ABC Hopscotch For Your Active Learner

It finally feels like Fall here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana! Although it will probably only feel like this for one more day before the weather decides to melt us again, it is the perfect day to get outside and get your little one moving. If you are like me, you like to get moving too so you might join your little one for this letter-naming activity.
I have noticed two mistakes on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to teaching letters: 1) we teach too many letters at one time 2) we stop reinforcing letters when our little ones “know” them all.
Today, I want you to do this activity with your little one EVEN if your little one already “knows” all their letters….this is a GREAT activity for active learners to practice their concentration on a few letters at a time, AND their fluency (how quickly they can identify the letters that they know).

 Draw a hopscotch court with chalk or tape one down on the concrete if you want it to last longer and fill it in with letters of the alphabet instead of numbers.  HOW you write the letters and WHICH letters you choose should cater to your little one’s knowledge of letter recognition.

*If your little one doesn’t know their ABC’s then write the letters in alphabetical order so that your little one can use the abc song to figure out which letters he/she lands on.

*If your little one knows 4 letters then write those 4 letters and 2 more letters that you can focus on teaching for that particular “court.”

*If your little one knows all the letters, pick upper and lower case letters AT RANDOM and place them out of order on the court and then erase (wet the letters with water) after playing a few rounds, and write new letters for them to practice naming them quickly.

For other ideas of how you might accommodate this activity for your little learner…contact me 🙂


Personalized ABC Book

A few years ago I decided to make my super-amazing niece a personalized ABC book for Christmas.
To start, I wrote out the ABCs in a powerpoint document (one letter per slide) and then I inserted pictures that I had of my niece and her loved ones in front of the letter that corresponded to the beginning sound, like this:

A –  picture of Kaylee at an “Astros” Game

B –  picture of Kaylee with her “Becca”

C –  picture of Kaylee with her Uncle “Chris”

D –  picture of Kaylee with her “Daddy”    and so on.

I put the book to a song so that Kaylee could read it and develop fluency independently.  The song was Dr. Jean’s “Who Let the Letters Out” to the tune of “Who Let The Dogs Out?” For each letter the page read “Who let the “A” out? /a/ /a/ /a/  astros and you simply replace the letters like this “/a/” with the letter sound.  Then,I printed the pages onto colored cardstock, laminated them, and bound them together with a spiral.

Kaylee called my husband “Patrick Uncle” when she was two.

This would be a great book for you to make for your little one because it really makes the letter-sound associations so meaningful.

My sister, Ali (the beautiful “Mommy” on the letter M page), had a GREAT idea….  When she went to re-create the book for a friend, she started a digital book (examples are shutterfly, mypublisher, or snapfish).

Here she added a dedication and a title page with the instructions.

And here she added the words in ABC order in the user friendly way that you would read/sing the lyrics.  She was going to add pictures of the word associations in the drop-boxes after she received them.

This method of making the book is really practical because these companies make it pretty foolproof and they send you the bound book which looks very professional.  So, it is up to you – if you are the type of person who likes to make things by hand or if you are the type who likes to save the time and make it online!  Either way, if you make one, send me a picture or attach it to the Mommy Teacher Page to share with other mommies!

An Activity For Active Children

I love how little kiddos get so excited to participate in activities that include moving around. So many kids learn through movement; in fact, kids with this learning style are called kinesthetic learners. For this reason, I used to come up with a lot of little activities that I could pull out at any moment that would get the kids moving and that would reinforce some of the things that I was teaching (numbers, letters, shapes, colors, etc.)

SO today’s activity is to roll two dice.  One that reads a number and the other that reads an action clue.  This way, your little one will have to move the way the dice tells them to, and move however many times the dice tells them to.

To make these dice, you simply cover an empty, square-shaped tissue box with paper, and write numbers on each side. This does not have to be fancy! If you have a small mailing box or present box, use it!

