ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: February 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feature Yourself Friday: Meet Stacie

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The Amazing Mess. I know it is an unusual title, and I'm often asked where I came up with that name for my blog!!

When my oldest daughter was two (she's now six), she climbed into my mom's car and was absolutely horrified by how messy it was (my mom is quite the carpenter and usually has an assortment of tools, paint, and other stuff in her car)! She looked right at my mom and said "Mimi -- your car is an amazing mess!"

That combination of words stuck with me. You can read it two ways -- AMAZING mess or amazing MESS. Sometimes life with little ones is amazing, but sometimes it is just a mess. My intent when I started my blog about a year ago was to share about the amazing parts of life and the messy parts of life.

As a former primary teacher, I also wanted to share SIMPLE ideas and activities that any parent could do with their child (I have files and files of ideas)! I also wanted to share STEP-BY-STEP directions for projects. I am a visual learner, but I kept running into all kinds of projects without pictures -- and I need pictures! So, I attempt to document our activities (as best I can) with photographs and easy instructions.

Here's some of what you'll find on The Amazing Mess:

Interestingly, some of my most popular posts haven't been kid's projects! My number one visited post is this magnetic menu planner!

After that are my bargain posts! I love finding and sharing a bargain (so much so that I started another blog called Motherhood on a Dime -- it's dedicated to helping moms/parents/anyone find the best deals and learn how to use coupons to save tons of money on grocery bills)!

Anyway, in keeping with my educational theme, I look for the best deals/bargains aimed at teachers, homeschoolers, and moms and share those on Saturday Savings posts!

Finally, I have a few more things in the works -- more giveaways, a weekly link-up starting soon (hopefully!!), and more activities for babies and toddlers! Most activities are aimed at little ones in the 3-7 range, but many are adaptable!

I would absolutely love for you to come visit us over at The Amazing Mess (join our Facebook page, receive email updates, subscribe via RSS, or follow on Twitter). I feel very blessed to have a wonderful community of new friends I've made through blogging!

Thank you so much for allowing me to share with you -- and thanks to ABC and 123: A Learning Cooperative for providing such an excellent website and resource!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bringing Physical Activities Indoor for Winter

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Sun Hats and Wellie Boots set up an indoor bear hunt to act out the popular story and get little bodies moving.

Hands On: As We Grow has some clever ABC mat activities to keep little ones moving.

From the Hive suggests that you save some wax paper for indoor ice skating.

Make your own indoor slide with some inspiration from this photo on Tinker Lab.

Put together an indoor bowling game using the suggestion on Life of a Modern Mom.

A few other simple ideas:
~Hide & Seek
~Haul in a hula hoop, jump rope, or mini trampoline

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter White Writing Activities & Crafts

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Are you still studying snow or, like me, are you SO over Winter already?!?! Well, these great learning and creating activities might inspire you to give the chill another chance before kicking off all things Spring!

K is for Kindergarten used the fictional book Snowmen at Night to introduce a fun writing project.

A Place Called Kindergarten used the non fiction book The Story of Snow to kick off an informational gathering/research activity and a neat follow up craft.

Ten Kids and a Dog used their handprints and some white paint to make adorable winter scenes.
Off 2 Kindergarten used the ficitional book The Snow Globe Family to inspire creative writing with her students.
Our Crafts~N~Things focused on the natural science part of winter by experiencing animals and their habitats.

While several of these links are from kindergarten teachers I believe the activities can be adapted appropriately for most preschool and elementary age students.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Show and Tell #46

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Dottie's Homeschool Universe shared a link to a fun study of Arctic & Antarctic animals and habitats.

Little Learners Lounge linked up with a toothpick activity that is sure to help pass time.

Chalk in my Pocket has a tutorial for making 3D bathtub paint that I am looking forward to trying.

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, February 21, 2011

Teaching with Ticia: Introducing Geography

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This is my all time favorite book for introducing kids to maps.  I used this back when I was teaching second grade, and again when I taught first grade.

It does a very nice job of putting it all in a context that kids can understand, and she's got a nice series of "Me _________" books.

If you're curious I have a series of posts on my blog that you could do over an extended period of time, but this activity is set up for if you're doing this in a classroom or in a limited amount of time.

You could do this a couple of ways, to save on paper I made a layered book and cut the paper in half to make two books per set.  I like the look, and it's a little different.

Than after reading the book they made a much simpler version of the book for themselves.  Here's what all of the pages look like (minus the This is me page because my kids wrote their names on that).


To get the map images I just did a google search of blackline images for the specific area I wanted.  I looked for one of the United States, North America, and the world.  For the words you can go here for the printable.

Since we did this as part of a co-op we did it with older kids as well (age range was 4 years old to 5th grade), and the older kids helped the younger kids complete it and write their words, and in completing their own wrote all the words.

For their city they drew a picture that made them think of their city, but you could also find a map of their city.

Obviously there are a lot of extensions you can do with this book, here are a few:

1.  This is a simplified book, have them actually look at a map of their city and find their street.

2.  Plan a treasure hunt from the map of their house or school.  I did this with my kids when we reached that part of the book and they LOVED it!

3.  Some other good book tie-ins are: "How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World," and "How to Make a Cherry Pie and see the World." (both of which are units in their own right).

4.  This is a great launching point for further geography studies.  That was the purpose of our using this book again, we're about to restart our state studies.

If you want to start looking into United States studies some more, here's some blogs that have interesting ideas to look at: Superheroes and Princesses, Musings of Me, Adventures in Mommydom (yes I'm attempting this).  Also, Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn hosts a geography/history linky each week where you can get some other ideas.

