An easy way to build a child’s vocabulary is to create a Calendar Picture Book. Every December I seem to get lots of different types of calendars. Some of them are quite beautiful but how many calendars does one person need? Looking for something to do with the calendars, I started making Calendar Picture Books for my grand kids. They are easy to make, FREE (love that word) and kids love them.
Did you know that typically, a child needs to hear a new word 4 to 12 times before it is added to their vocabulary? So, don’t worry about talking too much to your child; that’s exactly what they need to hear. Through everyday conversations, your child’s vocabulary will grow. Adding pictures. like in this project or reading to your child, helps your child make connections with words and supports their language development.
2 Easy Steps:
Insert the pages in a binder. Be sure to add writing materials in the back pocket for words, drawings or scribbles. Better to be prepared if your child wants to write something!
Take the photos from the calendar and put them back to back in plastic page protectors. My grand kids love the animal photos
3 Ways to Start Conversations: (adapt based on child’s age)
Find the picture: This activity helps kids look through the pictures in the book to find something specific. Ex. Can you find the picture of the white kitty wearing a hat?
Comment Starters– When looking at the photos together you can comment on a photo and try to get your child to comment. Ex. I love the picture of that dog. Which one is your favorite? Reaffirm your child’s comments. This does 2 things: acknowledges that you listened and adds to the 4-12 repetition count.
Ask questions about the pictures. One way to think about asking your child questions about the pictures is to remember the 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where,Why) Ex. Looking at a picture of a dog, you can ask any W question to start a conversation.
A bonus of Calendar Picture Books is that it supports recycling. So, why not take the opportunity to teach your child about Reduce, Reuse and Recycle? Another great conversation topic awaits!
The importance of learning sight words is that it will help your child’s reading accuracy and fluency. Sight words are the most common words found in reading. They appear on almost every page in a book; especially in early reader books.
It is important for beginning readers to practice reading sight words. They usually don’t follow any phonics rules which means that kids will not be able to “sound them out”.Having this instant or automatic recall of sight words helps early or beginning readers develop into smooth and efficient readers.
The fun part of teaching sight words is that kids can learn the words by playing a variety of games. The more exposures to the words the quicker they will learn them and be able to identify them in books. All you need is a list of sight words, some dedicated parent/child time to review and some activities to make the learning fun.
9 Sight Word Games for Kids
Fly Swatter Game – Using a blank BINGO card, add some of the sight words. Give your child a fly swatter (or something similar) and when you read a sight word, have them “swat” the word. Parent advisory, kids are going to really hit the word, so stand back and try not to laugh! When I taught Kindergarten and first grade, I played a variation of this game where 2 children raced to “swat” the word on the whiteboard. Flying fly swatters!
Roll a Sight Word – Child rolls a die and then finds a word from the master list of sight words with the same number of letters that came up on the die. Child can write the word on a piece of paper or just say the word. Add some fun to the activity by allowing the child to say the word with some voice changes (yell, whisper) or allow them to do an action (stand up, turn around) while they tell you the word Be creative and have fun.
Sight Word Writing – Draw the sight word in play dough, sand or salt with a pencil, spoon or a finger. Young children love to “sweep” the word away with a small paintbrush. Another variation is to write the words on a blackboard with a paintbrush using water. After writing the words they can be brushed away or will evaporate (a Science lesson too!)
Sight Word Magnet Race – Cut out the sight words and add a paperclip. Spread the sight words on different surfaces and use a magnet under the surface to move the sight words. Two people can race to move a sight word across the paper to a finish line.
Memory– Make 2 copies of the sight words, cut them out and choose 10-12 words. Taking both copies off the word, turn them over and have your child keep turning over cards until a sight word match is made. This can be done taking turns or the child can do the game by themselves.
Sight Word Jars – Make 1 copy of the sight words and cut them into slips ad put them in a jar or dish. Choose a word and ask your child to find the word and say the name aloud.
Find the Sight Word -When reading with your child, have them find sight words in the book. Once they notice the word, they can make a special movement (touch nose, hand up) Finding sight words in books helps kids see the connection between reading and oral language. I
Sight Word Basketball – Ask your child to read a certain number of sight words (# is your choice). When they read the words then allow then to shoot a basket. No, you don’t have a real hoop. Anything that is unusual will do. Throwing a pair of socks into a laundry basket works great.
