Friday, February 27, 2009

Teaching Problem Solving -- The "Why Do You Think?" Game

In the past couple of weeks, 4 year old Luke and I have created another new's called "Why do you think......?"

The game came about one day while we were riding in the car. We had to stop for a red light, and Luke asked me (although he knew the answer), "Why did we stop?"

Instead of answering the question that he already knew the answer to, I turned it around and asked him, "Why do you think we stopped?"

He immediately responded, "Because the light is red!"

Problem solving is an important skill for toddlers to learn. It's sometimes difficult for us as parents, who have always taken care of our toddlers' needs, to step back a bit and let them 'stretch their brains.'

Many times Luke will try to shrug or say "...because!" but I try to insist that he think of an answer.

Now, several times as day, I'll ask Luke, "I wonder why.....?"

"I wonder why the sidewalk is wet.....?" ("Because it's raining!")

"I wonder why we have to sit quietly.....?" ("Because we're at Church!")

"I wonder why that lady over there is wearing sunglasses....?" ("Because it's sunny!")

"I wonder why that food is hot....?" ("Because Mommy just took it out of the oven!")

"I wonder why Spongebob is sad....?" ("Because Patrick is being mean to him.")

It's so much fun to see that little brain work and grow as he thinks things through and tries to come up with the best answer to my questions.

I also see it as just a little payback, for all the times he's asked me "Why?"


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Teaching pre-schoolers with ryhmes

"I keep the cold air out, and you walk through me to go outside. I'm not a chore, and I'm not a floor, I'm a ______________."

"This is where you brush your teeth and wash your face. I'm not pink and I don't stink, I'm a __________."

"I'm little and creepy crawly. I'm not a rug and I'm not a hug, I'm a _______."

"You see these when you sleep. I'm not steam and I'm not cream, I'm a ________."

Pre-schoolers LOVE to rhyme! This is a fun game 4-year old Luke and I recently discovered, and it keeps us busy while we're waiting in the car to pick up his older siblings after school, or even just snuggling on the couch.

"This is where we eat dinner. I'm not a stable, I'm a _______________."

Use your imagination! See what fun rhymes YOU can come up with!


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Teaching A Love of Reading

Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely LOVE to read. My bedside table generally has a stack of 3-4 books, waiting to be read. I seldom leave the house without a book in my hand (you never know when you might have to wait 5 minutes for a child to get finished with practice, or get stopped by a train).

My kids know that if I ever disappear (you know, run away), they will most likely find me in my favorite place on earth ... our local public library.

Because I find so much joy in reading (I'm currently reading eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert -- HIGHLY recommend it! In fact, I'm considering moving to Italy for a year as soon as I finish reading this book, just to learn the language...and perhaps to get some first hand glimpses of these Italian men with their "liquid brown eyes"), I am always trying to come up with ways to help my children fall in love with reading as well.

Yesterday, since Luke's older siblings all had to go to school, but Luke's pre-school had the day off, Luke and I ran some errands, including a trip to the library and then McDonald's for lunch. I hadn't taken many photos lately, so I grabbed my camera on the way out the door, and snapped pictures of our outing.

While Luke was napping, I spent about 30 minutes playing around with the photos, and created a book, starring Luke, titled Luke's Really Fun Day. I had a report cover in the house, so I 3-hold punched the pages, and put the pages in the report cover. (If you want to take a peek at the fun things we did, you can see a pdf version of Luke's book here: Luke's Really Fun Day -- Click on the title of the book under the letter "L" and then for a really cool view, click on the double page book at the top).

When Luke woke up from his nap, he was ECSTATIC to have his very own book. We've already read it 48 times, and he wants to take it to school next week to share it with his class.

I think he loves reading :)


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reinforcing Numbers and Counting

We count everything! When we set the table, we count the plates and forks and napkins. When we play with toy cars, we line them up and count them. And when we go to the grocery store, we count packages and cans and fruit.

Reinforcing numbers and counting is a great way to help your preschooler learn the basics of math. Many times, after counting books or toys, I'll take some away, and ask 4 year old Luke to re-count what's remaining. When he gets the answer correct, I tell him, "Yes! That's right! We had 8 cars, we took away 3 cars, and now we have 5 cars. So 8 minus 3 equals 5." I'm pretty sure he doesn't yet get what 'minus' means, but I'm just introducing a new word to him and using it in context.

Here are some other ideas for introducing and/or reinforcing numbers and counting to a pre-schooler as you go about your day:

  • When you're cooking, read the recipe to your pre-schooler as you add ingredients. For example, "The directions say to start with 2 cups of water." Then let him/her help you count the cups as you add them to the sauce pan.

  • When setting the table, instruct your preschooler to "put 4 plates and 4 forks on the table." Then ask him, "How many glasses do you think we'll need?"

  • When playing use numbers and counting, "can you put 4 blocks in a row?" "can you jump 6 times?" "Simon Says take 3 steps backward"

  • At snack time, count out your preschoolers goldfish crackers or Cheerios, and place them in groups of 4, 5, 6, etc., and ask him/her to count them. Then write the numbers on a piece of paper, and place the paper next to the correct group to reinforce the written number.

  • When reading to your preschooler, count birds on the page, tractors on the page, butterflies on the page, etc. And occasionally ask your preschooler "What page are we reading?" and show him/her the page number at the bottom of the book.

  • When you're grocery shopping, ask him/her to "put 3 cans of green beans in the cart" or "how many rolls of toilet paper are in that package?"


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