Tag Archives: kindergarten

Earth Day activities and lessons for young children

earth day activity water bottle recycle piggy bank preschool kindergarten

In honor of Earth Day (April 22), we’re sharing quick, easy lessons to use with young children to tie-in to your day. These lessons are suitable for children in grades pre-kindergarten through second grade.

Introduction to Litter for Young Children with The Wartville Wizard

Prior to reading about litter, I was surprised to learn that not all of the four year olds I was working with knew the word “litter.” Together, we defined the word and think of other words that may also mean litter. (Kids will likely list garbage, trash, mess, and junk.)

teaching kids litter earth day

One of our favorite stories, The Wartville Wizard, features an old man who is tired of tidying up the Earth to keep it clean. But when Mother Nature provides him with a special power, he learns he has what it takes to keep the Earth clean. This is a great read-aloud to engage children and begin a conversation about litter and picking up after yourself.

Discuss litter

Next, discuss what we think of litter. Ask the kids why litter is bad and what we can do to stop littering. We created charts with the kids’ responses.

Create Earth Day Posters

trash litter earth day activity kids

Collectively, take the information you shared and create ideas for slogans, posters and poems with the kids. Older kids can work independently or in small groups.  Younger kids can color pictures and get help from teachers and parents to write their thoughts on the paper.

litter earth day poster kids

Go on a Picnic

earth day picnic science littering

What better way to enjoy and appreciate our Earth than to spend time with it? Before Earth Day, plan a picnic with the kids. Create a list of everything you’ll need (include an extra trash bag). Older kids may be prompted to discuss the merits of plastic vs paper.

When you arrive at your picnic spot, take time to look around and identify the nearest garbage cans, reminding the children that it’s their job to clean up after themselves. The “leave no trace” campaign, reminding everyone that when you leave, there should be no trace that you were ever there. For resources, activities and more information, visit the Leave No Trace webpage.

Picnics are always a great time for games and activities, but while there, take a break and have quiet time. Let the children spread out and observe with their senses. What do they hear? See? Smell? Touch? After a few minutes of observing, gather together to discuss the kids’ observations.

Next, ask the kids to look around at the animals in nature. Who else enjoys the Earth when you do? (Look for answers such as other people, babies, birds, dogs, and squirrels.) Discuss why taking care of the Earth is important for everyone in nature and how we can help to take care of the Earth.

Before leaving, play a clean up game and make sure that you Leave No Trace of your picnic and learning time.

Art and Science Activity Using Don’t Throw That Away

recycling earth day kids preschool kindergarten first grade second

Another favorite story, Don’t Throw That Away!: A Lift-the-Flap Book about Recycling and Reusing (Little Green Books), gives us great ideas of what we can do with products that are often thrown away, and helps little minds brainstorm many recycling activities. A few days before Earth Day, ask families to collect reusable products such as cardboard boxes, egg cartons, plastic bottles, jars and containers, as well as old buttons, hair clips and nearly anything they’d usually throw away or recycle that’s clean. (Request that families clean out the bottles and jars before sending them to school.)

egg carton art preschool kindergarten elementary crafts

Just two of the cute creations made with recycled egg cartons.

Gather supplies into a box or on a table and read the book, Don’t Throw that Away! with the kids. After reading, discuss what the kids learned about recycling. Ask them about items they throw into the garbage that could be reused, then share the collection of recycled materials and allow the kids to create freely.

earth day activity water bottle recycle piggy bank preschool kindergarten

This piggy bank was created from a recycled water bottle and scraps of tissue paper.

7 More Earth Day Books for Children

Picnic image used with permission from Hillary Chybinski, My Scraps. Book cover images are publisher images. All other images from Rusty & Rosy contributor Julie Meyers Pron, Julieverse. This post contains affiliate links.

