Stay In Your Wheelhouse!

As I have said before, dancing is for anyone, but not for everyone.

Mark Morris

Last summer, I got wind of a zumbathon in our neighborhood to raise money for a great cause. I had never done Zumba in my life, but it sounded like a lot of fun and I needed to change up my exercise routine anyway…and by that I mean, actually start exercising.

Of course, I convinced our middle sister into doing it with me. I just know she had nothing else to do that day.

Once we were in the big Zumba room, we slinked to the back. I was amazed by the outfits. Apparently, I needed bells around my waist and really wild clothing with lots of holes…next time. My black running shorts with my last 5k t-shirt from 2009 was going to have to do for now.

All of a sudden, the music started blasting and I am right away taken to the downtown salsa club. Hips and bells are flying everywhere! The instructor was moving so fast that I had no idea what she was doing…if I got a move down she was already onto the next move!

I looked over at my sister. Yeah, we’re definitely related. At the same time we ask each other: Are you ready to go?

So, ten minutes into the zumbathon, we bailed and went for a short run. It felt good doing something we could do and not look like complete fools!

Because… I like being in my wheelhouse, don’t you?

So, what does an unsuccessful zumbathon have anything to do with literacy and learning?

Even as adults, we did not want to stay in there. We were totally out of our comfort zone and understood we looked like complete fools. We were not going to learn how to do any Zumba that day and we knew it…so why stay?

Learning is all about being successful and feeling safe. It is about slowly building on to what is already known. It is never pushing too hard nor expecting too much too soon. It is all about staying in the wheelhouse…with possibly a slight nudge if we are ready for it.

So, for this week’s post, we want to share some quick and easy magnetic letter ideas to add to your literacy tool belt.  These ideas are what I like to do with my three year old who will be four in March. I know what she knows so these activities are right in her wheelhouse!

Color Sort: Have about ten or twelve letters on the fridge. Make sure there are two or three different colors of letters. Ask your child to put the letters of the same color together in a group. See how fast your child can do it. This activity should be done for months and for years. I started doing this once my children knew their colors, but I continue doing this activity when they are four and five. Why? I want my children to be successful and I want them to be completely aware and familiar with every attribute of the letters. This is a great activity for a child to start with when they are younger and continue to explore as they get older and notice different characteristics of each letter as they are ready.

Circles, Sticks, Hills, and Monkey Tails: Grab a few letters and show your child how letters “look”. Talk about how some letters have circles, some have sticks, some have hills, some even have monkey tails, and some even have more than one attribute! Line up some letters on the fridge and ask your child to pull down the letters that have circles. Line them up again and this time have your child pull down the letters that have hills. Line the letters up again and try another attribute. This is another activity your child will want to and will need to do again and again.

First Letter of First Name Search: Does your child know his first letter of his first name? If he does, try this one: Grab a few of his first letter of his name and place them on the fridge. Grab a few other letters and place them around too….the letters should all be mixed up. Have your child find his letter as fast as he can and pull those down separating them from the others. (Hint: When your child is first becoming familiar with his name and first letter, be sure to choose letters for the mixed up group that do not look similar to his first letter of his name. Example: My daughter’s first name starts with “F”. I would not choose “E” to be mixed up in the group…too similar looking.Maybe later….but only if I know it’s in her wheelhouse, right?) Later, try it with the first letter of his last name.

So, why don’t you dance on over to the fridge and grab those magnetic letters because you know what to do with them…they are in YOUR wheelhouse now!





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