Tuesday, September 29, 2015

D is for Doughnuts and Dancing

The Letter D was delightful!  All the activities mentioned in this post can be found at my Teacher Store here: .

All except the doughnuts and the'll have to make up those yourselves.

Day 1:  D is for Doughnuts!

Little Miss was raring to go on the letter D after the nice long weekend.  So I printed out the D introduction page with Glimmercat playing a drum in the daisies, and the Matching Game.

 She cut out her Matching Game squares and went to town.  She and Grandma played one game and then she was ready to color her D picture.  We talked about how Glimmercat found a drum and the drum went D-d-d-d.

Then I tried to have her pick out the daisies (which, incidentally, are harder to see in the black and white image).

Then, Mommy began making doughnuts in the background.

Now, I am no gourmet.  But I do like recipes that are relatively easy and tasty.  And on the healthier side.  I modify this gal's Whole Wheat Doughnuts, which you can find on the Simply Lulu Life blog:

I stick pretty close to her recipe, but I modified the glaze this time:  We used 2 T pureed pumpkin, 1/2 c powdered sugar and 2 tsp cornstarch in a kettle that we heated almost to boiling  until it thickened to the right consistency. 

It's a rather thick dough.   Little Miss helped roll it out.

I do not have a special doughnut cutter.  We used a plastic cup for the outer doughnut circle and an oil lid for the inner circle.  Worked just fine.

Then, I put about an inch of coconut oil (Definitely use coconut oil--the taste improvement on these doughnuts is amazing) in a frying pan and heated it to medium high heat. 

 Little Miss is watching far away from the hot oil. If you let your child watch, remind them that oil is hot, hot, HOT! and they must not touch the pan or the oil.  Then, push them even further away and keep an eagle eye on those small hands.

When they are cool enough, glaze and all, enjoy these for a yummy snack.  Mmmmm, the taste of fall!

DAY 2:  D is for Dinosaur!

Today was an odd sort of day in that I had to take my son to a MAPs testing at his Charter School and so Little Miss was going to hang out with Grandma.  Well, that's the nice thing about having so many things to choose from in our Letter D letter of the week packet.  I put on the computer to see what they could work on together.  (I tried to keep it easy for both of them).

First, Little Miss did her Path of Motion practice sheet.  She's getting really good at starting on the gray circle with D.

Then she did her dinosaur puzzle.  Grandma said this was a challenging one.  It is the first time Little Miss has done a puzzle with six pieces, so I can understand that.  She did really good, though.  She even colored the dinosaur BEFORE she put the puzzle together.  Extra points!

A really fun story to read on Dinosaur day is:

The pictures in this book are incredible besides being just a fun picture book to read.  It's one of our family favorites.

Day 3 - D is for Dogs

I decided to begin the day with one of our favorite picture books:   Go, Dog, Go!

I read the book, and then my two kids both worked on one of the "Go, Dog, Go!" Reading Literacy activities.

Little Miss did the Stoplight activity with Q-tips and paint...

And since his Charter School Kindergarten teacher has asked us to work with sentence writing on his days at home with us, her brother wrote over the Building Sentences page.

He also added color to his stoplight, just for fun.

We also did the Dog craft from the Letter D packet, here: 

And I helped her with the Doggy Dot-to Dot.  

Day 4 - D is for Duck

Okay.  I handed this page to Little Miss and she was so excited to color this morning, that she just zoomed off to the table, and before I know what was happening, almost all the little images had been doused in her favorite color (pink).

Well, not to worry:  we went over the images together and chatted about which ones started with D.  She crossed out the pictures that didn't...and a little later, we circled the ones that did.

 Little Miss and I did the Maze together, and a good thing, too.  Because this was a hard maze.  Heck, I made the maze and I still let her astray twice.  For children who are not immediately adept at Mazes, it's best to do it together.  More fun that way, anyway.

Then, we moved on to the Duck Craft.  This little craft is also harder than it appears.  There is so much hand coordination required in making a loop out of paper.  I cut out the trickier pieces (the feet base and the beak.  I also folded the beak for her.) Then, I helped with the loop creation, but...

 ... she was in charge of the gluing.

She was very pleased with her little ducky when it was all put together.

Here she is marching it across her Maze and making little quacking sounds as she goes.  In fact, she had so much fun, that we decided to read a Duck book.  If I had "Make Way for Ducklings", it would have been a great read.

But I did have "What's the Weather?" , an interactive book with flaps and wheels by Scholastic.

So, we read that and she pointed out the little ducks in the illustrations all the way through.

Teaching Tip:  Whenever you are covering a new animal or topic, if possible, follow it up with a story that relates.  "But children's books are expensive!" you protest.  Yes, but my kids go back to their books time after time and look through the pictures and study the words and letters.  It's worth it.  Besides, we pick up almost all of ours in large packs from our thrift store.  So, I might get 10 books in a pack (in great shape) for $4.00, and no one can argue with that price!

Day 5:  D is for Dancing

We began our day with the color matching page.  Matching the big letters to the little letters is tricky, (especially with little b and little d in the mix now), but I love the chance to do this review with Little Miss.

