M is for Motor Skills

m-is-for-motor-skills

As a mom of 3, and a teacher. And an early educator, and a baby massage instructor. I often talk about Motor Skills.

These two words are not something complicated – they merely define how we use our muscles. Or rather, when, with what skills.  Developing motor skills is important as it helps the overall physical and intellectual growth of the child. But often we don’t even use these words, we just know that our child needs this or that. However, assisting our children with the motor skills development in natural playful way is just what we need!

So, there are two types of motor skills – gross motor skills. And fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are involved in big movements our children (and us!) do – walking, moving, jumping, swimming etc. Fine motor skills are when we do smaller actions  – picking something up, coloring, writing etc.

I would like to share few examples of every day activities you can emphasize with your children. When you read what I write below, you will probably go: “oh yes, I do that with my kids! Pfft”

Understand me clearly: I am not trying to discover a new territory here. But I am merely reminding you of what you probably already do is AWESOME! And if you are looking for ideas in motor skill development – well, here are some!

And so, let’s start with Gross motor skills

  1. Ball games. There are tons! You can find some of these in my post here
  2. Running. Yes, let them run! Just, of course, in places where they won’t bump into any corners
  3. Swimming. If you have a chance to introduce swimming to kids – go ahead! And since I believe in early introduction to water and swimming, I will be the one encouraging you to go ahead with it! Water elevates the weight which makes it easier to float, but harder to move in it. So swimming is a great way to make those muscles work.
  4. Jumping. Oh yes, we all jumped as kids. I remember jumping from the height of our first floor window. Thankfully, it wasn’t high. But now you would never make me, unless in danger, do that! So I suggest safer jumping – from small sturdy chair to another, across puddles, jumping up and down, jumping from one point to another!
  5. Crawling and climbing. I put these two together as they are so similar! With a difference that one crawls on the floor and over the obstacles. And climbing is usually up up somewhere! I am very glad our windows have big windowsills (and secure windows!) which makes the need for climbing and jumping easier to satisfy: I have a carpet under the windowsills, so when they jump, they don’t get bumped as much!
  6. Walking. Oh, this is my favorite one – walking is absolutely awesome! I don’t have to tell you that. It is harder when you are a parent with a toddler who just started to walk and constantly wonders off. But hey, that’s some making up for missed exercise!

Shoot me with more examples of gross motor skills – I will update this list and credit you!

And now, Fine Motor Skills!

  1. Picking up using fingers/hands. The joy and the disaster for a mom of a child who refuses to be fed and stuffs his mouth with food you put in front of him! But you know what? Mini Man picked up the spoon around 1.5 years of age. Miss A – at 1.  And I really can’t complain as they are not as messy as you see on some photos my friends post where the food is smudged all over that happy and proud face!
    This particular skill is later continued in picking up smaller objects – small balls, grains, beads etc. And the more you practice them – the better their eye-hand coordination is. And a lot of kids show better concentration in general!
  2. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting. These are all my favorite ones, and now my 8 year old and sewing bags for everyone! I could have started her on needles much much earlier (and it is actually a marvelous skill!) but there were never big enough needles for me to give her. But think of all that creativity a child can develop through sewing! Plus, and a HUGE plus, it promotes relaxation and calms the child down.
  3. Scribbling, tracing, and writing. I don’t even have to tell you about it. Let them trace and scribble!
  4. Coloring and painting. I put this one separately, as my own kids started coloring around 10-11 month of age. Yes, I gave them colors. Yes, with supervision. Yes, they tried eating them. Yes, we managed to live through half eaten crayons and pencils. Coloring is amazing! And you for sure will find it that putting a coloring child next to yourself when you are trying to catch up on a blog post  cook/clean, gives you few moments of relaxation, too! And I won’t even begin to tell you how much sanity painting saved me!

And again, I am asking you to share those other examples of fine motor skills activities with me!

 

31 Days of ABC - October 2016 | Alldonemonkey.com

After taking a break last year due to the arrival of Baby #3, we are back with one of my favorite series, the 31 Days of ABC! You can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.

I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their amazing ideas with us in the coming days. And this year for the first year we are also adding a giveaway, so be sure to scroll to the end and enter for a chance to win!

So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!


