Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Preschool Supplies & Resources by Learning Category

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Another Supply List??

Up until now I have resisted putting up a supply list on my blog because I did not think it would be helpful to re-invent the wheel. There are a ton of great preschool supply lists out there already — I personally started with The Peaceful Preschool supply list since that was the curriculum we used and will be repeating again.

However, here’s what I have to offer that might be a unique perspective:

  1. We live in a small house and do not have much storage space so I try to keep the supplies to a minimum,
  2. I prefer nature-based materials because they cost no money, have added sensory benefits, and do not harm the earth when disposed of, and
  3. I’ve done a whole year with The Peaceful Preschool and now that I know what we really need and actually gets use, I wish there were some things that I had not bought so I have noted those things below.

I plan to share my supply list based on must-have essentials, nice-to-have items, and, lastly, things I wish I would have skipped buying.

Note, though, that even the “must-haves” on my lists are my based on my preference and what fits with our preschool curriculum. Feel free to disagree with me!

Each supply list also includes some additional resources like free printables that I’ve found useful over the last year.

The Categories

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Click on a link below to jump to a specific category of supplies & resources:

Lesson Preparation

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Must-haves:
  • Paper
  • Pens, Pencils, Highlighters
  • Scissors

Seriously. If you are on a tight budget, I think you can totally get by not having a printer & laminator & paper cutter!! You could have The Homeschool Printing Company print your curriculum and any worksheets, and not do any weekly printing from home. This is preschool, not college! Granted, this works for a non-worksheet-intensive curriculum like The Peaceful Preschool. There are other curriculums out there that require A LOT of printouts, in which case you probably are better off owning one!

Nice-to-have:

The printer I purchased also has a scanner which I use on a weekly basis to keep digital files of all my children’s artwork.

I resisted buying a paper cutter at first but when I finally got one it was SO much better. Such a time-saver for cutting 3-Part Cards especially. I do think if you are not using a lot of printables you could skip all this stuff, though. I have had the one linked for over a year and have not needed to replace the blade yet.

Then there’s the regular office stuff like scissors, paper, hole punch, etc. that you likely already have.

Lesser-used but still nice to have:

The corner rounder cuts through laminated card stock. I love that thing so much.

I use binder rings to hold A-Z memory verses and other flash cards together.

The circle hole punches I have used for materials preparation but the kids also use them for arts & craft projects.

Read Alouds

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See this blog post for all the resources I use to select Preschool books.

Letter Formation & Phonics

Must-haves:
Nice-to-have:
What I bought but wish I hadn’t:

* The Peaceful Preschool has you make your own DIY sensory letters using their printouts and glitter glue. These are redundant since we have the sandpaper letters listed above. My kids also had a hard time using the glitter glue tubes without frustration. AND, I’ve read that glitter has a negative impact on the environment so have tried to stay away from it.

** We bought this book and my son enjoyed it to a degree. He liked the stickers, but really I did not feel it was worth the money, in the end, because we already did enough letter-learning activities and I felt that this book was not adding anything of value. 

Other Letter Learning Supplies: Printables & Resources

Numbers & Counting

Must-haves:
  • Sandpaper numbers
  • The Peaceful Preschool number cards (with purchased curriculum)
  • The Peaceful Preschool hundreds chart (with purchased curriculum)
  • Manipulatives for counting. Here are some options:
    • Natural materials: acorns, sticks, cut wood discs, rocks, shells
    • Beads, marbles, popsicle sticks, buttons, pom poms
  • Trays / compartments for counting (you can even write numbers in these):
    • Egg cartons
    • Muffin tins
    • Ice cube trays

Note: Preschool Math is a category where I feel like it is easy to get creative, see what is already in your house, or explore a thrift store. In my opinion, there is very little spending that needs to be done here for preschool. Recycle your egg cartons or thrift some trays and tins!

Also, I feel a lot of counting for this age can be done simply by reading books and through the regular day-in day-out play. If I do a pre-planned math activity, I try to keep it playful.

Nice-to-have:
Other Supplies: Printables & Resources

Fine Motor Skills

Must-haves:
Nice-to-have:

Again, a lot of things here can be found around your house or thrifted!

Sensory Play

Generally I prefer the great outdoors for this type of play: playing in dirt or mud or water. But, we have winters and rainy days in Indiana and it’s nice to have a few fun options for indoor sensory play:

What I bought but wish I hadn’t:
  • Water Beads (I just don’t care for the waste and environmental impact of these)

Large Motor Skills

Practical Life

For us, this mainly means including my children in our regular daily rhythm.

We have daily chore tasks which I discussed on our Daily Rhythm blog post.

We try to give the kids independence in self-care as appropriate.

Here are a few things I have found useful to have around:

Arts & Crafts

This category can get CRAZY real fast. My main recommendation for those first starting out: do not feel like you need EVERY SINGLE art supply available to your children right off the bat! Pick just a couple, see how they like it, and as budget allows try to slowly incorporate some others. We have a wide variety of supplies right now but my children love crayons and watercolor the most. If I was on a super tight budget I would start with those. I’m putting a wide variety in my “must-haves” list but know I do not think you need ALL of these things.

Must-haves:
Nice-to-have:
What I bought but wish I hadn’t:
  • Glitter
  • Sequins
Seen on other lists I’ve never bought:
  • Contact paper

Color Recognition

For color sorting there are a lot of cheap and DIY options:

  • I hand-painted our wood jewelry sorting tray (with 12 spots), and we use this a lot.
  • You could also make your own version of something like this using an old cupcake tin & construction paper.
  • We have also used our colored bowls from IKEA or I just make something simple with construction paper.
  • You could also make something simple out of felt if you are that kind of crafty.

I also love Grimm’s rainbow peg dolls that could double as a toy and used for color sorting preschool activities.

Lastly, I love these FREE Color Nomenclature Cards to introduce color names.

Shapes Recognition

I mainly use this shape sorting printable set I created to go along with our Melissa and Doug Wood Shape Sorter — we had the shape sorter already so I went with that. You can find the free printable on this page.

I also love these free shape flashcards from tinyn3rds.

Outdoor Play & Nature Study

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See the following blog posts for more detailed information for this category:

Here is what I use for a nature journal for my kids:

Geography & Culture

See this blog post on our Preschool Cultural Studies supplies.

Art & Music Appreciation

Bible & Spirituality

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See this blog post on our Bible Lesson supplies and units.

Games & Puzzles

Do not underestimate the value of games & puzzles! I think this doesn’t get labelled as “school” but for preschool-aged: it totally counts.

Here are some favorite games:

And some favorite puzzles:

Calendar & Clock

We update our hanging wall calendar. You can also make a free version of a perpetual calendar using The Peaceful Press Calendar Bundle or find a different version.

At the beginning of a new month we read a monthly from Around The Year (Elsa Beskow). There is also a days of the week poem in here that’s fun.

There are clocks that can be purchased but I felt at this point for preschool-age I just wanted something simple that my son could manipulate so I made one using a wood circle and numbered rocks, with two sticks for hands.

