COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

March 5, 2018
by countryfun
Comments Off on Time to Make a Fun Counting Book……

Time to Make a Fun Counting Book……

A fun counting book is Dr. Seuss’ Ten Apples Up on Top. Besides counting the book opens up discussion on prepositional words, number symbols, being “better” and positive feelings with succeeding at something, especially together.

Today we enjoyed a YouTube reading that has the book put to music. Then we followed up by making our own Apples on Top Books. Depending on our counting skills the books ranged from counting

1 to 5 to counting 1 to 10.

These are simple books to make. I used a free template from Early Learning Ideas to save time. I edited a photo of each child, copying off enough for each page of their book. The children glued a picture on the “bottom” of each page.

Once that was complete it was time to add the correct number of apples “on top”. Given choices for making an apple shape (circle) the children all chose the bingo dot marker.

Once done and dried we laminated each page and then ordered the pages. Developmental levels of each child were considered in how we ordered the pages – counting the apples, using number symbol, reading each page as ordered.

September 6, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Apples, Apples and Apples

Apples, Apples and Apples

Rainy day, so no stick collecting today. Perfect to make applesauce and do some of the apple activities I have gathered for Fall lessons.

It all starts with observation of our apples:

  • numbers 1-12, one-to-one correspondence
  • shape: 2D circle and 3D sphere
  • parts:
    • stem (“hangs from a tree”)
    • blossom
    • skin
  • compare size and weight
  • color:
    • red
    • green
    • yellow

Then it’s off to the kitchen to make a simple applesauce. We used my apple peeler. This simple machine peels, spiral cuts and cores the apple safely allowing the children to participate.

    

When the cores snap in half we also get to see the “star” (another shape) inside each apple. The children immediately observed the seeds within the star. Another chance to count.

After getting the apples onto the stove we enjoyed some painting. Red and green paints on manila (yellowish) paper.

    

Also used the broken cores to stamp stars onto our apples. The children had earlier observed that the Paula Red apples had dots all over their skin. The star gave a little of this look.

While the applesauce cools down, we read:

  • Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson
  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

We began to learn an action song: “Two Little Apples”

Way up high in an apple tree,
2 little apples smiled down at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down came the apples,
Yummmmmmm, were they good!

Back to the kitchen to taste test the sauce. Success!

Perfectly tasty plain, but will add a bit of cinnamon sugar for lunch today. We’ll keep the rest plain to use for some baking later this week.

Finished up our morning exploring the new flannel board. We sorted red, green and yellow circles into 3 separate baskets. Then it was about putting them back up on the tree, sort, place back.

     

This activity will be openly available to use during the day.

The books will also be available for reading with our iPads and QR codes.

January 6, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Oh, Elmer’s Special Day!

Oh, Elmer’s Special Day!

We have our hands on books all day long here.

We also like retelling using our flannel board.

Then we have our interactive ebooks both borrowed and owned.

A favorite ebook that always loaded on the iPad is Elmer’s Special Day by Oceanhouse Media. (I have found Oceanhouse Media is a great first source for interactive book apps.).

With 2 children here today that love to paint it was no surprise child directed learning lead to a painting activity. This one came about after enjoying the interactive Elmer’s Special Day book app multiple times. Elmer’s Special Day allows for a variety of extension activities about color, being unique, and friendship just to start.

You can use one of the available patterns online (find some on my Elmer’s Pinterest board), but I just drew out the simple Elmer elephant shape to fit the larger paper we were using. With small paint pots of multiple colors and cotton swabs gathered, the children provided the fine motor and creative imagination needed for this activity.

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They asked for the elephants to be cut out to take home. Which I did as cutting skills are still about learning to work the scissors right now.

November 9, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Books of Fall

Books of Fall

There are so many fun books to read during the Fall season. Having a yard full of Maple trees we have an abundance of leaves on the ground awaiting children and their imaginations this time of year. I have a good mix of books about the different seasons and the changes that occur, but I made sure to have books about Fall leaves because every group has a connection to them. It doesn’t seem to matter the make-up of the group, all children enjoying playing in piles of leaves. Here are four that seem to get read each year:

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

The story focuses on a single leaf that is not ready to leave the branch of its great oak tree. All the other leaves swirl down to the ground, apples grew musky, pumpkins heavy, and flocks of geese took wing, but yellow leaf holds on. Now it’s winter and yellow leaf is alone in the tree, until it sees a scarlet flash. Through agreement they let go together and soar off through the skies together.

