Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Name Rockets

We did a great activity this week to clarify the letters in our name and also the difference between upper and lowercase letters.

My son's name has 5 letters in it so I cut 10 small squares of construction paper. One square for each upper and lowercase letter of his name. I used two colors so that we could also get in a little pattern sequence. If he got stuck picking a letter, I asked him which color came next in the pattern.

In addition to the squares, I cut out two triangles to be the top of our rocket ships. The letters were written in the squares and then I sorted the squares by color. He did a great job and we currently have it framed and hanging on his bedroom door.

Since we wanted to hang this up, once he had shown me how to spell his name on both the uppercase rocket and the lowercase rocket, we glued down all of the pieces.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Johnny Appleseed Day

In honor of Johnny Appleseed Day, here are some great apple projects to do with the kids.

I would definetly start off with the "Apple", Oreo Truffles. They are adorable and I love Oreo Truffles. These were made by Raising Memories.

Ramblings of a Crazy Woman has a great apple craft. I woudl let the children also tear up the paper to work on thie rmotor skills prior to gluing.

Lilly Cakes made an adorable apple tree with a paper towel tube and some cardboard. Love recycled crafts.

Next we have No Time For Flash Cards with thier adorable apple print wreath. I love this and I love the lesson of not pressuring the kids to finish a project on our time schedule.

Lastly, I am sure we will once again make our Apple Pie Play Dough. We had lots of fun with it last time and have had several friends request some of the yummy smelling dough already this year.

Remember - An Apple a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mouth Muscle Strength

Does your child have pronunciation issues with some letter sounds? Here is an easy and inexpensive activity you can put together to help strengthen the muscles of his mouth and lips.


Cut out two identical shapes in the paper. I have access to a Cricut machine and used that to cut out my frog and my fish but they do not have to be such complicated shapes. Circles, squares and triangles will work too.

Use a glue stock to glue two identical shapes together, leaving a gap at the bottom that is not glued shut. Once the glue dries, insert a straw in the gap at the bottom. Ask your child to blow through the straw and that will send your shapes into flight.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

9/29 International Peace Day

How do you define peace to a small child? Is it enough to use the dictionary definition of:
a. in a state or relationship of non-belligerence or concord; not at war.
b. untroubled; tranquil; content.
Most small children will not understand this definition and most parents will be thankful that their children do not understand "war, belligerent and troubled". To teach the concept of peace to smaller children you must think locally and show globally.
Begin by discussing how your child and her friends do not all look alike. Some people have blond hair, brown hair, red hair or black hair. Some people are tall, some people are not. Some people have light skin, some people have dark skin. Just because someone does not look like you, does not mean you can not be friends. We are all friends. After this discussion, you can help the children by making a unity wreath. The picture above is from the Kansas City Public Library. It would be great to have each child trace their hands enough time that each student has one hand print from every friend. If you do not want to trace all of those hands, they can also leave paint hand prints and cut those out when dry.
Another great activity would be to make a peace sign using the children's hand prints. Draw a large peace sign on a peace of butcher paper. Set out a large selection of paints (finger paints or craft paint) and allow the children to dip their hand in any color and put it on the peace sign. The picture above is a poster from All Posters but gives you an idea of what to create with a child.
Act out peaceful and non peaceful situations with the kids. When they are all together, use puppets or stuffed animals to act out the events. Maybe have one animal call another a name. Now have one animal ask the other to play with them. Ask the kids which act was peaceful and which act was not. Discuss how everyone thinks the animal felt in the non-peaceful act and what we can all do to make our friends feel good. How can we bring peace into our lives?
Take time to remind the children each day how to bring peace into life. Provide small tokens, like a peace sign sticker when you observe the children playing well. Eventually children will understand peace and hopefully embrace it in their daily life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chores Equal Responsibility

All members of a household should have some chores. One person in the family should not be responsible for all of the chores. Chores can teach a person vital life skills including: respect and consideration. When completing chores you are working on your fine and gross motor skills, which is great for kids and adults. The chores should be based on the person's abilities. In our house we have a list of chores that are acceptable for our four year old. He does not always get his chores perfect, but he does try. The more he does the chores, the better he gets at them. I never go behind him and "do it correctly", instead I have just learned to live with streaky windows because he will soon get it just right.

Chores acceptable for preschoolers:
Cleaning windows
Put away laundry
Set the table for meals
Put items in the dishwasher
Put away silverware
Sweep floors
Pick up toys
Put books on a bookshelf
Wipe table with wet cloth
Make bed
Feed pets

This is just a small list of chores that are acceptable for a preschooler, in your home there will likely be different ones that your kids do.

In my household, my son does not get paid for chores. As he gets older this may change, but right now I just want him to realize that everyone in the family needs to help out.

Standard chores that he is supposed to do include: Wash hands, brush teeth, put away toys, set dinner table, put away books, sweep kitchen floor and clean off the table after meals. As he gets better at doing chores there may be additional duties added to his list.

In my house, we do not "correct" a chore that he completed. We show him how to do something and then he does it to the best of his ability. Is every speck of dust off of my floor? No, after all they are being swept by a 4 year old. Some times you have to learn to live with something that is acceptable but not perfect.

His chores teach him responsibility by showing him he can not do one activity without completing another. If he wants to run races in the hallway, all of his toys must be picked up first. If he wants a snack, he can not have one until his hands are washed. The list goes on an on. They also teach him that as a family, we must all help out. He sees Mommy and Daddy doing chores and understands that he must also do chores. No member of our family must do all of the chores, we are a family which means that we always help one another.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Meanderings: Talk Like A Pirate Day

I love a chance to be a kid so Talk Like a Pirate Day is just what I need today.
Here are some great pirate activities for you and your family to enjoy!

