Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Post Card Exchange

Greetings all!  Been so long since I've taken the time to blog.  So busy, like everyone and I expect to get back into a consistent schedule come September 6th and school starting.  I did want to mention that I've often talked about wanting to do a post card exchange and lo and behold...last week I came across a preschool website that hosts a post card exchange.  You may be interested!  It was stated on the site that most of the participants will be from the U.S. but it is open to others outside of the U.S. also. 

We plan to make space for a USA map coloring sheet and color the state as we receive the postcard, learn a bit about that state and display the postcard as well.  I had one of my enrolled preschoolers for the fall here today and I mentioned this and her reaction was "That's just PERFECT!" I think so too.  I think she's ready to come back and I'm ready for her and my other kiddos.  I'm especially excited that Trent will be joining us in the activities when he can.  It would be ideal if we had another kiddo right around his age/development.  So far it looks like it'll be a small group but I also know that some families don't look for care/preschool until the week of school so perhaps we'll get another couple as the year progresses.  The one benefit of having a small group all the time is that we can get so much more involved and provide so much individualization.  The downfall is that there isn't as much peer interaction and we know that learning to work/deal with others is such an important aspect to learn at the preschool age.  Thus, I usually encourage children who will be young 5s or those I don't know well to consider the Just 4s program.  Yes, less children enrolled for me but I take the attitude that we are all in this together and we want what's best for the children. 

Look forward to sharing some ideas we do come September 6th!  Enjoy your last days of August!

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Like Kites

Kites are such a fun theme to do with the kids.  There are so many different things to do.  If it's a nice day/week...going outside and flying kites (even as simple as plastic grocery bags with a yarn string) is such a fun way to get the kids moving. 

I decided to have C. read the book for the other children today.  This can be a great benefit for the younger children because then they realize it's not that far away when they'll be reading too!  Anyway, my only issue was that C. tends to talk talk talk and it tends to interfere with the flow of the book for the other children.  So I don't have him read aloud too many times for the other kids.  :-)

 I chose this book as we've been introducing/reviewing the silent e and of course kite was a good example.  For our "moveable letters activity"...we seem to be moving beyond just moving alphabet manipulatives lately but this type of activity can be done with "adding e" manipulative...we used some silent e word cards that I came across. 
I chose a few to use, being sure to include a, i, o, and u vowels and that the words actually were common enough that the children would understand.  Great CVC sounding out practice initially and then adding the e to reinforce the long vowel sound.  These would be relatively easy to make on your own with your own words and font, if you desired.

For a bit of movement today, one of the children asked if we could do the parachute again.  Together, before the final child arrived, we put alphabet kites up on the wall in alphabetical order. FYI: I often encourage the children to start near the end of their sequence to figure out the next letter instead of all the way at the beginning.  By the end of preschool/beginning of Kindergarten they should be able to do this and it's a time saver!  I do the same with counting.  Start at 10 to get to 15 instead of starting at 1 each time. 
 So we got the parachute out and I placed on several kite bows that had pictures on them.  This printable came from  They tried to keep them on the parachute as long as they could.  Then I instructed them to choose a certain amount of bows from the floor.  (We did 3 bows a piece at first-I had created bundles of bows to make the activity go smoothly).  Then they told me what letter the picture/word started with and placed it on the corresponding kite string.  After they got the idea we did two bundles and they picked six a piece.  Had a little fun with the tape.  :-)

For our numeral formation activity, we did the Kite Graphing Book found at  I actually purchased the Letter of the Week "curriculum" from her as it took so long to download the items individually and she has some very nice printables to share.  Just want to take a moment to reiterate that one must be careful of the term "curriculum".  Many of the printable available should be labeled as curriculum support vs. leading people to believe that it's an actual curriculum.  My opinion, of course!  Her Letter of the Week Curriculum is really just the printables she used for her lesson planning for the specific letter they were focusing on. 
 I provided pointers because it makes counting a little more interesting and the bows were small enough that the pointers made it easier to count also.  I encouraged the children to x out the boxes...mainly to save time but also because the two younger ones needed practice forming x's.  That's not an easy letter to write...though it looks easy.  That crossing midline and backwards diagonal.

