art · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · writing

Let’s Build a Snowman!

Even before Frozen asked “Do you want to build a snowman?….”, building a snowman was a favorite snowy weather activity. (I found out that the first recording of building a snowman was in 1380.)

So, how do you build a snowman? Well… SciShow Kids will tell you in Do you want to build a snowman? So yes, the answer to how to build a snowman is SCIENCE! And I just have to share this favorite from my classes MooseTube’s Yes, I want to build a snowman.

And since we are sharing favorites from my classes. Here are two favorite snowman building stories: Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan and All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle.

Ok… now that we have heard and seen how to build a snowman… let’s write about it.

This is the beginning steps of informative writing… how do you build a snowman? first, then, next, finally for the steps. I chose to fold the paper into four columns this time, but you could do the same thing by folding the paper into four quadrants. The goal is to break it down into simple steps. If you do not have your child doing the writing, make sure to have them articulate the steps.

This is a narrative writing based on Sadie and the Snowman. Sadie used different snack items to make her snowman’s face each time. Have your child draw a picture of a snowman and decide what (s)he would use for the eyes, nose and mouth.

STEAM · topic

Hibernating Animals

I hope you enjoyed learning about migration. This week we will work on hibernation. Today we will learn about the concept of hibernation.

Snuggle Down Deep by Diane Ohanesian

Why Do Animals Hibernate by David Martin

Getting Ready for Hibernation from SciShow Kids

So why do animals hibernate? Here are some facts Hibernation fact from Scholastic and 10 Fascinating Facts about Hibernation from National Geographic Kids.

Most animals hibernate because of a lack of food. They are unable to store enough food to have enough food to eat through the winter. Most hibernating animals are warm blooded (bears, groundhogs, chipmunks and other), but there are also some cold blooded animals who hibernate (frogs, snails and snakes)

Hibernation allows an animals body to slow down, this is not sleep. The animals whole body slows down, including their lungs, heart and other essential organs. They use the energy they stored to use keep their organs functioning at a slower rate than normal. Some hibernating animals sleep through the winter, others wake from time to time to “use the bathroom” and eat some food they have stored.

Ask your child… Would you want to hibernate for the winter? Now draw and write about your answer. I really do like winter, it’s cold, but it is pretty!

STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

What do animals do to get ready for the winter? (graphic organizers)

Over the next few weeks, we will explore what animals do to get ready for the winter. Today we will do an overview of this topic and then tomorrow we will begin our week long focus on migration.

Did you ever think about what animals need to do to get ready for the winter months? Ask your child what they think animals need to do. Let’s use a graphic organizer to get our thoughts in order! I have suggested 3 different types from easy to complicated (from simple information to a collection of knowledge)

  • Create a circle map. Draw two circles inside the other. On the inner circle write How animals get ready for winter.
    • Brainstorm ways you know animals get ready for winter and write it on the inside of the outer circle.
    • Ask… how do you know that? Write this information on the outside of the outer circle.
  • Create a KWL (know, want to know, learned) chart with your child.
    • K–Brainstorm with your child what they already know about animals getting ready for the winter. (there are no wrong answers here)
    • W–Brainstorm what they want to learn about this how animals get ready for the winter. (there are no wrong answers)
    • L-What did you learn about animals getting ready for the winter. Review new information and misconceptions on the K part.
  • Create a Schema Map (what I know, connections to what I learned and enlightenment of misconceptions). Divide a wall, window, chart paper whatever into 3 sections (schema, new knowledge and misconceptions)
    • On post it notes write down your schema (prior knowledge) one thought per post it
    • As you learn (listen to stories, participate in experiments and experiences, and other research), write down new learning on a different color post it. Connect the knowledge to schema when you expand on prior knowledge.
    • Move schema post it’s into misconceptions as you disprove the misconception (use another color sticky note to show the why)

Now listen to these stories and see what information you have learned, confirmed or now can disprove a misconception… add these facts to your charts!

art · topic · writing

Monster’s Underpants!

When we are nervous about life we are told to picture others in their underpants… maybe this helps children too if they think about monsters in underpants? Children love monsters… and they think underpants are too funny. So put monsters in their underpants and there is nothing that will bring more smiles, giggles and funny images!

