Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Reviews: Emma Garcia


"Tip Tip Dig Dig" by Emma Garcia was a surprisingly good little book! Each page features a different working truck and the words of its work: "With the bulldozer we PUSH PUSH PUSH." It is colorful, simple, and presents some good introductory words for reading. "Tip Tip" and "Dig Dig" and "Push Push" are depicted big and bold, which makes it easy for pre-reading skills. And the result of all the work of the trucks is a wonderful use of raw materials...something that made me smile the first time I read it.

We enjoyed "Tip Tip Dig Dig" so much that I bought "Tap Tap Bang Bang" to round out an order from my local used book store. This one isn't nearly as awesome. There are a lot of tools featured in the book, twice as many as trucks featured in "Tip Tip Dig Dig." And my daughter likes to see all the tools and make noises for them ("BANG BANG" "tap tap" "zzz zzz") but the ending is so anticlimactic that she looked at me, seemingly unimpressed.

Check them out at your local library or use one to round out an order at Amazon. But if you're picking just one then I recommend "Tip Tip Dig Dig" over the other.


[Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I receive a small referral fee at no cost to you. To see how I spend the money see my "Philanthropy" page. ]




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Handwriting App: Letter School


Before I met my daughter I didn't believe that children would just naturally learn to grasp a writing implement properly and on their own. I mean, Mikey and I have spent A LOT of time working to develop a "tripod" grasp and to press the pencil/marker/crayon with the right amount of pressure to make a mark on paper. But here she is, 2.5 years old, grabbing and scribbling with perfect hand "posture." And here we are with Mikey, 4.5 years old, still practicing daily to figure it out.

Every day I offer dotted letters, numbers, or shapes for him to trace during "homework" time. Every day I remind him to "please us tripod grasp" instead of his fisted grab. It is perpetual, important, and sometimes frustrating. Enter technology. When my husband saw one of Mikey's friends drawing on an iPad with a stylus he suggested that we look into something like it for Mikey. I found a short and informative list on Urth Mama and chose "Letter School" as a good place to start. What I discovered was an app that seems to have been designed for Preschool Engineers!

Learning to write each letter follows a "Tap, Trace, Write" pattern. Here is how it works:
- child chooses a letter or number

Tap
- child taps the starting point for each stroke needed to write the letter, after tapping the correct starting point something cool happens - for example, a hook followed by a chain flows along the line of the stroke
- when each tap has been completed and a chain reaches across each line of the letter then the chain moves like a conveyor belt

Trace
- following the same pattern as tapping, the child traces each stroke of the letter
- as the child traces the line something cool happens to highlight their path, for example, grass grows along the stroke line
- when each stroke has been traced and the letter is grown over with grass, a lawn mower comes to mow it!!

Write
- this is the trickiest part of the game. the child has to write freehand. the starting points and tracing lines appear briefly before disappearing.
- the child writes, freehand, the letter, which appears as a chalk line.

There are a variety of mechanically interesting animations that appear over the course of the game. Train tracks and a train, hooks and chains, lawn and lawn mower, marble run and rolling marble, and the list goes on.

Download Letter School for iPad here:

Or Download Letter School for iPhone here:



Your child can use fingers to play this game. If you are like me and want your child to use this as a handwriting lesson then you'll need a stylus. I grabbed these inexpensive ones off Amazon: Sty HD - $1 each.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Preschool Calculus



There it is - preschool calculus. My son was eating store-bought hummus by dipping saltine crackers. He proudly called me over to see his sculpture, pictured above, and I smiled. He had taken his square-shaped crackers and lined them along the edge of the circular container. It was a wonderful approximation of a circle using straight lines; it was calculus. He was differentiating the curve of the container!

A week later he was building an "ice castle" with magnatiles. He approximated the circular roof, or what he calls "frozen fractals," using the equilateral triangles. (It was actually a hexagon but in his mind's eye, it was close enough to a circle to pass muster.)

These are precisely the kind of math learning experiences that needs to be happening in preschool! Shapes, approximations, and error are part of preschool play that will form the foundation for learning the more academic aspects of math. All they need from us is peace and quiet, and perhaps a well-placed tool/toy.