Me and My "Guys"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Preschool Math Curriculum |

I found this great article about teaching young children math concepts. I hope you find it helpful.

Preschool Math Curriculum |

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gingerbread Man

This is a great story to use during December and there are many versions to choose from. There are so many activities that go with it. A very common version is written by Jan Brett. If you google the gingerbread man, you will find lots of activities related to her version. There are other versions and for fun for older kids you could take two or three different versions and compare them to each other. You could even use a simple graph to compare two or three things in the stories. I would stick with one version for younger kids. You will know your kids and what they would be interested in as well as their comprehension.

Here are some versions of the story:
The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock
The Gingerbread Man by Catherine Mccafferty

A fun thing to do is to read the story until your kids are familiar with it. Then make gingerbread cookies with your kids. Let them cool and decorate them. The next day or soon after, set up a little search for a gingerbread man. Leave notes in various places and go on a hunt for him. The notes will say something like, "You didn't find me here, check under the table. Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man". Do this in 3 or 4 locations until you find the gingerbread man and then you get to eat the cookie when you find it - well, your kids do, anyway!

If you can, you can always make a flannel board story so the kids can see the story and manipulate the characters. You will have to make a felt character for each character that is in your particular book (each book is slightly different). They can also practice sequencing with the characters.

Reading books over and over is something kids naturally do. You may get tired of it long before they do, but it is really beneficial for their language development. Anything you can add to the story, like flannel board characters, or acting it out is really good for their language development and their story comprehension.

Here are two links with patterns you can use for flannel board stories.

Lifesize Gingerbread Kids

Trace your kids on long paper and them have them decorate it. Add cinnamon to paint or have them color it with markers or crayons. Display it where they can see it.

For a literacy link, write the words to the gingerbread man story on it:
Run, run as fast as you can
You can't catch me
I'm the gingerbread man.

Milk Paint

Evaporated milk
food coloring
Construction paper

Divide one or more cans of evaporated milk evenly among several containers. Add food coloring. Paint on construction paper.

For containers, there are several options. Teacher supply stores sell nice painting containers, but they can be a bit pricey, however, they are worth it if you plan to paint a lot. They also come with lids so you can store the unused paint for the next time.
Otherwise, you could try cheap plastic cups you can buy at Wal-Mart or even paper cups.

Winter Bingo

This is an activity that would be most successful with preschool age kids, but toddlers could give it a go, too. Here is the link.

December songs/fingerplays

Do You Know the Gingerbread Man?
(Tune: The Muffin Man)
Do you know the gingerbread man, gingerbread man, gingerbread man?
Do you know the gingerbread man, who ran and ran and ran?
He said, "Catch me if you can, if you can, if you can!"
Then ran and ran and ran.

The following were taken from in 2001:
Dance Like Snowflakes
(Sung to Frere Jacques)
For this one you could use scarves and have them twirl them and toss them during the song.
Dance Like Snowflakes
Dance Like Snowflakes
In the air
In the air
Whirling, twirling, snowflakes
Whirling, twirling, snowflakes
Here and there
Here and there

I'm a Friendly Snowman
(sung to I'm a Little Teapot)

I'm a friendly snowman big and fat. (stretch arms out to sides)
Here is my tummy, here is my hat. (point to tummy, then top of head)
I'm a happy fellow, here's my nose. (smile, then point to nose)
I'm all snow from head to toes (point to head, then toes)
I have two bright eyes so I can see. (point to eyes)
All the snow falling down on me. (flutter fingers downward)
When the weather's cold, I'm strong and tall. (stand up tall)
But when it's warm, I get very small. (crouch down low)

Snow People

There is no link for this. I cut it out of a magazine, but it originally came from Kraft foods. Their website is I don't know the magazine I got it out of.

