Make Your Own Puzzles

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This morning Big Sis was working on a project out of her Thomas magazine.  It was a cutting activity with all the different pieces of Thomas and then you glued on all the pieces to make a train.  Little Sis was feeling a little left out, but she isn’t proficient with scissors yet.  Then I had an idea!  Every magazine has a pull-out poster of Thomas and other trains, and we never do anything with it.  So I cut it out and made my own puzzle pieces out of it.  Then Little Sis could glue them together to make her own Thomas.  (Don’t ask me why she is dressed as a zebra today.)

make your own puzzle from magazines

Here is the finished product.  She couldn’t be convinced to turn the bottom piece around so that the tracks would be on the bottom.  Long ago, I learned you can’t reason with a two-year-old, so I let it be.

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Making your own puzzle pieces would be easy to do with any large magazine or calendar picture.  In fact, I’ve already made puzzles with calendars but I used the traditional puzzle piece shapes.  I think I like this way better.

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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 )

Christmas Handprint Wreath

Big Sis has been BEGGING me to make holiday crafts.  I pulled out the old tried and true handprint wreath. Gotta love it.  First I cut a circle out of a cereal box for a sturdy backing.

IMG_7701Then I traced her hand on green paper.  Meanwhile she was making this masterpiece with green markers and crayons.IMG_7702

When she was finished, I traced handprints on that paper, too.  Hint: fold the paper so you only have to cut one time.  I got four hands out of one sheet of paper.  Then we glued the handprints to the cardboard and stuck on some red circles (berries) and ribbon for good measure.  A four-year-old did the placement and gluing, so it isn’t quite Pinterest worthy but I like it.

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You can vary your involvement depending on the age and abilities of your kiddo.  Toddlers could do the scribbing, and you do the rest.  Or an older kid would be able to the whole project by themselves.

Materials:

  • green, red, and white paper
  • markers and crayons
  • ribbon
  • cereal box or other cardboard
  • scissors
  • glue

Time investment: under 30 minutes

Difficulty: So easy your dog could do it.  If he could cut paper.