Word of the Week

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This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

I’ve already touched on it a bit, but incorporating daily calendar activities into your routine is a fantastic way to start building your preschooler’s reading skills. Practicing letter sounds with the months and days is one way to get your child ready for reading, but another excellent way is to introduce them to sight words.

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Sight words (also known as high-frequency words) are the words that most commonly appear in children’s literature (and other printed works as well). They are words that children are encouraged to memorize – know by sight – so that they don’t need to use any decoding strategies while reading. A strong sight word vocabulary is extremely beneficial to helping your preschooler develop strong reading skills.

I highly recommend incorporating a weekly sight word into your calendar routine. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just easy to read and not too close to any of the other calendar components (you don’t want it to get lost in the mix). I use a permanent marker and write Julia’s weekly word on some fun polka-dot cards I bought at a local educational supply store, but there are tons of free sight word printables on the internet if you don’t trust your handwriting! Click any of the links below for free sight word flashcards.

Unique Teaching Resources *
* 3 Garnets and 2 Sapphires *
* Tip Junkie *
Primary Games *

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Which words you choose to introduce are entirely up to you. So far I have introduced go, thecan, like, and I to Julia, in the hopes that soon I’ll be able to create short sentences for her to read. Here’s a great list of sight words you can use to help you get started – start with the words in the blue column and keep working through the lists until you reach the white column.

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This list can be found at Hagio Graphic.

We currently focus on one word a week, but if Julia masters the word quickly I might introduce a new word before the week is out. I save our sight word cards, and whenever I introduce a new word I quickly quiz Julia with the previously learned words to be sure that she can still read them. If she struggles, we spend a day or two reviewing the word before moving on to the new word.

Tomorrow I’ll introduce some fun strategies and games to help your preschooler connect to the words a little more!

Cute & Easy Disney Stateroom Door Decorations

Going on a Disney Cruise? I’ve got three words for you: Decorate. Your. Door.

Door Decor


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cardstock in black and red (for Mickey’s shorts)
  • Patterned paper (for the bows and the buttons on the shorts)
  • Circle cutter (or you could trace cups/bowls)
  • Doublestick tape
  • Embellishments (optional, I used 3D bump circles with sparkles to add interest)
  • Laminator (not required, but recommended)
  • Magnets

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Here’s how to make them:

Mickey/Minnie Head - Cut out 1 large circle and 2 small circles from the black cardstock. There’s no real science to this, I just kept cutting out circles and holding them up until I liked the way the ears sized up with the head. Use the tape to adhere the ears to the head.

FullSizeRenderMickey’s Clothing – Use the same bowl/cup you used for the head and place it along the edge of the red cardstock. Trace and cut out, so that you have a half-circle. Tape it to the bottom half of the black cardstock head. Cut out two small oval shapes (I used an oval cutter) out of the yellow patterned paper and place them on the red cardstock for the buttons.

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Minnie’s Bow – This one was a little tricker. I free-handed a bow shape with a pencil, making bows until I reached a size I liked. Then I just traced that bow 3 times onto the green, blue, and red patterned papers and taped them to the top of the head, adding little matching ovals to the center of each bow. If you don’t trust yourself to draw a bow, you could always find an image online, print it and cut it out, using that to trace out bows.

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Laminate the Mickey and Minnie heads. This is totally optional, but if you plant to reuse them for another trip, I recommend it. Plus I just love laminating things. :)

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Embellishments – They aren’t easy to see, but I placed the colored stickers on the head they matched… so Mickey’s yellow buttons got the yellow bump stickers, Emily’s green bow got the green bump stickers, etc.

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Magnets – Add a magnet to the back. Disney does NOT allow anything to be taped to the stateroom doors, so don’t forget this step!

That’s it! Once I figured out the sizes I wanted for the head and ears they were pretty easy and quick to make. And they turned out so cute! We received many compliments on them, and even a few presents from fellow cruise door decorators. We can’t wait to put them up on our next stateroom door!

Going on a Hunt

31dayslarge2This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

At 3 and 4 years old your preschooler is the perfect age to begin learning letter-sound relationships. In fact, your child may already be demonstrating a strong understanding of these relationships! But no worries – whether or not your preschooler can rattle off all of their ABCs on sight and also tell you the sound each letter makes, this will be fun! For today’s activity, we will be observing the first letter of the current month (or day of the week) and going on a hunt around the house to find other objects that begin with the same letter.

Before I get too far, let me caution you that not every month or day of the week will be easy to find words for (think August, where the A is making neither the long or short vowel sounds). You may want to pre-select the word you are going to focus on and have a plan of how you can guide your child to find things that begin with the right letter.

