Ten Early Childhood Activities For Improving Motor Skills

Looking for creative ideas on how to improve your little one’s motor skills? Searching for fun, easy-to-do activities that you and your child will really enjoy practicing? As a parent or teacher, you’ve probably experienced that heart-tugging when you watch your young one struggle with holding a scissors, tying a shoe, or just stacking blocks together. You resist the urge to do it for them and patiently explain, showing him how to do it. But learning should be fun—not a chore! Here are ten fun ideas on how you can improve your child’s motor skills.

(Remember that every child learns differently, so activities should be taught according to learning level. Activities mentioned are suggested for ages two through five and should always have parental supervision.)

1. Catch a balloon.

Children love balloons, so play catch with your little one. Try throwing a balloon straight in the air and catching it, throwing it to each other, bouncing off a wall or the ground and catching it, or throwing it high and seeing how many times you can clap before you catch it. Tip: (A young child might be fearful of catching at first, but will progress to catching with his whole body, his arms and hands, to eventually hands only. Choose an item that matches your child’s size; inappropriate sizes will frustrate your child if he can’t develop the skill.)

2. Act out nursery rhymes.

Nothing is more natural than singing nursery rhymes. All you have to do is add actions! For “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, add hand movements, reaching to the sky. For “Jack Be Nimble”, you can add a hop or jump; and for “Jack and Jill”, add a climbing action and a rolling motion across the floor. For “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, practice galloping around on wooden horses.

3. Build blocks (and imaginations).

Start with buying blocks or stick toys that are easy to connect! From there show your child how to put the items together to build something fun. Pretend you are building a palace or a house. Let your imagination flourish, and encourage your child to create. Puzzles with very large pieces can also be used. Be sure to show your child how to put each item together and help him complete it until he can do it independently.

4. Play animals.
Add fun to learning body movements and become animals! Teach your child how to creep like a snake, waddle like a duck, hop like a rabbit, roar like a lion, stomp like an elephant, chomp like an alligator, fly like a bird, and so on. Be sure to add all the fun animal noises too.

5. Follow the leader.

Your child watches every action you do, so make copying fun and purposely have your child shadow you movements and. Walk about and perform simple actions like standing on one foot, hopping and kicking, kneeling, jumping, sitting, marching, lifting arms or hands, and moving your head. Tip: (Make sure your actions are distinctly different and clear to your child. If your child copies incorrectly, show him the correct position then move on to the next action. Repeat missed positions throughout the sequence so your child doesn’t get frustrated.)

6. Walk the line.

Improve your child’s balance by practicing walking on a line. Make a line on your floor out of tape and have your child practice walking on it. Demonstrate how to walk in a line to your child by having the watch you walk on a curb or log. Go to a gym or park and practice walking on a beam or board.

7. Climb up and down.

Practice walking up and down the stairs. Show your child how to place their feet and hold on top walls or railing for support. Most children will learn to go down the stairs backwards at first. Always have your hands and arms to support children while they are learning. If stairs are too scary or out of the question, start small on padded furniture or small chairs. Practice climbing on and off them until your child is more comfortable with the movement. Tip: Add incentives like a favorite toy to each step to encourage them to reach where you are. Note: Food should not be used as a reward.

8. Touch fingers.

Teach your child finger names, always pointing to the correct finger as you name it. Compare your fingers with your child’s fingers. Do finger plays. Show your child how to make shapes out of fingers like circles triangles, rectangles, squares and teardrops. Make paper finger puppets with band-aids and draw faces on them.

9. Color his world.

Your little one will learn how to draw by copying. Start with a simple shape and let your child watch you draw it. Be sure to explain what you are drawing as you do it. Draw straight and curved lines and have him try to copy your actions. At first you can just draw an item and have your child guess what it is. Eventually your child will want to draw with you. If your child has a hard time holding a crayon or marker, try finger painting or drawing in sand first. Tip: Ensure you have many types of drawing utensils to try. Begin introducing color names as your child learns to draw. You can designate a specific spot in your home for coloring, but make sure supplies are in reach of little hands.

10. Cut and paste.

Cutting is one of the most difficult fine motor skills to master for young children. Start slow and be patient. Make sure you use a small safety scissors. Show your child how to cut by placing your hand over his in the scissors and doing the motion with him. Then give him the scissors at let him cut by himself. Tip: Junk mail works well for this! Allow your child to just learn how to cut before introducing shapes or lines to follow.

