Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Montessori Moveable Alphabet

Last month I shared how I made a DIY Montessori Moveable Alphabet for my preschooler.  Today I am going to share how my preschooler uses this alphabet box as a writing tool.

My preschooler is at the beginning stages of writing.  Often during her quiet time she finds an empty notebook or stack of post-it notes and fills them with special notes and messages disguised as scribbling.  To an outsider this might look like a mess or a waste of paper.  But it's not!  My preschooler is just showing her readiness to write.  She has so many ideas that she wants to express with written words, but the act of writing letters, words and sentences is a VERY labored process right now.

While reading Montessori Read and Write: A Parent's Guide to Literacy for Children I discovered a straightforward approach to teaching reading and writing.  First my preschooler learned letter sounds and formations using our DIY Montessori sandpaper letters.  Then she progressed to using the Moveable Alphabet to build words.

After she practiced finding each letter's "home" in the Moveable Alphabet box she was ready to build words!  Here's the process we use...

1.  Choose a topic
I know my preschooler will be more invested in this writing activity if she chooses her own topic, but if she is unable to think of a topic, we talk about her day and I lead her to a topic that I know will interest her (birthday parties, school, lunch, grandparents, etc.).  On this particular day we spent the morning playing at the playground.  My preschooler was very excited about spring, so writing spring words seemed like a natural connection to our day.

2.  Start with one word
After we choose a topic, we start by building one word.  Our conversation goes a little something like this...

Me:  What is the first spring word you'd like to write?
Preschooler: birds
Me: Oh that's a great spring word!  What sound does that start with?
Preschooler: "b"
Me: Great! Can you find that letter?

After she finds the first letter in the word.  I'll continue the conversation by asking her for the next sound and so on until the word is complete.  Sometimes my preschooler is unable to determine the sound/letter that comes next.  If she is unable to find the sound/letter even with encouragement, then I simply tell her the letter.  I want this to be a positive experience that is quick and effortless.  I don't want her to get frustrated or shut down just because she is stuck on one letter.

3.  Continue building words
Each time we bring out the Moveable Alphabet my preschooler builds 3-5 words.  I try to encourage her through prompting to pick words that are short and easy to spell phonetically (i.e. sun), but often she'll choose longer, more complicated words (i.e. birds, playground).  When my preschool spelled the words birds and playground incorrectly I did not correct her mistakes.  I simply encouraged her to continue.  I know her spelling will continue to improve as she learns digraphs, blends and other writing conventions.     

4. Write down the words  
After my preschooler has completed her word list, I read them to her and then write them down on piece of paper (spelled correctly).  Sometimes I simply jot down a quick list of the words, but other times we'll make a card for a family member or mini-book out of the words.  When I'm done writing the card or mini-book, my preschooler will read the words and add illustrations.  On this particular day she chose to make a mini-book and illustrate each word.   

This is just the first way we've used the Moveable Alphabet.  In the coming weeks, we'll also use the Moveable Alphabet to practice writing word families and sight words.  



Thursday, March 15, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Learning Trays

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Here are the St. Patrick's themed learning trays I set-up for my preschooler.  Each day I pull out a few trays for her to work on.  Sometimes we work together on these activities and sometimes (when I'm confident she understands the task), she'll practice these trays by herself. 

End of the Rainbow Game
Source : Criss-Cross Applesauce
Skills Practiced: color identification, turn taking, addition/subtraction readiness

Lucky Charm Graphing 
Source: Mrs. Shehan's Full Day Kindergarten   
Skills Practiced: creating a graph, interpreting a graph 
This is a great math activity for my preschooler!  After she uses the Lucky Charm marshmallows to create the graph, she counts up the number of marshmallows in each category and writes those numbers at the top of the graph.  Then I ask her questions about the graph using math comparison words (i.e. Which type of marshmallow had the most?  Which type of marshmallow had the least?). 

Lucky Dog Math Game
Source:  Criss-Cross Applesauce
Skills Practiced: identifying/naming numbers 1-20, turn taking

Roll and Color a Rainbow 
Source:  Criss-Cross Applesauce
Skills Practiced: turn taking, color identification, reading color words, coloring, creativity  
After playing this game a couple types my preschooler was ready to switch things up a bit.  She came up with the idea to make a backwards rainbow, starting with the color purple.  She thought this was pretty silly and had a lot of fun with it!

