Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Animal Friends and Reading

This morning was so much fun playing with our Animal Friends theme!  We read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" which is a perfect text to read the word "at".  We also read "Big Red Barn" and found all of the a's.  We had tons of fun coloring our A watches from the Moffatt Girls, playing on Starfall.com and working on our Amazing Action Alphabet activity page and handwriting page.
In math we had oodles of fun learning about MORE and LESS.  We watched a few short clips of Sesame Street characters explaining the concept and then got to work on our game.  This is a great activity to encourage identifying more and less.  If you don't have flip chips you can easily spray paint one side of a poker chip and achieve the same affect.
video
On Monday we had a monumental reading lesson in our morning class.  Today's monumental reading lesson was in the afternoon class.  The morning class will get this lesson in about 3 weeks, though it'll be a year long lesson.  It was such an awesome lesson that I have no pictures.  But I do have a video to walk you through it.  The video is 9 minutes in length but shows you the key parts of our reading lesson.  Please watch it to know how to support your reader at home or, if you are a teacher, watch to see the strategy I teach in my classroom.  (The video was too large and had to be split into two sections, find both below.)

video

video
In math we learned the rules to the game Compare. This game is identical to the card game "War" but sounds much nicer to call it "Compare".  Using a set of 20 cards each with a quantity of stickers 1-10 (done twice to make twenty cards) we split the deck evenly.  Each player turns over their top card at the same time and the person with more stickers gets to take both cards.  Continue play until your deck is gone.  Then pick up the cards you "won" and repeat.  This is a fantastic game to be playing at home!
Preschool B enjoyed drawing and writing with colored pencils today and we had a fantastic time doing the "Freeze Dance" during music.  It was a great week of learning!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Opposites and Animal Friends

We had a fantastic day in preschool today learning all about the letter A.  In our morning class we talked all about opposites.  We talked about black/white, wet/dry, hard/soft and many other opposites.  Start pointing out opposites to your preschooler throughout your daily life. As we started learning about the letter A today we played on Starfall.com and played with the Amazing Action Alphabet.  The army ants take away the alligators apple, making him very angry!  Learning the letter A is the beginning of reading in preschool.  It's the first time that kids put their reading skills to a real challenge.  Write the word "at" or "am" on a piece of paper or a white board.  Ask your child if they know how to read the word.  Guide them to do the 4 things good readers do: Look, Point, Say, Listen.  Some kids at this stage show that they need more work and play with the letters before they are ready to read and that is perfectly ok!  Other kids are ready to start reading with a bang.  You can quickly identify where your child is at in order to set reasonable goals.  All children should be reading the A book 3x per night, regardless of if they have it memorized or if they are actually reading the text.  Acting like a reader is being a reader!
video
We continued our theme of opposites with art where we colored with wet and dry chalk.  Our math lesson is continuing on the counting and number sense topic.  Each child came home with a ring of 4 cards and 4 clothes pins.  They are to hold up one card and find the clothes pin with the same number of stickers.  They attach the clothes pin to the card and then move on to the next card.
I encouraged the language, "One is the same as one.  Two is the same as two." and so on.
video
In our afternoon class we explored the theme of Animal Friends with our new book, "Big Red Barn" (I think that's the title....).  Regardless, it gave us a fantastic opportunity to read through the book looking for adult (capital) A's and princess a's.  We also read about animals in our encyclopedias.  
For math today we made our cards for "Compare" (alternately known as "War", but "Compare" sounds so much more appropriate for preschool....doesn't it?).  Though we made the cards we didn't get past sorting them into sets, so PLEASE make sure the cards in the pocket in the binder come back to school on Wednesday.  For math homework tonight your preschooler can find matching sets.  Spread the cards all out and find both cards that have an equal number of stickers (8 is the same as 8) and stack pairs.  If you're feeling adventurous you could teach how to play Compare.  We will spend plenty of time playing it on Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Letter T with the Dentist and Interest Led Reading

