Friday, July 29, 2011

Lesson - Trees

Welcome Song

Announce Date

Ask: Who can name some trees?

Today we are going to read a book all about trees. [The book for this lesson teaches all about trees so I used the book in place of talking about the theme.  I admit that it is difficult to read this entire book to a group of preschool age children so I skipped some pages.  I also tried to engage the kids by asking questions and having them show me their branches and roots as we read about the parts of the tree.]

Activity sheet: In the Treetops (Hidden Pictures) (p.224 in Big Preschool Activity Workbook)

I Can Name 50 Trees Today! 
by Bonnie Worth

Tall as a tree, (reach way up high)
Wide as a house, (reach arms out to sides)
Thin as a pin, (arms down at sides)
Small as a mouse. (crouch down in a ball)

Spanish Vocabulary
árbol = tree
hojas = leaves
rama = branch
corteza de árbol = bark

Letter of the day - T
Tree starts with T.  What sound does T make?   Can you think of any fruit that grows on trees that starts with the letter T? (Tangerine, Tangelo)  Let’s make some T’s with Duplos.

Activity sheet: Circle pictures that start with the sound of the letter T (download here)

Number of the day - 0
Can you show me zero fingers? Zero means none.

Activity sheet: Circle the trees that have 0 apples (p.123 in Brainquest Workbook: Pre-K)

Glue bark, sticks and leaves onto construction paper to create a tree.  I collected up materials from our Eucalyptus trees which have bark that falls off in big pieces.

Sample I made to show the kids

Go for a walk outside and look at different trees.

Closing Song
This song is very repetitive and easy to learn.  I taught the kids the words and then had them act it out while we sang along with Rachel.  They started off kind of swaying their arms and then dropping them down to the ground along with the lyrics.  But by the end, there was just a lot of frenetic movement.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Free Phonics Online

I heard about Starfall from an educator.  It is a free online educational website for phonics.  For preschoolers, it teaches the ABCs including the sounds of all the letters.  For older kids, it has resources to help them learn to read.  Best of all, tt is free of commercial characters and ads and you do not need to register to use the site.  It's a great site to explore with your kids but they also have some printouts you can use for preschool lessons.  I especially like that they have notes to parents/educators on the material both on the site and on the printouts.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Preschool songs with Rachel Rambach

We didn't have a preschool lesson this week so I will post the next lesson next week.  In the meantime, I want to share this wonderful YouTube contributor with you.  My son attends a sing along with a wonderful woman named Elenah a few times a month.  Last week he was singing parts of the song in the video above to his sister.  He kept singing "The sun goes up, the sun goes down, the good green earth goes round and round" so I e-mailed Elenah for the rest of the lyrics.  So she told me about Rachel Rambach.  She has some wonderful songs for kids and I really like that she explains how she uses each song in the classroom to make them participatory for the children.  I will be using her videos as a resource for my lessons. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Activity Sheets

I think I will call worksheets "activity sheets" from now on.  They aren't meant to be "work".  They are simply to get the kids involved and to practice using a writing implement (we use crayons) and to practice circling things, tracing lines, or even practice writing letters or numbers.  Since I intend them as activities rather than "work", I'll refer to them as activity sheets from now on.

Sometimes Aaron gets stressed out about tracing letters or numbers and wants me to help him, which I do.  I don't want it to be stressful, but I also want him to try things even if he thinks he can't do them.  I try to pick pages that I think suit his level.  And I praise all his attempts and tell him he doesn't have to finish anything he doesn't want to.  But generally he wants to finish the page.  He enjoys the challenge. I worry that other kids won't feel the same way, but I try to pick activity sheets that incorporate various levels on one page.  For example, circling letters on the top and tracing them on the bottom.  Kids who are too young to trace letters can skip that part.

About the Format

So my lessons have a basic format that I follow, but I'm finding it's still in flux and once I figure out the best flow, I'll update the basic format I use for each lesson post.

We always start with a welcome song (which the kids love), the date and then the theme.  For the theme, I type up a kind of script, but I don't follow it exactly.  I usually start off with questions for the kids and then based on their responses and level of interest, I may have more questions or I may cut out parts of the lesson or embellish.  But I like to have my typed up script on hand because I tend to lose my train of thought and I reference my script frequently.

Once we do a workhseet on the theme, I find it's easier to just go on to the the letter and number worksheets while the kids are sitting at the coffee table and I end up doing Spanish afterwards followed by the story.  But I'm thinking about trying to incorporate the Spanish vocabulary into the theme part of the lesson so it feels more integrated into the lesson.  The craft is generally the last thing we do before a closing song or rhyme.

