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Oh, These Are the Shapes in Our Neighbourhood….

Goodness me!  We have come to the last day of the entire Clever Clovers curriculum!  It has been a wonderful 3 months – thank you for sharing in on our experiences!  I have had several emails from our readers asking when the next program, Reaching Roses, will be ready for purchase.  I apologize, but it is not quite ready for publication yet! I am going to release it in two parts (because this stage of developmental growth is 6 months long; 18-24 months).  Some of you don’t need 6 months of activity plans, so I am going to release it in two, 3 month packages.  The first package will be ready ASAP….  and I will start the Reaching Roses program with my girls on Monday.  I am looking forward to working with a new set of skills and objectives.

On alternating Fridays I blog about our final activity (starring my twin babies)

This week’s Theme: Basic Shapes

Activity Description: Go on a photo scavenger hunt in your neighbourhood to find shapes.  Take at least 4 pictures of each shape and make a “My Neighbourhood Shapes” book with the pictures you take.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language, cognitive, creative, gross motor, fine motor, social

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 18 months + 1 week

1. As a precursor to the project, I explained that we would go for a walk and try to find shapes so we can take pictures of them.

2. Off we went!  As we walked, I pointed out shapes to reiterate what our purpose was.  From then on I would ask, “Can you find a triangle?, for example.  It ended up being that I pointed out all of the shapes we found (except for one).  They would repeat what I said and sometimes trace the object with their fingers.  They really enjoyed interacting with the objects (though sometimes it wasn’t possible).

Circles:

Pedestrian crossing button

Pedestrian crossing button

M presses the button

M presses the button

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water sprinkler

Water sprinkler

Tail pipe on a truck

Tail pipe on a truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I asked, "can you find a circle?" She brought me this and said "kerkel"!

When I asked, “Can you find a circle?” M brought me this and said “kerkel”!

I'm not exactly sure what it is, though it fell from a tree.

I’m not exactly sure what it is, though it fell from a tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stars: (we only found two so I will add a couple of pictures from our home)

Movie theater

Movie theatre

Hub cap

Hub cap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squares:

Street sign

Street sign

Somebody's driveway

Somebody’s driveway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are these things anyway?  I've always though telephone or electrical wires.

What are these things anyway? I’ve always thought telephone or electrical wires.

Somebody's window

Somebody’s window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triangles:

3. Now it’s time to make the book (P.S. This template I made is provided in the curriculum. Just add your own pictures!) Visit our shop!

book coverpages of book 1pages of book 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Last but not least, print, laminate, staple and enjoy reading it together!

…Near the beginning you will see M patting her head (she’s communicating that in the picture she is wearing a hat) also she starts saying “beep beep”, this is indicating that she sees the pedestrian crossing button that she pressed and heard a “beep”.  O quite enjoyed the book also but was not keen on the video camera so you don’t see much of her.

Want to see other culminating projects from the Clever Clovers curriculum? Click here. 

Mindful Squares

We are continuing with the Basic Shapes activity plan from Clever Clovers.  The activity we are sharing today is one that I feel is very important and thus aligns closely with my philosophy of education.  Please take a look!

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Clever Clovers curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Basic Shapes

Activity Description Mindful Square: Using tape, mark out squares on the floor for each member of the family (who will be present at the time of activity).  Ring a bell and sit up straight and quietly in the square.  Do this activity daily and try to lengthen the amount of sitting time day by day.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Emotional

Specific Skill: Self – awareness

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 18 months + 1 week

Today was not the first time we did this activity (we started about a week and a half ago).  So I will write a little about how I introduced them to the mindful square.

1. I showed them the squares on the floor.  We talked about the colour of the tape and tried to trace the squares with our hands and feet.  (Place the squares in a quiet, comfy area of your home)

Mindful squares for sitting in

Mindful squares for sitting in

2. I showed them a picture of Padmasambhava (part of our spiritual practice) and explained that he is gentle and kind – you can use any spiritual image that is important to you BUT, please know that you do not need to have any image and you don’t have to associate this activity with religion or spiritual practice for it to be of benefit.

Our mindful area

Our mindful area

3. I introduced the bell by saying “bell” and ringing it.  They loved it!  I told them to listen to the sound, I let them have a chance to hold and ring the bell.

Our bell

Our bell

M tests out the bell

M tests out the bell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Next, I explained that when we hear the bell, we will stop what we are doing and come to sit in the square.

5. I rang the bell and modelled sitting in the square quietly and invited them to join me.

6. Then we played a little game where I would give them a task (dance, jump, play) and I would ring the bell indicating that they should stop and come sit in the square quietly.

