Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guest Blog Post - Lynne's Lessons

Posted by Your Community Mama at 10:00 AM
Morning Friends!  I am thrilled to be sharing my first guest blog post from a wonderful teacher whom I know personally and have the utmost respect for.  I'm excited that she's joined us and provided her wonderful "Lessons" for all of us with kiddos to learn from.  So, let's give her a warm Placer Playtime Welcome.  She's a smart cookie and fun, so enjoy!

Your Community Mama


Welcome to Lynne’s Lessons. This is the first of many articles designed to make your life easier as a parent. I will be sharing ideas that I use in my preschool, The Play House Child Development Program here in the Foskett Ranch area of Lincoln.

In the 19 years I’ve been in the field of early childhood education, I’ve developed a pretty simple philosophy: children love being outdoors and getting messy but, they also need an academic foundation. Parents need simple, safe and inexpensive activities to engage their children for more than just a 5 minute period of time (although as parents of young children we’d take just 5 minutes of uninterrupted time).

The activities I will be sharing with you are “multi-purpose” they will often seem to be “just play” but, in fact they will incorporate things your child will need to become successful in school.

Recipe #1-Home Made Sand  (borrowed from Lisa Murphy, Ooey Gooey, Inc.)
  • 4 cups of dried, used coffee grounds
  • 2 cups cornmeal (buy the cheap stuff)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup salt

Mix together and pour into sensory tubs. Add little trucks, cars, dinosaurs, spoons and little cups for scooping and watch your children have a blast. If the homemade sand gets wet just leave it out in the sun to dry out again. 

There are a few things to keep in mind before you attempt your first Lynne’s Lesson.

1. You know your child best, if it doesn’t look like the activity is “working” then put it away. Try again another day. Often, children need to experience things many different times before they think of it as fun.

2. Some children like (love) messy play and other’s do not. If your child is not the type to just “dive right in” (and I mean this literally) then, give them tools to use when exploring messy play (wooden Popsicle sticks and paint brushes, etc.). 

3. If your child has a sibling then, then set up your activities where they can both sit together and watch what the other is doing. Often children think something is fun just because someone else likes it (this also has a way of backfiring). If you have an only child, try one of these activities when your child has a friend over (or you can be the friend). Chances are, they’ll still like the activity once they are by themselves but, let them explore with a buddy first.

4. Set up your activities in an area where you don’t mind if things get a little messy. It’s reasonable to assume that some mess will be made with these projects. Don’t stress about it. They’ll make life easier in the long run. I like to set up an area right outside my sliding glass door. We have a shaded area with a little table where the children can sit and play with their sensory boxes.  

5. If your child loves, loves, loves messy play, you’ll want to set up some ground rules. In other words, how messy can they get? Where can they use the messy materials, where can they put them, where can they not? Often, children will want to test your rules right away. Give them one reminder (we preschool teacher’s call this first time listening) and then if they continue to break your rules, put the “work” away. Don’t waver on this! Set yourself and your child up for success! Often we worry we’re being too strict or we worry that our child is going to have a big fit if we uphold the rules. Try to look at it another way, if you are very consistent when you first introduce your “Lynne’s Lesson’s” you and your child will have so much fun. Because you will know what to expect. If you don’t uphold your rules you and your child will both be frustrated so, trust me on this one. First Time Listening (and enforcing) is critical!

6. My favorite way to introduce messy play is with something I call a “sensory box.” Take a trip to Target and go to the aisle with plastic storage containers. Pick up at least 10 of the see through Sterilite 6 quart containers with blue lids. They cost around $1.00 per container/lid and they are priceless. You’ll use these to house your recipes.

While you’re at it, run to Dollar Store and pick up a few of the mini brush and dustpan sets they have so your child can help you clean up after they are finished. 

7. Above all, have fun! After all, isn’t that what life’s all about? I certainly think it is!



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