STEAM

It’s apple season!

Fall means apples. It is time to pick out some tasty apples to eat and try. Have your child go with you to the grocery store, or even better an apple orchard. Pick out a variety of apples to try. In school, we typically try to pick 3 or 4 apples that look different (granny smith, golden delicious, red delicious and Macintosh for example).

When you get home have your child observe all the different apples. Ask your child to describe some attributes that are the same. Then have them compare the differences. Let your child choose one apple and have them illustrate the apple with crayons or other coloring media.

Now discuss the parts of the apple. How do you think the apple was attached to the tree? Why do you think the bottom is bumpy? Can you describe the skin? By asking questions such as these, you are allowing your child to explore the apple and use their creative thinking to discover the step, blossom end and attributes of the skin.

Now for the fun part… cutting open the apple. Pick two apples to cut. Slice one in half from stem to blossom. Have your child observe and explore the flesh, seeds, core and skin. Then ask your child what they think will happen if you cut the apple in half through the middle the other way. What do you see? Why do you see a star shape? What caused that? How many seeds do you think are inside?

Finally taste the different types of apples and discuss flavor and textures.

teaching thoughts · topic

Transitions

Ever feel like you are hearding cats just trying to get one or two children to go from playing to eating dinner? Did you ever wonder how your child’s teacher gets 18-25 children to move from one activity to another? Let me tell you a secret… it’s all about consistent transitions!

What is a transition? A transition is the movement from one place or activity to another. So in school that might mean going from circle time to learning centers. Or moving from the classroom to the playground or cafeteria. This is not some type of magical powers that good teachers have, it is all about laying a foundation of expectation, practice, review and independence.

Cueing children is the first step. Children, and adults, have a hard time dropping something without warning. Yes, they need to learn to do this for emergencies, but for the most part you know a bit ahead of time that they are going to need to stop. So, let them know. A five minute and then a 2 or 3 minute warning is more than enough to let them know a change is coming. When you start this process you need to state clearly… “In 5 minutes you will need to stop playing with your puzzle and come to table for dinner.” As you move into the independence phase you can shorten this to just 5 minutes until dinner as they know the expected behavior at that time.

The first few times you do this, you will want to help the process. What do you expect them to do in this transition time? Should everything be cleaned up and put away? If you are leaving the house in 5 min, do you expect them to already have their shoes and jacket on?

Another key factor is establishing independent and shared tasks. The more you can have your child do on his/her own the smoother things will go down the line. But… and this is key… if you want them to do it on their own, you have to teach them to do it on their own. ANDDDD you need to let them do it. In the beginning it will take longer, but if you do it for them it will not be an independent task.

This is a process. Teachers take the first month of school to teach transitions. Take the time. Walk through the steps. Do not get discouraged it your child forgets steps or melts down. This is all part of the learning process. Once you and your child see that these transition plans help smooth out life… it will all be worth it!

teaching thoughts

I’m Sorry

Often when children do thing that upset another child adults force them to say I’m sorry. But, if you only tell the child “say I’m sorry” and that is it, are they really sorry? Do they understand what they are sorry for? Why do I have to say I’m sorry, I really wanted that toy. I didn’t mean to knock them down, why should I apologize? By forcing a child to just say I’m sorry, they aren’t learning what it means to apologize, and more important they aren’t fixing the problem.

Here is a simple extension to the I’m sorry that will assist the child in seeing what was wrong AND how to fix the problem.

I’m sorry that I ___________. What can I do to make you feel better? examples– I’m sorry that I knocked down your blocks. What can I do to make you feel better? The last part of this allows the child who was “offended/hurt/upset” to decide what they need… in this example they may want the child to help them rebuild the blocks. We want to validate the feelings of the child who as upset. Simple things like getting a tissue for a child who is crying, getting a band aid or even just a high five and smooth over emotions.

That is the simplest form and where to start the process. This is how I teach children who are young (3/4), who struggle to communicate, and those who are dealing with big emotions at the time.

To go beyond this. I’m sorry that I _________. Next time I will _______. What can I do to make you feel better? example– I’m sorry that I knocked you down. Next time I will watch where I’m running. What can I do to make you feel better?

The goal is for children to recognize what they did, how they can change it and what they can do now to fix the situation. I’m sorry is not enough to do this.

One last thing… children should not be taught to say “It’s ok” when they are “wronged”. It is not ok to be knocked down. It is not ok for someone to upset you. The child can accept the apology. The child can say. Thank you for apologizing, please be more careful next time. Thank you for apologizing can we work together to fix this? By saying it is ok then you are telling the other child they can do it again.

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 · writing

Five senses poetry

This week we will talk about the five senses. The five senses are your child’s main way to explore the world and the science of life!

Did you see my live stream on Friday, Sept 25? (part one and part two… sorry technical issues!) I introduced the topic of the five senses with popcorn with my son Colby! Listen to the story I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch and Taste it too!) by Rachel Isadora. Talk to your child about the five senses. Here is a poem to learn about the five senses too.

My sense are a part of me

A nose to smell and eyes to see

Ears to hear and hands to touch

A tongue to taste good foods and such

My senses are a part of me

Working in harmony

If you have a Mr. Potato Head, this is a great time to use this too… have your child add the attributes that show the different senses as you explore how we use the senses.

