Monday, June 6, 2011

Preschool Keepers

Bode, my preschooler, and I enjoyed rediscovering some of his manipulatives the other day. While playing, I realized that we have a lot of Melissa and Doug products. I guess it is because I like the feel, look, and sturdiness of wooden products, particularly puzzles. My boys can be pretty rough on their toys and puzzles, so I'm always impressed when something can hold its own with them.

Buying products isn't always necessary, as there are many products you can find around your home to use as manipulatives. But I can say that there are certainly times when something is a good purchase, especially if you will be using it with multiple children. I also love to be frugal, so finding a product used or on sale makes me very happy.

This year, I sent Bode to preschool two mornings a week. There were pros and cons to this, as with most things, but he enjoyed his time there. The program ended for the summer, and we won't be sending him again next year. Now Bode and I are going through our toys and manipulatives to see what he still needs for this summer, as well as things he just likes, and what things he's too old for or doesn't need.

So far we'll be keeping and using:

* Lacing Cards - These are good for not only his hand-eye coordination, but also for him to listen to and follow directions. He doesn't necessarily have a problem stringing the holes, but he had a hard time following the pattern of up one hole and down the next. This is a good way for him to work on his patience.

* Puzzles - Bode uses his peg puzzles less often, and more frequently chooses his 24 piece wooden puzzles. The larger puzzles force him to watch for patterns and shapes. He likes to do the puzzle by dividing the pieces in half and sharing them with me (or a brother or friend) to do the puzzle together. But he can also work them himself when he's patient. This is a great one-on-one activity for him and his brothers.

Bode likes the 24-piece puzzles.
* Magnetic Dress-Up Joey - This isn't a daily use game, but it is still fun for Bode to dress him up. It helps him be creative (and silly). I don't know how much longer he'll play with it, but it's fun for now. I also find that this, along with some other toys of his, is one of the toys he likes to share when friends are over. Of course, they have a girl dress-up toy as well, we've just never used it.

* Gears - These are still fun to play and maneuver. When these are out, even the big boys want to play along. This is good for when the boys have their one-on-one time together.

* Zoob - These linking-type toys continue to entertain my kids. The kids even talk my husband and I into playing with them sometimes. The nice thing is that Bode is able to follow the instructions to make some of the easier models. The different shaped pieces are also in different colors, making it easy for Bode to distinguish them.

* Feed the Monkey - This has been a fun toy for Bode, but we haven't played with it in a while. This toy is good for hand-eye coordination and dexterity. He used to be quite good at it, but when he recently tried it, it took a bit more concentration on his part to get the ang of it again. We will rotate this more often with his manipulatives to give him more practice this year. We purchased this at Lakeshore Learning.

* Kinder Memory Cards - This product is by a company called Ravensburger. There are many memory card games out there, but this is our favorite. The illustrations on the cards are simple, colorful, and easy for the kids to identify. The cards are sturdy. The box is small and doesn't take up a lot of unnecessary space. We lucked out and found this at a used curriculum sale. It's always good to keep your eye out for good deals and finds.

* LEGOS - Need I say more, lol.

There are other little goodies in our house, but these were the ones we were into this week. I'm looking forward to reorganizing my preschool shelves so they are more user friendly and contain the products that are important to us.

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