Historical Dates: Oct. & Nov. 2019

Including Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.
Including Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.

For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general knowledge. Knowing these dates can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be impressed  by their teachers historical knowledge!

Knowing historical dates provides opportunities for students to learn history and build their general knowledge. Take a look and impress your students!

October

Fire Prevention Week (October 9- October 15)
National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 – October 15)

Oct. 4 World Smile Day

Oct. 8 Yom Kippur (10/08-10/09)

Oct. 9 Fire Prevention Day

Oct. 9 National Bring Your Teddy Bear To School Day

Oct. 14 Columbus Day

Oct. 25 Make A Difference Day (10/25-10/26)

November

Nov. 5 Election Day

Nov.. 11 Veterans Day (Observed)

Nov. 28 Thanksgiving

Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic

Great Calendar Resource

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Activities for Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)
Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 yrs.)

Learning to read is not easy and takes time.  Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read.  With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have readers of all sizes and abilities.  

I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level.  The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills.  Therefore, each level is important for reading success.  Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level.  Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Preschool Reader activities. Last week we started with our series with Very Early Readers (Birth – 2 years).  This week we continue with Preschool Readers (2 – 5yrs). 

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

  • Discuss what’s happening, point out things on the page, ask your child questions
  • When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.
  • Talk about print everywhere. Talk about written words you see in the world around you and respond with interest to your child’s questions about words.
  • Ask your child to find a new word every time you go on an outing.
  • Watch My Lips – Encourage your child to watch your lips and mouth while you make certain sounds. Have your child think about how his/her own lips and tongue move. You can say something like, “Can you feel how your mouth moves the same way at the beginning of the words sun, snake, and sour? Watch my mouth while I say them.” Exaggerate the letter s when saying the words.
  • Play sound games— Give your child practice blending individual sounds into words. For example, ask “Do you know what the word is? m-o-p?” Say the sound each letter makes rather than the name of the letter. Hold each sound longer than you normally would. This will help your child recognize the different letter sounds.
  • Trace and say letters while saying the letter’s sound at the same time. Use a pan filled with rice, sugar or beans to involve touch, sight and speech.  
  • Play word games — Use a dry erase board to play word games with your child. First, write out a word like mat. Then change the initial sound. Have your child sound out the word when it becomes fat and then when it becomes sat. Next change the final sound, so the word changes from sat to sag to sap. Then change the middle sound, so the word changes from sap to sip.
  • Punctuate your reading.?! -. Discuss how punctuation on a page represents ways of speaking. You can say, for example, “When we talk, we usually pause a little bit at the end of a sentence. The way we show this pause in writing is to use a period.”
  • Dig deeper into the story — Ask your child about the story you’ve just read together. Try questions that require your child to draw conclusions. Say something like, “Why do you think Clifford did that?” A child’s involvement in retelling a story or answering questions goes a long way toward developing his or her comprehension skills.
  • Tell family tales — Children love to hear stories about their family. Tell your child what it was like when you or your parents were growing up or talk about a funny thing that happened when you were young.
  • Storytelling on the go — Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in the car. Either one of you could start. Start with a beginning middle and end and work up to a longer story. A fun activity that stretches the imagination!

Every minute counts in becoming a good reader. Why not set a goal to try to do at least one activity a day? Be prepared to have days when it doesn’t get done. It’s only a goal. Most of all, enjoy the special time with your child.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Student Teacher Professional Lending Library

Student Teacher Professional Lending Library
Student Teacher Professional Lending Library

Over the years I’ve collected a collection of education books.  Take a look at the list below and let me know if there are any books that you may find helpful in your placements. I can bring them to your placement on our next observation.  Access to your very own professional lending library! 

