Monthly Archives: July 2013

DIY: Featured Literacy Activity

Here’s an easy, fun, and educational activity for an indoor play day — make a giant game of “Memory”!


What you need:

  1. Painter’s Tape
  2. Single Sheets of Paper (the bigger the better!)
  3. Crayons and Markers

What you do:

  1. Tape out a matrix on your floor (using easy-to-remove, no-residue painter’s tape) with grids large enough to hold each piece of paper (tip: try laying the papers down first, then taping the correct size around them!)
  2. Print out (or make your own!) double-sets of images. Try two snails, two basketballs, two letter “F’s”… etc, and scatter them face-down in your matrix.
  3. Play Memory! Have your child flip over individual pieces of paper and try to find the matching images. To start, leave the pictures face-up after they’ve been flipped, so your child can use a trial-and-error process to find the correct picture. Help them out, and if another match comes along while you’re looking for a different one, make sure to point it out, and take both pictures off the grid to show success! After your child has mastered this portion of the game, make sure to flip images back over if they are not the right match. Did you flip a “Gorilla” first, but the next picture you picked was of a rhino? Flip both images back over, and try again!

What it does:

Playing Memory is great for developing a lot of different skills — first, of course, is your child’s “short-term” memory; remembering where an image is that they’ve already looked at, and being able to match it to another similar image. It also helps with goal-oriented tasks — being able to hold a single goal in mind and work towards it. At the same time, as your child gets better at the game, they will be able to hold several objects in their mind at a time and remember the locations of more and more images simultaneously, increasing their “working memory”. This game also develops our childrens’ “spatial awareness”, as well as “phonemic and letter awareness”. When we see or hear different letters and words with visual pictures attached to them, it helps cement these concepts in our brains. On top of all that, because we’re playing on such a large scale and in such a big space, it’s also increasing our gross motor skills, like bending and jumping and moving around from one side of the grid to another.

Extended Activities:

  • 16-24 month-olds will require simple and identical pictures to start with, so make sure the images don’t have more than one focal point in them, and that it’s match is exactly the same image
  • Use images of objects and things that your child is already fond of, to keep them engaged. Are they crazy about bugs? Love the characters from a certain book or movie? Use those! Then try mixing in some images of things you and your child don’t see every day. An exotic animal? Interesting Fruit?
  • Try including one or two letters from your child’s name into the pairs as well (two A’s for “Adam” or two J’s for “Jillian”, for example).
  • Children ages 2-3 can start playing with “concept” matches — Pair a lower case letter with it’s upper case version to make a set, or a baby animal with it’s parent. Or try matching an animal with the food it might eat: Monkey and Banana = 1 set.
  • Print out black and white sets of images so your child can colour them in. Learning how to hold writing tools is an important pre-literacy skill!
  • You can also start playing with “emotion” images — find close-up photographs of people’s faces who are laughing, crying, yelling, smiling, etc. Being able to correctly identify the way people are feeling will increase your child’s emotional maturity and ability to empathize.
  • 4 and 5 year-olds love a good challenge. Try using more complicated concepts like colours — “I need two papers that make the colour Orange” (Red and Yellow = 1 set), or increasing the size of the matrix so there are even more pairs available.
  • Give your child enough blank pieces of paper to create their own pairs — allow them to colour or draw their own matching sets! And if they want to hide them for YOU, enjoy their creativity and the exercise it will give your own brain!

Creativity, your child, and you

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
– Pablo Picasso

I love this quote, even though it reminds me of the many people I meet who say that they are terrible at drawing– the many adults who say this, and even older kids. But, younger children never seem to think that way on their own. The question is “why not?”

If your child sees you confidently experimenting with art, they are more likely to do so themselves. This is what I feel is the biggest barrier to creativity: when we, as adults, say “I can’t”, our children hear this and think that they can’t either. As adults, we are the primary models for our childrens’ behaviour. If you do a creative activity with your child, you should both be exploring together. Let your child take the lead and explore while you do. Discover how to make new colours together. Take your time. I have to emphasize this last point, as I think in this current age, it is so very important to emphasize that by taking your time, you are giving your child the most valuable gift of all. Your art making and spending time together should not be about making something quickly as though it is part of a rigid schedule. Nor should it be about making a cookie cutter type of craft that always looks exactly the same. There needs to be room for spontaneity and discovery (as well as creative messes). There needs to be a time where we can turn off the phone and the screen and just focus on the few small details that are there. This attention to the present moment also allows us to have a shared moment. I would argue by sharing creative moments, we also build essential feelings of trust and confidence in our children. You are giving them the sense that they are worthy of attention, and that the discoveries they are making by themselves are important and worthwhile. It isn’t about just saying “Oh, that’s nice honey,” and returning to your last text message. It is about sharing a genuine, authentic moment with them on their level. And trust me, I am not saying that we can do this all the time as parents, but if we can dedicate some time to letting our children have free, unstructured play with creative materials, I think more magical things may happen and we’ll all remain artists well after we’ve “grown up”.

Book Review: You Are Stardust


We are ALWAYS looking for exciting and interesting books to share with our families and children — and despite some lingering fears that e-publishing will mean the death of the book, it is clear to us that Children’s Literature is alive and THRIVING!

This month we’re taking the time to highlight the delightful “You are Stardust” by Elin Kelsey, with artwork by Soyeon Kim.

With the facts of a non-fic and the flow of a lullaby, this gentle and beautiful picture book is a great fit for every age. Whether you’re sharing a story with a curious five-year-old, reading aloud to a classroom of second graders, or even if you just need a break from the sing-songy offerings of stand-by baby titles, this book has something for you!
We promise there is something for everyone in this book! It is also perfect for extended activities! Try piecing together different materials to make your own collage/diorama! Talk about the habitats of different animals in the pictures! Pick one of the natural processes (like pollination or the water cycle) that are touched on so simply and expand the conversation!

You can also check out more activities on the website, or download the book app from The App Store!