Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We're Going on a Leaf Hunt...

Follow this link to the story/song/rhyme, "We're Going on a Leaf Hunt"!

Take your child outside to hunt for some leaves today!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are you Leafing Around for a Great Fall Book???

If you find yourself leafing around for a great fall book, look no further than one of the beautiful books above all about LEAVES!

When the Leaf Blew In by Steve Metzger

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Season by Quintan B. Lee

The Leaves are Falling One by One by Steve Metzger

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves by Melvin and Gilda Berger

Of course, there are likely many other great leaf books out there. I have merely listed are ones that I own. When looking for books consider a few things: do you want fiction or non-fiction? Children may not understand that books are about the world we live in because they get used to seeing illustrations instead of pictures. Does the book have a great rhyme? Does it have rich vocabulary? Does your child enjoy it?

Please share the names of any other great fall books. I will have more fall book lists as the weeks pass.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Home-made Fall Book

Here is a book you can make with your child to celebrate the arrival of fall (or even use the fancier word...autumn!) This book is made using shapes cut from fall colours, as well as the letter that each shape begins with. This book can be used to teach colours, vocabulary, letter sounds, and so on.

You can even extend the activity with your child by making a complete alphabet book. Find fall pictures with your child using magazines, the newspaper, and flyers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello, Fall!

Red leaves, yellow leaves,
Brown leaves, orange leaves,
See them fall, One and all.

Bare trees gently swaying,
Everybody’s saying.
Hello, fall! Hello, fall!

Today, September 23, 2010 is the first day of fall or autumn. It is also the fall equinox! Many farmers call this time of year harvest. Wow, today really lends itself naturally to teaching new vocabulary!

Take time out of your busy day to day routine to go for a walk with your child. Look for and talk about signs of fall together. You'll be surprised at the richness of language you can use with your child when observing the natural world. You can talk about leaves (colours, textures, sizes, the trees they come from), animals, temperature, clothes we wear, and so on. Also, these types of activites encourage healthy lifestyles that are good to start practicing early in your child's life.

When you get home from your walk, stretch the activity further and read a great fall book. Compare what you saw outside to what is going on in the book. This will help your child make a connection between books and the world that they live in. If you can find a book with real pictures it will help them to bridge the gap even moreso than a book with illustrations.

As an aside, if you are wondering...we say fall equinox because it is around this time of year, as well as in the spring, that the day and night are approximately equally long.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scientific Inquiry in Preschool

Early science exploration is a wonderful opportunity to develop vocabulary in the preschool years. Simple experiments like the one shown above can help children develop their vocabulary and general knowledge in a playful setting.

Let me explain how we got to what you see in the picture above...

At circle time, I created an environment to help children become excited about science and the scientific method (ask question, create hypothesis, test, draw conclusions). First, I put on a pair of goggles to hook the children into the topic.

I wanted to see how well children in the group understood colours. To do this, I froze ice cubes in the primary colours - I think I made about one icecube tray of each colour. Then, I asked children to name the colours. After, I asked if they could guess what would happen if we mix certain colours together. With help from the audience, we had several bags of mixed ice cubes together. Once I collected their guesses (the hypotheses can be graphed!), we put the bags on display for the children to monitor. When the icecubes melted, they became a secondary colour (so cool!)

Once the bags finished melting, we checked on the results and I asked the children to write about what happened using pictures and or words. See what rich vocabulary you can use to describe what happened.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Felt Board Story Bag

Today is a rainy and gloomy day. Here's a project that can help you make the best of staying inside!

Find a canvas grocery bag to transform into your felt board story bag.

Find a piece of cardboard and cut it down to fit your canvas bag. Use whole sheets and scraps of felt to design a scene for your story bag.

Glue a piece of blue felt (the sky) onto your cardboard. The piece I used was 8 1/2" x 11".

Glue green felt (grass) onto your scene (you can choose a different scene, this is just what I thought would be most useful to me).

