phonemic awareness · story

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes are short poems/songs that children have learned for years and years. These are still important to learn today. They allow children to play with words. Also, by reading these simple rhymes in story book form, we encourage the connection between the text and spoken word. The goal is for children to recognize that they can tell the story. While we do not want children to believe that the way to read is to memorize all the words, we do want them to make the connection between what is said and what is written. We do want them to view themselves as readers. We do what them to gain the confidence that they can and will read books. So… provide your child with books they love. Provide your child with books they know. And read, read and read some more.

Here are links to nursery rhyme books read aloud:

story · topic

It’s Earth Day

Did you know that Earth day is also International Mother Earth day? Well… it is! Did you also know there is a song inspired by the Indian poet Abby Kumar that has become the Earth Day anthem. Here is a Multilanguage version of the song.

Let’s read an story. Today’s story is Earth Day Every Day by Lisa Bullard

Find a way to protect and save our earth… today and every day!

positive steps therapy · topic

Therapy Thursday– Gross Motor Insects

If you tuned into my blog last week, you read about my new team up with Positive Steps Therapy. They will be providing tips and tricks to help your child with all sorts of activities that work on improving and increasing developmentally appropriate skills (gross motor, fine motor, speech and language and more).

On Saturday, I posted the first post together on gross motor development. You can check it out here. Today I’m going to share how I would incorporate some of these skills into this week’s topic!

Movement! Children love movement, and movement is key for gross motor development. Here are three links to videos to get your kiddos moving: The Insect Song with Will Parker, Bug ‘n Roll by Pinkfong and Enzo the Bee with Cosmic Kid Yoga. These videos can be watched and followed along. The two song videos you can just listen to the music and you and your child can make up your own moves and actions.

Want to play a game? Create your own dice with insect movements. Grab a cardboard box. Have your child draw 6 different insects, one on each side. Now toss the box to roll it. Whatever insect is on the top, your child must move like that insect. You can let them choose when to switch or set a timer for each movement. This is a great activity to take outside. Some suggested insects and movements– crawl like an ant, flutter like a butterfly, buzz around fast like a bee, jump/hop like a grasshopper, pounce like a mantis, fly like a ladybug.

Here are some of the Positive Step ideas that can be changed into insect activities:

  • 2-3 Feed the frogs – Cut out frogs or other animals or use stuffed animals and place them at the bottom of the stairs. Place pom poms (food for animals) on the first few steps. Tell your child to walk up a certain number of stairs and collect the food to bring them to the frogs. Encourage your child to alternate feet on the stairs. 
  • 3-4 Perform animal walks to encourage gross motor development and overall strengthening. Use your imagination and practice being different animals such as bear, frog, kangaroo, flamingo, horse, and crab. 
  • 4-5 Practice jumping with two feet progressing to one foot by using hula hoops as place markers 

STEAM · story · writing

Dragonflies

Today we will learn about one type of insect, a dragonfly. Let’s listen to the story Are You a Dragonfly by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. Then head over to SciShow Kids (Super Strong Dragonfly) to learn some more dragonfly facts. Just for fun, listen to the song D-D-D-Dragonfly by Pinkfong.

Now… let’s draw a picture and write some facts!

Teaching your child to create a can, are, have chart will assist them in collecting facts. This also becomes the start of writing paragraphs about the topic. When learning to write, provide your child the sentence starter and have them complete the fact “Dragonflies are _____. Dragonflies can_____. Dragonflies have____.” As they get better at writing and understanding the format of writing, they will then begin to use this format in their own informative writing process.

STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic · writing

Head, Thorax, Abdomen…

This week we will learn about bugs! First let’s watch SciShow Kid’s Inspect an Insect. Think about bugs you know… are they insects? Remember an insect has an exoskeleton, 3 body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) and six legs. Here is Dr. Jean singing a song about insect body parts.

Now let’s draw and label an insect. Which type will you draw? An ant, a beetle, a walking stick, butterfly, dragonfly?? Make sure it has a head, thorax and abdomen, only six legs and an exoskeleton.

Children love learning about the world around them. Learning about items found in nature and discovering the fascinating facts about these items motivates children to learn more. This lesson taps into a child’s natural curiosity about why things are what they are. What fits into the category of an insect and why? Learning to draw detailed pictures and label them will help with later studies in science. The incorporation of music helps to connect to additional levels of learning, fun and so much more.

art · story · topic

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Today we will read the story Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon. I have to say that I not only enjoyed this story, but the teacher who is sharing this book extends the learning to explain a bit about the musicians in the story.

The first activity today is to listen to Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Mood. While you listen to this song, draw. Drawing to music is a great way to express feelings. There is no right or wrong way to draw to music and just as Thelonious Monk believed in adding dissonance to his music, encourage your child to add things that look a bit “off” to their art. When I draw to music, I tend to just like to draw in the abstract, but many children find inspiration to more true to life drawings.

