Monday, December 29, 2014

Thank You Notes, Snowmen, Sun and Space

What a fun and snowy day of school!  We had a great time this morning in preschool A.  We got to work right away on writing thank you notes.  We read stories about being thankful and discussed some of the things we were particularly thankful for from the holidays.  I LOVE the thank you note template in the Preschool Thank You Notes pack.  They are perfect for this age to practice tracing and writing their own names.  I wrote down the item(s) they were thankful for and then quoted their "why" they were thankful for it.  They turned out super cute!
 Because we spent so much time working on writing today we also had mini music breaks to run around, jump and dance.  I'm sure we sang "Once there was a Snowman" about a zillion times.  We had a fun art project today.  Using a white crayon we learned to draw snowmen with basic shapes.  The kids did fantastic!  We had only a little bit of time for math and used it playing with the pattern blocks.
 This afternoon was so busy I didn't get very many pictures.  We started off right away drawing snowmen just like the morning class.  Then we moved on to writing thank you notes.  For preschool B I challenged these kids to write their whole note.  I gave them cards to write on and then wrote out their thank you note on a whiteboard.  They copied it letter by letter.  It was a challenging and stretching activity for many of them, but they did quite excellent.  We learned about letter U today and talked about the sun and the solar system.  Be sure to read their encyclopedia WITH them (remember they read the small words).  We didn't get to any of our Ready2Read activities today but we did work on baggy books (review and new).  We also played guess my secret rule with the pattern blocks at the end of the day.
We had a delightful day, remember NO SCHOOL WEDNESDAY, I'll see you next Monday!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Holidays

We had a great day in preschool yesterday.  We started the day playing puzzles and reviewing the letter J.   We talked about the different holidays that happen this time of year: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Winter Solstice and New Year's.  We read tons of books about each one.  Then we made popcorn strings to feed the birds, a winter solstice activity.  The kids did fantastic with this activity, and I think they LOVED it.
 I had pre-threaded needles for each child with a bead tied at the end (to act as a stopper).  They are real sewing needles and it was explained that if you poke your fingers it will hurt.  They did really well "sewing" the popcorn into a string with only a few pricked fingers.  I was actually quite impressed by the fine motor skills they demonstrated.  We then played a fun game making a lantern the "sun" and rolling the Earth (beach ball) around the sun.  We talked about it in terms of birthdays.  The earth goes around 1 time and then it's your birthday again.  I explained that the new year is a party to celebrate that the earth has gone around the sun one full time again, sort of like a birthday party for the earth.
 We learned to play dreidel and the kids loved it.  I changed the rule for "Hay" to just be "take one" since "take half" is to far advanced for 3 year olds.  They spun the dreidel and moved their coins (toy money) appropriately.  In art we colored pictures of our holiday decorations and played with our new alphabet stamps.  We had a little time at the end to play instruments to holiday music.  What a great morning!
Preschool B started off with reading groups. We worked on baggy books only today.  Please encourage your child to read you the books in their baggy each day.  Return baggy books on the 29th and I'll send home new ones since we'll then miss school on the 31st.
 In art we drew pictures and wrote about what we drew.  I'm encouraging them to draw and write about things in their life, such as parties, decorations and activities that are interesting to them right now.  It would be great if you would encourage similar drawing and writing at home.  Maybe a journal is a good stocking stuffer?
 This class also learned to play dreidel and they thought it was the most fun game ever!  It's a fairly simple addition/subtraction game and they get to play with coins and spin a dreidel, what could be more fun than that?
I hope you all have a fantastic holiday week!  No school next week at all, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ocean Animals and Interest Led Learning

What a wonderful day of school!  Today we learned all about the letter J this morning with our Ocean Animals theme.  We used the phonics headbands from the Moffatt Girls and added "tentacles" to the back of them.  It was so much fun to dance around as jelly fish.  We worked on reading the letter J and the J book.  We also spent some time going back to the beginning and reading together all the mini readers.  It seems that a couple of kids are stuck at about the B book.  When you are working on reading at home please back up and read the books that your child is attempting with most success and leave the other letter books (with more letters) for study later.  Next we worked on art, coloring J the Jellyfish and adding tentacles to her.  We also drew our favorite sea animals and practiced writing our names.  In math we continued graphing.  It was a super fun day!
 Preschool B had an interest led day today.  We started with our encyclopedias and each found a topic that was interesting.  I then pulled out kid books on the same topic to give them a larger browsing library.  We worked in our Ready2Read (congrats to the kids who passed of Level 1 Unit 4) and we worked with the letter G.  Make sure when your child is reading the g book that they make the /g/ sound in their throat.  For art we drew and wrote about what we had looked at in reading time.  There were space themes, animal themes, transportation themes and knights and dragons.  We spent our math time building shapes and building with shapes.  It was wonderful!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good Reader on the iPad

SHHH!  Please don't spill the beans!  It's a Christmas surprise!

