Saturday, September 9, 2017

Why You Should Include Dramatic Play in Your Homeschool

Did you know that Dramatic Play or more commonly known as Pretend Play is an essential part of childhood development? Kids learn best through play, pretending and imagining. Dramatic play is a type of play where kids take on different roles or personas and act them out. For example, one day your child could be a pirate. The next day, an astronaut, a race car driver, a princess, a doctor, a wizard or even the president of their own country. Sometimes they take on the role of the neighborhood grocer, the mail man, police man or firefighter. Other times they may simply pretend to be mom and dad. Did you know that your kids hear you and listen to everything you say even though it seems that they don't? You'll be surprised at how young children can imitate your actions, mannerisms and language. Dramatic play is important because it allows kids to explore new lands and situations out of reality and this results to natural learning.

We love dramatic play in our house. I have always encouraged my son to explore different roles even when he was just several months old. His favorite set ups are restaurant and supermarket dramatic plays. Here are some of the reasons why dramatic play is a regular part of our homeschool life.



Benefits of dramatic play

Experience being in another person's shoes

So why is dramatic play so important? First it teaches children to be in "another person's shoes." It's the start of helping them how to regulate their emotions and actions. For example, when my son becomes so hard-headed, I get his "babies" (currently the minions) and I make them act out his bad behavior. Him being the "dad" would feel how I felt when he did that bad behavior. This helps him understand that what he did was wrong. The next time he does that, he will be reminded of how he felt when his "children" had the same bad behavior. When he sets the rules as the dad, he tends to stick to them when he goes back as the child in real life.

Encourages language development and use of polite words

Even occupational therapists use dramatic play in their sessions with special needs children. Pizza Ordering/Pizza Restaurant is one of the most common scenarios they use because it encourages children to talk. They need to talk to order the pizza that they like. They need to tell the chef what toppings they like, the sauce they want and how big the pizza should be. Children are inspired to express themselves in this kind of play.

At home, you can also do this same "therapy" with your kids. You can take turns acting out the different roles. If you find your child having a hard time talking or is a little behind in language skills, try some dramatic play to encourage them to talk without putting pressure on them.

Dramatic play also teaches kids how to use polite words and what to say in different situations.  In our dramatic play sessions, my son usually does the grocer role first and I'll be the shopper. At the start of the day, he will greet me, the customer, "good morning" and asks how he can help me. I take it further by asking for help with the different items on offer. Sometimes I ask about several things to encourage patience.

It's a great way to teach what to do in different situations

You know how you always teach your child not to talk to strangers or not to accept candy from people they don't know? Incorporate this into your dramatic play so your child can get a feel of that kind of situation. Get a stuffed toy and pretend that's the bad person and act out the lesson that you are trying to teach. 

Dramatic play is also great for conflict resolution. Help your child how to work through a disagreement with their siblings or friends through play. For example, if you are playing pirates and both kids want to be the captain, you can teach them how to take turns and explain how each of their roles is important to the success of the play. 

Dramatic play empowers children and teaches them responsibility

When my son pretends to be a doctor, he takes the role seriously. He gets his doctor's bag and gives me a full checkup complete with an Rx at the end of the checkup. If he is the Chef, he becomes a responsible chef. He "washes" his hands, prepares the ingredients and cooks. When I ask him to help me cook in real life, he knows the steps and does them without prompting. 

When he plays teacher, he tells his students to pack away their things. When he is playing on his own, the action is automatic. He packs away his toys after playing without me asking him to do so.

It sparks imagination

My son likes saying that he is a Martian. One of his favorite movies is The Martian (Mark Watney). So, he often describes what Mars looks like in his head. Sometimes he tells me that his planet is the home of the Minions. Sometimes he says it's Minion Land where the Minions go shopping. Sometimes we "go" there to eat lunch. It's different every time. I truly believe that creativity and imagination are two very important aspects in life and I will continuously develop them in my child. Dramatic play helps me a lot in that area. 

It's a great way to practice Math and Science concepts

One of the reasons why we always do grocery dramatic play is it's a great math practice without the added pressure and stress of a formal math lesson. In this kind of play, he can use his cash register to do the calculations (extra calculator practice!). He can also practice his writing skills when I call in to order grocery deliveries. He can practice reading, sorting and even packing (fine and gross motor practice). It's also a great comprehension practice as he needs to get everything in my list/phone call right.







