Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pinned it, Did it

For a little while now I have been telling myself I need to get motivated and start making little preschooler activities for my kids. True, Bailey will be going to preschool in about a month, but both girls could benefit from some learning activities - and all the better if they feel like a fun game.

Honestly I hadn't even started collecting ideas, let alone made anything. Yesterday I happened to see a friend's Pinterest pin to her preschool board and earlier I had read a friend's blog post about all the things she is doing to start homeschooling her preschool age daughter. Both these things combined were enough to finally motivate me.

I hardly ever use Pinterest. To me it seems like almost all the people just pin a bunch of crap that looks awesome but they will never follow through on. So my thought is Why waste all the time pinning it then?
But it turns out I have a ton of friends that are either teachers or have kids my age, and all these people are pinning sweet project ideas. So basically everybody already did the hard work for me. I am not going for labor intense stuff. I just want a few things that are cheap to make but effective in helping my kids learn.

So here is my first attempt.

Alphabet Car Game

It was pretty freakin' simple.
I am not crafty, and it didn't even take me 45 minutes to complete this from start to finish.

The main thing is to use a circle cutter. You can get one for under 10 bucks.
{Martha Stewart circle cutter}

Life Saver.
I would still be sitting at my table cutting out circles if I had traced them out and used a pair of scissors.
I used the 2 inch setting and it worked like a charm.
On the circles you write each letter of the alphabet, in both capital and lowercase - 52 in all.
(Seriously, who in their right mind would trace and cut out all those things?!)
I used card stock for everything because I wanted it to be stronger than regular construction paper.

You can decorate the car however you wish. Mine doesn't look all that car-like, but it works for 2 and 3 year-olds! Trace around where the tires go so that the kids know where to place the circles. And while you're at it, you can also throw in a sun and a sweet cloud like mine.

Here is my end result:
Original Pinterest product:
It turned out pretty close. And since I essentially copied this person because I don't have a creative bone in my body, that makes sense.

From the above website, there are also other games that can be made using the same alphabet circles, many of which are good for older kids to practice building 3 and 4-letter words.

Today was the big test: 
would the girls like it
did I waste a perfectly good 45 minutes of sleep making this crap?
Well, turns out they LOVED it.
Both girls (ages 2 and 3) played with it for over 30 minutes.

I set out 5 letter sets (lowercase and capital) at once on the table. I asked Bailey to find a letter, and she would pick out both the capital and lowercase. It was helpful for me to see which letters she still has trouble recognizing. She got all the capital letters, but was off on about 1/3 of the lowercase. After both letters were on the car, we talked about the sound that letter made and what words started with that letter.

Then I repeated the process with Avery. I used the same letters that I used with Bailey. Since she is younger, it was helpful for her to watch Bailey first. She did really well and surprised me with how many of the lowercase letters she knew. She seems to be close to Bailey's level actually. I got through the entire alphabet with Bailey, and then Avery quit with 2 letters left.
Overall I was extremely pleased with their attention span.
I am pretty sure it was a record.
Both girls thanked me for "playing a game" with them and asked if we could play the game tomorrow too. I call that a success.

I think if this activity were going to be used a lot, it might be a good idea to laminate the pieces. My little thumb sucker kept trying to grab the circles, so it was basically a game of keep away and don't-suck-your-thumb lecturing. (And we learned the alphabet, too!)

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