Category Archives: Subject

Letter Puzzles (and on sale!)

I was just doing some birthday shopping and noticed a sale on one of our favorite learning tools.  I thought I’d hop on here to share real quick.

Nab ItI came across Nab-It in the store about a year ago and it has been such a valuable tool.  It is actually a game but I honestly have not even read the instructions and haven’t yet played the game as intended. I’ll get around to learning that soon hopefully.  We’re having enough fun with the pieces right now.

The game consists of 4 sets of letter puzzles, each a different color and each in their own drawstring bag. Each puzzle piece has a letter on both sides. Your little one will get used to looking on both sides for the desired letter. We have used them to practice the alphabet, spelling words, word families, and blends.

Amazon has Nab-It for sale right now.  If you’re in the market for a fun preschool tool that will double as a fun game when your little one is older, this would be great!

**photos from Amazon**

Shaving Cream Landforms and more

I’m attempting to record all our favorite activities that I just never got around to writing about.  This is one of the activities we did as part of our focus on Creation.  I was hoping to do a whole series of posts on our Creation activities.  But since it’s been almost 2 years and I still haven’t gotten around to the task, it’s pretty safe to say it’s not gonna happen.  Our landform activities were simply too fun not to share though!

We were talking about how God created the land and focused awhile on the different types of land we see. I was using the Creation story to fulfill our “science” activities.

I chose 5 or 6 landforms (it’s been awhile so I can’t remember exactly) to focus on and printed one photograph and one illustration of each. I found all the pictures online. It would probably be a good idea to laminate these. Our pictures certainly got messy.

Matching- First I had J match the illustration to the corresponding landform photo.  This is a great way to practice matching for any category, especially if your child has no trouble matching 2 pictures that are the same.

Here he is showing off our mountains

Shaving Cream fun- I brought out the shaving cream and we created our own examples of the landforms. Warning – you will use A LOT of shaving cream if you truly want to make quality landforms. :) I bought a can at the dollar store. J was 2 years old when we did this activity and did need some help making a few of the landforms. TIP: it’s a good idea to start with the mountains!

After all the landforms were made, J “labelled” each with the correct picture.

The photo doesn’t do our foam world justice :)
Of course he had tons of fun digging in the “dirt” too!
 We threw in some bath foam fish, nothing to do with landforms but he liked it.
Landform Obstacle Course - For our last landform activity, I set up an obstacle course in the living room.  Pillows on the floor were islands that he had to hop on. Pillows stacked on a chair was our mountain. A blanket thrown over the table created our cave. I pushed the couch up to the chair to create a “canyon” in between.  We talked about each landform in the obstacle course and went on a “bear hunt” through the obstacle course.  It’s so much more fun moms if you join in the climbing and hopping! And finally we played a game where I called out a landform and he had to climb, crawl or hop to it.  Lots of fun!

Let’s Practice Brushing our Teeth

Before J’s first trip to the dentist, we did a quick unit on teeth.  We talked about why to brush/floss, how to, especially bad foods, etc.  Here’s an activiity we did that turned out pretty fun and useful.

You’ll Need: At least one teeth photo (laminated), toothbrush, water, various foods (the stickyer the better!)

I laminated a few teeth photos (found on GoogleImages).  Then J
fed the photos some good and not so good foods.  We took note of how each food effected the teeth (ex, icing got stuck all over the teeth).  Of course I let him try some of the foods too, as evidence shows in the photo! It did give him some real experience with how the foods felt in his mouth and helped him better describe the feeling.
Then we practiced brushing the gunk away. It was a good way to get him to see the purpose of brushing.  We talked about where to brush (front, back, top, sides,…) and how to brush and practiced the strokes. After our fake teeth were clean, we headed upstairs to brush some real teeth.
We’ll probably do more practicing like this as he gets older. This was a fun way to teach and practice a very important part of life.

We started a new tooth brushing song during this activity. I got tired of our normal brushing song (This is the way we brush our teeth… like the mulberry song) and decided we needed a change.  J thinks our new brushing song is fun. I sing to the tune of “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair”… and just change the words to… I’m gonna brush that cheese right off of my teeth, I’m gonna brush those blueberries right off those back teeth… filling in whatever he just ate and wherever I’m brushing in his mouth. He likes to remind me all the different foods I have to brush off.  A year later and he still loves to sing this song!

