Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finding My Place in This World

We are celebrating Independence Day this week. It's difficult to explain to a three year old that we are celebrating our country's birthday... especially when he doesn't exactly understand what I mean by "country". He does, however, sort of understand our home, our street, our city, and maybe a little about our state. Last weekend, we traveled across state lines from Missouri to Illinois so we had an opportunity to talk about that. However, I decided to try and help him visualize where we fit in this big wide world with a simple nesting cup activity. (I used to do this with older kids when I was teaching, so this is a lesson we will probably repeat many times).
We began with the largest nesting cup which I termed "Our world".

The next cup represented "Our country". I put it inside our world.
Inside of that cup, I placed "Our State, Missouri".

Inside of our state, I put our town.

Inside of our town, I put our street.

Inside of our street, I put our house.

Of course, you could break this down in different ways to fit your region. You could also include continents, counties, etc. This was all that I could get a three year old to attend to.

After doing our nesting cups, we made a playdough map of the world. I found this idea at Hubbards Cupboard. Basically we just put a big blob of playdough on our country and then stuck USA flags into the playdough. My boys are really into playdough, so this was a huge hit.

I'm linking this up:

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

play academy

This week's theme at the Smart Summer Challenge is Me on the Map. I thought this activity would fit wonderfully!

smart summer button '11

Oh, and check out some of our favorite books to celebrate America's Birthday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fun Fourth of July Activities for Preschoolers

fourth of july, preschool activities

We've been busy doing many fun fourth of July activities! Here were some cool ways that we celebrated Independence day.

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1. Playdough map- I put playdough on the United States on a map of the world. Logan stuck toothpick American flags into the playdough.
2. Star sun catcher. Cut clear contact paper into a star shape. Add red white and blue paper. You can use circles from a hole puncher, strips of paper, or cut stars.
3. Star Run- I modified a shape run activity from Hubbard's Cupboard. We placed several red, white, and blue stars on one side of the yard. On the other side of the yard, we placed one big red star, one big blue star, and one big white star.  Logan ran, picked up a star, and brought it back and matched it with the correct star.

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After doing the color run, we put the stars in the driveway and practiced walking in a straight line, jumping, and hopping on one foot (or at least attempting to hop on one foot).

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4. Flag cookies- from Joyful Learning

fourth of july preschool, fourth of july crafts, fourth of july activities, summer activities for preschool children, ready set read
Logan didn't really like the idea of making the flag cookies. I think it was too hard for him. So I just iced a graham cracker and he used blue and red star sprinkles to decorate.
5. Red, white, and blue windsock- from A Mommy's Adventures
6. Decorating a garbage truck for a 4th of July parade.- from JDaniel4'smom
7. Fireworks painting, using food coloring with water and straws to blow the "paint" into firework designs. (From Joyful Learning).

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8. Book making- We created a file folder counting book. I would write, "I see 1 star, I see 2 stars, etc." Logan stuck the correct number of stars (with lots of help) onto the page. (I also modeled writing the words while he watched and saying sounds slowly as I wrote them down.)
9. Glitterworks- We created fireworks with glitter glue and paper. (From Joyful Learning)
10. Edible Sparkler- We created an edible sparkler by using pretzel rods, yogurt, and sprinkles. ( I substituted yogurt for the marshmallow creme that this website calls for. It worked OK.)
11. Star sort- We sorted red, silver, and blue stars by color and size.
Logan and Tyson also got to go on a Fourth of July camping trip with family and Logan got to hold a REAL sparkler.

This year we're going to up the ante and try out a firework show... we're even going to try and stay up after dark!
How are you celebrating Independence Day?

Literacy Beginnings: Chapter 1

Pre-K Pages Pre-K Pages is hosting a Book Study Blog Party.When I saw the opportunity to connect with other bloggers and teachers while learning more about literacy in early childhood, I was stoked!  Basically, a bunch of bloggers are studying the same book this summer and posting reflections.  This is just the kind of professional learning I have been looking for online.
Literacy Beginnings: A Prekindergarten HandbookI was also excited to see the book selection was a new book by Fountas and Pinnell called Literacy Beginnings.  Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas are regarded as literacy gurus... at least in this neck of the woods. While I've studied some of their books for older grades, I was excited to get to read a book that related to my child's stage of development.
Many of the bloggers who are participating in this study are seasoned prekindergarten teachers. I am not. In fact, as many of you know, I am a stay at home mom of these two darlings.
Tyson (1 1/2)  and Logan (3) hang out at our hotel this weekend!

