Tag Archives: practical skills

Strengthening Scissor Skills with Play Dough

Strengthening Scissor Skills with Play Dough | Mama Papa BubbaOne of the things I’ve always loved doing with students who’ve found using scissors challenging is pairing them with play dough instead of paper.  Let’s face it – learning to use scissors properly is tricky!  First there’s figuring out which fingers go where, plus there’s finding the hand strength and coordination to open and close them, and then there’s also guiding them in the direction you want them to go… Certainly no easy task!  The reason I love play dough is that although many kids come to Kindergarten not all that familiar with using ‘school tools’ like scissors, almost all kids come to school having played with play dough.  And not only are they familiar with it, but they love it.  And because it’s fun and non-intimidating, plus soft and easy to cut, it’s a perfect starting point, even for reluctant munchkins.  

IMG 0190I’ve done this activity with Gracen many times, and although she’s already very comfortable using scissors with paper and cutting on pre-determined lines, she still loves cutting play dough.  It’s an easy activity to put together and I’d rather smush together bits of play dough than pick up tiny shards of paper any day of the week. When I set it up, I usually create both play dough ‘pancakes’ and ‘worms’ and then let her go to town, but anything goes.  Today after quickly preparing the play dough shapes, she used them to create a daisy and a stem. ☺

IMG 0192Then it was time to cut!

IMG 0194Two things I like to reinforce during the cutting process are one, being mindful of where your ‘holding fingers’ are and two, positioning your scissors so they’re pointing away from your body.

IMG 0199During the process Grae almost always asks for a bowl to put her ‘food’ in, which makes the activity that much more fun and adds in an element of pretend play.

IMG 0206Today’s food was for kitties only. ☺

♥ 

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Make Your Own Pizza Station

Over the course of the last week or so, the one thing Gracen can’t stop talking about is ‘when she gets bigger’.  So far, she’s told me she’s excited to get bigger so she can cross the road by herself, ‘work at a job’, walk in parking lots alone, drive a car, and go to university (Eesh…slow down, baby girl).  Part of me wants to curl up and cry, and the other part is incredibly proud that she desires such independence and self-sufficiency at 2.75 years old.

Making Your Own Pizza Lunch Station | Mama Papa BubbaWhile I’m not ready to hand over the car keys or let her navigate her way across a busy road just yet, I am ready {and more than happy} to let her put together some of her own meals. Given the proper set up, it’s something she’s totally capable of and she’s so, so, sooo proud after having done so.  A couple of days ago, she created her own breakfast banana split, and today she assembled her own quick and easy pizza lunch.

To make is super simple, we skipped pizza dough all together and used wholewheat Middle Eastern flatbreads instead.  These work perfectly, but wholewheat tortilla shells, pitas, and even bagels (cut in half of course) are great too.  Together, we cut up a bunch of stuff we had in the fridge (grilled chicken, red and yellow peppers, zucchini, and mango) and I set it all out, along with some grated fresh mozzarella and pesto, in a little pizza making station for my girl.

IMG 8347We’ve done this many times now, and what I’ve learned is that it’s best to let her create her pizza masterpiece directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet we’ll use to bake the pizzas.  After that, I kind of just let her go.  I’m a big fan of not directing our activities all that much (well except when it comes to safety, I guess), and really, it doesn’t matter which order the toppings go on in all that much.  The finished product will undoubtedly be delicious no matter what.  

IMG 8349That being said, we’ve made our favourite from scratch pizza together so many times in the past, she pretty much sticks to the sauce, cheese, toppings order.  And when this girl does toppings, she does toppings!

IMG 8351Here’s her mini pizza, ready for the oven.  I cook ours for about 5 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees, then crank up the temperature and broil them for just a minute at the end.

IMG 8354I can’t even explain how proud Miss G is after creating her meal on her own… She exudes pride.  And my personal opinion is that when kids take part in creating food, they are much more likely to eat it.

IMG 8355The verdict?  A total hit.  A pizza assembling station is always a hit in our house. 

♥ 

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Sharp Knife Practice

Sharp Knife Cutting Practice | Mama Papa BubbaI’m well aware that many people may think I’m crazy, but recently, I’ve been helping Gracen learn how to safely use sharp knives while cooking.  She’s been helping in the kitchen since shortly after her first birthday, and is becoming an expert pourer, mixer, peeler, and grater, so this felt like a natural next step.  I fully subscribe to the notion that children, even wee ones, are very capable little human beings… More so than we often give them credit for.  So, given her kitchen experience, her ability to follow instructions, and her generally cautious nature, I felt like she was ready.  Plus, I sort of feel that being handed a cucumber to cut and a butter knife to do the job must feel a little insulting.  

IMG 9761Wouldn’t you trust this innocent little face? ☺

IMG 9762When she’s practicing her cutting skills, I like to give Grae my favourite tomato knife.  It’s quite sharp, but it doesn’t have a pointed tip and it doesn’t seem to easily puncture the skin – perhaps because it’s serrated?   I also make sure to give her soft foods that have at least one flat side (no rolling) and are long and thinnish (more space for holding).

IMG 9763So far, we’ve been focusing on holding the food at the far end and really being aware of where the knife is in relation to her little fingers.

IMG 9767This morning, while we were at the grocery store, I let Grae pick out what she wanted to cut.  First on her list was cantaloupe.

IMG 9769She also selected a dragon fruit and a couple of kiwi fruits…

IMG 9777Perfect for a fruit salad!  Overall, she’s doing really well with it.  I still always stay close to her and monitor her chopping carefully, and I did ask her to slow down a little bit today, but for the most part, she can safely use a sharp knife on her own.

IMG 9778The best part is how proud she is of herself.  Chopping up all the fruit for a big bowl of fruit salad while using a sharp knife = official big girl status.  

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Outdoor Dishwashing Station

Outdoor Dishwashing Station | Mama Papa BubbaGracen loves “helping” wash dishes so much, I decided to turn it into a little afternoon activity today.  While having a toddler standing on a chair beside you splashing in a sink of bubbles as you power through a load as fast as humanly possible isn’t always super convenient, this activity was easy and fun for everyone involved.

IMG 7747We got started by collecting some supplies we had around the house – a bin filled with warm soapy water, a dish drying rack, some plastic dishes, cups, and spoons, a nearly empty dish soap container topped up with water, some scrubber pads, steel wool, a dish brush, and a dish towel.

IMG 7755I asked Grae if she wanted to play, and she got going without hesitation. All dishes in the sink!

IMG 7757IMG 7761Without a doubt, squeezing the soap into the bin was her favourite part.

IMG 7777She scrubbed and washed each dish one at a time…

IMG 7773And when they met her expectations, they were added to the drying rack.

IMG 7791Though she was down to business for part of the activity, things got silly and wet too!

IMG 7796This station was a total hit and I can definitely see it becoming a regular in our play rotation. After all, what’s not to love about bubbles, water, splashing, scrubbing, and getting soaking wet on a warm day?

 

You can see Gracen’s oceanicerainbow rice, beach, watergardeningmoon doughconstructionand bird-themed
bins by clicking on the links.

♥ 

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