Learning at Home: Fine Motor Fun with Creative Expression

Learning at Home: Fine Motor Fun with Creative Expression

Last week, we discussed avoiding worksheets and instead, engage our children in fine motor activities that will prepare them for writing the letters of the alphabet and numbers – which they will be ready for later- not now.

Earlier is not always better when it comes to handwriting and children. Parents can help provide a strong foundation for later writing by having lots of fine motor fun now.

Here are some ideas that also allow children to express their creativity…

  1. Spray non-menthol shaving cream on a cookie pan and draw shapes and designs (add in some vocabulary words such “I noticed you just drew a line that is … horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curved, straight, wavy, etc.)  Note: If you want your child to practice writing the letters in his/her name- this is a great developmentally appropriate learning tool. Ask your child to write his/her name in the shaving cream.
  2. Allow your child to tear apart pieces of paper (old magazines, junk mail, etc.) and

    journeyintoearlychildhood.com
    Tearing paper for fine motor fun and creating yourself

    make a picture of him/herself. (note: tearing is a GREAT fine motor activity since your child has to use both hands and use them in opposite directions)

 

3. Make a “chandelier” by weaving or tying ribbon onto an old bike wheel, an old tennis racket, chicken wire or empty picture frame.

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Designing a Woven Creation

 

 

4. Make a cotton ball picture. Pinch the cotton balls and tear them apart to make wispy clouds or designs. Read the book, It Looks Like Spilt Milk by Charles B. Shaw and make your own cloud pictures.

 

5. Tear tissue paper or magazines into small squares. Roll them in your fingers and glue them on paper to make a picture.

 

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Cutting and designing with paint samples

 

6. Cut apart paint samples and then use the pieces to design a greeting card.

7. Finger-paint or paint with a small square of a sponge (pinching the sponge between your index finger and thumb).

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  1. Using an eyedropper, squeeze one drop of colored water at a time on to a coffee filter – watch the colors mix.

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    Colored water dropped onto coffee filters

     

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Learning at Home Fine Motor Fun and Creative Expression journeyintoearlychildhood

Learning at Home: Fine Motor FUN

YES, helping your child develop his/her fine motor skills can be fun!! Avoid the temptation to succumb to the lure of brightly colored, cute picture worksheets.

Especially when it comes to fine motor development, pushing a child too early to complete paper/pencil tasks is not better. Parents can help provide a strong foundation for later writing by having lots of fine motor fun now.

Quick, easy ideas that use household items:

  1. Cut a small hole in the lid of an empty coffee can or oatmeal container. Decorate the container to be a monster or an animal. Cut yarn or straws into small pieces and then “feed” the monster/animal. OR cut a slit in an old tennis ball, squeeze it open and “feed” it.
  2. Using tongs, move small items such as cotton balls, tissue, pom-poms, noodles from one container to another. OR by looking at the group of items, estimate how many each bowl will have if you share them. Place one at a time in a set amount of bowls and count how many are in each bowl.

    Journeyintoearlychildhood.com
    Fine Motor Fun with Toilet Paper Tubes and Straws
  1. Build a tower with cardboard toilet paper tubes, a hole punch, and straws or pipe cleaners. Make holes in the toilet paper tube and connect them with the straw.

 

 

 

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Fine Motor Fun with Old Tennis Racquets and String/Yarn/Ribbon

5. Weave ribbon in and out of an old bike wheel, old tennis racquet, etc.

 

 

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Fine Motor Fun with Nuts and Bolts

  1. Match nuts and bolts and screw them together.

 

 

6. Cut letters and numbers from empty food containers. Sort them in lots of different ways. (Learning at Home: Sorting Letters and Numbers Free Download at journeyintoearlychildhood.com)learning at home sorting letters journeyintoearlychildhood.com

To read more about why worksheets are not the best learning tool for young learners, read my blog posts:

No Worksheets in Early Childhood Part I

No Worksheets in Early Childhood Part II

No Worksheets in Early Childhood Part III

 

Learning at Home Fine Motor Fun journeyintoearlychildhood

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LEARNING AT HOME: FINE MOTOR FUN

Learning at Home: More Dramatic Play Ideas

Why is play important to your child?

