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.

 

 

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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.

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.

DIY Mirror Table

As a homeschooling mother I’m always adapting, always learning, always trying to improve.  Lately I’ve been incorporation more Reggio into our lives.  I find it has many similarities with Montessori but allows more open-ended exploration and more of the arts.

Mirrors are used a lot in Reggio.  They allow the child to view themselves and to view their work from different angles.  They promote exploration with reflections and symmetry.  We had this little table in our room and I thought it’d make a great mirror table.  A trip to the dollar store later it was all set up.

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The table is this one from Walmart.  It’s only $15 CAD.

The mirrors are from the Dollar Store.  They’re $2 each and are about 9 3/4″ squares.  I also got some command strips for hanging pictures frames.

The mirrors fit perfectly on the table leaving a little ledge for the standing up ones.

What I did was attach 4 to the table with the command strips so that I could later remove them without damaging the table.  I put them on to one side so that there was a rim of the table to balance the standing up ones on.  For those I put two at a 90% angle and taped them and then taped one on either end.  I put them up on the table and taped the backs to the table.  Two strategically placed pieces of tape on the front two end pieces keep them from sliding back.

And now the exploration can begin.  The first thing Pumpkin 1 said was, “Mommy I made a star!”

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Follow my Pinterest Board for more Reggio homeschooling ideas:

Real Tools

My daycare kids and Pumpkins love to play doctor.  This play is enhanced with the use of real doctors tools.

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I had to sneak the photo so I wouldn’t disrupt their play.

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Waldorf promotes using natural toys that aren’t too realistic to inspire the imagination and to not awaken the dreamlike state of the child whereas Reggio encourages the use of real tool for children.  It’s up to you which way you lean for your family.  Here is a wonderful Reggio inspired blog that discusses real tools:

http://www.playathomemomllc.com/2013/12/creating-play-spaces/

I purchased our doctor’s kit tools from Amazon.  Click the picture for the Amazon link.

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I also put in some medicine measuring spoons and medicine dispensers that look like a needle I picked up from the grocery store pharmacy section.

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What are some other real tools you could give to your children to enhance the depth of their play?

Magnetic Sensory Bin

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This is easy to put together and a great way to explore magnetism (please note that this bin is for children who do not put things in their mouth.  Magnets can be very dangerous if swallowed.  If you want to put a bin together for a younger child, make sure you use materials that they can’t choke on or swallow).  What you need is a large magnet and a variety of magnetic and non-magnetic materials.  The child can then sort them into magnetic and non-magnetic.  I learned something too, not all metal is magnetic.  Pumpkin 1 was more interested in the magnetic balls that came with the magnet.  She pretended they were a snake and when she discovered that by putting the magnet near the snake it’d move, she thought that was great.  My daycare child was more into the sorting between types of materials and then she thought it was fun how the magnet would pick up all the paperclips.  They did fight over the magnet and I thought of purchasing another one.  But I decided not to.  It’s important for children to learn to share and co-operate and having one for everyone takes away from learning that skill.  Also, I’m trying to be more minimalist in our toys and having one for everyone defeats this purpose.  I’m hoping, when I’m done all my other books I’m reading to pick up this one:

Corn pit

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I finally got the corn pit set up.  Pumpkin 1 loved it.  She had fun hiding all her farm animals in the corn.  Great sensory activity and so many ways to play.  I’ll probably also use the corn for a sensory bin for my daycare children and for some pouring and scooping exercises for Pumpkin 1.  I did add some scoops and cups after the photo was taken.  I got the corn at TSC.  It was $12 for a 55lbs bag which was enough for our kiddie pool.  She’s pretty good at not throwing the corn, but I do have to watch her.  However, it’s not hard to scoop into a pile with your hands and put it back in.

Great sites for inspiration

http://theimaginationtree.com/

http://www.playathomemomllc.com/

These two sites have tons of great activities you can do with children from babies to preschool.  They’re  more in the Reggio Emilia school of thought on education but they compliment the Montessori activities.

When I decided I wanted to do Montessori with my children, I was overwhelmed.  There are so many materials (expensive ones too) and ideas that I didn’t know where to begin.  What activities do I focus on with my daughter?  What materials should I purchase?  What ones can I make?  I didn’t know where to start.  But I found this “curriculum” (if that’s the right word for it) http://www.montessoriathomebook.com/Home.html/  I ordered the e-book (at only $10)  and it’s AMAZING!  It has everything I was looking for.  The philosophy of Maria Montessori, what I should buy, what activities to do at what age, other materials that are great, books, even aps to download for children.  And tons and tons and tons of DIY activities.  There are also links to blogs and stores.  I highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking of doing Montessori at home.

This morning we played with the Magnetic Mighty Mind.  It’s great for working on shapes and matching.  I like the magnetic set because the pieces stay in place for little hands.  I gave her a cookie sheet to play on.  The set comes in a tin and you can put the cards in the lid and work on it as well.  I was surprised because last time she played with it she didn’t get the matching concept, but today she was doing it.

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