Practicing Writing Strokes for Preschoolers

practicing writing strokes for preschoolers

Preschool Writing Activities

This is great fun for preschoolers to practice writing the lines and curves that make up the letters of the alphabet.  Use black paper, and sidewalk chalk, soaked in water, to make the colors more vibrant.

wet chalk on black paper

We are about to embark on a focus of learning to really write letters well with my 4 year old. Up until now, he’s been copying from things he sees, can write his first name, but we haven’t really focused on it unless he asked me how to specifically write something.

preschoolers practicing handwriting strokes

I drew different types of strokes and swirls and lines on my paper, some taken from our Handwriting Without Tears preschool book. He would not have stayed interested for nearly as long if I had pulled out that workbook, but brightly colored chalk on paper? The possibilities were endless!

preschool writing practice

My 7-year-old daughter got involved, too, creating a stack of masterpieces. This is good for her as well, as she has some fine motor delays that affect her handwriting.

preschool writing strokes

These preschool writing activities were inspired by Anna at The Imagination Tree and Tammy at Housing a Forest. Stop by and see what they are doing with wet chalk drawings.

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Water Beads and Shaving Cream Pretend Play

“Cake batter” (shaving cream)…

shaving cream pretend play for preschoolers

Plus some “sprinkles” (water beads)…

add water beads to shaving cream

And a spoon for mixing and spreading…

spreading shaving cream over water beads

And you have some wonderful, quiet, sensory fun.

Cost: about $4, but only because my 4-year-old grabbed the shaving cream can and emptied the entire contents onto the tray.

I thought, “Cool. That’s some rockin’ fine motor skills, being able to operate a spray can of shaving cream.”  Nice job, little guy.

For more information about where to find water beads and ways to use them, see our Water Bead Science post.

waterbeadscience

Water beads should not be ingested. Please supervise children and pets closely when playing with water beads. 

For more preschool fun and learning, follow our Preschool pin board on Pinterest.

We’ve also been playing with snow….indoors over at Kiwi Crate’s The Studio.
indoor snow play

Learning With Literature: The Snowy Day

 The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a Caldecott winner and a Before-Five-In-a-Row selection.  And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of this wonderful book. Quite significant, is that it is the first children’s book to have an African American lead character.

I have a very clear memory of having it read to me as a child.  I remember how magical the book seemed.  The giant mountains of snow and Peter, so small in comparison, discovering the wonderfulness of playing in new snow.  And now I wonder what books will stand out for my kids when they are older.

My 5 year old, The Queen Bee, and I  spent a few days learning with this book to prepare for our trip to see the play at a wonderful local theatre, Adventure Theatre, at historic Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, Maryland.  And what a production it was.  If you are anywhere near the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, I highly recommend this production.  I have never seen anything at Adventure Theatre that wasn’t terrific, but this was exceptional.

After the show:  Alan Wiggins, who played Peter, and Calvin McCullough, who played the roles of Harold and Arnold in Adventure Theatre’s production of The Snowy Day.

 

Click here for a great video of a reading of The Snowy Day.  This can also be found on Adventure Theatre’s website.

In the days before the play, we did a snowman math activity with dot-a-dot markers, inspired by Rachel at I Heart Crafty Things.

The learning task for my daughter was to sound out the number words on the pink cards that she did not know.  She then made a fun snowman for each number and decorated it. Then she tried to teach her 3 year old brother number recognition but he was more interested in doing this with the dot-a-dot markers:

“Well, good for him!”, I thought, pleased beyond measure that he is not eating them, drawing all over his body with them or using them to color one of his siblings or our pets. Moving on…

One of our favorite activities was finding this great to-along book:  Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch. Thomas refused to put on his snowsuit and struggles ensue. His teacher winds up wearing the snowsuit.  You really must go and listen to the author read this and many more of his other books on his website. He is hilarious. My 7 year old has stayed up late into the night listening to these on the lap top in his bed. He can now recite many of the stories from memory. They are all truly silly and fun and Munsch is a wonderfully animated storyteller, which comes through, even in these audio recordings.

More Snowy Day Activities

Sparkly snow play dough, inspired by Ten Kids and a Dog.  This was very easy to make.  You add glitter to the basic dough recipe. I made the kids’ each a little jar for their Christmas stockings and they’ve played with it many times since.

Shaving cream snow and dollhouse figures to act out the story. We manipulated the dolls feet in the shaving cream to make tracks like Peter did in the book. I also gave each child a popsicle stick to make a track in the snow, like Peter.  Can’t you see Peter underneath all of this shaving cream snow?  No. Well, he’s in there. Shaving cream is messy and fun and both my 5 and 3 year olds and a visiting friend had a great time with this.

Melting Ice and Freezing Letters and Numbers Activity  We had a great time learning about how ice melts, as well as playing with plastic letters and numbers frozen in a block of ice to make words and math equations.  You can read more about those activities here or click on one of the photos below.

You can find more books with activities to go along on our Learning With Literature page. Next up in our Learning with Literature series, The Mitten, by Jan Brett.

Wanna see where I hang out?  Check out these awesome linky parties for more great ideas from these fabulous momma bloggers. 

Science, Math & Reading All in One

We just did a great little activity that my kids, from ages three to seven, loved.  It involved math, science and reading and it only cost me $1.

I filled a pie pan with water for each of them and sprinkled in plastic letters or numbers from a dollar store magnetic set.  Each pan of water was geared towards  what each child is currently working on.

I left the pans of water outside to freeze overnight, and this morning we got to work excavating.

Here’s the Science Lesson:

I asked them a few questions to get them started, but they took it from there.

