Frustration Free Dry Erase Mazes

This week I dove into Pinterest full on. I love the ideas that are out there and for creative bloggers it’s this fine balance between getting inspired and feeling like everyone else has all the best ideas. After brushing myself off, telling myself not to act like my children I dove back in and fell in love. All of this is to explain that I got this idea from a pin – after seeing these great labyrinths from bloesem kids I thought how can I make it so it encourages writing but is low on the frustration meter. This is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a CD case, some plain paper, markers, scissors and dry erase markers.
  2. Start by taking the liner out of the cd case and tracing it to make your own liners – we made 4 by folding and layering the paper before cutting.
  3. Next make the mazes. Ok so you could totally print some off the internet too and I encourage you to do this because man making mazes isn’t super easy, but maybe I am just maze challenged.
  4. Pop them all in a stack and into your case facing the back . Now your child can do a few at a time or all in one sitting.
  5. Add your kid and dry erase – mistakes are no biggie and look , writing practice!
  6. If you make a mistake , just wipe and try again!

You really should check out bloesem kids they have some magnificent ideas.

Fun Pre-Writing Activities Without Worksheets

handwriting for preschoolersLike reading, writing is a process that brings together a bundle of skills that all need to develop in order for your child to write with ease . Below are some of these skills and easy fun activities that help develop them. Worksheets aren’t the only way and certainly not the first step in teaching your child to write. Some children love worksheets and I think no matter what we are teaching our children if we build on what they love half the battle is won, so do not take them away if your kids enjoy them, just add some of these activities below too.

Write on Vertical Surfaces

Yes writing on the wall is a good thing, hopefully that marker is washable ! The reason for this is because when kids write on vertical surfaces like walls, chalkboards, and easels their wrists naturally bend back in the proper form for writing.You can :

*Make Your Own Chalk Board

*Write On The Wall with a Mini Mural

Fine Motor Skills

While writing my craft tutorials I often tag things as a fine motor activity because many crafts offer great fine motor practice.  Fine motor skills start in infancy while picking up finger food to eat but practice is so important as children learn to write. To encourage the proper grip you can try giving your child a small broken piece of crayon, it’s tiny size naturally encourages the proper grip. Also you can use up those tiny pieces! Thanks Teri for the suggestion.Practice doesn’t have to be work. You can :

*Have fun lacing and beading
*Make marshmallow and toothpick house
*Lock and Key Match

Develop Hand , Arm and Wrist Strength

In order to work the way they want them to your child’s body needs to develop and just like we work out our bodies to work the way we want them to, for endurance and strength. To build strength you can :

*Climb and Play On Playground equipment ( especially monkey bars, climbing walls)
*Use Spray Bottles To Paint
*Cutting - Yes I mean Scissors.  Don’t worry they don’t need to be sharp.
*Ripping is great too.
*Use tongs instead of your hands to pick things up in sensory tubs.

Hand Eye Coordination

I don’t think this section is given the status it deserves, hand eye coordination is so important and usually the part of the equation that frustrates my beginning writer the most. To work on these skills you can:

*Throw to a target – like we did with our Angry Birds Game.
*Hammer Golf Tees in like a pro!
*Sort things with tools , pour liquid into containers at a Water Table or while cooking with an adult in the kitchen.

More Pre-Writing Letter Awareness

This is the playing with letters, learning their shapes , and understanding their general purpose. You can :

*Make letters out of playdough and draw them in sugar.
*Make Letter Crafts to introduce and play with letters.
*Play Letter Games like memory , fishing games and letter hunts.
*Read.  Yes reading with your kids will help them with writing. So grab a book !

There are many strategies to help kids get a grasp on writing , these are just a few. Try not to push your young child, usually when they push back it’s because they aren’t ready for what you are pushing, so try a new approach.  Writing is a process and kids develop at different rates. Have fun with it and do not stress about what the kid next door is doing or what your mom says you were doing at your child’s age .

Superhero School – Learning Activities

super hero school quite time activities

This activity doesn’t just have to be for superheroes, any theme could be turned into a “school” from fairies, to dog trainers, firefighter to princesses! This model is a fun way to work on basic skills that kids tend to get sloppy on during the summer when days are filled with more exuberant play. Spending a quiet time here or there still playing but working on skills at the same time helps kids stay on track while having fun. So turn learning activities into a super fun school with this model.