We had so much fun in our morning class today!  We started the day with the puppets and toothbrushes.  We had a silly time talking about where we use our toothbrushes (On our hair?, NO!).  The kids got a kick out of brushing the puppets teeth.  We then moved into our shared reading activity.  We reviewed all the things good readers do and read the "T Book" on the SmartBoard.  I love reading together that way because I can highlight letters and everyone can see what we're doing.  Next we read the dentist book together.  For this activity every child had their own copy of the text (it's in their binder, they get to keep it at home!).  I introduced my magic tape that can help us identify letters.  The letter "T" can be quite confusing.  There is a unique design that we call the "Princess t" to identify it.  It gets confusing with a capital "J" but they'll pick it up as they identify more letters.  With our magic tape we highlighted all the T's we could find on the cover and then a t or two on the following pages as we read it.  As you're reading to your children encourage them to point out the letters they know and what sounds they make.
 We had a ton of fun with our math lesson today.  It was our first time playing "Hop Along the Path" a game we'll play often during the school year.  The idea is to hop from object to object while counting.  It's the first step in learning how pieces move in board games, helps with counting one-to-one and is a FANTASTIC large motor activity!  Art was also a ton of fun because we had tiger teeth that needed a cleaning.  We "cleaned" them with toothbrushes and "toothpaste" (white paint).
 Our afternoon class got to look through the dentist book today as well.  We marked many different Ts as we found them.  It was really exciting to have our first day to pick our own theme to read about.  They thumbed through the encyclopedias and found a page that looked interesting.  Then they would read the words they knew or point out the letters and their sounds to their sock monkey.
This is such a cute example of what they do with their encyclopedias.  The volume is really quiet, so if you turn up your speakers be sure to turn them down after :). 
video
 We also played the "Hop Along the Path" game today.  The afternoon kids picked up the process of standing in a line, waiting your turn, moving up and going when appropriate quite well.  For art we played with do-a-dot markers and wrote words or letters to describe what we drew.  Their journals will reflect their wonderful growth in learning throughout the year!
If you turned up your speakers for the previous video be sure to turn them down for this one.  It's a little "Hop Along the Path" fun!
video

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall, Autumn and the Dentist

What a wonderful day of school.  We had so much fun talking about the letter T and how the season fall will soon be beginning.  We played with paper leaves by tossing them in the air over and over and saying, "It's Fall!"  The kids had a complete blast!  With the introduction of the letter T they each now have a new Amazing Action Alphabet mini reader book in their binders.  Be sure to have them read it 3 times a day.  We loved reading them to our sock monkeys today in class.  In art we colored a tooth brushing chart, be sure to use it this week and reward your preschooler with the certificate at the bottom of the page.  They also received 4 tooth picks in art today to make them into two Ts, a "Mommy T" and a "Baby T".  Have them recreate them at home!  During math we played with equal quantities up to 5.  Please see the details below on how to play this homework.
In our afternoon class we talked about the letter T with the Dentist theme.  We read in our encyclopedias about the human body with muscles and bones.  We marked words we can read or simply the letter T.  Please read this page with your preschooler tonight or tomorrow as their homework.  Let them point out additional ts or read the words they highlighted (and any additional ones they can read).  This strategy is called companion reading which gives kids a way to access text they can't yet read on their own.  In math today we also played with creating equal quantities.  Each preschooler received their own paper with two circles on it.  We used tokens (poker chips) to put an equal number in each circle.  If they had 2 tokens on the left side they needed to have 2 tokens on the right side. These papers went home as homework tonight.  Using pennies or other small tokens recreate the game.  Let them put some on the left hand side and then an equal number on the right hand side.  PLEASE encourage children to MOVE the token as they are counting it.  Perhaps they have 3 tokens in one circle, as they count them they move the token from the top of the circle to the bottom of the circle.  This reinforces one-to-one counting which nearly all of my preschoolers are missing.  If your child is 3 years old only allow quantities up to 5 in each side.  If they are 4 years old you may allow quantities up to 10 per side.
 We had a fantastic time talking about letter t saying /t/ and not /tu/ if you open your mouth after /t/ to make an /u/ sound the tiger might accidentally bite off his finger!  We loved our reading groups and enjoyed helping T the Tiger brush his teeth in art.  After our 'teeth' are dry I'll send them home!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Feelings

I LOVE the feelings theme in preschool.  It's such an important topic and there are so many fantastic resources!

