silly – we still have a video of my crazy Uncle Chris reading his “poem” which was actually a really a ridiculous riddle.

Whether you make it a point to help your little ones come up with Thankful poems, a “Thankful Poster” or a “Thankful Words Book,”  all of these open-ended activities are simple ways to celebrate the holiday while also building oral vocabulary and being intentional about helping to develop pre-reading and pre-writing skills.

I highly encourage checking out age-appropriate picture books at your local library about Thanksgiving to read as a primer for these activities.  Here are a few that I recommend:

Mommy Teaching for the Non-Teacher Mommy by Krista
“There are some mommies lucky enough to have the experience of teaching, some blessed with the gift of teaching, then there’s some who just throw a bunch of ideas at their kids and hope that just one will stick.

None are wrong, although some may be easier and work better than others, but when it comes to being a mommy teacher the only rule is to keep kids engaged! When my first son was diagnosed with autism at 18 months we started sending him to therapy from 8-3 five days a week. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I definitely wasn’t expecting this so-called “intensive” therapy to look like playtime. The autistic brain works differently so I had to use some more involved techniques with my son, but the one thing that I took from his therapy that I can apply to all of my children is this, just play. Let them get dirty, let them make messes, let them touch, and feel, and listen, and do! Don’t stifle your children by telling them, “no” and don’t let your fears or discomfort keep your children on the sidelines! But, unlike my teacher, mommy friends I don’t have a portfolio to pull from, I don’t have training or experience. So how can I make sure my children are staying engaged, not getting bored, learning and trying different things each day? There is one thing that changed my non-teacher mommy life: the internet! Here are a few ways to use what others have learned and done to your advantage…
Welcome to your own personal portfolio. Get prepared to hear your children say on a pretty regular basis, “You’re the coolest mom ever!” The possibilities are endless. From arts and crafts to bedroom ideas you will always be able to find something that you will love. Making monsters out of tissue boxes,

how to make your own sidewalk paint, even artwork your children can help you make for their playroom, you will never run out of things to do! It’s super easy if you don’t have an account to create one. Just go to pinterest and request an invite (or ask a friend who you know has an account to send you an invite through e-mail). Create your boards and start pinning photos from their site, your friends’ boards, or anything else you come across while searching the web. Just be careful it is more addictive than Facebook and a lot more fun!
Facebook groups and blogs. Obviously, you’ve already noticed how helpful it is to have the advice of those who have “done” to help you learn how to “do”! It’s amazing the information you can find (good and bad…so make sure you know the source of whatever info you’re looking at!) from other mommies and professionals. One group I found on FB is the Play At Home Mom which gives great ideas for sensory play from therapists and moms. If you have a specific area you need to work on with your child try searching for a group that caters to that specifically i.e.

I follow the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation and the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation so I can keep up easily with news of therapy ideas, new research, events, etc. Blogs are fabulous as well (obviously I think so since I’m a blogger!) But you need to make sure you are not getting overwhelmed with the feelings of insecurity you can get while looking at something that seems to show a “perfect” mom doing the “perfect” things. Remember, all of these “perfect” ideas came with trial, error, and a lot of grace. Luckily, you get to see the finished product, but don’t forget that these moms didn’t get it right the first (or fiftieth) time either. Don’t get overwhelmed with everything you “can” and “should” do, just pick a few and go with it. No pressure!

Don’t feel like you can’t be a mommy teacher just because you’re not a teacher mommy! You know your child better than anyone, and with a little effort and a few resources you can make sure that at least a few of the seemingly random things you throw at your child actually stick. Feel free to share your successes, failures, and mommy teacher ideas! After all, the best way for us to learn is to learn from each other.”

A lot of parents assume their super verbal and proficient little ones have a wider speaking vocabulary than listening vocabulary.  It is not that your little one doesn’t “know” the words they are looking for, but there are certain language concepts that are not yet part of their speaking vocabulary.

For instance, if I asked your little one to look “under” the table to find my pencil, he or she probably wouldn’t hesitate.  Your little one probably knows the word “under” in context enough to search in the direction that I am referring to.  Or, if I am “under” a table and I asked your little one where I was he or she might state, “Under the table” using the position word “under.”  But, in the context that I had a doll “under” something and asked your little one to describe where the doll is in their words.  He/she may or may not use words to describe directionality like (under, next to, through, between, back, on top, over, above, etc.)

So, to work on developing this skill through a natural progression from head knowledge to incorporating these words into their oral voacbulary and using them abstractly, I am going to give you a series of position word activities using pictures of Casey’s little ones because she is such an awesome mommy teacher – check out her kidspiration blog 🙂

1) Playing Copy Cat Games:  Casey loves to play these games with her little “Leyson man.”  This is very similar to “simon says” – ask your little one to copy you as you place your hands “Over” your head, “between” your knees, “beside” your cheeks, etc.

Casey's little one, James, hiding under the bed!

2) Hide and Seek: Hide a toy and give directions using position words for your little one to find it, “The block is between the couch pillows.”

3) Act it out with your whole body:  “Can you hide under the bed?  Can you climb on top of the stool?  Can you jump over the pillow?”  This part of the activity helps little ones meet the needs of learning through movement!Casey’s little one, Leyson, practicing position words with his farm animals!

Casey's little one, Leyson, practicing position words with his farm animals!

4) Act it out with toys:  “Can your cow jump over the farmhouse? Can your pig squeeze through the doorway?”  This helps the little ones needs to learn in a hands-on way!

5) Use words to give directions: Place something (like a doll’s purse) between two chairs, then dialogue with your little one “Pretend that I cant find the Barbie’s favorite purse, but you know where it is!  Without showing me, can you use your words to tell me where it is?”

Growing up, when my cousins and I would get together we would always come up with new and inventive ideas for dramatic play.  At times we ran a shoe store with all of my grandmother’s shoes that we would place a tag of our own, made-up price (which was a great math activity).  Other times we would run a snack shop or bakery.

My personal favorite scenario was our News Stand.  We made newspapers based on the information that we gathered from our own experiences or imaginations and modeled them after the structure of an actual newspaper article.

There are so many learning opportunities wrapped up in this scene.  I recommend sparking the idea with your little one “Oooh, let’s make our own newspaper today that Daddy can read tomorrow morning before he goes to work!”

I realize that times have changed and newspapers are not the main source of information, but I still think that this should be something that you and your child can do together that will build researching skills, teach your little one how to collect information and re-create it inventively, develop creative writing skills, and much more.  How exciting to see what your little one might come up with or what he/she is interested in writing about.   How many different articles might you have (a comic strip, a weather report, a community article, etc.)?  You and your little one could team up – you could be the journalist (writing down everything your little one dictates) while your little one is the illustrator.  There are so many open-ended possibilities!