February 28, 2011

Enjoying Early Childhood

LM is turning 4 soon. He still has a while until he starts kindergarten, but lately I've been curious as to what a 4 year old should be able to do and know in preparation for starting school. 

So, in the Google search bar, I quickly typed in the words, "what should a 4 year old know

The very first thing to pop up was this article from magicalchildhood.com, titled the exact same words as my query: What should a 4 year old know? written by Alicia Bayer. She also reposted it here on her website. (It's a really good article. Check it out!)

After I read what she wrote, I had a completely fresh perspective on my role as a mother / teacher for my children. For a Pre-school aged child (3-5) it's NOT about how high they can count, how many words they can write, or if they know how to say hello in every language. As stated in the article above, a young child should know first and foremost that they are loved unconditionally, are safe, that childhood is magical, and that they are wonderful. Everything else will come in due time. 

So, what can / should I be doing with my Preschooler? Here are some practical ideas, and ones that I plan on implementing into our days, weeks, and months as LM prepares to enter school. (A few of these ideas come from these links: What Else Should I be Doing? and School Readiness)

  • READ!!!
    • Nothing compares to reading with your child. It's easy, it's affordable, it's fun and the benefits are plentiful.
  • Character Building
    • One of those articles suggested that the preschool years are the most influential for character building. So be sure to take those moments to teach your child how to be kind, polite, honest, respectful, etc.
  • Experience New Things
    • I love this list from this article above: "Sing and dance together. Hold kittens. Plant radishes (they sprout fast). Make goop from cornstarch and water. Play in the sprinkler. Go to a duck pond. Dress up. Roll down a hill. Watch an anthill. Touch things, feel things, experience new things."
  • Play!!
    • Don't get caught in the trap (like I have) of thinking that our children have to be entertained and scheduled all day long. If you feel guilty for not entertaining them all day, or if you use other means to entertain them all day (tv, video games, busy schedule etc.) take a breath and remember what if felt like to be a child and just PLAY all day long. Children can entertain themselves. And that is an important skill to have.
  • Encourage Independence
    • Since children are so eager to help, and since in the long run we want them to be independent and happy adults,......now is a perfect time to teach them how to do age-appropriate chores and tasks themselves. Things might not get done as quickly, but you will teach your child that they are responsible and capable.
  • Make learning FUN!
    • Whenever and whatever activities or crafts you do, follow your child’s curiosity and find ways to make learning & developing FUN and not forced.
  • Promote Physical Activity
    • It's no doubt that pre-schoolers are blessed with a never ending amount of energy. Providing them with opportunities to be physically active during the day not only allows them a perfect outlet for all this energy, it also keeps them healthy!
Many moms think that in order to be ready for school their child should know ABCs and 123s. But teachers say that what they really need is (from School Readiness):
  • ·        listening skills
  • ·        a good attention span
  • ·        fine motor skills
All of which can be achieved through a good combination of the things listed above. Even if all you did was read regularly to your child, you'd help them develop the first 2 naturally and with very little effort. But preparing them for school is not the only reason for doing the things you do. 

For me, gaining these insights has changed my perspective on teaching my children. I will continue to do learning activities and crafts, but my hope is to focus more on the process of growth and discovery, more on reading and exploring, more on play and having fun, and definitely more on physical activity. And if you needed this reminder too, I hope that this post will help you and your child to enjoy the wonders of childhood to its fullest.


February 26, 2011

Painting with Wheels

We decided to use a few toy cars to help us paint.. Because of the different sizes and tread of the wheels, we got some pretty cool designs! All you need is:

  • White cardstock
  • Fingerpaints
  • Toy cars

On your mark, get set, Paint!

Looking for more activities for your little BOY?

*P.S. The best finger paints around are by Crayola. They are the perfect consistency. Not too runny and not too thick. And best of all they are completely washable--and so easy to wipe off tables, fingers, and wash out of clothes. I HIGHLY recommend them for painting crafts with kids. 
And there is a great deal on Amazon right now to get a nice set of 12 different colors. In big bottles that you can use for a LONG time! Check it out!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

February 24, 2011

Junk Mailbox

I made this a while ago, and LM has loved it!
I got a book in the mail and decided that this box would be a perfect mailbox.
All you need is:

  • An old box or container of ANY shape and size.
  • Paper, stickers, etc. to decorate it.

We, like everyone, get a lot of junk mail. So when we do, I just put it in LM's mailbox! He loves opening the envelopes and seeing what's inside.

February 23, 2011

Sandpaper Castle

We made this sand castle out of sandpaper to go along with this book we read: Miranda's Beach Day, by: Holly Keller

All you need is:

  • 1 piece of white card stock
  • 1 piece of sandpaper (or scraps)
  • crayons
  • glue

First, we read the book. Then I had the boys color on their papers a little while I cut out the shapes for the castle. We glued them on and added the ocean and the sun.