Simple Sight Word Bingo – Create sight word BINGO cards by adding sight words to the BINGO card template (DLTK’s Custom Bingo Cards). Print out sight word BINGO cards by using the word list below and the DLTK site and you have free, simple to make cards that can be randomized for multiple cards. B-I-N-G-O !
Dolch Sight Word List has them all!
The Dolch Sight word list includes the most common 220 words and 95 nouns encountered in children’s books. The Dolch word list resource below is organized a few different ways: Alphabetically by grade, by frequency by grade, and in some cases by frequency combined. This provides you with several different ways to conduct Dolch word list practice in your classroom or at home. The Dolch Website has many activities to use in your classroom or at home.
I planned to spend the day before Thanksgiving with my 5-year-old granddaughter making a Thanksgiving Turkey craft. When she arrived that morning she immediately asked about the crafts and I realized I had forgotten to go to the craft store. Well, this certainly was going to stretch our creativity.
After looking through boxes of decorations, she decided that a straw pumpkin and some Easter eggs would be perfect to make a turkey. Honestly, I had my doubts, but back we went to the kitchen to make a turkey!
Good News: Well, she did it. Her basic idea was to make the pumpkin the turkey body and to somehow use the colorful eggs for the feathers. Adding some paper plates, glue and some color, our turkey “Lila” was created.
Bad News: On the way home in the car, “Lila” the turkey got squashed and needed to be repaired. She was devastated.
Good News: Miss M brought the broken “Lila” back to our house and we glued her back together again. Miss M asked me to bring “Lila” to Thanksgiving dinner, so she wouldn’t get squashed again in her car. Great faith in GG!
Bad News: On the way out the door to Thanksgiving dinner, I left “Lila” on the kitchen table. Once again Miss M was devastated. Uggh! So much for trusting me.
So, after all that work, “Lila the Turkey” never made it to Thanksgiving.
Good News: Wanting everyone to meet “Lila”, Miss M decided to add some Christmas decorations to her. An additional plus to her plan was that since Christmas was at my house, we were pretty sure Lila would make it to the holiday table.
Good News: While others were singing about a “Partridge in a Pear Tree”; at our house we were singing about a “Turkey on our Christmas table”!
I Spy Sensory Bags are a great way for kids to expand their sense of touch, creativity, and adventure, and they are so easy to make!
While shopping in a craft store in October I saw a display that had a Christmas I Spy Sensory Jar. I loved the idea but was unsure how easy it would be to create for the grand kids. I bought 1 container and some Christmas small items and made a great jar 2 months later. It was so easy to assemble I decided to go back to the dollar store to get 5 additional containers, so each grand kid would have their own. You guessed it! Four dollar stores later and not a jar in sight, I decided to improvise and try resealable gallon bags.
Grand kids loved finding the items in their bags and even switched with their cousins to find their I Spy List. However, I still love the look of the Christmas containers. Note to self: Buy the Christmas containers before the week before Christmas!
Fill the bag about 2/3 filled with rice and add the Christmas trinkets.
Zip the bag and add packing tape over the top so it can’t be opened.
Print out labels with the words “I Spy with my little eye” and a list of the items included in the bag. I made each grandchild a bag that included a collection of Christmas trinkets along with a magnetized letter of the first letter of their name. (Ex. E for Emily). I just used letters from an A to Z magnetic alphabet set. My choice of including a magnetized letter was so they could move the magnet inside the bag by moving a magnet on the outside of the bag. They loved it! Tip: Save some time and take a photo of the items and tape it on the bag.
Fill the bag about 2/3
filled with rice and add the Christmas trinkets.
Zip the bag and add
packing tape over the top so it can’t be opened.
Print out labels with the words “I Spy with my
little eye” and a list of the items included in the bag. I made each grandchild a bag that included a
collection of Christmas trinkets along with a magnetized letter of the first
letter of their name. (Ex. E for Emily). I just used letters from an A to Z magnetic
alphabet set. My choice of including a
magnetized letter was so they could move the magnet inside the bag by moving a
magnet on the outside of the bag. They
A Sensory Bag can easily be made with other items. Try it with sight words, letters, numbers, shapes, rhyming words, photos, Let your imagination soar!
