Saturday, December 17, 2011

Have a Wonderful Holiday Everyone!

I along with my girls finally have the chance to go back and visit family in Ohio for the holidays.  In January, I will be back with some new ideas and hopefully a new camera.  In the mean time I hope everyone has a nice holiday with their families.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Great News

I am excited to share that beginning in the new year I will officially be a Head Start teacher.  I will be sharing and collecting more preschool age activities.  If you have something wintery you would like to share please let me know.  I will share some of my favorite winter activities.

Take home snowman
Snow globes
Painting with ice
Fake snow in the sensory tub
Making a big book

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fingerplay Friday- 5 Little Holiday poems

5 Little Christmas Trees
5 little Christmas trees standing all alone
Their hears were very sad
cause they hadn't found a home
Then chop went he ax and down fell the tree
And off it went with a happy family

4 little....
3 little...
2 little...
1 little...
No little Christmas trees standing all alone
Their hearts were very happy
cause they all found a home.

5 Little Stockings
5 little stockings hanging by the fire.
the first one said, "I'm getting tired."
the second one said, "But Santa's in the air."
the third one said, "yeah and we care."
the forth one said, "Oh fun, fun, fun."
the fifth one said, "Christmas time is fun."
Ding went the clock and out went the fire.
And 5 little stockings were filled by Santa that night.

5 Little Reindeer
the first little reindeer went to the market.
to buy some Christmas trees.
the second little reindeer went to the elf shop
to supervise the toys.
the third little reindeer hurried to the cookie factory
to prepare for girls and boys.
the forth little reindeer went to the TV stations
to ready the Christmas shows.
And the fifth little reindeer went to see old man winter
to order the seasons snow.

This last one seems unfinished.  Can anyone finish it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What a teacher wants- for Christmas

It is that
time of year again.
Are you shopping for yet? 
Do you plan to buy a present for
your child's teacher or other school personnel?
Do you wonder what in the world would this special person want?
Did you

  Every teacher you ask will say "I don't need a present."  Teachers do not choose this job for the money or presents.  Seeing your child learn is very rewarding.  But if you still want to show your gratitude or just make someone feel extra special, you may want to present your child's teacher with a little gift.  Check out this previous post about the 10 gifts teachers want.

     I chose to help out the teacher by making some things that I 'm sure the teacher doesn't have time to do herself.  Most of it is stuff I would or do want for my own classroom.  Before making  or buying something for the classroom, I would recommend visiting your child's class to find out what the teachers use.  If you need some more ideas, visit the tip junkie for all kinds of cute home made gifts.

Gift 1
Here is how easy and cheap the first present was to make.
Buy small plastic frame from Walmart.  I bought 2 4x6 frames at $.98 each.

Mainstays 4" x 6" Clear Bent L Frame, Set of 12
I found these on clearance $1.50 after the school shopping was over.  They are great.  They don't smell like the markers do and they don't make a mess.  They even come with a wipe off mitten.  No more dirty socks in the classroom

Print out letters of the alphabet a little smaller than your frame.  I put them on pretty red paper but you don't have to. 

 Put all of the items in a plastic bag. Then I taped some directions I typed to go along with it.

Gift 2
Pre-made sensory tub
In her classroom, she has a small sensory tub.  So, I made an school spirit tub.  I included black beans, orange pom poms, orange scoops, and orange pony beads. 
I typed up a cute label and taped it to a plastic bag with all the goodies inside.

(sorry pic reflected the light)

Gift 3
Edible goodies
What teacher doesn't need a little chocolate stashed away for those hard days.  I will also make one for the aide that helps out with all the little ones in the class.

Gift 4
This teacher does a treasure box as a reward when the children get 5 good check marks.  That can get expensive to replenish with things the kids will enjoy.  I just bought a bunch of little prize things.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fingerplay Friday- Christmas

After Thanksgiving, we dive right into Christmas because December goes by so fast. 