31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Creating a Preschool Letter of the Week Curriculum

A – October 2

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Apple Scented Glitter Glue and Apple Craft

B – October 3

Witty Hoots: How to Make Fabulous Button Bookmarks

C – October 4

Preschool Powol Packets: Construction Truck Preschool Action Rhyme

D – October 5

ArtsyCraftsyMom: Printable Dinosaur Alphabet Sequencing Puzzle

E – October 6

Preschool Powol Packets: Elephant Art Project and Thailand Lesson

F – October 7

Spanglish Monkey: Spanish-English ABC Flashcards

G – October 8

Royal Baloo: Simple Ghost Painting Project

H – October 9

Peakle Pie: Hide and Seek

I – October 10

Look! We’re Learning!: Insect Activities for Kids

J – October 11

All Done Monkey: Olmec Jaguar Craft

K – October 12

Preschool Powol Packets: I Am a Kite Action Rhyme for Preschool

L – October 13

Raising a Trilingual Child: Letter Learning with a Multilingual Twist

M – October 14

Creative World of Varya

N – October 15

Peakle Pie: Narwhal Fingerprint Pictures

O – October 16

For the Love of Spanish: O es de Oso

P – October 17

Little Hiccups: P is for Places, A Travel ABC Book

Q – October 18

All Done Monkey: Bilingual Letter Craft – Q is for ¿Qué? Q is for Question

R – October 19

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

S – October 20

Crafty Mama in ME: Patterned Paper Plate Snake

T – October 21

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Puerto Rican Flamboyant Tree

U – October 22

Witty Hoots: How to Make Awesome Unicorn Headbands

V – October 23

Creative World of Varya

W – October 24

Scribble Doodle and Draw: Winter Letter Craft

X – October 25

All Done Monkey: Coding for Kids – X Marks the Spot

Y – October 26

Our Daily Craft: Yarn Craft Basket and Books for Kids

Z – October 27

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Learning Spanish at the Zoo

123’s – October 28

Hispanic Mama: Fun Activities and Resources to Teach Numbers in Spanish

Prewriting – October 29

Sugar Aunts: Pre-Writing Lines Fine Motor Activity

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

The Jenny Evolution: ABC Alphabet Books

Alphabet Clip Cards – October 31

The Kindergarten Connection: Alphabet Clip Cards

Find more great resources in 31 Days of ABCs 2013 and 2014!

Giveaway

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win this great prize package, open internationally! Giveaway ends Monday, November 7, 2016 at midnight Pacific Time.

Kidloland

3 month subscription to the Kidloland app, which includes 575+ interactive nursery rhymes, songs, stories, and educational activities to help children learn ABCs, animals, fruits, vegetables, shapes and more!

Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle: 31 Days of ABC Giveaway

The Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle from Kindergarten Connections contains 500+ of alphabet printables, including tons of activities for each letter of the alphabet! ($58.50 value)

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D is for Diamonds

D is for Diamonds

As I got back into blogging full force, I have immediately started taking part in many exciting projects.

Today I would like to introduce to you another project I am taking part in: A-Z of Busy Bags hosted by Teach Me Mommy – a fellow KBN blogger.

My letter is D and I thought it would be fun to introduce Diamonds. I am not talking about stones, of course. I am talking about a diamond shape which is often is confused with a square or a rectangle.

In my mind diamond shape always associated with how we perceive the world in our childhood: diamond does look somewhat like a square but it is not. It is shifted, moved, almost disfigured. But it is nevertheless beautiful and creative.

So, I created a series of simple printables to put in a busy bag to use a diamonds matching tool. There is one printout in color, the copy of the same printable in black and white (for coloring), and several designs made out of diamonds that also teach and help practice numbers 5 through 10.

Click on the image below to be taken to the page to download the Diamonds Matching Printable!

Diamonds matching

These printouts are suitable for children from 1+ to 8 years old. They are a great addition to any math lesson, or a simple practice at home.

I do recommend printing out several copies of the diamonds in color. And I encourage you to let your child color the shapes, as well as the designs.

If you laminate the sheets, you can use them for a very long time. However, if the lamination option is not available, you can glue the sheets to some stiff paper, such as cardboard and cover over with clear contact paper – this will preserve the sheets for a long time.