Today listen to the story Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort.

Time to draw, paint… create a monster of your own!

My monster is wearing plaid underwear

Not sure how to get started or can’t think of a monster on your own? check out Art for Kit Hub’s paint a monster as inspiration… But, make sure to add underpants to your monster!

This is a great opportunity to encourage your child to write!! I guarantee your child has a story in his/her head about this underwear loving monster. You can provide words like monster, underpants, but encourage him/her to sound out the words the best they can. The purpose of children writing is not for them to spell every word correctly … it is for them to see him/herself as a writer. To put down their thoughts on paper. To see the connection between sounding out words to read and write. So encourage your child to write. Have them read what they wrote and praise the attempt, not criticize the imperfection.

art · story · topic

Jack O’Lantern Art

It’s Friday!! Did you have fun learning about pumpkins this week? You will have to let me know which activities you tried and which types you’d like to see more of in the weeks to come!

Today’s stories:

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell– Tim carved the best pumpkin and named him Jack. He puts the pumpkin out into the garden as it begins to rot. Tim watches Jack change over time. Watch to see what becomes of Jack over the days, weeks and months.

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson — in this informational text you follow the life cycle from seed to seed of a pumpkin. Story written in flowing and bouncy verse to match beautiful and vivid photographs.

Here is a fun song to learn and sing together.

Little Jack O’Lantern (sung to the Battle Hymn of the Republic)

  • Little Jack O’Lantern had a candle lit inside
  • Little Jack O’Lantern had a candle lit inside
  • Little Jack O’Lantern had a candle lit inside
  • Till somebody blew it out. (then blow out the “candle”)

Now let’s make a Jack O’Lantern!

For this activity in school I would typically give the children the option of drawing and cutting out their own pumpkin shape or using a tracer. At home, you can either let them create their own or trace something to make the basic shape (plate, bowl, or other roundish item).

  1. Determine if you want your pumpkin to be tall and skinny or short and plump.
  2. Trace/draw the outline of your pumpkin onto an orange sheet of paper… or make it a green pumpkin, or a white pumpkin… you pick!
  3. Does your pumpkin have a stem or is it a “stumpkin”?
  4. now cut out the pumpkin… only cut the outside (trust me say this as some will cut ALL the lines they drew!)
  5. Now design the face of your pumpkin.- you can either cut pieces out of yellow, white or black paper and glue it onto the pumpkin or cut the pieces out of the orange paper. I show the children how to bend the paper to start cutting into where you want the openings.
  6. Use markers or crayons to add the pumpkin lines, color in the steam, and add more details
  7. If you cut out the eyes, you can either leave them or back the pumpkin in yellow or black paper to see the depth.
phonemic awareness · word work

Word Family Pumpkins

Here are two more great Pumpkin stories: Christopher Pumpkin by Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet and Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Both these stories talk about pumpkins that don’t quite fit in, but stand out all the same.

For Words Wednesday we will work on short “a” word families. Word families is a great way to work on sounding out words, for those ready for this skill, but it is also a great way to work on rhyming words. I will explain how you can alter these activities based on what skill your child is ready for at this time.

For the first activity, have your child draw 2-4 pumpkins on the page. Make sure they are big enough to draw inside. Label each pumpkin with an “a” word family (-ab, -ack, -ad, -ag, -am, -an, -ap, -at). Brainstorm with your child words that could fit in that word family. I typically ask the children if they can come up with one on their own, if they can… go from there. If they can’t then I will give an example or two and then see if they get the concept and can move on. For children who are working on this skill strictly as a phonemic awareness skill, they will just draw pictures of the words. For children who are working on reading and writing these CVC, CVCC words, they will illustrate and write the word. Continue to do to the same for each pumpkin on your page.

