Sunday, February 20, 2011

Make Your Own Teaching Tools!

You can stock up on some great teaching tools with a quick trip to the hardware store! There are some inexpensive things that you can pick up (or may have at home as the result of a home improvement project!) that are fun alternatives to pre-made games.

First, sandpaper! Sandpaper (rough surface, not superfine) can be used to make tactile letters for your children when they are first learning the shapes of letters. Cut out block letters for them to trace with their fingers and then lay under a sheet of computer paper to make letter "rubbings." Fix the paper so it won't move around ( a little masking tape is great!) and then use the side of a crayon with the paper peeled off to make the shape of the letter magically appear!

Another thing to do with the sandpaper is to make long and short bars, as well as large and small curves to assemble together to make the letters of the alphabet - sort of a puzzle! Two longs and a short make upper-case "A", etc. The rough texture and the stiffness of the paper help children to focus on these shapes and give it interest. Keep them in a small plastic container to use over and over!

Sandpaper is also fun to throw into your art supply box - bits of sandpaper can become the beach, rocks, mountains, etc. in future collage pictures.

PVC pipe pieces are also fun for the kids! I have a "telephone" that I use often that is made out of two curved ends with another straight piece (which you can't see) that holds them together. This device is also "magical" - it amplifies the voice and sends it right up to the speaker's ear, which can be great for trying to master sounds. Give your child a small mirror and they can talk out loud and both hear the sound and see themselves make the sound - if they need to work on specific sounds, they can play this "game" to see and hear themselves getting clearer!

There are many things that can be built out of plastic pieces - puppet theatres, forts, store fronts, etc. Use your imagination!

Get your child a yardstick and they will measure EVERYTHING in your house - use it for counting practice and they will begin to associate the number with the numerals they can see. The little papers with paint colors come in handy for rainbow making and collaging or card making - pick up a few here and there and throw them in your art box for a rainy day! Start looking at things with a new eye - opportunities are everywhere for recycling materials and finding new uses for everyday things!

Last but not least - before you throw out your junk mail, check for coupon pages or large ads that can be used for cutting practice. Your child can get practice cutting on lines by going through these pages before they hit the recycling bucket!  Enjoy!

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