Next, listen to Eboni Ramm and the band explore the various types of jazz combining the story Kayla and Eli Discover Jazz by Steven Earl and samples of the types of music. (click here for the link to SC Jazz Festival’s exploration of this story and music). While listening to this story and music, do not sit and watch the video, get up and move! Listen to the different styles of jazz. How can you move your body to match the different jazz styles? Some music types might make you want to move your whole body and others just your head, toes or fingers. There is not a right way… the goal is to move. Which type of jazz did you like best? Did you like the jazz that gets you moving a lot or the ones that make you just want to sway?

family activity · story · topic

Scat Singers

Yesterday we looked a little bit at Jazz music. This musical expression is a lot of fun for children. Today let’s look at Scat! First listen to this clip of Louis Armstrong singing Dinah. You will notice that Armstrong uses scat to create the music with out words. Let’s read the story When Louis Armstrong Taught me Scat by Muriel Harris Weinstein.

Want to hear a bit more scat? Here are Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington in It Don’t Mean a Thing. Want to learn more about this amazing singer? Let’s listen to the story Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney or Little People Big Dreams Ella Fitzgerald by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara.

Scat is a singers opportunity to express sounds beyond the words. They play with sounds and phonemes. Phonemes is the sounds that make up words. Children need to play with phonemes and learn to manipulate the sounds letters make on their own and blended together before they try to read the written word.

Today spend some time dancing and singing. Listen to more Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald songs, or find other scat singers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin or many more. Listen to the sounds they make with their voices and how it impacts the feel of the song.

Listen to this song by Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme, notice that there are few actual words, but there is feeling, there is rhythm. Can you use your voice to sound like instruments? Can you express feelings with out words?

Now let’s get moving! Jazz music is all about movement. Can you move your body to match the musical feeling? Make yourself big when the tone goes up and smaller when the tone goes down. Move fast when the beat is fast and move slow when the beat slows down. Play copy me: I move you move and see if you and your child can create some jazzy moves to go along with the beat. Get up and feel the music!

story · topic

Jazz!

Today is Mardi Gras which is a holiday that is famous for the celebrations in New Orleans. This first book is about a fictional band that played in New Orleans, but went away. They are trying to imply the time of Hurricane Katrina, but do not speak about it straight out. It talks about the impact that the band and music has on the culture of New Orleans and Bourbon Street. The Bourbon Street Band is Back by Ed Shankman.

The second story is written by Wynton Marsalis, Squeek Rumble, Whomp, Whomp, Whomp shows how you can listen to your world and hear the music. Watch this video as Wynton Marsalis shows how you can take other songs and put them into a jazz feel! If you and your child enjoy this, I encourage you to find his Nursery Rhyme Swing concert at Lincoln Center.

Now it is your turn. Find sounds around your house and see if you can create your own jazz. Can you take a song you know and tweak it to make it more your own.

story · teaching thoughts

The Love Letter

Today we will read the story The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise. In this story, a hedgehog, bunny and squirrel are friends. They enjoy being together, and having their own personality quirks. One day hedgehog finds a letter, but not just any letter, a love letter. This motivates him to act more cheerful, as the love of friendship in this letter perks his mood. Each of the friends finds the letter and the letter helps them each feel loved. Until, they realize that the letter was found by the others. That the letter wasn’t meant for them. See what happens when they learn who wrote the letter and how the author of the letter helps them each see the joy they found.

This is a great opportunity to explore feelings. Often times adults assume that children understand and can read feelings, but it often is not true. Children struggle with understanding their own feelings never mind seeing and understanding the feelings of others. We need to explore feelings with children. Listen and watch The Feeling Song by Miss Molly and then illustrate feelings with your child.

Have your child write/dictate a love letter to a friend or family member. Show how this letter can help another feel good… AND help the person writing it also feel good!

art · STEAM · story · topic

It’s Groundhog’s Day

It’s February 2nd the day to celebrate groundhogs!

You can:

Today is also a great day to learn about shadows! If it is a bright sunny day where you live, go outside and trace shadows with sidewalk chalk. You can go outside again later and see if the shadows have changed! A fun way to do this is to trace your child’s feet and then trace their shadow, later go out and stand in the feet outline… does your shadow still fit in the outline?

If it is too cold, ok like here in my town there is too much snow to do this activity outside today. But that does not mean you can’t play with shadows! Build something with Lego blocks, use dolls or action figures, or use other toys. Stand them on a white piece of paper and use a light to cast a shadow. Using a flashlight, you can change the length and direction of the shadows just as the sun does as the earth rotates.