STEAM · topic · writing

Pumpkins Can, Have, Need, Are

Today we will think about pumpkins! Today’s story is Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli. I hope you enjoy this story!

Today for our activity we will create a chart of facts about pumpkins. First, I encourage you to watch Dissect a Pumpkin from SciShow Kids. Watch Jessi and Squeeks learn more about pumpkins.

After learning a a bit more about pumpkins, lets chart some of our knowledge! In this example I created a four box page to collect information on what pumpkins can, have, need and are. You could also limit this to two or three concepts. The purpose of charts like this is to begin writing informative sentences: Pumpkins can rot. Pumpkins have seeds. Pumpkins need space to grow. Pumpkins are fruits.

In my Teachers Pay Teachers store, you will find a collection of Can, Are, Have charts for fall. In this kit, Fall Graphic Organizers, you will also find circle maps, writing pages and venn diagrams. Topics covered: apples, pumpkins, spiders, bats and owls.

high frequency words · story · teachers pay teacher

Colorful for School

Yesterday we read the book Pete the Cat Too Cool For School by Kimberly and James Dean. In the book, Pete was trying to decide what to wear to school. He asks everyone and then finally decided to wear his favorite things.

Zine booklet color and clothing word reader

Today have your child make a “zine booklet” about getting dressed in clothes of lots of colors. A zine booklet is a book folded out of one sheet of paper. Below I will share with you how to make your own, or you can hop over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and pick up a copy of the one I have there for free!

If you choose to use mine you can have your child color the pictures before you fold and cut the zine. Or you can fold and cut the booklet and have your child create their own colorful outfit zine booklet. Now have your child point and read the book. Any time your child is stating words while pointing to word we call it reading. Even if he/she is not decoding the words it is the process of reading that is important. When I teach kindergarten I talk about this as reading as a kindergartner.

Now, onto how to make the zine booklet…

File:Zinemaking-folding-8cut-plan.png - Wikimedia Commons
zine booklet pages

See image on the left for how to set up the pages. If you are having your child draw the images, you will want to do the folding first and the draw.

  • Fold the paper in half “long side to long side”. Open it back up.
  • Now Fold the paper in half “short side to short side”. Open it back up.
  • Fold the short sides into the middle fold. Open this back up.
  • Now fold it in half again short side to short side and cut along the fold (the line between 4/7 and 3/8).
  • Then fold it back in half long side to long side.
  • Hold onto the edges and push the pages together to create an open “box”.
  • Push until you get it into an “x” shape.
  • Now you can fold it.

Check out this youtube video for step by step visual instructions.

I’d love to see what you make. Share your child’s work with me I love seeing children learning!

art · teaching thoughts · topic · writing

Stages of writing and drawing

I often mention these stages in my posts and wanted to have one post that I could link to to share the stages. I am also including some thoughts for you to consider when working with your child on writing and drawing.

In the world of pre-K and kindergarten children’s writing ability can be all over the map. I encourage you to tell your child to write. Even if they write scribbles or goobly-goop, they are writing! Then ask your child: “Read to me what you wrote.” Often times, they will say, I don’t know what it says. My answer to this always is “You wrote it, you can read it… tell me what it says.”

Pencil scribbling | Free SVG
  • Squiggle lines to represent words
  • Random letters that have no connection the word they are writing (JmtIop=flower)
  • Writing just the beginning sound (f=flower)
  • Moving into hearing more sounds in words – teach your child to slowly stretch out the word to hear all the sounds (flr=flower)
  • Moving more into conventional spelling (flwer= flower)
  • conventional spelling (flower=flower)

Each of these steps is an important part of learning to write. I promise you… your child will not memorize flr as the spelling of the word flower, but giving them the freedom to write phonetically WILL give them the confidence to write. When children are dependent on adults to spell all the words they are afraid to write and won’t write. When they are given the freedom to write on their level, they will want to write!

There are typically 4 stages of drawing development .

