Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preschool Manners

We had such a fun day learning about manners and reviewing the letter M today.  One really fun activity that I do with the kids is give them magnifying glasses and search all over the room for the letter we are currently learning.  Then we use highlighter tape to mark the letters we find.  It's an important stage for preschoolers to start pointing out letters that they recognize in their environment and this encourages them to do it. 
 We followed the Preschool Manners lesson plans and read some stories with characters that acted with and without manners.  We learned how when people act with manners it helps everyone feel happy.  When we don't use manners it makes us feel sad.  As we read the stories kids held up their smiley face or sad face to match how the characters were making them feel.
 We enjoyed popcorn, hot dogs and peppers for lunch today.  We're working every day on serving ourselves and pouring the correct amount of water into our cups.  We're doing fairly well.
 After snack we acted out different situations for a photography book of manners that I'll be putting together tonight.  When you act different situations out and take a picture of it children relate and understand the concept a little more comprehensively.

 As we continue with our math curriculum we're starting to work on one-to-one correspondence as well as equality in sets.  Just matching one baseball with one glove, or one flower to one vase does the trick.
Enjoy the long weekend with your preschooler, and happy learning!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Toddler Manners

We had a fantastic day in tot school today.  We were talking all about manners and how we can be good friends.  We talked about sharing and how we can treat our friends. 
 The letter of the week is M.  We learned all about M the Moose in the Amazing Action Alphabet.  We traced the letter M and made M Watches from the Moffatt Girls.  Most kids loved sporting their watches all day long.  Encourage your little one to find the letter M throughout the house in children's books and on signs in the environment.
 I laminate the back of the watches and add Velcro as a closure.  To laminate just the back of a page I laminate two pages at a time, printed side facing each other, with a blank page in between the pages.  They are slightly more durable this way and yet they are still able to be colored.
 We enjoyed the shape stamps and stamp pads outside in the nice warm weather today.
 We played with a letter M stamp and practiced tracing it with our fingers.  We talked about the color of the ink pads as well as the shapes we were playing with.  There was also plenty of book reading, sandbox and play house fun as well as riding bikes.  It was a great day!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Introduction to Preschool Reading

There are many philosophies behind teaching reading.  I honestly believe that young children (3 years and up) can learn to read.  In fact, I've seen it.  Not every child will be ready to read that young as every person learns in a different way and at their own personal pace.  I like to take the benefit of the doubt and go ahead and teach them in a way that builds upon itself.  I use the Amazing Action Alphabet materials and I don't believe there is a better program out there.

I also don't teach the alphabet in order.  I teach it in an order that facilitates reading.  Teach the letters that make the highest amount of short vowel decodable words in the shortest amount of time.  The order is as follows: MTASBHCILPFJONDGURKEWYVXZQ

All of my curriculum's follow this order throughout the year.  Generally I teach one letter per week, 3 new letters in a row and then have a review week.

Today's introduction of the letter M and how to read are crucial.  The understanding that the symbols on the page represent sounds that we say and have meaning is a HUGE concept for little kids to understand.  It's the leap into reading.  I love the mini readers from the Amazing Action Alphabet because the creator of them completely understands this concept.  The first book has the letter M, and only the letter M.
Children should practice over and over doing what good readers do.
A Clue Card from the School Tools Preschool Pack
Good readers use their eyes to look at the letters.  Their fingers to point to the letters.  Their lips to say the sound of the letter.  And their ears to hear the sound of the letter and eventually to hear the blended sound of multiple letters.
 Practice this at home in many different ways.  I like to use different pointing tools throughout the year to engage kids in the hard work of beginning reading.  We're off to a successful start to the school year and I hope you are, too!  Happy reading!