Recyclable Puzzles are simple, homemade puzzles using recyclables. They are easy to make, FREE and support recycling. They have become my favorite arts and crafts activity with my grand kids.
2 Simple Steps:
Choose a front panel of a cardboard box. I usually use cereal boxes or snack boxes because the picture is familiar to the kids but any cardboard box will do.
Allow your young child to cut the front panel of the box into pieces and then have them put the panel back together. Once the panel is cut up, store the pieces in a Ziplock bag.
Kids love to play puzzles and there are many benefits:
Fine Motor Skills Development
Shape Recognition and Geometry
Eye hand coordination
Reinforces knowledge of environmental print
Practice Problem solving
Helps to build patience and attention span.
Recyclable Puzzles: Tips for Success
Remind kids to put completed puzzles away in Ziplock bag (zipped) when finished before another puzzle is attempted.
When possible keep a second front panel to use as a model. When that is not available, be sure to take a photo before the box is cut up. In this way, kids can use the picture stored on our phone if they need help.
Use familiar boxes or pictures. It is much easier reassemble a puzzle when kids know what it “should” look like.
Number the back of each puzzle with a marker and circle the last number so you know you have the last piece. How many times have you worked on a puzzle for a long time and found out at the end that you were missing a piece?
When allowing older kids to make puzzles for younger siblings or cousins, be sure to explain the importance of cutting up fewer, larger pieces. Great opportunity to teach them about how we all learn. It’s best to start with something simple when learning something new.
Ask kids to “autograph” their puzzle creation. They will love turning the pieces over to put together their names!
Recyclable puzzles are convenient to make and tons of fun. Why not cut up some boxes today?
I admit it. When I was both a teacher and a principal, there were some historical dates that came and went; and I totally missed them. For kids in school, knowing those dates on the calendar provide opportunities to learn about history and helps to build their general knowledge. Knowing these dates can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be impressed by their teachers historical knowledge!
Personally, I hope knowing some of these dates will help my trivia team score some points at our weekly competition! Go Wizards!
(December 2018 and January 2019)
Dec.2-Dec 10 Hanukkah
December 10 Emily Dickinson’s Birthday (1830)
December 10 Human Rights Day
December 15 Bill of Rights Day (1791)
December 16 Boston
Tea Party Anniversary (1773)
December 17 Anniversary of the Wright Brothers Flight (1903)
December 21 First Day of Winter
December 25 Christmas
December 25 Clara Barton’s Birthday
Dec. 26-Jan. 1 Kwanzaa
January 1 New Year’s Day
January 1 Emancipation Proclamation Anniversary (1863)
January 1-3 Japanese New Year Festivities
January 7 Orthodox
January 20 World Religion Day
January 21 Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Observance (1929)
January 23 First Native American US Senator
Welcome to the first month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I will post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3. I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.
Which Strategies Will You Use?
When solving math problems try one of the 6 common strategies listed below:
Draw a picture
Guess and Check
Use a table or list
Find a pattern
Working backwards (try a simpler version first)
Math Enrichment Problems – Here we go!
Teagan’s brother is now 8 years old, two years ago she was old as he is now. How old will Teagan be in 5 years?
Declan spent 18.00 on baseball cards. This is twice as much as Meghan and Lowyn spent together. Meghan spent $4.00. How much did Lowyn spend?
Marian, Cole, Kelly and Donna were invited to a party. Marian did not arrive last. Kelly arrived after Cole but before Donna. Kelly did not arrive right after Cole. Of the 4 of them Marian was the ____ to arrive.
Abby bought as many 24-cent hair ribbons as she could with her $5. How much change did Abby receive.
Matt has 35 quarters in his collection. If he puts 7 quarters in each row, how many rows of quarters will he have?
Chris is Kelly’s brother. Chris has one brother. Kelly has twice as many sisters as brothers. How many children are in the family?
