Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Under the Reading Umbrella!

What is reading? Is it just saying the words on a page? This short video will help families understand the different components of reading.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.E.03, 2.E.04, 2.E.06, 2.E.09, 2.E.10.
Head Start - VII. B & C.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Developing a Pencil Grip the Fun Way!

As we approach the start of a new school year, we wanted to share with you a few ideas to help children with fine motor control. Remember that establishing a proper pencil grip early on is important. One good way to do this is to first build hand muscles. You can do this by having children play with the following:

·      use a hole punch
·      build with small blocks
·      play with spray bottles
·      use squeeze toys like small squishy balls
·      string beads
·      pick up cotton balls with tweezers
·      pop bubble wrap
·      paint
·      squeeze glue onto paper
·      play with pay-doh (you can hide small objects in a clay ball and have children find them)

These activities can be games at home and school. Share one activity each week with families. Explain that using a pencil for a prolonged time too soon can result in a poor pencil grip. These “games” are more helpful than putting a pencil into a child’s hand too early. Undeveloped hand muscles may result in a bad habit.

We always suggest that pencil grips be used with preschoolers when writing is necessary. These help develop proper grips.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2.C.03, 2.E.05.
Head Start – I.D. 1-4, VII.E.1.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Air Is Strong: A Science Inquiry Lesson

Anything can be a lesson, even the invisible air that surrounds us. We like to begin by asking children what they already know about a topic. While the new trend in education is to avoid too much “frontloading” (a term for discussing a topic, often for an extended period of time, with children), we still like to have children think about a lesson topic. This helps preschoolers listen to one another and also guides our English Language Learners to hear and begin to understand important vocabulary. You may want to make a list of children’s ideas about air or simply listen as children share thoughts.

Invite children to consider what air does. Thoughts such as air blows tree leaves, it moves clouds, or can dry puddles may be shared. Children can draw a picture of something air can do. Ask children to hold up their pictures and explain their art. This gives them valuable experience in talking in front of the class as they explain their work. There is not a right or wrong answer so this should be a relaxed session, allowing children to explore oral language.

Finally ask children if they think air is strong. You may want to vote and make a chart showing responses. We like to say things like, “I wonder how in the world I am going to figure this out.” Accept children’s ideas but you can guide them to participating in an experiment. Here is what you will need:
  • A clear glass
  • Tissues (like Kleenex)
  • A large bowl
  • Water
We like to show children these materials and ask if they can think of a way these four things can show if air is strong. You may be surprised!

We illustrate the strength of air by putting a tissue into the bottom of the glass. 

We turn the glass over and put it straight down into the large bowl of water. 

Ask children if they think the tissue will be wet or dry. Most of them will say wet. Then pull the glass straight up, carefully take out the tissue, and voila – the tissue is dry! Ask children to explain. 

If children have a difficult time with an explanation, do the experiment again but this time tilt the glass. As you do this, tell children this lets air out of the glass. The tissue will be wet.

Even though children can't feel the power of air, it is strong. Let them feel the dry tissue to show the strength of air!
Most children can then understand the power of air – when trapped in the glass as it is placed straight down in the water, it will keep the water from soaking the tissue!

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC –2.D.02, 2.D.06, 2.G.02-08.
Head Start -VIII.B.1-7,XI.A.1-5, XI.B.1&2.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Riddle Me This!

Young children delight in sharing riddles. We can use this love of word play to help children develop oral language, an understanding of sentences, and how details work. Your use of language doesn’t need to follow the true riddle format that older children may enjoy. As children become more familiar with language they see the humor in little ditties such as, “Why do birds fly south for the winter?” Answer – “Because it’s too far to walk.” These joke-type riddles will be popular as children grow. For now, think of riddles as brain exercise.

Ask your child to play a game with you. Say, “I am going to give you clues. See if you can solve the riddle.” The following is a good sequence:

What animal is black and white?
This animal raises its tail as a warning.
This animal gives off a bad smell?
What animal is it?

Answer: Skunk

You can give many clues like this. More examples include:

What animal lives in cold places?
This animal is a bird but cannot fly.
This animal waddles on ice and swims to catch fish.
What animal is it?

Answer: Penguin

What animal is large and gray?
This animal likes to eat grass and bananas.
This animal has a long trunk.
What animal is it?

Answer: Elephant

Children will hear clear sentence structure and vocabulary about the natural world. They may learn new details about animals.

Then ask children to come up with their own “riddles.” See if they can match your sentence structure and use vocabulary about the animal world. Go outside and have children look around for ideas. They can give clues about what they see: squirrels, dogs, ants, etc. You may easily know what animal is being described but let children speak a series of clues. This gives valuable vocabulary practice - - - in any language!

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC: 2.D,.03,  2.D,.06,  2.D,.07,  2.G.08,
Head Start: IV.A.3, VIII.A. & B, IX.C.