Friday, 31 August 2012

Integration of the Left and Right Brain

Hello to all our Head Start families.This week we have looked at the integration of our left and right brain.What does this mean, well.....The left and right hemispheres of the brain work in different ways and integration of the hemispheres is important so that the whole brain is involved in the thinking and learning process.Activities that cross the body's mid line promote the pathways between the hemispheres and help to integrate them.  Activities that use both sides of the body at the same time are important for developing coordination as well as spelling, reading, listening and comprehension.

For most of our classes the challenge was put out to the parents to crawl around the course with their child, well done to Ange for getting through the tunnel with Jack, wish I had the camera!  Others had fun crawling up the ramp while butting a swiss ball with their head (this was my favourite).  Our tapping sticks were another fun one getting the children to tap left and right.

This week at our Puku Play date class the children were great, Lilly, Zac and Samantha were perfect while the Mums had a go at some of the harder pelvic floor exercises Amy had prepared for them.  Not easy balancing a cup of tea on your back (hypothetically) and squeezing and controlling your pelvic floor muscles, Well Done Sarah, Ange and Suzz. If anyone was interested here is a website that may give you some ideas for some other exercises 

Don't forget to take a take home sheet to help you remember the activities that we do at Head Start, these are always beside the sign in sheet.  Have a great week and we will catch you at our Head Start Headquarters for some more fun and of course BUBBLES.

Jo and the Head Start Team

Friday, 24 August 2012

Auditory Sequential Memory

Hello All.  Isn't it FANTASTIC to see the sun!  There was some serious cabin fever  for some families having been stuck inside with all the rain we have been having so it was great to see everyone in their raincoats and gumboots turning up for our Head Start Sessions.
This week was all about practising Auditory Sequential Memory.  This is the ability to remember things heard in sequence. This helps with other tasks such as learning to spell, repeating number sequences and recalling events. Obviously this is an important skill for us adults, it is always good to be able to remember that list of things your better half asked you to do (even if it was during the sports news.....). So it is never too early to start practising this auditory skill.

Our littlest Head Starters listened carefully to our Gibber Gabber game and some even started to mimic the crazy noises back proving that they were retaining that weird auditory sequential information! Try it at home and see how you get on, all you need to do is make up some weird noises and encourage your little one to say them back to you, trust me, the weirder the better, e.g. meep meep meep, screech screech boop... how long a sequence can you come up with?!
Our older kids listened carefully to number sequences and tried to remember what they had heard to make the same sequence on the whiteboard.

This auditory skill is something that we are actually encouraging often by asking our little people to follow basic instructions during their day. Try to remember to keep the instructions short and concise to start with and as your child develops you can make the instructions longer and more complex. To start with just 2 stage instructions are a good idea to keep it achievable - your child will love the praise you offer when they succeed!  For the older kids you can practise by asking them to recall what they did over the day or play games like calling out a number sequence or a letter sequence to see what they can remember, this is also a great way to start with basic maths and spelling - fridge magnets are a great resource for this and might help to keep little minds busy while you are sorting out the tea!
Puku Play date: Wow Lilly is now sitting by herself, Zac is rolling over and Morris is reaching forward while sitting, boy do they grow up fast. At Puku Play date for the next few weeks we are lucky enough to have Amy who is a Physio Therapist teaching us all some very important pelvic floor exercises.  These exercises are good to keep up all the time so it's great to learn how to do them effectively, looking forward to the next session!
Well I hope the sun keeps shining over the weekend and I look forward to seeing you all next week at our Head Start Headquarters.
From Jo and the Head Start Team

Friday, 17 August 2012

Visual Association - What does that Mean??

Hi All! I hope you all survived the rain.  It was great to see so many of you battle the weather and come and see us at our Head Start Headquarters. It certainly was very wet, but it is great to see the sunshine back again!! 

