COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

January 14, 2015
by countryfun
1 Comment

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.

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

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:

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

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

September 18, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Beans! Not Apples

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?

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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. 🙂

grow

 

September 25, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Our First Potato Harvest

Our First Potato Harvest

Every year we have done a garden we try something new. This year it was potatoes which we were late planting and probably could have tried harvesting sooner.

I had a vegetable broth soup base loaded with odds and ends of vegetables and figured a good way to use up was to serve around some cheesy mashed potatoes.

Now I have potatoes from our farm share, but the weather was great and thought it might be a perfect time to try our own potato harvest. Could we have just gone out and dug. Sure, but where’s the fun in that.

So, I posed a question asking “What to do if need potatoes for today’s soup?”

Solution: the garden

 

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As you watch the video I’m sure you can pick up how potato and tomato keep mixing on our tongues.

We had so much fun uncovering our potatoes. Will definitely plant again.

PS- We left the other trench for “Big Jim” to harvest. Sharing the fun!

September 5, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Country Fun School Starts

Country Fun School Starts

The yellow school bus has started it’s pick-up which means mixing in more formal lessons/activities for those preschoolers spending the day at “Country Fun School”. Most of our learning occurs naturally throughout our daily activities, but I do try to have more school-like activities to help prepare the pre-schoolers for regular classroom work. For now these lessons will happen twice a week for an hour before rest-time. We’ll start off slowly to settle into expectations and this new routine.

Wednesday I introduced our first learning theme – “The Farm”

We played a simple game that involved farm animals, their sounds, and following directions.DSC03440

Read and sang “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and Barnyard Banter.

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