ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: May 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

End of the School Year & Graduation Ideas

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

The end of school is still a few weeks away for most of you, but NOW is the time to get planning! Here are some ideas, printables, and activities to get you started.

A Cookie Cutter Diva's Life made little paper graduation caps.

These edible graduation candy caps from Bakerella are irresistible.
Print out this "It's Graduation Day!" printable at Snack Picks. It makes a nice keepsake.

Use these graduation party picks from Bird Crafts to decorate your diplomas and cupcakes.

Thanks to Amy at Living Locurto for providing these free cupcake toppers for your graduation parties.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Learning Activities with Rocks

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I'm a Teacher, Get Me Outside Here has put together a multipy subject post encouraging educators to use rocks as a learning tool for math, art, reading, physical activities, and more!

Small Types turned a pile of rocks into a hands on literacy activity.

 Wise Craft decorated rocks with melted crayon wax.

A List Maker's Life put together a counting, and computation activity, using small rocks painted to look like frogs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Show and Tell #59

Lightning Bug Lit did an incredible activity to kick off a study of the phases of the moon.
Our city has a yearly art festival in early June, since I was very young I remember my favorite venue being the "glue in" we used all kinds of scraps to put together sculptures.  I love this idea form The Choclate Muffin Tree for making sculptures out of found objects from around the yard.

Smiling Like Sunshine also got creative with found objects from nature making beautiful land art.

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, 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!

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

Monday, May 23, 2011

Music and Movement in China!

Hi, I'm Jedda from This Little Project.  One of the things that I love about being a musician and a dancer is that it brings me full circle in what I am learning about. It's one thing to read about a place in a book. But if you really want to get to know a people you've got to listen to their music and language and watch (and try!) the movements of their people's dance. That's where you will find a true reflection of a people's traditions and culture.

I hope that you will enjoy traveling around the world-in the comfort of your own home-to learn about cultures as well as the joy of music and movement and dance with your children and students!

Since I can't share my personal library with you, I'll be sharing some links online. Some come from youtube, which can be a great resource. Please be cautious and supervise your students/children when they view them.

Today we will be learning about the music and movement in CHINA!

When I visited China a few years back it was as a pianist. I performed with other American pianists in a diplomatic friendship-building kind of a trip. We performed in joint concerts with Chinese kids and teenagers. Oftentimes the Chinese musicians performed on their traditional instruments instead of the "western" instruments that we are familiar with. It was incredible to watch and learn about!

The first instrument I want to share with you is the Erhu. It is similar to a violin in the sound it makes. I play the violin as well and purchased an Erhu while I was there to try and learn it.  But it is VERY different to play!  The bow is set between 2 strings. The cylinder at the bottom of the instrument is hollow and covered with snake or alligator skin to amplify the sound. Listen to how beautiful it is! Note: this is a "western tune" played by a Chinese instrument.  It was the best close-up of the playing that I could find though. Below you can here the Erhu play again more traditionally.

This is another instrument that the chinese performers shared with me. 
 It is called a Chinese Zither

Here are 2 videos of traditional Chinese music as a group of instruments for you to enjoy:

Since I am also a dancer, I was very excited to see some Chinese dancing too while I was there. The movements remind me of the culture and music of China.  The videos below are some of the more common types of traditional Chinese dance.

Here is a Chinese Ribbon Dance:

This is a Chinese Fan Dance:

And finally, a Chinese Umbrella Dance:

Now YOU Try!

Some things you really have to try to appreciate or understand them.

These activities will help you do that!

Try making a fan and dancing with it like you saw in the video.  You can use stamps or color it before you fold it if you would like.

Try holding some curling ribbon (or any kind) in your hand and dance with it.  Try to make different shapes and try using different hands while you dance around the room to the music on the other videos.

If you are feeling crafty, try making a fortune cookie from felt or paper.

You might also like to try using chopsticks or having rice with your dinner.  I can't think of a meal that I had in China that wasn't served with rice.  You might want to use your chopsticks for other foods first though.  Picking up rice with chopsticks takes a lot of practice!

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Chinese music and dance today!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Feature Yourself Friday: Meet Maggy

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

I am so pleased to have the opportunity to Feature myself this week on this fabulous website!! So who am I and what is Red Ted Art? I am Maggy Woodley. I am half Austrian, half Spanish, living in the Uk – married to an Englishman. I like to think of myself as an “European”. I have one son – Red Ted (3) and one little girl - Pip Squeak (1). Red Ted is a very lucky boy, as he has a blog named after him. I am very lucky mum, as I have the "real" Red Ted (needles to say I am bias) and of course the lovely Pip Squeak. I like making my friends’ birthday cards. In spring I grow tomatoes and other veg (with varying degrees of success). In autumn I make green tomatoe chutney. I like baking Austrian cookies at Christmas. Above all though, I love to craft - craft with my children and for my children. Craft for my friends and for me. And that is what Red Ted Art is all about!