Age attempted: 2.5 years

Reading with Inflection

Back when I taught middle school kids I was so surprised that mood was completely lost on so many students.  They read in a monotone, word by word manner. No wonder they found it boring!

I definitely don’t want J to get stuck in that rutt.  Reading is way too much fun for monotone.

So I was THRILLED when we discovered Mo Willems at our local library.  His books are perfect for teaching and practicing inflection, even for the beginner or intermediate reader. And it doesn’t hurt that he is hilarious for both child AND adult.

We are in a book! [Book]We especially love his Elephant and Piggie series. In fact I liked “We are in a Book” so much that I decided to go out and buy it and I’m becoming quite the snob in books I deem worth my money.  “BANANA!!!” has become a source of laughter all throughout our day (you’ll have to read the book to find out why).

There are so many great things about these books. They are simple enough that J can read them all by himself but the story is still good enough to keep both of our attentions. So many of the beginning reader books are boring! These books aren’t marketed as beginning reader books, but I think they work great for that… or maybe for intermediate readers. I’m not an expert in early readers! If your child has a good base of sight words and a basic understanding of phonics, I think they will manage the Elephant and Piggie books well.

We can also read them together, each taking a different role so that we get to act the book out. J even wants us to imitate the faces as we read/act.

Should I Share My Ice Cream? [Book]He has learned what think bubbles are and is getting great practice at reading with inflection which I just love. It’s so fun to hear J imitate the emotion and read happily, sadly, with disappointment or surprise, disgust, greed, embarassment, or even dismay, all depending on the story. That is such great practice! Willems does a great job of showing the emotion on the characters faces as well as changing the font to get the mood across (tiny font or gigantic font, italics, wiggly font, etc). Even my 3 year old can figure out it out, many times on his own!

And of course he’s getting great practice at how to interpret the punctuation as he reads. Often J can pick up the purpose of the punctuation or font type on his own from the context of the story. There have been times that he’s asked why the font was so tiny or why the exlamation mark and the question mark are together.  Another plus! The books encourage him to take the initiative so that he gets it right.

And did I mention that these books are funny? J and I just giggle the whole way through. I love that he is getting such great practice reading AND enjoying every second. I’m so thrilled that Willems wrote so many books in this series. We’ve probably read at least 10 different Elephant and Piggie books and have lots more to check out at the library.

Oh and his Knuffle Bunny series is really cute too. That’s actually the series that got us hooked on Mo Willems. Parents especially will find this series humorous. “Blaggle Flaggle” mom and dad, “Blaggle Flaggle!”

 **Willems also has a the Cat the Cat series (seems to be ideal for very early readers since he uses lots of repetition and use of the same word family throughout the book) and the Pigeon series (that will be next on our list to read through).

Great Library Finds for Fall

Sometimes our library visits are well organized, I’ve searched for books ahead of time, placed some holds, and researched authors.  Other times, it’s a random treasure hunt.  I love when you just happen to find great reads roaming the shelves! I have a feeling both of these authors will be place on our favorites list.

Fletcher and the Falling LeavesFletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson is wonderful.  Fletcher, an adorable little fox is concerned for his good friend when it begins shedding…. leaves.  He tries to come to his friend’s rescue to no avail.  Then he discovers that his friend still has beauty to share.  Fletcher is simply adorable.  The artwork by Tiphanie Beeke captures the story perfectly.  I love it!

South by Patrick McDonnell: Book CoverSouth by Patrick McDonnell is a picture book, perfect for a toddler or preschooler “reading” on their own or for mom and dad to join in.  A tiny bird sleeps through the last moment of fall, and finds alone when all his bird-family have flown south.  A friendly cat saves the day as they make the trip towards southern warmth together and the tiny bird reunites with his family. No words, just pictures.  A story beautifully told.

Enjoy storytime and then go outside and play in the falling leaves!

Activity for Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Michael Hall’s Perfect Square  is so cute, walking us through a happy little square’s journey.  On each page the square gets cut, torn, or crumpled and becomes something beautiful.

This book so easily transitions into a fun art activity, I just couldn’t resist!  I cut out 6 different squares, one for each color presented in the book.  I used a tissue box to trace the squares.  This size worked well for a 3 year old. Smaller pieces would’ve been more difficult for him to work with.  You will also need a marker, scissors, glue and large white construction paper (maybe a few pieces if your squares are big).

