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KidsChat: Dr. Robert Williams a

March 26, 2015

Dr. Robert Williams, Gryphon House author and early childhood educator, offers answers to your questions about his science background and passion for bringing science into childhood development.

 Dr. Robert Williams, Gryphon House author and early childhood educator, offers answers to your questions about his science background and passion for bringing science into childhood development.

You write about preschool science and math.  How and why did you begin and continue to do that? 

I started thinking about projects back in the early ’80s. I have never been the research type of professor: I think a college professor should produce something for others that reflects his learning and work. I love learning and using materials such as plants and critters and rocks, especially outside. During my travels, I started a collection of stories about the Big Dipper. I even watched the constellation in the night sky over Mt. Everest as a Nepali guide shared his story of how it was formed.

I have created so many paths for my interests but none has kept me as busy as writing science and math books for preschool teachers. An honest confession: I could not have done them by myself. I was lucky that my friend and colleague Dr. Bob Rockwell was willing to work with me. Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood joined us. Our most recent book is The Preschool Scientist. For me, nothing is better than sharing my knowledge and love of the natural world. Hopefully, that passes on to the children who experience the activities with the caring adults in their lives. 

I did not forget you, Joy Lubawy and Debbie Cunningham, my coauthors for Preschool Math. We were a team from another dimension. I met Joy in Australia, and Debbie, who nurtured and loved my grandchildren in her Montessori school in Florida, was convinced that we could write a book of math ideas. And we did. As loud and overbearing as I can be, one might not think that I can work with soft and lovely people like Joy and Debbie, but we produced a good book. I know my weaknesses and have found people who can fill in. I love them for sharing their knowledge with me. Together, we have given teachers and their little ones good, developmentally appropriate science.

 

What fascinates you about early childhood development?

The minds of those little ones! They are so eager to learn—they will try almost anything. But they also have limits that are culturally set on them. For instance, bugs and crawly things are “scary,” and often a poor bug is instantly squashed. In science explorations, we teach children to observe bugs. We show the children how to capture them and then to observe and record what they see. Children soon have less fear and learn to observe many creatures. At age 4, they have the skills to make detailed observations, but we often can’t determine what they have observed because they don’t have the language or drawing skills to share. I think we limit kids’ science because we don’t think they’re capable of in-depth science explorations when they really just can’t tell us much about those observations.

 

What’s your favorite science area to do with children?

I am, by training, a life scientist, specifically a botanist. I can spout off plant names, but my favorite natural items for working with little ones are rocks. I have been doing many conferences lately using rocks to introduce properties of matter. Studying rocks allows teachers to take the children outdoors. You can make collections of rocks that tell all sorts of things. Rocks and sticks make excellent art materials. Rocks are not messy, but they can be if you add soil and water. Rocks don’t have gender or cultural biases.

Any 4-year-old can have many rocks in one pocket, but can she tell you how the rocks are the same and how some are different? Your job is to help her discover how. Some early blooming geologists can get their start in a classroom that studies rocks.

 

What’s your favorite age group to work with? children? teachers? 

Both!

I love walking into a classroom of older 4-year-olds and seeing their reactions because they know I’m coming to do science. I am personally interested in teaching measurement in Pre-K, so I have done many sessions with children making linear and mass measurements. They can do it, and I think that they acquire number skills sooner with increased exposure to measurement. I use a simple metric ruler and a balance and weights (mass sets). I show the children a line drawing of a balance that indicates which object is heaviest. (The drawing is a triangle with a straight line on top.) One little boy picked up how to use the balance immediately, but he couldn’t draw the triangle to make the picture. I showed him how to do it several times, but his triangle always came out as a blob. This was my first experience with a 4-year-old being unable to draw. I told him he could do it—he just needed to practice. I suggested that his teacher would help and so would his mom and dad. I came back two weeks later, and he grabbed a pad and pencil and ran to greet me. “See, Dr. Bob, I can do it.” He drew a really good triangle and beamed a smile that will stay in my memory forever. I do love those little devils. 

I have seen generations of teachers come and go. Fifty-two years ago I was a young buck who knew everything, teaching biology in Great Falls, Montana. With much help from the department chair, I grew more and more confident. Not hard to believe, if you know me. 

I like the young teachers because they are so idealistic and eager. And I like the older ones because they are so steady and are without so many of life’s distractions, such as young families. Younger ones can turn into good science teachers; older teachers incorporate more science because they have figured out the system and are not as intimidated by administrative demands. Science should be one of the highest priorities of our schools.

 

What is one thing we don’t know about you but should? 

I am a collector and explorer. I have been to more than 65 countries. I taught in many and explored both nature and culture.  I live in a house that is heated with wood. I do not have garbage pickup but recycle and reuse all my waste. I can throw a rock into the Guadalupe River from my front door. Recently, I picked up a turtle from the busy road and brought it to the river where it has a new home. I trapped a cat this last month and brought him home, too. He is my new buddy. 

 

I write and do professional development because I want to share my love for my earth with all of you.  You, in turn, have to share that with your kiddos.

With Love,

Dr. Bob




Gryphon House releases “Getting to the Heart of Learning" a

March 25, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact:

Anna Wilmoth

Gryphon House, Inc.

336-712-3480

annawilmoth@kaplanco.com

 

 

Gryphon House releases “Getting to the Heart of Learning: Social-Emotional Skills across the Early Childhood Curriculum”

Ellen Booth Church’s new book weaves social-emotional learning into daily lesson planning

Lewisville, N.C. – Gryphon House, Inc., the nation’s leading publisher of educational resources for teachers of children ages birth to 8, announced today a new activity book centered on social-emotional learning. “Getting to the Heart of Learning: Social-Emotional Skills across the Early Childhood Curriculum,” by Ellen Booth Church, offers activities designed to connect social-emotional learning seamlessly to the classroom curriculum.

Each activity is embedded with child-development tips, research-based guidelines, and information that supports teachers in knowing why each activity is designed a certain way and how to encourage children to keep learning. From circle time to group activities and taking the concepts home, the book promotes open-ended and creative explorations that also encourage family engagement.

“Preschool and kindergarten teachers recognize both the need to address social development in their students and with their students’ families and the need to teach the basic skills that are essential to learning,” Church says. “These two things do not need to be separate. The trick is to recognize the connection and emphasize it in our interactions with children.”

Rather than adding activities throughout the day, these explorations integrate social-emotional learning across the curriculum through group involvement and building community.

“Getting to the Heart of Learning: Social-Emotional Skills across the Early Childhood Curriculum” (ISBN 978-0-87659-580-0, 180 pp., $16.95) will be available for purchase in June 2015. Educators may preorder books here. For writers interested in e-galley copies, please email annawilmoth@kaplanco.com,

 

About the Author

Ellen Booth Church, a former associate professor of early childhood at SUNY Farmingdale, has shared her unusual approach of combining cognitive learning experiences with creative play in a variety of books, magazines, and articles for early childhood educators. Church is currently an adjunct professor of early childhood at Nova Southeastern University and is developing preschools in India and Nepal as well as presenting keynotes at conferences around the world.

 

About Gryphon House, Inc.

Gryphon House, Inc. is an award-winning publisher of resource books for parents and teachers of children from birth through age eight. Developmentally appropriate and easy to use, Gryphon House books provide parents and teachers with the tools they need to bring the joy of learning to young children. To learn more, or to check out the entire collection, visit www.gryphonhouse.com.

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Susan A. Miller Featured on Care.com a

March 23, 2015
Susan A. Miller Featured on Care.com

Future Gryphon House author and early childhood specialist Susan A. Miller was featured in Care.com's article "4-Year-Old Cognitive Milestones." The article gives parents some important milestones four-year-olds will reach that are preparing him for school. Miller reminds parents that each child is unique and will reach milestones at his own pace. "Be confident that your child is right where he needs to be, says Miller, and encourage him as he tackles his 4-year-old cognitive milestones." Read the full article here.




Remembering Jackie Silberg a

March 20, 2015

 

Jackie Silberg was a champion for children who devoted her life to early childhood education. She was a warm, engaging person who loved to share music with those around her. She helped even reluctant students to feel comfortable in singing and making music. As the author of 15 award-winning books, she was thrilled to learn that her books were translated into many languages and shared with children all over the world. Jackie was a perpetual learner who was always open to new ideas and new approaches to sharing joy through music. She will be missed.




3 Strategies to Help Your Toddler Prepare for School a

March 19, 2015

For many parents of young children, the thought of starting preschool is daunting. Parents today feel more pressure to promote their child's early academia, questioning at what age do kids start preschool, and, in fact, what does

For many parents of young children, the thought of starting preschool is daunting. Parents today feel more pressure to promote their child's early academia, questioning at what age do kids start preschool, and, in fact, what does "preschool age" even mean?

But preparing your child for preschool doesn't have to be stressful.

Tina Nocera's book, Parents Ask, Experts Answer, delves into the common question of preschool readiness. In the book, parent-submitted questions are answered by multiple experts so that parents may choose the answer that best fits their family.

Experts agree that preschool is usually a good thing! It encourages socialization, structured play and learning how to interact with adults and peers.

Parents Ask, Experts Answer contributor Dr. Vicki Panaccione urges parents to explore four developmental areas when deciding whether their child is ready for preschool: physical, social, emotional and cognitive (mental). Although different preschools may have different requirements, the following list includes many of the indicators that your child may be ready to attend a structured program and interact with a group of other children.

(From Dr. Panaccione) 

Physical readiness may include:

  • Your child is potty trained,
  • Able to go without a nap for an extended period of time,
  • Has independent living skills, such as washing hands, pulling up pants, eating without assistance,
  • Able to sit for short periods of time to listen to a story or sing songs, etc.,
  • Able to hold crayon or marker.

Social readiness may include:

  • Able to comply with simple instructions and rules,
  • Can share, cooperate, wait her turn, etc.,
  • Ready to participate in group activities,
  • Can play with or alongside other children,
  • Able to comfortably interact with other adults.

Emotional readiness may include:

  • Ability to sleep by himself,
  • Ability to comfortably separate from you,
  • Ability to be away from you for extended periods of time,
  • Comfortable with high levels of stimulation and activity,
  • Comfortable around other children and adults,
  • Able to follow a routine and structure,
  • Able to do an assigned activity,
  • Able to work independently for short periods of time.

Cognitive (mental) readiness may include:

  • Eagerness to learn,
  • Ability to listen to and understand a story,
  • Ability to understand and follow basic instructions,
  • Ability to focus and concentrate for short periods of time.

Keep in mind that children develop at different ages and degrees.  Follow your child’s lead in terms of his or her readiness to be involved in a stimulating but structured setting surrounded by other children and adults. Preschool can be a wonderful opportunity to learn, socialize and gain independence when your child is ready!

For more expert tips on your parenting queries, check out Parents Ask, Experts Answer.

For many parents of young children, the thought of starting preschool is daunting. Parents today feel more pressure to promote their child's early academia, questioning at what age do kids start preschool, and, in fact, what does




Gryphon House Announces 'Move to Learn' a

March 18, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Jennifer Lewis

Gryphon House Inc.

800-638-0928

Jlewis@kaplanco.com

 

Gryphon House Announces Move to Learn: Integrating Movement into the Early Childhood Curriculum

Joye Newman and Miriam P. Feinberg’s book offers ways to get young children moving in six curriculum areas

 

Lewisville, N.C. – March 9, 2015 – Movement is not only natural, but it is necessary for optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. To help early childhood educators incorporate movement into teaching, Gryphon House Inc., a leading publisher of early childhood resources, announces Move to Learn: Integrating Movement into the Early Childhood Curriculum. Co-authored by Joye Newman, MA, and Miriam P. Feinberg, PhD, Move to Learn helps educators easily turn their classrooms into environments that encourage movement activities throughout the early childhood curricula, including:

  • Language and Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Creative Representation
  • Social Skills

Move To Learn provides easy to implement and effective classroom activities that early childhood educators will love using and are fun for children,” said Feinberg.

Readers of Move to Learn will receive numerous recommendations for getting children to move. For instance, in the “Language and Literacy” chapter, children can act out the characters of classic books, such as Goodnight Moon. When reading the story, a child can be skittering like the mouse, moving quietly like the old lady, or making their bodies look like chairs.

"Movement activities experienced in early childhood build the stepping stones for all future learning. A child who is comfortable in his or her body greets the world with confidence and curiosity,” said Newman. “The early childhood classroom is the ideal setting for integrating movement into learning."

Move to Learn: Integrating Movement into the Early Childhood Curriculum (ISBN: 978-0-87659-560-2, 136 pages, $14.95) will be available to purchase in May 2015. Educators may preorder books here. For writers interested in e-galley copies, please email anna@ghbooks.com

 

About the Authors

Joye Newman, MA, is a perceptual motor therapist and the director of Kids Moving Company, a popular creative movement company in Bethesda, Maryland. She maintains a private practice in perceptual motor therapy, helping children of all ages and stages feel better in their bodies. She is a highly sought-after speaker and writer on the importance of movement in the early years. In her spare time, she enjoys Israeli folk dancing, reading, and knitting (but not all at once).

Miriam P. Feinberg, PhD, has had a long career as teacher trainer, curriculum writer and parent educator. She has contributed to the field of early childhood education as a professor, an educational consultant to schools and educators nationally and internationally, and an author of children’s storybooks, teacher curriculum guides, and journal articles. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.

 

About Gryphon House Inc.

Gryphon House is an award-winning publisher of resource books for parents and teachers of children from birth through age eight. Developmentally appropriate and easy to use, Gryphon House books provide parents and teachers with the tools they need to bring the joy of learning to young children. To learn more, or to check out the entire collection, visit www.gryphonhouse.com.

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Building Young Children’s Sounds, Words and Brains: Your Words and Interactions Matter Webinar a

March 10, 2015

>>> VIEW THE WEBINAR RECORDING

Building Young Children's Sounds, Words, and BrainsTalking with infants is a hot topic in the news now. Why? Because talking means learning, building knowledge and intelligence. How and how much caregivers talk, engage and interact with infants and toddlers matters. Their daily conversations and play times shape children’s lives and learning before kindergarten and well beyond those early years into school. Educators can give infants and toddlers an edge by having language-rich interactions that make it easier to build the sounds and words that help them develop strong language skills and brains to support learning in many different areas. In this edWeb.net webinar for the Early Learning Book Chats community, Renate Zangl, PhD, child language researcher and author of Raising a Talker, demonstrated how you can help infants and toddlers learn about sounds and build their first words more effectively. Renate covered how talking and singing in parentese, reading in a dialogic way, and using motionese, and gestures boost language and learning to help lay a strong foundation for the future. View the webinar recording to learn how to enrich your daily interactions with simple actions and strategies that create high-quality learning experiences for infants and toddlers, and how and why simple tweaks in the way you interact and talk support learning. Renate explained that knowing why something works is important, and how to use certain features more often and deliberately.  Attendees also learned what to look out for in young children’s behavior as they learn to understand and talk, and how to more closely tune in to their developmental needs.

Earn your CE Certificate for viewing this recording: Join the free Early Learning Book Chats community on edWeb.net and take a quiz to receive a CE Certificate for viewing this webinar.  Past webinars, presentation slides, and CE quizzes are available in the Webinar Archives folder of the Community Toolbox.

Early Learning Book Chats is a free professional learning community (PLC) that helps educators and caregivers find the tools that they need to bring the joy of learning to young children. The community hosts online discussions that make it easy for educators to stay connected over time with fellow teachers to share ideas, tips and resources. Join our experts for a monthly napinar – early learning PD while your young students sleep!




What Not to Miss at the National Head Start Conference a

March 04, 2015
What Not to Miss at the National Head Start Conference

The 42nd Annual Head Start Conference will take place March 30 - April 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. Several Gryphon House authors will be presenting on trending topics in early childhood education. Here's what not to miss:

 

MONDAY, MARCH 30

 

The Three R’s of Quality Leadership: Reflection, Relationships, and Resilience

Susan Damico and Linda K. Likins 

9:00 am – 5:00 pm | (Special Track/Additional Fee Session)

Room 101 | Washington, DC Convention Center

Leaders in Head Start include individuals in a variety of roles from education and mental health coordinators, consultants, assistant directors to directors. For all of these leaders, creating an environment of internal capacity to support an ongoing commitment to the highest quality of care for children is imperative. When leaders make reflection, relationships and resilience a part of such efforts, the team wins. You are invited to come learn simple, everyday strategies that can help make a big difference in the health and wellness of adults who care for young children. When the village is well, the children are well.

 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1

 

Universal Design for Learning to Welcome all Languages and Abilities

Karen Nemeth and Pam Brillante

2:00 pm | Salon A | Washington, DC Convention Center

Designing an inclusive classroom is the first step to success for children with diverse languages and abilities. This interactive workshop will demonstrate the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach that helps early educators plan, equip and fill their classrooms in ways that welcome each child to start school ready to learn. Participants will learn how the principles of UDL can make learning accessible for any child, especially children who are DLLs or who have disabilities.

 

Using Bilingual Staff Development Materials to Enhance Teaching

Karen Nemeth

4:00 pm | Salon A | Washington, DC Convention Center 

Bilingual teachers and assistants bring valuable language assets to each program. Supporting the growth of their diverse languages is an important way to build program quality. This interactive workshop will present a variety of print and digital resources for staff development that are available in languages other than English. We will engage participants in discovering innovative ways to use these materials to enhance teaching in different languages.

 

THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2015

 

Head Start A to Z: Self-Assessment

Karen Cairone

9:00 am | Room 102 B | Washington, DC Convention Center

Head Start and Early Head Start programs engage in an annual Self-Assessment process by assessing progress in meeting local program goals and objectives, and evaluating program compliance with Federal requirements. This session introduces new directors to the five phases of an efficient Self-Assessment process that focuses on mining data gathered through ongoing monitoring to answer broader questions and considering big picture, long-range, systemic issues. 

 

Head Start A to Z: Self-Assessment

Karen Cairone

11:00 am | Room 102 B | Washington, DC Convention Center 

Head Start and Early Head Start programs engage in an annual Self-Assessment process by assessing progress in meeting local program goals and objectives, and evaluating program compliance with Federal requirements. This session introduces new directors to the five phases of an efficient Self-Assessment process that focuses on mining data gathered through ongoing monitoring to answer broader questions and considering big picture, long-range, systemic issues. 

 

Challenging Behaviors: What to Do When Nothing Else Works!

William DeMeo, PhD

 2:00 pm | Room 143 B | Washington, DC Convention Center

This dynamic and interactive workshop will focus on providing participants with knowledge of effective prevention and intervention strategies for children who exhibit challenging behaviors. Through a combination of role-playing and other active participatory methods, participants will learn how to implement these practical and effective strategies immediately into their program.

 

For more information and a full conference program, visit the National Head Start Conference website.




