March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #2

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 play ideasSnow 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.

apple-float-science-experimentBack 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?

Apples Can Help With Patterning Skills

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.

patterning skillsToday’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.

Paris-pattern-cynthia-morrisFrom 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?

Applesauce Cookies: Tasty Treat for Eating and Learning

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.

applesauce cookies with kids**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 with kidsCooking 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?

Christmas Fun – Sense of Smell

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