How to Start Dramatic Play

We have different sets that we use when we play. We have this grocery set pictured above and the Melissa & Doug food groups set in the wooden crates. We also have other sets from M&D such as the pancake set, sandwich set and ice cream set. We have invested (and are still investing ) in these toys for the past several years now. But, you actually don't really need a lot. You can use things around the house such as plastic plates, plastic utensils, etc. You can also use cardboard boxes, cut them out in your desired props and paint them. However, if you want something that will last for years or several kids to come, check these sets out from Lazada:



I love cutting food sets. They are great for fine and gross motor practice. The set below looks a lot like the set they have in Kidzoona. 




If you have boys, don't be turned off by the "lutu-lutuan" is only for girls concept. That's just an old way of thinking. We all know that men and women can be great chefs. It's good that these sets now come in different colors and not just pink. 






This is a great unisex set that your kids will enjoy for hours. 



Restaurant sets are second in our list. 




And while we're at it, the Lazada 99 Sale is also here! Check out special deals at special times in their websites. A lot of items will be on sale for only P99! And if you think that's great, it gets better. There's going to be FREE Shipping wherever you are in the Philippines during the sale! 



Affiliate links included in this post. 



Monday, August 28, 2017

Everything You Need to Know About Teaching Your Child to Cut

Cutting is a required skill in preschool. It is also a very useful life skill. Cutting is a developmental skill, meaning it is learned in stages. If you're a homeschooling parent wondering how to teach your child how to cut, read on.



Fine Motor Strength

The first thing a child needs to develop in order to start cutting is his fine motor grip strength. This same strength is used for learning how to write. (There are plenty of fine motor exercises that you can find in my blog.) 

Here's one activity to start with. My son used dabbers to trace the numbers. I had him trace numbers 0-10. This is good for pre-writing practice too! 



(I saved some of my son's cutting practice cards and those are what I used here in the following stages.)

Ripping 

The first stage of cutting is not actually cutting but ripping. Give your child some vellum or cardstock or any paper that is thicker than bond paper and ask her to rip it. Yes, it's as simple as that. I cut some cardstock into 4 long strips then gave my son 1-2 strips per day to rip. We did this for a week. 


(I put all the ripped pieces in a plastic baggy to use for a future art activity. Waste not, want not!)

Snipping

On Week 2, we did some snipping. This involved cutting small strips of cardstock. In my example, I put stickers in between the spaces. This makes the activity fun and helps my child focus on the lines and not cut the stickers. I told him to set the "car/boat/train" free by cutting the lines. 

We did this everyday for a week.



This is the bigger version. Do a smaller version for this activity. One that only requires one cut. 


Fringing

The next thing we did was fringing. Again, I used stickers for this activity. Just ask your child to cut on the lines. One to two weeks for this activity. 



Cutting Long Straight Lines 

When my son was ready, I gave him longer lines to cut. I used the same method in Snipping but made the lines longer. We did this for a week. 



Cutting Zigzag Lines

Now that my son is confident to cut long lines, it's time to move on to zigzag lines. I got a strip of cardstock, put one sticker on one end then drew zigzag lines all the way to the other end. My son had to cut all the way up to the sticker. (Sorry, I couldn't find the zigzag cutting cards)

Curved Lines

When my son mastered zigzag lines, I asked one of our teachers what's next. She said curved lines. So we did that. 



More complex combinations


I couldn't find the cutting cards that my husband made that featured more complex combinations but he basically took a strip of cardstock and first drew a straight line that branched out into a zigzag then a curve. 

The right kind of scissors are important! 

There are different kinds of scissors in the market so it's important to choose not the best one according to what other people say, but the best one for your little one. Only your child can decide what the best pair of scissors is for him. Here are the scissors that we use:



Melissa & Doug Scissors

These M&D scissors are great. They're super safe. The plastic doesn't cut skin but it can easily cut paper. I know, it's amazing right? This is my son's current favorite even though he already knows how to use "real" scissors. 


Maped Scissors

If you can't find the M&D Scissors, try this pair from Maped. The plastic is also safe but it's harder to use than the scissors above. 


Training Scissors

Some kids like these training scissors but my son hated them. The handles are connected to each other and they retract easily. This is great for snipping practice. 


Kid Scissors

When you are sure that your child can responsibly handle scissors, you can introduce these. 