I'm still working on my go to place for International geography ideas.  I know Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns is doing some, as is Confessions of a Homeschooler.  But, if you have any suggestions of where else to look I'd love them for when we go international in a year or two.

Where do you guys go to for geography ideas?  Any favorite blogs or websites?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Presidents Day Activities for Elementary Children

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The First Grade Sweet Life explains some great academic activities for President's Day. I really like the log cabin compound word sort game.

It's A Boy's Life has a post full of government related links and games that would apply to President's Day.

Swamp Frog First Graders has created a Venn Diagram for use in studying the presidents.

Chalk Talk: A Kindergarten Blog has several fun President's Day activities including 3 corner hats and a coin toss to practice probability and recording.

Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations put together President's Day lapbooks for the holiday.

Sarah, from Sarah's First Grade Snippets has put together a fantastic thematic unit about Presidents.

The US President Website is a valuable resource while planning for your instruction.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feature Yourself Friday: Meet Cathy

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Hello! I'm Cathy James and I blog over at NurtureStore. I'm the mother of two girls and an Early Years professional from the UK. I'm passionate about play and giving children a great start in life. NurtureStore is packed full of ideas you can use with your children - things that are fun and full of learning opportuties but also frugal and easy to do at home.

super baby play ideas

I try to cover all aspects of children's play and offer ideas for all ages from babies through to around age ten. On Monday's we have a SUPERbaby feature with gentle, playful ideas that are just right for the youngest children. You might like our Lift the Flap Love book idea which captures a baby's love of faces in a homemade book.

Most often I blog about the things I've been playing with my daughters and the children I work with. This week we've been auditing out outdoor play space ready for spring and being letter detectives.

IMG_8446 (1280x960)
I think children learn best when they're exploring something from all angles and using all their senses, so we often mix lots of activities on a particular theme. Our Five Little Ducks theme included songs and painting in with maths activities, with a vlog of my daughter singing for you!
egg box dragon
My older daughter is passionate about crafts and lots of her ideas are featured on the blog. We always try to use recycled materials for our crafts and love it when our craft sessions result in a toy or model which gives us even more play opportunities. A couple of our favourites are our egg box dragon and our peg doll mermaids and superheros.

It's such a priviledge to belong to this on-line early years community and I get so much inspiration from the people who read and comment on NurtureStore. We have a great Facebook community and I'm on Twitter as We also host a Play Academy Idea Swap each Friday, where people come to share what they've been playing that week. I'm always inspired by everyone's ideas, so maybe you'd like to come along and swap an idea with us too?

play academy
We have a themed carnival once a month you might like to take part in too. This month is the Carnival of Small World Play which is on Friday 25th February and if you have a play idea for model farms, fairy gardens or any kind of small world play you would be really welcome to come and share an idea with us.

I love ABC and 123 and it's wonderful to be able to use some of their space to say hello to you all. Maybe you'll stop by NurtureStore and have a look at our ideas and say hi?

Hope you have a great play day with your children today. Cathy

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Penguins: Rhymes, Writing, Books, Counting & Crafts

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Primary Perspective has cute and clever penguin ideas. I love the writing activity with the adorable cut paper penguin accents.

Frogs Bees & Under the Seas has a wonderful free penguin unit to share. The entire unit is available for download.

Mrs Jump's Class has also put together a FANTASTIC multi-subject penguin unit

This is a cute penguin poem from Teaching in High Heels.
A Place to Share is offering you a penguin fact and opinion activity download.

ABC's of Jess' House has a few different penguin posts that you will enjoy checking out. The handprint baby penguins they put together are a creative addition to a penguin study. Jess also says, "While we where learning about the skin of the penguin I had them feel and color with wax. Then we painted water color over to see how the water repels to protect the penguin from cold and water . You can also float the wax as penguins kind of float. We also compared size of the kids to a penguin. Adult penguins grow to be about 4 feet tall, which is close in size to the average preschooler. "

The Diary of a Nouveau Soccer Mom has posted a short list of penguin themed books, as well as a toliet paper penguin craft.

Arts and Crofts snuck in a geometry lesson while making these penguin pals.

The Adventures of Bear played penguins with a counting rhyme. They also used the book A Penguin Story as inspiration for a fun craft.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

YUMMY spelling practice

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Wow! I feel like I already know you all. I love posting on ABC and 123. This is my 4th post! I'm Rachelle from, What the Teacher Wants!

Do you have a hard time coming up with a variety of ways to practice your child/students' spelling words each week? I have found that using food can be a great {yummy} way to practice for all ages!

Pixie stick spelling-


  • 1 or 2 bags of pixie sticks (They really only need about 1 small pixie stick each)
  • Paper Plate
  • Printable
  • Popsicle stick (or toothpick)

I give my students one word at a time to spell in their pixie stick candy. When we finish all of the words, they can eat 2 pinches! I don't want them all hyped up on sugar all day!

{click the picture for the download}

Fruit Loop Spelling-

  • Fruit Loops Cereal (I give my kiddos one dixie cup full)
  • Printable

{click the picture for the download}

Rice Spelling (not edible, just fun)-
  • Rice
  • Container
  • Printable

Tip: I put the rice in pencil boxes.
{click the picture for the download}

Additional food items to use for spelling practice:
  • pudding
  • apple sauce
  • Apple Jacks
  • Shaving Cream (I know it's not a food, but it's fun)
  • Twizzler's Pull and Peel

For OODLES of spelling ideas for home or the classroom click {HERE} and visit What the Teacher Wants!