Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apples and Pumpkins and Leaves - OH MY!

  Autumn has arrived here in Chicago – it’s in the 50’s and I had to get up in the night and add a blanket!  A chilly hello from Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup to those of you in the Southwest where it’s in the high 90’s and hotter, and everyone in between!  Perhaps it’s time to break out the apple songs – and you know that when that happens, the pumpkins and falling leaves can’t be far behind!  Today I give you one of each!

THE APPLE TREE

    You’ll find this song on my “HUM: Highly Usable Music!” recording or you can give it a listen on my website’s Song of the Month page for September 2004.  
    I use a flannelboard visual – a leafy tree I painted on flannel and felt apples for each child to stick on the tree before we start to sing.  For instructions on how to make an inexpensive flannelboard go to my May2014 blog.
    The only “tricky” part to this song is putting 2 smiling apples onto the board without the children seeing you do it.  I wait until all the apples are passed out and sneak my 2 apples (smiling faces down) onto the treetop as the last few children are putting their apples on the tree.  Haven’t been caught in 15 years!  You can do it, too!
    Tell the children, “Sometimes, in the Autumn, the apples get so happy that they start to smile!  Yes, SMILE!  Do you think WE have any smiling apples?”  Then we turn several over to see if any smile – of course, I finally pick one that I added.  They are amazed!
 “Is it high or low on the tree?  It’s high, so point way up high!”

Lyrics:
Way up high in the apple tree
One little apple smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could –
Down came the apple – mmm it sure looked good!
MOVEMENTS:  
Line 1:  Point way up high!
Line 2:  Put pointer fingers at each side of your smiling mouth! 
LIne 3:  Clasp hands together in front of body and shake like crazy!
Line 4:  Drop one hand from overhead to floor
  Repeat again – with the other apple.  Then count how many apples are UNDER the tree – two!  Sing:
Two little apples under the tree
One for you, and one for me!
Two little apples, crunch, crunch, crunch!
Two little apples – let’s eat them for our lunch, YUM!

    Then you might do any of the wonderful apple activities in Deb Chitwood’s jam-packed blog of Montessori-Inspired AppleActivities – posted just yesterday on PreKandKSharing!


MOTHER NATURE!


BIG LEAVES
    This chant will tickle the funny-bone of your children – even if they’ve never heard of Mother Nature.  They just love the sneeze part!  

    Keep a nice steady rhythm for first two lines – we tap the beat on our legs, moving hands to the floor for “crinkled on the ground.”  Throw hands high and make big swirls of falling leaves.  For the final line turn your hands palms-up questioningly – and end with a big sneeze into your elbow!  

    Check out even more instructions on my October 2011 SOTM page.

    No tune – just speak it clearly and dramatically.  It’ll be on my new cd, “Polka Dots!”  Watch for a November release date!


Red leaves, yellow leaves, orange leaves, brown

Big leaves, little leaves, crinkled on the ground

Everywhere are falling leaves –

Mother Nature, did you sneeze?   AH-CHOO!

   You can also do this one with a flannelboard tree and felt leaves for visuals!

A VERY FINE DAY!  By Carole Stephens c.2014
    This new song celebrates both apples and pumpkins.  We put one hand to our forehead for the “looking” verse, then go walking around the room for the “come on down…” verse.  Then pantomime the action, reaching up high, then bending low to pick apples, or reaching low to snip a stem and put a heavy pumpkin in a wagon.  It’s such fun!
     The tune?  Only for PreKandKSharing followers, you get a sneak preview of this song on my new “Polka Dots” recording (scheduled for November 2014 release) for FREE!  
Reach up high!

Where, oh where do apples grow?
Where, oh where do apples grow?
Where, oh where do apples grow?
Way down yonder on the apple trees.

Come on down to the apple orchard!  (3x)
It’s a very fine day!

Reach up high then put it in a basket!  (3x)
It’s a very fine day!

Where, oh where do pumpkins grow?  (3x)
Way down yonder on the pumpkin vines!

