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

Learn, Grow, and Play Together – as a Family

Spring is finally here! At Learn Together – Grow Together we have been focusing on ways in which we can “grow” as families.

Our activities have been showcasing ways in which parents are able to spend quality learning time with their children while having fun. Now that the weather is beautiful again, we encourage all families to spend time outdoors – growing together!

Below are some of the ways that we practiced growing together this session:

  • using cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and other recyclable materials, we made our own robots
  • using construction paper, ribbons, tape, and string, we made our own kites and flew them in the wind
  • using paint and pre-made wooden structures from a dollarstore, we decorated birdhouses for the birds that come to visit
  • using paper and markers, we created our very own scavenger hunt to do outside
  • using a Styrofoam cup (which we decorated with a face), potting soil, and grass seeds, we made our own grassheads by having the grass grow out of the top

Kite1     Kite2

We hope you can take the time to try one or more of these activities. As you are interacting and playing together, you will be growing together as a family too. Enjoy learning as you spend time together!

More about the Learn Together – Grow Together program

hashtag: #LT_GT

 

Free Outdoor Fun with 3,2,1, Fun!

LookatClouds

Supporting your child’s numeracy development does not have to cost you anything but time and creativity, especially when you can head outdoors! At 3,2,1, Fun! we have started our spring session by sharing with our families a variety of numeracy activities that are free, support strong numeracy development, and are a ton of FUN!

Cloud search

Find a comfortable spot on the grass and lay down with your child. Take a look at the clouds in the sky. What shapes do you see in the clouds? What do the clouds look like? Are some bigger or smaller than others? Do the clouds tell a story? Do the shapes of the clouds change?

Jump to it!!

This is a fun game to play with your child in your back yard or at the park. Have your child choose a place to stand; this will be their starting position. Next choose a destination for them such as the swing set or the garage. Ask your child how many jumps they think it will take for them to reach the destination. Once they have made their estimate, have them “jump to it!” This activity is not only great exercise and fun, but it also allows your child to practice estimation, measurement, and counting. Try to use different forms of movement; try, for instance, baby steps, skipping, crab walking, etc.

Float or sink, what do you think?

Any activity that involves water is a sure hit with children! Fill up a bucket of water. Collect some natural items like rocks, sticks, and leaves, as well as some of your child’s favourite toys. Have your child predict which items they think will sink in the water and which items they think will float. Then test their predictions. Ask them why some items sink while others float. Support this activity using terms like heavy, light, weight, deep, shallow, etc.

Drop it!

This activity is similar to float or sink. Collect a variety of items that can be safely dropped onto the grass or a blanket outside. Ask your child which items they think will fall to the ground quickly and which will take longer to fall. Let them test their predictions by holding up the objects and dropping them! Discuss with them why some items fall faster than others.

You can make this activity even more challenging and fun for your child if you let them use a small step stool, the back steps, or a step ladder (with your supervision). This variation allows them to explore how different heights change the time it takes for an item to fall.

Scavenger Hunt

You do not need a paper, pen, or a list for a scavenger hunt. Head outside and use nature and your imagination! Use your child’s body as a tool of measurement to have them seek out scavenger items. For example, find something longer than your foot, bigger than your hand, thicker than your finger, or taller than you. You can also use shapes to inspire your search; find something shaped like a circle, triangle, square, etc.

This activity can be done anywhere. The only limit with this activity is your imagination! Have fun and let your child come up with some of the scavenger tasks!

For more ideas on how to support your child’s numeracy development in ways that are both free and fun, please visit us at 3,2,1, FUN! Tuesday afternoons at Callingwood School from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.

 

Visit our website for information about the 3,2,1,Fun! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun

Learn Together, Grow Together

LTGT-webLast week was the start to our latest 10-week session of Learn Together, Grow Together. The program is for parents and caregivers and their children ages 3 to 6 years old. While the adults learn about their children’s early learning, and how to support literacy development and success in school, it is also a good opportunity for the parents to brush up on their own literacy skills and connect with other parents of preschool children.

We begin each session with stories and singing, followed by gym time. Afterwards, we split the children and parents into separate learning groups, and finally, we bring them back together for fun parent-child learning activities.

