Sponges, Sticks and Pegs

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R was 16 months old at the time of this activity

Song: 

I’m a Builder by Jean Warren – R learned a new song today that we sang while practicing hammering.  R enjoyed saying tap tap tap while she hammered!  Singing songs is a great way to develop vocabulary with young children.  With older kids, pause to explain the meaning of key words to ensure understanding.

Activity:

1. Magnetic Popsicles

IMG_8406I put strips of magnetic tape on the back of craft sticks and attached them to our fridge for R to play with.  I encouraged her to make shapes, but as usual, her favourite part was taking the sticks off.  I would make a shape (square, rectangle, or triangle) and tell her the name of the shape.  I would then take her finger and together we would trace the outline of the shape.  She would then pull off the craft sticks one at a time and I counted aloud as she did so.

Extension Activities:
a.  Show your child an outline photo of a shape such as a triangle.  Have him/her replicate the shape on the fridge using the craft sticks.
b.  Practice counting.  Discuss how one craft stick creates one side and how the point where two craft sticks meet, create a corner.  Have an older child count the number of sides and corners in each shape and record it on a table you have created for him/her. Continue reading

Dramatic Castles, Sticky Houses and Thread-able Noodles

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R was 16 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

See Inside Castles by Usborne – See Inside Castles is a great book with lots of flaps to flip, making reading the book even more enjoyable, especially for reluctant readers.  I had these books out in my classroom for quiet reading time.  Many of the children, especially the boys in my class, were drawn to these books.

Activity:

1. Cause and Effect Castle

IMG_8384I made a cardboard castle for R to explore some cause and effect relationships.  I didn’t get a chance to paint the castle, but lots of fun things were added.  I used lots of duct tape and twine to put it all together!  There was a draw bridge, a sliding wall that had spy goggles using cardboard rolls, a room and a pulley mechanism to pull toys up to a window. R played with all the parts of the castle for a long time.  I usually tidy up the activities after our activity time, but I left the castle out and she continued to play in there for over an hour and over many days.  My favourite part was when she brought in a pillow and laid down inside with her stuffies! Continue reading

Stomping Around Town

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R was 16 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

In My Neighborhood by Mari C. Schuh – In my neighbourhood is an informative book about different places you will find in a neighbourhood. It fit perfectly with our building activities for the day. I used this book during our Communities unit with my Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. It provides a lot of information about the people and places you may find around town.

Activity:

1. Soft Block Zone

IMG_8277I made a neighbourhood in a large cardboard box using soft blocks and R’s toy vehicles.  Using black permanent marker, I drew on some roads and a railway line to encourage R to move the vehicles through them, but she did as she pleased!  Sometimes she’d topple the buildings down and other times she’d build them back up.  She enjoyed slamming the vehicles into the buildings and toppling them over, the most.

Extension Activities:
a. Put photos of different homes and buildings along the inside panels of the box to stimulate curiosity in building structures and shapes and to provide some inspiration for the child.  Offer the child the following open-ended question to spark critical thinking: How does a house look different from a store or building?  How can you show the difference?  Have the child use the soft blocks and any other materials s/he needs to make different structures in their town.
b. Encourage Writing.  Have the child label the different structures around town.  Encourage the child to write as many sounds as s/he hears.  The child may be able to write just the first letter (and that’s totally fine!) or more.

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Tools of the Trade

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R was 16 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

Three Little Pigs by Sheryl Bone – R loves the board book version of the Three Little Pigs.  I started reading this book to her back when she was 11 months old and she would love to do the “huff and puff” part with me.  She still loves doing it now!  Repeated readings are so important for kids since they help kids to develop the concept of print and develop reading-like behaviour.  Reading like behaviours include holding a book in the correct orientation, flipping pages, and “telling” the story.   The child does not need to read the words when s/he is beginning to read, instead, encourage young children who can speak to “read” the pictures.

Activity:

1. Gearing Up!

IMG_8238I pulled out our tub of Gears Gears Gears and added some play tools from Home Depot.  R thought it was necessary to include her mega blocks princess with the activity.  She enjoyed watching all the gears work together, and especially enjoyed hammering, sawing, screwing and plier(ing)?!?  R got a lot of fine motor practice during this activity.  She put the plastic screw drivers into the centre of the gear and used it as a crank to turn the gears.  She had a tough time putting the gears on the board so that they would interconnect, so for the mean time, I made the interconnecting board for her.  The construction portion of this activity is more developmentally appropriate for older children, but lots of learning and discovering still went on!

Extension Activities:
a. Work on colours.  Ask the child to build a yellow (or whatever colour) gear construction.
b. Problem solve.  Place one gear at one end of the board.  Place a second gear away from the first gear (do not make them interconnect).  Ask the child to figure out how to add more gears to the board in order to make the second gear move.  Using the different connectors in the gears bin, you can build vertically also.  This way, you can create more and more challenging tasks for the child.

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A Bubbling Build

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R was 16 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton – The Little House is a wonderful story about a small town house that wanted to be a part of the big city but becomes sad once a busy city is developed around it.  This story was identified as one of the top 100 best books for children by the National Education Association!

Activity:

1. Bubbly Blocks

IMG_8148I scooped off some suds I made in a pot of soapy water and popped them onto R’s mega blocks table.  She enjoyed washing the characters and her own arms.  I added a tub of warm water beside her mega blocks table when she was finished playing, and she helped me wash the soap off the blocks.

To easily make lots of suds, blend up one part dish soap and two parts water on high using an electric hand blender.

Extension Activities:
a. Introduce the vocabulary words, “tall” and “short”. Demonstrate what a tall and short tower might look like and use the vocabulary works to describe your constructions. Encourage the child to build a tall tower and a short tower.
b. Count the number of blocks in each tower. Ask older children the following open-ended questions: what is the most number of blocks in a short tower? What is the least number of blocks in a tall tower?
c. Practice patterning with older children. In the beginning stages, have the child replicate simple “AB” patterns. As his/her skills develop, as him/her to build patterned towers using two or more colours.

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