Congratulations to Our Mom's Choice Award Winners! a

February 20, 2015
Gryphon House Mom's Choice Award Winners

Three Gryphon House books—Raising a Talker, Parents Ask, Experts Answer, and Science—Not Just for Scientists!—have won Mom's Choice Awards! The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children and families. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. 

 

About Our Award Winners

Raising a Talker

Raising a Talker

Combining fun, easy-to-do activities with research-based tips and developmental overviews, Raising a Talker helps parents and caregivers naturally transform play sessions into meaningful language-learning experiences. Little tweaks and easy changes in everyday play create nurturing environments where communication and discovery can flourish. 

 

 

 

Parents Ask, Experts Answer

Parents Ask, Experts Answer

In Parents Ask, Experts Answer, Tina Nocera, founder of Parental Wisdom, brings together a panel of thirty-five experts to offer advice on some of the most challenging issues faced by parents. By presenting multiple solutions to each challenge, Parents Ask, Experts Answer helps parents see that there may be several right answers to a problem. 

 

 

 

Science--Not Just for Scientists!

Science—Not Just for Scientists!

This book gives parents and teachers simple ideas to open up the world of discovery to young children. Children will explore patterns, cause and effect, size and scale, change and growth, energy, and how things work. Easy to follow, step-by-step activities lead children and their caregivers through a new world of discovery.

 

 

 

For more information on the Mom's Choice Awards, click here.




4 Tips to Create an Inclusive Classroom a

February 11, 2015
4 Tips to Create an Inclusive Classroom

The classroom is children’s home away from home and must be warm and inviting and packed with opportunities for the children to learn new concepts. Children with special needs may need some modifications of typical classroom experiences in order to thrive. Check out our four tips on how to create an inclusive early childhood classroom that will engage every child.

 

1. Discovery Centers

Set up special tables in the classroom to display materials related to a topic of study that children might otherwise overlook. For example, placing an Ant Farm and books about ants on a special table allows children to observe and find out about ants on their own, hence the name Discovery Center!

2. Group (Or Circle) Times

Limit large group time. Presenting lessons early in the morning when children are fresh allows them to absorb information more easily. Keeping activities within lessons short (about 20 minutes) and to the point helps children gain maximum knowledge in a minimum amount of time. Overall, lessons should take no longer than 20 or 30 minutes. Vary activities within the lesson to accommodate children’s needs across developmental domains.

3. Word Walls

Word Walls are permanent collections of words that are meaningful to children. Word Walls may be on chalkboards, on charts, or on large pieces of paper. As themes are introduced to children, write down words that accompany the themes to help children understand that print has meaning and that print is predictable. The words are pronounced the same way each time one sees them. Pairing pictures with words on the Word Wall helps children associate print with concepts.

4. Individualized Instruction

Working one-on-one with children in various centers is the best way to approach and support their learning. Individualized instruction is as simple as helping a child put a puzzle together or sitting nearby and responding to children’s questions on how to write certain letters. In inclusive classrooms, the need for individualized instruction is critical.

 

For more easy, practical, and inexpensive ways to modify your classroom to meet the needs of all children, check out The Inclusive Early Childhood Classroom. 




What Not to Miss at the Conference on the Young Years a

February 02, 2015
What Not to Miss at Conference on the Young Years

Three Gryphon House authors and early childhood development experts Rae Pica, Dr. Rebecca Isbell, and Dr. Jean Feldman will be keynote speakers at the Conference on the Young Years March 5-7, 2015. Here’s more about the authors and the sessions that you don't want to miss:

Rae Pica

Rae Pica

For over thirty years, Rae Pica has been helping teachers implement activity learning across the curriculum.  As a children’s movement specialist, Pica is known for her lively and informative presentations and has shared her expertise for groups such as Nickelodeon's Blues Clues, the Sesame Street Research Department, the Centers for Disease Control, Gymboree Play & Music Centers, and the Head Start Bureau. Pica is also co-creator and host of a radio program called "Body, Mind and Child," in which she interviews experts in early childhood education, child development, the neurosciences, and more.

Thursday, March 5 – 10:30am – 12:00pm: Featured Presentation - #1001 Moving and Learning Across the Curriculum: Active Learning for the Whole Child

 

 

Dr. Rebecca Isbell

Dr. Rebecca Isbell 

Working in the field of early childhood for many years and in a variety of capacities has provided Dr. Rebecca Isbell with many meaningful stories that effectively demonstrate the amazing capabilities of young children and the people who work with them. She was the director of the Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and a professor of Early Childhood Education at East Tennessee State University.  For a number of years, Dr. Isbell has presented at international, national, and regional early childhood professional meetings. She is a sought-after presenter and keynote speaker for early childhood conferences and training meetings. With presentations full of current research, practical ideas, “real” visuals of classrooms, and humorous stories, you won’t want to miss her any of her three sessions!

Friday, March 6 – 8:30am – 9:45am: Opening General Session Keynote Address: Putting the Pieces Back Together: Inspiring the Whole Child for Today’s World

Friday, March 6 – 10:00am – 11:30am: Featured Presentations #2 - Designing Amazing Early Childhood Environments: Makeovers that Work!

Friday, March 6 – 1:45pm – 3:15pm: Featured Presentation #23 - Music and Art as 21st Century Skills: Creating, Communicating, and Collaborating

 

Dr. Jean Feldman

Dr. Jean Feldman has been actively involved in education for over 40 years. She has worked as a classroom teacher, instructor of adults, author, and consultant. Dr. Feldman has a B.A. from the University of Georgia, a D.A.S.T. from Emory University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Georgia State University. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Kindergarten Alliance, and the International Reading Association. She has recorded over 12 CDs and inspires teachers across the country with her lively music and activities that make learning FUN!

Saturday, March 7 – 8:30am – 9:45am: Closing General Session Keynote Address: Kids Just Wanna Have Fun! (and Teachers Do, Too!)

Saturday, March 7 – 10:00am – 11:00am: Featured Presentation - #52 - Transition Tips and Tricks

Saturday, March 7 – 11:15am – 12:15pm: Featured Presentation - #67 - Totally Math

 

For more information on Rae Pica, Dr. Rebecca Isbell, and Dr. Jean Feldman's sessions and the Conference on the Young Years, click here.




Hands-on Exploration! Smooth Operator: Feeling Hands and Faces a

March 31, 2015

Sensory Learning for Toddlers | Gryphon House

Make the most of change time or after bath time with this sensory activity for toddlers! Close contact with your toddler will have a positive effect on personal relationships later in life. Like baby massage, this activity will help bond the relationship between you and your child.

What You Need:

  • Baby lotion or perfume-free moisturizer
  • A shallow tray or plastic container

What To Do:

  1. Put some lotion on the tray or in the container.
  2. Sit beside your baby or toddler.
  3. Put a finger in the lotion and fit between your finger and thumb. Smooth some on your own hand.
  4. Encourage your child to touch and feel the lotion. With one finger, gently put a little lotion on his hand or cheek. Spread it out, massaging it into his skin. Talk about what you are doing. This will help him understand what he is feeling.
  5. Then, encourage him to spread lotion on your hand or arm. Talk about how nice it feels.

Ready for more? Use perfumed massage oils instead of lotion (choose mild scents and reputable brands). Play together at bathing and then putting lotion on a baby doll.

Helpful Hints
Some children find any sort of massage very relaxing and may fall asleep! Make sure your child is safely supported, particularly if he is very young. Talk all the time about what you are doing and what he might be feeling. Use words like soft, smooth, and gentle, and name the parts of the body being massaged—arm, hand, finger, cheek, and so on.

 

50 Fantastic Things to Do With Toddlers | Gryphon House

For more learning activities for toddlers, pick up a copy of 50 Fantastic Things to Do With Toddlers.




Wednesday Word: Again a

March 25, 2015

Again

Tell me that story again! Read the book again! Let’s play it again and again and again! As much as adults find repetition frustrating and boring, children thrive on revisiting favorite books, stories, games, and activities. Often in our haste to provide the next thing, we forget how important it is to stay with something over a period of time, to go an inch wide and a mile deep rather than an inch deep and a mile wide. It frustrates me when I hear a teacher say, “We already did the color blue.” How can you ever know everything there is to know about blue? Trust children to tell you when enough is enough: the whiny tone of “not again” is very different from “hooray!” It is our job to find the new in the old, the extraordinary in the ordinary, and the possibilities in revisiting favorites again and again and again.

 

In loving memory of Gryphon House author Leanne Grace, MEd, we are sharing pieces of her inspirational writing every Wednesday.

Leanne was the director of professional development at Hildebrandt Learning Centers and a lifelong advocate for early childhood education.  She inspired the early childhood community to prepare children as lifelong learners with her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. One person can make a difference, and Leanne did just that. She will be sorely missed.




Music Activities for Kids: The Penguin Dance a

March 24, 2015

Music and Movement for Kids | Gryphon House

What is it about penguins? Their black-and-white tuxedo elegance? Their charming waddle? Their exotic habitat in the South Pole? Whatever it is, the penguin seems to be a popular animal. This music and movement activity gives young children the opportunity to pretend to be these endearing creatures.

Do the penguin dance to the music of “The Syncopated Clock” by Leroy Anderson. (This piece is featured on the CD Kids Can Listen, Kids Can Move! by Lynn Kleiner. It is also available separately via online music-purchasing sites.) The music is meant to sound like a ticking clock, and it does, but it is also reminiscent of a penguin’s waddling gait.

 

Learning Benefits
Curiosity
Gross-motor skills (waddling, turning, flapping)
Imagination (pretending to be a penguin)
Improvisation and creative thinking
Social skills (sharing ideas and respecting those of others)

 

The Penguin Dance

  1. Start out waddling in place to the beat.
  2. After a while, lead the children in turning around (while still addling), jumping while flapping their flippers (also known as arms), swimming with their flippers, diving into the water (still standing), and catching a fish and eating it.
  3. You may add other movements or ask the children to think of some.
  4. Variation: When the children are familiar with this activity, they can take turns being the leader and choosing motions for the others to copy.

 

Music and Movement for Kids | Gryphon House

 

Need more active learning ideas for you classroom? Pre-order Shake, Rattle, and Roll or pick up a copy of 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children today.




3 Activities for Rhythm and Math a

March 23, 2015

Guest post from Abigail Flesch Connors, author of Shake, Rattle, & Roll: Rhythm Activities and More for Young Children.

Rhythm activities are a great to teach preschoolers and young children lessons across a variety of topics. From music to language to science...and math!

Rhythm activities are a great way to teach preschoolers and young children lessons across a variety of topics. From music to language to science...and math!

Music, movement and…math? Yes!

Music and movement activities are a natural, developmentally-appropriate way to introduce math concepts to young children. These activities are based on musical forms that repeat in patterns, so they’re an auditory and kinesthetic way of patterning, an important part of early math learning. Here are some fun activities to try in your classroom.

 

Clappety-Clap

In “Clappety-Clap,” the first three lines of each verse are the same, and the fourth is different – an AAAB pattern.

  • Stand in a circle and clap to the beat, while singing to the tune of “Jimmy Crack Corn”:

                        Clappety-clap and pat your knees,

                        Clappety-clap and pat your knees,

                        Clappety-clap and pat your knees,

                        And clappety-clap again

Additional verses:

                        Clappety-clap and jump up and down…

                        Clappety-clap and kick your feet…

  • Then comes the fun part – ask the children to think of other movements we could do after we “clappety-clap.” They’ll love to come up with inventive and fun ideas.

 

Flies in the Buttermilk

This activity has a two-part, or AB, pattern.

  • Begin with the group singing “Skip to My Lou” in the traditional way, while clapping to the beat. Then choose two children to be “flies” who fly and buzz around the middle of the circle while you sing:

                        Flies in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo,

                        Flies in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo,

                        Flies in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo,

                        Skip to my lou, my darlin’

  • Sing “Skip to My Lou” again, then you can continue with more children taking turns to be flies. Or you may decide (or the children may decide for you) that it would be fun to have other animals in the buttermilk – maybe frogs, or bunnies, or bears!

 

Jumping Friends

This activity also has an ABAC pattern – the first and third lines are the same, the second is different, and the fourth is different from both of them.

  • Jump while singing to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man”:

                        We are all the jumping friends,

                        The jumping friends, the jumping friends,

                        We are all the jumping friends,

                        We jump and jump and jump!

  • Invite the children to contribute other movements. You could be the marching friends, the waving friends, or whatever your students come up with!

These easy and fun music activities introduce auditory patterns, and also allow the children to share their own creative ideas, which helps them to become eager and confident learners.

For more great activities read Abby's other guest post, Rhythm Instrument Activities for Preschoolers, and check out Shake, Rattle, & Roll!

Shake, Rattle, & Roll: Rhythm Instruments and More for Young Children




Wednesday Word: Appropriate a

March 18, 2015

Appropriate

The buzzword of early childhood education is developmentally appropriate; yet, do we really embrace its meaning? Reflect on this backbone of what we do, and find the essence of what it means for you every day in your work with children and families. Developmentally appropriate education begins with respect as we sensitively and responsively consider what is appropriate for an individual child’s age, ability, and culture. Challenge yourself to think about what developmentally appropriate looks like, sounds like, and feels like for each child in your care.

In loving memory of Gryphon House author Leanne Grace, MEd, we are sharing pieces of her inspirational writing every Wednesday.

Leanne was the director of professional development at Hildebrandt Learning Centers and a lifelong advocate for early childhood education.  She inspired the early childhood community to prepare children as lifelong learners with her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. One person can make a difference, and Leanne did just that. She will be sorely missed.




Rhythm Instrument Activities for Preschoolers a

March 17, 2015

Rhythm activities are a great to teach preschoolers and young children lessons across a variety of topics. From music to language to science...and math!

 

Guest Post from Abigail Flesch Connors, MEd, author of Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Rhythm Instruments and More for Active Learning and 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children.

 

Get those kids moving with these easy-to-do preschool rhythm instrument activities. Rhythm instrument activities are a great way to welcome spring!

Dare I say it? The Winter That Never Ended seems to be making way for spring! That’s definitely something worth celebrating. Help children welcome this long-awaited season with these active, creative rhythm instrument activities.

 

Going for a Walk (Shakers)

Spring is a great time to get outside and go for a walk. Shakers like to walk too – but inside – in this easy activity. Children should be sitting in a circle, each holding a shaker.

  • Holding your shaker upright, make it “walk” around on the floor in front of you while sing to the tune of  “Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck”:

Going for a walk with my little shaker,

Going for a walk with my little shaker,

Going for a walk with my little shaker,

Going for a walk today!

  • But shakers like to do more than just walk! Try these movements:

Going for a run… (like walking but faster!)

Going for a jump… (holding the shaker upright, make it jump on the floor.)

  • Ask children for more ideas.  They might want the shakers to spin, wiggle or fly! Even if their ideas are unconventional (say, driving, or kicking a ball), find a way to make it work. Contributing their own ideas to group activities is a great boost for children’s self-confidence!

 

All the Little Ducks (Sand Blocks)

Sand blocks become the webbed feet of little ducks in this activity. This would be a good tie-in after reading a story about ducks, or for a unit on farm animals.

  • Hold sand blocks together and open and close like a quacking beak while singing to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”:

All the little ducks go quack, quack, quack,

Quack, quack, quack,

Quack, quack, quack,

Oh, all the little ducks go quack, quack, quack,

All around the pond                

Additional verses:

All the little ducks go waddle, waddle, waddle…

(Hold sand blocks face down on the floor and make them waddle)

Or:

All the little ducks go swim, swim, swim…

(Scrape sand blocks together on the floor in a swimming motion)

Or:

All the little ducks go fly, fly, fly…

(Hold sand blocks in the air like wings and flap them)

 

What else could the little ducks do? Your students will have some great ideas!

These activities help children think creatively and construct a fun activity together!

Abigail Flesch Connors, MEd

Abigail Flesch Connors, MEd

For more great rhythm instrument activities, check out Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Rhythm Instruments and More for Active Learning.

 




Math Activity for Your Infant: One, Two, Three, Kick! a

March 16, 2015

Math Activities for Infants | Gryphon House

Long before a child can count to ten, important math concepts such as rhythm and recognizing patterns can be introduced during playtime with an infant. This simple math activity for babies introduces these important concepts along with promoting the development of the baby’s motor skills.

 

One, Two, Three, Kick!

  • Show your little one how you can hold on to the side of a chair and kick your leg in the air.
  • Encourage him to copy you.
  • Say, “One, two, three, kick!” and kick your leg in the air on the word kick.
  • Listening for the word kick is a lot of fun for babies, and kicking a leg into the air develops their muscle strength.
  • Kick in the front, kick to the side, and kick in the back.
  • Try counting in a soft voice and saying the word kick in a big voice.

 

What brain research says:

Physical movement stimulates not only muscle and bone development, but also brain growth and development. Research shows that physical activity stimulates the brain to develop connections and pathways between neurons. Active neurological pathways are critical to intellectual and cognitive growth.

 

This activity is ideal for babies 9 to 12 months old but can be modified for use with younger infants. Lay the baby on her back on a soft surface, such as a blanket, and say, “One, two, three, kick!” and on the word kick, gently move one of the baby’s legs.

Math Activities for Infants | Gryphon House

 

For more ideas, check out 125 Brain Games for Babies, revised edition. 




4 Fun Science Activities to do With Your Preschooler a

March 12, 2015

You can encourage your child's power of observation with simple science activities for preschoolers done right at home. From chain reactions to patterns in nature, preschool science activities are easily accessible for parents who feel they don't have ANY science knowledge but want to encourage exploration in their children.

You can encourage your child's power of observation with simple science activities for preschoolers done right at home. From chain reactions to patterns in nature, preschool science activities are easily accessible for parents who feel they don't have ANY science knowledge but want to encourage exploration in their children. 

Science-Not Just for Scientists! by Leonisa Ardizzone, EdD, combines easy-to-do activities with hands-on experiments that will open their eyes to scientific discovery. Try these four fun activities to do with your preschooler and check out her colorful book for many more!

You can encourage your child's power of observation with simple science activities for preschoolers done right at home. From chain reactions to patterns in nature, preschool science activities are easily accessible for parents who feel they don't have ANY science knowledge but want to encourage exploration in their children.

What Color is Your Water?

Essential Question: How does temperature effect how color moves through water?

Materials:

  • Clean, unbreakable containers
  • Cold tap water
  • Hot tap water (adult only)
  • Liquid food coloring, green or blue
  • Room-temperature tap water
  • Thermometers
  • Very cold water

Methods:

  1. Fill the containers with water of varying temperatures, and line them up on a table.
  2. Sitting at a table, encourage your child to look carefully at the jars: Do all the jars look the same? Can he tell which are hot or cold? (He may carefully touch the outside of the jars.)
  3. If your child is new to using thermometers, take time here to discuss why we use thermometers and how they work. Measure the temperature of the water in each container.
  4. Ask your child to predict what will happen when you drop food coloring into each jar.
  5. Observe what happens when you add a drop of food coloring in each jar. Drop only one drop into each jar.
  6. Observe the water. Ask your child what is happening to the color. Is it spreading out? Is it floating? Is it sinking? Is the water changing color?
  7. Wait for one minute, then observe again. What changes does he notice? Repeat for 2, 4, 6 minutes. 
  8. Did the food coloring behave like they predicted? 