It's definitely not something I'd expect her to do all by herself.  But she did find the two little c's all by herself and colored them in to make the sun.

Then, we played another matching game...

She can even see the black and white pictures through this thin paper.  I'm totally going to have to get some thicker stuff!!!

And then we danced...

Because D is for Dancing.  Whenever you can incorporate movement into your preschooler's learning, the better that learning will likely hit home. 

We even watched a few YouTube videos together of Fred Estair doing a tap dancing with drums solo and a seven year old child prodigy tap-dancing on the Ellen Degeneres show.

But really, all these little kiddos want to do is move to music and have fun.  So that's what we did.  We had a blast.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The "Four Puppies" Read Aloud

When I was a little girl, my Grandma had this little book by Anne Heathers.  Originally published in 1960, this precious story tells the tale of four little puppies over the course of a year, as they explore their world during the changing seasons.  It is a delightful story, and I was thrilled when I found a copy of it in my thrift store.  I bought it and brought it home to read aloud to my own children, wondering if it was still as delightful as I remembered.

It was!  And for the next week, it was a favorite in our house and my son poured over the illustrations of the happy little dogs and the "friendly red squirrel in the hickory tree" who calls them "Silly billies" when they worry about the changing world.   Need a refresher?  Here it is on Youtube:

And when I got to the Letter P Reading Literacy Activity, this was the book I chose.  We created a Wheel (the story references the changing seasons as being like a wheel that turns round and round).

 I usually try to choose books that are readily available for these activities.  But this book is so priceless for the little people, and it's copyright has expired.  So, with a burst of inspiration, I decided to offer a read aloud for free so others can enjoy it.  And so before, I release our Letter of the Week for P,  I have uploaded the story read aloud here:

My children had a lot of fun creating their Season's Wheel from our Reading Literacy activity:

After they decorated their four seasons with paint and Q-tips, they glued their little dog in the season that they chose as their favorite.

This activity is available in our Letter of the Week packet for P, here:

And again,  here's the link for the free Read Aloud download from my Teachers store:


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Letter of the Week for O

The letter of the week packet for O is up

Now, one quickie on the letter O here:

When it comes to teaching preschoolers the vowels' sounds, I try to stick with just one sound.  That's pretty standard for preschool:  Most folks start with the short vowels sounds, and later on they will learn the long sounds for the vowels.  So, I tried hard to stick to short sounds for this letter of the week packet.  But I am mentioning here, that there is one craft and picture which often doesn't get pronounced with the short O sound.  That is "Owl".

Usually, we think of "OW" as having its own blended sound.  But when you make the short o sound (as in Otter) and then say the W sound, you end up creating an "ow" blended sound. 

I wanted to mention this here, because you CAN teach "Owl" as a short o.  Our language is so full of "funny" words that were once pronounced so differently than they are now.  I will often tell my son, "This is one of those funny words, that we say a little different than how we sound it out."  He rolls with that explanation just fine.

And as for our little Owl craft, it was one of the favorites, so I'll start with it.  A toilet paper tube and our printable, is almost all that's needed, besides glue and markers.  I made the brightly colored little guy above as an example craft first, and my son decided to recreate it, if he could.

First, he colored the pieces and then cut them out.

Then, he pushed down the top of the toilet paper tube.  This was tricky for him, and I helped.

Next, all the pieces went on...

And the day's little play-things were all done.  My two kids loved these owls.

So, this craft was big winner with my kids.  Yay!  (I love those kind the best!)

Next, we did "O is for Otter".

We created an Otter Puzzle, an Otter craft and an additional Otter "Color by letter" activity.  So, we needed to start out with a fun video of otters to show the kids exactly what an otter is.

First, there's this cute 14 second long one, showing an Otter chewing on ice while laying on her back:

Then, another one from Monterey Bay Aquarium, this one shows otters playing and munching on colored ice:  

Those two videos are great introductions to otters and their fun, playful little ways.  Now, we're ready for the craft.

A little cutting, a little shape matching, and this fun Otter craft comes together...

And he's holding an O, just like the otters in the video held their icy treats.  Too cute!  For follow up, we have a Color Match page that ends up looking like this:

Now, "Octopus" is usually the critter of choice for the letter O, and we have a craft for him, too:

I especially like the look of the Cheerios underneath his tentacles, because after children have seen a video like this, where an octopus grabs this guy's camera with his tentacles, they'll know a bit more about the underneath parts of an octopus: 

Now, before you watch it with your children, watch it yourself.  It is a little freaky when the octopus first grabs the camera.  Then it's boring for a minute, but the guy who uploaded the video explains what's going on in subtitles.  And then it ends in a very fun way where the guy gets his camera back and gives the octopus a ride through the ocean.

What O packet would be complete without the Ostrich craft?

  This is some tricky cutting, so I'd recommend helping with the scissors on this one (let them take on the outside of the O, and you will probably want to do the rest yourself).

But I think the item in our Letter O packet that I'm most excited about is our Reading Literacy activity which goes along with the book "Ox-Cart Man" by Donald Hall.

When I first read this book, I wondered if my kids would think it was boring.  The book covers the way a man from the 1700's might buy and sell, with these pictures that look as though they were painted in the same time period.