Here is the chimney (hand in a fist with thumb inside fingers)
Here is the top (put other hand flat on top of fist)
Open the lid ( remove top hand)
And out Santa will pop. (Stick thumb up)

Peppermint Stick
Oh, I took a lick of my peppermint stick
and it was really yummy.
Oh, it use to be on my Christmas tree
but now it's in my tummy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fingerplay Friday- Turkeys

Mr. Turkey

Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey
Big and Fat, Big and Fat
I am going to eat you, I am going to eat you.
Just like that, Just like that.

Mr. Turkey

I have a turkey big and fat,
He spreads his wings and walks like that
His daily corn he would not miss
And when he talks it sounds like this
gobble, gobble, gobble

5 Fat Turkeys

5 fat turkeys sitting on a fence.
The first one said, " Oh, my , I'm immense!"
The second one said, " I can gobble at you,"
The third one said, "I can gobble too."
The forth one said, "I can spread my tail."
The fifth one said, "Don't catch it on a nail."
The farmer came by and had to say,
"Turkeys look best on Thanksgiving Day."

Not a Turkey by Karl Fuchs

Mom is in the kitchen
and when I take a look
I'm glad I'm not a turkey
that she's about to cook

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving and Fall

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks.  This is what I like to teach my kids.  Of course turkeys make such great crafts.   The book by that name I got from scholastic for $1 says it all.


I made a simple big book about scarecrows from a worksheet I was given to let the children color.  In my opinion children shouldn't be given worksheets, but they do make great books with a little creativity.  You could make it with any worksheet. The words I typed on the computer were:  The boots are black.  The hat is yellow.  The shirt is red.  The pants are blue.  Here is a scarecrow.  I just made multiple copies of the worksheet, colored it according to my words, and laminated. 

This book here looks cute.  Sonshine Tot school also gives you her lessons to go with the book.

Here is a flannel board set to go along with I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.

Turkey feather
My favorite activity for Thanksgiving is one that isn't done in the classroom.  I cut out a large feather shape out of poster board or any thicker paper and send it home with this note.
                                   Dear Parents,
                                         This is a turkey feather that will be part of our class turkey.
                                   Please decorate it at home as a family.  You may use any material
                                   you chose.  Some suggestions are string, cereal, stickers, markers,
                                   pictures, etc.  Have fun and be creative.  Bring it back as soon as
                                  you have finished, so we can give our turkey wings.

When the children bring back their feather, I hang it up around a peanut shapes turkey body.  It is a great way to include parents in the daily activities of school. It shows kids how we are all different but work together to make something great.  And it makes the neatest bulletin board.  I only wish I had taken pictures of last years turkey.  Since I have such small classes, I keep the feathers and put them up year after year.  The kids love to see what their siblings made when they were in Preschool.

Here is a cute take home idea where children take home a turkey and have to disguise it.  It would go well with the book The Plump and Perkey Turkey.

Truckful of Thanks-  We use to plan transportation in November, so I combined it with Thanksgiving by giving each child a pre-made dump truck which they drew and dictated what they were thankful for.  Then we cut out a rectangle the size of the truck bed and attached it with a brad, so when you opened it, you could see what was inside the truck.

Turkey place mats
I also tried to include some Fall activities in during the month, a list of ideas is below.  So, we rolled acorns on a large piece of yellow paper.  This paper is then used to make a "place mat" by scalloping the top to curve like feathers of a Turkey.  Then you can add the child's foot print or cut foot print from paper to make the turkeys body.  Color eyes, beak, and a waddle.

Turkey handprints
This is a clasic art project.  I still have mine from when I was little.  Here is a different version.  It gets children using those site words.  I've also used them to make cards and let kids glue real feathers on them.

Other activities
Here is Teach Preschool's collection of Thanksgiving ideas.  She is an amazing collector.

Here is a cute game printable to go with the book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

I will post some Turkey poems and finger plays on Friday

Here is a whole packet of cute free printable stuff for Thanksgiving.