7. Now that they understand, I ring the bell at random times throughout the day:

    • In the morning for our morning prayers & mantra chanting
    • When I hear them fighting
    • When I see them get overtly frustrated with something or having a tantrum
    • When it occurs to me (practicing MY mindfulness)
    • This can also be done on the hour or half-hour (or any regular interval of time) – And in a classroom

8. During the subsequent days we have been working on sitting up straight with legs crossed, our hands on our knees, very quietly, and focusing on the image or closing our eyes. (It’s so cute, they can close their eyes on command but only for about 1 second, and they really have to focus to do it).  I have extended the sitting time day by day.  (The main objective is to get them to sit quietly for a given length of time).

O & M sitting mindfully

O & M sitting mindfully

O focusing on posture, M focusing on the image

O closes her eyes, M focuses on the image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O focuses on her posture and sitting position

O focuses on her posture and sitting position

8. Eventually I will take away the squares and add little meditation pillows; this activity will evolve to guided mediation.

 

See us in action!

What is Mindfulness?

Good question!  And let me assure you, that I am no expert on the topic.  Much has been written about it but I chose to share this simple definition with you (from an on-line dictionary): “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment”.

How is Mindfulness Beneficial to Learning?

Here is an excerpt from a book entitled “Planting Seeds” by Thich Nhat Hanh:  “Mindfulness is an essential educational tool because it develops attention, emotional & cognitive understanding, and bodily awareness & coordination, as well as interpersonal awareness & skills.  Also, being mindful diminishes stress, anxiety and hostility; enhancing our total well-being.  Often the focus of education systems is on competitive performance, with little emphasis on social and emotional learning.  While it is important to teach the key academic skills, it is critical to focus on helping children develop emotional stability and social tolerance.  Mindfulness is a powerful tool to help children develop the skills to promote peace in themselves and in the world around them”.

To me, everything is possible from that point forward.

And remember………

To successfully share mindfulness with children, you must first practice it yourself.  Your presence, your calm, and your peace are the biggest gifts you can offer to your children and students.  

A Room with a (Square) View

Happy Monday!  We are moving into our second week with the Simple Shapes activity plan and today we did some artwork with squares!  It is sort of inspired by Piet MondrianIt was simple and as always, fun, fun, fun!  Lots of opportunity to talk about squares!  Tempera paint washes easily off the windows (so don’t worry about that).

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Clever Clovers curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Basic Shapes

Activity Description Window Art: Use painter’s tape to mark out a lattice of squares (you can make them different sizes).  Using tempera paint, encourage your baby to paint in the squares with a paint brush or sponge.  Before drying completely, peel off the tape to reveal all of the squares.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Creative

Specific Skill: Experiment with colour

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 18 months + 1 week

1. As an introduction we reviewed the four shapes and sang one of the songs from the Clever Clovers activity plan.  Then we started the activity!

Preparation:

  • Tape out squares on the window (we had some rectangles too)
  • Prepare the paint
  • Prepare your baby and the painting area for mess (smocks, cloths, etc.)
Taped out canvas

Taped out canvas

Paint & sponges

Paint & sponges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O & M with smocks

O & M with smocks on

Painting:

  • I demonstrated one square first
  • I had them take turns for the first few squares (so they could watch each other and I could manage the mess if needed)
  • They did well with the initial painting so I let them paint together on their own with little input from me
O gets some paint on her sponge

O gets some paint on her sponge

O chooses a square to paint

O chooses a square to paint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M's turn to "dip, dip"

M’s turn to “dip, dip”

M starts to paint

M starts to paint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy dares to let us loose

Mommy dares to let us loose

Both painting away

Both painting away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is fun!

This is fun!

Well done!

Well done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting finished!

Painting finished!

 

Final Touches:

  • Peel off the tape (before it gets too dry)
  • Fill in the lines with black paint (if desired)
O starts the peel

O starts the peel

O thinks this is the best part yet

O thinks this is the best part yet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M does some peeling

M does some peeling

O takes off the last piece

O takes off the last piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squares!

Taa Daa! Squares!

 

Mommy adds the black lines

Mommy adds the black lines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking ’bout Squares:

M points to the "skare"

M points to the “skare”

O points out more squares

O points out more squares

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for some other notable moments…..

O is seriously unimpressed with her choice of lipstick...I told her not to eat it!

O is seriously unimpressed with her choice of lipstick…I told her not to eat the paint!