  • Scribble-(18 months to 3 years)–random exploration of art materials. This helps develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor dexterity, independence and much more
Brown Colored Pencils on White Printer Paper · Free Stock Photo
  • Pre-Schematic Stage – (2 to 4 years)– drawing are simple, but are begin to look more like objects. Color plays a more important roll. Most drawing is outlines. People are heads with arms and legs (Mr. Potato Head people). This continues to work on the previous skills, but adds in observation, problem solving and pencil grip work
  • Schematic Stage (5-8 years)– more details are added including background and correct coloring. Learn to draw things in a specific way and use it over and over (always draw a house the same way etc). There are typically stories to go with the illustrations. They now work on trial and error, patterns, and interpreting illustrations
  • Pre-Teen Stage (9-11 years) –Drawings are more detailed, realism and spacial perspective. This is that point where children typically feel they can or CAN’T draw.

Children often need permission to be creative. When children draw we need to recognize that it may not look like what adults expect it to look like, but it is perfect to the child. Do not try to guess what your child drew, ask! Your child will love to share lots of details about the picture. Children need to feel pride and acceptance in the drawing stage they are already in!

We need to ask children questions about what they write and draw. Conversations is so important. Showing interest and excitement in what your child draws and write will spur him/her on to write and draw more!

high frequency words · teachers pay teacher · writing

High Frequency Words Sentence Practice

I have begun working on a few new kits for my Teachers Pay Teachers store (My Day in Pre-K). Today I uploaded two kits that will help your child feel like a reader!

High frequency words are words that are used over and over in stories. These words are a combination of both decodable words and sight words. The more fluent your child becomes in high frequency words, the more fluently they are able to read. The first kit focuses on the words I, like, the, and and the second kit focuses on see, we, a, to.

These kits provide you with two different types of pages.

Journeys Kindergarten High Frequency Word Sentences -- Unit 2

The first provides your child(ren) the opportunity to read five sentences. The children will use the dots to point as they read the sentences. This helps your child differentiate between the words, develops one-to-one correspondence and recognize the connection between the printed and spoken words. These are written in rebus style allowing your child to use the pictures to finish reading the sentences. It encourages your child to read the sentences three times each which will help work on the fluency.

Journeys Kindergarten High Frequency Words Sentences-- Unit 1

The second format allows your child to complete and illustrate the sentences. They are again encouraged to read the sentences three times, point while reading and build fluency.

I have shared this kit with a few of my former students. Their families have shared that the child is enjoying this learning activity and feel confident in their reading. One little girl has asked for more pages to be made.

I hope you enjoy this learning activity with your child. I will be adding more kits with additional words in the next few weeks. I also have a beginning sounds sort kit that is in the works!


Magazine picture starters

Many young children have vivid imaginations, but when it comes to drawing, they tend to draw the same things over and over. I have discussed the ages of stages of drawing and writing in the past. Children develop through stages and the more the participate in drawing and writing the more proficient they become in the various stages.

So, lets get the creative juices flowing! Grab a magazine and cut out parts of pictures for your child to use as a jumping off spot for their own illustrations. (Whenever my children are drawing anything for writing purposes I use the word illustration… like in a book) I suggest that you, the parent/caregiver find and cut the magazine photos. The reason for this is that if your child see the the original photo, they struggle to go outside the box.

Here are two ways your child can use the photos… but do not tell them how to do it… see what they choose to do.

I cut out the photo of the shirt. I then made the alien around the shirt… why not? I would then encourage your child to write on the picture. Notice that I labeled the shirt, skirt and alien (in phonetic spelling). I also wrote on the top full sentences that a child may dictate to go with the illustration.

In this example, I cut hikers out of a larger photo. Providing pictures like this encourages child to work on the background of the illustration. This is a stage in drawing. Children often draw pictures of items on a blank page. I ask them if their person/object is floating in front of a white wall? Learning to see the whole picture and including the background adds depth and details to the illustration. Notice on this one, I labeled the illustration and wrote sentences in phonetic spelling as well as wrote a dictation.

If your child is writing, please, please, please…do NOT write the dictation on the front of the illustration. Often this makes children feel they do not have to write, or that their writing is wrong because it is not in “book spelling”. When I write dictations, I either write it on the back (I tell them it is to help their parents read their thoughts), or I write it on another sheet of paper and attach it to the child’s work.

letter of the day · math · story

Letter of the Day– Rr

I’m back! I hope everyone enjoyed a few days off with their family and friends. We will jump in and finish off the alphabet. R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z… that’s it!

