Thursday, July 8, 2010

Practical Life Exercises and a Call for Advice

Most practical life exercises use what you'd expect - items around the home for learning practical life skills. Oh, it might be nice to have some smaller sized items around (like a small broom) for little ones to use, but for the most part you just teach them with what they have. We did make some dressing frames last year and I plan to use our bottles and tops more, too. I just saved some plastic bottles with different shaped lids and put them together in this box. Fancy, huh?

I'm debating about actually buying a few things for other practical exercises, though. I plan to work with First Son and First Daughter on lacing shoes. (First Son may know how to do that already; I haven't asked him to see.) You can buy or make a dressing frame or little toy for that, but it seems to make sense to me that using a regular shoe will work.

I would also like to teach First Son to tie his own shoes, however. I've looked around a bit because I'd really like some laces that are different colored, to make it easier to see where the different ends are going as he's tying (or as we're showing him how to tie). I can't seem to find any. There are a few books or toys with laces like that, but I really just want the laces. Anyone know where I could find them?

I'm also thinking about buying some eye droppers. It was clear to me during a summer reading program experiment that both First Son and First Daughter could use some practice. There is a science supply store in town that probably carries them, but it's not really close to other places we regularly go. I found some online (here, for example) and they're very inexpensive, but with shipping it seems a little ridiculous. My local hobby store carries them (at least they are in the online store), but they're twice as much. Anyone know of an online store that might have them that offers free shipping? Or with enough cool stuff at good prices I could make a decent sized order?


  1. Hi!! I enjoyed these past two posts, the spindle box looks great!!

    Love the lids. I was thinking about doing that for Gemma, and she has surprised me and learned, just within the past week or so, to do lids all her own, and can proudly open and close her toothpaste and her bubbles. She always asks me "this way, or the other way, mama?" when she's trying to unscrew it. Yes, I agree, just the practical application is so good. I taught her how to close doors/cabinets silently and had her practice it here several months ago, and to this day she still makes a big deal about doing it "silently", and even reminds me if I don't!!

    RE the droppers, would KS Dad be able to get any from the science dept. at the university where he teaches? Sometimes people don't mind parting with a handful of things like that. Or possibly a doc's office or lab in town? Tell them you're using them for homeschooling, surely someone would have a heart to donate, heaven knows how many of these places donate to the public schools all the time (but I won't get started on my rant with that). Anyways, those are my thoughts!!

    I bet a place like Payless or Shoe Carnival would have cool colored laces in the kids section. Or maybe even Michaels or Hobby Lobby.

    Are you familiar with this site?

    I am thinking of getting Gemma the sandpaper letters for Christmas.

  2. Monica, I made some sandpaper letters last year. They were definitely some of the more time-intensive things to make, but it was very cheap! We haven't used them too much yet but hopefully will starting in the fall.

    Thanks for the link to the site. If we do use the Montessori things, I'd like to purchase a few things like the cylinder blocks (which First Son would have adored, and probably still would) that you just can't make very easily at home.

    Thanks for the suggestions on stores that might have the shoelaces. I'll have to see if we can check those out sometime when we're in town.

  3. ...If you decide to make an order from the site you mentioned above (or the one I mentioned) holler and maybe we can do a joint order and split the shipping. I can't decide if I want to get some things for this coming school year or just wait until Christmas, Gemma won't be 3 until January, but either way I'll be putting in an order at some point so let me know.

  4. When I taught Simon how to tie, I just put a lace through a few holes on a lacing card (just enough so it wouldn't slide around), and showed him how to tie the two ends together. If you wanted two different colors, you could just tie two different laces together behind the card, and if he needs more stability, tape the whole thing to a table.

    If you don't have lacing cards, it would be pretty easy to make one for this purpose by taking some cardboard (maybe two layers of cereal box glued together?) and punching a few holes in it.

    When we did it, I anticipated spending several short lessons over a few days working on it. I guess I caught him just at the right time, because it was 15 minutes from the time I started showing him until he'd mastered it!

  5. If you are looking for one lace with two colors you could always use RIT dye and dye white ones. I would suggest a long lace to start with. My kids always needed more lace. Also, I had a hard time remembering it is a little different tying a shoe that is in your lap as opposed to on your feet. My boys taught me that one.

  6. Monica, I will definitely let you know if I decide to make an order! Shipping charges always seem so extreme (though I know they're usually what it really costs to mail stuff like that).

    Hilary, thanks for the suggestion! We have many lacing cards and that would probably work really well. I think our biggest problem is that First Son doesn't really care if he learns how to tie his shoelaces. But he might surprise me. One day last fall he just started buttoning everything on his own.

    Ateche, thanks for the reminder about tying shoes that are actually on your feet. I'll have to add that as the last part of the lesson. First, the lacing card, then the shoe, then the shoe while it's on the foot!


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