Monday, September 07, 2015

From the archives: Magnetic Letters

First posted August 2005

The Squirrels have a pile of magnetic letters and numbers--the kind that aren't supposed to be safe for little ones because the tiny magnets in them might come out. Some of the letters are thirty-five years old and the magnets are still intact, but that's not the point. Because there are parts of about four different sets, it's hard to make one whole alphabet (we have about five capital E's but not one capital I). However, Mama Squirrel came up with some homeschool possibilities for them this week (besides just sticking them all over the fridge, which is what the squirrelings mostly did when they were toddlers).

1. Mama Squirrel and Crayons just sorted out the letters into two (more or less) capital-letter alphabets plus small piles of lower-case letters and numerals. We've done the same thing with rubber letters.

2. Preschool memory game: make a row of about four to six letters or numbers (or more if you want to make it harder). Hide your eyes and the other person hides one or two of the letters. What's missing? (Crayons played a funny trick on Mama Squirrel: she hid one of the letters behind her back and replaced it with another one the same. When Mama Squirrel said she hadn't taken anything away at all, Crayons showed her how duplicitous she had been.)

3. Preschool sorting game we haven't tried yet: take a handful of capital letters and a handful of lower-case letters (we only have a few of those anyway) and sort them into two piles, capitals and lower-case.

3. Grade Three alphabetizing game: Take a handful of letters and put them in alphabetical order, as fast as possible. It doesn't matter if there are doubles.

4. Grade Three fractions game: Take all the numerals you can find and put in them in a container. Draw a line on paper to be the dividing line in a fraction. Pull two of the numerals out and put one on top, one on the bottom. What's the fraction? What does it look like? We had some plastic fraction pieces, marbles and other things sitting around while we did this, so we tried to come up with different ways of showing. Ponytails made 3/2, so she took three of the plastic "half" pieces. Mama Squirrel made 7/9, and there are no ninths in the plastic pieces, so she took seven blue marbles and two white ones, and said that 7/9 of the marbles were blue.

5. The obvious: spell things with the letters. Spill a handful and see who can make the most words the fastest. (Of course the squirrelings may not learn any "i" words, but Mama Squirrel will come up with something else for those.)

Moral: even incomplete things can still be kind of fun and educational, right?