Art:  We talked about the different kites we have seen and the fact that not all are diamonds.  So, they made a kite collage, including white oil pastel clouds and washed with blue water color. 

Scissor/Word Family Activity. 
I printed a set for each child and on cardstock with the hope that they'll read and sort the cards at home for further practice.  However, you may wish to make one set and laminate.  You can do something similar as we did with the parachute.  Or you can hide the bows around the room.  Or put a paperclip on the bow and create a dowel/magnet "fishing" pole.  If you were planning on making/laminating one set, I would suggest you take the time to cut the bows out as well.  It would be more appealing to the eyes.  However, I knew that my students wouldn't have the time or the interest in cutting out all those bows!  So rectangles it was.  FYI:  on the website, they have many word families available for this activity.

Phonological Awareness: Beginning, middle, ending sounds
This went well and there are multiple things you could do with this simple kite mat.  As you can see in the picture, I used picture/word cards and a chip.  I purchased the cards awhile ago in the school section at Target.  I love them!  Now, they've gotten used quite a bit that a few of them are all coming apart at the perforated edges so we'll soon need to find a new use (maybe use them with our moveable letters!).  But they can fold to just show the picture and then open to check their work when we leave them all together.   Also, for younger students, consider using the mat to practice with sets of 3.  They can place a manipulative on each bow and count them, then set them aside.  You may wish to have small picture cards and do "which is different?" activity.  So maybe a banana on the first bow, a pear on the second and a dog on the third.  Encourage your child to tell you why the one they chose is different.  How about reinforcing rhyming?  Which picture doesn't rhyme?  Or which picture doesn't start with the same beginning/ending sound?  You can add bows to your string and do sequencing or patterning.  If you have time...have the children decorate their own kite.  Use your imagination...feel free to share other activities you can think of to use with this simple kite mat.

Here's one of the products I purchased from Discount School Supply this fall.  Already I love it!
Relatively durable/stable...which I could not say for others I looked at at the stores.  This one came with 10 trays.  The trays are not as durable as the previous ones I purchased but they'll do.  I decided to use it last night by arranging the materials for each activity on a separate tray from top to bottom.  That way I just took the stuff off the tray instead of it being piled on the floor or on the table/counter and so on.  And by the time we got to art we had emptied a few of the trays so I used it as a drying rack so no wet art on my counters as I'm trying to get ready for lunch.  Then instead of making umpteen trips to pile it all up to put away later...I just rolled the cart into the computer room.  :-)  I can see that it would be lovely for a homeschooling mom...especially if their child did well with a visual of when they they will be "all done". 

Today was a great start of the only issue now is the doctor's office has been busy for over an hour (which this is NOT unusual...drives me bananas).  Need to make an appointment so I can get my child care renewal paperwork in.  Have a lovely week! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yummy Eggs!

Oh boy. Full and dog alike are effected.  Seems like there is so much more arguing and general loudness today instead of the happy easy going children that are typically around here.  My boys tend to be more effected for some reason...or maybe just because I'm with them 24/7 that I see the minute differences in their behavior. Anyone else notice behavior changes in accordance to the moon? 

Anyway...back to the topic.
For those that know me, I'm not that much of a creative cook. I don't mind cooking but it's coming up with the meal components that I don't care for.  I'm always on the lookout for easy, kid friendly meal ideas for my kiddos here at Play 'n' Learn Family Child Care and Preschool.  Since we've taken the "no corn syrup pledge" that has limited quite a bit of what we use to have for meals and snacks.  So any ideas...pass them on!  It doesn't often work well to prepare something that requires me to be at the stove stirring, etc.  Too many times something happens that requires my attention (baby's hungry and so on).  During the summer, most days we can be flexible and have a little more time for food prep but during the school year I have about 15 minutes.  So...any ideas would be lovely! 

