Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekend Review: Sea, Sand, ME

When you live in the very MIDDLE of the USA, the following concepts are completely foreign to you:
  • beach bag (we do have a "pool bag")
  • seashells
  • waves
  • sand castles
  • seaweed
  • seagulls
Thank goodness for the wonderful world of books! Logan and I read Sea, Sand, ME by Patricia Hubbell. I felt like it was a perfect book for his age (2 years old). It is repetitious. It is silly. It invites action- "We jump in the water and dance, dance, dance." My two year old can not sit still through that!!
Sea, Sand, Me!
In the story, a little girl goes to the beach for a day of fun with her mom and dad. She meets a little boy who enjoys playing in the water and exploring with her.
The illustrations are very simple but when introducing completely new concepts, I think simple illustrations are appropriate.
After reading the book, Logan and I made sea shell imprints into playdough. He wanted to do this for a LONG time. Without being prompted, he held up a big shell and said, "This a big one."
If you live near a beach (lucky), you could even have your child pick up the shells and bring them home for this activity. If you're like me, you'll have to pick up a bag at Dollar Tree!
We'll be at the beach all week. Stop by and visit. I'll be posting other beach books and activities we have enjoyed.
  (And by "at the beach", I mean sitting on a beach towel near our sand and water table on our deck in horrible Missouri humidity.... wish you were here.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

iLove Letters: Working with KNOWN letters

  1. Place 6 known letters at the top of an easel or cookie sheet. Have your child pull down the letters (moving from left to right) and name them. Have them repeat and do it faster.
  2. Model tracing over a magnetic letter as you describe the path of movement. For example: For the letter h you would say, "dow....n, up, and over"-stretch your voice to coordinate with the construction of the letter.
  3. Have your child trace over the letter and describe the path of movement. (You may have to guide your child's hand).
  4. Write the letter on an easel in dry erase marker (in large print), describe the path of movement for the child.
  5. Allow the child to "erase" the letter on the easel by moving his finger over the letter that was written in dry erase marker. Have the child describe the path of movement.
  6. Have the child write the letter on an easel and describe the path of movement.
  7. Write the letter using water and a paintbrush on a chalkboard or outside (like on the driveway). Describe the path of movement.
  8. Have the child copy the letter that you wrote. Can she do it before the water dries on your copy?
Why are we doing all of this with KNOWN letters?
Children need to be able to look at print and notice the features of the individual letters quickly. As your child progresses, you can start introducing one new letter at a time in with the known letters in these activities.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekend Review: The one where you do all the work for me!

I'm not writing a book review this weekend. So, the 2(?) of you who get your remarkable reviews here, you'll just have to wander elsewhere for information this weekend.... only don't wander too far. And please come back, k? Because I love my readers. I honestly love them.
In fact, I love my readers so much, I'm going to let you do my review for me this weekend. I need suggestions, I need recomendations, I'm pleading for some help here. At some point in the near future, I need to potty train my kid and I have (Don't tell my two year old!)
Recently, he's been showing a lot of those "signs of readiness" that the doctor told me about at his two year check-up. The problem? I'm not showing my signs of readiness. I haven't read any books on toilet training. I haven't read any websites. I don't have a plan of action. And that, my dear friends, is not like me at all. Also, I was "ready" to start toilet training after I had weaned my baby- cause, um, yeah, how do you spend time encouraging your two year old to sit on the pot, while feeding the baby at the same time???? I'm also not "ready" in that I don't have any of the "gear". Lately you can find me wandering the aisles of the baby section at the store. There are so many options: underwear, training pants, lined training pant thing-a-ma-bobs, pull-ups. Do I buy it all? Do I buy none of it and let him run around free as the breeze????
What books or other resources did you use to prepare you to potty train your child? What books did you use to prepare your child for potty training?
So, if you can write some reviews for me, I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. I'll stop now because that book, gives me the shakes!

Friday, July 23, 2010

iLove Letters: Magnetic Letter Sorts

There are many ways for your child to sort magnetic letters:
  • Sort by color.
  • Sort by feature (curves, slants, sticks or short, tall letters)
  • Sort out one particular letter (ie. put several "e"s in with a group of letters. Have your child pull out all of the letters.)
  • Match uper- case and lower case letters
  • Open sort: Give the child a group of magnetic letters, ask the child to sort the letters into groups and explain the grouping.

