ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Itty Bitty Bookworm Review & Giveaway

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I've had a link on my personal blog to the Itty Bitty Bookworm since I first started blogging, because they have great free resources with printable booklets, thematic writing paper, classroom management forms, coloring pages. They are also working on adding monthly links to other online resources that enhance their curriculum.

So I already thought it was a great resource, and THEN we were contacted by Tara, the founder of Itty Bitty Bookworm and asked if we wanted to do a review of their literature based curriculum for preschoolers AND host a giveaway! We jumped at the chance!

The Itty Bitty Bookworm is a literature based program, with each week in Bo's or every two weeks in the Bailey curriculum centered on a particular book. There are two levels to the curriculum Bailey's is for 18-36 months and Bo's is for 3-5 year olds. We had the pleasure of reviewing the Year 1 April units for both levels and split them up according to the ages of our own children.

Bailey's Curriculum Review

This is Katie from Katie's Nesting Spot, my daughter is two and a half, so we've been having fun using the Bailey Curriculum for 18-36 month olds. I am so thankful to Tara for letting us have the opportunity to share it with you!

You get a very detailed and complete unit, that comes with a lot of theory behind child development. You won't just get ideas, you'll learn the why and how to teach your child. The long term goals of the program laid out in developmental stages will be of particular interest.

There are scheduling suggestions, including how to incorporate a picture schedule and suggestions for songs to start your day with. Learning centers are discussed at length with many examples and suggestions given. Motor skills, both fine and gross are also covered.

As a former teacher, I especially appreciated the forms already created to help record student progress, especially the writing portfolio milestones sheet, and the parent handouts detailing the program and for each two week period. How nice to be able to just copy and send home, a real time saver!

Speaking of time savers, if I had one suggestion, it would be that the animal cards for the sounds and felt board activities be provided in both color, so that you don't have to color them in before using them with your students, and black and white, so you still have a version for the kids to color in and use for your own extension activities.

The program is centered around storybooks, with shared reading a big component. I was happy to see that there is an in depth daily break down to the implementation schedule. It is very clearly written and easy to follow. It is the foundation for using the program. Every day there is a detailed shared reading, group activity, and creative arts activity.

For this month the focus books were:
~What Will You Wear, Jesse Bear?
~Clap Your Hands

Some of the shared reading activities were:
~Discussing the parts of the book
~Asking her what she remembers
~Chorally rereading the book
~Discuss favorite parts of the book
~Sing and practice a poem of the week
~Act out parts of the book
~Reread for fun

Each day there are also book related activities that also incorporate learning the color and shape of the month.

Some Activity Highlights Were:

~Making a character puppet, she enjoyed this so much we had to make more than one.

~Acting out the book and taking pictures, here she is clapping her hands and stomping her feet.

~Playing with her paper plate tambourine and water bottle maracas

~Getting to be the leader, when playing follow the leader
~Talking about feelings and making silly faces
~Singing an animals sounds song and doing a coordinating felt board activity
~Making animal sounds and finding the corresponding picture card, she made some of the cards and was proud of herself. Those are her favorites and when we play, she always chooses to make those animal sounds first.

~Yellow Handprint Flowers, I didn't make ours as directed but it's similar to the described activity and one of the things I liked about the program is how you can change things and make it work for you.

I found the activities easily adaptable to use items you have on hand. For instance, we did not make craft stick picture frames. We decorated inexpenisve frames I already had. I really liked using the program, it takes all the guess work out of planning and the books it uses are readily available, in fact we own fifteen of them already. I also would like to add that I agree with the other Katie, and many of the points she uses to describe the Bailey curriculum below, would also apply to the Bo curriculum.

I'd love to have the whole program, and I know you would to! Keep reading to find out how you can WIN it!

Bo Curriculum Review

I, the list making Katie, had the privilege of reviewing Itty Bitty Bookworm’s Bo Curriculum for children ages 3-5 (Year 1).

What a fantastic, comprehensive program for use in ANY school setting.

