Monday, 29 November 2010

Numbers and Counting: Can you drink with...10 straws?

We took the opportunity of B wanting a bottle of juice with a straw to sneak in some counting practise.  I think the sheer absurdity of it made him go along with this but he had a whale of a time. 
I started off with one straw and said "Can you drink with one straw?" and counting it.  I then repeated this until we got to 10 straws. "No counting!" didn't come up at all for once as he was so busy giggling.

Letter C: C is for Caterpillar: Counting Caterpillar

As an attempt to get my anti-numbers 2 year old to do counting we have been trying to do "different" ways of counting objects.  Since he loves animals and has a compulsion to match things  I created this caterpillar with 10 body segments.

The idea obviously is to put one manipulative of your choice in each body segment.
So far so good, then Mummy had to go and count them "No Counting!" and everything hit the floor - back to the drawing board :)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Fine Motor Skills: Clay and Playdough

A had a disappointing accident at school this week.  On the way out of the building he got caught in the general hometime scrum and dropped the snail that he had made from air-drying clay.  Cue one very upset boy!  On the basis that it would also give B a new experience I treated the kids to one pack between the three of them.
B decided that he needed to make an "occapus" because that was the picture on the pack.  I rolled out the sausage shaped legs and B joined them together and made the face.

A remade his snail on a skateboard (it is an homage to "Eric" the skateboarding snail in Snailsbury Tails childrens cartoon series on CBBC).

R made two snails by using coils although these didn't survive being examined by B :( 

 B then decided that he wanted to make a snail like his brother and sister so we made some playdough.
We followed the recipe at Prekinders which used boiling water rather than heating the dough in a pan - much easier than others I have tried.
In the end though we used trucks,cars and dinosaurs to make impressions in the playdough instead
and used cookie cutters to cut out shapes
Of course the playdough gets put aside to use another day for counting games and spelling mats.

File Folder Games:Cartoon Animals

Inspired by the file folder games we downloaded yesterday from Preschool Printables R decided to make another one for B herself.  She set to work armed with her favourite silver gel pen and wrote out letters of the alphabet cutting them out as she went.  Then the pieces mysteriously disappeared.  Was it the terrible two year old or his paper munching brother who was responsible?  Some mysteries will remain unsolved forever. To salvage the situation we downloaded the animal flashcards from here and made an animal matching game instead.

B loved it just as much as the ones yesterday.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Shapes: ship shape file folder game

Free resource to download from Preschool Printables
Ship shape file folder game - match the shapes on the sails.  Could also be used as part of a transport/boat theme.

Shapes: ginger bread man file folder game

Free resource to download from Preschool Printables
Gingerbread man matching game - match the buttons; teaches circle, diamond,heart,oval,rectangle, square,star and triangle.  Of course this could also be used as a resource with the gingerbread man story or (at least here in Germany) as a Christmas themed resource as the shops are full to the brim with gingerbread themed stuff at the moment!

B found this one quite easy to match the shapes but didn't know the names so we are reinforcing the shape names and ignoring the colours when we use this.

Letter B: B is for beans

We did quite a lot of things on the B is for beans theme whilst the bigger kids had their halfday of school on Wednesday.
1.We stuck beans on a B.  Good for fine motor skills.

We used a glue stick for this one as I know B likes to use this as it is the glue used most often by the bigger kids - not today though as you can see from the number of beans we actually managed to get onto the paper.
2.We counted the beans and stuck them on.

This was more successful as I put dots of PVA glue onto the paper and B matched the beans to the dots.  Then I made the mistake of getting him to count them "Not counting" is the favourite chant we get whenever we do this.  Yep I have a 2 year old who can recognise most of the lowercase alphabet but can't count to 10!
3.We made a bean sensory box.  Biggest hit of the lot but we were going for a mini-meltdown by this point so no images.  You know what a sensory box looks like anyway right?
4.We used two types, beans and lentils, and (tried) to sort them into big and little.  B just wanted to use the bowl with them in like another sensory box activity so we went with the flow.

Some days you just have to pick your battles ;)
When we had finished R noticed this pattern on one of the beans - all totally natural, no cheating I promise!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Christmas Traditions: Sinterklaas

One of the interesting things about being an internationally based family is seeing how other countries celebrate our own familiar festivals.  One such festival is Christmas. In the UK Christmas Day is the major feast day Father Christmas or Santa Claus delivers presents to children on Christmas Eve (24th December) and they are placed under the Christmas Tree (or in a stocking hung on the foot of the bed).  This is I suspect largely the same as the US and most of the rest of the world; however in the Netherlands (where my children are now at school) it is slightly different.
In the Netherlands Christmas Day itself is a rather more muted occasion and children celebrate earlier on December 6th at Sinterklaas.
Sinterklaas celebrates the patron saint of Amsterdam, St. Nicholas; and as the similarity in the name suggests is thought to be the basis for Santa Claus.  On Sinterklaas Eve (5th December) children put their shoes next to the fireplace with some carrots or hay inside.  During the night Sinterklaas and his assistant Black Peter arrive from Spain in a steam boat and he travels round the country on his grey horse leaving presents in the childrens shoes.  Traditionally all the family members get a chocolate in the shape of their initial together with a poem.
What all this means practically is that the shops are now full of people buying presents ready for Sinterklaas Day in the way we usually find in mid December in the UK.  We were told by Dutch friends and colleagues that if we wanted to get the chocolate letters we had better do it by the 15th of November or they would be sold out!  Toy shops and shopping centres are selling out of this years "must have" toys now and panic is setting in for those parents who can't get the only thing that their little darling wants due to the potent mixture of peer pressure and advertising.  We spent the entire day yesterday scouring the shops for "Paul Frank" stuff which is the only thing R's classmate put down on her Secret Santa Wishlist.  Not a good thing to do with three children and a husband on a Saturday.
Normally of course we are also in the middle of our own shopping panic but this year we are able to sit back and laugh about the whole thing (aside from yesterday!).  The shops will all be stocked up again in between Sinterklaas and Christmas Day and we get a more relaxed time because everyone else has already pushed the boat out in early December.
So there you are- just when you thought you knew Santa Claus; he comes from Spain not the North Pole; he comes in a steam boat not a sleigh; he rides a horse and doesn't have reindeer; he has a human helper not elves and he comes on December the 5th not the 24th to do his deliveries; so close but yet so different. I wonder how many other countries celebrate Christmas in a different way?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Letter T is for Transport: Transport matching cards

Like the majority of little boys B is obsessed with cars, planes and trains.  Today we printed out some cute matching cards from activity village (you can find the pdf here) and laminated them to make them more durable.

We printed two copies of the page so we could play a couple of games.
First we laid out one copy of each picture on the sofa and B was handed the other cards to match the pairs. (This of course could be done as a file folder game)

Then R and I played Memory. We started with all cards the face down and the players take it in turns to turn over two cards - if they match you keep them if not turn them back; player with the most pairs at the end wins.
Finally the cards could be used for a transport themed game of snap.