P.S.  We have a new class pet.  It's a cricket that was hanging out in our classroom on our blocks.  It was singing so much that we had to stop everything and catch it :)
P.S.S. I apologize for the poor photo quality.  My camera died and until my new one arrives I only have my iPod for taking photos.  New camera should arrive Friday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

School Tools

This morning we read "Wild About Books" and started introducing the idea of reading.  It went something like this: "In a book there are often pictures and words.  We can read the words to learn the story and enjoy the book.  Today the words may look like a bunch of crazy symbols all put together, but this year in preschool we're going to learn all the letters, what sounds they make, and how to read the words so we can enjoy the books!"
 I look forward to getting into a letter of the week next week (letter M) and showing them what reading really looks like.  Stay tuned for more reading lessons geared towards Preschoolers just learning their alphabet.
 We continued our work on fine motor skills today with tearing tissue paper, gluing it to our papers and cutting all sorts of construction paper.
 In math we talked about the quantity of 2 and played a game where we were matching socks.
 Our music class was about volume today.  We loved shaking maracas to the music. We matched how loudly we shook the maracas to how loudly the music was playing. We had a great day and we look forward to next week where we can really start digging into reading lessons!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School Tools, Tot School - A fine motor and introductory day

Do you have a toddler at home?  I consider toddlers around 15 months and up to 3 years old.  I love doing tot school and have found some great ways to do it.  I think toddlers benefit from some time during the day that provides them with multiple experiences that broaden their horizon.  I like to do theme based days so that the vocabulary I use is consistent from one activity to the next.  I also like to do tot school with a number of toddlers so they can learn to explore with other kids and watch how another child similar in age might do something.  This also encourages them to try something they haven't done before.

Today was the first day of our 10 month school year at Little Adventures Tot School and boy did we have fun!  Our theme for the day was School Tools and you can find all the lesson plans, ideas and printables here.  All activities are geared toward toddler aged children.  Last year I had 15 months and up kiddos and this year I have 24 months and up, so the days are looking different already.  We will be focusing on certain fine motor skills throughout the year and my favorite skill to start with is ripping tissue paper.  Being able to rip paper is a great start to being able to hold a pencil, crayon or a pair of scissors.
 There was quite a bit of free exploration of materials today.  We were building farms and barns (the kids idea) as well as towers with the blocks.
 Around 10 am we were able to head outside and enjoy snack time.  It's great to do snack time outside and give your toddler an open cup.  If they happen to spill the grass gets a little drink.  Thinking through different opportunities like this provides toddlers with the chance to practice harder skills but gives you the piece of mind that you don't have to clean up their mess after.
 Today we colored our names with colored pencils.  I specifically used colored pencils to start showing kids how to hold a pencil.  I put triangle pencil grips on a few different colors and let them at it. The older kids that will be turning 3 soon practiced holding the grip pinched in two fingers with three fingers under.  The younger toddlers were shown that they can hold onto the triangle but there wasn't too much instruction involved.  Mostly just coloring on their name that was printed in bubble letters in their art notebooks.
 We continued our fine motor practice with g/f play dough and scissors.  I love letting kids play with play dough!  When you add scissors to it the fun really gets going as they snip, smoosh, and create new masterpieces.
 Reading is another important thing to do every day with your toddlers (and your younger and older kids as well).  We read oodles of books today about school tools and going to school and how our mommies love us even when we are in different places.  We started pointing out colors in the different books and practiced pointing at the picture on the page and the words on the page.  These are fun games that are essentially the first reading lessons for toddlers.  When you're reading at home start encouraging your child to show you where the picture is, where the word is, or where a certain color appears.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Let the Preschool Begin!

We started preschool today with our playgroup friends here at Little Adventures Preschool.  It was so much fun!  We started the day learning about how to come in and what to do first thing in the morning.  I always start our day with puzzles.  At the beginning of the year they are peg puzzles (like what's pictured below).  Toward the end of the year we get into more complicated 24 or 48 piece puzzles.
 We learned how to sit and listen to a story and also practiced looking through our own books.  It's important that preschoolers start handling books correctly.  Hand them the book upside down and backwards and see if they switch it around to open it up.  Then work on turning the pages one at a time and pointing out the words and pictures on each page.  As you read stories to your preschooler you should be pointing to the words you're reading to demonstrate the connection between print and language.
 We hardly had any spills in snack time today!  As the first day of learning how to pour their own water and serve their own food they did fantastic!  We work with the preschoolers to understand how much quantity to pour in their cup and to serve on their plate.  It takes time and practice, so we do this every day.
 After snack is a fantastic time to work on self help skills.  We clear the table by taking all our own items over to the sink.  We'll work on everyone washing their own spot at the table after we've had a few more days in preschool.
 I printed each child's name in bubble font and glued it inside their notebook for the school year.  Today we explored crayons, pencils and markers while decorating their name.  Many kids chose to trace the letters of their name as well as color the page around their name.  We talked a lot about pinching your writing tool with your thumb and first finger and letting the other three fingers rest underneath it.
 We jumped right into math time with learning about the quantity of 1 with The Napping House.  In my preschool pack for Welcome and Back to School there are oodles of printables to facilitate all of these lessons, including pieces to act out the Napping House on a felt or magnetic board. The kids love this story and we read it twice in class.
We talked about sound throughout the whole day.  Listening to the different sounds in our environment helps us start listening to language and the pieces in language.  The beginning stages of reading and understanding words and sentences are based in this listening to sound.  We certainly enjoyed the free play with all the instruments at the end of the day.
I'm so thrilled to be back in school and I think we had a fantastic first day!  There is so much that little ones can learn in the early years.  If you're interested in teaching your own little at home or need a supplement for your day care or preschool check out the Aug-Dec preschool pack bundle of all the lesson plans you'll need to get your littles off on the right foot. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Setting Up for Kindergarten

