Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fundanoodle by Carolina Pad

  LOVE! LOVE! LOVE our new products sent to us from Carolina Pads "Fundanoodle".  We were so excited to get the box in the mail and Dodson had a blast tearing into his package of learning fun!  Little did he know that the boxes were full of valuable lessons!  Carolina Pad has done a fantastic job developing an educational pre-writing learning system which is fantastic for parents, teachers AND kids!  Pediatric occupational therapists developed it after years of clinical experience, and apparently these ladies aren't just book smart, they know lots about F-U-N, too!
  Their systems are broken down by age group, and each group focuses on skills necessary and developmentally appropriate for that specific group. Since Dodson is 4, we received Pre-K products.  They also offer kits that are targeted to 3 year olds, as well as Kindergarten and First Grades.  The company is so great because they even have an education blog and youtube videos on how best to use their products, and why the skills are so important to acquire.
Their website lists the key benefits of a fundanoodle system as:

"- Helps with fine and gross motor coordination.
- Improves strength, control, and endurance with writing tools.
- Promotes correct top to bottom formation of strokes.
- Uses fun action terms like buzz around and zip down to teach your child proper lower and upper case  
  letter formation. 
- Encourages touch and visual exploration. 
- Promotes problem solving, discovery, and self-esteem. 
- Encourages self expression and creativity.
- Challenges and rewards kids with a sticker-based reward system, keeping your child eager to keep
- Gives parents tips for helping kids develop proper posture, paper stabilization, and pencil grasp techniques. "

 We started with the Fundanoodle Muscle Movers, which can be found HERE.  These awesome cards promote:
-  Manual dexterity
-  Motor planning
-  Visual perceptual skills
-  Social skills
-  Balance and coordination
-  Letter sequencing  
-  Language skills
Guess what?  They are also so much fun!  We lined them up in order, first.  Then my son picked a letter, flipped it over, sounded out the words or used deductive reasoning skills to decipher what action he was to take, and then did that action!  His favorites were to "squeeze like an octopus" and to "waddle like a penguin".  After taking action, he would sit back down and trace the letters using the dry erase pen.  The cards were thick and great quality, as well.  Each letter has the green guideline at the top and the red guideline at the bottom for reading and writing readiness.  

The ring that holds each of the cards together, also promotes dexterity and works those fine motor skills, as it took work to open and close the toggle, and place each card on the ring.  He really enjoyed keeping them in order and organized.  

 Here he is "squeezing like an octopus"!

Our sets included a couple of different writing tablets, including "I can write upper case" "I can write numbers" and "max and alphie's adventures: activity book 2 (his favorite)".  The skills are fun and appropriate.  Each of these workbooks has a great reward sticker system.  The stickers match the specific activity completed, which he liked.  The rewards gave him the motivation to do the work. Even the reward system builds fine motor skills, by exercising the pincher grasp.

 The "I can build upper case letters" Activity Kit was FULL OF FUN!  It is a big sturdy box, that includes storage spots as well as a handle for carrying.  It comes with the "I can write upper case" tablet, the magnastix, magnetic dry erase board, dry erase pen, and 6 muscle mover cards!

Dodson loved using the magnastix.  These are some heavy duty products that really worked his muscles!  It is like a puzzle, so lots of fun for the kids to find the right pieces needed to build each letter.  The guide inside tells which color magnastix and how many of each color needed to build a specific letter.  It is a challenge that is fun and rewarding!  

We were thrilled that Fundanoodle asked us to review their products, and we are happy to have them as a part of our learning library!  I feel that they are high quality, and effective and engaging tools that are a great help to building those pre-reading and writing skills.  Children cannot read until they can recognize and form the letters themselves, so these skills are critical!  Fundanoodle takes care of all of the needed skills, delivers a big punch of fun, AND is very reasonably priced.  Thanks Fundanoodle for letting Pajama Projects in on the FUN!  
Find more of their products by going to their website  by clicking HERE.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss Ten Apples up on Top

Good ole' Dr. Seuss!  Happy Birthday!  We decided to honor this years birthday by playing a Ten Apples Up on Top game!

