Sunday, March 31, 2013

A to Z: Lesson Plan

Theme:  Alphabet

Read:  A to Z by Sandra Boynton

Activity:  Depending on your child's age write all the letters, just a couple, or just the ones from their name on your sidewalk or on a chalkboard.  If they are working on writing have them write the letters.  If they are younger you can write the letters in order.  If they are older, mix them all up! Next, give them a cup of water, spray bottle, paintbrush, or sponge.  Yell out a letter and they have to go find the letter.  If they have a spray bottle they can spray it.  If they are working on writing their letters they can trace it with a paintbrush or sponge. Or they can "clean it up" with the sponge.  If your child is older, don't just go in order as you say letters for them to find.  For a very young child (like my daughter) give them a sponge or paintbrush and say the letters as they approach them, step on them, or "paint" them.  You are just looking to expose them to letters not expect them to understand them at age one.  


  • book
  • chalkboard or sidewalk chalk
  • cup of water
  • paintbrush or sponge or spray bottle


  • Check out this blog post by One Perfect Day which inspired this lesson (found on Pinterest and pinned on my Alphabet board)
  • You can also have them find uppercase versus lower case letters.  
  • If you have an older child have them spell sight words.  Here is a link to some Pre-K sight words.  This website has sight words for older grades as well.
  • Another activity you can do is to ask your child questions like, "What letter does the word cat start with? What letter does the word cat end with? What letter makes the ___ sound? " Then have them find the answer.  
  • If it is rainy out and you don't have an indoor chalkboard, try this letter matching activity by The Activity Mom. I love activities that use recycled materials!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Split Splat: Recap

When you think of Spring you think of rain NOT snow.  While we have had plenty of precipitation in Virginia this March, it has been in the form of snow not rain.  Oh well.  It is still fun to dream of warm weather and soft Spring rain showers.  

The book this week this week, Split Splat, helps to give words to the noises you and your child hear as you listen to storms.  It is a great stepping stone to discussing what goes on during a storm. It is also a great way to get some energy out and be given the freedom to make some noise! My daughter was already an accomplished kitchen pot band player but this week I introduced her to some new sounds and ways to make sounds.  

We started off by doing what the lesson plan suggested and collected a variety of things that make noise from around the house. We were already in the playroom so I focused on using some of her kitchen toys, an empty formula can, and some egg shakers that I made.  I will explain more below. 

She first went for her salt and pepper shakers.  I grabbed these a few weeks ago from the Dollar Tree for her play kitchen.  I put a few corn kernels in one and some rice in the other.  They make a great sound.  She picked those up right away and made them into maracas. 
Next she grabbed the lid to her pot and started banging it like a cymbal on the pot.  
Maybe this spoon will make a good intrument?  Tasting it will surely help her decide.  Oops...didn't make the cut.  
Then she went for her formula can drum and egg shaker.  Look at the bottom of the post for how to make those.  We are actually making them at her birthday party!
Drum and shaker combined make a cool rain and thunder combo sound.  
She was really into it.
I showed her another way to make a cool sound. Plastic necklaces in her stainless steel pots and pans.  They make a cool tinkling noise.  Oh by the way the necklaces were from a set of four in the party section of Target for less than $1 and the stainless steel pots and pans are from Ikea for $9.99.  The play kitchen in the background is her birthday present that we got from Costco a few months ago for about $140 and we or more importantly she LOVES it. 
Trying to make the cool sound with the necklaces in the pot.

Back to the salt and pepper maracas.   Clearly a favorite.

Here are the drum and egg shaker how to's.  

  • Get an empty formula can or some other type of can with a metal bottom.  
  • Clean out the can
  • Put the lid back on
  • Bang away!
  • Optional---cover can in construction paper and write name on it.
Egg Shaker:
  • Get Easter eggs
  • Collect things to put in egg shakers
    • buttons
    • dry rice
    • beans
    • corn kernels
  • Put a small amount of chosen material into egg
  • Close egg
  • Use tape (I like electrical tape) to secure egg closed
  • Shake Shake Shake!
We had a great little music time Wednesday morning.  How about y'all?  Anyone make up their own rain dance? Any other pan bands going on?