Come on down to the pumpkin patch!  (3x)
Come on down!
It’s a very fine day!

Snip the stem and put it in a wagon!  (3x)
It’s a very fine day!

It’s a very fine day for being outside
A very fine day to take a ride
To a pumpkin patch or an orchard wide
It’s just a very fine day!


    OK – you are now armed and ready for autumn songs.  Need more?  Check out the Song of the Month Archive on my Macaroni Soup website. 

Or check my posts on this blog:

September 2012 Season Sings!  Leaves, Bats, Pumpkins!
October 2012 Making BOO Fun!
October 2013 -  Blow the Wind!

    I would love to know some of YOUR favorite songs for Fall/Autumn!  Come on - SHARE! 

NAEYC 2014 ALERT:  I will be presenting a workshop at the NAEYC conference in Dallas in November AND sharing a booth with 2 incredibly talented children's music educators: Ellen Allard and Music With Mar's Maryann Harman!  Check out our FB page: Musicians at NAEYC!

Yours for an Autumn Song!
"Miss Carole" Stephens

Monday, September 15, 2014

Montessori-Inspired Apple Activities Using Free Printables

Free Apple Printables and Montessori-Inspired Apple ActivitiesBy Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now  

Apples make a great learning theme from the beginning of the school year through October. Check out my calendar observances posts to see a number of apple-related calendar observances in the early fall. 

Today, I've created some apple activities using free printables for preschoolers through first graders. There are so many great free apple printables available online that it was difficult to decide which ones to use for my post. I really appreciate all the printable designers who so generously share their creations. 

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools

 Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

 Apple Color Sorting Activity

  Apple Color Sorting Activity 
For the apple color sorting activity, I used the free Candy Apple Math Game from No Time for Flash Cards. Instead of using candy apples, I used red, yellow, and green miniature pom poms from a craft store. 

I used a large plastic tray from Montessori Services and 3 miniature buckets with color-coding dots placed in the bottom to help with the color sorting. I added Montessori Services quick sticks to the tray to include a practical life transferring activity.  

Aa is for Apple Tray 

  Aa Is for Apple Tray 
For this activity, I used the free Aa is for Apple Lacing and Puzzle from 1+1+1=1. . I used one of the 5-piece wooden trays from Multicraft.

I added an inexpensive letter "a" sandpaper letter to the tray. You can use ideas from "Inexpensive and DIY Sandpaper Letters" to buy or make sandpaper letters. You'll also find ideas for presenting letter sounds. You could either say, "/ă/" as you trace the letter or “The letter ‘a’ makes the sound /ă/."

Aa Is for Apple Playdough Tray

  Aa Is for Apple Playdough Tray 
This activity uses the Aa is for Apple Page from 1+1+1=1. You can use homemade or purchased playdough, or use modeling clay if you'd like the modeling material to stay soft and moldable. 

I added a pair of scissors to the tray so children can get practice cutting their rolled playdough strips into the correct sizes to fit the letters.

Follow the a Path Tray 

Follow the a Path Tray  

For this activity, I used the free Follow the a Path (in Apple Pack part 2) from 3 Dinosaurs. I added a practical life activity to this language tray by using a strawberry huller to add glass gems to the path. A sugar tong works very well, too. 

Amazon has a variety of glass gems, which I used for this and often use for Montessori-inspired activities. I especially like glass gems for these types of activities because the letters can be seen and magnified through the glass gems. 
 
Add the Apples Activity 

Add the Apples Tray

This activity uses the Add the Apples (in Apple Pack part 2) from 3 Dinosaurs. (Note: There are also printables in the pack for subtraction and greater than/less than.) I used red and green apples from acrylic fall fillers I found at Michaels craft store.

Because I used two different colors of apples, I placed the apples below the page rather than right on the tree. I included the apples and numbers for 9 of each color apple. You could just let the child choose the number of apples of each color and then count (add) them to find the sum.

Add the Apples Layout

Apple Fractions Activity 

  Apple Fractions Activity 
This uses the Apple Fractions Math Game from Itsy Bitsy Fun. It was easy to prepare and could be used for a simpler fraction matching activity or more advanced game. 

