Search Results for: clothespin

Clothespin Literacy Games

Oh, clothespins with letters written on them.  How I have taken advantage of you!  And now with three kids, the benefits of these nifty little letters are that much more impressive–teamwork, literacy, fine motor skills–but most of all, watching the big kids help Little H and all of them having to work together to build words and share (since there is only one clothespin per letter).  I think I’m going to start giving packages of alphabet clothespins and flashcards to friends as baby shower gifts–seriously.  It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

So without further ado, watch my kids have a blast clipping letters to flashcards, sounding out words and unknowingly working on their phonemic awareness as they go!  If you need some ideas on how to make a set of your own and what to do with them, just click here and check out some of our past clothespin fun!  There is even a set of spring sight words just waiting to be printed out.

Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

My favorite part was watching Little H as these letters that she knows and loves to point out to me literally came together to form words before her eyes.  She was so excited to participate (so thrilled, in fact, she may have broken a clothespin or two).  It’s okay, Little H.  I get overexcited about reading, too.

Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

And even though we have done this a dozen times, Jax and Em never tire of it either.  I think it’s because every time they are more confident about their power to read (to quote Super Why) and they can step into the role of teacher (Jax to Em and Em to Little H).  You can never underestimate the power of confidence, especially in a burgeoning reader.

Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It IMG_9982

And the power of an activity that keeps kids happy, busy, and learning! Everybody wins!

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Clothespin Fun

Buying a pack of clothespins and writing the alphabet on them is one of the best five minutes I have spent as a parent.  There are so many different ways you can invest in your kids’ education, and this is one of the simplest ones, not to mention they love it!  It gives your kids an awareness of letters and depending on how you play with them, can improve their understanding of the sounds letters make, how words are formed, and much more.  Take a look at how we’ve used them to build familiar words, work on sight words, and get kids moving while learning!  And if you have a new baby at home and need some new tricks to keep the big kids occupied and happy, there’s nothing simpler than busting out some homemade flashcards and clothespins!

Basically I made some flashcards using words that do not repeat letters and added some stickers for fun.  Then the kids used their nimble little fingers to put the clothespins in the appropriate order on the card.  Easy as P-I-E.

Clothespin Spelling @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Clothespin Spelling @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This is a great activity to do with an older sibling who can read who can help the littler one with some supervision.  I can sit on the couch and hold the baby while these two play and learn together, and have fun while they’re doing it.

Clothespin Spelling @ Rub Some Dirt On It

And I get a bit of a break.  A win/win for everyone, especially me!

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Favorite Craft #3: Build A Word With Clothespins

Confession: I haven’t put a whole lot of effort into developing my kids’ fine motor skills. I figure, they can eat, they can play, they can tickle, that’s good, right? I mean, I never remember consciously working on my fine motor skills and I’m pretty dexterous. So what if Jax can’t put his clothes on or pull them off? I guess we probably should work on that a bit. Thus when I came across this post at Hands On As We Grow, a favorite creative site of mine, I found myself pinning away at the activities for fine motor skill development and was intrigued enough to do one that very day.

It was a link to The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking (my kind of blog!) and a cool activity that combined literacy with fine motor development. I thought it was so awesome Jax and I embarked on it as soon as Em was down for her nap. Using clothespins to reinforce letters and spelling!

Here’s what you need:
index cards, clothespins, marker
That’s it! Now of course, you can always make it as elaborate as you’d like. You could laminate the cards or decorate them as need be. We actually hung our cards up on the wall with tape and ribbon, so you could do that as well, or you can store them in a box like we wound up doing in the end. Before you act, think about what you want to get out of this activity. It has potential for so many hours of fun!

Directions:
Write words clearly and well-spaced-out on index cards. Jax and I chose common words that he already knows how to spell to begin with, and then I got the idea that I’d like to decorate them with stickers. So I rummaged through our sticker bin and picked out fifteen or so that are common words, like fish, car, dog. Then I wrote the alphabet on 26 clothespins.

Note: Think about how you want your pins to go, underneath or above, before you write the letters on the flashcard and on the index card. I knew I wanted them underneath and so I wrote my words (and added stickers) accordingly, leaving proper space. Also, do you want them to all be upper case or lower case letters? Ours are lower case on the cards and upper case on the pins–not on purpose, but it’s since been a cool way to practice matching them.

Then I began taping the cards to ribbon I hung on the wall. After a few I realized, why am I doing this when I am surrounded by clothespins? So Jax and I hung them like laundry on the ribbons, which I think looked really cute.

