Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sentence Starters and Vocabulary Development: Community Helpers

Talking about firefighters, bakers, police officers, teachers, librarians, or postal workers? Integrate community workers into your literacy curriculum!

You can help young learners improve their speaking and listening skills along with encouraging Concept of Print by giving them sentence starters like this:

Firefighters are __________________.

Firefighters can __________________.

Firefighters have _________________.

Children can write their own words, draw pictures, or even choose from words you provide as shown in the photo.

You can see that this type of sentence completion will not only help children think about words to describe community helpers/workers, but they will gain an understanding of different types of speech. Adjectives, nouns, and verbs are used, depending on the sentence starter. This gives children valuable practice in forming correct sentences.

Children can point to words and "read" their finished sentences. This encourages Concept of Print and may even help some to memorize sight vocabulary like are, can, and have

They will have an opportunity to compare and contrast community workers as several words can apply to more than one profession. Of course, finish the lesson by having children role play different community workers.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.D.03, 2.E.09, 2.L.09.
Head Start - V.A., VII.D., VIII.B.

For Firefighter Math, sign up for our free printable activities!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Get the Attention of a Class - Part 2

As getting the attention of children is an on-going challenge, this week we continue to offer you suggestions to make this a fun experience in your classroom:
  • As children are working, run around and put a light bulb over the heads of anyone who is thinking or getting ready to listen.
  • Teach children to copy your hand gestures. Make different funny hand movements every day so this doesn’t become stale.
  • Tell children to put their fingers over their mouths if they are listening.
  • Tell children to smile when they are ready to listen (it’s difficult to talk when you are smiling big!) 
  • In the morning, show children the 'secret signal' for the day. Make it something strange like patting your knee or turning in a circle. Explain that when they see you do this - everyone needs to stop and look. They will love all the crazy things you do!
  • Various attention grabbing statements like “1, 2, 3 eyes on me,” where children respond with “1, 2, eyes on you” can be changed to things like “bumpity bump,” where the class responds, “bump, bump.” By constantly varying this, children are more likely to look at you and listen. 
  • Use giant hand clappers to surprise the class.

Head on over to your favorite party store to find these inexpensive “toys” that are sure to encourage listening ears and get all eyes on you! 

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2.A.07 & 2.A.08
Head Start – II. B & C

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Get the Attention of a Class! - Part 1

Looking for good listeners? Here are a few of our favorite ways to get children’s attention.

·      Use giant glasses or a big magnifying glass as in the photo above to let children know you are really looking for those who are ready for the next activity.
·      Remember the power of saying, “I like how Jennifer is sitting quietly.” Avoid saying the names of children who are not doing the desired behavior. This only reinforces it.
·      Change the pattern of your hand clapping – often we use only one pattern. By changing it daily you are keeping this fresh and teaching children to follow a pattern.
·      A toy microphone will often get their attention, especially if you say funny things like, “Reporting from Mrs. Smithy’s room where so many children are cleaning up like Bennett and Carlyle, and Mac…”

·      Stand in front of the room and mouth words – they are sure to stop and wonder what is going on!
·      Always give a warning when it will be time to stop an activity – say “And in 6.” Then start counting down.
·      Sing or play a different song each day to catch the attention of children. Encourage children to sing along!

Stay tuned next week for more "attention please" ideas!

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2.A.07 & 2.A.08
Head Start – II. B & C

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Shhh...How Do You Teach Young Children To Whisper?

We all know that a noisy room can be a happy place. But there are times when quiet is needed. Turning off the lights or saying, "Shhh..." gets tiresome and children often ignore these cues. Giving directions like, "Whisper please," or "Use a quiet voice" may not work because preschoolers often do not know when they are being loud. Some do not even know the meaning of whisper!

But there are a few easy ways to help children learn to whisper.

One of the most important things teachers and families can do is to speak softer than children. When a room is noisy, a teacher's loud voice means very little when added to the din. Try whispering. Children will stop and wonder what is being said. It is amazing how quickly an adult's quiet voice can calm a room.

Have children practice whispering. When asking them to repeat words, recite poems, or sing songs have them do these activities using various "voices." They can squeak, speak in a low voice, or whisper. This lets them experiment with various ways to use their voices.

You can also give them a tangible way to check the volume of their voices. Have children place 2 fingers on their necks as shown below.

Ask them to say their names in a regular voice. They can feel the vibration here. But when they whisper, there is no vibration. Call this a "voice motor." Children can be told to check their voice motors when they are too loud. Even just holding up your 2 fingers and catching a child's eyes, will let them know they need to whisper.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.B.03
Head Start - II.C.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Free Activities for Preschoolers: English and Spanish!

If you are here at Maggie’s Big Home, you know we offer you helpful ideas in this spot every week…but did you also know that if you sign up with your email address you will have access to even more ideas? Our Weekly Activity program for Emergent Readers will be available to you every Wednesday! And we promise, we don’t share your emails with anyone. So start typing in the white box on the right to begin receiving these FREE activities!

There are a variety of ways you can use our activities. Preschool and kindergarten teachers may want to print them out and use them at centers. You can copy and send them home as a family resource. If you don’t want to copy them, we encourage you to pass along our information to families. They can sign-on to receive these activities. We are free and welcome everyone.

And by the way, all of our Emergent Reader weekly activities are also available in Spanish! What a bonus!

We always include a Dear Colleague letter that is full of more ideas to help your young learners become school-ready. These ideas are sure to help any adults working with young children.

You can see a sampling of our activities under the Sample tabs above in both English and Spanish.

Be sure to sign on as we have many “extras” planned for this school year, including free printable level-appropriate books!

Stay tuned – next week Dr. Kathy will explain how to encourage young children to whisper!