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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

C is for Cuddling on the Couch with Cocoa

I think we're getting in a sort of groove now that Little Miss and I are in our 3rd week.  She's ready and eager for her "Glimmercat" activities and she is noticing letters all around in her everyday world.  I heard her calling out "A,B,C,D,E,F,G!" when the credits began rolling at the end of a movie the kids were watching.

So, this week we are covering the Letter of the Week for the letter C:

Everything we go over in this packet in available for free download here at this link:

In our letter of the week packet, the summer background has shifted to winter and Glimmercat is cuddling around a hot cup of cocoa. 

DAY 1:

I explained to Little Miss that Glimmercat was really cold.  So cold that she had started chattering like this: "C-c-c-c-c!"  (Hard C sound).  Which, of course is the sound for C.  And now, Glimmercat is warming up with her hot cup of cocoa.

So, of course, we had to have some hot cocoa too.

First, we began with the Color sheet that shows the kitty in the snow up above.  I noticed that Little Miss was tracing the letter with her finger...Yay!  That's such an awesome jump into understanding right there!

Next, she colored her page because she loves coloring. And then, we moved on to the Matching Game.  For the first time, I decided to print out the colored version of this game.  We went over each of the pictures to make sure she knew the names of them.  "Cactus" and "Crab" were new, and she needed a refresher on "Clown", too.  But she definitely knew "Cupcake".

Then, with great pride, she showed off how she could cut these squares out ALL BY HERSELF to Grandma who was visiting.  Look at her go!

Now on the first Matching game with Grandma, Little Miss cleaned up.  She got all the matches!  We were impressed until we realized that she could see the colored images through the thin paper. (Haha!  Smart girl!)

Teaching Tip:  Use THICKER paper for printing out the colored version of the Matching Game!

Not having thicker paper, we improvised and I cut out little squares to tape to the backs of the paper squares.  Grandma and Little Miss had another game and this time it was a bit more evenly matched.

Still fun, though!  Grandma and Little Miss finished up this teaching time by cuddling on the couch with an old book called, "Cowboy Andy".

Remember, "Cuddling" and "Couch" are both wonderful "C" words to explore with your little learner, too.  Especially when a book is involved!

DAY 2:  C is for Caterpillar

This was one of those neat times when it seemed as though God was working out a special serendipity for us, because on the very day we were planning to do "C is for Caterpillar", guess what Little Miss found outside!

We brought it inside and gave it a jar to hang out in, and it stayed with us for the morning, (until Mommy got worried that we didn't know what sorts of food it needed and let it go back outside).   What a great introduction to caterpillars!

After that excitement, we did the Cut and Paste C words together.  This time, Mommy cut out the words and read them one by one to Little Miss and she found the pictures and glued them on herself.

Then, I printed out the Dot to Dot Caterpillar, which she guessed ("That's a Caterpillar on a leaf!") before we did it together.  Little Miss doesn't take easily to Dot to Dots, so we always do these together, with Mommy's hand gently over her's, helping her go the right way.  We say the numbers together as we go.

We finished up with a tried and true Caterpillar Craft made from an egg carton.  Even her older brother decided to get in on this.  I think finding the real caterpillar outside was inspiring to him, too.

A pair of googly eyes and a pipe cleaner poked through two holes in the top is all it needed to be finished off.

I'd like to say we finished off this perfect Caterpillar day by reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle...

...because how awesome would that be?  Talk about pulling it all together!  (Insert Lego Movie "Everything is Awesome" song here).

But, it didn't work that way.  After the craft, and the excitement of the real caterpillar, my two kiddos were just done.  Ah well.  We have this delightful book pictured above and we read it regularly, so we'll connect those dots another time.

Teaching Tip:  When your child is done learning, you will know.  Let them go and play.  It doesn't help to insist on keeping them there when they are done.  They'll make up for it another day.  Keep the learning fun so it isn't a chore for either you and your small one.  

DAY 3:  C is for Crown!

 It was that kind of morning... Little Miss woke up feeling like a princess, so she wore her princess dress most of the day, and we worked it into the lesson.  (Hey, you do what you can to meet them right where they're at, you know?)