The difficult part was that once Jax began adding clothespins to the cards, they became rather heavy and started falling off the ribbon. So after a while we took them down, but if you can reinforce them properly (and don’t have younger children who would destroy them), it would be a fun way to display your work and then they could work like sight words.

The goal is for your child to take his alphabet clothespins and clip them beneath the letters on the cards, reinforcing the spelling of the words while working on fine motor skills! It was really fun and he enjoyed searching for the proper clothespin, then planning out the spacing on the cards. He even reminded me that we couldn’t use the word “ball” because we didn’t have two “L” s. And he had to think about whether he could spell two “B” words at once because the “B” was being used on another card at that moment. Lots of abstract thinking!

I’ve wanted to make a word wall since I saw this cool one over at Momnivore’s Dilemma over the holidays, and now I think I have something similar, with my own twist. JDubbs was less than thrilled about the idea of having yet another crafty thing taking up wall space, so I was loath to do it, but instead, I’ll just change out the index cards every few weeks so that they are seasonally appropriate and we can talk about what they mean. I may do one for each letter, too; I’ll let you know how that goes. But what you really need to know is it took us 45 minutes to make our cards and clothespins, then he played with them for another half hour or so before Em got up. She promptly started destroying our precious clothespins, so she’s off-limits for a while, but overall I’d say you can’t go wrong with this activity that is so awesome on so many different levels! Try it and let me know how it goes!

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Fine Motor Skills, Clothespin Style

Confession:  I haven’t put a whole lot of effort into developing my kids’ fine motor skills.  I figure, they can eat, they can play, they can tickle, that’s good, right?  I mean, I never remember consciously working on my fine motor skills and I’m pretty dexterous.  So what if Jax can’t put his clothes on or pull them off?  I guess we probably should work on that a bit.  Thus when I came across this post at Hands On As We Grow, a favorite creative site of mine,  I found myself pinning away at the activities for fine motor skill development and was intrigued enough to do one that very day.

It was a link to The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking (my kind of blog!) and a cool activity that combined literacy with fine motor development.  I thought it was so awesome Jax and I embarked on it as soon as Em was down for her nap.  Using clothespins to reinforce letters and spelling!

Here’s what you need:

 index cards, clothespins, marker

That’s it!  Now of course, you can always make it as elaborate as you’d like.  You could laminate the cards or decorate them as need be.  We actually hung our cards up on the wall with tape and ribbon, so you could do that as well, or you can store them in a box like we wound up doing in the end.  Before you act, think about what you want to get out of this activity.  It has potential for so many hours of fun!

Directions:

Write words clearly and well-spaced-out on index cards.  Jax and I chose common words that he already knows how to spell to begin with, and then I got the idea that I’d like to decorate them with stickers.  So I rummaged through our sticker bin and picked out fifteen or so that are common words, like fish, car, dog.  Then I wrote the alphabet on 26 clothespins.

Note:  Think about how you want your pins to go, underneath or above, before you write the letters on the flashcard and on the index card.  I knew I wanted them underneath and so I wrote my words (and added stickers) accordingly, leaving proper space.  Also, do you want them to all be upper case or lower case letters?  Ours are lower case on the cards and upper case on the pins–not on purpose, but it’s since been a cool way to practice matching them.

Then I began taping the cards to ribbon I hung on the wall.  After a few I realized, why am I doing this when I am surrounded by clothespins? So Jax and I hung them like laundry on the ribbons, which I think looked really cute.

The difficult part was that once Jax began adding clothespins to the cards, they became rather heavy and started falling off the ribbon.  So after a while we took them down, but if you can reinforce them properly (and don’t have younger children who would destroy them), it would be a fun way to display your work and then they could work like sight words.

The goal is for your child to take his alphabet clothespins and clip them beneath the letters on the cards, reinforcing the spelling of the words while working on fine motor skills!  It was really fun and he enjoyed searching for the proper clothespin, then planning out the spacing on the cards.  He even reminded me that we couldn’t use the word “ball” because we didn’t have two “L” s.  And he had to think about whether he could spell two “B” words at once because the “B” was being used on another card at that moment.  Lots of abstract thinking!

I’ve wanted to make a word wall since I saw this cool one over at Momnivore’s Dilemma over the holidays, and now I think I have something similar, with my own twist.  JDubbs was less than thrilled about the idea of having yet another crafty thing taking up wall space, so I was loath to do it, but instead, I’ll just change out the index cards every few weeks so that they are seasonally appropriate and we can talk about what they mean.  I may do one for each letter, too; I’ll let you know how that goes.  But what you really need to know is it took us 45 minutes to make our cards and clothespins, then he played with them for another half hour or so before Em got up.  She promptly started destroying our precious clothespins, so she’s off-limits for a while, but overall I’d say you can’t go wrong with this activity that is so awesome on so many different levels!  Try it and let me know how it goes!