I am passionate about crafting and like to encourage others to have a go - to discover the craftiness within them and have fun with their kids! There are weekly Kids Crafts and weekly Tutorials - hopefully providing something for all age groups! There is a monthly themed feature of other people's lovely crafts called "Get Crafty". A great way to find seasonal crafts all in one place! My current favourite activities:

Our Castle & People

This was a rather "spur of the moment" craft - Red Ted loved his "Boy & Penguin" from a few weeks earlier and we just "started making and making and making" one day - the castle and the people where made from a cardboard box and lots of paper roll tubes. Some paint, googley eyes (v important) and fabric scraps! We have had HOURS of play since. I love them and more importantly, so does Red Ted! I love this craft, as it came "from nothing". It was cheap and inexpensive and we were able to add to it over time.

Story Cubes

These are for your children, you can involve the children in the designs. The idea is simple: some little wooden blocks, varnished and add some simple pictures - throw the dice and tell a story according to the pictures thrown! Take turns. Throw more dice. Your choice!

 Book & Cook – Duckie’s Rainbow & Rainbow Cookies
Rainbow Cookies

Craftiness shouldn't be restricted to the crafting table - you can be creative anywhere: including the kitchen! These rainbow cookies are simple and fun to make and you can teach a little "colour theory" whilst you are at it! (What happens when you mix yellow and red? what do you get when you mix blue and red...?). We loved making them and LOVED eating them! Red Ted now knows the ingredients for this very basic cookie by heart! Fabulous.
 How to.. Teach Yourself to Crochet
Teach Yourself to Crochet

 I love this post, as it is all about what Red Ted Art is about - to inspire you to try something new! When I started Red Ted Art I could not crochet. In fact, I had no interest in crochet at all. I could knit and that was plenty.. but through a crochet Amigurumi Guest Post on Red Ted Art, I suddenly discovered an interest. I really wanted to be able to make one of those cute cute teddies. So decided to teach myself and then share how I did it. I DO hope you take a look and that you maybe are inspired to learn to crochet too!

 Thank you so much to ABC and 123 for this opportunity to feature myself and show you a little bit about what is on offer on Red Ted Art! I do hope you liked what you saw and that you stop by for a visit! Red Ted Art is all about inspiration! You can find my blog at Or click here. I am also very active on twitter @redtedart and love meeting new people. Or click here. As well as Facebook. Click here. I am always interested in Guest Posters for my tutorial section!! So do drop me a line if you have a tutorial for me info (at) redtedart (dot) com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Inside Out Classroom

Have you ever heard the expression, "Anything you do inside can be done outside."? Well it's true!Everything that happens in your indoor classroom can be taken outside and implemented with a twist; it's the Inside Out Classroom!

This time of the year centers, story time, art and much more should be taken outside. Get as messy as you want, the grass won't mind. Take a quilt to the nearest oak and have a story time that is relaxing. Explore an entire science center that is filled with natural elements such as leaves, grass blades, rocks, twigs and everything crawling!

My co-worker and I trained an outdoor workshop one summer that was called Rock Your World With Outdoor Play. It was fantastic! Below are some of the amazing pictures that were captured.

Art Fence (this is fancy!)

Pool Time, Story Time

Shaving Fun

These are garden hats made out of shelf paper and Duct tape!

Playdough should be on every playground.

Turn sensory tubs into something extraordinary. Try something a little different than just water. Use colored water, colored sand, colored rice and pasta, colored shaving cream, and of course clean mud. It's the time of year to go crazy with colors outdoors; give the playground a little spice.

If you have never allowed the kids to play with clean mud, you have to let them try. You can use baby wash (to keep their eyes safe) and rolls of toilet paper. Part of the experience is allowing them to create the process.

I always like to start with a toilet paper party. Yes, allow the kids to throw toilet paper rolls around (gross motor skills can justify this act, just in case you need that justification), allow them to play rolling games (have them roll and see which child's roll goes the furthest, graph the outcomes with the children and justify this act with pre-math skills), and have a spin off contest. This activity can take some time so be prepared to stay outside a while:) After all of the rolls have been rolled empty, have the kids gather them for another great experiment.

