Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Co-op: Week 5

Co-op: Week 5

What a minute...where is week 4? My son was sick that week so the group carried on without us. 

Reading for Pre-K:
Before Reading: I introduced the sight words go, to, and we. I gave each boy a Read, Build, Trace sheet, letter tiles and crayons. We read each word together, they used the letter tiles to build each word, then they traced each word with a crayon. This activity was quick, hands-on and absolutely a hit with each boy!

During Reading: We read the next high-frequency word book, "We Go" from Reading A-Z. 

After Reading: We talked about how even though there is a picture above some of the words, we need to look at the first and last letters of the word to make sure what we are reading matches the sounds those letters make. For example, if the text reads, "We go to the playground," and the child reads "park" in place of the word "playground," then I would point out that they both start with the /p/ sound, but the ending sounds are different. We will work on this skill more in the following weeks. 

Handwriting for Pre-K: 
This week, Ms. Jeree introduced Roll a Dough letters. (Remember, she uses Handwriting Without Tears® materials for our co-op, as she is trained in teaching the program). 
The boys used these laminated letter cards and playdough to roll snakes and form letters. (I'll post more about this, including pictures, in a later post.)

Math for Pre-K: This was a review week for math. Mrs. Holly set up centers to review and assess the concepts that were taught during the past 4 weeks: shapes, ordinal numbers, and completing patterns. She found that the boys all needed more work on patterns, specifically with constructing their own patterns. I don't know exactly what she had for the boys to do, because I was busy with the toddlers and their jello play. 

Sensory Play for Toddlers: 
Mrs. Amy made some jello for the toddlers to play with. She even put some fruit gummies and plastic bugs in the jello for the kids to find. This was a BIG hit. The tots played for quite a while. My daughter discovered within the first 30 seconds that she could eat the jello, so she was in heaven. 

S, discovering the fruit gummies. 

L, sucking a toy bug clean.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Co-op: Week 3

Circle Time: 
Welcome Song 
Read Aloud: "Ten Little Caterpillars" by Bill Martin Jr.

Handwriting for Pre-K: 
This week, Ms. Jeree worked with the boys on point and scribble. (Remember, she uses Handwriting Without Tears® materials for our co-op, as she is trained in teaching the program). They had a picture of a starry night sky that they "colored." They had to place the point of the flip crayon on a star and color it, or scribble it. 

Using wooden pieces for making capital letters, the boys began learning how to construct letters. Ms. Jeree had capital letter card mats for the boys to use, which made it like a puzzle for them. 

Reading for Pre-K:
Before Reading: I introduced the sight words it and is. I gave each boy a piece of cardboard with the 2 new words and 2 review words (a and the) written on it. We played a little listening game, which they really enjoyed. "Put your thumb on the word the. Now honk it like a car horn." "Give the word is a little kiss. Don't you just love the way that s sounds?" etc... 

Since the boys enjoyed the push pin activity that we did a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give them a few minutes to do it again with their new words. 

During Reading: We read the next high-frequency word book, "What is it?" from our Reading A-Z series. The boys practiced pointing to each word as they read and used clues from the pictures to decode new words. 

After Reading: We did a listening activity that reviewed the content vocabulary from the book and allowed me to reinforce the sight words we learned in the context of a sentence. I gave clues about an animal from the book and the boys had to tell me which animal I was describing. I used the word describe over and over again, so they could also hear that word in context, too. "I'm going to describe an animal from the book and you tell me what it is. It is a small, furry animal that hops. It is a _______."

Motor Play for Toddlers: 
While we were waiting for our co-op friends to arrive, Lilly (15 months) enjoyed putting stickers on an index card. This kept her busy for a good 10 minutes while I was setting up materials. 

Ms. Jeree planned an activity using just empty baby wipe containers and random items from the playroom (cars, potato head pieces, small slinkies, etc.). These What's Inside? boxes were a big hit with the little ones. The words in and out were emphasized, as was building their ever-expanding vocabularies by talking about each item. 