What this matching activities promotes: language development (and you can use it for practicing a minority language in your household!); hand-eye coordination; fine motor skills; counting; creativity.

a-z busy bags

Follow us in the next couple of weeks to see what other bloggers have come up with! And don’t forget to stop by my blog around March 21st to see what I have come up for the letter U!

ABC Cookies For All Seasons

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This is the 3rd post in Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s – Seasonal ABC’s – hosted by Something 2 Offer.

The following activity is very hands-on, easy and… Tasty! The children don’t only practice their language skills but also work on fine motor skills, hand – eye coordination, focus; develop their creativity and gain sensory experience (texture and taste).

You can find the recipe for Sugar Cookies here.

The idea is very simple: make the dough, roll it, let the children make letters out of the dough, bake them and eat them!

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Be prepared for the letters to be absolutely imperfect and more over when the cookies are baking, the expand all sorts of ways! But it is still fun!

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You can choose to decorate the cookies with simple icing for special occasions, like, Christmas, Ayyam-i-Ha and other holidays.

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Please stop by the Sensory ABC’s landing page for more ideas!

Twilight Sparkle Dough

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Welcome back to 12 Months of Sensory Dough! This month we are all about Sparkle Dough!

My girls are obsessed with My Little Pony show. We even had a theme birthday party for miss T last year

When I was thinking what kind of sparkle dough to make, the name of the character Twilight Sparkle kept popping in my head. So I decided making a Twilight Sparkle Dough would be a great invitation for my girls to play.

Ingredients:

Any kind of cloud dough
Ours was with 4 cuos of white flour
And almost 1 cup of sunflower oil
Purple and pink food dyes
Glitter
A basin
Spoons
Cutters
My Little Pony figurines
Duplo cupcake pieces

We first made the dough and I let the girls mix it first with spoons and then with hands. Twilight Sparkle is mainly purple with some pink highlights. So we mixed in glitter, then purple dye, then pink dye. The dough had bits of both colors.

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I let the girls play with it and the ponies. But the forgot all about those and just explored the soft yet grainy texture of the dough and looked at the glitter shining in the light.

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Cloud dough is quite messy so we took the play to the balcony and finally they had it all over them, so baths were in order!

They had tons of fun!

Please join check out other blogs that participated in this month!

Calming Glitter Slime | Lemon Lime Adventures
Constellation Dough | It’s A Long Story
Sparkly Mermaid Slime | Study at Home Mama
Twilight Sparkle Playdough | Squiggles and Bubbles
Music Inspired Moon Sparkle Dough| Witty Hoots
Rocks and Pebbles Outdoor Sparkle Dough| Peakle Pie
Sparkly Shamrock Dough | Preschool Powol Packets
Sparkle Salt Dough | Preschool Inspirations
Taste Safe Strawberry Lemonade Sparkle Dough | Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Twilight Sparkle Dough | Creative World of Varya
Midnight Sparkle Dough | Wildflower Ramblings
Star Wars Dough | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Glitter Oobleck | Still Playing School
Sparkle Dough | the Pleasantest Thing
Metallic Sparkle Crayon Play Dough | Sugar Aunts
Sparkling Ocean Play Dough | Stir the Wonder
Shimmery Dough | In The Playroom
Sparkle Dough Eruptions | Little Bins for Little Hands
DIY Taste Safe Glitter and Rainbow Playdough | Powerful Mothering
Stress Busting Sparkle Dough | Raising Lifelong Learners

Follow Dayna | Lemon Lime Adventures’s board Sensory | Dough Recipes on Pinterest.