 

Incredible Shrinking Food

Essential Question: How can we use measurement to observe change?

Materials:

  • Chart paper
  • Marker
  • Plastic containers with lids
  • Variety of fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, squash, lettuce, apple, banana, orange, kiwi, tomato, and so on

Methods:

  1. Place a collection of fruits and vegetables on the table. Give the child time to share his observations of the items.
  2. Cut samples of each item into similarly sized pieces. Using a scale, record how much each piece weighs.
  3. Place each item in its own plastic container and cover with a lid.
  4. Each day, have your child record how the pieces change and weigh and record the samples.
  5. As time progresses, the food will begin to rot. Liquid will begin to leave certain fruits and vegetables. Talk with your child about the changes they notice.

 

Where Will I Grow Best?

Essential Question: How does location affect plant growth?

Materials:

  • Light source
  • Marker
  • Paper
  • Paper cups or sod pots
  • Seeds (rye grass works well)
  • Soil
  • Water

Methods:

  1. Ask your child what plants need to grow. What would happen if plants grew without these things?
  2. Discuss the idea of a variable, a factor or element that can be changed. 
  3. Make a list of what the child would like to change, such as the amount of light, temperature or water. 
  4. Set up experiments: Put soil in cups, then add sees. Determine what variables he will examine in each cup. Be sure to keep one separate as the "control" cup, which gets all variables.
  5. Label each cup. Each day, encourage your child to check the cups and record the observations. Talk about what changes he notices.

 

Yum! Butter!

Essential question: How does milk become butter?

Materials:

  • Heavy cream
  • Plastic containers with tight lids
  • Samples of butter

Methods:

  1. Offer your child a sample of butter to taste. Yum! How does it look, feel, taste? How is it made?
  2. Show your child the cream and add 1/4 cup of cream to each container. Tightly close the lid.
  3. Have your child shake the container vigorously or use an electric mixer to beat the cream for several minutes. Let him observe the stages the cream takes to become a solid mound of butter.
  4. When butter forms, he can conduct a taste test again.
  5. Encourage him to do the same experiment with different forms of milk: rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, skim milk. Does it work? Why or why not?

For more activities, check out Science-Not Just for Scientists!




Wednesday Word: Art a

March 11, 2015

Art

This world is but a canvas to our imagination.

—Henry David Thoreau

Art is not a project or time of day. One doesn’t have to know to how paint, draw, dance, or sculpt to make art. Your art, your creative spirit, is how you see and approach the world and is expressed by whatever you do. So, what does the art of early care and education look, sound, and feel like? I propose that early childhood educators are artists who are out-of-the-box thinkers. They create environments that instill wonder and delight filled with sounds of joy, laughter, and discovery.  That joy and wonder is a magnet pulling children in to manipulate and explore for possibilities. Art is a way of seeing and talking about the world with children using a rich vocabulary to extend thinking about colors, lines, shapes, form, texture, patterns, and space. What you do is the supreme form of art: teaching! 

In loving memory of Gryphon House author Leanne Grace, MEd, we are sharing pieces of her inspirational writing every Wednesday.

Leanne was the director of professional development at Hildebrandt Learning Centers and a lifelong advocate for early childhood education.  She inspired the early childhood community to prepare children as lifelong learners with her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. One person can make a difference, and Leanne did just that. She will be sorely missed.




Turn Play Time Into Learning Time a

March 09, 2015
Kids Learning Games | Gryphon House

Young children learn best when they experience concepts using all of their senses. Real experiences build a strong foundation for learning as the child grows. These educational games will have your preschooler learning chemistry, math, and weather patterns in the most developmentally appropriate way—through play!

 

Chemistry

Jumping Colors! Place about ¼ inch of whole milk in the bottom of a pie plate. Let milk settle until it is still. Place one drop each of red, yellow, blue, and green food coloring in the center. Carefully touch the food color with a cotton swab. Does anything happen? ?Now, place a drop of liquid dishwashing soap on the top of the cotton swab, and try touching the color again. The colors will move wildly as the soap molecules try to join up with fat molecules in the milk.

 

Weather

Will It Blow Away? On a windy day, collect some items from around your home, and ask your child which ones he thinks the wind will blow away. Help him make predictions and chart the outcomes on a piece of paper.

 

Math

TP Measuring: Teach estimating and measuring with nonstandard units. Let your child guess how many toilet paper squares it will take to equal his height. Then ask him to lie down on the floor, and measure him. Tear off the right number of squares. Next, lie down and let him measure you. Let him measure Dad, the dog, the cat, the table, and so on. Compare the different measurements, and talk with your child about who is tallest and shortest. Let him place the toilet paper lengths in order from tallest to shortest.

 

Kids Learning Games | Gryphon House

For more ideas on turning play time into learning time, check out The Homegrown Preschooler. 




Fun Toddler Activities for the Classroom a

March 05, 2015

More intellectual growth occurs in a child's first three years of life than at any other time. This is also the period when babies turn into constant movers, needing lots of stimulation!

That's why we hear from parents looking for toddler activities at home and teachers seeking new toddler classroom activities that will build on the core skills in young children's brains and bodies.

Many classroom activities easily translate to toddler activities at home, and both depend on the loving adult to provide experiences that stimulate learning through exploration and discovery.

One of Gryphon House's all-time best sellers is The Encyclopedia of Infant and Toddler Activities. In it, you'll find hundreds of activities that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine, such as classroom arrival, naptime and departure. We picked a few samples to try on your active toddlers!

Lost and Found Song

For Younger Toddlers

Materials: None

What to do:

1. At the end of the day, when helping children find lost items, sing this song to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

Looking, looking for my hat.

How I wonder where it's at!

Where, oh, where can it be?

We'll just have to look and see.

Looking, looking for my hat.

How I wonder where it's at!

2. Replace the word "hat" with "glove, scarf, coat," and so on, as you look for lost items. This makes it fun to get ready to leave!

 

Yo-Ho: A-Spying We Go

For Older Toddlers

Materials:

  • cardboard tubes
  • stickers
  • markers
  • tape
  • hole punch (adult only)
  • yarn

What to do:

  1. Help the children make binoculars. Let each child decorate two cardboard tubes with stickers and markers.
  2. Tape the tubes together.
  3. Punch a hole on the outer edge of each tube (adult only).
  4. String the yarn through the holes and tie a knot.
  5. Take the children for an "I Spy Adventure."
  6. Encourage the children to look through their binoculars and describe something they see.

 

Jump to Lunch

For Older Toddlers

Materials:

  • sticky tape
  • 2 large shapes

What to do:

  1. This is a fun transition into lunch for children. Using sticky tape, attach two large shapes on the floor, several inches apart, ending at the lunch area.
  2. One by one, call out the children's names. Ask them to "jump to lunch."



Wednesday Word: Action a

March 04, 2015

In loving memory of Gryphon House author Leanne Grace, MEd, we are sharing pieces of her inspirational writing every Wednesday.

Leanne was the director of professional development at Hildebrandt Learning Centers and a lifelong advocate for early childhood education.  She inspired the early childhood community to prepare children as lifelong learners with her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. One person can make a difference, and Leanne did just that. She will be sorely missed.

Action

If you were an action hero, what would be your superpower?  As an early childhood educator whose mission is to change the world for children and to protect their rights, what will you do?  In reality, you are superhero every day.  Your superpowers include having the time to pay attention and provide for individual needs; vigilance in adhering to regulations, policies, and procedures that protect children from harm; the vision to see into the future and know the skills and information children will need to be successful in the world; the ability to leap tall expectations from families who have entrusted their precious children to your care; limitless energy and creativity, seeing possibilities for curriculum everywhere and every day; and the ability to think on your feet and to capitalize upon any teachable moment—and have a song or fingerplay to go with it!  You are an action hero! Don your cape and stand tall, feet wide apart and planted firmly, hands on your hips. Exude your superpowers!




Rhythm Sticks for Kids: The Spider Went Over the Spider Web a

March 02, 2015

Rhythm sticks are the perfect way to introduce instruments to preschoolers. Before starting, show the children how to hold the sticks, with your forearms resting on your thighs (when sitting cross-legged on the floor) and your hands just a few inches off the floor. With this music activity from 101 Rhythm Insturment Activities for Young Children, you'll be ready to tap, scrape, hammer and have a great time exploring the sounds of rhythm sticks!

Rhythm Sticks for Kids: The Spider Went Over the Spider Web

The Spider Went Over the Spider Web

Ask the children to sit cross-legged on the floor. Show them how to make their sticks do a “spider walk.” Hold the sticks straight up and down and to the beat of the song “walk” them around on the floor, stiffly and lightly, to imitate a spider walking on its long, skinny legs.

 

Do the “spider walk” with the sticks while singing the following song to the tune of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”:

 

The spider went over the spider web,

The spider went over the spider web,

The spider went over the spider web,

To catch a little fly.

 

He caught a little fly,

He caught a little fly,

And he went back over the spider web,

He went back over the spider web,

He went back over the spider web,

And then he went to sleep.

 

When you “catch a fly,” grab an imaginary fly with the ends of your sticks (using the chopstick motion, except using both hands.) Then “spider walk” until the end of the song, when you put down the sticks and pretend to sleep.

 

101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children

For more tips on using rhythm sticks and other instruments in your classroom, pick up a copy of 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children.




3 Books to Unlock the Artist in Your Child a

February 26, 2015

We hear it all the time: parents need art activities for kids that don't require a fine arts degree or an expensive trip to the craft store for supplies. Arts activities don't have to be a pain to set up - or clean up. Whether you are looking for preschool art activities or arts and crafts for kids older than preschool, we have three books that will help unlock the artist in your child.

art activities for kids, arts and crafts for kids, preschool art activities, art activities

First Art for Toddlers and Twos: Open-Ended Art Experiences by MaryAnn F. Kohl - Children will joyfully squeeze a rainbow, make their own (safe) beads to string, and create their very own painted paper quilt. First Art starts children on a journey full of exploration and creativity! 

art activities for kids, arts and crafts for kids, preschool art activities, art activities

Time to Create: Hands-On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children by Christie Burnett - With ideas for encouraging creativity, advice for choosing the right art project, and suggestions for minimizing the mess, you and your child will be on your way to fun-to-do art explorations in no time!

art activities for kids, arts and crafts for kids, preschool art activities, art activities

The Budding Artist edited by Laura Laxton - With 50 ways for you and your little artist to create beautiful memories together, this book shows parents and kids how to paint with bubbles, create glue webs, make a blooming tablecloth, and construct homemade paper valentines.




2 Fun Ways For Your Preschooler to Learn Math in Minutes a

February 23, 2015
2 Fun Ways for Your Preschooler to Learn Math in Minutes

Teach children to sort and classify, compare and contrast, and use ordinal counting words with these two easy math lessons! The math games from Math in Minutes will have kids learning how to do math while having fun.

1. Ordinal Counting

Objectives

Children will:

  1. Use and understand ordinal counting terms such as “first” through “fifth” to describe relative position in a sequence.

How to Do It

  • Do this activity when all the children are in a group together, such as when they are lining up to leave the classroom.
  • Ask the children to line up facing the room (not the door), and challenge them to name the first five children in line, saying, for example, “Sarah is first, Nathan is second, Carrie is third, Ti is fourth, and Casey is fifth.”
  • Encourage the children to turn around, face the door, and repeat the numbering process. Once they get the order correct, move the children on to the next activity!

Take It Up a Level

Try doing variations on this activity. Ask a group of children, for example, to get in line in order by height, shortest to tallest, and ask them who is first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. Another variation is to ask the children to order themselves based on the dominant colors they are wearing. For example: red is first, blue is second, green is third, yellow is fourth, and white is fifth. Also, challenge the first and third children to bow to each other, then the second and the fourth, and finally, ask the fifth children to bow to the other children.

 

2. Crayon Color Bar Graph

Math in Minutes | Math Games | Gryphon House

Materials

Crayons

Bar graph sheet

Objectives

Children will:

  1. Sort and classify materials by one or more characteristics.
  2. Compare and contrast objects.
  3. Construct graphs using real objects, or pictures, to answer questions.
  4. Interpret and use information from graphs.
  5. Collect data in an organized way.

How to Do It

  • Do this activity with groups of three to four children.
  • Give each child three or four crayons.
  • Encourage each child to examine each crayon and count the number of letters in the name of each color (for example: red has 3 letters; green has 5).
  • Then, ask the children to put the crayon next to the correct number on the graph, as shown on the graph above.
  • After the children understand how to do this activity, set it up in the Math or Library Center or for the children to explore independently.

 

Math in Minutes | Math Games for Children | Gryphon House

 

For more easy math activities for children ages 4-8, check out Math in Minutes




Sculpture for Kids a

February 19, 2015

Sculpture for kids

Wire sculptures are one of the many great craft ideas for kids, inspiring creativity and the exploration of different forms. Easily manipulated and decorated, they are one of many art activities for kids that are appropriate for all ages and seasons.

Sculpture for kids isn’t hard; this activity doesn’t require any previous knowledge about how to make wire sculptures, and will surely become a one of your favorite wire sculpture ideas.

Wire Bird Nest-Builders

You Will Need:

  • Craft wire (22-gauge)
  • Wire cutters
  • Assorted bits of fabric, string, yarn, thread, cotton, feathers, ribbon, etc.

Sculpture for kids

Activity:

  • Cut about 10 feet of wire. Twist the ends together. Have your child begin twisting the wire loop into a loose ball, or nest shape.
  • Lightly push the assorted pieces of cloth and other materials into the nest, allowing some to stick out between the wires.
  • Use more wire, string or a pipe cleaner looped through the nest to hang the sculpture on a branch outside.

Sculpture for kids

Watch as your neighborhood birds collect these pretty materials for their nests. Maybe you’ll see a brightly colored nest in a nearby tree!

For more sculpture ideas and other art crafts, read Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters, by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga.




Coffee Can Drums for Preschoolers a

February 18, 2015

By repurposing coffee cans and oatmeal containers, this music and movement activity for preschoolers will have kids making music and learning about the important concept of reduce, reuse, recycle. This easy art project can be done with small or large groups. Creating Coffee Can Drums will help children develop an appreciation of music, practice keeping time a rhythm, and improve their creative art skills.

Materials: 

construction paper

scissors (adult use only)

tape

coffee cans with lids

cylindrical oatmeal containers with lids

art supplies

Children’s Books:

Making Music by Josie Stewart and Lynn Salem

Musical Instruments You Can Make by Phyllis Hayes

Pluck and Scrape by Sally Hewitt

Instructions: 

Ahead of time, send home a letter inviting the children's families to begin
collecting coffee cans and oatmeal containers for the activity.
 

Cut construction paper to fit the cans and containers, wrap it around the
containers, and secure it with tape.
 

What to Do

  1. Talk with the children about reusing things instead of throwing them away.
  2. Display a coffee can or oatmeal container. Ask the children to think of something they could reuse the container for. Allow time for the children to share their responses.
  3. Explain that the children will make their own drums using similar containers.
  4. Display pages from the suggested books to demonstrate ways to create instruments from common household items.
  5. Provide each child with a paper-wrapped "drum" and art supplies.
  6. Invite the children to use the art supplies to decorate their drums. When the children finish creating their drums, gather them together.
  7. Invite the children to keep the beat as you play various rhythms on your drum and they follow along.
  8. Play a favorite class song and ask the children to sing along and play their drums.
  9. Remind the children while they enjoy their drums to think about how they helped care for the Earth by reusing something that might have been thrown away.


Assessment

Consider the following:

  • How well do the children decorate their drums?
  • How well do the children play their drums while singing a favorite song?

 

Learn Every Day About Our Green EarthFor more fun crafts for kids that incorporate learning about our planet, check out Learn Every Day About Our Green Earth. It's filled with more easy art projects and activities that will teach even the youngest children about environmental responsibility. 




Art Quotes for Kids a

February 16, 2015
Art Quotes for Kids by MaryAnn F. Kohl
Help kids explore what is possible through art acitvities. It's much more than paint, chalk, or pencils--it's opening up a place for children to explore what is possible. For ideas to help unlock this world of disovery in your home or classroom, check out Global Art.



How to Create Sensory Activities for Your Toddler at Home a

February 12, 2015

How to create sensory activities for your toddler at home.

It’s easy to create sensory activities for toddlers at home. Many times, all that is needed is a few common objects you can find around the house or grocery store, such as clay, cornstarch and bits of fabric.

The benefit of indoor activities for toddlers is that they are weather proof! Rain or shine, you can keep your children entertained. However, these activities can easily be taken outside on a nice day, where you can integrate the natural environment into the sensory experience.

The activities are so simple that they are easy to translate to sensory activities for preschoolers. For children with sensory integration and sensory processing disorder, these activities can be modified to fit the child’s needs – monitor his or her interactions with each activity and adjust appropriately.

Warm and Cold Tubs

You’ll Need:

  • 2 rubber/plastic dish tubs
  • Lots of ice cubes
  • Warm water

Preparation:

  • Make 4-5 trays of ice cubes

Activity:

  • Put the two dish tubs on a clean table or floor space. Put a little cold water in one tub. Have the child put on their smocks or aprons and help you carry several ice cube trays to the tubs. Crack the ice trays. Give the child ice cubes and let him put the ice cubes in the tub with a little water. As he is doing this, talk about how the cubes feel. After all the cubes are in one tub, fill the second tub about a quarter full with warm water. Let the child feel the water in both tubs by playing with it. As he plays, talk about warm and cold.
  • Extension: give your child a clean washcloth and let him dip the cloth in each tub and touch it to his face. Ask how it feels.

 

Small Bottle Shake

You’ll Need:

  • 16 oz. plastic soda bottles
  • Different dry ingredients to make a variety of sounds, such as:
    • Quiet – cotton balls, paper dots, pom poms, cut up tissues
    • Loud – macramé beads, marbles, colored popcorn kernels, marbles;
    • Other interesting sounds – craft grass, sawdust, colored salt, sand, rice, glitter, etc.
  • Hot glue gun

Preparation:

  • Make Shake Bottles:
  1. Clean and dry all bottles.
  2. Put the ingredients you want in each bottle. Screw on top and shake to test. Adjust ingredients to your liking.
  3. Hot glue the top to the bottle.

Activity:

  • Have the child shake the bottles slowly, fast, and then very fast. Which sound does he like best?

 

Soap Scribbling

You’ll Need:

  • Lots of small bars or soap or chunks of soap
  • Dark butcher paper

Preparation:

  • Have the child help you unwrap the bars of soap. Smell them as you do. Put them in a tub.

