Saturday, October 12, 2013

Numbers, Shapes, Counting and Colors

This week was supposed to be "Our World" week, but since the boys were still getting a lot of enjoyment from the 50 State Week books and were still talking about the Untied States, I decided to take a break from the "them" thing this week and go back to the basics. Each week in our lessons we also include a color, letter, number, and shape, but I decided that this week I'd focus on those background lessons and make them the focus.

You can do a lot when your theme is based on colors, numbers and shapes and boy, were we busy! Here are some of the activities we did this week:

Fishin' for Numbers and Letters:
One of my dearest friends in the whole word is pretty crafty and when I pinned on Pinterest cloth letters, she thought it was a great idea and made some for her kinds and mine! I'm not sure if this is the exact tutorial she used, but here is one very similar. In our kit, she put magnets in them so they could stick to the fridge, but since my boys like fishing so much, I decided to make a switch and have them go fishing for numbers and letters! We have these handy fishing sets, that are just perfect for indoor pretend play, and because the magnet in the lures are so strong, it is perfect for them, no struggles at all catching these pesky letters and numbers.

There are about a million things you can do with these letters and with the fishing poles out, my boys were busy for a VERY long time. At first I just let them play, then I split up the numbers and letters and asked them to put them in order. After a while, I laid out letters and numbers into a "pond" and asked them to try and catch a three, a Y or whatever was in the pile. They seriously could have done this for hours.

Playing Cards:
My in-laws went on a trip and found these beautiful cards with animals and fish on them. They gave them to the boys and I was afraid to give them to the boys. I was sure we'd loose them, but Henrik found them in the school closet and wanted to get them out. So, why not?! I had Henrik explore the cards for a bit and he realized that there were numbers on them. We did all the possible things you can do with cards: put them in by their suit, put all the numbers together, find a match, etc.

We even played "Go Fish" but it was much more fun to actually put the fish into their species groups. I guess their daddy has rubbed off on them.

Playing Store (Or Payers):
For Christmas last year the boys got a kitchen set, shopping carts and a cash register, it wasn't really fun until this year and for some reason, playing "Payers" is Henrik's favorite game! He takes it so seriously! This was a fun activity for a few reasons, first, Dad joined in! Eric set up a store and had Henrik buy different things. They had smaller things cost less than the larger things, sweets and desserts cost more than toy cars, and so on. Henrik used toy money to pay for things and he couldn't get enough. He kept running around the house trying to buy different items and had to make sure he had enough money.

Theo thought the activity was pretty fun too, though every thing costs $50 to Theo. I'm not sure where that number comes from but it's pretty funny. Also, Theo doesn't get dollar bills, he understands coins (you can put them in your bank for allowance) and debit cards (what I use when I buy groceries). It's funny as he runs around the house giving every one their $50 and pushes his cart around.

Later in the week, I set up a lunch store for the boys, they used real coins to purchase their lunch, drinks and desserts. You could do this project a number of ways, we did it differently each time. One time we actually used the numbers on the bills and the actual value for the coins and other times we just had the boys count out bills and coins. I think that each way is beneficial in different ways, either way, you are still teaching how to count, the value of money and how to make financial decisions.

Counting Cards:
I LOVE this toy, I love it so much that we have the letter version too. These simple counting cards let the child physically hold the number and put it where it goes. We've played this "game" before, but this was the first time Henrik actually participated. I've noticed that as his confidence grows, he becomes much more creative and exploratory. For example, after we put all the numbers where they went, we talked about each one. Henrik tried to figure out what they looked like, he had a hard time with an 8 and a B because they look similar, but then, as he was holding the number he himself decided that they looked like glasses. He decided that the 9 was a socket wrench, the 6 was an upside down socket wrench, the 7 was an Allen wrench and the 3 was a sideways M or a funny mustache.

I was so impressed with his ability to make comparisons and actually relate to other things he knows. I was even more impressed when he was able to think back later in the day when I said, "Which number looks like a socket wrench?" (Mostly to test to see if he had actually made a connection) When he replied, "9" I knew we were on to something. 