I think it will be interesting to reflect on how I can use the strategies in this book to provide a more print-rich environment in my home.
While I am currently staying home, I do plan to return to the classroom eventually. I hope to read as much as possible in these years that I am "off" work (ha, ha) so I will be well prepared when I go back to work. Connecting with other professionals both online and in the "real" world, should be beneficial too.
After reading the introduction and Chapter 1, I've already found some things to reflect on regarding my home.

  • The authors encourage teachers to observe, observe, observe their children, and to link to what a child already knows. "The foundation of our teaching is our understanding of the unique development of each child, as we bring our instruction to the cutting edge of that child’s development.We provide opportunities for growth while carefully observing children’s language, reading, and writing behaviors" Sometimes it's easy to get caught in an activity that interests us as the parent or the teacher, or perhaps a project that is just "cute". Ever picked a project because it would make a great blog post? Guilty. When I'm looking for a program for my sons, I want to find one that focuses on understanding the individual child instead of just following a prescribed set of learning objectives.
  • Children need experiences that help them realize that reading and writing are valuable tools-- and are worth working toward. Some of these experiences might include read alouds, labels, exploring letters and sounds to determine relationships between the two, rhyming and language play, and playing with writing. One area that I would like to improve on, is providing more labeling to make our home a more print-rich environment. I am going to look for play areas where labels would naturally fit. The authors mentioned creating menus in your play kitchen or letting your child take orders before an evening meal. These would be fun ways to make literacy learning a part of your every day life. 
Those are the two things that jumped out at me from the first chapter. I can't wait to read more of this book as well as reflections from other educators. You can join in on the conversation by linking up a blog post here or simply commenting to share your thoughts. I would love to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Fourth Of July Picture Books

We love celebrating the Fourth of July with fun picture books about America's Birthday! 
Fourth of July Mice!, fourth of july preschool, fourth of july crafts, fourth of july activities, summer activities for preschool children, ready set read, picture books, book activities, early literacy Fourth of July Mice is a perfect book for celebrating the fun of the fourth. In this story, a mouse family partakes in a parade, a picnic, a swim, and of course, a fireworks show!

Currently, my son is obsessed with fireworks. This is a cute fourth of July book that includes a grand fireworks show. 
fourth of july preschool, fourth of july activities, summer activities for preschool children, Corduroy's Fourth of July (Corduroy (Board Book)), picture books, ready set read, early literacyCorduroy's Fourth of July (Corduroy (Board Book)) In this story, Corduroy and his friends participate in the fourth of July festivities... and take in a firework show. I like that Tyson (age 17 mo) can handle this nice board book and point to the flags and the fireworks. Thanks to A Mommy's Adventures for the book suggestion. 

My boys also love parades. Last year, we found this super fun book idea from JDaniel4's mom

fourth of july preschool, Grandma Drove the Garbage Truck, fourth of july crafts, fourth of july activities, summer activities for preschool children, ready set read, picture booksGrandma Drove the Garbage Truck In this story, Grandma has to fill in for her sick sons on the Fourth of July. She drives the truck around town, picking up balloons and roses and other items as she goes. She inadvertently decorates her truck and drives into the Fourth of July parade! 

The fourth of July is also a fun way to sneak in some learning. These books should help my boys learn about our country, our flag, and our pledge to the flag.

fourth of july preschool, Pledge Of Allegiance, fourth of july activities, summer activities for preschool children, ready set read, picture books, book activities, early literacyPledge Of Allegiance 2001 The text is the pledge as written by Francis Bellamy. However, each page features on phrase of the pledge along with beautiful photos depicting that phrase.

fourth of july preschool, The Story of America's Birthday, fourth of july crafts, fourth of july activities, summer activities for preschool children, ready set read, picture books, early literacy, book activitiesThe Story of America's Birthday Patricia Pingry is a go to author for holiday themes. This sturdy board book does a great job of introducing the story of Indepdence Day in a simple way.

fourth of july preschool, fourth of july activities, F Is For Flag (Reading Railroad Books)F is for Flag is a perfect pick for flag day (June 14th) but it also works great for Independence Day. This story teaches not just about the physical flag, but about what it symbolizes-- unity, family, and our country.(Thanks Nursery Rhymes and Fun Times for the suggestion).

The Fourth of July (Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays. I love that the only thing required for this holiday is picnics, water games, or laying around on blankets to watch fireworks. There are no lavish meals or presents to buy. We just get to relax, and the hubs gets a day off work! Now that's a holiday!
We're always looking for great books to enjoy? Do you have a favorite Fourth of July or fireworks book? Please share!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No time for play time?

