Fine Motor Activities ~ Scissor Skills

Preschool and kindergarten work often includes fine motor activities such as scissor skills to strengthen little hands in preparation for writing, manipulating zippers and buttons and so much more. Here’s a fun activity for practicing cutting skills with some really big bang fun at the end.

Fine Motor Activities: Scissor Skills for Preschool and Kindergarten

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When my 5-year-old was getting extremely frustrated with a scissor skills worksheet, I knew we needed to take a step back. Offering him scraps of foam to cut freehand, not having to follow the lines on the worksheet took away the frustration factor.   Foam is very satisfying to cut. He became very intent on cutting the tiniest little pieces, turning the foam and manipulating the scissors. Yes! That’s exactly what I had in mind.

Fine Motor Skills: Working with scissors and foam.

We are using  left-handed scissors . All 3 of my kids are left-handed and when I was working with my middle child on scissor skills, it suddenly dawned on me that maybe her challenge with this activity had to do with using a right-handed scissors with her left hand. My oldest left-handed child actually prefers to use scissors and dribble a ball with his right hand. But once my middle child had a left-handed scissors, her cutting skills were the bomb. 

Left handed scissors for kids.

Once we had a good pile of confetti, we used a funnel to put some inside 3 balloons. We blew up the balloons and then I gave him a pin (with supervision, of course) to pop them. How fun to see this big confetti explosion! Sadly, I did not get a good photo of that but I’m sure you can imagine how delighted he was to do this.

And now I am going to show you an amazing object for cleaning up this big confetti mess, since I often get critical comments on some of my messier kid activities about how MESSY they are (except most of those are not worded so nicely so I delete them). 

Look. It’s called a Vacuum Cleaner. You can buy them on Amazon! I know! Isn’t it awesome? And here is a blurry picture taken with my phone of my child strengthening his gross motor skills by using this amazing invention. Isn’t that great? [end of sarcastic rant]

Don't be afraid of messy learning projects.

Messy Play and Learning Activities: Love Bug vacuuming up confetti NEXT TO our water table which is filled with sand. We are really living on the edge here.

 

For more ideas, messy and not so messy, follow along on Pinterest.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Preschool: Learning is Fun! on Pinterest.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Homeschooling Moms: 5 Ways to Take Care of Ourselves Right Now

This post is graciously sponsored by Brave Writer. Disclosure.

It’s often the last thing on the to-do list: Ourselves.  Moms have a million things to do to take care of our families and our homes and our jobs and our many commitments. Add homeschooling to that and you can almost understand why well-meaning friends and strangers say, “I don’t know how you do it.” 

Homeschooling Moms: 5 Ways to Take Care of Ourselves Right Now

Here are 5 Ways to Care for Yourself as a Homeschoolng Mom

  1. Find Your Tribe.  Whether it’s a couple of other homeschool moms, a whole group, on-line or in person, find people who get you and get your family and your style of homeschooling. Run stuff by them: your curriculum plans, your struggles, your triumphant moments. Lean on them as needed.
  2. Seek Out Mentors.  This is different from your tribe.  Your tribe is in the trenches with you. Mentors have gone before you and have the advantage of hindsight to share with us. You can find them in real life, or by reading blogs or forums on the internet. They are there and they are wise.  Soak it in.
  3. Find the quiet.  What quiet?, you ask. I know. My house is loud, too. Find a time of day when everyone is asleep that is also the time that you are most likely to be able to be awake. Stay up really late or get up really early. I’m a morning person so guess what time it is when I am writing this? It’s 6:20 a.m.  I have coffee and it’s quiet here.   
  4. Let It Go. Sorry for the Frozen reference and now you have that song in your head. Again. But, picture this instead. You carefully plan and prepare learning activities for your children. Perhaps they even looked up at you with big eyes and said, “Mommy, can we learn about SPACE next?”
    And so you stayed up late cutting out cute planet printables and gathering supplies for an asteroid experiment and planning a themed snack to eat while you read the library books you reserved and checked out on the subject.  You are pretty darn proud of yourself for being so organized.
    And then the next day, they hate it. They refuse to do the printables, reject the snack and fuss and whine, “Whhhyyyy do we have to read this book? It’s so  boooooring.”  
    You’ve invested so much time and effort and you think, This is what we are going to do today, darn it. Don’t. Let it go.  Go outside and tromp around in the woods instead. Go visit Grandma and let them eat too many cookies. Build giant forts or Lego towers. And then look for the learning that did happen. I promise it is there. It’s just not the learning you planned for that day. It is the physics of the Lego tower, the family history lesson of Grandma’s stories, the science of bugs and plants in the woods.
  5. Restore your faith in homeschooling just a little bit each day. I’ve been reading Julie Bogart’s new book, A Gracious Space: Daily reflections to sustain your homeschooling commitment.  If you follow Julie’s Brave Writer page on Facebook you are familiar with the gems she shares that encourage homeschooling moms. I reshare them on the Creekside Learning Facebook page often. The book takes all that wonderful wisdom and presents it in 50 essays, designed to be read one per day. It’s like a homeschooling mentor mom has come into my kitchen and handed me a warm cup of coffee and this wonderful little daily dose of encouragement to start my day.  Here’s an excerpt from the book:

    It’s so easy to feel behind, or like you aren’t doing enough. In fact, when our kids are good at their schoolwork and get finished quickly…we might be tempted to undervalue the effort…Pay attention to the things that are working, to the peace you feel, to the smiles on your kids’ faces, to the well being of your family.Value what you are doing well. Celebrate it! Trust that ease in your day is a sign that you are on the right path.

