an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

October 20, 2014
by countryfun

One Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Game

“R” has a strong knowledge of all her letters, so that just means I need to keep coming up with creative ways to review with her. Being the only preschooler I have at this time means we often have an audience as we do a project and that’s ok as it supports their learning.

Today I used a favorite book – Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – to pull together a game that will have many ways to use.

All you need is an oatmeal container, brown and green construction paper, scissors, marker, glue and letters. I have a large collection of magnetic letters that we pulled from for this project.

This project changed from my plan, but the original purpose remained – reviewing letters.

I figured “R” would pull a letter, name it and I’d write it on the tree base. Nope! “R” wanted to do it herself and since we are currently beginning working on letter formation had to come up with another option, so frustration would not take over. She asked for stickers. Good idea as I have learned to always have a supply of letter stickers on hand.

Then “R” decided had to be in order (alphabetical order) just like the book.

I had pictured random letters all over the container. “R” pictured them in order placed along the top edge. What matters is the lesson purpose and giving value to her voice in her learning. Doing her way brought other skills into the original lesson.

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The project turned out great and we’ve played multiple times, as it hasn’t made it’s way home yet.

October 9, 2014
by countryfun

Uppercase Lowercase ABC’s

The booklet we made today was a free printable from Kroger’s Kindergarten which I originally found on Pinterest. It’s pinned in my General Fall theme board.

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The booklet was a super hit, which found us reading it in many different ways. We ended with “R” reading the letters and me coming up with words that worked for the letters like: “noisy nuts, angry alligator”.

September 29, 2014
by countryfun

What Makes Green?

Preschooler knows colors, so reinforce knowledge of color blending using 3 primary colors.

Expose the under 3′s to colors and names.

As the leaves start to change colors around here, it’s a perfect time to start playing with colors. We started today with the question “What makes GREEN?“ (I had out a jug of red, yellow and blue paint waiting to see what they would say.) “YELLOW and BLUE!”

I poured their choices next to each other onto a plate (equal amounts) and started to swirl them together. (I wanted the children to see the green happening.) When they saw green they got excited. Once mixed completely I asked if they liked the color we now had. “No it’s blue, not green.” “What do you think we need to do to get our green?” “Add yellow!”

A touch more yellow and mix. “Do you like this green?” “Yes.”

Now to use our green paint.

Love adding sensory into activities, so we painted a palm with green paint and stamped our palms down on a large piece of green construction paper (I had precut into an circular/oval shape). Once no longer leaving color when stamped down, we repainted the palms, repeating until paper covered with hand prints.

Time to glue on a brown rectangle of construction paper and for more sensory – crumple up small squares of red tissue paper and glue onto the green handprints.

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What do you have?

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Apple trees!

Very timely for our area with the U-pick orchards open for the season.

September 19, 2014
by countryfun

Math with Gourds

We include math concepts naturally in our everyday activities here, but I also like to pull out and really focus on math at times.

A friend surprised me with 20 gourds over the weekend. She figured I’d find ways to use them with the children here. She probably didn’t think I’d work on counting, number awareness and developing an understanding of place value.


I started out adapting a ten frame thinking the children could place gourds in each frame box counting as they did. Having the number symbol present would reinforce number recognition.

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Then we ran out of numbered sections, but still had gourds left. What to do? DSC05462

The children had the answer – “Write more numbers.”

Out came another large sheet of paper and another ten frame sectioned off. This time I added in the numbers with the children counting. I did it as 1 to 10, but when I got to ten I asked how many sheets of paper we had. Answer 2. If each paper had 10 numbers on it that meant we had 2 groups of 10. That means we have 20 sections. I wrote the 0 and put the 2 in front to show the 2 groups of ten , 20.

I then went back and added 1 in front of all the other numbers talking about this meant 1 group of ten and we were adding on the extra number over that. We compared the number for each sheet in order to reinforce numerical order. We then counted 11 to 20. Then we counted 1 to 20. DSC05464 DSC05466 Time to fill in sections with the gourds. More counting.DSC05467 DSC05469 DSC05470

Interest still there, so let’s try some sorting. I let the children group the gourds together encouraging similar ones in the same line.