In one or more sensory tubs, have children place their toilet paper, add the baby wash and then add water just to the top of the pile. Mix and you have clean mud! This is a wonderful sensory activity and the kids love it. *Tip-if you allow the mud to dry overnight or so, you can pick it out of the tub and dispose of it when it's dry and doesn't weight as much! Hey, you can measure the weight of the wet mud versus the dry and use compare and contrast. Don't forget to record their answers!

We shaved soap for this, but you can use the baby soap with the kids.

See we're only half way throughout the day and we are already having so much fun.

Sometimes you can get away with so much more outdoors, so be extra creative with any indoor activities and expand upon them to create great outdoor spaces.

There is a preschool here in Florida that has the greatest outdoor playground! They have outdoor kitchens set up with real pots and pans (most likely from the Goodwill) and plastic serving ware, wash tubs for washing dishes, wash tubs for washing clothes and a clothesline to boot. Yes, the kids can scrub the clothes on washboards and hand their clothes on the line. It's the coolest thing. The motor skills in washing and hanging the clothes is phenomenal. Their kitchen has mud so that the kids can make mud pies and pizzas.

There is an outdoor block area, an art area and outdoor library. Even a home living house equipped with anything you can imagine.

This is truly an outdoor space built for kids with imaginations. And don't they all have imaginations? Allow yourself to close your eyes and think back to when you were just 3, 4, or 5-years-old. Some of my greatest memories took place outdoors. Don't be afraid to step outside of the room and turn everything inside out!

Until next time...go teach the children!
PB&J Preschool

Before Considering Special Education by Bola Ajumobi

When a Kindergartener or first grader is having difficulty putting words together from a book but is otherwise performing at age and grade level in other functions like dressing, toileting and self-feeding, learning disorder is often suspected.

There are however a handful of medical conditions that could mimic a learning disorder and if picked up early, could be treated and spare a child from being mislabeled. Medical conditions you might want your child evaluated for include:

Refractive Error:

Literarily means poor vision. A child with an impaired vision is often unaware of his or her visual limitations. If she can't see the letters or the word, she would not be able to read.

Impaired Hearing:

Same reasoning here. Hearing impaired kids are often misidentified as slow learners. Vision and hearing tests are routinely performed during preschool and grade level physicals with the pediatrician.


This is actually a learning disorder where the brain misinterprets certain letters or words. A child might not be able to tell the difference between the letter “b” and the letter “d” for instance.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder):

Unlike its better known and more disruptive cousin, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), kids with ADD are calm and not jumping off the wall. They however have limitations with attention and staying focused, their mind often wonder and they have difficulty completing tasks.

Seizure Disorder:

A particular seizure disorder called “Petite Mal” or Absence Seizure could bring about a delay in learning and reading. An affected child has frequent small seizures where there is no jerking but stares blank in space often missing a sizable amount of time in small chunks at a time.

Treatment is available for all the aforementioned medical conditions and results are often dramatic. Corrective lenses for refractive errors, hearing aids for hearing impairments, stimulants for ADD and anti-seizure medications for Petite Mal. Behavioral therapy may be of help with dyslexia. Be certain to bring up your concerns with your child's doctor.

Bola Ajumobi is the founder of, “The Destination for Books Kids Love!” She is a mom of 2 and has a background in healthcare. She is happiest playing with the boys or curled up in a good book.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Teaching with Ticia: United States Geography

I'm so excited because we're going to be going through the 50 states here at ABC & 123!  I emailed the idea to Katie and Katie and they loved it, and they suggested making it a linkie so you guys can join in the fun.

Here's the idea:  Once a month I'll write a post showcasing a unit study my kids and I did for either one or two states, and if you have a post about that particular state you link up with whatever you have.

Examples of things you might link: fun activity you did in your state, what's different about your state, a fun site to visit or historical site.  Each state has something super cool to share about it, why not show it off for everyone to see?

Here's our tentative schedule for the first few months, we might accelerate this if it's feeling too slow, and if I can get my act together faster.  There's a lot of information to sort through.

June 6- Symbols of the United States and Delaware
July 4- Pennsylvania (this date may change, I need to double check).
August 8-New Jersey and Georgia
September 5-Massachusetts
October 3-Maryland and South Carolina
November 7-New Hampshire and Virginia
December 5-New York

We'll be going through the states by order of entry into the Union.  For our family it's also a great way to get in some United States history, which is harder to do with younger guys.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Teaching About Life Cycles of Frogs, Butterflies, Plants, and More

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

Child's Place has a sequence of black and white drawings of the life cycle of a frog for your use in whatever lesson you have planned.

