Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Chubby Little Snowman

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It is no secret that Skyler LOVES his ECFE class! I have posted pictures and another craft inspired by the wonderful program we are in. This week we had a pajama day, and Skyler was so thrilled to be in class he could hardly decide what he wanted to do - so much to choose from! He ended up going down the slide a lot, putting "Pom poms!!!" in a muffin tin and through paper towel rolls, and trying out the easel for the first time! They also had play dough with rolling pins and chalk/construction paper to experiment with. It is a favorite time of the week for both of us!

We start the class with thirty minutes of play time/parent interaction and then do a fifteen minute circle time with songs and rhymes before we leave the room for the separation and parent education half of the class! This activity is based on a rhyme we have done in circle time the past few weeks. "A Chubby Little Snowman" was a new rhyme for me, and Skyler really enjoys it - he loves both snowmen and bunnies, so it is a win all around for my little guy.

The rhyme goes like this:

A chubby little snowman,
Had a carrot nose.
Along came a bunny,
And what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny,
Looking for its lunch,
Ate the snowman's carrot nose -
Nibble nibble crunch!

After seeing this sandpaper and felt matching game from No Time For Flashcards, I have been more motivated to make a felt board for Skyler. I see them a lot and like the idea of using felt on felt, but I loved the idea of felt on sandpaper and being able to draw underneath the shapes! When we started this rhyme in ECFE, the two ideas merged in my head and I was ready to start working on this simple and fun puzzle to bring a little bit of our beloved class home!

To start our board, I traced a picture of a rabbit that I had printed onto the grey felt (I just did a Google search for "cartoon rabbit" and this is just the outline/back of the image since it is not mine). Then once it was cut out, I flipped it over onto it's place on the sand paper.

Then I knew what size of a snowman I could make. I went around to find some circle shapes that would work for that leftover space. Our coffee corner came to the rescue with a small coffee cup (the larger opening made the bottom circle and the bottom of the cup made the center circle!) and the mini measure we use for our espresso machine was perfect for the top circle!

Once the snowman shape was cut out, I made a hat and scarf out of the black and teal felt, as well as eyes for both the bunny and the snowman, and ears and a nose for the bunny. I made a bunch of carrot shapes out of the orange felt at the same time. 

Starting to look like a snowman and bunny!

I used my hot glue gun to attach the hat, eyes, inner ears, scarf, and nose, and left the carrots unglued. I also added color to the bunny nose and ears with red crayon and used a sharpie to give it more features. To give our rabbit the ability to eat that snowman's carrot nose, I cut a hole in the grey felt for the mouth!

To finish our felt board, I traced the snowman and the bunny on the sandpaper with crayon, added a simple background and then stapled the sandpaper to a canvas so it could stand (I also cut the mouth out on the sandpaper and canvas at this time! I wrote the rhyme on the back of the canvas and our felt puzzle and activity board was complete!

Having the outlines and removable felt pieces makes for a puzzle aspect to this activity!

Skyler didn't notice this right away when he came down from his nap, so I walked over to the table while saying the rhyme, putting a carrot on the snowman's face and then picking it off and putting it through the mouth of the bunny and he was very intrigued, running right over to the table to play!

Skyler started off by feeding the bunny many carrots, and then after awhile he gave the snowman a nose as well! I didn't notice that Skyler was completely blurry (luckily, the board is well focused!) while taking these, but here are his first moments playing with the felt board. So far, he has not decided to take the felt pieces off, but has spent all of his time using the carrot cut outs to play!

For older children, using the plate holder would work really well. It is nice to have the picture upright, but Skyler kept knocking it over accidentally when he would try to feed the pieces through the hole. This was another reason why I attached the sandpaper to the canvas in the first place, both so it would stand well in the plate holder and so the felt pieces would have some space to go when the canvas was down flat! At this point, we just laid the canvas down on the table and then it was much easier to play.

The way that Skyler has his hands back in the second picture shows what he does whenever he does something he is excited about - it is so stinkin' cute. He will smile and let out a happy squeal and pull his hands back. He does this often, not just with this activity! If he brings me a book and I take it from him, asking if he wants to read it, he will pull his arms back like that and smile, running off to wherever he wants to sit to read the book :)

After awhile, he had been putting the carrots either on the face of the snowman or the mouth of the bunny, then I asked if he could give the snowman a bellybutton, or give the snowman some hair, and this is how he responded!

After putting the carrots in silly places, he went back through and fed them all to the bunny!

This was so much fun to bring a little piece of our class to home. I liked how Skyler spent about equal time placing the carrots on the snowman and feeding them to the rabbit. We talked about the rhyme a lot while playing, and he enjoyed using the pieces to go along with the story.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

File Folder Games

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I have been able to use many of the materials I made for college courses with Skyler. I used the dyed pasta and colored egg cartons from my kindergarten student teaching in a sensory bin, and we have enjoyed using the peek-a-boo booklets I made for another course. I created this material for a college class, and cannot use them with Skyler yet, but wanted to share this fun activity.

I took a tutoring course for language arts, and these file folder games were a way to practice word study. I would write a sentence with a challenge word on a card and we would move forward in the game if the word was said correctly. These file games could be used with other topics as well. You could do it with number or letter recognition, math problems, or any other area that needs practice!