Activity:

  • Tape a large sheet of butcher paper to a table. Put the bars of soap on the paper. Let the child color the paper with the soap. As he is coloring, have him smell the bars of soap and the marks they make on the paper.

 

 

For more easy activities, check out 2's Sensory Play Experience by Liz & Dick Wilmes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more expert tips and advice about teaching children Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing Disorder, read Sensory Integration: A Guide for Preschool Teachers by Christy Isbell and Rebecca Isbell, or Sensory Integration and Self Regulation in Infants and Toddlers: Helping Very Young Children Interact with Their Environment, by G. Gordon Williamson and Marie E. Anzalone.

 




Art Quotes for Kids a

February 10, 2015
Art is as natural as sunshine and as vital as nourishment.
Open-ended art activities allow kids to explore, discover, and manipulate their worlds.
For ideas to help unlock this world of discovery in your home or classroom, check out Global Art



Closing the Word Gap: Feeding Your Baby a Good Language Diet a

February 09, 2015

Closing the Word Gap: Feeding Your Baby a Good Language Diet

Guest Post By Renate Zangl, PhD

A good language diet starts with talking a lot, and as early as possible. Hearing a variety of words gives infants more opportunities to learn about all sorts of language details, such as speech sounds, and how syllables and words are combined. For example, narrating what you’re doing is excellent for the brain, which is constantly looking for patterns to learn from.

While talking a lot is important, watching how you talk matters just as much. Babies love "baby talk," or what scientists call "infant-directed speech." Baby talk is like fertilizer to the young child’s brain because its features are tailor-made for his or her learning abilities.

Baby talk is when you use your normal words and tweak them a bit making them more interesting and accessible for the young learners. For example, you say “Where’s your noooose?”, or “How’s daaady’s booooy?” in an upbeat tone and smiley face. You talk more slowly, repeat a lot, exaggerate and drag out vowels, and use shorter, simpler sentences while your voice goes up and down more often, giving it that affective, sing-songy, melodic quality babies love.

Baby talk supports language learning in many ways: It gets and holds babies’ attention and their brains literally ‘light up’ when hearing baby talk, which means the brain is most ready to learn.

Babies also smile back more and engage longer, which means longer conversations and more chances for them to learn. By their second birthday, toddlers whose parents used more baby talk and who talked with their youngsters directly said more than twice as many words as those of parents who used the least baby talk.

Reading with infants

The research is clear: Reading aloud to infants and toddlers is excellent brain and language food for them. Regardless of parental education, ethnicity, or socio-economic class, parent-to-child reading positively affects the child’s language, learning, and thinking.

Reading aloud is so important that the nation’s largest association of pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommends it from birth onwards.

While reading exposes babies to lots of words, it also matters how you read. Reading in baby talk, face-to-face with the baby snuggled up to you while making deliberate pauses to include the baby is the perfect way to get him or her engaged, and to kick learning into high gear, helping to build literacy skills later on.

Singing with infants

Singing songs with infants can also help language learning. Babies love listening to songs, especially when parents and caregivers actually sing the songs themselves.

Songs heard live give the baby a richer multi-sensory experience than recorded songs can:  He or she can listen to the words coming from a familiar person while watching the mouth and lip movements and bond at the same time. Yes, babies are incredible lip-readers and learn sounds not just from listening, but also from watching people’s mouths and lips.

Songs are a special kind of speech – often having exaggerated rhythm, lots of repetition, simple structure and rhyme words. All of these features are tailored to the infants’ learning abilities. Again, it matters how you sing, science suggests: Infants are more attentive, smile and engage more when caregivers sing to them in baby talk style – using a higher pitch, singing more slowly and with clear emotions.

Tuning in, listening and responding to infants

While talking a lot right from birth is the hot new topic, it is equally important (though not stressed enough) that tuning in, listening and responding to the little ones is just as important.

Learning is not a one-way street. It requires attentive, loving adults who treat babies as real conversational partners from birth: Someone who tunes in, pauses, observes, listens, and comments on their grunts, babbles, leg kicking – not ‘just’ on their words.

Tuning in and responding to the child in a timely, loving and consistent way pays off and pushes language and learning forward while making for happier babies as well. Why? Because they signal the baby that you are with her, that you have acknowledged what she did or said and your response gives special meaning to her actions, babbles and words and motivates her to stay engaged. Learning is about the back and forth interaction, and not about lecturing the baby about words.  

Showing your real live you, and providing alone time

Babies are very astute social learners and they need eye contact, gestures and timely responses. They want and need to be acknowledged. Since they are just starting to learn, their brains are more susceptible to any background noise, so it’s best to have some focused face-to-face time without any distractions.

More time spent with high tech tools when little ones are around likely means more alone time, less talk, less back & forth for young children, especially for infants and toddlers who cannot tell their parent, “Talk with me”, “watch me”, “respond to me”!

Babies need real, live people, who lovingly and attentively interact with them to learn best. According to research on babies in the U.S., 9-month-old babies were only able to learn foreign speech sounds when they interacted with real live people, not when watching the same people on TV or hearing them on audio-tapes.

This is a clear testament to how much early learning relies on social interaction. It’s the back and forth dance in words, smiles, eye gazes, and other social signals with an engaged caregiver that makes learning happen. This kind of social interaction is absent from TV or video watching, except online video-chatting (which may explain why babies seem to learn words in face-to-face video chats). 

The fact is, infants and toddlers do not learn words by simply hearing them. They do not learn words by watching TV, watching even the best baby videos or by overhearing words on the radio or phone conversations.

Renate Zangl, PhD, is an educator and child language researcher interested in how infants and toddlers learn to communicate, understand and talk. With over 15 years of experience in the field, she  has published numerous books and articles, and  worked at various research institutions in the United States and Europe, including Stanford University; University of California, San Diego; Graz University, Austria; and Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, Paris. Zangl has worked (and played!) for many years with young children when they first start to communicate, understand, and talk, and with bilingual children, children learning a second language in their school years, and children with special needs.

For more information, visit raisingatalker.com and check out Renate's book Raising a Talker




Quote of the Week from Lesli Richards a

February 06, 2015

Gryphon House is a big proponent of finding opportunies in every day and every environment for young children to learn! Author Lesli Richards explores just that in her book The Homegrown Preschooler Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live.




3 Math Games to Play with Your Preschoolers a

February 04, 2015
3 Math Games to Play With Your Preschoolers

Research shows that the most effective way for children to learn concepts is to experience them physically. These activities from Jump into Math will actively engage preschoolers as they explore new math concepts.  Whether you use these math games during circle or group time, substitute them for traditional lesson plans, or use them as a supplement, you can be sure that children are moving in leaps and bounds towards understanding math!

 

1. Beanbag Toss

This simple activity helps promote both number recognition and eye-hand coordination!

To Have

1 or more beanbags

Number 0-9, each on a large (at least 8 ½” x 11”) card (at least one set of each number)

Note: If the concept of zero is too advanced for the children in your classroom, begin with the numeral 1.

To Do

  • Scatter the number cards on the floor or ground in no particular order. Depending on the size of the area and the number of cards and beanbags available, invite one child (or more) at a time to stand at a designated spot and toss a beanbag onto a number. (To begin, the children should stand as close to the cards as necessary to ensure success.)
  • When a beanbag lands on a card, call out its number.

More to Do

  • Eventually, you can challenge the children to call out the number on which their beanbags land.

 

2. What’s My Line?

This activity provides more opportunity for the children to experience lines. And because it contributes to the ability to replicate physically what the eyes see, it also falls under the content areas of art and emergent literacy (children need to replicate physically what they see in order to write).

To Have

Posted drawings of straight, crossed, curved, and crooked lines

To Do

  • Discuss each of the lines with the children, assigning each its appropriate name (although you can’t expect the children to recall them at this point).
  • Invite them to replicate each with their bodies or with individual body parts.
  • Name each as you point to it.

More to Do

  • Divergent problem solving, in which there is more than one response to any single challenge, is vital to creative- and critical-thinking skills. You can give children the chance to experience divergent problem solving by encouraging them to “find another way.” With this activity, for example, if a child demonstrates crossed lines with the arms and you present the challenge to find another way, the response might be crossed fingers.
  • Call out the words “straight,” “curving,” and “crooked”—in various orders and at different tempos—challenging the children to match their body shapes with the word.
  • Challenge the children to create the various lines with partners.
  • Invite the children to find examples of the different lines throughout the room. Then ask them to show you with their bodies the kinds of lines they find. For example, if they point out that a pencil lying down is a line, challenge them to show you the kind of line (straight) made by the pencil. If they point to the top of the wastebasket as a curved line, ask them to use their bodies to depict that kind of line.

 

3. Subtracting Steps

This activity requires children to first recognize a number then to count it in steps forward. Additionally, it becomes an exercise in subtraction as the children are asked to recognize a number and to take that many steps backward.

To Have

The number 1-10 on individual cards

To Do

  • The children line up side by side at one end of the room.
  • Stand facing them at the opposite end and hold up one of the cards for them to see (it’s best to start with low numbers).
  • The children then take that number of steps toward you, counting aloud as they walk.
  • At random times, before holding up a card, you say, “Now subtract…” This indicates the number of steps they should take in a backward direction (subtracting from their forward progress). Again, you should begin with low numbers.

More to Do

  • When the children are developmentally ready, you can aske them to tell you the number resulting from their actions. For example, if they’ve taken five steps forward and then two steps backward, you can ask them what the result of five minus two is.
  • To give the children an opportunity to practice different locomotor skills, replace the steps with jumps or hops. (Other locomotor skills may be too challenging to perform in a backward direction.)

 

 

If you're looking for more math games that will get your preschoolers moving, pick up your copy of Jump into Math today!




Quote of the Week a

January 30, 2015

Reading fosters critical thinking along with a variety of other skills young children will benefit from for the rest of their lives.




Fox and Geese Game a

January 26, 2015

This is a game of tag that will be especially enjoyed by older children. Children learn that it takes longer to run around a circle than to run across it. (The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.) This game also requires good balance.

Words to use

  • Circle
  • Tracks
  • Quarters
  • Center
  • Run
  • Tag
  • Safe

Materials

An untracked area of snow.

What to do:

  1. On an untracked snow area, walk in a large circle to make a circle track.
  2. Then intersect the circle, to cut into quarters.
  3. The center of the circle is the safe place.
  4. The children may run only on the tracks.
  5. ‘It’ tries to tag another player, but if the player reaches the center before he or she is tagged, he or she is safe.
  6. If a player is tagged, he or she becomes it.

Source: Everything for Winter: A Complete Activity Book for Teachers of Young Children




Quote of the Week a

January 23, 2015

Parenting: one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs in the world!




Author Q&A Series: Renate Zangl on 'Raising a Talker' Part 2 a

January 21, 2015

With ever-increasing attention on the word gap and a growing number of technologies that promise to give your baby a head start, it can be hard to sort through the information to know what truly is best for your baby. We caught up with developmental psycholinguist and author of Raising a Talker Renate Zangl to find out the best ways to set your child on the path to language learning.

Do baby videos and TV programs help a child’s language development?

No, they don’t. Research studies have shown that baby DVDs actually hinder language development rather than fostering it. Claims on such videos that they foster the development of toddlers’ speech and language are misleading and simply not true.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV or screen time for children under two years old. Unfortunately, reality is different: By around age two, almost 90 percent of toddlers in the U.S. spend two to three hours in front of a screen each day.

Babies learn fewer words when watching videos than they do when interacting with real live people. And fewer words early on is a big deal, because a smaller vocabulary sets toddlers up for a slower learning curve—learning builds on itself. Science is crystal clear: Infants and toddlers learn language best in interactions with real people. Parents should know that they have everything they need to provide their children with the best learning opportunities, as long as they lovingly play and engage.

How have new technologies helped us learn about children’s, even babies’, language-learning potential?

New technologies using sophisticated video and audio equipment that measure brain activity and eye tracking have given us important insights into how language is processed. You can literally peek into the child’s brain and eyes to learn more about how he understands speech and what kinds of information he uses and when he uses it. Thanks to these new technologies, we now know a lot more about the very important period before children say their first words. We get insights into what children recognize and understand during the learning process. These technologies are important because they help to establish and define what normal development is. The hope is that the technologies will help early on to identify young children who are at potential risk for later language delay or disruption. And earlier interventions are key to making up lost ground and helping children to flourish.

What are some insights from science for parents who are interested in giving their children a head start?

There are four things every parent should know:

  • They can shape and support their children in building strong communication and language skills. They are not bystanders but active partners in this amazing journey.
  • Good language input and communication efforts early on are not wasted. They give young children meaningful advantages, now and into the school years. Why? Because all learning is sequential. Good input provides more opportunities to learn, which means that children will likely know more and can then learn more—learning builds on itself.  
  • Language learning has already started when the baby is born, and much is learned long before the baby speaks her first recognizable word. To provide the best learning conditions, talking and engaging with children should start from the earliest moments. Science tells us that parents tend to stick with their patterns of engagement and talk: Those who engage more right away do so throughout the infant and toddler years. Those who engage less tend to stay taciturn and less engaged, a pattern that may hinder development because it provides fewer learning opportunities for the child.
  • Children learn best from one-on-one interactions in which parents play, read, sing, engage, and consistently respond to their children. It’s not just about talking a lot; it’s also about listening and responding.

For more tips and information on boosting language learning, check out part one of our interview with Renate. Her book Raising a Talkerwas recently reviewed on the blog Mommy University. Read the full review here




Quote of the Week a

January 16, 2015

What are some of your favorite books to read with children? 




Diving Into Diversity for MLK Day a

January 15, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a holiday we can use to teach our children so many life lessons. Whether it’s diversity, equality or simply the importance of access to education for all, the holiday is one well worth celebrating because of the man who shared his dream. Keeping education accessible and diverse is still a priority. We have a few strategies you can implement in the classroom to keep your teaching approaches accessible to all students. Get ready for ways to teach diversity in the early education classroom:

Get to Know Your Students' Families

Making home visits is the best way to observe and understand family dynamics that have shaped students’ early years. It will also give you a keen sense of what matters to them, what family strengths have been passed on, and whether any problems exist in the home that may impede learning. Make sure you keep an open mind, approach the family without bias, and show genuine interest.

Promote a Positive Racial Identity

Take the time to equip yourself with background information on each child’s cultural heritage and communicate it. You can do this by incorporating books, food, and games that are culturally representative in your lesson plans. Instilling pride in culture and traditions is key to helping students learn at their best. Pointing out successfull individuals and the contributions they’ve made from those cultures is also key. This is particularly important if you have a different background.

Believe in Students’ Success

Regardless of different learning styles, cultures, or gender, make sure your students know you believe in them and that your expectations are high. Instead of lowering your expectations because of preconceived preconceptions of at-risk children, believe in them and what they can achieve. Set high expectations that stretch children’s abilities, help them grow, and build self-confidence. Sometimes, all a child needs is someone to believe in them.

Encouraging Students with Low Self-Esteem:

Discuss students’ hopes and dreams and what they want to be when they grow up. Start helping them plan how to be successful in turning their dreams into reality. Here are a few ways to instill self-belief in students:

  • Encourage them to look beyond their surroundings.
  • Expose them to constructive occupations.
  • Encourage them to take initiative in learning about new things.
  • Have them create and achieve goals.
  • Join with families to agree on expectations.

We hope these strategies are helpful in diversifying your teaching approach in the early education classroom!

Source: Wired to Move Facts and Strategies for Nurturing Boys in an Early Childhood Setting.




Winter and Winter Animals in the Classroom a

January 13, 2015

 

Winter is here! Break out the cold-weather play with your students by introducing a few fun additions. Here are simple activities to turn your classroom into a winter wonderland full of discovery for students!

Introducing the Theme

  • Select books about animals in winter, winter clothing, and winter weather. Place these books around the room where children can readily review them.
  • Hang pictures around the room that depict people, animals, and places in winter.
  • Place on a table a basket of pairs of mittens for the children to match and a basket of single mittens and gloves near paper, markers, and crayons. Encourage the children to match the mittens (from the basket that has pairs of mittens) and to draw the missing mitten or glove (from the basket of single mittens).
  • Discuss the concept of symmetry whenever the opportunity arises.

Scaffolding the Pre-Play Experience

What You’ll Need:

What to Do:

  • Engage the children in a discussion about the clothing they need to wear to keep warm and what animals do during the cold weather to keep warm.
  • Read The Mitten at the beginning of the pre-play circle. As each animal appears in the story, write the names of the animal on a chart. At the end of the story, begin to retell it. On a plywood board, set out a line of unit blocks. As each animal enters the mitten, increase the space between the blocks. Use the word expanded in your retelling of the story, and point out the name of the animal on the chart. At the end of the story when the mitten explodes, bring the blocks close together again. Say, “When things expand, they stretch out. When things contract, they shrink.” This adds new vocabulary words. Place several copies of The Mitten and a set of masks of the animals in the story in the dramatic play area where children can explore them.
  • During the pre-scaffolding circle, introduce the play opportunities. At the close of the circle, dismiss the children in sets of one and two to play in the different centers of the classroom environment. Four children can stay to play in the block area.

Suggested Theme-Related Experiences

Sensory/Art Experiences

  • Place blue and white playdough onto a table for the children to mix to create shades of blue.
  • Encourage the children to name the new colors they create. Write these color words on a paper where the children can display the new color playdough they created.
  • Tape different shades of 18” X 24” blue construction paper across a wall for the children’s easel painting. Offer nine colors of paint (red, yellow, green, blue, white, orange, purple, black, and brown) and three sizes of brushes. Encourage the children to mix the paint, including the white paint, to create new shades of colors. Provide small containers for this mixing.
  • Provide a table with 12” X 18” pieces of dark and light blue construction paper and white chalk for drawing winter scenes. (Scribbles look great on the bulletin board!)
  • Place water colored with blue food coloring into the water table. Add containers for emptying and filling. If the water table is set up for four children to play, provide four of each type of container and implement for emptying and filling, such as turkey basers, colanders, funnels, cups, and empty soap bottles.
  • Hang a sheet of butcher paper on a wall. If the children make a new and interesting shade of blue, they can make handprints in the new color on the butcher paper. Ask each child what he or she wants to name the color, and then write the name of the color and the child’s name next to the handprints.

Microdramatic Play Experiences

  • Place forest animals into dishpans or tubs. Cover the bottoms of the tubs with cornstarch and small pieces of ice. Add small fir trees (purchased at local craft store) and a few rocks into the cornstarch. Make this available for the children’s microdramatic play.
  • When the children are outside, help them create another microdramatic play area on a table top with bears, laminated fish, rocks, and small fir trees. Use a piece of blue tarp to simulate water.

Macrodramatic Play Experiences

  • Add winter shoes, hats, mitten, glove, scarves, and other winter clothes that are appropriate for your climate for the children to use in their dress-up play in the dramatic play area.
  • Place a white sheet over a table to create a cave. Add soft pillows in white pillowcases to the cave. Place a few stuffed bears inside the cave to encourage the children’s dramatic play. Consider adding books to encourage quiet activity.

