family activity · STEAM · story

Monster Trap!

Today listen to the stories “How to Catch a Monster” by Michael Yu and “How to Catch a Monster” by Adam Wallace. While both these stories have the same title they are actually very different. In the first book, the child is excited to play with his monster as he gets ready for bed. In the second, the child wants to overcome his fear of monsters. But I decided that thinking Thursday is a great day to design a monster trap!

This becomes a great STEAM project! You can use anything, yes anything in your house to build a monster trap. So… let your kiddo get creative. I would encourage him/her devise a plan. Let’s draw out what you think a monster trap should look like. What resources will you need? How will you lure the monster into the trap? Where will you set it up.

Now get working… let your child be creative and provide limited support in this adventure. Your roll is to be the scribe (lots of writing for this one), ask questions!, and encourage creativity. How does the monster…? What happens next? Why will that happen? How do you… ? How else can you…?

This is a great project to work on over a few days or at least a few chunks of time. In school we would probably devise the plan on one day and make the traps another. For younger children (3/4) I would have him/her make the trap and then draw the plan. For older children (kindergarten and up) I would have them make the plan and then make the trap. You are flipping the purpose of the plan in this case.

But remember, the main purpose it to have fun!

family activity · math · STEAM · topic

Apple Structures

Children love to be creative. They love to build and construct. And, if you give them something different, out of the ordinary as the building “blocks” of the structure… oh my!

So… give your child chopped up apples, toothpicks and tell them to build! That’s it. Give your child permission to build with their food… and when they are done, they get to have apple for a snack.

To the child they see… Cool! This is fun! But, to you the teacher/parent/caregiver… you see engineering!

Have your child there when you cut the apples. While you are working toss out terms such as cutting in half, quarters and even eights. Look I cut the apple in half, now if I cut this half in half I now have 4 pieces, that is quarters. How many pieces do you think I’ll have if I cut the quarters in half? Let’s see if you are right!

I cut each eighth into thirds… see all that math! Kitchen math is so important. Also, if your child is an older four and above, let them help you cut the apple. Even if it is hand over hand for a few chops, it is the start of self-help kitchen skills!

Ok… now take these apple chunks and make a structure. If it falls down, don’t solve it for them. “What do you think you could do to make it sturdier?” “Did you build a strong enough foundation? What do you need to add or take away?” What would happen if…

I typically build along side my students for a bit after they get started to see if they watch and ask questions. Do you think I should build high or wide? Why? Do you think it will fall over if I put this here? Why?

What do you predict will happen if we leave this structure up to show ______? How else can we show ______ your structure? Encourage your child to create an illustration of the structure.

Have fun… and enjoy this tasty STEAM project

family activity · math · STEAM · story · teachers pay teacher · topic

All Kinds of Apples!

More apple fun! Today let’s talk about apple products. Here is a short video showing how apple cider is pressed and another that shows how applesauce is made.

Time to graph! I have two suggestions for fun graphs. Favorite apple type (yum… time to taste test) or favorite apple product. Collecting information for a graph is the beginning of understanding data.

Create a graph for your child to use, I often make my graphs with a table in a word document. Having your child “help” while you create the sheet is a great way to incorporate a bit of technology too. (Or go old school and draw it out on a sheet of paper!) Choose the items you want to graph (types of apples: red delicious, golden delicious, granny smith etc) (types of apple product: applesauce, apple juice/cider, apple pie etc). Make sure to add a title to the graph.

Graphing is a great excuse to call grandparents or other family members. The more data points you have the better the graphing information you will collect. When making the graph provide on row for each member you will ask (in the graphs I made I would ask 5 people for the apple types and 8 people for the apple product).

Ok you made a graph… now what? Now you talk! Ask questions. “What can you tell me about the graph?” “Can you compare granny smith and red delicious?” Use terms such as more than, less than/fewer than, same as, least, most, compare.

Apple Zine Story

One more thing for today… since we talked about apple types and apple pie, check out another zine I made! (Directions to fold the zine can be found here) You can hop over to my Teacher Pay Teacher store and get two versions of this story free, or you can make your own!

art · family activity · story

Let’s draw Pete the Cat and Name Art

No photo description available.

