In our harvest and fall fun themes this month we have explored different ways to motor plan, sequence the steps of growing a pumpkin, go on a skeleton scavenger hunt, and look for dracula. Motor planning and ideation are all part of pretend play. Pretend play provides practice with problem solving and processing emotions (Russ & Wallace, 2013). Motor planning is the ability to imagine an idea, organize materials needed, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions. It requires the combination of tactile, auditory, proprioceptive, and vestibular information in order to direct movements. Group activities aimed to support children becoming more aware of the materials needed when carrying out a new sequence of actions.
Pass the Pumpkin and Looking for Dracula
During pass the pumpkin, the children learned about different vegetables and ways to describe them using and being exposed to words related to color, size, smell, and other characteristics such as hard and soft or smooth or bumpy. This activity helped to support sharing with peers as well as teaching new words.
When Looking for Dracula, the children were given super secret assignments (i.e. pictures that matched pictures in the book). They had to listen to the song and look at the pictures to see when it would be their turn to add to the book. We also incorporated pretend play motions with the song (i.e. holding two fingers out as fangs, making binoculars out of hands). When we would go looking for our skeleton parts later, many children used their own hand binoculars to look for the body parts.
Growing a Pumpkin and Going on a Skeleton Hunt
Part of our harvest activities was going through the steps of growing a pumpkin. The children had to put pictures into a sequence: get the seed, rake the planting area, dig a hole, cover the seed, water, and pick the pumpkin. The children helped to remove seeds from a pumpkin for planting which was a fun way to provide fine motor practice of pinching to grab and pull out the seeds as well as tactile input seeds being slippery or slimy. Once the children picked a pumpkin, we incorporated different types of movement to increase motor planning, having them carry pumpkins and hop, shuffle, run, or jump to put them in the basket.
The Skeleton Hunt worked on scanning the environment for what you need. The children had to look high, look low, and look around in order to find body parts. They were also responsible for placing the body parts together at the end of the hunt. This helps them to identify parts of their own body and how they are placed together (i.e. we don’t just have one leg bone, we have two).
Pumpkin Plate and Monster Face Craft
In order to help develop fine motor skills we sometimes will address basic abilities such as strength, which may need to be refined (Smits-Engleman et al., 2012). This month, when making a Pumpkin Plate we had the groups work on their fine motor grip and strength by having them scrunch up orange tissue paper and then place it on glue that they painted onto a plate. Many times birthday presents will have tissue paper in them and the tissue can be re-purposed as an art craft material.
The monster craft face addressed visual motor and perception skills. The children were able to see a model of the craft face and would ask for various body parts (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hat or hair) to add to their creation. The kinder group used fine motor skills to cut out parts of their face. Both the hop n squeak and kinder groups had to identify where to put the parts of the face (top, bottom, side, middle) which worked on identification of prepositions.