COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

April 13, 2015
by countryfun
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3rd Booking Across the USA for Us

Booking-Across-the-USA-Trip-3-300x300So glad we got involved in this book project the first year out. It has opened us up to so many interesting books and activities.

This year the 3rd Annual Booking Across the USA hosted by Jodie at Growing Book by Book is about choosing a children’s author or illustrator that was born in, lived in or currently lives in your state. After reading a book of theirs we are to create an activity or craft to compliment it

Our state is Maine and we are so lucky to have connections to many wonderful authors and illustrators of children’s books. Many of these books are enjoyed on a regular basis in our shared reading times.

For this activity I decided to look for an author I had not read with the children as often. Chris Van Dusen caught my attention when I saw the title: The Circus Ship. Last year in our study of Maine and reading about the islands off our coastline there was a story about a circus ship catching fire off an island. I wondered if there might be a connection. There was! In looking farther into his books I found many would also fit nicely into the focus on rhyming books we had in March.  The children really enjoyed the Mr Magee books: Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee and Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee. They were silly and based on experiences many of them are aware of or have done.

Chris Van Dusen was born in Portland, Maine, 3/16/1960. As a child, he would spend hours drawing with his brothers. He loved the work of Dr. Seuss for the rhythm of the words and Robert McCloskey’s (who also lived in Maine) detailed illustrations.

After college Chris started drawing cartoons and illustrations for a magazine for teenagers. He worked as a freelance illustrator for 10 years specializing in art for kids with work appearing in magazines like Nickelodeon, Family Fun and Disney Adventures. His first book, “Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee” was published in 2000 and he has been busy writing and illustrating children’s books since.

Chris lives in a town on the coast of Maine with his wife and two sons. Many of his books are pulled from his experiences in Maine.

Chris has a really nice website with links to his books, bio informaton, and a blog. It is worth checking out especially if you are going to share some of his books with young children. I’ve always found children love learning more about the authors and illustrators of books shared with them. We enjoyed the FAQ sections where we found out the idea for The Circus Ship came from a magazine article he read. The book was inspired by the historic event of the wreckage of The Royal Tar, which sank off the coast of Maine in 1836.

Now for more on The Circus ShipDSC06286

  • 2009 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award Winner
  • 2009 Lupine Award Winner
  • 2009 Minnesota State University Moorhead Comstock Honor Book
  • 2010 Read With ME book

A circus ship on it’s way to Boston for a show runs into some bad weather and runs aground off the coast of Maine. The circus owner (Mr. Paine) and ship’s captain row to safety on the mainland, but the circus animals are left behind. They make their own way to shore on an island. The local islanders were not sure what to make of the circus animals viewing them with suspicion. Somethng happens to change that and the islanders help the animals in return.

When I preread the book I realized this was going to be an interactive book for my current group of puzzle lovers. We do lots of puzzles, mazes and I Spy activities here and there is one section of the book when it is open which works perfectly for an I Spy activity. I had a pile of unifix cubes on hand and when I got to the correct page I asked the children to count out the animals using their fingers as I read the story. I then stopped and we counted out the right number of unifix cubes. Now it was time for the children to find the animals that the island locals had helped to hide on the island when Mr. Paine returned to claim them.

DSC06374 The children placed a cube wherever they found a hidden circus animal. We then got to practice our counting again as we uncovered the animals and put the cubes away. Can you make out the camel in the hay field, bear on the bike and giraffe as a flag pole?

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After finishing the story we talked about what you might see at a circus. Popcorn was mentioned a couple of times and I took that into a rhyming activity for another day.

Using rectangles of read construction paper and gluing on strips of white I made a popcorn box.DSC06353 I added labels that had worked with word families we have been doing other activities around.

DSC06354 Then it was just a matter of using yellow scrap paper for cut out popcorn kernels and writing letters on them that the children could pull from a bowl and make a word with. Once used the kernel was placed with it’s container. At the end we had groups of rhyming words.

I later made more kernels and wrote out words for different word families. This allowed the children to sort out the words to the right popcorn box. For one of my children who is really into words this was a nice extension and had her reading.

The book is back to the library and the popcorn boxes and kernels are into our activity drawers for free play choice.

March 3, 2015
by countryfun
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Learning Without a Lesson

I’ve always believed that learning occurs from whatever activity you are involved in. I believe that for young children especially the best learning occurs naturally whenever they are engaged. I also believe it’s about the process, not the product.

I have always made materials to use for lessons and activities here. I have also often let the children help in the making of the material. Why I do this is for that “learning without a lesson”. There are important lessons that can not be taught in what we think of as school lessons or play.

While observing a visiting specialist’s lesson an idea was triggered and I went on the hunt for CVC cards which I would be able to use to work with both beginning and ending sounds and word families. I could make myself, but I figured I could probably find some online and save time. I did just that. On TPT, I found CVC Phoneme Segment cards by Lavinia Pop – 76 cards to download for $3.

I decided to print the cards off this morning the children were playing. I wondered if it would draw any attention. If so I intended to get the children talking about the pictures that were printing off. What image? What was beginning sound? What letter makes that sound? Could they figure out the last letter by it’s sound?

The 1 Pre-K here today came right over and our conversation started. Other children came and went. I also decided to write in the letters for each image, as I thought would provide more ability to adapted the material for later usage. “R” handed me the printed sheets and named each letter as I silently wrote them out. Not only did this provide reinforcement of letter recognition, but she saw we engaged in writing out words composed of letters – reinforcing that concept.

