Hey everyone! I wanted to let you know about my top-downloaded freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. This monster theme fine motor tracing lines worksheet is such a fun pre-writing activity for Halloween. You can download it for free by clicking on the image above, or download here.
You can use it like a “worksheet,” but in my classroom, I stuck it in a sheet protector and let my students trace the lines with a dry erase marker. That way, we not only save paper, but they can do it as many times as they want!
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Hello everyone! Happy September! We just started fresh with new materials in our sensory table for the month. In August, my sensory bin filler was shredded paper–and I switched out the tools periodically to keep the kids interested. September’s sensory table has a new filler: oats!
We are starting out with an apple theme for the month of September, so I found some craft apples at Joann’s. I also added pie tins, measuring cups, and measuring spoons to the oats for the children to pretend to make pies. Today was their first day playing with it, and EVERYBODY wanted to be at the sensory table all day long! The kids all had fun scooping and pouring the oats into the pie pins and pretending to serve their friends and teachers. I observed them counting apples as they played, and proclaiming themselves as “the piemaker.” They enjoyed it so much that one of the pie tins got really squished. Oops! Thankfully, I have more.
These are the apples I bought from JoAnn Fabrics–so many uses!
I would have added cinnamon sticks if it weren’t for a cinnamon allergy in my class. I don’t want an allergic reaction! A fellow preschool teacher in one of my teaching groups suggested adding beige/tan felt to be the “tops” of the pies–which I cannot wait to add! As the weeks go on, we will probably add different materials to the oats. Later this month, I might take the apples out and add pinecones, craft leaves, or other materials for an autumn sensory bin.
Grandparents’ Day is Sunday, September 10. (2017, in case you’re reading this in the future.) Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like this holiday has completely snuck up on us! Probably because it’s, well, one that I don’t tend to “go all out” on. No offense, grandparents! I tend to honor grandmas and grandpas on Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, respectively.
The questionnaire includes statements like “my grandma likes to…” and “my grandpa always says…” I fully expect some amusing responses to this! I printed them on bright colored paper to make them more eyecatching, and I will staple the two sheets together for each grandparent before sending them home in my preschoolers’ folders. You can keep your Grandparents’ Day activities as simple as that, or add a special craft or host a grandparents’ breakfast in your classroom. So many possibilities!
“Reading aloud is the most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read,” says Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams, a specialist in cognition and education. When we read out loud to our children, or the children we teach, we instill a love of reading.
But how we read to them matters. Now, we can’t all be as captivating as Ludacris when we read Llama Llama Red Pajama, but there are ways we can make it an exciting and interactive experience. Read on for 8 tips for reading aloud to children!
1. Read it yourself first
You might feel silly reading a picture book to yourself, but this is essential, especially if you’re reading aloud to a group. What can happen if you don’t read it yourself first? Here are some things that have happened to me: I’ve stumbled over words I couldn’t pronounce. I’ve mispronounced characters’ names. I’ve been taken aback by unexpected sad endings. I’ve even been surprised by naked characters in the middle of the book. (Eric Carle, I’m looking at you!) In short, I usually try to read the book myself first to make sure I’m prepared.
2. Choose great read-aloud books
Besides ensuring the book is age-appropriate, pay attention to how many words are on each page before reading it aloud. Avoid books that are meant for children to read to themselves. I typically avoid the “I Can Read” books, because the text is simplified and there’s usually very little dialogue. Also, make sure the book is captivating and has great illustrations.
3. Talk about the cover of the book
Build excitement before you even open the book. Let children make predictions about the story. “What do you think this book is about?” Give them time to view the cover and talk about the illustrations. Discuss the author and illustrator, and define what those new terms mean.
4. Introduce new words and their meaning
When you come across a word they’ve never heard before, pause to explain it in a way they’ll understand. For example, while reading Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak recently, I paused to define the word “rumpus.” I just spent a few seconds telling the children, “A rumpus is like a noisy party” before I turned the page to reveal exactly that. Sometimes, kids are able to decipher a word’s meaning with context clues–you could let them guess themselves.
5. Be expressive with dialogue and descriptions
Is a bear doing the talking? Well, by all means, talk like a big tough bear! Is the character feeling sad? Speak in a melancholy tone. (You should hear my version of The Pout-Pout Fish‘s “blub, blub, bluuuubbbb.” Gets ’em every time.) This keeps children interested and helps them differentiate one character’s voice from the next. When it comes to describing a scene, be emotive. Is the protagonist talking about his baby brother’s stinky diaper? Hold your nose and say “ew!”
6. Ask questions as you read
To make the experience more interactive, ask questions before, during, and after you read. Ask open-ended questions that make them think–for example, “How do you think Vashti felt when her teacher framed her artwork?” Help the children make connections with their own lives by relating the story to something familiar. “What color of apple is your favorite to eat?”
7. In repetitive stories, let children finish the sentence
By the third time you’ve repeated the same phrase, children might be able to say it along with you. For example, with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I stop when I get to the line “but he was still hungry” and let the children say it as a group. I do the same thing with my son. This gets them involved in the telling of the story, which is important for building those early reading skills.
8. Let children retell the story in their own words
Once you’ve read the book, help build their reading comprehension skills by discussing what happened. Ask questions like, “What kind of problem did the frog have? Who helped him solve it? How did he feel after he won?” Encourage them to use words like first, then, next, and last. Follow up by doing an activity based on the book (i.e. an art activity, puppets, felt board, a special snack, etc.)