Now let’s explore one thing with our sense and write a 5 sense poem of our own! Have your child pick something he/she loves: a food, a location, an experience, a season, a holiday or whatever they choose. Just like at the end of the book above when they describe the pickle with all your senses you will do the same thing! You can either just type out a template OR have your child create a something and add the poem to the picture. I cut out an apple and wrote a poem about apples.

A trip to the apple orchard inspired that poem!

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature
math · teaching thoughts

Five!

This week we will be exploring our five senses! So, I decide to focus on the number five for Math Monday. Share this song with your kiddo The Number 5 song by BubblePopBox

2 sets of 5

Have your child collect five objects. Ok, now go get five different objects. Let’s compare the sets. Many children will not recognize that the two sets have the same number of objects if the items are of different sizes. This is called conservation of number. The understanding that numbers are constant and equal the number of objects in a set. Many times when children are presented with 5 markers and 5 Cheerios they perceive that the set of markers is greater because it takes up more space.

To help your child develop conservation of number AND work on one-to-one correspondence, match up the objects. In my case, I set the markers in a line and then put a Cheerio at the end of each marker. Now each marker has a Cheerio and each Cheerio has a marker, they match one to one! Five markers is the same quantity as five Cheerios.

Practice writing the numerals 1-5 and match one set of objects with the numerals, one more practice and connection between the number, number word and numeral!

If your child is still struggling with this concept… don’t worry it takes practice and time. So get two more sets of 5, or if your child is struggling to count out five objects correctly drop down to 3 and build up from there. These skills that we as adults take for granted, are skills that need to be fostered in young children.

If your child is strong in these skill… here’s another five skill to work on, tally counting! Here is another song for you The Tally Mark Song. Practice correctly drawing tallys. Trust me… your child will want to draw five straight lines down and still cross it out and see it as five. It takes practice. 1, 2, 3, 4, shut the door with 5 is how I teach my students to remember that 5 is the slanted line.

Hope you and your child have fun with the number 5!

art · topic

Let’s Draw Fall

Today is a good day for some drawing fun. Want to follow along with a direct drawing?

Draw a fall tree with Art for Kids Hub

Draw a fall folding surprise with Art for Kids Hub— this one is a bit for challenging

Draw an acorn with Draw so Cute

Or… here are some of my own thoughts and inspirations for drawing… my biggest suggestion… say “Let’s draw a fall picture. What do you think you want to draw?” “Ok, what materials should we get out?

phonemic awareness · story · topic

The Forever Tree

As we continue to learn about trees, I wanted to find a story that talked about how what we can give trees and what trees can give us. I could have shared The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, but I figured I did not need to share this as it is such a traditional and well loved story.

Instead, I decided to share The Forever Tree by Donna Lucas and Teressa Surratt. In this story, humans and animals love the tree. A grandpa hung a swing on the tree for his granddaughter and the people and the animals used the the tree in harmony. In the spring the tree did not come back, it was ill. The animals worked with the humans to fix the tree. They created a treehouse for all to use and see. The tree was not the same, but it still was filled with love. — this story is based on a true story that took place in Wisconsin, USA

Take some time to today to appreciate the trees around you. What can you do to help the trees?

Today lets work on a phonemic awareness activity. Phonemic awareness is the understanding of how sounds work in words. It is done without looking at the letters, but focusing on the auditory composition of words.

Today you can teach your child the game “Oddball Out” (or pick a different name if you don’t like that one…) With this game, you will say three words that have something in common.

Start with focusing on beginning sounds such as:

  • clock, man, kite
  • fish, phone, mouse
  • drink, lunch, lady

Once that is mastered, moved onto rimes

  • cat, hat, man
  • book, read, look
  • bill, tap, clap

You then could try out ending sounds:

  • pen, fan, tag
  • rap, rug, tip
  • drum, tank, black

Do not feel like you have to master any or all of these skills in one try. Listening to and recognizing the phonemic differences is a developmental skill. Children who have stronger phonemic awareness become stronger readers… start working with your child on his/her oral understanding of how letter and sounds work… it will pay off!

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!

art · STEAM · story

First Day of Fall Tree

Today is the official first day of autumn! So… let’s do a fun art project. A torn paper tree. But first. Read the book Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins. This book has beautiful photographs of various trees and their leaves in the autumn.

Why torn paper? Fine motor skills!! Children need to strengthen the muscles in their hands and especially their thumb, index and middle fingers to hold a pencil. But, they are also working on their wrist and forearm at the same time. All these muscles work together while writing, cutting and coloring. Check out these preschool fine motor milestones and red flags.

Materials needed:

  • large sheet for background
  • brown for the tree
  • red, yellow, orange, green — I usually give a 1/4 sheet of each of these colors
  • glue/glue stick

Note I did not say scissors! If you have scissors around they will use the scissors, soooo do not have them out at all! Show your child how to slowly tear the paper holding it with a pincer grip with both hands. Once they see that if you do it slowly and holding the paper closer to where you want to tear they will start to see the control they have over the tears. This is a great side by side project as they will watch how you tear and manipulate the paper!

Now encourage your child to make a fall tree. Remember there is no right way to do this project… there is just your child’s way, and that is ok! If they get stuck, go for a walk and find trees that are starting to change colors or google fall tree images.