Roads and Overcoming Motor Skill Obstacles

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Building a Road 

How Friendship Support is so important

So we are into transportation this month. We spent a solid hour building our own roads. The kids were eager to create. I witnessed a few special moments while doing this activity. About half way through my left handed daughter became exhausted with cutting and what she deemed to be cutting failures. She went to a place she rarely goes anymore... she shut down. A year ago this happened more frequently but more recently she seems to have developed the will to engage and lift herself out of the 'depths of despair', as Ann of Green Gables would say. It was during this moment that her best friend decided to support her. I had already said everything I could to make her feel better or offer her help. It took her peer's support with words like 'I have a hard time with that too, Myƫlle, You are doing a great job, It's also hard for me!' to cause her to pick up the scissors and try again. These moments can only happen when they are surrounded with other peer learners, something I'm so glad that she has been exposed to.

Fine Motor Frustration

We all know how to use scissors but imagine showing up at a job site where a task that is extremely complex and time consuming to you is shown to you so quickly that you feel as though completing your work load quickly will never happen. Motor skills can feel like this kind of a mountain to children. Adding right hand specific scissors for a very left handed child and the recipe for frustration is palpable. 

How MGT helps with this

  • Variety of materials. By using a variety of sensory materials in play, crafts and games, kids don't grow bored and are motivated to keep trying. They are too busy having fun to not try.
  • Providing daily opportunities. Kids are given opportunities to use glue, scissors, paint; squeezing, cutting, scribbling frequently allows them to build their muscles and endurance, building fine motor skills and readiness for the rigors of school.
  • Keeping it fun. Everything we do is play based. Even if the kids make a craft, most of the crafts we make are intended to be a temporary toy for extended learning and play. This makes increases motivation to complete the activity.
  • By including fine motor skills in other learning activities. For example, when the kids are sorting seeds they could easily use their fingers to do this but in order to provide an added challenge, tweezers our provided so the kids can hone their pincer grasp and practice a new fine motor skill while completing the activity.

Building it Themselves!

Last June during alphabet house, RV activity, I built roads for the kids to play with. When this particular day called for a similar activity I decided to leave the kids to it. This was a triumph of how much they've changed. Not only can they both use the tape by themselves without any problems but their collaboration, planning and team work in their road was truly the stuff of 4 year olds as apposed to when they were 3. Love these kids!

Every Milestone Matters

These emotional and motor skill milestones REALLY matter. It's helpful for me to reflect on that this week. I've been a little frustrated with myself that the kids done recognize the alphabet yet, my daugther can't write her name. I've had 2 kids start school now, I know that over time they WILL grow and learn and that any missing pieces of printing, literacy, numeracy can quickly fall into place in a classroom but the building blocks of social, emotional developing, use of their muscles in learning is also really important and counting these successes and taking a moment to be proud of them for the wonderful kids they are; the way the love to learn and care for each other, is so special.

Disclosure: I receive Mother Goose Time Curriculum free of charge for educational purposes in return for posting my honest experiences using the curriculum. Photos of children featured on my blog for review of Mother Goose Time are used with signed consent of the child's parents. I welcome any questions or concerns.

Pumpkin Patch Party to the Rescue

In Which I Lament the Pumpkin Woes of Northern Living

So if you use MGT, I'm sure, like me, you don't get to everything in the box each month. It's the friday before Halloween and I think 'We should carve pumpkins today.' I am brilliant! This is a fun thing to do before Halloween and our last day in daycare. Does the city of Dawson Creek, BC CANADA cooperate with me... NO! I remember that Walmart's final discounted pumpkin lot looked mushy so I beeline it over to No Frills Grocery pumpkins. I then proceed to Safeway cause Safeway, beautiful expensive luxurious Safeway ALWAYS has what I need. I get to Safeway latte in hand. Yes, things are looking up! Only the produce department seems devoid of pumpkins. I approach the nearest produce worker, 'Excuse me. Do you have any pumpkins?'
'No, I'm sorry mam but our produce shipment didn't arrive. I know that Co-op Grocery is out too. I've checked and there are no pumpkins left in town.'
Okay... I know I live in the frigid north but it isn't exactly the North Pole. Oddly their isn't even snow left sticking on the ground yet. An unusual occurrence for Halloween in city where parents veto costumes based on their thermal value and costumes with built in snow pants (elephant, astronaut, giant marshmallow) are a hot commodity...ok, so,  maybe it is a little North Pole-...ish... but we're talking a city over 10,000 and not a pumpkin in sight. I mean we can get a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks but not a pumpkin! I mean I SHOULD have taken them to the pumpkin patch but the farmers all pulled their pumpkins out by the end of September because it is the frigid north and they will turn to pumpkin soup if left in the field...But, like my tardy pumpkin purchase attempt, I seem to have missed the boat... No pumpkins... I hang my head. With a personality like mine. I am devastated. How do I move on? How to bounce back and save Halloween.

