Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scrambled Sight Words

We're starting to focus more on sight words, so get ready for lots of fun sight word activities!

I'm calling this fun Easter inspired activity, Sight Word Scramble. I made an egg for each of the ten sight words that we are currently working on. I simply cut small pieces of paper and wrote one letter on each piece. Each egg contains the letters for a single word. I also made a coloring list of the words.

To play, select an egg from the basket and dump out it's letters. Then use the coloring page to figure out which word you're building. Next, put the letters in the proper order and read your word out loud. Lastly, color your word so that you know which words you've already done.

You can win a sight word game, Erudition, from Quirky Mama before Saturday :)

Egg Shakers (Auditory Discrimination)

Did you know that you can help your child fine-tune their senses? We work a lot with visual discrimination, and today we tried our first game teaching auditory discrimination.

I filled large plastic eggs with different items. I made 2 eggs of each kind: uncooked rice, uncooked lentils, rocks, beads, and jellybeans.

Ryan's job was to use sound to find the matching pairs. He did better with it than I expected! The rice and lentils were really hard for me to distinguish from one another, he had a much easier time with it. Will have to test Daddy when he comes home form work.

Ella loved the different noises, but was very tempted to open them. I'm thinking about gluing them shut so that we can keep them with our musical instruments.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sink or Float Experiment

Ryan missed 'boat day' at preschool last week, when he stayed home with pink eye. I was planning to make up the sink or float experiment that he missed, and was so excited to get some inspiration from Allie at No Time For Flashcards

As you can see, we collected different items from around the house and yard to test their buoyancy. Before Ryan would place each item in the water he would make a prediction about whether he thought it would sink or float. I'm always surprised when we do experiments at how well he asks questions, makes predictions and assumptions and tests hypotheses.

For the first few items I was recording his predictions and outcomes. Then I realized that it was unnecessary since he wasn't getting anything out of the written chart. I quickly abandoned it to focus on the more important conversation we were having.

After we tested our items we used Allie's idea and tested each item again inside a plastic egg. We talked about how the eggs were like boats that helped our objects to float. When Ryan made the hypothesis that anything that fits in an egg would float I had him fill an egg with rocks. As the rock filled egg sank we talked about weight and density.

We are going to get this experiment out again soon to try an idea that his preschool teacher incorporated. She had the kids test a ball of play-dough, and then turn their ball into a boat and try it again.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Since Ella is absolutely obsessed with owls (thanks to owl week) she is having an owl themed birthday party! There aren't many owl decorations out there, so I decided to check out etsy for a cute owl outfit. I was so excited when I found GiGi Bee Designs!

Angela was so fast in getting this dress to me; I'm having a really hard time saving it for Ella's party! I was just as impressed with the quality of the dress as I was with the customer service!

GiGi Bee Designs has generously offered to do a giveaway for us. You can win the dress or baby blanket of your choice!

To enter, browse the GiGi Bee Designs store and leave a comment telling us which dress or baby blanket you would like to win. 

Additional Entries:
1. For one extra entry become a blog fan on Facebook. (Leave a comment saying you're a fan)
2. For one extra entry Follow with Google Friend Connect (in the right hand column) (Leave a comment saying you're a follower)
3. For an extra entry subscribe via email  (in the right hand column) (Leave a comment saying you subscribe)
4. For 3 extra entries blog about this giveaway (leave 3 comments with the link to the post)
5. For 3 extra entries purchase something from GiGi Bee Designs (leave 3 comments telling us what you bought!)

That's 10 chances to win! Each entry needs it's own comment, and be sure to include a way to contact you.
Entries are due by 8am PST on Monday 4/5. Our lucky winner will be selected by Random.org and announced on Monday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Welcome to Spring Wildlife Watch

Last week was National Wildlife Week. Not only did we enjoy tons of amazing time outside, but I found a great website- The National Wildlife Federation.

They've just started the Spring Wildlife Watch. You can go to their website  and learn how to participate in a national nature watching program for people of all ages!

My kids loved checking out all of the cool pictures on the site, and materials in the kids section; and I love the idea of getting outside a lot in the couple of weeks to see what kind of wildlife we can find!

Be sure to check out the National Wildlife Federation site. Please comment on anything that we should check out, and participate by counting the wildlife in your area!

See the nature around you with National Wildlife Federation

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Counting Box

This simple counting box is a great way to reinforce counting skills and one-to-one correspondence. We made our counting box using a egg carton, foam stickers, and construction paper. Today we practiced counting with jelly beans, but you can also use cheerios, beads, pebbles, flowers, really anything that you can fit twelve of in a single spot! We mix it up each time to keep it interesting.

