an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

May 14, 2014
by countryfun

Travels with Charlie: MAINE Footprint Lobster #bookingusa

We so enjoyed being involved with Booking Across the USA (Trip 1) last year. It was fun to connect with others from across the other states. So many new books and fun activities to explore. So when Booking Across the USA Trip 2 was announced we jumped at the chance to participate again.  50 bloggers sharing activities related to their state with all ideas being inspired by a new series of books! What’s not to like about this?

We got our learning started with a new book: Travels with Charlie – Travelin’ the Northest by Miles Backer. Who says you have to start every book on the first page? Not me, so we started the reading with our own state of Maine and continued through the Northeast comparing these other states to ours. (Future Venn Diagram) This series and discussion opens up a way to develop an understanding of the USA in the preschoolers here.

My original idea was to combine reading this book with all the questions that have been raised as we prepare to head off to various schools for K next year. I figured we could start from the big picture – Earth, heading to USA, to Maine and then our homes in our towns. We are still doing that, but will be expanding into making personal books about Maine.

This simple activity takes coffee filters, markers (not sharpies), white art paper and water.


  1. Color, scribble is best, onto the coffee filter with the markers. We viewed the earth as seen from space on our iPads to figure out the colors and what those colors represented. – Our choices were: blue, green and brown. the empty spaces would give us white.
  2. Place filter in middle of the white art paper (we used drawing paper, construction paper and copy paper all worked fine), start spraying with water. Really get the coffee filter wet. You will see the colors start to blend and parts of the filter will lift (do not push down). Leave everything in place until it dries.
  3. Once dry lift up filter, reposition on the paper and spray well again. Let dry. This can be done multiple times, but we only needed these 2 color areas.
  4. Using a clear circle shape place where you like the Earth image, trace around. Cut out saving remaining paper for the USA outline to come.

We have completed the earth and background for the USA outline, but the discussions have shifted our focus just now. The children want to know more about Maine.


In answer to their interest I headed to the library in search of books about Maine. Little did I expect to have such a large and varied collection of titles to explore and chose from. (I’ve listed all the books we’ll be exploring on the Country Fun Program Blog: Book Files.)

