Message Magnets Activity

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Updated on Jul 2, 2013

Parents, have you ever had a feeling that what you just told your child went in one ear and out the other? Sometimes talking to your child just doesn't cut it. Here’s a humorous but practical way to get some messages across to your first grader, and help build her reading skills while you’re at it!

What You Need:

  • A digital camera
  • Glue-on refrigerator magnets
  • Sturdy Cardstock paper
  • Index cards
  • Optional: laminator

What You Do:

  1. This activity starts with some straight talk between you and your first grader. Ask your child hwo she knows when mom or dad is worried, angry, or happy. Review how a parent’s face and body tend to look in each of those states, and then model them for your child. Invite her to take a picture of you acting out each emotion.
  2. Tell your child that the two of you are going to work on making some special “magnet” messages for your fridge. Print out each photograph of yourself doing each emotion (happy, mad, worried) and glue it onto sturdy cardstock. Have your child help you cut out the photos, laminate them if you like, and then glue a magnet on the back of each one.
  3. Pull out several index cards and make a circle with an arrow at the bottom, like a "speech bubble" in a comic. You may want to color code the cards, with one color representing each emotion. Write one simple message in clear block letters on each index card. A “mad” message might be, “Please hang up your backpack!” A “happy” one might be, “Thank you for the hug today.” They should be short, simple, and clear. Help your child practice reading each one.
  4. Each index card should be put on the fridge with the matching magnet. For example, an "angry" index card would be accompanied by the "angry" magnet.
  5. Keep all the magnets in a basket or drawer near the fridge. Be sure to rotate the display according to how your child is acting that day. Kid coming home from school? Start with happy messages. Kid dumped the lunchbox on the floor again? Move on to an angry message. Maybe this time, kids will read more than your lips!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.

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