Monday, September 10, 2012

Fine Motor Skills Fun

As a first grade teacher, I discovered that a lot of children (especially boys) are lacking the fine motor skills necessary to have good handwriting.  As a result, they are very slow, reluctant writers.  It is difficult for children with inadequate fine motor skills to focus on the content of their story because the task of physically getting the words on the page is overwhelming.  It is a vicious cycle where writing is hard, so they don't want to write, which means they don't get the practice they need, so writing continues to be hard and on and on.

I knew I wanted to set my kids up for success in school by making sure that they can write comfortably.  Big Brother is not interested in coloring or drawing, so I need to find more creative ways to help him improve his fine motor control.  One way that our preschool teacher suggested is to allow them to use tongs. Our ice bucket came with a set of tongs that is perfect for little hands.  I grabbed a bag of pom poms from the dollar bin at Target for him to pick up.  As he gets better I may switch to beans or cereal.

I gave Big Brother the tongs, an ice cube tray and the pom poms and just let him free explore.  He was mostly interested in piling them up high enough that they would fall down, which was just fine with me!  He started to challenge himself by picking up more than one pom pom at a time.  I was excited to see him challenged but not overly frustrated.  And he was entertained for about 20 minutes!

You could also use this activity to teach colors or practice sorting.  For now, I just wanted my son to get use to the tongs and enjoy the activity so that when it comes out again he will be excited.  I will be back later this week with other ideas for improving fine motor skills.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fall To Do List

This summer I made a to-do list for our family that was a compilation of many that I found on the internet.  I loved it because it was tailored to our family and our interests.  It was a visual reminder of all those things I am always saying I want to do but never getting done.  We had some much fun trying new things like berry picking and making jam.  

I am a list person, so it was good for me to have a list to remind myself to do fun things with my kids like build a fort and run through the sprinkler.  Hopefully some day I will be spontaneous enough to not need a list to remind me to have fun, but until then, I love having a seasonal to-do list around.  And it makes my list-making little heart feel good to check things off too!

I recently made a Fall To-Do list and thought you might like to see what is on it.  Some things only make sense for my family (like visiting Mickey and Little Sister's Birthday party), but most would apply to any family.  If you are a lister like me, I encourage you to make a list of things you want to do this fall and then get out there and have some fun!

Fall To-Do List
Collect leaves   
pumpkin patch  
Farmer’s Market
Bake a Pie   
Drink Apple Cider   
Visit Mickey   
Take a Nature Walk   
Go to the Zoo  
Build a fort
Decorate for Thanksgiving   
Canned Food Donation
Play Chutes and Ladders   
Watch Football   
Read a scary story   
Carve Pumpkins
Cook Spaghetti Squash  
Thankful tree
Trick or Treat  
Bake Cookies 
Pick up yard
Dance Party  
Make Soup
Little Sister's Birthday Party   
Pumpkin Spice Latte
French toast  
Watch Hocus Pocus  
Star Tours 
Halloween party   
Halloween movie   
5K as a family   
Decorate for Halloween   
Attend Homecoming   
Costume Photos
Apple Picking   
Plant Bulbs    
Black Friday
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown   
10K Race for Mama    
PJ Day

I doubt we will get to all of these things, but I know we will do more of them than we would without the list to remind me!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cooking with Kids

 I have been telling parents in my class for years that cooking with your children is such a powerful way to teach math and reading skills.  Plus, you are preparing your child for life (I may have needed MANY lessons on how to read a recipe before I was able to cook even the simplest meals).

The problem is, some of us are not exactly comfortable in the kitchen ourselves (ME) without a toddler getting involved.  I decided this summer that it was time to practice what I preach and start incorporating Big Brother into some cooking at our house.  Here are a few things I learned that can make cooking together more fun for you and your child (even if you aren't a good cook).

1. Choose something your child likes to eat at first.  My first few attempts failed because Big Brother had no interest in the foods I chose.  Finally, I got smart and we made ice cream.  BINGO!

2. Choose a simple recipe or one you know well.  If you aren't sure what should happen next, you are not going to want an extra little spoon hovering over the pot.  Depending on the age of your child, you may also need a short recipe to allow for a shorter attention span.

 3. Lay out everything you will need for the recipe before calling your child into the kitchen.  Really.  I mean everything (ingredients, measuring devices, mixers, bowls, etc.).  Trust me on this, you do not want to leave a bowl full of ingredients in front of your two year old while you run back to the fridge for some milk.

4. Don't plug any electronics in until you are ready to use them.  I suppose this is only for smaller children, but the first thing my son did was find the on button on the ice cream maker and the electric mixer.  They just can't resist.

5. Expect some mess.  I usually leave a mess in the kitchen when I cook, so I don't know why it was difficult for me to realize that my two year old probably wasn't going to pour or mix things perfectly either.  It is nothing a wet rag can't fix and Big Brother learned so much about being careful when he saw the milk spilling all over the counter!

6. Keep at it! Each time I cook with my son it gets easier and easier, and I get more confident about it.  It requires a little extra preparation, but the reward is so worth it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to School

I created this blog many months ago but have never posted to it.  I think I have procrastinated due to fear and indecision about which direction to go with it.  Do I focus on educational stuff?  Personal stuff?  Will people like it?  What is the most important thing to blog about?  And so I haven't blogged about anything.

But now my teammates are headed back to school this week, and my elementary school is preparing to start a new year.  Without me.  I am still processing how I feel about this.  On the one hand, I am so thankful that we have the means for me to stay home and raise our two beautiful children.  It is a responsibility that we did not want to leave to anyone else.  On the other hand, it is so hard.  Some days between nap struggles, messy floors, the cranky toddler and the mile long to-do list, I think it would be so much easier to be at work.

I know I made the right decision to stay home, and I cherish this time with my small people.  They teach me something new every day.  However, I also value the part of myself that loved her career and had professional goals.  So, while my professional goals are on hold, I will use this blog to start my journey down the path to being a writer - a lifelong goal.  And since the old wisdom is to write what you know, that is exactly what I will do.  This blog will be whatever is on my mind and heart - a little bit of personal stuff (like today), a lot of learning to apply my teaching knowledge to my own kids, and whatever else I encounter in this next phase of my life.

Welcome, and thanks for joining me in my next great adventure!