Creativity Jar!

Any special events or celebrations coming round the corner? For us, October is the month we celebrate my little girl’s birthday and Children’s Day too!

Instead of heading to the candy store to buy goodies, why not create your own gift that promotes children’s creativity?

We call it our “Creativity Jar”!

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The wonder of this little creativity jar is that it provides children with open-ended art supplies which stimulates thinking and imagination, as there is no expected or dictated finished product they must produce. Children are free to explore the materials, the textures and their functionality to create something that is original and ingenious- one of a kind. Children get to express their ideas and feelings through the process of play and creative art-making. According to Vygotsky, these forms of creative expression are important ways that children and adults express themselves, learn, and grow.

The possibilities are endless for children to construct; they can make a smiley face, a flower, a necklace, a train track, a building, a yummy meal or anything they can think of!

Here, my little girl embarked on her little project of creating a flower!

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Things that can be included in the jar:

Poms Poms

Glitter Glue

Stickers

Play Dough

Cookie cutter/ molds

Clothes pegs

Colouring pen

Beads

Penne pasta

or basically anything!!

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Tips on using open-ended materials with children:

1. Refrain from fixing or altering their work

2. Don’t dictate to a child what to create.

3. Be encouraging. Ask questions about what they are creating and give prompting questions to guide them in the process. Instead of asking ” What are you making?”, ask open-ended questions like “Tell me what you are making.”

4. Talk about the texture, colour, shape, smell of the materials, and help them describe the experience.

5. Give them ample time to explore and create. Leave it there for the children to re-visit it and provide more materials for them to ‘add on’ to their creation.

Let our children create and explore through play!

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Colour tablets using Nespresso Capsules!

Montessori Colour Tablets

Maria Montessori designed the colour tablets to help develop children’s perception of colours, including differences in hues and intensities. The colour tablets are small rectangular plastic tablets, in vivid colours with white plastic edge-guards. They introduce the colour spectrum, as well as concepts of dark/light colours.  The ability to tell the subtle difference in colours can help children translate this skill into more mature grasp of comparison, visual discrimination, and patterning, which helps with Math and language development.

Nespresso Tray

For us who are coffee addicts, we were more than delighted to receive this Nespresso Tray from my sister-in-law! It is filled with an assortment of coffee flavours, and the colourful choices of capsules caused me to brew up some great ideas for learning about colours with my little princess!

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1. Learning Dark/Light Colours

Given my girl can name different colours, I knew the next step will be for her to differentiate hues and intensity within the same colour. To let her explore the concept of dark and light shades of different colours, I first pointed her to dark and light shades found in our home environment. I showed her crayons that have dark and light blue, shopping bags with light and dark pink designs, pepper containers with light and dark grey, and so on. After creating an awareness for the concepts of light and dark colours, I then presented her the Nespresso Tray and selected coffee capsules that illustrate the contrast.  I started pairing the capsules by saying “dark red and Light red”, and then placing them side by side in the tray. After demonstrating a few sets of colours, my girl grasped the idea and started making her own selection of capsule to match the colour. Very quickly, she repeated the whole process of paring the light and dark colours, effortlessly, and with lots of anticipation!

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2. Creating Shapes!

Next comes a surprise for me! After mastering the rules for the activity, my little girl decided to be ingenious and started placing capsules randomly in different compartments, or so I thought! Until I realised to my amazement, she was creating outlines of shapes in the tray! She created first a square, then a rectangle, and lastly a triangle! The joy of watching her at work with her imagination was simply bewildering!

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3. Sequencing colours 

The next activity that we wandered into was to sequence the colours of the capsules according to the colour chart on the tray! I illustrated the order of the colours in a clockwise direction, by choosing the first few and placing them on the tray. When I pointed to the next colour on the chart, she carefully scrutinized the capsules and eventually after a few attempts, found the colour closely resembling the one we were looking for. Again, this exploratory activity allows her to practice her visual acuity and colour discrimination. It is no easy feat for a 3 year old, given the array of colours available!

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Lessons to learn from Disney Princesses

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My little girl is so obsessed with Disney Princesses now! She draped herself with a towel around her head to pretend she is the divine Rapunzel with long, endless golden hair. She adorns herself with glittery jewellery and parades herself in front of the mirror.  She curtsies and smiles the sweetest smile, coupled with a hand wave that typifies the manners of royalty. I realised that every little girl dreams to be a princess. The Disney fairy tales that heralds the victorious stories and glories of Princesses have painted them to carry the picture of beauty and attractiveness. Much as I want my girl to love the idea she is a princess, I want her to discover that a true princess has virtues and character traits that are more lasting and enduring than merely outward beauty.

