What They Like and What They Need

I wish this photo was a bit more clear but my grandson, Owen, took this selfie on his Kindle and texted it to me.  I am so very grateful for technology that lets me keep in touch with them.

I also don’t think you can over-appreciate the value of playdough.  From my two year old grandson Calvin to my eleven year old grandson Owen, they all love playing with playdough.  Of course what they do with the playdough looks quite a bit different – it is a very versatile material!!

Today Owen used playdough to make a Millenium Falcon – he’s a huge Star Wars fan.


I thought it was great and asked him if he had a Star Wars mold.  He did not, and  he took the opportunity to tell me step by step how he constructed it!

First he rolled out the dough to the thickness he wanted.

He used this tool to cut it into a circle, which he traced from the playdough lid.

He sent me all these pictures – I hope I am remembering the steps correctly – he really should have his own blog!

This is how he made the compressions.

He told me he made a cylinder for the cockpit, and two triangles for the things that stick out in front (sorry Owen, I don’t remember all the terminology).  I thought it turned out great!

I think it is really important to have a good balance between allowing your child to do things he or she likes and chooses to do, along with the activities you think he or she needs to reinforce skills.  I also think it’s important to try to make those skill reinforcing activities fun too – especially when they are working at home.  (But the teacher in me would have loved to ask Owen to write a step by step HOW TO book.  I know he is a bit old for that but he was so good at breaking it down and explaining it to me!)

Sometimes you can blend the two – what they like and what they need.  For example you could bring out alphabet cookie cutters, or  a pencil to write numbers or multiplication facts in the playdough – but sometimes they just want to play.

I am trying to give my daughter ideas to help her kids in the areas they need a little practice or reinforcement.   She mentioned that although Max is doing great with sight words and sounds, he could use some practice with lower case letters.  He has been able to name upper letters for a long time, and can identify most lower case letters too.  But most books are written with primarily lower case letters so it is important that they are really confident with them.

I sent her these letter cards to print and cut apart, to play a memory game.  Some lower case letters are the same as the upper case, except for size; like s, o, x, u, z.  I knew Max was confident with those.  I also was trying to limit the number of cards for the game.  If this is still too many you could use half of them at a time – or pick the ones that are tricky for your child.

I printed all the lower case letters on these fish cards – to make a game of GO FISH.  Two or more people can play this game – you would need 2 copies of each letter.  Start with 5 or 6 cards and the first player asks if the other person has a letter that matches one in his/her hand.  If they get the match they put the pair down, if not they pick another card from the fishing pond – pile of cards!


Another idea would be to attach a paperclip to each fish.  Then make a fishing pole by tying a piece of yarn or string to a dowel and attaching a magnet to the end.  All the fish should be face down and the child uses the fishing pole to “catch” a fish.  If he or she can name the letter they keep it, if not tell them the name of the letter and it goes back into the pond.

One more idea I gave my daughter for reinforcing lower case letters was to cut apart the sight words Max is able to read.  Put each word into an envelope and ask him to put them in order to spell the word.  Then ask him to name each letter in the word.  I printed them so they are easy to cut apart.  Try to cut all the letters about the same width.

This is also a good activity to practice reading the sight words.  When the kids are writing and use one of these sight words they should be able to spell it in “book spelling” too.

The most important thing is to have fun with your kids!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marisa Owen
    Mar 26, 2020 @ 06:18:29

    You came through again for me here in Pordenone, Italy. Great ideas and easy to follow even by non-fluent Italian parents.
    Andra’ tutto bene… Everything’s gonna be okay!


  2. Diana Curtis
    Mar 31, 2020 @ 09:13:33

    Hello!! I’m so glad you are back!! 🙂

    Is there a PDF download for the pages you are presenting or how do you print them?

    Thank you!!


    On Wed, Mar 25, 2020 at 5:14 PM Kindergarten Nana wrote:

    > dbsenk posted: ” I wish this photo was a bit more clear but my grandson, > Owen, took this selfie on his Kindle and texted it to me. I am so very > grateful for technology that lets me keep in touch with them. I also don’t > think you can over-appreciate the value of pl” >


    • dbsenk
      Mar 31, 2020 @ 09:17:23

      Thank you Diana! I share them on jpeg file so if you click on the image you can save or print it. If I do pdf it doesn’t show on the blog – just a link. Be safe and stay well!


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