Using hot glue, glue your scene/background onto your canvas grocery bag.

You can make animals or objects of any kind to use with your felt board story bag. The possibilities are endless!

You can use the animals you make to sing songs (For example, Six Little Ducks).

The animals you make can be used to help tell a familiar or made up story.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Here is a beehive...

Here is a very simple prop that you can use to demonstrate a short finger play. The rhyme "Here is a beehive" is easy to remember, involves counting, and most importantly is fun. You don't need to make the prop, though. You can use your hand as a beehive and your fingers as bees.

The prop is made from one tan piece of felt folded over (hamburger - the two shorter sides should be touching) and cut into the shape of a beehive. I used hot glue to fasten the two sides of the hive together since I am not a into sewing. Then, draw a design on your beehive to make it more realistic.

The bees are made from small black pom poms and larger yellow pom poms glued together. I drew their stripes on with a sharpie. To make your bees stick to the hive, stick a small piece of velrco on each bee (the sticky side goes on the bees - the felt on the hive will act like the other half of the velcro).

Here is a Beehive

Here is a beehive, but where are the bees?
Hidden inside where nobody sees.
Watch them come out of the hive...





Five...BUZZZZZzzzzzzz!!!! (Gently tickle your child on the sounds buzz!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Literacy is delicious


If you haven't seen these delightful snacks yet, you must go to your local President's Choice (PC) grocier and pick up a bag. I was introduced to these at a staff retreat on Friday and have been raving about them since then. I am impressed with PC for comming out with such a fun and healthy snack (they are blue menu - low fat)!

These pretzles offer a great jumping off point for talking about letters and the sounds they make. Also, can you think of a better way to work on name recognition???

What do you think?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Preschool Printables

Preschool Printables is a great website where you can find teaching resources. Since I think parents are a child's first and most important teacher, this website is for you, too, if you're a parent reading.

Check out the felt board stories on Preschool Printables. Print some off in black and white or in colour and tell one with your child today. Oral language is the foundation of literacy. The more practice your child gets talking, the better they will get with their reading.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy International Literacy Day!!!

September 8th is International Literacy Day. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Here are some statistics that suggest just how important literacy is.

- 42% of Canadians, age 16-65, do not have the minimum literacy skills for coping with everyday life and work. Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey (Statistics Canada and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2005).

- Offenders experience literacy problems at a rate 3 times that of the general population. Select Committee of Experts on Education in Prison (Council of Europe, 1989)

- The average education level of newly admitted offenders serving two years or more is Grade 7. Correctional Education Year-end Report (Correctional Service of Canada, 1995)

- Canadians classified among the most healthy have the higher average literacy and numeracy skills, while those among the least healthy have the lowest average skills. Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey (Statistics Canada and OECD, 2005).

- Some direct effects of living with low literacy levels include increased hospitalization and misinterpreted medication instructions. Baker, D.W. et al., Functional Health Literacy and the risk of hospital admission among Medicare managed care enrolees (2002)

- People with low literacy skills 42% of adult Canadians) are about twice as likely to be unemployed for 6 months or more than those with higher skills. Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey (Statistics Canada and OECD, 2005)

- 50% of Canadian adults score low numeracy levels and are 2.5 times more likely to receive social assistance, compared with those scoring higher levels. Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey (Statistics Canada and OECD, 2005)

- Between 22% and 50% of adults with lower levels of literacy live in low-income households, compared with only 8% of those with high-level literacy skills. The Value of Words: Literacy and Economic Security in Canada (Statistics Canada, 1998)

Adult and workplace literacy myths.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Name printing

The most important word to your child is their name. For this reason, your child's name is a great place to start with letter recognition and eventually, printing. Recognizing and writing one's own name are not only important skills, but they are also something your child's kindergarten teacher will appreciate!

Practice doesn't have to be boring! Here are some fun suggestions on helping your child learn to print their name.

- Start by talking about the letters in your child's name. Does your child know all the letters? Make sure you talk about the sounds the letters make. ("Sarah starts with the sound Ssssss, just like snake. Can you hear it? Ssssssarah...")

