Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Kk}

By Tiffany Rudd
Snack Ideas:
      * Kix Snack Mix & Kiwi: There aren't many foods that start with the letter Kk, so I was excited to find this yummy recipe for a semi-healthy snack mix using Kix cereal. I always try to find a kiwi to share with my students too. It's not every child's favorite, but I love exposing them to new foods. :)
{Sang to the tune of B-I-N-G-O}

There is a kangaroo that {hops} and Kanga is her name-O
K-A-N-G-A, K-A-N-G-A, K-A-N-G-A and Kanga is her name-O.

Repeat and replace the verb with a new verb like jumps, skips, leaps, or even spins. Have you child help come up with verbs the kangaroo can try.

Favorite Books:
      * Katy No Pocket by Emmy Payne: This is one of my favorites to read to the kids each year. See below for a fun activity to go along with this cute book.    
      * The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn: You can also read my post here for activities to go along with this cute book!

      * Key Crayon Rubbing: Gather a bunch of differently shaped keys, peel the wrappers off of some crayons, and print this Letter Kk Page. Help your child put the keys under the paper and rub with the side of a crayon. 
      * Kiss the Kk - I just found this super cute idea on pinterest and since I've already done the letter Kk with my preschool class, I think I'll have to just try it with Brooklyn. :)

      * Shiny Key Craft: I love this idea from Mommys Monkeys. Her daughter covered the key with pieces of tinfoil and then she cut out the final product. Super cute.

      * Katy No Pocket Kangaroo Hop - I wish I had a better picture because this activity is always a favorite. The kids put on my apron (you can use any apron with a pocket) just like Katy Kangaroo and hop over to pick up the letter I call out. You can also have them hop over to pick up the letters in their name, or a capital or lowercase Kk.

      * Click on the photos below to print out your Kk Flash Card and Writing Practice Worksheet
Pin It

Monday, February 25, 2013

Toddler Activities: Hey Diddle Diddle Matching Game

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

Previously I had shared a game you could play with the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. You can find that past post here.

This post involves a fun activity to use with the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle." This nursery rhyme is fun because it pairs objects in fun and surprising ways. One important skill for toddlers and preschoolers to learn is what things go together. This game helps toddlers match things that belong together, both in the nursery rhyme and in life. Print out our free printables for Hey Diddle Diddle below.

Hey Diddle Diddle Printables

Then simply cut them apart and have your toddler and/or preschooler pick out the correct objects as you recite the rhyme together. The first page of images are for the traditional rhyme. Then we made up our own verses to include even more matching fun. Laminate the pieces if you want to use them again.

Here is the Traditional Rhyme with images listed in bold:

Hey Diddle Diddle
The Cat and the Fiddle
The Cow Jumped Over the Moon
The Little Dog Laughed (Dog/Laughing Face)
To See Such Sport
And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon!

Here is our original verse 2 with accompanying images:

Hey Diddle Dee
A Boy Climbed a Tree
A Little Ghost Shouted out Boo!
The Green Frog Jumped (Sitting Frog/ Jumping Frog)
To See Such Sport
And the Sock Ran Away with the Shoe!

Here is verse 3 with the images that go with it:

Hey Diddle Dum
A Baby Sucked His Thumb
Big Kids Built a Castle in the Sand
The Brown Horse Kicked (Horse/ Kicking Horse Silhouette)
To See Such Sport
And the Mitten Ran Away with the Hand

Note: *All of the images are courtesy of the Open Clip Art Library. Thank you very much to all the talented artists who share their work on the web.

Enjoy matching pairs together with your child. You may even want to make up a verse of your own!

Pin It

Friday, February 22, 2013

Elementary Activities: 12 Ways to Help a Reluctant Reader

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

As a teacher, I recognize that the ability to read well is the most important academic skill a child can have. But what do you do with a child who has absolutely NO desire to read? Here are a few suggestions that I have used with my own children and with my students to help reluctant readers gain a love for reading.

