Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pumpkin Train Tunnel

Now is a great time to grab a pumpkin for this super fun and super easy Pumpkin Train Tunnel--our preschoolers thought it was the coolest train track ever!

Inspired by this Hot Wheels Pumpkin Tunnel and the low price tag on pumpkins at this time of year, we created this fantastic Pumpkin Train Tunnel a few days ago!

We actually did it on the grass first:

While that worked, we decided the flat sidewalk would work even better.  And it did!

You can make a Pumpkin Train Tunnel too!

Just cut open a pumpkin and remove the seeds and "guts."  Cut two "doors" on each side of the tunnel and scrape the middle down so it is as flat as possible.

We added a cloth to protect the tracks from the pumpkin, and then the kids started building!

When they finished, I wiped the pumpkin down with bleach water to discourage insects and fungus growth.  We live in Houston and the humidity can rot a pumpkin in amazing time! So far, it's lasted a couple days and is still looking good!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Moon Science & Poppins Book Nook

This moon science activity is super easy to set up and is always a huge hit with preschoolers!


Plus, it goes wonderfully with this month's Beyond Our Planet theme for Poppins Book Nook!

We'll get to the moon science activities in just a moment.  First, I want to share our book choice for the theme:
{Amazon Affiliate link below}

I Took the Moon for a Walk is a delightful rhyming story perfect for preschoolers and toddlers.  Older children can even read it to the younger kiddos!  At the end of the fanciful tale, the book has some simple scientific information at the end too.  (If you click on the picture above, you can visit Amazon and see a preview that shows some of the pages inside, including one of the science information pages.)

After you enjoy the story, ask your children what they would do if they could take the moon for a walk?  What would they see?

Did they know that people have walked on the moon?  Did they know that three countries have put "cars" (moon rovers) on the moon?  Can you name them?  The Soviet Union, United States, and China.

Pull out a plate with a thin layer of flour on it to represent the moon.  Let your kiddos poke the ground and imagine they are astronauts bouncing along the moon.  Talk about gravity.  The moon is aobut 1/6 the size of the Earth, and so it has about 1/6 the amount of gravity.  A 4-year old who weighs 48 pounds on Earth would only weigh 8 pounds on the moon!

Pull out a moon rover (aka monster truck).  Let your kiddos drive it on the "moon."

Talk about the moon:  there is no wind to blow away the tire tracks.  There is no water to wash away the prints.  The tracks from moon rovers are still there now, decades later!

If you wanted to add a second plate, you could let your children demonstrate what would happen to the tracks on Earth: they would get washed away by wind and water.

Before you turn your moon into an impromptu sensory bin, tell your kids that there is one thing that will destroy the prints on the moon: impact from meteorites!  Let your children demonstrate meteorites hitting the moon by dropping tiny rocks, balls, or raisins onto their moon from 1-2 feet above the plate!  Tell them that you can actually see craters on the moon when you look at it at night!  If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope, you can see them even better!

Eventually, our moon turned into a sensory plate.  Luckily, flour is pretty easy to sweep up!

This post is part of the Poppins Book Nook monthly book club!  Be sure to stop for even more learning activities and great books on the Beyond Our Planet theme!  Plus, visit Enchanted Homeschooling Mom for a great giveaway!!

Check out these other bloggers for more Beyond Our Planet fun:

Do you have a post that would fit the theme?  We'd love to see your Beyond Our Planet ideas!  Just link them up here:

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I may share at any of these parties!

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Can't Wait for Pumpkin Pie Finger Play & Felt Play

This is the perfect fall finger play rhyme!

We love finger play rhymes because they are super fun, interactive, and teach prepartory skills like counting and rhyming.  I Can't Wait for Pumpkin Pie fits great with fall, Halloween, harvest, and Thanksgiving themes too!

We used out Flannel Board Box and felt pieces to narrate the rhyme too!  If you want to make simple felt pieces, you will want 5 pumpkins, a pie, and a vine.  Easy, right?!

And here is the finger play rhyme:

I Can't Wait for Pumpkin Pie!

5 little pumpkins on a vine,  (hold up 5 fingers)
5 little pumpkins that are mine!  (point to self)
I pull one off and then I sigh,  (dramatically pull one off)
"I can't wait for pumpkin pie!"  (dramatically sigh)

4 little pumpkins on a vine,
4 little pumpkins that are mine!
I pull one off and then I sigh,
"I can't wait for pumpkin pie!"

3 little pumpkins on a vine,
3 little pumpkins that are mine!
I pull one off and then I sigh,
"I can't wait for pumpkin pie!"

2 little pumpkins on a vine,
2 little pumpkins that are mine!
I pull one off and then I sigh,
"I can't wait for pumpkin pie!"

1 little pumpkins on a vine,
1 little pumpkins that are mine!
I pull one off and then I sigh,
"I can't wait for pumpkin pie!"

No little pumpkins on a vine,
No little pumpkins that are mine.
But I don't have to make a sigh
Because it's time for pumpkin pie!

I Can't Wait for Pumpkin Pie finger play rhyme has a natural sing-song rhythm and is loads of fun to say and act out with a felt or flannel board!

And, it works great with fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or garden themes!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

{FREE} Halloween Hats Which One is Different? Cards!

These cute preschool cards are perfect for Halloween fun!

Playing Which One is Different games can help your preschooler develop visual discrimination, which is an important pre-reading and pre-spelling skill!  And if you use clothespins or paperclips to mark the different hats, you will be strengthening your preschoolers fine motor skills and small muscles too!