Thanks to an individual that submitted a very easy and yummy egg recipe to our 2011 Klaty Cookbook.  It's going to be our new child-care favorite I can see.  Number one, it's very easy for me to fix quickly, number 2, the kids loved it and number's a whole lot easier to clean up then some of the other egg dishes we've done.  I made a few extra to see what they'd taste like cold.  I'm going to guess, pretty good.

Break one egg into each section of a muffin tin (as many as you want).  Sprinkle with salt/pepper, add one tsp of cream, and sprinkle with cheese and bacon (or whatever meat you desire).  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  I did mine in stoneware so it took a bit longer to firm up those eggs.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lines That Wiggle

Wow!  What an awesome morning.  Full load (6) here this morning and I was wondering how it was going to go because my own boys were CRAZY this morning.  (4 days before a full moon, by the way-some are effected the day before or on...usually the week of the full moon we can see a bit of "craziness" but I find that our worse day is 4 days before, for my own boys).  Anyway.  It went SO well this morning. I cut some things out this morning so we could take more time in other activities and it just was about perfect for timing!  Love days like this.  :-P

We are at the end of our High Frequency booklets so I decided to move into the We Both Read series to put in action the reading concepts I've been teaching.  That was a nice change of pace . Then we read another book called Silent Letters Loud and Clear.  I would really only read this with older kiddos.  It's very busy and introduces multiple silent letters.  I'd say K-1+ but I do think my PreK summer students had been introduced to enough about words and the english language that they did enjoy it and they "got it" when I read the "letter to the editor" without the silent letters.  They thought it sounded funny. 
The silent letter I focus on at this stage is "silent e" and the typical rule that when an e is at the end of a word, it's silent and makes the vowel long.  A long vowel "says it's name".   If you use the book Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Lesson this is a concept introduced very soon in the lessons as it's commonplace in the English language.    The activity we did in place of our moveable letters activity was from the Teachers Pay Teachers website . It's free to register so the downloadable was free also.  The children seemed to enjoy it and I liked how we could review all five of the short vowel sounds and then make a new word by adding the silent e.

And then our focus book (wow, we got in 3 books this morning!) was the awesome book I just recently came across called Lines That Wiggle.
What a neat book!  There is a blue "glitter" line that the children can feel and trace on every page.  We spent quite a bit of time just tracing the lines (which is a benefit in itself for young students as it helps reinforce that lines are straight, zigzag, curve, and so on.   Just somethign to remember is that many of the words are in cursive as it's easier to "write" the words with a continuous line when it's cursive.  Still a very good book for preschoolers though!

For our numeral formation activity we used wikki stix to make the numbers.  To help keep the activity from taking too much time we each chose two numbers to create with the wikki stix and then they created sets to go with their number.  This is one of the activities I wanted to be able to spend more time as my question to them was "Now, what can we do with our numbers?"  We came up comparing our sets by using terms more/less.  They came up with adding and subtrating their sets as well as figuring out if their numbers were odd or even.  By then it was time to move on but use your imagination.  Perhaps you can set it up so they are creating patterns with their manipulatives in their set and so on.  We used a foam mat because I thought the stix would stick to it but it doesn't.  I'd suggest a plastic tray or a laminated piece of paper.  Here's what a couple looked like.  We used pom poms, foam shapes, bears, and transportation manipulatives.  You can use anything and make it theme related, if you wish. 

We also used jump ropes today...a line that wiggles.  The two main "games" were to "cross the river" where two people holds the rope taunt as another child tries to jump the river.  Then the river gets higher and higher.  The other jumping activity we did today with jump ropes was to have the children jump the rope as I moved the rope in a circular motion.  Needs to be done on a smooth/flat surface and with someone who doesn't get dizzy!  LOL  We ended up doing it on the cement pad of our driveway...with me sitting on the ground and switching hands to circulate the rope all the way around.  :-P  Got all the kids involved by counting loudly.  :-) 

We created yarn art.  The process was amazing. 

