STEAM · story · writing

Dragonflies

Today we will learn about one type of insect, a dragonfly. Let’s listen to the story Are You a Dragonfly by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. Then head over to SciShow Kids (Super Strong Dragonfly) to learn some more dragonfly facts. Just for fun, listen to the song D-D-D-Dragonfly by Pinkfong.

Now… let’s draw a picture and write some facts!

Teaching your child to create a can, are, have chart will assist them in collecting facts. This also becomes the start of writing paragraphs about the topic. When learning to write, provide your child the sentence starter and have them complete the fact “Dragonflies are _____. Dragonflies can_____. Dragonflies have____.” As they get better at writing and understanding the format of writing, they will then begin to use this format in their own informative writing process.

STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic · writing

Head, Thorax, Abdomen…

This week we will learn about bugs! First let’s watch SciShow Kid’s Inspect an Insect. Think about bugs you know… are they insects? Remember an insect has an exoskeleton, 3 body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) and six legs. Here is Dr. Jean singing a song about insect body parts.

Now let’s draw and label an insect. Which type will you draw? An ant, a beetle, a walking stick, butterfly, dragonfly?? Make sure it has a head, thorax and abdomen, only six legs and an exoskeleton.

Children love learning about the world around them. Learning about items found in nature and discovering the fascinating facts about these items motivates children to learn more. This lesson taps into a child’s natural curiosity about why things are what they are. What fits into the category of an insect and why? Learning to draw detailed pictures and label them will help with later studies in science. The incorporation of music helps to connect to additional levels of learning, fun and so much more.

family activity · positive steps therapy · teaching thoughts · topic

Gross Motor Development with Positive Steps

Positive Steps Therapy

Positive Steps Therapy and I are teaming up to bring you informative posts based on the therapies they provide. Today’s post is all about gross motor development across the ages. Check out the fun engaging activities to do with your child!

Take it away Positive Steps….

We’ve finally made it to spring! Now that the weather will be warming up, there will be increased opportunities for play outdoors. There are so many fun ways to use items lying around the house to improve gross motor skills. In the current times that we are living in, there has been a large decline in opportunities for children to improve their gross motor skills through organized sports or group play. Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your child’s day to help them improve these skills that are so important for their gross motor development. 

2-3 year olds: 

  • Practice stair transitions using fun game ideas 
    • Feed the frogs – Cut out frogs or other animals or use stuffed animals and place them at the bottom of the stairs. Place pom poms (food for animals) on the first few steps. Tell your child to walk up a certain number of stairs and collect the food to bring them to the frogs. Encourage your child to alternate feet on the stairs. 
  • Perform animal walks to encourage gross motor development and overall strengthening. Use your imagination and practice being different animals such as bear, frog, horse, or kangaroo. 
  • Balance activities: 
    • Use tape lines on the ground in various patterns (straight line, zig zag, etc) and have them walk along the line on flat feet and on tiptoes 
    • Play Flaming hoops game by using a hula hoop with streamers taped to the top of the hoop. Challenge your child to step through a hula hoop without touching any part of the “flaming” hoop. Change up the game by having them crawl through or lead using various body parts such as their arm or head. 

3-4 year olds: 

  • Ride a tricycle 
  • Perform animal walks to encourage gross motor development and overall strengthening. Use your imagination and practice being different animals such as bear, frog, kangaroo, flamingo, horse, and crab. 
  • Practice throwing small balls into laundry baskets using an overhand throw. ○ Start with very close distance to work on accuracy increasing distance to up to 5 feet away. 
  • Balance activities: 
    • Trial many different creative episodes of Cosmic Yoga 
    • Stepping over hurdles to encourage practicing single leg balance 
      • Hurdles can be created by using any objects around the house such as tying string around two objects or building hurdles out of large blocks. 
      • They can also be created using pool noodles in the yard outdoors. 

4-5 year olds:

  • Be creative and construct your own outdoor obstacle course using various objects around the house 
    • Use string/jump rope to walk on in order to encourage improving balance skills or use string/jump rope to tie around chairs or table legs to create hurdles 
    • Encourage balancing on one foot for 5 seconds or longer 
    • Practice jumping with two feet progressing to one foot by using hula hoops as place markers 
    • Encourage climbing up/down slides or across playsets 
  • Play simon says with activities such as skipping, galloping, balancing on one leg
  • Complete pool noodle sit-ups to work on core strengthening. Lie flat on your back and hold a pool noodle in both hands above your head. Perform a sit up and touch the noodle to your knees, feet, or toes. Call out different body parts for your child to touch the noodle to. 
  • Have a balloon toss competition by keeping a balloon up in the air or try catching it with a funnel to improve balance and upper extremity coordination 

5-6 year olds: 

  • Play Hopscotch using chalk outdoors or play indoors by using tape to make blocks on the floor. 
    • Encourage hopping on one foot and alternating jumping patterns. 
    • You can also challenge child by adding letters to each block in order to help with letter recognition. 
    • Higher level coordination activities: 
    • Jumping Jack Dance Workout 
  • Be creative and construct your own outdoor obstacle course using various objects around the house 
    • Use string/jump rope to walk on in order to encourage improving balance skills or use string/jump rope to tie around chairs or table legs to create hurdles 
    • Encourage balancing on one foot for 10 seconds or longer 
    • Practice jumping on one foot by using hula hoops as place markers 
    • Encourage skipping to various stations
positive steps therapy · teaching thoughts

Partnership

Positive Steps Therapy

Over the last few months, I have been working on developing a partnership with Positive Steps Therapy . Positive Steps reached out to me after hearing about this blog and my goal of supporting you, the families of children in Pre-K, K and beyond.

