Homemade Mondays: Painted Snow

On days like today, it’s easy to stay inside, put on a movie and watch television or play video games all day–especially, if weren’t planning to stay inside all day. But when it’s too cold and icy to go outside for extended periods of time, here is an easy activity you can do with your children while you try to stay busy inside. You need to things: watercolors and snow. That’s right: snow.

painted snowGive your child a bowl or container filled with snow. Let them explore the snow for what it is. Describe it. Cold. Slippery. Wet. Icy. White. Clumpy. Smooth. Sandy. Then give them a set of watercolors or colored water if you don’t have watercolors (just add a couple drops of food coloring to water–be careful though…it’s not as washable as watercolors). Then let them have fun painting the snow. Ask them what they are painting or what happens when the colors mix as they paint. Talk about the rainbow they create.

As an extension, read books about snow and/or rainbows.

 

Letter Knowledge: ABCs

Parents and caregivers make the difference by just modeling the importance of reading, surrounding children with books, and engaging in the learning process. By doing these simple things, children have a better chance at succeeding in school and throughout each aspect of their lives. Today, we wrap up our series on the six literacy skills and strategies you can use to practice each skill at home with your family.

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Our final topic is LETTER KNOWLEDGE, or knowing the ABCs:

  • Make finding letters and sounds fun.
  • Play spelling games.
  • Use materials like magnetic letters, sand and glue, stamps, flashcards and stickers to practice spelling.
  • Explain what is the “same” and “different” between objects.
  • Read alphabet books with clear letters and pictures.

As children begin to learn the letters of the alphabet, it is also important they learn to identify shapes, colors, and numbers. Our letters are made up of many different shapes–the capital A has a triangle, the lower case d has a circle, the s looks like a snake. Many of our letters have similarities, but they also have big differences. When children learn these concepts, it makes identifying letters easier. Remember, you can use almost any book to teach letter knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a book strictly about the ABCs.

Here are some great books your child will love reading:

Sue MacDonald Had a Book by Jim Tobin
If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
A You’re Adorable by Martha Alexander
Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming

Phonological Awareness: Sounds

Parents and caregivers make the difference by just modeling the importance of reading, surrounding children with books, and engaging in the learning process. By doing these simple things, children have a better chance at succeeding in school and throughout each aspect of their lives. For the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the six literacy skills and strategies you can use to practice each skill at home with your family.

Teaching Phonological Awareness

Today’s topic is PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS, or the ability to recognize the sounds that make up words:

  • Say silly tongue twisters.
  • Sing songs, read poetry and picture books, and make up silly rhymes together.
  • Point out the link between letters and sounds.
  • Play word games such as “What sounds like ran?”.

Being able to identify and recognize letter sounds is very important. Children are more likely to understand and identify words in print when they already know that letters are simply symbols that stand for a specific sound and when you put those sounds together they make up words. Making up silly, nonsense words is okay at a young age because you are helping your child determine sounds letters make. As your children get older, reading and saying tongue twisters over and over again also helps with fluency–or the ability to read easily and accurately.

Here are some great books your child will love reading:

Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes by Brian P. Cleary
This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrdhart
Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia
Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein
Tanka Tanka Skunk! by Steve Webb

Year In Review!

Thanks to all of our readers for such a great year in the blogosphere! :) Stay tuned for more great posts!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Narrative Skills: Storytelling

Parents and caregivers make the difference by just modeling the importance of reading, surrounding children with books, and engaging in the learning process. By doing these simple things, children have a better chance at succeeding in school and throughout each aspect of their lives. For the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the six literacy skills and strategies you can use to practice each skill at home with your family.

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Today’s topic is NARRATIVE SKILLS, or the ability to tell stories:

  • Tell your child stories, real or make-believe, written in a book or not.
  • Read favorite books again and again and again.
  • Encourage interaction by asking “What” or “Why” questions and create real life connections to the story.
  • Ask your child to tell you something that happened today–and don’t settle for “nothing.”

Storytelling is a very important skill. It helps with imagination and creativity. It can help your child remember a lesson from social studies or science. Learning about the Constitution or Declaration of Independence? Create a story using the events that happened in the time periods to help remember the information better. Learning about the water cycle? Make up a story or song about a cloud and a water droplet. This is also an important skill to learn for sequencing–something children struggle with throughout early childhood.

Cooking/baking, making playdough, and doing other tasks together with your child can help them learn to sequence because these things need to be done in a specific order.

Here are some great books your child will love reading:

Little Red Hen by Byron Barton
Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton

Sing, Talk, Play, and Read…in less than an hour

Singing, talking, playing, and reading. It can be done in less than one hour. I promise. And I’m going to tell you how.

Step 1: Visit your Stark County District Library location and attend storytime. That’s all.

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Foster and his sister play in the water table and discover what happens when you put candy canes in water.

Here’s the proof: Today at storytime, we read three books, sang four songs, played in the water table with water, candy canes, and toys, talked about the reaction between the water and candy canes, and then created a beautiful candy cane painting. And we were done by 11:15 (just 45 minutes after we started).

And just in case you can’t make it to the library, here’s how you can do all of this at home.

We started with the storytelling portion of storytime. You just need a couple books and some songs. As you read, feel free to stop and ask questions about the characters, storyline, or pictures. Here’s what we used:

  • Welcome Song: “Wiggle Them, Wiggle Them”
  • Action Rhyme: “This is Big, Big, Big” 2x
  • Story: Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney (let your child choose the story…we chose this because Foster loves the Llama Llama series)
  • Song: “Up on the Housetop” with hand motions 2x
  • Story: Shh (this is my absolute favorite Santa story) by Julie Sykes
  • Song: “Jingle Bells” (you can add bells to make even more fun!)
  • Story: Peek-a-Boo Snowman by Charles Reasoner
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Our friend plays with a shrinking candy cane.

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Peek-a-boo! Use toys in unexpected ways.

Then we moved to the play portion of the program. I filled a water table (you can use a sink or the bathtub) with about three inches of water (if that). We talked about the water. What does it feel like? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it warm?

Then I pulled out the candy canes! What happens if we put a candy cane in water? We made a few guesses and then tried it. Immediately, the water started to bubble around the candy and the color started disappearing. While the candy dissolved, I gave the children some toys to play with. Don’t be afraid to use words like sink, float, disappear, light, heavy, etc. You’ll be surprised what your children already know.

By the time we were finished, the candy had completely disappeared, the water turned a light shade of red, and the room smelled like peppermints.IMG_4427

The last thing we did during storytime was our candy cane painting masterpiece! You need a little red paint (add a little peppermint extract for a sensory bonus!), a marble and a candy cane paper cut out. Place the candy candy cutout in a flat container, squirt a little paint in the corner, and roll the marble back and forth in the container over the paper. Talk about what is happening and why the marble rolls the way it does.

So, while I can’t guarantee storytime will always involve a water table and candy canes, I encourage you to visit your library for storytime and other fun programs because I can guarantee you’ll sing, talk, read, play (and possibly write)! And I encourage you to try these activities at home!