Today was a corny day. But let me start from the beginning.
My toddler is a little explorer. He loves to strike off on adventures (He loves it as long as he knows where I am–if it’s the other way around and I leave him, he’s terrified. Go figure.), and this day was like many other days. I asked him where he was going, and he said, “Nooo,” with his little hands up in a shrug, which means, “I don’t know.” He ended up following our dog into the cornfield next to our yard, weaving his way through the rows to the base of the hill behind our house. Then he hesitated, seeing a path into the trees, and set out up the hill. Several times, I tried to distract him to stop and go back for lunch, but he was determined. We made it to the top of the hill, three times the height of our house, and he set to the important business of picking rocks out of the roots of a fallen tree and throwing them into the drifts of fallen leaves. It was so fun that he didn’t want to leave, and I had to carry him down, which I should have seen coming. But it was worth it. He felt in charge, independent, important.
Continuing the corn theme from my toddler’s adventure, I decided to try some things with corn. Then one corny thing led to another, and another, and all of a sudden, it was a corny day.
We got a few ears of now dry field corn from our farmer neighbor, and I took all the kernels off, dropping them into our witch’s cauldron still out from Halloween. If you don’t have a kindly farmer nearby, you can purchase corn in the bird food aisle in bags, or in some stores by the scoopful. I added a measuring cup, and my toddler had fun with the feeling of the corn and scooping and dumping for several minutes. I added an egg carton and extended the activity to a half an hour, as he scooped and dumped into the egg carton, even dropping kernels into small holes in the peaks that rise between the eggs. I love it when kids add their own fun things to an activity that goes beyond your expectations. That’s kids learning through play at its best.
After lunch, I decided to switch it up and make a craft before nap. I had already cut out corn and leaf shapes from yellow and green construction paper during nap time yesterday. Scroll to the bottom to print a pattern for one like ours. Then, I helped our toddler dot the yellow cob with squeeze glue. I gave him a handful of corn kernels and showed him how to put one on. He stuck the others on and ran back to play with monster trucks. Remember, play is best!
After nap, big brother came home and needed to practice spelling words and “counting on,” what you or I might call addition, counting on your fingers. I set the little guy up with a bread pan with a bunch of corn in the bottom to run his fingers through, then poured the rest into a large cookie sheet for the older one to practice his spelling words in. He traced them with his finger, which lets him focus on spelling the word and the motions to make the letters instead of the fine motor skills to write the letters small. It was a fun idea, but I will admit, the words were very difficult to read, because of the shifting nature of the corn. After we were done, he also got to play in it some and dump it in a bucket to store for later. He also made an adventure of picking up the corn from the floor, searching under the table with a flashlight. It took a bit longer, but it was more relaxing for all involved.
Then after a play/cartoon break, we rounded the day out with numbers. Our first-grader had used his candy corn counting sheet the day before to practice counting to 120 in a visual, physical and fun way, eating a few pieces of candy corn along the way. Today, I added a pair of dice to practice his addition. I challenged him to see how quickly he could fill up his corn cutout game board to 60. Each roll of the dice, he would have to take the larger number and add the smaller number to it and place that number of pieces of candy corn on the game board. If I hadn’t been preparing supper, I would have made it a game–a race to see who could get there first, since I had made two corn game boards for that purpose. I did not make a pattern for this corn cutout, but it is similar to the other one with the one difference being that I used two full sheets of construction paper instead of one to be able to fit 60 pieces of candy corn. I traced an actual piece of candy corn 60 times, although I’m sure you can find a more efficient way to do it. In the future, I will add a spinner to decide each roll of the dice if it will be added or subtracted from the game board. But we will work our way up to that. The way it was, it was a hit! And I don’t think it was just because he got to eat another few pieces of candy corn.
To keep the little guy out of big brother’s hair (or candy corn), I took his second little corn cutout, and having traced three pieces of candy corn on it, I directed him to match the candy corn with the ones on the paper, counting for him as he did it. He obviously didn’t care if they fit in the outlines, placing all three crossways on the traced ones. And I have to admit, he was much more interested in eating the candy corn. It was probably a bad move to do this one before supper. Because the little guy didn’t show much interest in it, I let it go as an experience, and let him do what he wanted instead: stand on a kids’ chair and “help” me prepare the meal–also a very valuable learning, bonding and fun experience.
And no, we did not have corn for supper. Maybe I should have though.