Monday, March 30, 2009

Another File Folder Game

Here is a cute little file folder game you can make at home. You can be as simple or as elaborate as you want with this one. I have to admit, the original idea of using greeting cards as puzzles wasn't mine. I saw it on a blog some time ago, but unfortunately I can't remember which one it was. However, the rest was my idea. I hope you like this one!

I began with two file folders, which I set inside each other at the crease and then used masking tape on either side of the inner folder to hold the two together.

Then I took a bunch of old greeting cards (14 to be exact), and a square craft punch. I punched a square in each greeting card, and then cut off the back side of the card, leaving only the picture. I saved the backs for Little Bean's cutting practice. (You could easily do only this one step and have a wonderful game for your little ones to enjoy).

Next, I used a glue stick to adhere the cards to the inside of the folder. I had so many, that I used the back of the folder too.

I needed a way to keep the game peices together with the folder, so I decided on Velcro. I had some extra sticky back Velcro lying around, so I cut out enough squares of Velcro to put one in each empty square on the greeting cards, and one on the backs of the punched out squares (as well as one for each square to adhere them to the cover of the folders).

Once I did that, I realized that the little squares would not last long being pulled on and off of the folder. So, I laminated them. I have a home laminator, which was not all that expensive, and sure beats shelling out my money at Kinkos. I use my laminator often, so it's been a great investment. Once the squares were laminated, I cut them out and stuck Velcro on the back.

Finally, I organized the squares on the front of the file folders, and the game was finished. Obviously, I chose to do this very elaborately, but you certainly don't have to do that in order to create a fun little game. This game would only take about ten minutes to make if you were just to do the punched out cards and keep everything in a little box or baggie. I wanted mine to be useful in the car or while we waited at restuarants, so I needed something much more durable.
To play, the child chooses a piece from the front cover and then flips through the book until he finds the correct location for the picture. He does this until all the pictures are with the correct card. Then, to put them away, he simply re-attaches them to the front cover of the file folder.

If you try this one, let me know! I'd love to see how it turned out. :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tot School

From now on, Tot School is just going to feature Miss O, because Little Bean is pretty busy with his Pre-K stuff now, though he still does all these activities as well. I'll also feature activities they chose to do together, which are many. Miss O had a great week. I was really surprised by how much she was getting into the different activities--more so than in the past. I even caught her choosing things all on her own this week, or asking me for certain activities.

Tot School
Miss O is 2.5.
This week in Tot School:

Miss O did some beading:
And tried the Geo Board again. I was so proud of her--she managed to use all ten rubber bands, and stuck with the activity much longer than in the past.

She sorted the nesting dolls. We got this in China Town a while back--a set of 7 for only 10 dollars!

She did these puzzles for a while:

And then pulled out the alphabet puzzle. She needed a lot of help with this one since she doesn't know her letters all that well yet.

She played with her princess computer:

And strung paper jewels on a pipe cleaner:

And finally, jars and lids again. She loves this activity:

Together Little Bean and Miss O did magnetic foam structures:

And worked on this sequencing puzzle (first, then, last). Little Bean worked really hard on this one and completed 11 sets of three. Miss O worked equally hard, but she only completed three sets of cards. Just goes to show that this is a really challenging activity for her.

They read together:

And the three of us played Bingo

Reading together again:
To learn more about Tot School, click on the picture at the top of this post.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Speaking of Writing Books

Yes, I am shamelessly bragging on my kid in this post, but if not on my personal blog, then where else can I brag?? :)

So, speaking of writing books, here's Little Bean's latest book, my personal favorite! It's called "Go to Bed, His Name", and it features a list of each thing he does in order to prepare for bed. We've been reading Bedtime For Francis as part of his Pre K curriculum, and I thought this would be a really fun way to integrate parts of the story into his real life.

To make this book, I used Microsoft Word's clip art, and printed off pictures that represented all the things Little Bean does before bed. His list included: taking his vitamins, brushing his teeth and doing his inhaler, reading stories, putting on his pajamas, getting good night kisses and even using the restroom. First he sequenced the pictures in the order that they normally happen. We had to do this a few times, switching the cards around to make them just right. Then he glued each picture in order into a blank book (I just used computer paper, folded in half, and stapled at the binding). Finally, he dictated to me the story and then drew illustrations for the cover and the final page.

This one turned out so cute! I love how each sentence is a command to him, and ends in his name. "Let me do your puffer for you, His Name!"(his "puffer" refers to his asthma control inhaler) and "Eat your vitamins, His Name!". And on the cover, notice the giant circle with a line and then a rectangle connected to it--he quickly explained to me that that is his paper lantern, which hangs in the middle of his room and the cord is strung and taped near his bed so he has access to the switch at night. I love the attention to detail!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Writing Books

We have been doing a lot of Guided Writing lately. And it's a lot of fun! I first heard about Guided Writing (dictation) when I was in college, in a class on teaching special needs students and English language learners. But I think Guided Writing can be really good for Pre K's, like my Little Bean.
Since Little Bean doesn't write yet (or read), he illustrates his books, and then dictates to me what the story is about. I make sure to write down exactly what he dictates, because I want the book to his own work--even if there are grammer mistakes. He is always SO proud of his books, and often brings them out to show Daddy when he gets home from work. And I am always amazed at the creativity that pours out of him when we do Guided Writing; both in his illustrations, and in his storytelling.

