We are always on the hunt for fun new ways to bring our letter learning to life!
I am always amazed when a good plan comes together and results in amazing learning.
I wish these were my idea. They would be SO easy to cut out and have around all the time, but these are from Mother Goose Time. They are from heavy card stock and are made to look like a magnifying glass. They help us "focus" our little eyes and minds on what we are looking for.
This time it is the letter "C"!
So simple! Look at the results....
We used our awesome purple glue sticks to make sticky "C"'s on our paper and added all kinds of stickers, shapes, animals to "See" on our "C!"
Then we made some clay. I have never made true "homemade" clay before. S.T.E.A.M. play at it's finest!! Be still my teacher heart.....
This recipe works VERY well. If I were making it for one child, "No PROBLEM!" "Got this!" (For gluten free make certain you use a high quality corn starch. Most of them say, "Gluten Free" nowadays, but just be sure.... )
This is not the case in my world. I am always making everything for 10 children. ALWAYS. I can't cook a meal for my own family without making tiny burgers (thankfully we can call them "sliders" when I blank out and forget I am cooking for a full grown man and teen!)
So this recipe was a bit challenging when making enough for 10. I quadrupled it, made it during nap and it was ready for play! This SWEET recipe book comes from
The Rainy Day Activity Book Paperback – September 1, 1995 by Jennifer Rader
Our clay in action!
It was soft and malleable, perfect for a new sensory experience. Our children have played with store clay, but it is much harder for little hands to shape and mold. This clay was firmer than dough, but soft enough to mold easily.
The reviews from the children ranged from, "WOW!" to "This has a funny smell?" It was made with cornstarch, baking soda, and water so it did have a bit of a different smell than our flour based dough recipe.
We made lots of letters, including our "C", as well as "C"ircus animals, "C"lown fish, and pop"c"orn! We sent the clay home with each child so continue the learning and play at their own pace.
BONUS! This recipe is gluten free!!
I love simple, hands-on experiences for my littles. This one fit the bill and encouraged LOTS of imagination, conversation, and learning.
Just what the teacher ordered!!
As always, I wish you well and I hope you get to play today! - L
It is SUMMER! Finally.....
The long winter and cold weather months have given way to some bright sunny days and we are ready for PLAY!!
We have been studying letters A-Z for the month of June with our Mother Goose Time curriculum as a review of what we learned all throughout the year. As always, we build our units around play.
So what do you get when you mix the letter "B" with summertime? Beach, bubble, babies, and blueberries!!! We tried many, many different bubble recipes and landed on this one that works VERY well. So well, in fact, that we actually had to dilute it a bit!
Here it is for all you mama's and daddies out there keeping kiddos busy this summer! Keep reading...I have a clay recipe for the letter "C" coming too!!
We tried LOTS of recipes to make the perfect bubble!
We made triangle, square, and oval bubble wands with pipe cleaners!
We also tried our pre-made bubble wands. We tried wire hangers bubble wands. Hands DOWN our pipe cleaner bubble wands were the BEST and made the bubble recipe work optimally.
THIS is STEAM play!! What is STEAM play? I thought you would never ask ;)...
Simply, S.T.E.A.M. is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. It used to be primarily referred to as S.T.E.M. play. Arts was brushed to the Creative Arts category of education. However, more recently the Early Childhood Education community has added the "A" for Arts recognizing that Art is intermingled with Math, Science, Engineering, and Technology. I agree wholeheartedly. Lucky for us our Mother Goose Time curriculum provides many oppotunities for play built around S.T.E.A.M.
We observed through our bubble experiment that a colors (Science and Art) swirled around the sphere. We introduced the vocabulary word "sphere" (Math and Art) yet again as recognizing 3 Dimensional shapes is a Kindergarten readiness requirement. This is an EASY sell for preschoolers with bubble play!!
"Look at THAT sphere, Ms. Donna!! It's HUGE!!"
S.T.E.A.M. play allows children to make connections between these and further build on them with other medium. Here we built with pipe cleaners, wire hangers, plastic wands, our hands. We used many different recipes and hypothesized which would work and therefore be our FAVORITE!
We even brought music and counting into the mix with this sweet song...
We used our bubbles with socks!
This SWEET idea came to me from Mother Goose Time as a part of our S.T.E.A.M. play. This was SO FUN and a great workout for little lungs. I didn't get pix of this one as we had socks flying off of little feet as they tried to make more "bubbles." What would have been great would have been a picture of me trying to keep socks and shoes on while chasing giggling, wiggling tots!!!
