Category : Hands-On Learning Games

Math

Hands-on Learning Games: Teach Your Child Numbers

This a simple game that your child will ask to play again and again. The great thing about it is that it can be used not only for learning quantity and numbers, but also for beginning addition.

Children especially like the fact that it uses money; they feel as if they’ve fallen into quite a windfall of money!

Materials:

- 6 sheets of red cardboard (standard size)

- 45 pennies, plus a small container to store them in

Make the Game:

1) Cut 5 of the sheets of cardboard in half. You’ll have ten half-sheets.

2) On each one, write a number (0-9). The number should fill only about half to two-thirds of the sheet.

3) Underneath each number, draw the number of circles represented by each number. So the number 1 has one circle, 2 has two circles, and so on. Leave the number zero empty. Use a penny as a stencil for drawing the circles. (In the picture above the circles are colored red – that’s optional).

4) Now cut the last sheet of cardboard in half length-wise.

5) Now write the numbers 0-9 from left to right. Your child will use this to help him lay out the numbers in order on his own.

How to Play:

1) Place the card with the zero down in front of your child. Say, ‘this is zero,” and point to the zero.

2) Now take the card with the number one, and lay it to the right of the zero card. Say, “this is one.” Now take out one penny, place it in your child’s palm, saying “one” as you do so.

3) Show them where to place the penny on the card. Have them say “one” as they place the money on the circle.

4) For the first session, do up until number 2. Every two days or so you can add on a new number. At the start of each session, review the names of the numbers.

5) After you’ve reviewed the numbers for a few days, ask your child to show you “the 2 (or a different number). This is easier for your child than pointing to a number and asking them to tell you what the number is; you’ll do this only after your child can successfully point to the number you name.

6) In a few weeks, your child will have learned:

  • one-on-one correspondence (one circle gets one penny)
  • how to count consecutively
  • a number represents a particular quantity (the number 2 represents two items).
  • to recognize and name numbers

all in one game!

 

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Hands-On Learning Games

Hands-on Learning Games:Teaching Kids How to Tell Time

Want to teach your kids how to tell the time?

How to tell time

Learning to tell time is one of the skills children naturally enjoy learning.  In my house, I hold back on giving the younger children a real watch until they can tell time.

Usually by 5 or so, they're already begging me to start teaching them. Here is a detailed plan you can use to help your child learn how to tell time:

1) Before you begin teaching your child to tell time, make sure they know their numbers up to 12. You can teach a child as young as 4 as numbers, so there's no need to wait until kindergarten to teach your child how to tell time.

2) Next, explain to your child that the clock has a long hand and a short hand. Point out that the long hand is called a long hand because it is longer than the short hand. Point out the same thing with the short hand.

Spend a day or so asking them to show you the long hand or the short hand on an actual clock. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you have an analog clock up in a prominent place. Then, every time you pass the clock, have your child tell point to one of the hands.

3) After they can consistently show you where the long and short hands are, you can start teaching them the hour. Explain to your child that when the short hand points to a number, we know what the hour is. Then show them the long hand pointing to the 12, and explain that means "o clock." Your child can make his own clock with a paper plate, hands cut out from cardboard, and a paper fastener. Show them how a real clock looks, and have them copy the numbers on the paper plate.

Now when you pass by a clock, you will ask your child to tell you which number the short hand faces. You should also refer to the time when you talk about what you will do that day.

For example, you can say, "We'll go to the park at 3:00." Then when 3:00 comes, ask them to look at the clock and tell you what time it is. If they have trouble, help them out, and then say, "Oh, now that we know the time we can go out to the park." They'll be eager to check the time, because they'll  feel it's the clock that tells them when it's time to do their favorite activity.

4) Now you'll start teaching your child to tell the half-hour. First, your child needs to understand what all of those "half" and "quarters" are that we throw around so casually actually mean. In order to help your child conceptualize this, cut out a large circle from cardboard. Make sure that it's the same size as your teaching clock (the clock you are working with to teach your child to tell the time. It needn't be a real clock).

