story · topic

Last day of Summer?

Tomorrow is the start of fall. Often times we talk about it being a season based on the feel of the weather not the actual calendar date. I can remember many discussions I had in class where a child told me it was fall before the autumnal equinox because “But, my mom said it was fall because I’m back in school” or “But the leaves are changing colors” or “But I had to wear pants today”. Then I share the date the season actually begins and the reaction is pretty much WHAT?!?

So, today is the official last day of summer. The autumnal equinox this year is September 22 at 9:30am. That is the start of fall! (Look for some small changes to my blog at that time!)

Listen to the informational text A Tree for All Seasons by Robin Bernard and learn about how a maple tree changes through the seasons.

Have your child draw a picture to represent the changing seasons. I have shown two ways here: first show one tree through the season and the second shows one season per box. But, as I often say… just tell your child to draw a representation of the four seasons. They might pleasantly surprise you with their thinking!

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Want to practice reading about the seasons? I have a set of zine stories for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Click here to find this set.

STEAM · story

From Acorns to Oak Trees and Magic Bag Math

Image may contain: text that says 'Y DAY IN PRE K acorns to oak trees'

Check out my Facebook live stream and learn some facts about acorns and oak trees.

Parents. I also share with you how introduce your child to word problems with magic bag math. With magic bag math, you use your invisible math bag to present your child with a math problem.

In my magic bag, I see 3 acorns. Five more acorns fall into my bag. How many acorns do I have now? Children can use manipulatives, illustrations, ten frames, or whatever math strategy works best to solve the problem.

The same strategy can be used with subtraction. I have 8 acorns in my bag, a squirrel eats 3 of them, how many do I have left?

It also works for missing addend problems I want to have 10 acorns, I have 3. How many more do I need. this problem would be written as 10= 3 + ___ or 3+ ___ = 10.

I also shared a STEM project that you can do and try to solve…. do acorns sink or float? Why? Wait.. they do both… why???

family activity · math · STEAM · topic

Apple Structures

Children love to be creative. They love to build and construct. And, if you give them something different, out of the ordinary as the building “blocks” of the structure… oh my!

So… give your child chopped up apples, toothpicks and tell them to build! That’s it. Give your child permission to build with their food… and when they are done, they get to have apple for a snack.

To the child they see… Cool! This is fun! But, to you the teacher/parent/caregiver… you see engineering!

Have your child there when you cut the apples. While you are working toss out terms such as cutting in half, quarters and even eights. Look I cut the apple in half, now if I cut this half in half I now have 4 pieces, that is quarters. How many pieces do you think I’ll have if I cut the quarters in half? Let’s see if you are right!

I cut each eighth into thirds… see all that math! Kitchen math is so important. Also, if your child is an older four and above, let them help you cut the apple. Even if it is hand over hand for a few chops, it is the start of self-help kitchen skills!

Ok… now take these apple chunks and make a structure. If it falls down, don’t solve it for them. “What do you think you could do to make it sturdier?” “Did you build a strong enough foundation? What do you need to add or take away?” What would happen if…

I typically build along side my students for a bit after they get started to see if they watch and ask questions. Do you think I should build high or wide? Why? Do you think it will fall over if I put this here? Why?

What do you predict will happen if we leave this structure up to show ______? How else can we show ______ your structure? Encourage your child to create an illustration of the structure.

Have fun… and enjoy this tasty STEAM project

family activity · math · STEAM · story · teachers pay teacher · topic

All Kinds of Apples!

More apple fun! Today let’s talk about apple products. Here is a short video showing how apple cider is pressed and another that shows how applesauce is made.

Time to graph! I have two suggestions for fun graphs. Favorite apple type (yum… time to taste test) or favorite apple product. Collecting information for a graph is the beginning of understanding data.

Create a graph for your child to use, I often make my graphs with a table in a word document. Having your child “help” while you create the sheet is a great way to incorporate a bit of technology too. (Or go old school and draw it out on a sheet of paper!) Choose the items you want to graph (types of apples: red delicious, golden delicious, granny smith etc) (types of apple product: applesauce, apple juice/cider, apple pie etc). Make sure to add a title to the graph.

Graphing is a great excuse to call grandparents or other family members. The more data points you have the better the graphing information you will collect. When making the graph provide on row for each member you will ask (in the graphs I made I would ask 5 people for the apple types and 8 people for the apple product).

Ok you made a graph… now what? Now you talk! Ask questions. “What can you tell me about the graph?” “Can you compare granny smith and red delicious?” Use terms such as more than, less than/fewer than, same as, least, most, compare.

