Snow White Inspires Play-of-the-Day
This is a new series of blog posts combining reading with a play-of-the-day. While it’s still winter how about the story of Snow White before the snow is gone? If it’s all melted where you live, it’s okay because we’ll have some fun with apples too.
Snow White is the story of a lovely princess who has to run away from the evil queen. She finds shelter with 7 dwarfs until the evil queen, disguised as a witch, tricks her with a poisoned apple. She is revived with the touch of true love, delivered in a kiss from the prince. Because this is a traditional fairy story, books about Snow White are easy to find or you can tell the story. This version has lovely illustrations by Jacqueline East.
Since everyday needs some outside time, once you and your child have shared Snow White, you might be able to go for a walk in the snow. It there isn’t snow, you won’t be able to make snow balls, or snow angels, or play duck, duck, goose. Instead, you could look for little creatures and small homes. The dwarfs house was hidden in the forest, and if we look we can sometimes see homes for birds, squirrels, and bugs.
Back in the house, here is a fun apple science activity. Will an apple float or sink in water? Run some water into the kitchen sink or just a big bowl or container. You will need enough so the apple doesn’t just sit on the bottom. Have your child guess first what the apple might do, float on the top of the water or sink all the way to the bottom. Step two is to put the apple in the water and check the guess. What did it do? Try putting the apple in sideways and upside down and see if it does the same thing. You could try a banana too.
With such a nice clean apple, the best thing to do is to enjoy it. Apples make a great snack. What else can you do with an apple?
One of the basic learning skills for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarten kids, is also one of the skills that helps adults be very successful at their jobs. What is it? It’s the skill of patterning. People who are very competent at what they do notice patterns and use them to the best advantage. Being smart isn’t so much because of how much a person knows as it is how that information is stored in the brain. Patterns are a very efficient strategy for dealing with huge amounts of information.
Today’s play-of-the-day was unplanned. On the desk, there is a big apple container filled with little plastic apples. We’ve used these before for counting and playing with but all on her own, Big Sister began putting them in a line. I thought that was all she was doing, but she suddenly showed me that they were in a pattern: red-green, red-green, red-green, all along the front edge of the desk. She needed to use some that were a little different but, she explained, it was alright because they were a good color.
From wood on the floor, to the tiles on the wall, and the clothes we wear, we are surrounded by patterns. Our hearts beat in a pattern; we breath, walk, and talk in a pattern. Numbers and music are based on patterns. Given all that, it’s no surprise that our brains use patterns. Here is a quote from an article about the hockey legend, Wayne Gretsky: “the brain forms memories, assembled from experiences. Those experiences get stored as patterns, and assembled into quickly-accessed chunks of information. The more experiences are repeated, the stronger and more complex the patterns become.” (The Two-Second Advantage, Ranadivé and Maney)
Kids need a variety of experiences with patterns to develop patterning skills. In the preschool years children develop recognition of patterns. Some will be able to make simple patterns such as red-green/red-green, or spoon-fork/spoon-fork, and some will be making more difficult ones such as red-red-green, or lego-car-dinosaur, lego-car-dinosaur. Anything can be used to create patterns. Does your child play with patterns?
There are as many reasons for cooking with kids as there are cookies in a batch, and fortunately, the benefits will last longer than the cookies. These applesauce cookies were so yummy that we cooked up some more– a sort of double treat for eating and learning. They are called Applesauce Oatie Cookies.
**The recipe calls for 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar. We found this was too sweet, so the second time we made it with only the 1 cup of brown sugar, and that was enough. Our homemade applesauce was pretty tart, because there was no sugar in it so, if your applesauce is sweet, you may be able to cut down some more. The recommended amount of time is 8-10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the cookies were still a bit underdone so we left them in for another 2 minutes. 12 minutes was better, but of course, this can vary for different ovens and locations. **
Cooking can help develop higher level thinking skills like doing steps in a particular order, observing, and following directions. Plus there’s basic science, counting and measuring for math, using language purposefully, and special vocabulary. Paying attention is extra important because getting distracted even for just a few minutes can mean cookies get overdone.
Having children help means more supervision for us but there are some ‘sweet’ benefits. When we include kids in cooking, we are helping them create a connection and understanding with food, building family bonds, boosting children’s confidence and self-reliance, and encouraging a healthy attitude to eating.
Being part of the process is so much more meaningful and satisfying. Kids often feel powerless because they have to depend on others for practically everything. By involving them, they feel empowered. Once the cooking part is done, there’s more to come with the cleaning up part. This is an experience about balancing fun and work, another life skill. Would you agree that learning and fun are like extra ingredients in a recipe?
Johnny Appleseed was born more than 200 years ago but, because of the power of story, he hasn’t been forgotten. And, of course, the longevity of the trees. I couldn’t find any information for this year, but in 2010 there was still one living apple tree planted by Johnny Appleseed. Though old and gnarled, the … Continue reading September 26, Happy Birthday Johnny Appleseed
Bits of colored paper, glue, and an apple shape cut from a cereal box make a bright and cheerful wreath and a fun and easy project for kids. These are the steps: Cut out the large section of a cereal box and draw out the largest apple shape you can. Big hands need to cut … Continue reading Red, Green, Yellow Apple Wreath Craft
Did you know there is a bushel of books about apples to share with young children? And what a wonderful time of year to pick a few to read. (Do I get extra points for 2 puns in a row?) Here are some stories to start off your apple reading adventure: A favorite book with … Continue reading Books and Stories About Apples
Cooking with kids is a play-of-the-day activity that you can do anytime because it helps them be more aware of what they eat and make healthy food choices. We made some apple ‘sandwiches’ that have no bread and were almost as good as s’mores. Big hands need to carefully take the core out of the … Continue reading Quick Apple No-Bread Sandwich Snack
Today’s play-of-the-day is brought to you by puzzles. We tend to think of puzzles as a toy, but they are very much a great learning tool. Here are only a few of the strategies and skills that kids practice and develop when they play with puzzles: noticing details: Kids learn to look at the color, … Continue reading Apple Puzzle Takes a Bite Out of Learning
Paint dabbers are a marvelous invention and Little Sister had lots of fun painting an apple. When I told her she got to paint an apple, though, she started painting on a real one! Kids take things literally so it was a good reminder to be specific. She was going to do a paint project. … Continue reading How Many Colors In An Apple Paint Project
Using the senses to explore and learn about the world is part of brain development and kindergarten readiness. As humans, we experience the world through our senses, so it’s important for kids to have lots of opportunities to use all their senses: taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch. When it comes to the sense of … Continue reading Christmas Fun – Sense of Smell