Preschool A homework today includes 3 mini pre-reader books.  Simply cut them into fourths and staple them together.  Read them to your child while you demonstrate the skills that good readers do (look, point, say sounds, listen).  Read it over and over and your child will soon "read" it back to you.  Acting like a reader is the first step to reading success.  So, yes, even though they are memorizing the pages it is important to encourage it and go through the process with them!
 Today we looked at the different emotions and faces we make with mirrors.  We used our mirrors to help us find the letter M around the room and we watched a fun little video of The Count counting different emotions.  We talked about how colors can represent emotions and then finger painted with the two colors that seemed to fit our moods.
 We had fun playing with the emotion bean bags and bowls, matching colors and emotions.  We practiced our beginning handwriting with our Amazing Action Alphabet handwriting notebook.  Continue to practice the correct holding of a writing tool at home!  We also had tons of fun talking about how many fingers we have on each hand.  Believe it or not, many in this class didn't know how many and needed to count.  Sometimes our count got off before we got to 5.  Help them count their fingers over the next few days to make sure we point at one finger and say "one" the next finger while we say "two" and so forth.  We're trying to get the one-to-one correspondence counting more consistent.

This afternoon we had quite a delightful preschool B.  We had fun reading and hunting for letters in our encyclopedias.  We talked about how people have feelings, but houses and chairs don't.  That's why we started with reading about people. We also had the opportunity to read books to our sock monkeys and work in small reading groups together.
 In math we talked about ordinal numbers.  It's a tricky concept, but I think they've almost got it.  "First" is an easy idea because we use it all the time in our every day vocabulary.  Getting to second and third is fairly okay.  "Fourth" and "fifth" are harder to understand.
We also watched a movie today.  It is Kira Willey's "Colors" video.  It was fun to watch the lyrics on the screen and see the kids point out the word "the".  We also painted with two colors indicating our emotions and then wrote and drew about it.  I was impressed that nearly everyone was holding their pencil correctly.  We had such a fun day! I apologize about the slightly stained hands.  I promise I bought the washable paint,  It certainly doesn't seem that washable though!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Manners

What a fantastic day of learning!  We continued working with the letter M today and had a fantastic group reading lesson with the M book on the SmartBoard.  We each took turns reading the pages of the book and demonstrating the skills that good readers do.

 1. Good Readers Look at the Letters
2. Good Readers Point to the Letters
 3. Good Readers Say the Letter Sounds
4. Good Readers Listen to the Sounds They Made
 Keep practicing using all of those skills when you read your beginning reader M book from the Amazing Action Alphabet.  We also had a fantastic conversation with a few books and posters guiding our discussion about manners.  We talked about how different actions make us feel (hitting=sad, sharing=happy, etc.).  The kids LOVED their Popsicle stick happy and sad faces and used them to show me how characters in books were feeling and how they would feel if a particular thing happened to them.  We had our first handwriting lesson today about how to hold a pencil.  We practiced the chant from the back of their name writing page to pinch the pencil and put it into place.  PLEASE help your child hold their writing tools in the correct tripod grip.  If you need me to show it to you please ask!  We had so much fun with our math lesson today.  It involved M&M's and captured their interest quickly.  We talked about what "the same" is.  I had one plate and I gave one to EMan.  Do we have the same number?  Etc. After we all had plates we got mini M&M's (3 each) and talked about how we had the same amount.  Color is hard to separate at this age for this concept.  I could see their little brains thinking, "I have green, she had brown, we do not have the same."  We worked through it a bit and understand that it's just an introduction that we'll revisit for understanding later.  One activity we did was hold up 2 (or 1 or 3) fingers on each hand and touched them to each other.  If they all had one to touch they were the same.  If any fingers were left wiggling they weren't the same.
 Preschool B also worked on handwriting today for the first time.  It took unexpectedly much longer than I had anticipated.  We discussed the proper way to hold a pencil and the different lines of the writing grid.  Remember that to aid kids in writing their writing paper has a top line (sky line), a bottom line (grass line), and a middle dotted line (branch line).  This helps us learn to size the different parts of the letters correctly.  Today we only practiced writing letter M.  We did both capital M and lowercase m.  If you work on handwriting at home (on a whiteboard or on paper) please encourage writing the letter m for the next week.
We also worked on the skills that good readers do.  We talked about how we make the sounds of the letters and if we blend the letter sounds together our ears can hear the word we're reading.  We'll be going at a slower pace with learning the alphabet and reading than I had originally intended.  Please look for an email soon with the new calendar and an explanation of details.  We need to make sure we have these basics down solid before we move on!  We had such a blast with math today.  Similar to the morning class we had mini chocolate chips (white/dairy free chocolate of course) and talked about "More" and "Less".  Zero is an interesting part of our conversation as it seemed difficult to understand more and less in the terms of has something and has nothing.  Use the vocabulary "More", "Less", and "Equal" for the next couple weeks around the house to help kids fully grasp this concept.