Children love to draw characters they read about in books. Check out Arts for Kids Hub for their video on drawing Pete the Cat, and hear another Pete story! When I used Arts for Kids Hub in my classroom (or any type of direct drawing), I always have my students draw the illustration with pencil first, then go over it with black crayon or maker and finally color in the picture. I do this to show them that they can go back and erase the pencil to fix the pictures. This is important to show them as well as to erase yourself while doing it with them. Children need to know it is ok to make mistakes and they aren’t something to get upset about, but instead they need to just fix it and move on!

No photo description available.

The second drawing activity today focuses on your child’s name. Children need to master writing their name correctly, not all in uppercase letters. Children in pre-k should work on recognizing and writing their first name. Children in who have mastered their first name should begin working on writing their last name.

Have your child write his/her name in the middle of a sheet of paper. (You can show them how to use block lettering if you want, but it isn’t necessary) Now create an illustration around your name, or use your name as part of the illustration. In my sample, I used the letters of my name as buildings.

Drawing projects are fun to do at the same time as your child. Children pick up on details to add to their illustrations when they draw at the same time as adults. You do not have to be great at drawing (I certainly am not!), your child won’t care. They see that you are doing the same thing as them and they become more invested in the project. So… draw!

family activity · math · teachers pay teacher

Socks and Shoes Math

Kids shoes 1080P, 2K, 4K, 5K HD wallpapers free download | Wallpaper Flare
Stripy Socks Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

There are so many opportunities to incorporate math skills into every day activities. Since this week we have been focused on Pete the Cat getting ready for school, we should go find some socks and shoes! 

Children love to help around the house when you make it a game… this makes laundry and/or cleaning up a game AND learning! BONUS POINTS!!

Have your child find all of his/her shoes around the house, if your kiddos are like mine, the shoes are scattered about. Now make sure they are a matching pair. Have your child put the shoe away with the right and left on the correct sides, see sneaking in another skill… and setting the shoes up to wear. Next time you do laundry, have your child sort and match the socks. 

When we sort and match in school we use the words: sort, attributes, pair, matching, same, different, set

You can also have your child count the sets of shoes/socks.  State: How many pairs of shoes do you think you have? (this is estimating) Ok, let’s find out! You will probably need to show they how as they will typically count each shoe/sock not the pair.

If your child is comfortable with numbers you can show them how to count by twos to see how many shoes in total. State: “Ok so you have 4 pairs of shoes, how many shoes do you have in total?” They will now count each shoe. “Do you think there is a faster way to count the shoes?” See what your child comes up with on his/her own and then you can show him/her how to count by twos. 

Want to add in more… “Who do you think has the most pairs of shoes in our family?” “How can we figure this out?” Now you are comparing sets. Plus they will most likely straighten up everyone’s shoes in the process! 

Looking for more socks ideas? Check out this kit in my Teachers Pay Teachers store Socks, Socks, Wonderful Socks

Socks, Socks, Wonderful Socks
family activity · letter of the day · STEAM

Letter of the Day- Vv

is for so many things…. vegetables, vehicles, vacuuming, vacation and..

Jack Hartmann’s Vv song

Printing the letter Vv

Capital V– start at the top. slant down to the left then slant up to the right. (I often have the children draw a dot at the bottom where I want them to stop and change directions when they start learning how to form this letter. The challenge is to not stop between the two slants.)

lowercase v— same as the capital, just smaller!

Today’s activities: Volcanoes!

All About Volcanoes from SciShow Kids — this shows information about how volcanoes are formed and erupt.

  • Time to get out the baking soda and vinegar! This is a favorite. You do not have to build a volcano to do this experiment. Put baking soda into a dish (glass dish, baking pan, something with high sides). Next you need vinegar. I typically color this with food coloring, but you do not need to color it. In school, we use pipettes which works on fine motor control, but you do not need to buy these. Have your child
  • scoop it out with a spoon or even pour it slowly. As you add the vinegar to the baking soda you will see a chemical reaction! Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, so this is causing the reaction. It is creating carbon dioxide, which is the same thing that puts fizz in your soda. Read more here!
  • When you finish, have your child draw a picture of what happened and then tell you what they saw. It is during this conversation that you can get deeper into the chemical reaction occurring.

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook– Louis has lots to say. But, he doesn’t know to wait his turn. He interrupts and blurts out anything and everything in his mind. But, he learns to wait and be respectful of providing others a turn to talk.