It is just now showing signs of Fall down here, so here are some Fall activities for this month.

The easiest activity I have done is to make tissue paper leaves by giving the children a piece of contact paper and some colorful tissue paper squares to put on it.  Great fine motor activity.  When they were done filling the contact paper up, I would cut a maple leaf shape from the Ellison machine.  Then, I would punch a hole in it and tie a string on it to hang.

Here are some really cute leaf activities including a real leaf graph and observation sheet.

I would love to try this crayon melting activity from Teach Preschool.

This is such a cool use for modge podge to keep real leaves looking new.  And, since colorful leaves are hard to find down here, when I visit Ohio we will be doing this project.

Here are some Fall word cards to hang in your writing center.

Here is Teach Preschool's collection of scarecrow activities.

Fingerplay Friday- Transportation

This is my favorite transportation finger play.  I use some sign language to go along with the poem.  We made something in art to go along with each line of the poem, so it would be easy to make a class book to go along.


Ships(boats) sail on the water ( cup your hands together, bounce them forward like going over waves)
Planes fly through the air. ( Put pinky finger and thumb out, fold others under, pretend to land plane on other hand)
Cars and trains roll on the land (roll hands around each other)
And take us everywhere. (Put both hands out with palms up)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Literacy Centers- Writing

     Writing, for young children is a playful but purposeful activity.  Doing countless tracing worksheets will not teach a child to write and will probably discourage them from wanting to write.  Here is a site that explains this concept well.  Teaching writing should also be playful and purposeful.  If you are interested in learning more about the stages of writing look at this previous post.  Along with fun group lessons that help children learn to write letters, words, sentences, and stories, I use a writing center as a way to encourage writing, practice writing, and making writing purposeful.  I frequently visit this center to prompt new letter or word uses.  I try to encourage story writing, also.  This will help with reading skills.  If they can write their own story, they can read it back to you.

     In the writing center, children always have access to writing materials including paper, markers (are better for writing), crayons (come in more colors), stamps and ink, scissors, a stapler, and glue sticks.  I sometimes will add stickers or other writing materials.  I add one material each week to the center after we have talked about how to use them, like markers, glue sticks, and caps.  There are labels on everything.  I have used a shelf with baskets to hold materials or those little see through drawers.  It really doesn't matter how you store the materials as long as you have them available.  Last year I up graded my Writing center table to one of the bigger tables that would hold at least 4 people because it was so popular.  Even then, I still had kids pulling materials onto the nearby table and the kitchen area. 
     On the wall, I hang ABC posters for references.  I also hang up a ring of word cards that relate to the theme or month.  I bought a set of posters that had the month with a bunch of related words to cut out.  You can find some neat colored printable words here and here and here.

other additions
This is one of the tools I add to my writing center.  As we talk about each letter, I add this to the center. See my hands on alphabet post to find out what this is.

DIY stamps- stamps are great tools to add to your writing center.  They encourage counting and story telling.  You could use letter stamps also but I save those for my word work center.
Chalk boards are a fun addition to the center.  Directions for Making your own chalk boards

Here is a cute idea for how to make a pizza box into a wipe off board and chalkboard easel.  Did you know they make chalkboard contact paper? 

Here are some other cute ideas.

Neat idea with picture frames. And wipe of crayons are great.  I recently found them on clearance at Walmart for $1.50 a box.  No sticky markers, no staining, and nice colors

For older kids, you could add a writing prompt bag.  Use little toys, like the ones you get in happy meals, to give students something to write about. 