 

Find even more activities like the one above in Let's Build: Strong Foundations in Language, Math, and Social Skills.




"The Best for Babies" Featured on Mommy University Blog a

January 12, 2015

Mommy University blog recently published a review of Alice S. Honig's, The Best for Babies. Read the blogger's interpretation of the book and how parents can become actively involved in their child's care, using Honig's Quality Care Checklist.

From the blog:

"One of the greatest resources The Best for Babies provides is a comprehensive Care Quality Checklist. This checklist covers each of the 24 categories that are thoroughly explained in this book. It provides a series of questions that can be answered while observing the educator in the classroom setting. The Care Quality Checklist is a wonderful tool for helping to determine the quality of care that is available at infant-toddler programs."

Read more about Honig's research-based strategies in The Best for Babies.




Infant-Toddler Caregiver Affirmations for 2015 a

January 07, 2015

Guest Post By: Laura Wilhelm, EdD

Teaching our youngest children is thrilling and exhausting.  Recent studies underscore the value of high-quality early education for all of society. Yet, we forget to appreciate this important and challenging work, and those who make a daily difference in babies’ lives. Start the New Year off right: give a smile, a hug, and maybe your lunch to a teacher of children under three! Also, share these expert opinions on their worth:

“Fundamental to young children’s healthy development, and crucial to the development of their thinking, are the parts adults play in their lives and in their all-round growth and development.”

–Nutbrown & Page

“Much of what infants need is not the planning of specific lessons but a wise adult who can create a rich setting for learning... Research has shown us that much of what needs to happen with infants is not specific lessons but the preparation of their caregivers to capitalize on natural learning opportunities”.

-J. Ronald Lally

“The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.”

 -Bruce D. Perry

“If nature has commanded that of all the animals, infancy shall last longest in human beings--it is because nature knows how many rivers there are to cross and paths to retrace. Nature provides time for mistakes to be corrected (by both children and adults), for prejudices to overcome, and for children to catch their breath and restore their image of themselves, peers, parents, teachers, and the world.”

-Loris Malaguzzi

 “…to teach details is to bring confusion; to establish the relationship between things is to bring knowledge”

– Maria Montessori

“The early nurturance of very young children and the importance of consistent high-quality attachment between caregiver and child are in themselves recognized as the vital components in optimal brain development; a part of every child’s birthright and pivotal features in carefully crafted loving, educational and socio-emotional experience from birth.

–Gammage (Working with Babies and Children from Birth to Three)

 

Happy New Year!

 

Laura Wilhelm, EdD, is an assistant professor of Early Childhood Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Central Oklahoma. Over the past twenty five years, Laura has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, First and Third Grade in urban and suburban schools, directed a laboratory school, and taught graduate and undergraduate courses for teachers, administrators and childcare providers at the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Missouri State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Northern Oklahoma College, and the University of Oklahoma.




Quote of the Week a

January 07, 2015

 

Children bring out the best in us. They remind us of a time when we saw the world through eyes of wonder.



Closing the Word Gap: Why Baby Talk Matters a

December 22, 2014

By Renate Zangl, PhD

Talking with infants has been a hot topic in the news recently. Why? Isn’t it obvious that children need to hear people talking to them in order to learn? Yes, but what is less obvious is how much talking and engaging with infants and toddlers matters.

Parents tend to overestimate how much they talk. The good news is that when parents are invited to talk and engage more, they do so. However, many children do not get enough experiences with language in those very early months and years when the foundation for language and learning is laid. This leads to what researchers call word and language gaps.

What is the word gap and when does it show up?

In a headline-making 1995 study, language researchers Hart & Risley estimated that by age 4, children from low-income families have heard about 30 million fewer words than children in higher-income families. These families tended to talk to their children in more negative, prohibitive tones, where as the higher-educated and high-income families talked to their babies in praising and encouraging messages. Sadly, limited and negative talk stifles the back and forth communication, dampening a child’s curiosity and chattiness over time.

Thirty million words is an enormous gap! For this number to get so big, these children must have heard several thousand fewer words every single day compared to their peers from more high-income, talkative parents.

This word gap in parent talk sets young children back early on, and they stay behind. These children end up less prepared for school, lagging behind in language and cognitive tasks versus their peers.

A 2013 study at Stanford University revealed that the word gap actually starts much earlier than we thought: By the tiny age of 18 months, children from low socioeconomic status are already 6 months behind the others. By the age of 2, these children have a gap in both understanding and saying words.

Word gaps at this young age mean that, at a time when toddlers are just starting out learning language, they are already behind some peers by a quarter of their lifetime.

This leads us to a critical point: More words early on give children more knowledge, more opportunities to learn new words, to do better in kindergarten and school, to make friends and even handle frustrating situations more effectively.

How can you help babies build strong language skills and avoid early word gaps?

By feeding babies lots of words - through talking, reading, and singing in baby talk style - loving responses, listening and face-to-face chats are powerful ways to do so.

My recent book, Raising a Talker: Easy Activities from Birth to Age 3, offers parents and caregivers a powerful toolkit to boost language and learning with easy-to-do play activities that are filled with science-based tips and strategies. Using language and nonverbal communication in new, innovative ways, Raising a Talker allows parents to tune in to their babies’ needs more closely and transform everyday play into memorable language and learning experiences. Developmental overviews, developmental checklists, communication tips and observation guides give parents the know-how to become strong partners for their child to build a promising path for the future together.

A baby who is talked to, and responded to, is a learning baby. Let’s start talking.  

(This is the first part in a series from guest blogger/Gryphon House author Renate Zangl, PhD. For more information, visit RaisingATalker.com).




Parents Ask, Experts Answer reviewed on Try This! Blog a

December 19, 2014

Tina Nocera's Parents Ask, Experts Answer, was reviewed by the mom-blogger behind "Try This!"

Read how this blogger took Nocera's tips to heart with her three boys:

"As a parent, you may assume others have it all figured out-that there is some kind of magic decoder ring or secret handshake that will give you the key to parenting.  But, if each child is unique, how can there be a one-size-fits-all guide to parenting?  Although no one has it all figured out, Parents Ask, Experts Answer empowers you by offering caring, informed responses from a variety of trusted professionals." 

Find more expert answers to your burning parenting questions in Nocera's Parents Ask, Experts Answer.




The Complete Book of Activities Reviewed on "3 Boys and a Dog" Blog a

December 18, 2014

Pam Schiller and Jackie Silberg's book, The Complete Book of Activities, Games, Stories, Props, Recipes, and Dances for Young Children, received a glowing review from parenting blog, "3 Boys and a Dog."

Read why this blogger calls the book, "the early-childhood Bible," and find out more about Schiller and Silberg's popular book.




A Wintry Mix of Fun for Little Hands a

December 17, 2014

Winter is sure to provide plenty of inspiration for even the littlest of learners! With the changing weather and variety of holiday celebrations, there are plenty of opportunities for hands to get messy as creativity soars! Here is a wintry mix of some of our favorite arts and crafts children are sure to love as they learn about the beauty of the season from the comfort of indoors:

1. Bright Filter Snowflakes

Love coffee? Make brightly colored snowflakes from coffee filters to hang in the windows for the holidays!

  • To make a brightly colored snowflake, fold a coffee filter, making a point at the center of the circle and folded edges on the sides.
  • Partly fill small cups or flat jar lids with liquid watercolor paints. Dip the point and edges of a folded filter into different colors of paint. (For muted colors, mix a little water in each cup of paint.) Place the coffee filter on newsprint to dry briefly.
  • Without unfolding the coffee filter, snip large holes from the edges and point, leaving intact spaces between the holes. (Save the colorful scraps.) Unfold to view the brightly colored snowflake.
  • Note: To flatten the snowflakes, an adult can iron them on low heat—no steam—between pieces of paper.
  • Display snowflakes in windows to show off the colors. Use the scraps for other artworks where colorful paper bits are needed.

Source: 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make by Stephanie R. Mueller and Ann E. Wheeler

2. Sit –Down Paint Dancing

Encourage your child to dance to holidays favorites as they use their wiggly feet to paint wrapping paper!

Materials:

  • Butcher or craft paper
  • Tape
  • Child-height chairs
  • Dishpan or tub
  • Paint
  • Dishpan or tub of soapy water
  • Old towels
  • Bare feet, rain boots, or old shoes

Prepare (Adult)

  • Tape a sheet of paper beneath a child-height chair.
  • Pour about 1 cup (240 ml) paint into a dishpan or tub and place it next to the chair.
  • Place old towels and a tub of soapy water next to the chair.

Process (Child)

  • Ask the child to sit on the chair and place the tub of paint on the paper so the child can dip his or her feet into the paint. Then remove the tub.
  • Turn on some cheery holiday music your child can dance to!
  • While seated, press and dance feet on the paper until the paint no longer makes prints. If desired, “re-dip” feet or add new paper.
  • When the child is finished, first wipe his or her feet with an old, dry towel. Then help your child put their feet in the soapy tub of water, then wipe feet dry. (Additional cleaning may be needed.)
  • And the best part? You can now use the dried paper for wrapping paper!

Source: First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos by MaryAnn F. Kohl

3. Holiday Orchestra

Homemade instruments your child can play to bring in the holidays!

Materials:

  • Various sized boxes without lids
  • Assorted rubber bands

What to Do:

  • Wrap three to four rubber bands around each box.
  • Give a box to each child.
  • Help the children select a holiday song such as “Jingle Bells” to sing while strumming their musical box.
  • Talk about what a conductor does. Let the children take turns “conducting” the classroom orchestra.
  • Use the instruments to strum along to your favorite holiday tune!

Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities




"Time to Create" Reviewed in Jersey Family Fun Blog a

December 16, 2014

The blogger from Jersey Family Fun offered this review for Time to Create: Hands-On Exploration in Process Art for Young Children by Christie Burnett.

Read how the blogger and her children enjoyed the activities included. From the post: "I am an educator myself, and there are quite a few activities that I have never seen or done, so it was exciting to learn about new things that I could try, not only with my own children, but also in the classroom."

Find more great art activities in Christie Burnett's Time to Create.




Honig's "The Best for Babies" Reviewed by "Rants and Raves of a Crazed Mom" Blog a

December 16, 2014

Alice Honig's new book, The Best for Babies, received a stellar review from parenting blogger, "Rants and Raves of a Crazed Mom."

From the blog: "Being a parent, it is helpful to have a foundation to guide us to ensure our children are happy and healthy."

Read more of Honig's research-based strategies in The Best for Babies: Expert Advice for Assessing Infant-Toddler Programs. 




Ernst's new book reviewed on Grade ONEderful blog a

December 15, 2014

Read how this mom-blogger learned about recognizing each family's unique strengths from Johnna Darragh Ernst's book, The Welcoming Classroom.

In "Grade ONEderful," blogger Barbara and her readers discuss the importance of building teacher-parent relationships, including the application of simple questions teachers can ask themselves, like, "What does this family need to develop and thrive?" rather than "What is this family missing?" 

Read more about building home-to-school connections in Ernst's new book, The Welcoming Classroom.




Gryphon House author featured on "Today's Parent USA" a

December 15, 2014

Leonisa Ardizzone, author of Science-Not Just for Scientists!, contributed this article to "Today's Parent USA." Check out her 5 easy tips for parents to jump-start their child's scientific inquiry!

Find more great tips, tricks and easy explorations in Science-Not Just for Scientists!




Author Q&A Series: Alice Honig a

December 15, 2014

 

It's time for another Gryphon House Author Q&A! Dr. Alice Sterling Honig has devoted her career to discovering ways to best nurture and support the development of young children. In our interview, Dr. Honig talks about the importance of children's earliest years, babies' brain development, and caring for our littlest learners. 

 

Q1: Why are the earliest years so crucial for children?

Intimacy and the development of secure attachments should be the birthright of every baby born. With secure attachment to a loving, nurturing caregiver (or several) and a child’s feeling that he or she is loveable and loved, that child has the psychological stamina to be courageous, to struggle against troubles in later life, to develop a passion for learning, and to have the energy and persistence to learn in school. That child can experience life’s struggles without resorting to violence or drugs.

Q2: Why is knowledge about early childhood crucial for directors, care providers, teachers, and families?

Without such knowledge, adults tend to perpetuate sometimes ineffective, sometimes harmful, sometimes, soul-withering responses to developmentally expectable behaviors in young children, such as toileting accidents, biting, shyness, clumsiness, etc.    

Q3: In regard to brain development in young children, how important are language interactions?

Language skills—decoding (understanding or receptive language), being able to articulate needs and wishes, and being able to describe events and communicate with peers (expressive language)—leads to more positive peer interactions in early years and more positive interactions with teachers and care providers.

Q4: How can parents and caregivers try to encourage a love for books at an early age?

Babies who are snuggled and read to with interesting, animated voices; who are allowed to bat at and help turn pages; who can look at colorful, clear pictures; and who are read to about subjects of interest to babies will develop a love of books. These experiences in infancy arouse a positive passion for books and for learning from books that can lead to a good foundation for school success.            

Q5: In The Best for Babies, you encourage caregivers to reflect on their interactions with the babies in their care. How important is it to take a step back and reflect?

Adults who care for young children need a lot of self-reflection and the ability to learn and grow in the ever-evolving nature of child care as children grow and develop. Adults who are tolerant yet firm, affectionate and devoted, with clear rules and a deep appreciation of the individuality of each child will help develop self-control and self-reflection in the children they nurture. Self-control skills have been found to better predict high-school outcomes than early IQ testing does!

Q6: How important is the development of kindness and compassion in young children?

Kindness, empathy, and the nurture of prosocial dispositions, such as the ability to be helpful and be a good friend and the ability to solve social tussles with peers in a positive way, are characteristics that can lead to a child’s having friends, not being isolated, not being aggressive with peers, and can help guard against a child being bullied later in school.

 

Biography: Alice Sterling Honig, PhD, is a professor emerita in the Syracuse University department of child and family studies. For 36 years, she directed Syracuse University's National Quality Infant/Toddler Caregiving Workshop. Additionally, she has taught courses in parenting, prosocial development, observation and assessment, cross-cultural and language development, and research methods in studying children. As a licensed psychologist in the state of New York, Dr. Honig carries out assessments of infants’, preschoolers’, and school-age children’s cognitive and emotional development as well as helping families with problems.




Parent Tips: Stress Management for the Holidays a

December 08, 2014

 

With Thanksgiving barely finished and holidays approaching, along with the usual life scramble that comes along with the beginning of a new year, being a parent can get stressful! We want to make sure you’re staying healthy for the holidays by keeping stress in check. Besides providing you with resilience, keeping that inner calm will hopefully transfer to the rest of the family, including your little ones! Here are some simple lifestyle approaches you can take to manage stress levels during the holidays:

 

Keeping an Eye on the Budget

Money gets tight around the holidays, especially with gifts to buy and travel to consider. Here are few saving strategies you can use to make sure finances aren’t becoming a stressor for your family:

Work Lunches

You’d be surprised by how much all of the weekly lunches with coworkers add up to! Packing lunches the night before and using leftovers from earlier in the week is a great way to save time, money, and calories! If you find yourself going out simply to “get out of the building,” eat your lunch then go for a short walk at lunch. It’s a great stress reliever and leaves your budget none the wiser!

Comparing Prices

Reduce your grocery bill by making sure you take the time to compare prices instead of picking up what’s most convenient. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

  • Include a warehouse club on your comparison-shopping trip. (Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.) Even though you buy in bulk, you could be saving!
  • Include stores that are outside of your neighborhood if they have better prices.
  • Forget about brand names.
  • To make fair comparisons, note the size as well as the price of each item.
  • Ignore sale prices.

Preparing Last-Minute Meals

Keep the ingredients for your family’s two favorite meals on hand at all times. This also prevents any last-minute, expensive trips for fast food.

Favorite Gift Ideas

When purchasing gifts for children, it’s best to give gifts that will stimulate imaginations as opposed to simply requiring children to sit and observe. Here are a few ideas:

  • Children under five: Office supplies (index cards, highlighters, hand stamp with ink pad, inexpensive calculator, tape, etc.) so they can pretend they’re at work; blackboard, chalk, eraser and maps to play “school”; homemade blocks in lots of shapes and sizes; dictionary; dress-up clothes for dramatic play.
  • Six-to-ten years old: Preprinted return address labels; a hammer, nails, wood scraps; a date with one or both parents (no siblings allowed); large bottle of tempura paint, brushes and poster board; books on their favorite topic.
  • Preteens: A blank journal with a fancy pen; any clothing with the name of the high school they’ll attend; a photo album; a magazine subscription for a learning resource; board games.

And finally…

Lower Your Expectations

When we think of the holidays, we often imagine happy, well-behaved children enjoying family’s company while watching the snowfall and quietly falling asleep on the drive home. As every honest parent knows, that’s not quite how things work and it’s important to be realistic about what to expect from the holidays. Realize that things will go wrong and not according to plan, but that it’s ok because you’re surrounded by the ones you love!

Find even more year-round stress busters and small comforts for families who do too much in The Simpler Family.​




Sparkle Ice: A Science Activity for Winter a

December 04, 2014

A STEM activity from The Preschool Scientist

The children in your home or classroom have probably been introduced to water freezing and forming ice. This activity is a simple review of the process, but this time the children should focus on the change taking place. The water changes into ice because of the cold temperature. When the temperature warms up, the ice can change back to water. A little glitter provides evidence of the change.

Materials:

  • 2-3 cups of water
  • food coloring
  • freezer
  • glitter or sequins
  • ice cube trays
  • pitcher
  • potted plants

What to Do:

  1. Talk with the children about what they know about ice. Encourage them to share things they know in addition to their classroom experiences. Perhaps someone knows about icicles. Someone else might ice skate.
  2. Fill a pitcher with water. Have the children feel the water and talk about its temperature. Tell the children that you are going to use the water to make ice. Talk about what you need to do to make ice. Most children at this age will know you can put water in the freezer to make ice.
  3. Tell the children that you are going to do something special with this ice so that when it melts, it will be easy to find where the ice once was. Set out several ice-cube trays. Provide some food coloring, glitter,  and sequins and invite the children to put these materials into the water they put in the trays.
  4. Place the trays in the freezer. Say, “Tomorrow we will look at the trays to see if the ice is ready.” Let the children observe the freezer to see how cold it is.
  5. The next day, remove the trays from the freezer and show them to the children. Encourage the children to talk about how the water looks now. Point out that the water changed because it was very cold in the freezer. Ask the children how the water is different from the water they touched yesterday.
  6. Tell the children they are going to let the ice change back into water. “We are going to find lots of places to watch it happen. When the ice cubes disappear, the glitter, sequins, and some remaining water will tell us where the ice cubes used to be.”
  7. With the children, walk around both inside and outside and find places to put the ice so it can melt. Remind the children that ice turns into water, so they need find places where the ice can melt without hurting anything. Suggest putting one cube in a cup where everyone can see it, and putting others in potted plants around the room. Another possibility is to put one on the counter by the sink and another in an empty paint cup. Go outside and find more places to put the ice. Ask, “Could one go at the end of the bench? How about in a few spots on the sidewalk?”
  8. Ask the children to observed the ice periodically. The glitter or colored water will mark the spots where the ice changed back to water.

