Sneaky learning

Phineas works. Hard. But he’s not superhuman. He gets tired, he gets irritable, he has off days. Some mornings he would rather scowl out the window than narrate back the nuances of the story he just heard, or painstakingly count, again, six beans, three beans, five beans.

On those days, I have to decide on which hill I want to die: the one where he gets the intellectual daily workout he requires to not only move forward but to maintain the learning he’s already mastered, or the one where all of my beautifully planned, academically balanced boxes are checked.

Since these days happen about as often as you’d expect with a child who struggles mightily with learning, I try to keep an eagle eye out for them, and anticipate the points where I’m going to meet head-on with some (ahem) opposition. I don’t believe that all learning needs to be fun, or entertaining, or catchy and colorful. But I also know that it’s not reinforcing poor character habits to spread a little honey around and wait for the flies to come.

As such, I keep a little Phin-only toolbox at the ready. It’s my go-to place for activities and resources that flex the brain muscles I’m putting through the paces on days when the word “No,” seems to be right around the corner.

Sneaky School

One of my favorite picks in that box is the Draw Patterns with Barroux Kit, a colorful, engaging book of essential skills disguised as a coloring book with all the bells and whistles. Phin literally wriggles with joy when he sees this kit come off the shelf. Although it’s targeted for children ages 4 and up, it’s easily approachable for older kids— even those without special needs. Identifying, copying, repeating, and even creating patterns are pre-math skills that also translate to a lot of fun, and this book is chock full of creative ways to engage kids in the process.

The book itself is 64-pages, each inviting a child to frost the cupcake, finish the dress, put scales on the fish, add windows to the buildings, or complete the scarf. The art style is simple, and offers plenty of white space for extending the scene. The images lend themselves well to working as a team (Phin is a big fan of “working together” and to making up stories as you go. The kit comes with 8 wide-tipped markers and 7 of the thin point variety, and is contained in a sturdy box hinged with a magnet. I don’t know about your kids, but the self-contained kit aspect automatically ups the cool factor with mine.

Sneaky School

The absolute best part of this kit, in my opinion, is that it seamlessly blends an essential skill with a high-interest format that begs kids to pick up a marker and join in. It fits in as a perfect part of Timberdoodle’s Kindergarten Curriculum Kit, and serves equally well as a supplement for kids who need extra practice for whatever reason. At $14.50, it’s an inexpensive addition to the sneaky learning toolbox!

2 thoughts on “Sneaky learning

  1. Yay for Phin! And yes, it definitely helps to have an “alternative activities” tool-box handy for those kinds of off-days. The special needs at our house aren’t as challenging as yours, but sometimes the required repetition gets old, so it’s nice to take a break with something fun that still works on those skills. Thanks for sharing.

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