 More About the Book

A Gracious Space is a beautiful collection of 50 essays designed to be read one per day and “intended to help you sustain your brave homeschooling commitment. Restore your faith in yourself, your hard work, and your children. Take a little time each day to remember why you do what you do.”  Deep breath. Don’t we all just need that?

This is the Fall Edition (first in a series). It comes in PDF, iBooks, and Kindle formats and you can order it right from the Brave Writer site. It’s $9.95. 

Gracious Space Fall

Win a Copy of the Book

Julie Bogart has generously offerred to give away 5 copies of her book to Creekside Learning readers. 

 
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Julie Bogart | Author of A Gracious Space

Julie Bogart | Author of A Gracious Space

 Julie Bogart and I are collaborating on Pinterest to gather more resources that support homeschooling parents. Follow along:   Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Support for Homeschool Parents on Pinterest.

From A Gracious Space: Daily Reflections to Sustain Your Homeschooling Commitment, by Julie Bogart

 

 

Instead of Asking Kids What Grade They’re In, Ask This

It never fails. Out in public, when my kids meet new adults, the grown-ups ask the same question:  What grade are you in? Sometimes it’s preceded with How old are you? and often it is followed by some variation of a school related question:  Are you glad to be off of school for the summer?  or Why aren’t you in school today? Is school out today?, depending on the season. But it is almost always about school.

Instead of asking kids what grade they're in, ask these questions instead.

I have one kid who smoothly fields these questions, one who is too little to be asked (much) and one who freezes. Every. Time.  My daughter does not want to be in a grade. Grades are for kids who go to public school. This isn’t something I taught, her, it’s just how she feels. We’ve tried discussing possible responses to this question but when it happens, she looks at me to explain, yet again, to another stranger who asks, “What grade are you in?”

I know they mean well. This person, out of kindness, is trying to engage with my child. These questions are automatic. It’s just what people say. There is no harm being done here. I know this. But I can’t help thinking, Is there another way to connect?

Isn’t it interesting that kids don’t ask this of other kids at nearly the same rate as adults? Here’s what kids say: 

Hey, do you play Minecraft? 

What’s your name?

Lets go on the swings.

Wanna play freeze tag?

Maybe adults could say those things or, in case they really don’t want to play freeze tag, here are some other ideas. 

Instead of asking, “What grade are you in?” how about these questions instead:

What’s something you are really good at?

Do you have super powers?  No? Well, if you could have a super power, what would it be?

What’s the best part of your day today so far?

What do you like better: the mountains or the beach?

Do you like horses/motorcycles/Legos?

Who is the silliest person you know?

What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?

Do you like to play with dolls/video games/cars/etc.?  What’s your favorite?

In memory of my Uncle Fred:  How’s the wife and kids? 

What is the strangest sound you could possibly make?

Say, have you ever met the President of the United States/Olaf the Snowman/any minions?

Do you have any pets?

What’s your favorite animal/color/etc.?

I’m taking a survey. I think kids should get to stay up as late as they want and parents should have to go to bed early. What’s your opinion?

What would you add to this list? What other ways can we engage with kids in fun, interesting, and playful ways?

Easy Lunch Recipes for Kids : Tortellini Meatball Soup

This quick and delicious soup is one of our family’s favorite lunches to make on days that we are home, and makes a fast and tasty dinner for evenings when we are short on prep time. There are more easy lunch recipes for kids coming on Creekside Learning. Be sure to follow the Creekside Learning Facebook Page or our main Pinterest board so you don’t miss any of these great recipes. 

Quick and Easy Tortellini Meatball Soup | Creekside Learning

 

Tortellini Meatball Soup
A quick, easy and delicious meal for lunch or dinner.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  2. 1 package cheese tortellini
  3. 1.5 cups meatballs (mini meatballs or whole meatballs cut into quarters)
  4. 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Boil water for tortellini. Cook tortellini according to package directions and drain.
  2. In a separate pot, bring chicken broth to a boil.
  3. Add shredded carrots.
  4. Sprinkle dried oregano.
  5. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until carrots are tender.
  6. Add meatballs and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, to heat meatballs, a bit longer if they were frozen.
  7. Put tortellini in a bowl and ladle the soup over top.
  8. Sprinkle parmesan cheese.
Notes
  1. If you make meatballs from scratch, make a batch of miniature meatballs and freeze. They are great for soups like this, or for a fun meal for kids with pasta and sauce. No mini meatballs? No worries. You can use regular sized meatballs (in the frozen foods section of the grocery store) and cut them into quarters for this recipe.
  2. You can also throw in some diced celery, frozen or fresh peas, and greens, such as kale, if you want to increase the veggie content of this soup.
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We usually serve this soup with a side of fruit and a chunk of crusty bread.

Tortellini Meatball Soup for an easy lunch or dinner

For more healthy recipes, check out the Feed My Family! Pinterest board.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Feed My Family! on Pinterest.

50 Ideas for an Organized Homeschool

It’s that time of year:  Time to get ready for fall homeschooling. Even if you don’t start your homeschool year in the fall, many of the kids activities get going at this time of year and it’s the best time to buy school supplies on the cheap.  Here are 50 great ideas for an organized homeschool:   books, curriculum, paper, supplies, homeschool rooms and learning spaces–we’ve got it all covered!

How to organize your homeschool:  50 Ideas

 

Organize Your Homeschool Room and the Places Where You Learn

Organize Your School Supplies 

[Read more...]