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sorry for the delay...

Motherhood is keeping me from my normal Thursday post. My daughter was up all night throwing up so we are currently at the doctor. Hopefully I will have the energy to do my recap later today but no promises. I hope y'all had fun making rain sounds this week! We had a great time!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Split! Splat! : Lesson Plan

Theme:  Spring

Read:  Split! Splat! by Amy Gibson

Activity: As you read this book you will be making the sounds of rain.  After you read it it is your turn to make your own rain sounds.  Collect objects from around the house that can make the sounds of rain.  Google rain sounds if you need some inspiration.  Tap your fingers on the window, on a pot, on the table.  What sounds the most like rain? Did you hear that?! I heard thunder!  Oh wait, that was you banging the spoon on the pot.  Have fun making lots of noise.  Make a loud rain storm, a soft and quiet storm. Have fun with it and don't be scared of making some noise.  

  • book
  • pots
  • pans
  • spoons
  • fingers
  • windows
  • anything that can make sounds that remind you of rain
  • The next time it rains, take a few quiet moments together to listen to the rain come down.  
  • Go dance in the rain! Sometimes a nice, soft, Spring rain can be very relaxing.  Stand in the garage or the doorway and listen to the rain.  Just take it in and relax.  Then if the mood strikes you and it's not coming down too hard, go dance in the rain.  Spin in circles.  Leap.  Just let loose and have fun!
  • If you want it to rain, make your own rain dance.  Wiggle your fingers like the rain, make whooshing sounds with your voice, blow like the wind.  Talk with your child about why rain is important for the earth.
  • Research real rain dances by different cultures.  Why were these so important to the people who performed them? 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Planting a Rainbow: Recap

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert is one of my favorite spring books.  When I worked at the Children's Museum of Richmond here in Richmond, Virginia this is the book that we read for one of our classes.  It was one of my favorite classes to teach.  The kids always had so much fun listening to me read this book.  I knew when I planned to do a Spring unit that I had to include this book.

I love how you can use the book for all different age levels.  For babies you can just read it and look and the illustrations.  You can discuss the colors you see and have fun turning the pages.  For toddlers you can have them find all the colors and teach them about bulbs, seeds, and seedlings.  This works really well if you have some actual bulbs, seeds, and seedlings.  For preschool age and all the way into First Grade you can discuss things like "sowing" the seeds, parts of a plant (roots, stem, leaves, flower, seeds), what plants need to live and grow (food, air, water, sun, place to grow), perennials versus annuals, pollination etc.  You can have older children make predictions about whether the characters in the book are planting an actual rainbow or not.  You know best what your child can handle.  If it is a little high for them, at least you are exposing them to new vocabulary and concepts.  There are soooo many possibilities with this book.  I listed a few extension activities in the Lesson Plan I posted on Monday.

We didn't get a chance to head to the local garden center until today so that is why my post is late.  We had a great time.  We brought our book with us and found a bench in the store to sit and read it.  Then we went exploring!  Please excuse the photos.  I didn't bring my fancy camera on purpose (baby + expensive camera + garden center = disaster waiting to happen in my book) so these are all iphone photos.

Momma and daughter snuggling and reading the book. 
We found flowers of all colors. 

We practiced pat-pat-patting them and not pulling off the flowers. 
Some plants didn't have flowers.
We even touched some pots.
I picked her up and twirled her into a tall plant so she could be among the long leaves. She laughed and laughed as I did this.  
More plants!
I pointed out plants with small leaves and plants with big leaves. 
Look at my big girl going on her own to explore :) 
Look at how proud she is of her walking skills! 

