story · teaching thoughts · writing

A Squiggly Story

This week we will focus on writing. Listen to the story A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larson. Next, encourage your child to write his/her own story. They can choose to draw a picture and write the story based on the picture or just write the words as the boy does in the story. But, the goal is for your CHILD to do the writing. Just as the sister did not write the words for the boy. Remind your child that he/she is the author and the author decides what the story is about. If they draw the pictures, then they are the author and illustrator! (My example is actually a poem)

I love books. Big books, little books. Long books and short books. I love books

There are many ages and stages of writing. Children begin by imitating what it looks like when adults write (some form of squiggly lines typically). Then as they begin to recognize and learn about letters and numbers, they transition to writing random forms that begin to look more and more like letters. Then move into writing beginning sounds, ending sounds and finally words. Once children are able to form words they will typically transition to writing sentences. (read more on my post about stages of writing here)

Often times adults are the reason children do not write. Adults see children “writing” and are quick to jump in and do the writing for the child. They want children to write like an adult, but the goal is for a child to write like a child. You need to encourage your child to write like a child. Call it prek writing or kindergarten writing or child spelling and “correct spelling” is book spelling. Children will learn and recognize that they will transition from child spelling to book spelling and it is a process.

So, what is the adults job? Ask questions. Can you read to me what you wrote? What is going to happen next? Who is your story about? Why did that happen? Where are they going? How does the story end?

And even more important than asking questions… LISTEN! Children love telling stories. Encourage them to tell them through writing.

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!

teaching thoughts

How I plan! And how you can help

As a teacher there are various ways of planning life and lessons moving forward. Often you have to follow a set curriculum either set by the text books you are expected to use and/or the standards set by the state you live/work in. But, these aren’t the only factors to take in accord. You need to know your students. One of my philosophy statements is a textbook is a tool, not a toolbox! I believe in making connections in learning between life and as well as between the subjects that need to be taught.

I have always used the state standards as my guide, this give me more freedom in how to get to the knowledge than just using the text book and other resources provided.

This year, since I am not working in a school, but instead am planning these lessons here for you… the families of preK and kindergarten students, who need extra support. I’m have been going back to my roots of thematic teaching. Picking a topic and diving into that topic to teach the skills needed!

But, now I need to pick topics. I do not want to spend the month of November working on Thanksgiving. (Did you notice I did not teach Halloween all of October??) I often find November to be a lost month. When teaching we often have to touch on the election, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. But, there is so much more to the month.

So now I try to plan… do we work on food/nutrition? This easily ties into Thanksgiving. Do we work on communities or families? Do we work on farm life? Or do we pick something totally different? Something not related to any of the November holidays/events?

HELP! What do you, the readers of this blog want to see? What would help you planning your daily/weekly activities for your child. What would your child enjoy learning about at this time?

Drop me a line here and give me some feedback… OR email me at mydayinprek@gmail.com and let me know your ideas!

teaching thoughts

Wait Time and the Young Child

I recently was tutoring a kindergarten child and noticed his need for wait time. When I spoke to his parents about this, I realized that many adults probably do not even know what this means, never mind be able to recognize it in their own child.

Wait time, or thinking time, in education is the time between a question posed and the next oral response (either by the teacher or another student). Often times when we ask children, or adults for that matter, a question we expect a quick response. The problem with this is, not everyone can do this is quick time.

We often think about providing children who are learning a second language with wait time because the child is hearing the question/information in one language, then they have to translate it to understand… then think of an answer, and then translate that answer into the language we asked the question. People can see the need for this wait time easily, even if it is still hard to provide that time. But, they are not the only children who have to change the processing of information.

Back to the child who I was tutoring… if you looked at him, you might think he was “zoning out” or not paying attention. But, what I noticed is that he was looking… he was looking at something in his mind’s eye. Yes, he was looking for the answer. This child is very visual and needed to see the question and answer in his mind before he was able to answer. If I did not provide him wait time, he would get frustrated because he felt he couldn’t answer the question, when he could… if I gave him the time he needed.

Children often need 3-5 seconds of wait time, but some need a bit more. Sadly often times adults provide less than 2 seconds of wait time before they start talking or often just fill in the answer.

We as adults need to get better at providing ample wait time for children. They need time to process information. We also need to teach children to ask for wait time. I teach my students, including the child I’m tutoring, to put up one finger as we as adults do when asking for 1 minute from a child who wants to speak. This is a cueing that most children have seen before in school. Providing them a non-verbal cue helps because they aren’t disturbing their own wait time. This allows the child to advocate for him/herself. Then the next key piece is for the adults to respect and accept this need. Provide the time needed and praise the child for seeing this need.

I encourage you to time yourself. Are you giving your child ample time to think and respond? Are you quick to repeat the question, provide more details or even fill in the answer? Or are you seeing the need to allow your child to think. Time yourself… 3-5 seconds is LONG time to wait, but it is so worth it in the confidence and learning of that child!

art · story · teaching thoughts

Scarecrow!

Today we will continue our topic of Scarecrows! Here is another great story: Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant.

After listening to to this or another scarecrow story, lets do a scarecrow project!