And the winner is.......
We tried just about every Pinterest recipe out there, but when it came down to it, our oldie but goodie from the book, "Rainy Day Activity Book," by Jennifer Rader. You can still get it on Amazon and even though it is over 20 years old (man am I showing my age!!) it is FULL of recipes I have been using for a very long time.
These bubbles last in the air, in our hands, on the ground, are able to be caught and released again! This makes for happy kiddos and happy days!!
As always, I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!!
Teaching letters and phonemic awareness is a natural part of play.
First, what is "phonemic awareness?"
Simply it is "...the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in words." (http://www.readingrockets.org/reading-topics/phonemic-awareness)
This must take place before a child can learn to read, which is why it makes sense to begin in preschool.
Our Mother Goose Time curriculum recognizes this is a necessary precursor of reading and provides LOTS of games and play-based opportunities for little learners to engage in recognizing not only the letters themselves, but the sounds of the beginning, middle, and endings of words and how they go together (blend) to make a word.
Everything A-Z is a great opportunity to play games, provide observations, and promote the building blocks of reading readiness!
Our first "A" activity was "A" is for Animals!
Before each child received their chosen animal face, they each pointed out the letter "A" from a choice of three letters (A,B,C). We practiced some letter formation with dough and our letter dough mats from Mother Goose Time!
These are actually the letters that go with our monthly curriculum, but we have laminated them and they are the perfect size for play dough letter formations!
We picked our animal faces and then we DANCED!!
I LOVE the instrumental arrangement! "This instrumental song is designed to help young children hear the change in music from slow to fast, low energy to high energy. By dancing and responding to the music builds self-regulation skills needed for managing emotions later in life." - Mother Goose Time
Isn't it amazing that so much of play is DESIGNED to build self-regulation? Isn't it also interesting that with the loss of play in preschool's we are seeing an increase in lack of self-regulation and disorders in elementary schools?
I believe the two are directly linked. Children need play like they need breath. It is a NEED, not a reward, not a privilege, a NEED and should be encouraged, allowed, and promoted as a BEST PRACTICE.
The NAEYC says this about play, "The idea that play provides a context for learning and development in education is similar to the use of play therapy for children coping with traumatic experiences; in both cases, play as place provides a natural, comfortable setting for young children to develop." (http://www.naeyc.org/content/research-news-pretend-play-is-important)
Play helps young children make sense of the world around them. It is no wonder that when it is severely limited in preschool programs that processing disorders seem to increase.
After dough letters, recognition games, writing practice, dance, and songs it was time for one of our FAVORITE books!
And more dancing!
What a great beginning! The letter "B" is for Bubbles will be up tomorrow! Don't miss it!!
As always, I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!
Simple lessons make for big results! Little learners are captivated by things we adults overlook.
Leaves, eggs, trees, clouds, a piece of yarn........
These provoke questions. They provoke thought. Sometimes they drive us nutty with the, "Why?"
It is here that preschool teachers make magic.
It is in the simple that we find wonder.
We talk about everything. They ask questions. I answer them.
We had been discussing "oviparous" animals and insects this week. Everything that lays an egg is "oviparous." While we play outside they ask, "Is a butterfly obipus?" "YES!" I say.
"Is a mommy oviparous?" asked little M.
"Well....let's think about that." I said. "Do mommies lay eggs or have live babies?"
"THEY HAVE BABIES!!!" they squealed with glee!
Being able to answer questions is a BIG DEAL in pre-k land!
In the this day's lesson we had been happily playing with our plastic octopus, whales, and fish in the water tables outside and the questions started again. "Ms. Donna, is a fish a mammal or oviparous?" There is NOTHING I love more than hearing them use their new words. This means learning is happening! Vocabularies are building. Concepts are sticking! (be still my beating heart!!!)
This is science in action. S.T.E.M. is happening organically through play...
"They lay eggs." I replied with a smile.
The questions continued with the octopus, the whale, the stingray, the frogs. "What about this?" "Does this lay eggs?" "YES!" older children would chime in while younger children ran off to grab another creature and ask another question.
Mixed age learning is amazing! (but that's another subject) read about the benefits here
We brought the "oviparous" theme inside for arts and crafts time.
With a mix aged group, everything becomes an opportunity for learning. Since we were discussing fish and eggs, we decided to make our own fish laying eggs!
