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.

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.

phonemic awareness · story · teaching thoughts

Over in the Meadow

This week we will look at how learning songs is important in literacy development. We will take one song format and listen to a different version of that song. For centuries and in all cultures, songs have been past down as teaching tools. We need to continue this tradition, and recognize the importance of using songs and music as teaching tools.

Today we will look at the song Over in the Meadow. This is considered an “Old counting rhyme”. It has been transformed over and over to focus on other ecosystems. But, we will start with the original. Over in the Meadow, illustrated by Jill McDonald.

Now, let’s listen to Over in the Jungle, Over in the Ocean and Over in the Artic.

The use of this song/story is much more than just enjoying the music, while this is important also. The use of this song works on counting, vocabulary development, rhyming and much more. When children learn to sing songs they are building language skills. When they learn songs that are easily manipulated they learn to play with language. Working on oral language development and listening skills are key pieces to reading and writing development.

Where do we go from here?

  • Have your child pick their favorite version and illustrate an animal from that ecosystem.
  • Pick a different ecosystem and see if there is a version of that song, or better yet, write your own.
  • Re-write the song using items and animals you see in your backyard, your playground, your city block, or wherever your child has the opportunity to explore.

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.

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.