What I Wish I Would Have Thought About Last Year Before Stocking Up On Supplies

Lessons I’ve learned after doing through preschool at home for one year:

  1. Use natural materials whenever possible! Sensorial experience with natural materials is a huge bonus, PLUS items from nature don’t cost anything and don’t create excess trash in landfills. Hooray!
  2. Thrift it. Pretty much all of my baskets and trays came from a thrift store. If it’s thrifted, then you don’t have to get mad if it gets ruined.
  3. Find things around your house before you purchase something new and cool. Seriously, you probably have a drawer of random buttons somewhere that can be used for math or sorting or even letter formation.
  4. Think of ways to use materials in multiple ways. For example, wood beads with holes can be (1) laced as a fine motor skill, (2) used for a transfer tray, (3) counted up for simple math lessons, (4) added to play dough for some letter formation fun, or (5) used for arts and crafts. You do not need marbles AND beads AND pom poms AND buttons. Pick one. Simplify.
  5. Printables that make for good Instagram photos are not always worth it. Save that printer ink!! Seriously, the more I do this the more grumpy I get about printables with full-color pages.
  6. If you are going to print something that takes a lot of ink (like 3-Part Cards), make sure you get a lot of use out of them! We use our 3-Part Cards every week in multiple ways, and I have seen so much wonderful learning happening with their use. Also, I save my 3-Part Cards for repeat lessons since we are going through the alphabet A-Z all over again.
  7. Before you buy something, try to plan in your mind exactly where you will store it. If you don’t have a great option for storing it, try to skip buying it.
  8. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Most of my kid’s art projects I later turn in to scissor cutting exercises, so we get 2 uses out of the paper … and then we recycle the cut up pieces if we are able.

CONGRATS on Your Homeschooling Journey!

If you have questions, please feel free to email me our DM me on Instagram.

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Uncategorized

Spring Preschool Activities

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The Plan for Spring

My plan for this spring is to:

  1. be outside as much as humanly possible, and
  2. not plan ahead for any official “school days” but have a mix of fun activities on-hand to do together

Spring is a great season for us to enjoy the woods where we live since the weather is ideal and new spring wildflowers are blooming every week.

That said: I do not want to ignore all the school things we enjoy like reading books, counting games, play and just expanding our nature-learning. We also have been switching our letter-learning to more of a Montessori approach and I would like to continue with that. I just mean that for several weeks I would like to have a more relaxed, spontaneous approach to our days.

SO: my idea for this spring was to do a lot of up-front preparation and planning and just make a list of OPTIONS of activities for us to do through the next several weeks, and we may or may not do them as my kids show interest.

Any given day we may do 3-4 things off of that list, or nothing at all!

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To start: in order to gather ideas for seasonal activities I looked to the following three books for inspiration, drawing ideas from the natural world:

The spring themes I’m centering the activities around are:

  • Easter
  • Flowers
  • Insects
  • Bird Nesting
  • Spring Weather
  • Gardening
  • Pond Life

This is A LOT!!

Again, I more want to just have activities related to spring available. I also see this going on for likely 4-5 weeks (or possibly longer) before I move on to something different.

Below I’ve detailed what I’ve prepped for each theme and will continue to add what we do to my Pinterest boards.

Before I lay out the details for each theme, I wanted to first provide my free printable Spring Life Cycle photo cards because this set crosses several themes including flowers, gardening, birds, insects, and frogs.

Life Cycles

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I recently created this free Spring Life Cycle card set (and a Life Cycle control mat). I laminated each set and cut each card out so the kids can place the cards on to the blank mat, depending on which life cycle we are looking at.

Easter

Obviously we will cover the real story of Easter, but we will also include some fun bunny & egg themed activities.

BOOKS
ACTIVITIES
  • Alphabet egg uppercase and lowercase matching (free printable via Teach Mama)
  • Easter count and clip cards (free printable via Fun with Mama)
  • Paper plate bunny craft
  • Easter mini eraser math, sorting, patterns (I found my mini erasers at a local Meijer dollar spot) — The kids will transfer the mini erasers with tweezers
  • Dye Easter eggs
  • Easter egg hunt
  • Easter egg scissor skills practice
  • Easter themed “color volcanoes” fine motor skills activity: baking soda + a few drops of food coloring inside the Easter eggs, then the kids add vinegar with eyedroppers
  • “Five Little Bunnies” singing game from Games Children Sing and Play

See my Spring: Easter Pinterest Board for more details

Flowers

We naturally are in love with our local Indiana spring woodland wildflowers, but this year I wanted to include some more common garden flowers in our springtime fun.

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BOOKS
ACTIVITIES
  • Hunt for our favorite spring wildflowers in the woods & use the home-tailored scavenger hunt I made!
  • Match our flowers from the Safari Ltd Flowers TOOB to 3-Part Cards (free printable via Treehouse Schoolhouse)
  • My Number Garden counting activity (see below for free printable)
  • Play with our Flowers Families Game
  • Life cycle of a flower (daffodil and sunflower)
  • Parts of the Plant nomenclature cards printable (via The Helpful Garden)
  • Cork stamped flower art project
  • Paper plate flower art project
  • Flower garden sensory bin invitation to play
  • Dissect flowers and sort parts
  • Visit our local daffodil garden

See my Spring: Flowers Pinterest Board for more details

MY NUMBER GARDEN – FREE PRINTABLE

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I created this My Number Garden printable with the idea that the kids would add pom poms to each flower, and count the total number for each card, then write the numeral with a dry erase marker. This activity combines counting with number-to-numeral matching and some fine motor skills. You could also skip the numeral writing part and cut that off the card, leaving just the flowers to transfer pom poms. The kids could transfer pom poms with their fingers or with tweezers.

Insects

ALL THE BUGS. I have really enjoyed celebrating insects in a number of ways with my kids since we have begun our homeschooling adventure. It feels like we don’t let a month go by without doing some sort of insect related activity.

BOOKS
ACTIVITIES
  • Beehive Counting Cards (see below for free printable & details)
  • Butterfly Symmetry Puzzle (see below for free printable & details)
  • Invitation to Build an Insect with Natural Materials and Insect Silhouette Cards (see below for free printable & details)
  • Insect Life Cycles (butterflies, bees, ants, ladybugs)
  • Pattern-making with our hand-painted rock bugs
  • Sensory bin to play with our hand-painted rock bugs (play/pretend ant hills, bee hives, etc.)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar activities from Simply Learning
  • Insect Symmetry Coloring Pages (via Art For Kids Hub)
  • Visit a Botanical Garden to view butterflies
  • Visit our local Honey Bee Farm
  • Plant native plants for pollinators in our garden
  • “Caterpillar Crawls Along” singing game from Games Children Sing and Play

I’m still debating about purchasing the Safari Ltd Insect TOOB, and if I do we will pair it with the Insect 3-Part Cards via Treehouse Schoolhouse.

See my Spring: Insects Pinterest Board for more details

BEEHIVE COUNTING CARDS – FREE PRINTABLE

Back for our Letter B Unit, I made these Beehive Counting Cards. We used our rock bees that I had painted, and also Honeycomb cereal to count and fill the cards. I printed them on yellow card stock paper and laminated them. You could also use bee mini erasers or bee stamps.

BUTTERFLY SYMMETRY PUZZLE – FREE PRINTABLE

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For this activity I printed our Butterfly Symmetry Puzzle on to white card stock, laminated the page then cut out the squares of each butterfly. Then, I cut each butterfly in half, and glued the left half of the butterfly to a yellow piece of card stock. I then provided a basket of the right side of the butterflies to match to the sheet. A fun way to explore insect symmetry.

INVITATION TO BUILD AN INSECT – FREE PRINTABLE

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This is a favorite activity! We have built ants, bees, butterflies, and spiders using only natural materials. For this spring I decided to create a whole set of Insect & Spider Silhouette Cards, which I’m sharing with you. So, this way the kids can select which insect they would like to try and create rather than me saying “we’re making bees today.”

If you do not have natural materials on-hand, you could use craft sticks and toothpicks and wood circles, or just cut circles, ovals, and lines for legs out of construction paper!

Birds Nesting

My husband is an avid birder & nature photographer, so we are pretty in to birds on a regular basis (we did a whole B is for Bird unit last summer), but I thought it would be fun to celebrate nesting birds in the spring. There are about 20 bird houses for nesting birds on the camp property where we live, and we will try to keep track of the nests, eggs, and baby birds in them throughout the spring.

BOOKS
ACTIVITIES

See my Spring: Nests Pinterest Board for more details

Spring Weather

Rain, rainbows, wind, clouds, splashing in puddles, flying kites. LOVE.