H (pre-K) showing Lil (toddler) how to open the container and reach inside for an item. 

Sensory Play for Toddlers: 
Colored rice is inexpensive and super easy to make. I made several different colors using the recipe below and then mixed them all together to make the rice pictured below. Throw in a few cups and scoops, and the kiddos will have fun pouring and playing in the rice. I also added some foam shapes to the mixture just to give them something to dig for. 

Colored Rice: Combine 2 T vinegar and food coloring in a zip lock bag. Mix. Add 2 cups white rice. Mix until all the rice is colored. Pour onto wax paper to dry over night. Store in a bin or bag once dry. 

Also, all the kids had fun playing in the "rock box" under my back deck. They love to use their hands, buckets and shovels to fill the wagon.

Math for Pre-K:
Each week the boys practice counting to 20. This week, Ms. Holly introduced them to a 100's chart. They counted together as they pointed to each number. They have mastered counting to 20, so they worked on counting to 30. 

Then, they used colored blocks to build and complete patterns. (ABABAB, AABBAABBAABB, ABCABCABC)

Music for Toddlers:
  • The toddlers were getting a little fussy (and the moms were getting tired), so we put on Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train".
  • Tribute to Jack Johnson - The mellow music was just what we needed! 
  • Bubbles and sing along songs: 
"There are bubbles in the air, in the air. There are bubbles in the air in the air. There are bubbles in the air. There are bubbles in your hair. There are bubbles in the air in the air." 

"Can you catch a little bubble on your finger? Can you catch a little bubble on your finger? Can you catch a little bubble? No, it won't be any trouble! Can you catch a little bubble on your finger?" (repeat with ...on your nose and ...on your elbow)

The big boys enjoy music time, too. So, we saved the bubble songs for everyone to do together before eating lunch. 

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Monday, April 22, 2013

15 Minute Lesson: Customizable Book About Me

Learning Materials: 

Word Working Skill: Sight Words that are commonly used in personal narratives (I, am, have, a, my, like, me)

Decoding Skill: Use picture clues to decode content words (house, toy dog, etc.)

Comprehension Skill: Recall of details presented in the text.

How to Divide your 15 Minutes:

You will have to choose which skill to really focus on. If your child is a pro at reading the sight words but is really struggling on the content words, then spend more time on talking them through the decoding strategy. If he can read the book without a single error but can't recall a single detail, then spend more time rereading the book and discussing the text.

Before Reading:
Introduce the sight words and practice with them a bit. You can do this any way you'd like. Play a short memory game with the words, have your child trace the words with different color crayons, paint the words, build the words with letter tiles, whatever!

Show your child the book cover and ask him what he thinks the book will be about. An appropriate answer would be "It's about me!" If he says, "It's about a boy" then he is just looking at the cover picture and not listening to the title you just read ("[child's name]'s Story") Remind him to look at the pictures AND listen to the words when he is reading today. 

Do a picture walk, which is just looking and discussing what you see in the pictures without actually reading the book. Your child may point to words here and there and read them. That is okay, but gently redirect his attention back to the pictures and your discussion. This is the time where you would casually work any difficult words from the book into your discussion. For example, your child may say, "This page is about animals." You can respond with "Yes, and those animals look friendly, don't they?" (The page reads, "I have lots of animal friends.") You are basically just planting a seed in his head so he is more likely to read the word 'friends' when he is reading on his own.

During Reading:
Set a purpose for reading by telling your child that when he gets to words he does not know how to read, then he should look at the pictures for help. Model this throughout his reading. Try your very best to not just tell him words that he misses or correct his errors. If he does not correct his own errors, say something like, "Now, does that make sense?" Or, "Is that what you see in the picture?"

After Reading:
Praise him for reading the entire book on his own. Praise, praise, praise! We love to celebrate when we finish a new book. Then, show your child the describing wheel graphic organizer. The center of the wheel should be filled in with his name. Work together to recall details from the book about your child. You may write for him, he can write, or you can take turns writing. He may suggest details that are true, but were not in the book. Discuss whether or not you think it should be added to the wheel. If he comes up with several additional details, consider doing the extension activity with him and reserve the graphic organizer for just details from the book.

