Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sneaky Fine Motors: Table Time

What it is:
Stuff on the table to do when kids show up in the morning to get them engaged and not-sad about parents leaving. For my kiddo it's an engaging activity to transition him from being woken up usually from a baby crying. For me, it's awesome while I get breakfast ready and helps the kids strengthen fine motor skills through play. Here is an example of an easy morning table time.

Puzzles out on the table invite play and swapping.

After having done this before, the kids know how to use droppers to put colored vinegar into the tray of baking soda to make fun fizzling hills of bubbles. Fun for them, fine motor skills for them, and they think they're just playing. Yes!

We make 'em, trace 'em, count 'em, hang 'em, and say 'em. Every day. Sometimes by twos. Sometimes hundreds.
 We try to say a lot of numbers daily! Say the house address. Add up the marbles when counting up 'points'. It's awesome! Purpose here is to identify the print number in isolation, and practice the form of writing it (tracing in air, in salt, with playdough, etc.)
All in fun here, we say the letter and its primary sound. In English and German words. I try to find most words that are the same beginning letter in German and English (ex: Hill and Hügel), but not always.

Some shape of the week: Hexagon here (it was H week too. Bonus!). We try to see it in different ways later too, or around the house, etc.
It's quick, dirty, and just part of the daily morning routine during table time and breakfast.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Visual Daily Routine - Move the clothespin along the day's activities

With another child in our home, it has become necessary to reinstate the daily routine picture chart. It's helping all of the kids feel grounded by knowing what to predict each day. They also feel a sense of ownership as they take turns being the one to move the clippy along the chart for the day.  The pictures dictate routine, not schedule. Major difference. Pictures also stand for general concepts, not specifics. Means every day can be completely different, despite the same pictures each day.

Our routine is: Wake up, Go potty, Get dressed, Table play, Breakfast, Reading Time, Singing Time, Play, Signing Time (so I can finish packing the adventure bag/get baby ready), Go potty last time before we leave, Adventure...usually bring lunch with, Potty before naps, Stories, Naptime

When they wake up, it's to the potty, Snack time, Play time (ideas of water table and bikes--- usually get us outside eventually), Camera time (daily wrap up review of our day through mom's camera phone pics from that day, then job review (see how many smiley faces we've earned today, then set table for dinner and eat dinner.  Then the other child usually gets picked up and we play til bathtime. 

When I worked at the State Preschool, the occupational therapists used to use activities with clothespins to help the children build hand strength. It's especially helpful for "city-kids" who might have limited hand use due to full-service parents or limited outdoor play. (Believe it or not, the actions of manipulating sticks, climbing up hills, digging in the dirt with fingers all strengthen the fingers which helps kids improve fine motor skills later. Crazy, huh?)

This little picture routine is super helpful in the evening. My 4 yr old loves to move the clip from Klo over to Badewanne. After that, I do the moving as he goes. Even save time sometimes by brushing his teeth while he's still in the bathroom. Just one less transition can be the difference between miracle and meltdown.  Obviously, I don't move the clip to the others since they're in his room, but he sees that they're coming. I've considered cutting off that part and moving it in there, but it's a long-standing routine for him now, so it's unnecessary. Helpful for babysitters and evening guests though!