Who would think that a story about Fall leaves would support working on friendship, being afraid of new things/the unknown?

The illustrations are different and can be a little hard for younger readers to connect with, but it’s important for children to be exposed to variety in both language style and visual images.

Extension Activities:

  1. Movement activity of chasing, swirling, soaring, dancing like the leaves.
  2. Nature watch – check out the trees around you for leaves that may still be in them. Rake up the fallen leaves and play in.

————-

Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall

 

When fall comes, two brothers enjoy their favorite time of year, by catching the falling leaves, stomping on them, kicking them, jumping in piles of them, and using them to make pictures.

Extension Activities:

  1. Get out and play in the leaves.
  2. Make pictures from different leaves.

——————-

It’s Fall by Linda Glaser

A young boy describes what happens to animals, plants, and people in the autumn while he enjoys the leaves.

This book opens up discussions about more than just the changes to the leaves. Getting the bird feeders ready for our winter friends and watching the Canadian geese and crows fly in large groups overhead we can explore migration and hibernation.

Love the large cut-paper illustrations of this book.

Extension Activities:

  1. Great listing of activities to pull ideas from at end of book.
  2. Rake a pile of leaves to hide in and pop out of. Talk about what the leaves in the pile smell like, feel like and sound like.

—————-

We enjoy finger plays and rhyming songs. An old-time favorite is ~ We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Having a book that connects by following the same pattern opens up different experiences.

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger

Three friends are going on a hunt for leaves. They go over a mountain and through a forest to collect leaves of all kinds and colors. Then through a waterfall and across a lake. Something black and white sends them quickly home.

 

Extension Activities:

  1. Go on your own leaf hunt. Count your leaves. Compare them. Make leaf rubbings.
  2. Make leaf pictures. Preserve your leaves.
  3. Add actions and then act out the story.

 

October 16, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Importance of Reading

Importance of Reading

“You became a reader because you saw and heard someone you admired enjoying the experience, someone led you to the world of books even before you could read, let you taste the magic of stories, took you to the library, and allowed you to stay up later at night to read in bed.”  (Jim Trelease -The New Read-Aloud Handbook)

DSC07004Everyone knows how important it is to read to our children. Whether at home or at school, most of us try very hard to include reading as part of our daily routine with our children. When you step back it’s surprising how often it’s the reading that gets set aside when time gets tight, behaviors get in the way, or our interest just isn’t there. We think it’s ok to skip reading this once where we do it all the time.

“When stories are part of children’s lives from birth, the children benefit in three important ways. Overlapping considerably these benefits are that stories enrich children’s lives, strengthen relationships, and support their emerging literacy.” (Birckmayer, Kennedy and Stonehouse, 2007)

At times I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. What’s important is that when I see this happening I refocus my efforts on reading to and with the children in my care each day they are with me. This is beyond all the free access they have to books to explore themselves.

To help with this I access information from the Raising Readers Program – www.raisingreaders.org. This is a free family health and literacy program for children ages birth to 5.

“Research shows that babies who are read to in the first nine months of their lives are better prepared for school than babies who had little interaction with books.”  (Association of Library Services for Children)

October 15, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Combining Our Movement Sticks and Books

Combining Our Movement Sticks and Books

With young children we know it is of benefit to have activities that will support them in getting their bodies moving and they need to be read to daily. There are a good number of books that have a movement component to them that allow for creative expansion activities.

Here are my go to books that have a movement component to them:

  • Wriggly Pig by Jon Blake
  • Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond
  • Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
  • Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
  • Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi

Activities can be as simple as acting out the characters’ movements to using something like our Movement Sticks. These also make a great 5-10 minute movement activity that helps break up more structured activities, works for transition time and just for the fun of doing.

The Movement Sticks are simple and low cost. Take colored jumbo craft sticks and glue movement idea strips to them.

You can pre-make or have the children provide the movement ideas and help to glue up the sticks. You could also write them out, but I’ve found printed out and glued, last longer. Ideas can also be added as favorite actions change with the group.