Cooking Series: Homemade Pizza

For the next couple of weeks I am taking a step away from Creative Tuesdays and instead posting for Cooking series. In fact, since the next 2 posts are directly related to creativity and creative thinking, I decided just to go ahead and post them on Tuesdays anyway.
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So, today I will share how we made homemade pizzas in my ESL class. We used my grandma’s recipe for the yeast dough which I prepared in advance since there wasn’t that much time to sit and wait around for the dough to rise!
Let me say something first: children ALL love getting their hands “dirty” with food items. They may not necessarily even eat what they make but making things, well, food of course, with their own hands is a world of experience to young children, as well as older ones. Though it is always easier to engage younger ones in food making process as they are still exploring and are curious about how things work. Making pizza is a very very simple activity you can offer you children which is full of sensory, smell, taste and visual experiences. Also, it helps with language development, creativity, fine motor skills development – you name it! And of course, then pride and satisfaction of making this small pizza and the happy faces and sparkly eyes – I would make pizzas in every class if I could just to see those faces!
How to set up this activity:
1. Work space should be cleared and clean and covered with a waterproof sheet. Some might want to use disposable sheets, I use a regular one which I can wash and reuse easily.
2. Prepare pizza toppings in advance if you are making pizzas with more than 2-3 children: you won’t have time to cut everything up and younger kids will get bored watching you cut stuff! Here are the toppings I prepared for my students: sausages, corn from a can, sliced and cooked mushrooms, chopped up tomatoes and green peppers, grated cheese, portions of tomato paste, some olive oil to brush the pizza base with.
3. MAKE SURE THE CHILDREN WASH THEIR HANDS THOROUGHLY. Yep, I am really really mentioning this!
4. Demonstration: first of all, go slow. Show children how to flatten the pieces of dough for pizza base. Give them time to experiment. Ask them if they want your assistance – most of them probably will. But if they are anything like my toddler and 5 year old, they might just say “no” no matter how hard it is for them or how weird their pizza base looks like! Help them brush the dough with oil and then with tomato paste.
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5. Make sure each child has his/her own plate with toppings he/she likes. And I would also make sure the toppings don’t touch each other on the plate as most of the children really wanted.
6. Give them time to set their toppings.
7. Allow them to watch how pizza is being baked if you have a chance (e.g. through the glass window of your oven). Children kept asking me every 2 minutes if pizzas were ready.
8. Important – have fun!
How do you like your pizza?

Ten Simple Toddler Activities

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We’ve been home bound for nearly a week now due to cold weather and my cold/sinus congestion. Even though we have plenty of space for my 5 year old and 19 months old to play, lots of toys and craft supplies, there is only that much craft you can do in a week with a sick (and pregnant!) mommy!
So I have keep going back to some of the activities I’ve written about before and more which never get “old” and can be applied for every day to create fun for your little one. They are supervised activities but for most of them you don’t even have to move around much, which is perfect for a new mom or a pregnant mom, or for a mom who is battling a cold!
1. Playing with a handkerchief or a scarf. Both boys and girls would enjoy this simple play! It can be used inside the house or outside while waiting in line or at the restaurant for food.
2. Similar way you can play with a … paper towel or a tissue paper! Add a bread basket or a plastic bowl to the game – and you have about 20 minutes (or more!) of fun! Once the tissue paper starts falling apart, roll small balls from it and throw them into the basket/bowl, scoop them with a spoon or simply pour them in and out of it.
3. Pour small objects from cup to cup – this can take a while! But make sure, of course, that they don’t get stuffed into the nose or ears, nor swallowed.
4. Painting: sponge painting, finger painting, painting, painting, painting! Any toddler likes to get his/her hands dirty. If you want more fun – make it a bath time activity and just next to your tot and supervise the water and paint play!
5. Salt dough and play dough – they never get out of fashion! Use small toys and objects to stick into the dough or make collages.
7. If you have a yard with a sandbox – sand play is your fun! If you don’t or can’t leave the house – make salt/rice trays: simply put the salt/rice in the trays and add some small objects to them. These you can store and keep for later (as long as they don’t get wet and are kept in airtight containers!). You might need to vacuum or sweep afterwards, but it is really worth the trouble! Tip: if you choose this activity, kitchen might be your best place for it and you might want to put some newspapers or a waterproof sheet on the floor under the tray to contain most of the mess.
8. Try on some hats! You can dig out all the hats in the house and offer your tot to wear them or put them on you. It takes 15 to 30 minutes for the hat play at our house!
9. Good old torn paper art is what every tot I know loves doing!
10. If all fails – bring out the cutlery. Spoons, plastic ware, pots, lids, ladles – it may get noisy but you know you’ll enjoy it! If you have plastic bottles with spices that are not easy to open – bring them into the game. Stacking them, placing them from pot to pot – tots love that!
You don’t need to go far to organize a simple and fun play at your house. You probably have everything already.
What are you simple toddler play ideas? Share with me!