Have your child work toward doing the sorts quickly. The quicker they can distinguish the visual features in letters, the more it will help them in text. Have them do the same sort several times. Say, "Can you do again? Do it faster." Generally they like this challenge.
Most of these ideas came from my notes from my Reading Recovery Training Year.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tips and Tricks Thursday: Activating Prior Knowledge

My son is a lover of all things NON fiction. Which is hard for his momma, who can still get swallowed up in a picture book with a great plot.  He loves books about animals and trucks. One of his favorite books is a non-fiction text about the rainforest. We look at the pictures and discuss the animals in great detail.
If I am planning a fiction text to share with him, I often have to work hard to captivate his interest. Because he is only 2, he doesn't have a lot of background knowledge. Many of our prior knowledge activities involve going to a farm, going to the zoo, going to a park... and then reading stories that take place in those settings. We also do fun activities BEFORE reading a book.Like this fun activity we did before reading, "Please DO feed the Bears" by  Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. In fact, most of our crafts and activities are done before we read and not as a traditional after reading extension.
As we read the book, we use prior knowledge (or schema) to build upon his knowledge while reading. For example,after we visited a farm we shared a book about farm animals. He pointed to a goat and said, "doggy." I built upon his prior knowledge by saying, "That does look like a dog. It has fur and it is small. But that animal is called a goat. It says maaa-maaaa not arf-arf."
Since we do activities or "field trips" before reading a book, what do we do AFTER we read a book? I try to find a way to make connections. After reading, we might look at pictures of our recent zoo trip. "Remember when Logan saw a a lion just like the one in the book?" Or after reading, Please DO Feed the Bears, we might revisit our fun feeding the bears activity-- except this time use our new information from the book to pretend to feed the bears all kinds of treats that were mentioned in the book.  (A good reader will make connections text to text: this book reminds me of (another book), text to self (remember when Logan saw a lion?), or text to world.
As he grows and becomes more able to draw upon his own prior knowledge, we will probably make a shift to doing activities after reading.
Activating Prior Knowledge is a strategy that all proficient readers have been shown to use. If you would like more information about reading strategies that proficient readers use, I would suggest the books Mosaic of Thought or To Understand by Ellin Oliver Keene. (I wasn't paid or compensated in any way to say that, I've just found her writing to be invaluable!) Or, you could always just come back to! I'll be featuring more reader strategies soon!
How do you get your child ready to read? I'd love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Feeding the animals

I used this activity before reading the book, Please DO Feed the Bears by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.Please Do Feed the Bears

Activity: Feeding the Animals
  • Pictures of bears (or other animals)
  • Cardboard box (shoebox size)
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Uncooked pasta (I've used macaroni noodles or Penne noodles)
Preparation: Cut out pictures of bears (or other animals).I got my cute bear from the back of a Teddy Graham Box.  Glue one to each side of a box. Cut a hole where the animal's mouth is located. Loosely tape one side of box so it will stay closed while your child is playing, but could open up later.

To play: Give your child a handful of dry pasta. Model poking the pasta into the animal's mouth to feed the animal.

It totally looks like my teddy is smokin' something but I wanted you to see how the pasta just pokes right in there.

My son is 2 years old and he loved doing this over and over and over.
Variation: I also made one of these when we were reading books about zoos. On each side of the box, I glued a different animal. We then were the zookeepers and fed each animal.
I'm linking this up at Childhood 101, we play.

We Play

Why? Wednesday: What's your philosophy of learning?

Why are we doing this????
With all of the great "mommy bloggers", there are so many cute ideas out there, we can't do all of them. So, how do you pick the best activities for you and your child? Lately, I've been trying to formulate a philosophy of teaching and learning to gage the activities and see if they are a good fit for us. My oldest son is 2 and my youngest son is 6 months so this is definitely a "working document" that I expect will change.  However, here are some of the things I've thought about so far. (Many of these pertain to my 2 year old only). In my ideal learning environment:
  • Learning is fun and play centered. (Once he loses interest, we stop. Sometimes we come back to it later, sometimes not.)
  • I  follow the lead of the child.
  • I allow him to explore his interests yet I guide him to try new things.
  • I help him transfer his knowledge into new settings.
  • I model what I want to teach him rather than using a lot of words. (Show, don't tell).
I think it's important for teachers AND parents to have a philosophy of teaching and learning. If we are our child's first teacher, we need to consider the best ways to teach our particular child and then choose activities that match that philosophy.  Hopefully creating your own philosophy of teaching and learning will help you choose the best activities for your particular child.
Do you currently hold a philosophy of teaching and learning? What guides that philosphy? I'd love to hear your comments.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Review: 5 Little Monkeys

"The Five Little Monkeys and Mama can never drive far in their rickety, rattletrap, wreck of the car."

Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car board bookIn the story, Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car by Eileen Christelow, the Five Little Monkeys and Mama decide to sell their car. However, it has a lot of problems, it's dirty and smelly. So one little monkey has a plan,"I know!" says the monkey. He suggests that the monkeys wash the car, paint the car, and pour perfume on the car. However, they need a better marketing plan. No one can see the car parked in their front yard. "I know!" says one little monkey, and he suggests they push the car down the hill. The car rolls into a swamp and is overtaken by hungry crocodiles. Luckily one little monkey KNOWS how to get the car out! They end up selling the car to the crocodiles and Mama and the monkeys buy a new convertable.
Logan loved this book. He loved the flowing rhyme. He loved the pictures. He loved saying, "I know!" every time that phrase repeated. Tyson read this one with us and he seemed to enjoy it too. He tried to grab at the pages and "get" the pictures. I think because they were all so brightly colored. Older children would enjoy the humor of the story- especially how the monkeys trick the crocs into buying their car.

After reading the book, I gave Logan a cardboard cutout of a car and we painted it!

Monday, July 12, 2010

iLove Letters: Color Sort

Another letter activity for the younger set of kids. This can be done when no letters are known.
Activty: Color Sort
Supplies: Magnetic Letters
Model sorting magnetic letter by color. Then, have your child sort magnetic letters by color! That's it. Pretty easy.

What's the purpose? By sorting letters by color, your child is beginning to learn the skill of LOOKING for distinctive characteristics as well as learning the skill of SORTING letters into categories. Soon your child will be ready to sort letters by similar features so this is an easy preliminary activity. If your child is new to sorting, trying giving him letters of just 2 different colors.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekend Review: Brotherly Love

Baby Can
If you have ever had a second child added to your family, I guarantee you will relate to Baby Can by Eve Bunting. In Baby Can, everytime Mom, Dad, or Grandma comment on the things new baby James can do, big brother Brenden has to show that he can do it better.
This book reminds me of my two boys. When we comment at how well Tyson has rolled over, Logan has to roll all the way across the floor. If Tyson kicks his feet, Logan kicks his for a few seconds longer. Logan also likes to show me how he can spit up. Just like Tyson. ewww!
I really enjoyed this book. I enjoy books that are relatable to the adult audience as well as entertaining for kids. The text was clear and simple. In fact, I think a fairly new reader could handle this independently. The pictures were cute, supportive of the text, and even extended the story.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

iLove Letters: DIY name puzzle

Most children learn to recognize the letters in their name first. Here is a cheap, easy, and fun way to promote knowledge of the letters in your child's name.
Activity: Playdough Name Puzzle
  • Playdough
  • Letter cookie cutters
Roll out playdough and cut out your child's name.

Roll out a contrasting color of playdough and cut it out again.

(You could just do it with one color but we liked it better with a contrasting color).
Having a "puzzle" to fill in helps avoid confusions with directionality!! (As we had BEFORE I thought of making a name puzzle).

Logan really enjoyed putting the pieces in over and over and over and over!
Come play at the Childhood 101 We Play link up

We Play

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

iLove Letters: working with letters for newbies

I'm starting a new feature called iLove Letters. I orginally started a post on ways to work on letter knowledge with your child. It kept growing, and growing, and growing... I realized that everyone (including me) would be sleeping by the end.
I'm going to be sharing quick letter work activities periodically. I've also created a new tab at the top of my blog where you can access all of the letter work activities.
Today I'm sharing an activity for a child who only has a few known letters (or no known letters at all).  This is a little game Logan and I invented together and he LOVES it!

