Saturday, July 31, 2010

Making numeracy resources for young children (part II)

Following on from my last post, these are some of my other ideas for numeracy resources at home.

Homemade skittles are great for teaching numbers (and also just for playing with ;)) I fill them with lots of different things including coloured water, pasta, rice, flour, etc, and print number labels to contact on them. Jacob loves playing with them (as you can probably tell from the photo below!) I have to add a dislaimer though: we did NOT drink all these bottles of soft drink in one go, they were collected over many, many years!!

Matching coloured pegs to colours on a card. These cards are laminated so they don't get too ratty, the pegs are cheap plastic ones from Bunnings.

Threading coloured pasta onto string to teach colours. It's easy to make coloured pasta. All you need to do is put it in a bag with a little bit of food colouring and some metho, rub it around then take it out to let it dry for a while.

Hope you enjoy all these activities :)

Making numeracy resources for young children (part I)

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about making literacy resources for young children. I thought I would share some of the numeracy resources I have made as well for those that are interested.

I already mentioned the books I make featuring simple number rhymes and puppets to go with them. Here are a couple more from the collection. We have quite a few that all sit on the bookshelf. The kids are always pulling them out to play, they especially love the puppets in them at the moment!

Simple counting books are great too. The 'Numbers' book features numbers that have velcro on them so they can be removed and put in the right spot by the child. Each page has pictures to match the number.

'Frog on a rock' is also a simple counting book but a bit more fun for the kids. It's the story of a frog and what he likes to eat. Each page has a different number (1-10) and features a different insect. The insects are attached by velcro so kids can remove them and put them in as you read.

Learning about colours is important too. Simple colour books can be great! The 'Rainbow book' is a book with a different colour on each page. There's a variety of different objects on each page which are attached by velcro. Kids can help to match the coloured objects up to the right page. On the last page is the rainbow song (I'm sure lots of you will remember this from your childhood like me ;))

'Monster, Monster' is a bit of a fun book. It features a recurring rhyme about a monster and what he wants for lunch but also teaches kids about colours. Kids can choose what colour object they want the monster to eat. You can then flick to the last page (see bottom photo) and let them choose the right coloured object. It always get a bit of a laugh as the monster gives a big burp (I used to record a burp on a switch when I was teaching at the special school so the kids who were non verbal could also participate ;))

Can you tell I like making these books? ;) Stay tuned for my next installment of making numeracy resources for young children.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homemade shampoo and conditioner

We've been making and using our own shampoo and conditioner for over a year now. It's been working really well. Neither Chris or I have noticed any difference with our hair by using it and it's a helluva lot cheaper than buying shampoo!! It's also much better for the environment as there are no nasty chemicals in it. The recipe is pretty simple really. We make it up in 1 litre containers and just tip that on our hair when we wash it (you may need to shake the shampoo up though before you use it ;))

There are a few variations of these recipes, but these are the quantities we have found work well.


1 tbs bicarb
1 cup of water

Mix until combined


1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

Mix until combined

It's not exactly rocket science, is it? ;)

Breastfeeding 'dolly'

I mentioned the other day about Esme breastfeeding her dolly but not being quick enough to get the camera in time. Well, I finally captured a photo of her the other day! Isn't she cute? ;)

I love that Esme is growing up seeing that breastfeeding is the natural and normal way to feed a baby. I don't think she would even have any idea how to feed dolly with a bottle as she hasn't really been exposed much to bottle feeding. We don't own any toy bottles ourselves and most of our friends breastfeed as well.

It's funny, whenever I go to an ABA event where there are children, I see a lot of these children incorporating breastfeeding into their play, rather than bottle feeding. It really goes to show that children learn these sorts of things from a very young age and it's important to have positive breastfeeding role models around them from very young so that they grow up knowing that breastfeeding is a natural part of life.

Children who grow up surrounded by positive breastfeeding role models are more likely to be successful at breastfeeding/supportive of breastfeeding. I love that I am teaching my daughter this very important lesson.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Holiday

I've posted bits and pieces already about what we've been up to on our holiday last week but thought I'd write a bit of a summary of our week and share some more photos.


We set off on our long drive to Hotham at about 10.30 (it takes about 5 hours to get there) We managed to make it up there by about 5pm with only one stop on the way (a pretty good effort with two little kids!) Jacob and Esme were fascinated with watching the snow on the side of the road on the way up the mountain.


Today was snow play day! After a relaxing morning in the lodge, we headed out in the afternoon to play in the snow. Lots of fun was had by all, you can check out some of our adventures in the snow here


Today we took Jacob out to do some skiing. He'd been nagging us to go on the lift since we got in the car to drive up to Hotham so thought we'd better take him out before he drove us mad. We spent the afternoon on the Big D (beginners slope). Check out this video of Jacob skiing with us and the photos


The weather wasn't that great today. We would get brief patches of snow but most of the day it was raining which doesn't make it very pleasant to be outside! Daddy and Jacob still ventured out in the afternoon though and continued to build their igloo (I just wish we'd taken a photo of it before we left!)


Last day today! We were up and packed early, ready for the long car trip home. Jacob was sad to leave the snow. He's even started talking about the next time we go to the snow (I'm thinking we might get a little sick of hearing about it given this isn't until next year!) Mummy and Daddy were a little sad that they didn't get to do any skiing on their own but given that the snow season wasn't that great this year and half the lifts weren't open it wasn't really worth it.

I have to say, it is nice to be home and sleeping in our own beds again!

Tracks in the snow

It's amazing what you can find when you take the time to look! One afternoon while we were on holidays we ventured outside and found some tracks in the snow. We started to look a bit harder and found a lot more tracks in the fresh snow. Here's some photos of what we found, feel free to take a guess at what made these tracks!