  1. Before you gather your materials decide what skills you want to work on. Math, Letter recognition, Sight Words, Fine Motor, Patterning...  you choose. Try to make sure that you don’t overwhelm your child, 2-3 options is probably enough.Remember to you aren’t testing your child you are using pretend play and activities to learn and have fun.
  2. Gather the materials needed for the “school ” of your choice. I wanted to work on my son’s fine motor, writing and counting.pom pom match
  3. Our first lesson was “Bomb Squad” . His goal was to pick out the yellow, green and blue bombs ( aka pompoms) from the container to keep the city safe!  What this teaches is color recognition, counting and using the tongs is great for fine motor.fine motor skills
  4. Next up we had “Power Station” a super simple math activity that he places the correct number of stickers in the columns. Also I again worked in fine motor with the action of peeling the sticker off. I’m so tricky yo.shs5
  5. Finally I decorated a workbook to look like a Batman journal to encourage some superhero reports. My son is not the most excited writer so anything that will encourage it without pushing is something I look for. This did the trick .shs6
  6. Do not be empty handed after the tasks are completed – I made him a super fast medal like the family medals we made a while back to congratulate him on completing his super hero training!shs7

Super Hero Board Book

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My First Batman Book: Touch and Feel by David Katz.

I am just reviewing one book today because I want to really focus on it. It’s a rare find. A board book , a touch and feel no less,  about Batman. Trust me it’s rare, I squealed when I found it at the library and could not believe what a treat it was to read with both my kids. It’s not secret my son ( the one in the improvised Batman mask above) is into super heroes, he is also into books and I want to encourage that. However some of the books are so violent and I don’t want to expose him to all that at 4.5 , he is just too young for my comfort zone. For beginning readers there are some great I Can Read books but for even younger children pickings are super slim. Luckily there is this book. It’s sturdy, it’s age appropriate and it even glows in the dark!

Window Roadway

This activity is only for the brave or desperate… we have been home bound with an ear infection and we were all getting squirrely. I have been trying to motivate my son to write and draw more and doing it upright on an easel, wall or window is a great way to naturally use the muscles needed for writing.  These window crayons are great but I have a few must follow tips that will make your adventure with this activity much easier to clean than ours. Do not miss them. Seriously.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some window crayons, a window, a old dish towel wet on one side and dry on the other and some removable stickers if you want. Notice I have match box trucks in the picture. DO NOT use them… you’ll see why a little later on.
  2. Draw out some streets.
  3. Fill them in. Here is my 2nd ” Do as I say not as I do tip” Filling the roads in looked cool, but big flakes of black window marker fell onto my floor. They cleaned up easily but the one that I stepped on was troublesome. I left a little trail all over my kitchen that was reminiscent of those old Family Circle funnies. I am just thankful I didn’t go into my family room where there is carpet.  Simply drawing on the window didn’t create these flakes, but the large amount needed to fill the road in did. Look for the flakes and clean them up quickly before they spread.
  4. Add lane markers.
  5. Add traffic signs.
  6. Add your kid to draw the buildings, parks and in my case police stations and fire houses .  He loved it and although they may not look exactly like the fire house on your block, the fact that my son was drawing something made me so happy. At preschool he refuses to make any representational pictures saying ” I just like abstract.” so I feel great knowing we may be turning the corner without us pushing him.
  7. Listen carefully – learn from my oops.  Do not add match box cars. He loved running them all over town , but of course their tires picked up the crayons and ….
  8. Did this. My window sill is normally all white. I blame my 6 month old’s lack of sleep last night for my inability to foresee this obvious result but decided to share my oops.
  9. Instead grab re usable stickers if you have them and pop them on.Remember peeling stickers are a good workout for fine motor skills too!
  10. When you are done , wash off. We only left it up for as long as he played with it. I have left the window crayons on for a long time ( think months)  and it always comes off, it’s just a matter of how much elbow grease you feel like using. This came off easy peasy because it was only on for an afternoon.

Books About Trucks

The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon is a fresh twist on the classic Three Little Pigs with trucks instead of pigs. My son ate this book up, he loved it. The “wolf” in the story is a wrecking ball that smashes and crashes the Little Rigs garages , I thought he was a little scary but after reading the book I asked my son his favorite part and sure enough he said the wrecking ball. I loved the illustrations and was not surprised one bit to read that the author/illustrator has done work for Pixar.

My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple a truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck are slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people and the illustrations make me giggle, especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.

The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore is a rare book, it’s rare because it is a story about self esteem clothed in a truck book. The street sweeper isn’t the biggest, the fastest or the most powerful truck but it’s still mighty and proud. I really like this book, we read it before nap and again before bed and I liked it even more the second time. The message about being happy with who you are is really touching . I liked that the book says that you don’t have to be the best at everything to still be proud of your hard work. My son really enjoyed this book as well and it was excited to read it again at bedtime.