Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We're Going on a Letter HUNT!

I bought a cheap ABC foam puzzle at Dollar Tree.  The letters punched out of the main board and we have gotten our moneys worth out of that toy!  We've used the letters for stamp painting and other things, but mainly for our Letter Hunts.  These little 1 inch foam letters fit perfectly inside plastic Easter Eggs!
I don't know why this picture wont flip over the  right way...but you get the idea, right?

When I first started this game with Jackson over a year ago, I just used the letters in his name.  (One letter in each egg)  NOW...it's any letter!  I usually use this game as an observational moment to see what letters/sounds he has or needs work on.

Here is a video from last May when we were just working on Letter Recognition...
Now, we hide eggs and as Jackson or Nixon finds them, we will talk about the letter, it's sound and a word that begins with that letter.
Nixon found some eggs too!

Now that Jackson knows all of his letters and most sounds, I'll be putting words inside the eggs.  We are starting with "Sight words" (words that are most frequently used in language - written or oral)  
EX: and, he, I, in, of, is, it, that, the, was, to, a

IDEA for older kiddos: You can also purchase the BIGGER plastic eggs and stuff in letters to spell specific words.  This will allows your kiddo to Build, Mix and Fix the letters into words!
EX:  C-A-T, or names of family members.

IDEA for infants: Using the BIGGER plastic eggs, you can stuff wooden shapes or laminated color cards inside.  OR even pictures of family members!

So once you see those plastic Easter eggs on the shelves, grab them and have fun learning with your little ones!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

'A Writing We will Go!

I always wish I could write everything down that I did with my kids that day!  I do have a Mommy journal that I try to write in every night, but wanted to create a journal for Jackson.  So this is what I came up with.

The idea evolved during our Daddy discussion at dinner time.  We always sit down and tell Daddy about our day (I feel this is a very important life skill, family moment and will eventually tie into comprehension for reading)

At first, our journal was called "Daily News for Daddy".  And the first weeks, we really tried to sit down every afternoon before he got home and write in it, but...well....life happened!  Daily journal writing is great for older kids (kindergarten and up) but no some much for my 3 year old!  ***Keep in mind that a child's attention span is usually their age!  So Jackson's focus is at it's prime for about 3 minutes, then it's on to something else!***

So now we journal whenever Jackson would like to write and/or aim for a monthly entry.  My goal and plan  is to laminate (of course) one entry from each month and create a 12 page Big Book for Jackson of our writing.

If this is something that you might like to do, here's how to get started:
All you need is chart paper (purchase at a teacher supply store) or even larger construction paper works also.  Grab some markers and some round smiley face stickers.  Why Markers?  I don't know about your house, but markers are a BIG deal and when you get to use them, it's such a treat!  Why smiley face stickers?  This is a great way to introduce punctuation.  Once our sentence is complete, Jackson gets to stick the "period" at the end.  A sticker really "sticks out" much more than a dot with a marker!

I always start with asking Jackson what he would like to write about!  Then I shorten those words into about a 4-5 words sentence.  We count as a say each word to see how many words will be in our sentence. Ex:Today is Kaya's birthday. (counting on your fingers...Today(1) is(2) Kaya's(3) birthday(4). I write it, he watches, then we draw a picture about the sentence.  And last we add the date.

OR we create a story as we illustrate.  Jackson is in charge and I just ask simple questions about what he is drawing and why.
This was a story that Jackson made up as we illustrated.  It was about  Jackson and his Nana walking  through the zoo, in the rain, to see a hippo!  Cute, huh?
OR we make a simple list!
Valentine list - Worked on checks/marking off  names as we completed their valentines (green marker)
Our trip to Texas to see Mema list - used it as we packed
This was the month we were learning about Penguins and the Letter/Sound P.  Yep...did all these "p" things in one, fun day!  Then I wrote it out and Jackson went back and circled the words that began with the letter p, which took him about 2 seconds and made me very proud!

Circled the letter "Pp" in each word 
So many great skills have been taught using this simple idea.  Nothing makes me happier when Jackson pulls his journal out and actually "reads" it!  Because he created it (with a little bit of help), he is excited about it!  And that's all that matters!

Happy Learning, Little Ones!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Count it down...