In typically list maker fashion, I’d love to share some of the many highlights of Itty Bitty Bookworm in general & specifically the Bo Curriculum.

Itty Bitty Bookworm
~ Lessons & activities foster the natural curiosity evident in all preschoolers.
~ Easy to implement
~ Very organized & detailed lay out
~ Creative thematic units
~ Helpful printables provided for easy management: daily reports, daily schedules, graphics, song posters, parent communication, and observation/record keeping forms.

Bo Curriculum
~The layout & format is incredibly “friendly” for busy moms and teachers.
~The curriculum includes a detailed daily schedule, weekly format, and monthly theme suggestion.
~Center activities are provided with set up explanations.
~The curriculum includes many opportunities for authentic assessment to monitor children’s progress as they move through the themes.
~Each theme includes a detailed supply list
~Each month’s skill objectives are clearly stated

Interesting Fact for Educators & Parents
Throughout the monthly themes the letters of the ABC are taught in order of printing complexity.

My kids & I specifically explored the unit “Bugs, Bugs, Bugs!”

We read the following buggy books:
~Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
~The Very Hungry Caterpillar
~The Grouchy Ladybug
~Miss Spider’s Tea Party

Some of the projects we enjoyed included:
~Ants on a Stump cooking project
~The Counting Bug Book math project
~Shared Reading & Response
~Fingerprint Bugs art project
~Play dough Bugs
~Bug “Guess Who”

Excited about giving the Itty Bitty Bookworm a try? Here are some options.
~Check out their site now for great ideas, lesson previews, and free printables.
~Purchase pieces of either the Bailey or Bo Curriculum that will be useful for your child’s specific needs.
~WIN an entire year of Itty Bitty Bookworm curriculum (a $300 value)!!!
To Be Entered in the Giveaway Drawing:

~Visit the Itty Bitty Bookworm. Take a look at the Bailey and Bo curriculum. When you come back comment on which curriculum you would prefer to win & which theme you are most excited to try! (This must be done to be entered)

Additional Entries may be Earned by Doing Any (or all) of the Following:
Leave a separate comment letting us know about each thing you have done.

~Twitter about this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet
~Follow ABC & 123: A Learning Cooperative
~Purchase & download any piece of the curriculum and let us know
~Add our button to your sidebar
~Add our link to your link list
~Blog about this giveaway and provide a link back

Good Luck! We will be choosing a winner one week from today, on May 7th!

Head back over to the Give it Away Now! Blog Giveaway Carnival at Mom Most Traveled for more great giveaways!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Punctuation Practice

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Today's Words, Words, Words Wednesday focuses on teaching punctuation!
ProTeacher Collection has a large list of activities for working with your student on capitalization and punctuation.

Project LA shares 3 activities to help learners identify proper placement of capitalization and punctuation marks.
Capitalization & Punctuation
Let’s Put an End to Sentences!
What’s Your Mark?
Sentence Stumpers
Cluster Busters

Hot Chalks has designed a grammar lesson for 3rd and 4th grade students called

Collaborative Learning has shared a pdf of punctuation games for your printing pleasure.
Crayola is a fantastic resource for more than just art activities. Check out the perfect punctuation lessons as a game or in a box!

Action Based Learning has written a lesson plan for Action Punctuation. This cooperative lesson is appropriate for a group.

Here are a few of our own ideas:
~Write & Read the ABCs with punctuation
Work with your child to expressively read the alphabet with different punctuation marks at different intervals. This is a great way to practice with an element (the alphabet) that is already familiar.

~Punctuation Hand Signals
Allow your child to creatively define each punctuation mark with its' own hand signal. As you read a poem or story to them, ask your child to act out the punctuation with the chosen signals.

~Punctuation Characters
Practice grammar and creativity by writing a story where all of the characters are different punctuation marks. What characterization will your little learners develop for each of these symbols?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teacher Feature: Book Review

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The following book was reviewed by Amy @ Teach Mama on Sunday, April 19, 2009 & is re-posted here with her permission.