Wow!  We had our first day of Homeschool Kindergarten here with CJ and it was a blast!

Here's a little insight to our Homeschool Schedule for Kindergarten and how I got set up.

Remember last year in Preschool B how we utilized subject cards to identify what we're going to do when?  Preschool is just the next step in the same concept.

To me, kinder is going to be an hour a day of instruction. (20 minutes scripture study, 20 minutes reading lessons, 20 minutes math lessons)  As the year goes on we may add more time to each of the subjects as needed.  For the rest of the day there will be plenty of learning going on, just not teacher directed.

We've added a couple of subject areas this year.  Download the Kindergarten Subject Cards here for FREE.
Or hour of instruction time goes as follows:

Pledge of Allegiance


  • Prayer
  • Scripture Story
  • Article of Faith - We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which guides our scripture learning.  Before we work on memorizing passages of scripture we're going to work on memorizing the founding elements of our beliefs called the Articles of Faith.
  • Read to Mom
  • Mom Read to CJ
  • Narration
  • Answering Questions
  • Writing
  • Touch Math
  • MathUSee Video and Activity
Our schedule is posted on CJ's large magnetic board (just an oil pan from Walmart for $12 and screwed to the wall). Though they aren't very fancy you can download them for FREE here. During our 1 hour instruction time he gets to pick the order that we do the Math and Reading lessons.  For that reason there are two copies of the math and reading cards.
There will also be times during the day that CJ has to spend on his own (like when I'm doing preK with EMan).  During this independent learning time CJ has the opportunity to set his own schedule.  This is where the subject cards come in.  He can pick which ones he wants to do for the day and visually make a plan for his independent time.  The list of ideas (on the download above) is as follows:

On Your Own:
  • Scriptures
    • Scripture Stories
    • Article of Faith
  • Reading
    • Audio Books
    • Books
    • Magazines
  • Writing
    • Journal
    • Write books or stories
    • Write cards or letters
  • Math
    • Touch Math
    • Math U See
  • Art
    • Art Cards
  • Computer
    • Typing
  • Plan ideas
    • Write ideas down
  • Clean up
It will take a few weeks to teach him what each of these activities means and what his responsibilities around the activities are.  For yourself you can set the limits and expectations that work for your home.  

The third aspect of Homeschooling Kindergarten will be learning together at different times of the day.  This can include:
  • Making Snacks, Baking or Cooking
  • Music of any sort
  • Science of any sort
  • and other interests that pop up
During CJ's independent time he has the opportunity to write/draw any ideas that he'd like to do together at a later time in the day.  This will hopefully foster an opportunity to contemplate and make a plan of attack so we can be focused on what's important to him.

The last aspect of Homeschool Kindergarten that we'll be doing is extracurricular activities.  The recreation center opportunities that we're taking advantage of this year include: swim lessons, drama camp, and possibly other rec center activities such as gymnastics, wrestling, and art.  Other activities that we'll be doing with our friends will include field trips, nature walks and hikes, and learning to ride a bike.  It's also possible that he will be starting piano lessons, I'm just not certain how to fit that all in :)

Remember that all of these things take time.  Today was our first Homeschooling Kindergarten day and we simply spent an hour and a half setting up the basic one hour learning session and practicing it very slowly.  Each day will get faster and we can add new elements as the time presents itself.

Happy learning!