Connall eats breakfast at 6am and lunch at noon. When it is ____ it is twice as much time until lunch as it has been since breakfast. a) 7am b) 10am c) 8am d) 5pm
Math Enrichment Problems- Answers:
Teagan is now 10 and in 5 years she will be 15 years old.
Half of $18 is $9.00. Meghan spent $4. Lowyn spent $9 – $4 = $5.00
2nd. Kelly had to be 2nd or 3rd (after Cole but before Donna),. Since Kelly did not arrive right after Cole, Cole arrived first, Kelly 3rd and Donna last. That leaves Marian to arrive 2nd.
She bought 20 ribbons 20 X .$24 – $4.80. $5.00-$4.80 = $.20.
35-7= 28-7 = 21-7 =14-7 =7-7 =0 there will be 5 rows 0f 7 quarters.
If Chris has one brother than Kelly has tow brothers. Since she has twice as many sisters as brothers. Kelly has 4 sisters. In the family there is a total of 7 children. The seven children are Kelly’s 2 brothers + her 4 sisters + Kelly.
c) 8am is 4 hours from noon and 2 hours from 8am
Try some of the problems today with your child. Once solved, create for them a similar problem by changing the numbers. This gives them an opportunity to try the problem again to reinforce their new skills. This strategy helps them solve the problem easier each time which will build their math confidence. Enjoy!
When I was a classroom teacher, I found the first week of December a very busy time. First quarter Parent Conferences were over, and parents were ready to support their child’s strengths and weaknesses. For those students with high math ability I recruited parents to encourage their child to try the Math Enrichment Fun Center (MEFC). The center had 12 more advanced math problems. I found some kids were hesitant to try the center due to fear of failure. Once students finished the 12 problems in the MFC, they were able to bring the problems home to share with their parents.
Math Fun Centers (MEFCs) for Everyone!
Five years later when I became the school’s teacher of the Talented and Gifted program, I made Math Enrichment Centers for all the grade 2 and 3 regular education classrooms. They were made with a large trifold board with 12 library pockets with a problem in each. The MEFCs became quite popular and teachers loved having the center available. Each month I replaced the problems with a new set. Because good resources never get old, I reused the problems again as a K-2 principal when I offered Enrichment Math to second graders!
This month I’m starting a Monthly Math Enrichment post that will include Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3. Please check out my post on December 15rh titled Math Enrichment Dec. Grades 2-3 .
4 Reasons Why Math Enrichment Will Benefit Kids
Improves Problem Solving – Enrichment problems can benefit students that excel in classroom math and want to deepen their mathematical understanding. It allows them to explore different strategies to strengthen their problems solving skills.
Reduces Stress– Enrichment problems extend your child’s math skills without the added pressure of grades or comparing themselves with other classmates. Practicing math problems on a child’s own schedule eliminates time pressures and allows kids to enjoy math.
Builds Confidence– Enrichment math problems helps to build confidence by improving a child’s math skills.
Strengthens Critical Thinking – Math enrichment keeps kids thinking. Math problems should engage a child in reasoning and thinking out of the box.
I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.
Recently, while working with a group of teachers, I was asked to recommend great website resources to help them meet the needs of their students. I’m starting with the 7 below because they are some of the websites that our teachers used when I was a K-2 and K-5 principal.
So here they are teacher friends and thank you for the great topic for future posts. Be on the lookout for monthly posts that will include 7 (lucky #7) website resources to support students from preschool through Grade 12.
