Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Creating a Print Rich Enviroment for your Preschooler

Some items in our house for a print rich environment include:
  • Familiar books children can “read’ from memory
  • Kid Picture Dictionaries
  • Word Wall near paper and pencil (the children an copy) Use this wall to display from the unit you are learning about or things that truly interest your children. It doesn't have to be fancy, just legible kid friendly words & pictures.
  • Reading area with soft pillow and basket of familiar books
  • Books on CD
  • functional print labels

Functional Print

Functional Print gives your child a reason to read and is a wonderful addition to a print rich environment. What better reason to read than to find than to find their new Iron-man toy? Providing a picture along with the print also attaches meaning for your child to those "squiggly lines" you call letters. Functional Print really helps with responsibly as your child learns everything has a place when they cleanup.
Drawer labels are especially important to one of my sons, who are fiercely independent. He loves to know which drawer has what so that he can pick out his own clothes and help mommy with laundry. My suggestion for font is Comic Sans. It resembles the handwriting your child will mostly likely use the most. And my labels are NOT fancy. They are just printed on normal paper and stuck on with Scotch tape. I used contact paper on the draws because i knew they would be more permanent. Don't get caught up in feeling like it has to be pretty, just worry that your child can read it and understand.

PARENTING HINT: This is also a wonderful way to make sure laundry gets put back into the right drawers…even if it;s your spouse you are trying to direct ;)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Community Helpers: Garbage Collectors

Preschool Homeschool-
Garbage Collector Unit Study
We walked around our neighborhood counting/graphing dumpster & trashcans.
We have several small family restaurants near us so finding dumpsters wasn't too hard.

We made a list of the helpers we wanted to learn about when we first discussed community helpers at the beginning of the year. Garbage Collectors were far and away more exciting to the boys than me. I even planned on skipping them, when the boys both drew garbage trucks on my birthday card...and then asked for trash trucks for Christmas. Through this study I was able to see again how much more children really learn when the subject is based on their true interests.
Circle Time Discussions-
  • What would happen if we didn’t have garbage collectors in our city?
Alphabet Activities- T for trash
  • Make Tout of items you find yin your yard (sticks, leaves, rocks)
  • Trace T in dirt
  • Dot Markers on letter T
Science Lessons:
  • Recycling
  • Sanitation/cleanliness-germs in trash can make us sick
  • rotten- observe old fruit
Field Trips:
  • Our own back yard on Trash pick up day.  The boys love watching the big truck come
  • Recycling Center in our town- We saw many old TV's, computers, and tree branches recycled at the recycling center
  • Walk around neighborhood counting dumpsters and trash cans

  • recycled art- make caterpillars from old egg cartons
  • Color, cut, label and glue truck, trashcans, and dumpsters to community helpers map.
  • Print Garbage truck coloring page.  Have children cut scarps of paper, then glue onto top of truck.
  • Patterning- with cut out dumpsters and trashcans
  • Take a walk around neighborhood and graph dumpsters and trashcans
  • Use pattern blocks to build a trash truck

Friday, January 20, 2012

Community Helpers: Firefighters


Preschool Home School- Firefighters Unit Study
We spent the biggest time of our community helpers on the fire fighter study, probably because to four year old boys, nothing beats a fire fighter! We found the key to this study was the field trip to a real fire station at the beginning of our unit. Nothing is cooler than sitting the driver's seat of a fire truck, the firefighters were very welcoming to our homeschool group, which consisted of ages 1 and half to 10 years old!Circle time 

  • What would happen if we didn’t have firefighters in our city?
  • Why do we have so many fire stations in one city?
  • What kind of Uniform does a firefighter wear? During this I drew a firefighter in full turnout gear and we labeled his uniform and tools after our field trip to the station (mask, belt, boots, etc)

Word Wall

  • Fire
  • Fire Truck
  • Fire Hat

Computer Skills
  • Really fun and free site with several fire safety games!
Safety Activities:
  • Identify shapes of room while drawing a map of house. Use this map to make Fire Escape routes. We printed out pictures of our home family and used them like paper dolls to run drills.
  • Practice Stop and Roll

Song -Stop, Drop and Roll (tune of Frere Jacques)