I placed many balls of yarn on trays with the thought that this would be perfect for practicing our manners and patience and it worked out just like that.  We talked about how it could be a design or could be an actual picture.  We had other basic coloring supplies available also.  Then the children thought for a few minutes and started to work with the yarn to get an idea of what they wanted.  Then they glued.  Most of the end products were completely different then the first layout but that's fine.  However, with my preschool students I'd let them start gluing and adding to their picture as they go along.  It was definitely the process that was the benefit in this art project.  I took pictures of the work before the glue was dried to remind me to remind you all that using a liquid glue bottle (without the tap and glue caps) works on hand strengthening and control.    I was going to do glitter glue line art but that is very close to the activity that we WERE going to do in accordance to the book The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle...but then went and forgot to pick it up at the library yesterday as planned.  Oh well...we can do that one another day.  :-)  The top two pictures ended up as designs.  One child actually had a unicorn on hers in her initial work and then turned it into a design because she was "done".  The other planned a design from the beginning.  The bottom left is a pond, with fog and stars.  The bottom right in a TV.  This child had another picture also but the glue was frustrating him and he was "giving up".  Because I know this child well I encouraged him to continue and put something on his paper.  You do what you feel is needed with your own children, if in a similar situation.

Another activity we did today was "build a sentence".  As soon as I got the board and the index cards out they were all excited.  We did this before with the Rabbit Stew book. 
The blue words "The line wiggled." was the sentence we started out with and then the children added more words to make a longer sentence.  Please allow time for silliness and switching the words around.  They sure get a kick out of it!  The activity I added to it was putting numbers under the words and providing dice to roll.  The children rolled the diced, used a pointer to point to that word and tell us what it was.  I will definitely do this activity again.  It definitely helps with word awareness and the dice work (counting dots, learning what each number looks like with dots, and learning to start with the biggest amount of dots and then adding the smaller number of dots all will be a benefit).

For our letter formation activity we did a very simple activity that was very helpful.  I reviewed the magic C move.  I'm always reminding them to start at the top right when forming circles because it leads into so many other letters and numbers . The "magic c" comes from Handwriting Without Tears.  I made a simple table for them to practice their magic c capital letters.  Check out this one!
That last G!  WOW!  "Practice makes perfect."  :-D  I doubt that she'll do every magic c letter as beautiful as that one but she was so proud and that definitely boosted her confidence.

A lovely morning indeed...hope you all had one also!

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Duck Stuck

I think I'll just give my K Readiness program schedule again as it was something that was asked recently. Please keep in mind that all students are 5+ in this summer program.  My preschool routine, during the school year, is different.  You have to explore with schedules to see what's going to work with you and your child(ren).  Each year I usually have a different schedule as my students vary from one year to the next.

Our K Readiness Summer program runs 8:30A-12:00P.  We added a bit of time to add lunch in, for various reasons.
Upon arrival children do
*  calendar
*  high-frequency word booklet.  I would like that the books are read frequently at home but I'm going to guess that they are being read to their family once.  I'm not too concerned.  The main point of the booklets were to get the basic of how to read down...left to right, top to bottom, front to last page, pointing to the words, noticing the first letter and sounding out the simple words and using the picture as a clue to what the words say and an introduction to sight words, which often do not "follow the rules".  Just building the foundation for when they are truly reading the books in Kindergarten.
*  journal-related to the book we'll be reading

Then we move onto moveable letters.  This is where we are moving letter manipulatives to create CVC words that use short vowel sounds.   During this time we review 1) listening for beginning, middle, ending sounds 2) short vowel sounds 3) sounding out and saying fast a word.  Talking about real and nonsense words. 

We read our focus book and sometimes we slip in our phonological awareness activity in here.  Otherwise we do it toward the end of the morning.

By this time we are sitting for quite awhile and so we do some movement that usually incorporates another concept.

We move onto our numeral formation activity that often incorporates other math concepts.

