game · teaching thoughts

In the Car

I often get asked for suggestions on how to work on letter recognition, colors, counting etc… Driving in the car is a great time to work on these skills. Play games and make it fun!

Choose a specific topic to work on and stick with it.

Search for letters. Go through the alphabet A-Z or focus on one or two letters. Work together or make it a contest. Who can find the letters on signs, license plates, car names etc…

Play I-Spy. Take turns giving clues based on an item in view of the car. I-spy something that starts with the sound /c/ or I-spy something blue.

Count cars based on type. How many red cars can we find? How many trucks? How many out of state cars?

Keep books in your car. Books on CD play a book on youtube that you have the book of so your child can follow along in their own book.

There are many ways to engage in learning in the car. You and your child will be interacting and learning.

teaching thoughts · writing

Name Practice

If your child is going into pre-K or kindergarten, one thing that will help before they enter is working on their name. First they need to know their given name. Many children have only heard their nickname and are confused when adults use their given name. Most teachers will call children their nickname, if they are asked to by the child/family. But, there is still a need for your child to know their given name. Kindergarteners should know their first and last name.

Next start working on recognizing their name in print. Most teachers use names to label items in the classroom. Being able to recognize their name in print will help him/her find their spaces in the classroom. Practice picking out their name from others that start with the same letter. Often children learn to recognize the first letter and then get confused when there are multiple with the same letter.

Kindergarteners will need to know how to write their first name and will quickly move onto writing their last names. Names should be written with only the first letter capitalized, unless their are multiple capital letters in their name. Lori not LORI or McKenna not MCKENNA. When your child is doing art, have them write their name on their art. Use various medium to practice writing their name.

More information on name activities, check out this post of from last year.

teaching thoughts

Almost August

Can you believe that July is almost over? What does this mean… back to school. While some schools do not go back until Sept, many schools open back up in August. So for most teachers the end of July feels like the end of summer.

What does it mean for parents? Back to school shopping. Time to pick up new clothes, backpacks, lunchboxes and everything off your child’s supply list.

Here is my thought as a parent and teacher about supply lists.

First make sure to get the items on the list. You might not realize it, but the teachers have little to no budget to set up their classrooms. So, if they are asking for items that seem strange or excessive, it is for a reason. Most teachers ask for all the materials they will need for the school year at this time because they are on sale. So when you get asked for dozens of pencils, crayons and erasers, understand this means you won’t be asked to supply more later.

Only label the items your teacher asks you to label. Teachers ask for specific brands for two reasons… one they will ask for the best quality so they last longer and in the case of crayons/markers/colored pencils the color looks better with some brands. Another reason is that they put all the materials in one space and will give out new ones to al the children without having to search through for the ones labeled with a child’s name. (In the past, there was also the chance the items would become community supplies).

If the teacher asks for certain colors, follow those steps too. Teachers will assign certain colors to different subject red-reading, yellow- writing, blue- math etc… This makes it easier for the children to find the specific materials they need.

Remember your child will be using these materials!

My brands of choice:

  • pencils- Ticonderoga
  • crayons- Crayola
  • colored pencils- Crayola
  • Markers- Crayola or Mr. Sketch
  • scissors- Fiskars
  • glue/glue stick- Elmers
  • Dry Erase Markers- Expo
STEAM · story · topic · writing

Sandcastles

Who doesn’t love to build sandcastles? Here are some great sandcastle books

Super Sandcastle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy (read by Stuart J. Murphy) -this story works on measurement

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk -this story talks about taking a problem and breaking it down into specific steps

Now let’s watch SciShow Kids explain how to build a perfect sandcastle.

Now, if you live near a place that has sand, go build your own sandcastle.

Don’t have sand nearby? No problem!! Build a castle out of blocks, rocks, Lego blocks, or other items you have at home.

