ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: July 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Ideas from Readers

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The warm summer months continue to inspire our readers!

Elise at Inspiration Surrounds, Creativity Abounds recently wrote about a colored sand painting that her two and three year olds did. It is a perfect toddler activity as there was painting involved, coloring sand, gluing and pouring sand.

When the sun wouldn't cooperate by coming out during their Sun Themed Week, Stacie at The Amazing Mess made a paper plate sun catcher.

They also did this Shadow Guessing Game that results in a basic table setting placemat.
Sparkling Adventures sent us their caterpillar and butterfly craft that is also fun to dance with.
Kami at Nurturing the Tender Years made these pipe cleaner leis.

Blow giant bubbles with Valerie at The Frugal Family Fun Blog and
then make watermelon wrapping paper out of potato prints.

Don't forget to make some Pudding Pops, as seen on Mommy Topics, to cool off with after a full day of summer fun!

Ice Cream in a Can sounds like a perfect summer treat.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Little Food Junction

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Smita's blog Little Food Junction is our new go to resource for fun food creations, that actually look doable and super CUTE! If you haven't been by her blog you will be impressed by the range of ideas and her creativity!

We love her Sesame Street inspired snacks, like Elmo.

Are impressed by the many zoo animals she can create with a slice of bread as a palette. Check out Zoo Sandwiches 1 and Zoo Sandwiches 2.

And think everyone should be served a gorgeous edible flower bouquet, like these, for Mother's Day!

She can even turn something so simple into fun, like these orange "drums". Even I can do that!
And don't even get us started on her holiday ideas!!! It may be a little early to be thinking of Santa Claus, but we couldn't resist sharing Smita's version with you.

You won't believe your eyes as you scroll through her archives. Page after page of amazing creations kept popping up, we can't even begin to share Smita's creativity with you. You'll want to visit and bookmark Little Food Junction

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Show & Tell #18

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

We continue to be amazed and impressed by the activities you link up each week! You are all so creative and we can see your passion for working with children in them. We really appreciate your participation☺ Here are three of the great ideas shared!

kinderdi was inspired by Dr. Jean's song "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly" to make an activity the kids can use during center time.

Make a water bomb with sponges and some string and give your kids a way to have a more ecofriendly water balloon fight. These are reusable and kids too young to tie balloons can easily use them to "refill" themselves. Thanks Making Memories...One Fun Thing After Another for sharing!

We have found your child's next birthday card for Daddy! Oopsey Daisy shared her adorable "Dear Daddy...My love for you is..." card along with a download so your child can create and color their own.

Now it's your turn!

abc button

Please remember these rules:

~Post an "Ah Ha Moment," favorite lesson, experiment, learning game, field trip, whatever you're currently working on, or your child's fridge worthy artwork, handmade gifts or anything holiday related.

~Direct link to your post, not your home page.

~Include a link back to us or our link button in your post.

~If you come back and your link is missing, double check to make sure you've followed the directions!

~Lastly, please try to visit and comment on, at least three links. Spread the comment love and make someone's day!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Teach Mama: Visualizing During Read-Alouds

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Many of us have taken a moment now and again to encourage our children to find pictures in the sky on a cloudy day, right? No matter if it's a turtle, a shoe, a bunny, or a Cheerio, it always amuses me to hear what types of things my kids see the clouds.

With very little effort, even in the time during a read-aloud, we can have our little ones continue to stretch their imaginations by practicing visualizing. This time the pictures aren't in the clouds; with visualizing, the pictures are in their heads.
  • Visualizing: Visualizing, as a reading comprehension strategy, is simply using the words on the page to create images in your mind. Some teachers refer to visualizing "mind movies" to make the concept easier for younger learners.
Many children's books are jam-packed full of illustrations, photographs, and drawings, our little ones don't even need to use their brains to visualize what's happening. And it makes sense; the reason we want to spend time each day reading rich and varied literature with our children is so they create banks of images in their little brains. They can then pull from this 'schema' later to make connections to new reading and concepts. And the pictures they have stored will help them to better understand these ideas.

But it's quite all right every so often to stop for a second during a read-aloud and purposefully close the book, forcing listeners to create their own "mind movies" before you show them the next page, the next illustration.

For example, if you're in the middle of a book, and the character has been working up to something--a decorated Christmas tree, a surprise for a friend, or even that first step into a new classroom--consider pausing. Close the book and say, Hmmm. Take a minute, close your eyes, and use your brain to make a picture in your head of what the decorated tree/ picture for her friend/ new classroom might look like. What colors do you see? What kinds of things are in your picture?

