Thursday, 22 September 2011

Visual Figure Ground Greatness

Well Term 3 is whipping by and this week was all about Visual Figure Ground, sounds tricky right? In fact its one of those skills that we actually are practicing all the time without really knowing it, but of course we are here to shed some more light and show you how it can be fine tuned!

In a nut shell Visual Figure Ground is the ability to discriminate between visual foreground and backgrounds. For example, being able to pick out patterns amongst a busy backdrop or finding a specific can on a shelf full of cans at the supermarket! This is an important skill to improve visual perception and helps your child to focus on something specific amongst other visual stimuli, for example, finding their spot on a page or on the blackboard when reading.

We used a special 'eye-spy' blanket for all our kids this week (should have taken a picture sorry...put that on the list of things to do!). This beautiful quilt is compiled of little squares each with a different picture on them. Our littlies spent loads of time just checking out the blanket and pointing out all the treasures on it. For the older bunch we popped some ocean creature figurines on top to see if they could pick them out...and the Go kids used their special grippers to pick them up. Just shows how a simple skill can be easily stretched over a wide range of ages.

We also had a number of 'Can You Find' pictures to work on identifying objects within busy backgrounds and various mazes to work thru - it was a busy week!!

We had a wonderful turn out for our Puku Playdate open day this week - some of our youngest Head Start babies yet! This week our focus was on Visual Development, what happens and how to best stimulate this natural process. We provided some great pictures to take home to keep the little eyes and minds working!

So only two weeks left in Term 3 - this week has been open to all our current Head Starters to enroll for next term, hopefully you have all got in early to ensure the spot you want. Next week will be open to all new entrants for Term 4 so make sure to check out the timetable at www.headstart.net.nz and give us a call at 487 9698 to secure your class!

Have a wonderful weekend...don't overdose on the rugby too much!
x Lizz & the Head Start team.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Figuring Out Auditory Figure Ground

Dare I say it, spring has arrived!! (?) This week has been glorious and perhaps it is due to the lovely weather allowing our wee ones to get out and about to burn off some energy, but my classes this week all seemed very attentive and keen to get into the skill based activities - how nice!

During week 6 of Term 3 we have been exercising our Auditory Figure Ground skills. This is the ability to discriminate between background and foreground noises. Or in other words, it is how we are able to attend to certain sounds while ignoring sounds that are unimportant. This is an important auditory processing skill and is crucial in the formal learning environment as it allows our child to focus and listen to instructions in a busy, noisy classroom environment.

So essentially this is a skill that we practice EVERY time we come to the Head Start environment as there is always lots of chatter, laughter and music in the background while we are explaining activities and interacting with our little people one-on-one. This week we took it one step further tho and added some different noises for our Head Start kids to listen out for throughout the class. It was exciting to see that as the classes progressed they all started tuning in to these noises faster and with less prompting...by next week we will have them baa-ing, moo-ing, meowing etc along with the sounds!!

Our world is a BUSY place nowadays so this skill to be able to tune out background noise to hear and ATTEND to relevant and important information is even more important than ever, this skill will truly give your little one a Head Start in the classroom so keep it in mind and practice it whenever possible. Take the opportunity when in a busy environment to talk one-on-one with your little one, for example in the supermarket or shopping mall point out interesting things, play a game of eye spy or discuss what is going on around you. Head to the park and see how many birds you can hear over the general noise of the playground or to the pool and listen for the whirr of the spa pool or siren before the wavepool starts - you get the idea!!

This week in our Puku Playdate we looked at some fun, educational toys to make at home...honestly some of the best toys ever are free!! One fail-safe idea is a posting box made out of an ice-cream container (great excuse for dessert too!) with round holes and rectangles cut in the top to post milk bottle lids thru (so bubba has to turn the lid on its side to get thru the rectangles), this is always a winner!!

I hope you are all out enjoying the sunshine...or enjoying it in a quick moment of nap-time solitude as I am! Keep well till next week and don't forget to tune back in to see what we are up to in week 7.
x Lizz & the Head Start team

Friday, 2 September 2011

Very Visual Association



Half way through Term 3 already....WHAT?!?! I can't believe how fast it has gone and how much all our little ones have accomplished.

This week we tackled the foundation skill of Visual Association. This is the ability to draw associations between two or more different but related items. To start with this is most easily done with familiar items, such as sock & shoe, knife & fork etc, but importantly this skill builds up to include associations between visual shapes of letters and formation of words, eg, C + A + T = CAT.

For our littlest Head Starters we made an effort to point out all the things that could be associated together in the class - visual associations are everywhere once you start looking for them!! We talked about socks & shoes, eggs in cartons, fish in the 'pond', pegs in bottles...the associations were endless. Sometimes all it takes is the intention to find associations and before you know it they are all around us!

Our Ready/Steady kids spent time looking through our visual association items to work out what should be matched up and in no time had figured them all out...we had to make sure that the toothbrush and toothpaste wasn't put to actual use though! One of our Steady kids suggested that Sausages are associated to forks...can't really argue with that, and then when questioned further he thought that Sauce was another associated item...however, in the end we got around to matching the knife with the fork!

The Go kids whipped through the visual association items and then started working on pictures that could be associated in different ways on the whiteboard. The speed that our older children are picking up the new tasks is always astounding!

This week in our Puku Playdate the focus was on sensory and tactile toys and how to make a Heuristic toy box. This was also a great opportunity to start building on body awareness for these tiny tots as we used items from our sensory box to brush over their cheeks, fingers, toes, tummys etc. Already we are getting some smiles when the familiar songs are coming on and lots more confidence and strength being shown during the tummy time activities...great fun to see.

Next week brings a new auditory skill - should be fun...lots of crazy noises to look out for. Keep happy and healthy and tune back in soon.
x Lizz & the Head Start team