Sewing School used pieces of pasta to put together a clever life cycle visual.

This easy life cycle paper craft is such an interesting way to teach each stage of a butterfly's life.

The Crafty Classroom shares step by step instructions for making stamps to represent each stage of the life cycle.
Along the Way used pom poms to create a colorful life cycle display.

Cards, Crafts, and Kids Projects  created a 3D butterfly collage included each stage of the life cycle.

Mama Jenn made different butterfly crafts for each stage of the life cycle.


Joel's On has links for life cycle activities for many different plants and animals.

The Wonder Years used cardstock to put together a life cycle learning tool.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Science in Spring

Our Crafts N Things has some good activities for planting, growing, and experimenting.

Welcome spring with two great books and a reading activity from Teaching Two.

Teaching Two shares several tall, tall grass spring activities.

Tinkerlab used spring mats and paint for print making.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Show and Tell #57

City Girl Gone Coastal has linked up a tutorial for making a portable chalk board for your little learners.
My Kids Make used magazine strips to create colorful beads.  This one really makes me think of summer because as kids we would spend hours and hours on the deck creating little paper beads like this.
Miss Kindergarten Love has put together and generously shared an adorable printable matching game to help introduce community helpers.  I was excited to print a copy for my two year old who loves all things trucks!

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, 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!

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

Monday, May 9, 2011

Play To Learn ~ Rush Hour

Welcome to this week’s Play To Learn series! Today we’re playing with the fun and educational: Rush Hour Jr. By ThinkFun


I know it sounds funny, but I never really understood how to play this game until recently!


It’s actually quite simple (or difficult depending on the game setup.)  The goal is to get the Ice Cream truck (The white one on the left) out through the opening on the right. This game comes with cards showing how to set up various levels of difficulty. We started out with the easiest ones and moved on to harder ones.


It’s great for building logical thinking skills, and plus its super fun! The kids love this new addition to their workboxes.


I just read Loving Living Math by Cindy West and LOVE the concept! I’m like most people and having a hard time letting go of my daily math book, so I’ve just added in some fun games for now, and Rush Hour Jr. is definitely on our list for “Fun Boxes

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!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

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

Yikes!  Nothing like last minute...
If you are still looking for a cute Mother's Day idea here are a few links to spark your creativity.

Makes and Takes has a great post of Mom's Day craft ideas.

Teaching Tiny Tots explains how to make a Mother's Day coupon book and grocery pouch.

Arts Crafts blog has a lengthy list of Mother's Day gift ideas.  I think there is still time to put together a twig frame for Gram or a Bloomin' Doorstop for Mom.

I love Mama King's repurposed cardboard Mom sign.

Use some special ribbon scraps and favorite buttons to put together a bookmark for mom.

Michelle from The Nature of Grace has taken the time to submit a wonderfully detailed explanation of an adorable "hands on" piece of spring art!

Learning Objective:
 This is a hands-on activity which reviews/builds on knowledge regarding some of the signs of Spring - growth of plants, flowers, and the appearance of more insects! The handprints addition of "grass" and a thumbprint ladybug add to the fun and memory of the project. The border around the edges could easily be made of foam or noodles or beans, etc. (whatever you have around the house which would fit the purpose) and could be done in a pattern fashion so as to encourage a review/lesson on patterns. Please note that ours is NOT a pattern. And the plus side to all of this - if you complete it on a nice piece of paper or a blank canvas (such as the one I used), you then have a cute keepsake of your child's handprints which you can hang up to admire.

Materials: paint (non-toxic), paintbrushes, nice paper or canvas, black marker for details on ladybug, something to use for the flower itself - we used coffee filters painted with watercolors, and colorful buttons (or yarn, noodles, foam shapes, or a different item which you could use to create a border around the picture).


1. Allow your child to paint a stem and some leaves (good time to review the parts of a plant).
2. Paint your child's hands and place near the base of the stem.
3. While this is drying, cut out a coffee filter in the shape of a flower (more if you want a layered look) and let your child paint it with watercolors.
4. Let this dry and go back to your painting. Add a thumbprint ladybug (let it dry) and let your child add features to the red print to make it look like a ladybug.
5. Glue coffee filter flowers to the top of your stem and add brightly colored buttons to the middle to simulate "seeds" inside the flower. You could also use real seeds if you have them - or perhaps even colorfully paint some beans for this purpose!
6. Decide on a pattern (or not) and glue buttons, beans, seeds, noodles, etc. around the edges of the paper or canvas to create a fun border!
7. Let everything dry and then hang it on display somewhere in your house!

Happy Mother's Day!