ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: January 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Letter Q

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My Bilingual Boys teaches some basic Spanish language during this Q is for Quesadilla activity.

Thanks to Jolanthe for submitting a great bunch of activities to teach the letter Q.  She said the Quarter Toss was especially enjoyable.

Our Alphabet Adventure shared with us a Q is for Quail project.

Apples and Jammies put together a colorful quilted Q.

Livin' With Me also tried a quilted Q, but used construction paper instead of cloth.

Q is for Queen from Pocket Full of Posies  - and these queens are cute!  The same post has a Quick action game to get children up and moving.

Q is for Quilts and Q-tip painting and this post makes them look like fun!

Pocketful of Posies also shared a picture of their letter Q lapbook.  You will appreciate that each of Pocketful of Posies posts also include a recommended picture book.

No one submitted a fabulous recipe, but it seems that making a Quiche would be a tasty way to teach Q too!
Or my personal favorite Q word - quiet time;)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Author Challenge: Joy Cowley

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We'd like to start of this month's Author Challenge, by thanking Hameray Publishing Group for sponsoring this month's Author Challenge, we hope everyone entered to win the five readers by Joy Cowley, that they generously provided! 

Now on to the the Joy Cowley inspired ideas, we'd like to share with you!

Teacher CyberGuide has put together an interactive lesson for K-1 students using Cowley's book The Hungry Giant.

Learn NC has posted a Kindergarten Language Arts lesson using the book Mud Feels Good.

Lara, from Play Explore and Learn, prepared a lesson using Cowley's book titled Big Moon Tortilla.
She shares a recipe for making homemade tortillas with your children.  They also used watercolor paints to depict the books setting.  Lara has also written a helpful review of the book to give you a better idea of the storyline and its' target audience.
Play, Explore, and Learn also planned a day of learning around the farm favorite by Joy Cowley: Mrs. Wishy Washy's Farm.  Again, you will appreciate her parent tested review of the text.  The children appear to have had lots of fun with the hands on dirty farm animal science experiement they explored.
Thank you Lara for participating in this month's author challenge.  In appreciation we have chosen you as our next featured blogger! Congratulations!

Stay tuned early in February for the announcement of our next featured author.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter Wondertime

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Arts and Crofts has put together a helpful list of winter stories that would be wonderful to add to your winter wondertime lessons!
This is a science experiment making crystals from Borax and hot water, using pipe cleaner in the form of a snowflake.

Monkeyin Around Times Two sent us a submission, experiementing with glue, using the book Snowballs.

Dalle Un Colinho sent us a fun submission for indoor snow.  She says,
"...Snow is "porespan" (I don't know how they say in English, is a kind of white cork to pack things). It was very fun to make snow indoors, move by wind and of course then came the snow removal equipment :D (the post is very funny, don't forget to use the translator :D)"

Adventures of Mommyness shared how they made fake snow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snow and Snowmen

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This cute snowflake at Live, Learn, Love was made as an ornament but could also be used in conjunction with a snow themed book and hung up and enjoyed all winter long.  Depending on what type of buttons you have, you could practice simple patterning skills when laying down the buttons.  Kids can count out the buttons as the work and get some extra practice in while having fun crafting.

At Katie's Nesting Spot, a simple self correcting counting activity was recently shared.

You won't believe how much snow themed fun Jo at Somewhat Organized, Somewhat Crafty, Tot Teacher and Mommy recently had.  She may call herself  "somewhat organized" but we were impressed by how nicely she put each child's activities in their own little container.  Head over to see the fun they had with glitter playdoh, snowman soup, making snowflake frames, sorting with snowman beads, and making pom pom snowmen. 

Thank you to Jo for reminding us in her post about the great activities made Confessions of a Homeschooler, one of our past featured bloggers.  Erica has a bunch of great snowman themed printables for you!  We like the capital/lowercase Ss sorting pictured above, head over to her post to see the snowman cutting activities, patterning page, color match, snowman letter match, letter s scavenger hunt, snowman size sort, puzzle, and a whole lot more!

Erin at laughpaintcreate had her students create fun collaged snowmen, be sure you head over to see the fun variations the different kids made.

If it's too cold to play in the snow outside, do what Michelle at A Mommy's Adventures did, bring the snow indoors!  Besides the real snowman, she and her daughter also had a lot of fun playing with a felt version.

Plus they also did several snowman themed art projects, this one based on popular children's book Snowballs by Lois Ehlert is our favorite.  The colorful ice cube painting and salt paint snowmen also looked like a lot of fun and incorporated so many fun textures.