Cut the circle in half. Next, write on two small cards (about the size of a mailing label) 1/2. Put both halves together, and say to your child, "This is a whole circle."

Next, separate the circle into halves. Take one label, put it on one half, and say, "This is a half. " Do the same with the second half. Then take off the labels, put the halves together, and have your child copy you.

Wait a few hours before you go on to the next step, letting your child label the half circles. When your child gets this consistently, you're ready to connect this to the clock.

5) Take one of the half pieces, and place it on the clock. Point out how now you can only see half of the clock. Show them the six, and explain that when the long hand points to the six, it means "half-past." Then let them practice putting the practice clock at various numbers, and telling you the time.

6) Download the free worksheet for blank clock faces. Make one worksheet with the times filled in. Underneath each clock, write the time shown.  Make a copy of this page, and cut the labels off of this second page. That will leave you one page with the answers, and one page that they can practice matching the labels to the clock faces.

7) You will continue to call their attention to the time on the wall clock throughout the day, this time focusing on the half-hour.

8) After your child is able to tell time on the half hour 100% of the time, she can move on the quarter of an hour. Make another circle from cardboard, the same size as your teaching clock. Cut it into fourths, and make separate labels which say, "1/4."

9) Show your child how to use the material, and let them continue to practice as they did with the half-hour material.

10) Spend the next few days reviewing with the wall clock as you did before.

11)  Place the quarter circle on the clock, so that the numbers 1-3 are covered. Tell your child, “This is one quarter. When the long hand points to the 3, then we know it is quarter after. “

Move the short hand to 12. Explain that now the clock reads a quarter after …” Point to the 12, and let your child fill in the blank. Move the short hand to the next number, and say, “Now the clock reads a quarter after …” and again let your child fill in the blank. Continue this way through all of the numbers.

12. Your child is now ready to learn “quarter ‘till.” Place the quarter of the circle again on the teaching clock, so that the numbers 9-12 are covered. Then tell your child, “This is also a quarter of the clock. It’s called quarter to.

Then move the short and long hands so they point  to each number (as you did earlier), letting your child help you tell the time.

As before, print out new blank clock circles, fill them out, and make a copy. Cut the labels off of one page, and they can use the other to check their work.

13. Now your child simply needs to become proficient. Let your child practice over the next week or two all of the various worksheets.

 

Why not get the e-book and make things easy on

yourself?

If you're like most parents, you're plenty busy. How to Teach Your Child to Tell Time

You probably don't have a lot of time, and what time you have, you'd rather use spending some quality time with your child.

Make things easier by getting the e-book. It has everything you need -just print and play- in order to teach your child how to tell time.

Comprehensive

Covers all the skills your child needs in to tell time, including:

  • how to tell time to the hour, half hour, and quarter hour
  • recognizing numbers 11-59
  • how to tell time to the minute
  • how to count by 5s

....and much more!

Easy to Use

Parent-tested for ease of use:

  • All the materials you need are included
  • Clear, step by step instructions with pictures
  • Tips to help you extend or modify the activity are included
  • Start at the level that best fits your child

Bonus Section

Teaches your child theconcept of time:

  • Using a calendar
  • Learning about seasons
  • Memorize the months of the year and days of the week

....and more!

Get it now for only $2.99!

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Visual Memory

Hands-on Learning Games: How to Improve Your Child’s Visual Perception

Does your child have problems with her visual perception? A child who has weak visual perceptual skills will have trouble matching letters, numbers, or words. They might also have trouble telling what is different or the same about several objects or symbols.

For example, if you show them a picture of a horse and a cow, they would find it hard to explain that both have four feet and a tail. Older children might understand a word in one context, but not in another. So they might understand what extreme sports means, but not "taking things to the extreme."

Weak visual perception skills are not something your child is stuck with forever. You can use these simple games that are both inexpensive, easy to make, and fun to play.

Sorting

Materials:

  • nuts, bolts, buttons, shells, beans, seeds, small colored "jewels,"  miniature animals, foam geometric shapes, different coin  denominations
  • small containers to hold each type of object. These could be small  Tupperware containers, mini baking tins, tiny plastic serving bowls-  visit your local paper/party goods store for ideas.
  • a small tray to hold the containers. This is necessary in order to define  the work order and also to contain spills; it's not fun trying to pick up      dozens of rolling pinto beans!