I put her up on the table so she could get a good look at some seedlings (like we saw in the book).
Then we checked out the seed packets.
She LOVED shaking them like a maraca   
We spent 10-20 minutes looking at seed packets and shaking them.
 I pointed out the different colored flowers on the outside.

shake shake shake
shake shake shake
shake that packet
shake that packet
we laid them on the ground and picked them back up. Great leg work out. 
We danced as we shook the packets.
We practiced sharing.
I tried to show her a bulb.
She wasn't very interested.
Until she found these giant bulbs.

We also checked out some garden accessories like shoes which I tried on and walked around in.
And sun hats!
We played peek-a-boo with them!
She was really into the gloves.  I was say the color as she touched the different colored gloves.
Then we headed to checkout.
Our spoils!  A pot and some potting soil so we can play in the dirt.
She is getting in her Easter basket a small shovel, mini plastic pots, a trowel, and a kid watering can.  I got all of those things at the Dollar Store or the dollar section of Target.  Once it warms up a bit more we will go outside and dig in the dirt.  I made sure to get stuff that has no fertilizer in it because I don't want her playing in that or accidentally eating it.  I don't want her to eat dirt either but that isn't as concerning as fertilizer.

I wish this March was a bit warmer.  It has been a pretty warm winter here in Virginia but March has been pretty cold.  It is the most snow we've gotten all year too!  Oh well, at least we are building the anticipation for Spring!

How did it go for y'all?  We had a BLAST at the garden center.  I want to go back there on an outing in a few weeks.  Anyone take on the extension activities?  While we didn't make any plant diagrams, I did point out the stem, leaves, and flowers to her.  Maybe next year we will be able to grow a plant and keep a journal of it's growth.  We will probably go back and buy a plant to watch this summer but we will be focusing on watering it and not pulling it out of the dirt or eating the petals.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

April 2013: Alphabet

The April 2013 theme is alphabet!  
Here are the books we are going to read this month.
You should be able to get most of these from your local library.  If you can't find one of them just substitute in another alphabet book.  At the end of the post are some suggestions.  If you have any other suggestions I would love to know them.  Just comment on this post with your suggestions.  Who knows?  Your suggestion may be a book I use in the future!

April supply list:  
  • A to Z by Sandra Boynton  
    • book
    • chalkboard or sidewalk chalk
    • cup of water
    • paintbrush or sponge or spray bottle
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault  
    • book
    • bag of mixed beans or other sensory material
    • measuring cups or other random spoons/scoops from around the house
    • foam letters
    • container to hold it all in that doesn't have any holes in it
  • Shiver Me Letters:  A Pirates ABC's by June Sobel 
    • book
    • 26 Easter Eggs 
    • 1 piece of paper
    • scissors
    • 1 permanent marker
  • LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
    • book
    • frozen peas
    • paper
    • marker
  • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert  
    • book
    • favorite grocery store
Other Alphabet Books
Lessons will be posted Monday morning of each week.  Recaps will be posted Thursday mornings.  


Monday, March 18, 2013

Planting a Rainbow: Lesson Plan

Theme:  Spring

Read:  Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Activity:  Take a trip to the local garden store or big box store or dollar store.  Try to find all the things discussed in book--seeds, saplings, bulbs, etc.   There are all kinds of flowers listed in this book. Can you find some of them so you can see them in real life?   Compare the real thing with Lois Ehlert's version.  You can take photos or draw pictures of your adventure.  Compare your drawings with Lois Ehlert's version.  What are your favorite flowers?  What are your least favorite?  Point out all the colors you see.  This lesson is about the experience.  It is about spending time with your child and helping them to learn about the world around them. Have fun on your adventure together!