Apple Hundred Chart Art 

Apple Hundred Chart Art

I love hundred chart art. It's a great extension for the Montessori hundred board. This uses the Apple Hundred Chart Art (in Apple Pack part 2) from 3 Dinosaurs. 

Older children could follow the directions to create the apple on the blank hundred chart. Younger children could simply match the colors on the control chart to create the apple. I use small glass gems so they'll fit on the hundred chart spaces.

Hundred Chart Game: Apple Picking Time

Hundred Chart Game - Apple Picking Time 

For this hundred chart activity, I used the Hundred Chart Games: Apple Picking Time from Primary Inspiration. There are simple directions for assembling the spinners along with ideas for children who aren't comfortable with place value. 

More Free Apple Printables 

Go to today's post at Living Montessori Now for links to LOTS of apple freebies from around the blogosphere: Free Apple Printables and Montessori-Inspired Apple Activities.

More Montessori-Inspired Apple Activities

  
I have a roundup post at Living Montessori Now with a Montessori-Inspired Apple Unit.

For September calendar observances and activities, check out my September Themed Activities for Kids at Living Montessori Now.

Have a happy Johnny Appleseed Day on September 26!

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBookIf you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12.
Deb - SigantureLiving Montessori Now Button
Deb ChitwoodDeb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 39 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and baby granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Do You Accept These Gifts as a Teacher, or Reject Them?

On parent night at my child’s school, I overheard someone compliment a teacher on the way her classroom was decorated. The teacher's response to the compliment was a remark that it was nothing special and that she had used the theme once before.

Have you ever given someone a compliment, only to have the other person tell you that she got it off the clearance rack at a local clothing store? How did her reply make you feel in that moment? Did you feel energized to provide more or did you feel a sudden let down that your compliment was a waste of time and not accepted?


As a teacher, how often do you compliment your paraprofessional or your director? What about your own children or your significant other? Sometimes it seems like we give more compliments to others than we do to our own family. And what about you; what do you say when someone compliments you, something you did to your classroom, or your outfit? Have you noticed that you too provide a response that minimizes the gift you just received?

I think we do this because something in our subconscious takes over to reduce the attention we are suddenly getting, or it may even reveal how we really feel about our outfit or our classroom at the moment. But I ask you to consider what the other person may be feeling, the person who just gave you a gift.

What about when someone gives you an idea for your classroom? Do you immediately think of the stress it will cause, the work it will take, what won't get done if you take this on, the money it will take to do it, the time it will take away from other things, and on and on and on? Do you then tell the idea-giver why it won’t work or why you can’t take another thing on? Are you an idea-generator and find yourself thinking up and offering ideas to others? How does it make you feel when the idea you've given the other person is rejected?  


I don't blame those who reject compliments or ideas, as I use to feel the same things when others gave them to me. But I learned to adapt to the fact that when someone gives me a compliment, they are taking the time to give me a gift. And if it’s an idea, they are just giving me information that I can choose on my own to take action on or ignore. It’s all up to me; it’s just information.

When someone gives you a gift, you might immediately think about the fact that you really don't like it. But I ask you to consider being gracious and say thank you and look like we are thankful. I do my best to do the same thing with ideas; see them as gifts. I've learned to remain quiet, listen, and then say “Isn't that interesting, thanks for the idea.” I often times write down these ideas because I may think differently about them at a later time.

Remember, whether someone gives you a compliment, an idea or feedback, it’s all just information that you are free to do anything you want with. But smile and say “Thank You” for the gift you just received.

Bill Corbett has a degree in clinical psychology and is the author of the award winning book “Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids,” in English and in Spanish.  He is happily married with three grown children, two grandchildren, three step children, and lives in Connecticut.  You can visit his Web site www.CooperativeKids.com for further information and parenting advice.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We're Going On A Bear Hunt!



