Friday, November 5, 2010

Parents As Teachers Program: Selected Activities

It started snowing today, then changed over to sleet. We are done with preschool and stuck inside the house, so I thought I would give a synopsis of some of the materials used in the PACERS/Parents As Teachers program through our local school district. All of the activities are meant to increase pre-literacy and fine motor skills, and all of the activities are really fun!

We went to the local elementary school where the PACERS children had a pretend picnic. Picnic baskets were made out of apple boxes and shoe boxes, and the children decorated the boxes with little stickers (tiny stickers are great for developing fine motor skills). The children had cheese-and-crackers for snack, using the little red stick to spread the cheese on the crackers. We were told to observe the children to see if they could turn their wrist, or if they used a simple back-and-forth motion while spreading. Apparently, cheese-and-crackers is a great snack for fine motor skills! The children also made trail mix, using a tiny scoop to pick ingredients out and place in their bowl. They made their own pudding, by pouring some milk into instant pudding, then shaking a sealed container until the pudding set. This is a simple activity for a rainy day- having a "snack picnic" develops a lot of skills!

Tiny books were included in Nolan's October activity bag. The story is very short- "An ant took my apple. I had it for a snack. An ant took my apple. I want my apple back!" Nolan colored the book (fine motor) and has learned to memorize the story and "read" it back to us.

Name-in-a-bag. This one is very simple, and is great for helping children learn to recognize and spell their own names. We wrote Nolan's name on the ziplock baggie, and then individual letters on construction paper. Nolan places the letters of his name under the written version. This activity reinforces left-to-right progression, name and letter recognition, and fine motor skills (placing the small letter cut-outs on the bag and lining them up).

Take-away apple. This is a fun game, made out of a laminated manila folder, an apple cut-out, and kidney beans. We roll the dice, and then remove the designated number of "apple seeds." Whoever runs out of seeds first, wins. Nolan loves this game, and so does Matt (we have more than one playing board). Skills learned: one-to-one correspondence, subtraction, fine motor skill improvement (those beans are little)!

Apple mosaic art. We tore apart colored construction paper and glued it onto an apple shape. The act of tearing paper increases hand strength and fine motor skills. Nolan's apple is on the left- he was very concerned about covering every part of the white apple. Matt's is on the right- he tore his apple pieces into shapes to resemble a "city inside of an apple." It is very interesting to see how two different children approach the art activity in different ways!

The November bag is FILLED with activities, from place mat turkeys to letter shape categorization. A book called "All About Me" is included in the pack- Nolan will answer questions and we'll write his answers down in the book. He can draw pictures and color the book- I have a feeling he'll like this activity a lot.

Another item from the November pack is a blank recipe book. We can write down simple recipes, or use pictures in a left-to-right manner to indicate the method for making simple snacks. We will probably make some simple recipes for fruit/yogurt parfaits and trail mix for the boys' recipe books.

Honestly, this pre-literacy program is wonderful. Nolan and Matthew really love the activities, and studies have shown that engaged parents using this curriculum have children who score higher on early literacy measures.

Now we're off to make some turkeys- I hope you have time to get crafty today, too!


Amie said...

Very interesting activities indeed.I'm definitely gonna try some!Thanks for sharing.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

That's a whole lot of awesome projects. I love the apple seed game, that would be a hit around here!

Thanks for your vote, too!

rouchi said...

Great ideas for lil kids, would use some from you.

tammy said...

I simply LOVE this program and want one too! ; ) So cool! I'm coming back to steal some apple project ideas because that's part of our theme for this month since we didn't get to do a lot with it in Oct. Love the name idea too - Aiden's just recently recognizing what letters are and that they have meaning and what a great way to getting to know how to spell their own name. Thanks for sharing Leah! Keep 'em coming!