I will be posting information on my blog from Positive Steps Therapy that will share activities and/or information that will help you help your child develop and learn.

Positive Steps Therapy has been providing quality physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy to children from birth to age 21 in the Pittsburgh region since 2004. We employ passionate and dedicated therapists who specialize in areas related to the pediatric population, including concussion, feeding, sensory integration, and orthopedic conditions. Our clinicians focus on play and functional based activities to maximize a child’s potential.

http://www.positivestepstherapy.com/

I am excited about this partnership and what together we can provide you.. the readers… the families. Because we all know…. it’s about the children

(first collaborative post coming soon!)

math · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Ten Eggs

We will wrap up this week with one more egg story. Today’s story Ten Eggs in a Nest by Marilyn Sadler. Gwen the hen and Red the rooster are very excited for their eggs to hatch. Since it is “bad luck to count your eggs before they hatch”, Red doesn’t know how many eggs were laid. When the eggs begin to hatch, Red travels back and forth to the worm store to purchase worms for the new chicks.

This book would be a great opportunity to discuss the difference between fantasy and reality. We want children to enjoy the imaginative worlds that are created for them in their cartoons and storybooks, but at the same time we need them to begin to see that there is often a big difference between the fantasy of a fiction story and the reality of life (non-fiction or informational text).

Create a T chart to compare items in the story that are fantasy and those that are based in reality. Have your child explain why they believe each item belongs under fantasy or reality. If the item belongs under fantasy, challenge your child to explain what the reality would look like.

To extend the learning…

This book leads easily into math!

one to one correspondence (the ability to match items to other items or to a corresponding number. this helps solidify the concept of quantity)

provide your child with 10 eggs, have your child use items or illustrations to match one chick to each egg and then take it a step further and create one worm for each chick. If your child is struggling, remove eggs and start with a much smaller number.

Use the same eggs, chicks and worms to compare quantities. set out a number of eggs, chicks and worms (have them be all different quantities to begin). Then ask “What can you tell me about the amount of eggs, chicks and worms now?” Notice I didn’t point the children into using specific terms yet. You want to see what they observe on their own first. We hope they will say there are more/less _____ than _____, or _____ has the most/least. The ability to compare quantities is a key piece in number sense and will assist them moving into addition and subtraction as well as graphing and other math skills.

The other direction you could easily take with this story is ways to build a 10. In the story they mention that 1+2+3+4=10. This is another skill that is key for children to develop. We want them to understand that the concept of addition is to bring more into a group of items. Often times we focus on ___+____=____. This is important, but being able to decompose numbers into a variety of groupings will help with mental math later. Have your child use Lego or other colored items to group items into 10s. 2 red +3 yellow+2 green +1 white +2 black = 10 Lego bricks. This will help your child when they are approaching word problems later. You could easily state this in terms of a word problem and have your child illustrate it as well. I have a building that has 10 bricks. 5 are yellow, 1 is red and the rest are green. How many green blocks do I have? Then have your child build it to determine how many green they need.

math · STEAM · story · topic

What is Growing Inside This Egg?

Today we will continue to learn about eggs! Our story What is Growing Inside This Egg by Mia Posada, uses riddles to learn more about various animals that are hatched out of eggs. At the end of this recording, the teacher provided the directions to an activity for her class, but this can be done by your child at home. Cut out an egg shape. Now glue that egg shape onto a sheet of paper. Use this egg shape to make an adult animal who lays eggs (turtle, bird, frog, octopus, spider etc…). Then have your child write a fact about this animal.

Do you need more facts about oviparous animals? Watch this power point video made by Mattahunt Elementary School about oviparous animals and their eggs.

To extend our learning today, lets do some math! Here are a few ideas.

Draw simple nests on a sheet of paper and have your child roll a die or a pair of dice to find out many eggs to draw in the nest. Do not want to draw nests? That’s fine… not all eggs are in nests! You can draw egg cartons, a line to draw octopus eggs, etc…

Another fun addition or number practice would be to cut out a variety of eggs and write numbers on the eggs. Then provide your child with dominoes. Have your child sort the dominoes so the addition fact matches the number on the egg.