Handprint and Footprint Art has a great pirate handprint craft. I love handprint and footprint crafts. It gives me something cute to see the change in my child's size.

Great Resource Childcare did several pirate activities but I really love the paper plate pirates that they made. There are no directions but they look pretty easy to make.

Here are some great Pirate Printables from 2 Teaching Mommies.  It includes Roll and Graph, Size Sequencing, Letter Match and so much more.

The Imagination Tree give a great lesson on making a treasure map and putting a realistic look of age on the paper.

The Fickle Pickle put together the cutest Pirate Birthday Party. I love the pirates games: Walk the Plank, Roll the Cannonballs and Swab the Deck.

Arrrgh Matey!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today is Felt Hat Day

Did you know that today is Felt Hat Day? I did not even know the day existed but I decided to celebrate it nonetheless!

I made a new felt activity for us to enjoy and to work on our color recognition and counting skills.

I cut out a total of 17 felt top hats. When I decided to do this I did not want to take the time to draw a pattern and trace it onto each felt color, so I just winged it since the design is easy.

When we started playing, I would call out a color and he would put it on the felt board. Later we played by him rolling a die and putting that number of felt hats on the felt board.

We have enjoyed our new felt activity!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Fall Education

I am posting links to some great educational printables that you can use with your kids. These bloggers have graciously given of their time and talents to create some great activities.

First up is, Oopsey Daisy with a great L is for Leaf download. There are a massive amount of ideas and activities in this packet.

2 Teaching Mommies is a great resource. This is a direct link to their Pumpkin unit. I love the pumpkin life cycle and the fact that it ends with pie!

Counting Coconuts has this great sensory box for Fall. I love scarecrows, they just make me smile.

Have fun this Fall!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Fall is Coming

The first day of Fall this year will be September 23rd. My favorite season is Summer because I like hot weather but, Fall is a close second! I love the changing of the leaves, the pumpkins and the mums in bloom. Here are some great Fall activities to think about doing with your kids.

First we have Martha Stewart. I know, I know, let the kids have fun. Their project does not have to be Martha perfect, but what a great crafting medium for the season.

Next we have Little Wonders' Days with a beautiful Fall leaf craft.

The next blog, Atelier Pour Enfants is not written in English but the pictures are enough. They made beautiful art using all natural materials.

Start getting ready for all of the great Fall activities!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lima Bean Literacy

I had a bag of dried large Lima beans in my pantry for quite sometime and I knew they would never get used. I am the only one in the family that eats Lima beans so I was trying to figure out what to do with them when I thought - Alphabet! Doesn't everyone look at Lima beans as a learning opportunity?

The only supplies you need are beans and a permanent marker. You can also use a sealer if you think the beans will be used frequently but I did not bother since they are quick and easy to make. I took 26 beans and wrote one capital letter per bean. I then took another 26 beans and wrote one lowercase letter per bean.

We reviewed our letters with the beans and then we started playing. The first game we played is a version of Memory. We flipped all of the capital beans over and mixed them up. We also mixed up the lowercase letters but left them face up. As he picked up a capital letter he would name the letter and then find the matching lowercase letter and put them to the side.

Next we worked on spelling, using upper and lowercase letters. Once you start spelling you will have to make multiples of your bean letters but like I said, it is quick and easy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Encouraging Early Literacy

There are many ways to encourage early literacy skills for your child during her normal play time. You do not have to sit down with your child and force her to complete a worksheet for you.

During the day there are numerous times to "fit in" literacy. If your children are playing and she says "Let's play restaurant. I'll be the waitress." This is a great opportunity! Suggest that she write the "order" down on a notebook and hand her the notebook and a pencil. This is a huge learning activity for her. She has to stay in character, write down what you ordered to eat, go get the food, recall what she wrote down and then return to you with the food. When she returns to you, tell her that she needs to tell you what everything is as she sets it on the table.

Do you have picture books in your house? We sit down a few times a week with a picture book and my son will look at the pictures and then make up a story to go along. Sometimes the stories are closely related, other times he can look at the same book 3 days in a row and the story will be different each day. In addition to understanding that the pictures have meanings, he is also recalling his friends and past activities as they often make appearances in his stories. These stories are a building block to strong literacy skills.

Does your child love to paint or color with crayons? They are learning the tripod grip that is vital for writing skills, but they are doing much more than that. As they are painting, they have an image in their head that they are trying to re-create. Once a masterpiece is complete, ask your child to tell you all about it. I will frequently write down these stories that my son tells me so that we have a memento of the moment.

Doing worksheets and memorizing letters are an important part of every one's education, but it does not have to be the only part. There are many ways to learn and as parents and teachers, we need to offer a variety of ways for our children.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Smelly Flowers

I have seen examples all over blogland where people have used the bottom of a water bottle as a stamp for painting. We decided to do this but we took it a little further.

This week when we went to visit some family there was a neighbor that had planted some sunflowers that are now over 10 feet tall! Needless to say, my son was quite impressed with these giant plants.

So we decided to create some smelly sunflower paintings.

Empty water bottle
coffee grounds

We stamped several sunflowers with the bottle and yellow paint. Next we went back and used our finger dipped in green paint to make the flower stems and leaves.

Lastly, we put a bit of glue in the middle of the sunflower and sprinkled coffee grounds on the glue.