Thursday, September 15, 2011

Counting by 10s using what they love

My boy is UBER OBSESSED with Cars (cars 1, not cars 2- which makes it really hard to find the toys he wants to play with, since its only cars 2 out in the stores- but I digress...).  I have noticed he is pretty interested in counting, and is pretty good with numbers, especially if they are on cars (there is no doubt he will recognize "95" every time it is shown to him, b/c it is Lightening McQueen's number).  His ability to recognize numbers that he identifies with toys got me to thinking about playing number games with his "race cars".  For a girl, this game could be done with cars as well, or with something they love, like barbies, even (see below for details).
I decided to work on counting by 10's to 100.  I asked him to pick out 10 of his favorite cars.  While he was doing that, I found small stickers (actually small price tags for a garage sale) and numbered each sticker 10-100 by 10s.  Then I took post it notes and did the same.  I made a circle out of the post its and told him to put his cars inside the circle where they would be on a "track".
 I put a sticker on each car.  I told him to take one car at a time, read the number out loud on the car, and drive it to its matching "pit stop" to get a tire change.

He loved it and we did this a few more times.  Then to mix it up, we put the numbers in a line and they would race to their corresponding number.  
 (I know... he's not in his pajamas... it took lots of caffeine this morning to get me going...)
Then I mixed them up and told him to "find the number 10" and so on, and place them in order in a line.
Then the cars each took a turn to race down the line from 10-100 and he said the number aloud as he passed it. 
He really had fun and continued playing with his numbered cars and their "pit crews" all day.
(For a girl, this could be done by numbering barbies, and having them find their house that matches their number).
Have fun racing!!!
- Jenny

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Story Starters for the young author

We all know that preschoolers are GREAT story tellers... you know how it goes:
 Mom to darling son, "Why are there cheetos  all under the coffee table, and orange hand prints on the sofa?"  Darling son back to mom, "i don't know, i guess because the dog ate the cheetos."  
Yeah, right.  Well, somehow kids are naturals at one type of story telling, but need a little work telling a story with a real plot.  They will spend many years in school learning the building blocks used to writing a successful story.  
In our house, we use pictures we draw or create as "story starters".  Story starters give the child something to describe and write about.  Preschool age is a great age to introduce this method to future writers because they are so creative, and their minds are not limited about what is true or false.  Ask a second grader to "write a story" and you are likely to get "I don't know what to write about" as a response.  Ask a preschooler to tell you about their picture and its hard to stop them.  
As you will see in the examples below, we started with a picture.  After the artwork was dry, I asked my son what the picture was about, and told him I would write his words. I was careful not to put words in his mouth, and not to correct any of his mistakes.  I wrote exactly as he spoke.  Then I read it back to him.  Kids like to hear what they have said repeated to them.  
 As you can see... these stories lack a plot, and they ramble.  They sure are cute little bits of his mind though, and I am so glad that I have in writing his exact thoughts at this age.
 Over time, with age and lots of practice, a child hearing their story read back to them will begin to recognize their writing mistakes.  They will hear the run on sentences, or the lack of flow, or that it just doesn't make sense the way they stated it.  (This is not something that needs to be pointed out to them.  We want to encourage them by getting excited about their stories and not critique them.)  Hearing it read aloud will make them better future writers.
 We used fun handprint or fingerprint art to begin with.  You can use any artwork your child creates, even pull out an old piece they did a while back, and have them tell you about it.

The handprint art ideas were found on pinterest by doing a search for "handprint art" and the fingerprint art was done using Ed Emberley's fingerprint book.  It can be found online.
Have fun listening to your children tell stories.  You will be glad you wrote them down, and will help develop your child's prewriting skills.  It will also give you a good laugh :)
- jenny