If your child is already REALLY familiar with their numbers 1-10 and you have started teaching the numbers 10-20 you can reinforce those numbers by writing them on the cube (make sure you use the language “cube” with your little one when referring to the dice because it is great to introduce 3-D geometry terms early).

Then make another dice and choose the theme of the game that you might want to play, and make clip art to represent the motions or cut the pictures out of a magazine and tape them on the sides of the cube.

My action cube is pictures of animals so when playing the game you might have to hop like a frog 10 times, or flap your wings like a bird 7 times, etc.

You might want to make one with exercise motions on it and do jumping jacks, push-ups, or sit-ups for each number.

You could even do colors and find that many items of that color around the house.

Find Your Rhythm

My 10 month old loves to drum on everything.  If he gets a hold of any object that resembles a stick, he will bang it against the ground, a chair, or even my head.  He dances to music and he even sings a note or two with his eyebrows raised as if he is trying to hold the note as long as he can.  There is so much brain research that links music and movement to better storing and recalling of information.  And it is amazing how the love of music is ingrained in children, from the time they are born!

So, today we are going to talk about a simple activity that falls on the 3rd step of the reading ladder….Syllables.

Compound words are the easiest syllables to hear so we should start there: like foot-ball (football), ice-cream, space-ship, and other fun words to break apart and put together.

Then, there are short 2 and 3 syllable words like “prin-cess, ti-ger, di-no-saur.”

Finally, there are longer words that have more syllables and can be harder to stay on track when you are clapping or tapping these 4+ syllable words: “cat-er-pill-er,”  “cin-der-el-la,” etc.

So, all that being said, this is going to help your little one start the process of hearing parts of words and playing with words which is going to pave the way and help your little reader develop an awarenss of sounds which will eventually help them sound-out words….are you with me?!?

mckayla sand toys

When I teach this I find two stick-like objects I can click together (spoons, chopsticks, drumsticks, or in the picture the student is holding wooden dowels I bought for Super-cheap at lowe’s).  Then I start by letting my little one play with them because otherwise they will never pay attention.  So at first I give about 5 minutes of chaotic free play (with safety boundaries of course).  Then, I say I am going to tap my sticks together to hear all the words in the word “ice cream.”  I tap during the word ice and cream and then say ooohhh- listen again and tell me how many words you hear in the word ice cream.  Hopefully they hear 2 haha unless counting is something that you really need to start working on 🙂

Then I will do this same thing a few more times with compound words, letting them tap with me.  I repeat this little activity with “how many parts are in your name?” Then mommy’s name, daddy’s, etc.  And keep going until your little one is ready to move on to something else 🙂

Have fun!

Phonics Fun!

Games, books, and songs that connect letters to their sounds are all GREAT ways to introduce phonics (the relationships between letters, letter patterns, and their sounds) and are GREAT for memory recall.  Okay, that’s the facts, here’s the fun:

One of my favorite songs for teaching this is Dr. Jean’s “Sing and Sign”

It is to the tune “Where is Thumbkin?”

The lyrics are

“Where is A? (repeat) – With your hands behind your back

Here I am. (repeat) – Show the sign language for the letter

What do you say A? (repeat) Hands up asking a question

/a/ /a/ /a/(repeat) – Show the sign language again

I am NOT a photographer so forgive me for the quality of this picture (Oh, and all my pictures for that matter).  Aside from that, this is a great song to teach children using movement, visual clues, and listening skills. 

Another way to introduce and sing this song is to buy a Sign Language chart from your local school supply store (Ours is called School Aids) or purchase one online and use the chart on display OR buy sign language cards put them in order, punch holes at the top, and use binder rings to hold it together.  It will make a great little flip book so that they can look at it in the car when they need some independent silent reading time.

*Because I know that you are more likely to do this activity if you have the materials on hand, I went ahead and made an Alphabet Sign Chart and Alphabet Sign Cards….You’re welcome 🙂

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