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15 Literacy Activities To Create Reading Rockstars

My kids are reading rockstars.  I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but it’s true, and I love it.  Jax falls asleep every night under a mountain of books that he just had to read before bed, and this past year Em’s reading has really flourished.  I think it has something to do with being the big sister in her bedroom and wanting to read Little H bedtime stories.  She always wants to read the Piggy parts in our beloved Mo Willems “Piggy and Gerald” books, and tries so hard to decode even the toughest word.  She is going to be so confident when she walks into kindergarten next year, knowing that the world of letters and words are her allies, not daunting strangers.  And how did my kids become so passionate about reading?  Well, our house is very conducive to encouraging Reading Rockstars, but mostly we all just love to read and have a lot of fun doing it!

So since this is a passion of mine, I cannot keep all these awesome literacy ideas to myself. I figured I’d put some of my favorites in one place where you can access them easily and see that there are so many ways to engage kids in reading and letters.  If you make it fun, they will join in eagerly!

So here are 15 of my favorite ways to create Rockstar Readers.  Enjoy, and  don’t forget to pin away!

1.  Have a reading picnic!  Grab a blanket, some snacks, a big box of books and a spot in the shade or in front of the fireplace.  A great way to promote literacy for the entire family!

15 Literacy Ideas to help turn your child into a reading rockstar!

2.  Organize an ABC Scavenger Hunt.  Draw up a map of your home and hide the letters to your child’s name.  By numbering the locations on the map you can help kids who don’t know how to spell their name yet put their letters in the correct order, or just star the locations and let them assemble the word themselves!

15 Literacy Ideas to help turn your child into a reading rockstar!

3.  Paint Chip Reading Fun.  Kids can help develop their rhyming skills and identify words families with this colorful way to decode words!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Paint Chip Reading Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

4.  Draw letters in salt or flour.  Awesome for fine motor skills and letter recognition!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Tracing letters and words in salt or flour!

5.  Build letters and words with toothpicks and marshmallows!  And when you’re done, they’re good enough to eat!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Building With Marshmallows @ Rub Some Dirt On It

6.  Give them a journal and help them write stories or do science experiments together.  The act of putting words in some kind of book will help give their ideas significance.  And they will love to go back and reread them over and over!

  15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Oh so many amazing things to do with a journal!

7.  Create a butcher paper map.  We have made maps of our town, maps of zoos, maps of castles and a kingdom, maps for military exercises (G.I. Joe came up with that one).  You name it, we’ve drawn it, and with all the labeling that comes with maps, your kids are going to be able to read words like “school,” “street,” and “bridge” faster than you can write them!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! butcher paper maps have so many possibilities!

8.  Spelling Puzzles!  Flip over a puzzle and build some simple words.  The trick is being able to reassemble it using the letters on the back!  Highlight the words to decrease difficulty.

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Spelling Puzzles @ Rub Some Dirt On It

9.  Make a game of it with Sight Words Mix-Up Cups.  It’s one part learning, one part game!  Who can resist those odds?

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Sight Words Mix-Up Cups to turn reading into a game!

10.  Match upper and lower letters (or build compound words) with plastic Easter eggs!  One set of eggs, two great ideas!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Match upper and lower case letters using plastic Easter Eggs!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Build compound words using plastic Easter Eggs!

11.  Get those winter wiggles out with a rousing game of Word Slam!  Tape words to a wall and when you call one out, the kids get to SLAM them with a ball!  Jax loved this!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Word Slam with Rub Some Dirt On It

12.  Write the alphabet on clothespins and kids will spend hours matching them to their appropriate letters on flashcards.  Make it more difficult by writing in upper case on one set, and lower case on another!  Lots of different ways to use them on this link!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Clothespin Spelling @ Rub Some Dirt On It

13.  Go on a Spelling Treasure Hunt!  Help your kid spell a word, then they have to go on a hunt through the house to find an example!  Keep them moving and interested!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Go on a spelling scavenger hunt!

14.  Follow the link to learn all about the Word Family Driving Game, where vehicles and reading collide!  You could do the same thing with just letters if your child is too young for reading but is crazy about all things that go!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Word Family Driving Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It for all kids who love things that go!

