I didn’t even know at the time that that post was a “Part ONE” but when a Pre-k teacher asked me if I could turn it into a printable, I decided to stay up all night (like the night owl I am) and make it happen.
So, here is how this HUGE set works…
You can have your little one cut up the movable shapes that make up the letters or you can cut them yourself and laminate them, but either way….
I made this so that you can work on a letter a day if you want to OR you can have a bunch of the shapes out and about and let your littles explore with combining them to make the letters (or numbers).
You get an E for effort either way… see what I did there?
The first page acts like a little reference.
I am including this set in my Members Page.
If you EVER have problems with getting locked out of the site or losing your password e-mail me Jessica (at) the mommy teacher (dot) com so that I can take care of it!
Last Mother’s Day, my kids gave me a great planter for us to start a home garden!
My husband works at a factory and they frequently get shipments of equipment that come in these long crates that are perfect for starting a garden (especially because they are free). Keep your eyes peeled for wooden crates and pallets and you can get free planters as well!
This year we have a few more!
Now, this is a little intimidating for me because I do NOT have a green thumb… but my husband is a little bit better at watering…and my kids are REALLY good at watering… a little too good as they sometimes over water.
So many early childhood teachers will grow plants in the classroom for kids to learn the parts of the plant, how to care for a plant, and what plants need to grow: soil, water, sun. Here are a few activities for you to do at home to teach your kids about growing plants if you have or plan on starting your own garden at home.
1. Journal: Have your kids document plant growth.
Pre-schoolers – model drawing sketches of what your plants look like each week and then give them a crayon for them to do the same (may not look like much, but they will at least think they are drawing a plant). Introduce vocabulary such as plant, green, grow, sun, soil
Pre-K – have them add words to their drawings (even if their words are just a mix up of letters – write what they are trying to spell underneath). Vocabulary: the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant
Kinder – write a sentence or two describing the plant. Vocabulary and discussion: the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, why plants are important
1st grade and above – a paragraph (minimum) documenting any changes they may see, how long they watered, what time of the day they watered, etc. Vocabulary and Discussion: the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, describe why plants are important, how they reproduce, nutrition and the benefits of eating home grown foods
2. Predict: Have your kids predict what is going to happen throughout the summer with their plants, use your journal from above to help document, then calculate results by a certain date at the end of the summer.
Calendar Math: Using a summer calendar, mark the day you plant your plants. Have your kids each choose a different date in which they predict they can start picking their ripe produce.
Measuring: Using a ruler, guess the size of the produce and how tall the plants will become by the end of the summer. Have them draw this out on poster paper to compare at the end of the summer.
Counting: Predict the amount of produce each type of plant will produce.
Science – Weather: predict the number of rainy days versus sunny days
Comparison: predict what type of plant will produce the biggest/smallest, most/least amount, greenest, etc. produce
3. Experiment: Get several seedlings that are the same type and are all similar in size. Experiment with different amounts of sunlight or soil type or watering schedule (choose one) to see what is the optimal amount for that particular plant. Plant several seedlings in each of the different conditions to get the best average outcome. And, go back to the first activity: journal 🙂
4. Create a Cookbook: As your plants are growing, decide as a family what you are going to use your plants for and create a family cookbook together! Take pictures of your growing plants to include in the “ingredients” section of each recipe.
BONUS: Include a raw versus cooked taste test of each fruit/vegetable to include that 5th sense that we often don’t get to use in a classroom.
5. Dissect the Plants:
Science: learn about the different plant parts including the parts you don’t see… inside the stem, the roots, inside the fruit and flowers. When you are finished, use the roots, stem, leaves, flowers to make art on a poster board.
Math: Compare/Contrast the different types of plants: length, leaf shape, fruit, root length and thickness and number of roots
Art: Create leaf prints by placing a piece of paper on top of the leaves and using the edge of a crayon to etch the shape of the leaf. Draw the type of produce next to each leaf.
BONUS: One of my friends started a private Facebook group for some of her friends who wanted to start a home garden. On it we are sharing pictures and knowledge with each other and when the produce is ripe, we will be having garden picking parties! It is nice to see what everyone else is growing (and these ladies know way more than I do about gardening so it’s helpful too)! I encourage you to start a similar group for your friends with green (or slightly unripened) thumbs.
It is so wonderful seeing how excited my kids are to watch our plants grow! Right now, we just have bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, but we hope to fill our other planters soon!
Leyson and I tore a paper plate in half to draw our measurements of the peppers (paper plates are sturdier than sheets of paper thus easier to measure the peppers on). We used a marker to draw a line on each side of the paper and later use a ruler to measure from line to line. We numbered our peppers 1, 2 and 3. Measure them week by week so you can see how much they grow in one week.
How does your garden grow??? How have you involved your children in your garden?
Let’s face it, learning how to read isn’t always the most exciting thing in the world, especially when you are practicing fluency with words that do not even exist (a common practice to gauge phonemic awareness and blending sounds).
James’ teacher sent home a new fluency folder that includes lists of non-sensical (made-up) CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant), sight and high-frequency words. Reading these lists can be absolutely BO-RING for both the reader (your child) and the listener (most often, you, Mommy Teacher). It’s also super easy to get overwhelmed by unfamiliar words in these early reading stages, so, how can we make reading fun and enjoyable???
Here are 5 inexpensive and cheap tools that you can use:
1. TRACKING FINGERS: My son’s fluency folder came equipped with a rubber witch’s finger to use to follow the words left-right, top-bottom. (I specifically wrote this post right before Halloween so that you can go pick some up at your local dollar store before the 31st! You’re welcome!) As soon as James hopped in the car from carpool he was pulling out his new fluency folder and showing us how to use his tracking finger… and now my 4-year old wants one too!