How to Play:

  1. Choose the items you would like to sort. In the beginning start out with only two different types of objects. Later, as your child becomes more proficient, you can increase the choices to 3 or 4.
  2. Select the number of containers you will need. This will depend on how many different types of objects you have. So if your child is sorting geometric shapes, and there are 4 different types of shapes (make sure that each shape is always the same color, otherwise your child will not know whether to sort by shape or color), then you will need 4 different containers. You will also need a larger container to hold the unsorted items.
  3. Place all the containers on the tray, with the objects that need to be sorted in a container in the middle.
  4. Demonstrate to your child how to sort, making sure to demonstrate what to do if something spills, or if they finish (how and where will they put everything away?). They should pick up the objects with their thumb and index finger, but if they are older you can vary the game and make it more complicated by choosing tongs, tweezers, or other fun items.  Don't use a lot of explanation to do this; your actions will be enough.
  5. Let your child enjoy practicing sorting. Be prepared for siblings demanding to play as well- it is enticing even for older children as well.

TIP:  You can make this game especially pleasing by choosing matching colors for all the containers, and the tray, or by using crystal look-alike plastic. These are fairly inexpensive but add a lot to the game.

Category Fun
Materials:

  • Pictures of items in several categories, such as: household furniture, food, clothes, animals, vehicles, appliances. You can use Yahoo Images to search for appropriate pictures. Just go to the regular search page, and instead of the page you automatically do your searches (this is called "web") you will click the word "images" next to it.
  • You should laminate each picture, or glue each picture to hard paper for durability. Tip: when laminating, be sure to cut out each picture before you laminate, rather than just laminating your whole sheet of pix and then cutting them out afterwards. Doing so might cause the two pieces of plastic holding your picture to open up a the ends.

How to Play:

  1. Choose two categories.
  2. Take one picture from each category and put them next to each other horizontally.
  3. Mix up the remaining pictures. Take a picture from the pile, and show your child how to decide where it goes. For example, if you have furniture and food (two obviously different categories) you would take a picture and ask your child, "Is this something we could eat? Oh, so it has to go here, with the furniture.
  4. As your child gets the hang of things (and it shouldn't take long), you can use more difficult categories, like: fruits vs. vegetables, wild animals vs. pets, hot vs. cold.

Another version of this game is called Secret Squares. You can find it in most toy stores, or online. You can also make it at home.  Basically you play it like 20 questions: you set out all the cards (face-up for an easy game, face-down for much harder), and one of you secretly chooses a card, and places a red plastic disc under it, to mark it.

The other players then have to guess where the red disc is by asking categorical type questions, like "is it something we eat?" If it is, then they can automatically take out all the things that are not edible. They then proceed to ask more specific questions, like,"is it a dessert?" until the tile is found.

This is a game for advanced players only, but you can make it easier by helping your child with the questions, and then letting her eliminate the tiles that don't belong.

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Reading

Hands-On Learning Games: How to Teach Consonant Sounds

How to Help Your Child Learn Consonant Sounds

Learning letters need not be a painful process where your child is drilled on letter sounds. This is a game that not only teaches your child the consonant sounds, but also helps them learn how to recognize sounds as they naturally occur in words.

Materials:

  • Sturdy paper or cardboard-one piece is enough for four letters
  • Objects or pictures of objects beginning with each consonant sound ( be careful NOT to choose a word with a blend. For example, book instead of bread). You can glue the pictures on cardboard or laminate them for durability and to make it easier for your child to pick up.

How to Make:

  • Fold each paper in half.
  • Now fold the same paper in half again, so that you have four sections.
  • Cut the paper into four sections, and print four letters on each section.
  • Laminate or cover with clear contact paper for durability.
  • Glue the pictures on small pieces of cardboard about half the size of each letter. On the back of each picture write the sound that it starts with.