BOOKS
ACTIVITIES
  • Cloud art with cotton balls
  • Rain in a jar
  • Rainbow art and/or rainbow play dough
  • Count raindrops with blue play dough
  • Outdoor rain art
  • Measure amount of rain outside
  • Wind sock or wind chime craft
  • Origami boats to float in puddles or the creek
  • “Here is a Tree With Leaves So Green” singing game from Games Children Sing and Play
  • Fly a kite, blow dandelions, play with pinwheels!!

See my Spring: Weather Pinterest Board for more details

Gardening

We did a lot of fun gardening activities last spring, and I’m all for repeating exactly what we did. Why not?

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BOOKS
ACTIVITIES

See my Spring: Gardening Pinterest Board for more details

Pond Life

We’ve been hearing frogs already and I’m so excited to spot some turtles on property (my favorite animal). Last May we encountered a snapping turtle the size of a small child, no joke.

BOOKS
ACTIVITIES
  • Life Cycle of a Frog
  • Build a pond Invitation to Play with play dough & natural materials (pictured above)
  • Frog craft
  • Turtle craft
  • Frog & Toad coloring pages
  • Find frogs & turtles in nature!

See my Spring: Pond Life Pinterest Board for more details

One Last Note

I know this seems like a ton of work … but because I did up-front prep work, I’m honestly feeling very relaxed about spring and hope to be able to enjoy the outdoors and free play as much as possible. On a stormy day or a day where we all need a little indoor boost, I’ll just go to my little arsenal of fun activities and grab something to do! Or, I’ll let the kids decide based on what’s available on our learning shelves.

Happy Spring!

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Uncategorized

Animals in Winter: Preschool Unit Resources

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Overview

For an Advent devotional this year my husband and I read All Creation Waits by Gayle Boss, which provides a lovely and meaningful glimpse into the natural world in winter. I also adore the book Nature All Year Long by Clare Walker Leslie — she spends January looking at animal adaptation & hibernation in winter. I have been wanting to explore some of these same themes with my kids, but December was naturally filled with LOTS of Christmas reading so I decided to wait until after Christmas to delve in to this.

I started prepping for January by doing a massive library book grab and then read and pared down the stack to what you’ll see listed below. I mainly want to just read books with my kids and learn about it in a playful way. In addition to reading books, here is my list of possible activities that we may or may not get to:

  • Find and match small animal figurines to 3-Part Cards
  • Sort 3-Part Cards: animals that hibernate vs. animals that adapt to winter
  • Animal track memory game
  • Make animal tracks in snow play dough
  • Build a cave out of blankets & pillows and add hibernating stuffed animals & animal figurines. Pretend to hibernate.
  • Build a small winter forest world out of play dough and natural materials — add animal figurines and play.
  • Hibernating animals puppet shows (I love puppet shows for building language and imaginations)
  • Hibernating animal crafts (probably using paper plates & paint with some cutting skills involved)
  • Build mini winter dens for animal figurines using toothpicks & mini marshmallows
  • Freeze hibernating animal figurines in ice cube tray. Use warm water + eye droppers to bring spring time and wake up the animals.

I’m sharing below what resources we’ll be using in January to explore this theme. We will also be exploring the Poles in January: the Arctic and Antarctica. My son gets little confused sometimes between a “winter animal” and an “arctic animal” so I think it will help to focus on these themes in January. We are embracing the COLD this month!

Free 3-Part Card Sets

If you click on the images below you will be taken to a PDF file of those 3-Part Card sets I created. I use all uppercase letters in my 3-Part Cards because I still have non-readers in my home.

If interested, I have an extensive post here on all the ways we use 3-Part Cards (with a preschooler in mind) and you can also find other free 3-Part Card sets I’ve created here.

HIBERNATION

Note that I’ve tried to mainly focus on animals we might see where we live in the Midwest (with some exceptions)–animals my kids are familiar with already. I included only insects that hibernate as adults (other insects hibernate as eggs or nymphs, and others migrate).

ADAPTATION

Obviously there are a lot more birds that adapt to winter, but I included a few of our favorites (and ones that are easily recognizable).

TRACKS

For simplicity sake, all the bird tracks are the same but I went ahead and made each one a card so they could be matched with the animal photo cards above. Obviously fish make no tracks so there is one empty spot!

See the end of this post for some more resources on animal tracks.

Books

The following is a book list for what I’ve gathered to read about animals in winter, focused on adaptation and hibernation.

I did not include migration books because that felt like an entirely new topic to me (though some of the books listed below do address migration a little bit–they may mention geese or butterflies or other birds). The few migration books I checked out from the library seem to deal with worldwide animal migrations (including whales, for example) and that felt like more than what I wanted to do with my kids. Those were also more information-driven and less story-driven. I think for the topic of migration we can just keep it simple and learn more experientially: my kids can notice what birds come to our bird feeder or other birds we see around in the woods, and then we can talk about how most birds we aren’t seeing fly south for winter.

So, with that said, here are books that we will be reading for winter animal adaptation and hibernation.

My Top 5 Favorite Books for Animals in Winter:
Over and Under the Snow (Kate Messner)

I like that this book has an easy to read & follow story that invites you to WONDER. It’s a magical picture of winer. It has vivid illustrations and also features a great set of winter animals. There is also some extra information in the back of the book for older readers.

Animals in Winter (Henrietta & Richard G. Van Gelder)

More informative but also an engaging read. This features a wide variety of animals. A great one for summarizing migration, hibernation, and different forms of adaptation.

Not A Buzz to Be Found: Insects in Winter (Linda Glaser)

I love that there’s a book focused solely on insects in winter!! The illustrations are wonderful. The story is informative but also engaging. This covers a wide variety of insects and is very clear about what phase the insect is in during winter (adult, egg, nymph, etc.) Very well done!

Secrets of Winter (Carron Brown & Georgina Tee)

This is a Shine-A-Light Book from Usborne, which we have had mixed results with. This one is probably my favorite. I like that the story can be read on its own, regardless of the use of a flashlight (but of course that is super fun!). There are also extra tid-bits of information that can either be read or left out depending on the interest level (and attention span) of your child. The illustrations in this are vivid and engaging.

The Big Snow (Berta & Elmer Hader)

An absurdly wonderful book from the ’80s! This feels a lot like reading Thornton Burgess but in a picture book format. The stories are well done, clearly inspire a love of the natural world, and each page is paired nicely with simple illustrations.

Additional Books on Animals in Winter:
A Warm Winter Tail (Carrie A. Pearson)

This puts the reader into the perspective of the animals: baby animals ask their mamas if humans do the same things they do to keep warm in the winter. The illustrations are wonderfully realistic. I’ll admit the reading can get a little choppy–it seems to have a rhythm but was a bit off for me. At the end of the book are several pages of more detailed educational material for older kids.

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen)

POETRY! So great. There are twelve poems inspired by a variety of winter animals. The illustrations are gorgeous (as evidenced by the cover). There are also some extra blurbs of information on each page to read that are well written. I almost included this one as a Top 5–I love it!

Winter Dance (Marion Dane Bauer)

Perfect story for my kids’ age range (2-4) — and spot on in terms of addressing a variety of adaptations to winter. Lovely illustrations. New as of October 2017 and worth checking out if your library has it! A sweet story.

Tracks in the Snow (Wong Herbert Yee)

A fantastical story of a girl alone in the winter woods following a trail of footprints and wondering what the animals she normally might see are doing. A rhyming and easy-to-read story that’s not bogged down by too much science or information: just a fun trek in the winter woods!

When It Starts To Snow (Phillis Gershator)

Simple, rhyming verse with a bit of humor. This includes farm animals, not just woodland animals. The illustrations are not my favorite but the story is engaging so I kept it in our book pile.

