Stuffed Turkeys

Here is one of my favourite crafts to do around Thanksgiving time and it makes a great center piece when it is all done.  For step by step directions, click here.IMG_2640

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Developing fine motor skills through play

Fine motor night activities

When a student starts kindergarten and has a hard time holding a pencil or printing his/her name, many of my parents are very keen and willing to help out at home in any way they know how.  They usually offer to do things like printing practice or buy workbooks and are open to any other suggestions I may have to help their child.  I often find myself repeating to parent after parent that, ironically, printing practice is often one of the least effective ways to help kindergarten students who are struggling, improve their printing.  In order to print (or draw, paint, cut, etc.) effectively, students need to have developed hand dominance as well as good muscle strength and control in their shoulders, hands and fingers.  There are many simple things parents can be do with their children to help develop these muscles.

This year in order to help our parents best help their children at home, we decided to try something new.  We held a parent and student evening workshop, by invitation only, targeting our students who were most in need of extra support and practice.  We had an amazingly positive response.

We started the evening in one classroom with the parents while their children played next door.  Parents were all given this “Developing Fine Motor Skills” handout and we discussed some of the simple things they could do at home with their children to develop hand dominance, shoulder stabilization, hand and finger strength and finally, better fine motor control.  After our short presentation, children were given a passport and were asked to complete at least 5 of the 12 stations with their parents.  Parents had the job of identifying how each of the activities they completed helped develop fine motor skills (they could refer to their handout if needed!).

Once done, students could turn in their passport for a goodie bag that was full of fine motor activities to do at home.  The pictures below show the goodie bags we created for each student.

OT Night - goodie bag      OT Night - Goodie bag 2b

At the end of the evening, students left excited by the chance they had to play with their parents at school and parents left with a better understanding of simple things they could do at home to help their child.

Top 10 arrrrr-t and craft activities to do as you set sail on your next pirate adventure

10. Pirate hats – Print and copy the pirate hat template from www.learningenglish-esl.blogspot.ca  on 8.5″ x 14″ paper.  Once students have coloured and cut out their hats, staple them in the middle of a 2″ x 24″ strip, leaving about 2″ of the hat brim unattached on each side.  Fit to each student’s head and staple strip into a loop.

Pirate hat1

9. Eye patches – These super quick and easy!  All you need is a small piece of paper, some string and some tape.  I make a patch tracer out of cardboard for my students to use as tracing is a great 2-handed activity for developing hand dominance and building fine motor skills.

eye patch

8. Hooks – Roll a 12″ piece of tinfoil up, squeeze it to form a tight “rod” and shape that rod into a hook. Take a cup (we used black paper cups here) and cut an “X” in the bottom.  Push about 3″ of the tinfoil hook through the “X ” in the cup to create a “handle” to hold on to on the inside of the cup.

Hook

7. Telescopes – All you need for this is a paper towel roll, some paint, glitter and some white glue.  For this one, I mixed the white glue into the yellow paint so that students could dip the ends of their telescope into glitter (and have it stick) once they are done painting.

Telescope

6. Noodle necklaces & tin foil earrings – Every good pirate needs some jewels.  Our pirates hang their tin foil loop earrings around their ear with an elastic band and we use dyed pasta to make our necklaces.  When doing threading activities with string, try wrapping masking tape around the end of the string to prevent fraying.  To learn how to dye pasta, click here.

Pirate necklace

5. Treasure maps – Have students draw their treasure maps with wax crayons.  When they are done drawing, have them paint their maps with watered down brown paint, then rinse them in a bucket (or sink of water) and then leave to dry.  (You can also dye them using tea however they need to soak in the tea for a while and this can be less efficient if you are working with a classroom of children).  Once dry, my students crumpled them up to make them look really old and some added little rips around the edges.

Treasure Map

4. Paper bag treasure chests – These are quite simple to do.  For complete instructions, please click here.

Treasure chest

3.  Salt dough treasure – Make salt dough.  Have students roll the dough and cut it into circles (we use water glasses).  Texture and details can beaded to the “treasure” using things like thread spools, screws, nuts and bolts, nails, etc.  Once cooked, paint with gold acrylic paint and finish with glitter.  Once dry, put them in your paper bag treasure chest for safe keeping!Treasure

2. Pirate pastel pictures – Once we have done lots of pirate crafts and built our pirate language and vocabulary, we transfer this knowledge to drawing pirates.  Before we go to paper, we do guided drawing activities on white boards.  I give my students big paper (12″ X 18″) to draw on and we use oil pastels to colour them (Kindergarten students have great success with pastels and love the ease of adding bright colours to their art work).

Pirate pastel pictures

1. Pirate ship pencil drawings – After you have looked at pictures of pirate ships in books (or online) with your students, brainstorm all the things that a pirate ship needs.  Give them a big piece of paper (about 16″ x 24″) and have them draw a ship with as many details as possible (we will also do guided drawing before we go to paper).  It is amazing what they can do when they have a big piece of paper to draw on.

Pirate ship 3

Pirate Ship

Halloween crafts for early learners

I love Halloween for doing crafts with my kinders.  It seems that my boys (who are often the ones needing more exposure and practice with activities involving tracing, cutting, threading, etc.) are often very motivated and interested in practicing these skills when they involve bats, spiders or anything else Halloween.

Here are my top 5 favourite Halloween crafts for early learners (click for instructions):

#5 – Five Little Pumpkins

#4 – Pumpkin Sewing

#3 – Black Cats

#2 – Spider Webs

And my #1 favourite Halloween craft……Pop Can Bats

Do you have a different favourite Halloween craft for early learners?  If yes, please share your favourite below.