Sunday, February 28, 2010

A New Take on an Old Spelling Game

Last month we played a fun spelling game that Ryan dubbed 'The World Word Game'.

It was a bit too easy the first time around, and I never got around to making more difficult words.

When a good friend gave me the idea of hiding letters in a bin of beans I was excited to revamp our spelling game! I hid the letters in the bean bin and gave Ryan the picture cards.

This was much more difficult for him. He puled out a T first and said, "t-t, none of our words start with a T". I had to remind him that the letters could be the middle or ending sound also. This version definitely wasn't too easy, we'll be practicing with it lots!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How Many Magic Beans?

I've been working with Ryan on identifying sets of objects (5 and less) without counting. For example, I'll show him 3 fingers, or 4 apples and ask how many there are. If he starts to count them, I'll ask him if he knows how many there are without counting. This is part of our new math curriculum, Right Start Mathematics.

I've been taking it one step further with a really simple math game. I place 5 'magic beans' (glass pebbles from the craft store, or actual beans) in one hand. I have him close his hands and I transfer a few beans to my other closed hand. When he opens his eyes he can see how many beans remain in my original open hand. I ask him how many magic beans disappeared. To figure it out he has to not only determine how many are in my hand, but then try to compute the difference between that number and 5.

Of course, he loves to take a turn making the beans 'disappear'.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Word Family Games

It's a constant battle to find something for the kids to do while I cook dinner!Putting an easel in the kitchen has been great! I covered one side in felt, Ella prefers to play on the felt board side. Ryan has been working on the other side playing word family games. I picked up some sticky letters at Target.I start by putting a word family ending up on the board (such as -at, -ad, -en). Here's a comprehensive list if you need one. Ryan tries putting different letters in front to build words. He gets so excited when he makes a word! We've even learned some new vocabulary such as, rad and lad. When he forms a word he then writes it on his word wall. They don't all turn out as beautiful finished pieces of work...but it's a good reminder that it's the process that matters not the product! When they do turn out half way decent we hang them on his bedroom wall to practice with later. He's getting so excited about all of the words that he can read and write!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning Our Short Vowels

We have been learning our short vowel sounds!
I tried several times over the last week and a half to get Ryan to sing this song on video for me...this was the best I got ;) I have been trying to get him to do it at his felt easel board pointing to each letter with his pointer, but he won't perform on camera lately!
This song is from our wonderful Sing, Spell, Read & Write Curriculum.We've been including practical practice by saying words and either asking him to spell them (simple CVC words) or asking which vowel he hears.

We also have been reviewing a poem from The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading

This week I will be incorporating some activities from Heidi Song's , Progressive Phonics,

Starfall, and Words Their Way. More on that later!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tot School Tuesdays

Tot School

Ella enjoyed using small tongs to put cotton balls into an empty container.
Using our new easels outside to paint the trees
We had hours of fun with bubble wrap!
We practiced our body part words while playing with Mr. Potato Head
We dumped out an entire basket of balls and bean bags and tried to toss them all back in.
We played with our new felt puzzle. I made this by gluing some felt shapes onto a large piece of felt. Then  I sewed a button onto each shape. I made a matching piece for each shape (by folding the felt before I cut it). I cut a button hole in each matching piece. The game is to match the appropriate pieces, and soon she'll be able to button them together. I can already tell that the pieces made out of a heavier duty felt are going to last much longer.

Learning the Color Words

We are still working on recognizing and spelling color words. Yesterday we made a book to add to our book box (a box of mostly homemade books that Ryan can read on his own)

I got the idea for I See A Rainbow after seeing a project that a friend's son had brought home from preschool. First I made traceable sentences for each page. Here it is to save you the time :) Next I made a template for the rainbow, again here it is. I traced the red page first, then cut off one layer of rainbow and traced the orange page, and so on. So, you're template gets smaller and smaller. Ryan cut each page before we collated them correctly and stapled them together. Next I cut out the sentences and Ryan glued them onto the correct pages. Lastly he traced the sentences and we practiced reading our new book together!

As an extension activity I went printed out bubble letters on several different colors of card stock and cut them to make letter tiles. I put the appropriate letters for making the words green, blue, yellow, and red in a baggie. While we waited for our food at a restaurant last night I asked Ryan to use his new book to help him build the color words. I have all kinds of ideas for these new letter tiles...

Color Words

We made this poster a while back to hang on Ryan's wall. At the time we were working on learning our color words in Spanish. I've brought his attention back to it now that he is learning to read the color words. I drew circles on poster board. He painted them with finger paints and cut them out. This was our first activity in which he was cutting out circles. If you are working on cutting skills with your little one I highly recommend Kumon's Let's Cut Paper! Ryan loves all of his Kumon workbooks, but this has always been his favorite!

Then we put the poster together, and hung it on his bedroom wall where we would remember to practice our new words often!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Great Giveaway is Headed Your Way!!

I know this is a big tease...but I am excited! We have some really amazing giveaways coming up.

Take a peek at 

I hope you'll be excited too!! Stay Tuned...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Great Books!

In a house with literally thousands of books (I own a book company, Sac Book Mom) people always ask me why we frequently visit the library. It's important to teach children from a young age that the library is an amazing community resource that far extends it's book collection. Plus, being surrounded in books my children sometimes think of them as disposable; learning to treat other people's possessions with care is a very important lesson! Not to mention, letting kids select their own books is a great way to fuel their interest in reading.

We have a special basket in our 'classroom' to keep our library books in, and I always put our receipt on the fridge to keep track of what we have. I prefer to take one kid at a time to the library to try to make it a special time, and so we're not 'that family' with kids running and screaming in every which direction while others sit serenely watching. Our library's website is a great tool, and I use the reserve feature every week to make sure that we will have a few good books waiting for us.

