Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Book Giveaways!

Isn't it lovely that spring is in the air?  What a wonderful time of year.  We turn much of our attention to nature based themes this time of year in preschool. This past week we had so much fun learning all about fruits and vegetables.  It was so much fun to talk about the parts of plants that we commonly eat.  This book, "Tops and Bottoms" is a great story about a Hare who demonstrates that hard work pays off.  He tricks the lazy bear into letting him have certain parts of the crops and after doing all the work he gains the reward - food for his family.  Our preschoolers love this book every year.  It makes them giggle as we talk about the parts of the crops that each animal gets to keep.  As my springtime gift you I'm picking one lucky winner to have this book (or End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad, posted below) for your very own collection!  Keep reading for details.
"As usual, Stevens' animal characters, bold and colorful, are delightful. . . . It's all wonderful fun, and the book opens, fittingly, from top to bottom instead of from side to side, making it perfect for story-time sharing."-- Booklist
It is my absolute pleasure to introduce to you a new kind of book.  It's the first in a series of recipe-adventure stories created to teach and entertain young children. "Ideal for early child development, End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad uses the art of cooking, colorful illustrations and critical thinking lessons to make learning both educational and fun for kids. From counting and colors to food exploration and fun problem solving, this Kitchen Club Kids’ book gives parents a reason to start cooking and helping to establish healthy eating habits. As an added bonus, each story features a rhymey-good-timey recipe that can be prepared in the kitchen by cooks of any caliber."
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We had so much fun with this book in our preschool class. It paired perfectly with our conversation about fruit and our math theme of representing quantities and numbers with numerals.  We were able to talk about our favorite fruits, name the colors of the fruits and practice naming numerals and counting to ten.
After we read the book we continued our fruit conversation to the snack table where we prepared a fruit salad.  We didn't have the exact ingredients (and we forgot the kiwis) but the kids had a blast pouring all the fruits into the bowl, mixing them up and enjoying their snack. I am very pleased with the resulting positive conversations about certain fruits that were previously not appealing.  I'm so glad that the authors created a book to encourage healthy eating in this day and age of processed food.  Fine work Bread+Butter Publishing!  In addition to the previous book, I also have an "End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad book to give away to one lucky winner.  Check out the details below and enter to win it for your own library!
Follow the Rafflecopter instructions below for your chance to win one of these fantastic books.  There will be two winners.  The first will get their book pick and the second will get the one left over (hopefully their book pick too!).  Books will be mailed out on Monday April 21st (upon receipt via email of the winner's mailing address).  Join us for the fun and complete your entries between now and the 21st!  Good Luck!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Preschool Fruit Theme

What a fantastic day of school!  We've been learning so much lately in school.  Our theme today was "Fruit" (makes sense with the theme "Vegetables" on Tuesday).  We started with puzzles, a repeated activity we'll do for the rest of the year.  We read a few books about fruit including "End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad" a fantastic book that you'll find a post about (and a giveaway!) later today. We continued with our guided reading lesson working on level A pre-reader texts.  Wonder why we're working on these texts since we've been using decodable texts all year?  Check out V is for Vegetable for more clarity. 
Another super fun aspect of our day today was that on our property we have about 10 different fruit trees and plants.  We were able to go on a nature walk just in our little area and talk about each of the different plants.  We searched for flowers that were starting to pop out and talked about if we don't bother them the bees will pollinate the flowers and fruits will grow.  We talked about the different shapes and colors of the different leaves and flowers. 
After returning inside we talked about numeral 4.  There is a great little series of books I read from Scholastic called "Number Stories".  There is a number chant at the end of each book and the kids love it!  They get to clap and stomp and jump and turn all for the number of the day.  It's so much fun.  Check out our full lesson plans for the Preschool Fruit Theme here

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables was a great theme to do outside.  It seems Colorado weather is letting us go outside about every other week now.  Hopefully we'll be outside all of May!  We played in the sandbox, playhouse and with all the other outside toys at first.  It was rather hard to attract anyone to any of my fruit and vegetable activities, they were all having such fun!  At snack time (which lasted longer than 30 minutes, by the way) we sampled a variety of vegetables and fruits.  We started with the vegetables.  Everyone got one of something (snap peas, broccoli, carrots, etc.) and then we'd talk about the color, taste and texture.  Next we'd compare it to what we ate last.  After the vegetables were gone I pulled out the fruits and we repeated the exercise comparing fruits to vegetables and fruits to fruits.  It was so much fun!
One of our favorite activities was painting with broccoli.  It makes such a fantastic little paintbrush!  We also played with the kitchen quite a bit, making all sorts of fruit and vegetable concoctions.  Ask your toddler if they remember how to make a V in sign language.  V is for vegetables!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

