Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Those little, all-important teaching moments

One of those basic tenets you always hear about raising kids is that you should consider everything a learning opportunity. That and, make sure you train your husband to change poopy diapers from day one.

Impromptu teaching has been a big thing with Max, mainly because he doesn't have the biggest attention span for educational board games, he's not yet reading and he doesn't always feel like listening when I read to him. And so, I try to carpe diem.

This weekend, Max was playing in an area at a pool that had sprinklers erupting like mini geysers. I was relaxing on a lounge chair when all of a sudden I tuned in and realized Max was counting to three before he ran through them. It sounded like "Uh, oooh, eee." I grabbed his hand and we went around counting each geyser.

I need to make up more counting games with Max; a good one would be to go to a car dealership and count cars. Or, better yet, trucks. Or we could go to the ice-cream store and count up all the flavors; that's Max above behind the counter at a diner we were at over the weekend, his dream come true. I missed the learning opportunity and I fully blame the tuna melt that put me into a carb trance.

What sort of fun learning games work with your kids?


  1. LOL. You crack me up! -- poopy diapers, carb trance -- too good!

    Counting is one of Chloe's favorite things. We count everything, especially when we're waiting. I haven't figured out too many teaching moments yet. I think my problem is that I don't give chloe enough credit for her cognitive abilities, so I miss out. It's official -- I'm turning a new leaf tomorrow. ;O)

  2. Daniel will actually sit for a long time to work on "school stuff," as he calls it. My theory is that because there was a time when he couldn't really move around very well, he was sort of stuck when I worked on certain learning activities with him. He learned to learn, if that makes any sense. Anyway, he has always loved books. As long as we're snuggling under a blanket, I could get him to read for hours. I think his PT would faint if she saw it, since he's almost always running around and has a 10 - second attention span with her.
    Songs are also helpful for us, since Daniel loves music. He had some trouble memorizing the days of the week until we found a song about them.
    Other than that, we used a lot of Montessori materials at home. They're really good for kids with sensory issues, and they're pretty fun.
    One that I remember from kindergarten (back in the dark ages) was a game that involved throwing a pair of giant foam dice. Each child would have a turn to throw them across the room and then count the dots. Max might like something like that. If I could find some giant dice, I'd run out and buy them in a heartbeat - not just for Daniel, but for me. That was by far my favorite kindergarten activity.

  3. Graham is a sponge right now so learning is always going on.

    When he was younger he was obsessed with pictures and photo albums. To get him interested in reading I took pictures of lots of familiar stuff around the house, the dog, house, trees, cars, his favorite toys and labelled them. As he'd flip through his pictures he'd be presented with the written word. It wasn't long before he was recognizing those words elsewhere.

  4. Wow....I am such a teachable moment person it's just scary. Although most of my lessons nowadays are teen/tween behavioral lessons. My big lesson that we still use is never play the radio or television in the car(unless long trips) and use that time to talk and play games. My girls loved eye spy, liscence plate games (3 of them) categories, ABC games (2 of them), Sing a Song guess the movie (for disney fans). Analogies and spelling bee. We still play all the time but nowadays I can bring in states and capitals, and foreign languages. Using your car time is a great way to spend quality time without much effort.

  5. Emmett LOVES the cartoon "Max & Ruby". It's one of the few times that Emmett will sit still! So I watch with him and we [I] talk about what's going on. While playing with his cars, we count and do colors.

    The biggest challenge for us is trying to understand what he's saying, because he's trying very hard to communicate. Lately, when I'm having trouble understanding him I've been saying, "Show me, Emmett! Show me what you want." And surprisingly, he will lead me to what he wants/needs. The other day, he was getting so frustrated with me that he took my hand and said, "SHOW ME!" He then led me to a shelf and pointed up. I had put his marbles up there when we had visitors and had forgotten about them, but he hadn't! Sometimes I think it's not so much US teaching HIM, but him teaching us - teaching us that he's in there and it's up to us to crack the code.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

  6. We have foam alphabet letters for the bath tub. We ask the kids to find the letter "X" or "Y" etc... We will also spell words, especially their names. They love looking for the letters in the tub!

  7. my youngest kate loves leaves and rocks. So i gather a handful and we divide them into groups...i let her pick how many in each...then her and i sit with a group and count..1..2...3

    Also i let her count the silverware as it is put on the table. and napkins and plates and cups and such.

  8. My kids love to play "Drill Sergeant" with their grampa, who was, back in his youth, an actual drill sergeant (you'd never know it to look at him now!) and who is not terribly militaristic nowadays, either, but I guess that was one experience that stuck with him. My daddy taught the boys marching moves, and he barks out orders in a "tough guy" voice to them (left face, right face, forward march, quick time, halt, that kind of stuff) and the kids obey them. My dad actually uses the technique to get the boys from place to place when he takes them out for an afternoon--like down to the lake for fishing-- and they behave in an astoundingly orderly fashion...and they never sass back, either! One thing it's good for (besides the general exercise of it all, particularly when he has them "about facing" and "quick timing" all over the back yard) is the whole concept of arm extension/swinging both arms. My youngest has a tendency to keep his left arm close to his body, and the marching requires the boys to "swing your arms, stay in step" so it's like fun with a therapy slant to it. And the "listen/pay attention and respond appropriately" aspect is a good thing for my oldest. They've been doing this little game for over a year and show no signs of getting tired of it, either (fingers crossed). In fact, they plead with him to give them a workout most days (go figure!). I think a lot of it has to do with the opportunity for exclusive "Manly Man" interaction with my dad--who can blame them! They're overdosed on women the better part of their day!

    We also do a lot of reading together, (a bedtime standard), and in the car, we'll sometimes count cars by color (example: today we will count all the red cars we see--that can be a winner from two angles!), or the number of people we pass in the car on the way to grandma's, or the number of street signs, street lights, people wearing jackets, whatever.

  9. we used to count the steps of stairs. for some reason, both my girls loved that!

    they love to play "I Spy" and it's a good way to reinforce colors and shapes. :)

    ps: I think you're doing great!

  10. Hi Ellen!

    Thank you for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment. It gave me the opportunity to find your wonderful blog that is definitely deserving of the Lemonade Award. I love the title and love your 'motto' even more.

    Keep up the great spirit and the great blog!

  11. \hmm I spy with my little eye

    learning colors and name of objects


Thanks for sharing!

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