But most of it all, I tell my little girl, she is always beautiful and accepted in God’s eyes, and Mummy and Daddy will always believe in her. We affirm her she has so much to give to the world, because God has bestowed to her so many gifts and talents.

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And so, in our journey on reading about Disney Princesses, I have endeavored to impart these lessons for each Princess:

Snow White

Friendship can come in unexpected places, and from unexpected people. Jealousy and envy always leads to trouble.

Cinderella

We are all familiar with the predicament of Cinderella who had to bear with the abuse and ill-treatment of her step-sisters and step-mother. Remind your child about Cindrella’s virtues of patience and long-suffering, and how dreams do come true for those who wait and hope for the best.

Belle

Point to her passion for books and reading. Look beyond first impressions and look for the best in people, especially those who seemingly are not well-loved and accepted.

Rapunzel

Be  adventurous enough to venture out to the unknown world. In being courageous to explore, you learn who you really are.

Mulan

She represents Asian virtues of sacrifice and filial piety. Highlight how she risks her life to save her father and eventually thousands in China. Her relentless courage and bravery makes her realise she can achieve more than she thinks. Don’t let others dictate what you can or cannot do.

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Aurora

Aurora is the Sleeping Beauty who seems to be the victim of  circumstances. However despite all odds, the good always triumphs over evil, and love always conquers.

Ariel

My personal favourite is Ariel. Not just for her musical singing talent, she has the passion to pursue her wildest dreams. Assure your child not to afraid of the unknown, have faith to step out and discover who you can be. You never know where your little adventure will take you!

Spreading Jam! A Practical Life Activity

Maria Montessori made the observation that young children like to be involved in the daily home activities, and she developed Practical Life activities where children get to emulate adults and perform simple chores like sweeping, dusting, washing dishes and food preparation. This simple activity of spreading jam hones their fine motor skills as they learn to rotate their wrist and spread the jam with precision. Also it trains their independence which builds up their self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy.

The key to practical like activities is to set up learning materials in which the child is able to succeed and do tasks for herself safely.

I prepared the set for my little girl, with utensils including the butter knife and plates that are kids-friendly and safe for her to use.

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You will need:

1. Food Tray or placemat ( to prevent mess and spills)

2. Small butter knife

3. Small Jam (These itty bitty ones are from NTUC/ Cold storage!)

4. Toast or crackers/ rice cakes

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To begin, I showed my girl how the slice of bread is toasted. She then learned how to open a jar of jam, and got to smell the sweet fragrance of her much-loved strawberry jam!

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After that, demonstrate to the child how to spread the jam on the toast. Show your child slowly how to spread the jam by emphasizing small steps such as taking a little bit of jam, and spreading it with the up-down motion, and making sure the whole toast is covered.

As I observed my little girl endeavoring to spread the jam, it requires the rotation of the wrist which certainly trains her for writing in future. She also needs to learn how to control the strength of her fingers while holding the butter knife and it requires coordination of her left hand holding the toast, and right hand maneuvering the knife. It really helped that her knife is little and she could use it with more confidence.

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Food is particularly an interesting topic to most children, especially my daughter who loves to eat! Preparing what they are going to eat makes them more motivated to gobble it up! They feel included into the food-making process and gives them a sense of autonomy. I love  the petite size of the jam jar, as the quantity she can consume is just right for her.

And the greatest gratification? Eating it up!!

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10 Fantastic Activity Ideas on Shapes!

We came up with a list of 10 wonderful activities to get your child excited about learning about shapes! Get ready to Shape-up!

For more detailed description of some of the activities, click on the titles.

1. Matching shapes with Velcro

Create this simple matching activity with velcro. Your child will love the hands-on experience of matching the shapes and learning about the names.

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2. Making A Book Of Shapes

Create this little artbook by using sponge and paint to print on the shape stencils! Your child will love making her own book of shapes! She will be reading out the names of the shapes from her own book in no time!

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3. Step on Shapes!