  • Brainstorm                                                   Siegel                             2012
  • Bright From The Start Stamm 2008
  • Classroom Instruction That Works        Marzano & Pickering          2001
  • Classroom Management                  Evertson & Emmer     2000
  • Drive                                                             Pink                                 2009
  • Engaging Children with Print                  Justice & Sofka             2010
  • How Children Succeed Tough 2013
  • How Young Children Learn                       Ostroff                            2012
  • Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons               Oczkus                           2009
  • Mindset                                                         Dweck                            2006
  • Mosaic of Thought                            Keene & Zimmerman              1997
  • Multiple Intelligences- Reading/Writing    Armstrong                      2003
  • Nonfiction in Focus                                     Kristo & Bamford           2004
  • Picture Books to Teaching Writing            Culham & Coutu            2008
  • Power of Repeated Reading                     Bamwell & Doyle           2008
  • Reading with Meaning                                Miller                               2002
  • Texts and Lessons – 65 Mentor Texts      Daniels & Steineke          2013
  • The Differentiated Classroom (2nd Ed.)    Tomlinson                      2014
  • The Fluent Reader                                      Rasinski                         2003
  • Thirty Million Words                                    Suskind                          2013
  • What Works in Schools                              Marzano                             2003
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic

Behaviors and Future Academic Success

Behaviors for Ready for School and Ready for Life
Behaviors for Ready for School and Ready for Life

Did you know that the kindergartners that start school this September will be the high school graduating Class of 2032?  Yes, that’s right!  I bet many of you are already thinking about how old you will be that year. However, in 2032, will our schools have prepared them for their careers?  Truthfully, we do not even know what those jobs will be.  So, for now, let’s concentrate on the behaviors that will help them get to the Kindergarten Graduating Class of 2020.

Behaviors Discovered in Research:

report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that kids entering kindergarten display a wide range of skills, knowledge, and school-readiness behaviors — some of which give them a big advantage. Through its Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS), which tracked students from kindergarten through third grade, the NCES aimed to determine whether some of these behaviors are related to academic performance. They are:

  • Pays attention well
  • Learns independently
  • Persist in completing tasks
  • Organizes belongings
  • Adapt easily to change
  • Shows eagerness to learn new things
  • Follow classroom rules

It is true that we don’t know the career path that our little ones will take, However, the above skills will not only help your child in their future career but in everyday life.  Enjoy the journey!

Other posts related to this topic:

DayByDayNY: Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

Top Reading Resources for Kids!

The best way for kids to become good readers is to read, read, read!  This post includes a variety of resources that will keep them engaged and provides hours of fun. The resources are both free and kid-friendly.  They include reading resources for all levels from beginners to advanced readers.

Great resources to get kids to read!
Great resources to get kids to read!

https://www.starfall.com/h/

Site includes a variety of resources for many areas.  Perfect for preschool, K-2 , special ed and English Language Development. A paid membership is needed for access to all resources but there are many FREE.

https://pbskids.org/

Quick fun activities and games to help them learn to read and write.

https://www.funbrain.com/

FREE educational games and online books for kids preschool through grade 8.  The interactive games develop skills in math, reading, and literacy.

http://teacher.scholastic.com/clifford1/

Clifford, The Big Red Dog: Interactive Storybooks!

http://funology.com/

Funology is the best place that kids can do alone or with their parents.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/

The Exploratorium isn’t just a museum. It has lots of online interactive activities.

http://www.thekidzpage.com/

Thekidzpage.com website for kids! Hundreds of free kids games, puzzles, activities, coloring pages, clip art & more for children, families, parents, teachers.  

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

ThreeRingsConnections’ June 2019 Newsletter

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.  WB Yeats
It’s the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Did you light a child’s fire for learning?

Six months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All _____June posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 6 down and 6 more to go! Have a great month!

June’s 2019 Archives

June’s Most Popular Posts:

My Favorite June Posts:

See some posts coming next month
  • Performing Arts and Kids
  • Jokes for Kids Develops a Sense of Humor
  • Comprehension Questions Help Early Readers
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Kindergarten Behaviors to Start School

Kindergarten readiness behaviors  begin at home.
Kindergarten readiness behaviors begin at home.

It’s funny the things you think of at big moments in your life.  I remember very clearly what I was thinking my first day as a K-5 principal when I went out to meet the children.  As they enthusiastically came off the buses, I’m sure none of them knew that their new principal was thinking “ready or not, here they come”.  They arrived and although I questioned myself many times over that year, I finally came to terms with my readiness.

For years, future kindergarten parents have questioned whether their child “would be, is, or was” ready for kindergarten.   The typical flightiness of 5-year olds, gives some parents cause for sleepless nights. 