If my clothes
Should catch on fire,
I’ll stop, drop and roll,
Stop, drop and roll.
I’ll put out the fire.
I’ll put out the fire.
I won’t burn.
I won’t burn

Science/Math Activities:
  • Get a blankest out and pretend crawling under it like it is hot smoke
  • Go on a hunt for all the smoke alarms & fire extinguishers in your house ,then graph them! We also visited my husbands’ work to see how many smoke alarms they had, then added it to our graph
  • Fire Needs air-While observing a burning candle, the kids can learn that fire needs air to breathe, grow and burn. Cover the burning candle with a clear jar so the kids can see that the fire will extinguish itself once it has no air.
Field Trips

Art Activities

  • Make hoses out of paper towel rolls; Tape two rolls together to make long hose. Color paper blue then cut draw lines for the children to cut fringe (this is your water). Tape the fringed paper on end and VOILA, you have a water hose!
  • Panting with red & yellow finger paint to make fire- discuss how it makes orange.

  • Make smoke alarms by using a white paper plate and add wiggly eyes, a nose, and cut out a mouth. Pretend this is a smoke detector and use it as a mask to sing the following poem/song.

Song-Always Alert

I’m a smoke detector and I say “Beep”.
(squat down)

I’m your nose when you’re asleep.
(point to nose then pretend to sleep)

If there’s a fire and smoke is all around,
(wiggle hand and fingers around)

I’ll wake you up with a very loud sound.
(jump up and raise your hands high)


FireFighter Picture Book List

  • Curious George at the Fire Station by Margret and H.A. Rey's
  • Curious George and the firefighters
    by Margret & H.A. Rey
  • Dot the Firedog by Lisa Desimini
  • Fighting Fires by Susan Kuklin
  • Fire Engine Man by Andrea Zimmerman
  • Firebears: The Rescue Team by Rhoda Gowler Greene
  • Firefighters to the Rescue! by Kersten Hamilton
  • Fireman Smallby Wong Herbert Yee
  • Fire! Fire! Hurry! Hurry! by Andrea ZimmermanLink
  • The Fire Fightersby Sue Whiting
  • Firefighters!: Speeding! Spraying! Saving!by Patricia Hubbell
  • Five Little Firefightersby Tom Graham
  • Even Firefighters Hug their Moms by Christine Kole MacLean
  • Stop Drop and Roll (A Book about Fire Safety) by Margery Cuyler a
  • Big Frank's Fire Truck by Leslie McGuire
  • Several other non fiction picture books that we found at our library

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Before I was a mother of toddlers I said...

Mothers of Toddlers....Give Yourself Grace!
And while you are at it, give grace to all the other mothers also:)