I cut out ovals and triangles for the younger ones.
The older children wanted to cut out their own (yay!).
As I passed out the glue sticks we brought our conversations about egg laying animals back to life.
"What is an "oviparous" animal that swims in the water and lays their eggs in a the water?" I asked.
"FISH!" several children exclaimed.
"That's right!!" I smiled...
"Le'ts make a fish laying eggs!" I said.
"YAY!!!" they yelled. They LOVE glue!
We layed out our ovals as I asked what shapes they had to work with. "Oval!" "Triangle!" (pre-math)
We quickly worked.
Once all the little ovals bodies and triangle tails were in place I passed out the paint and explained that we were going to help our fish lay eggs with one finger. We used our little finger tips to make dots for eggs. We counted, We pressed. We painted. Some smeared. (Creative arts)
We observed that some of our fish laid many eggs and some laid few (math concepts and vocabulary).
We weren't done discussing "oviparous" animals and eggs, but we were done with Creative Arts, so we moved to Music and Movement with Dancing Beats by Mother Goose Time.
They LOVE to dance....so we bring science to dance with Dancing Beats by Mother Goose Time.
But that's not the only song we danced and sang to this week...
Simple, fun, easy to mimic, great beat! Our preschoolers LOVED this one!!! It was repeated over and over!!
During our many story times we read books about "oviparous" animals!
Aesop's Fables for Preschoolers from Mother Goose Time was a popular choice (as always) and I love anything that introduces classic literature to little learners. We read the stories we continued to ask which animals laid eggs and which animals were mammals? We answered. We asked. We read. Classic tales are an important part of Language Arts in Preschool. They teach life lessons. They introduce new words. They provoke thought about who we are in the world and who we are becoming.
The study "Children’s understanding of Aesop’s fables: relations to reading comprehension and theory of mind" discusses the value of children's exposure to fables and the importance of being able to dissect the meaning of the story in relation to life principals and lessons.
This starts young. The more exposure they have to complex theories made simple, the better their reading comprehension and logic become in more complex themes in later academic years.
Simple lessons span Science, Math, Creative Arts, Music and Movement and Language Arts! They create a fun and learning rich environment that allow for PLAY!
When we follow the play of young children we discover their interests.
When we promote activities that help them further explore those interests deep learning takes place in an organic, fun filled day.
That is what I want them to truly remember about preschool. The "Pre."
As always....I wish you well and I hope you get to play today.
This is so true with our smallest students. The world is ripe with discovery and when an observant and willing teacher is ready to answer questions, spur thought, and capture wonder, the world is a limitless educator.
In this week's study we have taken to the outdoors and gathered, observed, hypothesized, and questioned our surroundings.
S.T.E.M. through play....just as it was meant to be.
What lays an egg?
Last week we studied, "Animals of the Savannah," using our Mother Goose Time curriculum. With the heat coming on full blast it was a perfect time to discuss animals that live in hot, dusty, sandy terrains.
We observed camels, lions, zebras, and elephants while we played in the sand, added water to see what would happen and how the sand absorbed it readily.
We reviewed the letters E, Z, L, C and S (sand), their sounds and we practiced finding the letters at the beginning, middle, and end of the words and books.
This week, we again took to the outdoors with one question.
"What do you see?"
The results were instant. (Small beginnings....major progress...)
"EGGS!!" squealed two children almost simultaneously. They were standing atop of our swing set fort searching the leaves and all the children excitedly joined them.
The great thing about children is that one answer is never enough. There is always another, "Why?" or "How?" These are called "Teachable moments." My favorite kind of moments of the day...
We discussed eggs, animals and insects that laid eggs and the vocabulary word, "Oviparous." We discovered that "oviarous" creatures all have the same thing in common, they lay eggs.
That spawned more questions...
"Are puppies "obipus" (yes I know the spelling is wrong :)) Ms. Donna?"
"No...puppies, kitties, and people are "mammals" because they have live babies, not eggs."
You can literally see their little brains churning as they raced around grabbing toy animals and bugs while asking if they were mammals or "obipus!"
Once it was time to return indoors the play continued with our dough. They made dough leaves and eggs. They counted the eggs, hatched the eggs, and added and subtracted the eggs (no papers required).
This is math and science at play!
We decided we needed an egg song so we looked up our Mother Goose Time Dancing Beats videos on Youtube and learned this song and dance!
Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com