  • This is a skill that is hard when children begin going to school, and for some even years into schooling. Children love to share what is on their minds, and while teachers love to listen to their stories, 18 children talking about 18 things at the same time is tough. Children need to learn to wait their turn to talk. This isn’t just in school, but in life. There is a give and take of conversation that children need to develop and learn when to interject and when to stop and listen. It is worth practicing at home.
art · family activity · letter of the day · STEAM

Letter of the Day- Qq

Qq is often a letter that is hard to teach. There are some great Qq words, but they are more abstract for kids… quarter, quartet, quarantine?? I don’t typically like to go with queen either so… here we go

Jack Hartmann Qq song

Printing Qq

Capital Q- start like capital C, close it up, jump inside the bottom right of the “O” and draw a slanted line from left to right

lowercase q- start like a lowercase c, go up just past the start, back downnnn on the same line, give it a hook to the right

Quilts is typically a topic I teach in January. This year I did not since I taught polar animals instead. It is a fun topic and easily allows for math, writing, and art projects… so here we go!

Today’s activities: Quilts!

The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy Tanya loves listening to her grandmother talk about their family quilts. Grandmother collects fabrics from the family clothing to collect memories. When Tanya’s grandmother becomes ill, Tanya teacher herself to quilt in order to finish the quilt.

** Make a paper quilt. Her are two suggestions…

each letter gets its own color
notice the “d”s are all the same color

Name quilt. Provide your child with a paper that has a grid on it. Have your child write his/her name in the squares on the grid over and over with a marker. Then color each letter to create the quilt pattern… see the photo. Point out that this creates a pattern.

each shape got a color…note they aren’t perfect and that’s ok!

Geometric quilt- provide your child with a paper and have your child use geometric shapes to create the quilt. Squares, triangles, rectangles, hexagons, rhombus and other shapes work.

The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace Minna’s teacher asks the students to work on a kindness project. Each child is asked draw and share and act of kindness. Minna cannot decide which to share, so she makes a “quilt” of all of her examples.

**Create a family kindness quilt. Have each family member create a square or two or more to show acts of kindness. This is a great way to focus on how we each can do more to be kind to each other.

What else can you do?

  • Make a quilt fort
  • Take a quilt outside and have a picnic
  • Make your own family quilt
  • learn to sew (paper with holes punched into it and shoe strings are a great way to start)
  • cut images out of magazines into squares and/or triangles and use them to make a quilt

art · family activity · letter of the day · story · writing

Letter of the Day- Pp

Can you believe we are already up to the letter Pp? This was a hard one to pick… people, popcorn, pancakes, penguins, so many great Pp words. So what did I pick?

I would typically say… Who doesn’t love pizza? But, I know there are people who don’t. My youngest son would not even touch pizza until he was about 11 years old. But, the nice thing with pizza is everyone can make it their own. He started eating pizza without sauce, but now he loves a good slice of pizza– preferably with bacon or meatballs.

Jack Hartmann’s Pp song

Printing the letter Pp

Captial P- start at the top, straight line down, jump back to the top, curve to the right and back to the middle

lowercase p- straight line downnnn, back up on the same line (almost to the top), curve to the right and back to the middle

Today’s activities– Pizza!

Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai- A young boy and his father gather the ingredients to make a pizza! This book show the child and his father going through all the steps to make homemade pizza.

**So… make pizza! At home, I make Alton Brown’s pizza dough, this needs to be made the night before, but is soooo worth it if done correctly. But, when I made pizza with my students in class we used this recipe:

Biscuit Pizzas (makes 8 individual pizzas)

  • Can of Grands buttermilk biscuits
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Roll out biscuits until flat
  3. Top with sauce and cheese
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes

This is a great activity as your child can do ALL the steps by him/herself. And, trust me they will love the process of making their own pizza. My students gobble these up.

While we talk about making pizza, here is the Pizza Party Song from Super Simple Songs. This also talks about the steps for making a pizza

**This easily leads into a simple expository writing activity… yes you read that correctly! Writing, or in the case of most preK kiddos drawing, the steps to a process is expository writing. We typically have the children demonstrate 3 or four steps at this age.

Fold the paper into quarters, your child should be able to do this with limited assistance, just remind them to “iron down the folds” so you see the lines. Have your child illustrate and label (or tell you what to label) to show the steps needed to make a pizza

Here’s one more song… this one is funny Silly Pizza Song by Signing Time. What would you put on a pizza if you can put anything on a pizza? Sing along with some crazy pizza toppings.