Hibernation Station (Michelle Meadows)

This simple story just takes a fun spin on winter animals. It is not at all science-driven: there is no distinction in the story between animals that hibernate versus animals that adapt (some slow down but are not true hibernators)—though, the author does make a note of this fact at the end of the book. It’s a silly enough story to read with a light heart, though.

Bugs and Bugsicles (Amy S. Hansen)

Another book solely dedicated to insects in winter. I will say the text on these pages is way too long and detailed and information-driven to hold my kids’ attention. I kept this for just another book to look at since my kids do love bugs and there’s a couple of great spreads. I will also say that I wish more of the illustrations included depictions of winter and not just details of the various insects. In my opinion, the Not A Buzz to Be Found: Insects in Winter book does a better job on this topic. Older kids may appreciate the content in this one, though!

Winter Lullaby (Barbara Seuling)

A pretty simple lyrical read — nothing too elaborate. The page spreads are beautiful. Not a huge variety of animals depicted here but overall I appreciate its simplicity.

Mousekin’s Woodland Sleepers (Edna Miller)

I found this book from a Charlotte Mason “living books” list, and it is as wonderful as it seems. Great story to follow — covers animals that hibernate and animals that are active (the ones Mousekin should be careful to avoid). It’s an older publication, so I hope your library has it!

When Winter Comes (Nancy Van Laan)

Beautiful illustrations and just the right amount of text for a preschooler. This book includes plants, animals that migrate, and animals that stay and adapt. Story-driven and imaginative.

Time to Sleep (Denise Fleming)

The illustrations in this book are not my personal favorite. What I do love about this book: every animal featured is an animal that hibernates!! It can be confusing (for adults, even!) to distinguish between true winter hibernation and those animals that slow down but still remain active for parts of winter, so I really appreciate that this book just sticks to one thing: hibernation. An easy read that is great for kids who may not tolerate the length of some of the other books on this list.

The Animals’ Winter Sleep (Lynda Graham-Barber)

A nice easy-to-read story that doesn’t spend time distinguishing between hibernation and adaptation–it just invites the reader to imagine how animals might stay warm in winter. This book does a great job naming the various winter homes, e.g. den, cave, log, or lodge. In the back of the book is more detailed information and a page with animal tracks.

Winter Animal Tracks in the Snow

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Considering animals that adapt to winter naturally lends itself to a lesson on animal tracks. Again, I’m mainly focusing on learning this with my kids in a playful way. I created a wood craft coin memory game [DIY below] that we have already played several times. This gets the kids to focus on the shapes and patterns looking solely at a black-and-white images. Later we will pair the footprints with the printed animal cards and our animal figurines and also make tracks in snow play dough.

Learning Materials
These woodland animal footprint rocks are wonderful! I cannot say enough about them. We play with these in play dough all the time. They are a great size and sturdy, and the 3-dimensionality is perfect for hands-on learning. Great for little nature-lovers. There is a farm animal set as well.
Animal Track Books

Other Helpful Resources: Animals in Winter

 

Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter I Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

It took us several weeks to cover Letter I because we had a week-long family vacation in the middle and I left plenty of room to slowly re-enter our normal routine without doing too much school stuff (i.e. NOT adding stress to my life!)

We covered Letter I in kind of a wide variety of ways that I suspect will not be super relevant to all of you reading this, but I’m sharing it anyway just in the case something triggers a useful or fun idea for you to implement at home! As always, feel free to email me with questions. I love hearing from you!

BIBLE LESSON

IMG_1325 The Peaceful Preschool memory verse for Letter I is for Noah (“… INTO the ark…”) so we kicked off this week reading the Noah story, then made a shaving cream rain cloud, worked on drawing rainbows for an art skill, and worked on our wooden Noah’s Ark puzzle.

You can see which stories we read from specific children’s Bibles on my Bible Lessons by Letter Unit page.

Also a reminder I have Bible character peg dolls for sale in my Etsy shop which we always use for storytelling aids & play.

LETTER I ACTIVITIES

We use the following letter recognition & formation strategies for every letter. I integrate these activities in different ways throughout our days:

This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed. It’s absolutely OKAY if we don’t do it all. I give myself 2 weeks, though, because I want to work on these things slowly and try out a variety of activities with my son. Next year I may switch to one letter per week but for now I’m content to do a little bit spread out over more time.

And now for Letter I…

I IS FOR ICE CREAM

BOOKS

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

There are A TON of ice cream preschool activity ideas on Pinterest, but I wanted to just keep this fun, simple, and playful (and low prep).

PRETEND PLAY
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Our woodland play dough ice cream shop

After reading Ice Cream Summer this morning we set up our ice cream shop outside with a variety of natural materials (pine cones = ice cream cones; tree branch slices = cookies for ice cream sandwiches). Our play dough was this sick gray/green color because it’s literally 12 color varieties all mixed together. I first imagined us doing an ice cream play dough shop with a bunch of fun colors but then I actually love having an “ugly” batch that I don’t have to care about — my kids love it whenever we take play dough outside so it’s nice to just not care about preserving perfect colors and in a way it’s also easier to use our imaginations: one color can be a ton of flavors!

Book: Today

PRACTICAL LIFE & COUNTING SKILLS
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Make real ice cream!

We used pumpkins grown from our garden to make homemade pumpkin ice cream.

We also made homemade waffle cone bowls (recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home)

FYI, here are my favorite ice cream making supplies:

Book: When Green Becomes Tomatoes

LETTER FORMATION
IMG_1406.jpg Rainbow sprinkles writing tray. Because it’s pretty and also a bit more inviting than salt.
ART SKILLS

We also had fun with a variety of painting activities creating lots and lots of ice cream cones!


I IS FOR ICE & IGLOOS

BOOKS & MEDIA
IMG_1493.jpg We made snow dough and combined that with some blue ice cubes (with glitter frozen in) and played with our Safari TOOB Arctic Animals.

Again, I kept the activities pretty simple and playful.

We also watched some arctic related videos from Planet Earth, and did some arctic themed yoga.



I IS FOR INDIANA

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Well we certainly had a BLAST celebrating Indiana. I think some of this could transfer to other activities even if you don’t live in Indiana, so I’m going to go ahead and share all that we did! Maybe this will even tip off some ideas to celebrate your own state with your preschooler.

BOOKS
LEARNING ACTIVITIES
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Indy 500 racetrack themed letter formation

I made these racetracks using black card stock paper to match the shapes of the Handwriting Without Tears wood letter formation blocks.

You can do this making your own or there’s this nice printable available as well — I actually printed only one page from this to use as a guide for cutting my black card stock pieces.

We practiced letter formation review for A through I and drove our race cars on the tracks for a tracing activity!

IMG_2183.jpg Indiana State Bird lacing card: I just printed a cardinal image on to card stock, laminated it, cut it out and punched holes around the outside. The kids used a shoelace string from our lacing beads to lace around the cardinal. Both my 4 year old and 2 year old could work on this (to varying degrees).

I put this on my Instagram, but we also recently bought my son this Backyard Bird Song book for his birthday and it has the cardinal — such a fun book!

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Celebration of Popcorn

Orville Redenbacher was from my home town — the photo is of me as a 10 year old meeting him at the annual Popcorn Festival. We love Orville and of course Indiana loves popcorn!

We did a variety of popcorn related activities, keeping it pretty simple:

  1. Dancing popcorn activity:
    • Fill a jar with water & add a small amount of popcorn kernels
    • Add a spoonful of baking soda & stir
    • Add vinegar (a little goes a long way), and after the initial foamy explosion the popcorn kernels will “dance” up & down in the jar. So fun! We were all mesmerized.
  2. Form letter I with Q-tip + glue and then add popcorn kernels. Fine motor skills + letter formation.
  3. Cook popcorn and eat it!
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Limestone Quarry learning

Did you know Indiana limestone built the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, the National Cathedral, and the Biltmore Estate?

