Category Archives: Language & Literacy

Gobble Gobble Jar of Thanks

jarthanks

Submitted by: Audrey Meidl

A great way to give thanks and to share what young ones are thankful for.

Goals:

  • To reinforce social/emotional development
  • To encourage creativity

Before You Start:
Have on hand craft foam, felt or construction paper in brown, red, yellow and orange. You will also need a papier-mâché flower pot or glass jar, scissors, tacky glue and wiggly eyes. You will also need sentence strips (or strips of cut-up lined paper) and pencils.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Using felt, foam or paper, cut out two ovals of the same size. Glue the two ovals to the outside of the flower pot or jar. This will be the turkey head. Allow the young ones to be creative with this; there is no “right” or “wrong” way.

Step 2.
Using felt, foam or paper in fall colors such as red, yellow, orange, etc., cut out more oval shapes (one of each color) and glue them to the opposite end of the flower pot or jar, on the outside.

Step 3.
Glue on wiggly eyes and use leftover felt, foam or paper to create the waddle and beak.

Step 4.
After the children are finished creating their turkey pots, have them write down things they are thankful for on the strips of paper and place them into the pot.

Step 5.
During circle time, have each child take turns sharing what they are thankful for.

Furthermore:
Tip: you can also use craft feathers instead of felt or foam for added texture. Also, add more details such as feet, or, you might want to paint the pot or jar to give it more color.

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Vocabulary Tree

tree

Submitted by: Michelle Pope

Add word-leaves to this tree and watch the tree and their vocabulary grow!

Goals:

  • To encourage beginning reading skills
  • To enhance and expand vocabulary in a fun way
  • To demonstrate the different seasons of the year, particularly the changing leaves in the fall season

Before You Start:
Gather your materials: brown cardboard or bulletin board paper for the trunk and branches, green construction paper for the leaves, scissors, tape and markers. For younger children, you may want to pre-cut the leaves beforehand.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Cut out a tree trunk and branches from the cardboard or bulletin board paper and attach this to a wall.

Step 2.
Give children scissors and green construction paper. Have them cut leaves out for the tree and write different vocabulary words on them. (Or, take the precut leaves, and write the words on them for the younger children.)

Step 3.
Next, let the children pick where their leaves should be on the tree, and have them stick it on.

Step 4.
After all the words/leaves are on the tree the children can admire and practice their words. Have them create new leaves with words each time you have a new vocabulary lesson.

Step 5.
You can also add fruit to the tree as it continues to grow. When they can read a whole branch of words, allow them to pick the fruit off the tree. In the fall, the leaves can turn orange, red and yellow. In the winter you can remove the leaves and have the children add snowballs with words on them instead.

Step 6.
One simple project can be on going all year long. And, children will be learning words so well you can be sure to be taping up extra branches!

Furthermore:
Come spring, you may also add a bird’s nest, complete with birds, to demonstrate all the new growth of the season. This idea provides a vast amount of learning opportunities and memories. An added bonus for children is being able to watch the tree “grow” as their vocabulary does!

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Letter Crafts

lettercrafts

Submitted by: Jeanie Greene

Help children recognize letters and their sounds with a fun foam activity!

Goal:

  • To promote letter and letter sound recognition
  • To encourage beginning reading skills

Before You Start:
Gather 9″ x 12″ craft foam sheets, scissors and glue. You will also need a computer, printer, paper and, possibly, internet access. Use the foam sheets to cut out letters from the alphabet or the entire alphabet, depending on the size of your class. You will need one letter for each child. Letters should be large enough to glue several small pictures to them. Using clipart or Web images on your computer, locate 6-8 pictures of items that start with each letter of the alphabet. Resize each image to approximately 1″-2″Sq. and save on a separate word document for each letter. Print a colored copy of each document to use for the activity. Note: if you have more children in your class than 26, you may need to print additional sheets for certain letters or partner children together.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Give each child a foam letter cutout, a page of images that start with that letter, scissors and glue.

Step 2.
Help the children, as needed, to cut the images out and glue on their foam letters.

Step 3.
Ask the children to tell you what the different pictures are, the sound out the first letter in the word for that image (for example: b b ball) and relate it to the letter they are working with.

Step 4.
When the children have finished gluing the pictures on their letters, hang each letter on the wall for the children to see. Continue with letter sounds and recognition for each one.

Furthermore:
Instead of clipart or Web images, use familiar things like quarters, pennies, Q-tips, cotton balls, or other common items children will recognize. You may also have the children search for items in magazines or newspapers that begin with the same foam letter they were working with to extend the activity.

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The Woodpecker Rap

woodpeckerrap

Submitted by: Rae Pica

This activity offers an opportunity for the children to practice their rhythmic and listening skills.