On the same post you can learn how to reuse those hearts and create a game to get kids hopping, skipping and jumping while they read!  They’ll never know they’re learning–they’ll be so busy having fun!  Two great ideas for the price of one post!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Learn Spelling and Sounds with Movement!

15.  ABC’s: Animal Style!  It’s simple!  Match the animals to the first letter of their name!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Match animals to their letters!

Phew!  So many great ideas, so little time!  You’re on your way to helping your kids love to read, and to enjoy learning, too!  Be sure to pin all these ideas for later so you don’t forget any!  I can’t wait to revisit some of them myself later today!

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10 Quiet Activities To Help You Survive The Winter

A friend of mine recently asked me why my kids play so well without me.  How did I do it? she wanted to know, meaning, How did I train them to play independently?  What is the secret to getting my kids to leave me alone for five minutes?  Why don’t they go take one of their millions of toys that I’ve spent so much money on and GO PLAY?

Well, I’m no expert on this, but I do have two big kids who play really well alone and together, with just the slightest bit of prompting from me.  Without question, that little boost from mom is the key.  Every time I look up from my laptop to the sound of whiny little voices complaining they are so bored, I try to remember that it is not always their fault that they don’t know how to play independently.  It’s a skill that needs to be honed.  That’s why we still enforce quiet time where they play alone (not together) for at least 45 minutes every non-school day, why they must read independently every day, and why we really do have limits on screen time (I shoot for an hour on school days and no more than 2 hours on non-school days, trying to keep it at around 10 hours/week).  After all, how can they learn to use their imaginations if I never ask them to, and never show them how?

Of course, as I type this, Little H is next to me watching Super Why on JDubbs’s Kindle because she woke up early from her nap and I need to get this blog post finished.  So, of course I am a fan of screens and there is always an exception to every rule.  But paying attention to how often and how much your kid interacts with screens may help you in your quest to get your kids to play better on their own.

Well, enough of the lecture portion of this post.  What about practical help?  What do I do with my kids to get them to play nicely alone?  The thing is, although they end up on their own, they don’t start off that way.  In my experience, most kids need a little help getting started with prolonged independent play, and the longest activities tend to need a little parent guidance.  For example, instead of saying to your son, why don’t you play with your zillions of toy cars, help him create a race track on the floor of his bedroom to bring the fun to life.  With 5-10 minutes of prep time from you, you will receive huge returns on your investment while your kids play nicely that day and many days thereafter.  The key is helping them get started.

With that in mind, here are 10 great ideas that need just a little help from an adult on the front end, but can be put away for lots of independent play day after day thereafter. I promise they’ll be so excited to have you by their side at first, they will be all the more invested in the experience once you quietly sneak away.

10 QUIET ACTIVITIES TO HELP YOUR KIDS PLAY INDEPENDENTLY

10 Quiet Activities @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Starting in the left column and going down, then the second and third column, the blog posts are as follows:

1.  Rainbow Scavenger Hunt

2.  Puzzle Treasure Hunt

3.  Play with Popsicles & Play Dough

4.  Pom-Pom Race Through Duplo Maze

5.  Button & Pipe Cleaner Caterpillar

6.  Letters In Salt & Snipping Straws

7.  Pipe Cleaner & Pom Pom Fine Motor Fun

8.  Clothespin Literacy Fun

9.  Butcher Paper Town

10.  Pebble Art

 All of these activities need just a little help from an adult to gather materials or get the fun started, but once you do, the fun will continue on long after you excuse yourself to go get some work done, clean the house, or check your email!  And when your kids realize and are confident that they can have tons of imaginative play without you, they’ll stop coming to you with every problem or question–they’ll start solving them on their own.

 So by taking five minutes to begin the fun, you actually buy yourself much longer than that.  Just remember that imaginations need nurturing, too, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your kids grow.

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Solitude

Now that the baby is home and Daddy is back at work, Jax is outnumbered as the only boy at home, 3 to 1.

It’s no wonder he’ll take a little bit of solitude whenever he can get it.

Just like his dad, give him a fishing pole and some peace and quiet, and there’s nowhere he’d rather be.  All boy.

His pole was a dowel with a bit of string with a magnet stuck at the bottom that Em and I made at school, and his “fish” was a clothespin with a magnet with a Spiderman figurine in its claws.  Made for some good fishing, I see.

My dear little boy, the biggest of them all, the big brother.  He has handled the transition very well, and I’m proud of him for being so grown up.  Not that I want him to grow up too fast, but I am grateful that so far he seems to be handling the role of man of the house when Daddy is away superbly, with lots of love for both of his sisters to go around.  We are blessed with all three of our babies!

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