Any suggestions on format are welcome!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lesson - Vegetables

Welcome Song

Announce Date

Ask: Who likes vegetables?  What are your favorite vegetables to eat?  Do you have any vegetables growing in your yard?

Last week we talked about fruit and how fruits grow from the flowers of fruit trees, bushes and plants. Vegetables do not come from the flowers of a plant. Vegetables are other parts of a plant, like:
(show samples for each bullet point from Vegetables.pdf and have the kids guess what each picture is and guess other types of vegetables from the same category)
  • Leaves: lettuce, spinach, chard
  • Roots: carrots, radishes
  • Tubers (part of the roots): potatoes, yams
  • Stem shoots: asparagus
  • Leaf stems: celery, rhubarb
  • Seeds of the plant: corn, peas and beans
  • Flower buds: broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes
  • Bulbs: onion, garlic
Some foods that we consider vegetables are really fruits but we consider them vegetables because they are not sweet like most fruits. These include: tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumber, snap peas, and avocados.

Just like sweet fruits, vegetables are very good for us. They help us grow and keep us healthy.

Vegetables come in lots of colors. Can you name some of them? (Green, red, purple, yellow, orange, brown, white) The more colors you eat, the healthier you’ll be!

Worksheet: Healthy (p.294-295 in Brain Quest Workbook: Pre-K)

Little Pea 
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My kids love this story about a pea who hates candy.  But in order for Little Pea to get "dessert" he has to eat 5 pieces of candy.

The Carrot Seed
by Ruth Krauss
This is a short book about a boy who has faith that his carrot will grow despite what everyone around him believes.  Aaron (my son) picked this story which I decided to read in addition to Little Pea since it is short and on theme.

Spanish Vocabulary
maíz = corn
guisante = pea
tomates = tomatoes
aguacates = avocados
pimientos = peppers
frijoles = beans

Letter of the Day -V
Vegetables start with V
Worksheet: Voting for Veggies (p.55 in Scholastic Success with Kindergarten)

Number of the Day -  7
Count out 7 pieces of unpopped popcorn or dried beans (which we'll use later in the craft).
Worksheet: Circle groups of 7 (download here)

Collage on cardboard or card stock using cut out pictures of vegetables from magazines or seed catalogs, plus dried peas, corn, and various types of beans.

Closing Rhyme
(Adaption of tradition rhyme, suggested by Jean Warren)
Take turns letting the kids fill in what they are eating.  We had a small group and some of the younger ones wanted to do it again so we did this a few extra times.

One, two, three, four
[Child’s name] at the kitchen door.
Five, six, seven, eight.
Eating [vegetables] off his/her plate.

Follow up ideas
Visit a local farmer’s market or the produce section of the grocery store and see how many vegetables your child can identify.
Have your child plant some carrot seeds  in your backyard (or garden if you have one)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Get craft supplies on sale

Save up to 70% off closeout craft supplies at the CreateForLess Clearance Sale. Quantities are limited - shop today!

This is my new favorite site for craft supplies.  I might have to get the 100 pack of Westrim Chenile Stems (aka pipe cleaners) for $0.89.  Or some glitter glue...

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Although I have about 5 preschool workbooks that I have picked up at various times, I don't always find  worksheets that go with my theme.  Sometimes it works out perfectly, like this coming week when I found a V worksheet in one of the workbooks related to Vegetables which is my theme.  But only one workbook had a vegetable themed number worksheet and I wasn't happy with it.

On these occasions, I make my own worksheet.  I started off using Microsoft Word because they have a great clip art gallery that includes photographs and I don't have to worry about copyright infringement like I would if I just downloaded photos from an internet search.  (If you don't own Word, you can access their clip art gallery here.)  But sometimes I don't find what I'm looking for.  And I also like to use Google docs, which doesn't have a clip art gallery. 

So I searched around and found WPClipart.  As it says on their site: "WPClipart is an ever-growing collection of artwork for schoolkids and others that is free of copyright concerns as well as safe from inappropriate images."  Unlike other "free" clipart sites, this one seems legitimate, without pop-ups.  It has a fairly extensive gallery and although ad-supported, there is typically one ad per page so it is not overwhemling.  It is easy to search images and browse by category.