Around the White House, we find any reason to create a "Count Down"! Birthdays, grandparent's visits, trips to the beach...you name it, we count it! They are super easy to make!  If you have paper, glue and your kiddo; then you can make these!  I always modify our "Count Downs" in some way to teach a different Math skill, as you can see in the pictures.
Here are a few pictures of our "Count Downs" over the past 2 years.
Christmas Countdown (patterns) - construction paper
Nixon's First Birthday (number line) - sentence strips and birthday cake di-cuts from a teacher store
Beach trip with Bob-o (subtraction and fine motor skills) - sentence strips and scissors
Day and Nana's visit - computer printed off numbers and an "O ring"
These are also great for kids Nixon's age (1 yr old)  He is very good at taking/ripping the numbers off!  I also make a point to have Nixon right by us when we are counting down and talking about the numbers!  This simple activity is a great way to introduce and expose your child to number lines, counting forward and backwards, subtraction, patterns, greater than and less than concepts and much more!

Happy Learning!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Numbers vs Letters

Just out of curiosity, ask your kiddo what a number is? or what a letter is?  Can they determine the difference between the two?  
If so...tell them to "Kiss Their Brain!"  If they look confused, try this!

Back in September 2011 (3 months before Jax turned 3), I noticed that Jackson kept calling all his "letters" numbers.  For example, "that is number J".  Soooooo...this is what I came up with!
I explained that "numbers were for counting" and "letters are for reading and writing". 

It's super easy to make. Two different colors of construction papers, magnetic letters and your kiddo!
 The first day, I showed him how to sort the letters, then we did it together.  
(Teacher tip: Talk out loud as you show them!  
Ex: "This is a number, the number 6.  I'm going to put it over here!  This is the letter j, a red, letter j...I'm going to put it over here!"
  They need to know what "conversation" you are having in your head...you may feel silly doing it but it's SO effective!  I promise!)

The following day during our learning time, he could do it all by himself! 

 Later, I taped these to our fridge for reinforcement and kept them up there for about a month!  

And for a lil assessment to see if he truly understood the concept between 
letters vs numbers, this is what we did!
 Old magazines, favorite marker, scissors, file folder and some glue

TaDa!!  Our Numbers vs. Letters book!
He enjoyed this project so much that he still adds to it!  I keep it in his "Books I Made" book bin in his room!  He is VERY proud of it and so am I!

This simple activity could branch out in so many different ways!  
*Uppercase vs lowercase
*colors (starting with Nixon soon)
*Letters in my name vs Letters NOT in my name
*Big vs Little
*Hard vs. soft
And so on....

Happy Learning!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Name is...

 I decided the easiest introduction for letters and their sounds would be to use the letters in Jackson's very own name!  Kids LOVE their name.  If you think about it...it's one think that they truly "own" at their age.  A few months before Jax turned 2, I simply tracing out his name using magnetic letters.  Not only did this simple activity encourage letter recognition, but it reinforced his colors.  Check out the video...
  Simple and VERY effective!

And of course Nixon has one now!

Jackson has a very important job at dinner time!  It is his decision where everyone gets to sit.  I created place cards for our family using folded sentence strips  
Within a few days, he could recognize everyone's name and the letter it began with. Check out the video!

And here are a few more ideas to get your little learner excited about names...
Jackson has many books about him!  "J is for Jackson" was made with love by his Nana!  The 2 litter bottle is filled with rice, cut out pictures of our family and their names!  Great way to put your old, boxed up pictures to a good use!  Other fun books are plastic photo books from Dollar General with pictures of Jackson's trips to Texas (BIG thanks to his Mema for making those).  I've even made the same type of photo book of him standing by all his favorite trucks!

 This is an activity using play dough "snakes" and laying them out on top of the letters in his name!

And our newest Letters in Our Name Game....Jackson's Letter Lists!  

This hangs in our kitchen on the sliding doors.  It's the same concept as "Word Walls" in today's classrooms.
I wrote out the letters in his name on computer paper and
just hang up different food items that BEGIN with that letter/sound.  After about 2 months of trash collecting, we FINALLY found a label for the letter "n"!  Thank you Willy Wonka for your Nerd Boxes!  Jax and I were so excited!  Each day we add something that HE has started to find on food items/labels!  I just gladly tear off a piece of tape and the rest is up to him!  

Happy Learning!

Our Unschooled Week in Welly

We had been pushing hard at home for a good 4 weeks. We finished up our BraveWriter Arrow book, Sarah, Plain, and Tall . We completed ou...