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I keep a jar of Halloween erasers, spider rings, and witchy fingers to use during the month of October in various readiness activities.  Most of my preschool students love to play with them by sorting them into like categories.

On this particular day, I gave the child several paper pumpkin cutouts and asked her to  put things together that are the same.  This four and a half-year old sorted into like categories – spiders, witches, ghosts, cats, bugs, and jack-o-lanterns. Some of my younger students sort them by color or shape. Most find it more fun to sort while wearing a witchy finger or two!  While they are sorting, they talk about the toys.  I affirm their comments and expand the phrases and sentences as they play.  For example, she may say “ghosts over here”. I respond with “Yes, white and yellow ghosts over here.” We talk about the colors and then count the toys and compare which toys we have more of on each mat.  I may also have some letter cards (B, C, G, J, S, & W) to label beginning letter/sounds, or numeral tiles (1-6) to match the amounts.

During clean-up, I may ask the child to pick them up alternating left and right hands, grab a big handful, pick up with just thumb and one finger, use tweezers or tongs, etc.  Screwing the lid on is also part of the task.

What items do you use to sort and count during October?

halloween toy sort count pin


Back to School is right around the corner for many children. Alphabet knowledge is high on the list of activities in preschool and kindergarten.  Some four-year olds come to preschool already able to recognize and name many letters of the alphabet.  Some new kindergarteners are familiar with a few letters in their names.  There is a wide range of ability with alphabet knowledge among four and five year olds.  But one thing is certain: letter and sound correspondence is the foundation for success in beginning reading.

Fortunately, many children are motivated to learn the names of the letters and there are a myriad of activities and games you can play to build this skill.  At a basic level, simply have print material displayed around the classroom or your home. We don’t have just one alphabet poster in the classroom, but several.  An alphabet in the circle area is most common, but hang different alphabet posters in your centers, such as the art area, blocks, library, listening, etc.  Below you can see one of our posters in the housekeeping center.  It gets a lot of use as a reference for both the letters and the pictures.

alphabet in preschool kitchen area

Another way children play with the alphabet is by arranging cards in alphabetical order on the floor.  I gave this little guy an alphabet printed on a piece of construction paper so that he could move it to where he needed it and to match the letters.

abcs on the floor

You can find several styles of alphabet cards in my TPT store here and here.  Or check out the Alphabet Playdough Mats featuring a theme reminiscent of the cat in that cute striped hat .

When I am with my students, I love to sing, dance, and play with them.  We tell stories.  We paint with bright colors and big, sweeping brush strokes.  We read books, recite rhymes, blow bubbles, jump, hop, twirl, fall down, roll, and stretch.  And then we begin again, with new materials and invitations to play. Revisit the fun activities because repetition is important.

Similar to the shampoo directions: wet, lather, rinse, repeat.

Children learn through play.

Play is the Work of the Child.

Neil Gaiman’s inspiration to use Your Voice applies now in Education more than ever..

Be the voice of experience and professionalism.The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. - Neil Gaiman

Be an advocate for children and their right to a high quality education. You know what is developmentally appropriate practice for students.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you.  Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.”

Keep the joy of exploring and learning alive. Don’t squash their natural inquisitiveness with inappropriate periods of seat work and drill.

Sing. Dance. Play. Read. Dream. Paint. Laugh. Climb, Stretch.

You know that is how children learn.

sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough

Week 26:  the year is half over

It’s starting to feel like summer – more sun, less rain.  (Of course as I compose this, I hear thunder in the background!)

I’ve been feeling like I am in low gear.  Can’t muster up the ambition to dive into any of the many projects I set up for myself to accomplish before school is back in session in mid-August.  I’ve delayed starting anything big because I’ve been awaiting a date to have carpal tunnel release surgery.  So, now that I have the date – 1.5 days from now – I want to begin some major reorganizing and cleaning.  Not the most sensible thing to begin right now unless I pick just one space,  I just need to be sure I don’t mess up more than I clean!

When I came across the quote by T.S. Eliot, it prompted me to think about the goals I set back in January.

<there’s the rainstorm that was NOT predicted!>

One of my goals was to design and upload new teaching resources at the rate of one/week.  So, I counted back and happily discovered that in week 26, I uploaded products 24, 25, and 26.

“Sometimes things become possible when you want something bad enough.”

I want to use my skills and experiences with kids to make educational resources that are fun and effective.

I want to blog about what I find works with young students to give them a good foundation for future success as readers, writers, and mathematicians.

What usually works are activities infused with song, movement, and play.

So, there’s my plan for the rest of the year: document the fun, educational activities we do everyday in class; make educational resources that will support the learning goals; share those items with you on the blog and in the stores.

Check out #24, #25, and #26  – Everyday Literacy and Math Routines – Posters & Pocket Chart Cards.

creativity einstein

As I am working this week creating teaching resources, I broke out of my usual mode of quiet (no tv or music).  One day I listened to music on tv- lively Latin urban  – and found it lifted my spirits.  Another day it was the blues, which ironically put me in a good mood.  I then discovered my cable company has an extremely limited selection of world music, so today I went with the Create channel.  All morning I’ve had quilting, painting, and cooking shows on in the background. And while I am getting a lot accomplished on some new products, I wish I was back into the “old days” of just a year ago when I was still sewing and painting!  I haven’t found the time to sew, paint, cook, and create at the computer.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day!

So, I took a little detour and designed the above poster to inspire me. My favorite background color, layered with one of my paper/fabric collages, and topped off with Einstein’s quote, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

What do you do to keep your creative spirit alive?  Do you have plenty of diversions to keep you fresh with new ideas?  What have you found to be the best environment for you to show your creativity?

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