Onto R we go… I spent some time trying to decide what items do learn about with the letter R. Race cars, rainbows, rectangles… nope! I know lets try…

Jack Hartmann Rr song

Printing Rr

Capital R- start at the top, straight line downnnn, jump back to the top curve to the right and in at the middle, then slant to the right (Children often struggle with doing the bump and slant in a fluid motion. They want to make the line come out of the bottom of the bump or at a different spot on the straight line)

lowercase r– straight down, up on the same line almost to the top, curve to the right a bit and STOP

Today’s activities: Robots!

Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara– This is a fractured fairy tale based on The Three Little Pigs. It is a great way to compare and contrast stories and introduce the concept of the solar system to your kiddo.

Three Little Pigs and Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot
  • Two easy activities to do with this story would be either a story map or a Venn diagram.
    • Story Map– have your child illustrate the steps of the story. Talk about characters, setting, and the main idea of the story. You can also discuss beginning, middle and end. While reading the story, have your child make predictions to see if they can guess what will happen next. Since it is set against a familiar text format, they should have an ideas about what will come next.
    • Venn Diagram. Children at this age are beginning to explain the similarities and differences between many things… including stories.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman– Boy meets Bot in the woods. They have a great time together, when Bot get switched off, Boy does everything he can to help his friend feel better. Boy falls asleep and Bot powers back on, now Bot is worried that Boy’s powers is low and tries to help him.

  • This is a great book to talk about empathy and how to help others.
roll and draw a robot
  • Roll and draw/roll and make: The children roll a dice and then have to use that shape to make a part of his/her robot. They can draw the parts or you can have them prepared ahead of time and have him/her glue the pieces as needed. When I do this, I do not say… ok now roll for your head. Ok now roll for your body etc… But just have the children roll. Some may start at the top and work their way down, but others may go all over to figure out where they pieces fit. Plus, they may add items you would not think to add.

R is for Robots: A Noisy Alphabet by Adam Watkins — Silly robots build the alphabet and represent the letters with noises. B- beep boop, K- kapow, R- rattatat

Have your child think of other words and sounds that can represent the letters of the alphabet.

Practice Robot Speak to review syllables.

Transform an empty box into a robot, robot head or even robot costume

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.

art · letter of the day · STEAM

Letter of the day– Kk

Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height! Who doesn’t love a bit of Mary Poppins music to start the day? Kites are a great activity for children. They love to fly them, they love to make them… children love kites.

Jack Hartmann Kk song

Printing Kk

Capital K– start at the top, go straight downnnnn, jump back to the top and over to the right, slant in to the middle and then slant down to the bottom

lowercase k– start at the top, go straight downnnn, go half way down and over to the right, slant in and out

Kk is a tough letter to write. It requires your child to be able to cross the midline. This skill means your child can move arms and legs across the middle of his/her body. By the age of 4 your child should be able to fluidly move from one side of the body to the other (left to right as well as top and bottom). Crossing the midline songs and exercises to try at home: brain gym, Dr. Jean Jump up, turn around, Jack Hartmann Crossover, Centercourt Sports Crossing the Midline

Today’s activity– Kites!

Kite Day by Will Hillenbrand (read by Will Hillenbrand) Mole and Bear work together to construct a kite, watch to see what happens

Create a paper kite. (Did you know that kite is a math term? A kite is a quadrilateral (4 sided shape) with two distinct pairs of a equal adjacent sides– meaning the top two sides are equal and the bottom two sides are equal)— YES, I would point this out to my students!

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers –Floyd’s kite gets stuck in the tree… wait until you see what he throws at the tree to get the kite down!

What would you do to get your kite down? Draw a picture and write about it. OR Draw a picture of what the tree looked like when Floyd woke up the next morning

Let’s Make a Kite from SciShow Kids

Make a kite as described in the video… and/or make a plastic bag kite: take a plastic bag you get from the grocery store. tie a string to the two handles. take it outside and run with it… it should fly up behind you when he catches the wind.

art · letter of the day · letter work · STEAM · story · topic · writing

Letter of the day- Ee

E is for elephant. I picked this topic for two reasons. One I wanted to share the story Elmer by David McKee, and I wanted to share some nonfiction research, yes research.

