Sheep in a Jeep Activities

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Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw is an easy read (beginning of first grade reading level).  It is also a great read aloud for younger kids with lots of rhyming and funny pictures.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Here are some ideas try when you read it:

  • Practice sight words– Pick out one word that is repeated throughout the book (sheep, jeep, in) and see if your kiddo can point it out on the page.  Then practice putting the word together with letter blocks or writing it.
  • Rhyming–  There are lots of rhymes in this book!  After you read, go back and a list of all the rhyming words.  See if you can add more rhyming words to add to the list.  (kindergarten- Recognize and produce rhyming words)
  • Making words–  Use magnetic letters of blocks to spell out a rhyming word in the story such as sheep.  Then take away the “sh” and see if your child can make the word jeep.  Ask them to replace the “j” and make the word beep.  Making words is a wonderful activity for beginning readers to work on letter sounds and spelling.  (kindergarten- Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ)
  • Long vowel /e/– Talk about /ee/ and /ea/ make the same long e sound.  Go on a “word hunt” for /ee/ and /ea/ words in the story and make a chart listing them. (kindergarten- Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings for the five major vowels)
  • Retell the story–  After reading the book, ask your kiddo to retell the story.  This is always a good comprehension strategy to teach even with books with few words.  (first grade- Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson)
  • Ask questions–  This is another comprehension strategy that works with any book.  Ask your child questions about the story.  If they can’t remember, ask them to look back in the book to find the answer.  Who helped the sheep get their jeep out of the mud?  Why did the jeep break?  What do the sheep do when the jeep breaks?  (second grade- Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text)
  • Extend the story–  What do you think happened next?  Who will buy the jeep?  What will the sheep drive now?  Make up a new story together…maybe even write it down and have your child draw the illustrations!
  • Act it out–  Kids learn best by doing, so acting out the story is another comprehension strategy.  If you have a small toy sheep, jeep, and pigs, use those.  If not, your kiddo can pretend to drive a jeep (box) and act while you read the book.

Hide and Seek With Sight Words

This is an easy game to play with sight words.  It’s exercise and learning combined!  It is a great way to take a movement break in the middle of reading or homework.

1.  Purchase some sight word flashcards….or better yet, make your own.

2.  Scatter the sight words around the room writing side up.

3.  Call out a word and see if your kiddo can run and find it.  Exercise and learning combined!!

Okay, it’s not so much hiding as seeking.  Although you could turn the words face down to add an extra memory challenge.  You could also vary the game by the movement involved.  Call out a word and an action (skip to find the word “you”, crawl to the word “can”).  Have fun with it!

 

 

Making Sentences with Sight Words

What can you do with sight words?  Make sentences! Once a kid learns a few sight words, you mix them around and BOOM he is reading a sentence.  It will blow his mind.  All of a sudden, he is a READER!  Very cool.

(Psst…you will need sight words written on index cards, post-its, or other paper.  I made mine with magnets on the back so they can be used on a fridge or magnetic whiteboard.)

Try out a few of these ideas to make sentences together:

  • You say a sentence out loud and then the kiddo makes it using sight words.
  • Your child makes up a sentence and you make it using a combination of sight words and written words.  He reads it out loud to “check” your work.  Kids love this!
  • Your kid makes a sentence that you have read together in a book.
  • You make a sentence with sight words and without saying anything, see if she can read it.
  • Once you make a sentence, show how you can change words to make a new sentence.  “We can go up” can change to “Dada can go up” or “We can go there.”

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  • Make a sentence and leave a blank that you fill in with crazy words.  Instead of “Mama and I go to the store,” how about the moon? Brainstorm a list of ideas to fit in the blank.

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  •  Teach about the meaning of pronouns by substituting “it” for a noun in the sentence.  Try it with other pronouns that you have introduced as sight words: we, she, he, etc.

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  • Extend the activity: Once you have made a sentence, write it on a piece of paper and your child can illustrate it.  You could even make a whole book that they can read!

