Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Preschool Activities: Catch Anything

by Deborah Pace Rowley
My mom used to do this with me when I was 4 or 5 years old. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with a brown construction paper mitt in my hands. Mom would draw on a piece of paper the things she was teaching me at the time: usually alphabet letters and numbers. Then she would call out a number like six and I would catch it with my mitt so that “6” was showing in the opening. Mom would look at my mitt and give me a high-five and an enthusiastic cheer if I got it right or she would correct me if I got it wrong. Then off we would go again with Mom lobbing a number and me attempting to catch the right one. This is still my all-time favorite activity for the repetitive practice that children need to learn their shapes, colors, alphabet letters and numbers. It is so simple but so fun.
Instructions: Simply print off the free downloadable mitt and the placemat of your choice. Start with the colors and shapes first. I would recommend printing off the mitt on cardstock or laminating it for durability. You can print it in full color, print it on brown paper or even color it yourself. Then just cut out the center circle so the items can be "caught" in the middle.
How to Play: Hand your child the mitt and put the placemat on the table in front of him or her. Tell her which letter, number, shape or color to catch. Then show your child how to place the mitt over the correct item so that it is showing through the hole. Keep the practice sessions short and fun. Don’t play longer than about 5 minutes and cheer excitedly for each right answer. Let’s play ball! 

Click the items below to download and get playing!

*If the item does not automatically download, click on the gray box that says, "Download This File"
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Elementary Activities: Memory Trick

by Deborah Pace Rowley

Last night my nine-year-old daughter came running in excitedly from the car. She had gone to the store with her dad and he had taught her a simple memory trick. She recited all the things they bought together and didn’t forget a single item. She begged him to give her another list. Her dad readily agreed and gave her a list of 10 items she needed to do to get ready for bed. She quickly zoomed through the house, remembering and completing each item. She still hadn’t gotten enough of this fun memory game. She then proceeded to use the memory trick to remember what she wanted to pray for that night! Think of the possibilities: turning chores into a fun game, listing 10 items needed to clean up a room, memorizing 10 facts for a science quiz. The way you can use this memory game is limited only by your imagination. Here are the instructions for this simple trick that you can teach your kids.

First, attach these rhyming words to the numbers 1 to 10. 
1- Bun
2- Shoe
3- Tree
4- Door
5- Hive
6- Sticks
7- Heaven
8- Gate
9- Line
10- Hen

Then you create a mental picture of the things that you need to remember connected somehow to the items above. For example: Here is your shopping list: spaghetti sauce, ice cream, oranges, apples, lettuce, milk, eggs, Cheerios cereal, bread, and jam. (All these ideas came from my nine-year-old. She is helping me with this post.)

1. Imagine a jar of spaghetti sauce inside a bun and you are about to bite into it. (The stranger the picture, the easier it will be to remember.)
2. Imagine scoops of ice cream piled into a shoe.
3. Imagine planting an orange and it grows into a bright orange tree.
4. Imagine the door handle is made of an apple core.
5. Imagine a big lettuce leaf draped over the top of the hive.
6. Imagine stirring a big glass of milk with some sticks.
7. Imagine some eggs on a cloud glowing as brightly as heaven.
8. Imagine the Cheerio loops stuck on the pickets of the gate.
9. Imagine the longest loaf of bread you have ever seen in a long line, going up and down hills as far as you can see.
10. Imagine jam all over the hen’s wings so she can’t fly.

Once you have remembered this list and you don’t need it anymore, there is one final step. You need to erase it out of your mind by repeating the number and the rhyme several times quickly. 1-bun, 2-shoe etc. This will reset your memory and allow you to attach different pictures without getting confused.

Click HERE to get the free downloadable list of numbers and pictures to help your kids learn this memory trick today.

*If the item does not automatically download, click on the gray box that says, "Download This File"
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preschool Activities: Homemade Indoor/On the Floor Obstacle Course

by Deborah Pace Rowley

This activity is perfect for those winter days when everyone is feeling cooped up and the kids are driving you crazy with too much energy. This game makes bouncing off the walls a legitimate learning activity!
Instructions: First copy the downloadable lists below. Cut the first list of actions into strips and place it in one basket or bowl. Cut the second list of characters into strips and place these strips in a second basket or bowl. Next make a clear a path from one side of your family room to the other by pushing couches etc to the side. Now place a few obstacles on the path that your child will have to go over, under or around: a big bean bag, a kitchen chair, a step stool, a play tunnel etc. 

How to Play: Have each child stand at one end of the family room and draw a character strip or an action strip out of one of the bowls. Read the strip out loud. Then watch that child cross the living room, maneuvering around each obstacle as he follows the instructions on the strip. Then it is the second child’s turn. When everyone has made it to the other side of the living room, start the game over. I like to shout “Rewind.” Then all the kids have to repeat their actions backwards across the living room at the same time. This gets all of us laughing. For an extra hard challenge you can pull out two strips (one from each bowl) and performing the action on one strip like the character on the other strip. For example: Do the obstacle course on your stomach like a soldier, sideways like a robot, on your knees like a baby, or with your eyes closed like a super hero. Repeat as often as desired.

Download our list of actions and characters HERE!

*If the item does not automatically download, click on the gray box that says, "Download This File"
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