Pasting takes practice, so start with easy, simple projects. Since it is messy, plan ahead and wear appropriate clothing. Use a drop cloth to minimize mess and use non-toxic glue. Remember the point is to have fun teaching this skill! Show your child how to glue simple items together like paper, cardboard, boxes, etc. Move to cotton balls, rice or beans, wood, noodles, glitter, feathers, and buttons after your child has mastered the simple items first.

Improving your child’s motor skills takes time. Use these fun early childhood activities as a place to start, and add variety with your own ideas! Remember your child is young and has a short attention span. Do activities according to how you feel you child is developing and gauge his receptiveness to learn before trying new things. Always be patient, and don’t expect your child to master a concept in a single day. Encouragement is very important. With your enthusiasm, you can make early childhood activities fun and exciting!

Kill The Watcher At The Gates Of The Mind – Part I

The 18th century German dramatist and poet Friedrich Schiller referred to the ‘watcher at the gates of the mind’, the one who inspects new ideas suspiciously and judges them too critically. If these ideas don’t fit into the accepted norm or are too unconventional the Watcher often encourages us to dismiss them out of hand. To be unconventional is often to be unacceptable, which in turn encourages criticism. And none of us like criticism. Hence we can sometimes find ourselves trying to squeeze ourselves into a mould with which we are not entirely comfortable. And incarcerated in this mould we might trundle along automatically, accepting without challenge what is thrown at us by our systems of information (the media) and forgetting what wonderfully creative creatures we are.

When the creative mind is ‘motoring’ it is as if the Watcher at the gates has been killed or temporarily dismissed as the ideas rush in like huge waves crashing to the shore. Yet, most often, our Watcher is there to censor these ideas, calling us mad or absurd to even consider them. Equally the Watcher is there jangling our conditioning in front of our eyes. A conditioning reinforced by an exponential increase in, and accessibility to, 24/7 media sources. This can inhibit us from changing our thinking or expressing something lest it be judged by others to be slightly ‘off the wall’ or just plain crazy.

And our Watcher conspires with other Watchers to get us to conform for what we are told is the benefit of society as a whole. But is it? Or is it a type of brainwashing? Just who benefits from us suppressing our creativity? To be original you have to push against the crowd. Thus present day pioneers are always considered eccentric or even insane by mainstream society. Hence the storytelling cliché of the inventor as ‘nutty professor’. Vegetarianism was once considered weird. As was any model of reality which didn’t entertain the Newtonian paradigm of a mechanistic universe (with or without an energy that theists would call God at the helm.) With an increasing understanding of quantum realities amongst the public in general this mechanistic paradigm is, fortunately, now shifting and interest in our spiritual selves outside of formal structures is burgeoning. Nevertheless those pioneers who were in at the birth of this shift were considered abnormal at the outset. Today’s eccentrics are indeed tomorrow’s pioneers. And as eccentrics they suffered their fair share of ridicule.

Shifts and changes though are inevitable (“nothing remains the same”) but most of us don’t want to be at the prow of that ship coaxing the vessel into uncharted waters. To be at the prow of the ship is to commit to killing the watcher at the gates of the mind. Most of us want to be safe and let other people take the risks. Risk equals insecurity (financial, emotional, professional, spiritual even) which is why it takes huge efforts to shift paradigms and huge efforts to change your own model of reality. The world of storytelling and drama (my chosen profession) is no exception to this. Drama producers, publishers go along with trends (“Where do we find the next Harry Potter?” is the battle cry) and as you can tell by looking at any listings for London West End theatres the current overwhelming trend is for musical theatre with straight plays taking the walk-on part as pariah. It’s too risky for most people who have financial commitments to buck trends. People go along with trends, they don’t often buck them which is why they become trends. After all being fashionable is just copying or following someone/something else. The television industry is even worse. ‘Go along with what has proven to work’ is the maxim. Which is why the stodgy diet of reality TV shows is making us culturally obese. But to do what everybody else does or to think as everyone else thinks for the sake of it (without examination or consideration) is to deny the opportunity for your creativity to soar by killing the Watcher. (Without examination or consideration is the key phrase here. It would obviously be desirable that everyone thought the same on cruelty, for instance, that it was reprehensible.) Anyone who has ever done any personal development work knows how difficult it is to change their own personal belief system whether it serves them or not. ‘Killing the Watcher at the gates of the mind’ is one way of beginning to make that shift.