Observing and Assessing the Child’s Science Learning

  • Can the child describe the different states of water he or she observed?
  • Can the child explain that ice forms when water freezes and that when ice melts it changes back to water?

 

Keep It Simple

  • Place pieces of fruit in the freezer and encourage the children to observe the pieces of fruit change when they freeze. Compare the frozen fruit to frozen water.

Add a Challenge

  • Place water in one compartment of an ice tray, powdered drink mixture in another, orange juice in another, milk in another, and so on. Compare the results when you freeze these different liquids.

 

Lesson Connections:

Themes (Seasons/Weather)
Take Sparkle Ice outside in both the summer and winter and let the children see how different kinds of weather affect the ice.
Snacks and Cooking
Make frozen treats as part of a summer or cooking theme. Bring in an ice-creme freezer and help the children make ice cream. Make frozen juice, yogurt, or pudding pops for the children to try. Frozen bananas and grapes are delicious, too
Dual Language Learners
Make this a collaborative project by pairing children who are learning English with fluent English-speaking partners. Encourage each of the children to help one another describe what they see.

Children’s Books

  • Angelina Ice Skates by Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig
  • From to Cow to Ice Cream by Bertram T. Knight

 

 

 

For more ideas on using learning centers to discover and explore science, check out The Preschool Scientist.




Science Investigations for Winter! a

December 02, 2014

With the cold snaps, sniffling noses, and trend toward scarves, winter is finally upon us! While the chilly weather may leave educators and parents wanting to stay inside with something warm to drink and a comfortable pair of pajamas, young children want nothing more than to explore! Curiosity is natural in children and science investigation is their natural method of discovery. Winter provides a variety of science lessons you can teach children inside without worrying about the colds that may accompany prolonged amounts of time in the cold weather. Here are indoor science investigations you can engage your students in to celebrate the start of winter:

Activity: What Form Am I?

Objective: How can we tell potential energy from kinetic energy?

Being stuck inside can leave children with stores of endless energy, that’s why it offers the perfect opportunity to teach children about different types of energy while expelling some of their own!

Materials:

  • Dominoes
  • Thin plank blocks (Kaplan blocks)
  • Small books, one for each child

Methods:

  1. Ask the children to stand with you and shimmy and shake. Tell them that when you say, “Freeze!” they are to stop moving. When you say, “Wiggle!” they can move again. Play this game a few times.
  2. Ask the children that they notice about their bodies when they freeze. What are they doing? What does it feel like when we freeze? How does it feel when we move?
  3. Give the children small books, and show them how to balance the books on their heads. Can they do it? Do the books fall? Can they walk around the room—or even just take a couple of steps—with the books on their heads? Why is that so difficult? When they are moving, is the book moving, too? What makes the books go from resting on their heads to falling onto the floor?
  4. Put the books aside, and transition into another activity. Gather the children into small groups, and give them dominoes or plank blocks. They will make a domino line to play with the idea of potential and kinetic energy. Show them how to stand the dominoes or planks on end and create a chain. When they are ready, let them tip the first domino, transferring energy from their hands into the domino, which should start a chain reaction. Let them explore making the dominoes topple over in a line.
  5. While playing with the dominoes, introduce the terms potential energy and kinetic energy.
Find even more science explorations like the one above in the book Science—Not Just for Scientists!

Activity: Drifting Snow

Encourage children to observe how the amount of snow on the ground varies over time, and to recognize how cold and warm spells, wind, and additional storms affect the amount of snow on the ground throughout winter.

Materials:

  • Calendar
  • Long stick
  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler

What to Do:

  1. When the weather forecast begins to predict the first snowfall of the year, talk with the children about snow, and how they think snow will affect the area.
  2. Talk about meteorologists’ predictions. Guide the children toward the idea of putting sticks outside in places where they will not be disturbed.
  3. After the snow (assuming school does not close) bring the children outside and help them find a few locations where they can measure the snowfall.
  4. Give the children sticks to put in the snow to measure how much snow falls. Give the children markers to draw lines on the sticks indicating the depths of the snow they measure, and then help them write the day’s date on the sticks.
  5. After a few days, bring the children outside to measure and mark on their sticks the snow’s new depth. After each snowstorm or change in temperature, bring the children outside to measure the snow’s new depth, and help them mark and date it on their sticks.
  6. After the winter ends and the snow all melts, invite the children to look at all the sticks together and compare them. Have a classroom discussion on how snow forms and why it melts.
Find even more science activities for the classroom in the book Science Adventures!



Quote of the Week a

November 26, 2014

If a child is struggling to find a love for reading, try switching content to a subject they are passionate about.




The Best for Babies Tip Sheet a

November 20, 2014

To download a copy of The Best for Babies tip sheet, click Download under the PDF Available section to the right.




GH Author Q&A Series: Johnna Darragh Ernst on 'The Welcoming Classroom' a

November 19, 2014

 

As an early childhood educator, it can be hard to successfully reach families who vary culturally, linguistically, and in experience when it come to participating in the classroom. It can be a challenge to partner with each family through recognizing their individual strengths, concerns, priorities, and resources. That's where Gryphon House author Johnna Darragh Ernst, PhD can help! With her new book, The Welcoming Classroom, Ernst provides teachers with solid strategies for creating a welcoming atmosphere in the classroom that will leave parents excited to participate. Hear from the author herself in her author interview below:

Q1. What would you say is the biggest challenge in getting families engaged in the classroom?

A1: The biggest challenge in getting families engaged in the classroom is not having a meaningful connection with those families. Connection is the foundation for relationships and engagement. When we are connected, we learn about families and potential obstacles to engagement. Perhaps transportation is a challenge for families, maybe families are unsure of expectations within the classroom, or maybe families have had negative experiences with formal educational settings in the past. If we have built a connection and developed a relationship with the family, we are likely to understand potential obstacles and be able to work with the family to overcome them. Building a meaningful connection also requires understanding ourselves—what are our expectations for family engagement?  How does this influence our communication about the importance of engagement?  What impact do our own personal lenses have on the connections we build? If we are not connected, meaningful engagement becomes a challenge.

Q2. How do you engage parents in the classroom if you don’t speak their language?

A2: When a family’s home language differs from our own, there are a variety of strategies we can put in place. It’s important to learn greetings in the family's home language as a sign of respect. Programs may have access to an interpreter, which can be extremely helpful in gathering important information from families, providing families with meaningful information, and establishing bidirectional communication. Translating program communications into the families’ home languages is important, as well. Once foundational communication strategies are in place, you can find out the kinds of engagement opportunities that would be comfortable and meaningful for families. Some families might prefer reading a book to children in their home language, while others would rather pour juice at snack or help out during outdoor play. Other families might feel most comfortable serving on a parent committee that makes decisions about the program or assisting with a planned family event. Across each activity, you need to determine supports are needed, such as instruction and explanations in their home language or having an interpreter present. Meaningful engagement requires tailoring opportunities to family preferences and comfort levels and providing supports that promote success.    

Q3. What’s the most effective strategy you’ve found for engaging with a family who is reluctant to participate?

A3: Supporting engagement, especially when a family is reluctant, requires openness, responsiveness, and working to support connection. As professionals, it’s so important that we are open and truly responsive to where the family is coming from. Initially, we might make assumptions and respond to those assumptions: for example, “That family isn’t engaged because they don’t care about academic learning,” or “They aren’t engaged because they’re more concerned about….” When we are open and responsive and really seek to learn about where a family is coming from, we gain information about what potential obstacles might be facing families and can correct and look beyond our initial assumptions. We might learn that a family is unsure of how to support their child’s learning based on their own previous experiences or that they are using strategies that they feel would be effective but are open to new ways of interacting. Our openness and responsiveness can teach us about the families and important things about ourselves, including new ways to support children’s development and learning. This supports connection—through reaching out and representing our most authentic self and truly working to forge a connection, we can build rich, rewarding partnerships. 

Q4. How does parent engagement affect support children’s development and learning?

A4: Research has consistently shown that engaging families has a far greater impact than the good feeling that might come from having them involved in your program. Engaged families make a difference in the lives of their children! Supporting family engagement improves school readiness, promotes student academic achievement, and increases graduation rates. The children of engaged families perform well in school and are more likely to be promoted to the next grade. Research has also shown that children with engaged families have more positive engagement with peers and other adults and tend to have more positive attitudes overall toward their learning. The benefits of family engagement have been shown to persist over time; the investment that you make in engaging families now can positively affect the child and family for many years to come.

Q5. What are some ways to help families who are facing economic, language, health, or other challenges feel welcome and supported?

A5: I think the recipe for making sure that each and every family feels welcome and supported is similar regardless of family situation: You need to deeply understand the unique needs of each individual family and be responsive to those unique needs. This requires learning about each family’s strengths, concerns, priorities, and resources and building on that information to create a responsive, respectful connection. It’s essential to adopt a strengths-based approach—as opposed to looking through a lens that identifies what families are missing—where we look through a lens that explores what families need to develop and thrive, building from the strengths they already have. It’s so important that we not impose our viewpoints and values but rather truly and deeply listen to the family and where they are and be responsive from that space.

Q6. Does family engagement in the classroom really make that big of a difference? What are the biggest benefits from these classroom interactions?

A6: It is important to think about family engagement holistically. Having families engaged in the classroom is one small aspect of family engagement. Ideally, we see families engaged within the classroom; with children after school; and in all aspects of children's educational, social, and healthy development and learning. When we work to support one aspect of their lives through classroom-based engagement, we are modeling and supporting engagement in other contexts. The messages that we can convey and the support that we can provide not only influence the support children receive after school hours but can also have a ripple effect on how children are supported once they leave the classroom. For example, if parents receive the message that they are their child's most important teacher and advocate and build the skills to support that role, they can carry that message and skills with them for years to come. Your efforts will continue to affect the child's life even after they’ve left your classroom.

Biography: Johnna Darragh Ernst, PhD, is a distinguished professor of early childhood education at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois. She specializes in helping early childhood professionals connect with families to create inclusive early childhood classroom communities.




Quote of the Week a

November 18, 2014

What does play teach you about your children?




Play it Safe for the Holidays a

November 18, 2014

Guest Post by Laura Wilhelm, EdD

Welcoming families and friends, feasting, and traveling are favorite traditions for many this time of year. Careful planning can make the holidays less hectic and safer for young children.

In the classroom:

  • Plan lots of “sponge” activities (songs to sing and act out, simple props for retelling stories, Play-doh, & sensory tubs and trays) that can fill unexpected voids around parties, practices, and visitors. I once kept a basket of these ideas under my group-time teacher chair.
  • Take extra time to make sure decorations are free from choking hazards, toxic materials, and that cords are safely taped away.
  • Keep your sense of humor handy. When schedules get scrambled, things will go wrong.
  • Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. (It’s like putting on your own mask first, so you can help others.)
  • Wash your hands upon arrival, before and after assisting children with meals and toileting, and whenever you think of it. Avoid touching your face. Germs like to enter through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Whenever possible, take the class out for a quick walk, and take longer walks when the weather permits. Not only does this give you all fresh air and exercise, you also get to breath air that everyone isn’t coughing and sneezing into.

Share ideas with families that will keep little ones safer when the kitchen is full of cooks and chaos:

  • Prepare a basket of special books ahead of time for elder family members to read with little ones.
  • Gather weather-appropriate toys and gear, balls, Frisbees, shovels, glow-in-the dark toys, etc. near the door to encourage outdoor play with older friends and cousins. Extra jackets and gloves might encourage them to play longer.
  • Move a train set or big box of Legos into the living room to encourage cross-generational play.
  • Ask relatives to teach the kids to play the games they played as children.

To keep homes safer:

  • Test smoke alarms (I do this with my cooking. You can use the button).
  • Make sure someone is in the kitchen when food is cooking and home while the turkey is on.
  • Turn all pan handles away from the edge of the stove to avoid being grabbed by little hands.
  • Keep knives out of reach and make sure that electric appliance cords aren’t dangling.
  • Matches, lighters, and candles should be inaccessible. (Nat’l Fire Protection Asso.)
  • Keep toys, luggage, bags, and other clutter out of walkways.
  • When you travel, don’t alert thieves by posting your plans on social media.
  • Put away ladders after cleaning gutters and trim branches to limit access to upper windows.

It’s not a holiday with a little mess and confusion, but children will be more comfortable when routines at home and school are as predictable as possible. Warn them when there will be changes, and be ready with a contingency plan when things don’t go the way you envisioned.

Most of all, count ALL of your blessings! It won’t hurt to take a bubble bath and a nap! 

 

About the Author: Laura Wilhelm, EdD, is an assistant professor of Early Childhood Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Central Oklahoma. Over the past twenty five years, Laura has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, First and Third Grade in urban and suburban schools, directed a laboratory school, and taught graduate and undergraduate courses for teachers, administrators and childcare providers at the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Missouri State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Northern Oklahoma College, and the University of Oklahoma. 




Strategies for Encouraging Young Readers a

November 13, 2014

Reading doesn’t always come easy to students, even though it serves as the basis for understanding the majority of subjects. As an educator, it can be hard to push early literacy in students who can’t grasp concepts their peers may excel in. In celebration of National Young Readers week, we have a few strategies you might find helpful to implement in the classroom that not only aid struggling readers, but also do so through fun methods that leave readers feeling encouraged.

1. Get Children Moving!

A Sentence Tells a Little Story

This activity supports the understanding of basic sentence structure.

How to Do It

  1. Tell the children that a sentence is a group of words that go together to give a complete idea. Explain that by themselves the words cannot do much, but all together they make sense and tell a little story.
  2. Ask the children to stand. Choose a word to be your subject, such as dog. Tell children that, when you say dog, they are to freeze in a dog pose. Look at the children and say, “Dog.”
  3. Pick and action word that goes with the subject. Tell the class that you will give them an action to do as dogs. Say, for example, jumps, skips, wiggles, hops, or crawls, and let the children act out the verb.
  4. Ask them to freeze in a dog post again. Tell them you will give them a descriptive word to tell how the dog is moving—an adverb. Offer and adverb, such as fast, slowly, crazily, or sleepily.
  5. Say the whole sentence, pausing between words. Encourage the children act out the sentence. The dog (pause) craws (pause) slowly (pause).
  6. Put the three parts together without pauses and let the children act out the sentence. Pause at the end of the sentence, and say, “That is a sentence!”
  7. Change the adverbs to let the children act out the sentences in different ways. Ask the class, “How did the dog crawl?” Let them answer you.

Expand It!

-Encourage the children to take turns making their own sentences. Give them a subject, and ask them to offer sentences for the class to act out.

Find even more ways to incorporate movement and early literacy in Deborah Michals’ book Up, Down, Move Around Math and Literacy.

2. Make it a Game!

Increase alphabet recognition, social skills, motor skills, and develop phonological awareness in students with teacher-made props! Here are a few simple games to creative a love of reading in children:

Dinosaur Feet:

-Cut out dinosaur feet from construction paper using the patter below. If possible, laminate for durability. Write letters on the feet and scatter them around the room. Invite the children to take turns walking, hopping, or tiptoeing on the feet as they name the letters. Can the children put the feet in alphabetical order?

Egg Match:

-You will need plastic eggs and a permanent marker for this game. Write an uppercase letter on one half of the egg and the matching lowercase letter on the other half. Take the eggs apart and place them in a basket or box. Invite the children to match the letters as they put the eggs together.

Beanbag Toss:

-Make a beanbag by placing a cup of small pebbles or beads in an old sock. Wrap a rubber band around the foot of the sock, and then fold the cuff back over the toe. Draw a grid on a large piece of the poster board or bulletin board paper (three squares across and four squares down). Write different letters in each square. Have children stand behind a designated line and toss the beanbag. What letter does it land on? Can they think of a word that begins with that sound?

Find even more games to play for letter recognition in Jean Feldman and Holly Karapetkova’s I Love Letters!

3. Take it Outside!

Sometimes, all children need is a change of scenery and an extra dose of fun to make letters fall into place. Here is a fun activity from Let's Take it Outside that you can do with toddlers to increase letter recognition.

Fun with Swirly Letters!

Materials:

  • Bowl of water for rinsing hands
  • Shaving cream
  • Table with a smooth surface, or several trays

What to Do:

This is an activity that can be taken outside on a warm day!

  • Squire some shaving cream onto the tabletop or the trays.
  • Depending on the ages of the children, either let them play freely in the slippery soap. Or ask them to imitate the letters and shapes you draw.
  • Replenish the shaving cream as needed.

Children’s Book

-Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Though early literacy can be a struggle for some, there are a variety of learning approaches that can be taken to ensure all students progress; just make sure you’re up for trying new things!

Have ideas for making early literacy easier for kids? Share them with us by commenting below.




A Wreath for Every Season a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Art
Topic: Weather
Content: The Arts: Dramatic Arts
Area: Fine Motor
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: card stock glue cut shapes cupcake papers Easter grass flower pictures pumpkin shapes foam shapes from a craft store pictures from magazines shapes from die cuts
Instructions: l Cut the card stock into circles, and then cut out their centers, making donut
shapes to which the children can glue objects.
What To Do
1. At the start of each new season, talk with the children about what the season
means to them. Ask for ideas of images and objects that they associate with
the season.
2. Show the children the materials that they will be using to make seasonal
wreaths.
3. Help the children sort through the images and objects and find things that they
associate with the season, and then help them attach the images and objects
to their wreaths.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Bring the children outside so they can collect items to add to their wreaths,
such as twigs, leaves, acorns, seeds, dandelions, small stones, and so on.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children distinguish between the seasons?
l Are the children able to glue and decorate their wreaths with seasonappropriate
images?



Growing with the Seasons a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Art
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Individual Child



Like the Breezes of the Seasons a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Transition
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: none
Instructions: 1. As the children move from one area to another
during the day, direct them to move how the
wind blows during the different seasons. Choose
different movements from below for different
times of the day.
l Move like the breeze in the summer, cool in
the heat (put arms out to the side and sway
side to side while walking).
l Move like the wind in the fall, tumbling the
leaves (hold arms up and then flutter hands down like leaves, repeating
while walking).
l Move like the brisk gust in the winter, cold and mean (swing arms at sides
quickly and put on stern faces).
l Move like the wind in the spring, through long grass green (hold arms up
while walking, waving them back and forth like grass).
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l For transitions while children are waiting in line, or to fill in a short gap
between activities in the classroom, combine all four seasons into a single
poem and allow children to act them out as you narrate.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children understand the differences between the seasons?
l Can the children make the motions as described?