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Snow play

This week we are up at Mt Hotham so of course it's all about the snow play! There are so many different sensory experiences for children to have in the snow.

You can taste the snow

Or examine an icycle up close

You can listen to your boots make crunchy noises in the fresh snow

Or sink to your knees in the soft snow

You can even discover different tracks in the snow

Or build an igloo with Daddy (ok so it wasn't the world's best igloo but the kids had fun shovelling snow to make it!)

Make a snow man

Or slide over the snow in a tobaggan with Mummy

I think it's safe to say we are having lots of fun here at the snow ;)

Visit We Play at Childhood 101 for more great play ideas

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Making literacy resources for young children

Welcome to the July Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is "English", including Speaking, Listening, Reading and Viewing. I think our bloggers have covered all of these and there are lots of resources and game ideas, plus a giveaway. Please read through to the end to find links to the other participating blogs.


In a previous life I was a special education teacher, teaching students with physical and multiple disabilities. The kids I taught were non verbal and had limited hand skills so we had to be a bit inventive about the way we taught literacy. I was fortunate enough to learn from some wonderful teachers who taught me what I know today. A lot of what I do with my kids stems from what I learnt working as a special education teacher. My most used equipment when making resources has been a laminator, bookbinder and velcro. There are so many things you can make with these things! Here are some of the literacy resources I have made that are relatively easy to make at home.

I make books for the kids that feature simple rhymes. Rhymes such as Five in a bed, Five grey elephants, Five little ducks, Five cheeky monkeys and Five speckled frogs (these are great numeracy resources as well!) You can see, in the pictures below, how both the bears and the numbers have velcro on them so that the kids can move them around the page as well. It's lots of fun to tell the story together and make the bears fall out of bed. We also make finger puppets to go with these books as well and the kids really enjoy putting these on their fingers and playing with them too.

We also have a collection of books with puppets. The kids get a lot out of reading the books and having the puppets act out the story. Luckily, I have a MIL who is a very talented knitted so she makes us a lot of resources ;) The Goldilocks puppets below were made by her. Other books with puppets we have include: The three little pigs, The little red hen and Tiddalick.

Whenever we go somewhere as a family, whether it be on holidays or just a fun excursion somewhere, I make a powerpoint book. You can use the photos from where you've been and write a story to go along with them. I usually print it out, laminate it and bind it. The kids love that they feature in the story and read it over and over again. You can see an example of one of our books here

I have also made a felt board for the kids. Actually it's really just a piece of felt stuck on a blackboard with pictures that have been laminated and have velcro on the back - very easy to make!) I have pictures (cars, trees, people, animals, etc) that Jacob likes to move into different places and tell stories about. A great way to encourage early literacy!

I also have cards for days of the week, weather and feelings. The cards have both the word on them and a compic (I used compics with the kids I used to teach so already had these pictures but it would be simple enough to find some pictures on the internet). The cards on the left say Today is..., The weather is...., and I the kids can choose what they would like to say. Of course, Jacob still needs a bit of help to choose what he wants but he recognises quite a lot of these words by the pictures which I think is great! This activity can be expanded as the kids get older too.


Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.


Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on "English."
  • Monique at Your Cheeky Monkey has written about why her family thinks storytelling is so important, some storytelling ideas, and a few of their favorite books.
  • Julie at Works For Me Homemaking is encouraging sound play with preschoolers and not just for fun. It is an important tool to develop sound awareness skills and enhance early literacy development.
  • Staci from Teaching Money to Kids reminds us that sometimes language and interaction need to be explicitly taught and practiced, and has some ways to teach the language of sharing.
  • Leechbabe from Stuff with Thing asks what happens when your child interprets everything said to them in a very literal way? How do you aid their understanding of the funny things people say?
  • Squiggle Mum was reminded recently that you don't have to be a literacy specialist to know how to read aloud to a young child. After all, it ain't rocket science...
  • Lisa at SMMART Ideas has a LETTER MATCHING activity to help you practice spelling words, or even foreign language vocabulary.
  • Deb from Science@home has a giveaway to help you go on an expedition on your bookshelf.
  • Colin Wee at Super Parents is teaching his kids to argue by learning how to create a reasoned argument for English creative writing and the OREO Acronym.
  • The Planning Queen from Planning With Kids had her own bookclub when she and her son read the same book. It was a great experience to have a book discussion with her son where she hadn't been reading the story "to him".
  • Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori agrees with Maria Montessori that young children have a natural love of learning. Thanks to matching Montessori sandpaper letters with small objects, her son decided as a toddler that learning to read was just a fun game.
  • Amanda at HomeAge posts that we all know The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but Eric Carle has so much more to offer to young readers, particularly those interested in the natural world. With bright, beautiful artworks and simple, repetitive stories these books are a wonderful way to entice the young "reader".
  • Miss Carly from Early Childhood Resources has steps and advice in creating a literacy rich environment for children of all ages.
  • Christie at Childhood 101 points out that the process of sharing stories through oral storytelling is an age old tradition amongst families, but does it have a place in our busy modern day family life?
  • Sarah at Bringing up Baby Bilingual describes her public library's Writing Buddies program where high school student volunteers lead groups of at-risk fourth and fifth graders through a series of outer-space-themed writing activities. Writing prompts and resources included in the post!
  • CatWay at Adventures With Kids asks What is phonics all about? Is this something I should know more about to help my child learn to read and write?
  • Narelle from A Bunch of Keys has some simple suggestions for making your own literacy resources for children at home. Includes ideas for books with simple rhymes, books with puppets, books about family trips and making felt boards.
  • Zoe at Playing By the Book has gone fishing for words in illustrated dictionaries to support her early reader.

Thanks for visiting our carnival, we hope you enjoy some of these posts and have found some interesting blogs.
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