Parents often try to get a head start on academics with their preschooler.  However, if you ask a group of kindergarten teachers what skills are the best predictors of success in kindergarten, the answer may surprise you. Although I had taught Kindergarten, it was when I became the principal of a K-2 school that I REALLY saw these behaviors ring true. 

Kindergarten Behaviors to be “Ready to Learn” (alphabetical order) 

  • adapts easily to change
  • follows classroom rules
  • learns independently
  • organizes belongings
  • pays attention
  • persists in completing tasks
  • shows eagerness to learn

Kids, like adults, are imperfect.  So when looking at your future kindergarten students, think “big picture” when looking at the traits.  Think how your child does overall with those characteristics.  If you see an area, that they need additional support, try to find opportunities to practice these skills at home over the next few months.  

As a kindergarten teacher, various readiness levels are a “given” in a classroom.  Sharing your concerns and working together with your child’s teacher will help support your child’s success. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Learn the Signs. Act Early Program

Learn the Signs. Act Early. A resource of family-friendly materials to support a child's development.
A resource of family-friendly materials to support a child’s development.

The Center for Disease Control has created an outstanding resource of family-friendly materials to support a child’s development. The Learn the Signs Act Early program gives developmental milestones as well as tips to help your child learn and grow.  It also has a free app, the Milestone Tracker, to help parents track the information in a fun and easy way.   

The Learn the signs app includes the following features:

  • Interactive milestone checklists for children ages 2 months through 5 years, illustrated with photos and videos
  • Tips and activities to help children learn and grow
  • Information on when to act early and talk with a doctor about developmental delays
  • A personalized milestone summary that can be easily shared with doctors and other care providers
  • Reminders for appointments and developmental screenings

Good News: The app is now available in Spanish.

Please check it out today and share with others!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Phonological Awareness Resource for Families

Phonological awareness is crucial for understanding language and how words come together.
Phonological awareness is crucial for understanding language and how words come together.

The National Center on Improving Literacy has released a great eLearning resource on Phonological Awareness.  The Ask & Answer: Phonological Awareness  will help families and educators learn about this important skill. The document can be reviewed as presentation or downloaded as a Word document to be read easily.   

The Question and Answer document describes key literacy terms in reading instruction.  Additionally, it shares ways parents can help their child’s literacy development at home.  Educators may find this tool useful to review key literacy terms and teaching practices.

Phonological Awareness in 7 questions:

  • What is phonological awareness (PA)?
  • Why is PA important?
  • How does PA typically develop?
  • How should PA be taught?
  • What should instruction look like for children with, or at risk for, literacy related disabilities or dyslexia?
  • How can families support PA development?
  • How can I learn more?

Please check it out today and share with others!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Hello Kindergarten: Great Resource

Kindergarten transition is important.
Kindergarten transition is important.

Another one of our grandkids is going to Kindergarten in September. Miss Em will soon join her “soon to be” 1st grade sister at school and on the “always exciting” school bus ride.

As teachers, my daughter and I are pretty sure that Miss Em is ready to go; but with 5-year-olds, readiness sometimes depends on the day! For those parents looking for a good resource the Hello Kindergarten toolkit is a great online toolkit. The toolkit contains a variety of resources to help families through kindergarten transition. The resource was developed by a partnership between the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and the Connecticut State Department of Education.  Although it was developed for Connecticut families, this is an excellent resource for all families looking to support their “soon to be” Kindergartener. 

The toolkit includes multiple topics on transition such as: 

  • What your child should know and be able to do before her/she goes off to school,
  • How to give your child a healthy start, and
  • How the registration process works.

Even if you think your child is ready for Kindergarten; it certainly is worth a look.  Enjoy this special time with your child!

Other posts related to this topic:

Summer Reading at New York Libraries (even if you’re not a New Yorker)!

Great Resource for Summer Reading

The New York State Education Department’s Summer Reading at New York Libraries program is once again partnering with myON in 2019 to bring digital books to young readers via unlimited access to the myON by Renaissance digital library! The goal is to keep children reading and learning through the summer by providing them with access to an abundance of reading material, to help prevent summer slide and the loss of reading skills. 