Take a look at December’s TOP Website Resources
Education Northwest for Writing- Even if you don’t use the 6+1 traits of writing, this site offers great resources that can be adapted to your needs. Included in the site are lesson plans, writing prompts and rubrics to support language arts. Be sure to look at the samples to practice scoring and see how other teachers score the same piece. This will be helpful when preparing for state testing. (ELA)
Read, Write, Think – The site provides high quality resources in language arts instruction. Every lesson has been aligned to both the IRA/NCTE Standards for ELA and also to individual state standards. (ELA)
Smithsonian Education -The Learning Lab offers thousands of resources for educators, including lesson plans, virtual tours of their latest exhibits, and the opportunity to connect with experts in the field. Be sure to check out the virtual field trips. It’s not a real field trip but it’s the next best thing. (General)
SMART Exchange for Interactive Whiteboard -Take a look at the SMART Exchange before creating any lessons for your interactive whiteboard from scratch. This site has existing lessons and ideas submitted by teachers. (General Tech)
Annenberg Learner– The Annenberg Foundation provides many professional development series on demand for FREE. The foundations’ goal is to encourage more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge about teaching. Annenberg Learner resources can be accessed for free. (Professional Development)
Utah Education Network (UETN) – Don’t be fooled this site is not just for Utah! The UETN connects all Utah school districts, schools and higher education institution to create a site with quality education resources that can be used in any classroom. (Multi-subject)
With the holidays around the corner, I’ve started to wrap the grandkid gifts . As I unearth them from secret hiding spots around the house, I see that I have bought a large selection of puzzles. As a yearlong Christmas shopper, I have discovered that my quest to find the “the perfect gift for a certain grandkid” has left me with a hodgepodge of gifts with too many for one child and nothing for another! Staring at the collection of gifts I wonder ” which grandchild did I buy this perfect present for”? Good thing puzzles are interchangeable “perfect” gifts!
Truth is, I’m a puzzle lover. Sudoku, Wheel of Fortune or jigsaw, love them all. As a result, I have discovered that I am also a serious puzzle buyer! Looking at my grandkids kids gift collection I have all sizes and topics ranging in size from 2 to 1000 pieces. Yes, only 2 pieces in my homemade environmental puzzle for the 2 year old. Puzzles challenge my thinking and exercise my mind.
When assessing students in school, we focused on their social, emotional and academic growth. Now, when choosing toys for my grandkids I try to think of these same areas. Ok, I admit it, sometimes it’s a real stretch to justify a Pokemon Mega Powers Collection Card Game. But that’s what GG’s are for! However, there’s no stretching with puzzles. They’re an idea toy that benefits kids and can be lots of fun.
Let’s see the top 6 benefits for kids playing with puzzles.
Problem solving– Children must think and develop strategies on how to solve a puzzle. This This process involves problem solving, reasoning skills and developing solutions. Whether they choose to fill in a puzzle around the frame or from picture clues, it helps children think in a logical way.
Attention Span and Patience -Most puzzles are not done quickly. An interesting puzzle can hold a child’s attention and keep them engaged for hours. Therefore, the challenge of solving or completing a puzzle will help develop patience.
Social– My granddaughters love doing puzzles with us. Working on a puzzle as a team gives many opportunities for talking. Sharing ideas and joint problem solving will help a child work as a team. Working on a team effectively is one of the qualities that today’s employers look for. Never too young to build your resume skillset.
Self-esteem– Who doesn’t love the feeling of satisfaction when you finish a puzzle? That feeling helps build a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Two very important life skills to develop.
Fine Motor Skills Development– Puzzles are a fun way for children to develop and refine their fine motor skills. When engaged in playing with puzzles, children are required to pick up, pinch and grasp pieces turning them around until they fit into the puzzle. Fine motor skills are necessary for handwriting and other important achievements. This trial and error of matching pieces also involves a lot of hand and eye coordination.
Shape Recognition and Geometry– In order to complete puzzles, kids need to recognize and sort pieces. For this reason, many first puzzles are shape recognition puzzles.
A Worthwhile Gift
Let’s be honest, grandkid visits change the dynamics of retirement. My house becomes noisy, a little messier and a lot more fun. Puzzles have become my” go to” as a grandkid gift for many reasons. They are fun educational toys that are reasonably priced and challenge my grandkids minds. They are also easy to store, can be done without adult help, and somewhat quiet!
How did that happen? An F in retirement, really? How about a D?
My nephews lovingly have given me a grade of F in retirement. They are right. I have not retired to their ideal retirement vision of book reading on an island! I took early retirement to spend more time with my family. However, I knew the day I walked out the door that I wasn’t finished with education, but I didn’t know what it was going to be.
I’ll tell you though that blogging wasn’t even on the list!. But 2 months ago, I decided to use blogging as a way to answer some of the questions that people ask me. It has been a challenge to learn a whole new area and I have a whole lot more to learn. However, I’m up and running and learning every day. My kind of retirement!
