ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: July 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moving In the Write Direction

A while back I had written about writing programs in the preschool classroom with the intention of following up and blogging just a bit more on the subject. After my trip to Tampa and presenting at One Goal Summer Conference, I am geared up and ready to write!

As we are quickly approaching the new school year (crazy, I know), as early childhood teachers we want to begin thinking on how we can build on what we have already done, make it better and engage the children with much more anticipation for learning. The key is your passion as a teacher and the difference you make is up to you. You have the power to change what is going on across your state, in your classroom and in the minds of your children and families that you serve.

The key to a successful writing-rich class is inspirational materials! What better way to motivate children to write than to inspire them.

I want you to understand that if you engulf them with print, access to materials and different mediums and the time to initiate, engage and complete, they will be great writers.

Writing is a process and if you want them to be able to write you must start with the scribble! Scribbling is the first attempt of object to symbol relationship. They may see a cat in their little mind and then write the word cat in a scribble. As they are thinking it, they will write it. They may even draw the cat (which you may not be able to see it) and then write it (again, you may not see it).

As they begin to go through the different writing stages, you will begin to see symbols forming into actual letters. You will be able to begin decoding their writing.

I lke to st bi alk
(I like to sit by Alec.)

Don't take their scribbles for granted! This is the beginning of a beautiful writing experience.
Below are some pictures of activities that children can experience. Think above and beyond the paper and pencil when it comes to materials and think multiple mediums (rice, flour, beans, sand, etc.) and unexpected tools such as some of the ones you will see below.

cookie sheet micro scaffold for one child

Above in the pictures I have taken the blue rice medium, paired it with magnetic alphabet pieces, word family cards that they can use to spell out words and then write them down on their notebook.

 Here I have again scaffold the tray for one child: purple sand, red alphabet pasta, a notepad, tongs, tools, and a sifter for easy clean up. Here the children could use the cards to find words or just pick out letters.

I also want to share with you a secret! Anything can become a writing center and it can be anywhere in the room. Other than you standard, stationary writing center have mobile writing centers that can go anywhere in the room and even outside. This encourages more writing and more creativity from the children. Below I have taken a box from a computer keyboard that is very sturdy and made it into a mobile writing center.

I love the magnetic drawing boards. These are so inexpensive and you can get them just about anywhere. I like to pair them with other materials. Below I have paired them with cards and trays. This activity is scaffold for two children with two of each materials.

Another way to encourage children to write is to write letters to each other, family members, etc. We all know they like to write letters! So come up with creative ways to implement letter writing. Here I have used a Purex All In One detergent box stuffed with envelopes and used as a mobile mail box around the room. There are so many things that you could do with this in your classroom. Get really creative with getting the children excited about send some mail!

There so much more to say about writing, so I will leave you with these thoughts. Surround your preschoolers with materials in their classroom that they can't resist. Be creative and have a well-balanced method of open-ended and teacher directed writing. Please don't ever make children sit for long periods of time and be forced to write. You want them to come back day after day with a motivation and persistence to write. Go non-traditional, think outside the box and give them the support that they need to become successful writers.

Until next time, go teach the children.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Show and Tell #63

At This Little Project you'll find a fun suggestion for getting your children to tell creative stories using the Story in a Bag.

The cute and colorful BandAid Fireflies from I Heart Crafy Things would make for a fun summer evening activity.

With a 10 month old in our house we have stacks of small food containers that I can't let myself get rid of.  Instead I'm on the hunt for fun things to do with them.  The Nature of Grace put their recycleables to good use and made Busy Baby Blocks.

It's your turn!

abc button

Please remember these rules:

~Post an Ah-Ha moment, an 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, July 25, 2011

Movement and Music in France!

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

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.

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.

I've mentioned before that I had the privilege of representing the USA at folk festivals in Europe.  This is a dance that we saw at the festivals in France.  It's a French Stilt Dance.  This dance represents the sheep herders in France who were on stilts so they could see their whole flock and any danger before it got too close.

Do you wonder what happens if someone falls?  This video will show you!

Some composers in France were leaders in a musical movement called Impressionism.  They wrote pieces that the sounds resembled something from life.  Two composers from France that are well known for this are Debussy and Ravel.

This is a piano piece written by a French composer named Maurice Ravel.  It is called, "Jeaux d'Eau" which means water or water fountain.  Can you hear the sound of water when you listen to it?

This piano piece is written by a French composer named Ravel.  It is called "Pictures at an Exhibition."  As you listen, see what pictures come to your mind.

Now YOU Try!

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

These activities will help you do that!