1. Read Aloud- My first four children were natural readers, so I was surprised when my youngest seemed to hate reading. During her 2nd and 3rd grade years, getting Katie to read was like pulling teeth. I was concerned because although she had rudimentary reading ability, she was definitely not learning to love reading like her older siblings. During her 4th grade year, I simply gave up the fight. She still had a reading chart to fill out which required her to read for 20 minutes a day. I began to read aloud to her for those twenty minutes. I didn't make her take turns. She didn't have to read a page followed by my reading a page. I just let her snuggle next to me and listen. I chose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for our reading time, knowing that we would be going to Harry Potter World in the Spring. I loved the half hour we spent together reading a book that I also enjoyed. We moved quickly through Book 1 and onto Book 2. Through the course of that year, we moved through the rest of the series and finished Book 5 together. Then she grew impatient and launched into Book 6 on her own! She finished Book 6 and Book 7 without me. From then on, she was hooked. She is now reading as much or more than her older brother Joseph. When struggling readers are expected to read on their own, word processing takes so long that they miss the magic of the story. When Katie could just listen, she experienced the magic and wonder of the written word. She was addicted to the story and by then she knew it was worth plowing through on her own. Once she had the motivation, she started to read more and more which resulted in increased reading fluency. This is my single biggest suggestion to parents whose children struggle with reading. Just read aloud to the child as often as you can! Here is our list of some great choices for reading aloud.

Our Favorite Books to Read Aloud

2. Try audio books- If you don't have the time to read aloud to your child, pick up some audio books at the library. This will accomplish the same purpose of letting your child get lost in the magic of a good story without worrying about sounding out the words.

3. Pick the right book- Sometimes with a struggling reader, the key is to simply find the right book. I had one student who had become my personal challenge. I had tried to interest him in countless book that I thought he would enjoy. Nothing doing. Finally, I pulled out the Knights of Right series written by my daughter. He devoured Books 1 through 4. I was so thrilled with this result that I actually snuck him Books 5 and 6 off her computer. (Don't tell! They haven't actually been published yet.) To find the perfect book for your struggling reader, try to determine what your child's interests are. Look at their favorite movies and video games. What hobbies does this child enjoy?  What are his or her interests? All of these can be clues in helping you find the correct book. Talk to a teacher or librarian. They may also have suggestions of popular books that other students with similar interests have enjoyed. Once you have found a book that you think will fit the bill, use the suggestion above and read the first few chapters aloud. That may be enough to perk your child's interest in continuing the story on his or her own. Information on how to order Knights of Right for your reluctant reader is included on the right side bar. I have found this is a great first series for both boys and girls. One veteran first grade teacher told me that these are the first books she has found in 25 years of teaching that have kept the interest of her ENTIRE class. Great job, M'Lin!

4. Find a series- Once you have found the right book, it is even better if the book is part of a series.
Then your child can move right into Book 2 without delay. Here are some fairly easy series that my students and my own children have enjoyed.
* Guardians of Ga'hoole
* Warriors
* A Series of Unfortunate Events
* Bailey School Kids
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid
* Dragon Slayer Academy
* Junie B. Jones
* Judy Moody
* Magic Tree House
* A to Z Mysteries
* Geronimo Stilton
* Secrets of Droon
* Knights of Right
* Spiderwick Chronicles

5. Try nonfiction or other genre- Sometimes the easiest introduction to reading is not through a novel but through nonfiction. Some of my reluctant readers will willingly read a great comic book or a nonfiction title about their current interests such as sports, race cars, movie special effects etc.

6. Build interest- There is a reason why Hollywood creates movie trailers. Trailers are a great way to build interest in an upcoming movie and entice viewers to choose their movie out of the countless other options out there. The publishing industry is picking up on this effective marketing strategy and has started creating book trailers as well. To find some book trailers for books that might interest your reluctant reader check out this link to Slime Kids.

Book Trailers

It contains hundreds of Book Trailers along with the appropriate reading level and grade. You can also do a google search for Book Trailers for Kids. Watch the book trailers together and ask your child which of the four or five trailers that you view looked the most interesting. Pick that book up at the library and start to read it aloud to your child. 

7. Check his/her vision- One of my students really struggled with reading until she was diagnosed with difficulty in visual processing. She got some contact lenses and received training in focusing and tracking her vision. She has soared academically since then. It is always important to rule out a vision problem when working with a struggling reader. Even if your child's vision is fine, there may be other visual processing problems that only a trained doctor can detect. I can recommend two great doctors if you are in the Davis County area. Here is a shout out to my brother Dan and my brother-in-law Adam. They are excellent doctors and work very well with kids.