     No matter what you put into your writing center or how it looks, please remember,  this center is to encourage writing skills, not handwriting skills or grammar.  I would never put a worksheet to practice handwriting or have children practice sight words in this center.  Doing this will discourage those who don't have the greatest fine motor skills or those with a lack of interest in words from visiting the center.  If a child shows any interest in making something to take home, you can encourage them to visit the writing center.  A letter to Grandma, a card for Dad's birthday, an I miss you note to Mom, or even a picture to a sibling are all great opportunities to encourage writing.  As you show interest in their stories and pictures, they will keep asking to return to the center for more.  Phonics skills, handwriting skills, and language skills will increase as the child explores the materials.  Scaffolding writing skills is important in this center.  You can write what the child dictates, let the child write some letters they already know, or help the child spell on their own.  It is a way to encourage those children who have come to you with the higher level skills to increase their learning and self esteem.

                                   Here is an example of what can come from encouraging writing.

    This is a first grader who wrote a story and illustrated it to make a book for others to read.  Make sure to read the last page that explains why she wrote the book.
This girl will be graduating from high school this year.  I hope she will be attending college, maybe as a writer.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Literacy centers- Library/ Reading

You are suppose to have like 14 books per child available to children each day in order to promote good reading.  And, the books need to be rotated often.  I don't nearly have that  many available, but I like to try to get as many books out as possible.  That doesn't mean you need to have 14 of the same book or that they need to be good quality books. 

So how do you collect enough books?  I have found books at garage sales, scholastic $1 books and freebies, Dollar Tree, and thrift stores.  Books in your library don't have to be the same as read alouds.  Board books, old books, black and white books, or any kind of book will work.  Don't forget to provide inexpensive paperback copies of your favorite read alouds and provide multiple copies of the children's favorites.  Make sure you put out books that are from the different genres and different reading levels.  You can also have class or child made books available.

Are you new to children's books or need new ideas for books. If you need help finding good quality books check here.

No Time for Flash Cards has many posts on good children's books.

Teach Preschool has an amazing collection of books, click on a book and it will take you to the website for ideas to go with the book.
Here  you'll find some neat books with activities to go with them.  It is geared towards younger kids.

How do you organize all those books?  You could organize them library style by the Author's name. I find this very difficult to find books since I can't always remember the author's name.  I organize my books by the subject it best fits with.  Ex.  apples, ABC books, or dinosaur books

How do you train kids to use the library or reading center?  We know what we want the library center to look like.  Quiet children reading a book attentively.  That probably wont happen.  Practice talking in a quiet voice.  Teach children they can read the words, the pictures, or the story.  This will keep them from saying "I don't know how to read."  I like to teach how to respect the books.  They don't belong on the floor.  They shouldn't be ripped or colored on.  Some kids have never had books before, so they just don't know how to use them.

How do you assess the reading center?  In order to rationalize the simple joy of reading to some people, providing an assessment every once in a while helps ease their minds.

Provide a simple sheet that has children write the title and author of a book they read and space to draw a picture about the story or line to write their favorite part.

Live, Love and Laugh has a free printable to go with ABC books

Provide a project to make a connection with the book.

Just remember, in order to learn to read, children need to find reading enjoyable.  So, make it fun, give them plenty of opportunities to read, and provide lots to read.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fingerplay Friday- trick or treating

I have just one more for Halloween to share.  Do you have a favorite Halloween or pumpkin fingerplay or poem you would like to share?

Trick or Treating (are you sleeping)

Trick or treating, trick or treating
bring a light
make it bright
check out all your candy
make sure it's fine and dandy
let's be safe
let's be safe

Sunday, October 9, 2011


There is a lot of debate about celebrating a holiday with such a scary background.  Or celebrating holidays, using candy, or using scary things in the classroom.  With my experience, I have learned or have acquired the following feelings about the topic. 
     Halloween can be scary.  Children need to learn how to deal with scary things.  My own child asked to do activities about scary things, I think to help her cope with the new fear of monsters in her room.  If we present scary things as not so scary and how to deal with the fear, Halloween can be a helpful learning experience.
     You must respect the traditions and beliefs of the families in your class.  If you are limited for whatever the reason, you can still find lots of fall related activities.  Pumpkins, bats, spiders, skeletons, and scare crows are not related to Halloween alone.  There are a great number of things you can do with out ever relating it to Halloween.
     In regards to candy and parties.  Any time you disrupt your normal schedule, children will seem to be going crazy.  My "parties" are a normal day, with the exception of snack which a parent brings in.  I may use food in an activity, but there is a goal.  There are a number of healthy treats out there now that are not candy.  Pretzels and fruit snacks are just as fun to sort, graph and, make patterns with.

