Encouraging Building

MagnaTiles have always been the most played with toy in my home and daycare.  I’m amazed at the structures the kids build and as my kids get older they build even more creative ways and things I wouldn’t have thought of.  Recently I added something fun that has increased the building level even more.  Hexbug Nanos.  The kids adore them and will spend an hour or more building mazes and houses for them.  Having something that actually moves around your structure really changes the way they build and think about their buildings as opposed to the stationary toys they usually put in.

This is one of the blogs that first inspired me to get a couple Hexbugs with my son’s ToysRUs gift certificate which we hadn’t used yet.

I do recommend getting extra batteries as they get used up fast.  They look like real bugs as they run around the mazes and structures.  We have the V2 ones but climbing up only really works with the Hexbug play sets so the original ones are just as good for mazes and such.

This is the “house” Pumpkin 1 built for her Hexbug.

 

 

Story Cubes

I’ve mentioned these before and how much the kids loved them.  I recently found a set with 3 cubes from 3 add on sets for sale at our local toy store and had to get them.  They sparked a renewed interest.

From the Story Cubes website:
As the brain thinks in pictures but communicates in words, having a visual aid to creative problem solving would be advantageous. Using images to trigger stories would help the brain think in new ways.

 

Story telling is beneficial in many ways whether the parent is telling the story or the child. Listening to story telling increases vocabulary, encourages the child to visualize the story in their head, promotes auditory skill and challenges their memory.  For a child telling a story it helps them develop linear progression in thought, creativity, imagination, speaking skills, memory, brain connections and more.  It’s also a great way discuss and work through anything the child is struggling with.  A parent could make up a story on the subject giving words for the emotions and ideas for solutions.  Story telling is used often in Waldorf pedagogy to address issues with children.  The book, “The Whole Brained Child” talks about getting children to tell the story of something that happened to them to help their brain integrate their emotions with the reality.  A child who is scared to relive a traumatic incident can project those events into a story about someone else.

The more stories your child tells and hears the better they will get at doing it.  You’ll also find your own brain being stretched as you come up with stories.  That’s great for preventing dementia later in life.

Here’s some snippets of a story Pumpkin 1 was telling me.

 

Educational Apps

If you follow my blog you know I really try to avoid screen time.  For over a year my kids were screen free 99% of the time and it was really great for their play, imagination, behaviour and development.  Lately I’ve allowed a little in for a few reasons.  One is mostly selfish – mommy is stressed and needs a break.  Another reason is that I’m finding it hard to cover all the areas I want to in homeschool without getting very overwhelmed and a third is that Pumpkin 1 has been difficult lately and resistant to doing anything or will say she wants to do something and then put no effort or thought into it and mostly lay around or act silly.  It seems this is common at age 4.  And so I now have 2 apps on my tablet which I really love.

The first is a tracing app.  I really like it because it’s simple and not flashy and you can even turn off sounds and animation to make it really basic.  It gives a lot of options to set up the program how you want.  You can see a demo below.

 

The other one is a coding app for kindergarten.  It’s also simple, cute, with limited animation and really develops thinking and prediction skills.  It’s just the right challenge level for Pumpkin 1.  She can do it but she really has to think.

 

Pumpkin 1 wants to be an astronaut and likes the watch the videos make by Chris Hadfield and has learned things from them that can’t really be taught from books.  She even wrote him a letter and got a reply.  I also allow some Hindi or French language shows as that gives them an ear for the correct pronunciation that I can’t give them.

My goal is to still be mostly screen free.  But I’m always evaluating how I’m doing things and making changes as needed.  Whenever I see any screen time is affecting them negatively I cut it out for a while again. I wish I could be completely screen free forever but that isn’t likely and I’m not supermom.

100 Sticker Chart

I’ve been working on counting to 100 with Pumpkin 1.  She’s pretty good but struggles with the teen numbers.  We have a magnetic 100 chart but she wasn’t too interested in it.  She does however LOVE stickers.  Like really loves stickers and will chose new stickers over a new toy.  I had an inspiration to do a 100 sticker chart.  I found these on amazon but I didn’t really want to order anything else right now (on a strict budget) and didn’t want to pay shipping.  I was at Walmart and found coloured blank circle stickers which were perfect to make my own.  With a marker and a blank 100 chart I printed off I was all set.