Once done it was time to cut apart and laminate. “R” got out the laminator and sheets, but waited for me to plug in. Allowing to help in this way supports independence, self-esteem, and also safety practices. Next “R” asked where else she could help.

I showed her how to place the cut cards, telling her only 4 to a sheet and she proceeded to problem solve that – 2 rows of 2. DSC06314DSC06312 She also put the sheets through the laminator.

M4H06315 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

I had to reshow her how to push in until the rollers grab. We talked about why it worked that way and what a laminator does. Learning here includes following directions, expanding language, fine motor, math, science, value of tools, following through with project start to finish. Working with an adult.

Again others were in and out, but “R” was completely engaged.

DSC06316Last part was sorting out some bulk letter tiles I have. We worked together to sort into uppercase/lowercase. To start, we will be using the lowercase to play with the cards as I wrote the CVC words out in lowercase.

With the help of one willing learner our game material is completed and waiting for use for other lessons to be learned.

February 23, 2015
by countryfun
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Another Snow Problem

It’s getting harder and harder to have all this snow (problem 1), yet it’s too cold (problem 2) day after day to spend much time outside playing in it. Winter kids want to play in the snow……….

Need to solve the “no playing in the snow” problem.

Solution: bring inside

Click to play this Smilebox photo album
Create your own photo album - Powered by Smilebox
Another photo album by Smilebox

Follow up with our poem app for a poem about out inside snow experience.
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January 14, 2015
by countryfun
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Making Our Own Body Part Game

I’m always on the look out for sites that will support the development of learning materials I can use with the children in my program. I do not purchase a curriculum, but prefer to construct my own around the interests and needed skill set of the children currently in care. My two go to sites are: 1) Pinterest – great resource for free and low cost materials and ideas, and 2) TeachersPayTeachers  where I continue to find free and low cost materials I can use as is.

Google Drive is my on-line depository for most of my curriculum materials – copy, store and print as need. Not only easy to use, but quicker and less physical storage space needed. Also great for sharing with parents and other early childhood educators.

Every now and then I have to do a wider on-line search to find the resources I need to complete an ideas for a lesson. Yesterday, I wanted an active body part game, but didn’t want to hand draw body parts and have no available flash cards. I found a site that let me pull pictures and print out a sheet/picture. I then copied the sheet, cut up the images and made 3″x3″ flipcards. I labeled each image (of course with help). Having the preschooler help with the labeling allowed her to see the connection between letters, words, writing, and language. Laminate the cards and we were ready to play.

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The first way we played was to chose an image on the sheet and then flip a card. You had to try to connect the 2 body parts picked. On the ones that we could not directly connect the children started to find other ways like touching a friend or placing hands on the 2 parts. Lots of  up and down moving, wiggling and laughing.

DSC06078 DSC06079

The next game try was to just flip 2 cards and try to connect the body parts. School-age involved now so even more movement. Lots of laughs when the younger remembered and solved one set by placing hands on the 2 body parts and standing there staring at the older ones twisting themselves around without success, until they saw her:)

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The new site I just chanced upon in a search for images of body parts to make a game is: LessonPix. I’m exploring with a free trial, before I spend $36 for annual membership. The site was developed by a special ed teacher and her husband with IT background.

  • Create custom materials such as Bingo, picture cards, coloring sheets, etc.
  • Clip art library with 1000’s of pictures
  • Use your own clip art or photos for custom materials
  • Download our clip art for your personal use in Word Documents, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Ideas on how to use LessonPix at home, in the classroom
  • Request pictures not available in picture library.

 

December 24, 2014
by countryfun
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Creative Opportunities

With the school-age present over break I like to be sure I offer them the opportunity to be creative. This has taken different forms this week.

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One was large group printing on recycled brown packing paper. I provided the 3 primary colors,and foam chunks that had yarn wrapped around them. I also have recycled cardboard piece to provide a firmer printing or stamping experience. (In the past I have found without the cardboard you just get a blop of paint. Not what the experience calls for. You may also need to open the yarn up as printing seems to force it together.)

don't forget to open the yarn up as using

don’t forget to open the yarn up as using

The children provided the color choice – only 2 colors to blend, and the up and down stamping to cover the paper. This time the choice was yellow and blue, so we ended up with green.

blue and yellow = green

blue and yellow = green

When asked what they wanted to make from this printed paper they said “Christmas trees.”

a large group printing experience complete

a large group printing experience complete

I had each child draw a triangle on the backside of the paper. Followed by a square where they wanted the tree trunk. Once cut out we were ready to decorate.

Drawing out our trees

Drawing out our trees

time to decorate these trees

time to decorate these trees

Decorating options like markers, construction paper and dot painters were all easy pulls from our classroom art supplies.

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Group process finished into individual projects = lots of learning and smiles.DSC05948 DSC05949 DSC05951 DSC05952

The second creative opportunity I’m sharing, was all child directed. The children started writing stories. Seeing all the effort I asked if they wanted to make their stories into books. They took me up on that and settled on this simple book from the options offered.

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charolettechloeryleigh

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………..

DSC05830 DSC05831

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

booklet

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.

making-1-5-flip-booklet

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.

 

 

 

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