If you chose to have some Halloween fun here are some ideas.

Halloween Poems or finger plays
5 Little Pumpkins
Here is a cute printable to go along with the poem.

Here is a cute story to tell the kids that turns a paper into a jack-o-lantern.

Here is a cute ghost story.  Atleast I think so, but when I tried it with kindergarteners, they weren't interested.  Maybe just for preschoolers.

Halloween games
     Spell Ghost

Here are some cute monster activities.

Matching colors ghost file folder game

Pumpkin decorating- stickers, paint, or like Teach preschool does it, with playdo and magnets and cans.

Here you'll find a memory game, tic tac toe, and paper dress up dolls along with many other cute stuff

Acorn Pumpkin Halloween Decorations
These are so cute.  You could use them for counters or sorting and graphing.

Why not make a Jack-O-Lantern wipe off board like No Time for Flashcards.  This will work great with those new wipe off crayons I found on clearance for $1.50.

Here is a cute counting activity

I like the cute pumpkin book the kids can make.  It talks about feelings, and the kids draw the faces.  Halloween is a great time to talk about feelings.

I made a big book called Jack-O-Happy, similar to the one above.

Halloween snacks
     ghost toast
     spider cookies
     Here is a cute pumpkin pie type recipe.  Pumpkin can be a strong flavor and some kids don't like it, but what about orange pudding.  And I love the simple jack-o-lantern cups.
     Here is another cute snack or dinner.

Halloween crafts
     tube monster

Here are some cute hand monsters.

Here are some tubes made into mummys.
Foot ghost

Here are some other cute crafts.

5 Little Ghosts  or pumpkins sitting on the fence- cut rectangles so kids can make a fence, then let kids stamp pumpkins using cookie cutters on the fence.  They have to count to 5.

Torn paper pumpkins- kids ripe paper using fine motor skills, then glue them on paper to form a pumpkin

Halloween books

One of my favorites.  I copied the pages then laminated them to make a sequencing game.

Easy reader and counter.
Other books not pictured
The Stubborn Pumpkin

Halloween activities
     Reenact the Stubborn Pumpkin with Halloween characters.  We did this every year as a play for our families.  The kids love it.  I used hats I found on clearance or made.  I have a pumpkin, farmer, ghost, scary lady (Frankenstein's bride hair), monster, bat, cat, witch, spider, scare crow, and a skeleton, but you could use anything.  After Halloween, costumes can be cheap so think about it for next year.

Pounding the pumpkin- Use golf tees (I've seen colored ones in the Halloween section) to hammer into pumpkin, don't forget the goggles for safety. Good for hand/ eye coordination.  And the kids love it.  They use lots of language describing the smell and feel of the pumpkin.

Here you'll find a neat book about bones and how to use your own body to show where your bones are.

Here you'll find a cute printable book.

If you are in charge of planning a party, you'll find some ideas here

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Cute pumpkin and easy for little fingers

I really like these mini cardboard tube apples that can be turned into pumpkins

If you do the 5 Little Pumpkins poem, here is a freebie you could make into a book or flannel board.

number order printable

This is a book to reinforce shapes.

Pumpkin lifecycle

Here is a cute way to recycle while making pumpkins

visit confessions of a homeschooler  for some pumpkin printables.

Here is Fran's patterns for fall.  I love her stuff and when it's free it's even better. and I like her pumpkin seed counting book.