Students and their families can easily access the myON digital library from May 1 through September 30 with one simple statewide login. A mobile app is also available allowing up to 20 books to be downloaded and read while traveling or away from home. The myON library has a collection of over 6,000 fiction and nonfiction ebooks geared toward children from birth to 12th grade, with recorded audio, text highlighting, and an embedded dictionary all included.

Libraries are a great resource for learning all year round, but especially in the summer. Your local library has a wide variety of book selections (ebooks, audio and hardcover) for adults and kids. “A Universe of Stories” is the 2019 slogan and the theme is space and science, so check out activities being planned by your local library.

Summer Reading resources for students.
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids? 

Tumblebooks: Free Stories for Kids

TumbleBooks of the Day is a project that provides free daily content for families, schools and public libraries to promote literacy and love of reading.

TumbleBooks of the Day is a project that provides free daily content for families, schools and public libraries to promote literacy and love of reading. Each day there is a Book of the Day, Math Book of the Day, Game of the Day and Spanish Book of the Day.  There is also a Fun Fact of the Day that is customized for each state.

TumbleBooks is a FREE online collection of children’s books that are read TO your child.  TumbleBooks is available at local libraries and from home with your library card.  (SHHH…. A search of TumbleBooks of the Day will also give you the same resource each day).

Many of the picture books are animated, have sounds and music making them very engaging to younger listeners and readers.  The longer chapter books are narrated to your child, similar to an audiobook.  However, you child can follow along the text with the narration.

Yes, it does count as screen time, but isn’t nice that it counts as some early literacy and educational purpose!


.Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Check for Understanding: Increasing Teacher Effectiveness

Many teachers use a limited amount of student assessments. Often this is due to a lack of the awareness of the importance of frequency and variety in lesson design. However, the climate of high stakes testing and teacher evaluations has created an interest in Checking for Understanding in Professional Learning Circles (PLCs).

Many teachers use a limited amount of student assessments.  Often this is due to a lack of the awareness of the importance of frequency and variety in lesson design. However, the climate of high stakes testing and teacher evaluations has created an interest in Checking for Understanding in Professional Learning Circles (PLCs).

Checking for Understanding and Teacher Observations

A few years ago, NYS mandated a new teacher/administrator evaluation system.  The new system includes some controversial high stakes consequences.  Although teacher observation in our school were very good, we discovered that we used limited techniques to Check for Understanding. Therefore, we created a Professional Leaning Circle (PLC) to learn some new techniques.

Checking for Understanding: PLC

Once we identified the need for varied assessments in lesson design, we created the following 4-step implementation plan.

  1. Identified 8 (avg. 2 per month) commonly used assessment techniques to use in the first semester. Starting in the second semester, we added one additional technique per month to try.
  2. Offered teacher-led Professional Development opportunities on each technique led by teacher-presenters. Each workshop included a technique overview, examples and alternate versions.  
  3. Created and used a 3 column (technique, definition, Teacher Notes), teacher-friendly tracking system.  The Teacher Notes column was added so teachers could personalize specific ideas (e.g. subjects, examples, student groups).
  4. Added “cheers and jeers” to each meeting to share results.    

Checking for Understanding: Must Haves

  • Learning standards are broken down into small objectives and learning is assessed prior to moving on.
  • Try to involve all students in answering questions.
  • Use both individual and whole group techniques.   
  • Assessment directly relates to learning.   
  • Aim to increase participation through questioning.
  • Opportunities are natural and meaningful that practice new information and connect to prior knowledge.
  • Checkpoints are established throughout the lesson.
  • Specific language is included in the questioning to identify exact information not known.
  • Help students think about what they are learning to make them aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Check for understanding at least three times a lesson: after Introduction to New Material (INM), Guided Practice (GP), and at the conclusion of the lesson.
  • Vary assessment to keep everyone engaged.

5 Things We Learned about Checking for Understanding

  1. Teachers felt that they were more effective.  
  2. Lesson plans became more detailed.
  3. Teachers became more thoughtful in lesson design to include more assessments throughout the lesson.
  4. Teachers thought more about “the learning” rather than “the teaching”.
  5. Teachers enjoyed sharing ideas and learning from each other.

Overall, our Checking for Understanding PLC was successful.  For some teachers it refreshed their memory of assessment techniques; for others it provided new resources. It was a good reminder all of us that as educators we are responsible for learning, not teaching.