Erin did this Magic Snowflake activity with her students at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Counting Activities

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Thank you to The Adventures of Bear for submitting this engaging counting game.
The Cheerios Game

Learning Objective: to provide practice counting in a fun, engaging way.

This Counting Garden, created by Erin and featured on Quirky Momma, engages counting skills, listening skills, and patience.

This was a great activity for number sense. Anne from Teaching Two used hundreds charts to create puzzles for her children.  This activity proved to be very beneficial for the students in my (List Maker Katie) second grade classroom.  Sometimes we would also white out several numbers for the students to fill in.

Our Nifty Notebook featured a counting lesson using dice.

Here are a few games from the Harris family played with number boards to practice numbers and counting.

Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn explains how she taught the concept of zero.

Ten Kids and a Dog put together a cute counting and number recognition activity using trains.

The Fifth Street Academy sent us a link to a post filled with tips, toys, and tricks to make teaching counting less scary.

For the future, we are collecting submissions on activities to creatively teach the count by 2's, 5's, and 10's!

Friday, January 22, 2010


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Anne from Teaching Two share her lesson tips for teaching within a penguin theme.

Make your penguins an iceberg igloo with this penguin inspired project from Teaching Tiny Tots

Thanks to Chelsea at Fantastic Find for sharing this cute pet penguin craft that she put together with her 3 year. It's made with cups, foam, pipe cleaner and pom-poms.

Amanda from Fun Handprint Art sumbitted this adorable Footprint Penguin Family.The post also includes a thumbrint penguins and a January poem. It teaches creativity and fosters imagination.

Always Something to Learn is having all sorts of arctic fun and has shared it with us here: penguin masks, penguin art, a large motor waddling activity, poems, and more!

Dresses and Messes put together a fun penguin counting activity.

Miller Moments incorporated handprints into a penguin art project and fed goldfish to the penguins during a math activity.

Set up your own Antarctic biome with inspiration from Picklebums.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Teaching Writing Tips

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Teaching children to write goes well beyond working with them on proper handwriting, letter formation, and even spelling.  There are so many stages to the development of writing.   We will continue to work to pull together writing tips and mini activities, from our professional repertoire and from our cooperative blog readers, to help you work with your students on becoming writers.

One of the most important things you can do to instill an interest with, and passion for, writing from day one with your little ones is to READ!

To be able to write well, children must feel comfortable and confident with letting their ideas flow just as they would in conversation.  Unlike conversation, writing is a bit more forgiving because we have the opportunity to rearrange our thoughts, reword our confusing ideas,  and edit for accuracy.

~Let your kids see you writing.  For example: make lists, take messages, write thank you notes and letters to friends.
~Model content and mechanics by writing notes to your child, sending them a card, or making them a special sign of encouragement.
~Talk with your children about reasons why people write: to tell a story, to communicate, to convince, to report, to describe, etc.

Encourage very young child to write by scribbling, doodling, making lines, and drawing pictures.
Here is an age appropriate activity that directs their scribbling efforts a bit.

Scribble Scrabble (young children)
Choose a favorite animal, book, or character that your child knows about.
Plan a story by talking about what type of things might happen to each character
Ask your child lots of questions to expand their storyline
Have your child write down the story in their own way: using scribbling that looks like writing, invented spelling with letters, or just pictures.

Reporting (developing writers)
Have your child gather information by interviewing a friend, neighbor, or family member
Work together ahead of time to decide on relevant interview questions
Look at examples of interviews written in magazines.
Have your child edit the interview and put information together by topic

Use Pictures for Inspiration
Pull several interesting pictures from magazines.  Sort them into manilla folders labeled: characters, setting, and problem.  Have your writer pull one picture from each folder and use the three pictures as a jumping board for putting together a creative writing piece that includes a beginning, middle, and end.

Read What You Write
Explain to your developiong writer that when you read you should listen to how the writing sounds.  Consider how the words flow together, are all of the ideas there or are things missing? What would make the writing more interesting?
Encourage children to read with expression emphasizing important words and phrases
Encourage other children and adults to ask questions about the writing that is being presented

Pieces of information included in this post are based on research from the National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, presented by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Staying Active Indoors in the Winter Months

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Create an indoor snow storm.  We (the List Maker family) have a set of foam snowflakes labeled with numbers.  We put them all in the center of a large white sheet before each picking up a corner.  Then we shake and bounce the sheet like a parachute until all of the snowflakes have fallen around the room.  It is then a scramble for the kids to collect their snowflakes and return them to the sheet for another round.  To earn 1 point per snowflake they have to identify the number on their flake.  This activity can be adapted easily.  Label your snowflakes with letters, math problems, shapes or colors to be identified.  As children get older you could also ask them to compute whatever number they got to +5, +10, x2, etc.