During parent time for the next few weeks, we will explore “emergent literacy.” Emergent literacy is “the knowledge children have about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.”(http://www.kidsability.ca/en/LiteracyHandouts) We will encourage parents in their role as emergent literacy teachers for their own children.

How does a child gain this knowledge about reading and writing? What are some strategies parents can use to foster emergent literacy in their child?

Here are a few ideas to try together with your family:

  • Talk with your child. Your child will learn so much from positive language interactions with you.
    • Talk about what you see in a picture book, while at the grocery store, at the park, etc.
    • Explain to your child what you are doing, while you are doing it. For example, if you make cookies, talk about the different ingredients and what steps you have to take, or if you are paying bills, use the time to talk to your child about money and numbers.
    • Play card and board games together. Turn off the electronic devices and have fun playing a game where there is opportunity to speak with each other.
  • Sing and rhyme with your child. Sing songs and rhymes together as they provide opportunities to bond with your child as well as expand their vocabulary. You can always make up your own songs and rhymes too – your child will enjoy hearing your voice either way.
  • Visit your local library and take advantage of their book lending services.
  • Follow you child’s lead in their interests. For example, if they have an interest in animals, share books about animals, sing songs and rhymes about animals, and play games about animals. If you can, take a trip to a pet store, a farm, or a zoo; take the time to talk about everything you see and experience together.
  • Model positive literacy behaviours to your child. If your child sees your enjoyment of reading the newspaper, writing a shopping list, talking about the road signs you see, etc., they will think of these literacy activities as positive experiences.

Parents have such an important role in cultivating the knowledge of reading and writing in their child, even before they are actually about to read and write. There are so many opportunities to promote emergent literacy in a small child, simply by intentionally interacting with them and involving them in what you are already doing!

 

More about the Learn Together – Grow Together program

hashtag: #LT_GT

 

Learning to Play!

Play3

When was the last time you played? As children, we played all the time; that was our job! Unfortunately, the older we get the less we play. And even though we have children who are playing constantly, we feel that we need to assume the role of parents instead of playmates. As parents, we are our children’s first and best teachers and playmates. We are the ones they love spending time with, getting dirty with, learning with, and having fun with!

Play is the best vehicle for helping our children to learn, develop and practice an incredible number of skills:

  • Social skills – through sharing, taking turns, negotiating, leading, and compromising
  • Physical skills – by using both fine and large muscles
  • Language, literacy and numeracy skills – through having conversations, playing games and having hands-on experiences
  • Self-esteem – by demonstrating successes and abilities
  • Becoming more independent – by making their own decisions
  • Cooperating, problem solving, and working with others

Through play, children are learning about their world; they are exploring, dreaming, imagining, and creating. The best way for parents to support this learning is by simply joining in their children’s play.

  • Observe – watch how your children play. Seeing which activities are their favourites, and learning what skills they excel at and what needs work. Identifying the goals they set for themselves.
  • Engage – jump in and join them in play! Now that you have been observing their interests, try supporting them and engaging with them in what they love to do. Follow their lead!
  • Be creative – there are no right ways, or right times, for play. There are no correct ways for using toys. Everything and anything can be objects of learning and fun. Use your imagination!

As parents, we often have so many demands in a day that incorporating ourselves into play can seem challenging. Below is a list of routine family activities and ideas for bringing play into them.

Grocery Shopping:

  • Help your children create a grocery list using pictures cut out of flyers, then challenging them to find all the ingredients on their list before you complete yours.
  • Let your children do the navigating of the cart. Let them drive! This is the perfect opportunity for playing with numeracy. Support this activity by using words like: right, left, near, far, up, down, fast, slow, stop, go etc.
  • If your children are riding in the cart, together try building a tower or a castle with the items in the cart. See how tall or how wide you can build it, and how many different shapes you can use.

Preparing for dinner:

  • Play with the process of measuring, pouring, and mixing! Get messy!
  • Challenge your children to a race! Who can set the table the fastest?
  • Play a guessing game! How many plates do we need for everyone? What shape are the napkins? What colours are on the table?
  • Picnic! Turning any meal or snack into fun and play is easy when you do it picnic style. Try using your back yard, deck or living room. Planning the picnic together with your children, decide where you will go, and who you will invite. Use your imaginations; it can be a picnic on Mars!