Kalil Gilbran says “your pain is just the pain of the breaking of the shell of your understanding” and although painful it is the pain of re-birth. And nativity is creativity. To be creative you have to be prepared to offend and upset (not deliberately provoke which is another thing altogether), to outrage people who are still ensconced in their familiar shell. Since creativity implies growth it might be that you need to break out of your own shell however much others want to stay in theirs. And it is the breaking of that shell which is an act that ‘kills the watcher’.

I have hosted many workshops over the years designed to help participants open up their creative selves. I am constantly surprised at how difficult some people find it to release themselves from their self-created prisons we call comfort zones. But comfort zones are security blankets, they are where we know we can survive so it’s perfectly understandable. It doesn’t however, help you move on.

But the writer/artist who counts on his art for his/her living might protest that he/she knows the market and the market won’t wear these new ideas. It knows what it wants and it doesn’t want to change. Well it will change, however grindingly slow the change is, so why not be up there as one of the trendsetters? Drama about metaphysical matters is not so uncommon now. When I approached major TV organisations with these sorts of ideas twenty years ago I was shown the door as if I were the bodily representation of a bad smell. But we need to eat, the artists cry. Well quite. And if you depend on your creativity for your sustenance then maybe, like Kenneth Toomey in Anthony Burgess’s wonderful ‘Earthly Powers’, write drivel for the money and ‘Kill the Watcher’ for your art.

And if you practise your art just for your spiritual nourishment then I suggest you Kill the Watcher anyway, just for the hell of it. In Part Two I’ll tell you how I did it. Nothing mysterious – automatic writing really.

Sunrooms Bring The Outdoors Inside

Sunrooms are an amazing enclosed concept that bring the outdoors inside for the enjoyment of the homeowner. It does not matter if it is too cold or too hot to be outside or if insects are flying around. You get all the benefits of nature without having to deal with its problems.

The uses of sunrooms are endless and individualized:

1. A perfect place to eat any meal with the calming influence of looking out into nature.

2. A sitting room where you can read, watch television, or just look out and enjoy the sights of flowers, plants, and animals.

3. A playroom for the children.

4. A place for your pets to get sunshine without dealing with outside insects and weather.

5. Plants will thrive in the sunshine and without the worry of freezing or wilting due to too much summer sun.

6. A crafts room where your creative juices can flow.

7. A wonderful location to entertain for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or just for regular get-togethers with family and friends.

8. A game room for your family or visitors.

9. The place for your exercise equipment where you can easily do your workouts in a beautiful atmosphere.

Sunrooms come in various shapes and sizes with two popular ones being the Conservatory, which has the distinct elegance and luxuriousness of European beauty, and the Solarium, which has the highest level of sunlight with its glass roof that opens up the heavens to your view.

The materials used are strong, indestructible, and maintenance free. They create ultra violet light protection and thermal thickness in the roof, walls, and window insulation. Wall-to-wall windows give the feeling of being outdoors.

Quality manufacturing is very important, so be careful which company you choose to do the work. Be sure to check them out completely as to their longevity, business reputation, licensing, materials used, and ask for references to talk to so you can see how other customers feel about the room they purchased.

One benefit is that such an addition can be installed at a much lower cost and in far less time compared to a standard room addition. It is possible to have it completed in just a few days.

Another benefit of the sunroom compared to a standard room addition is that in most states there are tax advantages in a lower tax assessment because it is mostly glass and also does not have a permanent cooling or heating system. Check with your local tax authority to confirm that the new square footage will not mean nearly the amount of extra taxes that a standard addition would incur.

Fixer Upper Homes

You’ve bought a fixer upper home you can make some money on. Where do you start? What improvements and repairs are most important? Actually, you need to know this before you buy. Always start with the end in mind, and have a plan to get there. Whether before and after you buy, though, there are some simple rules for analyzing possible fixes.

Return On Investment

Years ago I was a real estate agent sitting across the kitchen table from a very disappointed young couple. I had just told them there house was worth $110,000. “But we just put $40,000 into remodeling the kitchen!” they told me. I looked around, and it was nice. Maybe they added $10,000 in value to the house by spending that $40,000. There’s was a classic example of a bad return on investment.

With fixer upper homes, you need to do things which give the most “bang for the buck.” Try aiming for a three-to-one return on improvements. Before you resurface the driveway for $1000, ask if it will raise the value of the home by $3,000. Even if it’s a guess (especially if it’s a guess), keep this three-to-one formula in your head, if you want to invest safely.

How To Fix Fixer Upper Homes

With new curtains, flowers, ceiling fans and such, you can’t really estimate the increase in value for each item. Instead, group together the many small repairs and improvements you’re considering, and imagine how the house will look when you are done. Then estimate whether you will increase the value enough to justify the cost.