I'm setting a few things up so we're ready to rumble Christmas morning.  The boys will be getting a new iPad mini for Christmas.  Our iPad 1 has near reached the end of its life and this was an upgrade we decided would most benefit our home.  As I have been playing with the different activities I want to set up on it for the boys I have learned about so many options that will revolutionize our homeschooling.  The boys will have zero access to TV and movies on their iPad.  There are folders set up for each subject with apps appropriate to their developmental level.

Apple has their iOS set up so that children younger than 13 can obtain their own Apple ID which is awesome with their new "Family Sharing" system.  I can download the apps and music that I've already purchased onto their iPad.  It's so sweet!
Onto what I'm really pumped about right now: Good Reader.  Good reader is an app that will seriously revamp our homeschooling.  No longer will I need to print out a zillion pages from the different digital curriculum I have.  Now I can upload the PDF to the iPad and we can work right with the pages and save it digitally.  I think I just saved ourselves a forest!
Any pages that require cutting and gluing I can easily AirPrint.  I can utilize this tool with any PDF or image file, meaning that all of my Little Adventures Preschool curriculum could be done the exact same way!

Happy Learning in the Digital Age!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

the Polar Express

We had so much fun with the Polar Express today! We started the day working on puzzles this morning.  The kids worked really well together putting all the pieces where they go.  We had a great time reading the story out loud and then watching the audio book video that reads the story aloud with visual clips from the movie.  We narrated the story and completed a sequencing chart about it.  I was so impressed with the cutting in this class.  It appears that some great strides in ability have happened lately.  We also drew pictures of what we would like to ask for from Santa.  
 Our math was tons of fun as we worked together to graph images from the Polar Express.  I think we've got the basic concept of graphing down!
 In the afternoon we used a bunch of large boxes to make our own Polar Express in the classroom.  After reading the story they climbed into their train cars and watched the audio book video.  We worked on the sorting sheet while sitting in our train cars, how fun!
 We continued our day with regular reading lessons followed by art.  We drew what we would ask Santa for just like the morning class.  This afternoon though, I challenged the kids to write what it was that they drew.  It was the first time I've asked them to sound it out and figure out what letters to write down and they all did a fantastic job.  I'm impressed with their writing and we'll be doing lots more of it in the future.  The important part of this stage of writing is to accept anything that they write down as correct.  They will not hear many vowel sounds in words and are unable to utilize advanced phonics at this point.  However, they are successful writers.  Great work!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Snowy Dinosaurs

This morning we had a great time talking about snow.  We played with shaving cream and glue "snow" as well as powdered "snow".  We learned the letter F and never before has the letter F been so easy to teach (Thank You, Frozen!).  We're working diligently to sound out the letters and blend them into words. 
 One of the reading groups had a really fun time teaching their sock monkey all the things that good readers do.  It was so fun to watch them do this.  We also practiced tracing our names on snowflakes.  In math we continued working on graphing.  We did just a couple pages of practice on the SmartBoard before our time was up for the day.
This afternoon we were talking about the letter D and dinosaurs.  We started the day being paleontologists digging for dinosaurs in our mini sand boxes.  The kids really loved this activity. 
 We read a book about dinosaurs and used yellow markers to mark the words that we could read.  Then one group continued that strategy by marking the words in their mini readers.  We also read the page in our encyclopedia about dinosaurs.  In their encyclopedia you'll find a small paper glued into the dinosaur page.  It's a b and d reminder picture to help kids remember which is which.

We had a ton of fun with math today.  We're talking about 2d shapes and their characteristics.  Today we utilized a shape building toy I have to work on it.  I first pulled out the pieces to make a shape and asked them what shape I could make.  We talked about how we could know for sure what I was going to make (shape of the sides "curved or straight", how many sides, how many corners) and then I built it.  After the lesson I set them loose to make any of the 4 basic shapes on their own.  It was quite interesting to watch them figure out what pieces they need in order to complete the task.

