Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Exploring Fine Motor Control and Vision

Well another couple of weeks have whipped by and so here we are again covering two HUGE topics in just this teeny tiny blog - I will try to do them justice anyways! Also a big thank you to our latest Head Start instructor Jo who dived right in the deep end and covered all the classes last week!

The first skill to review is that of Fine Motor Control. This is the ability to use smaller muscle groups to perform tasks that are precise in nature. Our children develop their gross motor skills primarily by exercising their larger muscle groups to move around. These gross motor skills help to develop core strength and this in turn provides a stable base from which to initiate movement from the smaller muscle groups responsible for fine motor control. Gross motor movement is a key concept at Head Start and is being developed every week through the running, jumping and climbing opportunities presented to our littlies. So this week we built on all this strengthening and presented our Head Starters with some fun fine motor skills to practice!

Little fingers love to explore zips, buttons, clasps and velcro so we gave them plenty of chance to do so on our new dressing up and down blanket. Puzzle pieces were hidden in pockets and there were fun pictures to discover, this is an easy one to keep practicing at home too! Other fun gadgets included tongs for picking up teeny tiny animals and nuts and bolts to keep little fingers busy.

Our next topic was Vision, this is of course one of our most primary senses and goes through many stages of development. For our kids we provided many opportunities to work on eye tracking, the younger bunch enjoyed dropping balls into new ball track and watching them closely (often moving their whole body, not just their eyes!) and the bigger kids took this a step further by trying to whack the balls as they emerged from the bottom of the track...which was harder than it looked!! There was also a marble maze for the kids that were big enough to not want to put the marbles in their mouths ;-). We had some swinging bean bags to catch and throw and try to hit with a bat and to make this a bit harder we popped some of the kids up on swiss balls. We also had some number and letter games so the older Head Starters could use their eagle eyes to spot them when called out. This is a great week to play some games of eye-spy with your littlies - remember that even our little bubs can get into this, just substitute colours or sounds for the letters (e.g., eye spy with my little eye something that sounds like moo).

This week's new topic is the first of our new Gross Motor skills - the week will be filled with Running and Jumping...look out!!

Now is the time for you all to get out your diaries and put a big red circle around this coming Sunday (11 Dec) as we are hosting our first Party in the Park. This is a great chance to come and celebrate the end of a wonderful first year of Head Start with all our new friends. Bring a picnic and a bike and we will bring some songs and Head Start fun! There will be lots of info available about plans for next year and special deals for anyone who wants to sign up early. This will be held at Marlow Park (the Dinosaur Park at St Kilda) between 11am and 1pm - keep an eye out for our banner. If the weather is uncooperative check out our Facebook page in the morning for any news of cancellation. (surely not!).

Righto - off to bed before the start of another busy week...where does the time go?! Before you know it Santa will be here!
x Lizz & the Head Start Team

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Visual Sequential Memory & Touch - Double Doozy

Umm somehow I seem to have missed last week's post...apologies all (I am officially blaming baby-brain for all these oversights now by the way!). So consider this a double doozy catch up session.

Week 3 of Term 4 at Head Start was focused on Visual Sequential Memory and I can confidently say that the most popular resource this week was our shiny new posting box!
Visual Sequential Memory is an important skill
to work on as it enables us to look at sequences of pictures, letters or numbers, memorise them and then recall them when necessary. This is an important prerequisite for learning to spell and recognising sequences of numbers. For our littlies this week we practiced this skill through posting games, such as laying out a sequence of coloured letters and seeing whether they could post them in the correct order. For the older bunch this task was extended by posting in particular number sequences. Another fun exercise had the kids threading coloured buttons in sequential order to match those that Mum/Dad/Nana modelled for them. Similarly, coloured balls were rolled through pipes inparticular sequences to see if the order could be replicated. This week was also a perfect week for our Go kids to really get stuck into their alphabet and counting activities and they had a great time with our new magnetic letters and numbers!

In the blink of an eye it was week 4 (and 1/2 way through Term 4 by the way - eek). This week the focus was Touch....and

yes it was a messy one. The sensation of touch is essential for our lit
tlies development and is one of the primary ways that they learn about their environment. This week we had lots of new things for them to explore using their sense of touch. The firm favourites for the week was the touch and feel tank of dried pasta and our tub of dried rice filled with hidden treasure - under close supervision this was a hit with both our littler and older Head Starters. We managed to pry a few kids away from the touchy tanks to show them our Total Touch station which consisted of shredded paper to be emerged in, pillows and mattresses to be squashed between and lycra to be rolled up - the photo shows that this was also a popular choice too!
We also introduced a new massage box filled with textured goodies and a corresponding bag to try to match objects too just by using the sense of touch...this was harder than it looks! Our Go kids were extended further through tasks that got them identifying shapes and objects using the sensation of touch just through their feet - definitely a challenge!!

As for our littlest Head Start bunch the Puku Playdate babies have been grooving to their favourite tunes and their Mums have been looking at how to use different baby equipment and how to make some lovely developmental toys at home. Next week we will be attempting some baby massage so hopefully all the bubs are relaxed and enjoy that!

In other news we have our FREE seminar "From First Foods to Lunchbox Snacks" coming up on November 24 at 7.30pm - so if you are keen join us and dietician Hollie Buchanan to learn about pre-school nutrition, treats to tempt even the fussiest eater and to try out some delicious samples! Call us on 487 9698 to RSVP.

Maybe you will all be inspired to get the rice out in the backyard after this week?! Get imaginative and see what other touch sensations you can think of that will be new and informative for your little one.
Have a great week! x Lizz & the Head Start team

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Well Term 4 is well underway now with week 2 starting off nicely with some hot sunny weather! This week was our first foundation skill week of the term after letting the littlies acclimatise to the environment during week 1. This week we are getting stuck into Auditory Association. This is the ability to listen to a sound or word and be able to associate an object or letter/word with that noise. To start with our wee ones will learn to associate familiar noises and objects, such as barking = dog, meowing = cat, footsteps in the hallway = mum (not so good...hence the tiptoeing!). But eventually this skill will lead to the recognition of letters and words in response to the appropriate noises so this is another important precurser to literacy skills, so we might as well get cracking on it now!

This week we have some (very) noisy buttons and books to play with - these will give the kids the opportunity to listen to noises and then go on to identify what makes the noise. Of course you can do this at home with your best animal impersonations too! We also have our matching pairs to associate, first verbally then actively. For the older kids we will be scrambling letters and numbers to help them work on identifying the correct ones with just verbal cues. And of course there are new challenges to conquer in the obstacle course and new songs for Term much to do and so little time!

Tune back in next week to see what fun we get up to practicing our Visual Sequential Memory!

Long may the hot weather continue - a great excuse to get outside and see what you can identify just by using your ears!!!

x Lizz & the Head Start Team.