Friday, May 27, 2011


Cool book I found at the library! 

It's getting purchased soon!  Hardcover at is only $10.79 right at the moment!  I see there is an additional similar books, More Life-Size Zoo; Life-Size Reptiles; Life-Size Aquarium; Life-Size Sharks and probably more!

So, I have laminated zoo animals that some of my 3rd and 4th graders made for me a few years ago.  We've had them up on the wall this past week.  Today, I had the older preschool students and even though it was "free Friday" I decided to label the panda.  Then I left scrap paper, craft scissors and crayons accessible to the children.  Yes!  It worked!  No one took on the elephant but they did the others.  :-)  Remember that it's not the outcome that's the process.  So if they write the incorrect letter and so doesn't matter.  The point is teaching them to "sound out" and mainly to explore with writing.  This is not the time to focus on correct letter formation either.  :-) 

I had one child tell me when she first came to me that "I can't write, I can only scribble."  My response is, "We call that kid writing and Ms. Amber loves to see kid writing."  We want to encourage the labeling and pretend writing.  One thing leads to the next, naturally.  But I often find that, especially older, children who have not been exposed to it being okay to "kid write" feel like they "can't" because it doesn't look the same as adult/older kid writing.  That makes it difficult for them to be willing to explore...but exploring with writing is a must!  So ENCOURAGE!  Side note:  I discourage the use of letter tracing worksheets until they are older.  I very seldom use it in preschool and very seldom even at the Kindergarten stage...but some children like them so use them sparingly if you do use them.  Do authentic writing makes a difference!

*  Most importantly...have writing tools and various types of paper available for them to write on at any time of the day.  Sometimes that's hard when you have littler ones around you that want to write on the couch or the wall, accidentally or on purpose.  But if that's the case, have a special place for your older ones to get their writing tools.  Putting them in a pencil box or a container that is just out of reach of the younger but not the older...or in a container that the older one can open but not the younger, etc.  I place a "pad of paper" (scrap paper cut and stapled) in our science tub with pencil in there.  Pencil cleans easily so I don't worry at all about the younger one getting it.
*  Do you make a grocery list?  This can be something very meaningful for your child.  When you look at the add and write your list...have another ad nearby with a list like piece of paper and pencil.  Something that the children like to do is cut and paste food items onto their paper and then they can label their pictures.  Even better, if you can tell them things you are getting at the store and let them find them in the ad, cut-paste-label, and then take them to the store with you and that is their list to be used to find the items, put them in the cart, and check it off. 
*  Have them help you make name cards for the dinner table, writing the names of the family members.
*  When you do a dictation activity from their artwork or story, encourage them to write it down first.  I encourage you to write the actual story on a separate piece of paper and attach it to the back if you wish...but if you are displaying the work (which you should) display only their picture and writing if they did the writing.
*  Label the room.  Sometimes we see labeling taking place in preschool rooms.  Yes, go ahead.  Preferably, have it on laminated cards that can be removed and the children can label the room.  And if you label it...don't forget you did!  Use it to your can incorporate a lot of literacy activities with labels (letter sounds, word chunks, abc order, how many letters in a word, sticks and curves, and more!)  You can do it theme related like we did this time with zoo animals or you can label actual items in your house (ie: chair, door, window, etc). 
*  Make homemade birthday cards and thank you notes.  Writing simple words such as I, love, you, mom, dad, thank you, Happy, Birthday, names of family members, and so on (make it meaningful for the activity) on index cards and punching a hole in the corner and putting on a ring is very handy.  You can add to it as they want a new word and if you keep it available you'll find them using it on their own.
*  Alphabet photo book:  Take pictures (or bet yet...let your child take pictures) of things in and around your home for each letter of the alphabet.  Put the picture at the top of a 9x12 piece of construction paper and encourage your child to write the upper/lower case letter and even the word.
*  On the same note, take pictures of family members and encourage your child to write their names below the pictures.
*  If your child(ren) use 3 part nonclementure cards (I call them vocab cards) one of the activities the children can do after they have worked with the cards is to make their own "3rd part" by writing the word the way it sounds to match the pictures or copy the word if they wish.
*  One year we created a large group nest, did marble painted eggs.  Then children told me facts about birds/nests and we wrote it in strips of paper and added it to the nest.  You can do something similar with any theme and perhaps THEY want to try their hand at writing a few strips.  :-)
*  Make your own Memory game.  Provide same size/color rectangles and sets of stickers so they can make a pair.  Have them place a sticker on each card and you can write the word on one card and they can write the word on the other card.  Then play like Memory. 

Feel free to share what you've done with your own children/students!


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