We did a lot of great learning today. Don't forget that Wednesday is Polar Express day and kids are welcome to wear their pajamas and bring a teddy bear!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gingerbread Friends

Today was quite literally a marathon of awesome.  We had so much fun!  We started our morning class with a gingerbread foam art project.  There were so many stickers to choose from and the kids had a really fun time deciding how to decorate their houses.  We also played on the gingerbread game on Starfall.com.  The kids thought that the end where he says, "Run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" was hilarious.  We then read a couple versions of the gingerbread man and the kids repeated that line with me every time we came to it.  We had gingerbread cookies for snack and then got to make our own cookies to send home.  Gingerbread is a hit or miss type of cookie and some kids loved it and some didn't like it at all.  Then we wrapped our holiday presents for our parents.  We used a lot of tape but got them securely wrapped up.  Be sure to open them soon to add to your holiday decor.  Plus, I CAN'T wait to post a picture of how cute they are!
 This afternoon we also did the gingerbread theme.  We made foam gingerbread houses and then moved into a regular reading day.  I was very proud of my group that finished Ready2Read Unit 1 today.  They've been working hard!  Another group got baggy books for the first time and are so excited to be reading these books!  We headed upstairs to wrap presents, make cookies, eat cookies and paint our gingerbread pictures.  We used a homemade finger paint that is colored with ginger, cloves and cinnamon spices.  Plus, they smell super yummy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sharing and Manners

Today was a great day learning all about sharing and manners.  We had a review of letters in the morning and the kids are doing fantastic!  We started the day playing with puzzles.  If your child struggles with 12 piece puzzles I'd highly suggest getting a couple for Christmas and practicing with your child.  Being able to put a puzzle together is a problem solving skill that needs to be learned.  We simply don't have enough time to practice enough in school.  We had a blast fishing for letters during our review.  Once a letter was caught we sang the "Every Letter Makes a Sound" song for that letter and then put it back for someone else to catch.  We enjoyed art time drawing pictures in our notebooks and working on a secret art craft that turned our toes green!  We learned about graphing in math today.  It was an introduction that used hats as the example.  We only wear our own hats and they have to go right on top of our head or they will fall off if we put them up too high.  They did great for a first introduction!  We also played "Motorboat" for music time talking about the tempo of music, boy did they love that!
 This afternoon we also talked about sharing and manners.  Our focus, however was the letter N and naughty behaviors.  We learned the sight word "no" and read the book "No, David!"  We talked about N the naughty newt painting with nail polish and then had a chance to paint with nail polish in our notebooks (yes, my house is still stinky)!  We also worked on a secret art project that turned our toes green.  That should wash off quickly :).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review before Thanksgiving

What a great day of review today!  We had lots of fun in preschool doing many art projects and practicing concepts we've already learned.  We made do-a-dot turkeys as everyone arrived.  Painted with shaving cream all over the table and danced to get our wiggles out.
 We read stories, practiced our rhythm sticks and found the sight words in our word jumble.
 This afternoon we worked on word sorting.  We learned the letter O and worked a little on letter N (to be learned next week).  We had a GREAT time reading our book Rhyming Dust Bunnies.  It's such a funny book and was a great reminder before looking at the rhyming work page.
 We painted hand print turkeys and also played with shaving cream (note to self: cleaning two bottles of shaving cream off my kitchen table in one day is a bit much....).
We also made bracelet patterns with beads this afternoon.  It was a great day of learning and review!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Animals in Winter, Reading and a Jewelry Shop

We had a very interesting day in school.  It seemed that I spent most of the time running around helping kids with their individual 3 year old type needs and didn't spend enough time teaching.  Nonetheless we had a great day talking about Animals in Winter.  We talked about how the weather is changing and now it's cold outside.  We talked about all the animals that live outside and not in our warm houses.  What do they do during the winter?  They either hibernate, migrate, or adapt!  We had lots of fun playing with the animal toys and our blanket den, reading "The Mitten" and acting out the explosion out of the mitten, and drawing winter animals in our notebooks.  We even added a little glitter snow!
 We also continued work on out "Guess My Secret Rule" game.  We played a very structured making our own sets game.  Each child was instructed to take 3 of the same and then take 1 that is different.  We seemed to get the hang of that with shapes and then switched to working with colors.  That was harder to get 3 shapes of the same color.  Not needing to be the same shape was a little confusing but a great first introduction to multiple characteristics to classify by.  We also enjoyed working with our rhythm sticks to a little Christmas music.  With all the snow it seems like Christmas time already!