Popcorn Art – Springtime Celebration

Popcorn Art - Celebrate Spring with Some Art

I cannot think of springtime without thinking of all the trees that look like they have popcorn on them as they bloom. Now that spring has officially come, I thought it would be fun to do a fun craft with popcorn. Add some fun spring themed songs and poems and we created an easy project to put together that the kiddos loved. With friends over, we had ages ranging from 3 all the way to 8 and they all were able to enjoy it together.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper in a variety of colors
  • Card stock or other stiff paper for the back
  • Glue
  • Popcorn – plain and already popped
  • Fun spring themed songs and poems

Directions:

Step 1: Have a quick discussion about springtime and the construction of a tree (trunk, limbs, etc.). My kiddos weren’t quite sure what we were doing and this helped them get some direction.

Step 2: Create ripped art trees using construction paper. Basically, create a tree by tearing strips of colored paper. We unfortunately did not have brown so the kiddos got creative with their color choices. We ended up only needing about 1/3 a sheet for a basic tree.

Step 3: Glue the strips of paper to the card stock.

Step 4: For sanity’s sake, we prepped our trees with dots of glue of where they wanted to blossoms (aka popcorn) to go and quickly moved to step 5 before our glue dried.

 

Step 5: Now it is time for the fun! It’s time to sing or recite our poems! Pick a few springtime words for the kiddos to listen for and when they hear them, they add a piece of popcorn to a dot of glue on their tree. You can see in the pic below that they are singing along, too!

For example, our first song we did was “Popcorn Popping” and we picked the word “pop” and “spring” to add the popcorn to the tree. You can make it as hard or as easy as you want. But since we were singing it, two words were perfect!

Here are the lyrics I found in a children’s song book (they will play it for you on the right sidebar if you need it) and if you look up the title on youtube, you can find plenty of videos, too:

POPCORN POPPING

I looked out the window, and what did I see?

Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!

Spring had brought me such a nice surprise,
Blossoms popping right before my eyes.
I could take an armful and make a treat,
A popcorn ball that would smell so sweet.
It wasn’t really so, but it seemed to be
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.

 

Step 6: Enjoy your Spring trees! They were all pretty excited about their trees even though we did not fill them up all the way.

Skills practiced during this activity:

  • ripping skills
  • listening (for the key words)
  • practice fine motor gluing/attaching the popcorn
  • practice control and pressure when using the glue
  • recognizing different textures -between the rough/bumpy feel of popcorn and smooth texture of the paper

 

What is your favorite Springtime song or poem?

Math at Bedtime Calms the Brain

Calm the Brain with Bedtime Math

A few years ago I remember hearing about a father who did math problems before his kiddos went to bed instead of story time. My oldest was in kindergarten at the time and so I decided to give it a try a few nights a week. We started out with a couple minutes of basic counting of toes and addition problems and it has moved on to word problems and math games. Amazingly, I find my children calm down just as easy or maybe even better than with just a story as they answer my “math challenges”. Most of the time they are half a sleep after a few minutes! I have really enjoyed it and I am pretty sure my children do, too. They BEG for their turn, so I take that as a good sign!

Here are a few different ways we have incorporated math into our bedtime routine:

Counting

Great for any level and can be adapted as needed for each child. I think it is easier if they can count something and fingers and toes are always available. Start at their level and remember to challenge them a little each time and to try and end on a “happy and successful moment”. If they can only count to 5, continue on to 10. Or if they have counting down, count by twos, fives, tens, odds, evens…you get the picture

Addition and Subtraction

You can not go wrong with practicing a few addition and/or subtraction problems before bed. Again, start where they are and give them a challenge for the last couple. If you have math flash cards, they are always fun to use to switch things up.

We did additions of 1 for quite awhile when my daughter was barely 4. She learned from her brother and loved the success even though it seemed pretty easy. At 6, she really loves math and picks it up quickly, which I like to blame on our math games. ;-)

Word Problems

Again, start where they are with a little bit of a challenge. With my son we started out towards the end of Kindergarten with something similar to this:

“Johnny has 5 apples. Sally gave him 2 apples and ate 3. How many are left?”

I remember giving my son what I thought was a difficult math problem, similar to the one above, when we first started doing math at bedtime and he easily answered it with out a groan or a fight.