Hi! I'm Ayn and I am a Ga. Pre-K teacher, serving 4 and 5 year olds in an inclusive setting. I share my classroom adventures on my blog, little illuminations


**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.**

One of the favorite activities during the first few weeks of school is going on a BEAR HUNT! Students bring their bears to school and we have activities all week that involve their bears. The culminating activity is going on a real live bear hunt.

We make bear headbands out of paper circles.



And binoculars out of paper rolls, tape and string.





I have a book that has directions on how to draw simple animals and we follow the directions to draw a bear. These are just TOO cute!!!!




There are lots of fun ways to incorporate bears into snack time. Goldfish, Teddy Grahams and Honeycomb cereal are fun to sort and pattern with --- and even more to fun to eat afterwards!



We get in some great large motor fun with the "Teddy Bear Olympics". We played games that were good for promoting large motor skills, such as the "Teddy Bear Bounce", the "Great Bear Toss", the "Balance Beam Bear Walk", played "Musical Bears", (similar to musical chairs only with our bears) and had a "Bear Relay" race.

For the "Teddy Bear Bounce", we put the bears in the parachute and bounce them as high as we can.




The "Great Bear Toss" the children tried to toss the bears in the basket. As the throws got better, we moved the baskets farther away.




We practiced being mama bears as we carried our bears across a balance beam in the "Balance Beam Bear Walk".


I have several versions of the "Bear Hunt" song and we played them all several times. The Learning Station has a great video of the "Bear Hunt" you might enjoy.





This is another version of the "Bear Hunt" song that has become one of our favorites. It is from Greg & Steve's Kids In Action cd. I found a video on youtube of this version but it is not credited, either. It's a little different, but a good version. 




I have stations (mud, grass, river, etc.) all around the classroom that we use to go on classroom bear hunts. As we reach each obstacle, we make the appropriate motions of swimming, tromping through mud, and swishing through the tall grass. 





This year is the 25th anniversary of the Michael Rosen book, "We're Going On A Bear Hunt". 



There is a neat video of Michael Rosen narrating the book. 


There are also a variety of activities on the "We're Going On A Bear Hunt 25th Anniversary" website



At the end of the week, we have a "Bear Scavenger Hunt". I place bears with clues all over the school and the kids have to find the bears with the clues and figure out wher the next bear will be. At the end, I have a big bear waiting with a special treat. This year, we found the ingredients for making s'mores!






Stop by and visit me anytime at littleilluminations.blogspot.com or visit the little illuminations fanpage on facebook! And be sure to check out PreK+K Sharing EEE!

 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Motor Skill Activities for Children

Hi! I'm Carolyn Kisloski from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together.  For many people, this is the beginning of a new school year.  I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite motor skill activities for children.

Pre-writing exercises not only help children warm up their fine motor muscles, but also help them to focus on using them the best they can. Here are some fun warm up activities that don't take long, but help children transition into an activity using fine motor skills, like Writer's Workshop.
1.  Windshield Wipers- Children hold their hands above their head and cross straight arms 10 times.  Then, they place the bottom hand over the top hand, and repeat.
2.  Door Knob Turns-  Children pretend to turn door knobs with arms straight out in front of them and rotate toward the midline for 10 repetitions.
3.  Rainbows-  Have children hold their elbows with opposite hands.  They lift their elbows overhead in a single motion and return to their waist. Repeat 10 times.
4.  Mickey Mouse Ears-  Children put their fists by their ears, open hands, and close tightly.  Repeat 10 times.
5.  Desk Push-Ups- Children put hands flat on desks, with thumb and index fingers forming a triangle. They bend their elbows, put their nose into the triangle, then straighten their arms.  Repeat 10 times.

Coloring and writing use fine motor muscles, but aren't best for developing these muscles and making them strong.  Young children need lots of opportunities to develop these muscles so they don't get tired or frustrated completing activities that use these little muscles. It's just like any muscle that you need to strengthen so you can use it confidently and with best control. Children want to do their best work, enjoy it, and  feel proud of it. They don't want to feel clumsy and do sloppy work. Lots of opportunities to develop fine motor skills, both at home and at school,  are important for young children.

