Posted in Education, Fine motor activities, preschool, preschoolers, Toddlers

Fine motor activities- Save the dinosaur

Developing the strength in the little muscles in the hands and fingers is important for your child to learn to write, feed themselves and get dressed by buttoning, doing up zips, ect.

There are many fun activities to develop these skills. Save the dinosaur is one of them.  This game takes 5 minutes to set up and is fantastic for quiet time or traveling.




YOU WILL NEED :


🦕Toy dinosaur ( or other favourite animal)
🦕Elastic bands


How to play


Wrap the elastic bands around the toy and ask your child to remove them.

You can adjust the difficulty by adding more elastics or twisting them to make it harder to remove.


Note
Always supervise play with elastic bands.

Posted in Education, preschool

The kindness stone

I’m a large advocate for teaching children gratitude, tolerance, kindness and positivity as I believe that these character traits will take them far in their lives.

As an educator I’m also aware that some children may not be hearing these lessons daily.

As a parent I know that what I teach my children in their formative years will stay with them long into adulthood.


The challenge


Three years ago I had a very challenging class of 4 to 5 year olds. They were busy, loud and many of the children acted out with each other.

Every day was a new battle to try and get them to be nice to each other, to share, to be kind, and I found myself disciplining much of the time just to keep the classroom in order.

After a particularly stressful day I remember coming home wondering how I could change the negative patterns in my classroom and I remembered a time my own 6 children were not in sync with each other and I’d started introducing a morning circle to our homeschool lessons where each of them needed to  take a turn to list one thing they were grateful for and one thing they liked about each other.

This had worked at home and I decided to give it a try.

That evening I went outside, grabbed a stone from the yard, added some glitter glue to it and put it in my bag.


The kindness stone


The next morning after our afternoon nap I sat the children in a circle and introduced the magic kindness rock to them.

I explained I’d been given the rock by the kindness fairy and we were going to use it to say something that we enjoyed about the day.

The children were super excited and couldn’t wait to share. Each one holding onto the little painted stone as if it really was magic.

We would change the topic for discussion daily.

*what makes you happy
*say something nice about the friend sitting next to you
* what made you smile today
*what did teacher Judy do today that made you glad
*why do you like sunshine
*what is your favourite thing to do at school
*what made you sad today
*who made you happy today and why


Over the next few weeks I learnt more about my pupils hearts and they learnt important lessons.

They learnt ….

*to take turns talking.
*that someone cares enough to listen
*they are important
*how to express emotion
*to be greatful
*that not everybody likes the same things
*to say nice things about each other
*that kindness is important
*to listen yo others
*that school is fun

It was just a simple garden stone but it opened up a whole new way for my class to express themselves, and improved the overall behaviour of my classroom.

Posted in Cape Town - Things to see & do, Education

Canvas club taking schools by storm

Canvas Club, the kids’ creative crafting club that’s already running in 55 locations across the country, is fast becoming popular at schools too. 

Canvas Club has grown in leaps and bounds since the opening of their first club in Cape Town in March of 2018. There are now 40 clubs operating in 55 locations in South Africa, as well as two in Namibia and one in New Zealand, all following the same curricula and applying the same principles, methods and processes. What excites founders and owners Stefanie de Wet and Christelle Janse van Rensburg the most, however, is the growing demand to bring Canvas Clubs into schools. 

“We knew it would be highly relevant to parents, and very popular with kids,” says Stefanie, “but we hadn’t anticipated the requests we would receive from parents and teachers alike to offer our classes as an after-school activity on school premises.” 

Stefanie and Christelle believe the popularity of Canvas Club has to do with the educational approach to fun. 

“What makes Canvas Club different – and more than just an art class – is that we use processes and systems endorsed by occupational therapists,” says Stefanie. 

At Canvas Club, each game or crafting activity is designed to introduce or develop important skills.

The age-appropriate activities cultivate conscious curiosity, stimulate independent thinking, problem solving and innovation, foster spatial awareness, hone fine motor skills and introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills to children as young as 12 months.

Much more than simply “arts and crafts”, Canvas Club is quickly being recognised by parents as affordable OT-endorsed play – with purpose. 

Christelle explains the process a parent or teacher can follow if they are interested in bringing Canvas Club to their school:

“When we are approached by a parent or teacher, we follow up by offering to do a demo class at the school,” she says. 

“This inevitably demonstrates how captivated the children are while learning and honing important mental and physical skills, under the guise of fun! Once the school understands the concept, we can start planning a whole new world of learning for their kids.” 


Canvas Clubs is already operating in 15 schools through various branches across the country, with many upcoming demos and plenty of queries coming in at a regular pace.

If you would like to enquire about Canvas Club at your school, visit www.canvas.club/schools. 