We love this book obviously because it is a super fun read, but also because it includes both early reading skills as well as math skills.  You can find rhyming, popper words, cadence, adding, subtracting, and so much more in this book!
We started by reading the book, discussing who has "more" apples, who has the "least", how many more apples they needed to get to ten, how many they had "all together", and rhyming words.
The activity was a game that involved things we could do with our apples (these were fake apples, but you could surely use real ones).  We started off counting them, then trying to "balance" them on our heads in a bucket.
We would then try tricks, like the characters in the books did... I can run with 4 apples, I can slide with 10, I can make 10 apples fall on the ground (this was his favorite)!
We had a good bit of fun to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday!  We hope you did something special to mark the occasion!  Who possibly makes reading more fun than Seuss!?

Friday, February 17, 2012

lurking in the shadows

We were playing with Dinos the other day, when D. discovered that if he put an object under the lampshade, with the light on it would create a shadow/profile of what he was holding.  He ran and got me and asked me to play a game with him.  I jumped on the chance to talk to him about light, and a bit about  how shadows are caused.  Due to his love of the solar system, we were able to also delve into a discussion about eclipses just a little bit, too!
He was having so much fun "hiding" the figurine for me, and have me "guess" which dinosaur was being shy... 
It is a simple, quick little fun game that can really help a child learn about shadows, profiles, light and opacity vs. transparency.  Go on... guess and see if  YOU can guess what dinosaur is lurking in the shadows...


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Octonaut Obsession- part 1

Well, I don't know about your little ones, but my little one is absolutely, head over heals for the Octonauts on Disney.  He has had obsessions before... dinosaurs, trains, cars, the solar system, well, now, it is all about the Ocean and all that dwells beneath!  I'm a science teacher at heart, so I love when his interests fall in line with mine!
  The Ocotnauts is a Disney UK program, and it has recently been picked up in the USA.  It comes on 11:30E.  I like this show because it really is educational.  My son can watch an episode and truly pick up facts, but better than that, it has really sparked his desire to learn more about the ocean.  So, we cannot seem to find the toys, and he really wants to "play" Octonauts, so we have created our own (pretty pathetic, i must warn) Octopod.
Here is a picture of "the" Octopod, as it is on the show (no source, sorry, I just googled "octopod") 

   We used tupperware, orange construction paper, paper towel rolls, and packing tape.  Seriously, I was not picky about the looks of this thing, and it was TOTALLY THROWN TOGETHER.  I had no real "planning" time, so, she's pretty shabby.  I might attempt to do something better if the prices don't come down on them.  I may work on it a bit more, so their might be a "part two" to this post, if I get a creative burst!
 I know... kinda lame.  Now that I see the pictures, I'm a bit ashamed of it, and might have to get working on it again.  :)
 He uses his "little people" and his sea animal figurines to play out the episodes he has seen.
  So, here is what he ended up with... its better than nothing, right?!
~ Have a good one!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leaping Letters!

Sorry for the lag in posts... AGAIN... my new little one is giving me quite the time, and i spend most of my days holding her, which makes most things nearly impossible.  We are kind of in a  dirty-laundry-dirty-dishes-house-and-mommy-are-a-wreck sort of state around here.  She has learned to spit out her reflux medication and has chronic GI issues.  We finally went to the GI specialist, who confirmed all we thought- one of those kids with a tough system...
ANYWAY... I got them both outside recently (its been in the high 60s, low 70s some days) and we used sidewalk chalk to mix up our ABCs.  My son is in the early reading stage and is doing great with 3 letter words, and is ready to step it up a bit.  For this game, I would say a word "log" and he would find each letter and hop on it, spelling the word.  After he landed on the third letter he would spell the whole word aloud.  Simple, Quick, Outside and EFFECTIVE.

adapt:  for those learning to recgonize ABCs, simply call out the letter
           for those learning letter sounds, simply make the sound
           for those learning sentence structure, you could write out certain punctuation marks, say a sentence and have them jump to the appropriate mark that fits.
Have fun!

