Early writing skills can be found in a tub of rice

My grandson is 14 months old and already he is developing his writing skills. Oh, to the untrained eye, it can look like he is “just playing” in a tub of rice but building the fine motor strength, eye-hand coordination, and pincer grip needed to write later in life starts with activities as simple as playing in a tub of rice…

This was my grandson’s very first experience in rice play.  I poured just a small scoop of rice in a tub to give him his first experience…

Once I set the tub of rice out if front of Kai, he literally dived right in….

He used his hands to push the rice around the tub…

He used his fingers to try and pick up the rice…

He tilted the tub and all the rice slid from one side to the other side of the tub…

And then he reached out with his hand and worked those fingers to grab up some more rice….

The grasping, pushing, pinching, lifting, dumping, pouring is all a part of building fine motor strength and eye-hand coordination that is ultimately needed to master writing skills when the time is right…

Rice play brings developmental benefits to preschool age children at all stages of growth. Older preschoolers will master the process of scooping and pouring as well as enjoy time with friends having conversations and social interaction….

As my grandson gets older he will be prepared for writing with writing tools but for now, it isn’t a crayon that he needs to explore – it is time to use his fine motor skills through a variety of playful experiences and opportunities….

And yes, he dumped the tray over but we just scooped it back up and started our play again as long as he was interested…

And yes, my grandson did put a fist full of rice in his mouth but then quickly decided to spit it out. I had to help him a bit with that part. Like anything a toddler will play with, you don’t just want to set it out and walk away. Instead, give them some space to explore the materials and be there to help when you’re needed…

So the next time your child is using his fingers to scoop, pinch, push, pull, pour, dump, and explore his environment – look beyond the play and at the development that is taking place and you will see that your toddler is mastering the skills needed to one day write his name, cut with scissors, and all those other fine motor tasks that are used later life. Don’t be in a hurry, development takes time but mostly it takes opportunity!

And the best opportunities come when young children are given time to play with the materials in their world…

 

By | June 24th, 2012|Categories: Infant and Toddler|7 Comments

Exploring the paint brush

Have you ever tried painting with a todder? Now that summer time is upon us, my preschool is on break and I have had extra time to spend with my 14 month old grandson…

I set out some large sheets of paper and a rolling paint brush and then squeezed some paint out on the paper.  I thought my grandson would love the fact that the paint brush rolled. He tends to love anything that rolls.  But instead, he watched me roll the paint across the paper just a bit then proceeded to set the roller down and crawl over to see what else I had in my basket of goodies…

I hadn’t intended to bring out an entire basket of paintbrushes but since they were sitting near by, my grandson decided that what was in the basket had to be more interesting than rolling that brush on the paper…

I continued to drip small amounts of paint on the paper and invite my grandson to paint but still, he really only wanted to explore all the paint brushes…

Instead of taking the paint brushes away, I just let my grandson explore all the paint brushes while he sat on the paper…

Occasionally, my grandson would reach out and give the paint on the paper a little push with his finger or drag the brush through the paint (without intention)…

But mostly, my grandson enjoyed exploring the paint brushes…

I was right that my grandson would enjoy a paint brush that rolled. I just hadn’t considered that he would rather roll or push all the paint brushes around the paper instead…

I am not so sure my grandson really even noticed the paint at this point…

But he sure did notice all those paintbrushes!

After all, an artist does need to know his tools before he is ready to create…

Available on Amazon

 

By | June 16th, 2012|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , |3 Comments

Eight tips for reading with a toddler

One of my favorite ways to spend time with my grandson is sitting down to read with him and my grandson truly loves the reading experience…

Reading with my grandson has given me the opportunity to observe and participate in the toddler reading experience. Based upon my own personal observations, I thought I would share with you a few helpful tips I have discovered about reading with a toddler…

Read with a toddler tip #1: Choose quality board books

The books that we currently read with my 12 month old grandson are almost all books that come in the form of a board book.  After reading the book at least one time through, my grandson likes to have me read the book again only this time, he wants to turn the pages himself. Because my grandson is still building the necessary fine motor control to grasp objects, the thicker pages of a board book make it much easier for my grandson to grab a hold of each page..

