Search and Find Activities – More Than Just Fun and Games

Hidden-object

Search and find activities are good for children because they help to build vocabulary, and they develop cognitive skills such as the ability to search and locate. There are many books on the market that fall into this category, such as the I Spy series or Where’s Waldo?, but you can also create your own custom search and find game or book. They are easy to make and take very little in terms of supplies.

We have a few examples of how to make your own on the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus. Why not try one of these?

I Spy bottle

You’ll need:

  • empty pop bottle
  • rice, sand or couscous
  • reliable glue
  • small objects found around the house or yard such as figurines/toys, game pieces, feathers, and other odds and ends that can fit through a bottle top

This can also be a good way to explore items that might not otherwise be safe to handle, such as tacks and other sharp objects. Be sure to use hot glue, or something similar, to effectively seal the cap onto the bottle in order to avoid spills and choking hazards.

Keep a list of what’s inside, and play a game of “I Spy” with your child. You can focus on colours, (I spy something that is green), or numbers (I spy four marbles, or something with eight legs), or anything else you like (I spy something that goes “ribbit”).

Use this opportunity to talk about the object. (How do you think this marble feels? Is it smooth or rough? What shape is the marble? Is it round or flat? What could this object be used for? Have you ever seen a bird with feathers like this one?)

Homemade Search and Find Book

You’ll need:

  • Colouring book
  • Markers or pencil crayons
  • Three-hole punch
  • Binder, Duo-Tang or three key rings
  • Packing tape, transparent –self-adhesive paper or lamination

You can use a sheet from any colouring book that has some detail. Colour it in and then write a list of objects to find in the picture. Make several of these pages and seal them with self-adhesive paper, packing tape or lamination. Three-hole punch them and bind in a binder, a Duo-tang, or use three key rings.

Another option is to find objects in your house or yard that would be fun to see in a search and find book, (grapes, marbles, lego, dice etc.), and spread them out on the floor, so they are crowded but still visible. Snap some photos and either print them letter size from a computer or head to your local photo lab and print them 8 x 10″. You can then seal them by the same method as above, three-hole punch and bind. Make a list of the items and there you have it: your very own real-to-your-life hidden-object book!

 

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus information and schedule

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. newsletters (with more crafts to do with your children)

hashtag: #ab_cow

 

The Many Benefits of Crafts

iStock_000008336394XLargeDoing a craft together is a great way to build the skills needed for future lifelong learning, such as thinking skills, working together and continuous learning.

Crafts incorporate different learning styles, and are hands-on activities that build fine motor skills. By giving your child a project  that can be worked on together until completion, you are also working on setting goals and building confidence and self-esteem.

On the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus, we have a variety of simple crafts you can do at home – all geared towards early learning and literacy.

One such craft is a do-it-yourself playmat. Try it in conjunction with your child’s favourite book. One of our favourite children’s books is I Went Walking, by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas, and it goes especially well with this project. This book is about a little boy who goes on a walk and sees many different animals along the way. It is simple, repetitive, rhyming and entertaining,

I went walking.
What did you see?
I saw a black cat
Looking at me.

The following is just an example of what you can do. Tailor it to your own child’s interests. You might even want to make up your own story to go with your mat!

When the playmat is finished, you can use it with toys you already have at home.

Craft1

You will need:

•  Plain cloth placemat or
other material such as pillowcase or tablecloth (the possibilities are endless)
•  Felt of various colours
•  Hot glue or fabric glue
•  Scissors
•  Paper and pencil for sketching

Optional:
Foam or felt letters to spell the title

Directions:

  1. Sketch out the setting on a piece of paper
  2. Cut out your felt pieces that go with the story
  3. Glue felt pieces onto placemat, then cut out and glue a path winding its way through the setting.
  4. Decorate with more felt as desired.

Craft2

Optional:

Draw, trace or print out play pieces from the story, then colour, cut and laminate (or use packing tape or contact paper). You might want to add Velcro to the backs of these pieces so they stick to the felt on the play-mat.

You want this to be a positive experience, so try to start simple. Don’t stress; have fun instead!

 

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus information and schedule

hashtag: #ab_cow

The Wheels on the Bus…

We have replaced the St. Catherine’s site with a new partnership – the Primrose Place Family Resource Centre. This new site meets at the Ottewell Community League parking lot. After a successful summer program in the same area, we expect this to be a thriving location!

We started September with Busapalooza at the Idylwylde library. The Edmonton C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) bus was a hit and we were interviewed by CBC.

The fall bus schedule officially started on September 15th and we have our fall books and activities all ready to go. This month we are sharing some fall favourites such as, There was an Old Lady that Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro.

Book-Leaves-2

One of our favourite songs on the bus is ”The Wheels on the Bus” by Jane Cabrera, which we sing and support with some fun animal props.

Book-Wheels on Bus

Another favourite is “This Old Man.” It is an easy song, with actions and a prop that both children and adults enjoy. We count to ten and rhyme while we “knick knack paddy-whack”!