Print out shapes and paste them with tape on your floor. Play a little game with that! Read out the name of a shape and ask your child to step on it, put her nose on it, press on it, sit on it with each different shape being called out! You can also hand out the names of shapes on cards and ask your child to match it with the correct shape!

Your little kinesthetic learner will love this physical, fun activity!

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4. Printing Shapes Using Play Blocks!

Do you have blocks at home? Try using them to print shapes on a carton box and create a masterpiece of shapes! They get to learn about shapes on different surface areas for each 3-Dimensional shape. It sharpens their observation skills for recognising shapes on objects.

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5. Matching Shapes using Ice-cream Sticks on Ice-cube Trays

This is an extremely fun activity for my child to learn word recognition! You just need an ice-cube tray, ice-cream sticks and play dough and you are ready to go! Your preschooler will be occupied with this activity for many minutes!

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6. Read Books about shapes

Reading books is a marvelous way of introducing shapes to your child! There are many board books and picture books on shapes out in the bookstores and the public library! Check out our favourite titles below!

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7. Toilet Paper Roll Printing

This activity is so fun and educational! Just create shapes like circle, oval, heart or triangle with the toilet paper rolls, put some paint and your preschooler will be very happy making shape prints all over a canvas or paper!

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8. Scavenger Hunt!

Play this interactive game that will send your child seeking for shapes all over the house! Show your child or read out the name of a shape on a card, and ask your child to look around her room for the same shape. This sharpens her observations and heightens her awareness of shapes in her real environment!

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9. Play Dough and Cookie Cutters!

Toddlers and preschoolers will never tire of playing with this malleable material! Just take some cookie cutters with different shapes, and they will be engrossed making the shapes, and learning about them!

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10. Make you own Shape with Ice-cream Sticks!

Create opportunities for your child to create her own shape using ice-cream sticks! This open-ended construction activity will allow your child to play with shapes and familarise herself with properties of different shapes like the corners and the sides.

Well, have fun exploring about shapes with your little one! Make it fun and learning becomes effortless!

 

 

 

Learning about Shapes with Play Dough & Cookie Cutters!

Children always have endless fun with playdough; squishing, rolling, kneading, pressing it. They can create anything out of their imagination, and the possibilities are limitless!

What children can learn from interacting with playdough:

1. Develops their fine motor skills like strengthening their small muscles

2. Nurtures their imagination for pretend play

3. Develops and reinforces their Math and language concepts

4. Playing play dough with siblings and friends enhances their social skills like sharing, taking turns and enjoying the contribution of ideas by others

To create our little play dough learning set about shapes, you will need:

1. Play dough ( bought or handmade)

2. Rolling pin

3. Cookie cutters/ bottle caps/ shape sorters

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My girl used the rolling pin to flatten the dough with her favourite shade of pink. She used her muscle skills such as kneading the dough and pressing on the rolling pin and the cookie cutter. To extract the shape out, she had to manipulate her small fingers to slowly peel out the shape. All these work happen within the short process of creating the shapes.

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Matching Shapes

After making shapes out of play dough, I asked her to match the shapes to ice-cream sticks with correct names. She was motivated to make more shapes to complete the matching activity!

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Have lots of fun exploring shapes with play dough!

Making a book of shapes!

We have been reading books on shapes and as an extension of the activities on shapes, I decided to help my girl create her own book of shapes.

Preparing the Materials

To create the book, I first cut out the stencils for the different shapes like circle, triangle, star, etc.

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To make the template for the book, I simply folded three A4 papers into half, and stapled along the folded line.

Printing the shapes

To print the shape on each page, we used a sponge and dabbed some paint on the stencil. Then lift up the stencil and the shape is molded on the paper!

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Once she mastered the technique of printing the shapes with her sponge, she was fully engaged printing each different shape for each page. This simple activity reinforced her concepts of shapes, and provided opportunities to train her hand-eye coordination when printing the shapes with paint. She also needed to have steady hands and concentration in order for her to print the shape out with precision.

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This is the finished product of the learning process! My girl’s very own book of shapes compiled! She took so much pride in it that she read out her little book to her Daddy the moment he reached home. It was such a gratifying moment for me seeing my girl enjoying learning about shapes, and sharing the joy with others.

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SNAP Game!

As for the stencils that were used after the art activity, you can reuse them to be like deck cards for a simple game of naming of the shapes! You can use it as a snap game!

Choose a shape, lay out the cards on a deck one by one, and ask your child to snap the correct shape!

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