I haven't done any "blog worthy" playing with the kids this week. I've been packing for my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law's wedding this weekend. We're all a part of the wedding party! It will be tons of fun but it also requires a ton of stuff. I am no lite packer. My husband has learned this and he has learned to live with it!
Instead of playing, we've been packing. I did have a fun car wash painting that we were going to do this week but we never got to it. Maybe you're intrigued now? Come back next week. I'll share it!
I did want to mention that Hands On: As we Grow featured my Playful Literacy: Creating a Zoo on their weekly "It's Playtime" link up today. I'm so excited to get to share that idea over there. Since I'm not sharing any play activities today, why don't you hop on over to Hands On: As We Grow. There are 55 play ideas already linked up! You're sure to find something fun.
featured at hands on : as we grow
We did take one break from all the packing today, to enjoy a picnic on our front lawn. It was a gorgeous day. A little windy but beautiful.
 We topped it off by shooting a few hoops before we returned inside for naps!

It will be slow around here for the next few days as we'll be off at the wedding!! While I'm gone, don't forget to enter my Cars 2 giveaway. It ends July 1st, and it's a pretty fun prize pack.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Highway ABC Cards

Want a fun way to practice letter formations? Check out these printable letters, shapes, and numbers at Making Learning Fun.
I printed the letter "L" for Logan as well as the cross and the circle. (We've been working on writing those two shapes in our Handwriting Without Tears Curriculum).
I set them out as an invitation for "writing" practice.

Ps. Look at those cars modeling top to bottom, left to right directionality! What good cars!

Want more Cars fun? Enter to win a Cars 2 Fun Pack! (Cars 2 T shirt, temporary tattoos, bumper tickets, and a puzzle). Giveaway ends July 1, 2011.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bookmaking: Cars 2 Emergent Reader

We have explored books about cars several times in the past. Here are some transportation themed books I've shared previously as well as some that were shared by Brimful Curiosities and Nursery Rhymes and Fun Times.

After watching an advance screening of Cars 2 on Saturday, I decided it would be fun to make a Cars 2 book just for Logan to add to our transportation themed collection.

Using Disneys Cars stickers, we created this book. (If you don't have any Cars stickers, check out this free Radiator Springs Playset, the car pieces would probably fit perfectly in a book. I'm going to print one out and make a playset out of it too-- super cute!)

For our book, I wrote  a simple sentence on each page.
 Logan placed the correct sticker on each page.
We then read our book together:

As you can see, he wasn't exactly "reading" the story as written. Since he's only three, I was pretty stoked that he was turning pages, looking left to right, and approximating a story that made sense.
However, if he was an emergent reader, I'd probably grab his little hand, and read it with him while I pointed to the text. (You know, while I held the camera, lol).
Some other ideas for text are:
I see a...
This is...
Here is...
If you have an early reader, consider using sight words that your child is working on to create a personalized reading experience.

There is also a free printable emergent reader about racecars at Making Learning Fun.

I'm linking this up:

Kid Konnection at Booking Mama
Book Sharing Monday at Smiling Like Sunshine

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a Cars 2 prize pack.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cars 2 Review and Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!!
Logan and I were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the new Cars 2 movie  in 3D yesterday. It opens in theaters June 24th! We had so much fun and we both really enjoyed the movie.
My three year old reviewer gave it two thumbs up. After watching the movie, he said, "Thank you for taking me to the Lightening McQueen movie 'feater' (theater)." I asked him his favorite part and he said, "All the crashes!" 
I had worried a little that it would be too much of an "action" film for him. We haven't let him watch shows with shooting or explosions yet, and I thought he might be scared. Nope, he loved it. Guess he's not such a baby anymore -- even though I want him to be!
If you want to check it out before letting your kids go see it, this clip is a good example of the level of intensity.

Disney has been so generous and they are now willing to share that generosity with one of my readers! One reader of Ready.Set.Read! will have the opportunity to win a Disney Cars 2 prize pack, courtesy of Disney.

One lucky Reader Can Win a Cars 2 Prize Pack that includes:

CARS 2 t-shirt in youth size of S, M, L, XL (you can choose the size you like)

CARS 2 set of 3 bumper tickets

CARS 2 temporary tattoo sheet (2 per winner)

CARS 2 puzzle

How to Enter:
Leave a comment sharing your favorite Cars Movie character or a comment naming your favorite character from any Disney movie.

Extra Entries (1 entry per item. Please leave a separate comment for each):
This giveaway will end on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 10 pm CST. The winner will be chosen through I will notify the winner by email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email or a new winner will be selected. Please include your email address in the comment or have it linked to your comment. This giveaway is only open to US and Canada.

I knew Logan would LOVE this movie, so I have already prepared some Cars themed literacy activities for the week! Come back all week and find free ideas of fun ways to play with cars... and learn a little too.