Try this with your little one. I'd love to know how it goes!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Here is a challenging matching game I made for Little Bean, My Pre K-er. Several months back we were drinking a lot of Vitamin Water, and as a result, we had a surplus of the little plastic caps that go with them. I began collecting them, and then used them to make this game. Now, every time we finish a juice bottle or Vitamin Water, I save the lid, and add more to this game.

The game is really quite simple to put together, but it's a little more challenging than just matching identical objects. In this game, the child must match the initial letter with the matching picture. For instance, if one bottle cap had a picture of a hippo on it, then the matching cap would be one with the letter H on it. Little Bean has played this game several times, and he is always excited when there are new caps in the bag. We have about 20 caps now, or 10 matches. Miss O likes to get it out too, and though she doesn't even know her letters yet, it's great practice for her in recognizing the different animals and letters and practicing their sounds. She likes to get them out one by one and name the letters with my help.

To make it, I just washed the caps out in the dishwasher and applied animal and letter stickers to each cap. We play with them face up, but you could also make it into a memory game by placing the caps face down, for even more of a challenge.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Felt Food

You didn't think I could stop at just one felt egg, did you??? No, instead I have been busily making more felt food, and I have some pictures to show you. I free handed all the food, so I don't have patterns, but I do search on etsy for good ideas, and this blog inspired the cheeses and the bag of chips (she also offers free patterns)! Everything is hand-sewn except for the raviolis and the chips. I also have another Pop Tart, some orange slices, and M & M cookies in the works! I want to finish my sandwhich, but I need help with the bread, so if you know of a good tutorial on that, I'd appreciate the advice!

Here are my latest felt foods:

Tot School

Whew! We did A LOT this week in Tot School (even more than what is pictured here). In addition to all you see here, Little Bean started his Pre-K curriculum last week, and that went great!! He absolutely loves the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum, and Miss O has been listening in on it as well, though she doesn't show interest in any of the extension activities. And I love the Right Start Math! It's so easy for me--no planning at all, which I love. And yet, even though there is no planning, he gets a solid lesson from it every day. But, I digress. This post is about Tot School, and this will be one of the last Tot School posts featuring Little Bean, though I know that he will continue to do all this stuff everyday anyway!

Tot School
Miss O is 2.5 and Little Bean is almost 4.
This week in Tot School:

Miss O quizzed Little Bean on his -at family words--he got them all right! I was so proud!
They made magnetic foam structures together:

Daddy played K'nex with them. The K'nex rarely come out, so this was exciting for them.
Miss O:

Did this baby animal match game I made:
And pushed foam circles into the correct colored squares:

Then she turned the animal match game over and matched colors instead:

She strung Unifix cubes:
And played with felt:

Little Bean:
Strung a bead neclace:

And did some push pin paper punching:

He spent some time with his scissors and playdough:
And sequenced these nesting dolls from largest to smallest:
Again with the math game this week:
And finally the felt:

Learn more about Tot School by clicking the button at the top of this post!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fostering Independence in Preschoolers

One of the important tenets of the Montessori method is preparing the environment. To prepare the environment means simply to make things accessible to young children, thereby fostering independence in them. From child-sized furniture to low shelving and step stools around the home, there are so many ways to foster independence in your little one. In our home, we have implemented only a fraction of what can be done.

Here are some examples of what we have done:
I attached magnetic chip clips to our dishwasher and they either clip their bibs on them or hang them over the handle of the clip after meals. They are also responsible for getting their bibs before mealtime. (Yes, I know they are a little old for bibs, but by golly, these kids are messy eaters and I want to keep their clothes nice for as long as possible!).
I store their clean utensils (forks, spoons, napkins and cups) in this utensil caddy within their reach. Before meals they must get the necessary utensils and bring them to their seat. Following a meal, they are responsible for returning the dirty dishes to the sink and throwing away any trash.

Here we have low-hanging hooks attached to the side of our kitchen island. Hanging on the first hook is their broom and dustpan, which they can use whenever they make a mess on the floor and need to clean it up. Next to that, I hang their paint smocks, which they are responsible for retrieving whenever we are planning to do an art project that might be messy.
In addition to these, we have the step stool in the bathrooms for brushing teeth and climbing up to the toilet/washing hands, and a shoe basket in the entry way for putting away their shoes. I have three more hooks (found at the Dollar Spot at Target a while back) which I plan to hang near the stairs for their coats to hang on. Right now they are draping their coats on the bottom step, which is pretty unsightly.

How do you foster indepence in your children??
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