Expanding further I lined out charts and the children glued down circles representing colors found on the gourds.


Each gourd was picked off it’s number, colors checked and dots placed on the chart. Observation and charting are easy science skills to work into activities with children. DSC05480

September 18, 2014
by countryfun

Beans! Not Apples

It’s Fall and that means the apple orchards around our area are open for pick your own, cider and many apple goodies. It also means I’ve gathered many appropriate apple lesson ideas – ready to pull together as indicated. This year however, apples seem to be of little interest just now.

Since I believe in taking advantage of what we are involved in and where the children lead me we found ourselves setting up a simple bean growing activity today. Most would have this in the Spring, but we now have a jar with sprouting beans on the south facing windowsill.

How did this happen?


A Canadian cold front means there might be a frost tonight, so my young helpers and I headed to the garden to gather some of the warmer weather fruit still growing. We harvested the bell peppers, remaining tomatoes, watermelons and dill.

The children asked about the beans and seeing many dried on the bean tower we gathered those too. We needed mashed potatoes for lunch, so I dug up one end of our potato row to see what we might find. Digging potatoes is fun with children as it’s always a surprise.

The children wanted to know what I’d be doing with the dried beans, so I asked if they wanted to help me shell them explaining that shelling meant we needed to open the dried bean pods and find the beans inside. I had 2 excited helpers.

shellingWe sat outside shelling, counting, finding beans that popped into the grass, and exploring the different textures. While shelling we found some beans that had started to sprout in the pod. Throw them into the compost basket or opportunity for additional learning?…..

Now we also had to put the good dried beans away for later use. Taking advantage of this opportunity – fine motor, volume, auditory/sounds, language, math……

Beans, Beans, Beans from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

We have beans on the windowsill that we’ll be following, so guess that answered the compost or additional learning question. :)



September 2, 2014
by countryfun

Pumpkins! Have We Got Pumpkins!

This year the pumpkin patch went just a bit crazy. We’ve had fun watching them grow over the summer. In checking over the weekend I found that about half the pumpkins had unexpected rotten spots. Those got left for the wildlife and the rest I harvested. They look nice lined up on the side porch where hopefully they will cure and be ready for passing out in Oct.

However, one had a couple of worms in the stem, so I decided it would be fun to explore it today before it rotted. What’s a little more heat in the kitchen on this steamy morning.

We’ll end up with roasted chunks for eating, puree for later use in soups and baked goods, and the best……roasted, slightly salted seeds for snacking!

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Top that off with all the spontaneous learning:

  • pumpkin life cycle
  • size comparison
  • sensory exploration
  • language development – huge, smooth, bumpy, sticky, wet……
  • counting
  • “P” and sound – other “P” words
  • fine motor
  • plant needs and parts
  • team work/cooperation
  • developing attention span
  • problem solving

August 29, 2014
by countryfun

“You Do Assessments?”

As part of Quality of ME I have to do assessments to document progress of the children developmentally. When parents become aware of this the following conversation is common.

  • “What kind of tests do you do?”
  • “I don’t test.”
  • “How do you do assessments then?”
  • “Daily observations. Developmental checklists. Samples of coloring, writing. Video/photos of speech and play.”
  • “What do you do with this information?”

At that time I explain about the private eportfolios I have for each family of children not yet in school.

Collecting samples and checklists are easy to understand, but the daily observations is less clear. Here is what I consider daily observations:

Daily observations are just me watching, listening and internally comparing what I see happening within the space, between children, in different situations and gaining individual skills. To support what I’m witnessing I also take many photos and videos. (You see just a small amount shared through posts on the blog or on Facebook.) I also specifically look for skills that I expect to see developing and/or we have been working on.

What I love doing is taking what I think of as snapshots of a moment. It’s as simple as just snapping a view of the space at one time, seeing what everyone is engaged in at the same time/same place. I can then make notes about what was seen and heard.


Why are assessments like this important?

  1. They support the choice in routine, rules and equipment available for the child directed play.
  2. It helps direct materials I might add in or remove from the space.
  3. It leads me to research areas where I need more knowledge or want current information.
  4. It supports the communication between myself and parents to best provide for each child.
  5. It guides lessons that occur throughout our daily activities.

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