But first… let me talk a bit about arts and crafts. Often times, teachers and parents provide all the parts and pieces of a project and then have the students put the project together step by step… this is not art, this is a lesson on following directions. While this is important too, it is not allowing your child to be creative. Some projects you can provide a piece to, but provide it in the form of a tracer and then still let your child choose how to manipulate that tracer.

When we give children materials and ideas, but then let them take it in their own direction… this is art. This is allowing your child’s creative nature to take over the project.

Ok… onto our scarecrow project. Here are a few ideas:

  • Paper Bag Scarecrow Head:
    • provide paper bag– other items you can use: construction paper, googly eyes, yarn, fabric, drawing tools (crayons, markers, colored pencils…) etc.
    • Help your child fill the bag with newspaper or plastic bags.
    • Then tie off the top of the bag.
    • Let your child have fun!
  • Paper Bag Scarecrow Puppet:
    • provide paper bag– other items you can use: construction paper, googly eyes, yarn, fabric, drawing tools etc.
    • show your child how the bag will be the mouth of the scarecrow
    • Let your child have fun!
  • Paper Plate Scarecrow Head:
    • provide paper plate– other items you can use: construction paper, googly eyes, yarn, fabric, drawing tools etc.
    • let your child have fun!
  • Construction Paper Scarecrow:
    • provide construction paper– other items you can use: googly eyes, yarn, fabric, drawing tools etc.
    • let your child have fun
  • Just Draw a Scarecrow!

So many ways to engage in scarecrow fun… your child’s imagination is the limit to the possibilities … so that means they are endless. Remember if your child is struggling, do not do it for them… show them, explain to them, provide examples, provide encouragement, ask questions (how else could you) … they need to know that you believe they are capable!

math · teaching thoughts

Five!

This week we will be exploring our five senses! So, I decide to focus on the number five for Math Monday. Share this song with your kiddo The Number 5 song by BubblePopBox

2 sets of 5

Have your child collect five objects. Ok, now go get five different objects. Let’s compare the sets. Many children will not recognize that the two sets have the same number of objects if the items are of different sizes. This is called conservation of number. The understanding that numbers are constant and equal the number of objects in a set. Many times when children are presented with 5 markers and 5 Cheerios they perceive that the set of markers is greater because it takes up more space.

To help your child develop conservation of number AND work on one-to-one correspondence, match up the objects. In my case, I set the markers in a line and then put a Cheerio at the end of each marker. Now each marker has a Cheerio and each Cheerio has a marker, they match one to one! Five markers is the same quantity as five Cheerios.

Practice writing the numerals 1-5 and match one set of objects with the numerals, one more practice and connection between the number, number word and numeral!

If your child is still struggling with this concept… don’t worry it takes practice and time. So get two more sets of 5, or if your child is struggling to count out five objects correctly drop down to 3 and build up from there. These skills that we as adults take for granted, are skills that need to be fostered in young children.

If your child is strong in these skill… here’s another five skill to work on, tally counting! Here is another song for you The Tally Mark Song. Practice correctly drawing tallys. Trust me… your child will want to draw five straight lines down and still cross it out and see it as five. It takes practice. 1, 2, 3, 4, shut the door with 5 is how I teach my students to remember that 5 is the slanted line.

Hope you and your child have fun with the number 5!

teachers pay teacher · teaching thoughts · word work

Decoding Fun

Recently, Teacher Mom Talks blogger/vogger asked me about ideas for working on short vowel words for her daughter. This got me motivated! So, today I created a kit for her, yes for her…. if you inspire me to create a kit for my store in Teachers Pay Teachers, you get a copy for free!

CVC Decoding Practice Read and Flip

So let me tell you about this kit, CVC Decoding Practice Read and Flip, and how you can use it to help your kiddo learn to decode and blend CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.

In this kit, you will find 2 sheets for each short vowel sound. The sheets can be cut into strips that show the word. Each word is broken down into the phoneme (letter sound). Then you will find the whole word and a picture cue.

  • Print out pages
  • Cut the pages into strips
  • Fold the last box (with the picture) over the word box
  • Clip with clothespin if desired
  • Have child say letter sounds while pointing to letters
  • Have child blend sounds together to form a word
  • Open flap to read the whole word and check the picture

Decoding┬áis the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven’t seen before.

Reading Rockets- Decoding and Phonics https://www.readingrockets.org/helping/target/phonics

Once children have a strong foundation of understanding letter-sound connections, they begin to see that when you put letters together they make new sounds and words. We often work on the blending of sounds together orally before ever attaching it to the written letter, this is part of phonemic awareness.

When your child is ready to start blending sound with the printed letters, have your child point to the letters individually while saying each letter sound. Then have them start saying the sounds faster (together) while sliding their finger under the word.

With this tool, I would have the child sound out the word, blend it together with the picture clipped down. Then have the child open up the flap and read the word again pointing to the word in the 4th box. The picture is there to check that he/she read the word correctly.

Work on one sheet, then add in more of the same medial vowel. Once they are comfortable, go onto the next vowel. When they are comfortable with those words, go back and review the two sets… and so on. Always going back to continue to review the previous vowel sounds.

