Saturday, October 22, 2016

Incorporating Fine Motor Activities

So many preschoolers and kindergarten friends come to school 
with little fine motor practice.  
The first thought when fine motor comes up is pencil, paper activities, 
but the reality is there are so many ways to build fine motor BEFORE
children are ready for pencil, paper activities.

Clothes pins and larger tweezers offer children practice with the pincer grasp.  
We practice using pop poms and small objects 
as they are grabbed and moved from one place to another.  
Alphabet Mats and sensory tables provide a place for integration with these skills.

Art activities provide fine motor experiences such as paper tearing, 
painting and gluing. While painting, we remind our friends 
to use their "pinching" fingers as they hold the brush. 
 Twirling the paint brush is a circular motion 
also takes practice at the beginning of the year.

Paper tearing also provides additional experiences 
and the scraps are saved for the art center.

Fine motor experience can also be incorporated while teaching math concepts.  
We use pony beads for counting and patterning.  
One to one correspondence can be modeled and practiced 
using pom poms and recycles marker caps.
Play dough is always a go to with counting and tens frames.  
Rolling the dough in itself takes a LOT of practice!

There so so many commercial games and materials for sale 
that lend themselves to fine motor practice.
Gumball Grab and Magic Boards are two favorites
 in our room from Lakeshore Learning.

Scissor practice is another fine motor skill that takes a great deal of practice.
We cut paper and play dough as they offer different resistances.  

Last week I added straws and scissors to our sensory table 
for additional fine motor practice.
We were then going to add string for threading once the straws were all cut.


This was found under the table at the end of  day one.
No one claimed it, no parent complained.

Feel free to pin the image below onto your Pinterest boards for easy reference. 
For more fine motor inspiration, follow my Fine Motor Pinterest Board.

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

5 Fun and Engaging Alphabet Activities

Learning the alphabet in pre-k is front and center in our classrooms.
The KEY is making it fun and meaningful for our kids!

Children learn better when they have connections to things.
What better way to learn the alphabet than to start with students' names?
The excitement becomes contagious and as they learn their own names 
they want to learn to learn their friends names too!
Bottle Cap Letters is a FREE download on TpT. 

My pre-kinders love anything with texture.
Salt trays are a busy place in our room.
Learning is at an optimum when I set up one tray 
and call students over for some one on one time to practice writing their name. 
EVERYONE wants a turn!
When we do set it up as a center, 
a teacher is sure to be sitting at that table to supervise.  

Alphabet Mats are a FUN way to practice letters and sounds 
with some fine motor practice!
We roll play dough to form the letters, use tweezers 
and small objects like pom poms to cover the letters 
as well as just picking up objects like glass gems with our little fingers too.  
The alphabet mats that I use have two matching pictures 
for sound and vocabulary development.  
This is especially important for my English Language Learners.

Alphabet games and puzzles are sure to be a crowd pleaser!
A few of our favorites include alphabet fishing, matching spoons and puzzles.
 I found several versions of alphabet spoons on Pinterst and then made my own
with Target Dollar Spot stickers. You can follow me on Pinterest HERE.
We offer lots of practice in small group before moving these activities 
to the alphabet center for independent play.

We use LOTS of songs, nursery rhymes and poems 
to build on oral language, vocabulary and phonological awareness.
One of our daily activities during story time is to learn a new poem.
The rebus pictures help my pre-kinders connect to the text and build vocabulary.
We are working on beginning letters and sounds now, 
will move onto medial sounds and 
ending sounds as well as sight words later in the year.

On Fridays, my students add the poem to their Poetry Journal and we work on 
letters and vocabulary during small groups.
Starting in October, we will send home the Poetry Journals once a month 
for students to share with their families.  
It becomes one additional way to build that home-school connection.
October Poetry Journals with Rebus Pictures is available HERE.  

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to School Organization with Picture Name Tags

The first week of pre-k and kinder is all about establishing routine.
So many of my little friends come in 
and have no connection to their written name. 
I have started using picture symbols with student names
to help all students identify their names, places and spaces in the classroom.
This works with all children including non-English speakers
and our ESE students as pictures are universal!

The most obvious use of symbols and pictures is with student name tags. 
I actually put our name tags in a pocket chart so my pre-kinders are
able to use this card during small groups and center time-
no matter where they are sitting in the classroom. 

Cubby tags are another great place to use  symbols and names together...
unless you don't have cubbies!
You guessed it, I don't have cubbies in my classroom,
so we put our backpacks over out chairs sideways so they don't fall off.
I used the cubby tags on the back of their chairs so everyone has a home base
in the classroom and a place to park their bags!

I then printed the cubby tags with several on a sheet to reduce their size
and make them more versatile in the classroom. 

These are the perfect size for folder labels, lanyard necklaces, graphing cards,  
and even cafeteria cards with bar codes to scan on the back!

And last but certainly not least, I use the symbol cards
on colored bins for easy water bottle storage!
These would also be great for storing individual supplies at tables!