Following are the movement ideas from our sticks:

  • pretend hula hooping
  • walk backwards
  • jump backwards
  • frog jumps
  • wiggle worm
  • highest leap
  • helicopters
  • jump sideways
  • ants in your pants
  • walk sideways
  • twisting toe touch
  • hop one foot then other
  • silly walk
  • jumping jacks
  • tree in a stormy wind
  • giant steps
  • head, shoulders, knees, toes
  • jump in a circle
  • two foot jumps
  • pretend on balance beam
  • pretend to pedal a bike
  • egg rock and roll
  • side stretches
  • jack in the box
  • run in place
  • tree in a breeze
  • dance
  • pretend climbing stairs
  • leg swing right, then left
  • pretend bowling
  • hop like a rabbit
  • touch your toes

For a printable list click this link.

October 15, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Farm & Barnyard Books

Farm & Barnyard Books

This Fall found my very young group spending lots of play time with our farm/barn small world structure and critters, so I’ve started off our book selection with anything barn/farm animal related. These four books from my personal library offer a chance to work with colors, shapes, counting, alphabet, animal sounds, and animal movements before we even think about expanding the learning.

 Let’s start with Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming.

I love sharing this book with children for many reasons: colorful illustrations, author that I have others books by, written language of the book, the ability to expand the learning in a variety of directions

Children in our area have a strong understanding of what many think of a standard farm animals, but this book opens up the understanding that there are other animals one might find on a farm. This also offers the opportunity to increase our exposure to new animal sounds. I often find that opening up this learning experience send us into all kinds of animals and we begin classifying them as to where their might live (ie. zoo, jungle, forest, farm, house).

I also wait to see if any of the children will notice the reoccurring character on each page and figure out what they are doing. With my very young I often have to introduce this after our initial reading. Once I point our goose the children are searching each page to find it. This often brings the book to the floor and allows for strong engagement with the pages. At this point the reading of the written words seems to stop and we start telling the story from the illustrations.

Any time I have large print in a story we point out “our letter” or a friend’s “letter”- this is the letter that starts our first name. I have found this a great way to get a strong start in learning the letters of the alphabet.

I think it’s important to have books that are more science or factually based as part of our selection. Gail Gibbons is a go to for that type of book for me. I have found her books are usable across the mix of ages I usually have in care, whether reading all the detail or using just the illustrations and adding my own information.

Between having our own good size garden and being surrounded by fields worked by a local dairy farmer the children here have good exposure to tractors, can can relate very easily to some of the information in this book.

I like that Farming covers the changes to the farm throughout the seasons. As we also experience 4 seasons again the children can relate to the changes and compare with their experiences.

The story also shows the work that people need to done on a working farm. This opens up lessons about other community workers, parents’ jobs, chores, jobs that the children can do at home and while in care.

 

Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant might seem like a strange choice if I’m only doing a few books around an area of interest. I have this in my collection because it covers the concept of night with illustrations that are life-like, but in a style different from many children’s book. To me they have a sketched quality in deep, vibrant color. I think it’s important for children to be exposed to a variety of illustration styles.

There is a softness to the written word as we are taken through the country setting exploring what is to be found there at night. This opens up lessons on nocturnal animals, comparing daytime evenings to nighttime events. For some groups we expand to the sun and the moon and stars. We have charted what each child hears at their home in the night. We have done daytime listening, laying outside with eyes closed,  saying what we hearing then going inside and doing the same.

I love having story versions of childhood songs and rhymes. I like this version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm illustrated by Carol Jones because it had a cut-out on each page that provides the child with a chance to predict what animal we will be singing about next.

The pen and ink illustrations are life-like while offering another illustration style. In the illustrations we also see the life of the animals we are singing about as well as other animals on the farm.

This is another good book for what I think of as floor exploration. There is so much detail on each page that they can stand alone providing a chance to expand language as we describe what we see happening on each page.

Music is so important in the strong development of children’s language and we often use the book as the starting place adding whatever other animal we can think of following the pattern of the song. We’ve been known to switch it up, expand on classifying again and go to the zoo, or circus, or woods if the animals being called out are more appropriate there.

 

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