Nov 30, 2011

Worksheets Wednesday!

Not sure if I will forever dub this day of the week as worksheet wednesday but it is today! I made a few printable worksheets for those of you interested in having them for your own :)

I included pictures of my Tracing Squares and Lines sheets in an earlier post. Here is a printable for Tracing Curved Lines and Drawing Lines. The Drawing Lines worksheet has an arrow to show the kids which way to go (left to right.) I only stress this with my kids because I want them to have as much left to right practice before they start to learn to write letters. It was natural for most of my kids to go this direction when I tried it with them, but just in case, there are arrows.

My favorite worksheet I included is a Fine Motor Skills practice that is Christmas Tree themed! I will use a "dot marker" which is similar to a bingo marker but you can also use a cotton ball as mentioned on the sheet itself. The circles are in the shape of a tree and your preschooler can practice their fine motor finger coordination. I can't wait to use this next week! :)

Nov 29, 2011

Baa Baa Black Sheep & Other Rhymes

The importance of rhymes in stories for preschool and toddler aged children is extremely important. I'm sure you've noticed that your little ones listen more attentively to stories or poems that rhyme. It's a crucial part of their literacy development....check out this article on more about the importance of reading stories that rhyme to your child.

On that note, I LOVE nursery rhymes! Next week we will read and base some of our curriculum on them. I did my bulletin board this month featuring student art replicating scenes from Baa Baa Black Sheep, Hey Diddle Diddle and Humpty Dumpty. We built Humpty's wall with paper cut out bricks finger painted by the class, painted 3 sheep for our Baa Baa Black Sheep pasture and then I added a felt cow at the top  jumping over a glittery moon. (I'm sure I'll post a picture soon!) My favorite board I've done so far, for sure!

I think one of the best things about Nursery Rhymes is that they are completely silly to the kids! They have no idea what is going on half the time but they rhyme and sound so funny. We love singing about Mary and the crazy lamb that follows her to school :)

The benefit I see for my kids in reading and learning nursery rhymes is the phonetic awareness. Even early on, it's a big milestone for the kids to distinguish sounds from others and hear them throughout the day rhyming, even silly words (some that don't exist, in our dictionary.) Once they start to distinguish sounds they can assign sounds with letters and predict a word's sound (you know you do that without thinking about it now)....eventually becoming fluent readers and writers.

Here is the sample of the sheep we made. I found this idea and we made our own. (I'll post a pic later on.) I cut out the sheep body and head and legs out of black paper. We used a cotton ball and white paint to create the wool. Then I had them help me with the eyes and I assembled all parts at the end. They turned out SUPER cute, maybe even cuter than this! [I'm biased!]

Nov 28, 2011

Pre-Printing Practice

Hope you all had a fabulous Turkey day! I sure am thankful that I had a few days off from work. I think everyone needs a good break sometimes... and no matter how much I love my students, I needed a break from them :)

I've been noticing some major developmental changes in some of my older kids lately. I have a few (mostly the ones that are 3 years old or close to it) that are really impressing me with the fine motor skills they have mastered. It's at this age that it's really important to refine those fine motor skills. Whether you realize it or not, they are practicing these skills in almost everything they do. When kids pick up those small objects under the couch that you never knew were there or take out the crayons and draw all over the wall, they are experimenting with their fine motor skills. Kids will need these skills so that they can draw, write and turn the pages of a book when their literacy and language skills improve.

I assess my students on milestones weekly and keep re-assessing them as the year goes on so that I can watch their progress. One of the milestones I'm going to start focusing on is starting to mimic letter formation. Most of them don't know one letter from the next but it's more to do with how they "pretend" to write letters when they are drawing or "writing." You may even notice some kids are left or right handed prominently at this age! (I think that's cool)

To give my kids some practice in writing I usually start with learning to draw lines. This is the most simple concept. If you're going to practice lines you might as well practice going left to right to reinforce that sentences will be read and written left to right in the near future. Another step up would be shape tracing or curved and crooked line tracing.

I made a worksheet for them with an outline (dashed lines) of 4 squares. My kids 2 years 10 months and up did REALLY well with this concept. The ones younger than that were a little less interested and didn't do as well... but, we will keep practicing!

I'm going to try line drawing tomorrow. I made my worksheet for that pretty simple too with more dashed lines. I will be doing this one on one with them so I'll reinforce trying to go left to right but you could draw arrows to help, too.

(sorry for the long post!) Happy Pre-Printing! By the way..I am thinking of making cooking up some printables... feeling generous and creative! Haha!

Nov 17, 2011

goals and turkey day!

Made some really cute turkeys with my kids this week, can't wait to hang them up on monday for t-giving week! We used our handprints for the feathers, stamping them in a semi circle shape. Then I cut two brown circles, a larger one from construction paper and the smaller one from a brown lunch bag (being resourceful) to use as the body and head. We added buttons for eyes and an orange beak and the red dangly thing (don't know what this is called) both from construction paper as well. Cute memory of how big/small their hands were if you look back on it in a few years! The kids loved seeing their handprints come to life :)

I have also been thinking a lot about goals. My kids are starting in the "I did it" phase right now. They want me to notice everything!! We set small goals for them so that they can feel accomplishment throughout the day but also, they know there are some things that take time.

I cleaned out our pull ups collection this week, as many of them are potty trained now and don't need a stack on hand. It was bittersweet to see how many kids I got to send home pull ups with. I cleared about 3/4ths of my diapers out! I'm so proud of them for working hard on using the potty!

I did an activity with them today from a magazine stack. We sat around the table and flipped through to find foods we think are healthy and not healthy. This week has been about Food and Health. We discussed soda vs. milk, fruits vs. chips, etc. They loved cutting out the foods we found and we took turns gluing them on a paper plate. We filled a couple plates with yummy foods we might try! They of course wanted a turn with the scizzors next so I gave them each a magazine page and a pair of kid scizzors and away they went, for 30 minutes! I couldnt believe how much attention they gave to cutting away at the paper! These kids seriously love scizzors! I teach them to say, "open close open close...etc" as they cut and to make sure they have their fingers placed correctly. It's been fun to see some of them really grasp how to cut and use scizzors in the past few months. I'm a proud teacher!

Happy Thursday!

Nov 10, 2011

things I love for my classroom

My most favorite discovery lately has been the many uses of Contact Paper. It works similarly to laminating something. I use to make papers dry erase marker friendly, so that we can re-use it, or when we finish an art project like our Veteran's Day banner (pictures tomorrow) it gives it an extra oomph of completeness. I guess I just can't get enough of it.

We talked about sight and hearing this week.... music, identifying sounds, colors, magnifying glasses, patterns, etc. We made our own "stained glass" creations using contact paper (there it is). I cut squares (shape of the month) of different colors of tissue paper (reinforce color recognition and use of various materials for art) and gave each student a piece of contact paper sticky side up (about 4x4). They stuck the squares down and then when they finished we put another sheet of contact paper over it (Sticky sides together create almost a laminated look). We hung them up in the window to see the light shine through the colored paper! You can also easily cut this into a shape like... leaves for fall maybe?

Stay tuned for my veterans day post tomorrow! Lots of crafts to post!