Posted in Education, Parenting, preschool, preschoolers

Dear teacher of the toddler class

Dear teacher of the preschool class

Firstly, thank you for being the ” mommy” my little boy needs while I work.

Thank you for thinking for him, anticipating his needs, guiding him and teaching him a numerous amount of skills all day.

Your job is so much more than just another day at the office.

As a preschool teacher I know the patience you need to sit through the new child who cried for 4 solid hours. I know how much creativity it takes to get the busy child to sit still and the shy child to stop hiding in the corner.

I know the energy you need to sing morning songs and play playground games.

I know how gentle you need to be but also that sometimes you need to be a little more strict.

I know how many noses you wipe, bums you clean, boo boos you kiss and just how many times you’ve stopped the bitter, the hitter and the hair puller.

You spend hours putting on shoes and taking them off. Opening lunches and cleaning a mess.

But

This is the profession you have been called to.

May you never forget the huge responsibility that you are given each morning when a parent leaves their precious child in your care.

Never underestimate that level of trust or how quickly you can destroy that.

Never take for granted that you are loved by your student. They go home and sing songs about you, draw you pictures and talk about the new things you’ve taught them.

Just as a mother sets the tone for her home through her attitude towards life, so do you from the minute you enter the school.

So, if you finding it hard today start the morning with a children’s cd, sing , clap and dance.

Encourage play between you and your class. Get down to their level and talk to them …toddler’s are some pretty smart creatures.

And even though your hours are long, your pay is bad and your patience is tested….

Know that every day you’ve deposited a memory into a young life !

Signed

The mom of a toddler

Posted in Education, Parenting, preschoolers, Toddlers, Tweens & Teens

Teaching about bullies

As the mom of 2 boys with Asperger’s we’ve had our fair share of dealing with bullying over the years.

First from the bully and then from my boys as they retaliated.

Most of the time, it wasn’t physical bullying but verbal or emotional bullying.

But how do you assist young children to understand the damage that words can do?

I used this example both at home and in the classroom ….

(Source unknown)

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform.

She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, but do not rip it.

Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was.

She then told them to tell the paper that they were sorry.

Now….even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it.

That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever.

The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.

Most children do not understand the effects of their words, teasing or hurtful behaviour, by giving them a practical way to understand the effect of bullying most often a child will change their behaviour.

Posted in Education

Improve your childs reading comprehension with these 6 easy tips

As parents we understand just how important reading to our children is but how much of what you are reading is your child understanding and remembering ?

Reading comprehension is crucial for helping your children make sense of more complex texts as they grow.

Between the age of 3 and 7 years your child learns new words by hearing an unfamiliar word, discovering its meaning and using it in sentences.

Reading is the best way to introduce new word. So why do some children learn less than others when their parents read to them?

Research has shown that the way you interact with the book you are reading will determine how much your child learns and retains.

Here are 6 easy tips to help your child remember as much as they can when you read to them.

1. Reading the same story repeatedly

Are you reading your children’s books until your child knows the story well? Reading the same story over and over again may seem tedious but repetition comforts children and helps them to learn more.

2. Stop and explain new words

Are you describing the meaning of new words to your child as you read?Building your child’s vocabulary will assist in their understanding of the story, develop their love of reading as the words will make sense and increase their confidence in conversation.

To introduce new vocabulary you can first explain the word meaning simply and ask then questions to see if they understand.

3. Read the book first

Read the book first, know the story and which words you may need to explain to your child. By doing this you’ll be ready to discuss new words and have more fun reading with your child .

4. Involve your child

Engaging your child in the story will make reading more enjoyable, peak their interest in the story and build your bond with them.

You can involve your child by talking about the illustrations by asking what they see. Have your child turn the page, point to an item on the page, guess the next part of the story or make animal sounds if there are animals in the book.

5. List new words

Make a mental note of the new words your child is learning in the story and try to use these daily for a while. This assists in building vocabulary and showing your child how to use those words in everyday life.

6. Retell the story

Make a game of retelling stories that you read. You could use puppets or felt boards. Another clever way for pre readers is to let them ” read” the story back to you using the book.

All of these tips will assist your child to retain the information in the story, build their vocabulary, develop their creativity and instill a love of reading.

Posted in Education

Teaching your toddler about static electricity – a fun STEM activity

Today after Hamish had his nap I used the balloon that he had been playing with earlier and was now next to him to show him how if we rub our hair with the balloon it will make our hair stand up.

He thought this was very exciting and I decided to go online to find more fun experiments to show him how static electricity works.

I found this exciting science experiment over at Steve Spangler Science to demonstrate static electricity.

You will need:

1/4 cup of mazina

1/4 cup of cooking oil

Bowl

Wooden spoon

Balloon

Spoon

How to :

🔹️Mix the two ingredients in a bowl.