How do you get frozen objects out of a block of solid ice?  First they decided to try using tools:  a butter knife, a sharper knife (don’t worry, it’s a kid-safe knife).  That chipped a bit of ice away but not much and the letters were in danger of getting stabbed and broken.

What do people use to melt ice on sidewalks and roads?  Salt!  They loved pouring salt on the ice.

Then they wondered, would pepper melt ice?  They decided yes, because it’s spicy, so they tried it. No, pepper does not melt ice, they concluded.

How about pouring on warm water?  Yup, that helps a lot.

The most effective thing, they discovered, was to run the block of ice under hot water in the sink.

 Then they got to work playing with what they’d found in the ice.  Firefly, my 7 year old made multiplication equations. The Unifix cubes on the left are what he used to figure out the problem.

He tried to come up with as many combinations as possible with the numbers that were in the ice, then we added more numbers. Lots of great multiplication practice. Now, had  I asked him to do this in writing, on paper, oh the whining, can’t you just hear the whining?  On the other hand, “dig plastic numbers out of ice and make equations” got this reaction:  ”This is so cool, Mom!”

The Queen Bee, my 5 year old,  made up words from the -ot family with her treasures from the ice.

She loved this and immediately wanted more magnets to work on more word families. She spent a lot of time doing this. After -ot, I gave her -at, -it, -in, and an. Whenever she put a letter in front that didn’t spell an actual word, we called them silly words and sounded them out anyway (gat, uin, wot, etc.)

Love Bug, my 3 year old, got a handful of random letters to work on letter recognition.  He pretty much didn’t want to play with his letters or make any guesses as to what they were once he freed them from the ice. It was more about the process of getting them out for him. That’s okay. I just exclaimed excitedly, here and there, “Oh, look, you got a letter D out of the ice!”  and “Wow, now you have a letter P, like p-p-p-popcorn and p-p-p-purple!”

He very much enjoyed sprinkling salt on the ice, running the ice block under water, and freeing the letters.

The day prior to freezing the letters and numbers in the ice, we put them into the little infant blow-up pool, along with some water, and went fishing:

That was fun, too. Love Bug loved fishing the letters and out sticking them to our magnetized door.  His siblings loved spelling words with them and helping him get the letters out. They were a little tricky with these fishing rods. Next time we will attach a larger magnet to the end of the string. This one couldn’t support the weight of some of the letters.

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Homeschooling With a Toddler, Part 2

I just realized something. Homeschooling with a toddler around is getting easier. Shhhh!  Don’t tell him I said that.  I just had to share that, for all the lamenting I did last year about how hard it was.  And it was hard.  But I am here to tell you, Homeschooling Mommas Who Also Have Toddlers, IT WILL GET EASIER!

Love Bug was a challenge.  He was 20 months old when we first started homeschooling.  Now he is on the cusp of three years old.  And more and more, he is doing his own little version of things right along side us, rather than ripping up all our papers.  And other times, he is playing quietly on the floor next to us, with the things I’ve left for him each day, versus throwing them at my head. He is able to wait five minutes for me to get him a snack when I am right in the middle of a math problem with my seven year old, as opposed to clawing and climbing on me and screeching. And he loves to sit next to his sister when she is on the computer, rather than smashing the keyboard and poking her in the ear. You see the difference? It’s subtle, but important.

It was rough last year. We mostly didn’t get much done unless he was asleep. When he gave up naps, I panicked. Then I went all unschooly for a while because, well, what else could I do? It was the only way. Love Bug is a very active little guy and last school year, he spent much of his time earning his nickname, The Homeschool Terrorist.

Now, before you judge me for clearly ignoring his needs, you should know that I tried many, many tactics. I read him lots of books, played with him every day, created many games and little activities for him to do, tried including him in what my other kids were working on, got him lots of outside playtime, let him make lots of messes, did school with my other kids on weekends and holidays when my husband could entertain him. And so on. But it just was not easy. And finally, I decided to switch to a much more relaxed model of schooling so that we could be out and about every day, with an increased amount of playtime. And you know what?  My other kids learned anyway.  Firefly’s reading improved a thousand percent.  The Queen Bee started reading herself. We did a ton of science experiments.  We squeezed in some math.

And then, as we slowly, quietly started to structure our day around learning after taking a bit of time off at the beginning of the summer, I noticed it.  Love Bug became interested in what we were doing.  Sometimes, he became darn right fascinated. For example, as we began to study ancient Egypt, he picked up a few things, like “Nile River” and “Mummies” and “Pyramids” and then when he saw them in our books, in the videos we watched, at the museum exhibits we went to, he shrieked with delight.

And now, he clearly understands that we have a routine.  At 9:30, when I sit down to do seat work or read alouds or some whatever project we are working on, he sits, too.  He grabs something off the shelf or delves into what I’ve left for him at the table.  He does stuff like this:

All stuff he found, set up and occupied himself with for a very long time. Now, for those of you who have sweet, calm, reserved and otherwise angelic toddlers, you are thinking, What is the big deal?  I remind you of this and this and this.  All a very accurate glimpse into what our last year was like with a very active and curious little guy.

Could it be that all that advice I read to homeschooling moms about simply giving them  crayons or play dough or a copy of their sibling’s worksheet was aimed at a much older toddler? I’m not sure but I do know that that would be much more applicable to Love Bug now than a year ago.

So if you have a young toddler, I have no magic solution for you.  There are some things that make it easier at times but they don’t always work.  Mostly, what you need, is time.  Your older kids will be okay. They will learn, they will arrive at their academic destination. And one day, you, too, will realize that your toddler has finally fit in with your homeschooling routine, rather than working with the force of an army against it.  Or maybe you will catch on to that faster than I did and just relax.  I highly recommend that.