Monday, January 30, 2012

Preschool Basics: "Snowy" Day Number Formation

One more snow-themed activity before we move onto Valentine's Day activities!  

Here's a quick tip:  Whenever we do number activities, I always use these Number Rhymes to help the girls remember what each number looks like and how it is formed.

  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Cotton balls

1)  Write the numbers 1-10 on sheets of paper. 

2)  Outline the number with cotton balls.

You can either put the cotton balls and sheets of paper in a plastic bag and reuse them again (as a very simple learning bag), use the cotton balls for a "snowball" hunt, glue them on the number, or use them for another art project!

If you have an older PreK-2nd grade student, challenge them to form the numbers without a written guide.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Indoor "Snowball" Hunt

If you're stuck indoors, or you are just wishing for snow (like us!), this is a simple little activity to get you up and moving around.  It also builds fine-motor skills (if you use tweezers) and develops one-to-one correspondence.  

  • Ice cube tray or egg carton
  • 12 cotton balls

1)  Hide the "snowballs" around the house.

2)  Have your child find them and place one snowball in each section of the ice cube tray!

*Variation:  Pick up the "snowballs" with tongs or tweezers after your child finds them. 


Monday, January 23, 2012

Torn-Paper Snowman

These torn-paper snowmen are helpful for building up the muscles in the hand (yay for small motor skills).  Tearing up stuff is fun, too!!  

  • Tagboard or cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Circle templates
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper

1)  On sturdy paper, trace three circles:  small, medium, and large.  I just looked around and used what we had to trace around.  Glue the circles together to form a snowman.

2)  Tear strips of white paper and glue to form the body.  Tear different colors and patterns for various body parts, buttons, etc.  We used paper from our scrap box.

Share your creations!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shimmery Snow Scenes

Salt + Glue = Messy, fun project!

  • School glue
  • Glue stick
  • Salt
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Small bowl or cup
  • Pan

1)  Cut out trees (or any other desired objects) and glue onto blue paper to make a "snow scene".  

2)  Cover the edges of the trees and ground with a glue stick and add glue dots for snowflakes in the sky.  Sprinkle with salt.  I found it easiest to put the salt in a small bowl for each child.  

3)  Shake off excess salt into a pan.  Allow to dry.

There are many ways to add to or modify this project.  Let your child explore and create!  Our favorite part was sprinkling the salt and making huge puddles of glue!! 

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Snowman Votive Holder

It's 65 degrees here today...and we haven't seen more than a dusting of snow in the last few months, but I've decided we're embarking on a winter theme!  

This Snowman Votive Holder makes a sweet gift for grandma or other loved one.

  • Votive Holder
  • White paint
  • Permanent markers
  • Tea-light candle

1)  Paint your child's index finger with white paint.  Carefully press onto the votive holder.  Repeat as many times as desired.  Allow to dry.

2)  Use permanent markers to add eyes, nose, mouth, buttons, arms, etc. to your snowman (or woman).

3)  Add a tea-light candle.

*Variation:  If you have multiple children, they could each make and decorate one snowman on the votive.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

All About Reading Review: A Thoroughly-Planned and Multi-Sensory Approach to Teaching Reading

A few months ago, this beautiful package arrived in my mailbox for me to review! 

I was so excited to pull out the All About Reading Pre-1 Reading curriculum from All About Learning Press.  Once I did, I was enamored with the beauty of it!  Truly, the hardbound books are gorgeous (filled with sweet, simple pencil sketches) and the ABC charts have a permanent place on the wardrobe doors.  They don't look quite so "classroom".

Even more than that, my little Sunshine has been so excited to do "my school" every day.  She's finally figured out how to rhyme because of all the wonderful phonemic awareness activities we've been doing!
Included in the deluxe curriculum package:
  • Teacher's Manual (208 pages)
  • Student Packet
    • My Book of Letters and Sounds Activity Book (192 pages)
    • Picture Cards
    • Letter Sound Cards
    • Capital Letter Alphabet Chart
    • Lowercase Letter Alphabet Chart
  • The Zigzag Zebra: a rhyming alphabet hardcover book
  • Lizard Lou: a collection of rhymes old and new hardcover book
  • Divider Cards (to keep your Picture Cards and Letter Sound Cards organized)
  • "Letter Sounds A to Z" CD-ROM
  • Ziggy the Zebra puppet
  • Activity Box to hold your student's learning cards
  • All About Reading tote bag
The teacher's manual is well-scripted with daily activities making it quite easy and convenient to follow.  There are the Big Five Skills (letter knowledge, phonological awareness, print awareness, listening comprehension, and motivation to read) addressed in every lesson.  These are critical skills needed before beginning to read!