1/4 c. butter or margarine
1 pkg. jet-puffed marshmallows (6 cups)
1 pkg. Fruity Pebbles or Cocoa Pebbles (about 8 1/2 cups)

Microwave butter in 4 quart microwavable bowl on high 45 seconds or until melted. Add marshmallows; toss to coat. Microwave 1-1/2 minutes or until marshmallows are completely melted, stirring after 45 sec. Stir in cereal. Mix well.
Shape 1 c. of cereal mixture into a ball, using wet or greased hands. Repeat, mixing a total of 6 large balls. Shape remaining mixture into 6 smaller balls, using about 1/2 c. of mixture for each ball.
Place small ball on top of large ball to make a snow person. Gently press balls together to secure. Decorate as desired. Makes 12 servings, 1/2 snow person each.

It looks like you can use licorice, fruit roll-ups and other candy to decorate them.

Update: After trying this project, we were not very successful. The snow people would not hold their shape as you can tell from the picture. We had fun anyway.

Easy Playdough recipe

1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. water
1 tsp. veg oil
food coloring
Mix dry ingredients in a cooking pan (I mixed it in a bowl to begin with so Andrew could help me pour and mix the ingredients before I cooked it). Add the other ingredients. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes. You'll be able to tell when it is close to done. It will start to get pretty firm and hard to stir. Put on a lightly floured surface and turn until it's soft and smooth. Store in a Ziplock bag.

Other Materials to use:
rolling pin - a small one is best for your little child's hands to manipulate
cookie cutters
plastic knives (these aren't as sharp as metal knives)
anything they can use to smash, roll or cut

Vocabulary Development:
*We used Halloween and Thanksgiving cookie cutters, so we practiced those vocabulary words - turkey (and words like feather, gobble), bats (and words like wings), pumpkins (and words like stem),
*We also made snakes (and used words like long, sssss) and balls. Andrew has been learning about size, so we practiced small, medium and huge (one of his favorite words right now) by making 3 different sizes of balls. That's just what Andrew's interested in. You could use whatever words your child is working on and develop the concept during play dough time.
* Other play dough vocabulary words to use: pat, smash, roll, pinch

Math Connection:
* Different sizes of balls: small, medium, big or huge
* We made 5 small balls and counted them during the process. Andrew is working on counting to 5.
* long and short with different sizes of snakes

Fine Motor Development:
This is great for them to develop fine motor skills. When they are first starting out, and especially when they are very young, their hands won't be as strong, but that won't stop them from trying. We use a rolling pin and cookie cutters and Andrew is really starting to push harder and get the concept of it.

p.s. Don't worry if your child puts things in their mouth still. After they put this in their mouth once or twice, they won't do it again. It's disgusting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving books

I found two books that I like that aren't for elementary school age kids. Those are: 10 Fat Turkeys and Over the River: A Turkey's Tale. The other books that I listed in an earlier post ended up not being age-appropriate for toddlers. Too much text.

Thanksgiving Turkey Cards

I don't have any pictures of these because we just mailed them to grandparents and cousins and I forgot to take a picture ahead of time. You can do this in different ways. Here are two options:

1. If you are brave: Use finger paint. Have your child dip his hand in paint and then put it on whatever you are using for your card. When it drys, draw eyes on the thumb or use small googly eyes. Use feathers you can buy at Wal-Mart or a craft store. Let them use the glue sticks to make the card sticky. I cut the feathers for Andrew and he stuck them on the sticky parts of the card where he had placed the glue. Then use a sentence stem - "I am grateful for _____________". If the child is preschool age, they may be ready to write the word in themselves. If not, you write what they tell you. Andrew didn't totally get it. I had to help him with that part. (Also - a side note - the feathers came off pretty easily, but most of them stuck and they only have to make it through the mail and through Thanksgiving.)

2. If you are not feeling brave (I wasn't) trace their hand and follow the same steps as #1, only let them color with crayons, pencils, or markers to add color.

We made one for each set of grandparents (there are three sets) and one for his cousins that live in North Carolina. He helped me put the cards in envelopes as well as a picture of himself. He also "helped" me address the envelopes - I had to be careful not to get too much scribbling on the envelope so the address could be read, and we went to the UPS store and mailed them together. He got a huge kick out of it.

The most important thing to remember - It doesn't matter if the feathers are in the right place - they could be on the turkey's feet or the sky for all I care. They are toddlers and preschoolers and their version of art and how things should look is different from ours! Just have fun with it. The younger they are, the more help they will need and the less they will use their own creativity.