This afternoon we had a lot of fun breaking into reading groups and working on our puzzles.  At this moment I'm able to work with all kids in 2 groups making management and engagement much easier.  The first group were rock stars right off the bat.  They were working on blending an initial consonant and vowel a or i.  We really focused on reading it the first time by blending the first sound into the second.  Another way to phrase that is to "not stop the first sound until your mouth is making the second sound."  It seemed to click.  I'm trying to get them to jump from sounding them out separately to sounding them out as a chunk, which will help them in their future reading. 
 Our second reading group worked on reading their Bob Books.  The way I have them read is called "whisper reading".  I'm not giving them any content or book walks at this time.  I simply give them the book and ask them to whisper read it to themselves.  They've picked it up and do quite well.  When they get stuck they most often tell me and I respond with, "What strategy are you going to use to solve that problem?"  They point to the picture card of a strategy and get right back to work on their own.  With whisper reading I can lean closer to any of the children in the circle and listen to them read a page or two and know exactly how well they are doing and what areas they are struggling with.  When they finish reading the book we do a 5 finger retell one-on-one.  They come stand next to me and we work through the characters, setting, beginning, middle and end of the story.  We use the book to reference all the details.  Then they repeat the 5 finger retell without opening the book and trying to recall it with minimal prompting.  They did really well and I'm quite proud of them.  They also worked on their phonics and sight word work from Ready2Read.
We combined art and math today since reading went so long.  Today we decided we were a jewelry shop designing necklaces.  Our customers wanted all different types of necklaces but they wanted them all to be in patterns.  We played around with adding a third color so we could do ABCABC patterns and all the variations that come with that.  They did as many patterned necklaces on their pages as they could before their parents arrived for them.  I thought they did quite well and it was tons of fun!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Play Ball and Ocean Animals

In preschool this morning we introduced the letter P with a "Play Ball!" theme.  We had tons of fun playing with different types of sports balls and talking about our favorite sport to play.  We used the foot print words under contact paper to play our reading ball game.  Everyone got a ball at the beginning, read the letter or word of each step they would step on and then shot a basket at the end.  They seemed to love it.  We talked about P the Pelican popping popcorn from the Amazing Action Alphabet and glued popcorn onto the activity page. 
 Each child got a couple baseball reading wheels today.  Check their binder for them.  We spin the wheel and say the letter name/sound or read the word.  The sight word "ball" was a new sight word today that needs to be memorized.  We continued our "Guess My Secret Rule" game in math.  Some of the kids were able to make their own sets without prompting and were allowed to go play the game as a group.  The rest of the group made sets with me following a step by step instruction.  "Take 3 blocks that are the same." (Interestingly difficult for them).  "Take 1 block that is different from the 3 you already had." (Relatively easy).  "Which block is different in your set?" (Difficult). "Why" (even more difficult).  PLEASE play this game at home to help us move forward in class!
This afternoon we had some fantastic reading lessons.  We practiced our nonsense words and sounds to warm up and then dove into some hard core reading.  We worked on the strategies readers should use when they get to a word they don't know.  There are 8 strategies in my February Dr. Seuss Preschool pack that we covered.  We'll continue referencing them as we're reading more difficult text.  We also talked about giving a 5 finger retell (1. Characters 2. Setting 3. Beginning 4. Middle 5. End). 
 We talked about ocean animals with the letter J this afternoon.  We read lots of books about ocean animals and found a great page in the encyclopedia that talks about the ocean.
 We continued our patterning in math by making patterns with giant beads.  We practiced making the patterns that were shown on the pattern cards today.  At the end of the day we enjoyed drawing with chalk in our notebooks.  The kids often talk about how their parents are going to be so proud of their art when they get the journal at the end of the school year.  It's so cute!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Scarecrows on Wednesday

This morning we had such a blast with the Scarecrows theme.  We started the day with decorating our own flippy floppy scarecrow hats.  Then we read and sang songs about scarecrows.  We practiced reading with the letter L and had so much fun making dancing scarecrows.
 They each dictated a sentence to me about their scarecrow, they were awesome!  "My scarecrow dances." "My scarecrow is all fabulous!" "My scarecrow lost his head!"  "My scarecrow is black and pink."  "My scarecrow is colorful!" "My scarecrow dances everywhere."
 This afternoon we had a fantastic reading lesson about blending the first consonant and vowel. We've focused on 2 vowels so far 'a' and 'i' and have 9 consonants as well.  We made a list of all the consonants in front of the letter a and all the consonants in front of the letter i.  We simply left off the third letter of our three letter words and worked solely on blending the consonant and vowel.  After a day of work many kids were able to blend the two letters quite easily!  I was so proud of their work!
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After reading we took a vote and decided to do art next.  Each child got to cut out their own scarecrow and color him.  It was a bit challenging to do the cutting and everyone was in their own place but all the kids were successful at cutting out at least most of the pieces themselves.
 We practiced AAB patterns in math and also had a blast playing with the musical instruments for music.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving and Snow