We did the following limestone related activities:

  1. We visited a retired quarry where rock was used to build the State Capitol building in Indianapolis. I snagged a small rock and brought it home.
  2. I painted peroxide on to the limestone rock and we all watched it fizz! Yay geology!
  3. The kids then played with a simple baking soda + vinegar transfer activity using eyedroppers and ice cube trays.
IMG_2186.jpg Indiana basketball counting mats and number writing practice. I printed out some basketball hoops, had my son practice writing a numeral in to that hoop, and then he added the corresponding number of mini basketballs to that hoop for some numeral-to-quantity matching.

Supplies

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State tree: Tulip Poplar learning & play

  • Form letter I with Tulip Poplar fruit pieces (collected on our nature walks)
  • Thread tulip poplar leaves on to a stick to make a play torch
  • ID Tulip poplar trees outside
IMG_2263.jpg Indiana State Flag art piece: star stamping

I cut a sponge in to a star shape and let the kids print stars however they wanted on to a blue sheet of paper.

We also added a Tulip poplar fall leaf because it’s the state tree plus it’s yellow and kind of looks like the torch in the center of the flag.

IMG_3023.JPG Indiana map exploration

We mapped our home to places in Indiana we have visited — Grammy & Grandpa’s house, Indianapolis, various State Parks, etc. We also took a road trip recently and mapped those out. I love exploring maps with my son!

The USA Puzzle is from Janod (it has been updated since we purchased ours

IMG_2182.jpg Abraham Lincoln lived in Indiana from age 7 to 21. He’s pretty great!

We read about him in our Indiana books and played with Lincoln Logs and our Abraham Lincoln peg doll (available in my Etsy shop).

I had planned to visit our State Museum to see a historical log cabin but with our family vacation falling partially during this time, we weren’t feeling up to it.

 

Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

C is for Camping Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

I knew before we started our preschool-at-home journey we could do C is for Camping but I wasn’t sure how exactly it would work until we got there: I wanted to actually camp with the kids, but I also wanted to do a bunch of fun activities to pair with it. We spent a whole week on C is for Camping since I kept coming up with fun stuff to do and couldn’t stop! We began our week by setting up our big family tent in our yard — that way we could do school stuff outside but also just PLAY outside all week. I can’t even describe what a JOY it was to simply have the tent set up in the yard for a week: it ended up being a gorgeous week for it (thankfully) and I even slept in the tent by myself a couple nights.

CAMPING BOOKS

LEARNING ACTIVITIES & ADVENTURES

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We kicked off our week by setting up our family tent in the yard with the intention that we would do all of our school time & play time outdoors this week.
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“The watery world goes sliding by. Our paddles dip and swing.” (In The Red Canoe)

C is for Canoe!

We took a family canoe trip on our lake and saw a beaver dam & hut, wood ducks, dragonflies on lily pads, and lots of fish jumping.

IMG_4288.jpg C is for candles & campfire!

We live in a cabin in the woods and lose power *a lot* in the winter (and sometimes in the summer too!) and have a hefty supply of emergency candles. I brought some in the tent today and had my son form a C with them. We kept them lit for a little while while I read some of our camping stories & poems.

Book: Toasting Marshmallows

IMG_4317.jpg Mini marshmallow fun inside our tent: (1) counting into a numbered cupcake tin, (2) BUCKET TOSS, and, without question… (3) snack.
IMG_4319.jpg C is for Camping Gear. I created this camping gear lotto-style game for learning & fun (free PDF here). We matched all of the cards with actual items and then played lotto (each person has one card & you randomly draw individual items and the person who fills their card first wins).

Book: S is for S’Mores: A Camping Alphabet

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Hammering tent pegs into the ground with a mallet. . .

There are SO MANY practical life skills in camping. Other than managing a campfire, I don’t see any reason to say no to my kids’ involvement on a campsite. I want them all-in.

IMG_4341.jpg Woodland animal tent tea party. We just gathered a bunch of stuffed animal toys and had a tea party! Super simple and so fun. We have the Green Toys tea set and adore this wood cupcake set.
IMG_4460.jpg We made s’mores at the fire pit by our house and read camping poems from Toasting Marshmallows
IMG_4502.jpg Loose parts ABC formation.

We use this loose parts bin for a lot of play & learning activities. We worked on forming letters today — I provided printouts.

The wood tray is just a cutlery tray from the set we got for our wedding! We collect nature items and change them occasionally.

IMG_4503.jpg Camping inevitably involves nature exploration!

We walked around our home for a nature color scavenger hunt. We collected flowers, leaves, tree nuts, tree seeds, berries, rocks & sticks.

We took our color sorting tray outside to try to find something of every color. No blue — though my son pointed out that the sky is blue… I asked him if he could reach up and grab some and he said “No, mama–it’s too far away!”

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C is for Clipping Carabiners on to a Chain

Again, I can’t say enough about the possibilities for preschool learning in camping gear. This is not for the faint of heart: my 2 year old would pinch her fingers when she first tried this but she’s persistent and kept with it (the smaller ones worked best for her while big brother could do all of these.

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Small world play campsite with hand-painted craft stick & cardboard mini tents, nature loose parts bin, and handmade peg dolls.

I used a hot glue gun to create the little tents with 2 rectangular cardboard pieces & 4 craft sticks each. Then, we painted them together and brought them outside when they dried to create a little play/pretend campsite.

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Flashlight storytelling fun with homemade glow-in-the-dark story stones! 

Flashlight is the BEST BOOK EVER by Lizi Boyd. Personally, I absolutely adore her illustrations and basically want to be her.

A boy camping at night wanders away from his tent with a flashlight to discover a bunch of woodland creatures. It’s mostly black and white illustrations, with no text. A visual poem of a woodland adventure. And a fun way to dream about nocturnal animals. I want to LIVE this book. I dream that my kids will live this book.

SO, awhile ago I painted these rocks with the illustrations of the boy & animals (including the green luna moth) from the book. I also painted them to glow in the dark so we can hunt for them with flashlights in the dark like in the story. We have brought them in the tent this week for some fun & storytelling engagement.

IMG_4157.jpg “Turn something we do without thinking into a learning activity” (John Bowman, Help Your Preschooler Build a Better Brain)

Flashlight assembly! Right is tight, left is loose — I also brought out some nuts & bolts to further illustrate the point (and so one kid could work on the flashlight and the other kid would have something equally fun to do and not be mad that there’s only one flashlight!)

Free printable PDF of the cards here.

SO MUCH PRACTICAL LIFE LEARNING IN CAMPING. I can’t say this enough!!

Hand & finger control, eye-hand coordination, sorting & matching skills, and problem solving skills.

FYI: John Bowman has a helpful list of sizes to buy for nuts, washers, & bolts in Help Your Preschooler Build a Better Brain on page 87!

IMG_4668.jpg Camping bingo for a fun tent game. Thanks so much to Rachelle at Mom Collaborative for sharing this idea from her family camping trip.

This is a free printable from the National Wildlife Federation! I printed one card for each of us (it’s a set of 4) and then one extra sheet to cut the little squares to put in a basket. I put the kids in charge of picking the cards from the basket, naming the item, and placing a little tree circle on the correct spot to try and get a BINGO.

IMG_4702.jpg Campfire handprint art activity

We did this in the order of building a real campfire: we first glued the sticks on, then I put paint on a tray for them to do a handprint stamp as the fire. Then for roasting marshmallows we glued little white pom poms on to mini craft sticks (great for fine motor skills!) and glued those on the paper (after playing with some and pretending to burn our marshmallows in the fire!)

Book: S is for S’Mores: A Camping Alphabet

IMG_4718.jpg C is for Cord stops

These little cord stops are on pretty much EVERY camping gear item: sleeping bags, tent bags, gear bags, etc. Awhile ago when we got sleeping bags for the kids I started challenging my son to do the cord stop himself to open it up. He couldn’t do it at first but every time they got their sleeping bags out, I invited him to do it on his own … and now he can do it! Great for strengthening those little writing fingers.