The counting box is a great independent activity for Ryan (while I shower, clean, work with Ella, etc) Ella is getting to the point where she likes to try and do it with Ryan and I!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Learning Body Parts with Pablo

Ryan loved having me trace his body to create our newest friend, Pablo. As you can see, we labeled body parts in English and Spanish. Ryan chose the name Pablo after learning about a Spanish character in preschool. Having Pablo hang on Ryan's bedroom wall is a great way to remember to practice our body parts!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Winner Is...

Congratulations to Mommy Moment (comment #4 chosen by random.org)! She has won a Brown Bear Brown Bear Felt Story Set from 1StressLESSTeacher on Etsy!

This is probably it for today- I did my first 1/2 marathon yesterday and we plan to really take it easy today!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

StressLESS Teaching Resources Product Review & GIVEAWAY!!

I've mentioned our IKEA easels a few times. When we got them I covered the dry-erase side with felt. I did this because I've been wanting a felt board. Plus, I figured the kids wouldn't consistently use the correct markers on the correct sides. I planned to make some felt shapes, but I also searched for some pre-made ones. That's how I found 1StressLESSTeacher on Etsy!

StressLESS Teaching Resources is the work of Tanya, an Early Childhood Educator in Maryland. She utilizes 18 years of experience working with young children to develop educational tools that are developmentally appropriate and excellently constructed.
Tanya was kind enough to send us a great sampling of her materials. We received felt story sets to go with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Bear Snores On, and Commotion in the Ocean. We also received an adorable 5 Little Puppies Puppet Glove. The kids were really excited when we opened the box.

Over the last few weeks we have done so much with our felt story sets. Ryan (and Princess R) love to recreate the story on the felt board while I read to them. Then they use the pieces to go back through the book and retell the story to me! They have also enjoyed mixing up the pieces and creating their own stories. Did you know that Badgers and Octopuses love to get together by a campfire to eat fruit?

We played a game with the pieces from Commotion in the Ocean where I pretended to forget the names of the animals. I used attributes of the felt creatures, and details about them from the poems in the book to have the kids try to guess which animal I was talking about. These wonderfully detailed, and absolutely adorable creatures have inspired me to do a unit on oceans this summer.

The simple pieces from The Very Hungry Caterpillar set have been perfect for reinforcing vocabulary with Ella. We set them all up on the felt board together and then I ask her to feed the caterpillar an apple. We sit there feeding all of the pieces to the little caterpillar one by one to help him turn into a big fat caterpillar!

I love that the sets, especially  Bear Snores On, come with so many pieces that you could easily recreate the entire story on one huge felt board (or your living room floor if your board is small like ours :)

Both Ella and Ryan LOVE the puppy puppet glove.  Here is a very rare instance when I had my camera ready for one of Ryan's impromptu performances. Ryan's song was inspired by the great extra rhymes and songs that came with our materials. The puppet gloves would be a great addition to a baby shower or young child's birthday gift!

Ella needs to be supervised with the felt  pieces. But she has been an excellent Quality Assurance Tester!  Not surprisingly, she can easily remove the googly eyes. I was happy to see that Tanya uses high quality felt that can't easily be ripped, and that the paint that she uses to add details to the characters doesn't peel off. Amazingly, all 5 puppies are still attached to the glove! All of the pieces that we received were so cute and of such high quality that I probably won't bother to spend the time and effort making my own anytime soon; I'll just place an order with 1StressLESSTeacher!

 **I received these materials for free to review. My opinions are my own, based on my kids interactions with the merchandise.

StressLESS Teaching Resources is generously giving away the item of your choice to one lucky reader! The initial entry is to visit StressLESS Teaching Resources and leave a comment telling us which item you would love to win!
For an extra entry become a blog fan on Facebook. (Leave a comment saying you're a fan)
For an extra entry Follow with Google Friend Connect (in the right hand column) (Leave a comment saying you're a follower)
For 3 extra entries blog about this giveaway (leave a comment with the link to the post)
That's 6 chances to win! Each entry needs it's own comment, and be sure to include a way to contact you.
Entries are due by 8am PST on Monday 3/15. Our lucky winner will be selected by Random.org and announced on Monday!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our ABC Board

I finally made this ABC Board after thinking of it a couple of months ago. It would have been more useful to Ryan when I thought about it...

