December 13, 2012

Patterns with Cranberries and Popcorn

We have limited Christmas decorations this year because they're all in storage back in the States.  We will enjoy them next year, but we needed a little something to decorate with this year.  I decided to make garland out of cranberries and popcorn.

This is my first time making garland.  At first it seems tedious, but as you go on it is relaxing, too.  It is a great way to be reflective in this busy season.  This would also be a terrific way to spend some time in conversation with your child.

Pull out some thread to the desired length, thread your needle, and tie a really good knot in the end.  With younger children, man the needle yourself or look for one of those plastic needles at a craft store.  Children can help by sliding the cranberries and popcorn gently down the thread.  They can also help by determining the pattern and laying out the cranberries and popcorn in order of the chosen pattern.

The understanding of patterns is an essential early math skill, and is useful in other subjects like reading as well.  Pre-schoolers will enjoy making AB patterns (two items alternate), ABB patterns (one of the first item followed by two of the second item; repeat), and ABC patterns (three items in a row repeat in sequence).

Children need practice with patterns in the following ways:

-Identifying patterns

-Adding to existing patterns

-Creating their own patterns

-Filling in blanks in patterns

Understanding patterns is an acquired skill.  Expect learning to take time and practice.  Start as simply as possible, and increase the complexity as understanding improves.  Use colors, shapes, numbers, sounds, objects, words - you name it!  Soon your child will be finding patterns everywhere! 

December 3, 2012

Paper Plate Angel

This week in my Sunday school class, we read a story about when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce her pregnancy with Jesus.  The story was apparently really interesting, too, because in the middle one child hollered,

"When do we get to color?!"

When do we get to color? That is a good question.

Color we did, and because I couldn't come up with any projects centered around Mary that I liked, we made these angels instead.  

How to make the angel:

1.  Trace lines on a paper plate to make wings and a head.  Cut along the lines.

2.  Color as desired.  I really tried to find glittery crayons -I really thought/hoped they existed- but instead we used markers.  See my notes below for good pre-schooler rules for using markers.

3.  Use a hole punch to make a hole at the top center of the head.  Using half a glittery silver or gold pipe cleaner, bring the ends together and twist them about half way from the rounded end.  Form the rounded end into a circle, and bend the pipe cleaner where you twisted it making a right angle.  Insert the pipe cleaner ends into the hole.  Tape on the back side to secure if your angel is going to be doing a lot of flying.

4.  Bring together the corners of the paper plate (the parts that were next to where you started cutting for the wings), and form a cone.  The ribbed parts of the paper plate will be almost lined up.  Staple to fasten.  Test to make sure your angle stands, and adjust the shape of the cone if necessary.

Markers Rule!
Markers are awesome, and as such, they need three rules to keep them awesome.  Markers without rules become markers hidden away in the back of the pantry or somewhere your pre-schooler will never ever find them.

I show one finger to represent each rule, and then I repeat them one more time before letting them loose.

1.  Markers are for paper only.

2.  Always put the cap back on the marker.

3.  Be gentle with markers (those strong pre-schooler hands sometimes cause the marker tips to get smashed up inside the handle -no fun- or to run dry long before their life expectancy is up).

Rules like this are really helpful.  So many of the situations you may face can be corrected with one of these rules.  You don't have to say no markers on the face, hands, walls, mouth, table, dog, etc.  Simply remind the child that markers are for paper only.  And if one day you find a great project that is an exception to the rule, wait until then to tell your child about the special activity.
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