Playing with the World Map Floor Puzzle

We refer to our laminated wall map at least a couple of times a week and have completed activities using it including Where does our food come from?

Where does our food come from?

We find having a map close to the dining table means we can refer to a country or town named in the news or general discussion. This helps Daisy in particular, locate an area in the world and often helps us increase our geographical knowledge.

We have noticed that locating the continents are still a struggle so an activity that focuses just on continents was needed.

Playing with the World Map Floor PuzzleRose loves puzzles and will sit for an hour doing puzzle after puzzle. Referring to the box for help is a new concept to her and she enjoyed matching puzzle pieces to the picture on the front of the box.

Playing with the World Map Floor PuzzleLearning to complete the outside of the puzzle first, is a reminder I often give when I can see frustration beginning. This puzzle is aimed at age 6+ but with Daisy`s help Rose was able to participate too.

Playing with the World Map Floor PuzzleStanding on the world!

When the puzzle was built we identified each continent and talked about some characteristics and countries within the continents.

World Map Floor Puzzle

The World Map Floor Puzzle has 33 pieces and covers 2 x 3 feet when assembled. It is made of sturdy card, is easy to clean and includes an illustration:

World Map

I can see this being copied and used as Daisy’s geographical knowledge develops. The puzzle is available from Quality Classrooms and another option is the Canada Map Floor Puzzle if you want to focus more locally.

What ways do you teach geographical knowledge and understanding?

Lego and Duplo

So I have great memories of playing with Lego as a child and it always involved building something for people to use. A structure alone was never enough, it had to be usable by people. My children are similar, most things they build have a use for the people whether they are Duplo people or Lego people or random ‘small world play’ people.

We only got Lego in the house on Daisy’s 6th birthday, nearly a year ago. Yes, I know this is a crime to some people, especially parents with boys but she had not shown any interest in Lego before that. Things have changed now. Rose received lots of Duplo at Christmas time and both the Duplo and Lego have prime position in our living room.

Lego and Duplo

Here Rose is making a hotel for her Duplo people.

I did start to wonder what all the fuss was with Lego and Duplo and did a little research. Here is what I found out:

Benefits of playing with Lego and Duplo

  • Creativity: the most obvious choice for me, hours and hours of open ended play with only the imagination as the limit.
  • Planning and Problem solving skills: these are developed as children realise a plan in their heads and work towards making it a reality
  • Math skills: sorting bricks, finding the correct size brick, thinking in 3D, patterning and proportions, measuring and counting are all part of Lego play.
  • Fine motor skills: building and separating bricks takes great dexterity as anyone who has played with Lego knows. (I do want to get my hands on a brick separator!)
  • Ability to follow directions: if you use the kits and instructions (we don’t tend to)

While I understand the appeal of individual kits with set instructions to build a certain project, I prefer the open endedness of these type of kits:

Lego Explore Basic Bulk

The Lego Duplo Explore Basic Bulk

Lego Brick Set

Lego Brick Set

You can then add base plates and themes kits if you want.

Lego and Duplo

A house, complete with chairs, plants and windows.

Lego and Duplo

Look, a hippo!

Lego and Duplo

This impressive construction is a movie theater Uncle Andy helped build. It was played with for weeks!

The play is never ending as are the opportunities to tie play into current learning themes!

I am a re-enthused  Lego and Duplo fan!

Read more:

 

More fun with Heart Mosiacs

We used these great hearts to make valentines for friends (click on the image for more details):

Playing with Heart Mosaics

The hearts we used for valentines, barely made a dint in the bag so we pulled them out again to create some art for the baby room and to mail to Boma.

More fun with heart mosiacsRose enjoyed drawing around her hand.

More fun with heart mosiacsAnd gluing was definitely a hit.

More fun with heart mosiacs

Resulting a lovely bright, tree collage.

More fun with heart mosiacsDaisy spent a bit more time colouring her hand and adding detail to her tree by hand.

IMG_4702w

She was equally proud of her tree and owl collage which incorporated hearts.

While they created I did too:

More fun with heart mosiacsUsing their hands as tree trunks, Rose helped find green hearts and glue them on. Now little brother, when he arrives, has his sisters art on his wall.

What do you do with your left over hearts and valentine’s decorations?

 

Texo Play

“Texo”, Latin for weave, twine together, plait, construct, build, is a toy that grows with children.

The flowers got the chance to play with the 65 piece set and were excited:

Texo Play

We eagerly explored the many different components of the set including solid wood planks, plastic molded connectors “stars”  and plastic rods.

Texo PlayRose began by building a tower.

Texo PlayWhile Daisy explored the connectors, which they named “stars”, fascinated with how they fitted together.

Texo PlayRose moved into stacking and size ordering with the wooden planks.

Texo PlayWhile Daisy joined the rods and connectors and decided how to incorporate the wooden planks.

She was hesitant to use the activity guide and wanted to freely construct.

Texo PlayAnd when you are not sure how to use your creation… wear it as a necklace!

Texo PlayRose created a forest of what was initially trees and became flowers. The bouquet was later given to me and my husband with “Happy Valentine’s Day” sentiments.

She was able to combine the parts but needed help to take them apart again.

Texo PlayWhile the girls play I tend to do something near by. If I watch too closely I am tempted to interfere, give unneeded opinions or direct play; yes I have control freak tendencies!

So I flicked through the activity guide while listening and watching their play. The guide explained the creator Lester Walker’s intention to provide a toy which grows in complexity as a child grows. As they gradually learn to play with the components in a more complex manner they are exploring concepts of architecture, design and engineering.