How to Play:

Stage 1

  1. Choose two letters that look and sound different. Place them in front of your child.
  2. Point to one and say, “This is “S”. This is “B .” Make sure to tell your child the sound the letter makes, NOT the letter name. Many children get confused between letter names and letter sounds, and so it is better to teach the letter names at a later stage. You should also teach the hard consonant sounds first: c for cat, not c(s) for circle.
  3. Ask your child, “Show me the “S.”  Show me the “B.” If your child gets confused, simply tell them the correct answer.

If your child has trouble remembering the letter sounds, don’t spend time drilling him on it over and over again. Children (and adults too) learn and remember better when there is a space between learning periods.

Come back to the letters a few hours later; even if it takes your child a few days to remember each set, she will still be finished in only a few weeks.

Stage 2

Once your child knows at least two letters, you can introduce the object pictures.

  1. Choose two letters. Place each one level with each other, with a bit of a distance between them.
  2. Take the pictures of objects that go with those sounds, and mix them up in a pile to the left of the letters.
  3. Choose one, asking your child to tell you what it is. Model sounding out the words, stretching out the sound of the first letter. Then place that picture under the corresponding letter.
  4. Do one more, and then let your child try it out. Show her how to check her work when she is done, by flipping over the picture.

TIP: Stay with your child the first few times she plays this game; she will need help stretching out the first sound.

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Expressive Language

Hands on Learning Games: Use Wordless Picture Books to Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language

Does your child have difficulty expressing himself? Often children with delayed language development have a meager vocabulary to draw from when speaking. They may have a lot to say, but don’t know what words to use.

Being able to speak fluently requires numerous skills. Your child needs to have a rich vocabulary of words, as well as be able to recall those words quickly.  He needs to be able to understand his listener’s point of view, so that he can add important information if necessary. And lastly, he also needs to know how to organize his thoughts so that what he says is coherent and makes sense.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned several ways your child can improve her expressive language skills: creating stories from a fun trip, playing the command card game, -even creating a strategy guide for their favorite video game.

In this hands-on learning game, your child will use wordless picture books to build her vocabulary, improve her memory, and practice her sequencing skills.

Materials:

Your favorite wordless picture book. There are plenty to choose from, but here’s a list of great wordless picture books to browse.

How to Play:

1) Flip through the book and decide whether or not you will focus on nouns or verbs. This depends on what you want to accomplish with your child, as well as which the book lends itself.

If the book has a different character for each page (similar to “The Farmer in the Dell” or “Brown Bear” –which is not wordless but still a great choice) then you would choose to focus on nouns. If the book has one main character, then you would choose verbs.

2) Assign one word to each page. You can ask your child to think of the word by saying, “What is that?” or “What are they doing?” When your child answers, condense that answer to one word, and repeat it as you point to the picture. If your child has difficulty naming the picture, tell them the correct word.

3) After 2 to 3 pictures, ask your child to name the noun or verb for each page. You can choose to use the pictures as a clue if your child is younger or has moderate to severe language delays.  Otherwise, you can simply close the book and ask them to name the words that they heard.

Don’t worry if this is difficult for them in the beginning; help them out if necessary by giving a hint (first letter, first few sounds in the word). It’s better for your child to be successful with hints than fail with no help at all.

TIP: You can have your child name and remember pictures in groups of 3, so that they never have to remember more than three pages at a time. If this is too easy for your child, you can have your child remember 4 at a time, or require that they remember all of the pages.

You would do this by: first having your child remember the first 3 pages, then add on one page, asking your child to remember all 4. Continue adding on a new page until your child knows all of the pages in the book.

 

 

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Reading

Hands on Learning Games: How to Help Your Child Learn Word Families

child reading

Being able to hear the individual sounds in words is a critical reading skill.

When experienced readers see a new word, they search the word for patterns that are familiar to them from other words that they know. They know that words with the same vowels and ending letters usually rhyme, and they can use this information to help them decode a new word.

For example, imagine your kindergartner comes upon the word “spine.” She must do several things:

1) Realize that this is a new word, and look at each letter carefully.

2) Ask herself if she knows any other words that are like this one.