Extension Activity: (If you have time left, or want to spend more time.) Have your child brainstorm details about himself that were not in the book. Work together to write a new "Book About Me." You can let him fill in the book template online, or you can simply staple some plain white paper together to construct a book. 

Remember, these 15 minutes that you spend teaching your child how to read is not the only time that he will spend learning how to read each day. These 15 minutes are meant for direct one-on-one instruction of a reading skill or strategy. Have fun exploring other books, crafts and activities throughout the week, in addition to the other play-based learning your child does.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Co-op: Week 2

Circle Time: 
Welcome Song
Read Aloud: "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" & finger play

Handwriting for Pre-K: 
Ms. Jeree is trained in teaching Handwriting Without Tears®. She purchased the manipulatives to use with our homeschool co-op. Click here to meet Mat Man™ and watch a video of how he is introduced. There is a cute little song that goes along with constructing him. Mat Man™teaches important handwriting readiness skills, such as spacial awareness and drawing.

Note: These materials are trademarked and copyrighted, so please visit the Handwriting Without Tears website for information about purchasing materials. (I would never suggest that you make Mat Man™ materials on your own with a material such as craft foam.)

This is Lucas's "Flat Man" that he made to play with in the bathtub when we got home.

Sensory Play for Toddlers: 
The toddlers were busy upstairs in the playroom crying playing. Some were upset that the egg shakers Ms. Amy prepared couldn't be opened to expose jellybeans for consuming. I guess we did this activity too soon after Easter!

Reading for Pre-K:
Before Reading: I introduced the sight word the by printing out Highway ABC Cards for the boys to trace with a toy car. They absolutely LOVED this activity. I'm thinking I will need to print out every letter and laminate them so we can use them over and over again. 

During Reading: We read the next high-frequency word book, "Setting the Table," from our Reading A-Z series. The boys practiced pointing to each word as they read. 

After Reading: We did a listening activity that reviewed the content vocabulary from the book and allowed us to work on basic syntax and grammar. I would state part of a sentence and each child took a turn finding the flashcards that completed the sentence. All the other boys had to listen and tell whether or not it made sense. For example, "I eat my cereal with ____  ________." (the spoon) vs. "I eat my cereal from ____  ______." (the bowl)  

Motor Play for Toddlers: 
Ms. Jeree brought playdough for the little ones to play with this week. She emphasized using the following vocabulary with them during their play: pull apart, squish, flatten and roll

Math for Pre-K:
Ms. Holly reviewed ordinal numbers with the boys and they completed the activity shown below.

Music for Toddlers:
  • Sing along and hand movements to "The Wheels on the Bus"
  • Tribute to Queen: "We Will Rock You"
  • Bubbles and sing along song: "There are bubbles in the air, in the air. There are bubbles in the air in the air. There are bubbles in the air. There are bubbles in your hair. There are bubbles in the air in the air."(Repeat verse with ...bubbles way up high, bubbles way down low, and anything else you can think of!) 

Little B loved playing the triangle this week. He couldn't get enough of it!

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. If you want for me to keep sharing what we are doing for our co-op each week, then please give me some love. "Like" MTLM on Facebook and leave me a comment or question below. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Co-op: Week 1

I tried to be good about taking as many pictures as I could, but things got hectic and, well, I just forgot. Sorry. But here are a few...

Our schedule

Ms. Jeree (or Mystery, as I like to call her), is trained in teaching Handwriting Without Tears. They have these awesome FLIP Crayons that are teeny tiny, which make it nearly impossible to grasp them incorrectly. This week, she assessed the Big Kids' pencil grips and ability to write their names. She also introduced the wooden letter shapes: big curves, little curves, big lines and little lines. These are also made by Handwriting Without Tears, and are used as manipulatives for making letters.