Family Vision Care of Bountiful 

8. Encourage and Model-  Research suggests that one of the most effective things that we can do is model reading behavior for our children. We can share what we are reading and let them see us read. Here are the items on my night stand right now:

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
Love Does By Bob Goff
The TimeKeeper By Mitch Albom

I am loving each of these books and have been sharing the things that I am learning with my husband and kids.

9. Don't Nag or Fight- This suggestion probably should have been number one. Don't add to the negative associations your child has about reading by turning it into a battle between the two of you. Children should not view reading as a chore or something that they HAVE to do before the real fun starts. If that is their attitude, of course they will avoid reading at all costs. Try to keep reading positive and fun. I am still reading picture books to my 5th and  6th grade students. I don't care who the child is, every child loves to be read a picture book! Keep reading picture books if that is all the reading that your child will let you do. At least reading will be associated with fun and pleasant memories with you.

10. Make going to the library an adventure- My mom instilled a love of reading in each of her seven children, including my brother who was diagnosed with learning disabilities. I think one of the ways that she did this was to make our weekly trips to the library so much fun. We each got our own library cards and had special bags that we could use to carry home our selections. There was no limit to the amount of books we could bring home either! I remember packing my bag with 20 or 30 books each week. Then we would go out for ice cream or stop at the park on the way home. I used to love going to the library. It was the highlight of my week. Make library visits fun for your child by adding a fun treat or letting them choose a movie. There are so many fun things about libraries now from story times to activity packs to prizes for completing reading charts. Take advantage of all the fun things your local library has to offer.

11. Create fun reading areas throughout the house-  Since before I was married, I dreamed about having a home with a library filled with floor to ceiling books, gorgeous natural light, and one of those cool ladders that you had to climb to reach the uppermost shelves. Unfortunately, I still haven't been able to create this dream library. However,  I have tried to create fun reading spots in different places in my house.

Here is Joseph's favorite place to read. This is underneath his log bed.

Here is Katie's favorite place to read. This is inside her barn bed.

Here are some fun reading areas in our play room.

Here is fun reading area in the "cave" under the stairs. I painted glow in the dark eyes on the wall of the cave.

A blanket thrown over a table makes a fun reading hideout. Add a flashlight, some snacks and a basket of books and you may have to coax your child to come out and join the rest of the world. How about a hammock with a basket of books and some lemonade during the summer? Or a treehouse filled with comics and adventure novels? Even a window seat with comfortable cushions or a recliner with a fuzzy blanket and a bunch of books all make enticing areas. Look around your house to see if you can find out of the way or interesting places where your child might like to read.

12. Pair Movies and Books- One way to motivate a struggling reader is to pair a great movie with the book that inspired it. Tell your child that they can earn a movie night with you if you first finish the book together. Here is our list of great book and movie combinations.

25 Ways to Read a Book and Watch a Movie

Good luck inspiring your reluctant reader to love to read! I don't think there is any more important task we can tackle as mothers. Or anything more rewarding once we succeed. Truly we will have given our child the world.

Pin It

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Jj}

By Tiffany Rudd

Snack Ideas:
      * Jello Jigglers! I use cookie cutters so the kids can practice shapes and have fun with their food. They are always a hit!

Favorite Books:

      * Norma Jean Jumping Bean by Joanna Cole       * Jamberry by Bruce Degen
      * Jellyfish Craft - Preschoolers would love painting the jellyfish tops and adding the curled ribbon. Super cute.
      * Jeweled J - Brooklyn would go crazy over this craft! I found this idea on pinterest, but unfortunately the link was incorrect, so I'm not sure where it came from. All you'd need are some self stick jewels. Here is a set of 500 for only $8 on Oriental Trading. 
      * Jump Right Over the Color Stick - This is one of the activities my kids love to do with our color tubes (covered toilet paper rolls). You can find the full post here

      * Click on the photos below to print out your Jj Flash Card and Writing Practice Worksheet
Pin It

