Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1 Hour : Play It : Activity Centers

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Today I borrowed from the quintessential preschool/kindergarten set-up: activity centers. The truth is, I really needed to work on organizing the laundry room--which is next-door to our playroom--and I wanted my two boys to 1.)stay, 2.)play, and 3.)play happily with minimal supervision on my part.

So during lunch, I asked for center ideas and together we came up with the following:
  • Coloring center--not just crayons, but markers with big paper
  • Lego center
  • Puzzle center
  • ABC center--I added two metal baking sheets to make magnet play more of a novelty.
We put each center in a different area of the playroom, and even made "blanket islands" for some of them in order to keep the activities a little more contained. I didn't use timers like they might at school, but I did go in every so often to play, chat, or encourage a change if I sensed the need.

I got a good 1 1/2 hours out of the whole deal.

It is truly amazing how a new set-up of the old toys can change everything. Since the laundry room isn't quite done (it's also sewing/craft/general dumping area), I think we'll try more centers tomorrow.


Monday, September 20, 2010

15 Minutes : Play It : Memory

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After spending five whole minutes tracking down the whereabouts of my very mischievous three-year-old, I decided we needed to have a little sit-down-and-focus time this morning. We played Memory--twice. We have the sweet, teeny Mini-Memo by Haba, but I also have visions of creating my own set like this one I saw at homemade by jill (though, technically the tutorial is on Or So She Says).

P.S. Little boy was out in the garage, hiding with various keys to various locks that were specifically placed to keep him out of trouble. Yes, we have child locks on our doors; no, that doesn't stop him; no, he doesn't respond when I call him; yes, I was doing something very quick and responsible--making my bed--when he sneaked away.


Monday, September 13, 2010

15 Minutes : Play It : Listening

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Still working on listening skills...

One day as we sat on the back porch, I asked my two youngest to close their eyes very tightly and just listen. My kindergartener knew instinctively what to do and described what he could hear: helicopter, birds, kids playing, a bumblebee flying past his face. The three-year-old had more trouble focusing (and keeping his eyes closed), so I told him to listen for specific sounds. "Can you hear the car going by? Where do you think that bird is chirping?"

We also tried to be completely silent for one minute. Ha--way harder than it sounds. Did you ever play "The Quiet Game" when you were little? I think it's easier to be still when no one is telling you to be still. Once there's a goal or a requirement, the temptation to talk is just too much. Our silent minute looked more like giggles about to erupt.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

15 Minutes : Read It : Nonsense Books

Sometimes we just need some of those books that are so ridiculous and silly that my kids actually hoot out loud when we're reading them. I know any mention of underwear sends even my three-year-old into giggles, but I try to steer clear of those. (There's plenty of that without bringing it home from the library too--*sigh*) Here are a few of our favorite (non-potty-humor) nonsensical picture books...

The Runaway Dinner, by Allan Ahlberg. I love the rambling, conversational style of this one. It's told just the way a kid would tell a story.

The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone. This oldie from my childhood continues to pack a good, silly punch.

The Cow Loves Cookies, by Karma Wilson. The expressions on the characters' faces make me smile too.

Silly Sally, by Audrey Wood. Sing-song, predictable words make this one stick in their heads for days.
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What books guarantee a laugh from your kids?


Monday, September 6, 2010

Quick Share : PERC

If you live in my area, I hope you know about the PERC, located at the Orem Public Library. The Parent Education Resource Center loans out educational games, activities, puzzles, developmental toys, non-fiction DVDs, parenting books, etc., at no charge. It's a smallish room in the basement of the library, has tricky hours, and is only semi-organized, but don't let those details deter you. Many of the items are in new or very good condition, and some are more worn, but we always find several great things to take home. We go nearly every week to borrow items--there's really nothing like a new game to fill a couple hours.

If you can't go to our very useful PERC, check your own library or school to see what educational supplies they are willing to loan.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

15 Minutes : Read It : School Books

We like to give the teachers a new book on the first day of school. These are the ones we picked this year:

One Smart Cookie, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Each page uses a part of the cookie-making process to demonstrate qualities such as prompt, curious, prepared. Love the illustrations, love the concept.

This School Year Will Be the Best! by Kay Winters. A classroom full of hopes and wishes for the new year. My son likes the page that wishes for great field trips...and is illustrated with children floating around inside a space shuttle.

Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flanagan. When my sixth-grader saw that his teacher didn't have this, the first in his favorite series, he knew he wanted to give her a copy. We've enjoyed the series together this past year. He loves the action/adventure; I'm glad to see a book with good, loyal, smart, hardworking characters. Plus, the mentor-apprentice relationship is so beautifully played out. I highly recommend this one for the 10-15 year-old male crowd.
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