E showing off his pencil grip

B writing his name on a paper strip

B & E exploring the Handwriting Without Tears shapes: curves & lines

Sensory Play: 
The toddlers enjoyed chasing and popping bubbles this week. We played some classical musical in the background. 

I assessed each of the boys on sight words. Most of the boys didn't know many, if any at all, so I only assessed them on the first 10 words. 

I introduced the sight word for this week (a) and explained that it is a letter, but it is also a word. The boys used push pins to make the shape of the word on cardboard. The activity was a hit!

We read the book "A Park" together and I had the boys point to each word as I read. I then gave them flashcards with the word a and pictures from the story and we played a little game of fill in the blank. "I like to play with a friend on _  ______." (a seesaw) They had to complete each sentence with their flashcards and read their answers, pointing to each word. 

I then had each child read the book to me one-on-one before they were excused from the lesson. This allowed me to quickly assess which boys had mastered reading the word a and whether or not they could point to each word as they read. They all did fantastic!

Modifications: This book was below L's reading level, so I gave him flashcards with only words and no pictures. He really enjoyed the game alongside his peers, as it was a little more challenging for him without the pictures. 

Resources: I have a class subscription to Reading A-Z. I am able to print assessments and books for each of my students. The subscription is reasonable considering how much you get for the fee. For about $80 a year per class you can print as many books, worksheets, assessments, etc. as you want. You can also try it out for FREE for a week. I highly recommend this resource! (No, they are not a sponsor for MTLM, but they should be!)

Materials for the reading lesson

E working on his push pin board

L showing off his work
The Little Kids and I sang "Old McDonald Had a Farm" and made animal sounds. Then, we played instruments to music from The Beatles.

B shaking a maraca

L sharing a microphone with Ms. Amy
Motor Play:
Ms. Jeree & Ms. Holly set up a light-box for the toddlers and used white printer paper with shapes traced on them and magna tiles to introduce shapes. They also had translucent bugs, leaves, and other object to use on the lightbox. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of this, because I was teaching the reading lesson!

Ms. Holly reviewed shapes with the Big Kids and talked about what shapes we can find on a playground. They looked through books about playgrounds and pointed out as many shapes as they could find. They also completed a couple of coloring activity pages that went along with the lesson.

Week 1 was a success, but here are some things that we learned....

  • You have to be comfortable with the other moms correcting and redirecting your children. We rotated which moms were with the Big Kids and Little Kids at any given time; therefore, a child's mom was not always present when needed. This is perfectly OK, because learning to obey other adults is one of the skills that we are trying to teach our children. 
  • Toddlers are MUCH harder to entertain than preschoolers. Have more moms with them than with the older kids. If possible, have separate learning spaces for each group. 
  • Keep lessons short, engaging and age appropriate! 
Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. If you want for me to keep sharing what we are doing for our co-op each week, then please give me some love. "Like" MTLM on Facebook and leave me a comment or question below. If I think no one is interested, I won't spend any more time writing these posts! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reader Question: Have any tips for beginning word recognition?

"My 3 year old little boy has a speech delay but comprehends a year and half above his age. We have been working on looking at letters, noticing what sounds the first and last letters of words are and other things as such. I was thinking about putting some words on things around the house (such as "door" on the door, etc.). I have seen where the vowels of words are highlighted in different colors. Is this something I should consider doing when I post words around the house? Any other tips to begin word/letter recognition would be appreciated :) Thanks as always!!" -Holly 

Such a great question, Holly. Many parents struggle with taking the next step in teaching their child how to read once he has mastered the alphabet. I'm going to address your questions within each category below. 

Phonemic Awareness: 

I think it's great that you are working with him on noticing the sounds of the first and last letters of words. I would suggest expanding on that by working on word endings with him. For example, if he notices the word STOP on a stop sign you can help him come up with other -OP words and even write them down for him so he can see them in print. Or, give him an index card with "__op" written on it and have him use magnetic letters (or just letters written on index cards) to fill in the blank. Make it a game. How many words can you both come up with? Which words are real words and which are nonsense (or made up) words? Sort the words into 2 categories (real vs. nonsense). 

