Monday, June 10, 2013

You can take the teacher out of the clasroom

In need of a simple project for your preschooler this summer?  How about teaching days, letters, numbers, and calendar skills all in one shot?

It's a super simple project, and you can do it entirely at home with no other tools than your home printer and a pair of scissors.  Or, for about $12, you can purchase them pre-made from your local teacher supplies store (or the lovely internet) as I have done.  Because, let's face it, $12 is totally worth the two hours it would have taken me to make these on my own. 

What you'll need:
::Months of the year
::Days of the week
::Weather cards
::Numbers 1-31
::Something nifty to display them on

I also had mine laminated (which again can be done at your choice of school supply stores for about $1 per foot; mine cost $8 but it's soooo worth it in the long run) so that they can be re-used and abused forever. 

Leah and I decided to hang ours in a place we'd be sure to see them everyday: the sliding glass door to the backyard.  It sits right next to the kitchen table, so it's an ideal location to keep her engaged.  Hint: I used blue painters tape to adhere everything to avoid yucky tape residue.  Yes, these are the tricks of the trade they don't tell you about in MA classes.

Stumped on how to use this besides the obvious?  Here are a few suggestions.

Read the name of the month.  As you read, point to the letters and make each letter sound seperately.  /J/ /oo/ /n/ Tell your preschooler that sometimes, at the end of a word, the letter E is a helper letter that doesn't make any sound!  WOW!  Have them repeat each sound.

Rather than setting up all 30/31 days on the calendar, add each day individually and practice number recognition and counting skills.  Every day, count all the days that are already on the calendar, and have your preschooler pick out which one comes next (from a group of only about three so they don't get overwhelmed).

Set out all the days of the week.  Tell your preschooler, "today is Monday.  Mmmm, Mmmm, Monday.  Can you guess what letter Mmmmonday starts with?"  Then, have them find the card that starts with the letter M.

Create a days of the week song.  I like this one because there's a book to go along with it, and I heart everything that includes a book.  I use a modified version of this song where I've taken out all the food stuff, but we sing it every time we talk about the days of the week.  It doesn't matter what you do, even if you totally make it up.  As long as there is a rhythm and repetition, your child will learn and repeat it.

Use these cards as a jumping off point to talk about seasons and weather.  This could also turn into  discussion of weather appropriate clothing using stickers, drawings, pictures on the computer... anything! 

I also have to shamelessly plug preschool workbooks.  Yes, your child can do this.  Perhaps not as effectively or independently as they will one day be able to, but don't sell your child short.  They're hugely capable if you're willing to take a little time to help them.

Today, we practiced big/small letter recognition, following directions and coloring inside the lines.

Yes, this single activity taught all of those skills in about 15 minutes.  And perfection?  It's totally not the goal here.

We also practiced writing:

Helping your child to learn to love learning and discovery is really easy, especially at this age.  They're naturally drawn to anything that is new and exciting.  And, it's worth noting that a child's lifelong learning capacity is formed in the first five years of life.  That's a pretty awesome opportunity.

Happy learning, friends!

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