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 


Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Letter a Day...Mm!

Today's Letter...Mm! We read a book called, If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff.
A great website that lists preschool read aloud books for every letter of the alphabet is: We then did an activity with matching upper and lower case letters. You will need a few clothes pins. Print off the cards on cardstock from the link: This goes along with the story. I had to help my son with a lot of these letters, especially ones that do not look like the capital letter (for example G and g). He loved this and as long as you make it a game, it is more fun!
We did our Do-A-Dot art with the letter Mm. He is getting better at keeping the stamps inside the dots! This is a great fine motor skill builder. View my previous posts for Do-a-Dot letter printables.
  Afterwards, we traced lines from lowercase letter m to capital letter M for fine motor skill building. You can find a ton of letter M activities as well as this printable at:
 Our next M activity was a hit! I used m&m printables from:
My son had to complete the pattern using large m&m printables. Each time he got it right, he was rewarded with the real thing.

Our math activity was another m&m printable from the same link as above. He had to count the m&m's in the box and then find the numeral that matched the quantity. This is a wonderful one to one correspondence activity. I made him touch each m&m slowly and count out loud. Then, I put 4-5 numerals to the side for him to choose from. Great number recognition practice as well!
After nap time, we played Memory. This is such a fun classic!

A Letter a Day...Dd!

Today we woke up and went and grabbed donuts for breakfast! Afterwards, we talked about the shape of a diamond. I had my son practice tracing diamonds and then finding them in a hunt of many shapes. You can download the same activity here:

Next, we read the story Dinosaur Roar by Paul and Henrietta Strickland. I bought a bunch of dinosaurs from the Target dollar aisle and we played with them, talked about their names, and then lined them up for largest to smallest. We made a dinosaur craft with the capital D to put in our alphabet book.

For snack we made "dirt" with chocolate pudding and crushed oreos. Click here for recipe:  Then, we did an "I Spy" hunt with the letter Dd. You can download and print this I Spy page from:

We discussed what a doctor is and why they are important. My son dressed up like a doctor and we made a "doctor bag". I pretended I was sick and had to "visit" him. He made me all better! :)

We did the Bible Lesson, "Daniel in the Lion's Den". We watched the cartoon on You Tube: We talked about how when we are scared we can say a prayer for protection. This has really helped with being afraid of the dark at bedtime.
 After nap time, we talked about money and why we use it. I showed my son a Dime and we talked about its shape, the details printed on the coin, and that it is 10 cents. My son doesn't understand the concept of money, however I think its beneficial to introduce the coins and identify their names. We counted dimes and then went to the convenient store and bought a piece of candy (Laffy Taffy) and payed for it using dimes! Later, I put a handful of coins on the table and had my son sort out the dimes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Letter a Day...Ww!

We started this morning out with a walk around the neighborhood. It was too hot yet and it was a nice little exercise for us both. When we came back,  we ate waffles. As we ate, we talked about words that begin with W. Then I had my son go around the house and find things that begin with W. I thought this would be a bit difficult, so I made sure to set out a watch, wallet, and a few other things. Then he placed each thing he found into a little wagon.
We did color experiments with food coloring and water. We found that when you add blue to yellow you get green, red and yellow make orange, red and blue make purple, etc. Then we poured a small amount of water from the bowl into a measuring cup and determined which one weighed more. Then we poured a tiny amount from the measuring cup into a measuring spoon and determined which weighed less. We did this with several cups and bowls. My son LOVED pouring the water! We did this all in the kitchen sink.
After talking about water, I told my son about Jesus walking on water. I let him watch the cartoon video clip: and then we made a craft with Jesus walking on water towards the boat. The cloud in the picture says, "Keep you eyes on Jesus". You can find this craft at:
 After that we put our swimsuits on and played in the water outside. We have a water table so I brought out all the measuring cups, bowls, and spoons from our color experiment and let him play with them. While he played, I read a book and got some sun!
For snack we had watermelon and for lunch I made him Wagon Wheel pasta. Then, we went and visited Daddy at work! He even got to ride with Daddy on a tractor with giant wheels! What a great way to end the day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Letter a Day...Ll!

My son came tearing down the stairs this morning to discover today's letter, Ll! We had a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast and then got dressed and went to our local library. We participated in the story time activity in which we listened to a story, sang songs, and made a craft. Afterwards, we checked out some books that had the letter L in them. Ladybug, Ladybug by Ruth Brown, The Lamb and the Butterfly by Arnold Sundgaard, and Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson. Then, we had lunch at Logan's Roadhouse.
 Once we got home, it was time for nap. My son chose a book that we checked out and we read it before I put him to bed. While he napped, I got caught up on some laundry! After nap, we did our Do-A-Dot for letter L and then made a lady bug. I am including it in it's original size so you can print if you'd like! We used black dot paint for the spots, but you could draw them with marker or use stamp pad or paint and do your child's fingerprints. A great ladybug story is, The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. Then we made Lollipops with watercolors.
For an afternoon snack we made homemade lemonade to go along with our lemon cream cookies! I found the recipe here:

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Letter A Day...Bb!