Leprechaun Hundreds Chart 
Skills Practiced: identifying numbers 1-100, coloring, understanding a hundreds chart   
This is another great math activity!  This activity tray is my preschooler's first introduction to the hundreds chart.  I would really like to make a DIY Montessori Hundreds Chart for my preschooler, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.  I figured since she able to identify numbers 1-100 there was no reason not to give this activity a try, since I would be working 1 on 1 with her and we could work on a little each day. 

Spring Poem
Source: CanTeach, printable available HERE
Skills Practiced: reading sight words, comprehension, creativity
I couldn't find a St. Patrick's Day poem that was exactly what I was looking for, so instead a picked a spring themed poem!  We'll read this poem many times, each time focusing on different literacy skills.  The first time I'll read the poem to my preschooler and ask her to close her eyes and imagine the things she hears me read.  Then we'll discuss what she imagines.  Next we'll read the poem together practicing sight words and words she is able to read using picture clues.  Then when she is able to read the poem by herself (some actual word-by-word reading, some memorization) she will glue a copy of the poem into her poetry notebook and draw her own spring pictures. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Roll and Color a Rainbow

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Here's one more St. Patty's Day freebie!

There are so many different versions of this of game floating around the web.  I've found Roll and Draw a Turkey, Roll and Draw a Ladybug and most recently, I included Roll a Leprechaun in last week's St. Patrick's Day High Five round-up.  For my Roll and Color a Rainbow version, all you need are a die, a set of crayons or markers and a copy of the printable materials below.

Click the image below to grab a copy or click HERE.  

Players take turns rolling the die and coloring in their rainbow according to the instructions.  If a player rolls a color that has already been colored, then that player skips his turn.  The first player to color all six colors of the rainbow wins!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lucky Dog Number Game (Freebie!)

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 Here's a math game for St. Patrick's Day!

Graphics by Scrappin Doodles

This game is very similar to the Let it Snow game I created for a winter theme.  This game helps children practice identifying numbers 1-20.  To play all you need are a box of Lucky Charms cereal and a copy of the printable materials below!

To grab a copy click the image below or click HERE!

1. Shuffle the cards and lay them in a pile face down.

2. Player 1 draws a card, reads the number aloud and uses a Lucky Charm to cover up the corresponding four leaf clover on his board.

3.  Players continue taking turns, drawing cards and covering up four leaf clovers.

4. If a player draws a number card which he has already covered up on his board then that player skips his turn. If a player draws a blank card he skips his turn.  If a player draws a “Lucky Dog” card he may choose any number on his board to cover up.

5.  The first player to cover up all their four leaf clovers wins!

Skills Practiced
Identifying and naming numbers 1-20

Have a lucky day!


Friday, March 2, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

I am so honored my blog received the One Lovely Blog Award from Sierra at H is for Homeschooling.
Be sure to check out Sierra's blog!  She writes a fun homeschool blog and shares many clever ideas for toddler/preschooler activity trays.  Now onto the rules of this award...
One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
1. Link back to the one who gave you this award.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other lovely bloggers.

Here are the 15 bloggers I am passing this award on to (in no particular order)

Each of these wonderful blogs has inspired me in my parenting, teaching and/or blogging. The women who write them are so creative and generous.  Please check out their blogs and see the wonderful things they have to share! 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

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Tomorrow, March 2nd, is Dr. Seuss's birthday!  To celebrate this creative author's birthday we read many silly Seuss books and incorporated several Seuss inspired projects into our week.  Here's a look at a few of our favorite projects...   

We filled our sensory tub with "Oobleck" a gooey, sticky substance inspired by Bartholomew and the Oobleck: (Caldecott Honor Book) by Dr. Seuss.  To make Oobleck combine cornstarch, water and green food coloring.  Then mix until you have a consistency something between a liquid and a solid.  At first my tot didn't enjoy getting his hands dirty, so I grabbed a few utensils from the kitchen and he had at it.  Eventually he warmed up to this strange texture and and got as messy as his sister!

We read Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories and made our own turtles from paper plates and construction paper.  This was a simple and easy craft to prepare.  My preschooler cut out legs a head and tail for the turtles and taped them onto the front side of the paper plate.  Then we turned the plates upside down and my preschooler and tot glued ripped pieces of construction paper to decorate their turtle's back. 

My preschooler's favorite Seuss book is There's a Wocket in My Pocket! After reading this book many times we created "wockets" "nellers", "bofas" and several other silly creatures out of playdough.  I gave my tot and preschooler a basket filled with craft supplies (googly eyes, feathers, beads and pipe cleaners) and let them create Seuss inspired creatures.  Tomorrow we'll read  If I Ran the Zoo and use our playdough and craft supplies to create unusual zoo animals.

How will you celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday?

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