Folks, I’m the patient and I’m supposed to have the questions……
Education is on people’s minds. This was very apparent at my first medical appointment after retiring when the receptionist asked me why we had so many snow days, the nurse asked me about Common Core and the Doctor wanted to know my opinion on the new math Regents. People have questions about education. That’s a good thing! They want to be involved, they want to understand and perhaps with information they will be more accepting of the many changes that have occurred in the past few years. My blogging has become the way to respond to questions and share any information that I use in school presentations. My thinking…. why keep it a secret?
Thank you, Simon & Garfunkel
On a recent road trip, I was singing to the song “The Boxer” by Simon andGarfunkel. As I sang the line “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” it occurred to me that this was exactly what I wanted my followers to do with my blog. I post 3 times a week and hope that it can be helpful to my readers, however not every post is for everyone. So, please disregard and come back to read the blog another day. La, la,la, la,la, (still singing).
Over the past 2 months of blogging I have learned that a good blogger, should have a narrow topic to recruit more followers. That makes a lot of sense; but it doesn’t work well for me right now. With 7 grandkids, teachers in my consult schools, fellow grant writers, colleagues, and friends our followers are quite diverse. Together we share a smorgasbord of entrees at our education buffet. I hope you will join us!
The answer may be NO. It’s hard for teachers to find the time to meet the needs of all students in their classroom. One group of students that sometimes gets overlooked are the highly-abled. I was a teacher of Talented and Gifted students and was assigned to both pull out classes and to team teach with K-3 classroom teachers to differentiate instruction. Along with a lack of time, teachers also lacked appropriate materials and training in differentiated instruction. School administrators need to budget for resources to help our teachers do their job.
Parents- you have the power to make the change!
Parents are sometimes hesitant to question a teacher about their child’s strengths for fear of being considered “pushy” . However, when I ask parents if they would be hesitant to talk to their child’s teacher if their child was struggling in class; the answer is always no. So here’s a “nice” way of asking the question to your child’s teacher; “how are you meeting my child’s needs in the classroom”?
Teachers,if you are addressing the needs of the high ability students in your classroom you will have no problem answering that question. Good for you and Thank You! If not, I can’t provide materials or time to help you but you may find the websites below helpful.
Awesome Enrichment Website Resources
Early in my teaching career and later as a principal, I used resources from some of the websites below either with students or in Teacher Workshops. I currently use a couple of the sites with my own grandchildren. Many of the sites also have research information on highly-abled students that can help you advocate for your child to both teachers and administrators. A well-informed parent is the best resource to get appropriate programming for their child.
ProProfs Brain Games https://www.proprofs.com/games/all/ Extensive choice of activities to support in-depth learning. Site includes: logic games, puzzles, Sudoku, word games and brain teasers.
Hoagies’ Gifted Education Pagehttps://www.hoagiesgifted.org/parents.htm I have shared this site many times with parents and teachers. I have also used some of the activities with my own students when I taught the gifted and in Enrichment classes. The site is quite extensive with research information so don’t be overwhelmed. It’s worth a look.
Odyssey of the Mind (OM) http://www.odysseyofthemind.com OM is a world-wide competition the website has great resources to foster creative thinking in your classroom. Be sure to look at the Practice Problems along with the Spontaneous activities. I used to coach an OM team and found the website had a variety of ideas to foster creative thinking in my classroom. Be sure to look at the practice problems and the Spontaneous activities. These activities would be excellent for all the students in your classrooms.
Quiz Hub https://www.quizhub.com/ Great variety of quizzes for kids to take on a variety of subjects. The annual membership is $1 per child for schools up to 300 students. Worth considering, even with the cost.
KB Connected http://www.kbkonnectedkids.com/ This was new to me but I love this site. Great resource to help teachers find appropriate activities for their students to tackle. Lots of interactive and challenging activities.
PBS Kids http: pbskids.org/ Specifically, good for young kids with connections to PBS TV programs. Yes, there is some marketing, but there are great activities for all grade levels. Regular classroom teachers will rate this a Gold Rated website.
Know It All http://knowitall.org Although some activities are particular to South Carolina, there are many other games and activities on the site for other states.
The websites above can also be helpful as home activities. Keeping it fun for kids will encourage them to keep learning!