V is for Vegetables

Learning about letter V is so much fun!  It makes our lips tickle to make the sound!  We started off our day working on puzzles, a fantastic tool to work on visual perception, fine-motor skills, thinking, reasoning and logic.  We're attempting to make the jump from 12 piece puzzles to 24 piece puzzles.  The 12 piece ones are still a challenge to a few of us so we'll keep working on those.  We also took the time today to let the preschoolers update the calendar to represent April (a little late I know).  It was a great counting and number placement activity for us.
Today we also started work on pre-reading books.  Pre-Reading skills are the skills that a person needs before they can become a reader.  Many of these skills are learned through natural introduction from the adults and “big kids” in a child’s life.  We have started more formal guided reading lessons using the Scholastic GRL A book set.  This set is helpful because there are multiple copies of each book so everyone can have their own to read.   There are a few goals I have in mind with these books:

·        Direction: Text goes from left to right.  We read books from left to right.
·        Concepts of print: How we handle books is a skill.  Can you hold it right side up?  Can you turn the pages the correct direction and only one page at a time?  Can you find the text on the page?  Do you know that the words tell the story?
·        Patterns: Literature often has rhythm and patterns in it.  These pre-readers are set up with repetitive text and a predictable picture-clue to the new vocabulary on each page.
·        Memorization: In order to be successful readers we have to memorize certain things like letter names and sounds.  The first step to this is memorizing the repetitive text.
·        Acting like a Reader: Reading is fun when we are successful.  It can also be really frustrating if we aren't being successful.  By memorizing the text and acting like a reader before being able to actually read the words we can be successful with just the basic skills.  Please don’t correct a child if they say the words differently than the text; praise them for their story telling and read the book again and again to them and they’ll pick up the memorization on their own.
·       Utilize our reading strategy known as "Get Your Mouth Ready".  While pointing at the words we get our mouth ready to say the beginning sound of the word.  Even if we can't yet successfully decode the word we can remember the rhythm and rhyme and be prompted by the beginning sound.

Find a set of free printable pre-reading books here.
Based on our theme we also read tons of books about vegetables, including our favorite "Tops and Bottoms".  It's a fantastic book about the parts of each plant that are considered food.  Be sure to check out the blog for upcoming posts for a book giveaway of this book and one other!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

TouchMath Pre-K - Learning Our Numerals

We've finally reached the point in our school year where we start talking about numerals.  I believe it is important that other skills such as number sense, sorting, classifying, graphing and patterning are developed before we talk about the written symbol of numbers.  I'm so glad that the TouchMath  Pre-K curriculum follows this same development of skills. 
Our preschoolers are LOVING learning about the numerals.  The TouchMath Pre-K curriculum covers them very well and it adds so much fun when we utilize a few extra tools as well.  One of these extra sets we utilize are called Numeral Texture Cards.  They are so awesome!  They have a large printed numeral with different textures on the touch points (the circles that help us count).  The opposite side is a printed black numeral with the standard touch point(s).  My preschoolers (and toddlers) have loved sorting through these cards, feeling the different textures, tracing the shape of the numeral with their fingers, counting the touch points, and saying the numeral.

Another set we use is called TouchNumerals with Base 10.  These are great 6 inch foam numerals with foam TouchPoints to put on the numerals.  We count, place TouchPoints, mix them up and do it again.  I don't let my toddlers play with this set as they could easily be ruined by biting, but it's such a versatile set that I use it with my Kindergartner doing addition and subtraction and will easily use it up through multiplication and division.

We also utilize the TouchMath Adventures Touching/Counting app for the iPad.  It is a very simple app designed to teach a very basic (but sometimes not so simple) concept.  It simply teaches each numeral name and how to count the TouchPoints on each numeral.  We spend one day focused on each numeral 0-9 and this app is fantastic reinforcement of what we're learning.  It's not rocket science, but it is perfect for preschoolers learning the numerals.

We have been having so much fun learning this year and look forward to finishing out the year strong with a sense of representing quantities and numbers with the written form: Numerals.

*Please note, I was not paid for this review and I have purchased all of these products myself.  They are simply items I love!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Planting Seeds

We had so much fun in school today talking about planting seeds.  We made letter Y watches, played in a black bean plants sensory bin and read lots of books about planting seeds, gardening and bugs.  We had some fun art today: gluing seeds on paper and apple stamping.  We also planted pea seeds to take home and grow.  We had so much fun!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Picnics

We had a great day talking all about picnics and the letter Y.  W and Y are hard letters for preschoolers to learn.  The sound for W is pronounced at the beginning of the name Y, which makes it tricky. 
We read oodles of books about picnics and bugs at picnics, we enjoyed a picnic snack, made yo-yo's and learned about the numeral 1.