Identifying Tomorrow & Yesterday

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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 got any upcoming special dates marked on your calendar, you’ve most likely got a preschooler who is eagerly awaiting the nearest approaching event. These marked events are the perfect opportunity to approach the topic of tomorrow and yesterday. If you are ready to teach the concept of tomorrow, I recommend waiting until the special event is occurring the very next day. If you are about to teach the concept of yesterday, wait until the day after the special event.

Tomorrow Will Be…

Example dialog:
“Now that we know that today is Tuesday, let’s see what tomorrow will be! I see on the calendar that the next day has a birthday card on it, because tomorrow is Daddy’s birthday! I’m super excited to give Daddy his presents tomorrow. Let’s see what day of the week his birthday is on. I’m going to put my finger on tomorrow – it doesn’t have a number because we didn’t do it yet – and move my finger up, up, up until I get to the top. Let’s see what day of the week we are on… I see that this word starts with W, and I know that W makes the sound /w/, so this day must be /w/-/w/-Wednesday. Let’s put the word card on our chart. The sentence says: Tomorrow will be Wednesday. Read that with me now: Tomorrow will be Wednesday. You totally rock!”

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Yesterday Was…

Example dialog:
“Now that we know that today is Tuesday, let’s see what day it was yesterday. Today we put up the number 10, and if I look at the calendar I can see that yesterday we put up the number 9. I remember yesterday Emily didn’t have school, and we went to the pumpkin patch and got ice cream together – it was so much fun! Let’s see what day of the week that was. I’m going to put my finger on the number 9 because we put that up yesterday, and follow my finger up, up, up until I get to the top. I see that this word starts with M, and I know that M makes the sound /m/, so this day must be /m/-/m/-Monday. Let’s put the word card on our chart. The sentence says: Yesterday was Monday. Read that with me now: Yesterday was Monday. What a smarty pants you are!”

You don’t have to introduce these concepts using the same special event. I’ve just begun teaching Julia how to identify what day tomorrow will be, and once I can see that she has a grasp on the skill then I’ll introduce the concept of yesterday. :)

Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday

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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 talked about using a chart to identify the current day of the week on your calendar, but now that we’ve been doing our calendar for three weeks, it’s time we jumped into the other two sentences on our chart!

Today, tomorrow, and yesterday are important time-related concepts that your child will most likely be expected to have a firm understanding of by the end of Kindergarten. Like many of the other activities I’ve been sharing, the key to developing this understanding is practice, practice, practice. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing an easy dialog that you can do with your preschooler to begin introducing these concepts, but for today here’s a fun video that you can watch together to get things moving!

My Blue Pumpkin

Teal PumpkinI cannot imagine what life must be like with a food allergy. Or even worse – being the parent of a child with a food allergy. It is estimated that 15 million Americans have a food allergy of some sort. Thankfully, no one in my family possess any true allergy to anything, food-related or otherwise. But I have friends who deal with this, and it’s made me extremely aware of how limiting a food allergy can be.

Take Halloween, for instance. Tons and tons of candy being handed out by the handfuls, and since large percentage of it is made with milk or nuts (or is processed among candies with milk or nuts), most of it becomes taboo for kids with food allergies.

Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project.

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) is hoping to start a new tradition this Halloween, one that encourages families to add a teal pumpkin to the front of their home, indicating that they offer non-food items for any trick-or-treaters with food allergies. The goal is to raise food allergy awareness as well as promote safety and inclusion, making this a fun holiday for all who wish to participate.

As I have friends with food allergies, our home will be eagerly participating in this new tradition. We’ve already spray-painted our teal pumpkin (teal is the color of food allergy awareness), and we’ll be printing a sign to put beside it so that families will know that they can request a non-edible treat at our house. Of course, we also plan to have a bowl of candy for the kids who are able to eat it without worry… but why not make the night a little more fun for those kids who do have to worry? :)

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Here are some suggestions of non-food goodies that you could hand out – just be sure to keep them in a separate bowl from the candy to avoid cross-contamination. :)

glow sticks
bubbles
stickers
tattoos
erasers
pencils
crayons
bouncy balls
notepads
mini containers of Play-Doh

IMG_2235I know my friend is super excited about this new tradition, and I’m thrilled that there’s something easy that I can do to show my support.

Besides – why wouldn’t I want a pumpkin on my porch that reminds me of Tiffany’s?
;)

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I Spy a Sight 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!

So… your preschooler is learning a new word a week. They are clapping, spinning, and shouting the spelling of these words like crazy. They can read them and maybe even write them on their own. But here’s the real test: can they identify them in a book when the words are surrounded by other text?

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I don’t know your preschooler, but I’m pretty confident that they love being read to – I’ve never met one that didn’t. :) But it won’t be long until your sweet cherub-faced 3 year-old is entering Kindergarten, and they are going to be expected to do just that: recognize the words they’ve learned when confronted with them in print.