3) Think of all the words she know, searching for those that end with the “-ine” sound.

4) Use the new words, like nine or fine, and try and pronounce the new word like those words.

5) Read the sentence again to check if that pronunciation makes sense for their sentence.

This is a pretty complex process, and your kindergartner or first grader might get a little confused at any one of these stages. You can, however, help him be a more efficient reader by giving him a “bank” of rhyming words that he can later use to figure out new words.

This game is great for helping children build up their own personal store of rhyming words. It can be played alone, or with another child if they take turns.

Materials:

Pictures of various rhyming words .Here of some of the most common rhyming patterns:

-ack         -ap         -est     -ing   -ot

-ail           -ash        -ice     -ip     -uck

-ain           -at         -ick      -it      -ug

-ake          -ate       -ide     -ock    -ump

-ale           -aw        -ight    -oke

-ame         -ay         -ill        -op

-an            -eat        -in        -ore

-ank          -ell          -ine      -ink

Store the pictures for each set of word endings in an envelope with the ending written on the outside.

How to Play the Game:

1) Choose two word endings.

2) Put all the pictures in front of your child, and mix them up.

3) Have your child pick one card, and name it.

4) Instruct your child to find a picture card that matches with the card they have.

5) Continue matching the cards until all cards are used.

TIPS

-You can make this game harder by adding 3 or even 4 word endings at a time.

- You can make this game even harder by choosing only 2 picture cards for each category.

-If your child is reading, you can add cards that have a new word on them, and have your child find the picture card with the same word pattern.

-You can cut out pictures all together, and use word cards instead. Buy or make letter cards in red and blue. Have your child choose two word cards with the same pattern. Let them build the words: the letters that are unique to that word should be built with the blue letter cards. The letters that are the same for both words should be built with the red letter cards. Each word card should be built directly under the same word.

Let your child continue until they’ve covered all of the word cards. They can also copy the words into a notebook after they build them, using two different colored pens.

 

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Sequencing

Hands-on Learning Games: Help Your Child Learn to Sequence

Looking to help your child improve his sequencing skills? Here is a fun hands-on learning game that will improve your child's skills using their favorite children's songs.

Why is sequencing important anyway?

Helping your child learn to sequence is important for several reasons. First of all, sequencing allows your child to manage his time effectively, and helps him see the relationship between actions and consequences. A child who has difficulty in this area will be consistently "time challenged."

They will be late to school, late coming home, or will take longer than necessary to complete an assignment because they are unable to estimate how much time something should take.

Strong sequencing skills allows him to communicate meaningfully with others, whether it is with words, sentences, or paragraphs. Children who are weak in this area will start a joke with the punchline. Their stories will be jumbled and difficult to understand because they find it difficult to present events in the order in which they occurred.

Good sequencing skills also means your child will be able to make a better connection between his actions and the consequences that naturally follow. Children with weak sequencing skills will sometimes appear as if they never learn from their mistakes. Despite warnings, threats, and punishments, they seem intent on repeating the same ineffective behaviors time and time again.

By playing this hands-on learning game with your child, you will find both your child's ability to learn and his behavior will show an improvement.

Materials:

For this game you will use songs which use sequencing, plus you will need to make pictures to go along with them. For children under 5, or more challenged children, try Raffi's "Brown bear." For children 5 and up, try Fred Koch's "I had a rooster," or "Today is Monday."

More advanced children can try "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly." Any song that uses a sequence of objects, and is easy to understand, can be used.

You will need to write down in order all of the objects that are named, and find clear pictures for each one. Each picture should not be smaller in size than a playing card. Each picture should also be on a separate piece of paper. You can laminate each picture or print it out on card stock for durability.

How to play:

Listen to the song once with your child in order to help familiarize her with the song. As each item is mentioned, lay it in front of your child. Most of the songs add a new item, and then repeat the previous ones. When this occurs, your child should point to each object in order.
For example, in "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly," by the time you get to the cat, you will have in front of you a fly, spider, bird, and the cat. You will add the cat when the singer sings it, and then you will point to the cat, the bird, the spider, and the fly. After you've done it once, let your child try it out. Here are some variations on the game you can use to make this game harder or easier:

    • To make the game harder, do not use pictures, but ask your child to tell you the names of the animals, forwards and backwards. You can make it easier for him by giving him a hint-the first letter of each word.