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Invitation to paint sticks.

Stick-painting is simple, involves fine motor skills and coordination plus it’s also this wonderful open-ended invitation to create. We play with sticks a lot but never painted them before and my jaw literally dropped at how intensely both kiddos were so focused on this and lovingly selecting each color, attempting to paint the entire stick surface. I want to capture that moment and bottle it up forever.

We also painted big hiking staffs because every decent adventurer needs a staff. Just the perfect size for him and for her.

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C is for Compass & map skills.

Okay, we didn’t really do a true compass lesson! BUT, my son has shown interest in the compass this week and I tried to find a way to make it more practical for him.

SO, to simplify: I taped off a 6×6 “map” grid of small squares big enough for us to stand in, with N, S, E & W marked on the four ends of the blanket. We played a game where they had to follow instructions: “Take one step toward the N is for North. Now take 3 steps toward the E is for East….” THEN I had my son give the instructions to me to move me around the blanket. Super fun!

IMG_4739.jpg More Map & Compass.

Here’s a watercolor & ink map of the camp property where we live I created last year for my kids. They love reading “Winnie the Pooh” and adore looking at the map at the back of our book. So, I thought I’d make a map in that same style of our very own. I basically left out a lot of the camp property and only left landmarks that we really interact with on a weekly basis, putting their names for things like “owl tree” and “frog water”.

Making a map for you kids is something you can totally do in a much simpler way than this! Do you have a regular walking route that you take with your family? Make a simple map on a white sheet of paper with a pen or marker (or have your kids do it!) — add landmarks they know like the park or a gas station or a friend’s house, etc. Take it with you on their walks and show them directions (NSEW or right/left). When you get home have them show you on the map the route you walked and tell you what you did along the way. I keep our map on the wall in the kids’ room but take it down a lot and ask my kids to tell me where we went that day. It’s great for inviting them to think about *place* but also to narrate their day!!

IMG_4514.jpg Super simple scissor skills activity: cut grass. This will occupy kids for ages.
Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

B is for Bird Preschool Unit

OVERVIEW

We spent 3 weeks on Letter B. You can see our activities for Bees, Butterflies, and Blueberries for Sal on this post.

One week of Letter B was spent on B is for Bird, which I’ll share about below.

BOOKS

There are SO MANY great bird picture books! We really enjoyed all of these, and own most of them.

RESOURCES
IMG_2098.jpg Birding books:

IMG_2099.jpg Some non-book resources:

Binoculars — ones for kids or just let them use yours

If you’re really in to birding you could go further with camera equipment and a scope — both of those things my husband uses regularly and involves the kids.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds — this website is incredible!

SAFARI Bird TOOBS:

LEARNING ACTIVITIES
IMG_2865.jpg Beautiful Birds is a wonderful A to Z book. 

We formed letter B with our Safari TOOB birds (Backyard Birds and Exotic Birds), and worked on forming letter B on a small chalkboard slate. I have my son wipe it clean with a small sponge dipped in water and then repeat.

IMG_2466.jpg Bird themed large motor skill movement game: act like a bird! Draw a bird card from the basket & do the action (I came up with a wide variety of things: fly forward / fly backward, penguin waddle fast/slow/left/right, hoot & hop, flap in a circle, etc.)

My kids often need large motor skill breaks from focused learning activities. I don’t want all of “school” to feel like intense focused learning. Plus really the brain development happening through coordination & movement is just as essential to their days as phonics, counting, etc!

I created the cards using Charley Harper bird stickers (a favorite artist) on a square piece of paper & then added a bird-action on the back.

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Invitation to build bird nests with natural materials & play dough. We grabbed some materials on our morning walk like sticks & grass & pine needles, plus we also have an actual abandoned Carolina Wren nest. My son opted to make mini nests in a muffin tin, then used rocks as “eggs” for our little mama birds to keep warm (Safari TOOB birds: Backyard Birds and Exotic Birds)
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Books:

IMG_2100.jpg Very *simple* bird anatomy with tangrams. I just traced the tangram pieces we have on half-sheets of paper with pencil and then went over it again with black marker. I made maybe 10 different ones. I left this on our learning shelf all week & encouraged my son to do this during his quiet time.

Book: Nature Anatomy

IMG_2493.jpg Bird sound bingo fun!

For this, I selected 9 birds my kids already can I.D. by sound (birds we encounter a lot where we live). I initially played the sounds & identified each for them via All About Birds. After I played the sounds for the kids the first time through, we then played sort of a Bingo game where I changed the order and they had to shout out what it was and fill their little sheet up with the corresponding bird picture (bird photographs taken by my amazingly talented and wonderful husband).

Identifying birds by sound is something even little kids can totally do — on our walks I often play “quiet game” with my kids & simply ask them to tell me what they hear (everything, not just birds). Some birds are obviously easier than others, and we are definitely limited by my own knowledge, but it’s still good fun to listen to the birds and think about what they’re up to! For years now, whenever my son hears a Pileated Woodpecker he says: “it’s laughing at the squirrels!”

Book: Have You Heard The Nesting Bird?— which features the sounds of Mourning Doves, Pileated Woodpeckers, Starlings, Sparrows, Swallows, Crows, Cardinals, Chickadees, Catbirds, Blue Jays, Whip-poor-wills, Wood Thrushes, and Robins. THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!

Another fun bird sound book: the classic Owl Moon

AND: Elizabeth Mitchell’s song “Little Bird, Little Bird” is also a wonderful intro to bird songs!

IMG_2926.jpg Counting & color sorting eggs: jellybeans into plastic Easter eggs. I was surprised at how much they were willing to do before eating!

Book: Nature Anatomy

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Invitation to paint some feathers! Super simple activity that combines creativity and focused fine motor skills.

I just bought some plain white craft feathers.

Books:

IMG_3026.jpg What’s it like to have a bird beak? Invitation to feed our little baby birds (Safari TOOB birds: Backyard Birds and Exotic Birds) in the nests we made earlier using tweezers & gummy worms.

Book: About Birds: A Guide for Children

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Fingerprint bird art piece based off of the book Little Bird

Basically all I had my kids do was put two fingerprints together on a blue sheet of paper (with this ink pad set — lots of color), and I made them in to birds with markers with their help — two wings, a beak, a dot for an eye, and tail feathers.

IMG_3103.jpg Bird seed sensory bin & forming the letter B (we added glue to the B first with Q-tips, then I had them put the paper in the bird seed bin and pour the bird seed on top to get it to stick to the B).

With sensory bins I often place a few items out at first to play — they always want their little scoops and usually measuring cups and spoons.

IMG_3208.jpg Birdseed cake ornaments! The kids helped do all of this except cooking the gelatin on the stove. We made ours in to woodland animals shapes (IKEA cookie cutters) and hung them outside our front window. If you do this I’d recommend using a birdseed mix that’s finer than what we used: the large sunflower seeds made it fall apart easily!

Steps:
(1) Cook a pack of gelatin according to instructions
(2) Add birdseed & stir in bowl until well incorporated
(3) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper & place cookie cutters on sheet.
(4) Fill each cookie cutter with a spoonful of birdseed mixture, packing it down as you go
(5) Place a straw in each so a hole remains to hang it later
(6) Let cool (or add to the freezer to speed up the process)
(7) Add twine or ribbon
(8) Hang outside & bird watch!