Jack Hartmann’s Ee song

Printing Ee

Capital E- start at the top, straight line downnnn, across at the top, across in the middle, across at the bottom

lowercase e- across from left to right in the middle, up and around like the letter “c” make sure you touch the straight line on both sides. (This is a tough letter for kiddos to form. They want to make it very disjointed. the biggest pieces is to get them to go across first and then up and around AND getting them to go in the correct direction)

Today’s activities: Elephants!

Elmer by David McKee (read by David McKee!)

Elephants by Victoria Marcos

Elephants 101 by Nat Geo Wild

Live streaming elephants. These are live streams, so you may or may not see the elephants depending on the time of day

Watering Hole in Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya— I had to scroll back in this feed when I checked it out. I saw elephants, rhinos, guineafowl and more

SanDiego Zoo elephant Cam

Elmer by David McKee is a story about a patchwork elephant. The other elephants love his humor, but laugh at him also for being different. One say Elmer leaves and the other elephants realize they miss not just his humor, but Elmer himself. The other elephants realize that the things that made Elmer different were the things that made him special. Have your child draw an elephant (or copy a blank elephant) and then decorate that elephant in a way that represents what make your child special.

Elephants Can, Are, Have– Can, Are, Have charts are a great way to collect facts and information learned about a topic. These are also used in later grades to help form paragraphs. You read the chart by stating Elephant can ____. Elephants are ____. Elephants have ____.

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

Letter of the day– Cc

C is for cookies. This is a term we have heard for years thanks to Sesame Street. I choose this letter because it is typically not the connection that is made in schools, and I have a simple yet tasty recipe to share.

Jack Hartmann’s letter C song.

The letter Cc is a key letter in alpabet writing. You need to know how to correctly form the letter c in order to form lowercase a, d, e, g, o, and q and capital G,O, Q. It also helps in the forming the Ss as well.

Capital C – Start almost at the top, curve up, around, down and up

lowercase c- start almost at the top (under the dotted line if you are working on lined paper) and then curve the same exact way

The challenge of this letter is getting the children to not start the the exact top. They also struggle with the direction of the curve. This in addition to the fact that most children want to start at the bottom and not at the top. Practice hand over hand, and over and over again… it is all about muscle memory.

Today’s activity: cookies!

Mmm Cookies by Robert Munsch — Robert Munsch is one of my favorite authors. There is a lot of humor in his books

Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward

“Mmm Cookies” is about making play dough cookies. This is a great opportunity for the children to get creative. Provide your child with play dough and encourage him/her to make cookies. You can provide cookie cutters, but it is not necessary. Provide a rolling pin (small dowel or pvc pipe works too) and a plastic knife. The use of play dough is great for fine motor development and the more you encourage your child to use their fingers/hands and arm strength to manipulate the play dough.

“Cookie’s Week” is a great story for sequencing and/or retelling the story. You can divide a sheet of paper into boxes and have your child illustrate the different events in the story. Or, better yet, have your child create his/her own version of the mischief that Cookie could get into for a whole week.

Confetti Cake Mix Cookies

My sons have helped out in the kitchen since they were about 2 years old. This recipe is one of the first they learned to master independently. Your child can do most of this recipe with limited assistance.

cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
  • Cake mix— I used confetti this time, but you can use most flavors
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • frosting- optional
everything in one bowl
mix together. dough will be very thick and sticky
bake until the edges are golden
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Put cake mix in a bowl
  3. add eggs and oil
  4. mix with a spoon
  5. dish onto pan
  6. bake 6-8 minutes
  7. cool
  8. frost if wanted

This recipe can be translated into lots of combinations here are a few of our favorites:

  • vanilla cake mix with chocolate chips (with or without chocolate frosting
  • devils food cake mix with peanut butter chips (with or without vanilla frosting)
  • spice cake with cream cheese frosting (my personal favorite)
  • lemon cake with lemon or vanilla frosting