I get home and dig through my In the Orchard box from Mother Goose Time hoping my MGT fairy god mother will jump out with pumpkins and find my 'Pumpkin Patch Party.' I am SAVED!

So... we didn't get to carve pumpkins. But we did get to pin the patch on a scare crow and make these cute paper bag jack-o-lanterns. (Side note, I am thankful cause this is way less messy.)

Thank you Mother Goose Time

Disclosure: I receive Mother Goose Time Curriculum free of charge for educational purposes in return for posting my honest experiences using the curriculum. Photos of children featured on my blog for review of Mother Goose Time are used with signed consent of the child's parents. I welcome any questions or concerns.

Early Literacy with Mother Goose Time

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Linking Literacy Through Games

As a parent one thing I'm learning is not to stress when one of my kids does something or, more often, is not doing something yet. Some kids potty train at 1 others at 2 and beyond. Some of my friends claim to have potty trained their kids at 6 months! In resisting the temptation to compare we enjoy our kids and the phase that they are in now. The more I enjoy engaging with them, the faster they catch on and develop. In this way of peaceful teaching, kids grow well.
This is no less true with literacy. When I sit down with my 4-year-olds one can write his name, the other can't. One catches on to the concept of words and learns site words quickly the other seems more interested in the pictures and abstract concepts around the book then actually learning how to read a word or what sounds letters makes. It's tempting to not become frustrated. MGT gently guides us into learning and allows me to teach using fun games like this one to introduce the phonetic alphabet.

This game was simple and fun. The kids enjoyed using the spinner and it increased their interest in the letters. The pictures made the connection between the starting sound of each pictured object and it's letter. I love that we only focus on 3 letters each month so that the kids can really begin to work on recognizing them and picking them out.

Take Home Books

Another way the kids are becoming more excited about reading is through our monthly reading books. Each book focuses on 3 site words and the kids really take ownership of these books, packing them in the backpacks to read again at home for 'homework',

Group Craft With the Older Kids

Monday and Tuesday the older kids had no school so there were 6 kids of varying age groups to keep busy. As much as my grade 1 and 2's don't like to be caught doing 'preschool', they really do love doing group crafts with Mother Goose Time. On this day we made porcupine stick puppets. The older ones enjoyed making them and, as usual, the 4-year-olds love making them so that they can play with them. They took their puppets into the basement to make a burrow for them and spent a solid hour playing porcupines.... LOVE!

Disclosure: I receive Mother Goose Time Curriculum free of charge for educational purposes in return for posting my honest experiences using the curriculum. Photos of children featured on my blog for review of Mother Goose Time are used with signed consent of the child's parents. I welcome any questions or concerns.

Building an Early Learning Library
With Mother Goose Time

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Welcome to Beautiful Mess; thanks for joining me today. This week I had... no daycare kids!!! This really never happens. Somehow my week felt oddly hollow, but I took advantage of the time to catch up on some 'mom' tasks that I had been falling behind on (Can you say HUGE mountain of laundry and clothes sorting. I'm talking we have enough clothes to cloth our family 2 times over. The excess was getting out of control.)
With no daycare this week we took a break from preschool activities, so this week I'm going to share some stuff from out side of our weekly learning.

We've been using Mother Goose Time preschool at home for just about 6 months now. I wanted to show you how quickly a a specialized Early Learning library can build.

In this post I'm going to be sharing 3 libraries and one resource, our Book Library, our Music Library and our Manipulative Library. I will also be sharing our Baseline Assessment resource.

Book Library

Each month our box comes with printed book that goes along with the monthly theme. I hunted high and low for our Goldilocks and the Three Bears book but it is missing at the moment, so it is not featured in the pictures. This books are amazing. They vary from month to month.

 Growing Gardens featured a joke book

Alphabet House was our Goldilocks book 

Nature Detectives was a non-fiction books featuring beautiful close up photos of textures and patterns found in nature.

Fables and Folktales book went directly with the theme and featured stories with a moral lesson.

Friends and Feelings was a book centered around a math story (think the show Peg and Cat0

In the Orchards book was Johnny Appleseed (another personal favourite for me)


We keep these books together on our sling bookshelf whenever we don't have library books withdrawn. When we do have library books out, our MGT books get safely stored in my teachers cabinet and library books only go on the sling shelf. This way the kids don't get bored of the MGT books because we don't see them all the time. The monthly theme book gets pulled up as needed with our learning plan.

