Great learning opportunities do not have to be completely planned out nor do they necessarily have to require much time at all. They do not have to come at a certain time of the day and do not always have to be over-the-moon exciting. Great learning opportunities DO need to have a goal in mind and this one, in particular, needs to be routine.
I give you the every-time-we-leave-the-house-4-second-learning-opportunity…
My kindergartner came home with his first day of homework. He had to trace the word RED three times, color the picture red, and do a word search where he had to find the word 4 times. After, I asked him how to spell RED without looking at his paper… r-e-d. Perfect.
The next day he came home with his homework for the color BLUE. After completing the same tasks as he did with the color red, I asked him to spell BLUE, but he couldn’t remember.
Then I remembered a teaching trick I used to get something to stick in my Pre-K and Kindergartners’ heads: repetition. How can I guarantee that I remember to enforce this repetition? Through practiced routine. And what better routine is there in a classroom than how to enter and exit the classroom? It is, in fact, the most rehearsed and the most repetitive… going in and out and in and out all day long.
I always had a sight word of the week (Kinder) or letter/number of the week (Pre-K) posted on the door frame and any time a student entered or exited the classroom they first had to hit the door frame and say (and spell) the word/letter.
For your beginning reader…
“B-l-u-e! Blue Blue Blue!”
or for your 1-3 year old…
“Big A, little a, /a/ /a/ /a/!”
You can even have just a colored piece of paper and use this repetition to teach colors. Or math facts…
“2 x 3 = 6!”
Or Bible verses! Or pictures of animals for toddlers! The learning opportunities are endless! Keep your one word/letter/color/number on the door for the entire week and any time you and your child leave, make sure to hit it on the way out! Be careful, though, it’s super easy to just remember the SOUND of this repetitive activity without looking at the actual word/letter, so make sure your child is also LOOKING at the card on the door frame to also remember its visual representation as well.
What other things can you teach using this 4 second activity?
I try my best to purpose our “upcoming” days at night before I go to bed. Even if I just spend 15-30 minutes making a little “agenda” and some goals for the day. My goals might include some age-appropriate social studies skills like 1) caring for our pet 2) talking about our environment (signs, water, animals, places, workers) and some days I might focus on his social-emotional skills like self-control, communication, calming techniques, etc. But I mainly try to have a balanced day…which as a stay-at-home mom means a BALANCING ACT of mommy teaching, cleaning, feeding, changing, playing, managing, ETC.
Today I wanted to share some of my anti-whining techniques in a video and then share a printable I made for my little man since we are working on using our words and a big boy voice.
Telling him over and over “STOP WHINING” does not work for many reasons I could list, but these tricks and a few other positive reinforcement cues really help.
I made “raffle tickets” for Sean Patrick to receive to place into a jar each time he SELF-CORRECTS himself or CHOOSES to use his words/big boy voice or does something else that I notably want to reward him for. When it is filled I plan to take him to the New Orleans Zoo or somewhere that we rarely get to go. I plan to fill out the left side of the ticket (talking out loud for extra positive reinforcement) and then tear the ticket. He can place the right side in the jar and I will save the left side to share with daddy, MeMe, or family friends each chance I get so that he will be excited about his good choices. I hope this is helpful to you as well!
I stay up late sometimes….it is 10:30. But it feels much later so maybe I am being a little dramatic. Being dramatic reminds me of my jr. high days of writing bubbly at all times.
And tonight, I got the itch to download a free bubble letter font….it happens. I went to fontspace.com, searched for a bubble letter font, and I downloaded one called “Janda Manatee” because I liked it the best.
I opened the file, clicked “Install”
And then I opened a Word document, changed the page orientation to Landscape, and typed Sean Patrick’s name using the new cute font.
I then clicked “Insert Shape” and filled his name with circles (I copied the circle size I liked and pasted it a lot of times first to make this go by fast!)…
I had to blow it up a little in the “Paint” Program to make it the size I wanted, but tomorrow I plan to do one of three things (if not all three) with this simple activity:
1) Encourage SP to cover each circle with little “poms poms.”
2) Encourage Sean Patrick to stamp the circles with his dot paint markers.
3) Encourage SP to stamp his finger print (ink pad style) on each circle.
This is a great pre-writing skill that develops his fine motor skills while emphasizing letter formation of the letters that are most meaningful to him, with a concentration on lower-case letters at this time. Do you have any other ideas??!? Cover each circle with a sticker maybe? Please share your thoughts!
Update: HOw the lesson went down>
I used two print outs; one to show him ideas and the second to let him explore on his own. I talked to him about the letters. “Look Sean Patrick…mommy made your name with circles in the letters. Can you still read the letters? What letter is this? ” etc.
We explored covering the letters with pom poms but that didn’t last long. Sean Patrick had more fun stamping the letters with his fingers and decorating his name with star stickers.
This past weekend our little family took a day trip to the zoo, and when I got home I thought…Why didn’t I pack the clipboard? In my classroom I always allowed the kids to “document” the nature walks or other outdoor events for several reasons:
1) Kids love to feel “professional.”
2) Kids like to have a (fun) job/task.
3) Kids need a great age-appropriate recording sheet to “write about” or “draw” what they see.
I made the grocery checklist because if I keep a stack of them on the clipboard in my bag then grocery trips can go smoothly. The picture to the left shows the calm before the craziness. This is when the clipboard comes in handy! Your child can either check or “x” what he sees or doesn’t see. OR check off items as you place them in the cart.
Kids love this kind of thing!
Need a clipboard?
This gave me ideas for more clipboard checklist fun so I’ll be posting two more checklist printables THIS WEEK! Stay TUNED 🙂