The night before last a conversation on twitter got me thinking about learning through play, and in particular messy play activities to support early reading and writing. So yesterday morning I decided that it was time to get the finger paint out, which I had bought a couple of weeks ago for this purpose. I scooped some red and green paint out onto paper plates and Monkey and Rabbit spread them around and started exploring the texture. Tiddler asked for white paint, so I found a black tray to give a more interesting contrast, but he asked for a paper plate so we transferred some of it onto one as well. Owl came and joined in and for a while all four of them were happily occupied with spreading, squidging and mark making. Then Owl extended the activity for the others by suggesting colour mixing, so we made brown and pink. After a while, I suggested they might like to write or draw in the paint, and they wrote several letters, and drew a bus, a train, a sun and some shapes.
We had to stop when it was time for piano lessons, though I’m sure they would have carried on for a lot longer if we’d had the chance. But it was a special day, as Rabbit joined the big boys and had her first piano lesson. She did really well and enjoyed it, as did Monkey who is making very good progress, and Owl who was thrilled to start on his Grade 1 pieces after taking his prep test on Friday. He enjoyed showing the certificate to his teacher, who said that if he got such good comments in Grade 1 he would get a distinction.
Back at home in the afternoon, I offered the children the chance to continue the finger painting activity. Tiddler was really too tired, and the big boys decided they had had enough painting for one day, so Rabbit and I did it together. This gave us the opportunity to focus on letter formation, and it was a really satisfying way to practise writing because any mistakes can be quickly “squished” and you can start again. We did the letters from a to e first, and then m for “mummy”, some capital letters and a number 7! Rabbit also enjoyed doing hand prints on paper, making “scratchy patterns” with her nails and drawing a spiral shaped fossil.
After snack time (some fruit arranged in a pretty pattern by Rabbit), we did some Maths together. The boys were working on their times tables, and I decided to set up an “invitation to play” with plasticine for Rabbit. I started making numbers, but had only made two when Tiddler came over and wanted to sit on my knee and “help” me. He enjoyed counting the numbers, starting at 1 again every time I made a new one, carefully pointing to each number in turn. He also self-corrected consistently, going back to the start when he made a mistake. I knew he could count to ten (at least) but wasn’t sure if he had mastered one-to-one correspondence yet. Well it looks like he has! While we were doing this, Rabbit came over to watch and I suggested she might like to make some numbers of her own. She worked very hard to make the numbers 1 to 4 and was very pleased with the results. She needed a little help to get the 3 to be the right shape, but did the others herself.
At the end of the afternoon, after a little bit of thank-you letter writing, we decided to draw some daffodils for our Spring display. This was a second attempt, after drawing some flowers last week which were beautiful but didn’t look like daffodils! This time, we looked carefully at the flowers, and discussed the shape of the petals and the trumpet before we started. There was some initial reluctance as it seemed quite challenging, but they soon got into it and decided it was fun after all. Tiddler did not want to be left out so I drew him a flower to colour. But then he asked me to do the yellow bit for him. And then the green bit. However, he did write his name. It is the yellow squiggle under the picture which you can see if you look really really closely!
Daffodils always make me think of a little boy called Freddie so I’m going to dedicate this post to Merry, and also to Jennie who started the conversation on twitter which made me get round to the finger painting. Thinking of you and remembering Matilda Mae x