So, C was for "Crown" on this day, along with the other things we ended up working on.  I decided to print out the C Little Book...which looks like this:

This little book is really four activities in one...First, Little Miss explored "C is for Coloring":

Because she loves coloring.  And then, she and I worked on the other activities together.  She is too young right now to be able to do these other things all by herself.  But she enjoyed learning to match the Crabs with other C words, and finding the little c's in the picture.

I also pulled out the little pom poms to have her fill in the C of her little Book, but as you can see, she had more fun just making a pom pom C all by herself on the table.  Great job, Little Miss!

The last thing we did was to do complete the "What Do You See?" puzzle, which in the C packet, is this cute little clown.  Then, I helped her write "Clown" underneath.  

Remember, everything you see here for the "Letter of the Week for C packet" is available for free download here at my store: 

Do, DO download that freebie and try all this fun stuff at home!  

DAY 4:  C is for Cow! 

Your child has their good and bad days just like you.  My girl's been doing so great, and then, well, today just began rough.  I had other things planned, but decided to keep it light based on how her morning had been going so far.  (It's SO okay to change your plans like this!)  

Here's what we did to make the day easy and fun:

This C craft is mysteriously labeled as Letter B (I must change that!), but it is of course a Cow, and I printed it out from our Letter of the Week C packet and we did this first.  Little Miss cut out most of the rectangle herself, and was willing to try cutting out the head of the cow with my help.

 Here she is applying her glue-stick like a pro.

  And there's her finished cow...very easy and satisfactory. 

Then, while I was working with her brother, I gave her some salt in a pie pan to do a little sensory C practice...

She wrote some nice C's in the salt, and then busied herself drawing additional pictures in it.  She was having fun drawing "Sally" from the Cars movie, so technically she was still doing C work...but it would have been okay if she was just doodling around.

 NOTED TODAY:  I like the salt better than flour, because it draws nicer with a little one's fingers and is easier for them to shake to get a fresh surface.  

We finished up today with this hilarious picture book which happens to be loaded with Cows and the letter C.  "Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type" is a pretty funny story about Cows who go on strike with the Chickens in order to blackmail their farmer into giving them electric blankets.  It's a fun read with nice sound effects: "Click, Clack, Moo.  Click, Clack, Moo.  Clickety-Clack, Moo..."  
Both of my kids love it and like repeating those words with me.

Little Miss and her brother cuddled up for this read aloud and here she is pointing out a C for me on the pages.  

Teaching Tip:  The best picture books for kids age 5 and under are short reads with few words and plenty of sound effects.  Even though Meg Ryan makes that chapter book appear extra fascinating on "You've Got Mail", I can guarantee that in real life, those kids sitting in her story hour would be yawning and looking around for more interesting things to do.  Save the longer, wordier books for when they're older: they'll enjoy them eventually.

DAY 5 -   C is for Camels, Crickets and Calling it Good

Today, I started on the C Maze with Little Miss, going over the little pictures on the bottom, and then explaining which ones to circle.  She was very excited to see the ant picture on here, and would have liked to have circled it, too, since she recognized it and figured that it needed a circle also.  But I just explained again that we were only circling the pictures that started with the C sound.  

Next, in preparation for this activity...

...I figured we should watch a YouTube video on camels.  Little Miss has been to the zoo and has seen them in person, but you see so many animals when you visit the zoo, I didn't think she would have remembered them.

So, we watched this YouTube video animating the song "Alice the Camel":

And that was fun, but then I thought it would be good to show her a real one, so we watched this video that shows children riding a camel:

And then to finish up, we watched this pretty funny video showing camels up close and in the camera:  .

Then, we were ready for her Camel Coloring page:

She's getting better at finding the lowercase letters and coloring in just the shape that belongs to those letters...but there were a lot of shapes, and she gave up on it partway through.  That's okay.

I read one more story:

And then we decided to call it good.

She has done a great job this week, and is ready for a break.  Time for a little bit more Cuddling on the Couch with hot Cocoa...