Playdough Battleground – Fine Motor Pretend Play

playdough playYou know those moments of parenthood when you say “never” and then a few years later you eat your words. Yeah. I said I’d never let my son play with toy guns and while I still don’t buy the actual toy guns we do allow figurines with guns, pretend play with finger guns etc…  I know not every family allows it and others find there to be nothing wrong with weapon play at all. Like everything on our site use what will interest your child. I preach to follow their interests and find ways to teach using them and right now my son’s biggest interest is history , specifically WWII. This playdough activity isn’t just shooting each other it’s an invitation to play and learn.

  1. Gather your materials. We used plastic soldiers ( ours were specific WWII that came with an American and German flag), playdough we used every package we could find in the house, craft sticks, pompoms ( these were bombs) and your imagination.
  2. I just gave him the supplies and let him go. playdough play
  3. He built bunkers, trenches and special huts. This play is amazing fine motor work both molding the playdough and placing the small figurines.
  4. Later he created prisons for the POWs and I didn’t get a shot of it but we made a hill and water to make a D-Day beach.
  5. While playing we talked about all sorts of things. I do not want to glorify war but instead talk about the sacrifices everyone involved made, talk about why there was a war and how no matter what side the soldiers were on they have families who missed them.  My husband and I have sat down together to decide what we think our son can handle as far as facts about history so when he asks us ” Tell me a story about World War Two.” we know what the other is telling him and not telling him for now.
  6. Don’t forget just to have fun too. I know sometimes I need to remember this . He played for at least 2 hours, stopping briefly only for lunch. More than a few times he told me ” Mommy I love history!” let’s hope he carries that through school!


Series Showcase : Ms. Frizzels’ Adventures

With summer vacations on the horizon some of my book lists will lean towards school age kids in the next few months. This series by Joanna Cole are books I have been reading with my 4.5 year old but they are really geared towards Kindergarten and up, with the true target being 6 and 7 year olds. There is a lot of information on every page of every book so take your time. We grabbed the Medieval Castles book on Monday and by Wednesday we’d tracked down the other two, now on Thursday I am sharing them with you. I couldn’t wait to write about how much I like these books and how exciting they make history and travel, two of my favorite subjects.

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Ancient Egypt took me back to 6th grade when I discovered all the gruesome details of mummification . Ms. Frizzle and all the others on her tour to Egypt magically go back in time ditching their tour guide in modern day Egypt while they time travel to Ancient Egypt and learn all about the sights, daily life and the most exciting of course learning about mummification. I discovered that my son thought mummies were make believe and we took some time to talk all about what is real and what isn’t.  Did I ever tell you I have a degree in history? I love this stuff and books like this one is why I craved more and more information as a kid because it was presented so well. My son sat wide eyed as I read the book to him, and he carefully studied all the details of the amazing illustrations .

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China Takes readers from present day Chinese New Year celebrations to the rice fields and palaces of Imperial China. In this installment Ms.Frizzle explores China, explains the concept of taxes really quite well and covers many of the inventions that came from the country. My 4.5 year old wasn’t as into this book as the other two in the series but I think that’s because I read two of  them to him back to back with this one at the end, which was obviously too much for his attention. I however loved this one and was fascinated by the little asides filled with information about Chinese inventions.

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Medieval Castle was the biggest hit with both my son and I and the reason we went searching for the other books. This is a great book. The story is fun, the character’s asides are hilarious ( I love that her student is less than thrilled to see her outside of school), and the history explored is really an adventure. Ms. Frizzle heads to Medieval times after following a tunnel in a castle shop and a little twist of that magic time traveling watch of hers. Immediately they are at a castle where the Lord is on his way to fight for the King. This got my son’s attention right away and when the Castle was attacked my son was glued. We have had it out from the library less than one week but I have read it half a dozen time, and it’s LONG. I am more than happy to read it though, and the cutaway view of the inside of the castle is my son’s favorite part. I think perhaps being dragged around to open houses as we look for a new house has left a mark?  There is a lot of fighting and weapons which may mean this is not the book for your family but for us it puts these toys my son loves so much ( his Playmobil knights especially) into a historical perspective.  I will be buying this one for sure.

Who was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ?

Read This !

“My Brother Martin : A Sister Remembers. Growing Up With Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ” by Christine King Farris. Teaching preschoolers about history is tricky, but you can do it, you just have to break it down and give them bits they can relate to. This book does a fantastic job, while reading it I always have to hold in tears, it is just such a unique look at the childhood of a man who’s dreams changed the world. What I love about this book is that the majority of it is about his childhood and children can relate so much more easily to him as a child growing up then simply as this great man on the podium. Kids always love learning that he played pranks on people just like they like to do. The author explains prejudice and segregation in a straightforward and simple way so that children can understand and reflect on how it feels to be treated like that. The book doesn’t ignore the great accomplishments and wonderful man the little boy became but does a wonderful job making Dr. King into a hero your child can feel something in common with , and in return become more interested about.

Dream Big !

I have done this with classes as young as 3, most toddlers have a hard time understanding what a dream is but if you think your child will “get” it , go for it!

  1. Gather your materials. All you need is a child, some hopes and dreams , a piece of paper and pencil.
  2. Have your child write , or dictate to you what they want to change in the world. Resist the temptation to correct or edit them, let them dream even if it’s not as altruistic as you hoped or something you know to be impossible. Dreams can be impossible and preschoolers are pretty self centered so just let them dream!
  3. Have them write out ways they can make their dream come true.
  4. When they are done seal it up and put it somewhere safe until next year, when you open it and write another, then seal them both up. Before you know it you will have years and years of dreams.