Three of the games were made specifically for the second grader I was with. She told me when we met that she liked Tinkerbell, Hannah Montana, and Twilight, so I made games based on those interests. The Tinkerbell game was decorated with colored pencil, construction paper, and Tinkerbell stickers as decoration and the playing pieces. This game was simple, just moving forward one space with every correct word.

The Hannah Montana game was simple with stickers and colored pencil. I added the bridges to make this game a little bit different.

My tutee helped me create the Twilight game by telling me ALL about the movie. I found a website with all of the pictures from the movie and cut them out in the order. She did tell me that some of the pictures were in the wrong order or that it was from the wrong movie - whoops! She also helped make this game by telling me what to write as the synopsis along the pictures. The moving pieces were simple with this game, all of the characters from the movie could be chosen from.

The other games I made were inspired by either the color of the folder I was using, stickers I could find, and a couple were made for the time of year. 

I found these cute frog stickers to use as the playing pieces and decorations for this lily pad game. I cut the lily pads out of construction paper and the rest was done with colored pencil.

I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to have winning the game ending up in winter, but this game was inspired by the leaf and snowflake stickers I found. The playing pieces for this one were a little harder to come up with. I found the cute foot prints and printed them out, backing the thin paper with card stock. 

Again, inspired by the underwater themed stickers, you move along the bubbles with moving scuba masks (not sure where those went!) to get to the island with the cute pelican. 

This game, made for the butterfly stickers, was completed with flowers drawn with marker and colored in with colored pencil, and the addition of the bee was something new. We moved the bee around every turn and if caught, you had to move back two spaces. 

The most time consuming game was also the most fun. I was tutoring in the fall and made a trick-or-treat for Halloween. It didn't take too long to make once I decided how I wanted the game to work. I found the cute costumed animal stickers and then found some images of candy online and printed a ton. This game was different, you went to each house in order and if the word was said correctly, you got a certain amount of candy. Whoever has the most in the end wins.

We had a lesson plan we had to follow for the tutoring program, and only had ten minutes for the word study section, so I don't think we ever actually finished a game, but it didn't matter. The file folder games were a fun way to practice some challenge words and they were simple to create. I started off with (I think) three of the games, and would make a new one when we were bored with the ones we had. These games would be great to have as a busy bag. They are easy to travel with (I have all of the game pieces attached to the outside of the folder in a plastic snack bag) and they can be used to practice whatever topic is needed. 

These games would be great to have as a busy bag. They are easy to travel with because they are so thin (also, I have all of the game pieces attached to the outside of the folder in a plastic snack bag) and they can be used to practice a variety of topics. These are wonderful because they can be made based on the interest of any child (treasure maps and pirates, vehicles, safari, 50 million versions of Dora the Explorer) and they can also be used for whatever skill needs attention.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vehicle Sensory Bin

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I knew that Skyler's next sensory play was going to be a vehicle bin. Baby boy loves anything with wheels. I had planned on doing coffee beans, but then I saw this Valentine bin from Fun at Home with Kids and two-tone dried beans was the new plan! For our bin I used black and pinto beans to create a road for his vehicles to "drive" on. I knew it was a good day to make the bin after I came down from a shower to find our kitties had decided to pull one of the bags of beans down from the counter and open it up. Skyler beat me to it, running up and helping me by sweeping them all over the room :) So helpful, buddy!

Like our Valentine bin, I knew I wanted to make some themed scoops for him to play with. We used some fruit cups to make wheels to scoop with. 

We had fun painting on the plastic after the cups were done!

I painted the wheels with a circle in the middle and then added lines down the sides, but I wasn't thrilled with them. I sent a picture to my sweet husband, over 600 miles away, and asked him to give me some feedback. He was so quick to check for the picture and tell me that, yes, they looked kind of strange with the lines. "You should just paint the circle in the middle, it would look more like a tire." So that's what I did. Thank you, Joe, for being supportive with whatever I need, no matter where you are. You are awesome. 

The original cups, before I painted back over in black and just did the center circle.

While the paint was drying on our cups, I started assembling the sensory bin. I added the black beans and then created the road lines and dashes with the pinto beans. 

Then I added some small vehicles (very random, but the best size we had!) I want to get Skyler a nice set of small construction vehicles with moving parts and big scoops, those would be better for this bin, but he has a blast with these vehicles anyways!

When the cups were dry, they were added to the mix. 

Then we were ready to play!

Skyler loved using the big fruit cups to hold the beans and then dumping then out.

Just watching the beans fall off the shovel and making a great 'clink' noise.

That is his look of glee!
Pouring from one cup to another - great transferring skills
Filling the nooks of his little vehicles.

And some fine motor practice picking up individual beans to put in his vehicles and cups.
This vehicle sensory bin is a lot of fun. Skyler is always asking to play with the 'beanssss' now. I love it because of Skyler's current interest in vehicles, and he is getting a lot of skill practice with the various ways that he plays with the beans and accessories.

We have played with this bin a couple of times now, and actually prefer to play with the beans in the carpeted living room. Even though the beans don't make quite as cool of a noise when they hit the floor, they are very fun to pile onto the rug and they are actually easier for me to clean this way. Baby boy happy, mama happy!

Also, I do this with all of our bins as I am putting them away. I will shake the materials flat (rice, the faux-snow, the beans) and then set any accessories nicely on the top. It takes just a moment to do. Even though the bin doesn't have the road lines that Skyler saw the first time he played with it, keeping it looking somewhat organized makes it more inviting to play with again!