Commuting:

  • Play “I Spy” or other games involving things you see such as colours of cars or shapes of street signs.
  • Count the number of turns you are taking.
  • What songs do they know? Try making up a new song.

Bath Time:

  • Make bath time more playful by adding coloured ice-cube icebergs to their bath water!
  • Try tossing a bunch of glow sticks in the tub and turning out the lights!

Go Outside:

  • Every single trip outside can be a playful adventure if you use your imagination.
  • Take a walk and collect ‘treasures’ along the way.
  • When you take the garbage out, count how many steps it takes to get to the curb and how many it takes to get back.
  • Find some puddles and jump in! If there are no puddles, make your own!

Children want to see their parents having fun. They want to see us being silly, laughing, and getting dirty! More than anything, our children want to share these experiences with us. As parents we focus on sharing our world with our children. Let’s start focusing on letting our children share their world with us!!

 

Visit our website for information about the 3,2,1,Fun! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun

Beat the Cold! Bring the Outdoors In with Learn Together – Grow Together!

This last month has been a snowy, blowy and cold one. However the team at Learn Together – Grow Together has found a way to beat the cold! When it is too cold for our families to go outdoors, we simply bring the outdoors in!

 

Books that we read:

  • 10 on a Sled by Kim Norman
  • All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
  • Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett

 

Activities we did:

  • After reading the storybook The Mitten, each family spent the afternoon creating their own storysack. Each storysack contained the characters from the story as well as a large white mitten. These storysacks provided families with a fun, unique and memorable way to read and share the story at home.
  • Using recycled newspaper and packing tape, we made a big basket full of “snowballs”. We then headed to the gymnasium for a variety of snowball throw and toss games, ending with a big group snowball fight!
  • After reading All You Need for a Snowman, we brought in a huge plastic bin of snow from outside. Then, wearing mittens, the children and their families spent the afternoon creating their own snowmen and snow castles!
  • Using plastic containers of varying sizes we froze “treasures” in water. Once frozen, we took the ice blocks out of the containers and the children spent the afternoon exploring methods to melt and chip the treasures from the ice. The children used a variety of methods including: warm water, hand held tools, salt etc. to extract their treasures. In order to keep this activity literacy based, our treasures included letters from the alphabet that corresponded with other items in the ice block. For instance, when a child extracted a letter “Y” from the ice, they would then begin to look for the items in the ice that corresponded with that letter, such as a yellow yo yo.

 

Snacks we shared:

banana-snowmen

Banana Snowmen
Ingredients: bananas, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pretzels.

 

bear-pretzel

Pretzel Polar Bears
Ingredients: pretzel sticks, peanut butter, coconut and black icing.

 

Songs and Rhymes we shared:

I’m a Little Snowman (to the tune of I’m a Little Tea Pot)
I’m a little snowman, short and fat.
Here are my buttons and here is my hat.
When the sun comes out, I cannot play.
I just slowly melt away.

Five Little Snowmen
Five little snowmen all made of snow,
five little snowmen standing in a row.
Out came the sun and stayed all day,
and one little snowman melted away.

(count down to 0)

Zero little snowmen all made of snow,
zero little snowmen standing in a row.
Down came the snow that fell all day,
and five little snowmen came back to play.

To go along with these rhymes, our families constructed five popsicle stick snowmen and one popsicle stick sun to use while they recited the rhyme. These props were a fun activity for the families and they really brought the rhyme to life!!

With a little creativity and our families’ eager participation, Learn Together – Grow Together has succeeded in bringing the outdoors in and now you can too!!

More about the Learn Together – Grow Together program

hashtag: #LT_GT

 

Stop Just Reading Books! Start Living Books!

321Fun

Every child has a favourite book, a story that they want read to them over and over again. For parents, this can become quite boring. At 3,2,1, Fun! we have spent the last few weeks showing families how to stop just reading books and how to start living books. To support families in increasing their children’s learning, we have been sharing ideas and activities to extend a simple story book.