To make worksheets using clipart, I might put groups of items on a page in varying quantities and have the kids circle the groups corresponding to whatever is our number of the day (see the worksheet which I will link to with the Vegetable theme after July 15th).  This is an idea I got from  Brain Quest Workbook: Pre-K. For the bug theme, I put various bugs on a sheet and had the kids identify which were NOT insects (based on number of legs) by circling them.  For the same theme, I took black and white images of insects, edited them in Paint to remove the legs, and then had the kids draw 6 legs on them.  Once, I made a worksheet that was a calender month (for April, I believe) because the number of the day was 7 and there aer 7 days in the week.  Then on individual days, I put random clipart images and had the kids circle the ones that started with the letter of the day.

Another thing I like to use clipart for is visual displays, specifically clipart photographs.  I like to have pictures for the kids to look at related to the theme.  Pictures of clouds for the Cloud theme; pictures of fruits and vegetables for those themes.  I like to either print them out so the kids can hold them, or to save printer ink, I'll create a doc which I then save them as a PDF (from Word or Google Docs) which I can load onto my Color Nook and hold up for the kids to see (I like using the Nook because it is small and easier to hold up than trying to show the images on a laptop sitting on a table.  An iPad or other tablet would work just as well, but the Nook is what I have.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lesson - Fruit

Welcome Song

Announce Date

Ask: What are your favorite fruits to eat? Do you have any fruit growing in your yard? Where do fruits come from?

Many fruits like oranges, apples, and bananas grow on trees. Other fruits like guava and blueberries grow on bushes. Watermelon and grapes grow on vines.

All fruits grow from flowers and most fruits have seeds. Sometimes a fruit has a lot of seeds, like strawberries, apples, or watermelon. Other fruits just have one big seed in the middle, sometimes called a pit. Can you name some fruits that have a pit? (Peach, plum, cherry, nectarine). Some fruits have very small seeds that we can eat (like strawberries and bananas). And sometimes farmers can produce special fruit without seeds, or with very soft or small seeds that are edible. Some examples are seedless oranges, grapes and watermelon.

True vegetables do not come from the flowers of a plant. Vegetables are other parts of a plant, like leaves (lettuce, spinach) or the roots (carrots, potatoes) or even the seeds of the plant (like corn, peas and beans). Some foods that we call vegetables are really fruits but we consider them vegetables because they are not sweet like most fruits. These include: tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumber and avocados.

(I created this PDF file of various fruits (using Microsoft Word clip art) and copied it to my Color Nook.  Rather than printing out the photos, I held up the Nook so the kids could see the fruits and had them guess what they were.  The photos start out easy (oranges, apples) and end with some less common fruits (fig, dates).)

Ask: Do you know what dried grapes are called?  (Raisins) What about dried plums? (Prunes)

Fruits are not only sweet and taste good, they are also very good for us. They are full of vitamins and anti-oxidants which help make our bodies strong and protect us from getting sick.

Worksheet: Fruit Kebab patterns (p.233 in Brain Quest Workbook: Pre-K)

Ten Apples Up On Top
by Dr. Seuss
This is a classic beginner reader book with lots of repetition and rhyming.  It incorporates the theme with the number for the day.

Spanish Vocabulary
Me gustan = I like
For each fruit, say I like [name of fruit]
manzanas = apples (Me gustan las manzanas)
uvas = grapes (Me gustan las uvas)
fresas = strawberries (Me gustan las fresas)
peras = pears (Me gustan las peras)

Letter of the Day - G
Garden starts with G. Ask: Can you think of any fruits that start with G? (Grapes, Guava, Grapefruit)
Worksheet: A Grape-Eating Gorilla (p.25 in Scholastic Success with Kindergarten)

Number of the Day - 10
Counting fruits.  (I used the fruit pieces from the cooperative board game Orchard by Haba which was the first board game I bought for Aaron.)  Each child counted out one type of fruit (there are 10 each of apples, pears, plums and cherries).
Worksheet: Watermelon dot-to-dot (p.70 in Big Activity Ages 4 & Up)

Grape painting use a cork (inspired by a flower craft on s.b. creatively) 

This was my test case I put together the night before.  After the paint dried, I drew in the stem, vine and leaf.  I just gave the kids green construction paper, a clean wine cork and some purple paint.  They had fun stamping the paint on the paper and results were varied.