For another up and moving indoor learning game, you may like to try Stamp, Sticker, Movement.  Thanks to Inspiration Surrounds, Creativity Abounds for this submission.

Keep the movement going even when it's too cold, snowy, or rainy to be outdoors with Let's Twist!

Make your own big blocks by collecting empty cereal boxes and covering them with construction paper and a contact paper covering. Building will practice important large motor skills.  Add letters to the side to have your children build words.

Play Boogie-Woogie Alphabet and the other movement games found on

This simple game is wonderful exercise for the whole family and helps children learn their letters (requires 3 to 4 people):
~Put on your favorite age-appropriate music with a good beat for dancing.
~Explain that you are going to cooperate and make letters with your bodies on the floor.
~Take turns calling out letters and instructing the other players how to lie on the floor to form the letter.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Flip Along Fun: Children's Book Review, Giveaway, and Coupon Code

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Today we wanted to share a great learning tool, that one of our founder's is featuring on her personal blog today.  The review is below, but be sure to head over to Katie's Nesting Spot to find out how you can save $3 off a copy now through Valentine's Day and enter to win a copy!
We recently got a fantastic new book for our home library. I am always interested in children's literature, but this one really got me excited. It's a simple concept done very well. It also happens to be perfect for my daughter, right now. Children ages 2.5-6 will enjoy it a lot.

Flip Along Fun: Mix Up To Match Up...The Right Answer by Michael J. Dowling, illustrated by Sarah Dowling, is a mix and match storybook. Meaning that there are three different panels that are used to make up a simple addition "story". The whole thing is set to simple rhyming verse and colorful animal pictures.
The reader picks flips through the first and second set of panels finding an animal picture for each, that the story will feature. In the third section they find the picture that has both animals from panel one and two to complete the story. As the story is completed the animals add up.

It's hands on and interactive, the stories are delightfully funny, the concept of addition is illustrated for the kids, and the numeral on each page is enlarged and bolded. Children can see, hear, and make an addition story all at once. My daughter really likes this one:
Panel One: 3 pink pigs dancing jolly jigs.
Panel Two: Spied 2 yellow cats swinging baseball bats
Panel Three: and all 5 had a laugh as they sat in the bath.

That gets her giggling over and over, she thinks it's funny to imagine our two kitties in the bath tub. "That's so silly," she says while she rolls her eyes and usually falls over from laughing.
Another thing that I like about this Flip Along Fun is it's sturdy laminated board book cover and pages, not only will it stand up to years of little hands using it, but you can easily use it like a desk top easel activity. Perfect for teachers to use during center times with small groups. It would be a great tool to use with parent volunteers leading small groups to review and reinforce math concepts. Students could use a book to make their own addition story, have the parent read it to them, and then copy the problem down into their math journal. To challenge the students, you could also have them reverse the problem into a subtraction problem.

It's an engaging read for preschoolers and an excellent resource for parents and teachers alike. I can think of many great ways to use this book because besides the math concepts, it could also be used in conjunction with word family and rhyming lessons. There is also a great video on the website, showing how the book works, see for yourself what a fun resource Flip Along Fun is!

If you'd like to save $3 off a copy of this book and enter to win one, you can find the details at Katie's Nesting Spot.  Hurry giveaway open through February 2nd and the coupon code until Valentine's Day.

Disclaimer: Thank you to the author for the reviewers and giveaway copy of the book, this post related Katie's personal and unbiased opinion and experience with the book.  Yours may differ.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Life Skill: Hard Work & Detemination

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All the so-called "secrets of success" will not work unless you do. ~Author Unknown
There is nothing more satisfying than working hard toward an important goal and accomplishing it with a team or on your own. Often as parents we are tempted to make it easy for our kids by giving more advice and assistance than we should. Yet, part of our responsibility as parents and teachers is to train children for life and to give them the message that they are capapble.

~Teach children to break big goals into small steps that make hard work motivating with simple rewards along the way.

~Give children opportunity to see you working hard along side them.

~Give encouragement, avoid all critisism

~Talk to your children about their opinions of hard work vs. good luck

"We parents face the challenge of needing to create opportunities to work rather than just having them presented to us."

Start a project that is sure to teach yoru children about hard work:
~Start a home garden
~Build a multistep project with legos or another model building set
~Require independent chores

The happyhome club has printable family activities focusing on perseverance which includes conversation starters, a game, and a celebratory dinner.

What are you doing with the children in your home, and your classroom, to teach the values of hard work and determination.