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Example dialog:
“Let’s look at the month we are in right now: November. I see that November begins with the letter N and I know that N makes the sound /n/. Let’s look around the house for things that begin with the sound /n/. Oh look! I see some /n/-/n/-noodles on the counter. And here’s my /n/-/n/-necklace! What can you find? Yes, Nana also begins with the sound /n/, so let’s put this picture of Nana in our N/n/ pile! Great find!”

If you are having difficulty finding things or are short on time, you can always use flash cards with objects on them, or sit together to draw items that begin with the sound. If your preschooler is still developing their letter-sound skills, you could even make it the focus sound of the month, leaving the objects/flashcards/pictures up to review during the month!

Because this activity will take a bit more time than most of the others, I don’t recommend doing this every day – unless your preschooler absolutely loves it and needs the practice, of course. As always, keep it fun! :)

Build a Word!

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This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

We’ve sung the days of the week song, we’ve learned to place it in the chart to complete a sentence, we’ve even started counting the number of months in a year and days in a week. Woo hoo! Today’s activity requires just a little preparation, but it’s one that I’m pretty sure your preschooler will enjoy.

You’re going to be making… (drumroll please)… word puzzles! Yay!

IMG_1999 There are a few materials you could use to make your puzzles… index cards cut into strips, die-cut letters, popsicle sticks with the letters written on them, or even actual puzzle pieces – the possibilities are endless! The key is to use something interesting in order to grasp your preschooler’s attention and make them want to engage in the activity. I chose to use Legos for one of my activities, and wrote a different letter on each block with a china marker so I could easily wipe it clean afterwards with a magic eraser.

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Once you decide on what you want to use to make your puzzle, get your materials ready by writing (or putting a letter sticker) on each piece for the day or month you want to have your child assemble.

After identifying the current day of the week and placing the card in your sentence chart, show your preschooler the puzzle pieces and tell her that she is going to be making the word herself with the pieces. Model how to check the puzzle with the word card to be sure all the letters are in the right place. Once you build the word, read it together.

IMG_1995Example dialog:
“Today is Saturday, and we are going to use these popsicle sticks to make the word Saturday. See? Each popsicle stick has a different letter on it, and if I put the letters in the right places I can make the word ‘Saturday.’ Let me see what comes first… Oh! I see that I need the capital ‘S’ first. Then comes an ‘a,’ then a ‘t…’ (continue until you get to the last letter). Ok, I put all my letters in the right places, so now I can read my word. It says ‘Saturday!’ Terrific job!”

I love the flexibility of this activity, both in the materials and the words you can use as subject matter for the puzzle. And I’m willing to bet your preschooler is going to love it too! :)

Count the Months and Days of the Week

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This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

If you’ve introduced the songs about the months of the year and the days of the week, then I’m guessing that your preschooler has probably been singing them both nonstop. You’re welcome. :)

So now that your preschooler is a pro at naming them, let’s get to counting them!

Choose one of the categories to count (months or days). Lay out the cards for that category, in order. Count the cards together with your preschooler, then state the total again in a full sentence.

IMG_1961Example dialog:
“Let’s see how many days there are in a week. I’m going to lay the cards out on the floor so we can see them all at once. Here’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Let’s count them together. 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7. Great job! There are seven days in a week.”

If you are just starting this skill with your preschooler, I recommend focusing on the months or the days and not switching back and forth between the two. This way they can have time to master one without getting the two confused. It’s not necessary to do this activity every day, once a week is enough to begin building the skill. Once your preschooler seems to have a grasp on one – “Mommy! There are 7 days in a week!” - then move on to the other! :)

Which Card Says Monday?

31dayslarge2This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

I mentioned in this post that having a separate card for each day of the week would enable you to do more calendar activities with your preschooler, and it’s time I brought one of those activities to you! :)

Now that you are a couple of weeks into your daily calendar routine, it’s possible that your child is catching on to some of your “tricks” when it comes to reading the day of the week. This is a good thing! Julia is starting to tell me the day of the week we are on as soon as I point to it, before we sing our song or talk about what letter it begins with. She’s beginning to realize that some of the days begin with a letter that none of the other days begin with (M, W, F), and shouts it out. If your child is doing something similar, it might be time to let them look among the day of the week cards and let them find the correct day on their own by matching the letters.

IMG_1924Instead of handing your child the current day of the week card, lay out all of the cards and see if your preschooler can locate the card by looking at the letters. As always, you can help him as much as necessary, modeling how to find the right card.

Example Dialog:
“You are so smart – it is Wednesday! Now, let’s look through all the cards to see if we can find the one that says Wednesday. I know that it begins with the letter W… do you see a word that begins with W? Yes! There it is! Now, let’s check to see if all the other letters match… W-E-D-N-E-S-D-A-Y. They do! Stupendous work!”