Closing Song
Apples and Bananas
I like to eat, eat, eat, eat apples and bananas
I like to eat, eat, eat, eat apples and bananas

I like to ate, ate, ate, ate ay-ples and bay-nay-nays
I like to ate, ate, ate, ate ay-ples and bay-nay-nays

I like to eat, eat, eat, eat eep-ples and bee-nee-nees
I like to eat, eat, eat, eat eep-ples and bee-nee-nees

I like to ite, ite, ite, ite i-pels and bi-ni-nis
I like to ite, ite, ite, ite i-pels and bi-ni-nis

I like to oat, oat, oat, oat o-pals and bo-no-nose
I like to oat, oat, oat, oat o-pals and bo-no-nose

I like to oot, oot, oot, oot oop-ples and boo-noo-noos
I like to oot, oot, oot, oot oop-ples and boo-noo-noos

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lesson - Bugs

Welcome Song

Announce Date

Ask: Who likes bugs? What are your favorite bugs?

Some bugs are insects. Sometimes we use bug and insect to mean the same thing, but bugs can include things are aren’t insects, like spiders and roly polies (which we’ll talk about in a minute). Insects can look very different from each other. Some have wings, like butterflies, and some don’t, like silverfish. But all insects have a hard exoskeleton. That means, unlike us, their skeleton is on the outside. We have soft skin on the outside and hard bones inside. All of our bones inside our body make up our skeleton. But insects have what is called an exoskeleton. The outside of their body is hard and the inside is soft. All insects also have six legs and two antennae and hatch from eggs. If you see a bug that has 6 legs, you know it is an insect. Grasshoppers, ants, butterflies, ladybugs, flies, bees, silverfish, earwigs (or pincer bugs), beetles, mosquitoes, these are all insects.

Spiders are not insects. They are arachnids, just like scorpions, and have 8 legs. Like insects, they have an exoskeleton and hatch from eggs.

Pillbugs (or roly polies) are also not insects. They are crustaceans, like crabs, lobsters and shrimp! They have 14 legs. But just like insects and spiders, they have an exoskeleton and hatch from eggs. Also, like insects, they have antennae.

Insects, arachnids and crustaceans are all arthropods. All arthropods have an exoskeleton.

Let’s look at some pictures of bugs. (I printed out these photos of bugs which I got from Microsoft Word clip art and let the kids pass them around):
I Like Bugs by Margaret Wise Brown
Simple rhyming book that is a beginner reader.  The kids enjoyed pointing out the bugs they recognized.

Spanish Vocabulary
Some words related to bugs:

insectos = insects
abeja = bee
mariposa = butterfly
mariquita = ladybug
saltamontes = grasshopper
araña = spider

Letter of the Day - B
Bug starts with B. Can we name some bugs that start with B? (Bee, butterfly, beetle)

Worksheet: Match Letter B p.8 in Kindergarten Language Arts Success

Number of the Day - 6
Insects have 6 legs. Let’s count to 6 and show 6 on our fingers.

Worksheet: I made two worksheets using clip art from Microsoft Word.  You can download a copy here.  The first page has the kids circle bugs that are not insects (have more than 6 legs).  The second page lets them draw 6 legs on 6 different insects.

We made butterflies out of paper plates, colored tissue paper, and a pipe cleaner.  This was my own invention.  I cut out the butterfly shapes ahead of time, but older children could do that step themselves. although you might want to draw the template on the plate for them.
Fold paper plate in half and cut out butterfly shape
Open it up
Let the kids rub glue stick all over the plate.  Then rip up pieces of tissue paper and apply them to the glue.  Some of the kids also used crayons to color parts of the butterfly.  The tissue paper can overlap and cover the entire butterfly or leave space as we did below.

Finished butterflies
After the design is done, take a pipe cleaner (or chenille stick as they call them now) and fold it in half.  Then put the butterfly between the two ends of the pipe cleaner and twist, making antennae out of the two ends.  Curl the ends and it's done.

Closing Song
Baby Bumblebee Song (traditional)

I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee,
Won't my mommy be so proud of me,
(Cup hands together as if holding bee)

I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee,
Ouch! It stung me!
(Shake hands as if just stung)

I'm squishing up the baby bumblebee,
Won't my mommy be so proud of me,
('Squish' bee between palms of hands)

I'm squishing up a baby bumblebee,
Ooh! It's yucky!
(Open up hands to look at 'mess')

I'm wiping off the baby bumblebee,
Won't my mommy be so proud of me,
(Wipe hands off on shirt)

I'm wiping off the baby bumblebee,
Now my mommy won't be mad at me!
(Hold hands up to show they are clean)