These scissors still have that part that makes them retract easily but I chose these two because my son can easily fold them to the side to use them normally. Sometimes he still likes using them. I like using them too when I do some crafting.


When teaching your child how to handle scissors, teach them that their thumb needs to be on top. A good example to use is a shark. The fin (your thumb) helps the shark to swim. Then make your hand swim. Now the shark needs to eat so give your child a pair of scissors and tell him to start cutting to feed the shark. 

Cutting takes time and practice. Don't force your child to learn how to cut if he is not yet ready. My son started at 2 years old. Some kids start earlier or later but that's normal. Each child has his or her own timeline. I hope you learned a lot from this post!


This is my son's current cutting level. 



I also made some Paw Patrol Cutting Practice Sheets for Levels 2-3 Cutters. If you want a FREE copy, just send me an email at lifebyladye@gmail.com




Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Emoji Movie-Inspired Learning Game

We watched The Emoji Movie today. It's my son's third movie in the cinema and it's such a treat for him when we go to the movies. He is learning a lot of things including proper etiquette inside the movie house.

While watching the movie, I thought I could make a game out of it. When we got home, I immediately put my vision into action and this movie-inspired game is the result. I'd like to remind everyone that this is for personal/home use only. The movie and the characters are owned by Sony Pictures Animation. I'm also not profiting from it in any way.

Here are pictures of the game:














With this game, you can reinforce lessons such as emotions following directions, reading simple sentences, counting and math. You can also reinforce addition concepts by using two dice instead of one. Kids ages 3 to 7 can enjoy this game.

If you want a free copy follow the instructions below:

Philippine Readers:

Join our Facebook Group - http://bit.ly/2v40AVM
Email me at lifebyladye@gmail.com so I can send you a free copy! If you're already a member, just send me an email asking for a copy.

International Readers:

http://bit.ly/2vqqEXo



Don't forget, the Homeschool Giveaway I'm hosting in our Facebook group is still ongoing! You can still join!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Help, My Child Doesn't Want to Write!

Is something that I often hear from moms, especially homeschooling moms. This post was inspired by several queries from our new friends in our Facebook Group - Homeschool Resources Philippines. By the way, if you haven't joined yet and you are a homeschooling family or someone just looking for resources to enhance your kids' learning, please join us by clicking here.

Anyway, back to the topic. My short answer is, don't force them. Just LET IT GO! Cue music!

If your child is 3 to 5 years old, its NORMAL for them to have a hard time writing. I've attended a parenting seminar in our parent school and the speaker was a Pediatrician/SPED specialist and this was one of the questions that came up. One of the moms had a 3-year old boy who didn't want to write. It was so "bad" that they were going to enroll him at a summer writing program. The doctor was horrified to say the least. She said the reason why kids have a hard time writing or hate writing is because their fingers are not ready yet, especially 3-year old kids. Meaning, their fingers are not strong enough to grasp a pencil. At 3, they shouldn't even be writing yet. She further added that if you force a child to write when they are not ready yet, problems will pop up by 4th grade. So what can you do about it? Fine motor strengthening activities! My blog has a lot of ideas to strengthen your little ones' hands. Feel free to browse the activities. Just look for "fine motor activities."

As for us, my son also went through that phase. He is now 4 years old and loves to write. He draws and paints a lot and incorporates words into his drawings. He enjoys writing and gets a pen and paper whenever he sees me write.


Practicing calligraphy


Drawing in school (back when we attended traditional classes twice a week)


writing practice


We also went through a lot of tears. He needed to learn how to write early because he is advanced in his studies. He is now in Grade 1 and he had to learn how to write when he was 2 years old for nursery. At that time, I still didn't know that I had to strengthen his fine motor grip so what I did was I presented him with different writing and coloring materials to encourage him to write. Here are some of the things that we use:



We have everything! Markers, dry erase markers, twistable crayons, crayons, scented markers, color pencils, fancy pens, do-a-dot markers, pencils, fancy pens, etc. 


Fancy pens like the BB-8 make writing fun! (I'm selling BB-8 and Kylo Ren clicker pens. If interested, email me at lifebyladye@gmail.com)



Yes, that's a lot but these tools really encouraged him to write and to be creative.