Puzzles: creative thinking and logic development

Puzzles are known to be really great for children. They are not only entertaining and can keep your child occupied for a long time, they are also a great way for bonding between parents and children; and if done together by more than 1 child, they help learning a virtue of cooperation.

Here are some other important benefits of other puzzle making activities:

– Hand-eye coordination

– Gross motor skills development

– Fine motor skills development

– Shape recognition development

– Problem solving skills development

– Short and long memory development

– Attention span development

– Creative thinking and imagination development

Not all children are interested in puzzle from a very early age. However, there comes time when they get very interested and can sit with puzzles for a very long time.

How to encourage a puzzle activity? Here are some tips I used with our older daughter and with children I taught in the past:

1. Start with simple puzzles (2 pieces are the best). Children get familiarized with the pictures and the concept and you will notice when they are ready for more.

2. It is the best to use puzzles made from harder material (e.g. cardboard paper, plastic, wood). Soft paper can become a choking hazard.

3. Choose puzzles according to your child’s current interest or the theme that you are currently using to introduce to your child (animals, plants, objects, shapes etc).

4. Start with basic colours and not too colourful puzzles. Why? Because for a very young child a burst of colours can be very confusing and hard to process. Basics and simple colour schemes are easier to recognize and manipulate.

5. Making your own puzzles from the safe materials is always the best choice. Your child can participate in puzzle-making by helping to cut or tear a picture.

6. For older children puzzles that require colouring after being assembled are tons of fun. Some companies make puzzles that are made for dry-erase crayons or markers that can be coloured on numerous times.

7. Always supervise puzzle-making activity with your young child. Talk through the process. And of course, help when needed. The child will be more interested in puzzle making when it is an accompanied activity. Later, when he grows older it becomes more independent type of activity.

Does your child enjoy making puzzles? I’d love to hear about it from you!

Abstract painting

I think the first abstractionist ever was a child. Really. Abstract painting is just so natural for children – they splash the paint on the paper and mix it up, smudging and creating the most beautiful paintings. These paintings are in fact the most precious and the ones that are fast-forgotten: the mass-production is so overwhelming that it is hard to keep up with everything!
I tried keeping “the best”, but to me they are all the best and equally beautiful! As my daughter grows these paintings take different shapes and there is a story to them too.

I find abstract painting very interesting and engaging. It is also usually self-initiated and requires minimum intervention.

Here are some ideas for abstract play:

1. Finger painting. Experiment with different types of finger paint. You can find lots of recipes online (check Our Blogger Friends for some blogs references). It’s also a great way to introduce sensory play.

2. Paint brushes. Get a bunch of different sizes and width. Start introducing from thicker to thinner. This also helps with fine motor skills development.

3. Sponges. You can get regular dishwashing sponges, cut them up or use whole. Some companies make special sponges in different shapes with handles.

4. Tooth brushes. A great way to recycle your old tooth brushes!

5. Cotton and cotton buds (also known as q-tips). 

6. Pieces of cloth. Dipping cloth in paint and smudging on paper? It’s a dream come true!

7. Straws. The well-known blow-paint activity where you put a blob of paint on paper and blow on it gently through a straw. 

As you can see, abstract painting has so many ways. You have probably done it already with your little one but didn’t know that was it!

DIY Hand print Christmas Tree

This is one of the most popular Christmas Crafts. First time I saw it on Enchanted Learning Website . I won’t be posting any tutorial for you here as you can just follow the link and improvise yourself. Since then I’ve seen it on various blogs and sites – moms and educators have made it in different shapes, with finger paint, from crepe paper, construction paper, from fleece and other types of fabric. I’ve even seen this Hand print Christmas Tree Skirt from Passionate Penny Pincher.

I always wondered whoever came up with it first. Any ideas?

We don’t celebrate Christmas, as I mentioned in another post. But Christmas crafts are actually really fun and they are a great way to encourage creativity, create an opportunity for messy play and develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Here is a tree my 4 year old made. I helped her trace and cut out the prints:

And here are the trees moms and children in my daycare made. They decorated them with stickers!