Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fine motor/gross motor sewing activity

Ellie is a large-motor kid*. This will sum it up for you: "Mommy, I don't like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom because you and Daddy wait for me to say all the letters and that's boring." Meanwhile, she's on the trampoline not an hour later spelling her name as she jumps.

That's my daughter, and I love it about her. It does make me slightly worried about school in a couple years, but that's another post for another day (like maybe when it's a wee bit closer).

I love it, and I try to tell her "yes" a lot since she hears "no" pretty often too. No, you can't do a balance beam on the back of the couch. No, you can't do a flip off the back of the recliner. No, you can't jump over Sam.

We love being outside, and summer is my favorite because we swim almost every day. We created a gross motor area in our playroom that has a hula hoop, Pilates ball, Bosu ball, trampoline, Sit N Spin, gymnastics mat, DIY balance beam, hopscotch rug, and roller skates. We lived at the play area in the mall this horrible, horrible winter. We just discovered Upper Limits climbing gym and along with BounceU, it's our new go-to Ellie date.

It is frequently a challenge to find focused activities that "click" with her. She is actually quite patient and enjoys fine motor activities (Duplos/Legos, Ogobilds, Perler beads, and Play-Doh are favorites), so I have been experimenting to try to use these strengths to increase the range of things she'll stick with and focus on.

This is now the longest intro to a blog post I've probably ever written. We hit upon this activity quite by accident today, but it was so effective and fun that I wanted to write it down.

It started with her working on her sewing box (an embroidery hoop with a Dollar Store rubber non-skid rug mat, two very large plastic needles, some thick mesh plastic canvas sheets, wooden spools, buttons, and yarn). She's gone to it a couple of times but only ever really worked on it with Nana, once.

She started today by sewing a button on, and then wanted to use the canvas to make designs but was already getting bored and distracted. I encouraged her to stick with it and cut her a VERY long piece of yarn, but quickly realized it was too many steps to remember: up - pull - untangle - hold the sheet the same way the whole time - down - pull - untangle, etc.

I had her hold the needle and back all the way up to pull it taut, and when I told her it was ready for her next stitch, she immediately started galloping back. Bingo. We kept at it this way for 15 minutes. She would back up, then I'd give her a way to come forward. Then she would have to quickly switch to fine motor, find a hole, thread the needle through, turn the canvas over, and then back up again.

She tried walking (forward/backward), tiptoeing (forward/backward), jumping with feet together (forward/backward), hopping on one foot, marching, skipping, and galloping. This was a totally random success.

Threading the needle to begin

Jumping while holding the string (sorry for the dark picture! I'm holding the canvas in my other hand.)

Making a stitch before she backs up again

*I know she's three, and all kids are wired for this kind of play -- but our close friends who have kids of similar ages agree that she is uniquely tuned into gross motor activities. One of her best friends is reading and spelling simple words. That is not my child. My child dances in giant circles as she makes up wild stories.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Baby-safe red, white, and blue sensory bin for Memorial Day or Fourth of July

Pack of foam stars ($3 on clearance at Wal-Mart for 36 stars!), large red and white poms (Hobby Lobby), flag pinwheel (Hobby Lobby), toilet paper roll (with the really fantastic art added by me), muffin tin (in stock), tweezers (in stock), USA felt letters (got these from a friend for a sensory alphabet we're making)

Sam started banging things. That's a shocker! He quickly started playing in-and-out games, which is big for him right now at 10 months. Poms in the toilet paper roll, stars in the bin, poms in and out of the muffin tin, etc.

Exploring together

Ellie went straight to building. She's really into this right now and I love seeing what she comes up with. This was a bridge of stars and poms, and a tree for a fairy house.

This is a great bin for individual activities too. With Ellie, there's patterning (poms and stars, different colors, etc.), counting, designs (we were stacking the stars to make flowers, etc.), and tweezing (those thin stars are hard to get with the tweezers!). For Sam, this is a great one for color matching, in-and-out, and vocabulary development ("through," "in," "on," colors, shapes, counting, etc.).