teaching thoughts

Get Out and Grow

As the weather gets cooler, it is a great opportunity to get outside. There is so much learning that can occur out in nature. Gross motor development is an essential part of your child’s development.

When children are very young, we focus on their gross motor development. Parents get so excited to watch their child roll over, sit up, crawl and walk. But, gross motor development does not end there. Children progress from walking, running, jumping, hopping and so much more. They need to launch off alternating feet to skip, gallop and hop.

Children need to continue to work on their trunk development. Working on core muscles of back, abs, shoulders and more assist in the stabilization of movements. As children grow they need to strengthen their larger muscles before they are able to develop and strengthen their smaller muscles.

Another little known developmental skill is crossing the midline. Children will need to be able to cross from left to right/right to left as well as top to bottom without rotating their whole body. This skill is essential for learning to correctly print letters and numbers.

So what can you do? Get out and play! Play hopscotch. Practice climbing up and down playground ladders. Pass objects around and behind. Practice pumping a swing (remind them to use their arms to pull and their legs to pump). Go for a hike. Pedal a bike, tricycle or other ride on toys. Play catch. Play frisbee. Kick a ball. All this is learning. All this development. All this is purposeful play!

STEAM · story · topic · writing


Who doesn’t love to build sandcastles? Here are some great sandcastle books

Super Sandcastle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy (read by Stuart J. Murphy) -this story works on measurement

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk -this story talks about taking a problem and breaking it down into specific steps

Now let’s watch SciShow Kids explain how to build a perfect sandcastle.

Now, if you live near a place that has sand, go build your own sandcastle.

Don’t have sand nearby? No problem!! Build a castle out of blocks, rocks, Lego blocks, or other items you have at home.

When you finish your castle, measure your castle. You can use standard and/or non-standard forms of measurement. The draw a picture of your castle and include the measurements in your drawing. After, write a story about what is happening in your castle. Who lives there? What adventures occur inside?

math · STEAM

Fall Measurement

Time to get outside and do a bit of measuring! I went around my yard and collected a variety of items.

I will show you a few different PreK/kindergarten skills on measurement with these items.

First I took all the leaves and compared the length of the leaves and then put them in order from largest to smallest. Encourage the use of terms such as longest, shortest, longer, shorter, compared to, equal to.

Then I used acorns to measure the items. You want to try to find acorns that are about the same size or you can print out paper acorns such as the ones in the kit I will tell you about at the bottom of this post.

This is an opportunity to work on measuring expectations.

Making sure you start at the edge of the item (top, bottom or side depending on how you are measuring).

Try to get to the exact opposite edge in a straight line.

All the items should be touching without any gaps, or as much as possible… the acorns were rolling every time I tried to take a picture.

You could also take a ruler or yard stick outside and practice standard measurements too!

Non-Standard Measurement for Fall

Looking for more measurement? Want to do some measurement inside? The Non-Standard Measurement for Fall kit can be used for measure the room (put the pictures around the room even better around your house) and have your child find the pictures and then measure them. You can use the long recording sheet with real or paper acorns. The half sheet can be used with any standard or non-standard measuring tool. I try to keep my kit prices affordable and worthwhile for both teachers and parents who may choose to purchase the kit. Thank you for supporting all my efforts at this time!

story · topic · writing

Topic Tuesday- In My Backyard

Spring has finally sprung in my corner of the world, ok we have had lots of signs of spring, but the weather is finally cooperating. So this week we are going to focus on our own backyards. With the world still shut down to some degree, the backyard is a safe place to be.

In my backyard by Lori F.

In my backyard

I can be

Anything I want to be

I can ride in a spaceship

Up to the moon

I can set up a picnic

And eat mud pies with a spoon

I can roll in the grass

Or watch the clouds roll by

I can swing on my swing

And pretend I can fly

In my backyard

I can be

Anything I want to be

Take time today to let your child’s imagination run wild in the backyard. Have a picnic lunch. Lay down and look at the clouds, birds and see if you can find a plane.

Your backyard is an ecosystem. Can you find living and nonliving things? Can you find various types of plants and animals that make your backyard their home?

When you come back in, after you wash your hands, complete a writing assignment. You will notice that one sets your child up to write a narrative. The other sets your child up to write an expository text. Yes, children as young as 4/5 can write both, and enjoy it!

narrative writing activity…. What can you be in the backyard?
expository writing…. What do you see in your backyard ecosystem?
math · STEAM

Monday Math- backyard measurement

When we teach measurement in early childhood education we use both standard and non-standard measurements. This means we use rulers, yard sticks, tape measures as well as linking cubes, paper squares and other non-standard tools.

