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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Preschool Beginnings

So Ladybug and I are about to start preschool this month. Nothing too strenuous, actually it's mostly just slightly more focused play time. I fell in love with the idea of the Activity Bag after seeing several other blogs about it, so I decided to give it a try. The result: Ladybug's Activity Curriculum!
Here they are! Aren't they beautiful? Oh, a closer look? Of course!
1. Number Puzzle: A grid with numbers 1-10 marked out two ways: the actual number written in the corner of each box, and the corresponding number of stickers filling the main part of the box. Then, include enough small items like beads or buttons to be able to place one on each of the stickers. This reinforces the sight of the number with the actual number of items it corresponds to.
2. Pom-Pom Stuff: A tupperware bowl with a small hole cut into the lid, just big enough to stuff the pom-poms into. And lots of pom-poms. This is a coordination building game, and also a great distractor for Junebug while Ladybug and I are busy doing other things.
3. Play-Doh: pretty self-explanatory; small tubs of play-doh in various colors, several small cookie cutters, a plastic knife, and a rolling pin. This is also great for motor control, as well as being sensory play.
4. Dominoes: that's it. A bag of dominoes. There are several things you can do with this: match the dots up to each other in a train, set them up like traditional dominoes to knock down, build towers with them, count the dots, shake the bag and listen to them rattle!
5. Sewing: (sorry about the picture being sideways, I can't seem to fix it.) A plastic canvas shape, and a length of yarn. You can also include a plastic yarn needle, but I just taped down the end of the yarn to make a "needle" out of it.
6. Counting Cups: 5 small plastic cups (like Dixie cups) with the numbers 1-5 written on the sides, and enough small items to count into each of the cups. I also put the corresponding number of stickers next to the numbers written on the cups. This is basically the same thing as the Number Puzzle bag, but it allows her to practice the same skill without feeling like she's playing the same game.
7. Mini-Book: a small notebook, a handful of crayons (or colored pencils), a couple sheets of stickers. This one is to allow her to express her creativity.
8. Felt Shapes: I have three different sets of felt shape games in here: Funny Faces, Pizza Parlor, and Cupcake Creator. It's a felt base shape (a pink oval for the face, tan circle for the pizza, and tan cupcake silhouette for the cupcake bag), and then smaller felt pieces to decorate with. The felt "sticks" to itself.
9. Tic-Tac-Toe: this is actually a small wooden tic-tac-toe game I found in the clearance cart at Wal-Mart. Playing the game itself encourages logic and strategy, and since the pieces are in different colors and the board itself has colored outlines around the places where the pieces fit, it can be used to reinforce color matching.
10. Stamps: several rubber and foam stamps, ink pads, and blank paper. Again, let creativity reign!
11. Yarn Art: this is a piece of fine sandpaper and several pieces of yarn in different lengths and colors. The yarn will stick to the sandpaper, allowing the creation of all kinds of pictures.
12. Shape Puzzle: a paper grid with simple shape outlines printed on it, and matching shapes made from craft foam. This encourages logic and shape recognition.
13. Tangled Web: a posterboard circle with a small hole in the middle and notches cut all around the outer edge. Slip a piece of yarn through the hole in the middle and tie that end of the yarn around a pony bead so it won't come back through the hole. Then leave the yarn long enough to wrap around the notches in the circle. This is another motor skills exercise, as well as a way you can get your kids to make some pretty neat artwork!
14. Button String: a piece of ribbon (about 1.5 ft) tied at one end to a large button. Take several felt squares and cut a slit in the middle just big enough for the button to go through. You can also slide one of the squares all the way to the end of the ribbon and hot-glue it there so that the other squares don't just slide off. This helps teach buttoning, which is a necessary skill, and develops fine motor skills.
15. Laundry Day: a length of yarn or twine with loops tied on either end, a handful of tiny clothespins, and clothing shapes cut from felt. To play, stretch the yarn between two chairs by throwing the loops over the chair backs, or between two toys, or whatever else you can find to hold it up. Then, use the clothespins to hang the clothes! This develops those pincer grasp muscles, encourages pretend play, and if you use colored clothespins can be a color matching game with the clothes, or if you write numbers on the clothes can be practice in lining things up sequentially... there a lot of things you can use this for.
16. Bead Patterns: A coffee stirring straw with a specific pattern of beads on it. Use a dab of hot-glue at either end to keep the pattern intact. This is the guide. Then another coffee stirrer and enough beads to reproduce the pattern. I also hot-glued a clear bead to the end to reduce frustrating when stringing the beads on. This is a good math-readiness game; it exercises the same mental "muscles" she'll use later to add things and learn algebra.
17. Magnify: This one is all about exploration. I found this really cute little magnifying glass on the clearance rack at Wal-Mart and knew I had to find a way to incorporate it. I also put little things in the bag I though would be fun to explore, like colorful buttons, shells of different shapes and colors, glass beads with patterns inside the glass, and little glue-on "gemstones" from the craft closet. These are just things to get her started; hopefully she will then go on to explore all around her.
18. Stick Puzzles: I have five different puzzles in here. Here is the tutorial I used to make them. I used pretty simple clip art images that came in my Microsoft Word program, and printed them so they filled up about a quarter of  a piece of printer paper. She uses Mod Podge in her tutorial; I made my own by mixing equal parts white glue and water.

19. (No photo as it is still an incomplete bag) Color Cups: Like the Number Cups bag, this is 5 Dixie cups that each represent a certain color. I used brightly colored stickers to make a ring around each cup, and I will also glue a coordinating colored piece of pasta to the bottom of the cup. Then the rest of the bag will contain several handfuls of colored pasta to match the cups. She'll be practicing sorting as she matches the colors to the cups.

20. (No photo as it is still an incomplete bag) Egg Carton Sort: Half of a cardboard egg carton (six cups), 6 differently colored plastic Easter eggs, 6 small animals that fit inside the Easter eggs, stickers. Paint the inside of the egg carton so that each cup is a different color and corresponds to the Easter eggs. Put stickers on the Easter eggs that match the small animal toys. If you start with the whole thing all put together; animals inside their eggs and eggs inside their cups, then it's an exploration game as she opens the eggs and finds the prizes inside, and sees the bright colors inside the carton. Then putting it all back together is a combination logic puzzle, color match game, and shape match (the animals) game.

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