We walked through each page of the book, cutting and tearing as instructed. Then J glued down his own creation, trying to mimic the pictures in the book.  Most of the pictures he could complete on his own.  The fountain and bridge did require a little mommy-help.

J's version of water, mountain, bridge, park, fountain, and flowers

It does take awhile to complete each piece of square-art shown in the book.  I was actually surprised that J remained fully involved to the end.  I even tried to skip a page, worried he’d lose interest.  Well, he quickly pointed out that I missed a page and that he just must create that square

This is a great activity if you’re working through the shapes. It works best for square-day; it would likely cause some confusion on circle-day! :) It’s also a great review of colors since each page highlights a different color.

Heart of Giving: School Supplies

Free back to school clip art of black board with apple message.This is the time of year when many organizations are collecting school supplies for those in need.  Our church is one of the many.  We read through our church bulletin together and I explained the need to J.  He’s so excited about going to school with his backpack in hand and wanted other kids to have a backpack too.  The bulletin announcement had a list of sugggested supplies. J and I used that list to create our own picture list on ppt.  I read the item, typed it into clipart and J chose which  picture to use.  This made even list-making an activity he could participate in.

To add some math practice, include how many of each item is needed.  Then have your little one read the list and count the correct number to place in your shopping cart. Of course I didn’t think of that while making our own list!

We printed our picture list and headed to the store to make our purchases.  J “read” the list and called out the next item needed. Of course his favorite was crossing off each item with his highlighter! When we got home I set out all the supplies for him to fill the backpack with and it now sits by the door, waiting to be brought to church.  I plan on having J turn it in himself.

This is a great act of service to get kids involved in since they so easily relate.  Do a quick search for those collecting school supplies in your area, maybe a local church, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, etc.  As a former teacher I know all you really need to do is call up your local school, and ask them for a list of supplies needed.  There were always students in need on the first day of school.

Chalk Roads

While writing the last post on sidewalk chalk math, I realized that I never posted about our outdoor chalk roads (or at least I can’t find the post!). This was something J did practically every day just after his little brother was born.  It allowed for outdoor play, kept him centralized to one place, and kept him well occupied with his love for all things cars!

Overtime his road system became more and more elaborate, adding specific stores, airports, parks, and parking lots to the roads just made it all more fun.  He is also becoming more capable of drawing his own roads.

If it’s too hot outside, check out our indoor version of the activity, Homemade Highways!

 

Sidewalk Chalk Math

Yup, we’re still using sidewalk chalk A LOT.  It’s still one of my all-time favorite learning tools!  It’s a great (and easy) way to create multi-sensory learning. Remember hearing about learning styles back in college?  We all have our ideal method of learning (auditory, visual, kinesthetic/tactile).  The most efficient lessons are those that utilize each learning style.

Onto the activity…

This summer, J really got into tracing his footprints onto the sidewalk.  We would trace all sorts of fun paths that he would then follow while running, jumping, skipping (or giving it his best attempt!), pushing his lawn mower or riding his tricycle.

After a few weeks of this, I decided to add some learning to the mix :)

First, I added a letter to each footprint.  J loved singing the Alphabet song while following his footprint path. Next was numbers, logically! That’s when I realized this would be great practice at counting by twos, fives, and tens.  I placed one number in each footprint and got J to call out the numbers as he jumped across. He actually learned a cute counting song from one of the Leapfrog movies that takes you through ones, twos, fives and tens. It works perfect with his footpaths.

This incorporates auditory (singing), visual (written numbers) and kinesthetic (physical movement with each number).

Here’s some other activities to do with sidewalk chalk.

Homemade Sunbleached Puzzles

I came across this brilliant idea for sunbleached puzzles.  They were so easy to create and great entertainment (and practice) for a puzzle-lover. It was also a great little lesson in the sun’s effects.

I set out foam bath letters and numbers on dark construction paper and left them to sunbathe awhile on the deck.  J enjoyed watching the process, impressed by the magical results! We then brought it all inside to start putting it all together.  You can make this activity more difficult by adding extra foam letters to the choices.

This is great practice at letter recognition.  It’s also great way to help them learn how to spell their name, memorize their phone number or address. 

The link above used magnetic letters and shape blocks to create their puzzles.  You could also cut your own shapes out of colorful foam.