Here are some cute pumpkin activities involving words, letters, and numbers.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fingerplay Friday


5 Little Pumpkins
5 Litlle pumkins growing on a vine.
1st one said, "Don't I look fine?"
2nd one said, "I'll be in a pie."
3rd one said, "I'll be a lantern by & by."
4th one said, "I will too."
But the 5th little pumpkin just said, "Boo!"

5 Little Ghosts
5 little ghosts on Halloween night
1st one said, "I think it's almost 8."
2nd one said, " I'm going out to howl."
3rd one said, "I'm going out to prowl."
4th one said, "The moon is far too bright."
5th one said, " Let's fly, It's Halloween night."

5 Little Witches
5 little witches on a Halloween night.
Made a very, very spooky sight.
The first witch danced on her tippy tiptoes.
The second witch tumbled and bumped her nose.
The tird witch flew high up in the air.
The fourth witch combed her fuzzy hair.
The fifth witch  sang a Halloween song.
Five witches played the whole night long!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Great Giveaway

For those of you who love Teach Preschool as much as I do, you will love Deborah's music.  My daughter will sit with me on the computer for a very long time just listening to her songs.  So here is a chance to win her CD.

Go to
The Amazing Mess

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Giveaways are great!

I wish I had the funds and resources to give neat things away.  So, since I can't here is where you can go to win this bookshelf from Guidecraft.

Mommy PR has the entry form.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fingerplay Friday- Pumpkins

I have found Fall to be my favorite time of the year because there is so much you can do.  So, I will give you a few pumpkin poems.  Don't forget to check back later to see some of the Halloween activities and books I have to share.

Pumpkin Song (I'm a little Teapot)

I'm a little pumpkin
orange and round
here is my stem,
there is the ground.
When I get all cut up.
Don't you shout.
Just open me up
and scoop me out.

Mr. Pumpkin (Where is thumpkin)

Mr. Pumpkin,
Mr. Pumpkin,
Round and Fat
Round and Fat
Harvest time is coming
Harvest time is coming
Yum, Yum, Yum
That is that.

Pumpkin Song (Have you ever seen a lassie)

Have you ever seen a pumpkin, a pumpkin, a pumpkin
Have you ever seen a pumpkin that grows on a vine?
A round one, a tall one, a fat one a small one.
Have you ever seen a pumpkin that grows on a vine?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Math Centers- Construction

Construction- Building with different kinds of materials is important for kids.  They use critical and creative thinking skills as well as trial and error.  It is the one center I have seen very little of in kindergarten. 

I always include cars and people to go with which ever type of building material I choose.  Examples might be legos, waffle blocks, brick blocks...  You can put blue prints (make them yourself or child made by crayon resist drawings of buildings and blue watercolor paint)  or copy me papers (include a pattern or 3D structure for children to copy) in the center to challenge the kids.  Include paper, pencils, and a clipboard to encourage writing.

Or check out some of these creative construction ideas

What about these for building quietly?  Colorful and creative

amazing road kids can put together like a puzzle

another neat road

another road that cars travel down stairs

aren't these building materials unique and fun?

Time For Play has cheap creative construction materials

Chasing Cheerios has this wonderful colorful block fun.

So what are some of your ideas?  Do you include construction in your centers?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fingerplay Friday- Firefighters

During this month we always talked about Fire safety and had visits from the fire department, so here are so poems I used.

I'm a Firefighter (by Judy Hall) (I'm a Little Teapot)

I'm a firefighter
Dressed in red,
With my fire hat
on my head.
I can drive the fire truck,
Fight fires, too,
And help to make things safe for you.

Down at the Firehouse (by Jean Warren) (Down by the Station)

Down at the firehouse
Early in the morning.
You can see our clothes
hanging in a row.
When there is a fire,
We can dress real fast,
Boots, jackets, hats gloves,
off we go!