Play is a vital part of your child’s development. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.  For young children, play and learning are one and the same, they cannot be differentiated.

Through play, important brain development is established. Play is not a break from or a reward for learning- Play is Learning!

Dramatic Play

There is documented research that demonstrates

the high level of cognitive, social, and emotional benefits

from children’s engagement in dramatic play.

Children learn through imaginative play- more skills 

(see post on April 1st for the first list)…

Social/Emotional Skills:dramatic play learning at home journeyintoearlychildhood

  • Negotiating
  • Compromising
  • Self-control
  • Managing feelings

Critical Thinking Skills:

  • Problem-solving
  • Predicting

 Academic Skills:

  • Storytelling
  • Increasing vocabulary

 

 

MORE Dramatic Play Ideas for Home that

Include VERY Little Set-Up or Supplies…

(see post on April 1st for more ideas)

  • Airplane or Train:
    • Supply Ideas:
      • Put 5 chairs together (pairs side by side and one in the front).
      • Paper, crayons, markers
    • Suggestions:
      • Help your child design tickets and travel brochures.
      • Have your child take on the role of pilot, flight attendant or passenger.
        • Where are you going?
        • What will you see?
        • Are you flying to Africa and can see the giraffes and elephants as you travel across the safari on a train?
        • Or maybe in Australia and can see the koalas and kangaroos?
        • Or to a big city?
        • What will you do when you arrive?
        • Where do the passengers store their luggage? How do they get their luggage when they arrive at their destination? How to they tag their luggage?

 

  • Hairdresser
    • Supply Ideas
      • Comb and brush
      • Barrettes and other hair accessories
      • Hair Blow dryer (not plugged in)
      • Straighter (not plugged in)
        • Suggestions
          • Allow your child to pretend to cut and style your hair.
          • Add in some additional literacy by remembering to call to make an appointment so your child can keep a schedule of appointments.
          • Don’t forget to have your child write a receipt and for you to pay.

 

  • Trudging through the Rain Forest, Woods or Jungle
    • Supplies Needed
      • Pillows
      • Blankets
      • Toilet paper cardboard tubes
    • Suggestions
      • Have your child help you set up obstacles that you might face in one of those environments such as pillows that you have to step on to cross the marsh, trees (stairs) you have to climb to see to the other side, a blanket across a chair and couch or a table that becomes low hanging branches that you have crawl under.
      • What animals do you see? Do you need binoculars to see the animals? (make some from two toilet paper cardboard tubes taped together)
      • What supplies might you need?
    • Carry a picnic with you and stop at the “clearing” (kitchen floor) to eat your lunch

 

  • Movie Theatre (Do you already have plans to watch a movie together? Turn your living room into a movie theatre.)
    • Supply Ideas:
      • Tickets, brochure, money, and concession signs and prices- allow your child to make. Only need paper and crayons or markers
    • Suggestions:
      • What roles will your child play? Ticket taker, concession stand clerk or is it a dine-in theatre and he/she needs to take your order and deliver the snacks?
      • Have your child name the theatre and make a sign, make tickets and make signs for the concession stand- how much will popcorn, pop, apple, chips, candy bar, etc. cost (whatever you are willing to serve at your theatre!) Cut apart some paper and write a number on it to use as money. Allow your child to “make change” for you.
      • Have your child make a movie brochure by drawing pictures of 3-4 movies and then collecting a vote from each family member. Show your child how to make tally marks to show each person’s vote.
      • Office
        • Supply Ideas
          • Keyboard
          • Clipboard
          • Phone (not plugged in)
          • Paper
          • Pens/pencils
          • Phone book
          • Notepad

Open-Ended Questions to Expand Children’s Play in a Dramatic Play Center:

  • What do you need to…                             * How is it different than…
  • How is it the same as…                             * What else can you do with…
  • What would happen now/ next if…       * What is your plan…
  • How would you describe…                      * How many different ways…
  • I notice…. Tell me more….                       * How does someone know…

Home Learning – Dramatic Play Suggestions: PRINTABLE VERSION fREE DOWNLOAD

Learning at Home: Teaching the When and the How of Taking Deep Breaths

Teaching Your Child When to Take a Deep Breath (noticing signs in their bodies)Variety of Ways to Teach Deep Breathing journeyintoearlychildhood.com

and How to Take Deep Breaths

We, most likely,  all need some deep breaths right now.

Sit with your spine in a line, feet flat on the floor, inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.

Repeat 3 times.

Why- there is scientific evidence that taking deep breaths truly slows down our stress response- it is like slowing but firmly stepping on the gas pedal. It also produces a feeling of calm, it is relaxing, we don’t need any equipment, it provides more oxygen to the brain which improves our thinking and we can take deep breaths anywhere!

Children need to be taught when they need to take deep breaths and how to take deep breaths. If a child is already escalated and upset, this is NOT the time to start teaching how to take deep breaths. It would be like someone telling us to slow down, stay calm and take deep breaths when we are out camping and running from a bear that just spotted us! If your child is upset, let them see you taking deep breaths- gift them your calm BEFORE you tell them to take deep breaths. After they see and respond to your calm, then you can gently encourage them to breathe like a bunny or smell the flower and blow out the candle.

Remember to gift your calm – when you exhibit calm behavior and slow, even, deep breathing, the child will start to mimic. An escalated adult cannot deescaluate a frustrated child.

Teach different ways to take deep breaths when the child is calm. Have fun! Make it into a game.

How to Teach Deep Breathing:

  • Choose one metaphor or way of taking deep breaths that your child can relate to, when your child is calm and in a good mood.
  • Show a visual of the method and hang it on the refrigerator, in the play area or in the child’s sleeping area.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice at all times of the day. Students need lots and lots of practice so that the techniques can be used automatically in times of stress. It takes LOTS of practice to become an expert.
  • Teach your child to recognize signs of stress, frustration, and anger such as face getting hot, clenched fists, heavy breathing, crying, sweating, scrunched eyebrows, pounding heart.
  • Teach your child the difference between short, quick, shallow breaths and long, deep, calming breaths. We want students to be using deep breathing since short breaths can actually make anxious feelings increase.
  • Model and role-play different situations practicing self-talk such as “I am upset that he took my toy. I can breathe like a bear 7 times.” “I am nervous about your mom working at the hospital today. I can take 7 bunny breaths.” “I’m frustrated that I don’t know what to make for dinner but I can take 7 deep breaths and that will help me think better.”

I have opened my packet of 11 different ways to teach deep breathing as a FREE DOWNLOAD. I hope the visuals and ideas for different methods of teaching deep breathing are helpful for both you and your child.for blog

 

Learning at Home: DRAMATIC PLAY

Why is play important to your childdramatic play journeyintoearlychildhood.com learning at home

Play is a vital part of your child’s development. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.  For young children, play and learning are one and the same, they cannot be differentiated.

Through play, important brain development is established. Play is not a break from or a reward for learning- Play is Learning!

What is your child learning by playing?

Through child-directed, free-choice play,

  • … children solve problems and pursue ideas
  • … healthy connections are made in the brain
  • … there is an increase in academic skills as noted in multiple research studies
  • … children are learning how to learn- how to persist and persevere through challenges.
  • … creative and critical thinking are developed
  • … social skills such as collaboration, turn-taking, and conflict resolution are developed
  • … emotional skills such as empathy and self-control increase significantly
  • … children engage in science, engineering, and math skills including hypothesizing, experimenting, testing and concluding
  • … vocabulary and language skills grow

Dramatic Play

There is documented research that demonstrates

the high level of cognitive, social, and emotional benefits

from children’s engagement in dramatic play.