How to Display and Organize Sight Words

Having sight words around your house is a great way help beginning (or struggling) readers.  Sight words are easy to make (psst…here’s how I made mine) and you can do lots of learning activities with them.  In a classroom, there is a “word wall” where sight words are displayed so they are easily read/spelled.  Why not try something similar in your home?

How do I display sight words?

  • on the fridge-  This is great because they can easily be reached by little hands and moved around.  However, they end up jumbled and might be difficult to find.
  • on a traditional “word wall” in their bedroom or a common room-  Easy to see, but not easy to reach and manipulate (and maybe that’s a good thing?)
  • on a large whiteboard- It’s movable and you can write on it!
  • easel- This is another movable option that doesn’t take up wall space.

How do you organize the sight words?

  • alphabetically- Teachers usually organize their sight words alphabetically.  It’s easy to find words if you know the first letter and it’s a good way to practice ABC order.
  • number of letters- Kids can practice counting while they rearrange words in a different way.
  • tall, small, fall letters- Some letters are tall (t, b, l) some fall below the line (g, p, y) and some are small (m, o, a).  Organize the words into groups according to their shapes.
  • words they know/don’t know-  Just like flashcards, split into two groups of words they can easily read and words they are still working on.  Then watch the “know” group grow!
  • any group that makes sense- Experiment with different groupings.  Rearranging sight words means your kiddo is reading, thinking, and organizing words.  All good things!

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(Common Core kindergarten standard: Read common high-frequency words by sight )

Making Sight Words

My oldest daughter is interested in learning to read.  While I think the most important thing I can do is simply have lots of books around the house and READ, READ, READ to her…the teacher in me can’t help but do some other learning activities with her, too.  So one day while she was busy with markers, I made some sight words.

How did I choose the words?  Well, I looked at the pre-primer Dolch list.  You can also get a list from your child’s teacher, or be your own Mr. Dolch and just write down a few words that you see over and over in kid books.

How did I make the words?  I wrote with a black marker on lined paper, cut it out, then glued it onto colored construction paper and cut it out again.  (Hello, my name is Megan and I love scissors.)  I used bright construction paper so that it was easy to see the “shape” of the word.  This is a big help to visual learners.  Then I stuck a magnet on the back.  Everything is better with a magnet.

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Now what?  Now the fun begins!  Usually about once a week (or whenever my daughter asks me) I introduce a new sight word.  We read a book that uses the word a lot.  I show her the word I made.  We spell it.  Maybe she will write it.  There are a bajillion activities you can do with sight words.  I’ll share some in a post, I promise!  One idea is using the sight word in a sentence from the book.  Bonus: the words stick to the magnetic whiteboard!

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We keep the sight words (that we have introduced) on the fridge.  My kids see them and play with them every day.  We refer to the sight words when we read.  “Oh, U-P.  You learned that word.  Do you remember it?”  Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes no.  That’s okay.  Keep it light and fun.  After all, I don’t want to do too much sight word work…then it would be like (gasp!) school.

(Common Core kindergarten standard: Read common high-frequency words by sight )

Make a Doodle

If you have a pen and some paper, you can entertain your kid while you wait at a restaurant or doctor’s office.  Heck, you don’t even have to have paper.  Try a napkin or even the back of your hand!

Just draw some lines or shapes…

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Then hand over the pen to your kid.  See if they can make your scribbles into a doodle.  (These are a flower, two clowns, and a caterpillar courtesy of my four-year-old daughter.)

 

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Preschoolers: They can do it with a little help!

  • Demonstrate how to turn a line or shape into a drawing.
  • Use simple geometric shapes (square, circle, triangle)
  • Help them get started by brainstorming with them.  “It’s a circle.  What things have circle shapes?  Maybe it could be a face.  Or a wheel on a car?  Can you think of other things with circles?
  • If the activity is still too difficult, switch it up!  Your kid can make a few marks on a paper and YOU turn it into a picture!

Elementary: Elementary aged kids should be able to make doodles without much prompting.  They might even need an extra challenge.