Read with a toddler tip #2: Get the board book “read-ready”

One thing I do to help my grandson turn the pages of a board book is to get the board book “read-ready.” If the board book is new or barely used, it can be stiff and difficult to keep each page in the open position. To help with this, I open each page of the book and bend it backwards to try and stretch out the binding just a little bit. Bending back the pages help them to stay open rather than quickly snapping back closed every time my grandson lets go of a page…

Read with a toddler tip #3:  Fingertip page turning

In my grandson’s case, he likes to sit through the reading of the book without interacting with the book the first time we sit to read it – he just wants to watch as I read and turn the pages. After I have read a book with my grandson a time or two, I like to encourage him to try turning the pages on his own. Whether I am reading a book with paper pages or board pages, I lift up the page with my finger just a bit when I am ready to turn the page but I don’t always go ahead and turn the page.  If I pause for just a few seconds, my grandson will almost always reach down where my finger is and turn the page the rest of the way by himself…

Read with a toddler tip #4: Follow your child’s lead and know the difference between types of books

There are different kinds of books and my grandson likes some and others he tends to lack any interest in. I try to pay attention to which books he enjoys and which ones he doesn’t seem to be all that interested in.  I also have noticed that different types of books invite different kinds of interaction. For example…

  • My grandson likes books that make sounds when you push a button but doesn’t necessarily want to sit and actually read through the book.  For a sound or audio book, my grandson would rather just play with the buttons or listen to the sounds rather than listen to me read the book. He does enjoy reading sound books but I adjust my approach to reading with him. I don’t worry about reading the book. Instead, we just interact together with the buttons and sounds as I talk about the pictures on each page of the book.
  • My grandson loves flap books like “Where’s Spot”.  My grandson has become quite proficient at opening and closing the flap of each door, drawer, basket and so forth on the pages of the “Spot” book we read. In my grandson’s case, he likes for me to read the book all the way through and lift the flaps myself through the first reading. After the first reading, my grandson likes to read the book again and this time he will reach out and lift the flaps himself.
  • And my grandson loves simple read-aloud books. With a simple read-aloud picture book, my grandson enjoys having me read it to him over and over again. He often likes to turn the pages himself after the first reading or two and I have noticed that he likes certain pictures better than others. In the board book titled “The Best Mouse Cookie” by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond, my grandson always stops the reading to reach out and touch the same spot on the same page of the book every time we read it. He will sit and rub his finger over a certain spot on the page for a few seconds and then he is ready to move on.  I am not sure why he likes this picture over all the others but this is his reading experience so I follow his lead. When he is ready to move on, we move on.


Reading with a toddler tip #5: Know the best time for reading

My grandson seems to enjoy reading the most when he is ready to wind down from other types of play. As a general practice, we tend to read with my grandson right before nap time or bed time.  However, we don’t necessarily connect reading to going to sleep – keep that in mind.  On some days, I will sit and read to my grandson at the end of a busy day while waiting for his mommy to pick him up or any time he is ready to switch from a more active type of play to something more calm.  Although we are happy to read with my grandson any time he shows an interest, wind-down times seem to be the times when he is most attentive and interested in the reading experience…

Reading with a toddler tip #6: Keep books within toddler reach

All of my grandson’s favorite books are down where he can reach them anytime he wants. There are times when my grandson will stop and push the buttons or turn the pages or look at the pictures on his own because the books are a part of his play experience and play things…

Reading with a toddler tip #7: Gradually build up your collection

Because I am a preschool teacher, I probably have over 50 board books in my collection of children’s books but my grandson and I have only read about five of those books. It seems that my grandson would rather read the same book many times over than read something new. Every once in awhile, I will introduce a new book to my grandson along with his current favorites and if he is responsive to the book, it is a keeper and if he lacks any interest, the book goes back on the shelf to wait for another day…

Reading with a toddler tip #8: Get everybody reading

Everyone in my grandson’s family gets involved in the reading experience in their own way. His mommy and daddy read to him daily and even grandpa gets in on the action every once in awhile.  Different personalities bring variety into the reading experience and for my grandson, reading with his family leads to the important process of building bonds and creating memories related to the reading experience.