February 21, 2011

President's Day Necklace

We made this craft last week at Story Time at the Library. All you need to do is:

  • Cut out 3 stars in different sizes, red, blue and white.
  • Glue them together.
  • Glue on a penny in the middle.
  • Make a hole and thread a piece of yarn through. Tie the ends.

Happy President's Day!

February 18, 2011

Animal Match-up!

I got these animal pictures from a magazine, but you could easily do this with any animals pictures you can find online. Just cut them in half and you have an instantly fun animal match-up game!

February 16, 2011

Happy Feet Penguin

One of LM's favorite movies to watch is "Happy Feet." So we made a penguin out of construction paper and googly eyes.

February 14, 2011

Valentine Goodies

Happy Valentine's Day! We dipped pretzels in white chocolate and added red sprinkles. Although we chowed down our fair share of these, we also decorated some paper bags with foam hearts and gave them to some friends!

February 10, 2011

Car Race Game

Last week's book was called Sputter, Sputter, Sput! LM loves books about cars, so you may notice that theme often. As we read, we came to this page in the book......

 .....and it gave me a good idea for this fun game!

  • I used 2 pieces of black construction paper and cut them into 8 rectangles. 
  • I used a white crayon to draw the street lines down the middle of each of them.
  • I used yellow construction paper to cut out the lines, and used double stick tape to stick them on the roads, creating squares out of the roads.
  • I used clear contact paper to "laminate" the roads so they wouldn't get bent in our game.

The game is simply to get from one end of the road to the other. We used toy cars for our game pieces and a big yellow toy dice. The funnest part is that since the 8 road rectangles are not connected, we can change the game-board each time we play!

AND it's great to practice counting & numbers too!

Do you like this idea?

Looking for more activities for your little BOY?

February 8, 2011

"Heart"-Air Balloon


We made Valentines for Daddy and Grandparents by cutting out a Heart-Air Balloon with construction paper, a basket with foam hearts glued on, and LM drew our family in the basket.

We got the idea when we read this book:

And saw this picture:

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 7, 2011

Shape Pictures

I found some wooden shapes at the thrift store a while back and wanted to make some "puzzle-pictures" that LM could put the shapes on. So, I just traced the shapes with a marker, and then I put these in sheet protectors and in a folder.

This assortment of shapes only includes squares, diamonds and triangles, so we're a bit limited in the pictures we can draw (no cirlces = no automobiles.) So far we've come up with some fun pictures and more to come! For example: butterfly, flower, rocket, (those 3 shown in picture above) castle, house, snake, and penguin.

If you want to do something similar, you could cut out your own shapes using cardboard, or even just paper. You could even laminate the shapes for added durability.

February 4, 2011

Lego Number Race

We got a bunch of Mega Lego Blocks for Christmas this year. We made a game where I wrote the numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, & 8 on little papers and put them on the couch. I sat at the table with the box of legos and handed them to LM one at a time. He would count the number of circles on the lego, run over to the couch and put it next to the corresponding number. We did this until all the blocks were gone. Then I had LM make towers out of each pile.

February 2, 2011

Valentine Hunt!

Here is my plan for counting down the days until Valentine's Day!

I made a stuffed heart with a pocket out of felt. Each day, I will put valentines and a little treat in the pocket and hide the heart somewhere in the house.

I made this little valentine bag that will hang in our living room:

Each day, it will hold the clue to where the valentine treasure is for that day. I am going to use the Home Treasure Hunt cards I made last year as the clues:

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Yesterday we went to a friends house and she had this cute craft for the kids to make for Groundhogs day today. Here's how you can make one even before the day is over!

1. Print a small picture of a groundhog and tape it to a Popsicle stick.
2. Poke the Popsicle stick through a paper or Styrofoam cup.
3. Pull on the stick and watch as the groundhog moves up and down--in and out of his "hole" to look for his shadow.

And then hope that he didn't see his shadow, so spring will come soon!!

February 1, 2011

Square Felt Farm Animals

(cow, duck, pig, chicken, dog, cat, horse)

I'm in love with felt, and decided to make some animals that we can use to sing Old MacDonald. I thought making them square would be cute. I think the chicken is my favorite.

If you want to make these, here is the basic low-down of what I did:

1. Cut squares out of felt. My squares are 3" x 3".
2. Cut out the eyes using black and white felt.
3. Cut out everything else the noses, beaks, ears, wings, legs, arms
4. Stitch on the eyes, noses, and beaks on one of the squares. Then stitch the smiles using black thread.
5. Put the 2 squares together and start stitching them together with a blanket stitch.
6. As you stitch, add in the arms, legs, wings, ears. 
7. Leave an opening and stuff the square with filling.
8. Close up the stitch and say "howdy!" to your new farm friend!!

The boys have had fun playing with these, and when we sing Old MacDonald, we put them in a bag and they take turns pulling one out as we sing each verse.