When you finish your castle, measure your castle. You can use standard and/or non-standard forms of measurement. The draw a picture of your castle and include the measurements in your drawing. After, write a story about what is happening in your castle. Who lives there? What adventures occur inside?

art · story

Strawberries

This weekend, my son and I went to pick strawberries. Have you ever gone and picked strawberries? There is nothing sweeter than strawberries picked fresh off the plant.

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Let’s start by listening the Cherokee story The First Strawberries retold by Joseph Bruchac. In the story, the man went out to hunt for food and the woman stayed home and picked flowers. The man returned tired, hungry and upset, so the wife left. The sun offered to help the man and tried to catch the woman’s attention. Many berries were created by the sun, but it was the strawberry that caught her attention. The story ends by saying that the Cherokee people believe that the sweetness of the strawberry is a reminder that respect and friendship are as sweet and ripe as strawberries.

Watch this time lapse of strawberries growing . Draw out a part of the time lapse, or draw out a time line of the growth.

The watch Art for Kids Hub to draw a strawberry.

Create a list of favorite strawberry items.

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STEAM · story · topic · writing

Mushrooms

This morning I went to go check on my garden and there were sooo many mushrooms. There are mushrooms in the grass too. As you can guess we’ve had both rain and heat lately. I decided that it would be a good day for you to get out with your kiddo and learn a bit about mushrooms.

Let’s start with some science about these fun-guys… Fungi: Why Mushrooms are Awesome from SciShow Kids

Here is a fun story, similar to Jan Brett’s the Mitten, Mushroom in the Rain adapted from the Russian of V. Suteyev by Mirra Ginsburg. How many animals can take shelter under the mushroom?

Did you find any mushrooms in your yard? Can you count all of them? How many different types did you find?

Now create a picture. You can create a picture of one of the mushrooms you spied in the yard or the one from the story. What do you think would fit under the mushroom. Be realistic or creative in your answer.

story · teaching thoughts

End of the Day and Social Emotional Learning

As we move into summer, the sun stays longer. It gets harder and harder to settle in each night. So much excitement and fun to remember. This story takes settling for bedtime and turns it into a lullaby based on the memories of the day. A Lullaby of Summer Things by Natalie Ziarnik.

Often times summer means less structure and routines. Children thrive off routines and this is especially evident at bedtime. But, now they stay up a bit later and have a harder time settling down. Instead of throwing routines out the window. Take a bit of time to revamp the bedtime routines.

Think about ways to add in items such as reflecting up on the fun of the day. What fun things did you do that you want to do again? What is something you learned today? What is something that made you smile? What is something you struggled to accomplish? How will you work on that skill tomorrow? What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow?

Taking the time to reflect on the emotions of the day will help your child settle down as well as work on those social emotional skills that are so important to develop. We want children to see growth and progress. Discussing things that went well, things that didn’t go so well and the next steps for both are key.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

Children are growing in all areas of life. One critical area of development is social emotional. As adults we need to guild children in developing healthy social emotional skills. It is the interactions we have with the children as well as the interactions your child views between yourself and other adults that is the guiding light of social emotional growth. Children need positive yet constructive words. They need you to talk about what they are doing that is going well. “I noticed that you worked really hard on your art project today. What did you think about the final result?” Notice I praised the effort and then allowed the child to reflect on the result. Often times adults praise the result and not the effort. And this can backfire if they child was not proud of the the end product, but that is what made their adult happy.

“You have really worked hard this week on learning to swim across the pool. What is your next swimming challenge?” Again the focus is on the work and effort. This allows the child to feel pride in accomplishing a goal and challenges them to set another goal.

“I noticed you were upset when you were trying to pump the swing. It’s ok to get frustrated, I was proud to see you keep trying. What can we do tomorrow to work on this skill?” Again you are focused on the skill, you acknowledged and accepted the emotions and then moved onto what can we do next? The last statement allows the child to ask for help, or not. They may need you to watch and give suggestions. The key is the child is determining the next step.

