Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Letter a Day... Nn!

 I introduced the letter Nn like all the other letters (letter taped to the front door Letter Posters). I don't think I've mentioned this before but its important to show your child and explain to them how to make the letter sound with their mouth. For example, when I told my son that letter Nn says, "Nnnnnn". I told him to watch my mouth as I made the sound. Then, I explained that your tongue has to touch the roof of your mouth and your mouth has to be open to produce this sound. I do this with all letter sounds with my child and when I'm teaching my students. Some children have difficulty making the sounds for "s, r, g, l, and x." These sounds are developmental and may not be mastered until first grade. I have learned in the public school system that these sounds are developmental and students will not qualify in kindergarten for speech services until first or second grade if he/she is still having difficulty with those particular sounds. This also applies to the sounds th and sh and even lisps. These are considered developmental until first or second grade.
We completed our daily "Do-A-Dot letter". You can find these here: Do-A-Dot Letters. The week before, I plan out what letters we will do each day for the following week. I also look up different activities in our area that I could correspond with the letters I introduce. For the letter "Nn" I decided to go on a little field trip to the Science Center as they were doing a them about "Nature" and animals in their natural environments. Perfect! I also searched the web for coupons before going and had them printed out and clipped to my calendar so I wouldn't lose them.
At the science center, we learned all about animals and nature. Every time we saw the word "Nature" or any word with an "n", I pointed it out to my son. He caught on really quickly and took over that job! You could do this activity at the zoo, science center, or even the park. We talked about where different animals live and where you could find them. For example, bears live in caves. They sleep in them, keep their babies safe in them, and hibernate inside them in the winter. Birds build nests in tress, they lay eggs and take care of their babies until they learn to fly. We also discussed "Nocturnal" animals.
If you do not have a zoo or science center, you can still do this fun activity. Go for a walk in your neighborhood or local park. Make up a scavenger hunt that included Numbers of animals/insects to look for and discuss the importance of nature and how to take care of it. Here is a scavenger hunt I found that would be great to use on a Nature Walk: Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt I would add numbers 1-10 at the top to review counting and number recognition. For example, write the number 2 above the squirrel and ask how many you have to find. Write the number 8 above the insect, etc. You can even take a bag with you and collect interesting items (acorns, pine cones, interesting leaves, rocks, etc). Once you get home, help your child sort the items he/she collected by attribute (size, shape, color).
After our fun Science Center/Nature activity, we ate lunch at Noodles & Co. We talked about all the things we had discovered about nature at the Science Center and brainstormed words that start with the letter N.
When we got home, I had my child draw a picture about the different things he saw today. He was pretty worn out after that and needed a nap. He even pointed out that it started with an Nn! Score!
Before bed, we read a Ranger Rick magazine that featured a Narwhal. My son thought this was the coolest animal ever!! Here is a kid-friendly link to info about the Narwhal: Narwhal facts and this one has a good pic and even a sound clip: Narwhal pic

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Letter a Day...Gg

Today is letter G! Be sure to only teach the hard sound of g as in /g/- girl and not the soft sound as in giraffe when introducing this letter.

Food for the day:
Breakfast- greek yogurt with granola, grapes, and grapefruit
Snack- graham crackers, goldfish crackers
Lunch- grilled cheese sandwiches, green apple slices, Go-gurt
Dinner- spaghetti, green beans, and garlic bread

Place to go: We went to a botanical garden. It was fabulous! We fed butterflies nectar, saw some amazing birds, and the winding paths and scenery kept us curious. I told my son to point to anything he could find that began with G. He picked up quickly on "green" and pointed to EVERYTHING green! He did find a "gate" and a "grasshopper" so I think he got the point. :)

Today we also talked about giving. The night before this activity, I went through a bunch of my son's baby toys or toys that he never plays with a put them in a large basket. We talked about how important it is to give and how it makes your heart grow when you give to others who don't have as much as my child. After our botanical gardens trip, we dropped off the toys at our local Goodwill. My son had a lot of questions as to where his toys would go, but once I explained to him that there were some children who didn't have toys to play with and that were sad, he was happy to donate. I made a big deal of telling him how proud I was of him and that he did a great, great thing.

I stopped by Target to get in some Grocery Shopping (hey, it starts with G) and on the dollar aisle were little pots of Forget-Me-Nots in soil. We grabbed several and planted them in our garden at home.

Tonight after dinner we had family game night! We played so many. Some of our favorites are: Dominoes, The Lady Bug Game, Zingo, Trouble, and High Ho Cherry-O, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Letter of the Day...Qq

When I teach the letter Q, I told my son it is usually followed by a U. I say, "Q and u are stuck like glue".