 

  • To make it easier, let your child sequence the pictures as the song is being sung. You can stop the song to give your child time to lay out the picture. You can make it slightly harder by asking your child to sequence the animals after they've heard the song.

 

 

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Reading

Hands-on Learning Games: How to Teach Your Kindergartner to Read and Write 3 Letter Words

Help Your Kindergartner Learn to Read 3 Letter Words(Click here to download your free story paper)

This is a great game for pre-readers who have mastered the alphabet and are ready to start reading easy words. It's fantastic not only because kids love it, but also because it gives kids a chance to learn reading through writing.

It also allows you to see whether or not they understand what they’re reading without the tediousness of reading aloud.

Materials:

- Standard paper, cut into fourths. Make lines on the bottom of third of the paper for writing the word. It should like the paper kindergartners use to practice their writing. The top half should be blank, to leave space for your child to draw pictures.

How to Play

1.  Choose a word. Sound out the word carefully. As you sound out each letter, write it down on the lined paper. Place the paper so that your child can watch you write the word.

2. Have your child copy the word on their paper. Then they can draw a picture of the word on the top half of the paper. You can make it exciting for your child by letting her use special markers.

Note:

Technically your child is not reading, but writing. They only recognize the word because it was dictated to them. However, this gives your child an excellent way to learn how words are segmented, how letters are written, and helps them the written word with its’ meaning.

If you play this game regularly, your child will quickly get the hang of things, and will begin sounding out words on her own.

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Fine Motor

Hands-On Learning Games: Help Your Child Improve His Handwriting

Go to fullsize image

Have you noticed, or been told by your child's teacher, that he has trouble writing? If so, there are many different hands-on learning games you can do with your child that can help improve his handwriting ability.

Technically termed graphomotor weakness, handwriting problems are not necessarily related to general fine motor issues. Your child might be able to easily button up his shirt, or even be a talented cartoonist, and yet still be unable to write clearly and neatly. Graphomotor weakness also has nothing to do with a child’s intelligence.

Unfortunately, however, children are often quite self-conscious about their handwriting. Often they are told to simply “try harder” when writing. Sometimes this works-for a while-then usually the child goes back to chicken scratch. As one child explained, “sometimes I feel that my hand and my mind are completely disconnected. In my head I can see how the letters are supposed to look, but my hand refuses to listen when I tell it what to do!”

Children who suffer from graphomotor problems are generally easy to spot. Some hold their pen or pencil too close or too far away from the tip. Others grip their pen so tightly they sometimes develop cramped finger muscles, or hook their hand as if they would really be writing with the other hand.

If you or your child’ teacher notice any of these behaviors, you will of course need to seek the services of an occupational therapist. However, there are several activities you can do at home that can speed up your child’s progress in therapy.

One type of activity is common in Montessori schools. Referred to as practical life activities, these are activities that help a child learn to master his environment. Polishing silver, sorting different colored jewelry beads, sewing, or cutting celery sticks and then spreading them with peanut butter are several examples of practical life activities.

Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori movement, based her theories on watching children. She then created materials based on her observations, and tested and refined them even further in the classroom.

One of the principles that she noticed is that many skills can first be learned indirectly. Doing this allows a child to work on a skill without even realizing what they are doing; they simply absorb the principles of a particular body of knowledge while absorbed in a pleasurable activity.

With handwriting, Montessori schools give children numerous opportunities to exercise the muscles and practice the movements required for writing before they even pick up a pencil.

Children also absorb the proper method of writing individual letters through the use of  sandpaper letters. These are letters made of sandpaper and glued on a painted piece of wood. The child closes his eyes, and traces the letter with their index and pointer fingers. Then they practice “writing” the letter   in a small tray filled with colored sand or salt.