Apple Zine Story

One more thing for today… since we talked about apple types and apple pie, check out another zine I made! (Directions to fold the zine can be found here) You can hop over to my Teacher Pay Teacher store and get two versions of this story free, or you can make your own!

STEAM · topic · writing

Life cycle of an apple

The life cycle of an apple takes us through all four seasons. This is a great learning opportunity to discuss life cycles, the four seasons and so much more!

Videos to check out:

Apple Life Cycle— This one is done in CGI

Life Cycle of an Apple Tree— this one has a fun song to learn and sing along

Life Cycle of an Apple— this one is kids telling kids

Flower to Fruits— this is a time lapse going from the apple flower to picking the apple off the tree.

Today we are going to work on a four square of this life cycle. I will show you two variations: In the top photo you will see I showed how a seed grows into a tree. The bottom shows how an apple grows on the branches.

The important part of this activity is the process of the growth. Have your child explain how the apple tree/apple grows. If your child is comfortable in their writing process, encourage your child to write labels or sentences to go with the pictures. The important item is the explanation… “Tell me the process” “Why did you draw this in this block?” “What do you think the next step will be?”

Do you follow me on Facebook yet? (link in sidebar… or just search @mydayinprekblog) Last Friday I did a live stream on apples! I will be back live on Friday, September 18th (2pm EDT) to read From Acorn to Oak Tree and have some more learning fun with my pre-k and kindergarten friends…. or anyone who wants to visit!

Also… follow me on Instagram @mydayinprekblog

art · story

Dot Day

Today is Dot Day! It is a day to celebrate children finding that connection between creativity and confidence. It is also about how one person can make a big change in the life of a child. Let’s help every child learn to make their own mark on the world… even if it is only a dot.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

my picture is dot-ish!

Now it is time to make your dot! Will you paint a dot? Will you draw a dot? Or make paper dots? Will you make a dot out of dots? Or a dot without dots? Will your dot be big or small? Will you make one dot or hundreds of today? That is the thing we need to understand… there is NO write way to make a dot… there is just your way to make a dot!

Want to hear and share more about how we can encourage children to see their work as powerful and important. How another person can help everyone see the importance of their creative exploration? Check out the other two books in Reynold’s trilogy and even hear Reynold’s talk about how the book came to be.

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds

Click here to hear Peter Reynolds talk about how The Dot came to be.

Find more ways to connect to International Dot Day

math · teachers pay teacher · topic

Apple Pie Tree

This week we will talk about all things APPLES! Who doesn’t love this tasty fall fruit?

This week’s story is The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. Two sisters discuss the life cycle of the apples on the tree in their backyard. The story takes you through the four seasons from the bare tree of winter to picking apples to make apple pie.

After reading this story, lets do some apple tree math! I am going to share two simple math activities that you can easily do at home, and your child will enjoy!

Roll and Draw

  • paper
  • crayons/markers
  • dice

Have your child draw 4-6 apple trees (without apples). Roll the die and write the numeral on the trunk. Draw that many apples on the tree. If your child is ready, you can add in a second die. I would suggest using two different color dice if you have them and then have your child draw two different color apples.

Add and Draw

  • paper
  • markers/crayons
  • number cards (either create your own or use a deck of cards)

Again have your child draw apple trees without apples, I would draw less trees this time because they need more space, or use both sides of the paper. Have your child choose two cards, one card for each addend. They will write the number fact on the trunk and draw the apples on the tree. Again use two different colors for each addend.

In the picture, I show three ways to add to count. The first picture shows the base skill counting each apple from one to seven. The second tree illustrates counting on, I circled the six red apples and started counting up from there 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. The final tree is more of a first grade skill, but one worth looking at or showing your child. It is the concept of making know facts. In this case I made a doubles fact that I know. I found a group of five, and another group of five then added on the 1. I already know that 5+5 is 10 so I can count on from there. (This is also a make a 10… these are math strategies that are taught typically in first grade)

Apple Tree Ten Frames

Looking for more apple math activities? In my Teachers Pay Teachers store, you will find:

Apple Tree Ten Frames: practice using ten frames to practice number sense and addition.

Apples Abound: includes a variety of apple activities for both math and literacy (graphing, patterning, apple parts, Johnny Appleseed extension and more)

STEAM · teaching thoughts

Lego Name Fun

Children love doing activities with their names. Check out other name activities (name writing, name flower pot, and name art for a few). When you work with your child on his/her name, I strongly encouraging you to have your child write his/her name with the first letter as a capital and the rest lowercase. This will be one of the first things your child’s kindergarten teacher will work on, so why not teach him/her that way to begin with?