The second activity is real vs nonsense words. Children love playing with nonsense words. They love to create words that just sound funny. So… why not play with nonsense words with word families. Pick a word family, see list above. Divide a sheet of paper in half, and write real words on one side and nonsense words on the other side. Now work the same concepts. Put different beginning sounds on to the rime and see if the word is real or nonsense. Using magnetic letter or other letter tiles helps with this skill as children often struggle to go through the alphabet to find more words. You can do this totally orally as a phonemic awareness skill or write it on paper as a phonics activity.

letter of the day

Letter of the day- Zz

This is it…the last letter of the day post. Not sure where I will go from here. Lots rolling around in my head about the rest of the summer and then the fall. Who doesn’t have lots of questions about the fall? I think for the rest of July and the first part of August I will post fun activities that don’t feel academic, but are! Who doesn’t like a learning activity that doesn’t feel like a learning activity? Stay tuned!

Jack Hartmann’s Zz song

Printing the letter Zz

Capital Z- start at the top, straight line across to the right, slant to the left until you are under the point you started, straight across to the right

lowercase z– same as capital, just smaller

Today’s activities: Zebra

  • Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham– Zebra and Moose are going through the alphabet, and Moose is excited to be part of the alphabet. Watch what happens when M is not for Moose…
    • Create your own alphabet book, what would you use for each letter of the alphabet?

The Zebra Said Shhh by M.R. Nelson–Zebra wants to sleep, but the other animals in the zoo were still busy playing. This is a calming bedtime story.

  • Create a timeline of your bedtime. Creating a bedtime routine helps children settle each night. What do you do every night to get ready for bed?

art · letter of the day · story

Letter of the Day– Xx

Ugh… Xx is such a hard letter. People don’t always even know to pronounce it never mind what activities to work on when teaching it. To answer the first part… Xx is pronounced /ks/ like in the end of ax, box, and max. The second thing… that is harder. The sound of Xx is heard at the end of words not at the beginning. So what to do, what to do… a bit of both?

Jack Hartmann’s Xx song

Printing the letter Xx

Capital X — start at the top, slant down going left to right, jump back to the top right above where you finished, now slant down to the left crossing the line you just drew. (if your child struggles to cross the midline, they will struggle making the letter x)

lowercase x– same as the capital, just smaller!

Today’s activities— Xxxxxx

  • What to Do With a Box by Jane Yolen– a box can be so many things. Children love boxes and boxes allow children to explore with their imagination.
    • Provide your child with a box, or multiple boxes, and let them be creative. Ask questions. What are you doing? Where are you going? How will you_____? Why? Let them play and encourage the to change their play.
  • Jessica’s X-Ray by Pat Zonta- Jessica hurts her arm and needs to have an x-ray. She learns about the various ways to look inside (x-ray, CAT-scan, MRI and ultrasound). This book was written by an x-ray technologist!
    • Have your child choose a body part to look at via x-ray (google images has a wide variety), then provide cotton swabs to have your child use as bones to make an x-ray picture. Gluing onto a sheet of black construction paper helps it show up better.
  • X Marks the spot… Make a treasure map. You can either make a pretend one or even better… hide something in your yard and make a map for your child to follow to find the item.
letter of the day · topic

Letter of the Day- Ww

T, U, V, ….. WWWWWW

Jack Hartmann Ww song

Printing the letter Ww

Capital W- Start at the top, slant down to the bottom, slant up, slant down, slant up. Sometimes people will write it Straight down, slant up, slant down, straight up, but the lowercase is all slants, so it is easier to teach them both the same way (IMO)

lowercase w- slant down, slant up, slant down, slant up

Today’s activity— WATER!

Water is such a great topic and can go in so many directions. It is also typically a big chunk of two areas of preK standards– needs of plants, animals and humans (drinking water) and the water cycle.

  • Hey Water by Antoinette Portis– A girl explores her world and sees water everywhere. She notices how the water moves and sounds.
    • Create a bubble map of all the places you can see water.
  • A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley — Everyone across the globe depends on water to drink. This National Geographic book displays people across the globe gathering and drinking water.
    • This is a great opportunity to talk about how plants, animals and humans need water to survive.
  • Other water activities:
    • fill the sink and let your child wash their toys (dolls, cars, or other washable toys)
    • play outside in a sprinkler
    • have your child help water the plants
    • test out items that will sink or float (fun item to try… a peeled and not peeled orange!)
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.