Introducing our easiest fall craft: Help your child put stickers on a pumpkin. That's it. You are done. However, as with all our activities, we will be discussing the vast language benefits of this task. Don't let the simplicity of the craft fool you. There are tons of opportunities for vocabulary instruction here folks.
Materials: stickers, pumpkin (real or artificial)
A quick word about the stickers: While you can use any sticker of your child's choosing, Target has some wonderful self-adhesive kits with 3D items that stick on for only two dollars. This year we got 3D bats and spikes! As you will see, they make for an interesting looking pumpkin!
Nouns: pumpkin, stickers, (Also include labels for whatever type of sticker you have. In this case, we used the words bats and spikes.)
Pronouns: I, me, you, we
Verbs: want, need, peel, push, put, decorate, help
Positional Words: on, behind, under, bottom, top, middle/center, sides, near, next to, over
Adjectives: more, scary, spooky, nice, sticky,
Questions: what, where
1. Gather your materials.
2. Model what you would like your child to do. You can demonstrate by placing a sticker or two on the pumpkin. Remember to give verbal directions while completing the task. This is a great time to model the appropriate use of pronouns and verb tenses for your kiddo. You can say, "We are going to decorate a pumpkin with stickers. First, I will peel off a sticker and then I will put it on the pumpkin. Now you can do it!"
2. As always, make your best effort to keep the stickers, or any materials, slightly out of reach so your child has to request them. Or, if your child has difficulty peeling off the stickers, they will need to ask you for help to get each one. You can model phrases such as, "more stickers," "We need more bats," "I want a scary sticker now," based on how many words your child typically uses in an utterance. You probably aren't going to model an entire sentence if your child is at a one-two word utterance level because that would be difficult for them to imitate. Yes, you can expose them to long sentences, but you want to give them models that they can successfully produce to decrease frustration.
3. Questions can be modeled throughout the task such as, "What sticker should we peel next?" or "Where should we put it?"
4. Let's talk about positional words, like the ones listed above. If you can do this as a following directions task, test your child's knowledge of positional words by giving them different commands with varying locations (i.e. "Put the bat on the top." "Push this sticker in the middle." "We need to put one at the bottom.") If your child has difficulty with positional words, instead, you can describe the locations of the stickers as they are placed on the pumpkin. This will allow for modeling of the vocabulary, without frustration. Most likely, this will be how you introduce positional vocabulary because children usually prefer to choose the location of each sticker. That's part of the fun of the activity.
5. You can infuse adjectives throughout the task by describing stickers and the project in general. You can say "I love our pumpkin. It is scary!" "The back of this spike is sticky," "Wow, spooky pumpkin!"
As always remember to have fun and be silly so your child wants to participate in more language activities with you!
With our upcoming book, Lou Knows What To Do: Special Diet being released, it seems like a great time to talk about the Teal Pumpkin Project. It may be a little early to discuss Halloween, but we wanted our followers to be informed about this initiative before making their fall preparations. Halloween is about FUN for kiddos and not just candy. Yet it can seem restrictive to children with allergies who are on special diets. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps to raise awareness about food allergies and make Halloween more inclusive by encouraging people to give away non-food items. Then children with restrictive diets are not left out! Giving away small toys or stickers is a great alternative. By leaving a teal pumpkin on your porch, you are letting people know you have allergy friendly items for those trick-or-treating. We will have some additional posts on this topic as we get closer to Halloween, but today we will discuss the craft we made yesterday. It should take about 30 minutes from start to finish and includes many opportunities for requesting! Of course we made our pumpkin teal, so that we had one ready for Halloween, but any color can be used.
Materials: Glue, water, tissue paper or streamers, artificial or real pumpkin, paper towels, brush or sponge, bowl.
Nouns: glue, paper, pumpkin, brush, bowl,
Verbs: cover, mix, brush, put, push, help, need
Adjectives: more, teal (or whatever colors you use), nice, sticky, messy, smooth, fun
Prepositions: in, on
Questions: where, what
1. Gather your materials and arrange your work space. Since this project can be messy, you may want to cover the area with paper towels. Cut your tissue paper or streamers into tiny squares. Mix some water into your glue so that you can make it easier to "paint" onto the pumpkin.
2. Model what you want your child to do first. Brush a tiny bit of the glue mixture onto the pumpkin. Then take a square of paper or two and cover the area. Repeat a few times so your child sees how you expect to cover the surface area of the pumpkin. Verbally tell them the directions as you complete the process. "First, we will brush some glue on the pumpkin. Then I need some paper to put on. We have to push the paper on the sticky area."
3. Leave the paper or glue slightly out of reach so that your child has to request "more paper" and "more glue" on a consistent basis. This activity has tons of opportunities for requesting based on how many applications of paper and glue are needed.
4. Remember to model adjectives for your child. (i.e. "Wow, nice pumpkin!" "My hands are so sticky!")
5. You can also model the asking and answering of questions. (i.e. "What do we need? More paper!" or "Where should I put this piece? Oh I see an empty spot!")
6. If your child has difficulty with prepositions (positional words) you can model the contrast between IN and ON, while emphasizing the words. (i.e. "We dip the brush IN the glue." "We push the paper ON the pumpkin."
7. As always, remember to provide lots of positive reinforcement so that your child enjoys the task and wants to do others!
It is no secret that parents should be helping kiddos foster a love of reading at home, through daily literacy activities. However, what happens when children do not enjoy reading? Fighting just to get your child to sit down to read for a few minutes can really take the fun out of the whole experience. Making literacy more enjoyable can help your child to resist arguing when it is time to pick a book. Gradually, after several positive reading sessions. you'll notice less of an argument. Try some of these suggestions for making reading more FUNctional in your house:
1. Let you child select the story. It is okay if it isn't high quality literature, or age/grade appropriate. What is important is spending some time reading together on your child's terms. Any positive reading experience is a good one. Over time, you can suggest some different texts after you have built a more consistent reading routine.
2. Keep it short. Start with a goal of five or ten minutes. Some reading time is better than none. After a few sessions you can gradually add to the amount minutes spent on literacy. If you start by making it a long, drawn-out process, it will only appear to be a less enjoyable task. Provide positive reinforcement by praising your child for sitting with you to read. As you extend your time, tell them they did a great job sitting and reading!
3. Provide "story time snacks". Everyone likes a good snack. Sit down with a story time snack plate and a good book. Making it a regular occurrence will help. Children are creatures of habit and will begin to look forward to the time spent. You can reserve a special preferred snack just for story time to get them requesting a snack/story session.
4. Act it out. Make it a point to be extra animated, using different voices or silly sound effects whenever possible to add to the "fun factor".
5. Reread. If your child is reading the book to practice decoding skills, you can read the page or paragraph first. Then they can reread it after you. Not only will they pick up on your fluency cues, but when they get to a challenging word, it may help them decode it faster, building confidence.
6. Get into character. We don't just mean the characters in a specific story. Reading the story as a completely different character, one your child prefers, or role playing during the story is a great way to get them into literacy. If your child wants to hold a stuffed animal or wear a special mask while reading, let them. You are just working on increasing positive reading experiences. Being silly is a great way to accomplish this goal!