Photo: Letter B....Band-Aid butterflies! 

My son woke up this morning and immediately said, "What letter are we doing today?!" I am so happy that this little 'game' has made him excited about learning. The letter Bb was taped to the door today. We ate blueberry waffles and bacon for breakfast as we brainstormed all the things we could think of that start with "b". We did our Do-a-Dot letter Bb and then made Band-Aid butterflies.
I have decided to print off a block letter of each letter that we do and create some sort of craft beginning with that letter on paper vertically or "portrait" (like the Band-Aid Butterflies) so that I can put each in a binder in page protectors that I can eventually have as an Alphabet book that my son created to review all the letters in the alphabet.

So, it was a rainy day today. We still blew bubbles on the porch, built buildings with blocks, turned up the radio and pretended we were in a band, and
 took a bubble bath. Later, for some fine motor
development, I had a bag of those small fuzzy
pom pom balls from the craft store and put a handful
in a small Dixie cup. I gave my son some graspers
(you could also use chopstix although that may be
more difficult) and had him pick up one ball at a time
from the Dixie cup and place it in a bowl. When he
put all of them in, he had to transfer them one at a
 time again back into the Dixie cup.

 For lunch we had Bunny Pasta and bananas! We took a little trip to Barnes and Noble this afternoon. We went on a hunt through the children's section for things that start with "B". My son found a book about bugs, babies, a Blues Clues dog, bath toys, and a stuffed animal bunny. We picked out three books and read them together. Then we had a "big" cookie at the coffee shop inside the store with "brown" milk (chocolate milk). Ha! I'm trying here! :)

After dinner, my son helped me make blueberry cobbler with all the blueberries we had left! It was delicious. Before I put him to bed, he wanted to know what letter would be next. He is having so much fun with this! Here is the recipe for the blueberry cobbler:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Letter A Day...Ss!

I made smiley face pancakes for breakfast and introduced the letter Ss to my son. The we did the Do-A-Dot letter S page. You can do a similar handwriting if you click here... We then went outside and played with sidewalk chalk. We made the letter S, drew a sun, a snake, etc and then I let him draw whatever he wanted. When we came inside, I gave my child a box with a lot of different animal pictures that I cut out. You can print and cut a few out from and click on other letters and print several more. You could also create a word document and choose clip art animals beginning with S. We pulled one picture out at a time and said the name of the animal. Then, I asked if it started with S. If it did we glued it on a piece of construction paper that I labeled with an Ss. If not, we set it aside. I let my son use a glue stick and had him glue them to the paper to build fine motor skills and get used to using a glue stick. I teach my kindergarteners to put glue on the back of the cutout they are gluing and not the main sheet. This way the page doesn't end up a sticky mess! We put our S Animal Collage' on the refrigerator.

For snack, we had "sushi". This was not real sushi but a fun way to make fake sushi using Rice Crispy cereal, marshmallows, fruit roll-ups, and gummy worms. You can find the recipe at
                                       Mock Sushi

I had to run some errands today and while in the car, I handed my son a car ride "Scavenger Hunt" on a clipboard. While we drove around town, he had to find the different things on his page.

 For lunch we grabbed a kids meal at Sonic along with a Strawberry Fruit Slush! Yum! When we got home we made suncatchers. I bought the kit at Michaels. Then, we played outside in the sprinkler!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Letter a Day...Ff

Letter Ff was the letter of the day! We started with the book, Firefighters to the Rescue by Kersten Hamilton. We followed the book with a fun craft. I printed out a fire hydrant for the boys to paint red. For the one I used, click here: While waiting for our fire hydrants to dry, we painted fire by using red and yellow on a sheet of white construction paper. We found that mixing those colors makes orange! Then, we set that aside to dry and painted a small square of foil (that starts with F!) blue to make the water. We glued the fire hydrant on the white paper with the fire, then cut the foil to look like water. Next, I taped a piece of pipe cleaner next to the fire hydrant to look like a hose and then glued the blue foil we cut out to look like water spraying out! So fun! We used crayola tempera paint.
View full image   

