Letters of Fruit

Many children have problems learning the letters of the alphabet, especially when they are grouped together into words.

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Since letter (and word) recognition depends on understanding a sequence of features, the best way to teach children the sequence of word-making is by guided practice.

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Because of this, we partake in a variety of letter “games” that encourage your child to recognize, enunciate, and match the concept of a letter to its print form.

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Young children learning letters need vivid, concrete language to understand the abstract component of the written word.

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For this activity, we practiced placing toy fruit onto the letters in the word F-R-U-I-T.

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Sorting Vegetables

Sorting is such an important early math. As adults, we sort all the time! We sort the mail into keep and trash.

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We sort the laundry, the bills and the utensils in the drawer. Our brains sort bits of information into categories for easy retrieval.

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Young children are just learning to sort when they start preschool. We always start with learning to sort by color and then move onto other sorting, such as sorting by beginning sounds, sorting by quantity, and sorting by pattern.

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For this activity, we sorted vegetables by color. Using a Twister board and toy vegetables, we practiced our early skills by placing the vegetables on the appropriate color!

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Zebra Tracing

Writing is a skill that most people use every single day, whether it be writing a note to a friend or writing a check to a utility company. Even in the age of technology, the written word is still everywhere.

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But how do you teach a young child the proper way to write? The first step is simple… pre-writing. Pre-writing is learning the skills necessary to begin writing. Pre-writing is an important step because it teaches children the correct way to hold a pencil, how to use a good, firm grip, and emphasizes the use of fine motor skills.

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Pre-writing also helps children with the development of hand/eye coordination, learn that words go left to right, and that lines of writing go top to bottom on a page. Ideally, the first materials used are not markers and pencils but materials that allow children to strengthen the muscles in their hands needed to properly hold writing implements.

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We add a tactile (kinesthetic) component when we practice shaping the letters with different materials. Shaping letters with dough, tracing them on textured paper cutouts, and writing in the sand or salt trays all help children internalize the shape of the letter, while developing their fine motor skills.

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For this activity, we practiced tracing the letter Z with black and white colored salt. Your child was directed to trace the letter Z into the salt.  Doing so helped your child develop stronger familiarity with the structure of Z, integrating the sense of touch to create a visual representation of the letter.

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Zebra Camouflage

To humans, a zebra’s stripes stick out like a sore thumb, so it’s hard to imagine that the stripes act as camouflage. Zoologists believe stripes offer zebras protection from predators in a couple of different ways.

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One way is as simple pattern-camouflage, much like the type the military uses in its fatigue design. The wavy lines of a zebra blend in with the wavy lines of the tall grass around it.

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It doesn’t matter that the zebra’s stripes are black and white and the lines of the grass are yellow, brown or green, because the zebra’s main predator, the lion, is colorblind.

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The pattern of the camouflage is much more important than its color, when hiding from these predators. If a zebra is standing still in matching surroundings, a lion may overlook it completely.

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To help illustrate this concept, we hid zebras in grass and with some imagination, set up scenarios where the lions couldn’t find them! Students enjoyed manipulating their toys in a variety of ways, creating new stories as they went!

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Zebra Stripes

Zebrads are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white striped coats.

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Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds.

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Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated. As part of our zebra unit, we talked about zebra stripes.

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While scientists have varying opinions about their purpose, most agree that they provide camouflage and temperature regulation to the animal. For this activity, we created zebra stripes out of black and white play dough!

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Play Dough Lions

Using play dough (or in fact any type of dough) with young children is beneficial in so many ways.

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The malleable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration as well as building up strength in all the tiny hand muscles and tendons, making young writers ready for pencil and scissor control later on.

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For this activity, we used play dough, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes to teach your little ones about lions.

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Using their hands, they practiced placing their pipe cleaners into the dough to create their lions!

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G-I-R-A-F-F-E Word Match

The preschool years play a key role in the development of literacy. At this age, your budding writers are engaging in the important work of preparing to read and write.

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Before the formal study of literacy can be acquired, pre-writing and pre-reading skills need to be mastered. One of these skills consists of phonological awareness. Phonological awareness refers to letters representing sounds, that, when strung together, make words that create meaning.

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There are several ways to encourage phonological awareness. One thing we do daily is engage in different games that begin with the letter of the week. For this particular week, we were learning about the letter G, so each child selected a particular item begininng with the letter G out of a hat.

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We then discussed the “G” sound that we hear in the word. We also sang silly songs that reinforced our understanding of this letter. For this particular activity, we used word mats to spell the word GIRAFFE. Students would select different letters in the word and match it to its corresponding letter on the mat. Once finished, they enjoyed mixing the letters up to make silly words!

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