Monday, February 18, 2013

Toddler Activities: 10 Songs Your Toddler Will Love to Learn

By Tiffany Rudd

I know I've mentioned this before, but the toddler years really are one of my favorite phases as a mom. I love watching how much Anniston is learning every day. Yes, she is learning how to throw a mean tantrum too, but the fun stuff really does outweigh that (most days).
One of Anniston's favorite things to do right now is sing and she's even able to sing quite a few songs on her own. I'm not going to lie...her jumping on our bed and singing "Five Little Gunkeys (ie Monkeys)" is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

I compiled a quick list of our favorite songs to sing together. I tried to get Anniston to sing at least a few of them on camera for you, but I was unsuccessful. As soon as she sees the video camera, she wants to watch herself - never mind that she hasn't even done anything for me to record yet. It was an un-winnable battle. :)

I did link each song to a place online where you can listen to or purchase the music for the ones you don't know. There are even a few with videos your toddler would love to watch. Enjoy!

Pin It

Friday, February 15, 2013

Elementary Activities: DIY Piñata

by: Deborah Pace Rowley

In science, my class has been studying the atmosphere. To liven up our studies, we made hot air balloon piñatas. Each piñata was named for a scientist that made a significant contribution to our understanding of the atmosphere. Making a homemade piñata is so much more fun than buying one from a store. The process is actually very simple and inexpensive. Piñatas are basically hollow paper-mache shapes filled with candy. For the paper-mache, you can use a traditional flour and water paste, but I have a student who is allergic to gluten and can't breathe flour in the air without a reaction. So I found a simple alternative that I prefer even more to the typical solution.

All you need for this project is a balloon, some liquid starch (I bought mine near the laundry detergents and spray starches at Walmart), some newspaper and some paper towels. Coat the strips of paper with the liquid starch, squeeze off the excess and apply to the balloon. Then repeat several times.

I used both newspaper and paper towels because then it makes it easier for you to distinguish between layers. The students would cover the balloon entirely in newspaper strips. Then when every inch of the balloon was covered, they would begin to cover it in paper towel strips. Now we knew the balloon had two complete layers. We did two layers a day on two consecutive days. Some tables snuck in a 5th layer but I felt like 4 layers made for a sturdy piñata that was also breakable.

I did make sure that the students wrapped string around the balloon before the first layer and tied it in a loop at the top. This ensured that when we went to break our piñata the string wouldn't simply break off and leave us with a hot air balloon lying unbroken on the ground.

We also left an opening at the top that we used to pop the balloon after the 4th layer had dried. We then filled the pinata with candy and paper-mached over the opening.

When the students were finished with the paper-mache process, they decorated their hot air balloons with paint. (You could also use fringed crepe paper to decorate the hot air balloon. I think stripes of fringed crepe paper would look amazing. Or how about a soccer ball or basketball piñata for a sports fan? You could even make a globe or a disco ball covered in reflective stickers for a tween.) Most of the tables decided to paint their hot air balloons in the colors of the flag of their scientist. Then we made baskets out of plastic cups and the students made little model scientists to sit inside their baskets.

They were very excited when we got to break the piñatas and the scientists went flying. (I am not sure what the lesson was there. I really don't want to know!)

We had lots of fun breaking our piñatas but even more fun making them. Instead of the thrill lasting just a few minutes, we got to extend the fun over two weeks! This would make a great project to do with an elementary school child before his or her birthday. The piñata itself cost about $2.50. Then all you need to do is add the candy and/or little toys that go inside. You could even provide some healthier alternatives when you fill a piñata on your own. Give it a try. I think you'll love it.

Pin It

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Preschool Activities: Valentine's Day Candy Heart Math

By Tiffany Rudd

I tend to always be on the lookout and thinking/creating new curriculum for my preschoolers, so there aren't many activities that I've done every year.  Candy heart math on Valentine's Day is one of those few. It's always a favorite of the kids and I love that it keeps the kids thinking and learning while having fun at our Valentin's Day party.
All you need is a little box of candy conversation hearts and these free printables. I had created a packet that I used all my years teaching in Tennessee, but somehow I miss-placed all but the estimation page  during our move. Rather than recreate them, I just found some that were very similar on Click on each photo below to print your own Valentine Math Packet. I hope your preschooler enjoys this activity as much as mine have.

Happy Valentine's Day! :)
Pin It
Blogging tips