COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

December 19, 2014
by countryfun
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December: Always an Interesting Time of Year

Through all my years working with children, I have always found December to be an interesting month. It used to be we did Christmas stuff the whole month. With changes in society and respecting the traditions of each family, I believe I best support the children in my care now by keeping things simple and as un-holiday as possible. Keeping them grounded means healthier and happier children (and families). Here are an example of the activities we have been doing here and will continue through next week.

Special challenges this year have been:

  • 1) all the rainy/gray days and finding ways to get more movement into our space that already has a lot naturally in it.
  • 2) no real interest in any crafty projects so, I decided to focus on numbers which December just seems a really good fit for.

Let’s start with our version of a countdown (advent) calendar. Making use of some donated tubes, colorful pompom and dots. Lining up on the windows keeps them visible, adds color and we can talk about them often, not just when counting out for the day.

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Did you notice anything else about our count down tubes?

We have a pattern going with the dots. So we have 1 to 1 correspondence, number order, number symbol, a bit of addition and pattern – lots of math concepts being supported in this simple activity. I also like that it works with a traditional activity many of the children have in their families, but does not exclude anyone.

The idea of “over time” will also be explored with our use of the picture book: Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan. In the story Sadie builds a snowman with the first snow and rebuilds it over the winter months. We are doing the same. We built a snowman with our first good snow and have been watching it and the changes that the weather has brought. Lots of rain has meant melting. (Every day the children check and we’ll be posting images on our Facebook page as updates on the changes.)DSC05901We’ll save a bit before it’s completely gone to use in another snowman this season. The science concepts we are learning around changes to matter and seasons will be added to our work on the concept of time. Also thinking we’ll be experts at retelling Sadie and the Snowman by the end of winter:) (flannel board in the future)

So all the rain that’s melting our snowman is also keeping us inside. Now we are lucky to have a very active inside space, but not getting outside means even more need for focused/organized active play. Here a look at a few activities we’ve done these past weeks.


A little snowball blowing with the added benefit of working mouth/facial muscles.

Blow that Snowball from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

A little more painter’s tape and now we have a balancing activity……..or maybe just a space to run within, as this group is definitely not afraid of alligators:)

Balancing turns into Run from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

The other big change at this time of year is how it’s darker earlier. That means it’s easier to make a part of our space darker which works wonderful for light box play. Light box play is a great place for mixed ages to cooperate in their play – learning from each other, it’s low cost and exploration materials are only as limited as the children’s and yours imaginations.

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As anyone who follows here knows, I love homemade materials and adapt many of the resources shared online by other teachers. Klever Kiddos made these winter number puzzles available for free download on TpT.  All I had to do was download, print off, laminate, cut up and we were ready to add to the activity drawers. Placing a colored dot on the pieces for each puzzle was a simple adaption. Now I can store them all together and the children have to sort them out before making their puzzles.number puzzle

Photos are great but video is even better.

This FREE number activity from My Fabulous Class went through more adaption for use with my preschoolers. I kept the original stockings together, traced to make a blank stocking, ran that off on green paper, added the written number words and finger/hand images representing each number. This activity took a little longer to pull together, but having the children help with the images meant more opportunity to work with numbers. Also learned a bit about photo editing.DSC05820 Many ways to use…. here was reverse order than matching………..

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In use:

December 15, 2014
by countryfun
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Santa has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5……. (a counting Flip Book)

There are so many talented teachers that generously share teaching materials today, it definitely makes it easier to meet the needs of the children here. Today I had prepped a free seasonal flip booklet copyright ABC Learn I had previously downloaded that fell right in with the focus on numbers for Dec.

This booklet worked for: counting 1-1 relationship / number order / number symbol / following directions / beginning reading

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Each booklet is about 1 number and has 4 smaller flip pages attached. I attached the 5 booklets together into one booklet as that was more appropriate to my children.

Now how did the children build their booklet?

We started with a pile of the “Santa has….” strips for 1 through 5. I had the children find their strips and place in order from 1 to 5. Once done and checked I stapled together.

