Friday, February 11, 2011

Learning by Heart – week 15

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”
– Henry Ward Beecher

~M is 4 years old~


Sewing buttons – M watched me hand sew a quick repair job on his pillow several days ago, and was very, very interested.  So I set out this little button sewing activity for him:sewing buttons activity set up 

He used an embroidery needle and yarn to sew the buttons onto the cotton fabric.  Here’s how it turned out:buttons sewn on to fabric in a hoop He did a great job and really enjoyed it too.  He had to hang it in the window for the “birdies to see”. {Sigh – we have too many things hanging in our windows for just this reason.  We honestly can barely see out of a few, but it’s hard to take things down!}


Tying knots – this was supposed to be for knot-tying practice:knotting board 1

knotting board 2I thought M would love this, but no.  He was disappointed that it wasn’t a lacing card and didn’t have a picture on it.  Then he asked for train lacing cards, so I have made some for next week. (I would just let him use my shoes for knot practice.  I know he would love that, but I’m really not interested in untying knots in my shoes!  I’ll have to find an old pair somewhere.  Or maybe Daddy’s shoes. :) )


Pipeline Game – I found this several months ago at a thrift store, and I put it out on M’s shelves once in a while as a fine motor work.  This time we actually played the game, several times, and it’s a lot of fun.  There is a die to roll that tells you what shape pipe you get and the goal is to create a pipeline from your starting side to the opposite side of the board.  Your opponent can block you and “cap” your pipeline, and then you have to start over.  It really is a lot of fun and we’ve all been enjoying it (too bad I don’t have an action shot!):Pipeline board game 


Design and Drill this is a new, great little activity for M.  The drill really works, and has 3 bits that go with it, all of which work on the included bolts.  That’s neat in and of itself, but there are also 20+ designs included; M picks one, then puts out all the bolts needed, drills them in, then un-drills them and starts over again.  It’s neat because he has to mentally transfer the design from the card to the board (usually by counting each row to see how many blank spaces there are before the first bolt):Design and Drill


Picture Pies – these are from a great little book titled, Picture Pie by Ed Emberley; you can make almost anything by cutting out a circle, then cutting it into a variety of shapes.  I’ve been choosing a design from the book, then drawing the circles and cutting lines for M, and giving him a small drawing showing how to put the pieces together, or simply showing him the design in the book.  This week he did a bird and a mouse:Picture Pies - set up

Cutting lines on the back of patterned paper  image image I think these will be a feature on his shelves many times in the weeks to come!


Biggie Fuse Beads these were a hit again, as always.  This time, M came up with his own designs, then took a lot of care in getting it “just right” on the peg board.  Here is a car he made, with a road beneath it and sky (with clouds) above it.  You can see the seat and the steering wheel too. :)biggie bead car         




Math Skills:

We haven’t done much in the way of Math, although I do think the Picture Pies and Design and Drill mentioned above definitely qualify as math activities.

This week I tried to help M understand why teens look the way they do – he can count to 100, but he is having trouble identifying written numerals.  He’ll say “two, five” instead of “twenty-five”.  (Small digression here – when I say he’s having trouble, I mean it is troubling him that he can’t identify them; I honestly have no problem with it and know that he’ll eventually get it, but since it’s something he’s interested in learning, I’m happy to help him out a bit.)

I printed out some number cards (I can make these available as a printable file if anyone is interested – let me know!), and grabbed our homemade Montessori bead bars.

First We put a ten bead bar to the left and a single digit bead bar to the right (4 is pictured here).  Then we took the 10 card (which he can identify) and placed it above the appropriate bead bar, and did the same with the 4 card:bead bars and number cards 

Then we “chugga-chugga-choo-chooed” our bead bars together, and counted them – fourteen!

Then we “chugga-chugga-choo-chooed” our number cards together and I showed M how to place the 4 on top of the 0 so that it was right over the 4 bead bar, and the 1 (for 1 ten bead bar) was right over the 10 bead bar:forming double-digit numbers 

Fourteen beads to count, and the number 14 to show it.  We did this with all the teens, and I then showed him how 20 is simply 2 10 bead bars.  It was much simpler to do this than it sounds in writing it all out! :)

He got it, but was ready to quit at 20.  I can’t tell yet whether this really sunk in or not, but the chugga-chugga-choo-chooing was pretty fun. :)


Literacy Skills


M is all about rhyming now, so I stuck the following letter magnets to the side of our dishwasher:rhyming with magnetic lettersWe sounded out ‘at’, then picked a couple of the other letters to place in front of the ‘at’ and had fun making up rhymes –”the cat sat on the bat under the mat and gave him a pat” and that sort of thing. :)


More Rhyming:

I grabbed a little bowl full of miniature objects and we took turns closing our eyes while the other one picked an object and hid it in their hands.  The person with the hidden object had to give rhymes as clues to help the other person guess the hidden object.  rhyming gameI was surprised that M had trouble making rhymes for words that had more than one syllable.  He always tried to make a rhyme for just the first syllable and nothing for the rest of the word, which made my guessing pretty difficult sometimes. :)  Also, a couple of times I tried to give him hints with the beginning letter and a rhyme, like “it starts with ‘z’ and rhymes with ‘bebra’” and this just completely floored him, hee hee.  We’ll play this again some time; it will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Spelling and Letter Formation:

One day M got out a bunch of toothpicks and wrote his name with them.  This was completely on his own, and he was really very proud of himself:spelling with toothpicksYes, it’s backwards.  Totally backwards.  This didn’t bother him, but he did tell me that it was too hard to make “baby” letters with toothpicks, so he decided to make most of them “mama” letters.  I think it’s interesting that he has picked up on the fact that only the first letter of his name should be upper case, and I’m just a tiny bit worried about the backwards thing. 

I will be posting about our science experiment of the week on Sunday – don’t miss it! :)

I’m linking this post up to Preschool Corner, Friday Wrap Up,and Weekly Wrap-Up; be sure to check them out!

Have a beautiful day! :)



  1. What great activities! I love the toothpick letters!

  2. So many awesome activities! You gave me some good ideas for games to buy!

  3. You always have such fun activities! Knot tying... I don't think we're anywhere near that yet, but maybe we'll give it a try. I love the rhyming bowl game! I'm not sure I've tried rhyming multi-syllable words with Sam. Hmm. As for the toothpick name writing, I know it's normal for kids to reverse letters at this age, but not sure about whole words.. He was probably just concentrating really hard on the letters. Looks like it was a great week!

  4. I loved the tying activity, so simple to create, but I never would have thought of it. Thanks for sharing.
    (Visiting from Preschool Corner)

  5. I love the idea of button sewing and know tying - I want to try both with Anna. I also like how you introduced 2 digit numbers - very clever.

  6. I agree that he did a good job on the sewing. I used to love doing the fuse beads

  7. Hahaha, connor sometimes writes his name completely backwards too! Its normal for their age. Its called mirroring or something i think?


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