~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

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 19, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Math with Gourds

Math with Gourds

We include math concepts naturally in our everyday activities here, but I also like to pull out and really focus on math at times.

A friend surprised me with 20 gourds over the weekend. She figured I’d find ways to use them with the children here. She probably didn’t think I’d work on counting, number awareness and developing an understanding of place value.


I started out adapting a ten frame thinking the children could place gourds in each frame box counting as they did. Having the number symbol present would reinforce number recognition.

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Then we ran out of numbered sections, but still had gourds left. What to do? DSC05462

The children had the answer – “Write more numbers.”

Out came another large sheet of paper and another ten frame sectioned off. This time I added in the numbers with the children counting. I did it as 1 to 10, but when I got to ten I asked how many sheets of paper we had. Answer 2. If each paper had 10 numbers on it that meant we had 2 groups of 10. That means we have 20 sections. I wrote the 0 and put the 2 in front to show the 2 groups of ten , 20.

I then went back and added 1 in front of all the other numbers talking about this meant 1 group of ten and we were adding on the extra number over that. We compared the number for each sheet in order to reinforce numerical order. We then counted 11 to 20. Then we counted 1 to 20. DSC05464 DSC05466 Time to fill in sections with the gourds. More counting.DSC05467 DSC05469 DSC05470

Interest still there, so let’s try some sorting. I let the children group the gourds together encouraging similar ones in the same line.


Expanding further I lined out charts and the children glued down circles representing colors found on the gourds.


Each gourd was picked off it’s number, colors checked and dots placed on the chart. Observation and charting are easy science skills to work into activities with children. DSC05480

June 21, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on An Obstacle Course = Learning

An Obstacle Course = Learning

So much learning occurs while children play.

They may not realize it, parents may not realize it, but I find myself always checking off in my head what learning I see happening. Maybe this is because I totally believe that play equals learning.

The obstacle course today was a great example of this. The videos here only shows a small part, but I hope you get a view of what I mean.

During this play I observed communication, listening, personal/social development (self control, self concept, self competence), problem solving, initiative, persistence, reflection scientific process, creativity, motor skills.

Science with ring toss, frisbee throw, balance, body movement, figuring out speed vs points.

Technology was with the usage of their personal iPods for timing and music. Mine was the iPad for photos/video.

Engineering was how they set up the course to take advantage of the space and equipment available. Building a tower of cardboard boxes as high as could.

Math really came into the activity for the older children with the timing and point tallies for each run. These were then averaged out to see how each did. Following multiple runs the numbers were compared.

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