1- Color a french boy-you can even cut some stilts for him to walk around on: LINK

2- Make your own stilts to walk around on! This is a fun way to practice your balance.

3- Listen to the two musical videos above (Jeaux d'Eau and Pictures at an Exhibition) and draw a picture of what the music makes you think of.

Thanks for joining in with me today for some great music and movement! 
I hope that you enjoyed 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!

 If you would like more ideas on what you can do to learn and share music with kids, come visit my blog, This Little Project  on the first Monday of the month, or search "Music" for past posts.
If you missed the past countries in this Music and Movement series, here are the links for the other countries we have explored together: MexicoChinaIreland , USA

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lessons for Life with the Berenstain Bears

Today we would like to introduce you to Jill, from The Enchanted Homeschooling Mom.  She has just put the finishing touches on a 32 week curriculum using the books about The Berenstain Bears. She is offering her ideas and activities for free to friends and readers across the web.  The curriculum, Year of Lessons with the Berenstain Bears, is appropriate for children ages PreK - 3. The majority of lessons deal with Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts.
In putting together the lessons Jill has chosen topics from the text and expanded on them with age appropriate worksheets, projects, and discussions.  The entire curriculum is something children can relate to in the real world using the favorite furry family as a guide. Each lesson ranges from 20 minutes – 1 hour in length, depending on the preferences of you and your children.
You will need 16 Berenstain Bears Books to complete this curriculum. Each book will be used for a lesson plan intended to span 10 days, or a 2-week period. Worksheets are included. Each individual lesson plan will explain suggested materials in more detail.

If you are in the process of planning your lessons for the 2011-2012 school year, check it out! This might be the series for you.  Thanks Jill!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Very Veggie Fun

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

This afternoon we picked our first two tomatoes off the little plant we have been nursing in our garden.  It was rewarding for the kiddos.  Unfortunately, rather than getting eaten they ended up squished by Mr. 2yo.  Oops! 

Anyway, it got me thinking about collecting some veggie crafts and activities.

Living Locurto put together the most adorable fresh vegetable bouquets.

The School Vegetable Patch used slices of vegetables to make artistic prints.

These On The Farm Vegetable Puppets from Kids' Activities look like a fun project. (You will have to scroll down the page a bit for this activity)

If you are just starting your garden, perhaps you would like to make markers for your vegetables like these from Kiddie Gardens.  (This site is also a good resource for other home garden suggestions)

I Can Teach My Child used  some favorite veggie characters to make stained glass art for their sunny summer windows.
Danielle's Place suggests several veggie tale projects.  I especially like the veggie balloon creatures.

Catholic Icing explains a very simple DIY veggie toy.

Cheerios Underfoot shares a tutorial for making Larry the Cucumber.

Pam's House has created mini lesson plans to accompany several episodes of Veggie Tales.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Teaching with Ticia: Invisible Ink

I guess I'm having summer brain, because I suddenly realized it's the third Monday of the month already, and I haven't written my post. So, this proves that it's not just kids who get summer brain. Parents do too.

I don't know about your kids, but mine love secrets and codes and maps. I've been seeing several posts this past week about using homemade litmus paper for art projects and creating treasure maps and other things. Well, I have a new plan to make a treasure map using invisible ink.

Supplies: lemon juice, computer paper, q-tip or narrow paint brush

First gather a large amount of lemon juice.  I haven't tried the concentrated lemon juice yet, so I can't say for sure if it works just as well.  But, if you're making this with the kids squeezing the juice out is a great hand exercise and it helps the kids with their fine motor control.

Create your map or secret message.  A tip I learned, don't let your paper get totally saturated, it has a high chance of ripping then, also it doesn't seem to reveal as well.

When you are revealing the message you can use a candle or a stove burner.  Both obviously require adult supervision.  The book we read that first inspired us to try it claimed you could reveal it by breathing on it, but our experiments did not cause this to happen.

Extensions beyond a fun activity:

Look at the science behind it (this also has suggestions of other invisible inks to try)

Find out about invisible inks in history, the part I found interesting is the claim that they are still in use by certain government agencies as recently as a few years ago.