Math Games

My kiddos live for fun, so we have learned to incorporate math into their favorite games like, Go Fish. It always makes bedtime a happy moment when we end with a quick round. With this version instead of asking the other player for your particular number you want, ask, “Do you have a 3+1?” or “Do you have a 10-7?”, etc. So far, we stick to all addition at first and then switch to subtraction for the last half.

 

4 Tips To Help Prepare Your Child For Their First Day of School

First Day of School - No Tears Here!

As summer is wrapping up for us, school is on my mind as I am sure it is with most parents. Here are 4 tips to help prep your child for their first day of preschool or kindergarten.  Ready or not, here they go!

Have Playdates

Getting to know other children is healthy for your child. Invite friends over for playdates and go to other friends’ houses, too. This is a great way for your child to learn how to get along with others because not everyone plays the same. If you are new to your area or not comfortable going to other people’s homes yet, try a park or visiting a story time at your local library. Both are free events and great places to meet other parents/children your child’s age.

Leave Them

Eventually, the day will come when you have to leave your child at the door of his/her kindergarten class. Do NOT let that be your first time apart! To avoid a sad scene at your first school drop off, leave them every now and then before that day comes. There are many different ways you can start practicing your separation. You can sign them up for preschool before kindergarten starts, leave them at a friend’s house for a playdate on their own or leave them with a babysitter for a night out with your spouse, just to name a few. You will get a little time to yourself to get something done on your own and they will be able to learn how to get along with others while you are not in the room and know that you are going to come back for them.

Practice Lunch

If your child is going to be eating lunch at school, it is a great idea to practice eating lunch. Find out how long they will have to eat and give them a test run at least once before school starts so they have a general idea of how it is going to go.

The summer before my son went into kindergarten I realized that he had never had a sack lunch and did not know how open juice boxes or milk containers. And I will admit, I was deathly afraid he would see all the kids at lunch and think it would be fun to start a food fight! We started practicing a week before school so I could at least show him the basics and walk him through what would be expected of him (i.e. cleaning up, what to throw away etc.). The first day, I helped him do everything just so we did not have him experimenting.  Every day I did less until he was doing it all on his own.

Let Them Get Excited

As sad as you may be about your kiddo going off to school, do NOT take their excitement away from them. Your child should be excited about going to school. So, if you have to hide your sadness, do it! ;-) After my daughter’s first few days at school, she came home with this note below and giggled with excitement all weekend long for me to “leave her at the door with a hug and a kiss.”

Your child not having a meltdown at the door when you say goodbye is a good thing. It does not mean they will not miss you, but instead it means that they are ready and prepared. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back because you just did something awesome!

 

Preparing for the First Day of School

kids backpacks

My youngest child’s First Day of School is right around the corner. We’ve been prepping for it all summer. She’s been practicing her writing and reading and sharing. She’s excited to ride the bus and have lunch with her new friends.

I’m wondering though if what we are doing is enough. Here is my checklist to get the kids fully ready for the big day.

Stick to Routines: Wake up, make bed, get dressed, eat, brush teeth. This is how I like to start eachschool hallway day but the summer lazy sets in and breakfast is sometimes delayed or teeth aren’t brushed till bedtime. Once school starts there’s no way we can deviate from this plan as that will start the day off on the wrong foot. Get your routines in order now so that they kids get used to it and won’t forget important steps as you see the school bus coming down the street.

Be Prepared: Supplies, backpacks and lunch boxes are all needed for the new school year. Most supply lists aren’t available till after your child has already begun school but get started now with basics. Most elementary students need pencils, marble notebooks, erasers and folders. Stock your child’s backpack so their first day they are prepared with the basics.

Listen to Concerns: Fear is natural with any new adventure. Talk to your child about what they are thinking, what they are feeling and what they are expecting. Even the simple things like a new haircut or new shoes can be exciting and give children something to talk about with their new friends. Get them excited about what’s to come.

Take a Tour: If your child’s school is hosting an open house or meet and greet, go. Walking into a new building and looking down long halls can be intimidating. Show your child the way to their classroom, where the restrooms are and even what to do if they get lost. Introductions can be helpful. Meeting the principal, librarian, music teacher and secretary gives a feeling of familiarity when they greet your child on the first day.