  • Draw several lines on one paper and see if they can connect them all into one drawing!
  • Can they make all the drawings fit in one category (food, animal)?
  • Draw several of the same shape or line (example- 5 squares all the same size).  Challenge them to make each one into a different drawing.

Five Minute Snowflake Craft

I am all about simple crafts.  It only takes five minutes and you can use stuff that you already have around the house?  Count me in.  Bonus if you can do some teaching with the crafting.  Oh, it also has to be easy enough for a two-year-old.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

This craft was inspired by the book Snow by Cynthia Rylant, but it would work well with any snow book.  It doesn’t discriminate.  It’s an all-inclusive craft. 🙂

Step 1: Assemble materials: Q-tips, glue, scissors, and aluminum foil (or wax paper)

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Step 2: Teaching time!  Look at pictures of snowflakes in the book and count the points.  Talk about symmetry and notice how the “arms” are directly across from each other.  If you want to google “how do snowflakes form” and do a mini-science lesson, go for it!  This is a good place to start.

Step 3: Cut 3 Q-tips in half.  More teaching!  Use the word half and explain that it is two equal parts.  Practice counting by twos.

Step 4: Fun part!  Squeeze a puddle of glue about the size of a penny on aluminum foil (or wax paper…whichever you have).

Step 5: Arrange 6 Q-tip halves in glue puddle so they are symmetrical.

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Step 6:  Let it dry!  I just left mine overnight.

Step 7:  When the glue is dry, carefully peel it off the foil.  I hung my daughter’s snowflake in the window with some white thread.

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Materials:

  • 3 Q-tips
  • scissors
  • Elmer’s glue
  • aluminium foil

Time investment: 5 minutes

Difficulty:  Super duper easy.

5 Tips for Stay-at-home Sanity

I’ve been at this stay-at-home game for a little more than a half a year.  So I’m no expert.  But I’ve been on the brink of insanity and learned a thing or two in the past few months.  Some tips from the trenches…

1.  Get dressed.  This seems obvious, but do you know how good it feels to stay in your pajamas all morning?!  Unfortunately, I don’t feel like doing anything in my pajamas.  Well, that false.  I feel like sleeping.  Clean up breakfast dishes?  I can’t do that.  I’m still in my pj’s!!  So first things first- get dressed.

2.  Put on shoes.  We usually have a “no shoe” policy in our house.  However, I’ve found if I wear shoes around the house it makes me want to accomplish things.  Shoes=success.  I mean, I never went to work without my shoes on.  Okay, okay….I might have taken them off once or twice under my desk.  And if you are worried about tracking dirt around the house, buy new shoes and only wear them inside.

3.  Have a game plan.  Each night after the girls go to bed, I come up with some kind of plan for the next day.  It can be as simple as “We’ll go to the zoo tomorrow.”  Even knowing that much, I can make a quick breakfast, pack a lunch, and hopefully get to the zoo when it opens.  If I wake up with nothing planned I usually do just that…nothing.  That never feels good.  You can go all crazy and write up a full 20 item to do list each night.  I’d start with a quick list (just 3 things) you want to do each day.  One work thing around the house, one fun thing with the kids, one thing for you.  Anything else is bonus!

4.  Be flexible.  The best thing about being a stay-at-home mom is you don’t have to stick to the plan.  If you planned to go to the zoo, but the kids just won’t get ready to leave the house….then stay home!  If the kids can’t do the craft you had planned, then color instead.  If you don’t everything done on your to do list, then just do it tomorrow.  No worries.  Plans are good.  Being flexible with plans is even better.

5.  Find your go/stay rhythm.  Just because you are a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you want to spend all your time at home.  You also don’t want to spend all your time driving from park to playdate to pizzeria (it seemed like I needed another ‘p’ word there).  It’s nice to have some days to relax.  I like to have two days of running around doing errands/shopping/fun activities and then one day at home catching up on housework.  After two days at home I get a little stir-crazy.  Maybe two-day weekends are permanently ingrained in my psyche?

