Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Raising Money Savvy Kids

One of the best things we as parents can do to prepare our children for the Real World is to teach them basic financial skills. A child who knows how to save is a child who has a jump-start on life. In a world that saturates children with media advertising for the latest toys and electronic gadgets it would seem neglectful not to teach these skills. Giving your child a deeper understanding of where money really comes from, reducing greed, instilling awareness, and teaching good work habits in children will go a long way to creating financially successful adults. Here are some basic suggestion for teaching your child the importance of money:

Start Early
The best way to start is when they’re young. Teach them about coins and notes. Show them how many coins equals one dollar, how many dollars equals a five-dollar note, and so on. Encorage your child to pay for things at the shop while you stand besdie them, they love this.

Being Responsible
While explaining about spending money, teach them about the household bills. The ones they’ll grasp the easiest are the ones they can see. The utility bills are a good example. While they’re brushing their teeth, teach them to turn the water off until they need it again. Explain how the water going down the drain is like money going down the drain. And, when leaving an empty room, teach them to turn the lights off. This sets up good habits when visiting other homes and for the future when they run a household themselves.

Teach the difference Between “Want” and “Need”
Children think they need everything they want. Teaching them the difference is an important step in helping them decide what to do with their money.  For example, a young child that wants a new truck but needs new sneakers, may be just as happy with a pair of sneakers with a truck on them.

Let them spend some money
Give your child the opportunity to spend some money. Take them to the store with you and help them to understand prices, how much they have to spend and what they can afford to buy. Children who start doing this young learn that they can't always have what they want there and then and have to wait until they have saved enough money. This may hopefully transfer over to adulthood and resist the urge to overspend or have a credit card.

Pocket Money
Set your child some age appropriate jobs that need to be carried out throughout the week. For young children they be be things like:
- packing up their toys
- helping to make their bed in the morning
- putting their shoes away
* As children get older naturally you can determine what jobs they are capable of carrying out independently

Teaching children from an early age about money can save you and them a lot of trouble in their later years. Remember that children, as adults, most appreciate those things that they’ve worked hard to get. You aren’t doing your children any favours by buying them everything they want. A little financial instruction can go a long way to helping your children become financially responsible adults.

Make Saving Fun
I love these Money Savvy Pigs. It is a patented four-slot piggy bank with separate chambers for Save, Spend, Donate and Invest. It comes with little stickers that allows your child the choice of how they want to use their saved money. For example, under Save, Master 3 has put a scooter as he would like a two-wheeler one. Under Donate, Master 5 has put a book as he has decided he would like to donate some money to the local library. This Pig is great as it teaches them sound money management techniques for life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Starting with your A, B, C ....

Teaching your child the alphabet is a very exciting time and can bring enormous fun and enjoyment for your child, you, and the whole family. There are a number of "Phonics Programs" available to support your child's learning if you are looking for guidance. Since having my own children, our house has immersed itself in the Phonics Based Program called Letterland. I have used a number of different programs that are equally good throughout my years of teaching, however my children's Pre-School uses Letterland so I wanted continuity between there and home. Many friends and family have asked for support with teaching their own child as the overwhelming number of resources available in shops and online can be daunting to a parent. Below I have outlined where you can start to teach your child the alphabet.

Letterland is a phonics based literacy program. Phonics programs are based on the actual sounds the letters make in words. Letterland makes learning letter sounds fun! Letterland does this by capturing children’s interest and attention. They relate to the characters so learning about them feels like play. Yet, they are laying solid foundations for successful learning.

To learn to read and write, children will need to know the sounds that letters represent in words. In Letterland, letters have good reasons for behaving the way they do and making the sounds they do. Children love learning all about these reasons! For example it is much more fun to learn that Harry Hatman whispers ‘hhh’ in words because he hates noise, than it is to remember ‘aitch’ makes the quiet ‘hhh’ sound. Letterland characters will become part of your daily life, and to some point members of the family! lol

When you begin to teach your child the alphabet, or anything really, it is important to remember that every individual learns differently and has a unique learning style. There are three main ways children learn and you will this often as you enter the Pre-school/school phase with your child.

Auditory Learners - succeed when directions are read aloud,  they're the ones who learn a tune in a snap just from hearing their teacher sing it, or who can follow directions to the letter after being told only once or twice what to do. Other auditory learners concentrate better at a task when they have music or white noise in the background, or retain new information better when they talk it out.
Visual Learners - find it easier to remember things when they see pictures. Visual learners have strong visualization skills. They can look up (often up and to the left) and ‘see’ the information invisibly written or drawn.

Kinesthetic Learners - are most successful when totally engaged with the learning activity. touching, feeling, experiencing the material at hand. Children enter kindergarten as kinesthetic and tactual learners, moving and touching everything as they learn.
For some, auditory input is most valuable; others rely upon a visual style. Still others learn through kinesthetic means, or a combination of the three. Every person has one primary learning mode. Once you identify that mode, you can learn to maximize it and enhance your child's education. Until you are certain of the primary learning mode/s your child uses I would encourage you to tap in to resources that provide experience in all learning styles.

If you decide to use the Letterland approach to phonics there are many, many valuable resources available. Many of these are available from your local library which will save you the cost of purchasing them. If you would like to purchase your own resources I have selected the one's I think are good value for money, provide for the different learning styles and will get your child well on the way to learning his/her alphabet in a fun and interactive way.