Needless to say the idea I had for the initial project has also evolved and will not be completed in time for the link up today (the 14th). I will definitely link up once done or you can check back here or on one of the other social media connections I use.

~~~~~~~~~~~~   ~~~~~~~~~~~   ~~~~~~~~~~~~

Allowing the children to direct what books we explored next, they chose the Moose stories. DSC04510 (Never imagined I’d find a use for the jar of dried moose droppings we have sitting on a book shelf. It was fun to show the children, discussing size, shape and how we could see the fibers from the plants that moose eat.) However, it’s been the books about lobsters (Lobsterman by Dahlov Ipcar, open below) and islands that have engaged the children the most.  DSC04517 islands

I pulled together materials for a simple and fun activity I’ve done in the past – a footprint lobster.

PS- Live lobsters are brown. They turn red once cooked. The children chose to do red, not brown. That is the color used most in advertising here, so they think of lobsters as being red.


  1. copy paper (we’ll be cutting out), thin red paint and wipes
  2. paint bottom of one foot
  3. place carefully on one short edge of paper, pressing down firm. (Watch out that the toes are to the edge.)
  4. wipe foot clean
  5. paint palms of both hands
  6. position hands over heel area, finger together, thumb out, place and press down
  7. wash hands
  8. let dry
  9. cut out lobster


Chose background paper (we used 9″x12″ blues from the textured paper stash). Have book open to the page with clear example of the lobster’s body.

  1. lobstercut out rock shapes (more textured paper)
  2. glue down rocks then place and glue down lobster
  3. color arm section where claw attaches to body
  4. glue on eyes and antennas (cut into 2 pieces, does not stayed glued as well when folded)
  5. add 8 legs (“L” shape)
  6. lines for tail section
  7. label body parts


These will be added as a page to our Maine books.


February 27, 2014
by countryfun

Nothing Fancy

I love that my families understand that there are not going to be fancy projects coming home all the time.

I love that my families understand that some of our best learning occurs without those fancy projects.

This week there was definitely “Nothing Fancy” about the lessons we did as follow up to watching a lot of Olympics the last 2 weeks. There was however a ton of learning and expanding on concepts that have been spinning around the group recently.

During the Olympics we talked a lot about different countries, locations around the world, about the colors of the uniforms, what did the flag symbols mean?, what were the groups of letters for?, what were all the different numbers we were seeing?………….

So my job was to pull together and continue to expand what they are learning.

To me these questions were all about figuring out how things fit into their personal communities. How did everything they were learning about letters stretch for this new information. We are just getting that handle around letters need to be grouped in special ways to make words that everyone can read. Here there were letters used as representation, but not words we could sound out.

Day 1: DSC04341 How Many Letters from our Alphabet were used in the abbreviations of the many countries we saw complete?

Or practical use of numbers outside counting and simple more or less discussions we have(addition/subtraction). Here there were judged points, timed events, ranking of Olympians, laps, etc.

Day 2: DSC04348 What Can We learn about the Colors of the Countries of Athletes We Watched Compete?

For a look at our complete Olympic lessons you’ll need to head to the Preschool Blog. Click here.




January 10, 2014
by countryfun

Have You Ever Wondered About Snowmen at Night?

In exposing children to books so that their world expands it is important as part of that to help them understand the parts of a book.  Title pages, author, illustrator, beginning, middle and ending are all easy to develop an understanding of. In many of the picture books used for infants through preschool there are no “dust jackets”, especially with an introduction (found on the inside lap – I always thought of as the fly) or opening question to get you excited about what you will find once you start reading. So when I find one you can be sure I use it.

Our library copy of Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner had a great one and it was nice to be able to start this reading and extension project off from there.

“Have you ever wondered about the secret life of a snowman? Maybe one morning his grin is a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have drooped, and you’ve thought…. what do snowmen do at night?”

How much more fun to peak the interest in a story, than to just start right in reading? Some interesting answers to this opening.

As a follow up activity we took black paper – a little different for a snowman picture – and some unusual painting tools to make a snowy night time background for our snowman.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make your own free slideshow design

December 24, 2013
by countryfun

What Have We Learned About Reindeer?

In answer to the question “What have you learned about Reindeer?”  The group started telling me facts they had learned. From these we agreed on key words. (Can you find the spelling error? We did after the tag cloud processed.)


Lots of learning about our larger world, comparing a common animal native to our area with a larger family member. Comparing habitats.

What we learned:

  • Reindeer are mammals.
  • Male and female reindeer both have antlers.
  • Reindeer are called Caribou in North America.
  • Reindeer are good swimmers.
  • Reindeer are always moving to find food.
  • Reindeer use their antlers for protection.
  • Wolves kill reindeer for food.
  • A male reindeer is a bull, a female is a cow and a baby is a calf.
  • Reindeer can grow to 7 (seven) feet in length.
  • Reindeer migrate together in really large groups.
  • Reindeer eat plants: moss, grass, small bushes.
  • Cow reindeer are very protective of their calf.
  • Reindeer live in the Artic.
  • Reindeer have special hooves that they use to dig through the snow with to find food.

We learned about what a ruler is and how we could figure out how large a reindeer is. We compared our height, width of antlers and length of a newborn calf.


We finished this short unit making our version of  kiertoidea’s reindeer . Just need to gather some sticks from bushes around the yard, recycled toilet paper tubes, hole punch and the hot glue stick. These were a hit.



September 10, 2013
by countryfun
1 Comment

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Who could do a farm unit without including this old favorite – Old MacDonald Had a Farm?

Not me, especially when there are so many materials available for extension activities.[material links and lesson details] I went with stick puppet printables from Making Learning Fun and a fun YouTube video from Kids Fun Online.


August 16, 2013
by countryfun

A Visit with Author Cathryn Falwell

For years we have enjoyed many books by Cathryn Falwell, who just happens to live in our community. She surprised us with an invitation to visit Frog Song Pond. We don’t usually travel for field trips, but this invitation could not be passed up. Thank you to the parents that drove us.turtle splash with CF

The following piece was put together by “S” using photos taken with our iPads during our morning visit.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This slideshow design made with Smilebox

June 7, 2013
by countryfun

We’ve Found Our Summer Reading Challenge!

I’ve been posting up ideas for families to check out and hopefully use some of this summer to support their children’s reading. While doing that I’ve been looking for an option to use in-house this summer with the mixed ages that will be here. I found it at No Twiddle Twaddle.


I love our local library and use it on a very regular basis, but like so many others I seem to use the materials I’m familiar with. Time to learn some new things.

Exploring the Fiction Section

The first of the library challenges has been designed to not only encourage one to learn about the fiction section, but also to learn some tricks for finding new awesome books on every trip.

We’re going to attempt to do all the challenges, so we should be good and busy. Now we will not be going to the library as a group, as the program is designed to do, but I’ll being the purpose into our readings and discussions.

#1 – Utilize your librarian’s recommendations

#2 – Find a popular book (plus the advanced challenge)

#3 – Discover a popular author

#4 – Introduce Your Kids to a Classic (plus the advanced challenge)

#5 – Find new fiction books on a favorite topic

#6 – Explore different reading levels of the children’s fiction section: picture books, early readers, and chapter books/middle grade novels.


Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.