 We had a fantastic lesson about Thanksgiving today.  We made a giant list of the things we are thankful for.  I was so proud of them for listing things like: family, books, friends, hugs, houses, someone even said "life".  What a fantastic group of kids!  We learned the letter L the Lizard and practiced making the /l/ sound.  It's such a tricky sound to make!  We continued working on "Guess My Secret Rule", this time with the silverware drawer.  The idea of the game is much like the Sesame Street game "One of these things is not like the others".  There are 3 items that match and one that is different.  The children are to identify which is different and why (such as it is bigger than the rest, it's a different color, it's a fork not a spoon). The game is actually REALLY hard and we're struggling with understanding the concept.  So... please pull out your own silverware draw, line up 4 objects (3 the same and 1 different) and ask your child which one is different and why.  Play it every day!
Preschool B had a blast talking about snow.  It was fun to read all sorts of books about snow and discuss the weather and then see that it was starting to snow outside!  We worked hard in our reading groups mastering the letter F and working on the Moffatt Girls Ready2Read program.  We moved to ABB patterns in math and they picked up the concept right away!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Indians and Pilgrims

NOTE: This theme is meant as an introduction to Native Americans and Pilgrims. I have intentionally used the word Indian to introduce the letter I. Indian, however, is not an accurate description of Native Americans. For more information please see this link. There are also many different tribes of Native Americans that have very different traditions. Though the Pilgrims were in contact with the Wampanoag, this theme introduces ideas from many different tribes.

We had great fun this morning as everyone came in they colored their I headband from the Moffatt Girls.  We added feathers behind the I for a headdress and a Pilgrim style hat on the back side so they could decide what side to have in front.  We listened to Native American Round Dance music while we made our headbands and while we read stories about the Pilgrims and Indians.  Next we moved into reading.  We practiced the letter Ii on the SMARTboard and each child took a turn tracing the letters while we all said, "/i/"!
 We had a blast in art today painting with feathers.  We used rather small craft feathers and the creative artwork that came out of it was quite fun and interesting. Most pictures included small strokes of paint rather than a big mess of paint that usually happens with preschoolers.  We had a fun time exploring big/little and quantities with the dry corn and oodles of buckets, scoops and containers!
 I took a video of our reading lesson this morning.  Because of the blog restrictions I had to split it into 3 videos (a total of 15 minutes in length).  It may be helpful to watch through them to see how we do our shared reading lesson together.  The way I read through books (even one-on-one with beginning readers) is to sound out each word and then go back and fluently reread the sentence.  I'd highly encourage you to do this at home.  The beginning reader books that we use throughout the whole year come from The Amazing Action Alphabet
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In the afternoon we started our day out with the corn (it was out already and cleaning it up after didn't seem so daunting to me with such great helpers). They LOVED playing with the corn.  It was "popcorn" and "ice cream" and "for sale".  The creativity was awesome!  We had our regular reading lessons working within our small reading groups to master the skills appropriate.
 During math today we talked about AB patterns and how to "read" a pattern.  We took turns sharing our unifix cube patterns with the whole class "reading" the colors (red, orange, red, orange) and the letter names (a, b, a, b).  They picked it up quickly and were able to identify areas of their pattern that didn't work correctly and fix the problem.  We also painted with feathers this afternoon after a conversation about it now being November and the month of Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Insects and Play Ball!

What a great day of learning!  In our morning class we talked all about Insects and the letter I.  We learned the sight words "I" and "my" and did some great hand print art from the Amazing Action Alphabet Activity Book. We spent lots of time in small groups today really working on learning our letters and sounds and blending the letters to make words.  Remember to reference the blending video found here to help you with reading at home.  We also got to pull out the rhythm sticks to start our month long study of rhythm in music.  Boy did we love that!
In their binders today you'll find the homework in the front pocket.  It's a game called "Catch that Bug!".  Spread out the bugs from the baggy (foam insects from Oriental Trading) and after successfully reading each word "catch" one of the bugs with tweezers and put it on the paper bug jar.  See if you can read all the words in the whole packet!  This is the only homework this week.  It would be very beneficial if you could work on it every day!

Our afternoon class started off with a bang reading, "Pete the Cat, Play Ball!"  It's impressive how many of these kids (3 and 4 year olds) can read SO MUCH of this book already by themselves.  We learned the sight word "ball" and the letter p today.  Continue your work at home reading the mini readers every day and add to it the Pete the Cat book.  Remember to read the big words and encourage them to read the highlighted words that they've been working on (we highlight the appropriate words with highlighter tape in class).
We'll be beginning our unit on patterning on Wednesday so we got to play with the HUGE tub of unifix cubes in math today.  They made towers that went the whole length of the room and had a blast!