**Have your child draw a picture of pizza. You can either have him/her draw real toppings or crazy ones you heard in the song. Have your child count the number of each topping they used on the pizza and write it on the page.

family activity · letter of the day · STEAM · story

Letter of the day- Mm

Today we are half way through the alphabet. I hope your child is enjoying this letter review… and I hope you are enjoying these activities together!

Jack Hartmann Mm song

Printing the letter Mm

Capital M– start at the top, draw a straight line downnn, jump back to the top, slant down, slant up, straight downnnnn (This one is tough as the children want to pick up the pencil between each of the slanted lines. Some struggle with the V shape in the middle and make it more of U than a V.)

lowercase m– draw a straight line down, up on the same line almost to the top, curve and down, trace up the same line, curve and down. (The challenge seen in this letter often is they do not trace on the middle line but make a u shape in the middle so it looks more like a wavy line than an m)

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff — a beloved favorite book. What happens if a hungry moose comes by? You give him a muffin! But, what happens next?

Draw a timeline to show what happened in the story, or make up your own cause and effect story.

Molly the Muffin Fairy by Tim Bugbird– What happens when you make rock hard muffins? Read along to see what Molly and her friends do

Time to bake! Baking with children is a great way to enjoy time together. AND, your child learns math, to follow directions and so much more.

Jam muffins (based on The Recipe Revival’s Peach Jam Bread recipe)

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup jam (I used peach jam)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup buttermilk (don’t have buttermilk? make it— 1 tsp of vinegar in your milk and let it sit for short bit)
  • ½ cup fresh fruit chopped into small chunks (I used blueberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat the sugar and butter until smooth.
  4. Add the eggs in one at a time while mixing. After both eggs are added, beat for an additional minute.
  5. Add in the jam and vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Slowly alternate the buttermilk and flour mixture while mixing until just combined.
  7. Fold in the fresh fruit.
  8. Scoop batter into lined muffin pan
  9. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes .
  10. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.

What can your child do to help with this recipe??

  • pick the flavor the the jam and fruit
  • help measure dry ingredients
  • whisk dry ingredients together
  • help chop fresh fruit with a plastic knife (depending on type of fruit)
  • put muffin liner into the muffin pan
  • scrape the mixer bowl
  • help scoop mixture into the pan
family activity · letter of the day · STEAM · story

Letter of the day- Gg

I spent a while today trying to decide on a Gg topic. I thought about goop, geometry and finally decided to get you outside in the garden! Children love to get outside and play in dirt, so why not teach them to garden. Here is a link to items that can be planted from the scraps in your kitchen. When I lived in Florida, we grew pineapples from the tops of pineapples all the time, it takes 2 years to get a new one, but my sons always enjoyed the process. After watching this time lapse on growing a tomato plant from a tomato slice, I want to go do it myself. Oh and one other huge benefit of getting children out in the garden… they love to taste the foods they grew, and fresh from the garden tastes so much better now.

Jack Hartmann Gg song

Printing Gg

Capital G- start like a capital C, keep going up a bit more, go in, go out

lowercase g- start like a lowercase c. go up just past the curve, go downnn past the c and then curve to the left

Today’s activities: Garden!

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner

How Does a Seed Become a Plant from SciShow Kids

pothos plant rooting

Plant a real plant… flower, fruit, vegetable… your choice. Here is a picture of a plant I am growing from a pothos plant. This is a cutting from a pothos plant that is growing very happily in my son’s room. Many plants you can put into water and they will reroot itself. Another great plant for this is spider plants. Have your child measure the plant’s growth and record it in a log.

Some items you can try growing at home: beans, grass seeds, sunflower seeds– not roasted, pumpkins

loose parts flower

Loose parts plants. Have your child use loose parts to create a flower or other kind of plants. Loose parts can be pretty much anything outside (rocks, sticks, grass etc) or inside (pipe cleaners, Lego, bottle caps, bread tags, toothpicks, anything else that you find around). The concept of loose parts is to take random items and use them in an unconventional, or different way, to create a specific item or whatever your child imagines on his/her own.

sunflowers planted by leftover bird seeds

Take a walk around your home or neighborhood and look at all the different types of plants. Look in your fridge and find various fruits and vegetables that are different types of plants. Can you eat a whole plant? Yes! roots- carrots, stem- celery, leaves- lettuce/spinach, flower- broccoli/cauliflower, seeds- peas/corn.

Hope you enjoy getting out into the garden with your kiddo.