Today we will have some Lego fun, who doesn’t love Lego blocks? Well, we don’t like to step on them, but they are a fun learning and building toy.

I decided to play with my blog name for a change! I also made my sons’ names too (oops! I made Blake’s “a” backwards… see even teachers make mistakes).

Here is what I want you to do…. “Let’s have some fun with Lego blocks today” Now… let your child do whatever he/she wants to do first. Trust me, if you let the children play with the manipulative before giving him/her a direction it will work out a lot better.

“I have a challenge for you! Can you build your name out of Lego?” That’s it! Do not suggest more, do not model, do not tell your child how to do it.

If your child is not confident in writing his/her own name, then write the name on a sheet of paper or tape it on the surface they are building on, and again… say nothing else.

You will probably be surprised at their solution to this problem. Give him/her time to problem solve BEFORE you jump in and help. If the struggle is real, then sit down and say… hmm what if I make my name like this? And start working on your own name, or a sibling/pet name. Do not work on your child’s name… that is you doing the work/problem solving not your child.

Some letters are going to be a LOT easier than others. Trust me I struggled on Blake’s capital B!

You might notice that I used three different methods to build the letters. In the “My Day,” I stood the Lego up the way you stand up dominoes. In the “In Pre-K” I just laid the Lego flat on the table. For the boys’ names, I stacked them up. Colby’s name could stand, but I didn’t finish the process of linking the blocks for Blake’s name.

These are NOT the only ways this can be done. Please, please, please… let your child explore with the concept. There is no right or wrong way. This is how STEAM projects work in early childhood… they are engineering, building, constructing and problem solving… they need to do this!! It should be fun, they are learning through play. (:

art · teachers pay teacher · writing

September Self-Portrait

If you have been following my blog for a while, you have seen that I have my students draw… a… lot! Yes, draw pictures. The developmental range of drawing is very diverse in this age group. You can read about the development of drawing here.

The drawing of a self-portrait is often used to show developmental levels in children. As a teacher, I work hard with my students to help them progress through these stages. I have my pre-K and kindergarten classes draw a self-portrait every month and then send them home as a book at the end of the year. Parents are usually shocked with the progress from Mr. Potato Head to a fully recognizable person.

So… I encourage you to have your child draw a monthly self-portrait. You can use a sheet such as the ones I have in my teachers pay teachers store that provides a place for your child to write his/her name, the month and draw their picture in a frame or just draw it on a white sheet of paper. The most important thing is for your child to draw him/herself!

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Mr Potato Head — young self-portrait

Children who are young 4s often draw a head with arms and legs. At this age, it is totally developmentally appropriate for this level of drawing. But, I encourage you to point out things that he/she might be missing. Simple additions at this age: hair, hands, feet, ears.

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lots of body parts, I cheat on the hands and put my arms behind my back (:

As your child progresses you will start seeing the addition of more body parts. One of the big things I push with my students is the addition of a torso. I’ll say do your arms and legs come out of your head? Nope! What are you missing? You are missing your torso the middle section of your body. How can we draw a picture including your torso?

Have your child look at him/herself in a mirror to see what else they can add to the picture.

I drew mine on a whiteboard, but I would have your child draw with crayons on paper. If you have multicultural crayons, that’s even better as you can get better representation of skin tones. You want the picture to be as realistic as your child can make it!

story · teaching thoughts · writing

I Can Try New Things

This week we are going to talk about trying new things. The book I encouarge you to listen to is called I Can Try New Things by David Parker (There are two books in this video, I Can Try New Things starts around 3:09).

The last two pages of the story state “Trying something new may be scary and hard, but it makes me feel good to do it. Name three new things that you will try today.” So that is what we are going to do!

Children at this age (3-6 year olds) have a love/hate relationship with new things. While they love trying new things like a new game, a new song or a new activity, they often are very hesitant with new things like foods, textures and often places. You the caregiver can have a huge impact on when children are willing to try new things. The calmer you are, the more encouraging you are, the more willing they are to take the chance.

With my own children, and students, I typically encourage them to try new things but don’t make a big deal about it to start. Here try a bite of this. Come and play this game with me. Let’s go to the dentist. Then if I see concern I talk. I tell them honestly what is going to happen. Often times adults try to trick children or sugar coat things. I find that the more information the child has the more willing they are to do things. Prime example… I taught my sons to look at their arm when getting a shot. Have the issue is the surprise, if there is no surprise then it is just the initial pinch and it is over.