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Monday, November 11, 2013

learning baskets for preschoolers - an alphabet basket

So little miss will turn five later this winter. FIVE. F-I-V-E.

I can't believe it.

At her age little man received all kinds of "lets-do-school" energy from me. I start to feel bad for a minute, in this realization, but then I stop because I start listing in my head all she does do with us - first circle time, which really is for her and baby, and then a story, acted out with her princesses (Sleeping Beauty is a current favorite) then group morning story times - we are working through a collection of Native American legends from tribes around the United States - then we talk about the story, little man writes a sentence about it, they both draw pictures. I have recently had her do "form drawing" exercises, based on the story. In one story a crazy coyote spins around in circles, so I have her draw loops and circles, in a pattern on her paper, learning those hand motions for pre-writing. And of course she is doing letters, her name and the occasional "I LV U MOM" scrawled in crayon on construction paper, but now isn't quite the time (in my educational philosophy at least) to start in on official letter writing. She usually then does some kind of sensory activity, playdoh, or a craft with mom, helping me bake or wash floors, counting with gems while little man does his math activity.

This all sounds very "Ooo LA LA, look at me, THE HOMESCHOOL MOM." I don't mean to. Which is why its weird to write about homeshool sometimes. Suffice to say it feels like my job, at this point in life, and I tend to be perfectionist in my work. If I am going to do it, I am going to DO IT. You know?

In any case, I wanted to share his here because homeschool or not this is a super fun and easy and cheap activity for anyone to set up for their preschooler.

It started because I wanted to give her something more, something just for her, not just simplified versions of her big brothers school work.

So I came up with this game.

We spent a morning outside looking for perfectly smooth rocks. She liked this in and of itself. "Ooh, look at THIS ONE mom. ITS SPARKLY." This could be one morning's worth of activity! Then we came in and she spent 30 minutes washing then in soapy water and then drying them. Preschoolers LOVE tasks like this!

See what I am doing here. STRETCH IT OUT. HA.

The next day I took all her rocks and wrote out the alphabet in capital letters. I used a sharpie marker and it worked perfectly. You could also use those super nifty paint pens they have at places like Michaels.

She loved the rocks and spent some time putting them in order, mixing them up again, etc.

So that night I got a sturdy basket and went around the house gathering small items for every letter of the alphabet. It was surprisingly easy. A hint. Q is for quarter. Z for a zipper I cut out of an old pair of jeans. Y is a small ball of yarn.  X is for an X from a magnetic tic tac toe game. U is for a tiny toy unicorn.

The next day I got out the basket during school time and she was so excited. She mostly just matched the object to the letter, but it could also be a game - divide the letters in half between two people, then take turns matching your letters to an object. Each turn a player picks an item and tries to match the object to a letter. Or you could reach your hand into the basket with your eyes closed to look for the object you need (maybe I could make little man do this to level the playing field for little miss.)

Fun right?

Thirty minutes. That is how long she and baby played with the basket.

I was thinking I should have several of these baskets for school days and rotate them throughout the week. I want to do one with colors next. And then maybe one with different habitats (a forest basket, a jungle basket, a farmyard basket, etc) I also started one with numbers for little man already but she could use it too. It has gems (the glass rocks you can find at Michaels for flower arrangements. I always see bags of these) and popsicle sticks with numbers written on the tips. The idea is to line the gems up on the popsicle stick to make the number on the stick. I also did numbers and math function symbols on rocks, when I did the alphabet rocks. The idea is to set up a simple problem for the kid (3+4=7) then they count out gems to the appropriate number. There is also a deck of cards in there (just google math games with playing cards, so MANY options!) and the math gnomes I made last year (for telling the sweet little math stories introducing math functions that I did with little man last year).

In any case.

Oh, hey, so in the next week or so, ANOTHER GIVEAWAY. This one is for reading curriculum! Super exciting, for the first time I was contacted by a company to do a review and giveaway for them, which normally I am not into but this is one I actually use, so, SURE!! Check back later this week for details.

Let me know if you try the learning basket idea and what you come up with!


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