For a fantastic list of picture books on determination you will appreciate the reference found on the Children's Picture Book Database at Miami University.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Letter P

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We're back to our biweekly alphabet posts now that the holidays and vacation are over.  First up is the letter P, enjoy our reader's contributions and don't forget to leave them some comment love on their posts!  If you haven't already, please send us your letter Q, R, and S lessons. 

Cassie at Our Alphabet Adventure letter P activities were all about: P for Penguin, making Peanut Butter Patties, and Photography.  We love the photos her son took at the park.
We can think of a lot of little princesses would love to make this glittery princess P, as seen on Our Crafts-N-Things!
At the Fifth Street Academy, they made penny letter P's, pizza, and painted.

Amber at Refined Metals Academy did several letter P activities, we think her son's pink pig is the cutest.  She also has a fun idea to make picture placemats that you should click over to see.  It's one of her favorite activities ever.
Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations made Paper Strip Pumpkins and also some Pumpkin Spice Playdoh, that sounds like it it smells yummy.  Even if it's not the most attractive looking (her words not ours☺)
In Adrian at My Bilingual Boys' family, "P" is for Pavo (turkey). I was also pleased to realize that "P" is also for pico (beak), plumas (feathers) and patas (feet.) Great activity for Thanksgiving and to review the letter "P."

Thursday, January 14, 2010


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Thank you so much to today's fabulous guest writer, Elise, Inspiration Surrounds, Creativity Abounds.

She has put together a fun resource including different ways in which old calendars can become a valuable learning tool for young children.  She explains that, "old calendars, or ones that have been marked down in price as the New Year begins, are a great resource that we use a lot and I thought this post may be of use to your readers."  Enjoy!

'Tis the season to stock up on calendars. In our neck of the woods, calendars have been reduced by 40%. I know that they will be cheaper once the New year rolls in, but I wanted to make sure that there was still a decent selection to choose from, so this morning I went a little crazy and bought a heap of calendars that I plan on using for some of our activivities for next year. Alternatively, ask family and friends for their old calendars.

My mind has been going into over-drive with the possibilities for our Tot School activities for next year. We are going to use themes for the week to guide our learning experiences. I have been brainstorming and mindmappping our first few weeks and am really excited about the possibilities.

I bought calendars which feature: animals (endangered species, Australian animals etc), places of interest (wonders of the world), different artists (Van Gogh, Monet), flowers, scenery, landscapes, fairies, cars and trucks. I was thinking along the lines of the different themes we will be exploring, Savvy and Blake's interests, as well as seasonal activities.

I will be cutting up the pictures from the calendars (the large pictures within the calendars and the mini ones usually found on the back of the calendars) and laminating them.

Some ideas I plan on implementing using the calendars:

Photo below: Savvy at 18 months sorting different animals.

Pictures from calendars are a wonderful visual tool that can be used for sorting and grouping purposes. You can sort animals according to their characteristics, or you can sort pictures from calendars according to size or colour. There are plenty of options.

Photo below: Another activity that Savvy enjoyed when she was around 18 months old was pulling photos out of wallets and putting them back in. The little pictures on the back of calendars are perfect for this. Also, "posting" these pictures (for example, into an empty box) is fun for toddlers.

Photo below: When Savvy was learning about colours I made up an activity for her using different coloured cards that I coloured in and she had to put each card in the matching coloured bag. However, when I do it with Blakie I will be adding to our collection of cards and I will be using pictures of cars and trucks from the calendars I bought.

Another game I made up (which is pictured in the photo below) could also be played using pictures from calendars.

The game consists of two main components:

1. A paper plate displaying four options. An arrow is spun around by each player to determine what their task is to be. Once the task is determined, the player picks up a card (a picture from a calendar)

The options are:
Question Time: What do you know about......?
You ask a question about......?
Another player asks you a question about....?
Tell a story about.....
Act like....
Sing a song about.....
For older children I would add another category: draw a picture of....

Pictures from calendars could also be used to tell stories. They can be laminated and a magnet can be secured to them so that you can use a cookie sheet to display the pictures for the purposes of storytelling.

We may use the pictures to write our own story book

Photo below: Savvy using pictures (in this case from a magazine) so that we could write a story.

We are also going to use our pictures from calendars as a starting point to create a scene. We may draw, paint or use some other medium to create the scene.

Calendar pictures can be cut into puzzles.

Calendars can also be used for matching activities. A little while ago I was reminded of a matching activity that used calendars.

Photo below: Calendar matching activity.

Now is the time to request calendars from family and friends. Money spent on calendars that have been reduced is money well spent as there are so many options when it comes to using old, or cheap calendars.