The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart and illustrations by David Small, is honestly one of the most beautiful children's books I have ever read.

The story takes place during the Depression and is told through letters that Lydia Grace writes to her Grandmother and parents after she leaves them to spend a year working with her surly uncle in his bakery in the city. She brings her love of gardening to her uncle's shop and ultimately brings some sunshine to a previously depressed town.

The Gardener: Because we've been re-potting our terrarium, talking about our upcoming tour at a garden center, and beginning to start our outside garden, this was a great book to read tonight before bed.

Maddy has also been doing a lot of reading in her own books, so I could tell that Owen's been feeling frustrated. Tonight, I wanted to show them both how some authors use pictures to tell the story. Several parts of this book use two-page illustrations to carry the narrative, so I modeled how to examine the inside cover illustration.

I modeled my thinking:
"Oh my goodness! Look at this incredible garden! I can see so many plants and vegetables growing here. Look at the sunflowers! See the lettuce? What else do you notice? . . . Look at the little girl showing the woman--maybe her grandma?--that huge tomato! It looks like she must feel proud of that tomato. They must work very hard to make their garden grow."

Then we looked closely at the following pages' illustrations and talked through what we saw.

We asked questions and made observations:
I wonder why those two people look so sad?
What will they say when the little girl comes back with food from the garden?

When I finally got into the reading, Owen got the hang of it and could clearly explain what he saw. When he talked us through Lydia Grace's arrival at the train station, I cheered--You did it! Owen, you're reading! You don't always have to use words to read; sometimes there are no words, so you use the pictures! That's exactly what reading is--using the words and the pictures to tell the story! That's exactly how Maddy is learning to read her books--and you're doing the same thing. Good for you.

And that's how we walked through The Gardner, talking about how the author uses both Lydia Grace's letters and the illustrations to tell the story. What a beautiful walk it was--I'll take this kind of learning any day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Math Monday: Addition

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Today's Math Monday is all about addition!

Aren't sticker's great? There are so many uses for them in early childhood math! Second Star to the Right and Straight Til the Morning used them with her son to represent kindergarten level addition problems.

Hey, I'm just the Nanny shows us how she used an old set of cards to practice addition.

Hey, I'm Just the Nanny also did this cute clothespin addition activity.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Teaching Compassion

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Today's Life Skill Sunday Lesson is Compassion!

What is it?
~Genuine concern for the welfare of others
~Sympathetic consciousness with a desire to alleviate someone's distress

It is important to encourage compassion in children. We must teach children to go beyond feeling sad for someone; we must teach them to act on their feelings by doing something for someone else.

Compassionate Words
~tender hearted

Brainstorm with your family to create a Wordle filled with words that define and/or remind you of compassion.

Start a Conversation about Compassion:
~Are you a generous person?
~How have your shown compassion?
~Tell a story about a time someone showed you compassion.
~"Compassion is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." ~Unknown.
What does this quote mean to you?
~Do all people deserve to be treated with compassion? Why or why not?
~Have you ever shown compassion to nature or an animal?
~Think of someone you know who is in need. What keeps you from reaching out in compassion?

Teach Compassion Through Action:
~Model Compassion
~Act as a Volunteer
~Give to a Charity
~Study Examples from History of Compassionate People
~Make Cards or Crafts for Those Who are Shut In/Hospitalized
~Perform Acts of Thoughful Kindness
~Discipline with Explanations: When your child misbehaves, explain the problem and allow the child to think about how they would feel if that happenend to them
~Encourage Apologies & Forgiveness

Download from Scholastic a PDF with Kindness and Compassion Ages and Stages for children ages 3-6. They also have an article on how to encourage acceptance and compassion through play worth reading.

The Magic Onions strives to teach her children about the importance of being compassionate to both people and animals. She worked with her daughter to make Blossoms for Birds. Their efforts provided colorful building material for the spring nest builders!