Goals:

  • To learn about woodpeckers
  • To introduce music in a fun activity
  • To practice rhythm and listening skills

Before You Start:
Talk to the children about woodpeckers and the fact that they use their very strong beaks to peck at the bark or wood of trees to dig holes for their nests and to drill for insects.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Explain to the kids that they’re going to pretend to be woodpeckers drilling at trees and they’ll “peck” in, echoing responses to the rhythms you set. For instance, if you clap four times at a slow tempo, the children use their heads to peck four times at the same tempo.

Step 2.
Repeat each pattern at least once, at a slightly faster pace.

Step 3.
Choose rhythm groupings according to the age and experience of the children you’re working with. Generally speaking, the younger the age group, the shorter and slower the rhythms should be.

Furthermore:
An alternative is to use rhythm sticks or wooden blocks and striking tools to echo the patterns.

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Literature Puppets

litpuppets

Submitted by: Gina Eisenstein

This activity can be made to go along with any favorite story and allows students to actively participate in story time.

Goals:

  • To promote shape recognition, creativity and fine motor skills
  • To encourage listening comprehension by following along with a story
  • To create a felt puppet of a favorite story character

Before You Start:
Gather supplies for the project: large and small craft sticks, glue, craft cups, scissors, a variety of colored felt pieces, wiggly eyes, sequins, pom-poms, yarn, a permanent marker and other decorative items. Pour glue into craft cups ahead of time. This craft can be made to go along with most any children’s story. A whole collection of puppets can be created and mixed and matched for future stories. For this activity, mouse puppets were made to go along with Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Have children cut out the shapes for their puppets (the teacher can have them precut and ready for younger children). For a mouse (as shown in the picture), the children will need to each have a large oval, a medium triangle, and two small circles.

Step 2.
Children can use small craft sticks to apply glue to items. Have them glue triangle, pointing down, on the top of the oval for the head. On both top corners of the triangle, they can glue a circle for ears.

Step 3.
Next, glue a short piece of yarn on the bottom, back of the oval (tail). To finish the face, children can glue on wiggly eyes, a pom-pom or sequins as a nose. Children can also draw on the nose and whiskers with a permanent marker if they wish.

Step 4.
Finally, the back of the mouse body should be glued to a large craft stick. Leave about 3 inches below the mouse. This will create the handle.

Step 5.
Let dry over night, and then use with story time!

Furthermore:
With Mouse Count, as you tell the story, 10 children could be holding their mice and roaming around the story area. One child could be the character of the snake in the story. With each mouse that is collected by the snake, that child would stand in a designated “collection area.” At the end of the story, the mice leave one at a time. This story helps preschoolers practice counting up to 10, and then back down from 10. The mice could also be used with the story Seven Blind Mice. That story practices counting, order, days of the week, and colors. You could use your mice puppets, or have other puppets. You could have children create puppets to fit any favorite story.

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True & False Discussion Paddles

truefalse

Submitted by: Tracy Emond

The discussion paddle allows each child to express themselves during a classroom lesson or conversation without talking over each other.

Goals:

  • To provide a system for teachers to quickly check student responses
  • To teach taking turns and self-expression

Before You Start:
Gather supplies needed for the activity: hand-held fans, markers, paints, sequins, glitter, glue and other decorative items.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Provide each child with their own hand-held fan. Have children make a large “T” in the middle of one side and an “F” on the other.

Step 2.
Allow them to decorate any way they wish with the materials provided. Allow fans to dry. Now they each have their own “paddle” to use for discussions, lessons and review sessions in class.

Step 3.
Ask the children a question or make a statement. Have the children hold up their paddles showing if they think the answer is true or false.

Furthermore:
Alternatively, have the children write the word “agree” in the middle of one side and “disagree” on the other. The children can hold up their paddles to show whether they agree or disagree in discussions. They can also be used for yes/no questions.

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The Question Box

questionbox

Submitted by: Wendy Long

This activity is done the first day of each week as we learn a new alphabet letter and the sound(s) that letter makes. I decorated a large box with wrapping paper to hold the item each week that our new letter starts with.

Goals:

  • To practice letter recognition, phonics, cognitive development, literacy and language development

Before You Start:
Each week we learn a new alphabet letter. I have large letters a parent made with plastic canvas and yarn so they are colorful. On planning day I place an object into the “question box” that begins with our new letter for the week.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Assign a child to hold up the new letter to see if anyone can recognize and name the letter.

Step 2.
Then make the beginning sound(s) that the letter makes so that children can use that information as they try and guess what the item is in the box.

Step 3.
Give clues to what the item is and ask children to guess.

Step 4.
Discuss words they hear and help them decide what is in the box.

Step 5.
Let an “alphabet helper” peek into the box to see if the guess was right.

Furthermore:
Children are so excited on the day we do the question box that they remind me we have not done it yet. I really like the fact that it includes language development, cognitive thinking and literacy all rolled into one fun and simple activity that can be done at circle time with all children.

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