Children choose their favourite books or stories for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they love the drawings, or maybe they can relate to the characters in the story. Once children have chosen their favourite books, it is only a matter of time before they begin to learn the words and predict the events. Before you know it, they can recite the story from start to finish! When this happens, it does not mean they have become bored with the story, though the parents may have. It simply means we need to take the book to the next level. Let me show you how to bring your children’s favourite books to life!

 

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Go Fishing!

You don’t need a boat or even a lake to take your children fishing. Fill the bathtub or a plastic bucket with water. Attach paper clips to some plastic fish and drop them in the water. Use a wooden dowel with string and a magnet as the fishing rod. You can challenge your children to count each fish they catch or to only catch certain colours or shapes. The possibilities are endless and the fun is guaranteed!

Make your own Rainbow Fish

Using paper plates and any other craft or recyclable materials you have around the house, your children can create their own Rainbow Fish or fish aquarium. They can explore shapes, sizes, and patterns as they create. Use the finished craft as a prop the next time you read the book.

Snack

Place a handful of Gold Fish crackers at the bottom of a small bowl. Using a short piece of stringy liquorice, tie a gummy worm to the end of a pretzel stick. Voila!! You have an edible fishing snack for your children.

Sing!

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5 once I caught a fish alive,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10 then I threw him back again.
Why did you let him go?
Because he bit my finger so!
Which finger did he bite?
The little finger on my right!”

 

Going on a Bear Hunt by M. Rosen

We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it!

Course

Build an obstacle course in your living room, basement, or back yard using furniture, cardboard boxes, etc. Have your children go through the obstacle course in a pattern of their choosing. They can explore going over, under, and through. Not only is this a fun activity for your children, but they will be working on their patterning and predicting skills at the same time.

Go on a Bear Hunt!

Create a scavenger hunt for your children. If you really want to get creative, you can even craft a treasure map for them to follow.

Snack

To reinforce the theme of patterns you can cut up a variety of fruits and cheeses and have your children create their own snack pattern on a skewer, or on an edible necklace made with a long piece of stringy liquorice and fruit loops.

 

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

Bake Cookies

Following a recipe and baking allow your children to work on a wide variety of numeracy and literacy skills while having fun. Once you are finished baking you can read the story and split the fresh baked cookies among family and friends!

Sing

“Way up high in a cookie tree,
two little cookies smiles at me.
So I shook that tree as hard as I could,
down came the cookies!
MMMMMMM they were good!”

These are just a few ideas on how you can turn a simple story into an adventure full of fun and learning for your children. By choosing to live your children’s favourite story books you are not only bringing to life their literary world, but you are providing them the opportunity to learn through their experiences. These learning opportunities will shape them for years to come and will surely build your family’s legacy of learning.

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1,FUN! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun

Family Day – Unplugged

FamilyDay

Family Day falls on Monday, February 16 this year. Don’t have plans yet? Let us inspire you with some fun ideas for the whole family. Whatever you do on Family Day, try to stay unplugged. Better yet, stay plugged in to each other!

  1. Get outside and have some fun! How about skating, tobogganing, skiing or snowshoeing? Try making snow angels or a family-sized snow fort. Put food colouring in spray bottles and make snow art! And remember, chilly outings are best followed by hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies. (Have we mentioned that following a recipe together is a great family literacy activity?)
  2. Don’t like the cold? Play a board game or make a craft together. Sculpt snowflakes out of paper to hang in the window, or sprinkle salt on a watercolour painting!
  3. Family can extend to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even friends. Have the kids help with a card, letter or email to someone who can’t be with you on Family Day.
  4. Does your community offer special public events on Family Day? Many art galleries, museums and family-friendly places offer a reduced price or free entry.
  5. National Heritage Day falls on the same date as Family Day in Alberta. It’s a great reason to explore your family history. Pull out the old photo albums or research your family’s geneology. To focus on more recent history, create a scrapbook together of the past year or update your child’s school memory album. Be sure to include pictures, artwork, and your child’s writing!
  6. Turn up the volume. Look up the lyrics to your favourite songs. Print them and have a family sing-off! Not up for singing? Try turning one of your family’s favourite stories into a play or puppet show.
  7. Quiet down to connect. If you need some calm later in the day, try working on a puzzle together. If you’re an artistic bunch – or even if you’re not – you might get a kick out of family art time. Give everyone paper and a pencil to draw a favourite family memory or try sketching the same scene at the same time. You’ll be surprised at the unique perspectives each of you will bring. Be sure to put them on display afterwards!
  8. Want to grow your financial goals as a family? Create money jars. Decorate three jars and label them: ‘Give’, ‘Save’, and ‘Spend’. Write out your family’s plans for the money that will go in each jar.
  9. Take a trip to the library. Seek out a classic or discover a new family favourite. Have an absolute favourite family book? Write a letter to the author together, and then send it by mail or email.
  10. Share a little love with another family. Put some books or clothes you no longer use in a gift bag. Pass them on to another family, with a note, of course!