IMG_3052.jpg Investigating bird feet:

Woodland Footprint Rocks set (one side shows the animal, the flip side has a raised footprint)

Book: Birds: A Guide to the Most Familiar American Birds (Golden Guide) (Herbert Zim)

Safari TOOB birds: Exotic Birds

NATURE STUDY

Birds up close…

IMG_2838.jpg We did our bird unit in June so there were plenty of opportunities to hunt for bird nests.
Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 2.16.58 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-09-05 at 2.17.30 PM.png We were able to find bluebird nests at a variety of stages so that was fun!
19051094_1890989311219998_4883283845962530816_n.jpg Interactive bird feeding aviary at our zoo! The birds in this aviary definitely try to eat your shoelaces 🙂
Books · Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Classic Story Extensions for Preschool

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OVERVIEW

“Fairy tales don’t condone poor behavior; they simply relate what occurs. Children learn very early that there are good people, bad people, kind people, cruel people, and assortments of behavior in between. And children have room in their lives for all sorts of miracles…. an active imagination [is] a token of the liberty of childhood.” (Gladys Hunt, Honey For A Child’s Heart)

Over the past 2 weeks it worked out that we could fit 6 classic stories into our regularly-scheduled Letter Unit activities: 3 stories fit in with letter G (Gingerbread, Goat, Goldilocks) and 3 stories fit for letter H (Hens and Houses). This post summarizes all that we did for each story.

This is not meant to serve as a perfectly planned-out curriculum: it’s simply a picture of what we actually did. I hope there’s something useful here to you!

I adore Paul Galdone’s versions of the following classic stories — both for the storytelling and the illustrations:

Gladys Hunt notes: “Children have been enjoying Galdone’s renditions for generations” (Honey for a Child’s Heart), and I couldn’t agree more. The audiobook versions for each of these are also excellent and worth finding! Galdone has a number of other classic stories beyond what I chose, but I stuck to just these six because: (1) they fit in with our Letter G and Letter H units, and (2) these are specifically mentioned in Honey for a Child’s Heart.

We also love the Heather Forest song versions of several of these stories on her Sing Me A Story album:

  • The Little Red Hen
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff
  • Mr. Bun (similar to The Gingerbread Boy)

Honorable mention to Jan Brett’s version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears! A gorgeous book.

Alright, here we go…

THE GINGERBREAD BOY

IMG_9368.jpg Obviously: Bake a gingerbread boy! My kids helped with the whole baking process plus worked on forming the letter G (I gave them extra dough to just play with & smash and roll and cut — and they made a huge floury mess).

We enjoyed eating our gingerbread boy during our poetry tea time and read the poem “The Three Foxes” from When We Were Very Young.

*Bonus activity to burn off the sugar high from gingerbread: take turns pretending to be the gingerbread boy and chase each other around! I’m serious.

 IMG_0514.jpg In the story the old woman uses raisins to make the buttons for the gingerbread boy. We counted out some raisins into a numbered muffin tin with jumbo tweezers for a fine motor skill & simple counting exercise. Then… we snacked on some raisins!

THE THREE BEARS

IMG_0010.jpg We retold  the story using our Goldilocks peg dolls (available on my Etsy shop) [note: currently sold out but I’m making more] and dollhouse furniture.
IMG_0009.jpg Big, medium, little sorting activity. We had a huge line of items on the floor that I couldn’t capture in a picture well so I just set up this little sampling. The kids really had fun with this, hunting around toy bins.
IMG_0027.jpg For our poetry tea time we had big, medium, and little bowls of porridge (recipe via The Peaceful Preschool)!

We also read the poems “A Good Little Girl” (A.A. Milne) and “A Good Boy” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

IMG_0012.jpg We acted out the story in a little play house in the woods we have on the camp property where we live. There’s three of us so we just took turns being Goldilocks (my 2 year old needs prompting for this but she’s all in).

THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

IMG_0106.jpg We read The Three Billy Goats Gruff and G is for Goat (the cutest little A-Z book ever).

We also made a G using grass my son cut (see below) — the kids applied glue to our Letter G printout (from The Peaceful Preschool) with a Q-tip first and then placed the grass.

We also adore the Heather Forest song version for The Three Billy Goats (from Sing Me Story)

Here are our goats: big, middle, little … and we use a dinosaur for the troll!

IMG_0746.jpg TRIP TRAP rhythm stick song: The Three Billy Goats (simplified version) via Jbrary by Dana and Lindsey. I don’t try to memorize these songs in advance when we do them: I just watch the video with my kids and we learn it together and repeat it. We also don’t have real rhythm sticks: we just use unsharpened pencils that I got at the Target Dollar Spot. We also used the rhythm sticks to make the trip-trapping rhythm on our wood bridge.
IMG_0108.jpg Cut some great green grass. A free and zero-setup scissor skills activity! Seriously: this will occupy your scissor-loving kiddo forever.
IMG_0107.jpg Small world sensory bin & invitation to play. I used rocks, blue-dyed rice for water, and grass we collected in the morning from the scissor activity above. We retell the story together but also listen to the audiobook or the story song version.
IMG_8035.jpg Act out the story on a bridge: There’s nothing more satisfying than stomping your feet across a bridge pretending to be a trip-trapping billy goat!

HENNY PENNY

IMG_0497.jpg Act out the Henny Penny story in sequence. The repetition used in this story is so great for memory recall & story sequencing. I think it helps to have the animals for storytelling, BUT don’t spend money for just one story: you could also print out some animal pictures and put them on popsicle sticks and hold them up as you tell the story.

Here’s our Foxy Loxy, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey.

IMG_0499.jpg What’s Missing?” game: who did the fox eat? I set up this tunnel from our train track set, called it the fox’s cave, then had my kids close their eyes while I hid one of the birds in the cave and then asked them to open their eyes and tell me who the fox ate. A really simple setup for a game that enhances object + word identification and skill using visual clues for association & identification. You could even hide them in order that the animals appear in the story to enhance the recall of the plot sequencing
IMG_0494.jpg Spell out book-related words using our movable alphabet. These are a free printable from my F is for Farm unit (you can get the full PDF here). We also looked at the hens, roosters, ducks, geese, and turkeys in our lovely Farm Anatomy book.
IMG_0493.jpg In the story an acorn falls from the tree to hit Henny Penny in the head. We counted out acorns on to our number cards. These number cards are from The Peaceful Preschool curriculum and we use them every week.
IMG_0513.jpg Practical life skill activity: dust pan use to clean up acorns.

This wood tray is from Target

IMG_0523.jpg We threaded oak leaves (oak trees make acorns!) in to our stick loom for a fun fall-themed nature study + fine motor skill handcraft activity. We’ve been using our stick looms a lot lately so it was fun to loosely connect it to Henny Penny on the day we read it 🙂

THE LITTLE RED HEN

IMG_0735.jpg Storytelling for The Little Red Hen.

We read through the story together one time with no aids. Then, the second time through I brought all the storytelling aids out: hen, catdog, & mouse, and then a divided tray with wheat seeds (it’s actually pearled barley), wheat plant (a grass plume from our yard), flour, and bread.

The other book pictured is is Alain Gree’s book The Farm which has this awesome page called “The story of bread” that helps reinforce the story of the little red hen making cake from wheat seeds.

We also love listening to and singing along with Heather Forest’s version of this tale (from Sing Me Story).

IMG_0733.jpg Sensory play and scooping & pouring. After baking bread (see below) the kids just played with all the wheat seeds, plants, flour, bread, and bread dough. The kitchen floor was an insane mess when it was over, but they were so engaged and loving it. They were scooping and pouring and smashing to their hearts’ content all morning.
IMG_0734.jpg Wheat learning: wheat seeds (it’s actually pearled barley), wheat plant (a grass plume from our yard), flour, and bread.

I gave my son a tray of the wheat seeds to practice forming the letter H. I love love love our tray for sensory letter writing — it’s deep so it doesn’t spill out easily and small so they form the letters in a reasonable size.

Book pictured: Food Anatomy (the bread pages in this book were also super fun to look at!)

IMG_0737.jpg The kids made their own bread!!

