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Take The Stress Out of Summer Writing

My twins are officially preschool graduates and moving on to Kindergarten. I have so many mixed emotions. On the one hand I am so proud of their hard work and excited to watch their next steps, and on the other hand I am emotional about them growing up way too fast. We are now on summer break and as much as I would like to just relax we still have some work to do.

During the Kindergarten screening it was recognized my kids still need help with their hand writing. I am not surprised as they had occupational therapy for two years before I extended an extra year of preschool. Even though they continued to work on their hand writing skills through their preschool program, they still need a little help.

If it were up to me to teach them to write I might lose my mind. Despite receiving therapy to help them develop their writing skills, and physical therapy to strengthen them up, they have zero focus when writing. They like to sing and dance and tell stories between writing each letter. Writing one single word can take FOR EVER!

This morning was entirely too frustrating for all of us. My girls simply had to fill in the blank with one word and somehow one of them wound up in tears. I know this should not be stressful if I want them to be successful. I immediately contacted local mom and Occupational Therapist Heather White. She gave me some really great tips for keeping my girls focused while working on their letters.

HELP KIDS FOCUS

  1. Have your child sit on a yoga ball so they can wiggle while they work.
  2. Give them a crunchy snack to eat while writing. Pretzels and carrot sticks are great!
  3. Limit handwriting practice to 5 minutes a day – 10 minutes maximum. You can incorporate handwriting in other tasks throughout the day, but don’t do more than 10 minutes of super focused handwriting work.
  4. Let your child help you with writing tasks like writing the grocery list, addressing envelopes or writing out the schedule for the day. If they feel like their work is useful and helpful, they’re more inclined to do it. Plus it gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership.

yoga ball

MAKE IT FUN

  1. Start a local pen pal group. Round up some local kids, young cousins, grandparents or close neighbors to exchange letters with throughout the summer.
  2. Have your child write a letter to their favorite Disney Character, The President of The United States, or NASA requesting a return letter.
  3. Have your child make birthday cards for friends and help them sign their own name.
  4. Have your child send a thank you card for gifts.
  5. Have your child journal their experiences through summer. Keep it brief to one or two sentences.

 

child-865116_640

You can use ergonomic pencil grips that help position your child’s fingers properly, and angled writing surfaces such as a 3 ring binder to help with writing mechanics and minimize frustrations.

Heather assures me that most kids entering Kindergarten are still learning to master their writing skills. Part of Kindergarten education is learning how to write and most kids catch up before you know it. Knowing that my kids are on par with their peers is helpful. Practicing a little bit throughout the summer will help them from back sliding before school starts; and making it fun guarantees less tears in the process.

Heather White is a Registered and Licensed Occupational Therapist and is available to help your child through the summer. Please send inquires to heatherbwhite@gmail.com  for more information and rates.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

Homemade playdough

When my kids were toddlers I was very weary of letting them use store bought play dough. I know it says it’s not toxic, but my fear of them taking a giant bite out of a colorful pretend cookie kept me from purchasing.  I found this fabulous recipe and now I’m sharing with all of you! Every ingredient is edible which makes it safe and digestible should any of it find your toddlers mouth. Using Kool Aid gives the dough vibrant colors and it will smell amazing!

Ingredients:

2 Cups flour

½ Cup salt

1 packet of Kool Aid

1 Cup boiling water (I ran my tap until the water was at its hottest)

3 Tablespoons oil (Sunflower, or Vegetable works best)

Instructions:

Mix the flour, salt and Kool Aid together first.  Next, add oil to the boiling water before pouring into the bowl. The fun part is watching the colors magically appear.

Stir all ingredients together until it resembles crumbles. That’s when it’s time for all hands on deck! Everyone can take turns kneading the dough until it becomes a smooth ball.

play dough crumbles

Store the dough in an air tight container, or plastic baggie. I found these adorable boxes with clip top lids at the Dollar Tree.

play dough boxes2

That’s it! You’re done. You can use whatever cookie cutters you have on hand, or the kitchen rolling pin. All of the ingredients are food products, so no worries of contaminating your kitchen gadgets with chemicals. The kids can go play while you cleanup and maybe take a few sips of coffee while it’s hot.

If your child is gluten free I’ve got you covered! I found this recipe for Gluten Free Edible Playdough at Fun At Home with Kids. I might try it just for fun with the kids. It’s always nice to have alternatives.

So, if you’re looking for a fun, easy and inexpensive project with the kiddos this is it! Your little ones can learn to scoop, measure and mix. There is a wonderful sensory component to kneading the dough and of course the power of using their imaginations will keep them entertained for just a little while.

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

 

3 fun ways edit

Let me start this post with a confession: once the kids go back to school I kind of go on auto pilot with the whole educational crafting at home thing. I feel like I did my due diligence and picked just the right school for them with teachers who are way more patient…er um, qualified than I am. My kids really truly love going to school. They also love to match colors, sort things and use scissors (which are kept under lock and key). Even after 3 hours of learning at school they like to come home to play with puzzles, string beads and make (ugh) more art projects.

Now that they are learning to write their names and draw shapes, it’s time for my kids to hone those fine motor skills. Those are the skills that help them write, use scissors, buttons and zippers, etc. So, I took their love of colors and matching and made these fun activities for them using some (FREE) paint swatches from the hard ware store.

MATERIALS:

All the materials you need to make the 3 activities below.

All the materials you need to make the 3 activities below.

2 matching sets of swatches. I selected each color of the rainbow.

Liquid glue

Scissors

Clothe’s pins

Contact paper (optional)

 

COLOR MATCHING

A rainbow of colors ready for matching.

A rainbow of colors ready for matching.

My mom actually helped me make these. She did it really quick while watching TV with the kids. What? I had my hands full potty training twins and, she had a couple of extra free hands so I put her to work.

Cut thin strips from each color on the color swatch- as wide as your clothes pin. Next, glue the strip onto clothes pin. Once everything dries kids can match the color on the pin to the color on the swatch. Like this:

Kids can clip matching colors onto the swatch.

Kids can clip matching colors onto the swatch.

 

SCISSOR SKILLS

Help kids cut on white line separating the colors.

Help kids cut on white line separating the colors.

This one really requires little or no effort on your part. Just supervision with the scissors. It’s all fun and games until someone’s bangs go missing. Help your kids hold the swatch and cut on the white line between colors.- great practice for developing scissor skills.

 

SPELLING & HANDWRITING

Laminating swatches ensures several uses.

Laminating swatches ensures several uses.

I laminated my swatch strips for durability and so we can use a washable dry erase marker on them. Confession #2: I do not own a laminate machine. I used clear contact paper. Yes, you can use clear contact paper in place of laminate for many projects. We pull out a laminated swatch and I write the letters on each square and help the girls spell the names of the colors, then help them trace the letters.

Laminating with contact paper is easy to do.

Simply cut contact paper to size of item you are covering.

Simply cut contact paper to size of item you are covering.

Cut a second piece to cover your items with and smooth with hand.

Cut a second piece to cover your items with and smooth with hand.

The key to using contact paper as laminate is to move slowly, and smooth out any air bubbles as you go. This faux-laminate is durable enough to withstand the pull of Velcro for any projects with removable pieces.

Wondering what else you can make with color swatches from the hardware store? Check out a few of my favorite finds:

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