Friday, 4 September 2015

How to Tank a Tray - Continent Animal Matching Australia/Africa

I'm writing, for myself, as I always make an error in this area and it needs to stop.  This mistake always hinders his interest and interfears in Little Tree's engagement with the tray. 

What do I do?  
I fail to include a control card.  

Little Tree isn't a child that is going to calmly ask for a demonstration of an activity then focus deeply on the process while said demonstration is being performed.  He is more likely to signal some interest in the tray by moving the pieces off the shelf then his ability to do the activity totally independently isn't there he will simply walk away to forever loose interest.  Even if by some chance you do manage to do a demonstration he will  more than likely be climbing the furniture rather than looking in the direction of the person demonstrating.  

In this case I had totally talked myself into the fact that he knows what Australia looks like, thus there was only one unknown that being the continental shape of Africa.  He is more than able to name every animal included in the sorting box.  In my view he was well aware of the Australian Animals being Australian.

What happened?
Well it seems that he was able to name Africa,  I am truly not aware of him ever seeing it before so he may have been making an assumption from the animals provided, but not Australia.  With a bit of prompting he got Australia without me actually having to tell him but as soon as that happened I knew I was in trouble. He then put the Hippo on Africa, then decided the possum lived there too.  I asked him if he was sure the possum went there as Grand dad goes looking for possums, attempting to prompt him to self correct, and he held his ground that they lived in Africa so I let it go not wanting to totally trash his confidence in his ability to do this work. 

Unfortunately it seems that one question had done exactly that.  It was then he started playing with the lion cub, insisting on going to get the male lion out of his models draw to create some imaginative play scene. 

That was the last interaction he chose to have with the continent cards and he hasn't done anything with the tray now for over 3 days except use a couple of the models for his "zoo" this morning.  I'll leave the tray out until the end of the week just to be sure but right now it looks like my need to ask that question due to not including a way for him to self correct at the end has been the death of this particular activity. 

If it was the first time it had happened I wouldn't be happy but it would be easier to give myself some grace.  As it is NEED to remember this as some version of it happens all the time and spending time on providing activities then setting him up to not be successful is not doing either of us any good.

Even More Beautiful Creatures

I am going to say right here and right now that this particular cd is one of the luckiest purchases I have ever made.  I bought it from the op-shop with absolutely no idea what I was buying and boy did it come up shining.

Although definitely children's music, in my opinion, it is very "Parent Friendly" and doesn't go for the demeaning custey hook.  The music is lively and engaging but the real treasure here is the lyrics of the songs.  They are wonderfully full of "real" information and vocabulary.  

If it wasn't for this cd I would have no idea how to tell a leopard from a cheetah, well now I do.  Much of it is storytelling from the animal's point of view.  Due to this there is quite a bit of animals talking/singing to the audience but apart from the very emotive "A Lion has a Right to be free", and the two meercats falling in love, I would say that the way it has been handled in a pretty low key way by sticking mostly to observable behaviour rather than "feelings".  

Overall I am really happy to have this in our collection.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Days have Names, Days have Numbers

 Little Tree is really starting to get a handle on the fact that time passes, both during the day and during the week. During the day his markers are Morning tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner.  He is now solid on both hands at the top of the clock being Lunch time, he is even getting aware of the fact that if we haven't had lunch right on 12 that times after 12 might also be pointed out to be lunch time.  This one is a bit vague as although he is getting there he isn't totally solid on the little hand being the valid marker in this little scenario so sometimes he will mistakenly decide it's lunch before 12 but not in the dogged "is it lunch time yet?" way that led up to this need for understanding.

We have 3 activities during the week that always happen on specific days (preschool, dad day and music class). These activities that repeat every week have really solidified for him that time is not this vague amorphous thing. It was him often asking is it "preschool day" that made me realise that it would be useful to him to really see the days passing and that regular events reoccur on a 7 day pattern.  Thus the Calendar was born.

I have had this weekly planner for a while and planned to use it for mapping household jobs but the planner got lost in the move and didn't turn up until about a fortnight ago.  About the same time Kylie at How We Montessori put up her inspiration post  about calendars and I decided that was a much better use for the tool.  I first started out with just adding a dry erase number every day, we started about mid August,  but of course the first thing he did was rub them all out.  Within 24hrs it was all unreadable so I accepted that tempting a 3 yr old with something like that was really just asking for trouble.

In thinking my way though I remembered I still had some magnetic sheet designed to go through an inkjet printer.  As I no longer had a printer I decided to start with some ply wood numbers from the local discount store, that I had painted, then glued them on. I figured this gave a really robust set of numbers that would have texture if he decided some time in the future he was interested in tracing them with his finger.

To this point it's been so far, so good.  He has mostly really enjoyed the routine of matching the dry erase day number that I write up there, the night before.  He is even starting to get the idea of numbers bigger than 10 and that they might conform to some type of pattern.   Something that really seemed to be unfathomable before so not only does this seem to be working to clarify the passage of time but also that numbers are useful in more than just "counting".

I expect I will be adding a few more things, in the future, like the year and possibly some type of weather magnets but right now it seems to be working for him in this very simple and stripped down state.