Tip #1: Teachers found that listing the strategies and identifying them by numbers in their plans helped them track how often they used each technique. The system also helped them try new techniques and/or perfect old ones.

Tip #2: My favorite resource about on-going, formative assessment is
Checking for Understanding by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. The book contains dozens of ways to thoughtfully and systematically monitor student learning.


Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Social Emotional Learning is NOT OPTIONAL

Social Emotional Learning Skills help students be “ready to learn”. They help kids understand and manage their emotions. They are necessary to establish positive relationships, to feel and show empathy and helps kids learn to make responsible decisions.

Social Emotional Learning Skills help students be “ready to learn”.  Helping kids to understand and manage their emotions is important for student success.

In classrooms worldwide, educators have known FOR YEARS about the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for student success. We have spent countless hours helping kids and families deal with issues that were not directly related to academics. School attendance, apathy, poor decision-making skills and behavioral issues impact academic success.

It seems to me that research studies that supported SEL skills have been almost ignored in recent education.  Instead, the path to academic success has been paved with standards and testing.  I am happy to see that policymakers have finally re-routed the focus of education success to include social and emotional learning. However, the recent detours have been expensive in both money and lost student learning.

SEL: Better Late Than Never?

I consider myself an optimistic educator. I believe in the power and the importance of education. Although I believe that SEL are necessary in the classroom, I am skeptical that teachers will be able find the time to include the curriculum and most importantly do it well.  Teachers already have a “full plate of mandates”. Policymakers are reacting (although delayed) with guidance and resources, but they are expecting teachers to fix a major issue in a 7-hour day.  Social and emotional learning is a 24-hour job and must start when a child is young. It should not be a “subject” to be taught in school.  These skills should begin in the home and be reinforced in school and by childcare providers throughout a child’s life. 

What Are Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills?

Social Emotional Learning Skills help students be “ready to learn”.  They help kids understand and manage their emotions. They are necessary to establish positive relationships, to feel and show empathy and helps kids learn to make responsible decisions.

7 Social Emotional Learning Skills: Quick and Easy

  1. Self-Awareness: A realistic understanding of strengths and limitations and consistent desire for self-improvement.
  2. Self-Management: Controlling behaviors to complete a task or succeed in a new situation.
  3. Social Awareness: Interacting with others that shows respect for themselves and others.  
  4. Relationship Skills: Being able to maintain positive connections with others. 
  5. Goal-Directed Behavior:  Persistence in completing tasks.  
  6. Personal Responsibility: Responsible for actions and contributing to group efforts.
  7. Decision Making: Learning to make good choices and accept responsibility for decisions.
  8. Optimistic Thinking: Positive thinking about oneself and life situations.

Better Late Than Never, I Guess

Although I’m cautious about its effectiveness, I am happy to see an abundance of SEL information being distributed to support the initiative.  New York State Education Department has created a very good guidance and resource document to support classroom teachers. I invite classroom teachers, anywhere, to look at the resources and see MY New York State tax dollars at work!

Children will be more “ready to learn” if we all work together to help them manage their social and emotional needs. Please share this information with anyone that has children in their lives so SEL can start today. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids? 

Other posts related to this topic:

Online Resources for Preschoolers

Online resources can support a preschooler’s literacy journey.

Online resources can support a preschooler's literacy journey.
Online resources can support a preschooler’s literacy journey.

There are many resources online to support a preschooler’s literacy journey, but which ones are good? Over the last few months, I’ve been on a search to find great resources that parents can use that are easy to use and can engage kids. Over the last few months, I’ve tried each of the sites with one of my grandchildren 1 year to 5 years old.  So here is my “GG approved” literacy websites.  But more importantly it comes with a “grandchild approved” rating. Have fun!