- Make sure your child knows how to form the letters in their name. Talk about circles and lines in letters. Once they know how to make the letters, practice by having them make the shapes of the letters with their fingers. For example, they can write the letters in the air, on the floor, on your back, in water in the tub, in rice, shaving cream, flour, playdough (using stamps), or by tracing sandpaper letters with their fingers.

- Your child should feel comfortable holding writing implements in his or her hand before he or she will be able to write. This takes strength! Help your child build the muscles in their hands by engaging them in fine motor skills like cutting, playing with playdough,
using icepick tongs to sort,playing with lego, and so on. Once they have build up some strength, encourage them to practice using chalk, paint markers, and smelly markers (washable of course).

- Encourage your child to take pride in their name. Show them it is important. Label their belongings with their help (lunch containers, clothes). Give them plenty of exposure to their name in their world.

Please post any suggestions you have on helping children learn to write their name.

Monday, September 6, 2010

An apple poem a day keeps illiteracy at bay...

Here's another apple poem to share with your child:

Eat an Apple

Eat an apple; (Bring right hand to mouth)
Save the core. (Close right hand in fist)
Plant the seeds. (Bend down touch hand to ground)
And grow some more. (Extend both arms out)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Magazines for Children

I found myself in Chapters this past weekend looking for a good book for one of my favourite youngsters. Instead of immediately making my way back to the children's section, I decided to change it up and see what is available for children in the magazine aisle. I remember getting Highlights in the mail as a child. I enjoyed this monthly treat for two reasons:

(1) I got MY very own magazine in the mail (so cool in grade 2); and

(2) Who doesn't love getting mail (as long as it's not a bill, but what eight year old gets bills?)

Anyway, after carefully flipping through all the magazines and evaluating them for their age-appropriateness, interestingness, and general appeal I chose this:

National Geographic Little Kids is for children 3-6. I was really impressed by the issue I picked up. It had great activities that children can sit and look at with adults, as well as amazing pictures of animals with brief sentences to describe the pictures.

For those of you with young boys (and girls, too!), I would advise checking this out.

Has anyone seen good children's magazines they would like to mention?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Apples for Circle Time

Props are a fantastic addition to circle time. Stimulating thought and conversation, they can be a very positive and highly anticipated part of the daily routine.

Concrete objects are the gateway to learning and understanding for young children and should be used when presenting new concepts, themes and other information. Props, pictures, toys and sensory materials are essential tools for children's learning. Capture children's interest with these props and objects and encourage them to explore and experiment with many different materials.

With that said, apple picking season is here! Here is a rhyme with an accompanying prop that will help children develop their schema of apples, as well as numbers. The apples are made from red craft foam (cut using a die cutter), large popsicle sticks, and hot glue...that's it!

Here is a copy of the poem:

5 Red Apples

Five red apples sweet to the core;
One fell down and then there were four.

Four red apples sitting in a tree;
One fell down and then there were three.

Three red apples one for you, and you, and you;
One fell down and then there were two.

Two red apples shining in the sun;
One fell down and then there was one.

One red apple left all alone;
It fell down and then there were none.

Here is another version:

Five Little Apples

Five little apples, not any more.(Count on fingers)
I give one to________(Child’s name)
And now there are four.

Four little apples are what I see
I give one to _____________,
And now there are three.

Three little apples for me and you.
I give one to_____________,
And now there are two.

Two little apples: oh, what fun!
I give one to ___________,
And now there is one.

One little apple, only one.
I give one to _________,
Now there are none.

Note: I would post the poem somewhere with the apples for your child to play with once you have said the rhyme with them multiple times. Also, after you have done the rhyme several times together, leave off the end of each line and allow your child to fill in the blank. This will help your child become a confident reader! Lastly, you don't need to make the apples - you can use your fingers on one of your hands if it's easier for you.

Do you have an apple song or poem to share?