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Linking up!

Classified: Mom

At play with Baby: an outdoor texture walk

My grandson and I went on a little outdoor texture walk.  I made an interesting discovery on this nature walk that I hadn’t expected…

For our outdoor texture walk, I walked my grandson around the yard and we stopped to touch different types of nature items.  In the process of our texture walk, I discovered that there are some things my grandson does not like to touch…

It is funny because in the house, my grandson will touch almost anything – even things he isn’t supposed to touch. But outside, he didn’t like to touch the grass. At one point in our walk, we sat down together in the grass and he didn’t reach out to move. It took me a few minutes before I realized that my grandson doesn’t yet like the texture of grass on his hands…

My grandson was happy to reach out to grab a leaf or to feel a tree but he didn’t want to touch that grass. So we moved on to other textures instead…

There are plenty of textures to explore outside. As I watched my grandson explore each texture, I couldn’t help but feel so grateful to be a part of my grandson’s first experiences in exploring nature…

We found many different items to touch but don’t worry – I didn’t just leave my grandson with a big stick. He touched it with his hands and gave it a good look over, then we tossed it aside and continued on our texture walk…

It was a beautiful day and a fun way to spend time “turning on life” with my grandson…

This post is a part of our screen-free week experiences. Turn off the screen and turn on life! (CCFC)

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Reading spaces for a toddler

A great way to create a toddler’s interest in children’s books is to integrate books into their play environment. Often times, we get stuck with the idea that books belong on shelves or in a basket on the floor. We want to keep them organized and clean but for toddlers, the best place for a book is where the toddler likes to play….

Little red reading wagon

My niece, Clara, loves to go for wagon rides around the house and her parents discovered that while riding around in her wagon, Clara will sit and look through her books…

Clara’s mom and dad eventually plan to move the wagon outside but Clara is enjoying it so much inside that they have decided to wait. So, for now this is Clara’s special reading wagon…

Creating reading spaces

Take a look at your toddler’s play space and keep books close by. Don’t worry so much about keeping the books organized on a shelf or in a basket. Besides, have you ever noticed that if you put a book on a shelf or in a basket that the first and often the only thing a toddler will do is take all of the books off the shelf or out of the basket? Perhaps integrating books in other ways throughout your toddler’s play space will invite the toddler to take a look at the book rather than just toss the books aside.

Safety tip…

Clara likes to stand up in the wagon too and her mom and dad have to remind her that she has to sit down to play in the wagon. So remember – Don’t leave a toddler unattended in a wagon!

Literacy Beginnings

We are on to chapter four of our book blog party. Prekinders will discuss chapter 4 – An Organized, Engaging Environment for Learning so be sure to stop by!

At play with baby: I can kick my feet!

Kai is just over two months old now and he is really starting to discover his feet. So we have been playing lots of “kicking-Feet” games…

Playing footsies with mommy!

When I feel mommy’s foot – I go kick, kick, kick!

Kick the Pan!

The cookie sheet feels cool on my feet…

And it makes sounds each time I tap it with my toes…

While mommy holds the pan – I go kick, kick, kick!

Kick the cups!

These plastic cups are light weight, bright and colorful…

Grandma stacks the cups up so I can reach them with my feet…

And I go kick, kick, kick, and knock them all down!

PS. The cookie sheet kicking game was an idea I learned way back in my college days. Who would have thought that I would now be using it with my grandbaby! So fun!