2. PUNCTUATION SWITCH: Take a popsicle stick and draw an exclamation point on one end, switch it around and draw a question mark on the other end. Read the story (or even just a list of words) by adding different emphases at the end of phrases. A simple change in intonation can make for an interesting read with even the most boring of texts – or it can make a silly book even sillier! (A twist on this is to sing the text… one of my son’s favorites that I catch him doing even when he doesn’t have an audience listening.)
3. CATERPILLAR CHART: When I was teaching, I used a caterpillar chart to keep track of how many books we read throughout the year. I wrote the title and author of each book we read on a different circular body segment of the caterpillar. By the end of the year, our caterpillar’s body went half way around the classroom!
You can use a similar, smaller version at home by using stickers. Start off by using a sticker for every word your child can read by him/herself, and then move up to simple books. With your younger child, you can just keep track of the number of books you read to him/her. Set a number goal of number of words or books you need to reach before your caterpillar can turn into a butterfly!
“To help my caterpillar grow and grow,
I must read at least 1 book (or new word) a day.
Once he gets to be 10 stickers long,
He will grow wings and fly away.”
4. WHISPER PHONES: I am pretty sure Jessica has written a post about these before, but it’s always a fun reminder for next time you are at your local home improvement store. Grab a PVC pipe and some 90 degree elbow fittings, cut it down to about 6 inches, and you have a great reading tool! Teachers use these in classrooms all the time for young readers to hear themselves read out loud without making a lot of noise. With these phones, even the quietest whisper is audible to only the reader.
5. MAGNIFYING GLASS/GLASSES: Grab some goofy glasses or a magnifying glass and all of a sudden reading became a game! Much like the tracking finger and whisper phones from above, this reading tool just makes reading a little more fun… well, to your pre-schooler or school-aged child… I, personally, don’t get it 😉 If you have some old sunglasses, punch out the lenses so your child can have some new, funky eyewear while being studious!
What tools do you use to make reading fun for your child? Share with us on Facebook or comment below!
Because Sean Patrick is so into tracing right now (and because he is a perfectionist), I decided to make him a book that he could use dry-erase markers and Mr. Clean magic erasers to practice his tracing over and over again without getting frustrated about markings on his paper (courtesy of his little sister).
I printed the pages of my tracing book onto card stock and laminated them with my inexpensive laminator that I bought at WalMart.
We work on it a little each day and I encourage him to do whatever letters he would like to practice making, but I always try to make the formation fun for him. For example, when we were writing “A” I told him to slide down this slide (the left slanted line) then to slide down that slide (the right slanted line), and then to climb across the monkey bars. He said exactly what I said as he traced A the next few times. And for lowercase “a” we rode around the merry-go-round and then climbed down the ladder.
“Slide down, slide down, climb across the monkey bars”
If you don’t have a laminator and you don’t want to get it laminated you can also just print it and let your little one trace the pages individually with crayons 🙂
/c/ /c/ crawl around the /c/ /c/ curve to see the /c/ /c/ cow
CLICK HERE to purchase this Tracing Book individually from my TeachersPayTeachers Store.
OR Click HERE to become a member – get unlimited access to ALL The Mommy Teacher Printables!
I have had many parents come to me worried that their preschool or kindergarten aged child may be dyslexic* after he or she continues to spell and write words/letters backwards, upside down, in mirror image, or mix up letters within a word.
Let me say now that this writing behavior is totally normal at this stage in your child’s pre-writing and pre-reading development and in most cases* is not indicative of a learning disability.
Let’s think about this…
We, the smarter-than-the-average-preschooler mommy teachers, see a triangle. 3 sides + 3 points = triangle no matter how you look at it.
(Technically that last one is a pyramid says my 5year old, but you get my point.)
What, then, is the letter A?
It is but a mere visual representation of a sound in a word… a symbol… or simply, a shape, not unlike our friend, the triangle. We recognize this shape no matter the direction, font, size or color. Our brains are hardwired to group these similar shapes together so we can recognize them even though they may look slightly different than the Times New Roman capital letter A.
Our kids are naturally doing the same exact thing which is why they can still find the letter A in a pile of letters, even though some of the As are upside down.
To help teach correct directionality (the direction in which we read and write in English), use your index finger to guide reading: top-bottom, left-right. This is a learned skill and will become ingrained through repetition and practice. In Leyson’s case, if he knew that he should have spelled the letters out from left to right, the word would have actually spelled JAMES instead of SEMAJ – but with a sideways S and an E for an M… babysteps.
When Leyson spelled James’ name backwards, I then modeled how to spell his own name as he said the letters out loud to me. Leaving those letters in place, I then pulled a second set of letters for his name and asked him to put them in order directly under the one I had done.
“Which letter comes first? Which comes second?” Etc.
To fix his sideways S, I lined up a few of the same letter and laid them out right side, upside down and sideways and we chose the correct letter. This taught him that it DOES matter which way a letter is written… BAM! Epiphany.
Back to his spelling of James’ name:
Me: “Now, if we spelled the name LEYSON with the L over here on the left, what is different about how you spelled JAMES?”
Leyson: “I used an upside down E as an M!”
* Dyslexia is a Developmental Reading Disorder (DRD) which is one of the most common learning disabilities. A small percentage of those with this type of DRD actually see and write letters backwards or upside down. Most often dyslexia is diagnosed within the critical beginning reader years (kindergarten – 2nd grade) if a child of normal intelligence still has difficulties with visual and/or auditory reading comprehension, spelling and phonological awareness.
If after age appropriate and developmentally appropriate reading and writing strategies have been correctly taught to your school-aged child and you find he or she is still struggling with reading, begin to log your perception of your child’s reading abilities and share it with your child’s teacher or doctor so they can determine if your child may need further evaluation.