Ready to go beyond that? Practice greater than, less than and equal to with the number eggs you made above. Teach your child that the symbol eats the bigger number. But, make sure you also have your child read the number sentence to you. Many children can set up the fact, but then struggle to state what the number sentence says. 9>3 nine is greater than three. 1<8 one is less than eight.

story · teaching thoughts · topic

You’re a Good Egg

Sometimes it is hard being good all the time. As adults we recognize the fact that you can’t always be good, you can’t always be perfect. But, often times we expect children to behave all the time. While we recognize that it is ok for them to have fun and be silly, do we tell them this? Do we explain to children that it’s ok to make the wrong choice? That they learn from their mistakes?

Let’s read the story The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald. This story is about one out of a dozen… eggs. What is it like to feel like you need to be the good egg? Well this egg knows. When one egg feels responsible for the actions for the others in the carton, the stress is too much.

Children need to learn this. They need to learn to take care of themselves. They need to recognize when they need to ask for help and that it is ok. They need to learn how to relax when things are stressful. Today help your child brainstorm a list of things they can do when life gets too hard. Talk about a time when you, their loving adult, just needed to step away and do something to relax yourself.

Ideas for your child to use to relax:

  • blow bubbles
  • draw
  • go for a walk with an adult and just be quiet in nature
  • look at the clouds
  • take a bath
  • listen to music
  • read a book
  • breathing activities (pretend to smell a flower then blow out a candle)
  • play with playdough
  • build
  • learn yoga poses
  • give yourself a hug

Remind your child that they are a good egg. But, that doesn’t mean that they won’t make mistakes. They won’t make the wrong choice from time to time. Making bad choices does not make you a bad person. We learn from our mistakes and grow from them. Take time to talk about this when your child is not having a tough time so that when they are, it isn’t something new to learn on top of dealing with emotions.

math · STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic

Eggs

Today let’s look at some animals who are hatched from eggs. Can you list some? Did you think of any that are not birds? Let’s read the book Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller.

After listening to the story, make a circle map of all the animals that lay eggs that you remember. So many things come from eggs. How many did you remember?

How to extend the learning…

  • hide small animal toys or pictures in eggs and then sort them by animals that come from eggs and not from eggs. Create a simple T chart for use of sorting.
  • Go on a walk and keep a tally chart or write on a T chart all the animals you see and if they come from eggs or not.
  • cook eggs for breakfast, lunch or even dinner!
  • looking to challenge your kiddo? write the names of all the animals they listed on the circle map on small sheets of paper (or just cut them off the chart from earlier). Now have your child put them in alphabetical order. Or, sort the words by beginning sounds. Or by the number of letters in the word. Or by animal type. Or….

Ok… so what is my child learning??? Not only is your child learning about the animals that are hatched from eggs, which in an of itself is a big topic, but they are also: classifying, counting, sorting, observing, discussing, debating, exploring, and more!

By having your child record the observations made you are having your child recall information and then organize the thoughts onto the chart, this is not only a science skill, but also a pre-writing skill (as in before you write, not just before you are able to write). Both the circle map and the T chart are graphic organizers. Sorting, counting, tally counting are all math skills.

By going on a nature walk and observing you are connecting the learning to the real world around you and helping extend the learning. Did you come across any animals that your child did not know where they should be classified?

The use of the plastic eggs and toys brings in an additional element of fun.

STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · writing

Robins

On your spring walk yesterday, did you see any birds? I know there are a lot of birds back in my yard. One bird that has come back from their winter migration is the robin. Robins are often considered a sign of spring’s return. Let’s listen to the story Robin, Songbirds of Spring by Mia Posada. Now, lets see some video about robins while we learn a bit more at FreeSchool’s All About Robins.

I hope you learned a little more about robins.

If today is a nice day where you live, go outside and count how many robins you can find. Or watch from a window. Maybe even put out bits of fruits for the robins to eat.

Maybe you want to do a loose parts project and build your own nest? Think about the items that a bird has access to and use those to construct your own nest. Can you manipulate the twigs, grasses and other natural items to form into a fit and sturdy nest?

Later when you go back inside, draw a picture of one of the robin activities you did outside.

Why do we encourage loose parts projects? Loose parts can be any materials that do not have to be used in a specific way. These can include natural items you find outside, building blocks (including Lego), bottle caps, chenille stems, clothes pins, paper clips, paper, and the list goes on and on and on. Ok… but why? Loose part play provides your child with open ended materials and an idea (the idea isn’t necessary) and then encourages them to use their imagination and creativity to manipulate the materials for play, crafts, creations and so much more. It gives the children the freedom to be open and think of items in different ways.

family activity · STEAM · story

It’s finally spring!

March 20th was the spring equinox. What does that mean? It means it is now spring. Let’s start by visiting SciShow for Kid’s and learning about the science of spring. Then we can listen to the read aloud Spring is Here by William Hillenbrand.

Now take a walk and search for signs of spring. Make it fun! Create a scavenger hunt sheet for your child to use on the walk. Have your child think about the colors he/she might see as signs of spring. Or, have your child think about items they might see. I have created two examples here: