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.

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 )

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.

Learning With Dinosaurs

What can you do with all those dinosaur figurines besides, you know, play dinosaurs?  I can only take so many “roars” before I’m ready to switch it up.   Next time you are forced into prehistoric play, pick one of these ideas to add into your game:

(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.)

  • Order the dinosaur toys from smallest to largest
  • Pick out dinosaurs to be in two groups (whichever dinos you want).  Which group has more?    (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)
  • Categorize dinosaurs by an attribute and put them into groups.  Some examples are meat eaters vs. plant eaters, number of legs, color, or size.  (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
  • Make a graph of your categories.  (first grade- Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another)
  • Do some math problems while playing dinosaurs.  There are three dinosaurs at the pond and then two more join them.  How many dinosaurs play in the pond together?  Or if your preschooler has some bloodlust…. How many dinosaurs are left after a T Rex eats two?  (kindergarten- Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem)
  • Identify the names of your dino figurines by looking them up in a book.

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  • Draw a picture using a dinosaur figurine as the model.
  • Use the toy dinos to act out a dinosaur book that you have read together.  Or maybe use them to act out the Three Little Pigs.  Hilarious.
  • Play “Hide the T Rex.”  One person hides the dinosaur while the other close their eyes or face a wall.  Give clues if no one can find T Rex.
  • Measure the length of dinosaur toys (second grade- Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes)
  • Make a dinosaur “sculpture” by piling up dinos.  Estimate how tall it is, then measure to see if you were right.  (second grade- Estimate lengths using units of inches, feet, centimeters, and meters)

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  • After you are finished playing dinosaurs, write or draw pictures of what happened.  (kindergarten- Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened) (first grade- Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure )
  • Hide small dinosaur figurines in play-dough (or larger ones in a sandbox).  Then pretend you are a palentologist and dig them out!
  • Discuss imprint fossils and then make dinosaur imprints in play-dough.
  • Paint the dinosaurs’ feet (with washable paint) and make dino tracks on white paper.
  • Talk about how we don’t really know the colors of the dinosaurs.  Then paint them whatever colors you want with washable paint.

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Learning with Scarves

Playing with scarves is a great tactile activity for kids of all ages!  If you don’t already have some on hand,  you can find them by searching for “movement scarves” or “juggling scarves.”  Here are some ideas:

(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.)

Babies

  • Play peek-a-boo.  A baby favorite.  Put the scarf on your head.  Put it on her head.  Either way = pure enjoyment.
  • Let him touch it and compare the texture to other things in the room.  Use lots of adjectives to describe how it feels.
  • Wrap up an object in the scarf like a present and see if Baby can “unwrap” it.
  • Play music and move the scarf to the beat.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Teach colors by putting colored scarves on your head and seeing the world in that color!IMG_7724
  • Experiment with light and color by putting scarves over lamps or flashlights.
  • Dance with scarves.  This is a favorite activity in our house.  Try different music to make fast movements or slow ones.
  • Count the scarves.  (kindergarten- Count to tell the number of objects)
  • Make a letter with with scarf and see if your kiddo can name it.  (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet)
  • Do the same with numbers.
  • Play a game of hide and seek by taking turns hiding the scarves around the room.
  • Practice throwing and catching with scarves.  WAY easier (and safer for your living room) than balls.
  • Throw the scarf into the air and see how many (jumping jacks, claps, etc.) they can do before it hits the ground.
  • Combine primary colors to show the secondary color.  This doesn’t work as well as paint, but it’s fun to try.

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Elementary

  • Get creative and make a picture with the scarves!

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  • Ask some math questions.  How many more blue scarves than red?  Will the scarves divide equally between two people?
  • Be a fashion designer.  Make dresses, skirts, shirts, and hats using the scarves.  Then have a fashion show.
  • Teach your kids to juggle!  Scarves are perfect for beginners.
  • Practice spelling and reading by making sight words out of scarves.  This is more difficult than it looks! IMG_7719

Learning Activities with Acorns

Kids love going on walks and picking up things from nature.  But what do you with your “nature pile” (as Big Sis calls it)?  On our most recent outing, the girls got obsessed with collecting acorns.  Choose one or two activities to make acorn collecting a teachable moment!

(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

  • Count the acorns.  (kindergarten- Count to tell the number of objects)
  • Cut the acorn open and see what is inside.  Science!
  • Glue acorns on paper and make some art with crayons or markers.IMG_7423
  • Try using chopsticks to pick up acorns and put them in a bowl.  Tie the chopsticks together with a rubber band at one end to make it easier.  This improves fine motor skills for writing because holding chopsticks takes the same grip as holding a pencil.
  • Compare numbers by making two groups of acorns.  Have your child guess which one has more acorns.  Then count to see if he was right.
  • Write numbers on the flat surface of acorns without hats.  You do this, not the kids…well unless you have preschoolers with very advanced fine motor skills! 🙂  Mix up the acorns and have your kiddo line up the numbers in order. (kindergarten- Know the number names and count sequence)IMG_7428
  • Play a game with the number acorns.  Put them in a container.  Take turns drawing one out, reading the number, and making up a movement to do that number of times.  For example: Clap five times.  Jump eight times.
  • Write the letters of your child’s name on acorns without hats.  See if she can put the letters in order to spell her name.
  • Make a letter with acorns.  Write a large block letter on a piece of paper.  Then ask your kiddo to line up acorns to fill in the letter.  (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet)

