In my search for alphabet recognition activities, I found some great free cookie sheet printables here:
The idea behind the cookie sheets is this: If you tape the printable to the cookie sheet, the magnetic letters stay in one place as your child adds to them.
I figured Bella (3) could handle this no problem, but I knew Noah (5 – Down syndrome) would need a little more to go on than just the printed letter to match the magnet to. I wish I could claim credit for this idea, but alas I did not think of this myself. Too bad I have NOOOO idea which blog I saw it on, but I knew this would be just the thing for Noah.
You can print this directly from your color printer by clicking on it; your alphabet magnets should fit exactly over these letters. How cool is that? I found the fact that the colors on the printable matched the actual colors of the magnetic letters to be a big help in guiding my children to the correct match. These magnets came from the dollar store. If you can pick up a set, hopefully your colors will match mine. If not, use your colors, line them up in alphabetical order in rows like mine, take a picture allowing the letters to take up the full screen, and print the picture full size. I slipped my printable into a page protector for durability and then taped it to the cookie sheet.
I had no idea what a hit this activity would be. I had all three littles, including Seth (2) climbing all over each other to take a turn matching the letters. I just love it when that happens.
Mama Bear, Mama Bear, what do you see?
Teachable moments staring at me.
Activity: Grow Pals
- Two identical Grow Pals or other water expandable items. (I’ve seen these at the dollar store and at Hobby Lobby.)
- Cut out Shapes.
- Little and Big
- Listening and Following 2-part directions
- Working Memory
These Grow Pals were another Dollar Tree purchase. Just drop them in water, wait a day, and they start growing in size. The package says up to 600% growth over a few days. I don’t know if we got 600% growth, but there was a distinct change in size. Each day we checked on the horse in water and talked about how it was getting “bigger.” On day three we were able to take it out of the water and compare it to the one we had kept dry. Now one was “little” and one was “big.”
Here we worked on putting the little horse on the yellow circle, and then the big horse on the red circle. This was great because it allowed us to work on two-part directions. Two-part directions are important because the child has to use his working memory to store the information about the first direction while trying to follow the second direction, i.e., finding small and then finding yellow.
I bought up a bunch of the Grow Pals; horses, cars, monkeys, etc. These are great because once they dry out, they shrink back to their original size, so you can use them over and over again.
This would also be a great way to work on teaching mama or papa and baby animals. Any other ideas?
Libby Kumin, in her book Early Communication Skills for Children With Down Syndrome, introduced me to a lot of these ideas. I’ve adapted them to what I can find at the dollar store (Dollar Tree) and I’ve added a few of my own along the way. It is notable that Noah’s ability to do some of these things and his practice of them was immediately followed by a huge leap in the quantity and quality of his vocalizations.
10. Lollipops – You hold lollipop while your child sticks his tongue out to touch and lick it.
9. Pop Rocks
8. Bubbles (mouth blowing kind)
7. Straws, crazy straws and coffee stirrers
6. Flavored chapstick
4. Party horns – all sizes and shapes
3. Whistles – all sizes and shapes
2. Paper horns (the kind that unfold as you blow)
1. And the number one dollar store buy for promoting oral motor strength and coordination is . . .
Thingy mabobbers (I have no idea what they are really called, but these are way fun!)