With the paint still out, we used a sheet of blue construction paper and put drops of red and yellow paint on it. Then, the kids used straws to blow the paint in different directions. This made it look like fire! You could also use liquid glue and have them blow it and then add glitter for Fireworks! I had planned to take a trip to the local fire station for the kids to meet the firemen and learn about fire safety. Unfortunately, things came up and they couldn't accommodate our visit today. We'll try again another time!
For snack today, we had Fruit Loops and grapes (fruit). You could also have goldfish. Then, we made the letter F with the Do-A-Dot markers. We will do this each day with each new letter. We also practiced writing the capital F on lined handwriting paper. I like Zaner-Bloser block style writing the best for teaching children to make letters.
We headed out to the local fish store to check out the fish and the frogs. The kids LOVED this. We saw all kinds of fish and some really interesting frogs!
When we got home, I read a Zootles magazine about Frogs. It was fascinating. These magazines are fabulous for children ages 2-5. The one I read today incorporated the letter F and fun facts about frogs and their habitats. After reading a bit, these two kiddos were ready for a nap!
We made a frog as well! I cut out a green circle, traced my child's hands and then ovals for the eyes on black and white paper. So cute!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Letter a Day...Aa!

 Quality Do-a-dot Markers 4 Asst by Do-a-dot Art
You may be wondering why I didn't just start with A. My son knows the alphabet song backwards and forwards. I started to think that he may guess what letter was next if I did it sequentially and the anticipation would be lost. So, I'm doing it at random. Today was the letter Aa. Once again, I had the letter taped on the door for my son to see as he came downstairs this morning. I made Apple Bread the night before. Here is the recipe: After breakfast, we played on the starfall website: under the first category "ABC's". Then we read the book Apple Farmer Annie  by Monica Wellington. I printed off Uppercase Do-A-Dot Letters and had my son stamp dots inside the letter. You can print these off at and purchase dot markers from Amazon or a local parent/teacher store. Above is pic of what the markers look like. We then made alligators out of a capital A (and talked about triangles for the teeth).  We also made an apple craft. I painted the palm of my child's hand red and stamped it on a sheet of construction paper. Then he dipped his finger in black paint and we made little ants around the apple. I drew a stem and leaf and the apple , and legs and antenna for the ants after they dried.For morning snack time we made Ants on a log. I cut up celery sticks, spread peanut butter over them (use soy butter for substitute) and then put raisins on top! For our afternoon snack we made Apple Carousels. You simple cut the middle out of an apple, spread peanut butter on the top and bottom halves, push in pretzel sticks to reconnect top and bottom slices, then add in animal crackers!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Letter A Day....Pp!

Today is the letter P! I printed out each letter of the alphabet on paper (Upper and lowercase together on each page). 
I put a new letter each morning on our front door. This morning when my son woke up he found the letter on the door. I told him the letter and what sound it makes. Then he traced over the letters with his finger. 
For breakfast he had Cherry Pomegran Pop-tarts (made by Nature's Path organic) with pineapples and peach yogurt. We talked about each food and I really stressed the 'p' sound on each one. 
After breakfast, I told him that we were going on a treasure hunt. The first "clue" was a picture I took on my phone of the playground in our neighborhood. I told my son that we had to get dressed and go to the playground.  Inside my shorts pocket is a small pack of purple kool-aid. That will be for later. I grabbed a bottle of water and we were off!
When we reached the playground, there was a pirate costume on the bench. I bought this at Target on the dollar aisle and put it at the park before he woke up this morning. We talked about how "pirate" starts with "p" and so does "playground". Then we played pirates together for a while.

Underneath the playground slide I taped a picture and the word "park". I told him that was our next clue. Our neighborhood park is within walking distance from our home so this was all very easy. 
On our walk to the park, I told my son to look for things that started with the letter "p". He found a puddle, puppy, princess bicycle, and of course the park. We even found the letter "p" on a sign. 
After playing at the park for a while, we set off back home. We stopped at a bench to rest and heard my phone alarm go off (of course I planned this). I told him it was our next clue and I showed him a picture on my phone of a "pocket". We thought about what this clue would mean and I suggested that we check our pockets. Inside mine was the purple kool-aid. We mixed it into our bottle of water and had a nice little drink. My alarm went off again 5 minutes later with another clue. I told him it was a video. I opened up a short 5 min video of Peppa Pig on You Tube. So we sat on the bench and watched Peppa Pig and drank kool-aid. So fun!

When we got back to the house, we made a cheese pizza together for lunch. Some other ideas would be to go on a picnic or a restaurant that starts with the letter P. After lunch we went to the pool and swam. 

It is now nap time and I can get caught up on some laundry while my little smarty pants snoozes!
Here are a few other things I have planned for today: Play-doh, paper-plate pig craft, and popcorn and the movie Peter Pan before bedtime tonight.