Art is next.  We've been inspired by this summer focusing on artists or an illustrator.

We then finish up with doing a listen and do activity, a letter formation activity (not usually theme related, I use the HWT alphabet order and the activity usually allows for repeated formation of the capital letter), and a scissors activity that typically focuses on word families.

Very enjoyable book, repetitive text, rhyming galore, great pictures, and the animals aren't really "typical".  I love that!  You could sure use this book as a jumping board into the habitat and characteristics of the animals.  And a great word to introduce/review is onomatopoeia.  Splish, sploosh, plop and so on.

Well, I really didn't have a good picture at all for these activities but this one shows the alphabet mats in the background.  I do enjoy these mats.  Can be used for so many different activities and when they play with it on their own they are naturally reinforcing letter knowledge.

For our moveable letters today we used our alphabet mats to find the vowels, and we all made a CVC word and told each other what it was, sounding it out/saying it fast.   The older children were encouraged to make real words but the younger ones made any words and we talked about whether they were real or nonsense words.  It was so neat to see and hear the expression from one child when she made a real word "on accident".   We passed our vowel to the person on our left and reviewed the short vowel sounds each time.  The picture shows C. with rhythm sticks.  We used rhythm sticks to chunk out words (starting out with the animals) that were in the book, after we read it. 

For our gross motor activity, we all got in a line and passed a tactile ball, over our heads, to the left/right, under our legs, etc.  The first child made a pattern out of quacks and the second person copied that pattern, etc.  Then to end it we all made a tunnel with our legs and the first person in line tried to roll a small kickball to the end of the tunnel.  Easier said then done, they found out! 

We incorporated our new discovery box today for math. 
I had A. place a set of numbers from 0-9 in both sides.  We used the wooden numbers that came with the box as well as our tactile numbers.  Then the children were given each a rubber duck (oriental trading) and they reached in and chose a number, feeling it and then quacked as many times as they thought the number was.  I helped the others count by holding my fingers up as they quacked.  This was great for talking about the different shapes of the numbers as 2 and 5 got mixed up by multiple of the children because if they feel a 2 upside down it feels like there is a hat on it.  In the end, the two younger students put their numbers in order from 1-9.  The older students checked their work.  Then I gave them the challenge for later (another easier said then done activity) to reach their hand into both sides and find the same number.  I can see that our new discovery box is going to get a lot of use this fall!  You can make one of your own with a shoebox and a tube sock.  Or you can do what I've done in the past and just put things in the bottom of a tube sock.  I've also put a large plastic cup in the bottom of a tube sock for smaller items.
What?!?!  I just purchased this from I went on to get the picture and it's now in the clearance section for $4.99!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So I went on and ordered a few more for birthday gifts.  A 5 star review and I agree.  It's made lovely and the wooden shapes, letters and numbers are a lovely addition.  I'll be sharing the different ways I use this box throughout the school year. 

Art today was an activity to go along with the book. 
A. had painted us some green paper adding texture by using various tools when the paint was wet.  This will help me lead into Wed.'s art lesson as the focus book/lesson is with regards to an Eric Carle book.  Though the lesson from does not focus on the paper collage technique I always bring the children's attention to it.  For this particular activity I provided brown fingerpaint for the muck, a duck, and the green textured paper to use as the weeks around the marsh, like in the book.  They were welcome to use scissors or just rip their paper.

Our scissors activity went along with the -uck word family. 
The actual idea was a pond made with blue paper but since we were doing One Duck Stuck we decided to use brown paper for muck.  :-)  If your child(ren) would benefit from word family exploration, this Mailbox publication Word Family Helpers is recommended by me.  The children have enjoyed these little projects and so have I!  I plan on using C.'s for during the school year with my preschool students. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Rocks, pebbles

There are many ways to incorporate learning with rock play...and what child doesn't like rocks?!  I've not met many in the last 15 years.

