Inside the Mommyvan

Homeschooling & Life Inside the Mommyvan - an old dog learning new tricks

motor skills

A fun activity that exercises many different skills and ends up with a nice portfolio piece! The level of the work can be easily adjusted from preschool on up.

You need:

  • 2 (or more) sheets of sturdy paper or cardstock
  • Old magazines
  • Glue or glue stick
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Binding materials (see below)
  • Enbellishments (optional – see below)

Lay the paper in front of you with a long edge nearest you, and fold it in half from left to right, making a sharp crease. Place one piece of folded paper inside the other and secure temporarily with one or two small pieces of tape. This is the basic ‘book’ that I used for my kids (K – 1st grade level). For older students, you might use a cardstock cover with multiple inside pages of plain paper, and adjust the number of pictures and length of story sections to match.

Have your child cut out several pictures from the magazines, thinking up a story to go with the images as they work. Next, they will decide on one picture for their cover, along with a title for their story. Glue the selected picture onto the front page of the book, and have them write the title. Below the title goes ‘by Child’s Name‘. This is a good time to reinforce title, author, illustrator and the parts of a book.

Next, your budding author will think about their story’s beginning, middle, and end. They will glue onto the first inside spread (two pages) the pictures that go with the beginning of the story, leaving room for writing. Using a ruler or straight edge, make light guidelines for writing, working around the pictures. The child will then come up with one to three sentences (again, adjusting for level) to write on these pages. I had my children dictate their sentences to me, I wrote them on a portable white board, and then they copied the words into the book. As we worked, we also reviewed sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation.

Repeat this process for the middle of the story (center spread) and the end of the story (last two pages). The back cover can be left blank or decorated. One of my children wrote Easy Reader on the back of her book, just like the tags on their library books. This is a project that allows for a lot of creativity and imagination!

For the book’s binding, there are numerous options. You can simply tape or (with a long-reach stapler) staple the pages together. We chose to sew our pages: I punched holes every 1/2″ or so down the center fold, the kids sewed using embroidery floss and a tapestry needle. There are other options as well, consult some scrapbooking resources or come up with your (or your children’s) own ideas!

Finishing touches can now be added. Embellishments, anything from colored markers to stickers to glue-on beads and baubles, can be put on the cover. Inside, your young authors may want to add some extra color to their pages or erase guidelines (if they have written in pen or marker).

Once the story books were finished, we made a show of sitting in the living room and having each child read their book aloud, showing the pictures on each page as they read. They had so much fun making the books and were so proud of their creations, I’m not sure they even realized they were “doing school” much less exercising their fine motor skills (cutting, gluing, sewing), creative expression, organizing thoughts, grammar & punctuation, handwriting, and reading & presentation skills all in one project!

20121003-111730.jpgNumber bond? What’s a number bond? Simple, it’s a number (often inside a circle) with two smaller (circled) numbers connected to it. The top number is the sum of the two bottom numbers. From a number bond diagram, one can derive two addition and two subtraction facts, or ‘number sentences’: for 7, the two smaller numbers might be 3 and 4. From there you get 3 + 4 = 7, 4 + 3 = 7, 7 – 4 = 3, and 7 – 3 = 4.

The Singapore Math workbooks we use (Essential Math: Kindergarten B currently) use the concept of ‘Number Bonds’ to help students understand the relationship between operands and sums or differences. A book I am reading, Arithmetic for Parents, discusses using names and terms for everything, emphasizing that children love special names and explicit wording. “They are proud of their ability to use them,” it says, and I find this to be true with my children. 20121003-111956.jpgThey stand a little taller, speak more seriously, when they talk about ‘number bonds’ so I’m going with it.

Now that my kids have a pretty good understanding of how to do addition and subtraction a few different ways, it’s time to start memorizing. I have decided to post the number bond diagrams for sums 0 through 10 on the walls to help. Since we have a rainy morning with nothing else going on, let’s turn it into a craft! (I was going to make it a craft anyway, but a rainy day makes a nice excuse, doesn’t it?)

What I used: cardstock in several different colors, tacky glue, assorted embellishments (beads, sequins, jewels, buttons, etc.), plus a ruler and pencil to mark the numbers and dividing lines. I’ll use a Sharpie marker to go over the numbers after the glue is dry.20121003-111829.jpg
I made one page myself as an example, and the kids are taking turns making the rest. The only rules I’ve given them is to keep the beads away from the numbers & lines, and each number gets its own shape — all of the markers for each number are of the same shape, and each number on a page has a unique shape. Colors and sizes may vary a bit, since our bead collection is not large enough to find many exactly the same. You might decide that each number will have a color, or an item cut from magazine pages… anything that makes each number group cohesive when you look at it. Once the glue is dry, I will hang the finished products around the room to help with math lessons and memorization of addition facts up to ten.