Another thing that I found useful are these grips:



Crystal grips


regular foam grips


spiral grips (I'm selling all these grips, P50 each pack. I think one pack comes with 6. Email me at lifebyladye@gmail.com if interested)



They are very comfortable to write with. Even my Panda pen has one



I find it easier to grip the pen with one of these.

These magnetic writing boards are also great. My son started with just drawing circles on them and then he drew cars then the cars had names and numbers on them, just like a real NASCAR car.




(I'm selling these - P120 each. Email at lifebyladye@gmail.com)


I also find these write and wipe boards to be a source of enjoyment without the tears.


(I'm selling these - P100 each, comes with a dry erase marker. Email at lifebyladye@gmail.com)



I'd give a bunch of dry erase markers to my son and he would spend about 15 to 30 minutes drawing on them. The best thing about these boards is that they are easy to keep compared to the boards on easels. You can also put this in your restaurant kits so the little ones can draw while waiting for the food to arrive. The trick is to just let your kids have fun. Give them activities that will make them think you are just playing or having fun instead of giving them several worksheets and force them to write.

In the coming days, I will be posting activities to help your kids strengthen their fingers to help them get ready for writing but I hope the few tips I gave above will be helpful.

Please join our group - Homeschool Resources Philippines. I will regularly post free resources their and also hold giveaways, promos and events. Happy homeschooling and see you there!

By the way, I'm hosting a giveaway there. Here are the prizes up for grabs:


I'm sure these will be a great addition to your homeschool! 







Monday, August 21, 2017

10 Outfits that Will Take You Out of the Mom Fashion Rut

The following post contains affiliate links

When I was younger, I loved dressing up. I liked shopping for clothes, shoes and accessories. Sometimes I would buy every week. Then I became a mom and all of this stopped. I didn't turn "losyang" but I also didn't find dressing up to be exciting anymore. I would make an effort every now and then but sometimes I miss going out in heels or wearing a chunky necklace. These are things that I rarely do now because I have to be practical. How the heck can I run after my hyperactive 4-year old in heels? I don't have a yaya so I do all the running. So, my wardrobe had to evolve around flats and sandals.. sometimes the occasional wedge shoes get mixed in when my husband comes with us (he's the one who does all the running).

So, I've been browsing online clothes shops and of course, I had to visit Zalora. Zalora has been my favorite over the years especially when I had just given birth. I didn't leave the house for 6 months (babies' immune systems don't fully develop until 17 weeks, I wanted to make sure he was strong enough to go out) so all shopping must be done online. Zalora has been a blessing.

My little boy is napping as I type this so I found some Me Time. Here are some clothes that I like. I'm a petite woman and my priority is comfort and something I can run around in. All the clothes are under P1200 because I know moms need to be fashionable within budget. I also added the details for easy perusal. I mostly do my browsing on my phone so here's a link to the Zalora App to make shopping fast and easy.



This basic tee dress is great for running errands and going to the mall with my kiddo. I can wear this with sneakers or fancy flats or jazz it up with some accessories. 


I love chambray. I started wearing it when I was pregnant and I was smitten. I always have it in my wardrobe so this chambray shirt is a must. A shirt and my cropped leggings are slowly becoming my mom uniform. 


I like this shirt because of its versatility. I can wear it with pants or skirts. I love how relaxed it looks. 


I can probably wear this dress when I'm out on a date with my husband. I don't think I'll be comfortable running around in it but I love it!


This one also has a relaxed vibe and like the tee dress, I can wear this for mall runs. 


Are you sensing a pattern here? I love these kinds of dresses because they require minimal effort. On days when I don't want to fuss, I can wear them as is. When I want to add more glam, I simply add on accessories or wear a pretty purse like in the photo. I can also wear it with different kinds of shoes - flats, sandals, sneakers or wedges. 


Here's a dress that I can wear to church. I know it looks short on the model but I'm petite so this will be the right length for me. I am loving those sleeves. 


I've never worn skinny jeans. I just feel like they don't look good on me. I also don't like the fact that they are mostly low rise.  I'm hoping this high rise pair will do the trick. 


Love. this. dress. What else can I say about it?


Another one of my mom uniforms is a shirt and skirt combo. I'll wear this skirt to church with a plain top embellished with a statement necklace. Since my husband will be present, I can wear my heels with this!

How about you? What do you do to get out of a Mom Fashion Rut? 

Have I inspired you to do some online shopping? Don't forget to download the Zalora App! Zalora gives special promos to first time customers so download now!