Book-This Old Man

Drop by with your children! You’ll find our Edmonton C.O.W. bus schedule here

hashtag: #edm_cow

MOOOve into Summer!

COW-SummerWith stops in La Perle, Brander Gardens, and Primrose, the Edmonton C.O.W. bus summer programming has begun! Our first week was a huge success with a total of 81 participants joining us for some “monkeying” around; we launched monkeys with a specially made catapult, caught them with our parachute that doubled as a popcorn maker, and sang about 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed.

COW-Summer2Some of the fun activities we are looking forward to sharing this summer:

  • feeding a hungry caterpillar and then crafting one, as well as a beautiful butterfly
  • DIY backyard games using dollar items like pool noodles
  • practicing our “Eye Spy” skills with a family scavenger hunt
  • exploring measurement and prediction though H2O
  • exercising our lungs in a bubble blow-out
  • expressing ourselves artistically with a colour explosion

Some of the books we are going to bring to life:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Mix it Up by Herve Tulle
  • Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • Waves in the Bathtub by Eugenie Fernandez
  • Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett

Kiddie karaoke will be featuring such favourites as:

  • “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”
  • “Fuzzy Little Caterpillar”
  • “Colour Song”
  • “Going on a Treasure Hunt”
  • “5 Green and Speckled Frogs”
  • “Bugs Bugs Bugs”

We won’t divulge all of our plans — you’ll have to attend the program to see what other tricks we have up our sleeves!

Kristin and Crystal

You’ll find our Edmonton bus schedule here

hashtag: #edm_cow

Have Fun and Build Brains Using “Serve and Return”

More brain connections form in the first six years of life than at any other time, and the more you use these connections the stronger they get. Brain connections are built on a foundation of “serve and return” interactions. Serve and return refers to give-and-take —healthy interaction that goes both ways. For example, if your baby “serves” by smiling at you, you “return” by smiling back. By doing this, you are showing baby that you understand them and they matter; you are giving them the feedback they need to learn.

TheBigAnimalMix-upReading a story together is a great example of a serve and return activity, and many have an interactive nature built right into them. On the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus we love The Big Animal Mix-up, a lift-the-flap book by Gareth Edwards and Kanako Usui. It has bright pictures, humour, and a lot of rhythm and rhyme. In the story, Little Bear’s dad tries to teach him about animals: “Hello Little Bear, here’s a story for you, that’s all about animals and what they can do.” Only as the title suggests, they’re all mixed up! He has snakes mixed up with birds, and mice mixed up with whales, now Little Bear (and your child) have to set the record straight.

Here is a bird. It slithers around. And slides through the jungle with a soft hissing sound.”

“Hang on a minute! You made a mistake. If it hisses and slithers it must be a..… [open flap] SNAKE!”

We never tire of this book, but remember that any book can be made interactive by talking about the pictures, having the child help you with the story, asking open-ended questions, and relating the story to real life.

Building brain connections through serve and return has a big impact on the rest of a child’s life, providing the solid foundation needed for language and emotional health. But don’t forget to have fun while doing it!

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus information and schedule

hashtag: #ab_cow

Edmonton COW Wraps Up Spring

It has been another successful Spring session for the Edmonton Literacy C.O.W. Bus. We would like to say thank you to all of our participants, whether you visited the C.O.W. bus once a week or once a month. We looked forward to your visits and appreciated being incorporated into your routines. A big shout out to all the Mom’s, Dad’s, Grandma’s, Grandpa’s, babysitters, and caregiver’s that came to learn and PLAY.

Thanks for reading to your little ones, letting them read to you, doing puzzles, engaging in all kinds of fun activities, participating in the stories and playing pretend. You are your child’s first and most important teachers, so thank you for trying and doing your best.

Over the program year, 22 new babies were born to our families and paraded on the bus. We will see 58 bright shiny faces head off to preschool or kindergarten in the fall and they will truly be missed.

This session we have given away more than 200 books for our Lending Library prizes — we put participant’s names into our draw when they routinely check books in and out. We have also given away around 100 donated books to our families.

We hope to see you again in the fall and hopefully there will be some new faces as well.

The Edmonton C.O.W. Team

COW

You’ll find our Edmonton bus schedule here

hashtag: #edm_cow

Scrapbooking Your Way to Essential Skills

What was the last thing you read? Maybe it was a road sign to find your way, or the label on a prescription bottle. When did you last use a computer and why? Was it to update your FaceBook status or to fill out an online insurance claim? What could you learn that would make your life easier, or more interesting? Maybe it’s another language, social media, or how to drive.

Reading, computer use, and continuous learning are just a few of the basic skills needed in our daily lives and we don’t often think about them. They’re called the 9 Essential Skills and they include:

  1. Reading
  2. Document use
  3. Writing
  4. Numeracy
  5. Oral Communication
  6. Thinking Skills
  7. Working with Others
  8. Digital Technology
  9. Continuous Learning

These skills are seen as “building blocks” because they are the starting point for all future learning. These “starter skills” are needed whether we are baking a cake at home or balancing a budget at work, so it’s easy to see how important it is to develop them in our children, and for adults to keep them fresh. One way adults can do this is by incorporating family literacy activities into the daily lives of their families.