The set I have isn't great, but it was fun for a little while. If the dominoes were larger I think we would have had more success with this. Henrik understood the concept of playing the game, but because the dots were so small, I think he lost interest quickly. 

Either way, it was a fun activity for a little while as he matched the dots together. Soon though, it was just more fun to make a road. 

Fine Motor Play:
This is an activity you can do without having your child think that you're working them! Theo loves to cook and use a "cutter" so I figured that while Henrik was at school, Theodor and I would have some pretend play that actually stimulated him in a different way. 

I gave him different tasks, "Can you please give me some red food?" "Can you please cut the red tomato?" "Can you put all the green food in the pot?" We did this for almost 30 minutes as we switched colors, and tasks. This is a small way to make a big difference in the way you interact with your child. Simple questions and small tasks will make a huge difference in their speaking skills, their fine motor skills and their problem solving skills. Plus, their sense of completion and successful completion of a project will boost their confidence, so much so that Theodor now jumps a the opportunity to cook with me at every meal time! Someone said to me recently that their child was too young for an in home preschool, I strongly disagreed! You can make every day "play" into a lesson! This is a perfect example.

Play-Doh Numbers:

This is a fine sensory activity that also tests your child's ability at number recognition and number creation. I used painter's tape to make numbers all around our table. I asked the boys to trace the number with their hands and tell me what numbers were in front of them.

Once they did that, I got out the play doh and had them trace the tape with the play-doh. They were actually creating their numbers!

Once they made the numbers in front of them, I had them switch sides of the table to create different numbers. This was perfect for my fidgety boys because it was a whole new game when they got different numbers, plus they got to get up and get active.

While we had the play doh out I made each of their names and had them sing their name song, I made it up to the tune of Rain, Rain, Go Away. And of course, while we had the play doh out, the boys just had to get creative and create creatures!

Shape and Color Sorting Blocks:

I went online and found this cool set at Oriental Trading, though I can't find it on their site right now. It has all different shapes and colors for kids to match. This happened to be an activity that Theo liked the best. Henrik knew almost all of the shapes and of course he knew all of the colors.

Nonetheless, Henrik participated and even played with his brother asking him what the colors and shapes were that he was using. It was pretty cute.

Number Matching:
I left the numbers on the table all week long and each day we did something different with them. This activity was really fun for Henrik because we got to go on a number treasure hunt and find different things to go on each number.

We searched the house for groups of things and when we found the number of items we needed, we placed them on the corresponding number. Henrik was pretty pleased with himself when he was able to identify the number and even figure out how many items we needed to match with the next number on the table.

Number Stacking:
This shape/color/counting sorter is perfect for any age child, for my 20 month old it was an activity that we could do for a long time as we switched up the task. Before Dad came home for lunch, Theo and I were counting the blocks, but when Eric walked in, the game changed to finding the correct color.

Toys like these are so wonderful because you can do so much with them without much effort. And again, this was a special activity because Eric was involved! I think it's so important to have each person in the family work with a child. When Eric works with the boys he gets different results in terms of their behavior and their reaction to him. He also asks different questions than I would. One of the greatest things you can do with your child is to encourage them to work with other people so that they can learn different things from each instructor. We're not all the same and we all relate differently to different tasks. I think it's important to expose your child to as much as possible to find out how they like to learn.

Train Counting:
Again, here's another project you can do while your kids think they are "just playing". My boys could play trains all day long and while they are learning valuable lessons working together, assembling tracks and even putting trains together, I wanted to add a new element to this game.

I asked the boys to find me the trains with numbers on them. Then we lined them all up in order. Then we tried to find corresponding numbers around the train village we'd set up. Then we practiced counting the different trains and even sorted them in terms of how many steam engines and how many diesel engines. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! I love reading how you teach the boys but I also love learning how to use everyday toys for different uses to make them part of your lessons. Thanks for the great "basics" post!