Happy Friday everyone!
HOUSEHOLD ITEMS THAT MAKE GREAT TOYS!
We heard feedback that lots of families do not have some of the items we are suggesting, so here is a list of common household items that could be used as toys!
Spray Bottle or Empty Squeeze Bottle: Fill with water and let them spray outside. Fun addition, add food color and spray a white sheet, or paper.
Old Notebooks, restaurant menus or Calendar: Great for writing, taking “orders,” etc.
Kitchen Tongs: Great fine motor practice, picking items up and dropping them
Colander and String: Lacing activities
Painters Tape: Let them use independently – comes right off
Tape Measure: Hours of fun measuring the house
Junk Mail or Magazines and scissors: Great fine motor practice
Deck of Cards: Counting, sorting, matching, drop on the floor and restack
Binoculars: Great fun on a walk
Box: Hide objects in a box and see if you can guess what it is by feel only
Camera: Send them on a scavenger hunt and take pictures of the items they find
Old Socks or Paper Bags: Make puppets
Paper Plates: Tape to feet and go skating
What other common items could you use for play?
COFFEE FILTER ART
and the importance of mark-making
by Lauren B.
Through all of these long days at home, is drawing on regular old paper getting kind of old? Keep the interest in mark-making alive in your young child by switching up the surface you offer them to do mark-making on.
Mark-making is an important part of development as it is a precursor to pre-writing and pre-reading skills. Young children (even infants!) should be offered ample amounts of opportunities for mark-making.
Your very young children will need your guidance until they have gained the skills to keep their mark-making on the surface you have given them permission for. Instead of getting upset with their mishaps, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the materials we give our learning artists are washable for a reason. Remind yourself of the connection to pre-writing and pre-reading skills, and applaud yourself for supporting your future academic!
Keep your messages clear by repeating in a serious voice while making eye contact, “the markers stay ON the paper” or “the paint stays ON the rock.” Repetition of these messages helps young children to learn and understand the boundaries. Maybe you decide to draw on sticks, cardboard boxes, a golf ball, paper towel rolls, coffee or formula canisters, an old picture frame, a flower pot, a piece of mail, the newspaper, a leaf… there are a world of possibilities out there!
A really special item to offer children to draw on that you may have around your house is a coffee filter! Coffee filter art can be an engaging activity for your young ones because this type of paper can prove to be both more challenging and engaging than your regular printer paper. Coffee filters may feel more delicate to the touch and complicated to maneuver, but hold up really well against water!
Give your child ample time to explore with their washable markers on the coffee filter and then offer them the opportunity to add science to their experience by offering them a medium to drip water onto their marks. (I would usually offer a small eye dropper, but if that isn’t something you have around the house then you could use a damp sponge, a damp cloth or napkin, a wet Q-tip, a spray bottle, or another idea you come up with!) When water is dripped onto the marks the color will leak along the coffee filter making a tie dye effect. The action of squeezing the water from any of the items is a wonderful way to work, challenge, and develop all of the fine motor muscles!
Here are a couple more complicated projects that could be worked on and revisted over multiple days.
“MR. GUMPY’S OUTING” by JOHN BURNINGHAM
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing is a wonderful story to read with your children while building in some fun and learning! If you have the book, read along with me! Point to each word as it’s read out loud; this helps build-in fundamentals of reading like reading left to right, and word/letter recognition.
Here are some other ideas of how to make the story more interactive!
While reading/listening to the story, make the sound or motion of each animal as they join Mr. Gumpy on his boat. Some words like “bleating” might need a little explanation or example for the kiddos. You can also tie in the American Sign Language signs for the animals if you want to add another layer of learning/fun to the story – a quick Google search or Youtube video will help with this.
After the story is done, build your own (pretend) boat using couch cushions, blankets, chairs and other household items. Even a large cardboard box can work, your child can draw/decorate their boat to make it their own. Invite friends (stuffed animals/other toys they enjoy) to go on a boat ride!
Wait until the end of the story (or after a bit of playtime) then tip your “boat” over into the pretend water just like Mr. Gumpy. Your child and their friends can crawl onto the grass to dry out in the sun, just like in the story.
Finally, enjoy a tea party with all your friends before saying goodbye!
on a walk
Most often we walk to get somewhere as a form of transportation. It turns into a routine and sometimes feels rushed to get somewhere on time. Now is a time to slow down, enjoy your family and communicate in multiple ways.
Here’s a classic game of I SPY while on a walk:
Pick a family member to take a turn “spying”
The spy starts by saying, “I spy with my little eye…”
The spy chooses an object that you can see (but don’t tell anyone!)
Give the guessers a clue
For example: “I spy with my little eye something red.” or “I spy with my little eye something shiny.”
The guessers may respond with guesses
For example: “Is it a stop sign?” or “Is it that car?”
The spy can respond with “yes” or “no.”
For example: “Yes, you got it. It’s your turn now.” or “Nope, keep guessing!”
Keep in mind while playing:
move slowly around to have time to look for objects
create different rules as you play: pick a shape, find a object that is found in nature, look for letters
increase vocabulary using words like “octagon.”
think about math, language and natural materials.
when you get home draw pictures of things you saw
repeat this game on the same walk to “I spy” different things.
If walking with toddlers or infants, remember to still play. Adapt by pointing out objects, communicating colors, shapes, trees and flowers. This helps to build vocabulary as we label objects and use adjectives.
Turn your walks into an opportunity to PLAY!!