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Then the children found the 4 small number cards for #1. They ordered and I stapled in place. This continued for #2, #3, #4 and lastly #5. That one was easy as only the 5 cards were left.

Each time I had the children count each small card to double check and reinforce that 1-1 counting.

They could arrange the small cards in any order they wanted.

I stapled each section as they completed them to keep it more organized. The children picked up real quickly what to do and once we had completed the first 2 sections together they were off at their own pace.

We finished by writing our name or beginning letter as appropriate.

Can I just say these booklets have been read and reread all morning.

As this was originally free I have this booklet copied in my google drive for sharing. I wish I could link to the original site and would appreciate the link if any teacher following here knows it.

 

 

 

December 12, 2014
by countryfun
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Sticky Snow Lessons

After days of rain and grey skies we are out and playing in the snow that fell overnight night. A perfect snow for footprints and snowmen.

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After a quick stomp around, we headed for the garden. I needed to compost the apple peelings and cores from the homemade apple sauce.

The deer have been into the garden to enjoy the green tops left for them of broccoli and brussels sprout, so the children and I spread the apple peelings around in that area. DSC05849

Then we followed some of the deer tracks out into the surrounding field. The field is criss-crossed with tracks this morning. DSC05851

On walking back through the garden we spotted the kale bed. After finding more tracks, the children quickly commented “that the deer had eaten all the kale”. However, in digging around in the snow we found 2 kale plants that were buried. DSC05854 We uncovered the kale and harvest just enough to add to today’s lunchtime salad. We decided to leave the rest for the deer to enjoy.DSC05855

Then it was time to build a snowman. This snowman was built from packed snow. The snow was sticky, but not rolling well. We settled on peanuts for the eyes, corn cob for the nose and spray painted the mouth. DSC05857  Painting snow is always a hit.DSC05861 DSC05862

November 25, 2014
by countryfun
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Turkey Time

With Thanksgiving this week it was time to connect the books we’ve been reading and discussions about why our families are celebrating Thanksgiving. What better than a turkey made with hand and foot prints.

In this activity the feathers will be formed by 3 handprints on a half paper plate (quick lesson point on whole and half). Easy to do with the 3 colors of red/orange/yellow (another quick lesson on 2 primary colors and the color you get when they blend). The body will be a traced foot. The legs accordion folding (good for directions and fine motor).

I started with 3 recycled cookie tin covers that each had 1 color. One color in front of each child and their paper plate half.

Directions- Gently place your hand into the paint, moving around to get paint on all your fingers. On the count of 3 lift your hand out and place on your plate wherever you want that color.

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Nice project for working on following directions, counting sequence, and tactile comfort.

Time to wash up those hands, as we will rotate the color tins for the next handprint.

As we are heading to the sink the power cuts off. On a private well that means limited water in the lines, so how are we going to wash up after each color?

Solution: 1 bowl with a little water to swish in and then towel remaining color off. Nothing wrong with having to adapt and flex in a project – just another lesson point for the children.IMG_1905

We proceeded to rotate the color tins and print our hands.

IMG_1903 IMG_1906Interesting that this time the children kept using the same hand. Not sure if this was because we washed after each color or if they figured out how to keep 1 hand clean.

Set aside plate to dry and time to move, so we can trace a foot.

IMG_1907 Option to cut themselves or have me cut.

Discussion on what a turkey face looked like from stories read.

IMG_1908 Almost done.

Time for more direction following practice with accordion folding 2 orange paper strips. Needed to remind them to flip back and forth, not wrap around. As they got comfortable they hurried and that’s when I’d see a wrap around.

Opening an accordion fold always brings smiles, sense of accomplishment/success. IMG_1910

Last step to glue our turkey bodies in place.

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Successful project from the process/learning side and a fun product the children were excited to take home.

Power still off, so time for a final hand cleaning with liquid hand sanitizer before head off to play.

November 19, 2014
by countryfun
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Cooking with Apples and Children

Our local apple orchard is about ready to close it’s doors for the season, so that is when I make sure to purchase at least a half bushel of mixed apples for making homemade apple sauce. Apple sauce is super easy to make and fun for the children to help with, so we always make a small batch together.