Ten Little Firefighters

Ten little firefighters,
sleeping in their beds
Ding! went the bell
and down the pole they slid.
They raced to the fire
and put out all the flames
then the ten firefighters
went back to bed again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fingerplay Friday- Happy Birthday and Reading

I've been in a lot of different classrooms lately, and I have seen cupcakes and word walls so here are a couple of poems you can use.

Happy Birthday
Today's the day we get to say,
"We're happy you were born today."

If You're Reading and Your Know it. (If You're Happy and You Know it)
If you're reading and you know it say the word, ________, _________.
If you're reading and you know it say the word, ________, _________.
If you're reading and you know it and you really want to show it.
If you're reading and you know it say the word, ________, _________.

If you're reading and you know it find the word.
If you're reading and you know it find the word.
If you're reading and you know it and you really want to show it.
If you're reading and you know it find the word.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fingerplay Friday-Apples, Fall, Reading

For those of you who are starting to see some signs of fall here are a few fingerplays related to fall.  We still are in the 100's.  For those of you who are musically inclined the letters in parenthesis is a cord to make the fingerplay into a song.

Colored Leaves
See the pretty colored leaves
Swaying gently in the breeze.
Let's all watch them as they fall,
Then name their color one and all!

Autumn Leaves
Trees are bending (C)
With the wind,(B)
Leaves are falling (A)
Twirling, twirling(F)
Swirling swirling(E)
Soon there on the (D)
I rake the leaves in
to a pile, and
Make it very
Then I jump with
All my might, and
Whee! I'm out of

Autumn leaves
Whirling twirling all around
Softly falling to the ground
Red and yellow orange and brown
Fall the autumn leaves

Apple Tree
(we change "little" to "red", "green", "yellow" on apple tasting day, then graph which apple we like best)
Way up high in the apple tree
2 little apples smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down came the apples "mmm" their good

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Literacy Centers- Name work/ word work

Exploring words in a variety of ways will help children learn spelling and improve vocabulary.  I believe in a hands- on approach even when spelling words.  I plan on making word boxes using sight words I will show you as soon as they are finished.  I will be using the empty baby food containers and stickers and other letters.  Children will be able to put the words together using the outside word as an example.  I may also make a surprise word box when they start reading words a little better.  For now here are some really special ideas I would like to try this year.   

Name work- provides letters so children can practice their names without worrying about correct letter formation.  These activities easily fit on a tray to encourage individual work.
Word work- for older children
Milk caps or bottle tops make a simple name game.  You can make each child a set and put it in a baggies with a label or just provide plenty of letters for children to chose from.

Christmas ornaments on a string printable. adorable!

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Toddler approved, easy name puzzle


This would be fun to use to spell names.

And here is a great way to store them.  Kids could take them home.

crayon rubbings with word puzzles

Valentine's words and other great Valentine's printables

Digging up your name or letters in a word, you could use plastic letters too.
Color words with Brown Bear, Brown Bear downloads thanks to Doodle bugs teaching
She has a lot of neat printables to check out too.

color by number site words

word and picture cards in color

printable site word stuff.  I love 1+1+1=1 playdo mats.

label your home, I send home a game like this, but she makes them pretty.

Now tell me the boys wont want to do this

Great for site words

I love this using colored alphabet pasta, and lots of other great ideas too.

Here is another great color word printable

I like these spinny spellers
I've been hearing a lot of sylable work going on.

This is a cute way to do it.  You can purchase the monster unit from Mrs. Lee's kindergarten from tpt

Here is a free syllable or clapping out words center sheet.  I love all the centers at  You have to visit.  The Jenga game is neat learning fun.  I want the gumball machine game.

This is a great word family center.  You'll also find a word family stick game.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Will Post Soon

Sorry everyone if you were looking for Fingerplay Friday or any other fun posts.  I have been very busy this week.  I was given a classroom to set up in 2 days before kids came, and because of budget cuts, it was taken away.  So I am in the midst of cleaning up and back on the sub list again.  I am also preparing for a wedding my daughter and I will be attending, so I will try to get things back up and running soon.  Thanks for your support and all the wonderful comments.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stages of Writing

     I don't have a lot of experience with a specific writing curriculum, but I have acquired a lot of knowledge though observation, conferences, college classes, and reading.  I was very fortunate to have a really good language arts teacher in college.  She showed us how important real literature and writing go hand in hand to teach children to read and write.