Whatever you plan to do this Family Day, we invite you to disconnect from technology in order to better reconnect with your family, friends and community.

Happy Family Day!

Multicultural Rhymes that Bind

Multi-RTB

Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star (in Mandarin)

一闪一闪亮晶晶,满天都是小星星
挂在天空放光明,好像许多小眼睛
一闪一闪亮晶晶,满天都是小星星

 
On Friday mornings, at the Multicultural Rhymes that Bind at Ellerslie Baptist Church, the program is a mix of Mandarin and English children’s tickle, action, and bouncy songs and lullabies.

My first encounter with the large group, about 70 people, brought me far away from my daily English speaking life. I was welcomed immediately by all the smiling faces, and was in awe of the group and how important learning my language was to them. The room was bursting with grandparents, moms, dads, toddlers and babies, all singing Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star in Mandarin.

The demand for the program was so overwhelming, it had to be split into two. The second location is at Edmonton Intercultural Centre (McCauley School) on Tuesday afternoons.

Multicultural Rhymes that Bind is a one-hour program. The partner agencies often extend it a second hour to provide other learning opportunities for the families, ending with a fun arts and crafts activity to encourage fine motor development in the children. A healthy snack is provided afterwards to give the families a chance to develop friendships and share their stories.

It all started when, in 1997, Miranda Fung, a community health nurse, saw a huge need to form a Cantonese-speaking parent group in the Chinese community. Cantonese was the language of communication at that time as few people were speaking Mandarin. She formed partnerships with Capital Health and Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative to help with the expansion of the program. Miranda then became a trained facilitator to provide the Rhymes that Bind programming, and a partnership was formed with the Centre for Family Literacy.

The families communicate their love of the program continually to the facilitators through comments made at the end of the session.

Some of my favorite comments are:

Because I love it! It is good for my whole family.

We feel less isolated as a family. RtB helps us integrate into English-speaking community.”

My child feels less stranger anxiety, he has learnt to make friends and laugh and have fun.

RtB shares the harmony of songs and I enjoy the beauty of music.”

I feel like a hero as a parent because I know all these songs I can sing to my child.“

Having the opportunity to be a part of Multicultural Rhymes that Bind adds a unique dimension to my job. I am thankful to be able to provide the opportunity for other cultures  to do Rhymes that Bind.

Please check our website for all the Rhymes that Bind locations in Edmonton.

hashtag: #RTB_Edm

 

Snowmen on the C.O.W. Bus

snowmen

On the Edmonton C.O.W. Bus we are very excited to start 2015 off right. We brought out our best snowman activities and are eager to share some wonderful winter stories with our visitors. One of our favourites is The Mitten by Jan Brett. This book is about a grandmother who knits snow-white mittens for her grandson, who takes them on an adventure. This story comes with some fun props that all ages are sure to enjoy.

TheMitten

During the winter months, many easy outdoor activities—like building snowmen—are available for families. Try some of these:

  • Have a snowball fight
  • 
Go sledding
  • 
Catch snowflakes on your tongue
  • 
Make a snow angel
  • 
Build a snow fort
  • 
Collect pine cones

When it’s time to come inside and warm up, consider building a snowman inside. Use things such as paper plates or cotton balls for the body, and scraps of fabric or craft supplies to finish the snowman.

Enjoy this great interactive snowman activity we found online!

Sing along with this “I’m a Little Snowman” tune!

Check our website for the bus schedule and more information

Watch a video of a program on the bus

hashtag: #edm_cow