Often it’s in the small details that you’ll get the best return on investment, so look at these first. New mailbox, flowers on the porch, a raked yard and trimmed trees – $35 total if you do the work yourself – can make a big difference in the first impression potential buyers have. First impressions are important.

Other small investments that more than pay their way include shiny new switch covers (less than $1 each), shelves, a birdhouse, new doorknobs, new light fixtures, curtains, new rocks or wood chips on outdoor paths, new faucets, new woodstain on decks, and general cleaning. Stand out in front of the house and imagine what it might look like with all the various small improvements (flowers, wood-rail fence, birdbath, etc.).

Big Fixes

Of course there are things that just have to be repaired. Basic systems must function. Improvements, however, should be subject to the three-to-one rule. You can get creative here. A friend of mine once had a simple wall put up, and for less than $1000 created a new bedroom, probably raising the value of the house by $8,000. That’s a good return on investment.

Bathrooms and kitchens are important to buyers. A $1000 updating of a bathroom can add $4000 in value to a home. Spend $2000 wisely in the kitchen (New fridge, re-finish the cupboards, add a garbage disposal, etc.), and you can add $8000 to the value of the house. Look for the changes which are most universally valued (don’t paint the kitchen pink because YOU like that color), and be sure you get a decent return on investment.

Depending on the fixer upper homes you look at, there are many types of potential improvements that may be worth doing. These include adding carports, new doors, fences, gazebos, sheds, painting, carpet, benches, a new closet, a new toilet, a new stove, a shower/tub surround, and trees or bushes. The bottom line is the bottom line: be sure anything you do returns more than you spend, preferably three times as much.

10 Landscaping Design Ideas To Enhance Your Home Garden.

A home garden is a place, which can give identity to your home building in a neighborhood. You can use very little creativity to enhance to look and feel of your garden so that it stands out from the rest of the gardens in the neighborhood. Here is a list of probable elements you can add to your landscaping garden so that everybody loves it and you get the credit.

1) The compound wall of the home plot defines the boundary of the garden as well. Use paintings on the wall surface (inside), that will add excitement to your garden . You can go for a theme based paintings such as nature, waterfalls, sunsets etc..

2) Use stone sculptures of actual human size. These statues greatly add a uman touch to the garden and also defines a scale to the space. Everything we use in our daily lives such as clothes, kitchen utensils, office equipment, computer parts, are all always related to human measurements. If this is the case with all other objects, why exclude a garden from it.

3) Use a fountain with artificial mood creating lighting. This adds a great amount of curiosity during night.

4) Use Japanese stone lanterns instead of the normal ones. This is because stone has its own rough texture as against the smooth and fresh look and feel of the plants in a garden. This creates “hot-spots” in the garden if you plan to use light bulbs inside the stone lanterns. These stone lanterns can also be used along a pathway to define the direction of movement.

5) Design a pond that flows partially into the home building. This is a great way to seamlessly connect the interior and exterior of a home landscape.

6) If your garden has a swimming pool, then instead of having normal diving boards, be little creative and make it into the shape of a house or the person coming out of the mouth of an animal etc…Your kids will love this and will be remembered whoever visits your garden.

7) Create private semi-open patios in your garden. This is a great place to sit around and chat with your loved ones and also can be used as a small deck during a small party.

8) If you love pets, then try rabbits, ducks along with a small pond, in the backyard. These pets have very fresh colors and add great amount of liveliness in the garden.

9) If possible plants flowerings trees with fragrance. This is a free and absolutely amazing way to keep your garden fresh.

10) Create levels in your garden to distinguish various areas as per the function of the garden. A leveled garden always creates interest and curiosity.

If you have read this article completely you can see I have hardly talked about plats and their species in landscaping. So landscaping design is also about using creativity with materials and their finishes. I hope this article helps you to start thinking creatively about your home garden and generate more unique ideas.

Fixer Upper Homes

You’ve bought a fixer upper home you can make some money on. Where do you start? What improvements and repairs are most important? Actually, you need to know this before you buy. Always start with the end in mind, and have a plan to get there. Whether before and after you buy, though, there are some simple rules for analyzing possible fixes.

Return On Investment

Years ago I was a real estate agent sitting across the kitchen table from a very disappointed young couple. I had just told them there house was worth $110,000. “But we just put $40,000 into remodeling the kitchen!” they told me. I looked around, and it was nice. Maybe they added $10,000 in value to the house by spending that $40,000. There’s was a classic example of a bad return on investment.