Have a great Labor Day Monday!  I look forward to seeing everyone again next Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Am Special

First off, THANK YOU to all the wonderful families of Little Adventures Preschool.  Yesterday was a busy day learning about the program that CJ gets to attend on Monday's and I appreciate the willingness to allow the one time change to school being on Tuesday.

Today we had a blast learning the letter M.  We talked, sang, danced, and traced letter M.  We learned all about M the Moose and how he just loves his Meatballs!  Be sure to grab the flip chart and review letter M at home with your preschooler.  Also, take out the alphabet cards (they were in the binder, PLEASE take them out) and display letter M somewhere.  I added magnets to the back and stuck them on a whiteboard.  Do what works for you!
 We also made fun phonics headbands from the Moffatt Girls.  The kids loved wearing the headband/crown all day.  For art we traced over our names with a paintbrush and glue and added glitter to them.  It was a fun and sparkly activity!  We spent lots of time talking about our "Star Student" posters.  We talked about how everyone is unique and special.  We had fun finding out favorite colors and how many people are in each family.  We hung the posters up in our classroom and will return them in a few weeks.
 We practiced the sign language for letter M and had an introduction to hand bells lesson.  Boy were those loved!  Check out our facebook page for a fun video.

This afternoon we got closer to being settled in to a groove.  I'm still sorting out the details of what each child needs, but we're really close!  We had a fantastic time listening as each child shared about themselves on their posters.  They talked about the photos and the pictures they drew and it was fun to compare favorite colors.  We read our new book "The Day the Sheep Came" and worked on highlighting letters and words we could recognize in the book.  It's a fun story about how the sheep is a different animal, but they are all barnyard animals and like to play together.  It tied in nicely with our conversation about how each of us is special.  We worked in our reading teams today for small group lessons.  Please check your child's binder for the homework.  There aren't any worksheets, but there are reading books.  You should be reading each book 3 times a night.  Please focus on the letters we've already talked about in class (M, T, A, and possibly S, B).  Help your child remember their names and sounds by reading the flip chart story and supplementing with anything else you have at home. PLEASE take the flip charts out of the binders and keep them at home.  We don't need them here and they are in the way in the binder.
We had an AWESOME lesson in math today.  It simply didn't get photographed :(.  We talked about the word "SAME" in relation to quantities.  It took a theatrical teacher, but I think they finally got to the point that we all agreed that 1 is the same as 1, 2 is the same as 2, 3 is the same as 3, and so forth.  Then our new vocabulary word "EQUAL" came into play.  We patted our legs as we chanted, "Equal means the same" over and over.  Ideally, tomorrow we can build off that concept and talk about more and less.  It's a fun lesson to do with the kids, they always love it.
We also got to do glitter for art today.  I wrote the kids names on word strips and they traced the letters with glue and added glitter.  Music was quite interesting today as they were allowed to play with all the musical toys we have and they formed their own band.  It was fun to watch as they organized themselves to "play" and "be quite" at the same time.  What smart kids!