How to Get Free (or Really Cheap) Kid Books

If reading is the best way to teach your kids, then books are the best things to give them.  Here are a few ways to get free (or really cheap) books for your kids:

  • book trade playdate–  Have books that you no longer want or multiple copies of the same book?  Invite friends over for a playdate and everyone brings a set number of books.  Then you can take turns picking out “new” books
  • book baby shower– Have each guest bring their favorite children’s book and write a little message in it.  This is especially a great idea for a second (or third or whatever) baby shower when you already have the necessities.
  • book birthday party– Ask for books for presents!
  • Craigslist– Check out the “free” and “kid” sections of your local Craiglist.  http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites
  • Freecycle– See if anyone wants to get rid of kid books in your area.  https://www.freecycle.org/
  • garage sales– Look for garage sales with kids items and go right before they close.  They will probably sell you a whole box of books for a few dollars just so don’t have to pack them up!
  • used book sales– Libraries and elementary schools sometimes host used book sales as a fundraiser.  The school where I taught had a sale every spring- paperbacks for $.50 and hardbacks for $1!
  • thrift stores– As well as selling used clothes and toys…there are also books!
  • Half Price Books– Shop the clearance section for amazing deals.  This was my go-to shop for books in my classroom.  http://www.hpb.com/
  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library– If there is a program available in your area, you can sign-up to get a book in the mail every month!  This programm is for kids from birth to five years old. http://imaginationlibrary.com/

Learning With Dishes

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Ah, my least favorite chore.  But that’s why we had kids, right?  To do all the chores we hate.  No?  Well, at least get them to help out a little.  I say as soon as kids can stand up, they can help with the dishes.  Toddlers can hand you forks out of the dishwasher (and in fact they love doing it!) and preschoolers can sort silverware.  Elementary age kids are capable of rinsing and loading the dishwasher on their own.  Here’s a tip I learned from other moms: store kid dishes in low cabinets or drawers.  Then it is easy for kids to unload dishes and also get plates/silverware for setting the table.

Doing the dishes is a life skill, so the earlier the better!  Plus any family chore teaches them about responsibility, which in turn builds their self-esteem.  Letting kids handle age-appropriate tasks and praising them for success will increase their confidence.  Finally, getting everyone involved in the after dinner clean-up creates a sense of teamwork and “we’re all in this together” attitude that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  All that from doing the dishes?  Yeah.  Or at least that’s how I’m selling it to my kids.

Choose one or two of these ideas the next time you want to force your kids to do your chores teach your kids while doing the dishes.  Okay, the job might take a little longer…but it will be more fun!

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Use a step stool so they are able to stand in front of the sink.  Let them explore the different textures of water, soap, brushes and sponges.
  • Build motor skills by scrubbing plates.
  • Increase vocabulary by naming the objects you wash.  Use lots of adjectives like the big, red, round plate.
  • Rinse cups by filling them up with water and dumping it into a larger container.  Talk about capacity.  How many little cups of water will it take to fill up the big bowl?  Estimate and check.
  • Try to guess objects in a bubbly sink by touch instead of sight.  Um, don’t play this with knives. 🙂
  • Count objects as they are washed.  You can start counting and see if they can pick up where you left off.  (kindergarten- Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1)
  • Compare the number of objects you are washing.  Do we have more plates or cups to wash?   (kindergarten- Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies)

Elementary

  • Play “I’m thinking of something in the kitchen.”  Once you have something in mind, the other player asks you yes or no questions to identify it.
  • Be silly and make up a story involving the dishes.  What would happen if the dish ran away spoon?  Who would come to its rescue?
  • Ask math problems related to the dishes.  We put away seven spoons and nine forks.  How many utensils is that in all?  (first grade and second grade- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Try more difficult problems on older kids.  If there are five people in our family and each meal we use a fork and a spoon.  How many forks and spoons will we need to wash at the end of the day?  (third grade- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Time the task.  Ask your kiddo to tell the time before you start unloading the dishwasher and then again when you are finished.  How long did it take?  (second grade- Tell and write time from analog and digital clocks to the nearest five minutes)
  • Use the opportunity just to talk about their day or school.