Taste the Seasons a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Cooking
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Language
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: foods from each season
Instructions: l Select foods that are in season in
the summer, winter, spring, and fall.
l Chop the foods into sample sizes.
l Set out each season's selections on
separate trays and cover the trays
with cloth.
What To Do
1. Talk with the children about how
certain foods grow in particular
seasons. Ask the children if they can name foods that are connected with a
particular season.
2. Lift the cover off of the summer tray, and explain that farmers harvest these
foods in the summer.
3. Invite the children to try the foods on the tray. Talk with them about the
flavors of the foods.
4. Repeat the process until the children taste and discuss all the foods on each
tray.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children say what foods farmers harvest in particular seasons?
l Can the children talk about which foods they liked the most or the least?



Season's Eating! a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Cooking
Topic: Food
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: slice and bake cookie dough cookie cutters leaves, pumpkins, snowflakes, tulips, and other seasonal shapes waxed paper sheet per child large enough to completely cover cookie dough (child will press dough flat inside the waxed paper) stove or toaster oven to bake cookies plastic baggies
Instructions: l Knead the cookie dough into fist-sized balls, making one per child.
l Roll the balls in waxed paper, and slide each wrapped ball of dough
into its own plastic baggie.
l Write each child's name on one baggie.
What To Do
1. Read books about the seasons with the children (see list at the left).
Discuss the symbols that indicate each season.
2. Show the children the materials. Give each child a ball of cookie
dough wrapped completely in waxed paper.
3. Invite the children to press their dough as flat as possible.
4. Pass out seasonal cookie cutters the children can use to make seasonal
cookie shapes. Talk with the children about the shapes they choose.
Ask why they picked one seasonal shape over another.
5. Put the cookies in the oven and bake them (adult only step). When
they are cool, serve the cookies.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Consider making a graph of the seasonal cookies to determine which
symbols and seasons were the most popular.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do children recognize certain symbols as associated with specific
seasons?
l Do children understand the concept of differing seasons?
l Can the children talk about why they picked certain cookie-cutter
symbols?



Autumn Applesauce a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Cooking
Topic: Food
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: applesauce recipe (see to the right) saucepan oven potato masher plates spoons
Instructions: Recipe
4 Cortland apples
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
(Double the recipe for larger groups of children.)
Preparation
l Core the apples. Place all the ingredients in a
saucepan. Cover and cook for 20 minutes just prior to doing this activity. Stir
occasionally as mixture cooks. Let cool before showing the mixture to the
children.
What To Do
1. Ask the children if they have ever eaten applesauce. Explain that applesauce is
made from cooked, mashed apples. Talk with the children about how farmers
commonly harvest apples in the fall.
2. Show the children a second set of unmixed ingredients and tell them they will
be making applesauce together.
3. Show the children the ingredients mixed and heated in the saucepan. Note:
Be sure the saucepan and contents are cool before placing them within the
children's reach.
4. Give each child the potato masher in turn, and let each child mash the mixture
in the saucepan.
5. After the children thoroughly mash the mixture, stir it a little, and serve it to the
children on individual plates.
6. Talk with the children about how they helped to make applesauce.
Assessment
l Do the children understand that making applesauce is a process?
l Do the children enjoy their snack? Are the children proud to have helped
make their food?



Autumn Apples a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Cooking
Topic: Food
Content: Science
Area: Language
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: apples (several different varieties) knife (adult use only) cutting board napkins or small paper plates
Instructions: l Display the apples in the snack and cooking area.
What To Do
1. Tell the children that many different kinds of apples ripen in the fall.
Apples can be red, pink, yellow, or green depending on their type. An
apple can even be more than one color, like a Pink Lady that is pink
and yellow, or a McIntosh that is red and green.
2. Ask the children to identify the colors of the apples in the snack center.
3. Use the knife and cutting board to slice the apples. Place the apple
slices on napkins or small paper plates, and pass them out to the
children.
4. Ask the children to describe the taste and texture of the different kinds
of apples. "Are some sweet? Tart? Crunchy? Soft?" Help the children
think of words to describe their apples slices.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Keep the knife and cutting board in a secure location when not in use.
Remind the children that the knife is for adult use only.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Are the children able to identify the colors of the apples?
l Can the children use one or two words to describe the taste or texture
of their apple slices?



Summer in the Desert a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Plants
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: magazine pictures of the desert and cacti crayons construction paper child-safe scissors paste or glue
Instructions: . Read the children a book about the desert climate (see the list to the left for
suggestions) and then engage the children in a discussion about desert plants.
2. Talk about succulents and the fact that all cacti are succulents, but not all
succulents are cacti.
3. Show the children the materials. Invite the children to cut out pictures of cacti
and paste them onto construction paper, making a collage of their choosing.
Also encourage the children to draw and color cacti.
4. When finished, help the children sign their names and put the children's
papers on the wall for the children's parents and family members to see.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Children who don't live in the American Southwest may not understand that
there is little rain during the summer.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children understand that cacti prepare for the hot summer by storing
water?
l Can the children identify which plants are cacti and which are not?



Frog Jump a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Animals
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: pictures of stages in the frog life cycle large sheets of heavy green paper or card stock scissors (adult use only) giant foam or rubber dice or number cards
Instructions: l Find images (from books, magazines, or the Internet) of the following:
l frog spawn
l tadpole with short tail
l tadpole with long tail
l tadpole with long tail and short legs
l tadpole with four limbs and shorter tail
l small frog
l medium-sized frog
l large frog
l Cut out huge lily pads from green paper and arrange these throughout the
classroom about four to six child-size jumps apart. Attach a picture of a frog's
life stage to each lily pad.
What To Do
1. Talk with the children about how in the springtime new young creatures begin
to grow. Show the children images of the frog's life cycle.
2. Show the children the "lily pads" set up around the classroom.
3. Starting at the frog spawn lily pad, have the children take turns throwing the
dice and doing as many squatting frog jumps or hops toward the next lily pad
as the dice allow.
4. When the children reach each lily pad, they look at the image attached to it
and name the frog's stage of development.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children understand the basic life cycle of a frog?
l Are the children able to identify the frog's life stages by looking at the cards
on the lily pads?
l Are the children able to frog-hop from lily pad to lily pad?



Winter Tracks a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Animals
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: images of winter animals (deer, bird, bunny, raccoon, mouse) and their tracks cotton construction paper in various colors markers child-safe scissors
Instructions: l Scatter some cotton balls around on the floor, like snow. Hide the pictures of
animals in different parts of the classroom, putting down images of their tracks
in lines through the cotton "snow" toward their locations.
What To Do
1. Gather the children together and talk with them about the winter. Ask the
children what kind of animals they have seen outdoors in the winter.
2. Read the children a book about animals in the winter (see list to the left).
3. Point out the animal tracks on the floor. Ask the children if they recognize any
of the footprints in the "snow."
4. Invite the children to follow the tracks and see whether they correctly
identified the animals who left the tracks.
5. Set out the markers, paper, and child-safe scissors. Show the children how
to draw outlines of their footprints and then cut them out. Help the children
make tracks of themselves through the classroom.
s o n g
Winter Tracks by Kristen Peters
(Tune: "Baa, Baa Black Sheep")
Follow the tracks in the white, wet snow.
Uphill, downhill, wherever they may go.
Big tracks, little tracks; wonder who made them,
Leading under a bush or into a den.
Follow the tracks and maybe we will see
What animal is hiding. Who could it be?
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children name the animals that made the tracks in the snow?
l Are the children able to trace and cut out their own shoe prints?



The Robin Redbreast a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Animals
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: paper strips strings twigs ribbons blue paper scissors (adult use only)
Instructions: 1. Show the children the paper strips, strings, and other materials. Explain that
these are some of the kinds of materials birds use to make their nests.
2. Choose one child to be the robin redbreast. Spread the nesting materials
outside the circle of children.
3. Invite the children to sing the following song, while the "robin" goes around
them, gathering the nesting material and building a nest inside the circle.
Robin's Nest by Ingelore Mix
(Tune: "London Bridge Is Falling Down")
Robin collects lots of stuff,
Lots of stuff, lots of stuff,
Robin collects lots of stuff,
Until she has enough.
For her chicks she builds a nest,
Builds a nest, builds a nest.
For her chicks she builds a nest.
She builds the very best.
Deep inside she lays her eggs,
Lays her eggs, lays her eggs.
Deep inside she lays her eggs
In the nest she's made.
We wait and wait and wait
some more,
Wait some more, wait some more.
We wait and wait and wait
some more,
Knowing what's in store.
And then we see three chicks
pop out,
Chicks pop out, chicks pop out.
And then we see three chicks
pop out
To greet the morning sun.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children know the birds come back in the spring?
l Can the children describe the process through which birds hatch their eggs?



Icy Explorations a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Water
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Individual Child
Materials: small plastic winter animals: polar bears, seals, penguins, and so on small containers tongue depressors salt shakers eyedroppers colored water
Instructions: l Place plastic winter animals in each small container, and then pour in
water to fill the container.
l Create a mini iceberg by placing the filled containers in the freezer
until the water freezes.
l Set out the small jars with colored water.
What To Do
1. Talk with the children about the winter season and how cold it gets.
Ask the children if they have ever seen a block of ice floating in a
creek, river, or lake. Explain that these are called icebergs.
2. Provide each child with an iceberg. Ask the children what they know
about icebergs.
3. Demonstrate how to use the eyedroppers in the colored water:
Challenge the children to predict what will happen when the iceberg
and the colored water meet. Drop the colored water onto the iceberg
and observe what happens to the iceberg.
4. Shake some salt from the salt shaker onto the colored iceberg and stir
the mixture with a tongue depressor.
5. Continue this procedure until the ice melts away and the plastic animal
is found.
6. Talk with the children about what is happening to the iceberg. Ask if
this matches the children's predictions.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children describe what is happening to the iceberg and why?
l Are the children able to follow the directions?



From Caterpillar to Butterfly a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Bugs/Ants/Insects/Spiders
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: glass jar milkweed leaf small stick gauze butterfly egg paper markers, crayons, pencils
Instructions: l Purchase butterfly eggs prior to this activity.
What To Do
1. Engage the children in a discussion about butterflies, and how they are springtime
and summertime creatures. Ask where the children have seen butterflies,
what time of year it was, and what the butterflies were doing.
2. Explain to the children how butterflies come from caterpillars.
3. Tell the children they will be helping to raise a butterfly from an egg to full
growth. Invite the children to make sketches and drawings during each step of
the process.
4. Show the children the glass jar. Place the butterfly egg, milkweed leaf, and
small stick inside the jar for the children to see. Note: Make sure the leaf
remains moist, though not very wet.
5. Once the caterpillar emerges, cover the jar with a piece of gauze. The
caterpillar will need replenished milkweed leaves over time.
6. Eventually, the caterpillar should attach to the stick and form a cocoon. Show
this to the children and discuss what they see.
7. Eventually the butterfly will emerge from the cocoon. When this happens, take
the jar outside with the children and remove the gauze so the butterfly can go
free.
8. After the butterfly is gone, talk with the children about each step in the
process. Encourage them to review their drawings as they discuss what
happened.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children understand that caterpillars become butterflies?
l Are the children engaged and interested in the process? What kinds of
illustrations do they make?



Fall Color Changes a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Small Group
Materials: construction paper in various colors child-safe scissors pictures from magazines of fall colors paste
Instructions: 1. With the children, discuss how some trees change in the fall. Talk
about how evergreen trees do not change color and how deciduous
trees do change color.
2. If the children live in an area where leaves change, talk about
those trees. Encourage the children to talk about the trees in their
neighborhoods. Have they seen any color changes?
3. At the tables, set out the materials and invite the children to cut out
leaves in fall colors, using colored construction paper. (Note: Consider
cutting out some samples for the children to follow.) The children can
also cut pictures from magazines.
4. Have the children paste their cutouts on plain construction or poster
paper to make a collage.
Poem
Fall Colors by Shirley Anne Ramaley
Orange, brown, yellow, and red,
Leaves are falling all around.
Everywhere I look I see
Many colors on the ground.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children name the colors that leaves turn?
l Do the children understand that some trees change colors while others
do not?
l Are the children able to create leaves or cut out images of leaves?



Summer Sandcastles a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Sand & Water
Topic: Buildings
Content: Science
Area: Fine Motor
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Small Group
Materials: sand and water table pails in various shapes and sizes shovels seashells
Instructions: l Make sure the table is filled with sand and
fresh water. Sprinkle seashells in the sand.
What To Do
1. Ask the children if they have ever made
sandcastles at the beach.
2. Discuss the children's experiences, and ask what they used to make their
sandcastles.
3. Show the children the materials at the sand and water table. Encourage the
children to pretend that the sand and water table is a beach. Have them use
shovels and pails to build sandcastles. They can use the seashells to decorate
their sandcastles.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Spread beach towels on the floor around the sand and water table. This will
keep the floor clean and add a fun atmosphere.
Poem
A Grand Castle by Laura Wynkoop
Let's go to the beach, it's a bright summer day!
Let's play by the water for hours.
We'll make a grand castle from water and sand
With a drawbridge and lots of tall towers.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Are the children able to use tools to build sandcastles?
l Can the children describe what they enjoy about sandcastles?



Fun at the Seashore a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Sand & Water
Topic: Water
Content: Science
Area: Fine Motor
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Small Group
Materials: various types of seashells/sea objects sand table or sandbox plastic condiment squeeze bottles plastic cups
Instructions: l Fill clean condiment squeeze bottles with clean water.
What To Do
1. Talk with the children about what they do during the summer. Ask the
children if they have ever been to the beach during the summer.
2. Ask the children to gather around the sand table. Talk about how people at
the beach in the summertime often play with sand.
3. Show the children how to carefully dribble water on dry sand to moisten it,
pack the wet sand into a plastic cup or seashell, and turn it over to make a
standing structure.
4. As the children play and explore, encourage them to feel the textures of wet
and dry sand, as well as the hard and smooth or rough and bumpy textures of
the seashells and sea objects.
5. Call attention to the difference between wet and dry sand textures. Point
out to the children how dribbling water on dry sand changes the texture and
makes it easier to pack.
6. Encourage experimentation. Challenge the children to make a seashell stick to
the side of a sand structure, or to try stacking one structure on top of another.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Include some math in this activity by counting the cups full of wet sand the
children use to make their structures or how many seashells they include in a
design.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children build structures with sand and water?
l Do the children comment on the texture of the sand and shells?



Sweet Pea Teepee in Spring a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Outdoors
Topic: Flowers/Trees/Nature/Earth
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: sweet pea seeds from a packet 8 to 10 straight sticks, all 5' to 6' tall small shovels fertilizer twine
Instructions: 1. On a nice spring day, show the children the materials and then take them
outside to a designated area, such as a garden at the preschool. Explain that
the children will be planting seeds to make a sweet pea teepee.
2. Place three of the sticks in the ground and tie them together at the top with
twine, forming a tripod.
3. Add the other sticks until they all come together at the top. Tie them together.
4. Make sure the sticks are stable enough to support climbing plants. Be sure to
leave a "doorway" into the teepee.
5. Help the children prepare the soil around the base of the sticks by adding the
right amount of water. Add fertilizer if necessary.
6. Dig small holes and plant the seeds at the base of the sticks.
7. Check the teepee each school day and water as needed.
8. The plants will sprout and begin to climb the sticks. Some of the vines may
need to be wrapped around a stick.
9. Within a few weeks, the sweet pea teepee will be a nice place for the children
to visit. Once the plants reach the top of the sticks, take a picture of each child
in the "doorway" and send these photos home with the children.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children understand how plants grow in soil?
l Are the children all able to participate in this project?



Fall Nature Walk a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Outdoors
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Language
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: small beanbag paper markers, crayons, colored pencils
Instructions: 1. On a nice fall day, bring the children outside and go on a walk.
Determine the direction of the walk by giving a child the beanbag and
having the child toss it in one direction.
2. Walk with the children to the beanbag, and invite the children to look
around that area and describe season-related things they see. Are
squirrels burying nuts? Are leaves changing colors and falling? Write
down what the children describe.
3. After the children finish describing what they see in that location, give
the beanbag to another child to toss in a different direction. Go to the
beanbag and repeat the process.
4. Bring the children back inside, and give them paper, markers, crayons,
and so on, and invite them to make drawings of season-related things
they saw while outside. Read some ideas to the children if they are not
sure what to draw.
5. Hang the children's pictures in the classroom.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children describe things happening in the world that relate to
the fall season?
l Can the children recall things they saw outside when they come back
inside?
l What fall-related images are the children drawing?



Adopt a Tree a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Outdoors
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: camera
Instructions: 1. Take the children outside for a walk,
and help them to select a tree to serve
as the class tree.
2. Once everyone agrees upon a tree,
spend some time talking about how
the tree looks. Ask, "Does it have
leaves? If so, what color are they? Are
there any flowers, nuts, or berries
on the tree? Are there any birds or
animals in the tree?"
3. Take a picture of your tree, and post
it on a bulletin board where the
children can look at it often.
4. Visit the tree once during each season of the year, taking a picture each time.
5. After each visit, spend some time looking at the pictures with the children.
Encourage the children to discuss things that have changed and things that
have stayed the same.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children describe the tree?
l Do the children note differences in the tree in different seasons?
l In which season do the children think the tree looks the best?



Umbrella Dance a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Music & Movement
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: music stereo umbrellas (1 per child) blue paper "puddles" (1 per child)
Instructions: l The day prior to doing this activity, invite the children to bring umbrellas to
school.
What To Do
1. Turn on the music and invite the children to move to the music and use their
umbrellas to participate in an umbrella dance.
2. Have the children spread out around the room and begin with their umbrellas
closed.
3. Call out instructions for the children, such as the following:
l Lift the umbrella over your head.
l Point the umbrella at the sky.
l Walk with the umbrella tip touching the ground each time you take a step.
l Use your umbrella to make a circle in the air.
l Walk with the umbrella over your head.
l Set the umbrella down and dance around the umbrella.
l Skip with your umbrella open above your head.
l Twirl the umbrella in front of you.
l Hold your umbrella inside the circle and walk around.
l Set the umbrella down and lie underneath its protection.
l Step in the puddle with one foot.
l Walk around the puddle.
l Sit in the puddle.
l Jump over the puddle.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Are the children able to listen and follow directions?
l Can the children manipulate the umbrellas?
l Do the children understand concepts such as over, around, underneath, and
so on?