Once your child has learned a sight word (meaning they can read the word card out loud almost immediately after it is shown to them and/or locate the sight word card in a mix of other sight word cards), he should be able to identify the word when being read to.

Choose a favorite book that has the focus sight word in it at least once (even if the word is just in an illustration). Snuggle up with your child, and tell them that their word is somewhere in the book and that they are going to help you read it whenever they see it in the book. Be sure to move your finger under the words as you read the story so you child can be ready to read with you!

FullSizeRenderExample dialog:
“Let’s read Go Dog Go tonight. I can already see that your new word ‘go’ is in the title two times! I need you to keep your eyes open so you can help me read it if you see it, even if it’s in the picture, okay? Now, let’s read the title again together. What’s the first word? You know that word! Yes, it’s ‘go!’ You’re an amazing reader!”

I love this activity because it can be done daily, and doesn’t have to be squeezed into all the other calendar activities. As your child builds her sight word vocabulary, they will be able to help you read more and more of the text. So exciting! We do this activity at bedtime each night, with whatever story Julia chooses, and she absolutely LOVES it when she knows the words! <3

More Sight Word Fun

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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!

There are many ways you can make learning sight words fun, so I wanted to bring a few of my favorite ideas your way!

  • Trace the word with something fun
    You could use cereal, noodles, beads, pom-poms, or anything else small that comes to mind. Write the word jumbo-sized on a sheet of paper, and trace the letters with white glue. Then have your preschooler glue the objects down on top of the letters.
  • IMG_2059Rice Tray Writing
    This idea is super easy – take a cookie sheet and cover the bottom with a thin layer of rice. Have your child write their sight word in the rice with their finger or an unsharpened pencil if you want them to practice their pencil grip.
  • IMG_2066Make a sight word tree
    Draw the trunk of a tree on a sheet of paper. Write the current sight word (or already learned words) on a few paper leaves of different sizes, colors, and shapes. Have your child trace the words with a crayon, then glue them around the tree trunk. Voila – a sight word tree!
  • IMG_2175Start a sight word rock garden
    Take a smooth pebble or river rock and write the sight word on the rock using a permanent marker. Find an area in your yard to place the rock, and whenever you and your preschooler are outside stop and read your sight word rock garden!
  • IMG_2063Sight word parking lot
    This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Create a parking lot on a sheet of posterboard by drawing lines around the border (about an inch apart). Write the current sight word on one or two of the parking spaces, adding new words as they are learned. Say a sight word and have your child park their car on the word. Or, have them park all the cars and read the words to you as they drive away.

FullSizeRenderThere are loads of other sight word activities on Pinterest, click here to see these amazing ideas and more!

Say it, Spell it, Clap it, Stomp it!

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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!

Yesterday I wrote about how easy it is to introduce sight words into your daily calendar routine. But it isn’t much fun to just read the word everyday, and if that’s all you do with your words then it won’t be long before your preschooler gets tired of them. But no worries – I’ve got a fool-proof way to make learning these high-frequency words fun. All you need to do it get your bodies moving! It’s no secret that preschoolers are extremely active. Incorporating that innate need for movement is a great way to not only keep your child interested in learning their words, but also helps them to retain the words you are introducing.

After you introduce your new word (and use it in a sentence or two for context), tell your child that you are going to say the letters in the word. Spell it out, pointing to each letter as you say it. Then have your child say the letters with you. Repeat this a few times, but each time you spell it, attach a kinesthetic (movement-related) activity along with it. You could clap each letter as you say it, poke your nose for each letter, or jump up and down for each letter. Just be sure to remind your child to look at the letters as they say them – you want them to know where to find the word, and you don’t want them spelling it incorrectly if it’s right there for them to see.

Example dialog:
“Yesterday we learned that our new word is ‘go.’ I can see that the letters in the word go are G-O. Watch me say the letters, and I’m going to point to them as I say them: G-O. Can you tell me those letters? Don’t forget to look at the word! Great job! Now let’s clap the letters: G-O. Now let’s whisper the letters: g-o. Now let’s wiggle the letters: G-O. Hmmm… can you think of something else we can do with these letters? Yes, we can stomp them – what a great idea! G-O!”

In 9 years of being in the classroom, I have never had a student that didn’t enjoy this activity. And the possibilities are endless! Here are a few other creative ways to spell out the letters in the words:

  • kick them
  • throw them
  • shout them
  • bounce them like a basketball
  • pull your ears
  • pat your head
  • rub your belly
  • touch your toes
  • shake your tushie
  • eat them
  • pretend to write them
  • spin them
  • blow them like kisses

Of course, the most important rule is that you do these motions along with your preschooler – especially if you are told to shake your tushie! :)

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! :)