On with it, you can see above what we've been reading this week.

We discovered Karma Wilson's Bear Series at our local discovery museum. Both kids have loved each of her books that we've found so far (especially, Bear's New Friend, Bear Snores On, and Bear Feels Sick). The great illustrations and cute rhyming text make them a pleasure to read. I especially love how her bear books all have the same characters. I plan to make some felt characters for our new felt board soon.

I reserved Wow! Said the Owl several weeks ago in anticipation of owl week. I think Ella and I love this book a bit more than Ryan. I love the illustrations, the gentle introduction to what it means to be nocturnal, and it's focus on colors. I hope to elaborate on this book this week with some kind of color project.

I have read SuperHero ABC dozens of times this week! Each letter of the alphabet has a superhero that goes with it. The alliterative captions and action-packed illustrations would hold Ryan's attention for hours! This book is a great steeping stone for a lesson in alliteration.

The Bravest of the Brave is a super cute counting book about a skunk walking through the woods. It is full of  great adjectives, and lots of verbs that make it a fun story to act out.

I love the first few pages of Smash! Mash! Crash! There Goes the Trash!: "Rumbling, roaring. Dragons snoring? Bumping, thumping. Giants Jumping? Booming Banging. Cymbals clanging? Noooooo! The garbage trucks are here today!" Ryan loves the story and Ella enjoys the unique illustrations.

On my constant quest to find literature related to our math studies, I came across Scholastic's Hello Math series. Monster Math Picnic is a level one reader that focuses on number combinations that form ten. It's a very simple book with some good extension activities included at the end. This book may warrant it's own post soon :)

Skunk's Spring Surprise is an adorable book about a skunk who awakes from hibernation to find that his friends have planned a talent show for him. We'll be sure to check this book out again in the early spring.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy's Farm is my kids' first introduction to the wonderful talents of Joy Cowley. It's a lively tale about farm animals that escape because they don't like to take a bath. It's such a cute story and lends itself perfectly to retelling with a felt board. In fact- I'm going to use the rest of nap time to go make the characters!

As a little note...I surely do not love every book I read! I will only take the time to mention ones that my children and I do love :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Simple Science

When I finished pumping gas this morning Ryan asked me how much gas I had put in the car. I told him 12 gallons. Of course, on the way home the wheels started turning- what would be the best way to demonstrate how much 12 gallons actually is?

So when we got home we each drank a glass of milk, to finish the jug ;) I showed Ryan the gallon jug and told him that it was one gallon, and if we filled it up twelve times that would be how much gas we put in the car. I asked him if he thought twelve gallons would fit in our sink. His response was, 'let's see'. So we filled the container and dumped it in twelve times. As you can see it nearly filled both sides of our sink!

I was surprised how much gas it actually is! The gas tank is a lot larger than I had imagined. About half way through our experiment, I started feeling bad about wasting water (even though it was in the name of science ;) I would recommend using the bathtub and using the water afterward.

Remember, run with your kids' curiosity and ask lots of questions along the way!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tot School Tuesdays

Tot School
I am making a commitment to start Tot School with 21 month old Ella. She wants so badly to have 'jobs' when Ryan is working on his. Plus, I used to do tons of learning activities with Ryan when he was this age.
Tot School isn't really school, it's just taking some special time each day to incorporate learning activities into your tot's life!

Pushing popsicle sticks into a wipes container
Building a block barn for our little animals, and reviewing animal noises
Practicing stairs at Grandma & Grandpa's (We live in a single story)

Having fun with balloons

Helping Mommy dust and wash windows

Playing with rubber stamps and Elmo of course! 

What learning activities do you do with your toddler?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Math- 2 Counting Games

I discovered a wonderful site this week It has tons of great printable activities for young children! I was amazed by the amount of high quality educational activities for Valentines Day. Ryan's new favorite game is Counting Conversation Hearts. I printed the cards on card stock from the website and put them in a box with clothespins and clear marking chips. Ryan counts how many hearts are on the card and places a clothespin on the correct number. The clear marking chips were an extra tool for him to use on the more crowded cards to make sure that he counted each heart a single time. This game is great counting practice, practice with identifying numbers 10-20, reinforces one-to-one correspondence (by using the transparent marking chips), and fine motor skill practice because of the clothespins! Not to mention- it's tons of fun! If you're child does well with self correcting activities, it's easy to put a mark on the back where the clothespin should be. Since Ryan isn't there yet I put tallies on the back as an answer key.
At Ryan's preschool conference last week, his teacher mentioned that he needs some reinforcement with concepts of print (start at the top left corner, left to right, return sweep). I've seen Open Grid Games many times on Teach Mama's awesome blog; but we had never gotten around to playing them. Ryan loved his introduction to stamping and grid games! We started with a 12 sided die, but played the second game with a regular 6 sided die so that it wouldn't go so quickly. Teach Mama does a great job of explaining all of their benefits (including basic game skills, counting, and print concepts.) We took turns rolling the die and putting the appropriate number of stamps on the board. When the board was full we counted to see who had the most stamps. Teach Mama has several variations of grid games to keep it fresh, and even different size boards for different aged kids- give one a try!

Our MathStart Books arrived today!! Stay tuned for upcoming reviews...

Winners, Winners, Winners!!

Congratulations to our Book Giveaway Winners:
Set #1 goes to Jennifer Cunkelman Huetter
Set #2 goes to Raven Haymond
Set #3 goes to Trudi Lee Brinkley
Set #4 goes to Jennifer (a Google follower w/o a last name ;)

Our winners were chosen using Apparently it was a lucky day to be a Jennifer! Thank you to all of our friends and followers! I have a few more great giveaways in the works, so stay tuned!