Do the actions, make the letter sounds and learn the alphabet with this great actions poster. Actions help to develop multi-sensory memory clues for the letter sounds and can be performed sitting or standing.

From A to Z, this special activity book provides endless fun for young children. All the activities are clearly presented with illustrations and step-by-step practical descriptions. Children will learn how to cut, trace, copy, fold and colour as well as how to follow instructions in this most complete activity book. 56 pages of things to make and do combined with early literacy skills development.

With a character on every page - from Annie Apple to Zig Zag Zebra - this delightful board book provides a fun and entertaining way of introducing tiny tots and toddlers to the 26 letters of the alphabet. I like that it's a hard book and durable as it often comes in the car with Master 3 as he flicks through the pages and sings along to the CD.

This is an example of the inside of the book.

This is my favourite CD full of songs providing a lively and invaluable way to ensure children learn the correct a-z sounds. It provides an excellent pronunciation model, sung to well known nursery tunes. So perfect to pop on in the car and sing along to. You will be surprised how quickly your little on picks up the songs!
(and how they stick in your head lol)

I love any chance to cook with my kids and we love cooking up a Letterland Recipe. This book introduces children to vocabulary related to cooking and improves listening skills with the step-by step instructions given for each recipe.

Whatever approach you decide to take when teaching your little one the alphabet, remember, you are their first and best teacher. Make it fun in all ways for both of you.
Check out many more alphabet activities I have posted for you to do with your little one!

Father's Day Card

Every year I like my children to make a hand-made Father's Day card with love. This year was lots of fun as Master 5 was full of suggestions and able to complete the majority of the card on his own which he is very proud of, and I know Daddy will be too!

I started by giving Master 5 a blank piece of paper with a frame drawn in the middle where the photo/hand drawn picture will go. Confidently able to spell DAD Master 5 set off on a scavenger hunt through my old magazines to find the letters to make DAD. He then placed the letters around the frame with a little glue.

I had initially suggested printing off a photo of Master 5 and his Daddy to put in the frame, but Master 5 was adamant he wanted to draw him and his Dad going to the park together. If your child is not yet drawing you could place a picture here, trace/paint their hand print/get them to finger paint/paint on another sheet of paper then cut it to size.

If your child is able to write their own message on the back it is always really special. If not you can write it for them, or perhaps even find a nice poem to print out and past on the back. Make sure you put the year on the card!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stick Painting

Developing fine motor skills can be done using so many creative ways. All little kids love to paint, so I like using this opportunity to develop these skills. Today Master 3 was very keen to paint so I gave him some paint and these small kebab sticks to paint with. It was really challenging for him to manoeuvre the stick in the paint and then work out how to get it from the stick to the paper. He used a variety of methods which you could encourage with your child; rolling, dabbing, flicking, scraping.

Making Patterns

Kids like to make patterns - and this is a great activity to teach them this concept. I'm a big fan of tissue paper as it's so versatile to use with so many activities. I cut up small squares of tissue paper and gave Master 3 two colours and Master 5 three colours. We had been doing some threading activities earlier on in simple two and three set patterns. This activity worked really well as I was able to adapt it to two different age and stages of development. This activity not only teaches patterning but is a great fine motor skill development activity. Master 5 cut up his own squares which was a great opportunity to use his scissor skills. Draw a wavy line to paste the squares onto. Encourage your child to paste their pattern from left to right, which is the way we write.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Who does the shoe fit?

We had so much fun reading this hilarious book, Centipede's 100 shoes. It is a great book to use for number recognition and counting. After having so much fun reading this we decided to get out some shoes and have our own fun!

This is a fun activity you can do when discussing the mathematical terms "biggest" and "smallest". It is also a great opportunity to use scissors as you cut around the traced shoes. Gather a shoe from each member of the family and use a pencil to trace around the them. Cut out the shoe shapes and order and then glue them on a large piece of paper.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's A Rainbow

On the weekend the boys were invited to a close friend's 3rd birthday party. As I have said in past blogs, June and July equates to a party each weekend as all our close family friend's have too had children born in June and July! When it came to Miss A's 3rd birthday my friend was a bit unsure how to theme her party. Miss A had really moved away from her Bindi the Jungle Girl and Dora phase. Finally a rainbow theme was decided upon, and what a colourful and fun time we all had. It was such a happy theme and so well suited to Miss A's happy-go-lucky-bright personality that we all love.

The rainbow table was just gorgeous. A table decorated with every colour of the rainbow.

The kids had so much fun decorating plain maree biscuits with different coloured icing and smarties.

I loved the party favour the boys received. Each child was given a big bubble wand with a rainbow cookie attached.

The inside of the party room was decorated with cut up crepe paper in the colours of the rainbow.

I loved these cute rainbow balloons that sat on the party table.

These jellies looked so cute on the table and the kids loved them.

Lots of rainbow coloured food...

Rainbow sprinkles on star shaped bread, rainbow musk sticks and rainbow lollie cake was on offer.

Somewhere over the Rainbow..... Miss A turned 3! Check out the cute rainbow dresses Miss A and her big sister wore to the party.

The kids could have a rainbow put on their cheeks which was very cute in keeping with the theme.

Oh look at that face.... what little girl wouldn't be smiling with a Rainbow Cake that looked like that!

This was such an amazing cake made by another very clever friend. The Rainbow, the clouds (fairy floss) and the gold coins looked amazing.