Music Library

Each month comes with an original music CD to go along with the theme. This is no low budget production. The song writing and musicianship is exceptional. If you've visited our Preschool blog before, you will hear me often talk about how the kids do a big part of their learning through the music. The songs are catchy and incredibly singable.
The music genres are also eclectic. I never get sick of a overtly childish please-don't-play-that-song-again-or-I-might-barf style of music.

Circle Time - These songs are songs used continuously through the months for the kids to sing along to.
I tend to use my voice alone as it's easier to follow than the instrumental music for some parts of circle time, but it's a great option if you have no music background/ can't carry a tune.

Growing Gardens - Rock inspired music
The Alphabet House - Electric Pop inspired music
Nature Detectives - Jazz inspired music
Fables and Folktales - Audio Stories (that went with the book) and Instrumental songs
Friends and Feelings - Acoustic Pop inspired music
In the Orchard - Folk inspired music (my favourite)

Developing An Ear for Music

Music is very important in our house, which is why we have a whole room of our house just for our instruments.  Imparting a passion for music to my kids is very important to me. I have my favourite styles of music but i think exposure to different styles of music; rock, folk, country, classical, opera, pop etc. helps develop their ear. By that I mean their technical ear. They are exposed to different meters, rhythms, vocal styles. Kids will naturally gravitate to what moves them but they will also broaden their ear to the language of music and artistic expression the more chance they are given.

Art is like a language and the more children are exposed to the arts in their full spectrum the more they learn the language of art. We know through research that children's minds are at a critical age for acquiring language at a much faster rate than adults. Exposing them to the full spectrum of language through music even across cultures is part of a complete education.


We keep the CD's i their original packaging in a silver bucket on the bookshelf below the CD player. I want them to get listened to but also want them kept in one spot. When they are not being used, they also go into my teaching cabinet.

Manipulative Library

I would be hard pressed if I had ever to set out to create this manipulative library on my own. Not only that, it would have been EXPENSIVE. Many of the manipulative sets we receive cannot be picked up at any store in town. I've even been hard pressed to find the exact same sets on specialty education websites.


Counting and Sorting Manipulatives

We have several sets of counting and sorting manipulatives:
Counting Rabbits (I like that their are two sizes of rabbits in this set which allows them to sort by size as well)
Counting Buses
Counting Glass Beads
Counting Sticks
Seed Collection

Our counting manipulatives have also been used as weights for science experiments or used in imaginative play.

Shape Manipulatives

We have several shape sets that we use on our monthly shape maps, to create images and patterns. 
One set of Pattern Blocks
One set of Multi-style Tangrams
One set of Transparent Shapes (Can be used on a light table)
One set (combined from many little sets) of foam shape tiles

Sensory Manipulatives

Several of the sets mentioned above fall into the category of promoting sensory development. Sets of sensory manipulatives would be easy to create from simple craft supplies at the dollar store or found in nature like feathers, pine cones, seeds, moss, leaves, twigs, cotton balls, and pebbles.

Foam Shapes
Transparent Shapes
Seed Collection

We use these for counting and other creative play. For my toddlers, part of discovery begins with a variety of tactile materials to touch and interact with.

Card Sets

Alphabet Cards
Number Cards with dice dot formations on reverse
Shape Cards

We use these for various interactive games. I especially love the dice dot counting cards. I love when I am able to introduce the preschoolers to things that I see my Kindergarten kids coming home with. I feel like it's giving them a head start. Kindergarten kids use dot patterns in their first math and numeracy skills.


These manipulative sets are stored in bins in my teaching cupboard. I pull out each set on it's own. We use it and then store it. Or sometimes I will set it up as a station for them to explore on their own.

Baseline Assessment Resource

MGT provides this tool which can be used in correspondence with marked exercises in the teacher guide on an ongoing basis to assess each child's scale. The purpose of assessment here is aimed at the teacher rather than the child. By monitoring each child's starting skills and growth a teacher can cater the curriculum to expanding each child's skills as well as mark improvement on those skills. It's a starting point and a root system for further growth. Here's a snap shot of what it looks like. I will feature a blog later on that shows how we use it and how it is working for us.

Disclosure: I receive Mother Goose Time Curriculum free of charge for educational purposes in return for posting my honest experiences using the curriculum. Photos of children featured on my blog for review of Mother Goose Time are used with signed consent of the child's parents. I welcome any questions or concerns.

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