Food Ideas: Quaker oatmeal, quesadillas, quinoa, quiche
Art activity: I printed off the letter Qq: and gave my child a few Q-tips and paint of various colors. I always use washable tempera paint. He traced the Qq with the Q-tip and then filled it with lots of little dots.

Book: Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood. After reading this to my child, we talked about what it would be like to be quick as a cricket. I said it would also be fun the be as quiet as a mouse. We pretended to be quick crickets and quiet mice. My son said he would like to be as loud as a T-rex. I let him "draw" a T-rex and underneath it I wrote "I am as loud as a T-Rex!"

 Math: Quarters. I glued (usind Elmer's liquid glue) 4 quarters on a piece of cardboard. I placed a white sheet of paper over the quarters and let my son rub a crayon back and forth over them to do rubbings. He loved it! I also taught him the rhyme, "Quarter, Quarter big and bold! You're worth 25 I am told." I took out our money jar (a jar I keep in the laundry room to collect loose change) and we sorted out all the quarters. Then we counted how many we had. I didn't count the amount, just the number of quarters.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Letter of the Day...Ee

Oh my word it is difficult to keep a blog updated while teaching kindergarten and raising a family. It has been a long time since I updated and I apologize!
Letter of the Day is Ee.
I try to focus on the short sounds of vowels when teaching letters for the first time. That means that the letter e says /e/ as in egg. We had some fun with science for this lesson.
Empty vs. Full:
Take several empty, clear containers. I used plastic 4 plastic water bottles. I filled them with different amounts of water and left one empty. We added drops of primary colors with food coloring to each bottle and talked about the different colors. We also talked about what "empty" means and I had my child point to the bottle that was empty. Then, we added blue drops to the yellow colored water to make green. My child thought it was "magic". We also added yellow to the red to make orange and then red to the blue to make purple. We talked about which bottle was the fullest or had the most water and which had the least amount of water. We put the bottles in order from the fullest to the least amount of water. Then, I put a smock on my son and gave him some measuring cups and drinking cups. I put the water bottles in large tubs (I took them off of our toy shelving unit) and put a plastic table cloth on the floor of the garage and let him practice pouring the water out of the water bottles and into the measuring cups (while keeping them in the two containers for less mess). Again, we talked about which cup held the most water and which held the least. We lined up the cups by various size and talked about what happened when we poured one amount from one container into another. We talked about the colors that mixed as he poured them into each other. Then, I had him try to put the water from measuring cups into drinking cups without spilling. This was hard! He loved pouring from one container to the next and watching how the colors mixed. After an hour of this we cleaned up (he was stained with the food coloring on his hands and clothes, so BEWARE this is a messy lesson) and went to our next acitivity.
We used a printable tracer page to trace the capital E and lower case e. You can download it here:
Its important that when teaching letter formation, you show your child how to hold a pencil properly. My son has a very difficult time with this. I think larger pencils are best to start with and you can find pencil grips in the shape of a triangle to fit over the pencil as well as other fine motor resources to help with pencil grip at your local parent teacher store. Make sure your child forms each letter from top to bottom and NOT from bottom to top. You can also use fun writing utensils other than just pencils. We use markers, highlighters, fun pens, etc. My favorite pencil grip helper is the wrist band with the little dolphin. It looks like this:
HandiWriter (Dolphin)
After our handwriting lesson, we decided to make an elephant with handprint art for our alphabet book. I painted my son's hand with gray paint and placed in down on white paper with his fingers pointing toward the bottom of the paper. I had his fingers spaced apart slightly and his thumb out to the side. After it was dry, we added a pink ear, gray tail, and a googley eye.
Food/Snack Ideas today: eggs, edemame, enchiladas, Eggo waffles, eggplant, and chocolate eclaire for dessert! Yum!

Book for today: The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, Online story: "An Egg is Quiet":

Online practice: Click on ABCs, click on Letter E

Games: Etch-A-Sketch

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten....from a kindergarten teacher's perspective

Many of my friends ask me what to think about when determining whether or not their child is ready for kindergarten. Here is a checklist that I have taken from and have edited and revised it with what I think is important to know. First, let me say that I attended an incredible seminar by David Thomas of DayStar counseling and the author of Wild Things The Art of Nurturing Boys. He said that if you have a boy and they are on the young side (this would be my son), it is best to WAIT a year before starting kindergarten than to push them through. I couldn't agree with this more. Boys mature more slowly than girls. There attention span is shorter. Their need for physical movement is greater. I refuse to start my son out as a 4 year old in a kindergarten class filled with 5 1/2 year olds and mature 6 year olds. I have seen first hand how large of a gap those few months present and it is very difficult for a 4 year old boy to make friends and be on the same maturity level socially as the majority of his peers. This can go for girls too. If your child is on the younger end and academically ready for kindergarten but is still not quite as mature as many 5 and 6 year olds, I would really reconsider enrolling in kindergarten. So here are some things to help you decide:

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

While there's no perfect formula that determines when children are truly ready for kindergarten, you can use this checklist to see how well your child is doing in acquiring the skills found on most kindergarten checklists.
Check the skills your child has mastered. Then recheck every month to see what additional skills your child can accomplish easily.
Young children change so fast -- if they can't do something this week, they may be able to do it a few weeks later.

