Fun and educational activities for November

As the days get colder, it is sometimes nice to have a few indoor activities on hand to occupy your little one. It seems especially appropriate to tie these activities into the November Thanksgiving theme. And, of course, let’s make sure that your child has the opportunity to practice important school readiness skills while he is having fun!

  • Handprint turkeys provide practice with number writing and fine motor control. Ask your child to place his non-dominant hand on a piece of construction paper, spreading his fingers apart. With his dominant hand and a pencil, your child will trace around his thumb and each finger. (You may help with this step, if necessary, although precision is not required to have an adorable “turkey” shape!) Then ask your child to color the handprint, using the thumb as the head and neck of the turkey and his fingers as the feathers. He will need to sdd the bottom of the body and the legs. He can write the numbers 1 - 5 on or above each finger to show how he counts.
  • I Am Thankful list allows children to dictate their ideas or write alone using inventive spelling. This activity helps children practice early reading skills as well as fine motor skills. Sit with your child and discuss the things in his life for which he is thankful. He may dictate these words to you or try to write them himself by listening to the sounds he hears in each word and writing the letter that represents each sound. Then direct your child to draw a picture next to each word on his list. Pictures help children “read” the words on the list at a later time and provide opportunities to practice manipulating pencils and crayons.
  • Bead necklaces are a nod to Native Americans that celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims. Ask your child to create a necklace using small pony beads, found at any craft store. Children will practice color recognition, creating patterns, and fine motor control as they string the beads onto the lace. Your child may even practice sorting the beads into like-colored piles before he begins lacing. I suggest using tape to secure one end of the lace to the the table to help your little one control the lace and avoid losing his beads.
  • Woven construction paper placemats can dress up your holiday table and provide fine motor practice as well. First prepare the materials for your child. Cut strips of 9”x12” construction paper about 1.5 inches wide and 9” long. Then, using another color of construction paper, cut lines about 1.5 inches apart and 11” long. (This will allow for about a half-inch border on the side of the paper.)  Ask your child to take the individual strips and weave them up and down through the cuts on the large piece of construction paper. If the first strip started with a down motion, the second strip should begin the opposite way by coming up through the slit. As your child completes weaving a strip, use a glue stick to secure that strip in place. After each strip is woven into the larger piece of construction paper, slide it to touch the previous strip to create a solid, woven pattern. This is a challenging activity for young children, so be ready to watch and offer some gentle guidance as your child works.
  • Tracing Thanksgiving pictures is another way to decorate your home while giving young children important practice manipulating pencils, crayons, and scissors. These pictures can be found in magazines, on holiday cards, and on School Sparks worksheets. After your child has traced the picture, ask him to color it and then cut it out for more fine motor practice. Consider decorating walls or windows with his pictures.
  • Baking assistance will require your child to use his auditory processing skills as he helps you in the kitchen. Of course, choose an uncomplicated recipe and allow your child to be as independent as possible while he follows your verbal directions. This is also a great way for children to practice counting and measuring skills!  I suggest placing items on the counter to the left of the bowl so that your child moves from left to right as he adds the ingredients. This reinforces the direction that eyes move when reading.

Have a wonderful and fun-filled November!

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