Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fun with "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert

When the leaves start to change colors and fall from the trees, it's time to have fun with leaf projects!!

First, find the book "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert - it is so much fun to read ... and your children will love the awesome illustrations! Each one shows a different character made entirely of leaves ... animals, people ... make sure you look carefully to see it.

Next, take your little guys on a leaf hunt to find as many different varieties of leaves as you can. Make sure to get a variety of colors and shapes, and sizes, to make your own illustrations really cool!

Then, set out your leaves on some contrasting construction paper and move them around, making different combinations until you make a shape that looks interesting :)

Have your little ones try different combinations to make different creatures, and finally, get ready to glue them on paper or encase them in plastic, to keep them forever. You can use glue dots to fix the leaves where you want them, or you can use clear contact paper to make them into a "sun catcher." Either way, make sure you add details, like faces, eyes, hands, paws ... whatever will make your character come to life!

Have fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Books to Love: "The Quilt Story" by: Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola

There are all kinds of stories - silly, funny, scary, sad ... real stories, pretend stories .... even stories that help your children see something new about the world they live in. Realistic fiction has a important place in your child's library, and can help them learn about things that happened before they were born.

The Quilt Story gives a little history lesson and opens up all kinds of discussions about the past - the past of your country, your family's history, even your own past - before kiddos. It tells the story, in words and pictures, of a quilt which has a place in a family's history and then is rediscovered by a later generation. 

The illustrations also help to tell the story, so make sure to integrate them into your reading :) Look for changes in buildings, dress, transportation, etc. After you read, you can go through your own old family photos, looking for changes that tell the story of your family, too. 

You can extend the reading of this story with so many art projects - use stencils and paper cutouts to design your own quilt or even piece together fabric scraps on paper, using glue instead of thread. If you are really handy, you can show your child a simple stitching pattern with a child-friendly needle and thread :)

The Quilt Story is a special book, with fine illustrations by Tomie dePaola, and makes a great cuddle-up read for bedtime. Watch out, though, your kiddos just might have to search out a forgotten blanket when you're done ....

Have fun!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rock On!

Have some fun with rocks - and let your little ones explore and learn! We took some stones that were flat on at least one side, and used a paint pen to make upper-case letters on them. Then, we put them out on a table, and . . .

First, there was lots of interest ... and lots of questions!

"What are these? What do we do with them?" We didn't ask our little ones to do anything in particular with the rocks, but soon they were searching for their name letters and lining them up, calling friends over, and trying out new combinations :)

They noticed that some of their names started with the same letter, and that they had to share letters to make friends' names.

Next, maybe they'll want to play a match game - we'll need more rocks!

How about numbered rocks to line up in order ... or addition rocks! We could try shapes and patterns one day, too!

Have fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Books to Love: "Bear Snores On" by Karma Wilson, illustrations by Jane Chapman

Kids LOVE the Karma Wilson Bear books ... This was the first one I discovered and it was an instant hit with my little ones! (There are more!!)

This terrific read-aloud will get your kiddos involved in the story right away with the use of engaging illustrations, by Jane Chapman, and the rhythm of repeating lines. Right from the start, the story builds ... As each new animal joins the story, seeking shelter in the cave, the words get more interesting and the print sizes up and down, from whisper-tiny to shout-out-big! As each new element is added to the sleepy scene, the same phrase caps it off - but it will get louder and louder, as your little friends join in!

Use this book to teach sequencing and pause to recall what happened first, next, and last. Use it to teach concepts of print and have your kiddos point out the words, left to right, one by one. Ask about the characters and make a list of all the animal friends. Try a child-led retelling, for comprehension assessment, using all the sweet pictures. Talk about friends sharing what they have, and meeting new friends. 

Most of all ...
Have fun!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Little Ones With Big Feelings

When we try something new, we sometimes have feelings of fear, anxiety, or just uncertainty. Little ones just starting school may have these feelings, too, but aren't sure how to express them.

Parents and teachers can help by naming those feelings with them and giving them a funny face, like an emoticon, to label those butterflies-in-the-tummy times. Giving children tools to express themselves can sometimes help avoid those meltdowns created by big changes, and make for a much happier adjustment to school.

Use a little drawing to launch a chat about what your kiddo is feeling. Ask them to think about what face they'd like to have - and then work out a plan with them of how to get there. Maybe arranging a first day walk-to-school partner, or enclosing a family photo in their lunch boxes would help :) Getting your little one talking about feelings encourages them to share fears and dispel any unfounded ideas they may be internalizing.

Try this to get them giggling: Sing a little song with them to help them voice what's going on inside ...

If you're happy and you know it, show your smile, if you're happy and you know, show your smile, if you're happy and you know it - then your face will surely show it, if you're happy and you know it, show your smile! 

Then ...
If you're sad and you know it, make sad eyes ...
If you're mad and you know it, make a face ...

They will be in charge of coming up with some very silly faces :-o

When they complete that all-important first day, make sure you do a happy face check-in. Just another way of getting ready for school!!

Have fun!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An apple is not just an apple

Early childhood educators look at things every day through the eyes of their kiddos, in order to help them learn. They know that there are lessons in every single thing a child encounters ... and that helping them see the world so full of possibilities, at an early age, will help make them into life-long learners. Parents can do this, too!

It's not even so much about what the objects are, but what you can explore with them :) Even something as simple as - APPLES! Grab a bunch of apples next time you are in the market ... it can lead to activities full of math, science, and art skills!

First, have your children count the apples into a bowl - one-to-one correspondence work. Next, they can arrange them in a row, from largest to smallest - size and order. Then, use different colored apples to make a row of green, red, green, red or ... green, yellow, red, green, yellow, red - all kinds of patterns. Cut one apple into four equal pieces - fractions. Count them out into equal groups - simple division. (You can do all the above activities with construction paper apples, as well, if you're out of real ones!)

Now, examine the seeds to see how they are encased, how many there are, what size and shape they are, etc. You're doing science! Try a search engine to find pictures of the apple trees that produced these apples - see the different stages of growth! Your children will be excited to see how their own apples came to be! Even setting out a slice and watching it decay over time can be a cool lesson - but, maybe a little gross ... so, kids will like it!

Explore art with apples! Use half of an apple dipped in a yummy caramel or cream cheese sauce to make stamps on a paper plate - see what shapes they look like. (You can also do this with paint - orange paint stamped with apples make great pumpkins! Just don't eat the apples, then!) Let your children come up with ideas ... they will find ways to use the apples that you never even thought of :)

Read "Ten Apples Up On Top!" Your kiddos will love the silly illustrations and get in plenty of counting practice while reading. You can make your own counting book by taking silly-face pictures and cutting apples out to put on top of those faces, one per page ...

Early childhood educators have always known - an apple isn't just an apple! Explore ...

Have fun!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Water Painting Fun!

The last days of summer are coming fast ... running out of things to do with your little ones?

If you have some water in a bucket and an old (or new!) paintbrush - find a surface like a sidewalk, driveway, or concrete steps, and see what happens. Fun for the pool, too!

They may want to paint the whole surface. They may begin to make shapes or squiggles ... all great for motor planning and control!

You can model a little, if you want ... in a parallel playing sort of way :) Draw a letter - maybe the first letter of their names. Something about wet letters gets their attention. Use different sizes of paintbrushes for different effects.

You can also make chalk shapes, letters, numbers .. and, then paint over them. Any "mistakes" quickly evaporate and then, they can do it again! This would be great practice for back-to-school - getting familiar with names, shapes, numbers, etc. - in a very no-fuss, enjoyable way :)

Have fun!