  • Listen to stories without interrupting
  • Recognize rhyming sounds
  • Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
  • Understand actions have both causes and effects
  • Show understanding of general times of day
  • Cut with scissors
  • Trace  and name basic shapes 
  • legibly writes first name
  • writes numbers 0-10
  • Begin to share with others
  • Start to follow rules
  • Be able to recognize authority
  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
  • Begin to control oneself
  • Separate from parents easily
  • Speak understandably
  • Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
  • Look at pictures and then tell stories
  • Identify rhyming words
  • Identify the beginning sound of some words
  • Identify ALL upper and lower case alphabet letters
  • Identify ALL letter sounds 
  • Understand basic concept of print 
  • Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
  • Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
  • Count to ten 
  • Bounce a ball 
  • has a good pencil this link for practice: Teaching correct pencil grip

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Letter Cc!

There are so many activities to do with Letter Cc! We started by reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I printed off (on cardstock) some of the foods from the book to use to retell the story. Click here for the pictures: The Very Hungry Caterpillar felt board pieces  Its important to help your child retell stories that you read together. This builds comprehension skills. Ask questions like, "What did he eat first?", "What happened after he ate all the food?", etc. Have your child use the felt board pieces to guide them when answering the questions. We also talked about the Days of the Week in this story.

We also counted each food item in the book. I showed my child that we count each item slowly and say the number as we touch each item. This helps to teach one-to-one correspondence.

For our craft, I cut out a bunch of different colored circles from construction paper. I wrote each letter of my son's name on each individual circle (in upper case letters). I had him trace my letters with a marker. Then we practiced spelling his name out with the circles. I let him have a blank circle to draw a smiley face on. Then, we glued the circles together to make a caterpillar that spelled out his name. He loved it! We hung it in his room and each night he says the letters in his name in order as he points to it! I also made up a song with the letters in his name to learn the order. I used it to the tune of "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes". Other easy tunes are "Where is Thumbkin" (for names like B-E-N, B-E-N, my name is Ben, my name is Ben...), Jingle Bells, Row Row Row Your Boat, The Farmer and the Dell, and the Mickey Mouse song can all easily be changed into songs that spell out a child's name.

For lunch we had casserole and carrots. For snack we had Crasins and Cantaloupe.You could also make cookies together.

Counting! We practice counting each night to 20 while I he washes his hands and face.

Letter Zz!

The letter Z! We took a trip to the zoo first thing before it got hot!  Before going, I printed off  an alphabet chart and took zoo animal stickers with us. While there, we talked about what letter each animal started with and put an animal sticker on that letter. It turned into a fun game! We had a mid-morning picnic snack at the zoo...Zapp's potato chips and Animal crackers that I called "Zoo Crackers" (very healthy, I know)!

Once we were home we read our Zoobooks magazine about Zebras. Then we made the letter Z with stripes to look like a zebra. Printable large alphabet letters

A fun book we made was from the "Itsy Bitsy Letter Book" series from KidZone. You can find it along with the others here: Itsy Bitsy Books
Then, my little baker and I made homemade zucchini bread that was out of this world!! Click here for the recipe: Mom's Zucchini Bread
 Today, we also talked about what zig-zag lines are.I think that it is VERY important for children to learn pre-writing skills before learning to form actual letters. I started pre-writing skills with my son shortly after he turned three. I found a book at our grocery store that I really liked which had great pre-writing tracer pages in it. The book is called, "Big Workbook Preschool" by School Zone publishing company. It is important for young children to learn to trace straight lines first by tracing, then curved, full circles, and zig-zag lines. Having these skills will help them with letter formation when they begin to write. So, focusing today on "zig-zag" lines, we traced zig-zags, cut zig-zags, and then made zig-zags with Elmer's liquid glue and then sprinkled glitter on them. I also used blue painter's tape to make a zig-zag pattern on our garage floor for my child to walk down, and then hop down, and last ride a tricycle down. I made it pretty large so that he could really get the movement with his tricycle. Here is a link to Amazon if you'd like to purchase the workbook that I'm talking about: Big Workbook Preschool