Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fine Motor Fun ~ Activities for Your Classroom!

As kindergarten teachers fine motor is always on our minds. Fine motor skills are not only important in the classroom but in life in general. A child who exhibits weakness in fine motor may have difficulty writing, cutting, using eating utensils, turning pages in a book, or even dressing themselves. It's a life skill!
How can we build those small muscles in our children's hands? How can we make these activities fun for them? Activities to strengthen fine motor are part of our daily instruction. We have even developed a fine motor center in our classrooms that is surprisingly a favorite center choice! We wanted to share with you some of the activities with you today! 

When we set up our grasping centers, we always add large objects for the children to grasp with all of their fingers. In the center pictured below, the child is moving rubber sports balls. We also encourage that these objects be moved from left to right so they are used to that movement. 

In the center below, the child is looking for objects that are hidden within the popcorn kernels. They feel around with their hands and then grasp the object with their fingers before taking it out of the container. This is a fun center for the children! We change the hidden objects from time to time and the children love it! We try to make them thematic if we can.

This is another large grasping activity we set up in the sand table. The table is full of colored rice with plastic monkeys buried in it. The children search through the rice and use their fingers to remove the monkeys. The monkeys have letters on their stomachs which is an added bonus because they can spell words with the letters they find!

Sponge painting is a good activity for grasping as well. Children hold the sponge with their fingers to dip in paint and then apply paint onto their canvas in an up and down motion.

We like for the children to use real tweezers in the center pictured  below. We encourage them to hold the tweezers like a pencil and to use their muscles to pick up the colored pom-poms and move them from one container to the other.

We love these fine motor games from LakeshoreFeed the Dog and Feed the Monkey. The children love feeding the animals and are working to strengthen their muscles while having fun! 

We encourage the children to try to hold the tweezers like they would hold a pencil. This is easier for some than for others, but we keep cheering them on!

Lacing is such a good activity for so many reasons. Not only are the children using their fingers and wrists to manipulate the string in and out of tiny holes, but they are also strengthening their eye-hand coordination as well. The children love to lace and we try to incorporate it where we can. Here the children are lacing a bear to hold their retelling pieces for the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

We keep colored pasta and beads in our fine motor center for the children to create necklaces. They put the pasta and beads onto a length of yarn. The best part is they get to keep it!

We also love these store bought lacing cards. There are several cards that have a color word on them and an animal name. The children lace around the animal following the numbers in order.

Here is our Nuts & Bolts center. Children need to use their pinching strength to hold the nut and bolt, but then it also take some coordination to be able to keep twisting the nut until it is all the way on!

On the 100th day of school, we made our Dotty Dude with 100 dots on him! The children organized their 100 dots first, and that certainly took some pinching power along with hand-eye coordination!

These fun bean names are a favorite beginning of the year art project of ours! The children are practicing letters in their name, using glue bottles carefully, and also improving their fine motor strength to pinch one bean at a time and carefully place it on the letters in their name one at a time. Then, we also encourage them to color the little pictures on the border to further improve their crayon grasp and small motor control while coloring...and patience!

We LOVE clippie centers! We have them for many of our themes to address a large variety of academic skills while also strengthening their fingers to pinch the clothespins. Fun!

Tissue paper crafts are another way we get their fingers busy pinching and getting stronger while also making something fun to take home and show off! They pinch small squares of tissue paper, roll them into balls, and push them down onto white glue and voila! 

Who doesn't love playdough?!? The children are always surprised that playdough is good for them and makes them stronger! We make letters, numbers, shapes, and all sorts of other fun stuff!

Who knew a large thumbtack and a cute paper picture could be so addicting?!? Pin punching is a favorite by many children also! They simply push the thumbtack (pushpin) through the paper on the outline of the shape (we do this on a carpet surface) and continue to do so right beside the previous hole until they get all the way around the shape. If they punched their holes close together and carefully, their shape will come out easily from the extra paper and they'll get to take their hard work home with them. The one pictured is a more advanced shape, you can start out with simple shapes like circles, squares, etc. 

We all do this one in our room and if you spend a lot of time modeling and teaching strategies for neat coloring, tricky shapes, holding crayons correctly, etc., your children's coloring growth will blow you away! We spend a lot of time coloring neatly and completely and it really makes a big difference in their skills!

The first day that children use scissors in your classroom can be a little scary! But again, with a lot of modeling, opportunities to practice, and providing students with strategies for cutting neatly with different types of shapes, the children improve very quickly!

We are always writing! We write with pencils, dry erase markers, or even our fingers in sand or salt. We give our children pencil grips if they are needed to help them with their grasp.

The children love these magnetic mazes. Not only are they good for fine motor, they also help build other skills as well. These are also from Lakeshore. 

We hope that you're able to use or adapt some of these strategies in your own classroom routines, centers, or lessons to allow your children time to develop these important small motor skills that they need for so many daily tasks that will benefit them forever! Thanks for stopping by and hanging out with us today!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Perky Turkeys! A Fun Rhyming Center!

Perky Turkeys! is a fun and exciting literacy center to help your children learn and reinforce their rhyming skills. 

We have included 36 turkeys with a picture on their belly. Each turkey is looking for a friend that has a matching rhyming picture on her belly. The children like to say that the turkeys are boyfriend and girlfriend. Haha! Gotta love kindergartners!

First the children lay the cards out in random order in front of them so they can see all the pieces they are working with. We like to put Velcro on the cards so they stay together nicely.

The children then work together to match the rhyming turkeys. We encourage them to say the word on the turkey's belly to help them find the match and hear the rhymes verbally. 

We have also included three recording sheets with twelve rhyming pairs each. This gives you three different sets of rhyming turkeys for your literacy center. It also helps to cut down on the number of cards the children need to manipulate. 

They will record their rhyming matches by drawing a line to the correct rhyming pair. We have our children use dry erase markers for easy clean up!

You can click on the image below to check it out in our store. 

Thanks for visiting! Have a great week!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sight Word Cans and a FREEBIE!!

Teaching sight words is an important part of the curriculum. So, why is learning sight words, or high frequency words, so important? Sight words help with fluency, comprehension, and confidence in reading and writing...which affect a child's entire lifetime!

In addition to working with them in the classroom, we like for our children to also practice at home. We send a "Sight Word Can" home for each child to store their sight words in for easy access. 

We make the sight word cans out of empty frosting containers.
We ask parents to donate them when they can. They send them in empty and clean which is a big help to us!

We also like to personalize them for all the children by adding a cover to the frosting container with their name. The can is then something that belongs to them and they have ownership over their learning! We have been doing this for several years now and our old students tell us they still have their can!

You can download these Sight Word Can Covers for FREE at the bottom of this post. These covers are editable so you can easily add your student's names and then print!

Here is a step by step tutorial on how to get your sight word cans ready for your children:

You can edit the font style, size, and color by clicking in the text box and changing the settings. 

Once you have all your names typed you can print them all directly from the PowerPoint. When printing go to Design, then Slide Size, choose Standard, and then Maximize to be sure the covers print true to size and will fit the frosting containers.

After printing, laminate and cut out the covers. 
You are now ready to begin assembling your cans!
We like to start by taping one edge of the cover onto the can.
We then wrap the cover and tape securely on the other edge. We usually use scotch tape but packaging tape would work as well!

We will then type the sight words into a word document and send home with the children after they have been introduced. The children will cut out their sight words and keep in their can so they are ready to go at any time!
We also like to keep a Sight Word Can in the classroom for the children to practice during center time!

Click the image below to get your FREE Sight Word Covers! 
We hope you enjoy them! 
Thanks for visiting today!

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