As a teacher and mom, I must admit, it has been a pet peeve of mine when children break the crayons! However, I have learned to love a broken piece of crayon. Here’s why…
A broken crayon will help with a more refined tripod grip. If your preschooler is still fisting writing tools, then I encourage you to break a crayon. You'll thank me later. Take a look at the two photos of my son below. He switches between a tripod and modified tripod grip.
As your child is developing his/her pencil grip, it is important to provide activities that will allow them to use their little hands. Arts and crafts activities are great because it requires a lot of twisting, turning, drawing, coloring, cutting, and even tearing. Here is what your child’s grip should look like over time whether using a pencil or crayon:
If you liked this blog post, here are some more fine motor blog posts you may like:
Snow Sensory Bin
Earlier this week, the northeast received a large amount of snow which means there were some unhappy adults because they would have to shovel snow. But, where there’s snow, there are happy children. My children were ecstatic. I told them that they could go out after school to play in the snow. I scored some cool mom points there!
The snow was higher than I thought. It was up to my 4 year old’s knees. That did not stop him and his sister from having a blast and throwing snow at each other. They even threw snow at me!
After 20 minutes of snow play and runny noses, it was time to head back inside. They were already asking to go out the next day. Mama did not want to go out again. The next day, I brought the snow inside. That’s right, inside. When you can’t, or in my case, won’t go outside again, you bring it inside--hahaha.
I went to our balcony to fill a toy bin with clean snow. Once again, they were equally as excited as going outside. It doesn’t take much to please children.
They grabbed dinosaurs and a thermometer to begin their play. But, I couldn’t just let them play. I had to throw a few science questions in there somewhere---I mean, I am a teacher, LOL. We spent a few minutes comparing the real snow to the fake snow sensory bin we made in the summer. They discussed the texture and temperature. My four year spoke about why the real snow would melt if we played with it during the summer.
If you want to add a little color to the snow, grab a box of food coloring and have fun.
If you do not live in an environment that will give you a snow day, don't fret. You can always make it. Check out the DIY Fake Snow Sensory Bin. You can even add a few ice cubes to get the color sensation.
DIY Fake Snow Sensory Bin
I know it’s officially summer now, but who says you can’t play with snow during this season? Well, you actually can’t--at least not in NYC, but you can if you make fake snow. When my children created two sensory bins in one day, they were over the moon. In fact, my 6 year old enjoyed it more than my 3 year old! To create this snow-like consistency sensory activity, you’ll probably want to take a look in your kitchen cupboard and underneath your bathroom sink. That’s right, underneath your bathroom sink!
If you do not have these materials readily available, I would suggest buying both from your local dollar store because it is inexpensive. The more ‘snow’ you want, the more baking soda you’ll need. I used 3 boxes of baking soda and about 3/4 of the coconut hair conditioner (I wanted to tap into my children’s sense of smell which is why I opted for coconut scent). First, you'll need to pour 3 boxes of baking soda into the bin.
Then add about 3/4 of the conditioner to the baking soda. I initially used two boxes, but my children poured too much conditioner, so we had to balance it out with the third box of baking soda.
Recommendation: Regardless of the amount of baking soda used, add a little hair conditioner at a time, mix it in well, and then use your judgement to add more. I initially used two boxes, but my children poured too much conditioner in, so we had to balance it out with the third box of baking soda.
After pouring the contents into the bin, encourage the children to mix it all in. I have to warn you, it is very mushy in the beginning until everything mixes well. The end result should be firm to make a ball.
Sensory bins can be messy, but there are so many benefits to your child's development.
Language: Language is an important part of children's development. By providing many opportunities for your child to express him/herself, it helps to further develop their expressive language. Ask questions about the activity and avoid questions that will only provide a yes or no answer. Extend your child's sentences if needed. For example, let's say my son said, "It's mushy", then I would extend his sentence by saying, "The snow is mushy". Also, engage in conversations with rich vocabulary and explain what those new words mean. Your explanation will add a new word to your child's growing vocabulary and build comprehension. Without context of the new word, it doesn't help to build comprehension. While my children played, there were multiple exchanges between the two about the fake snow. I asked my 3 year old to talk about the texture of the snow. For my 6 year old, I asked her to use adjectives to describe the texture of the snow. Both children spoke about the texture but the requests were different.
Fine Motor: Allows your child to strengthen the hand muscles by manipulating objects when scooping, pouring, and picking up small objects.
Social Play: Children learn to share and communicate with others as they engage in play.
Math/Science: Sensory bins help with counting objects, estimation, and even making predictions about about the contents of the bin (cause and effect).