Read about the use of codes in history.  I find the Navajo Code talkers fascinating.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Make Your Own Summer Fun: Textures & Paint

The more relaxed  pace in the summer is perfect for experimenting with activities most likely to get pushed to the back burner during the busy school year schedule.  Get ready to get a bit messy with these do it yourself recipes for fun!
I Can Teach My Child created their own finger paint that is squeezable. Fun!
These Homemade Watercolors are ready to be used for your beautiful summer paintings.
Remember the yum that was lick and stick stickers?  The always clever Jenae explains how to make your own tasty stickers.
Summer festivals are perfect for facepainting.  Here is a recipe for making your own face paint!
Hands On: As We Grow shares a recipe for fizzy, spray on sidewalk paint.
Sippy Cup Central used recycled material and sunshine to make homemade paper.
My Delicious Ambiguity put together lovely squares of textures great for sensory play.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Show and Tell #62

Snails and Puppy Dog Tails built a better lunch with Tow-Mater.  My sons would dig this!

Mama Pea Pod hosts a weekly blog carnival called Outdoor Play that suggests several summer fun games.

Rub Some Dirt On It  used some small "crabby patties" to make these clever handprint pictures.

It's your turn!

abc button

Please remember these rules:

~Post an Ah-Ha moment, an 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!

Friday, July 8, 2011

More Than Just Math: Financial Literacy (with a Flip Camera Giveaway)

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

Updated 7/23: Thank you to each of you who contributed to our conversation here.  What a lot of interesting thoughts on money.  Congratulations to Shelley - comment #36, chosen by - the winner of the Flip camera giveaway.

Today we are talking about money. money. money. We hope you enjoy some clever suggestions from our readers, a lively discussion about financial literacy, and a neat great giveaway opportunity!
Rachelle offers a free Coin Counting game with spinner in her math feature: It All Adds Up.

Coin Dominos, like these from Green Olives and Ham, are an interesting way to learn to identify coins and their values.
Superheroes and Princesses played the game Trading Coins inspired by The Penny Pot.
Chronicles of an Infant Bibliophile  uses board games to teach concepts of money such as counting bills and making bids.

My Paper Pony used state quarters to inspire an interest in US geography and to create some fun etchings. The pdf for this activity is available for free in her post.

Quirky Momma has a suggestion for shining up your coins before counting them.

The Adventures of Bear shared a play based way of learning about and using money.
They also did activities using several different  books about money.

As a classroom teacher it may be enough to teach kids to identify coins and count money.  However, as parents we must go a step further and intentionally teach them concepts of managing their money as well as how to make wise desicions with their financial resources. 

In collaboration with Disney, T. Rowe Price has created The Great Piggy Bank Adventure®  as a valuable teaching resource for parents to use when talking to their children about saving and spending wisely.  The Great Piggy Bank Adventure will offer lessons on four key financial themes: setting goals, saving and spending smartly, staying ahead of inflation, and diversifying your investments. They believe these lessons are more important than ever and desire to guide parents as they talk to their kids about good financial habits.

As parents and educators we would love to join the discussion on best practices for teaching financial literacy.  In the comment section of this post we are hoping to facilitate a valuable conversation about our families, our money, and how we are preparing our children to manage finances.

Here are some questions for your consideration:

~Do you think it’s appropriate to discuss your family’s financial situation with your kids?

~If so, at what age should you talk to them about family finances?

~Was the topic of money “taboo” in your family growing up?

~If so, how have you overcome that “taboo” with your kids?

~At what age do you start introducing financial concepts such as saving and spending or inflation with your kids?

~What advice would you give to other parents trying to use every day moments to teach their kids about the importance of saving and spending wisely?

These are questions every parent deals with and the answers are important because they can determine how your child learns about key financial concepts that will impact their lives.
To encourage your participaiton in this discussion we are excited to offer a Disney Piggy Bank Adventure branded Flip camera giveaway.  Each answer, reaction, or new question asked on topic that is left in the comment section between now and Tuesday July 19th will be counted as an entry into the giveaway. 

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Disclosure: The Great Piggy Bank Adventure-branded Flip camera and a gift card for this post's author have been provided courtesy of T. Rowe Price. T. Rowe Price is not involved in or responsible for the outcome of this giveaway.  A specific comment is not required for entry into the Flip camera giveaway.  If you would prefer not to comment email us to be entered.  A winner will be selected from all entries after 10 pm est on July 19th, using

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Number Sense

Here is a little Number Sense activity I thought would be fun to reinforce number words, number pictures, and numerals {1-10}.  For more math ideas from my previous posts, click {here}.
You need these {Toy Cars}- You can buy them at the Dollar Tree:

And you'll have your kiddos drive over {trace} the numbers on these:

Clipart and/or fonts are copyright DJ Inkers and used with permission:

Click {HERE} to download  Driving Numbers!

 I got this sweet little idea from another teacher/blogger {here}. 
Mrs. Morrow does this same thing with sight words. Fabulous!

How else can we use these toy cars to help children learn?

Come visit me at my blog!