SO much to share….SO little time!

I have so many updates to share, but most require pictures that I haven’t had time to take yet. BUT, as I plan weekly activities for my kindergarteners I will be sharing them here…. which means more resources for you at home.

Here is one simple writing activity idea and “I can” printable:

I CAN writing activity

I am teaching the sight words “I can” in my classroom right now, but you can adapt this to whatever you are practicing at home because it is such a simple template.

When your little one is ready to learn words by sight, you will use activities like this to encourage your little one to have fun practicing writing the formation of the letters in the word.  Here your little one would write it in each color and then draw a picture of something he/she can do.

If you have a preschooler, you might work on one simple shape like a circle, letter or number.  If you have a Pre-Kinder you might work on your little one’s name.  If you have a Kinder, you might start working on their sight words when the list comes home from school or work on their middle/last name.  You don’t have to put it in a word document either….freehand the color words and model the first row for your little one.

We Can All Learn From This Mommy Teacher….Casey From Kidpired Creations!

Hi!  It’s Casey, stopping by from Kidspired Creations once again!  My husband and I have recently discovered the game Bananagrams and it has instantly become a family favorite!  Even my boys (5 and 2) love to play as well… they just play with a different set of rules… Mommy Teacher rules!

If you are not familiar with Bananagrams, it’s a banana-shaped bag filled with Scrabble tiles and, like Scrabble, there are tons of the most frequently used letters in the alphabet (i.e. vowels) and several of the less frequent ones.  This makes building words easier than when you just buy a single pack of 26 letters from the kid’s section at a store because you are able to make words that have double letters, or several words that use the same letters at once.  As you can probably imagine, there are endless ways you can use these tiles to work on basic reading and spelling skills.

One of the building blocks to learning to read is being able to break words into syllables.  As expert readers, we do this when we come to a long word, but we are able to do this because we were taught this skill.  I notice myself doing this when I am typing out a long word in an e-mail quite

Refresher course:  what is a syllable?  A syllable is recognized by the presence of a VOWEL SOUND in a word.  For instance, the word “baby” has two syllables ( because of the presence of the long “A” and long “E” sound in the word.  Be careful, some vowel sounds are hard to hear, like the “schwa” sound in the word “table”/ˈtābəl/. <-That upside down e is called a “schwa.”  It sounds like “uh” and YES it’s a vowel sound.  But, I digress…

My oldest son, James, has already mastered sounding out/reading simple CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant) words like “cat,” and bigger compound words like “bedroom” (Jess teaches about compound words here), so now I am moving on to larger polysyllabic words (words with more than one syllable).  These words will be easier for him to read if he separates them into different syllables and reads them individually, but first, I need to teach him how to count syllables.

Clapping out syllables is a great way for kids to be able to HEAR the number of syllables in a word:  BED (clap)  ROOM (clap).  I suggest starting off with simple compound words (cupcake, doghouse, rainbow) because they are made up of two monosyllabic (containing 1 syllable) words, thus it is easier to hear the separate syllables.

Another great way to count syllables is to use objects such as pennies to represent each different syllable.  This helps kids to be able to SEE the number of syllables in a word:  cup.cake = 2 pennies.  Point to each penny as you say each syllable separately.

James found objects around the house

that only have 1 syllable:

car, ball, shoe (though it’s really a slipper),

cap, rock, dice, car (again)

You can also teach your child to FEEL syllables by having him place his hand under his chin as he says the word slowly.  With each syllable that he says out loud, his chin will make his hand move down.  The only problem with this is that some sounds (like the schwa) do not make your chin move, so when I say “table” while teaching this technique it sounds more like “tay-ball”… I over-exaggerate each word and make funny faces when I say it.

When your child has begun to understand the concept of syllables, you can start visually breaking down words into syllables by using the Bananagrams tiles.  Start with words that have short vowel sounds like “exact” (ex.act) or words that are monosyllabic that become polysyllabic when you make it past tense such as “started” (start.ed).

Just for fun, I broke down the word “hippopotamus” because our dog’s name is Hippo.  Notice how James sounded it out “hippo.pot.[long A].mus” and I did not correct him.  Once he put the word together he automatically fixed the “long A” to the schwa sound.  Give your kids a chance; they might surprise you with the things they can figure out without Mommy’s help!

Thanks, Jess, for letting me hop onto your blog!  Please visit my Kidspired Creations blog for affordable, customizable and kidspirational art!  I also frequently post DIY projects and party ideas!  Also, please stop by my personal blog about My Kidspiration and all the hilariousness that comes with raising two boys and a baby girl!

