S is for Spider

The origins of the long s, ſ, can be traced all the way back to old Roman cursive, a script used in Rome for everyday, informal writing from the first century AD to about the third century.

In this script, the letter s was written as a vertical downstroke with a small curve at the end of it, and a diagonal upstroke at the top. It looked almost like a check mark, with an added diagonal line on top of it. I

n new Roman cursive, which developed between the third and seventh century AD, s was written almost as we write the lowercase r today: a vertical downstroke, followed by an upstroke with a curve.

For this activity, we learned all about the long s sound found in the word SPIDER.

To do so, students used manipulatives (in this case, toy spiders) to cover the letter S.

This letter S was placed onto a letter card. Students enjoyed playing with the spiders and putting them into different shapes on the letter.


B-A-T: Spelling with Manipulatives

Manipulatives give children the opportunity to interact with the alphabet through hands-on play.

They are able to feel the shape of the objects and arrange multiple items to form letters and words.

They can see the curves and the lines that come together to form each letter, and some manipulatives even allow children to explore letter formation and tracing.

We used manipulatives (in this case, letter cards) as part of our bat theme.

To do this, we did a couple of things.

First, the students were given a note card with the word BAT written on it.

Then, they were given the cards (manipulatives) to match to the correct letter.

Lastly, we sounded out each letter until we created the word!

Sorting Spiders: Smallest to Biggest

Measurement concepts are often a part of children’s interactions.

“My dad is bigger,” “I can jump higher,” and “I have more play dough than you!” are common comparisons that children make.

From the child’s perspective, these statements compare quantity; however, they also provide a nice introduction to measurement.

Unfortunately, it is an often neglected content standard in early childhood classrooms.

Throughout the many projects we do throughout the week, we are constantly measuring, comparing, and contrasting items related to the theme.

For this activity, your little one was presented with a problem.

They were each given five different-sized blocks with pictures of different-sized spiders on them. They were then asked to sort them by size. The target words for this activity were small, big, bigger, biggest, smaller, and smallest.

Bamboo Forest Dramatic Play

There are over 1600 species of bamboo around the world.

A member of the grass family, it is found on every continent except Europe and Antarctica.

Bamboo’s resilience, versatility, and unique ability to grow quickly and create complex root systems make it a vital species in its native ecosystem.

It provides a habitat for biodiversity, reduces land degradation, stabilizes slopes, and produces oxygen, absorbs heavy metals, sequesters carbon, and has over 1000 uses – including replacing plastics, paper, and wood.

As part of our Forest Bears week, we decided to explore this fascinating ecosystem.

To do so, students wore panda bear masks.

They were also encouraged to interact with our “real” bamboo forest – a collection of bamboo stalks “planted” at the school.

Fine Motor Moons

Fine motor skills are finger and hand skills such as writing, cutting, opening lunch boxes, and tying shoe laces.

The development of these skills relies upon age appropriate development of physical skills (such as core trunk control and shoulder strength) providing the stable base from which the arm and hand can then move with control.

For this activity, we used Q-tips and paint to write on the moon!

To begin with, students dipped their Q-tips in white paint. They they added white dots onto the word MOON.

Spelling Planets

In the past, spelling was usually taught as a separate subject; memorization was thought to be the key to its mastery. Even now, most elementary schools using spelling series and treat spelling as a subject separate from the other language arts.

However, during the past decade, language researchers have she new light on the spelling process. The acquisition of spelling rules is now viewed as a complex developmental process.

Once the stages of the process are identified, elementary teachers can help students develop strategies for learning standard English spelling, and they can assess students’ progress more accurately. For this activity, students used blocks to spell the word PLANET. Initially, they were presented with a scrambled jumble of letters.

They were then asked to point out the identification of each letter. Following this, the teacher helped them with figuring out which sound each letter made. Lastly, the students matched the block letters with the letters on the word mat to spell PLANET!

Counting Planets

Counting can be a fun task for young children. Children will begin by counting forward and should be provided a lot of experience practicing this new skill. They will also begin to recognize written number symbols.

Kids will start as “pre-counters” saying numbers in no particular order. This is typical of a two-year-old child. The next level is “chanters”. At this stage, children may say numbers in a sequence but run them together.

If the child is interrupted, they will have to start over at the beginning versus where they left off. Finally, “reciters” can verbally count to five, ten and so on. This is a very advanced skill and should not be expected during this age period.

A more advanced skill of math is one-to-one correspondence. This is also typical of a three to four-year-old child. They will be able to point at objects and count them at the same time. This activity strengthens this skill. For this counting activity, students practiced counting planets.

They did this by picking them up with tweezers and placing them around the sun. The number they selected was chosen through the rolling of a dice.

Neptune Phonics

As a parent, one of the most important things in life is seeing your child do well in school and life, and one key stepping stone on the path is becoming a good reader.

For teachers, it’s all the same, as The Department of Education states that deploying a phonics education at an early age can also help children develop culturally, socially, and emotionally.

Research shows that phonics, when taught correctly, is one of the most effective ways of teaching children to learn to read, and can lay a proper foundation for the success of a child. In our school, we are always coming up with fun ways to practice our phonics.

For this activity, we learned about the letter N for Neptune. To begin with, students were directed to locate the letter N in the alphabet.

Following this, they were asked to say the sound that the letter makes. After, they sang a silly song about words that start with this letter. Finally, students were asked to place jewels onto this fun letter N Neptune tray!

Planets Sensory Play

Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which enables young children to complete more complex learning tasks.

Sensory play also supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.

Lastly, sensory play aids in developing and enhancing memory. For this activity, we interacted with “planets” via this fun sensory bin!

Students manipulated the planets, along with black rice, star confetti, and tweezers. They ran the rice through their fingers and tried picking up the confetti with their tweezers.

In addition to this, your little ones enjoyed creating different story lines for the different planets touched. Lastly, they laughed and had fun with their friends!

Tracing Planets

There are many activities children can enjoy that will improve their pre-writing skills.

If you visit some of our other tracing activities, you’ll find lots of great information on the importance of pre-writing skills, what they are, and how to develop them.

Tracing lines is just one way of helping children get ready to write.

And they don’t even have to pick up a pencil to do it. It’s valuable to start out tracing with fingers because holding a writing tool can be tricky!

So as part of our planet theme, your little one participated in an activity that honed their tracing skills.

With a few simple materials, we learned about the letters that make up the words for the different planets.

Throughout the week, we talked about all of the planets and the letters they start with. We then discussed the sounds that S makes (for Saturn), E makes (for Earth), etc. Following this, we sung a song about the different letters. Lastly, we used paint and glitter to make the letter first letters of the different planets!