🔹️Blow up the balloon.

🔹️Rub it on your hair to add charge to the balloon.

🔹️ Place some of your mazina mixture into a spoon and hold it close to the balloon.

What Happens ?

You will notice that the gloopy mixture starts to move towards the balloon. As you get close enough the gloopy mixture will jump from your spoon onto the balloon.

Why does this happen?

By rubbing the balloon on your hair, electrons from the molecules in your hair rub off onto the balloon. This gives the balloon a negative charge which is attracted to the positive charge of the gloopy mixture.

Other ideas

This was a lot of fun and Hamish and I decided not only to give each other awesome 80’s puffy hairstyles with the balloon but to also use it, once charge to pick up small pieces of paper.

Posted in Education

Colourful spaghetti sensory play and how to make your own.

Today’s sensory play involved colourful spaghetti. We had left over cooked spaghetti in the fridge and I divided it into 4 cups .

I left one cup uncoloured.

The other 3 I placed in 3 separate Ziploc bags.

I then added one drop of colour to each bag. Only having blue and red colouring in the house I combined them to get the earthworm brown.

After adding the colouring the bags were zipped tight and shaken.

I poured each out onto a plate to dry for a bit and then presented them to bear to play with.

A rainbow for bear

At first he was hesitant but he was soon mooshing and squishing the rainbow spaghetti between his fingers.

I had given him some kitchen tools and containers and he proceeded to pretend to be cooking for us and dishing us up bowls of colourful pasta.

I also have him some scissors to try cutting the soft pasta. This was great for working those little hand muscles.

Bear had a lot of fun with this and I’m not sure why its taken us so long to try. It was easy to make and there was relatively no mess.

Cold spaghetti is very easy to clean up.

How to make your own

Here’s how to make your own

To follow more of the learning through play activities bear and I do together follow us on Facebook learning with little bear

Posted in Education

Positive pencils

I saw this on Facebook and wanted to share it, in hopes that it would inspire others to encourage their children , especially over exam time.

It’s such a simple, inexpensive idea that parents and teachers could easily make these and distribute them within a classroom.

Positive pencils

A teacher called Amanda Cox shared this on Facebook today….

“Today I was running low on pencils so I asked all of my kids to pull out any of my pencils that they had in their desks. I had one student ask me if he could keep his pencils that his mom gave him for school. Of course, I said yes. He then said, “well, I guess I’ll give you a few so my classmates can have them too.” I thought nothing of it and took the pencils that he handed me.

When I was sharpening them, I noticed writing on a few of them. I then realized that my student’s mother took the time to write on his pencils. I asked him if he would mind showing me the rest of them.

What I read melted my heart:

– You are so talented.

– This will be a great year.

– You are creative.

– You are phenomenal.

– Never give up.

– You can do this.

– You are knowledgeable.

– You are a math whiz.

– You are intelligent.

– Proud of you everyday.

– I love you.

– You have a brilliant mind.

– You are wonderful.

– You are a problem solver.

– Follow your dreams.

– You are perfect.

– I am proud of you.

– You will change the world.

– You are amazing.

– You are the best.

– You are important.

This probably took his mom a few minutes to do yet it lit up his whole day at school. He wasn’t embarrassed that his mom wrote on his pencils.

Thanks to his mom, he was reminded of his self worth and wanted to share the same feeling with his classmates. THESE are the things that we should be reminding our kids (both parents AND teachers).

Imagine the look on a child’s face when they are reminded that they are important, talented, loved, knowledgeable and so much more.

Help them know that someone believes in them and is proud of them in everything they do. Even if you think it is cheesy or you don’t have enough time or that you will have little impact, remember that you may be the only one telling and reminding them these things and EVERY kid needs to know their value. This is why I teach. ❤️”

Make it yourself

You will need:

Pencils

Markers

To make :

Write positive statements on the pencils with markers.

Thank you Amanda for this inspiration.

Posted in Education, Family Life

An alphabet of life to teach our children

  • A … Appreciate.
  • B… Build something.
  • C … Connect.
  • D… Do what is difficult.
  • E… Explore.
  • F… Forgive
  • G…. Gather.
  • H… Honour.
  • I… Ignore the sceptics.
  • J…Just be.
  • K…Know you are loved.
  • L…Listen.
  • M….Make.
  • N…Nourish body and soul.
  • O…Observe.
  • P…Plant a seed.
  • Q… Question.
  • R… Read.
  • S…Stretch.
  • T….Try something new.
  • U…Unplug.
  • V…Vote.
  • W…Wonder.
  • X… eXpress gratitude.
  • Y…say YES to adventure.
  • Z… get enough ZZZZZZZZZZ

This list of advise to teach our children will stand them in good stead for life.

( image credit:unknown)