Preparing for the first day takes more than knowing how to read or write. The littlest ones going in kindergarten and preschool need some emotional prep also.

Backpack image provided by Steve Wilhelm via Flickr
School Hallway image provided by WuperUpper via Flickr

Simple Games Can Teach A Lot

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Over the years I have come to learn the value of simple games. Sometimes I will find myself thinking a certain game is too difficult for my child. I am always surprised to see that with a little twist on what I think the rules are my child is perfectly capable of playing it with me. One particular game we have been playing for many years has turned out to be very educational, too. Can you guess it? I Spy! In my opinion, when it comes to learning you are never too young or too old for I Spy!

When my oldest was just starting to really understand his colors and shapes during preschool years, I found myself in need of a serious distraction to keep him well behaved while we had a long wait in the car. Growing up we always played I Spy and Twenty Questions on trips, but I knew he could not play those, yet, or so I thought. Playing I Spy with a young child in a parked car is a lot easier than playing while the car is moving. His little eyes could not take everything in fast enough while moving, so I took advantage of the time we had in the parked car. Plus, remember I was desperate for any distraction! With a little trial and error tweaking, we suddenly came up with a game that ended up entertaining, educational and one he could not get enough of. He still loves it three years later. I also blame my youngest child’s success on learning colors and basic shapes so quickly on her desire to play this game with us!

Easy Educational Games

Image: t0zz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here is an example of how we played it. This is a typical conversation when we first started:.

Player 1 (Adult): I Spy with my little eye something green. (A tree)

Player 2 (Child): That! (pointing at a yellow sign)

Player 1: No, that is yellow. That is not what I Spy.

Player 2: That! (pointing at a green bush)

Player 1: That is green, but that is not what I Spy.

Player 2: That! (pointing at a tree)

Player 1: Yes! A green tree is what I Spy!

Player 2: Again!

We focused on shapes and colors in the beginning and eventually moved on to letters and numbers. I kept it general for the first couple of years. Meaning, that if he pointed at any tree and the tree was the “I Spy item”, then he got it. I was also the only one who got to be Player 1 at first as he gained confidence in his finding skills. Once he understood the game enough to be Player 1, I discovered he would do the exact same thing I did, “nope, that is a square not a circle. That is not what I Spy.” Playing the game this way allowed us to make it as simple or as challenging as we needed it to be.

I  have been so excited with simplicity of this game and how much my kiddos love it. I believe it has not only helped teach them their shapes and colors, but helped them improve their communication skills, practice turn taking and expand their attention spans.

What are your family’s favorite games to play?

 

* Feature Image: Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before Your Child Enters School

ABC Hopscotch small

I recently talked with a kindergarten teacher about the children in her class learning to read. She mentioned how hard it is for many of the students to begin learning because some do not have a foundation from which to begin learning. Some students do not know their ABCs or even what an alphabet is. This kindergarten teacher has to start from the very beginning with these children and make sure her other students are still getting the education they deserve.

What can you do as a parent to help kindergarten teachers, like this one, and help your child receive the best education? Here are just a few things this kindergarten teacher and I talked about:

  • Make sure your child knows what an alphabet is. Before children can learn to read, they need to know the purpose of the ABCs. They need to know that words are made up of letters. But to help them grasp this concept, they need to know the names of the letters and the sounds they make.
  • If you speak a language other than English in the home, teach your child about the alphabet in that language. The kindergarten teacher I talked to said that because many non-native-English-speaking families want their children to receive an English education, they don’t teach their children about the alphabet in their native language, which means children are not exposed to an understanding of letters before entering school. But if parents teach their children about the alphabet in the language spoken at home, their children have a better understanding of the purpose of the alphabet.
  • Read to your child. Reading to or with children exposes them to printed words and vocabulary that will help them throughout school and provide the foundation needed to establish reading success. And it doesn’t matter what language you read; it doesn’t have to be English. The kindergarten teacher explained to me that many of her students who come from non-native-English-speaking families become some of the best readers because of the understanding they have about words.
  • Teach your child how to write his or her name. The kindergarten teacher mentioned that being able to write their own name is an important skill for children to learn. It gives them a better understanding of the letters that make up their name and other words.