But when I read it to my son, he was fascinated.  And I let him try out this activity that I created:

And he happily cut out each of the coins, and I acted as a store-keeper while he chose which items he wanted to "buy".  And do you know he wore me out with this pretend play? 
Months later, he asked if I could print him out another copy and play this "game" again. 

For a lot more O activities, both printables, reading literacy activities, flash cards and a Letter O Matching Game, head over to our teacher store here.

For the other alphabet letter of the week packets, we offer the following blog links with crafts included:

Letter of the Week for A

Letter of the Week for B

Letter of the Week for C

Letter of the Week for D

Letter of the Week for E  

Letter of the Week for F

Letter of the Week for G

Letter of the Week for H

Letter of the Week for I

Letter of the Week for J

Letter of the Week for K

Letter of the Week for L

Letter of the Week for M

Letter of the Week for N

Letter of the Week for O

Letter of the Week for P

Letter of the Week for Q

Letter of the Week for R

Letter of the Week for S

Letter of the Week for T

Letter of the Week for U

Letter of the Week for V

Letter of the Week for W

Letter of the Week for X

Friday, September 18, 2015

Letter of the Week for N

Let's talk about the letter N!  There are some fun crafts showcased in this blog and if you want printable lesson plans, the Letter of the Week packet for N is available in my Teacher's store.

Who would have thought that the letter N holds one of the most favorite of preschool crafts that is out there?  And the easiest?  Because every little child is fascinated with their own name.

N is for Name!

As soon as my little ones turned two, this was one of the first little crafts they did.  Here's my daughter working on the first letter of her name at age two.

For smaller fingers, it is better to get larger manipulatives.  Here, she was working with large beads, and I put on lots of glue so it was very easy for her to do this.

As she got older, she worked on her entire name, in capitals.  You can see her brother (just turned five) is practicing his name with lower case letters.

Cheerios are still our go-to item to glue whenever we do this name craft.  Because it is so fun for the kids to snack as they glue.  But you could also use dried beans, rice, dried pasta or beads.

I figured we had better include a Name Craft Activity in our "Letter of the Week for N" packet, but you could easily do this without a special "Name Craft Sheet".

I thought it would be fun to try something smaller with this name craft, so I picked up some little beads at Dollar Tree.  Turns out this was great for my 5 year old who got to try out patterns on his letters.  (Look at that intense concentration!)

Next, we have the old standby for the letter N:  N is for Nest!

The important ingredient needed for this craft is shredded wheat cereal.  All-Bran cereal also, would work great!

We used the shredded wheat shards in the bottom of the bag, but you could simply crunch up a shredded wheat piece to get all the little pieces that make the nest look like it's made up of small sticks.  We spread glue across the nest and my daughter sprinkled the cereal over it.

Then, after the nest had dried, we glued on two pom poms for the bird in the nest.  I had cut out the bird's beak and the egg.  Googly eyes completed it...

 In our letter of the week packet, we also have a Dot to Dot activity that shows birds in a nest.

The shtick (or Story to Bridge understanding) for this letter is that Glimmercat is being chased away from a nest by a Mother Bird who screeches, "N-n-n-nuh-nuh!!!"
Which, of course, is the sound of N.

N is for Night

My son has always liked city sky-lines, so maybe this is where this craft idea came from.    Above,  the craft insert is pictured.  We recommend having a thick piece of cardboard or styrofoam to help poke the thumb-tack through the holes. 

He poked a tiny hole through every gray circle, and when we taped it to a window, the light showed off the skyline.

You could also take the finished product and glue it around a little jar and then put a tealight inside at night-time.  That would make a fun little night-light.

Our last craft for N goes along with our Reading Literacy Worksheet.  We focused on the incredibly beautiful pictures of Jerry Pinkney's Caldecott winning Noah's Ark Picture Book.

Our Reading Literacy worksheet goes along with this book...

I then did a follow up craft that involves a paper plate with my daughter.

After cutting the plate and gluing it together, she painted it brown.  Then we glued in the pieces that come with our Noah's Ark Craft Sheet.  She was very careful and got to place the animals herself.

I think her older brother was a little jealous of her finished product and wished he had volunteered to make one, too.

This Noah's Ark Craft is also available as a stand-alone craft in our Noah's Ark Reading Literacy Activity Packet.

For a lot more N activities, both printables, reading literacy activities, flash cards and a Letter N Matching Game, check out our entire complete Letter of the Week for N activity packet.

For the other letter of the week packets, we offer the following blog links with crafts included.

Letter of the Week for A

Letter of the Week for B

Letter of the Week for C

Letter of the Week for D

Letter of the Week for E  

Letter of the Week for F

Letter of the Week for G

Letter of the Week for H

Letter of the Week for I

Letter of the Week for J

Letter of the Week for K

Letter of the Week for L

Letter of the Week for M

Letter of the Week for N

Letter of the Week for O

Letter of the Week for P

Letter of the Week for Q

Letter of the Week for R

Letter of the Week for S

Letter of the Week for T

Letter of the Week for U

Letter of the Week for V

Letter of the Week for W

Letter of the Week for X