Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flannel Friday-Bark, George

I'll admit, today's Flannel Friday post isn't flannel, but it is great fun.  I took a large piece of foam board and drew George on it with crayon and marker.  Where his mouth is, I cut out a large hole (big enough for me to fit my arm through).  The pieces are laminated clip art (cow, cat, duck, pig, and the vet).  I attached a paper envelope to the back of the board for storing the clip art.  Now, when I tell the story of Bark, George by Jules Feiffer, I can reach into George's mouth and pull out the animals just like the vet does.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Play to Learn-Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

This month's program followed the book Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear by Bill Martin, Jr.  When we plan these programs, we try to pick books that kids might be familiar with.  It also helps if we have a large quantity of books.  With this program, we were able to pull our picture book copies, our board book copies, and our easy reader copies.  My favorite warm fuzzy moment of these programs is when parents and children are sitting around reading the book together.  This session we ran 6 stations.

Station 1: Reading the book and doing the flannelboard
I like to pull every copy we have available in a variety of formats for this station.  I made a flannelboard version of Polar Bear, Polar Bear and duplicated it.  The kids LOVE this.  This tends to be one of the favorite components of story time and kids love the fact that they can play with it, move the pieces around, and touch the board.

The pieces are made out of felt with puffy painted details.  I used a combination of Accucut dies and my own patterns to create the animals.  (Hint-If you ever have a weird animal, like a walrus or a peacock, photocopy the illustration in the book and use that as your pattern.)  We also have a Polar Bear, Polar Bear storytelling set from Lakeshore Learning, but it is no longer available on their web site. 

At this station your child is practicing reading, which encourages them to learn how to read on their own.  By sharing reading with your child, you are helping them to develop vocabulary and comprehension, nurturing a love of reading, and motivating your child to want to learn to read.

Station 2: Make a nametag
I used Microsoft Publisher to find the various animals to make nametags.  We ran 4 nametags on one 8-1/2x11 piece of cardstock and had them precut and punched for the kids.  The kids wrote their name below the animal, strung the nametag, and wore them for the program.  It also helps if you have a piece of paper with all of the kids' first names written out.  While they can't always spell on their own, they are pretty good at following along.

At this station your child is practicing writing.  Learning to read and learning to write go together.  Your child is recognizing letters and how they are formed.  They are strengthening hand muscles so they can eventually write smaller letters and longer sentences.  Think of it like exercise!

Station 3: Make a polar bear puppet
We used the polar bear patterns available at and precut all of the parts for the kids.  They glued the head and body to a paper bag.  To add an ECRR2 component to the project, we had rhymes for the kids to take home and act out with their puppets.

Rhyme: Polar Bear, Polar Bear
Polar bear, polar bear, turn around.
Polar bear, polar bear, make no sound.
Polar bear, polar bear, touch your toes.
Polar bear, polar bear, touch your nose.
Polar bear, polar bear, show your paws.
Polar bear, polar bear, hide your claws.
Polar bear, polar bear, reach up high.
Polar bear, polar bear, wink one eye.
Polar bear, polar bear, say good-night.
Polar bear, polar bear, shut your eyes tight.
Polar bear, polar bear, wake up now.
Polar bear, polar bear, take a bow.

As children create their puppets, they are working on their fine motor skills, which strengthens their hands.  By saying or singing the rhyme, your child is working on listening skills.  Songs slow down language so children can hear the different sounds in words and help children learn new words.

Station 4: Make an animal headband
To help the kids imitate the book, we made animal headbands as their disguises.  Sadly, there were no patterns available so these were all created by hand.  We offered the choice of a zebra, flamingo, elephant, or peacock headband.

These turned out really cute and the kids loved making them.  By making our "disguises", we are playing with the story, which promotes comprehension.

Station 5: Color matching on the magnet board
The goal of this station was for kids to match color name cards with color square cards on our magnet board.  I created cards out of cardstock and laminated them.  Half were color squares in different colors (red, yellow, green, etc.).  The other half were the color names written out in their color.  For example, red was written out as RED.

As the child matches the color to the word, they are learning that words have meaning.  Colors are a great way to show kids this as most kids learn colors around the same time they learn their abc's.  By writing the word in color, you are helping them to recognize the word for that color.

Station 6: Polar Bear Shadow Match
The children matched the color animals to their shadows inside the folder.

As the child finds the match, they are learning that animals have shapes, which helps them to recognize that all things have shapes (such as letters and words).  By making this a game, they have fun and get to "play" with the story. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Play to Learn

This was a program that I came up with in Fall 2011 after Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ECRR2) came out. It is an alternative to story time, but still teaches the parents the skills they need to help their children learn to read in a fun way. The program is set up as stations for the child and their parent to work through. Each station has a sign that gives the directions for that station and what their child is learning. We can usually fit 5-8 stations in our meeting room that 25 kids (ages 2-4) and their parents go through at one time. Some examples of stations include reading the book and playing with the flannelboard pieces, making their own coloring book, making puppets, and matching pictures to letter sounds on the magnet board. Every Play to Learn program is based around a children's book to give it some direction. I have been surprised at how this program has taken off. The parents and kids love it and it fills up quickly every time we advertise a new program.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flannel Friday:The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse

Welcome to my first ever Flannel Friday post.  One of my favorite books from Fall 2011 was The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle.  It is one that is easily adaptable to a color or an animal story time and it works great with two-year olds, which is my specialty.  By making the animals different colors than they normally are, it makes the book "silly" and gives you a forum to discuss the animals.
To make a set of your own, you will need a blue horse, a red crocodile, a yellow cow, a pink rabbit, a green lion, an orange elephant, a purple fox, a black bear, and a polka-dotted donkey.  I have access to an AccuCut machine and animal dies so I was able to run the felt through it and decorate the pieces with googly eyes and polka dots (permanent markers on the donkey).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Toddler Crafts for Valentine's Day

Envelope heart pouches are cute and easy to do.  First, seal an envelope (I use legal-sized envelopes and buy a giant box of them at one time).  One corner of the envelope will form your bottom point of the heart.  Draw the top part of the heart and cut out.  You should be able to repeat with the other side of the envelope so you will get 2 pouches out of one envelope.  Use a hole punch and punch a hole in each side of the pouch near the top.  Have the kids put one end of the pipe cleaner through one hole and have a parent help them twist it together.  Repeat with the other side.  Then, decorate your pouch.  I like to use stickers, because they can be cut ahead of time, but crayons are fun too.

We had pre-cut red heart shapes for kids to make their own Valentines.  I like the heart stickers that we used because I like any form of literacy that we can add to a craft.  Many of the kids added their own crayon designs to the Valentines.

The final craft were white heart shapes that the kids filled in with tissue paper squares.  Here we used a combination of red and pink tissue paper to make our sample heart.
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