*  Use them for counting. Remember skip counting as well.
I like this idea from The Artful Parent and plan to try to do something similar this if you have a little more time on your hands you might want to also.  :-)  More to use indoors then outdoors.
Need: smooth rocks, fabric, and modge podge.
For older children use the natural colors of the rocks to sort by color, design, shape, size, texture.  Or you can paint sets for sorting and graphing.
*  Use permanent marker and write numerals on them to encourage numerical order, counting forwards and backwards.
*  Use the rocks to talk about more/less and the concept of odd/even.
*  Use rocks in a scale to explore with weight.
*  A great fine motor activity: encourage your child to place pebbles in a narrow neck container.  You can add tongs, tweezers or just use pincher fingers. Add a little science by providing a set of the same container and encouraging to explore with sounds.  What do the bottles sound like if they have a lot of pebbles. What if there is only one or two.  Order the bottles by the amount of pebbles in them.
*  Use rocks to create their name, create shapes, letters, numbers, lines. 
*  Add a craft/fine motor/art activity by providing plaster of paris and a lid with edges (like miracle whip lid) and having them make a design with their rocks. 
*  Throw rocks (have a set area for them and remind that we only throw rocks in supervised activities so we all stay safe) and measure distance, using appropriate vocabulary.  This is a lesson in good sportsmanship also.
*  Use rocks to measure equipment or even a chalk outline of themselves.  A good lesson for them...nonstandard measurement...using objects that are the same size.  Can't measure with a big rock and a little rock.  They need to be similar in size. 
*  Talk about perimeter.  I use that term in our gluing.  "Glue around the perimeter then make a X across the center."  Children can collect enough rocks to form a path around the perimeter of a play item. 
*  Place a few rocks in your sand box.  Make sure you have sieves available.  Encourage conversation!  Amazing how many concepts they'll "touch on" on their own when you encourage conversation.
*  Rocks are a good way to touch on the science of what's living and what's not. 
*  Use rocks in water play.  It naturally leads to discussion about water displacement, capacity.  This summer we went camping and I knew this lake had an abundance of rocks so sons and I went on a rock hunt.  :-)  Checking them out in the water to find interesting ones then letting them dry out to see what they look like.  Always look different in water and that is something that really keeps the interest of the children! 
*  Encourage the children to find a set of 3-5 (or more for older kids) that order from large to small or vice versa.  Or for younger children, make a set for them.
*  If you have space and have access to large rocks, encourage them to create a path that leads to a "rock garden".  Builds self confidence, touches on design/art, and you can incorporate many a gross motor movement.

I'm sure there are plenty more ideas...those are off the top of my head that we've done recently or in the past.  Feel free to tell us about more! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Outside Learning With Minimal Materials

Yesterday, we changed things up a bit and decided to spend most of the morning outside.  The children really enjoyed it.  We didn't touch on every component we typically do during our K readiness routine but we did many.  That just got me thinking about learning activities we've done outside and maybe I'll share a few.

 This is one of our favorites.  A simple hopscotch board on the driveway.  I created the outline for those that wanted me to but they wrote the numbers in so we got some numeral formation practice in.  Then, of course, you are getting oral counting, number recognition and gross motor in there also.   We've used the "hopscotch" idea to reinforce shapes, colors, name spelling, letter order, and so on.

We also jumped over logs yesterday creating rhyming words as we jumped.  log, bog, tog, shog, zog, mog, dog.  It's important to remember that nonsense rhymes are okay.  It adds a component of silliness but more importantly, I know that if they can come up with nonsense words then they are truly understanding the concept of rhyming.  Otherwise, they might just have memorized a set of words that we use over and over as rhyming sets.  What other things can you jump over and rhyme with?
rock (the children here enjoy throwing rocks in a puddle-remember to reiterate that you only throw rocks in the puddle!),
tree (we have little saplings all over that are small enough to jump over),
ball (use a small enough one that they don't land on it and fall),
hole (we have a dog and so we have plenty of holes :-))