Basic construction is illustrated , moving onto simple builds and then more complex builds.

We thoroughly enjoyed playing with this construction set from Quality Classrooms.

Texo

How will you play with Texo?

Métis Children’s Books

Although November 16th is the official Louis Riel Day, in Manitoba February is the month for celebrating Métis culture. The third Monday in February is Family Day in some provinces. In Manitoba it is Louis Riel Day; a statutory holiday. This day also coincides with Festival du Voyageur.

Festival du Voyageur runs from February 14-23 this year and is a celebration of all things Métis. It is also the largest winter festival in Western Canada.

We have been attending for the last few years and enjoy the food, music and outdoor entertainment very much. Here we are last year:

festival 2013

I Love to Read Month is now in full swing in most schools. As many local schools also visit the festival, it is the perfect time to explore Métis books.

Thomas and the Metis Cart / Tumaas ekwa li Michif Sharey

Written by Bonnie Murray, Illustrated by Sheldon Dawson, Translated by Rita Flamand

Tumaas

Thomas needs to make a wheeled vehicle for his science class. His father helps him make a Red River Cart and learns about his Métis heritage as he builds and completes his project.

The text can be enjoyed purely for the story and illustrations. It can also be used as an introduction to a study on Métis history or an example of a science/project fair. Written in both English and Michif this book celebrates the Michif language, providing a wonderful learning opportunity for Michif speakers or those who want to lean the language.

A Name for a Métis

Written by Deborah L. Delaronde, Illustrated by Keiron Flamand

A-name-for-a-metis

The little boy wanted another name so he went in turn to each member of his family asking what his other name should be. On his travels he develops an interest in his mother’s language, Ojibway. This honouring leads to his grandfather giving him the name of Little Métis.

Exploring names and name origins is a great way to get to know classmates and this text would be the perfect introduction.  A glossary in the back of the book gives Ojibway translations used in the text.

Little Métis and the Métis Sash

Written by Deborah L. Delaronde, Illustrated by Keiron Flamand

Little-metis

Following the same structure as A Name for a Métis, this text has Little Métis travelling to each family member in search of boredom relief. The wind plays tricks on Little Métis and gets him into trouble but he learns a lesson and receives his Métis sash.

The moral of the story, that everyone has a job or role to play in their family is clearly explained, as is the Métis sash. The Saulteaux glossary gives an additional learning tool.

I loved Her

Written by Shezza Ansloos, Illustrated by Kimberly McKay-Fleming

I Loved Her

A Métis girl fondly recollects times spent with grandmother, from singing songs to baking.

This a beautiful text and a wonderful discussion opener for a student who has suffered a loss. It could also be used a framework for creative writing or story telling.

Unusual Friendships

Written by Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Illustrated by Rebecca Belmore

Unusual Friendships

This text of Little White Paws and Little White Rat, explores Métis themes through a dancing adventure. Written completely in rhyming pattern, the story is entertaining and provides many opportunities for discussion.

This book may also inspire readers to learn the Red River Cat Dance (the Red River Jig)!

All of these book are available at Quality Classrooms. Just click on the book image for more information.

Playing with Heart Mosaics

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast and an activity that both girls could do at their level was needed.

Heart Mosaics

Heart mosaics fills this request well. They are made from sturdy card and have different colours on each side. With 6 shapes and 12 colours they are very versatile and a great price, at under $10.

Here are the supplies we used:

Heart Mosaic Supplies

I had some recycled card that was printed on one side. Rather than throw it away we used the blank side and mounted it on coloured card. I love the colour framing. Daisy used large postcard size card to make wonderful creations from the hearts:

Heart Mosaic CreationsThe guide she is using is included in the package and she was able to use it independently. Here are her valentines so far:

Heart Mosaic Creations

Rose on the other hand was happy to glue and stick. Then run around and give them to her stuffies.

Giving valentines

While Daisy enjoyed gradually building designs using the teaching guide, Rose was all about using a glue stick and mass producing!

Playing with Heart Mosaics

We will add a candy lollipop and sticker to the back and done!

Here are the Valentine’s Day cards we made two years ago:

Paint Printed Valentine’s Cards

 

Reading nooks

Finding a great place to curl up with a good book is rewarding. If it is cozy and feels like you can escape from the world, even better.

Have a look at these:

book nook examples

Taken from:

Inspiring classroom or home reading nooks need to have:

  • a quiet space
  • a comfortable seat (chair, beanbag, cushion)
  • book storage
  • good light

We decided to make a reading area in the living area. Daisy has always loved books but her reading has begun to develop in leaps and bounds recently and she enjoys independent reading now, as well as being read to.

We have a gown up space for reading; two comfy chairs, a footstool, good light and a place to put your coffee or tea and book. Often the kids join us with a request to read but we wanted to create a reading space just for them.

This corner area of the living room is a dead space:

Reading nookAlthough the chairs are suitable, their positioning blocks access to the toys. The red chair on the right is one of our reading chairs (they are rather old but much loved).

An extra bookshelf, allows more book space. Toys are moved to the other side of the fireplace, a light, chair and cushions are added:

Reading nookWe now have a dedicated spot for children’s reading.

In my classrooms I enjoyed setting up reading areas, making them inviting, comfortable spaces to curl up with a good book.

Here are some options from Quality Classrooms to add to your reading corner or nook:

Playhouse Hideaway Bookshelves

The Playhouse Hideaway Bookshelves.

Imagination Nook with Storage

Imagination Nook with Storage.

Sit & Store Reading Centre

Sit and Store Reading Centre.

Happy Reading!