I’ve started letting Julia find the card, and she absolutely loves being the one to pull it out! Of course, Saturday and Sunday are a little trickier and require more modeling from me and more double-checking from her. The same goes for Tuesday and Thursday, although if your child is strong in their letter-sound relationships you can begin modeling the /th/ sound in Thursday, giving them another clue to distinguish the two days that start with T from each other.

IMG_1918Isn’t it fun to watch their skills develop? :)

Let the Training Begin!

I’m so excited! I’ve officially signed up for my next 1/2 marathon in January 2015!

After running my first half earlier this year, I was dead. D-E-A-D. But I also knew that there would be another one in the future, because it was one of the most exciting and rewarding things I’d ever done in my life.

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I had no intention of running another one until 2015… intentionally training and preparing my body to be able to run 13.1 miles is one thing, but there’s just no way I could keep up that pace during the rest of the year. Between the long months of summer heat, family obligations, and the desire to sleep in, there’s just no way I’m running 10-13 miles every weekend.

And so it’s time to start training again. Time to start increasing my mileage… increasing my time spent hitting the pavement… increasing my lung’s ability to hang in there after 2 solid hours of running. Happily, despite the difficulties I’ve encountered over the past few months (including a sprained ankle), I’ve managed to maintain a 2-3 mile “stamina,” meaning I can begin my half-marathon training from there.

I’m not really planning to follow any sort of recommended training schedule, I’m just going to go at it like I did last time. Unfortunately, I’m running this half on my own – my former 13.1 running partner just had a baby (yesterday morning!), so I’m losing the competitive edge I had last time around. Not that she and I were competing against each other, we just didn’t want to be the one who had to walk any part of the race, and so we pushed and challenged ourselves so that we could finish the race together. Love you Erin, congrats! :)

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This time around I’ve set rough goals for myself. I have the next 3 months to train, and I’m giving myself mileage goals for each month so that by the time my race is here at the end of January I’ll be able to run the entire 13.1 like I did last time.

  • October5 miles
  • November8 miles 
  • December11 miles
  • January13.1 miles

I’m keeping track of my runs on a calendar, and I’m going to post the calendar in the menu at the top of this page (click the red circle to find it). I’ll update it every week or so, mainly as a way for me to keep track of my running progress… but maybe it will help someone else about to run a half too! :)

Wish me luck!

A Calendar Full of Colors

31dayslarge2This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

Whether you purchased a calendar kit like I did, found free printables online, or made one yourself (impressive!), it most likely has many different colors all over it. What a great opportunity to maintain those color recognition skills!

Every few days or so, point to a color on your calendar and ask your preschooler to name the color. You can do it as much or as little as you like, depending on how much practice your child needs (or how much they enjoy this activity)!

There are many activities you can do with colors on the calendar:

  • Have your child name the colors they see on the calendar
  • Talk about the colors on the weather chart (yellow sun, white clouds, etc.)
  • Ask your child to point to a specific color
  • Go on a color hunt, looking for things around the house that match a certain color
  • Tear out a coloring book page and color it together using only one color. Do this for a few days and put all the pages together to make your own color book

And here’s a cute little video on the colors you can enjoy together, too!

Count the Letters

31dayslarge2This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

An easy way to add a little extra counting into your daily calendar activities is to count the letters in the current month or day of the week. It’s also a great way to start building the understanding that words are made up of multiple letters – some words have more letters (Wednesday), some words have less (June).

Just before putting your day-of-the-week card into your “Today is _____.” sentence, take a moment to count the letters. If you are using a laminated chart and a whiteboard marker, count the letters after writing the word on the chart. (I wouldn’t recommend counting as you write, as saying a number while writing a letter might be a little confusing to your child. :) ). Or, you could look at the current month card displayed on your calendar and count the letters in the word.

IMG_1671Example dialog:
“We know that today is Tuesday, but before we put it in our sentence, let’s count the letters in the word Tuesday. I’ll point to each letter as we count it. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. There are 7 letters in the word Tuesday. Let’s say the letters – T-U-E-S-D-A-Y. Great job! Now, let’s put it in our sentence.”

With enough repetition, your preschooler might start to realize that some days of the week have the same number of letters in them. Or that some of the months end in the same three letters. Now that’s a brain in action! :)

Rainy Day Craft

31dayslarge2This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

I’m going to dive into the weather topic just once more time, but this time I thought I’d bring you a fun little weather-related craft, perfect for a rainy day! :)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • construction paper (we used blue, or you could use white and draw your own scene)
  • pasta shells (I found pre-dyed shells at my local educational supply store)
  • paper plate, cut in half
  • pipe cleaner
  • cotton balls
  • markers
  • glue

Put it all together to create a super cute rainy day scene. Have fun!

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