What do you think about these suggestions? Have you talked with a teacher and received other helpful suggestions for what to teach your child before he or she enters school? Are you a teacher and have some great ideas? We’re interested to hear; please share.

Feature image courtesy of  Jan Tik / Flickr.

Reinforcing Letter Learning and Reading while Cooking with Your Kids

Children Cooking

I never need an excuse to bake or be creative in the kitchen, and I love it when my kids join in the fun. Not only does cooking together offer the opportunity to bond with children, but it helps them to expand their palettes, and it’s an excellent learning opportunity.

How to reinforce reading while cooking

Have a few child-friendly cookbooks on hand and easily accessible to your children. Encourage your kids to help you create your meal menus by paging through and reading their cookbooks. A few of our favorite books include

  • The Cookbook for Kids (Williams-Sonoma): Great Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook
  • Fix-It and Forget-It Kids’ Cookbook: 50 Favorite Recipes to Make in a Slow Cooker

Ask your child to read you the next steps of the recipe, even if she is only recognizing a few of the words in the recipe. Often, there are picture cues that will help a child to identify the words and terms. Additionally, by reading a recipe, she’ll see the words that work. If she can’t yet read, always read the recipe out loud, showing her the words you’re reading.

Bake in letters using cookie cutters to form letters in cookies, personal pizzas, and pancakes. We have this Wilton 2304-1050 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set, which we also use for Play-Doh, tracing, and just general playtime.

Make pretzels and form letters and shapes.

Label everything in your kitchen and ask your child for the foods you need. The more your child interacts with words the more he or she will see them.

Play with your food. After you cook, don’t clean up! Play with the leftover dusts of flour, cinnomon, and mixes on your counter tops and create letters and words in them with your child.

How do you share cooking and reading in your kitchen?

Photo courtesy of slightly everything / Flickr.

100 Words for Kindergarteners

jet

Have you ever wondered what vocabulary words your kindergartener should be leaning? There are, of course, many words your kindergartener should have at least heard; I recently read that the average child is expected to have heard at least 32 million words by their fourth birthday. But the question is what are the words they should be learning and how can we make sure our child knows them well so they are successful in school?

Below are 100 words I gathered from Rusty and Rosy Reading level 1. These words are actually among over 250 that are taught in the program’s songs, rhymes, and books. These are words that preschool and kindergarteners are learning.

What can you do with this list of words?

Most likely, your child has heard many of the words listed below and may have a fairly good idea of their meaning. But to make sure your child really understands them, you can use the words in your conversations so your child hears the context in which they are used. Seeing and hearing words in context is one of the best ways to learn new vocabulary words because when the words we learn are heard again, we, or our children, can go back to the examples we have heard previously to understand what the words mean.

Some of the words below are words we use every day, while others are used sparingly. You can have fun including words like “dragon” in conversations with your child.

Alligator Back Catch Dock
Athlete Beside Cold Down
Attic Big Come Dragon
Away Birthday Cry Dried
Ax Book Downstairs
Elevator Fix Garden Hamster
Enormous Friend Golf Here
Envelope Frightened Goose High
Everywhere Grasshopper Hill
Home
Iguana Jam Kangaroo Leap
Ill Jeep Kettle Little
Infant Jet Kickoff Lock
Insect Jumbled Kitchen Lost
Itchy
Mailbox Naughty Opposites Pair
Market Neighborhood Off Paws
Mittens New Oven Play
Moon Pretty
Mustache
Quack Rain Same Tall
Quiet Rainbow Short Through
Ranch Silly Together
Rapping Stripes Tumbling
Stuck
Sun
Under Vacation Watch X-ray
Up View Weave
Upstairs Visit Web
Wings
Wings
Yesterday Zigzag
Yummy Zippers
Zoo