  • book
  • optional about $20
  • Buy a plant and watch it grow all spring long
  • Keep a journal of how a plant grows.   You could do this with a brand new plant or just a tree in your yard. Draw pictures, take photos, take measurements, write what you see, label the parts of a plant, etc.  If your child can't write you can write down what they tell you they see.  
  • Conduct an experiment!  What do seeds grow in best: soil, sand, rocks, mulch, etc? Keep a journal similar to the journal above.  
  • Buy some flowers for a friend or family member just because.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Who's in the Garden and Baby Loves Spring: Recap

This week we read two books because I like both so much!  Plus I thought people would like a choice.  My almost one year old LOVES lift the flap books but I know a Kindergartner might not be as into them.  We read both books multiple times this week.  With Baby Loves Spring we counted the number of frogs on the frog page, counted the butterflies on the butterfly page, I wiggled my finger like a worm on the worm page, and smelled the flowers on the last page, etc.  I also pointed out what the baby was wearing and talked about how it must be raining.  With Who's in the Garden? I acted out with my hand how each of the animals moved and used the adjectives that the book uses.  I love how it says things like "hop, hop hopping" because if she was a bit older we could discuss the difference in the words hop and hopping.  I did make sure to use -ing words as I did stuff and as she did stuff to help her hear the vocabulary.  If she was older this would help reinforce their correct usage.  My daughter and I LOVE the illustrations in Who's in the Garden?  We had fun as I pointed out the different animals and plants on the pages.  We even took the books outside and read them outside.  It was great!

The art activity in this week's lesson plan was a little high for her.  However, she was able to do parts of it.  She is just starting to hold a marker so she was able to make a couple of marks on the coffee filters.  I tried to get her to help with the water part but she just wanted to dump water everywhere.  I ended up making some coffee filter art to show y'all how it looks.  I actually did this activity with my friend's son who is 2 just last week and he did great at both the coloring and the water sprinkling!  I will probably try this activity again later this summer with my daughter.  The end results is just so bright and happy and reminds me of spring and summer.
Our supplies:  coffee filter, paper towel, washable markers, bowl of water.
First she played with the markers in our marker can.
That is just an empty formula can that I covered in construction paper!
I modeled how to color and then I gave her the maker.  Look she made dots!
Look at all those squiggles!
I added a bunch more so y'all could see what happens.
The best thing about this is the messier the coloring the better! 
She was really excited about the water.
The plan was to have her sprinkle water with her fingers on the coffee filter.
It was what I got my friend's two year old to do last week.  

But she really wanted to dump it everywhere and I was not ready to deal with that. Thus this struggle ensued. Screaming determined baby versus one-handed-momma because she is trying to document the madness and parent at the same time. 
See how the colors bleed?
I tried drawing spirals.
Then sprayed water.
After a few squirts of water it looked like this.
This is why the paper towel is needed.   
After they dried she had fun playing with my masterpieces. 
She is really into putting things on and taking them off. She is also into putting in and taking out. 

They smell good???
I taped them on the window and used green construction paper to make them look like flowers. The center flower is from when I babysat last week.  
I think they look really pretty!  
I also changed our sensory bin to a spring themed one like I suggested in the Lesson Plan.  I got grass, eggs, seed packets, and a little wind up chick from the Dollar Tree.  We already had a couple of stuffed bunnies.  I put rice in a couple of the eggs and popcorn kernels in a few others to make them musical.  She loves the eggs.  She likes to collect them in a container and then put them back in the bin. She is really into putting in and taking out these days.  She also loves the chick.  I may have to go get a few more chicks.  She walks around the house with him.  The great thing is I can save all this and use it again next year!

I got the grass, eggs, seed packets, and chick from Dollar Tree. The blue bin is an old mushroom container. The bunnies we already had. 

I want to try the dirt sensory tub but she is putting EVERYTHING in her mouth right now because she is teething.  I think I would be battling her the whole time to not eat dirt, or the trowel, or the gloves, etc. So instead of giving myself a headache I'm going to wait a few weeks and try it towards the end of the month.  I mean what kid doesn't want to play in the dirt right?  While we are talking about teething...any advice out there for a baby who isn't sleeping, crazy runny nose, coughing, throwing up, and fever because of teething?  Any advice at all is greatly appreciated.  

How did it go for you?  Any beautiful art masterpieces out there?  Anyone try the extension activities?  My daughter just went up to her sensory table, grabbed a musical egg, and is now walking around the house and shaking it!  It fills me with joy when I see her having fun and learning because of simple small things we are doing.