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Elementary

  • Paint with the acorn.  Dip it in paint and make some dots.  Bonus points if you show them pictures of Aboriginal dot paintings for inspiration.
  • Make acorn art by gluing it on a paper.  Fold the paper in half and make a symmetrical design.
  • Put the acorns into equal groups and skip count by twos, fives, or tens.  (second grade- Work with equal groups to gain foundations for multiplication)
  • Tell some math story problems using acorns.  Kids learn best when they are able to see and count the objects. For example, “You picked up 8 acorns and I picked up 6 acorns.  How many do we have in all?”  (first and second grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
  • Use acorns as a unit of measurement.  How many acorns will fit across a paper?  How many acorns long is a pencil?  (first grade- Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units)
  • Take a large group of acorns (maybe 40?) and have your child divide it into two equal groups, then three, four, and so on.  Talk about when you can’t make equal groups.  (third grade- Represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division)
  • Make words with acorns.  Have your child write a sight word so large it fits across a paper.  Then cover the lines with acorns.
  • Spell with acorns.  Write letters on the flat surface of acorns without hats.  Kids might be able to do this by themselves.  Then arrange acorns to practice spelling words or other sight words.

Before You Read

Pre-reading activities help kids better understand their reading.  Model how good readers make predictions, connections, and ask questions even before opening the book.  As your child gets older, do less talking and more asking.  Choose one or two of these ideas to try the next time you are reading a book together.

(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

  • Read the title, author, and illustrator out loud.   Talk about the jobs of author and illustrator.  (kindergarten- With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the stor.)
  • Make connections to other stories by the same author or illustrator- “Oh, Eric Carle.  I remember he wrote and illustrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
  • Titles written in large fonts are perfect for pointing out letters.  Go on a letter hunt for a few letters before you begin reading.  (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet )
  • Take a close look at the pictures on the cover.  Make predictions by thinking out loud- “I see a picture of a car.  Maybe this book is about a car race.  What do you think?”  (kindergarten- With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear)
  • Compare the title and the pictures.  Think out loud- “The title is Freddy is Lost and there is a picture of a dog.  I think the dog is named Freddy.”
  • Make a connection between the book and your child- “This book is about airplanes.  Remember when we rode on an airplane ride to visit Grandma?”

Elementary

  • Talk about the parts of a book and see if your child can identify the title page, dedication, and even copyright information.  (kindergarten- Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book)
  • See if your child can read the title by himself.  (grades K-5- Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words)
  • Ask if she remembers any other books by the same author/illustrator.
  • Ask him if the book is a fiction or non-fiction book.  How can he tell?  (grade 1- Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types)
  • It if is a non-fiction book, ask “What do you already know about (insert subject matter here)?
  • Ask your child to write down a prediction about the book based on the cover.   What is it about?  Where does it take place?  What characters will be in it?  When you are finished reading see if the predictions were right!

Have fun reading together!

Learning with Chalk

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Drawing with sidewalk chalk is a great summer activity.  It’s cheap, easily washable, and gets kids outside enjoying the sunshine.  Encourage your kids to do lots of free drawing, but also try out some of these ideas.  Don’t overload them….just one or two ideas per chalk session.

(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.)

Babies

  • Let them feel the chalk and try to make marks on different surfaces
  • Color in one spot so there is a lot of chalk dust.  Put baby’s hands in it and see if you can help them make hand prints on the pavement.  Messy, but fun!

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Draw different colored shapes a few feet apart.  Play a game and ask them to stand on the blue circle.  Then walk (or run, skip, hop, etc.) to the purple rectangle.  (kindergarten-Identify and describe shapes)
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  • Big sidewalk chalk is perfect beginning writers.  Draw dotted lines of shapes, letters, or numbers and see if they can trace it.  Or write a letter first and see if they can copy it. (kindergarten- Print many upper- and lowercase letters)
  • Write their name in REALLY big letters and have them walk the letters of their name.
  • Write numbers in order.  Let kids hop from number to number counting as they go.  (kindergarten- Know the number names and count sequence)IMG_6338
  • Draw a path for kiddos to use with their tricycle or bicycle.
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Elementary

  • Make a Twister board with chalk and call out directions if you don’t have a spinner.
  • Trace around your kiddo and then have him design and color the clothing.  Or he could draw the organs (heart, brain, lungs, etc.) in their proper spot.
  • Make a large grid.  Work together to make a different pattern in each square of the grid.
  • Tell addition stories and have your child draw to solve the problem.  For example, “I have 3 apples.  Then I buy 4 more.  How many apples do I have now?”   (grades 1 and 2- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Write numbers in order, but leave some out and have your kiddo fill in the missing numbers.  Then have them skip count and hop to the different numbers.
  • Kids write out the alphabet in big letters.  Then say a word and they run from letter to letter to spell it.   (grades K-6- Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing)
  • Write out a silly sentence incorrectly (no capitalization or punctuation) and have kids correct your mistakes.  (grades K-6- Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing)
  • Ask kids to draw shapes and then divide them into equal parts to make fractions.  (grades 1,2,3- Reasons with shapes and their attributes)