Sensory: Exposes your child to new textures, sounds, tastes, and smells.
The next time your paper towel or toilet paper tube is empty, don’t throw it away. Instead, you can use them for a few fine motor activities around your home. Here is what I did:
I bought colored duct tape and wrapped it around each tube. Then, I used a single hole puncher to punch holes all over each roll.
Next, you will need a few pipe cleaners. You have two ways of doing this activity.
Option 1: You can insert the pipe cleaners and wrap the ends, then allow your toddler or preschooler to unwrap each. I would suggest cutting the pipe cleaners in half.
Option 2: Allow your toddler or preschooler to insert the pipe cleaners on their own. This second option helps to develop eye-hand coordination as your child tries to insert each pipe cleaner into the small holes. Whether you decide to use pipe cleaners or straws, it is a great way to develop this skill. If you're wonder what exactly is eye-hand coordination, it simply means your child's ability to focus on a task using their hands while being guided by their eyes.
Option 3: STEM Encourage your preschooler to connect all the tubes with the pipe cleaners. If you have plastic straws, you can also use those, too. Leave it open ended without specifying how it should look by saying, “I’d like to see you use the piper cleaners to connect all the tubes.” Or, provide a little guidance by saying, “I wonder how your structure will look with 3 tubes at the bottom, and two on top”. Use less tubes in the beginning depending on your child's age. If your child is unsure about how to start, go ahead and model how to connect two tubes, children learn best through visual models. The number of tubes can always be increased as your child is able to connect tubes with ease. This activity is meant to be fun and develop fine motor skills. Providing a difficult task in the beginning can frustrate the child, making it less likely to return to the activity in the future. Have fun with this and leave it in an area where your child can easily access the materials on his or her own.
Why Are Sensory Bins Important?
Why do children need a sensory bin?
Have you ever noticed how infants, toddlers, and preschoolers love to engage in some type of sensory activity? Children love to explore, and through exploration, they learn a great deal about their world through touching, hearing, smelling, tasting, and seeing. It is important that adults foster their sensory development as much as possible through children's five senses. A trip to your local dollar store can help children learn through multiple senses simultaneously.
Here is what I did.
I chose a deep bin which would help to prevent a lot of spilling. If your child is under 3, I would suggest using a shallow bin so they can sit comfortable on the floor to explore the contents of the bin. A sensory bin can be filled with anything that would activate one or all of the five senses. The younger your child, avoid putting smaller objects inside as it can be a choking hazard. And as always, supervise children when they are using sensory bins. My sensory bin was filled with rice, chickpeas, pasta, gems, scoops, funnels, and a colander, all purchased from Dollar Tree.
What is a sensory bin?
A sensory bin is a plastic tub filled with materials and objects selected to stimulate the five senses. The sensory bin can be filled with a variety of materials such as beans, pasta, beads, rice, sand, water, shaving cream, cotton balls, and more.
Sensory bins can help with:
My 3 and 6 year old sorted the contents of the bin on their own. Sorting is a math skill your child will continue to develop as he/she explores. The sensory bin allowed my children to discuss the textures and made comparisons about what they felt: hard, smooth, bumpy, pointy. If you want to target more math skills, add magnetic numbers or write numbers on small square cut outs and ask your child to identify each number as it is placed in a bowl. Or after sorting, discuss which bowl has more or less. Sensory bins also target science skills as children make predictions and learn about the cause and effect relationship while manipulating objects.
Literacy: After sorting, my daughter asked for a marker to label the cups. Of course my 3-year old wanted to join in with labeling his cup, too. He used his prior knowledge of letter sounds to independently label his cup “Rd” (red). You can add magnetic letters or write letters on small square cut outs. Ask your child to identify each letter as it is placed in a bowl. For children who are 4-5 years old, ask for the letter sound and a word that begins with the letter.
Fine motor skills: The sensory bin is perfect for increasing muscle strength and coordination with the hands. Depending on what you put in the bin, your child can cut, zip, button, tie, untie, tear, open and close containers.
Children learn to play, share, and communicate with others as they engage in sensory play.
So, why are sensory bins important?
Sensory bins are important because they support language development, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive development, and social interactions. Sensory play also helps to calm children who are anxious or frustrated.
Hi, I am Odessa. I'm a mom of two wonderful children and a teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Science in Childhood Education with over 10 years of PreK and Kindergarten experience. I am a lover of all things literacy for children and their curiosity of the world. Get comfy and click around my site. I hope you find something you'll like, and something your kids will love! P.S. Akwaaba means 'welcome' :)
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