Thursday, August 15, 2013

Getting To Know You

Everyone always asks what's the best way to teach kids their letters.  I am all for non formal learning and making things seem like a game.  I am also big into having kids take responsibility for part of the teaching.

With a new school year here I combined a few of those ideas and came up with this activity.

Print a card for each child with the first letter of their name.  Cut it out.
On the back side of the card, put a picture of the child.  Laminate cards.

Gather the children together.  Have a child stand showing a picture of themselves and say:

My name is Joe. (turn card)
My letter is
Can you say my sound,

This activity is great for learning social skills by taking turns.  It's good to have children stand up and be in front of their peers and practice public speaking.  It gives kids a pride in sharing about themselves.  For those listening, this is awesome for beginning letter recognition and letter sounds.  If you are working in home environment tweak the activity.  Include cousins, neighbors and grandparents pictures.  Change the rhyme to say.

His/Her name is Joe. (turn card)
His/her letter is 
I can say his/her sound, 

If you are looking for printable cards with letters, you can find them here at Making Learning Fun.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Keeping Track of Days

Life is always hectic in the summer coordinating all the days when you have events or celebrations.  Kids seem to be hyper waiting for the special weekend at grandma's, pool days, movie night, or family picnics.

Rather than listen to the constant "how many days before", why not give them the tools to manage their own calendar.  For little ones, a linear calendar can sometimes be easier for them to understand and manage.

You can find resources to make one here at Making Learning Fun.

Print the calendar on legal paper.  Cut and assemble.  Laminate for extended use.  Hang on a wall.  Put the holidays or special event pieces in place on your calendar.  There are blank cards on page four so you can create events that are important to you and your family.

Now practice with your kids saying the days of the week.  Point our which day today is.  Now you can ask, "How many more days until we go to the pool?"  Kids will have this tool to help them be able to figure it out all on their own.

You can make four of these and put them together to create a whole month for older kids.  Even older kids can use our full sized calendar pages.  I used these with our youngest and she loved them!

Teaching kids to manage time is an important...after all isn't it a skill we all have to learn??
Learning about the days of the week and calendars is a great way to practice math skills and counting and even personal management skills.  You can do this with kids and they will never know that they are learning...and that is all part of "making learning fun".

Monday, August 5, 2013

Clank Cans

Long ago, my niece who was doing child care at the time, suggested I make a clank can and use it for story retelling.  I didn't know what a clank can was and to be honest, after she explained it to me I thought she was a little crazy.  Why would kids like them??

I ended up trying them and went on to design many.  Why??  Because for some reason kids love them!

Here is a version for a Brown Bear, Brown Bear clank can.

Here's how you make them.  Find a can that has a metal bottom.  Formula cans or some coffee cans work great for this.  Take off the label and cover the can with construction paper.  Cut a hole in the lid as shown.

Go to this page at Making Learning Fun and decided what version of the can you'd like to make.  There are many to choose from.  Print the pieces.

Collect frozen orange juice lids or lids that have been removed with a can opener that open cans by lifting the lids rather than cutting the lids like this one.

Pampered Chef New Smooth Edge Can Opener #2759

After the lids are clean attach the character pieces to the lids by gluing then covering with Clear Contact Paper,  Cut out and laminate the label.  Attach to your can with Velcro.  Then you can interchange the labels depending on which story version you are using.

Now the fun begins.  Sit in a circle with your kiddos or work one on one.  Lay the character pieces(lids) out on the floor.  Start retelling the story.  As there is action with each character, have the children drop that lid (character) into the can.  Kids love to hear the clank sound as they lids drop and hit the bottom of the can.

I know it sounds crazy that kids would like this but they truly do.  I had one little girl at childcare that would stack the lids on top of each other in order of the story.  I've made two sets of lids and the kids have played concentration with them.  It's a great activity to aid in story retelling...and it's super cheap to make.

Fun and cheap and educational??  You can't beat that!!