We also used our sand box to write words.  You could do lines and shapes or individual letters for your younger students. Use your finger or a stick.  On that note, maybe I'll mention a little lesson I do with my students about letters.  If you have read my other blog posts you'll know that I'm a fan of teaching children letters using sticks and curves.  One of the first lessons we do is explore with sticks and curves.  What can we make?  Now that we have the actual "Mat Man" from Hand Writing Without Tears we'll take the route that Mat Man is going to teach us how lines help us make shapes, letters and numbers. activity I like to do outside is done after this mini lesson about lines.  I create large lines that are straight, horizontal/vertical, zig zags, curves, circles on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.  Then we move on the lines, walking heel to toe first and then maybe sliding, jumping and so on.  Next they are giving large paint brushes (dollar store) and a bucket with a bit of water and they "paint" the lines from  left to right.   We always end this activity with free exploration creating lines or "painting" play structure, bikes, sidewalk.  It's always a favorite.  One thing that's really nice about a small group is that I can create a set of lines for each child and so they are experiencing each of the lines with moving and erasing instead of just one line. 

If you have a flower garden, this is a great time to reinforce colors and size.  Something I'd like to do is grow sunflowers.  Maybe this next year.  Measuring every few days-collecting data, creating graphs and so on.  One activity we came across recently was to take small flowers and freeze them in water in a shaped icecube tray (dollar stores or Target dollar section), being sure to add a string/ribbon/yarn,  then have a "race".  Hang the flowers in different areas.  Which melts first? 

I find that purchasing an actual balance beam always gets put at the bottom of our priority list, though it has many benefits.  2 reasons, one is price and the other is storage.  So, we make do in another way.  :-)  Practicing around the border of our play area.  Great practice!  Balancing, jumping, sliding, walking forwards, walking backwards, tiptoe etc.  One day a child took it upon himself to jump 100 times.  :-) He'd jump and run around the corner, get back up and jump again.  He did make it to 100!  I was suitably impressed, especially with this specific child!

I like to use balls to practice oral counting or alphabet reciting.  You can roll with your younger students and bounce with your older students.  1, 2, 3...  Another favorite is to use a large light ball and put alphabet or number stickers all over it.  The children are given a sticker for their thumb on their right hand.  They catch the ball and tell us what is on the sticker under or nearest to their thumb.  You may also wish to use object stickers and do word chunking, rhyming, beginning, middle, ending sounds, segmenting and so on.

I've mentioned Follow the Leader in a past blog...being able to copy in action is crucial to being able to copy a written symbol on paper.

Weaving on a fence.  We don't have that ability here.  I was looking at getting a large classroom loom but it didn't get purchased because of $$$.  But if you have a fence, allow them to weave ribbons and other materials creating patterns.  Great for fine motor also.

Do you have lots of rocks?  Oh my, that's for another post.  :-P

"Car Wash".  I'm sure many of you already do this but want to mention it in case there is one or two that haven't.  A little squirt of dish soap in a bucket of water and sponges and let your kiddos give their "cars" (bikes, wagons) a bath.  GREAT fine motor with the squeezing of the sponges.  And if you do it routinely, it can become a lesson on "caring for our tools/equipment".

Hoop hopping, I actually do this indoors more often then outdoors because I use it to reinforce concepts.  I have the children arrange hulahoops in a line and inside I put a basic concept card and we hop from one to the other.  Kind of fun to pretend the hoops are lily pads and we are frogs. 

An obstacle course can easily be turned into a learning experience beyond just a great gross motor.  Add number cards for them to do a certain action that many times.  If the children are capable, have them create the obstacle course out of your outdoor toys or natural materials.

Find patterns in nature.  Crayons with wrappers removed, copy paper.  Encourage them to place their paper on different surfaces and coloring over top.  Can they find a pattern?  Tree bark, picnic table, back steps, siding, play structure, fence, sidewalk, etc.  Later encourage them to cut them into squares (or other shapes) and creating a collage.