I use the master recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day — it’s literally impossible to get bad bread even if you have zero baking skills! It’s SO EASY. It’s a no-knead dough with only 4 ingredients and take two seconds to prep. The kids can mash the dough and form it in to ANY SHAPE and it will bake perfect and delicious.

IMG_0759.jpg For poetry tea time on this Little Red Hen day, we read two fun hen poems: “The Little Black Hen” from Now We Are Six and “The Clucking Hen” from A Child’s Book of Poems. And, we had some snacks-that-come-from wheat!

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

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The Three Little Pigs is a perfect H is for House story! We read that book and How A House is Built by Gail Gibbons, and then I set up an invitation to build houses out of straw, sticks, and brick.

This also served as an invitation to retell the story as we went house by house and huffed and puffed to blow the houses down!

Supplies:

  • Three pigs & a wolf
  • Bricks: red stacking block pieces + red play dough
  • Sticks (stack them like Lincoln logs — I didn’t want to use actual Lincoln logs because I thought that would be too hard to blow down!)
  • Straw: I just cut up some ornamental grass plumes from our yard
IMG_0679.jpg Blow pigs off the table with a straw (we used pigs from our Pass the Pigs game since they are little and light)

Blowing through a straw helps strengthen the mouth muscles needed for proper speech. Plus, it’s fun!

IMG_0804.jpg Form the letter H using sticks & bricks! H is definitely easier than G 🙂
Letter Unit Activities

Letter B Preschool Unit

OVERVIEW

We spent 3 weeks on Letter B. We first did one week of B is for Bee and B is for Butterfly because it fit nicely with some field trips and seasonal learning. Then, we spend a week on The Peaceful Preschool Letter B activities for Blueberries for Sal (with some additions). For the third week, we did B is for Bird. Below you’ll find a variety of learning activities.

B IS FOR BIRD

8FBC01B7-C24F-4C29-B05C-3EAB21720CF4 COMING SOON! I’m writing a separate post for our B is for Bird activities since there was a lot.

BIBLE FOCUS

IMG_1296 B is for John the Baptist and Baptism. This also fit nicely in to our B is for Bee theme!

See our Bible Stories A-Z post for more details.

THE PEACEFUL PRESCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Book

That’s it! We loved this book so much that we just read it again and again. I had other B is for Bear books on our shelf to enjoy but mainly we focused on Blueberries for Sal! It’s a classic for a reason.

Learning Activities

The following activities were spread over 3 days.

IMG_2307.jpg Letter B basket of items — We spent time learning about things that start with the letter B (and reviewed the letter B sound), and then we matched various items-that-start-with-B to our Letter B 3-Part Cards via Treehouse Schoolhouse.

Books:

IMG_2234.jpg Retelling Blueberries for Sal 

Using props to retell a story helps add in some fun to the learning but also helps with building language and storytelling recall (characters, settings, sequences, and key events).

We counted out fresh blueberries (using our number cards from The Peaceful Preschool) in to mini buckets. Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk!

IMG_2305.jpg We painted a letter B with blueberry juice crushed from real berries.

I had my kids smash blueberries with a mortar & pestle and then help strain the juice into a bucket. They then painted a B with the juice.

IMG_2233.jpg We picked strawberries from our garden! We did not have a convenient place to pick blueberries this week, but we had so many strawberries in our own garden so it worked out fine!
IMG_2230.jpg Berry sorting activity.

Sort, name, and count the berries: strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry.

Book: Food Anatomy

IMG_2228.jpg Make berry smoothies. The kids helped measure everything out.

Our recipe:

  • 2 cups mixed fresh berries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup packed spinach
  • cold water as needed
IMG_2084.jpg Blue buttons, blue beads, and blue balls fine motor skills sorting activity (from a blue basket in to bowls).

I’ve since learned that my son kind of rejects activities like this; my daughter (2) will go for it though.

IMG_2405.jpg Forming a B with play dough and adding blue marbles & beads to look like blueberries.
IMG_2351.jpg Straining and counting activity: throw a bunch of blueberries in to a bowl of water. Strain the blueberries out using a handy scooper tool and count in to a numbered muffin tin.
IMG_1798.jpg Blow bubbles. FUN, but also strengthens mouth muscles necessary for proper speech.

This is at the spillway off the dam where we live. That’s our dog swimming 🙂

IMG_1578.jpg Zoo Letter B scavenger hunt! I made up a scavenger hunt for our zoo trip with things I thought we would see.
IMG_2437.jpg I also built in some time for review with a Letter A and Letter B sorting activity.

This tray is from Target and the mini bowls are IKEA.

B IS FOR BEE

Books
Learning Activities
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Local Honey Farm Visit

We actually did this first because the Monday of this week was a holiday and my husband could join us for the field trip. We saw a live hive and watched the bees for awhile, sampled a variety of local honey, talked to beekeepers, and saw a variety of bee-related products. We purchased a few items to take home and enjoy.

IMG_1361.jpg Anatomy of a Bee using natural materials. We have done this anatomy-of-a-bug activity for ants, bees, and butterflies. It works SO GREAT for insects and includes natural counting.

Book: Nature Anatomy

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Bee hive counting cards activities.

You can download the hive counting cards for free here. I printed my on to yellow card stock.

This involves numeral-to-quantity correlation.

We used honeycomb, rocks with painted bees on them (or you could use mini bee erasers or plastic bees), and a bee stamp.

FYI: I paint rocks with Uni-posca medium and fine paint pens.

IMG_1411.jpg Fine motor skill threading activity: honeycomb cereal on to a lacing string.
IMG_1307.jpg Invitation to play:

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Fine motor skill transfer activity: transfer pollen to the hive.

Using a camping mat and yellow pom poms and our squeezy tweezers.

My other option with this was to use an egg carton.

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Honey hive transfer activity + science fun!

I put yellow-dyed vinegar in an empty honey bottle as well as provided some in a bowl with an eyedropper.

The egg cartons are filled with baking soda.

Transfer & enjoy the explosion!

IMG_1527.jpg Read BEE, form the letter B with rock bees, and spell out the word BEE with our moveable alphabet.
IMG_1550.jpg Scissor skills: cut floral straws for the bee to eat.

B IS FOR BUTTERFLY

Books
Learning Activities
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Witness a caterpillar turning in to a butterfly! We were lucky to collect a monarch caterpillar in time for our B is for Butterfly study and to eventually watch it emerge from the chrysalis! If you can’t see this in person, there are amazing time lapse videos online to watch with your kids.
IMG_1716.jpg Form a floral B for the butterflies to eat. Pairing bees and butterflies together fit nicely to intuitively learn about pollinators.

Whenever we glue items on to a large letter like this, I have the kids spread the glue with a Q-tip to help learn the form of the letter.

IMG_1872.jpg Anatomy of a Butterfly using natural materials!

Book: Nature Anatomy

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Butterfly Symmetry puzzle: free printable here.

Print the butterflies on to white card stock, laminate, cut out each butterfly, and then cut in half. I glued the left half of the butterfly to a yellow card stock paper. Then I used velcro dots for the right side of the butterfly so they could be attached in place.

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Life cycle of a butterfly + color sorting activity.

Supplies:

  • Color sorting tray (I made ours)
  • Egg: pom poms
  • Caterpillar: cut up pipe cleaners
  • Chrysalis: painted rigatoni noodles (so the caterpillar can fit inside)
  • Butterflies: rocks with colored butterflies

FYI: I paint rocks with Uni-posca medium and fine paint pens.

IMG_1931.jpg Butterfly symmetry art using a printout from Simply Learning (Letter B Preschool Unit post). We placed paint drops in the middle near the fold, then folded the paper in half and the kids pushed the paint in the direction of the wings. Unfold… and voila!
IMG_1576.jpg Fine motor skills & counting butterfly activity.

Hole punch the correct number of holes on to each wing.

LYTT8458.jpg We were able to visit a botanical garden for our field trip and see a huge variety of butterflies and many still in the chrysalis!