Each day starts with identifying a letter (did I mention the alphabet charts are be-yoo-ti-ful?!!), reading a short story, doing simple activities and games, and there is always a little craft.  These are very simple to do and don't require many materials.  

Being a lover of all things frugal, my one hesitation with this curriculum is the price.  At first glance, it does seem pretty pricey.  I personally would not have bought the Pre-1 version  (although Sunshine's "school" and Ziggy the Zebra has been pretty popular around here).  I feel like I have a decent handle on teaching my little ones to read, although someone who wants complete guidance would find this curriculum very helpful, I think.  One plus (as far as the financial side), it should have a pretty high resale value.  Also, you can easily reuse it with your other children (just purchase the student packet for each student).  It comes with a one-year "Go Ahead and Use It" guarantee -- so if you use it and don't love it, you can return the curriculum for a refund.

Having said that about Pre-K, I can totally see myself buying Level 1.  As much as I LOVE My Father's World (the curriculum we're using), I have often thought the reading program leaves a little to be desired -- especially for slower readers.  Plus, as I looked through the online samples, I realized it utilizes so many of the same approaches I used in the classroom (but it's already planned and put together and I wouldn't have to do anything)!!  

Hmmm...maybe I'd better save up!!

Anyway, the Level 1 program is a completely scripted program and very systematic.  It proceeds step-by-step so you don't miss anything, AND it's multi-sensory for all the varieties of learners out there.  It's definitely worth looking into if you're wanting a thoroughly-planned approach.

Overall, I was super-impressed by the curriculum.  If you need a structured approach or you have a struggling learner, the teacher in me definitely recommends it!  

Disclosure:  I was given the All About Reading Pre-1 Package to review.  All thoughts and opinions are definitely my own!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Phonemic Awareness: Up & Down Rhyming Game

This is such a simple idea -- but very effective for my three-year-old!

  • List of rhyming and non-rhyming pairs of words (or just make them up as you go)

1)  Say two words aloud that rhyme (hat - cat).  Have your child stand up when they hear a rhyming pair of words.

2)  Share two words that do not rhyme (dog - bone).  Ask your child to sit down when they hear words that do not rhyme.

Mix up and alternate word pairs.  There should be a lot of up & down in this game, and it's great for keeping your child's attention!  I also included my older daughters in this by having them make up rhyming and non-rhyming word pairs and letting them "lead" the game.

*This activity was adapted from All About Reading (Pre-1).  Look for my review of the curriculum tomorrow!!


Monday, January 9, 2012

#1 Top-Visited Post in 2011: Popsicle Stick Puzzles


The top-visited post of the year is Popsicle Stick Puzzles.  It's interesting, because I didn't even write it in 2011!  

Friday, January 6, 2012

The 11 Top-Visited Posts in 2011: Part 4

Continuing with the Top-Visited posts of 2011, here are three more!  We'll get to the last one tomorrow!  :)

#4 - Magnetic Menu Planner 

#3 - Magnetic Menu Planner II (Simplified Version)

#2 - Melted Snowman Smores

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The 11 Top-Visited Posts in 2011: Part 3

These surprised me!  I wasn't expecting to find them in the top 10!

#6 - Learning Baskets

#5 - Dinosaur Excavation

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The 11 Top-Visited Posts in 2011: Part 2

Here are two more of the top posts for last year!

#8 - Preschool Basics:  Name on a Notecard

#7 - Preschool Basics:  Printable Number Rhymes

Monday, January 2, 2012

The 11 Top-Visited Posts in 2011: Part 1

I've seen several blogs doing this, and I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the top-visited posts for 2011!  I'll share the top 11 posts (according to my Google Analytics) over the next five days!

#11 -- Ooey-Gooey Oobleck

#10 -- Preschool Basics:  Trash Can Review Game

#9 -- Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration:  Cat in the Hat Snack