Making a scrapbook is a great way for the whole family to target those essential skills. On the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus, we have a very simple example of a scrapbook. There are many different types, and they can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. This activity potentially uses all 9 essential skills, so periodically take time to review your creation and talk about what you have learned.

A scrapbook is fun for kids to work on. They love to see themselves in pictures and hear their own stories. The finished product is a great learning tool for the kids, and what you put in the scrapbook can be a record of your other family literacy activities.

Materials Needed:

  • Small photo album
  • Family photos
  • Flash cards
  • Pens
  • Stickers for decoration

Directions:

Choose photos (eg. family vacation). Insert into a sleeve.

ScrapbookOn a flashcard, write a simple sentence that corresponds with the photo. Insert it into the opposing sleeve.

Create a book cover using another flashcard. Insert into front sleeve.

Try letting them narrate their own story while you act as the scribe. If you make new books each week, month or year, you will see how their skills progress over time.

Scrapbook2Why not share a learning activity with your family today? Don’t forget to snap some photos, or keep souvenirs, for your scrapbook!

Learn more about Essential Skills here

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus information and schedule

hashtag: #ab_cow

 

 

 

 

 

The C.O.W. has Mice & Pretty Bugs in May!

Mouse_CountMay is full of mice on the bus. First we will be reading Mouse Count. In this charming companion to Mouse Paint, Ellen Stoll Walsh introduces the concept of counting forward and backward in a suspenseful story that will keep young readers guessing. We have some furry little props to add to this exciting story.

 

Lunch

Lunch is also on the bus this month. It’s time for lunch, and one little mouse is famished! In fact, he’s so hungry that once he starts eating, he can’t stop. He sinks his teeth into a crisp white turnip, gobbles up some orange carrots, devours an ear of yellow corn, and then tosses back some tender green peas. He’s full, but this mouse keeps on munching until his bulging belly won’t hold another bite. Come and see all the stuff author Denise Fleming has this little mouse devouring!

 

Butterflys2Still on the fun theme, we will be singing B.I.N.G.O. on the bus. We have some new puzzles and activities like “Who Knows Whose Nose,” and some giant bugs that snap together. We also welcome a kaleidoscope of beautiful butterflies in the bus this month. Join us for some great stories, fun activities, and pretty bugs!

You’ll find our Edmonton bus schedule here

hashtag: #edm_cow

 

Parent Literacy Workshops in Your Community

COW-workshopThe Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus is known to travel around the province, taking part in planned events in communities as a way of promoting family literacy. But did you know that, at the invitation of our community partners, the Classroom On Wheels facilitators also hold indoor workshops for parents and caregivers?

The workshops are held in a welcoming space other than the bus, last about an hour and a half, and are for adults only. We require that the hosting organization supply childcare so that parents and caregivers can fully participate.

At these workshops we discuss a variety of early literacy topics:

  • What is family literacy and why is it important
  • How early literacy leads to the essential skills we use in everyday life
  • Building literacy with reading, telling stories, singing, sharing rhymes and playing games
  • Simple, inexpensive ideas for activities that can be made at home
  • How to incorporate literacy into everyday life
  • How to choose quality books; book safety
  • Using crafts to extend your rhymes and stories. If there’s time, we will even break into groups for some hands-on practice
  • Everyone will take home a list of rhymes to enjoy

At the end of the workshop, attendees will also take home a quality children’s book of their choosing.

To arrange a Parent Workshop for your organization, please contact our Classroom on Wheels Coordinator by calling the Centre for Family Literacy at 780.421.7323.

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus information and schedule

hashtag: #ab_cow

“Stuck” on the C.O.W. Bus

The C.O.W. Bus is ready for Spring! We have new puzzles and literacy activities as we do at the start of every month.

To celebrate the big thaw, we are reading some great stories. Wiggle Waggle by Jonathan London is a fun favourite. Everyone can jump up and dance along with camels, horses, and kangaroos in their lively animal parade.

We use great characters made of felt to help tell the story Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. Delightful chaos ensues when a young boy gets his kite stuck in a tree. He throws up his shoe to shift it, but that gets stuck too. So he throws up his other shoe and that gets stuck, along with…a ladder, a pot of paint, the kitchen sink, an orangutan and a whale, among other things! This is a hilarious book with a wonderful surprise ending.

For Easter we will have some fun stories to share about this bright and “hoppy” holiday.  To help you celebrate here are some quick tricks for dying eggs. http://www.kidspot.com.au/Easter-Crafts-Quick-tricks-to-dye-eggs-for-Easter+4566+162+article.htm

Peanut Butter and Jelly will be everyone’s favourite song (and sandwich) when we sing this sweet little ditty on the bus. Below is a link to this catchy tune. http://youtu.be/EpPRpSi8Czk

 

Check our website for the bus schedule and more information

Watch a video of a program on the bus

hashtag: #edm_cow