Be forewarned: kids get antsy. They want to see what really comes next without figuring it out for themselves. But if you model for them, explain what you see in your "picture" or "mind movie", they may be more inclined to follow suit.

When teaching visualization to students, no matter the grade, I always pulled a rich passage from one of my own texts--for high schoolers, it'd be a vivid passage from Jurassic Park or Frankenstein, and for the younger kiddos, a stanza from a Maya Angelou poem or the The House on Mango Street would do the trick.

I'd say something like:
  • Close your eyes. Listen to this passage, and let your imagination go to work.
  • Hear the words and think about them, letting them be the brushes for the movie in your mind.
  • What do you imagine this (whatever it may be) to look like? What kinds of things are in your mind picture?
  • Take a picture as I read of what you see. Remember the colors, the textures, the sounds and smells.
  • Use the words on the page to make a visualization--or picture in your brain--what's happening.
And after you take a minute to share what you visualized, let the kiddos share what took place in their "mind movie". Finally, if you are able, turn the page and compare what you thought to what the author and/or illustrator created. The similarities--and differences--can spark a pretty worthwhile follow-up discussion about the author's word choices and the illustrator's artistic decisions.
So that's that. Just another quick, totally easy way of throwing in a meaningful reading comprehension strategy lesson that can--and should!--be introduced even before your child is the one decoding the words on the page. And for transition readers who will soon be moving into chapter books? This exercise is a must-do because it will get her into the habit of visualizing now!

Many thanks to Anne E. Gregory and Mary Ann Cahill for writing "Kindergartners Can Do It, Too! Comprehension Strategies for Early Readers" (The Reading Teacher, March 2010), an inspiring and informative article worth checking out!

Next up:
Activating Prior Knowledge During Read-Alouds

You can find more on this topic and others over at teach mama, where Amy shares the ways she sneaks a little bit of learning into her children's every day. . . or as often as she can with a 6, 4, and 3 year old. Or join her--and many other ABC & 123 friends--at we teach where they're chatting up a storm, sharing ideas, and learning a little themselves.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

CSN Review

I wanted to let you all know that in few weeks, I'll be reviewing a learning tool from CSN stores. With over 1 millions products, it's your source for the things you need for any room in your home from the dining room to the kitchen.

They have also have a great Developmental and Educational Toys section so make sure to stay tuned for our upcoming review!

While you’re waiting, here are some of of my fav’s from their site:

Discovering 4-In-1 Puzzle Set Flower Match Garden Patch Multi Match Sensory Discs Snap 'n' Learn Number Bugs img 3-D Feel & Find Shapes Toy

Lot’s of fun things at CSN stores for playing to learn!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Introducing We 3 Teach

We chose this Saturday to feature a bit of a Show and Tell of our own! "The Katies" are thrilled to be part of this new project - We 3 Teach. There are a few small changes you will see here on ABC & 123 based on this affiliation, and we are excited about them.

In the days to come you will find our current sponsors pictured in the right hand side bar. We will also be featuring new educational products and companies occasionally here on ABC & 123. Watch for our first feature coming soon! We are looking forward to sharing this new venture with all of you, our collaborators, while we continue to bring you posts full of thematic & educational activities as we have in the past.

Here is a little bit about our new group:


We believe in the power of numbers.
We believe in the power of reliable voice.
We believe in the power of education.
We are power teachers’ networked blogs.
We are the new day in the world of teaching, parenting, and technology.

We 3 Teach Media is here to bring your product into the light. Our shared vision for We 3 Teach Media is to foster children’s love of learning through games and play, while at the same time bringing new and innovative educational products to the attention of parents and teachers everywhere.

We are very excited about this new endeavor and know it's going to be a great way to grow and continue to meet the needs of our community. We realize this isn't going to have an impact on most of you, but since so many of you have welcomed us into your lives we wanted to keep you in the loop with ours. Thank you for being a part of ABC & 123, we're looking forward to continue our sharing with and featuring you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Activities with Sand

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

The Adventures of Bear makes sand painting with a shovel look like a summer must do!

Sand play dough, using the tips and recipes shared at The Adventures of Bear, is the perfect medium for building an indoor sand castle.

Create a sensory bin using treasures collected at the beach - don't forget the sand.

Live Learn Love suggests a way to put together a portable sand box.