The key to using non-standard measurements is to use things that are all the same size. The key points we work on are: starting and ending at the edges of the item, counting all the whole units and estimating the partial units (we typically stick with half and whole). When using non-standard units making sure there are no gaps between the items used to measure.

Here are a few on-line items to try out before jumping into the measurement fun. https://jr.brainpop.com/math/measurement/nonstandardmeasurement/


Choose one form of measurement to try out today. You can do the same exact items another day with a different measurement tool. Now go outside and measure!

Some things to measure are: rocks, front steps, plant heights, items you draw with chalk, foot prints, and anything else that stays still long enough to measure!

When working on measurement in early childhood we introduce the terms length/long, width/wide, height/tall, perimeter, inch, and units. These terms help them understand what they are measuring, but are not expected to be mastered at this time.

Under each pictures I wrote how I would state the measurement of the object.

the stick is about 3 crayons long
the rock is about 4 Lego blocks wide at the widest point
each side of the capstone square is about 4 and a half Lego blocks long
the bench is about 4 markers tall
the bench is about 8 and a half makers long
the grill is about 20 inches wide

game · letter work · STEAM · word work

word work Wednesday- lowercase letter practice

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I strongly believe in the importance of children recognizing, writing and matching the sound to lowercase letters. You can read about this here. Playing games with the alphabet makes it more enjoyable and helps your child build fluency.

Children need to be able to quickly recognize the letter by name and sound. Just as later on it is important for children to master sight words, phonemic blending and vocabulary in order to read fluently, they also need to master letter recognition and phoneme matching. So, this means keep playing games with those letters until your child is able to confidently and quickly name the letter and the sound it makes!

Here are a few fun games.

This first game can be played indoors or out…

It’s raining letters!

Create a collection of letters (magnetic letters, letter cards, flash cards, post it notes… doesn’t matter). Put all the letters in a bunch, when I play this in the classroom we use magnetic letter and I put them on a plate. Now toss all the letters up into the air and let them fall down. Now find the letters. In the classroom we do this by having each child pick a few and then we put the letters into alphabetical order. At home, you could call out a letter name and have your child go find that letter. If you have multiple children, or are playing yourself, you could have the children find as many letters as they can, but they can only keep the letter if they know the letter’s name.

Chalk Alphabet Fun

chalk letters

Want to get outside and use some chalk? This is a great medium to practice letter writing. Have your child write his/her name. Pick 3-5 letters and have him/her write the capital and lowercase letters. Play hopscotch, but put letters instead of numbers. Create an alphabet caterpillar. So many fun ways to play with letter writing and chalk

If you do not want the letters to sat on your walk… play another game. Give your child a paint brush and water, a hose or even a squirt gun. Ok now tell them a letter and have them squirt the letter until it is gone!

rock alphabet letters

Here is one more fun outside alphabet activity. Have your child recreate the letters using natural object. They could use rocks, sticks, grass, or any other items they find outside. This is part of loose parts learning. In the loose parts learning philosophy, you provide children with bits of this and that and let them create their own expression. This can be done with natural items, Lego blocks, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, or any other item that can be used in a variety of ways. Loose parts is open ended and allows your child to use their imagination to show what they know.

And just in case you are stuck inside with rain or need your child to plug in for a bit… here is a fun bubble alphabet game. https://www.ictgames.com/phonicsPop/index.html

family activity · STEAM

Fun Friday- Backyard/Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

As spring is finally, maybe, showing up and staying longer and longer, it is time to spend more time outside. Many of the activities I have shared can be moved outside and I will try to provide simple alterations to taking the learning outside.

Today’s fun Friday activity is made for being outside. You can do this in your backyard or while going on a social distance walk around your neighborhood. Scavenger hunts are a great way to encourage your child, and you, to look at the details you might overlook normally.

I created two suggestions for you, but you and your child can create his/her own criteria. I also used two different formats for collecting the information, but there are many other ways too.

The first one looks for colors. Where can you find each color. Have your child do a quick illustration of the item they found of each color. What colors are easy to find and which are more challenging? Can you find only living or nonliving things to represent each color?

The second I created a specific item search. How many of each item can you find? I drew ten frames to collect the amount, but you could also teach your child to tally count, or even create a graph to collect the quantity. Have your child think of his/her own list of items they think will be seen on the walk. If you are going into the woods or by a pond, then switch it up to match the items you would see specific to that ecosystem.

Create the form before you leave the house. Then provide your child with a clipboard, pen (if you attach it with a string it won’t get lost and they will think it is the coolest), and head out. Talk about what you see. Conversation is a key tool in learning. This chat you have with your child is a critical. It provides engagement. It allows for higher level thinking. Remember to talk to your child with “big” words, use science terms… they love it and soak it up!