Things I said BEFORE I was a parent of toddlers…
  1. Give them the best there is on the market. I will only feed my children Organic foods.
  1. I will NEVER feed my children fast food!!! If I won’t let my children eat it, I will not eat it!
  1. I am not a short order cook. I will never cook a separate meal for my children! They will eat what my husband and I eat!
  1. Obedience is more important that compliance. I will not “trick” my child into eating vegetables. They will eat what I give them.
  1. I don’t like Barney, so we won’t have it in our house.
  1. Educational Toys. I will give my children only educational wooden toys that couldbe used in a NAEYC accredited preschool like the one I worked in.
  1. Unwavering consequences. If my children are yelling in a store, I will leave immediately leave to teach them that behavior is unacceptable
  1. I will never raise my voice for ANY reason and the word No is not descriptive enough. I will only use variations of the word ‘No’ because it makes the children feel negative and teaches them to use that word. Children only yell if their parents do…
  1. No TV should ever be on when the children on in the room when they are under two years old.
  1. No Tantrums..ever! If my toddler throws a tantrum, it will only happen ONCE!
  1. Pacifiers are only for home, even then only at bedtime.We will never have pacifiers in public.
  1. Perfect Wife while being perfect mother. Since my husband works and I stay at home, I will have dinner ready for him everyday when he gets home.
  1. Separations are good for your child. Clearly say “Goodbye”, give a hug, and leave quickly. It teaches self soothing and independence.
Things I said AFTER I was a parent of toddlers…
  1. Priorities. If my budget makes me choose between organic food and diapers then I choose diapers.
  1. Fast Food can be magical in the minivan. Chicken Fries from BK are great car seat food finger food for screaming toddlers on a long road trip. You can give them a healthy snack at home when you aren't trying to keep you whole family safe while driving 60 mph on the toll road, or even trying to navigate mall parking lot during Christmas shopping season!
  1. At least they are eating. Mommy and Daddy sometimes need an adult meal that doesn't include spending 3/4 of meal trying to get your two year old to eat Tilapia. No it isn't an every night thing, but sometimes you just need to get through a good adult meal while they quietly and happily eat their mac & cheese.
  1. Whatever works to get the vegetables in them! My children will eat anything if it is in covered with applesauce or spaghetti sauce, including peas!
  1. If the boys like Barney, we watch Barney on PBS so Mommy can make lunch...I refuse to buy anything barney still. Small victories:)
  1. Goodwill has GREAT toys that someone else bought new for $20 and their child only played with for 10 minutes. I paid $1.00 for the same 10 minutes.
  1. If done rarely, it is OK to open a bag of cookies to get the grocery shopping done...sometimes you just need more than milk and bread! P.S, I have been one those "awful" mothers who once a month paid my dollar and loaded up my twins into the cart that had the little TV playing at Meijer! I then, with no guilt, bought a Starbucks coffee and slowly did my shopping with two content little boys watching Bob the Builder. It...was...lovely!
  1. Danger equals loud mommy voice. It is OK for Mommy to raise her voice slightly and say ‘NO!’ when you child is reaching for the oven, hitting his brother, biting his brother, etc. etc.
  1. PBS Kids is free AND Educational…and I can get dinner finished. I even watch Sid the Science kids with my boys to learn how they explain the concept of "inertia"! It was even educational for the 28 year old mama in the house!
  1. Toddlers throw tantrums. PERIOD. No you should not have to lower all your behavioral expectations or condone disobedience, but you should not continue to feel like you have failed in your child-rearing completely because your child threw a public...or worse, in front of your in-laws;) Give them a consequence, then move on and know you are a loving caring mom....even if the customers in Walmart judge you otherwise.
  1. Pacifiers can save your sanity. If pacifiers let you get through Thanksgiving dinner with the ENTIRE extended family… DO IT!
  1. Sometimes Daddy has to cook. If your husband wants a hot dinner and you haven't even had time to brush your hair and teeth, let alone take a shower, sometimes he can throw a pizza in himself.
  1. You are your child's safe place, even when you are not at home. I still believe separation time is important for your child, but it will not wreck all your child’s future independence and sense of self if you miss a church service to stay in the nursery and cuddle your baby boy who is screaming for you.

I wrote this a couple of years ago when my four year old twins were toddlers. A little background on me is I have a degree in Early Childhood used to be preschool teacher at a prestigious campus preschool. Not only did I judge because I hadn't been a mom, I judged because I thought I KNEW what it meant to be a mom since I worked with kids on a daily basis. I am not saying my before list us not a good place to shoot for, but it was based from a judgmental place, from inexperience. I did not show grace and I was wrong:)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Community Helpers:Orchards Farmers/Autumn

Preschool Homeschool:AUTUMN/HARVEST/ORCHARD FARMERS Unit Study
Discussion Questions:
  • How are orchards different from farms?
  • How to
Word Wall
  • Apple
  • Tree
  • Grape
Science Lessons/Activities:
  • SEEDS,
  • 4 seasons
  • life-cycle of a plant
  • what’s inside of a pumpkin,
  • Pumpkins grow on vines, apples grow on trees…why?
Field Trips:
  • Pumpkin Patch
  • Apple and Grape Orchard
  • Lots of Nature Walks
Art/Craft activities-
  • Apple Stamping,
  • Pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin bread,
  • Leaf rubbings
  • Finger-painting with red and yellow to make orange
  • signs of autumn collage after nature walk to collect leaves and other signs of Autumn
  • Seeds Collage (gather from fruits and walks outside)
Math- Patterns with colors and sizes (leaves, sticks) and shapes, and numerals
Orchard/Autumn Picture Book List
  • Ten Red Apples
  • Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
  • Apples and Pumpkins
  • Apple Pie Tree
  • The Giving Tree

Community Helpers: Dairy Farm

Preschool Home-school Community Helpers: Dairy FarmerThis baby calf was only 3 days old!