FaVoRiTe Book(s)

Sean Patrick has more than one “Favorite” book.  In fact, the other day I bought a book and before I read it to him he said, “Mom, read me this one.  It’s my favorite book.”

So, as you can tell, he isn’t very credible if you are to ask him about his favorite book.  But, I can pretty much guess his favorite book(s) based on the ones he asks me to read to him OVER and OVER again 😉  I actually enjoy teaching him new things each time but sometimes I find a gem in the book that makes for the best teaching experiences.  And here is one example:

We have been reading “Curious George Makes Pancakes” a lot lately.

I always seem to look for extension activities but the following page jumped out at me because it provided the perfect set up for sequencing and retelling.

I made a copy of the page that showed how George made the pancakes (onto a piece of cardstock that I keep handy in my desk).

Then I split the page into the four steps (yikes I need a new color ink cartridge!) so that I could display them in our kitchen when we make pancakes:

When SP is a little older I will use them as sequencing cards (to observe his thought process as he orders the steps), and as retelling cards to tell me how to make pancakes.

Hope this inspires you to find extension activities in your little one’s favorite books.  If so, please share on my fb page!

Great Gift Idea….A Story-telling Bag…DIY!

One teaching tool that I love to have within an arm’s reach is my storytelling bag collection.  I hesitated to use the word “collection” but I looked up synonyms and nothing was cooler than that so I guess I have to admit that I collect storytelling bags.  A storytelling bag is basically a themed bag that includes a book, props for that book, and some teaching tips and ideas (mini-lesson plans) that extend the learning opportunities for that theme.  I love to use props to act out a story because drama really brings the characters to life and children are better able to recall the story from memory.

So many skills can be hit on using story telling bags…. check out some of Louisiana’s ELA grade level expectations for “reading literature and informational text” and “speaking and listening” for ideas.

Here is an example of a story-telling bag (also called a literacy bag),

and here is my effort to create the same story-telling bag for a friend who homeschools on her little one’s birthday 🙂

The llama is from Bolivia, in South America…. so glad my impulse buys came in handy 🙂

I also added teaching tips in the bag. You can do the same by typing the name of the book that you are gifting into a google search followed by “lesson plans” or something similar….OR you can come up with your own!  I may be the mommy teacher but I truly believe in saving time, (money), and reserving energy for my kids so do what is best for YOU.  In fact, if you are a garage-saler, be on the look-out for quality books and props that might correspond to the books and you will save money, and time shopping for the next birthday gift!

Using Words To Describe Directionality

A lot of parents assume their super verbal and proficient little ones have a wider speaking vocabulary than listening vocabulary.  It is not that your little one doesn’t “know” the words they are looking for, but there are certain language concepts that are not yet part of their speaking vocabulary.

For instance, if I asked your little one to look “under” the table to find my pencil, he or she probably wouldn’t hesitate.  Your little one probably knows the word “under” in context enough to search in the direction that I am referring to.  Or, if I am “under” a table and I asked your little one where I was he or she might state, “Under the table” using the position word “under.”  But, in the context that I had a doll “under” something and asked your little one to describe where the doll is in their words.  He/she may or may not use words to describe directionality like (under, next to, through, between, back, on top, over, above, etc.)

So, to work on developing this skill through a natural progression from head knowledge to incorporating these words into their oral voacbulary and using them abstractly, I am going to give you a series of position word activities using pictures of Casey’s little ones because she is such an awesome mommy teacher – check out her kidspiration blog 🙂

1) Playing Copy Cat Games:  Casey loves to play these games with her little “Leyson man.”  This is very similar to “simon says” – ask your little one to copy you as you place your hands “Over” your head, “between” your knees, “beside” your cheeks, etc.


Casey's little one, James, hiding under the bed!

2) Hide and Seek: Hide a toy and give directions using position words for your little one to find it, “The block is between the couch pillows.”

3) Act it out with your whole body:  “Can you hide under the bed?  Can you climb on top of the stool?  Can you jump over the pillow?”  This part of the activity helps little ones meet the needs of learning through movement!Casey’s little one, Leyson, practicing position words with his farm animals!

Casey's little one, Leyson, practicing position words with his farm animals!

 4) Act it out with toys:  “Can your cow jump over the farmhouse? Can your pig squeeze through the doorway?”  This helps the little ones needs to learn in a hands-on way!

5) Use words to give directions: Place something (like a doll’s purse) between two chairs, then dialogue with your little one “Pretend that I cant find the Barbie’s favorite purse, but you know where it is!  Without showing me, can you use your words to tell me where it is?”

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