     Before a child is ready to write, Handwriting Without Tears, has shown that children progress in markings in a certain order.  First, side to side, then up and down, then a cross, then a circle, then a square, then a triangle.  This just states that diagonal writing is the hardest for little hands to make.  So, don't start writing with letter A.  When children start to assign meaning to their marks, then starts the real writing.

I found this very neat worksheet somewhere and thought it was a good description for parents to look at.  I hang it up on my parent board, so they can see that their child isn't just scribbling.

My daughter has really been interested in writing lately so here are some of her writings.  She is almost 4 1/2 now, so keep that in mind.  Also all of these writings happened in the last 6 months.  Children can move quickly through stages if they are interested. 

Stage 1 
Simple pictures tell the story.  I believe she told me this was our family.  She is the biggest one, of course.

Stage 2
Do you remember scribbling the continuous mountains.  They do mean something in this stage.  This was a fish.

Stage 3
Various letters in random order on the page.

Stage 4
We are not quite here yet but close.  Children in this stage start to use the phonemic knowledge they have to apply it to the letters they write.  I think you will notice the next 3 stages blend together very easily, so it may seem a child is skipping around.

You will start to see her L(upside down) and the i in her name.  She also found out that an M starts with her dad's name, so when her scribbles started to look like M's she continued to make them.
Stage 5
Children use the initial letter of each word to write sentences.
"I L U"
Stage 6
More phonemic awareness and maybe some words they know.
"I LV M Mommy"

Stage 7
Vowels appear.

Stage 8
Syllables are represented
"My Fav or it clr is prple

Stage 9
Many words are spelled correctly and more sentences are used.

Remember all children are different and progress at different rates, so I do not put ages next to any of these stages. 

There are ways to help children progress through these stages.  If you are familiar with guided reading you will probably know that guided writing goes right along with it. 

Write for children.  You are the model.  At calendar time you could write the date.  While children are making pictures or art, you could have the child dictate what they want their picture to say.  Make sure to use correct spelling and grammar. 

Write with children.  Called Shared writing.  Here is where correct spelling and grammar does not need to be enforced.  We do not want to discourage children from trying.  But if the class or child notices, use "boo boo tape" (any tape you can cover a mistake that the child notices and write over.)  Some people do a morning message.  I prefer to write about meaningful things that have happened in or outside the classroom.  Go for a walk.  Write what you saw.  If someone visited write about that.  Allow them to share the pen, writing the letters or words they know.  This also works really well one on one with students.  If a child is making a book, walk over and ask if you can help.     

Provide opportunities for children to write alone.  Have a writing center.  Use daily journals.  I would recommend asking the child to dictate after they are finished with their work so not to disturb their work.  This is helpful for children to see what they say can be translated into words, and as a parent, it is nice to understand what the child is drawing.  Children need to experience writing in order to progress through the stages.  I will be sharing some ideas for writing centers in a later post.

Handwriting Without Tears does offer a lot of neat writing manipulatives that help the child form letters correctly, use the pencil grip, start writing at the top of the paper, and others.  The CD's are great.  The wooden sticks and curves are great manipulative for kids to form letters.

Many of these tools can be bought cheaply through other means.

Playdough is one of these tools.  You can find many recipes for playdough on my blog.
This magnetic writer is another tool.  I would recommend buying one of their versions because they come with wooden magnetic pieces that children use to form letters. (They are called sticks and curves.)  If you have used one of these you know how easily they are destroyed, so finding them cheap is great.  This one $1.  Walmart had them as part of their Easter stuff.
Do you use a specific writing curriculum?