Remember that empty threats, empty promises and empty praise is not constructive. Children need to be guided to discover the best way to grow. They need to hear what they can do to move forward in their learning. Children learn what they see, they are watching and listening. Children need to see your pride, but they also need to see that they have room to grow in all things. Praise effort. Praise persistence. Offer alternatives. Discuss ideas. LISTEN to what they have to say.

family activity · story

Next… summer

Hello Readers,

I have missed posting for you, but life has been busy wrapping up life and the end of the school year. Here is a great story for the end of the school year And Then, Summer by Tom Brenner.

As you get read for summer, make a list of your favorite summer time activities. What activities do you look forward to doing this summer? What stories will you read? What games will you play? Will you go to the beach? Will you swim in a pool?

Start by planning the adventures of this week… What will you do in these last few days of spring and as you start your summer vacation?

phonemic awareness · teaching thoughts

Why Can’t my Child Rhyme?

Rhyming is such an important step in phonemic awareness. What is phonemic awareness you ask? Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate letter sounds in spoken words. It is the hearing part of reading! When children are able to hear, manipulate and isolate letter sounds, they are able to utilize this skill in decoding and encoding words for reading and writing.

So why rhyming? Rhyming is the ability to switch out the beginning sound of a word to make a new word. That it! Ok so why is it so hard for some children?

Did you know there are actually 5 stages of learning to rhyme! Say What???? You read that correctly. Your child needs to develop through five levels before they are proficient at rhyming independently.

Step 1- rhyme exposure— this is the understanding of the word rhyme. Children need to be exposed to words that rhyme and be taught the context behind the word rhyme. So when you read books, sing songs and recite nursery rhymes with your child, state things such as “hey wall and ball rhyme” “/w/- all and /b/- all rhyme because they both end in -all”

Step 2- rhyme recognition– this is being able to determine if two words rhyme. Children need to listen to two words and be able to tell you if they rhyme or not. Provide pair of words tree/key, car/bike, blue/glue, man/money etc… Have your child give a thumbs up if they rhyme and a thumbs down if they don’t. Often times children will struggle when the two words begin with the same beginning sound, point out the ends of the words are different and that is where we focus on rhymes.

Step 3- rhyme judgement– in this step you will provide your child with 3 words and have your child pick out the pair that rhymes. This works on recall as well. Stating night/moon/light your child would need to say night and light rhyme. In class I encourage children to say night and light rhyme because they both end in -ight. This shows they understand the focus on the rime of the word.

Step 4- rhyme completion– in this step your child will complete a sentence or line from a poem or song with the correct ending rhyme. Begin with using familiar song and stories and then move onto unfamiliar materials. I want to go out and play, because it is a sunny ____. DAY play and day rhyme. Check out this activity I shared called rhyme away for another fun activity on this step.

Step 5- rhyme production– this is the step of independence! this is your child producing sets of rhyming words on their own. I often go back to step 2 and have the child be the one in charge. Have your child give you sets of words and you determine if they rhyme or not. Then move on and have your child tell you a list of three words with a pair of rhymes. Finally have him/her give you rhyme completion sentences (this step is hard and not needed to master rhyming)

Yay! Your child has now mastered rhyming. Time to move onto the next skill… but do not forget to come back and practice rhyming. When you stop working and reviewing skills it makes it harder for your child to remember the skill when needed.

story

A bath- No Thanks

Today we will read the story 101 Reasons I’m Not Taking a Bath by Stacy McAnulty. This boys thinks of all the reasons why he doesn’t need to take a bath, but in the end… he takes one and enjoys it.

This is a fun book to read with your child. Can (s)he think of other crazy reasons not to take a bath?

This book format makes an excellent opportunity for a re-write. Have your child think about something else they never want to do: go to bed, brush their teeth, take out the trash, clean their room…. whatever. Now have your child think of all the excuses they could use to get out of this activity. In the end, have them do it! hahaha they never really get out of doing the things they make excuses for not doing.