Tuesday, February 23, 2010

7 Lessons for Future Conservationists

1. Don't liter.

2. Make a bird-feeder.

3. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

4. Take a nature walk.

5. Plant a garden.

6. Plant a tree.

7. Learn about local conservation efforts.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What's More Important Than The Health of Your Child?

I found this video to be very thought-provoking. But I am more anxious to hear what YOU think. Please share your comments here and I will retweet them on Twitter.
A Wake-Up Story is a must-see video for every parent and anyone that cares about the health and development of children. Watch it. Share it. Join the movement. www.Awakeupstory.org

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Favorite Preschool Olympic Links

I often get excited about the world around me and current events; it is during those times that I miss teaching the most. That's why this blog is such a labor of love for me. It's my own little outlet for sharing all of the teaching ideas swirling around my head! In a previous post, I talk about choosing children's books that you, as an adult, would enjoy reading. Children pick up on our excitement and it spills over into their learning. I have always loved the Olympics and every two years I looked forward to doing an Olympic theme in my classroom. It's a fun way to cover many topics. Not only can children learn about sports (that's far from the main purpose of the theme), but they can learn about various countries around the world, ancient history, and get a good dose of gender equity sprinkled on top. So, indulge me for a moment as I share some of the great links and books that I found that may inspire you to use the Winter Games as a learning theme in your classroom!

Everything Preschool has books, art activities, and games that you can use for an Olympic theme.

ABC Teach contains Olympic facts, a coloring page, and certificates. You will also find links for Summer and Winter Olympics

Visit the Official Website of the Vancouver Olympics to Meet the Mascots, Miga, Quatchi, and Sumi!

Enchanted Learning has templates for flags around the world, a special Olympic section with tons of printables & information, and information on Canada, the host of this year's Winter Olympics.

Preschool Education has a few additional Olympic-related links and activities.

National Geographic Kids and Canadian Geographic Kids are great places to learn information about Canada.

Reading Rockets has a great list of Winter Olympic Books.

What current events do you use in your home or classroom as a springboard for learning?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Book for Your Preschooler

Choosing books for preschoolers can be a daunting task. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you search for books for young children. To read the entire article, read my guest blog on the Play Activities website! Below you will find some of my favorite examples of children's books. Feel free to comment and add your own favorites.

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

Are the illustrations appropriate, engaging, and relevant? Remember that you want your little one to pick up that book even if you are not reading it to them. In order to encourage them to look at books independently, choose books that have pictures that will tell the story. One of my favorite books is Officer Buckle and Gloria. In this Caldecott winning book, Gloria's antics in the background engage children and adults alike!

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Are the text and the illustrations bias-free? You want to be careful not to choose books that perpetuate stereotypes based on gender, religion, ability, race, or ethnicity. InTime has a great list of evaluation criteria for children's books. One of my favorites, Amazing Grace tells the story of a young African American girl who wants to be the lead in her classroom performance of Peter Pan. A bonus is that Grace grows older in the books Boundless Grace and Princess Grace!

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw

Is the text appropriate for my child’s developmental level? Text with rhymes and repetition are often favorites for young children. Children are able to remember the text patterns and "read" the books independently. One example is, It Looked Like Spilt Milk. Because of the predictable pattern, most children can pick up this book and "read" it over and over again. Now, don't always go for books with the super-simple text. Choose books that also challenge your child's vocabulary to grow. Books such as Caps for Sale, Owl Moon, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day are also great preschool choices.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Does the story inspire the imagination? Some of my favorite children's books have been turned into movies for their very ability to inspire the imagination: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Polar Express, Jumanji, and Where the Wild Things Are, have all topped my favorites lists at one time or another. The problem is, now that they've been adapted for movies, it's hard for children who've seen the movies to use their own imaginations when reading these books. Try The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. It tells the story of The Three Little Pigs from the wolf's point of view (poor wolf, just had a nasty cold). This story may encourage your preschooler to come up with their own versions of other stories!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffee Numeroff

Do you, as an adult, find the book interesting? Often, children pick up our adult vibes so choose books that you will enjoy reading aloud. Children will sense your excitement, but be forewarned, these may be the books that your child will want you to read over and over again! And THAT is a GOOD thing! One of my favorite read-alouds in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! I know it by heart and my kindergarten students did too! I also love If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. When you get into reading it with expression, the children will love it too!

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Alan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman by Alan Ahlberg

Does the book encourage interaction? Some of the books that children love are those that have a participation component. The I Spy series are fun for preschoolers. Another one of my favorite interactive books is Each Peach Pear Plumb by Janet and Alan Ahlberg! All of the Mother Goose characters are hiding in the illustrations. Another of my favorite interactive books is The Jolly Postman by Alan Ahlberg - the postman delivers letters to some familiar fairy tale characters - Baby Bear gets a party invitation from Goldilocks! Each page is shaped like an envelope and the mail is cleverly tucked inside! GREAT book.

Ocean Dorling Kindersly (DK) Eyewitness Book

Is this a non-fiction book, and if so, is it accurate? Preschoolers love to ask WHY so provide opportunities for them to learn new information. I enjoy the Eyewitness books for kids. Although they are written for slightly older children, the photographs and information is interesting enough to grasp the attention of curious preschooler and kindergarten aged children! Most young children will not want to read them from cover-to-cover but you can choose to read 1-2 pages each day or use them for reference books when those WHY questions pop up!

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

Will my child want to read this book more than once? The books that your child want to read over and over again will do more to inspire a love of literacy than you can imagine! There are many that come to mind: The Napping House by Audrey Wood, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by by Bill Martin, Jr. are other preschool favorites... but the list is endless! What are YOUR favorites?

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