January 2011 archive

Counting Practice

I often stress the imporance of teaching counting first when working on math skills, before moving on to other number sense activities.  So, this morning I wanted to provide a counting activity for all of those parents in need of more ideas. 

I LOVE children’s books because it is such a great way to introduce a concept.  Books are so great for children because they have such great illustrations to provide visual cues. 

SO the first aspect of this activity is to read a counting book (order one or go to the library and pick up a few).  Modify this activity depending on the book you choose, but this is the way I recommend: 1) Read 2) Practice in a hands-on way 3)Practice by drawing/recording.

My example for today’s activity is “Mouse Count” by Ellen Stoll Walsh.

Read the book with emphasis, counting the mice with your child, “1,2,3…”, at each opportunity.

After reading the book, find a jar, cup, tupperware, or anything that you could pretend is the jar in the book.  Then find mice cat toys, rubber mice, or use ANY kind of counter (cubes, marbles, etc.) that you could pretend are the mice in the book.  Practice counting out “mice” one at a time as you place them in the “jar.”

Now that you have read and shared in a hands-on reinactment of the story, if your child is ready, you are going to draw “mice” (or circles) for each numbered jar on the handouts attached. When they finish, cut along the table lines, put them in order (with your child) and staple them together to make a book 🙂

Counting Jars 1-4

Counting Jars 5-8

Counting Jars 0,9,10

If your child is not ready for the structure of the handout, give him/her a blank sheet of paper and show them a page of the book and see if they can represent one part of the story (one number).  Sometimes you have to start off SLOW, one number at a time.

Creative Writing Beginnings


One of my favorite Kindergarten teachers to observe incorporates writing activities into her daily routine.  Anything that sparks her students interest in group time is usually followed by “Ooo, let’s go write about it!”  She has her students sit down and with crayons and pencils express their thoughts.  This can really produce a wide array of results, but it is a great way to get them engaged with the writing process.

So much of creative writing is mapping out our ideas and passions and spending time revising it to make a completed work.  So, at these early stages, one of the most important creative writing activities you can do with your child is to allow them to swell up with excitement about something and express it on paper.

It may initially look like scribbles and chaos, but over time, your little one will pay attention to details and will heed instruction about shapes and formations that you are teaching through various activities.

So, for today’s activity….I want you to inspire your creative writer by taking him/her to a special place: a park with fun structures, a pond to feed the ducks, the campus mascot’s cage, the zoo, a museum, a creek in your neighborhood, or anywhere you can think of (even your backyard will do) to observe and record.

You will need a clipboard of sorts (or a hard book), but children feel so official with a clipboard.  You will need not one, but two clipboards because you will be recording too.  You will need paper, a ziploc bag of pencils, colored pencils, or crayons, and you will need an imagination (because your kid already has one).

Give your child 10-15 minutes (more, depending on their attention span) to observe all the things of interest in the area.  And then (with excitement in your voice) ask them to join you to write/draw all about this place so you can SHOW your family back home where you went.  Tell them you want to “take a picture” of the moment and without a camera you need to draw it.

This can be a daily activity.  You can just go on a stroll and when your child gets excited about it, pull out the clipboards, plop right down on the grass, and draw away!


As always, Have fun!

***Look in my “must haves” on the sidebar for some fun learning clipboard ideas.

More On Compound Words

Now remember, just because my title says “compound words,” doesn’t mean that your little one will know what a compound word is.  We are just teaching our children the content at this point….not the vocabulary.  We are teaching them age-appropriate oral language skills.

So, that being said, today we are going to give our children more practice playing with words because if you have read some of my other reading posts you know that “playing with words” and other listening activities will help your little one become more and more skilled in hearing and distinguishing that words are made up of sounds.

Today I want you to print the document I have made, cut out the pictures, and first READ all the names of the pictures to your child a few times.  Then see if they can tell you the names of the pictures.  This is an oral language warm-up.

Now, I want you to show your little one that if you put two pictures together it might make a new word, but that word can be a real word or a silly word.  Give them examples and tell them why because you have to model the activity before you ask them to try.

Let your child determine if the new word is real or silly, but be there to support their thinking for the answer -right or wrong.  Meaning, praise them if they are right, but if they are wrong always preface your correction with “No, but that was good thinking or a good try.”

You will write their answers on the real/silly recording sheet to model writing the new words 🙂

Picture Combo

Games Galore

When I taught kindergarten I had a lot of ABC games that I could use in whole group and small group settings to practice the content I was teaching my kiddos.

I felt as though it was time for me to give more ideas for teaching ABC and letter-sound correspondence to anyone in need of ideas.  There is a difference between teaching letter identification and letter-sound correspondence (knowing the sound that a letter represents).  But, it is important to teach both of these skills parallel to each other, to take your time teaching these skills, and to re-teach often. Continue to expose your children to letter names and letter-sound correspondence, but if your child is just learning letters, don’t overload them with the sounds just yet, be intentional to teach the letter names and the letter formation. Below are some examples of some of my favorite games for these skills.  You DO NOT have to buy all of them for your child to learn these skills.  Consider buying one of each OR recreating your own version of one of them at home.   Take a picture and send it to me if you come up with a homemade game that I can share 🙂 

All of these games are more beneficial to the learner if it is played with YOU because children learn best when someone is there to build on their current understandings.

Patterns Round 4

I hope you aren’t sick of patterns yet…especially since this is all so new to your little one.  There will be subjects you are passionate about teaching, and hey, who knows, maybe patterns is one of them.  Not quite? Well, you cant say I didn’t try to persuade you.

Your child is going to continue with making any pattern of choice, but today you will encourage your little one to extend patterns after following an example, and make pattern arrangements without connecting the cubes.

I made pattern cards that I want you to print onto cardstock (for sturdiness) and cut out in strips. 

Then you are going to 1) show your little one how to copy and extend each pattern and 2) include your child as you extend the pattern (“hmmm…I wonder which would come next?”) 3) allow your little one to copy and extend them on their own.

Pattern Cards

Blank Pattern Cards

I attached a blank pattern card document in case you don’t have the colors I used OR you want to give them more to practice with in which case you can color your own 🙂

After your little one is building confidence, encourage him/her to make patterns with the cubes without attaching them together such as one facing up and the next flipped facing down.  Additionally, allow them to explore patterns using household items or toys your child has such car sizes: big, small, big, small, etc.

This extension of the pattern concept will prepare children for seeing patterns extended in designs and later on, in numbers.

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