With fixer upper homes, you need to do things which give the most “bang for the buck.” Try aiming for a three-to-one return on improvements. Before you resurface the driveway for $1000, ask if it will raise the value of the home by $3,000. Even if it’s a guess (especially if it’s a guess), keep this three-to-one formula in your head, if you want to invest safely.

How To Fix Fixer Upper Homes

With new curtains, flowers, ceiling fans and such, you can’t really estimate the increase in value for each item. Instead, group together the many small repairs and improvements you’re considering, and imagine how the house will look when you are done. Then estimate whether you will increase the value enough to justify the cost.

Often it’s in the small details that you’ll get the best return on investment, so look at these first. New mailbox, flowers on the porch, a raked yard and trimmed trees – $35 total if you do the work yourself – can make a big difference in the first impression potential buyers have. First impressions are important.

Other small investments that more than pay their way include shiny new switch covers (less than $1 each), shelves, a birdhouse, new doorknobs, new light fixtures, curtains, new rocks or wood chips on outdoor paths, new faucets, new woodstain on decks, and general cleaning. Stand out in front of the house and imagine what it might look like with all the various small improvements (flowers, wood-rail fence, birdbath, etc.).

Big Fixes

Of course there are things that just have to be repaired. Basic systems must function. Improvements, however, should be subject to the three-to-one rule. You can get creative here. A friend of mine once had a simple wall put up, and for less than $1000 created a new bedroom, probably raising the value of the house by $8,000. That’s a good return on investment.

Bathrooms and kitchens are important to buyers. A $1000 updating of a bathroom can add $4000 in value to a home. Spend $2000 wisely in the kitchen (New fridge, re-finish the cupboards, add a garbage disposal, etc.), and you can add $8000 to the value of the house. Look for the changes which are most universally valued (don’t paint the kitchen pink because YOU like that color), and be sure you get a decent return on investment.

Depending on the fixer upper homes you look at, there are many types of potential improvements that may be worth doing. These include adding carports, new doors, fences, gazebos, sheds, painting, carpet, benches, a new closet, a new toilet, a new stove, a shower/tub surround, and trees or bushes. The bottom line is the bottom line: be sure anything you do returns more than you spend, preferably three times as much.

10 Landscaping Design Ideas To Enhance Your Home Garden.

A home garden is a place, which can give identity to your home building in a neighborhood. You can use very little creativity to enhance to look and feel of your garden so that it stands out from the rest of the gardens in the neighborhood. Here is a list of probable elements you can add to your landscaping garden so that everybody loves it and you get the credit.

1) The compound wall of the home plot defines the boundary of the garden as well. Use paintings on the wall surface (inside), that will add excitement to your garden . You can go for a theme based paintings such as nature, waterfalls, sunsets etc..

2) Use stone sculptures of actual human size. These statues greatly add a uman touch to the garden and also defines a scale to the space. Everything we use in our daily lives such as clothes, kitchen utensils, office equipment, computer parts, are all always related to human measurements. If this is the case with all other objects, why exclude a garden from it.

3) Use a fountain with artificial mood creating lighting. This adds a great amount of curiosity during night.

4) Use Japanese stone lanterns instead of the normal ones. This is because stone has its own rough texture as against the smooth and fresh look and feel of the plants in a garden. This creates “hot-spots” in the garden if you plan to use light bulbs inside the stone lanterns. These stone lanterns can also be used along a pathway to define the direction of movement.

5) Design a pond that flows partially into the home building. This is a great way to seamlessly connect the interior and exterior of a home landscape.

6) If your garden has a swimming pool, then instead of having normal diving boards, be little creative and make it into the shape of a house or the person coming out of the mouth of an animal etc…Your kids will love this and will be remembered whoever visits your garden.

7) Create private semi-open patios in your garden. This is a great place to sit around and chat with your loved ones and also can be used as a small deck during a small party.

8) If you love pets, then try rabbits, ducks along with a small pond, in the backyard. These pets have very fresh colors and add great amount of liveliness in the garden.

9) If possible plants flowerings trees with fragrance. This is a free and absolutely amazing way to keep your garden fresh.

10) Create levels in your garden to distinguish various areas as per the function of the garden. A leveled garden always creates interest and curiosity.

If you have read this article completely you can see I have hardly talked about plats and their species in landscaping. So landscaping design is also about using creativity with materials and their finishes. I hope this article helps you to start thinking creatively about your home garden and generate more unique ideas.