This week at our Head Start Headquarters we tackled visual association.  This is the ability to draw an association between two or more different but related items. For children this is initially associating familiar items such as sock & shoe or knife & fork. This basic foundation is built on to include the association made between the visual shape of letters and words. 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, 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! Why not ask your child what they think some items are associated with, you may be surprised!
The Go kids whipped through the visual association items and then started working on pictures that could be associated with the letter "J". The speed that our older children are picking up the new tasks is always astounding! 
Jo (of course), Jacket, Jump, Jog, Jolly, Joyful
How many more can you think of?
This week the topic of interest for our Puku Class has been Keeping Fit with a new baby.  We looked at some good walking tracks around Dunedin that you might be able to go to with a pram or a backpack (see our conversation on Face book).  Next week we have a guest coming to teach us all some Pelvic Floor exercises, can't wait!!
Well have a great weekend and get out and enjoy the sun, I know I will be as much as I can.
Jo and the Head Start Team

Friday, 10 August 2012

Up,up. Down,down. What is Directionality?

Hello All!  What a great week we have had at our Head Start Headquarters going up, down, through, round, over and under.  It has been wonderful watching you all have fun jumping down into the big red beanbag!
This week we have looked at directionality.  Directionality is the understanding of an objects position in space in relation to oneself. A child first learns these concepts in relation to themselves and is then able to transfer them to numbers, letters and words. This skill is important in the visual discrimination of letters and numbers for both reading and writing.

So for all our Head Start kids this week there has been lots of climbing up the climbing wall, biking down the roller coaster, climbing up the ladder and down the slide.  Even though lots of these activities are familiar to our children it is good to intentionally verbalise these concepts as the children complete the activities so they are able to later relate this to writing.  For example if you were asking your child to draw the letter "A" you might say: "draw a line that goes up, then down with a line across the middle".  Have fun using these
concepts at the park, in the bath and while you are out driving.
To create a capital "A" you have to go
Puku Play Date Report
This week our Puku Play Date class has been looking at Sensation and Tactile Toys.  These are toys and everyday items that help the child to distinguish between different textures.  So I dug into my draws and took along a metal bowl and a spatula, a hairbrush, a box and crinkly paper and guess what, they were all a big hit (although Lilly wasn't too sure about the sound of the paper).  But it just goes to show you don't have to spend a lot of money on toys to give your child a sensory experience that may develop a natural curiosity for things around them in the future.

Well that's all from me, have a great weekend all and we will see you at our Head Start Headquarters next week for heaps more fun.

Jo and the Head Start Team

PS: Make sure you book a babysitter for the 21st of August so you can come out to dinner with us at Ironic (see the latest newsletter or pick up a copy at the office)

Friday, 3 August 2012

A is for Apple - Auditory Association

Hello All! What a busy week we have had at our Head Start headquarters this week.  There  has been some strange sounds in the Head Start room this week and I was sure my guinea-pigs had been let out and were running around squeaking in the corner.  As it turned out there was also a cow mooing and pigs oinking and these noises were coming from our noisy books as the children tried to match the sound with the animal.
Our foundational skill this week has been - Auditory Association, this is our child’s ability to relate a sound to a given object or letter. This is an important skill in early literacy when learning letter sounds, blends and words.

 So what else have our Little's been up to?  We have had a matching game game out where they have been matching a shoe with a.........? ssss....ock, then there has been some great coloured buttons to push that have been making some really funny noises, "that's not the noise a clock makes Jo" (so ...we may need to update some of the sounds). 
Up the climbing wall we have had the animal puzzle and asking the children to find the animal that sounds like "woof woof".  Everyone has been really great at using their ears and it was suggested by a Mum that this is something we do really well but not so well with our taste, unfortunately I don't think that is something we can pursue at Head Start but maybe you can try some taste testing at home and give others some ideas to try at home.  What about dinner in the dark, or afternoon tea with blindfolds on.
For our Go children we were looking at "H". Can you make the H sound, what starts with H? Check out for some more idea's and activity sheets.

Well I hope you all have a great weekend and don't forget to post something on our Face book page if you get a chance or when you find a great place to go with your wee ones, let us all know.  Looking forward to next week already, keep well and catch up on some sleep if you have been up a lot watching the games.

Cheers from
Jo and the team at Head Start