Snowflake Dance a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Music & Movement
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: none
Instructions: When the children arrive, gather them together and discuss winter
weather. Ask the children if they have ever seen snow fall. Ask the
children to describe what individual snowflakes look like as they fall.
2. Use words like "flutter," "spiral," and "waltz" with the children to
describe snowflakes. Explain the meanings of these words to
the children if they do not know them already.
3. Direct the children to compare falling snowflakes to dancing.
Clap out a 3/4 waltz beat for the children to dance to.
4. Invite the children to take turns standing up and acting out
a single motion that a falling snowflake makes. Ask the children to
name or otherwise identify those motions.
5. Have all the children stand up together. Ask one child to name a
movement snowflakes make while falling, and then have all the
other children in the class make that movement.
6. Call on another child to name a movement snowflakes make while falling, and
have the children make that movement.
7. Repeat until all the children have offered a movement to make.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children dance to the 3/4 beat of a waltz?
l Can the children name motions snowflakes make while
falling? Can the children imitate those motions?



Maypole Dancing a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Music & Movement
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: flower garlands 10 to 12 colorful ribbons each 25' to 30' long tall flagpole recordings of foottapping country music stereo
Instructions: l Ask the children to wear colorful clothes on the day of the activity.
What To Do
1. At the start of the spring season, talk with the children about maypole dances.
Explain that maypole dancing is a celebration with its roots in England, and
that it marks the arrival of flowers in spring.
2. Unfurl all the ribbons. Tie the ends of the ribbons halfway up the pole. Ask the
children to name the colors of the ribbons they can see.
3. Start the music. Ask different children to hold the end of each ribbon and
dance around the pole, weaving in and out of each other. The rest of the
children then form a big circle, hold hands, and walk around the pole. As
the children in the center dance, the ribbons should begin tying and knotting
around the pole.
4. After a few minutes, stop the music and invite new children to hold the
ribbons and dance in the center. Continue the activity until all the children
have a chance to hold the ribbon and weave around the pole.
5. At the end of the activity, the pole will resemble the pattern of a woven basket.
Let the children look at the pattern on the pole and take turns undoing it.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children name the colors of the ribbons tied to the pole?
l Do the children understand that maypole dances are a traditional form of
welcoming the spring?



Let's Dance the Seasons! a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Music & Movement
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons stereo
Instructions: 1. Gather the children together. Read
them a book about the seasons, as well
as a book about Vivaldi (see list to the
left).
2. Talk with the children about the
seasons, and how the children know
when the seasons change.
3. Ask the children to imagine physical
ways they could indicate a particular
season, such as shivering for winter
cold, pounding their feet for
springtime rains, making sunbeams
with their arms for summer, or swaying
lazily like falling leaves for fall. Encourage the children to come up
with other examples. Talk about how these motions are symbols of the
various seasons.
4. Play Vivaldi's Four Seasons and invite the children to do interpretive
dances for each season.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children identify the various seasons?
l What kind of movements do the children suggest as symbols of the
different seasons?
l Do the children respond to the music? Can they identify the various
seasons in the music?



Weather Calendars a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: poster board marker
Instructions: Use poster board to make one large calendar for every month of the school
year.
What To Do
1. Talk with the children about the weather. Ask them what the weather has
been like for the last several days.
2. Show the children the large calendars for each month. Show the children the
current month's calendar. Explain the calendar to the children, and challenge
them to identify the current day on the calendar.
3. Review the day's weather with the children, and then mark the calendar to
indicate what the weather is like that day: sunny, rainy, windy, hot, cold,
snowy?
4. Repeat this throughout each month. At the month's end, add up the number
of each type of day, and talk with the children about what kinds of days
are most common in the different months. Talk with the children about the
general temperature of each season.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children describe what the day's weather is like?
l Can the children review the calendar to say what kind of weather was most
prevalent in a given month?



Temperature Changes a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: thermometer (preferably one with large numbers that are easy to read) monthly chart for recording the temperature each day partially prepared line graph for the children to complete
Instructions: l Place a thermometer outside the classroom so that the children can see it
easily.
l Prepare two charts for recording the daily temperature, one for the last month
of a season and one for the first month of the following season.
l On a sheet of poster board, make the x- and y-axes of a graph. Put dates
along the x-axis and degrees of temperature along the y-axis. Leave the graph
itself blank.
What To Do
1. With the children, discuss the purpose of a thermometer and how to use it.
Talk about how temperatures change as the seasons change. Ask the children
to describe different temperatures they have experienced at different times of
the year.
2. Each day for approximately two months, invite one child to check the outdoor
temperature and then record it on the monthly chart. Record the temperature
each day for as long as it takes to observe a significant increase or decrease in
the daily temperature.
3. At the end of the record-keeping period, show the children the blank graph,
explaining what the different lines on the graph indicate.
4. Work with the children to fill in the graph. Talk with the children about what
they can learn from looking at the graph.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children explain the purpose of a thermometer?
l Are the children able to mark the temperature charts?
l Do the children understand how to fill in the graph?



Calendar Toss a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Age: 12 Months through Kindergarten
Materials: calendar laminator or clear self-adhesive paper (optional) masking tape buttons plastic cup
Instructions: l Select four pages from an old calendar. In addition to having the month's
dates, each page should contain illustrations depicting one of the four
seasons. Laminate for durability.
l Place the pages in an open area. Mark a line in the floor about 2' from each
page with masking tape. Put a cup with 10 buttons next to the starting lines.
What To Do
1. Begin by talking with the children about the seasons. Ask the children how
people identify each season. Explain that people know what season it is
because of the weather, but also because people use calendars to keep track
of the month and the season.
2. Show the children the pages from the calendar. Count the numbers on the
calendars aloud with the children.
3. Model for the children how to toss a button onto one of the calendars, name
the season and month it depicts, and then name the date on which the button
landed.
4. Encourage the children to explore this activity at their own levels.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l For children who have trouble identifying numbers, consider simplifying the
activity by having the children toss buttons and simply name the season or
month of the calendar page on which they land.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Do the children understand the basic function of calendars?
l Can the children name the seasons and months of the calendar pages?
l Can the children identify the numbers 1 to 31 on the calendars?



Apple and Pumpkin Count a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Numbers
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: construction paper cutouts of apples and pumpkins (6 per item) string 2 coat hangers
Instructions: String three apple cutouts and three pumpkin cutouts from the coat hangers.
What To Do
1. Gather the children together. Talk with the children about how the autumn is
a common time for farmers to harvest certain foods. Explain that apples and
pumpkins are frequently harvested in the autumn.
2. Show the children the cutouts of the apples and pumpkins. Hang the two coat
hangers from the ceiling, and attach the remaining three images of each food
to the wall, or hold them up in front of the children.
3. Talk about how there are many apples and pumpkins that people harvest in
the autumn, so many that it can be hard to keep track of them all.
4. Challenge the children to recite the following, counting the different number
of cutouts of each food:
Apple and Pumpkin Count by Ingelore Mix
One apple there.
Two apples here.
Three apples hanging
From a chandelier.
How many apples?
One pumpkin there.
Two pumpkins here.
Three pumpkins hanging
From a chandelier.
How many pumpkins?
5. Some children will be able to count all the pumpkins and apples, while others
will benefit from counting only those on the chandeliers or on the wall.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children identify the apples and pumpkins by name?
l Can the children say in which season people commonly harvest apples and
pumpkins?
l Can the children count the number of apple and pumpkin cutouts?



Snowball Math a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: cotton balls plastic jar
Instructions: Place 10 to 20 cotton balls in the
jar, and set the jar in the math
center. Note: Vary the number of
cotton balls based on the
children's counting skills.
What To Do
1. Ask the children if they have ever made snowballs before. Talk about winter,
snow, and games the children play in the snow.
2. Show the children the jar. Ask the children to pretend that the cotton balls are
snowballs. Ask each child to estimate how many "snowballs" are in the jar.
Write down the children's estimates.
3. Once each child has had a chance to respond, count the snowballs together to
see whose guess was the closest.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l For added fun, you can use other props such as a snow hat or a toy sleigh to
hold the "snowballs."
s o n g
Ten Little Snowballs by Laura Wynkoop
(Tune: "Bumping Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon")
One little, two little, three little snowballs,
Four little, five little, six little snowballs,
Seven little, eight little, nine little snowballs,
Ten snowballs melting away!
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l How accurate are the children's estimates about the number of snowballs in
the jar?
l Can the children count the snowballs individually?



Sequencing Fall Leaves a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Colors
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: construction paper or premade leaves, in many different colors and shapes board for placement (optional)
Instructions: 1. Talk with the children about the seasons, focusing on what
happens to leaves in the fall.
2. Show the children the different leaves, discussing their
colors and shapes.
3. Hold up a leaf and ask one child to pick another leaf that
looks the same (the child can match color, shape, or both).
Repeat with the other children.
4. Once the children demonstrate they are able to
match, use the leaves to create a simple pattern,
such as "red, yellow, red, yellow, red, yellow, red."
5. Ask a child to find the leaf that comes next in
the pattern.
6. Continue with simple patterns and present
challenges as appropriate.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l To help children remember color names, say each color name in
a singsong fashion while pointing to the leaves.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children identify the colors and describes the shapes of the
leaves?
l Are the children able to match colors and shapes?
l Can the children continue a pattern with the leaves?



Pumpkins a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Food
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: large pumpkin chart paper marker scale
Instructions: 1. In the fall, show the children a large pumpkin. Invite them to feel its surface
and describe how it feels.
2. Ask the children to estimate how much the pumpkin weighs. Record their
responses.
3. Weigh the pumpkin with the children. Ask the children if they think they
weigh more or less than the pumpkin.
4. Create a two-column chart titled "Do You Weigh More or Less than a
Pumpkin?"
5. Weigh the children and record their names and weights on the correct side of
the column.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Consider cutting the pumpkin
open and cooking the pulp and
using it to make pumpkin bars
for a snack.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning,
consider the following:
l How do the children describe the feel of the pumpkin?
l Are the children able to compare their weights to the pumpkin's?



Placing Crows on the Scarecrow a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Flowers/Trees/Nature/Earth
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, pink, and brown construction paper outlines of crows and scarecrows scissors (adult use only)
Instructions: l Cut out outlines of crows and scarecrows, making one scarecrow and a
different number of crows in each color.
l Display the scarecrows on the wall.
What To Do
1. Gather the children together and talk to them about scarecrows. Ask the
children if they have ever seen a scarecrow. Talk about what scarecrows are
for, and the seasons during which people build them.
2. Read Margaret Wise Brown's The Little Scarecrow Boy with the children.
Discuss the story with them.
3. Show the children the scarecrows on the wall. Mix up the crow cutouts and
set them in front of the children. Challenge the children to identify the colors
of the scarecrows and crows, and then to take turns matching them by color.
4. Challenge the children to count the number of crows in each color, and to
determine which scarecrow has the most and which has the fewest crows.
s o n g
Lonely Scarecrow by Kristen Peters
(Tune: "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?")
What is that scarecrow doing in the
cornfield?
He looks so sad and alone.
All the crows fly high above him.
I wish he had one of his own.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children explain the purpose of a scarecrow?
l Can the children identify the colors of the crows and scarecrows?
l Can the children say which scarecrow has the most and which has the fewest
crows?



Leaf Puzzles a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: fallen leaves scissors (adult use only) laminator marker
Instructions: l Collect several fallen leaves and
laminate them. (Consider having
the children go outside and collect
some leaves for this activity.)
l Cut the laminated leaves into a
number of interlocking puzzle
pieces, numbering each from 1 to 4
or 1 to 10.
What To Do
1. Talk with the children about how, in the fall season, leaves change color and
fall to the ground, and then further fall apart by breaking into several small
pieces.
2. Show the children the different leaf puzzles and invite the children to explore
putting them back together.
3. Challenge the children to count the number of pieces that make up each
puzzle.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children put the leaf puzzles back together again?
l Can the children count the number of pieces that make up each leaf puzzle?



Counting Watermelon Seeds a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Numbers
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: black, pink, white, and green construction paper glue sticks marker
Instructions: l Make 10 watermelon cutouts from green, white, and pink construction paper.
Glue an arc of white paper on the green base, followed by a smaller arc of
pink paper on top of that. Cut it in the shape of a watermelon slice.
l Write a number from 1 to 10 on each watermelon.
l Cut out several small black ovals to resemble watermelon seeds, or use pompoms
to stand in for the seeds.
What To Do
1. Ask the children if they have ever eaten watermelon. Ask what season they
remember eating it in. Point out that watermelon is harvested in the summer,
and it is a refreshing snack on hot days.
2. Show the children the watermelon and seed cutouts (or pom-poms).
3. Ask the children to identify the numbers written on each watermelon cutout.
4. Challenge the children to put the corresponding number of seeds on each
watermelon cutout, counting them aloud as they do so.
Poem
Watermelon by Kristen Peters
Watery, juicy, pink, and wet.
This is the best fruit I have tasted yet!
Soft, cold slippery fun,
Chomp, chomp what's that I bit?
Yuck! This fruit is loaded with seedy pits!
Two more bites and I'll be done.
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children identify the numbers on the watermelons?
l Can the children put the corresponding number of "seeds" on each
watermelon?



Counting Leaves a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Flowers/Trees/Nature/Earth
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: leaf outline brown, red, yellow, orange, green, and purple construction paper scissors (adult use only)
Instructions: l Make leaves using colored paper. Male one purple leaf, two green leaves,
three yellow leaves, four orange leaves, and five red leaves. Write
corresponding numbers on each leaf.
What To Do
1. Talk with the children about how leaves in autumn change color and fall from
the trees. Ask the children if they have seen this. Ask the children what color
the leaves are when they fall.
2. Show the children the leaf cutouts, and ask them to identify their colors.
3. Point out the numbers on the leaves to the children. Challenge the children to
identify the numbers on the leaves.
4. Set out the leaves so the children can explore them. The children can count
the number of leaves in each color, or try making patterns with the leaves.
s o n g
Collecting Leaves by Kristen Peters
(Tune: "Baa, Baa Black Sheep")
Watch the leaves go floating to the ground
Yellow ones, orange ones, red, purple, brown.
Rake them into piles, jump in the leaves,
Oh, how I love the fall and the trees!
Collecting all the leaves is so much fun,
I wish I could save every single one!
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children identify the colors of the leaves?
l Can the children count the numbers of leaves in each color?



Sort the Seashells a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Math/Numbers/Reasoning
Topic: Shapes
Content: Science
Area: Fine Motor
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Individual Child
Materials: 10 to 15 seashells
Instructions: l Place the seashells in the math center.
What To Do
1. Engage the children in a discussion about summertime. Ask the children if
they have ever visited the beach. Explain how when people visit beaches, they
often see seashells in the sand and water.
2. Ask the children who have seen seashells to describe them to the rest of the
children. Explain that seashells come in many different shapes, sizes, and
colors.
3. Examine the seashells with the children. Talk about the different colors and
shapes of the seashells. Encourage the children to hold and touch the shells.
Ask questions like "What shapes do you see? Are some shells round? Pointy?
Long and skinny? Are some shells bigger than others?"
4. Challenge the children to sort the shells by color, shape, size, and so on.
Poem
Seashells by Laura Wynkoop
Seashells, lovely seashells,
I found you in the sand.
I love to watch you shimmer
As I hold you in my hand.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Can the children identify the colors of the shells?
l Are the children able to sort the shells based on a variety of characteristics?



Throwing Snowballs a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Group Games
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: 12 or more white socks pairs of colorful mittens or gloves white mural paper (3' x 6' or larger) masking tape milk jug cap permanent marker basket
Instructions: l Draw a simple outdoor winter scene (tree, house, snowflakes, snowperson)
on the mural paper.
l Hang the mural on the wall.
l Use masking tape to mark a line about 10' from the winter scene mural.
l Roll each white sock inside of itself to create a snowball shape. Display the
snowballs and mittens in a basket by the masking tape line.
l Write the numeral 1 on one side of the milk jug cap and the numeral 2 on
the other side.
What To Do
1. Ask the children if they have ever played with snowballs before. Talk with the
children about those experiences.
2. Tell the children they will be tossing "snowballs" at the winter scene.
3. Invite a child to flip the milk jug cap. If the cap lands with the numeral 1
facing up, ask the child to find one "snowball" and toss it at the winter scene.
If the cap lands with the numeral 2 facing up, the child finds a matching pair
of mittens or sock snowballs and throws both of them at the winter scene.
4. Once the children throw all the snowballs, invite the children to pile them up
and repeat the activity a second time.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Ask the children's families to donate old, clean white socks for this activity.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Are the children able to match like mittens or gloves?
l Can the children identify the numerals 1 and 2?



Raking Leaves a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Dramatic Play/Pretend & Play/House Corner
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: plastic rakes 50 or more pieces of red, yellow, brown, and orange scrap paper or tissue paper masking tape mural paper marker jackets for children to wear work gloves trash barrel, plastic laundry basket, or large garbage bag
Instructions: l Draw a large tree on the mural paper and tack it to a bulletin board with the
bottom of the tree touching the floor.
l Crumple up a large number of sheets of the colored scrap paper or tissue paper.
l Disperse the "leaves" (crumpled papers) about the area beneath the tree.
l Display the jackets, work gloves, and rakes near this tree.
What To Do
1. When discussing the autumn season with the children, talk with them about
what happens to the leaves and trees.
2. Show the children the tree outline on the wall, as well as the "leaves" on the
ground around it.
3. Set out the jackets, plastic rakes, and other materials, and invite the children to
rake up the leaves together.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l For extra fun, hang colored leaf shapes from the ceiling above this dramatic play
area to represent falling leaves.
s o n g
I'm Raking Leaves by Mary J. Murray
(Tune: "Three Blind Mice")
I'm raking leaves. I'm raking leaves.
They're falling from the trees. They're falling from the trees.
Red ones and yellow ones, orange ones and brown ones,
All kinds of colored ones. I'm raking leaves.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Are children able to manipulate the rakes?
l Can the children work together to clean up all the leaves?



Snowflakes in the Parachute a

November 12, 2014
Book: Learn Every Day™ About Seasons
Center: Group Games
Topic: Weather
Content: Science
Area: Gross Motor
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group
Materials: paper snowflakes large parachute
Instructions: l Cut out several paper snowflakes before this activity.
What To Do
1. Read the children a book about snowflakes (see list to the left for suggestions).
2. Talk with the children about snowflakes and how they fall.
3. Show the children the parachute, and ask them to help lay it out flat on the
ground.
4. Ask the children to stand around the outside of the parachute, hold it with
both hands, and lift it into the air.
5. Take out the snowflakes and toss them into the parachute. Invite the children
to shake the parachute to make the snowflakes dance.
6. Challenge the children by having them move to the left or right while making
the snowflakes fall. Or have the children make the snowflakes jump slightly or
jump very high.
7. Talk with the children about how all of this requires them to work as a group.
Teacher - to - Teacher Tip
l Have the children practice the moves with an empty parachute first. Direct
them to move the parachute up, down, fast, slow, high, low, and so on. This
is a nice winter movement activity when it is too cold to play outside.
Assessment
To assess the children's learning, consider the following:
l Are the children able to follow directions to make the snowflakes dance in
particular ways?
l Can the children work together successfully?



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