For the next part of our farmer's study we decided to visit a different type of farm where they don'T grow vegetables, but take care of cows that give us milk.


I googled Local Dairy Farm and found a small one only 15 minutes from our house! Miss Becky not only allowed us to visit, but she gave us a tour around their dairy farm! Just goes to show you it never hurts to ask and many people are happy to help homeschoolers!

Miss Becky's farm
is a smaller farm but still uses all the technology the bigger dairy farms use. Batman had the most fun playing with the dozen kittens running all around the barn!

  • What is Dairy and what food is it in?- We followed this up with several fridge hunts and talks over meals about what we were eating.

  • Making C in salt on tray
  • Use Corn kernels (cow's food) to make letter C for Corn and cow
  • Dot Markers for letter C

  • Use latex gloves with holes to "milk" water, over our senory table
  • Sensory table fill with corn kernels and  Jumbo Farm Counters 

  • "Painting with milk"- white paper on black contruction paper
  • Color, cut, glue, and label dairy farm elements onto our Community Helpers Map

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Community Helpers:Grain&Vegetables Farmers

Preschool Homeschool Community Helpers; Vegetable Farmer Unity Study

  • What kinds of farms are there?(this is good to keep discussing over meals later about what we eat)
  1. Vegetable and Grain Farms
  2. Fruit Orchard
  3. Dairy Farm
  4. Animals Farms

Real Farm
If you can track down a real farmer, visit them!  Ask on facebook for friends who are related to farmers. We found most farmers are excited to share what they do with us! We were able to see the large yellow combine he uses for the fields, then also ride on this smaller antique red combine in actions! Farmer Randy takes it to tractor shows!

Farmer's Market
Find a farmer's market near you and take the kids with you to buy ingredients for your dinner that night.  Depending on their age, let them help prep some items; husk the corn on the cob, clean potatoes, prep green beans, etc.

  • Do A Dot Art! Markers  on Letter F for Farmer or Letter C for Corn 
  • Use Corn kernels to make a letter C 
  • Trace letter C in cornmeal

  • Take corn kernals off a dried out Corn Cob
  • Sensory table filled with corn kernels and little farm vehicles
  • Husk corn on the cob for dinner, notice how each kernel has it's own piece of silk  attached to it
  • Print tractors and corn plants to put on your big community helper mural
  • Use dried corn cobs as roller for painting

May contain afflliate links. Does not cost you anything, I just receive a small percentage of your purchase. 

Community Helpers:Our House/Our Community

For  Preschool Homeschool Study, we did doing a year long Unit Study of Community Helpers. It consisted of several mini-unit studies on the community helpers that the boys and I decide who we want to study. We started studying our community by focusing on our own house & neighborhood.

Read these books and ask your children which helpers they want to learn more about! I was surprised that my kids were much more interested in learning about garbage  collectors than chefs. You can of course learn about whatever helper you as a teacher would like, but their interest will guide how in depth you go, and how long your study will be.  We spent almost  month on garbage trucks & fire fighters, because my boys could not get enough of them.


Stick House
You need to start with your home before branching out o the community.  Preschoolers are egocentric, and they must start from the familiar to learn. Since my boys were not very into drawing at this time, so I had them collect the tons of tiny sticks in our front yard and used them to construct our house. This activity helped with observation skills and shape identification.Shape House 
  • foam sheets (cut into different shapes)
We also used some felt shapes to build our house inside. This was a fun way to explore shapes and patterning. You can see how they made the steps rectangles and the roof triangle.

Painting our Community
My boys had fun painting a giant piece of mural paper green. This is a week long project, with the drying time. This map will be added to through out study, adding fire stations and police stations after field trips. We ended up adding two more large green pieces to fit everything!  Be ok with the fact that it will not be geographically accurate
Our House in our community 
My kids don't like to draw yet, so they dictated to me what they wanted to include and I drew the items. The  boys practiced scissor skills by cutting them out. Be sure to have a discussion about this because your children may surprise you at how observant they are! I planned on just drawing our house, but the boys insisted we put our trees, driveway, garage, cars, and sidewalk on the map. I had to draw the line somewhere when they wanted to put the tiny flowerpots on our front porch on the map. We ended up adding the park down the street from us because it was so important to the boys!

May contain affiliate links.  No extra costs to you, I just receive a small percentage of your purchase.