I sealed envelopes and then cut off the ends.  So, each envelope made two pockets. They are all glued on a piece of foam board. I found the letters on clearance at Big Lots! My original plan had been to stamp letters on the envelopes; but, I like how these cardboard letters provide some weight to the front of the envelopes and help keep them open. I applied tacky glue liberally with a paintbrush in hopes that this board will last to use with Ella some day soon.

Last night I propped the board up on the easel in the kitchen and Ryan used the letter pieces that I created as an extension for our Rainbow Book. While I cooked dinner he sorted the letters into the correct envelopes. I also had him sing the ABC's slow enough that he could point to each letter as he said it. This took a few tries. It was a challenge to get his mouth and hand to move at the same pace!

Words Their Way (one of my favorite resources of all times) has some great font sorts. You can see an example here. I'll have to print out more of these, to use with our board, as Ryan starts to get exposed to more and more fonts in everyday life.

We are starting to do some sequencing activities. For example I'll ask Ryan what comes before P, or what comes after H, or fill in the blank O ___ Q. The ABC Board will help as a reference for these.

Also, I need to start to teach the kids the alphabet in Spanish. I haven't gotten around to it yet because I need a refresher myself ;) Pointing to each letter as we say it will help solidify connections faster than just singing it alone!

If I ever get my in-home classroom this board will make an adorable decoration ;)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Playing with Coloring Mixing and Liquid Watercolors

Ryan has been taking classes at Kidzart. It was at these classes that we were both introduced to liquid watercolors. They are awesome! When we use regular watercolors at home we have a hard time getting vibrant colors, and the palette always ends up being one big puddle of mucky brown. We both love them so much that I ordered some from Discount School Supply (The 8oz bottles are on super clearance right now for $1 each!!) .

As you can see we had a lot of fun today playing with color mixing. Ryan initially threw a mini-fit when he saw that I only bought red, blue, and yellow. But, he was intrigued when I promised that we could use those colors to make his favorite color, purple. As you can see in the pictures we used small color cups, eye droppers, brushes, and paint paper (all from one of my other favorite stores, Dharma Trading). 

We made basic color wheels while we experimented using the eye droppers to mix colors. Ryan was so excited to see what happens when we mix colors. We've done this in other ways, I guess just not recently or frequently enough.

Ryan also painted an entire page purple, like I said- it's his favorite....Then we practiced using eyedroppers by trying to spread single drops around on a paper towel. It was hard for Ryan to not squeeze the dropper, and hard fro me to not end the project when he kept squeezing paint everywhere. But, after only a few tries we got this beautiful paper towel. I can't wait to buy some coffee filters, just imagine all of the possibilities...

The paints are messy, I'm glad I brought our table into the tiled kitchen. But, they cleaned up well off of everything except the unfinished wood table.

I have a few ideas to come on ways to use our newest medium, but for more ideas now check out these ideas from Alphabet Soup.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Making Print Special through Special Messages

Have I mentioned how much I love our easels ;) Ryan loves being surprised by special messages! I move the easel throughout the house and let him 'find' his message. This is a great way to show children that print is used for a variety of purposes, and to personalize it to peek their interest.

In the first picture we read the note together and Ryan circled all of the words that he could read on his own in red. Then we counted the a's. Obviously these are a very simple method of doing guided reading and guided writing. I plan to continue focusing on words that Ryan can read and will soon incorporate identifying capital and lowercase letters and punctuation.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Number Practice with Batman

If Ryan is given a choice, he almost always chooses reading and spelling activities over math activities. To try and make number games more appealing to him I made a set of Batman Number Cards. I bought a $2 pack of Batman Confetti and glued pieces onto large index cards, wrote numbers and 'laminated' them in evil-evil contact paper.

Here are just a few ways that we enjoy our new Batman Number Cards:

  • I wrote in orange so that Ryan can trace the numbers using a dry erase or overhead transparency marker. 
  • Hide and Seek Numbers- Ryan loves to hide the number cards while we cook dinner. Then we hunt for them and work together to put them in order to see which cards are still missing.
  • I give Ryan a small set of numbers such as 14, 15, 17, 18, 19 and ask him what number is missing. He has to put them in order and see what's missing.
  • We lay them all out and then do silly things like: make the twenty jump up and down, or I hold up a number and ask him to clap that many times. These are fun ways to make sure that he's able to identify the numbers. (When we're out and about I point out numbers a lot, like on signs or price tags)
Check out our earlier activities with number cards here

What else could we do with our Batman Number Cards?