I made a paper that I send home to parents with some ideas that they can use at home to work on developing fine motor skills.  Lots of times parents want to help, but aren't sure what activities would be best.  Click HERE if you would like a copy.


We had a very informative class  with our OT, discussing the book Teaching the Moving Child by Sybil M. Berkey.

She shared some great ideas for fine and gross motor activities for children.

1. Use golf pencils or broken crayons to help children use correct finger grip.
Broken crayons kind of make me cringe.  I could have named my blog "Sharp Pencils and Brand New Crayons,"  because those are two things I LOVE.  OK- even more honestly, it could have been named "Sharp Ticonderoga Pencils and Brand New Crayola Crayons." But that would never fit on a button.

However, cringing aside,  I do see the benefit of using these smaller writing tools for children who need help or reminders using the correct grip.  If a crayon or pencil is small, children can't get all of their fingers around it, and therefore are "forced" to use a correct grip.  This is an especially good tip to remember at the beginning of the year.

I didn't have too many golf pencils, but that wasn't a problem by the end of summer- because this is my husband and son on a typical weekend!

2.  Have children write in a prone position (lying on the floor with a clipboard) or standing and writing on a wall space to put their wrists in proper position.
















I tried this one and you can see it does position the child's arm and wrist correctly.  I did have a couple children who have "floppy wrists" or who bent their wrists around when they wrote.  Lying on the floor made them rest on their forearm and keep their wrist in the right position.  This isn't practical all the time, but I could definitely have them do this more during center times or certain writing times.  I didn't like the wall writing as much probably because I don't have much wall space and the paper has to be at the perfect height for them so they aren't reaching up  or stooping down, which defeats the purpose.


3. Have over-active children do "chair push-ups" or push against a wall to remain calm and more focused.

   
We do like a good "Chair Push-Up" break now and then!  My whole class does this together. I always have a couple children who benefit from this the most, but it is fun and helpful for everyone- as well as a challenge! They love to see who can stay up for a long time. 

We have a ball with the Wall Push.   I don't have much wall space, but we all line up quietly and walk around the corner in our hall, where there are no classrooms.  We try to push the wall as hard as we can.  I tell them we are trying to make Miss Quick's classroom smaller by pushing in the wall!   They really think we have moved that concrete wall over.  Sorry, Miss Quick, for your shrinking room!

These activities are also great for developing some shoulder strength.

Again,  this is a great brain break for everyone in the class!  Who doesn't feel like pushing a wall every now and then? One good thing about doing this in the hall is that I tell them we have push really hard, but be quiet, so they aren't screaming- but putting the effort into the physical exertion.
Mean Soup is a fun book to read before you practice some gross motor exercises- and if your class is ever in a sort of picky mood.

The story is about a boy who had a very frustrating day. His mother suggests that they make soup together, which he does not want to do at first.  She boils water on the stove, adds a little salt,  and screams into the water.  Then, she has him do it. They both scream louder into the "soup" until they feel better.  After that, the mother decides they should stick their tongues out twenty times into the soup- which, we, of course, did as well. (I actually made tally marks each time we stuck out our tongues-  MATH!)  What a fun idea to get out some frustration! We also took out our frustrations on the wall.  Again, sorry, Miss Quick- we are SURE your room is at least a foot smaller by now. 
                                        
It's such a fun way to teach children a safe, productive way to relieve stress.
  
Other good suggestions for an overly-active child were to have him/her do more physical jobs for you in the classroom, like wipe down tables, push in chairs, or carry heavy objects (like a small stack of books) for you in the hallway.  Kids love to be helpers, and this is a way for a child to be a helper and have some physical stimulation. 

(ok... maybe just a small stack!)

 
Go Noodle is FULL of great brain breaks and activities for getting children moving.  It has everything from Zumba to Yoga.  If you haven't used it yet, you and your kids will love it. It's free! Go check it out! I posted about it HERE.

I hope you found some new activities to use in your classroom! Thank you for stopping by! I'd love you to visit me at my blog, Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together. 
Have a wonderful school year!



                                    





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