The picture name tags help my kiddos connect to their names
in a meaningful way while helping me organize our room
and develop routines especially during the first few weeks of school.
The possibilities are endless with Picture Name Tags!
You can find them HERE in TpT.
Be sure to pin this post for easy, back to school organization!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

5 Ways to Practice Student Names

With back to school right around the corner,
preschool and kindergarten teachers are looking for
engaging ways for students to practice their names!

"Why?" you ask.
Students have a strong will to learn their name and 
it makes learning letters more personal to each student.

When my students come to Meet the Teacher the week before school starts, 
pictures of various objects are out on a board and each student is allowed
 to pick one "symbol" to be attached to their name. 

 This practice allows children
 to identify their name and space easily. 
 Students quickly learn each others' symbols 
and names as well and they LOVE this!

The Pre-K Name Tags set includes 40 stand alone symbols, 
Set A and Set B class lists for am and pm classes, 
EDITABLE name tags and EDITABLE cubby labels.  
Students quickly learn their name as it is always connected to their symbol!  

At the beginning of the year, my pre-kinders may have no idea
 what their name looks like or even that it has letters. 

 Our focus in August is to introduce the FIRST letter of their names!  
We start by introducing the first letter of their name with some fine motor fun.  
Later in September, we use it for a model for some dry erase board practice.

 Providing multiple opportunities for name writing is key!  
Provide a model for the student with his or her name and model rainbow writing 
(writing name several times with a different color each time), 
tracing the name with bingo dabbers or watercolor paints, 
or even model paper tearing to cover the child's full name similar to the letter J above.  

Bottle Cap Letters or other letter manipulatives let children manipulate 
the letters in his or her name to order them correctly.  

By using Bottle Cap Letters, you are able to customize each child's name, 
use different colors for each child so they don't mix up their letters 
and teachers can  send an extra set home for additional practice.  

Parents always ask what they can do and 
Bottle Cap Letters provide an activity that is easy to use.  
This is an inexpensive way to provide a home-school connection!

If you are interested in Bottle Cap Letters
you can download it from my TpT store for FREE!

Salt trays and shaving cream are a go to sensory activity for name practice. 
 It works best one on one at the beginning of the year and then small group.  
Both activities have a  dual purpose as they help with letter formation 
as well as letter/sound identification when working with a teacher.  

Children have different learning styles and this activity will help 
your tactile learners connect with letters.

Don't forget to grab your FREE copy of Bottle Cap Letters
if you have not already done so and for future products, 
be sure to follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Making the Most of Morning Meeting

Morning Meeting is one of my favorite times of the day.  
I have a captive audience so it is crucial to get their little brains engaged in learning
because I only have their attention for a short amount of time.

The MOST important reason to come to the carpet according to my students was to see who the Apple of My Eye is going to be!  The WHO you say? The Apple of My Eye of course! In my apple themed classroom, that's the helper of the day.  

You might call it your Star Student or even your Top Dog,  Either way that child does EVERYTHING all day so I only have to keep track of one helper. This is the BEST classroom management change that I have made to save my sanity.  The child's name is on The Apple of My Eye chart every day until December and I reveal one letter at a time

We them move onto to our calendar.  In pre-k, we start the year off with our weekly calendar.  We count the number of days at home and the number of days at school.  Dr. Jean's Days of the Week song is a favorite.  This is the first step in counting and number recognition which gets us well on our way to counting up to ten. 

You can find my weekly calendar HERE along with seasonal pictures for each month and the numbers 1-7 for counting each day.  

When we return from Christmas vacation in January, I switch the weekly calendar to a monthly calendar. On the back of each calendar piece, I have the child's name that will be the Apple of My Eye.  (I had a morning and afternoon pre-k class last year so there are two names on each card-one red and one blue.) 

My pre-kinders would be excited to see what the new cards would be each month, but I soon realized we needed a little bit more.  I made a set of monthly calendar cards to include a pattern each month. Upon looking back, I realized that I needed to review the patterns as we moved on so I also built that in. My new calendar schedule looks like this:

We move onto reviewing our schedule for the day.  I have a daily schedule with pictures and words  and within a few weeks of school, the kids know the typical schedule.  It does have to be changed from time to time, and if I forget to turn it back they really let me know!

And to wrap up our quickly moving morning meeting, we incorporate a little literacy.  We work on a poem or nursery rhyme each week together.  While we practice the poems, we work on letters, sounds, rhyming words, vocabulary and concepts of print.  There is so much packed into this short period it amazes me.  

The rebus pictures that are used with the poem allow for students to reread it independently after a few days of practicing it chorally.  We add it later in the week to their Poetry Journal to practice reciting it, tracking print, illustrating it and connecting it to our language skill.  

That about wraps up our morning meeting time.  There are always extra activities that are substituted in throughout the year like out weekly journal starting in January, but by that time my pre-kinders are able to sit for a little longer!

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