Moldable Moon Sand. Quirky Momma warns that this is messy, but load of child sized fun while it lasted. You can build it but it also crumbles.

Mudpies & Magpies has a post featuring 10 Super Sandpit Ideas you won't want to miss.

In case you missed it, linked to Show and Tell #16 there is an adorable suggestion for building sandcastles out of sandpaper. Check it out!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Language Arts Games

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Do you remember the many mind reading and predicting games we used to create as kids simply by using a "cootie catcher?" Quirky Momma has come up with a suggestion for teaching children to read using this familiar game.

Whimsical Ways has put together a post featuring 3 different games to teach basic skills and reflect childrens books. You will want to play along.

A Year of Reading explains Bananagrams for Kids and suggests way this popular game may be used to help teach reding and spelling.

Use the simple game of tic tac toe to practice identifying and printing the letters your child might be struggling to learn otherwise.

Practice sequencing events in a story using the Sunday comics. Cut apart each frame of the comic strip, read the individual frames to your child, ask the child to put the story in order.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Show and Tell #17

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Last week's Show and Tell brought a great collection of new ideas for crafting, learning to read, exploring, eating, and enjoying summer!

Little Learners Lounge took advantage of some beautiful beach finds to create a Summer Sensory Exploration.

The Amazing Mess explains a simple way to put together your own set of tactile alphabet cards.

Mozi Esme' put together a great list of Cloud School activities. What a fun summer theme!

What have you been working on this July? Please add a link to your latest and greatest below.

abc button

Please remember these rules:

~Post an "Ah Ha Moment," favorite lesson, experiment, learning game, field trip, whatever you're currently working on, or your child's fridge worthy artwork, handmade gifts or anything holiday related.

~Direct link to your post, not your home page.

~Include a link back to us or our link button in your post.

~If you come back and your link is missing, double check to make sure you've followed the directions!

~Lastly, please try to visit and comment on, at least three links. Spread the comment love and make someone's day!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Play To Learn: Shapes

Welcome to this week’s Play To Learn feature where we’ll be discussing fun ways to learn those shapes! There are so many fun things you can do when learning shapes, and really I think repetition is the key here. Just saying the names of the shapes over and over as you go along will help tremendously with this task. But without any further ado, here are some fun games to play at home:


Slap It! This is a fun shapes game that everyone loves to play. Mainly because they get to slap the cards with plastic wands, but the good news is they are matching shapes while doing it! (I apologize, I can’t find a direct link to this, but I did get it at Lakeshore Learning.

IMG_4084 IMG_4081 IMG_4082 IMG_4083

Playful Patterns:

Discovery Toys Playful Patterns: This is a fun game for preschoolers. It’s like the regular Wooden Pattern Blocks. but the cards are not quite as complicated. All the kids love them.

IMG_4001 IMG_3992 IMG_3994 IMG_4000

Pattern Blocks:

Patter Block Patterns! I haven’t found any pattern block patterns, just the picture cards, so I made some for our shape review.

patternblockpatterns1 IMG_4840

Play-Doh Mats:

Shape Play-doh Mats: Laminate these shape cards and use them as shape templates for your play-doh learning time! Variation: Lay the cards out and have your child find objects that are the same shape and place them on the correct shape card.


Shape Tracers:

Shape Tracers: You can use this a few different ways! This download includes 10 shape tracing cards.


  • Laminate and use with dry-erase to trace the shape/word
  • Cut out shapes for scissor practice
  • Color or trace with crayon/markers/paint
  • Place stickers along the edges of each shape

Shape Puzzles:

Shape Puzzles: Cut out each shape, then cut in half along the dotted line to make shape puzzles.


Shape Sorting:

Shape Sorting: I used my Shape Cards from the Letter of the Week curriculum, and had we sorted our Large Buttons onto each shape card. You can also use the Color flashcards from the Letter of the Week as well for color sorting.


Shape Silhouette:

Shape Silhouette Match Up: Cut out the colored shapes, and match them to their corresponding shape on the outline game board.

shapesillouette2 shapesillouette1

Shape Viewers:

These are from Home Grown Hearts and they’re such a cute idea I just had to share! My kids loved using these, simply use them like binoculars to find things that are the same shape!


Those are just some of many ideas for learning shapes! If you have more ideas to share, or would like to be included in future “Play To Learn” posts, please email me at homeschoolerconfessions {at} gmail {dot} com, we’d love to hear from you!