Top 10 Online Resources (alphabetical)

  • Between the Lions– This website associated with the PBS show features games, activities, and resources for emerging readers.
  • Children’s Storybooks Online– This collection of online stories is perfect for beginning readers through young adults.
  • Starfall– Starfall guides students from learning the alphabet to early reading and beyond. The four sections include videos, guided stories, and a selection of stories featuring comics, plays, folk tales, and more!
  • Reading is Fundamental – This children’s literacy organization has activity ideas for parents, articles for educators and stories and games for kids. Be sure to check out the reading activity calendars!
  • Storyline Online – Screen Actors Guild members read children’s books aloud, accompanied by the book illustrations.
  • StoryPlace: The Children’s Digital Library – Thank you to the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County for creating a great interactive website for kids.  On this site your child can listen to interactive children’s stories and play on-line activities and more.
  • Starfall– Starfall guides students from learning the alphabet to early reading and beyond. The four sections include videos, guided stories, and a selection of stories featuring comics, plays, folk tales, and more!
  • PBS Kids – Kids can explore their favorite PBS shows such as Curious George, Caillou, and Arthur while playing educational games.
  • National Geographic Kids – Play games, watch videos, learn about animals, and places, and get fun facts on the National Geographic Kids website.
  • San Diego Zoo Kids – ALL FREE.  Great resource for “one stop activities”. Includes games, craft ideas, science experiments and videos about animals.
  • StoryPlace: The Children’s Digital Library – At this children’s website by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, kids can listen to interactive children’s stories, play with on-line activities, print out take-home activities, reading list and more.

Online Resources Recently Discovered: Worth a Look!

  • H.I.P. Pocket Change – The United States Mint has a website just for kids! Here kids can learn about money through games and activities.
  • Toy Theater – At the Toy Theater you can compose music, make art, play Tic Tac Toe, and explore the interactive playset.
  • Literacy Center Education Network – The Play & Learn center has lots of online activities for learning to read.  Site includes activities in English, French, Spanish and German.
  • Chateau Meddybumps – Site has a FEE but there are many FREE activities.  Check out the Parent Guide on how to support your child in language, reading and social skills.

“GG suggested… grandchild approved.” 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids? 

Other posts related to this topic:

Power of Play and Young Kids

Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex. Years of research has shown that play affects a child’s development in deep and meaningful ways.

Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex.
Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex

As I sit on the floor and play with my granddaughters, I’m amazed at how quickly they are growing and learning.  What was too hard for them last week, they now accomplish without hesitation. Where does the time go?   

As a principal of a K-2 building, you didn’t go far without hearing about the importance of play in child development. Often, we discovered that children who struggled transitioning into kindergarten lacked early learning experiences.  Parents and caregivers simply weren’t aware of the power of play to help children learn.  

Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex.  Years of research has shown that play affects a child’s development in deep and meaningful ways.  Although it’s important for school readiness skills it has many other benefits that are just as important.

5 Reasons Why Play Matters

  • Builds Independence– Kids learn a great deal when they can explore.  Figuring out how something works without adult supervision allows kids to try something new. Often kids will repeat the same activity over and over to solve their problem or practice a new skill.
  • Develops Gross Motor Skills – Enjoying different activities helps develop physical coordination and confidence.  This allows them to develop self- awareness.
  • Builds Social Skills – Generally toddlers are centered on their own needs.  However, giving kids opportunities to play with others is important to build their social skills.  Don’t worry if you see them playing next to another child (parallel play).  They will start to be more social as they get older and have more experiences playing WITH other kids.
  • Stimulates the Senses – Your child’s ability to learn about the world depends on their senses.  So, when planning play opportunities try to include as many senses as you can.  THINK see, hear, touch, taste and smell. 
  • Language Skills – Play gives your child opportunities to tell you about their play.  Help them by narrating their play and repeating words many times. As they play, point to the items and name them. Occasionally ask your child questions about their play.

As parents and grandparents, we should do our best to encourage play. It’s time for us to sit back and watch the amazing power of play.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: April 2019

Monthly newsletter archives front Threeringsconnections.org gives parents, teachers and administrators resources to support kids.

Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.
Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.

Four months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 11 April posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 4 down and 8 more to go! Have a great month!

April’s 2019 Archives

April’s Most Popular Posts:

My Favorite April Posts:

Take a look at a few posts coming next month
  • Power of Play and Young Kids
  • STEM and STEAM for Preschool Students
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Science = School Success for Young Children

Science = School Success for Young Children. Take a look around our world!

Science is all around us!

Young children are natural born scientists.  How many times have we heard our child ask “WHY”?  From questioning rules to natural curiosity, their questioning is a result of them trying to figure things out.  Observing, experimenting and questioning are all key skills for school and life.