Family's With Purpose suggests setting up a Family Giving Box to make a difference in the lives of others.

Compassionate Kids is a non-profit dedicated to teaching kids to be compassionate to the earth, animals, and people.

Parent Magazine's May 2009 issue included an article on Raising Big Hearted Kids.

Teach compassion through a daily morning message and accompanying activity created by the Vancouver School Board.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun Friday: Nutrition

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Today's Fun Friday post is about Nutritions, because it's fun to be healthy. Right?

Now that it's been almost two weeks since Easter, we thought you might be interested in some activities to get your family back on track with healthy eating habits after all the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans have been eaten!

Bobbi shares her activity for a food pyramid in the fridge, it even helps her kids get their snacks.
Mary Anne at Thifty Crafty Mama has an idea that uses grocery store ads. She even provides a grocery shelves and cart template you can download to use with it.

Shannon at Fly to My Window, used cooking magazines to make her healthy choices placemats with her boys.
Mother is Not Concerned did this fun smoothie taste testing activity with her boys. She provides recipes for the winner and runner up.
Sunny Mama reminds us that sometimes a simple activity like toothpick cocktail snacks can make eating fruits and veggies fun!

We'd love to hear how you handle all the candy overload after holidays. How do you ration it out?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kid's Green Crafting & Activities

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Because Earth Day and being green should be a change for a lifetime, for today's Fun Friday post we'd like to share some activities that incorporate items that might otherwise end up in the trash. This was a lot of fun putting together, if you've done a green craft be sure to leave us a link in the comments so we can check them out!

Many Little Blessings has a great idea for turning a shipping box their family got from Amazon into a box house. Teach Mama has another great use, turn it into a sensory box.

Thrifty Craft Mama posted about making doll houses for peg dolls out of recycled items.

k e household used their old milk jug to make a bird feeder.

Got ribbon? Got lots of empty ribbon spools around? Turn them into these bright and colorful spring flowers, as seen on Four Crazy Kings.

Mama King has also turned empty strawberry containers into a treasure box.

Two Little Monkeys has a post devoted to crafts inspired by recycled materials, some for children and some for adults!

Homeschool Creations gives instructions for making a Toilet Paper Tube Train.

Valerie at Frugal Family Fun put all her links to projects that use recyclables all in one handy post. She's got several great ideas so check them out!

Valerie also recently shared a great tutorial on how to turn old magazines into beads, what a great way to reuse them!

Sandy at Just for Fun shared two cute ideas for crafting with old egg cartons. Turn them into caterpillars and flowers. It would be fun to make the caterpillars when doing a Hungry Caterpillar theme.

Noelle at Lil' Bits and Pieces of Me shared an activity using old milk cartons to make blocks. You could decorate the sides with old greeting cards your children have received and incorporate even more recyclables. Another idea is to use this craft to make ABC blocks, you could cut pictures for each letter out of old magazines and paste onto the sides along with the letter.

Learning Activities Using Recycled Materials

Teach Mama uses children's yogurt containers for many uses, including this number activity that kept her kids occupied while she made dinner.

A Listmaker's Life used old magazines to make paper flowers.

More Great Ideas

The Kid's Craft blog by Plaid shares several links to recycled crafts. Check out the Alien Bank and Recycled Train.

Our friend Kris at Jesse Kate Designs was recently published in a great crafting magazine called Pack o' Fun. See her critter containers using old spice jars. The best part is that there are already holes for the critters to get air.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Activities

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Happy Earth Day! Happy Wondertime Wednesday!

Ever wonder what else you can do to teach your kids more about the earth?

Montessori Mama explains how to prepare the indoor and outdoor learning environment for learning to honor the earth.

Little Eyes on Nature is a blog devoted to helping young children develop a love for the Earth

After reading Our Nest is Best explore the nature around your home to find materials for building a nest. For more information read at Adventures of a Flake.

Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile has reviewed several Earth Day books which we also recommend you check out for yourself!