Social/Emotional Skills:

  • Sharing
  • Cooperating
  • Building empathy as they take on the role of someone else
  • Solving social problems
  • Building of compromise
  • Persisting

Critical Thinking Skills:

  • Expressing their creativity
  • Flexibility in thinking
  • Connections of experiences and learning
  • Problem-solving
  • Predicting

 Academic Skills:

  • Storytelling
  • One to one correspondence
  • Thinking symbolically
  • Writing to convey meaning (treatment plan, check-up form, pet information)
  • Identification of letters/numbers/shapes

Communication Skills

  • Using an expressive vocabulary- often will use more complex vocabulary such as in this center, we may hear them saying words such as examination, stethoscope, illness, fractured, etc.
  • Engaging in turn-taking conversation

 

Dramatic Play Ideas for Home that

Include VERY Little Set-Up or Supplies…

  • Build a fort, cave, or shelter
    • Supply Ideas:
      • Two chairs and a blanket
      • Big box
    • Suggestions:
      • Let your child’s imagination soar as he/she decides what the shelter will become and what is happening outside of the shelter.
        • Is it a cave near an ocean? Can you find seashells near the cave, go swimming, lay on the beach, dig up calms and cook them over a fire?
        • Is it a bear cave? Read books such as Bear Snores On, Bear Can’t Sleep or Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson and have your child design the cave and then react the story or make up their own using the same characters.
        • Are they on the island of lost boys with Peter Pan and it is a hideout from the pirates?
        • Are they stranded on an island?
        • Is it Rapunzel’s tower?
        • Is it Elsa’s ice fort?
      • Forts also allow your child space to be alone, to chill, to read, to play with puzzles, etc.

 

  • Window Washer
    • Supply Ideas
      • Spray bottle with water
      • Rag
      • Paper to schedule appointments
      • Phone (not plugged in)
    • Suggestions
      • Call to make an appointment with the window washer, have your child keep a schedule of appointments.
      • Give him/her a spray bottle with water and a cloth and allow him/her to clean your windows.
      • Don’t forget to have your child write a receipt and for you to pay. Do you need change? How much change?
  • Basic Home Living and Grocery Store

Let your child’s imagination take off while taking on the role of mom, dad, brother, baby, dishwasher repair person, mail carrier, etc. in a basic home set up- add a grocery store for some extra fun and creativity

  • Supply ideas
    • Bowls, spoons, pots, plates, etc.
    • Empty big boxes to become the stove, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer
    • Bottle caps, corks, shells or jar lids with letters of the alphabet written on them to become food- “Can you bake me cookies that spell your name?”
    • Old clothes, old iron or iron not plugged in
    • Paper to write grocery lists and recipes
    • Cookbook
  • Empty and clean up food containers (cereal boxes, egg carton, cracker box, oatmeal container)
  • Suggestions:
    • Add a grocery store by setting up empty and clean food containers (tin cans, boxes, water bottles)
    • Turn the home living area into a restaurant by adding some menus and paper for ordering. You can use take out menus but even better is to allow your child to make his/her own menu- drawing pictures is great! There is no need to force writing – if your child is developmentally ready to start adding in some words, they can even start with just the beginning letter.
  • School
    • Supply Ideas

      school journeyintoearlychildhood.com
      Learning through Play journeyintoearlychildhood.com

      Books

      • Stuffed animals
      • Paper, crayons, markers
      • Magazines
      • Scissors

 

 

Open-Ended Questions to Expand Children’s Play in a Dramatic Play Center:

  • What do you need to…                             * How is it different than…
  • How is it the same as…                             * What else can you do with…
  • What would happen now/ next if…       * What is your plan…
  • How would you describe…                      * How many different ways…
  • I notice…. Tell me more….                       * How does someone know…

 

Home Learning – Dramatic Play Suggestions: PRINTABLE VERSION FREE DOWNLOAD