Once he has mastered initial word sounds, teach him some 2-letter blends. This will take the game to a whole new level! Initially, he will come up with words like bop, top, and mop. After you teach him blends, encourage him to come up with words like flop, blop, and clop

Eventually, he will learn about consonant digraphs (letter combos that make a whole new sound and individual letter sounds are not heard), and he will be able to make words like shop and chop, but I wouldn't worry about teaching him that at this stage. If he comes up with these words during your game, certainly write them down and praise him, but I wouldn't suggest directly teaching it until first or second grade. They can be confusing for children who are just starting to read and are working on letter-sound correlations. 

Environmental Print: 

Environmental print is the first introduction that most children have to reading. Basically, environmental print is any words you see around you; words on road signs, cereal boxes, or on the front of the magazine you have laying on the coffee table. Early Emergent Readers will often point to words they see around them and ask, "What does that say?" Or, if they are starting to make the connection that words have meaning, they will figure out the word themselves and say, "That says STOP!" 

So, should you label things around the house? Definitely. Should you label every door, chair, window, etc.? Absolutely not. Labeling is only effective if it has a purpose. If you label the back door to your house, chances are that he will notice it immediately after you put it up. He may even read it on his own, thinking, "This word starts with the letter D and it is on the door. Oh, I know. It says door!" You will be proud and think that he knows the word. But, then when he sees it isolated and mixed up with other D words and has no idea what the word is, you will likely get frustrated and think, "What's the matter with him? That word has been hanging on the back door for weeks!" This is because there was no purpose to the word being there. He read it once because it was something different in his environment, so it stood out to him. After that, he paid no further attention to it. 

What's the moral of my hypothetical story?  Don't waist your time labeling arbitrary items in your house. Instead, spend time organizing and labeling his toys. He will HAVE to read the labels every time he puts his toys away. Take his cereal out of the boxes and put them in separate storage containers labeled with their names. Instead of just recognizing the color or logo on the box, he will HAVE to read the labels every morning when deciding what he wants for breakfast. Post directions for routines you want him to master. For example, you can post in the bathroom "1. Make your donation in the potty. 2. Flush and put the seat down. 3. Wash and dry your hands." Until he has mastered the routine, make him go back into the bathroom and read the directions to see what he has missed. Make a responsibility chart for chores you want him to do and behaviors you want him to master. Every night before bed, have him read through the list and give him stars (checks, or whatever) for a job well done. 

You asked if you should worry about making vowels a different color in words you label around the house. This is used for teaching vowels and vowel sounds, and I prefer to keep words looking as "whole" as possible when they are posted in the environment. (The different colors make the words look choppy to me.) So, just print your words using one color. However, feel free to use the multiple color strategy during any of your phonics lessons with him, especially if you are working on vowel sounds. 

Other Tips for Early Emergent Readers:

  • Start teaching sight words. You can find more information about this in my post about sight words here. I am about to start teaching a group of four EER's using a sight word approach (rather than a phonics approach). Each week they will be learning 1-2 new sight words and reading books that will allow them to practice what they have learned. Here is a good website where you can download and print FREE mini-books for EER's, to help you get started. 
  • Write everything down for your EER. Use graphic organizers to record the highlights of your conversations after reading a book. Have him help you write a shopping list and then have him read the items to you while you are shopping together. 
  • Read, read, read to him!!! Every day. Several times a day. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Simple Glue Ornaments (take 2)

We did this same craft back in October when we made ghosts for Halloween. (See Simple Glue Ornaments for directions.) The boys enjoy it so much that we decided to do it again, but we made a few changes.

I used a Sharpie to draw the shapes on wax paper instead of hot glue. I actually think it ended up working better. I just trimmed off anything outside the lines once the ornaments were dry.

We used glitter glue and I added green food coloring to the Elmer's glue for the Christmas tree.

Also, this time around, the boys made some funny faces that I absolutely had to capture!

I can't wait to add a string and hang them on the tree!