Activity: 1:1 muffin tin match
  • Magnetic letters
  • Muffin Tin
Turn a muffin tin over. Give your child the same number of letters as there are muffin cups. Have your child place one letter on each muffin cup. You can say the names of the letters or if they are known to your child have the child say the names. You can also practice directionality by modeling how to place the letters on the muffin cups moving from left to right, top to bottom.
Another variation is to have your child sort all of the letters of the same color in a given row.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sensory Water Bag

I recently shared an idea for Sensory Water Bags with The Activity Mom. She liked it and decided to feature it on her blog, which is totally flattering because she has a million GREAT ideas!
Recently, when I was reading about Sensory Bottles on her blog, it reminded me of Sensory Water Bags I had made for both Logan and Tyson as babies. Basically, you just fill a ziploc bag with water, add little things that you want your baby to get to touch but that you don't want your baby to put in his mouth, and tape closed. Nicole, "The Activity Mom ", has great photos of the activity so go check it out.
And even if you don't check out my idea, go check out some of the things I've loved on her site. Here are a few of the posts that are my favorite new ideas:

  • Pretend Play- Grocery Store- This is a budget friendly DIY grocery store play area. I can't wait for Logan to get more into pretend play!!

  • Buttons, Buttons, Buttons and Spaghetti Noodle Lacing I've been wanting to start lacing with Logan and these were great ideas for me!

  • Button Snake Logan has been working on getting dressed so this is a good one for us too. He's not ready for buttoning yet but gosh darn it, I TAUGHT first graders and my kid is NOT going to school asking the teacher to button for him :)
As you can see, I've used her site a lot to find things to go with skills I want to work on with the boys. One more thing that I like about this site is that she links back to the people who shared the idea with her. I think that is awfully nice! And today... it was me. Hooray! 

Weekend Review and a bucket of dinosaurs

Sammy and the Dinosaurs
Sammy finds a bucket of old dinosaurs in Gran's attic. "Dinosaurs don't belong in boxes," says Sammy. Sammy washes the dinosaurs, puts them in a bucket, and takes them everywhere he goes. Until one day, Sammy mistakenly leaves the dinosaurs on the train. But he knows how to get them back.

After reading this book, we used a bucket to wash our dinosaurs. It was an easy extension to the book. (We also put the bucket and the dinosaurs into our water table for play-- and hopefully continued comprehension of the book later!)
This is an adorable book. The illustrations are cute. The story line is great. There are a few lines that might be confusing to a toddler-- but I just rephrase it a little. My favorite part is that the book ends with "Endosaurus." Clever.
Logan's favorite part are the endpages. They are covered with dinosaurs. All neatly named. "What it is?" He says in his two year old lingo as he quizzes momma.
I also love this book because it reminds me of my nephew Nick. All grown up (at 6 years old) , he doesn't rely on his dinosaurs quite as much. However, Nick was adopted from China when he was 3 1/2. When he joined his family, his mommy brought dinosaurs to break the ice. (Smart mom! Knowing what little boys like universally). Nick became very attached to his dinos (and his mommy). For the first year, he took them every where he went-- not in a bucket, but usually in a large dump truck. I think he had 16 dinosaurs. He counted them a lot. Sammy in this book just reminds me of Nick. Such a loving little boy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I'd like to thank the academy

I won my first blog award!!! I love blogging. Random strangers give you AWARDS because they like what you do. It's made me think how much better I perform when my efforts are applauded.  And how often I should praise the efforts of my children and my husband-- people need to know they are appreciated, right? (Speaking of appreciating my hubs, he found out today that he got a huge raise that we weren't it's celebrations all around!!)
I'd like to thank The Foodie Mommy for this award. Check out her blog. It's a blog about cooking healthy foods with fresh ingredients. She tells you things like how to make brownies with spinach. That's right. Brownies. with Spinach! Crazy! In addition to recipes she has tips and videos and giveaways. Go check it out!
As a part of accepting this award, I'm supposed to come up with my blogging philosophy in 5 words.
I have to take you through my brainstorming though process on this one:
  1. My life in blog form. (I think that's actually really catchy. Unfortunately doesn't exactly fit this blog. Steal it if you like.)
  2. I don't have a blogosophy. (But I do like to make up new words.)
  3. Read to your baby daily. (I think this is one of my life philosophies. I think our education system would be a million billion times better if every parent heeded this advice.)
  4. I like sharing great books. (Sounds dumb but does accurately describe my blog in 5 words.)
I'm a newbie blogger so I haven't thought about things like philosophies but thanks for helping me work on that. I guess I pick #3.

As part of this award (and this is the fun part), I get to give 10 other bloggers A Blog With Substance Award.
Thanks you to all of the bloggers who have welcomed me into your blogging community!!

Thought for Thursday: Summer Reading Programs

Are your children participating in a summer reading program? If so, where is the program? How is it going? Does it motivate your child to read more in the summer? Chime in. I'd love to know your thoughts!