Friday, December 16, 2011

beginner reading flash card game

D. has been quite interested in reading and writing lately, which I am thrilled about!  He is sounding out every word he sees and is excited to decipher text he finds around him throughout his day.  When a child shows the interest, it is time to jump!  I assure you there will be many, many mistakes, on the part of the child, and the parent during this learning phase.  The child should really feel comfortable to make mistakes, and to learn through trial and error.  English is very difficult!  Imagine how hard it must be for a child who learns that a letter makes a certain sound only to find out, well... it does... only if it doesn't fall after this letter, or at the end of a word, or by a vowel... there are so many "buts" and "ifs" that it is overwhelming to teach, much less to learn!  When learning to sound out words and taking those first steps into reading, tread lightly, and allow the child to set the tone.  It is best to use positive reinforcement, and to really clue into the child's signs of frustration.  If the child becomes the slightest bit frustrated, its time to go do something else.  
I decided to try to do something fun to support his interest with his very favorite subject... Cars, the movie.  I wanted him to be in charge of this pajama project, and rather than assign popper words, or site words, or a specific blend, I just let him work on words he is interested in, and wants to write, even if they are not quite "on level".  No pressure here to learn, just to have fun!
We began by printing out pictures we found on google images... for D. it was cars, but it could be all the princesses for a girl, or whatever the child is "into".  
Then we cut them out, and before moving into flash card mode, we played with the cars a bit, sorting them first by color, then by type, (fast, small, 4x4s...).  D. loved this!
 this is him examining all the cars
 color sorting
 fitting into categories
 Then, we glued each to a card.  He picked what color cards he wanted them mounted on, and it was always funny to hear his reasoning for picking a color.  "Oh, Francesco should be on black, because he is fast as the fastest tires, and tires are black, so he should be on black, mommy. "
Then I asked him what one word was that he wanted to represent that particular car.  He had some really great adjectives and logical words to go with each.  As I would write the word, I would pretend I couldn't figure out how to spell it, allowing him to do the work, without the pressure.  I also was modeling the difficulty encountered when reading and spelling, "f-l-i, fly!  wait, that isn't right, humm... what other letter makes the "i" sound, oh yeah, "Y"?  wow, this is crazy... why are there two letters that make the same sound?!? (We would both laugh). He thought it was so funny that I couldn't remember and needed his help.
He is actually playing with these cards, and is really making the associations between the words and the cars that he knows and loves.  It was easy to just mention the blends we encountered along the way, without drilling the concepts.  There is plenty of time for subtle exposure, which will solidify these skills over time.  So... when your child shows the interest in reading... JUMP, but not too high, and don't run too fast!  If you do, someone could get hurt!  :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent- better late than never

So, I am slightly late in posting this.... but its better late than never.  You probably are already in full swing, but maybe you can still take some ideas from this.  This year we are adopting the popular "activity advent calendar" where you do daily activities rather than getting a present.

We are trying to make the experience educational in many aspects... some character education (sharing, giving, selflessness) Christian education about Jesus' birth, some reading (trying to decode words on the activity cards), and some math (adding and subtracting to get to the number of the day, calendar math, counting up and down, using Christmas tree manipulatives to explore numbers).  I printed out Christmas tree clip art, and cut them apart.
 Each day we manipulate the trees to get the date for the day.  For example, if today is the 16th, and we are going to pocket 16 on our Advent calendar, then we count out 16 Christmas trees, and then play with them.  Take away 6 trees, how many are left?  Add back 6 trees, and how many are all together?
   I have seen many activities on pintrest, and loved getting fun activities from there, and from other blogs, such as, and .
We are also using a book called My First Countdown to Christmas, by Scholastic.
  For the Activities, I used Print Shop and used a blank business card template.  I used a Christmas border and then printed them out and filled in each card with felt pen.
I went through our community calendar of events and our playgroup calendar and used some of those activities to fill the calendar.  Then I used some of the ideas from sites listed above and some I came up with.  So, each day, my son opens the pocket and discovers the days activity.
  Then at dinner each night, we light our Advent wreath (attached are the Advent prayers) and listen to "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel".

 At night we read Christmas books, and our daily "Count down to Christmas" page.
 That's our little Christmas tradition around our house.  What do you do?
Enjoy this blessed season!