Looking for more short vowel work? Check out my kit for Word Family Cloze sentences.

Thanks again Teacher Mom Talks! Hope we can work together again soon.

STEAM · teaching thoughts

Lego Name Fun

Children love doing activities with their names. Check out other name activities (name writing, name flower pot, and name art for a few). When you work with your child on his/her name, I strongly encouraging you to have your child write his/her name with the first letter as a capital and the rest lowercase. This will be one of the first things your child’s kindergarten teacher will work on, so why not teach him/her that way to begin with?

Today we will have some Lego fun, who doesn’t love Lego blocks? Well, we don’t like to step on them, but they are a fun learning and building toy.

I decided to play with my blog name for a change! I also made my sons’ names too (oops! I made Blake’s “a” backwards… see even teachers make mistakes).

Here is what I want you to do…. “Let’s have some fun with Lego blocks today” Now… let your child do whatever he/she wants to do first. Trust me, if you let the children play with the manipulative before giving him/her a direction it will work out a lot better.

“I have a challenge for you! Can you build your name out of Lego?” That’s it! Do not suggest more, do not model, do not tell your child how to do it.

If your child is not confident in writing his/her own name, then write the name on a sheet of paper or tape it on the surface they are building on, and again… say nothing else.

You will probably be surprised at their solution to this problem. Give him/her time to problem solve BEFORE you jump in and help. If the struggle is real, then sit down and say… hmm what if I make my name like this? And start working on your own name, or a sibling/pet name. Do not work on your child’s name… that is you doing the work/problem solving not your child.

Some letters are going to be a LOT easier than others. Trust me I struggled on Blake’s capital B!

You might notice that I used three different methods to build the letters. In the “My Day,” I stood the Lego up the way you stand up dominoes. In the “In Pre-K” I just laid the Lego flat on the table. For the boys’ names, I stacked them up. Colby’s name could stand, but I didn’t finish the process of linking the blocks for Blake’s name.

These are NOT the only ways this can be done. Please, please, please… let your child explore with the concept. There is no right or wrong way. This is how STEAM projects work in early childhood… they are engineering, building, constructing and problem solving… they need to do this!! It should be fun, they are learning through play. (:

art · teachers pay teacher · writing

September Self-Portrait

If you have been following my blog for a while, you have seen that I have my students draw… a… lot! Yes, draw pictures. The developmental range of drawing is very diverse in this age group. You can read about the development of drawing here.

The drawing of a self-portrait is often used to show developmental levels in children. As a teacher, I work hard with my students to help them progress through these stages. I have my pre-K and kindergarten classes draw a self-portrait every month and then send them home as a book at the end of the year. Parents are usually shocked with the progress from Mr. Potato Head to a fully recognizable person.

So… I encourage you to have your child draw a monthly self-portrait. You can use a sheet such as the ones I have in my teachers pay teachers store that provides a place for your child to write his/her name, the month and draw their picture in a frame or just draw it on a white sheet of paper. The most important thing is for your child to draw him/herself!

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Mr Potato Head — young self-portrait

Children who are young 4s often draw a head with arms and legs. At this age, it is totally developmentally appropriate for this level of drawing. But, I encourage you to point out things that he/she might be missing. Simple additions at this age: hair, hands, feet, ears.

Image may contain: drawing
lots of body parts, I cheat on the hands and put my arms behind my back (:

As your child progresses you will start seeing the addition of more body parts. One of the big things I push with my students is the addition of a torso. I’ll say do your arms and legs come out of your head? Nope! What are you missing? You are missing your torso the middle section of your body. How can we draw a picture including your torso?

Have your child look at him/herself in a mirror to see what else they can add to the picture.

I drew mine on a whiteboard, but I would have your child draw with crayons on paper. If you have multicultural crayons, that’s even better as you can get better representation of skin tones. You want the picture to be as realistic as your child can make it!

art · STEAM

Make Pete!

Let’s end the week with a fun and simple craft project. Read or watch a Pete the Cat story, and then get ready to make Pete.

Materials:

  • blue sheet of construction paper
  • scissors (child size Friskar scissors are the best, in my opinion, for children)
  • paper to mount your Pete
  • markers or crayons
  • glue/glue stick
  • any other paper to embellish Pete’s clothes

I will share with you two ways to have introduce this activity to your child

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1– Provide templates of a rectangle (large and long/skinny), semi-circle, triangle. Explain to your child how to trace around the shapes so he/she can cut on the lines. Oops poor Pete is falling in my picture oh well!

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2– Provide a picture of Pete the Cat and have your child draw Pete him/herself on the blue paper and then cut it out.

Both Pre-K and Kindergarten children are capable of both of these steps independently! Allowing and encouraging your child to work independently will build not only the skill, but also your child’s confidence. In school, we will help a child hold scissors correctly, demonstrate how to rotate paper while cutting and provide encouragement… that’s it. They can do it. It might not be perfect, but it will be their work!

My students love having some... - Teaching Little Minds - Preschool and  Kindergarten | Facebook