Here are a few more infant ideas you can check out…

Brain benefits from bonding with baby from Early Childhood Brain Insights

Baby Learning: What to do with your newborn, Music and SingingMirrors, and Visual from Pocket Full of Posies

Infant paper study part one and part two from Make it Amazing

Baby fabric bucket from Tinkerlab

And for more insights on infants and toddlers see the Elevating Childcare blog by Janet Lansbury

By | June 23rd, 2011|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , , , |8 Comments

Making a baby footprint painting

I finally had a chance to make a little footprint painting with my grandson!  Let me say right out of gate that this was no easy task to do all by myself…

I wanted to try and make a footprint painting while Kai was still just a few weeks old so I could have it to hang in my studio. The first thing I had to figure out was how to set Kai up so I could pull this off without a hitch. I didn’t want Kai getting mad at grandma…

I tried to think of everything I would need…

  • a wet wash cloth for clean up – check
  • a towel for drying – check
  • paint all ready to go – check
  • canvas set close by – check
  • baby secured in his seat – check
  • camera on, lens cap off, and facing the right way – check

All ready to go…

Painting the foot comes first. I just dipped Kai’s whole foot in the paint. Holding that little foot up with paint on it and manipulating the camera to take a picture was a challenge all by itself…

Then I gently pressed his foot on the canvas. The first time didn’t turn out so great. I had way too much orange paint on his little foot…

I got better by the time I got to the yellow paint…

Once all the flowers were on the canvas, I washed Kai’s feet the best I could but he was getting a little tired of grandma messing with his feet by this time…

So I took Kai out of his seat and while he took a little nap, I finished my work of art…

A little blue for the sky and a little green for the grass and flower stems…

My very first grand baby painting!  I now have a new appreciation for infant teachers when they have to make hand prints or footprints for a parent gift from every baby in their classroom. Whew!

Available on Amazon

By | June 10th, 2011|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , , , , |10 Comments

At play with baby: look at me

For those of you who have not graduated into the grandma club, then you may not appreciate this as much when I say…   There is nothing more amazing than watching your own child be a parent! I love watching my daughter be a mom – she is so natural and nurturing and smart! Shall I go on:)

During a recent grandma visit, I enjoyed watching my daughter play this little visual tracking game with baby K. The first thing she would do is get him to look directly at her. Then she would slowly move to one side and call his name or make little clicking sounds….

Then slowly back to the middle, waiting each time and gently encouraging baby K to catch up to her with his eyes…

Then slowly to the other side and again, wait for baby K to catch up to her with his eyes…

Keeping in mind that baby K is only about 4 weeks old, she held him close and supported him as they played.  I am not sure where my daughter gets her playful ideas from but watching her play with baby K is wonderful…

For those of you who are on the look out for infant lesson plans or just some quality playtime with baby add this to your list of to dos!

By | May 20th, 2011|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , , |15 Comments

On becoming a grandma for the very first time

Becoming a grandma is an experience that only after becoming a grandma can you begin to appreciate. Bright and early this morning, my daughter had our first grand baby – a bouncing baby boy….

We arrived at the hospital at 1:00 in the morning and by 8:00 in the morning he was here! He is so sweet and beautiful…

As he was being bathed, fed, changed, swaddled, held, kissed, and talked to, all I could think of is that every single thing that he is experiencing was for the very first time….

So much of what we do with infants, toddlers, and even preschool age children is an experience they are exploring for the very first time…

I want to share in as much of my grandson’s very first time experiences as I can…

And when I am working with young children in the classroom, I want to bring my “grandmotherly” perspective with me and remember that the children I teach are exploring and learning about their world. And often times, what I do with these children may be something they are experiencing for the very first time…

By | April 15th, 2011|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , |62 Comments

At play with baby: hello hands!

Baby Clara has two hands!

Clara uses her hands to tear paper…

Clara uses her hands to reach for the ball…

Clara uses her hands to squeeze her soft toys…

Clara uses her hands to feel her bumpy ball…

Clara uses her hands to hold her bottle…

Clara uses her hands to put things in her mouth…

Clara uses her hands to help her crawl on the floor…

Clara’s mommy took pictures of Clara’s hands and made a special book of Clara’s hands!

Clara likes to look at her hands in the special book…

Clara’s mommy put pictures of Clara’s hands above the changing table…

Now Clara and her mommy can talk about Clara’s hands while she is getting her diaper changed. This keeps Clara’s attention so she doesn’t roll around while having her diaper changed.

Clara’s mom made exploring hands a fun and practical experience!

Infant Lesson Plan

By | February 9th, 2011|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , , , , |4 Comments