Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flower III

We actually used today as a "finish up project" day.  We had stuff from our weather theme a few weeks ago that I thought we'd get done in our rain/rainbow (April Showers) theme but still didn't get done.  So finish up and a few extra activities. 

We started sewing yesterday.  Trent was watching them so intensely that when he woke up from his nap today I offered that activity to him.  Oh my goodness...he loved it!  He has excellent fine motor skills.  He even has a nice color scheme going on!  He'd get to a point and hand me the rectangle (to knot off) and he'd open the container to get another color. 
This is where he is at.  We'll be leaving it out for him to continue with as he desires.

Setting Up Activities
I find that in home-based's very easy to do a lot of independent work.  Especially, if it's a homeschooling household with only children in that family.  And independent work has it's place.  But we also want to make way for cooperative work. I vary how I set up my activities.   Here are three main ways I usually set up the activities in order for a different experience.

* Sitting near each other but have own materials.
That's similar to the sensory pool today.  I thought Trent would be up and was setting it up accordingly as he really is still in parallel play.  However, the other two children are past that and at first they played with their own materials but then began to combine their play without any suggestions from me...which is exactly what I want to see! :-)

* Sitting next to each other and having several of the same type of items but not identical.
I find that this is a great way to transition the children to sharing.  Why?  Because "it's always greener on the other side of the fence."  They want what the other child has.  It looks like more fun.  This is a great way to encourage them to ask politely and wait patiently.  In the meantime, they have something similar to work with.  Side note:  Just because a child asks another for a specific toy or tool, it doesn't mean that the other child is done with it.  At the beginning of the year they often struggle with this concept.  I teach, "Ask them if you can use it when they are done."  And by this time of year...I hear this all the time.  The children very seldom forgets who asked for the item.  Something else I teach...especially with a mixed age group is how to trade.  All a part of problem solving and working together. 

* Sitting next to each other but having to share materials.
By the time they are at this stage, most of the  children are well into cooperative play and understand the "rules of the road" when it comes to using and sharing toys/tools.  They are also at a stage where they are beginning to "plan" their work.  So this adds a bit of a challenge for them.  Definitely a benefit.  To add an additional challenge, do this with a group of 3 or 4!  Lovely conversations and learning experiences!  Often, after setting up the activity and giving directions I'll quietly scoot back so I'm not really "with" the group.  I'm there if I need to help facilitate but they often learn quite a bit from their peers.  If it's a mixed age group...or mixed develop group, I'll sit near the youngest or the one who may not be at the same develop as the others.  I've found great success in having 2 or 3 that know how it works and one that isn't as adept.  Sitting next to a specific child so I can give quiet verbal, nonverbal-physical-visual cues help them be successful.  That's what we want, right?!  The more they are successful the higher their confidence level.

"Grow a Garden" Flower Sorting
This activity was a homemade one.  Really didn't take all that long and was relatively inexpensive.  It got the name "Grow a Garden" because the three year old was sorting the flowers and saying, over and over, "I'm growing a garden!"  So cute.  It's simply a shoe box, trimmed "library pockets" (dollar store), painted craft sticks and foam flowers.  I used all the same type of flowers for each color so we could talk about characteristics.  I also made the color word tags color and black and white.  They are removeable so that they can match the color word to the color of the flowers.  We talked about how many of each flower they had in their garden.  If they were equal, more or less. 

Marble Transfer
Again, these simple fine motor activities are a hit!  The pegs on the pegboard was a bit more of a challenge then the fish cut out of the bath mat...probably because of the plastic but they all did well!  We pretended the pegs were stems and the marbles were flowers.  FYI: A 1/4 teaspoon is the perfect size tool for a marble transfer.  I know you all know this...but as a reminder...marbles are choking hazards.  Use under supervision. 

I love my job!  Looking forward to tomorrow!

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