It was a big hit.  Even Pumpkin 2 wanted his own.  It’s also great work for fine motor skills

 

The sticker set did have over 300 stickers and we used them all in one sitting between my kids and my daycare child.  I’ll probably pick up some more to do this again.  I was thinking of maybe a fill in the missing number 100 chart or having the numbers all mixed up rather than in order.

I Sea 10 Game

It seems we’re really into games lately.  Maybe it’s the age.  I’ve heard age 4 can be unfocused and distracted and that seems to be where we’re at.  So games go over well.  This one I highly recommend.  I’m planning to eventually teach my children to do calculations on the Japanese abacus.  This requires them to know their sums up to 10.  So I got this game.

I paired it up with the Montessori addition strip board.

I set up the board with all the pairs that add up to 10 for reference.

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Then we turn all the numbers over so the fish are up.  To play we turn over one fish.  Then we see what number it pairs with to make ten.  We scan those that are turned over and if we find a match we take them out.  If we don’t, that number is left turned over and the next person goes.

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Today we played twice and Pumpkin 1 was starting to memorize pairs that go together.

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There are also sharks for the game but I removed them because right now Pumpkin 1 gets too upset about having to put things back.  We combine our pairs together as she doesn’t do well with competitive games at the moment.  It’s much more fun to play cooperatively right now.

Farm Vocabulary Game for Any Language

I’ve been teaching my children a little Hindi.  Pumpkin 1 is hopefully starting Hindi classes in the fall so I need to step up my game.  I came up with this fun way to learn numbers and farm animal names in any language.

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There’s two ways to play.  There’s a cooperative version, which is great when your kids are still little and get upset about winning and losing.  And there’s a competitive version for those kids who thrive on competition.  The game can be played in any language, provided you know the vocabulary to teach your kids.

The animals have escaped and are all around the farm.  You need to go around the board and collect them back.  The dice and counting spaces is a great way to instil numbers in your chosen language.  The animals must be “called” in order to collect them.  In the cooperative version you must work together to get the animals back to the barn before the sun sets.  Whenever you roll a 3 or 6 the sun moves a square on the number strip.  In the competitive version for up to 4 players, there are multiple animals tokens.  A player must collect one of each and get back to the barn before the others.

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The PDF includes a game board printable, animal tokens, a sun token, a number strip in English, Devanagari, Urdu, Hebrew, Japanese, Thai and Tamil as well as a blank strip. The download also includes instructions for both versions of the game.

Download, print, laminate, add a dice and playing pieces and you’re ready to have loads of fun!

You can purchase your PDF copy at my etsy store:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/463826647/language-learning-game-farm-animals?ref=shop_home_active_1

Free Sight Word Board Game Printable

I’ve been trying to find some ways to make learning sight words more fun and came up with this game.  I must say it’s quite fun.  I used a board game template from here and added to it.  This game teaches sight words along with counting and turn taking.  IMG_1452

What you need:
Board game printed and laminated :Sight word board game
Box to use as the “treasure chest”
Glass gems
Dice
Playing pieces, we used Lego men
Cards with sight words written on them.  (I purchased blank playing cards from Amazon)

How to play:
The object of the game is to collect the most gems by saying the secret password to open the treasure chest.
Put the gems in the chest and the cards face down.  The first person puts their player on the first square and draws a card and reads it.  If they read it correctly they can open the chest and take out one gem.  If they read it incorrectly it goes back in the pile and they don’t get a gem.  They keep the correctly read card beside them.  The next person repeats this processes.  After everyone is on the first square the first person rolls the dice and moves the number of spaces indicated.  They then draw a card and read the magic word to collect a gem.  (Make sure everyone sees the card being read to check that it’s read correctly and to help the others learn the word).
If a player lands on a star they may take 2 gems if they read the magic word correctly.  If the player lands on a lightening bolt they may take a card from another player and read it and steal one of their gems.  If a player lands on a crossed circle then they miss their turn and do not get to pick up a card.  When a player lands at the finish they may pick one final card and collect one final gem.  After everyone has reached the finished the gems are counted and the one with the most wins.

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Follow me on pinterest for more sight word ideas.