This Little Project has written a post about Teaching Children to Love the Earth. Her post reviews the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.

The Artful Parent gives a step by step explanation for how to make nature prints in Sculpey.

e beanstalk features an expert selected, developmental toy for teaching kids to "Go Green with the Magic School Bus. "

Ms. Frizzle and her students take a wild ride with experiments and activities that can Save our Earth! Recreate the water cycle, build a compost tube, shrink plastic, magically make packing peanuts disappear, decompose food with fungus, form pulp, create new paper, design recycled paper shapes, learn about the 3 R’s, and much, much more!

Letters Numbers and Books Oh My... lists a sample lesson plan for "E is for Earth Week!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Matching Activities

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During today's Toddler Time we will focus on matching activities!

SMMART ideas suggests a Masterpiece Matching activity using famous artwork.

The Peterson Party suggests using recycled bottle tops to practice matching upper & lowercase letters.

The Peterson Party also practices colors in Spanish & English with a fun matching game and song.

Mrs. D Lightful encourages her tot to "play with matches." She has come up with a simple solution for making memory more fun.

The Toby Show explains a fast & free fabric matching game.
Speaking of matches...

Do you have any fun activities or ideas for making use of the missing matches at the end of mitten season? Send us your links & submissions!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Management Monday: Classroom Tools

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For today's Management Monday, we're highlighting teaching tools or strategies that some of our readers use to help their learning activities be a success. If you have one please submit it so we can feature it in a future post.

Denise at Explorations shares her song charts, these are a wonderful teaching tool to work on pre-reading skills. Many teachers use song charts in circle time and have a new one weekly. You can talk about print directionality, high light key writing concepts such as begin a sentence with capital letters, and give each child their own poem for a poem book. You child will eventually have several poems and songs he or she can read on his or her own.

Classroom transitions can be tricky. Second Story Window shares 2 favorite transition techniques: poetry and brain teasers.

They also have a fun idea for cleaning up the classroom called "Secret Scrap!"

Jenni at Our Nifty Notebook, saves her empty peanut butter jars and uses them to organize her daughter's collections. They are the perfect size to hold counting manipulatives.

Thanks to Annette at the Whipples for letting us know about this fun resource: Homeschool Freebie of the Day. Everyday for just one day a new freebie is available. Sign up for their newsletter and find out each week what will be available.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rainbow Activities

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Today's Saturday Special is all about Rainbows!

To get started, we suggest checking out The Virtual Vine's Rainbow Unit.

Shannon at Fly to My Window, send us this fun layed rainbow, what a fun way to end a thematic day, by eating all the colors!

Heidi @ Blue Eyed Blessings has an idea for a healthy Taste the Rainbow kabob!

Just for Fun shares instructions for making a colorful Rainbow in a Jar.

No Time for Flashcards explains the step by step instructions for making a Marshmellow Rainbow.

5 Minutes for Books has a rainbow book & rainbow ring craft idea perfect for toddlers.

Make & Takes explores the science of mixing colors with Making a Rainbow Connection.

5 Orange Potatoes posted a bright rainbow window hanging project.

& a fun Melting Rainbows experiment & painting project!

Max & Ellie wrote about a wonderful unit on rainbows including: rainbow cookies, rainbow books, rainbow songs, projects, links, and more.

Here We Are Together put together some beautiful, rainbow colored, suncatchers.

Preschool Daze has created an elaborate, collaged color wheel! Looks like it would be loads of fun for a group of kids to work on together.

Kristen from Mrs. Home Ec focused on rainbows for a week with her children. One of her clever ideas was to make a marker rainbow by taping all of the markers together.

The Magic Onion submitted her Rainbow of Flowers post & poem. It has lovely pictures and will encourage you to help your child appreciate the rainbow of colors in the beauty of nature.
Make a rainbow book, Gretchen at the Kelly Clan make color books out of inexpensive chipboard shape books that were painted and then give a simple label such as green car. They also made fruit loop rainbows and necklaces that day.