Our kiddos have really been into creating a fort and every day they were a little on it.  It's getting a couple of rooms now.  :-)  They have used rocks to create a fire pit and so on.  This is great for learning to work together and learning about stability.  :-)  It's one of my repeated questions..."Is it stable?" and they'll test it out. 

Can they find something that is taller than them?  Shorter?  Wider/skinnier?  How about finding something that is soft, something that is hard.  Smooth/rough?  Outdoors is great for reinforcing texture and opposites.

Acorns?  Pinecones?  We have an abundance of the little tiny pinecones.  Great for counting, addition, subtraction, odd/even concepts, fractions, beginning division (sharing fairly), measurement and so on.

Don't forget the clouds!  Science waiting to happen.  :-)  And fine motor...remember the book It Looked Like Spilt Milk. My goal for this year is to create my own cloud identification cards (Montessori). 

Well, the list goes on.  I'll stop here for now.  :-P 

Monday, August 1, 2011

How Do You Hug A Porcupine?

(We got ours out of a Cheerios box.)
I really didn't have a large amount of time to come up with any really creative activities for this book.  But it's a great little book and I plan to use it as a focus book with my preschool program also.  If you have read the book and have any lovely ideas, I'd love to hear them.  The kids loved it.  Even my 8 year old saw it and said, "Oh! I really like this book!"  I chose it mainly for the word "hug" as it was a cvc word which used the vowel u.  Been really trying to work on learning those short vowel sounds.  It's not coming as quick as I expected it would with some children and it's going a lot quicker with others ones.  

For large motor we simple had a masking tape rectangle in the living room to practice the "walking in line/heel to toe" skill.  Then we pretended to be several of the animals in the book and moved around the rectangle being those animals.  

For our numeracy activity I chose 13 animals out of the book.  We didn't use all animals represented because then the animals would be too small or too big for the paper. Not all children will glue them directly next to each other like the child below.  Need to leave wiggle room on the paper! There are several reasons why I chose 13.  The main reason being that numbers 2 and 3 are difficult to write so the more we practice the better!  :-)  I strongly suggest that you encourage your child to seriate onto their paper before they glue. That way they can do more "self-correcting" instead of us saying, "Mmm.  Nope.  That's not right.  Try again."  Which is better?  Of course, self-correction is better.  We want them to really think about things logically and figure it out and their confidence level really does increase.   
The children wrote the numerals (their choice whether to go forwards or backwards) above each picture.  We actually pulled out our new Handwriting Without Tears tools today.  It was a mini "magnadoodle" and wooden sticks and curve magnets made specifically for that size "magnadoodle".  Doesn't work as well with numbers as it does letters but it was a nice variation to our tactile numbers.    I'll do a post on our new HWT goodies soon.

Phonological Awareness: we clapped out the animal names and sorted them with whether they had 1, 2 or 3 chunks. 

Other ideas:
* sort animals by habitat, size, color, whether they swam or not, etc.  A venn diagram would work nicely with sorting the animals by whether they swam, lived only on land, or lived only in the water.
*  emotions, hugs give us "warm fuzzies", what else gives us warm fuzzies?  When do we hug someone?  Why?  How do we know when someone doesn't want a hug from us (important concept!)  What animal would you like to hug?  Which one would you not?  And why?
*  rhyming with hug- bug, dug, hug, jug, lug, mug, pug, rug, tug (or do all consonants and sort whether real or pretend).  The book also has rhyming text.
* you can use this book as a jumping board into an introduction on how animals protect themselves or even learn facts about the different animals.
*  Measurement.  There are some pretty tall animals in this book and some pretty small animals in this book. 
*  Extend the book by using different animals but slipping in that " do you hug a porcupine?" verse.
Art today was focused on Vincent VanGogh's sunflowers.

(And look at that!  You can't even tell he spilled is green/brown rinse water on it.)
I really wanted them to get the idea of "painting big" and filling the paper.  I intentionally provided gray construction paper so that it looked "dreary" against the rest of the paper and would naturally encourage them to paint the whole paper.