Saturday, December 14, 2013

5 Ways to Work Towards Kindergarten Language Arts Standards with Thinking Putty

Standards.  Like them or not, they are here to stay in the world of education. But you know what?  Teaching these standards isn't difficult.  It can even be fun.  And most of you are probably already hitting the standards without realizing it.

Just to prove how simple it can be, here are five ways to meet at least one kindergarten language standard with a favorite tactile toy--thinking putty.  In case you aren't familiar with this product, let me give it a quick summary.  Silly putty...on steroids.  Seriously.  Just a large amount of awesomeness in a tin.  It stretches.  It bounces.  It works on fine motor skills.  Very cool stuff. And very useful for teaching.

Without further ado, here we go.  All of the standards are Common Core State Standards for Reading/Language Arts for Kindergarten since my state has sadly switched to those.

Materials for all lessons: 
At least one tin of thinking putty (if you have two, you use one and your child use one...otherwise you can share!)

1. Recognize and name all letters of the alphabet (both upper- and lowercase).  

Thinking putty activity.  Have your child build letters out of thinking putty.  You make a capital, and have your child make a lowercase.  Switch.  Have your child call out the letter to build.  See who can build the biggest capital M.  See who can make the smallest capital L.  

Make a letter and have your child guess it.  Guess what letter they built.

Building familiarity with the alphabet through play is one of the best ways to ensure reading success.  So play with your letters.  It's good for the brain!


Can you build Dad out of thinking putty?  How about Grandma?  Ask your child these things, and build people you know.  Together. Once you have two faces assembled, ask questions. 

 How can I tell which one is Dad?  Oh--you're right.  He has a beard and wears a hat.  Grandma has longer hair.   (Or whatever features can be used to distinguish two people.)  The attention to detail that young children have is remarkable. Even if the people are hard to build, the conversation you have will work towards this standard. 

Do the same thing with places.  Can you build our  house and Grandma's house?  What's different about them?  How are they the same?  These simple questions will get your child's mind going.  


Triangle, Square, Circle (Apparently my thinking putty skills need work!) 
Make three things out of thinking putty that all fit the same category.  Ask your child if he or she can guess what your category is.  (If your thinking putty skills are anything like mine, you might have to tell your child what your objects are first! :) )

If you've made a triangle, a circle and a rectangle, ask your child what else could go in that group and then create it.  (Perhaps an oval or a heart...)  Or if you made three numbers, have your child add another.  

Then switch.  Have your child build three things and you guess the category.  Then you add something new.  

This game is building vocabulary skills and helping your child see how different objects are related.  


Thinking putty is a great medium for retelling stories.  Since each tin holds a good amount, you can break it into smaller chunks.  This is Jonah.  This is a big whale.  This is the boat he was on.  Using those three simple pieces, a child can retell the story of Jonah.  

Change it up a bit.  Make a house.  A bed.  A chair.  Tell the story of Goldilocks.   

Even if the objects don't look exactly like what their supposed to, you are building the key skill--retelling a story from memory.  

Take turns.  You tell a story.  Then your child tells a story.  Build the key elements of the setting.  By demonstrating how to retell a story, you are helping build comprehension skills that will serve your child throughout a lifetime. 


 Ask your child to create a new creature out of thinking putty.  Then, ask questions about the creature.  Have your child use words to answer. Here are a few to get conversations rolling: 

What would you like most about having this creature as a pet? 
How would it feel to hug this creature? 
What is that part used for?  

Then, you build a creature.  Have your child ask you questions.  Take turns building and asking.  

There you have it.  Five super simple activities using only thinking putty and conversation.  Five activities that link to Kindergarten Common Core State Standards.   

Linked up to: Raising Arrows

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