Thursday, April 27, 2017

What Comes First? The Chicken or the Egg?

I have to say, I never thought much about patterns and why they are taught to young children.  Now though, as I see my older boys progress through 1st grade math, I keep seeing patterns pop up.  I actually don't see them as much as my 6 year old sees them.  He is wired to see patterns and points them out to me.  Whether it's when we are skip counting or simply working through our math worksheet and he sees two of the same number.  

The activity from Mother Goose Time I am going to discuss here today was on "Hatchling" day, Day 3 of the Birds & Eggs theme.   The activity was called Bird Life Cycle and it included a life cycle card with a spinner, and life cycle cards.

It was a great activity to help my 3 year old, Adam, learn to recognize patterns.  Not only that, I felt it was a great introduction to the great philosophical question of "what comes first?  The chicken or the egg?"
As is common around here, he was doing this activity over breakfast.  I set out the life cycle cards on the tray, he would spin the spinner, grab the card and lay it on the table next to him.  As he did this, his big brother helped him put them in order.  There was some debate over whether the egg should start the pattern or the chicken.
All of Mother Goose Time's activities have numbers listed just under their title.  These numbers tell us what skill and goal the activity is focusing on.  On this activity the number 18.1 was listed.  I am able to quickly take a look at the Developmental Continuum to find out that the skill and specific goal in focus is the child's ability to Identify and Create Patterns.
I am fortunate enough to have a copy of the Research Foundation book from Experience Early Learning, the company that makes Mother Goose Time.  I love having this tool, probably because of my psychology degree and having a real desire to understand why we do things the way we do.
 So I looked up the skill and this is what it said
Identifying and creating patterns enables children to recognize and quantify repetition in their environment.  Early understandings of patterns correspond with later algebraic understanding. (Hindman et al,, 2010)
This particular patterning activity was neat because it was more like a game.  Also, they didn't have a pattern they were copying at first but doing a little life science to figure out what order things could go in.  And, all jokes aside, it had some flexibility in it's pattern because you could start with an egg and show how a chicken develops from there or start with a chicken and show how it lays and egg and develops from there.  

After seeing how patterns pop up in more advanced math with my older boys, it really has motivated me to not gloss over patterns with Adam. They really are important, and as always with Mother Goose Time, they are also fun!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Great Kite Rescue

This story is a classic tale of childhood - the kite that got stuck in the tree.
Lachlan got his new kite on Easter.  We took it to the park a few days ago and he got his first real experience with flying a kite all by himself.  Since then he has been obsessed with flying his kite.  An obsession I can fully support. Thankfully our neighborhood doesn't have power lines, everything is under ground.  So he can fly in our front yard and in the street.  There are a few trees though, so we warned him and warned him again - keep your string short and don't get close to trees.

Well, a warning is one thing, but don't we all learn better by making our own mistakes?  I think it is safe to say, Lachlan has learned his lesson.
I tried pulling on the string to see if I could get it loose and it was not budging.  It looked too high for a ladder and Lachlan, who normally loves to climb trees, was a little nervous about the height.  I knew my husband would have some ideas when he got home from work but I couldn't stop my wheels from turning.  I even put it out there on Facebook for my friends to give some advice.  One idea was to train a squirrel to fetch. ;)

I said to Lachlan, I wonder if we could call someone to help.  His first idea was to call Mayor John, because he can solve any problem in this town.  We had a special meeting with him a while back.

But my first thought was a cherry picker truck.  Hmm ... do I know anyone who would have one.  Don't think I do.  That's when MINET fiber popped into my head.  I knew they had some because I have seen them working around town.  I also knew that they were a local company with roots in this community and we have always had great experiences with them.  So I sent them an instant message through Facebook.  I figured I didn't need to tie up the phone lines with this request, but if someone happens to see our message for help and wants to lend a hand, then great!

The next thing I know I get a message back asking for our address, then they let me know they would send a tech out AND there happened to be one in the neighborhood.  Not even 10 minutes later he was here and rescuing Lachlan's beloved kite.

I really couldn't stop laughing.  It was such a fun and special moment.  I am just so thankful for our wonderful community and it warms my heart when we humans help each other.  I would even bet, that when this gentleman got the call to save a kite and make a little boys day, it brought a smile to his face.  He seemed happy to help.

Once the kite was finally safe and back on the ground we asked for a picture with the kite rescuer - our hero.
Everyone wanted to be in the picture with him, so they crowded around.  The sad part is, I didn't even ask him his name!  Thank you, to whoever you are and to MINET for saving the day!
Thanks to you, the kite got it's chance to fly once more!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

E is for Eggs

I am trying really hard to challenge Adam with more Mother Goose Time each week.  I am the first to admit that my focus usually falls on the big boys.  But Adam is a smart little guy and it's not fair to him when I don't give him his own learning opportunities.

I often don't get Mother Goose Time out because I don't think I can complete a full day.  But even if I just get out one or two lessons from the day, he can learn so much.

On egg day we played an awesome game called E is for Egg.  Mother Goose Time gave us a sheet of paper, covered in eggs, and each egg had a letter or number in it.  They gave us cube cards to go in our pocket cube that matched these letters and numbers and the idea was to roll the cube and then search for and color in an egg with the matching letter or number.
The first letter he rolled was the lower case e.
He found one on his paper and colored the whole egg in perfectly.
 Also included in the pocket cube was a picture of an elephant and an egg which both start with an E.  If he rolled the elephant he had to stomp like an elephant and if he rolled an egg he had to roll into a ball and pretend to be an egg and then he popped open to hatch.  I would have pictures to show you, but we are wearing big boy underwear these days with no pants as we learn to go in the potty.
What's great about this big movement and dramatic play that is mixed in with this writing and letter recognition learning is that it actually helps him stay focused.  Little kids aren't meant to stay in one place for too long.  The mixture of getting up and moving and sitting down and writing kept him focused on this game for a long time.
Not only that, but mixing movement and learning brings the mind and body together and creates a powerful link.  I know from previous experience that it helps the knowledge to "stick" (that's a technical Early Childhood Education term) and makes it easier for them to recall when it's needed at another time.
Then Adam lead the way and took this activity into a new direction.  Instead of coloring in the eggs he chose to trace the letter or number inside the egg.
 Following his lead I got out our Muscle Mover Cards by Fundanoodle.
Now, if he rolled the capital E, he could find it on the egg sheet and write it on the Muscle Mover card.  Funny enough, the move on the other side of the Muscle Mover card was "stomp like an elephant".

The last activity from Day 2 was simply called Egg.  They gave us a paper egg, an egg carton to put a variety of colors in, clothes pins, large pom poms and an inspiration photo of speckled eggs.
Thankfully I had just purchased a set of 18 different colors of tempura paint from Amazon.  The ones I poured for him were the pearl colors, they are so pretty.
Look how well painting with pom poms works for this.  His paper egg, looks a lot like the inspiration photo.
 Another Invitation to Create that is Adam approved.