So by the time a Montessori child actually begins to write, she will have had numerous opportunities to practice her handwriting through practical life activities, the sandpaper letters, and other materials in the environment.

Even if your child is not in a Montessori school, you can still easily create the same types of activities in your home, using inexpensive and easy to find materials.  Take a look at  http://montessori-n-such.com/ for numerous ideas. You can either buy items from them, or make your own. Keep in mind this important points when presenting these to your child:

  1. Montessori broke everything down into small steps. If you plan on teaching your child to sew, make sure you show her all the steps involved.
  2. Be serious about the results you expect. If you are teaching your child to polish silver, make sure you show her what it looks like when it is really polished. Sometimes we allow children to do things because they enjoy it, but we don't really spend the time to teach them how to do it properly.
  3. Let the child do it. You already know how to do the task. Don't take away your child's sense of joy and accomplishment by trying to "help" them.
  4. Have a set place to keep the materials, so that the child can access them when she wants. Change materials weekly, to keep up interest. Your child will be happy to play on their own.

  5. Here are some links to some Montessori sites with specific lesson plans and ideas:

    http://mymontessorijourney.typepad.com/my_montessori_journey/

    http://www.montessorimom.com/

    http://edavenue.homestead.com/finemotor.html

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Expressive Language

Hands on Learning Games: Teach Your Child Words that Describe Space (Over, Inside, Below,etc.)

Often children with weak language development have great difficulty using words that describe where they or other objects are in space. You might find your child saying "inside" when she meant to say "outside," or substituting under for over.

Children easily confuse these words -called concepts of space- because it is difficult for them to form a mental image of what they represent. These are words have no meaning in and of themselves; they have to be followed or preceeded by another, more descriptive word.

One of the ways you can help your child understand and remember what you mean is to play games that help him visualize what these words mean. Here are 2 games you can play with your child to help them master concepts of space:

Twister Fister

This is a variation on the popular game "Twister." However, instead of getting all tangled up on a game mat, your child will fit themselves inside, under, over, etc. impossible spaces.

Materials:

- One set of cards with descriptive words on one side. Suggested words are: inside, outside, over, under, around, next to, beside, on, and  in.

- On the other side of each card, paste a picture of an object that's appropriate for that word. Then make an X to demonstrate where the child should place themselves.

For example, one card can have "under" written on one side, with a picture of a table on the other side. Under the table you would draw a large red X.

How to Play:

1. Put the set of cards on the table. Make sure that the side with the word is face-up.

2. Let your child choose a card from the pile. If they can read, they should read the word on the card. If not, you can read it for them.

3. They may then flip the card over and see what their task is. Explain to them if necessary that the X tells them where they should go.

Demonstrate if necessary. Be sure to emphasize the key word: "This is UNDER. Sit UNDER the table."

4. Your child can play this game with a partner. Deal the cards out between the two children. The child who finishes their cards the first is the winner.

TIP: You can make this game harder by making a separate set of cards with only the key words on it. Your child chooses a card, and then has to find (on her own) an item where the action can be carried out.

The Farm Game

This is a classic Montessori game that you can play at home. In it, you use a farm set to teach your child space concepts. You don't actually have to use a real farm set; you could make one out of cardboard, or you could substitute another setting, such as a police station, fire station, doll house, or other playset. You could also make up your own playset using blocks or Legos.

Materials:

-Play animals or people

- Playset, as explained above.

- cards with space words written on them (see above game for detailed list)

1) Set up the playset. Your child may arrange things as he sees fit, but just make sure he has items that are appropriate for each action.

2) Have your child draw a card. She then chooses an animal or a person, and decides where to place them. For example, if she draws the word "under," she can take the horse and place them under a toy tree.

3) Your child continues drawing cards and choosing animals or people until all cards are used up.

TIP: You can make this game a little more complicated by making up a little story as your child goes through the game. For example, you could say, "One day the little brown horse (your child then has to take the horse) was outside in the fields (she then has to place him outside in the "field").

"It started to rain, so she ran and stood under a tree." You and your child can take turns telling the story, if your child is able, or you can just let your child choose the animal or the action, if she likes.

 

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