Simple Science Everyday

Without expensive equipment or science expertise, you can provide great science opportunities for your child. The experiments can also be done multiple times with minor adjustments to see new results. That doesn’t happen when you put together a puzzle!  Here are some easy science ideas.

  • Observe everyday activities and talk with your child about how they work.
  • Observe outdoor animals such as birds, squirrels and insects.  Talk about their body parts, where they live and what they eat.
  • Look at the sky in the daytime and watch the clouds.  Build your child’s vocabulary by describing how they look.
  • At night, look at the stars and the moon.  Watch it over a period of a week and see if it looks different.  Your child can even ask them to draw pictures of what they see.
  • Try some science experiments with everyday items.  Play with water both in the house and outside.  Watch it evaporate outside or experiment with sinking and floating items.
  • Try baking with your child and talk about what happens when you mix and bake.  Talk about the materials and how it bakes

Throughout your science time together, continue to ask your child questions.  If you don’t know what to ask, think back to your basic 5 +1 writing questions (who, what, when, where, why and how). Science experiments will have many “why” and “how” questions, but don’t forget the others also. For example:

  • What happens when _________
  • Where do you think the water goes when you don’t see it in the puddle anymore?
  • Who would be the best person in our family that could run as fast as the cheetah?

I Don’t Know Questions

It’s OK not to know an answer when your child asks a question.  But how do you tell your child that you don’t know? The following responses will help you move from “I don’t know” to “let’s learn it together”.  

  • I don’t know, what do you think?
  • I don’t know, how can we find out?
  • I don’t know, I wonder if _______ is the answer?
  • I don’t know, I wonder if it has anything to do with ________
  • I don’t know, how about if we try?
  • I don’t know how can we figure this out?
  • I don’t know, is there anyone else you think would know the answer?
  • I don’t know, where can we look to find the answer?
  • I don’t know, let’s think about this.
  • I don’t know, maybe that will work, can you think of anything else that might work? 
  • I don’t know, I’m not sure if that will work.
  • I don’t know but I don’t think so because _________.  Does that make sense?  What do you think now?
  • I don’t know, maybe we should look it up.  Where could we look?
  • I don’t know, let’s give it a try!

Studies show that children’s natural curiosity about science can be a path to a variety of career opportunities in their future.  In today’s world, there are more and more jobs that include technology skills.  These changes have even created a new look at science by describing the subject as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and adding an A for Art to make it STEAM.  Whatever term you use, Science is important for children to develop critical thinking skills they will need throughout their lives.

Coming Next Month: STEM and STEAM for young kids

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Children’s Book Week 2019

Children’s Book Week celebrations will be held at bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country April 29-May 5.

Children's Book Week in 2019 is  April 29-May 5
Celebrate April 29-May 5

Children’s Book Week (CBW) is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. It originated in the belief that children’s books and literacy are life-changers. 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of CBW. The 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.

Teachers and parents are encouraged to celebrate this week with their own events and self-made projects to help boost the pleasure in reading among young readers. Learn more about this year’s celebration and see what events will be held nationwide and happening in your area.

Children's Book Week celebrations last all year long!
CBW celebrations last all year long!

The celebration lasts all year long. 
Look for another dedicated week in the fall, November 4-10!

threeringsconnections.org a blog about education.  After all, Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

DayByDayNY: Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar that features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills.

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar that features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills.
Daily Calendar to support Kindergarten Readiness

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is a great resource for young kids. This site has so much information posted that I plan to highlight some additional components in the next few months. Parents or guardians in ANY state or ANY country will find information to help their children learn. Great resource. Take a look!

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar developed by the New York State Library Association. The calendar features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills. It also contains wellness information and resources to encourage daily reading.

The homepage is updated daily and includes songs, videos, crafts and an eBook that reads the text aloud. The pages can even be set to turn automatically. Parents can download the One More Story app to have it available on their mobile devices too. Daily links also include health and literacy information.  

If families spend a few minutes together a day on these activities your time will be well spent. However, if you still aren’t sure if it’s worth a look check out the DayByDayNY link.

Please share this site with others.  They will Thank you for it!