Just print these {FREE} cards off, laminate them, and put them in a bin with clothespins!  Or, put them in a "busy bag" with paper clips!  Or let your preschooler mark them with pompoms at the table while you make dinner!  There are loads of possbilities!

Click here to download your {FREE} Halloween Hats Which One is Different? cards from Teachers Notebook!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

16 Pre-Spelling Activities for Preschoolers AND All About Spelling!

These preschool activities do more than just entertain...they actually prepare your preschooler for future spelling success!  And, keep reading to find out why I love the All About Spelling program!

Spelling is an exciting and challenging skill, and there are loads of things you can do with your preschoolers to prepare them to be successful at spelling.

These 16 activities develop skills that will be helpful for your children as they learn begin learning to spell words, whether that is very soon or a couple years down the road!  Keep reading to learn more about my favorite spelling program!

Pre-Spelling Activities for Preschoolers:

* Visual Games and Activities:

1- Red Light, Green Light
2- Pretend play games with cars, dinosaurs, fairies, action figures, etc..
3- I spy...
4- Coloring pages
5- Memory or matching pages like these
6- Lego or other block-building activities
7- Which One is Different activities like these cards
8- Sequencing activities

* These activities help develop the ability to discriminate between letters, words, and numbers that are visually similar (like b and d).
* They also help develop the ability to focus on one object (or letter) in a sea of background images.  (foreground-background discrimination)
* Sequencing activities help your child "see" letters and sounds in order.

* Auditory Games and Activities:

8- 20 Questions
9- I'm thinking of an animal that...
10- Finger Plays
11- Rhyming Games
12- When I say ___, you ___ - style games
13- Dragging out words (instead of telling your child to "put his shoes on," you say,
"put your shoes oooooooooooonnnnnnnnnn."
14- Singing

* These activities develop the ability to hear differences between and within words (auditory discrimination). 

* Multi-sensory Activities:

To be sure, any of the activities above could be made into a multi-sensory activity.  The two activities that I am including here, though, have an incredible amount of power to prepare children to read and spell.  They consistently show up in research as indicators of student success in reading.  Any preschool experience should include as much of these two activities as possible!

15- Talking and (language rich) playing with your child
16- Reading with your child

* These activities create a language-rich background and a wealth of background knowledge for your children to draw on as they continue to learn reading, spelling, and other skills.

Once your child is ready to begin learning to spell, you will want to find a structured spelling program that covers the 44 English phonemes in an engaging and memorable way.  All About Spelling is, hands down, the best program I have found to teach spelling.

{Affiliate links below}

We began using All About Spelling last spring with my then 6-year old.  She is dyslexic and had struggled with spelling in the past.  I was originally attracted to All About Spelling because it is multisensory and boasts an ability to help dyslexic students.  Only two weeks later, I saw a significant improvement in both her spelling and reading skills!

 As we have worked through Level One (seven levels complete the program on a high school level), I have been consistently impressed with the program.

Here are my top 7 reasons for loving All About Spelling:

1- It is hands-on!  My daughter loves physically manipulating the magnetic letter tiles.  My younger kids love to join in too--they are actually learning the letters as they play with them!

2- It is multi-sensory!  In addition to the tactile letter tiles, there are activities that involve writing, listening, and visually analyzing words.

3- It is adaptable!  There are skills she already knows, and she flies through those lessons.  On the other hand, it is really easy to spend an extra day on skills that are more challenging for her.

4- It reviews material well!  New skills must be reviewed if they are to be retained, and All About Spelling does a fantastic job making sure you remember new skills.  AND, the reviews are built into the lessons so that you (the teacher) do not need to worry about it!

5-  It is easy! It is easy for the teacher and it is easy for the student.  Neither needs any special skills!  You just need to spend about 15-20 minutes a day working on spelling!

6- It is positive one-on-one time with my daugther.

7- We can both see improvement!  While I appreciate seeing my daughter improve, it is even more important that she see her own spelling skills increasing. This motivates her to keep working and makes the challenging lessons "worth it."  This is probably my favorite part of All About Spelling:  She can see herself improving!

Spelling Can Be Easy When It's Multisensory

What does a typical lesson look like?

There are several types of lessons, but most of the lessons have the following elements:

1- Review

2- Alphabetizing practice
3- Phonics, spelling rules, or other spelling concepts
4- Practice with the tiles or other manipulatives
5- Practice writing the words
6- A chart to mark off each "step" in the lesson.  I have to comment more on this one because it is one of my daughter's favorite parts.  She is very list- and goal-oriented and loves being able to put a sticker on each step as it is completed!

I honestly can not think of anything negative to say about All About Spelling.  Because I have seen so many good things from it, I intend to start using All About Reading as well.  Both programs were written by Marie Rippel, an educator who rose to the challenge of creating a spelling curriculum as she worked to teach her own child who struggled with dyslexia.  It has now expanded into a wonderful, family-owned company that I am happy to recommend to everyone.  In fact, I have been recommending it to anyone who asks me about curriculum!


What kinds of activities do you use to teach spelling or pre-spelling skills?  Do you have a favorite?  I'd love to know!

Disclaimer: We received an All About Spelling Level 1 set and a Deluxe Spelling Interactive Kit for review purposes.  All opinions shared are mine!  I only share materials that I expect my readers to love!

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Welcome! I'm so glad you're visiting! I am a public school teacher turned homeschooling mom who runs a small home daycare. I love to teach, create fun and exciting resources, and share the educational journey that we get to live!

This blog is full of ideas and resources for parents teaching preschoolers! One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to meet you all--be sure to say hi! You can always leave a comment or email me anytime at PreschoolPackets at gmail dot com!



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