Using the apple peeler it doesn’t take much to get a saucepan of apples on the stove.DSC05806 DSC05808 Add a dash of lemon juice (to lessen oxidation), a bit of water to help the juicing start and keep apples from sticking and burning on the bottom. Now for lots of chances to take turn stirring. When the apples start to soften bring on the masher.

Having a mix of apples is also the perfect time to to an observation and taste testing.

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What have we explored so far: shape of apples, stem vs blossom end, apple structure, a new tool, sharing, motor skills with stirring and mashing, language, sensory and lots of counting. The best year in and year out is the “star” inside each apple. I explained the “star” comes from the blossom and it’s five petals (also a star).

This year I also picked up some apple cider for a new cooking experience: Apple Cider Syrup. DSC05810 I found a simple and tasty recipe at The Craft Patch. This we did while the applesauce was cooking down. More sensory and experiencing matter changing – sugar dissolving and butter melting. How heat and cornstarch thicken a liquid.

The syrup and homemade apple sauce will be perfect with some gluten-free buckwheat pancakes from Gluten Free Foodies. This pancake mix was from scratch which provided another opportunity for cooking lessons. For most children the food they see is already made for them, I believe it’s important for them to understand where the food they consume comes from. All the cooking together we do does this. Having children with food allergies and sensitivities in care by cooking together we start to understand why some foods are safe for some and not others. We also learn that if we change out a non-safe item in a recipe we can still make tasty foods we can all enjoy together.

November 17, 2014
by countryfun
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Playing with the ABC’s

I love when a young learner finds their interest in the letters of the alphabet beyond just singing the song. That interest is shown in wanting to copy words found around the classroom, pointing out special letters in books reading, naming letters that star words we are talking about, adding additional words that start with the same letter, and playing the same ABC game over and over.

To support that interest and the emerging learner of even younger learners I have been trying to introduce new letter activities on a steady basis.

Two that have been enjoyed recently and repeatedly follow.

The first is a simple stamping with letter cookie cutters. The second is stenciling with cut-out letter stencils. Both activities started with a discussion of colors and color blending. Then letters from their names were used. Last was free choice of letters.

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The next activity could be said to have “popped” into my head. I was smiling as I rescued a nice circular piece of wood when cleaning out the garage. It was left-over from an engineering project of my college age son. It was too good to throw out and I knew I’d find a way to use it. Then came the “pop”. I had previously seen an activity come through on Pinterest from the Billings School Kindertips folder (now pinned to my ABC activity/games board) that showed ABC cards spread around a circular table top. The children sorted out ABC letters from the classroom to correspond with the letter cards. Now I’ve always done ABC paper plate wheels where you match up clothes pins, so this idea was really just taking it to the larger game play model, but without seeing that pin I might not have gone there.

The construction of the game was also a fun activity as I had help reminding me which letter needed to be written in the next space. The upper and lower case formation was also checked-on :). “R” could not wait to play, so out came a donated bag of mixed/matched magnetic letters. Lots of naming letters, coming up with words that start with each letter, labeling colors and up and down movement. The movement is what makes these larger games great to use with young children. It doesn’t get much better than learning while you’re moving.

 DSC05790  DSC05789DSC05791 We ended up with a wonderful rainbow sunburst of upper and lower case letters. To put away we counted the number of letters for each of the alphabet letters as we put them into the storage container. It was surprising how many had the same number of letters.

Both as a teacher and recycler, I couldn’t waste the reserve side of the wooden circle. That has our numbers through 15, plus twenty. Great for magnetic numbers, but even better for tower building.

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When older sibling arrives after school it becomes a team effort  and when completed “R” needs to “picture it”. IMG_1881

November 5, 2014
by countryfun
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10 Actions That Show You Care

Across the years of providing care some simple truths have emerged for me about developing a trusting relationship with children. You have to show them that you are genuine in your caring for them. There are as many ways as individuals to accomplish this, but for me I have my basic 10 that seem to cover all ages and personalities.

It’s good to share this periodically, especially as the busy holiday season approaches, stress builds, and we often forget what is really important in our lives.

10 ways

 

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