I have a bad habit of rolling my eyes.  My reward for this behaviour is my 1.5 year old daughter making this face when I ask her to smile.

I have a bad habit of rolling my eyes. My reward for this behaviour is my 1.5 year old daughter making this face when I ask her to smile…or do any other number of things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for other “shapes” activities? Click here.

Get Face to Face with Triangles

Hi everybody!  We are continuing with the Simple Shapes activity plan and today is all about triangles.  I made each triangle out of foam because I figured they would be eaten and squished – which they were.  Excuse my drawings…art was never my best subject!

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Clever Clovers curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Basic Shapes

Activity Description Triangle Faces: Make some faces out of triangle shapes (instead of the typical circle).  Draw on faces showing different basic emotions (happy, sad, angry, silly).  Hold up the triangle and make the face also.  Encourage your baby to mimic.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Emotional

Specific Skill: Beginning to identify different feelings

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 18 months

1. As an introduction we reviewed the four shapes and sang one of the songs from the Clever Clovers activity plan.

2. Next, I held up each individual triangle, named the emotion and made an exaggerated facial expression to match.

I'm calling these emotricons..get it?

I’m calling these “emotricons”..get it?

3. Finally, one at a time, I asked them to mimic the facial expression I was making.  We had so much fun doing this that I couldn’t even get good pictures of them because we were all giggling so hard.  (They were giggling at the faces they were making, and I was giggling at them giggling).

Angry

Angry

O's angry face (the wagging finger means "no!")

O’s angry face -the wagging finger means “no!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy

Happy

M's happy face

M’s happy face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silly

Silly

O's silly face!

O’s silly face!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sad

Sad

O doing a sad face, M laughing at her

O doing a sad face, M laughing at her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revision:

This activity also afforded us the opportunity to review vocabulary and concepts from three other Clever Clovers activity plans (Colours, Parts of the Face and Counting).  This idea of bringing language/concepts forward as they are learned are integral to the curriculum and to language learning. – (See: Bringing Language Forward, pg.4 of the Clever Clovers Curriculum Guide)

Extended Learning:

They were really enjoying the activity and were pretty focused so I took the opportunity to turn this into a matching activity (I made two of each “emotricon”).  They performed it very well the first time around and then lost interest as soon as I pulled out the video camera…..oh well!

Basically what I did was give them all four “emotricons”.  Then I would place one on the table and ask them to find the match, (Ex. “Can you find another happy triangle like this one?) until they were all matched up.

Matched in pairs

Matched in pairs

 

Cheeri-O!

We are back!  Sorry for the unforeseen hiatus, as I mentioned in the last blog post, we went out of town unexpectedly.  I had planned to blog from there but Mr. Y forgot to put the bag of all my “blogging gear” (cameras, laptop, etc.) into the car!  It’s just as well because O had a fever for a few days and we were busy visiting family!  We are beginning the last activity plan from Clever Clovers – Simple Shapes.   Today is all about circles.

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Clever Clovers curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Basic Shapes

Activity Description Have your baby lace Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Fine Motor

Specific Skill: Simple lacing

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 18 months

1. I did a quick introduction to circles by showing them several items shaped like a circle.  I traced my finger around the objects and said, “circle”.  I asked them to repeat, which they did!

2. Next, I showed them how to thread the Cheerio onto the pipe-cleaner, counting as I went.  I asked them if they wanted to try (to which I received very enthusiastic head nodding).

3.  What a great and simple activity!  They seemed to be able to overcome the challenges of getting the Cheerios onto the pipe-cleaner, but had difficulty pushing the Cheerio down to the bottom of the pipe cleaner, so we will continue to work on that.  When they experienced difficulty it gave me ample opportunity to use the word circle.  (Ex. “Try holding the circle like this.”, “Can you push the circle all the way down?”, etc.).  If your baby doesn’t have much difficulty you can insert the word circle by narrating what your baby is doing (Ex. “Wow! You put the circle on the pipe-cleaner”, “You’re holding the circle with your fingers”, “You are pushing the circle down”, “You are putting more circles on”).

M laces the Cheerio on!

M laces the Cheerio on!

Well done M!

Well done M!

M attempts to lace it all the way to the bottom

M attempts to lace it all the way to the bottom

O attempts to lace the Cheerio onto the pipe-cleaner

O attempts to lace the Cheerio 

Well done O!

Well done O!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, we had A LOT of difficulty resisting the urge to eat the Cheerios!

Yum Yum!

Yum Yum!

Time to eat!

Time to eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for more food activities? Click here!

Looking for more fine motor development activities (15-18 months)? Click here!