Archive for April, 2015

Understanding All The Parts Of A Book

Apr 28

Reading books is a huge part of kindergarten. And most children don’t realize it but you as parents have been teaching them all about books from the first time you read to them. Think about all the concepts you just seem to understand about reading because it just is what it is! Holding the book right-side up, starting at the beginning of the book and reading each page before you turn to the next, looking at all the pictures as you go, knowing where to start reading next when you have finished a page, and so on. Most of these things just seem like a natural thing to do for all of us readers, but somewhere along the line your parents, a teacher, grandparents or someone in your life pointed these things out to you or told you, you were doing them correctly, so you kept doing it the same way the next time you read. Concepts of print in a story or book are very important prereading skills. The best way for you to help your child with knowing their concepts of print before they go to school, is simply by talking to them about the books each night as you read together. Here are some questions you can discuss with your child as you are reading to them each night before bed.

  • Where is the front of the book? Explain to them that the front of the book has the title and a picture about the story.
  • Where is the back of the book? Sometimes the back of the book tells us what the book is about so you can tell if you are interested in reading it.
  • Can you open the book and point to a picture? Point to the words in the story?
  • Open the book to the first page and ask your child, “Where should I start reading?” If they don’t point to the words ask them if you should read this (point to the picture) or this? (point to the words)
  • When you get to the bottom of the page on the left hand side of the book ask them where you should start reading next?
  • When you finish reading at the bottom of the right hand page as them where you should start to read next?
  • If your book has speech bubbles in it- explain to them that that shows us the character is talking.
  • When you get to the end of the story ask them if you can continue reading the story? Why or why not?
  • Point out to your child whether a book is fiction or informational ( we tend to use the term informational text instead of non-fiction when talking about reading these type of stories in school now). Remember fiction is written for entertainment and information text is written to teach you. So if you read a fiction book with your child ask them about their favorite part, what was funny or sad, how did the story make them feel . If you read an informational book ask your child what the author was trying to teach them about.
  • Another fun thing to do is get a book with little to no words (Goodnight Gorilla is a great example). Discuss with your child how the pictures tell a story. You can read and understand the entire book without ever reading a word of text. Looking at pictures and understanding that they are a huge part of a story will be an important skill to have later on when your child is trying to figure out an unknown word.

The more you and your child talk about books, concepts of print and what they have read, the further your child will be ahead when they begin kindergarten. Please don’t think you need to do all of this at one time, pick one of these points a night to discuss with your little one. Then revisit the points as your reading each night until kindergarten starts. Most importantly enjoy reading. If your child loves reading with you, you are more likely to raise a lifelong reader! Enjoy!!!

Subway Prints

Apr 26


I love subway prints. They are fun, bright and cheery. These are a set I made for my kindergarten classroom to hang outside the door each month throughout the year. I am starting a new bunch today dealing with positive classroom behaviors. I will get those on here as soon as I am finished with them. Here are the ones I made for kindergarten. Kindergarten subway prints



Beginning Sounds, Syllables And Rhyming

Apr 26

Before your child knows all their letter sounds they can begin to listen for sounds in a word to get them ready for reading. Distinguishing between the different sounds and syllables in a word as well as rhyming those words will play an important part in beginning reading. The best part about sounds, syllables, and rhyming is you can learn it as a game. Here are a few ideas to learning these three skills at home:

Beginning Sounds

  • Help your child to change their beginning sound of their name to another. In kindergarten we did this every day. The kids thought it was so funny to say their name as a fun Dr. Seuss word. I always have my kids say their own name first and then the name with another beginning sound. Example: Marie, Parie or Marie, Larie
  • Challenge your kids to find ten words a day that have the same beginning sound. Example: Look for the /b/ sound, and they may come up with ball, bike, bucket, etc. You can even make it into a contest.
  • Read some of the Berenstain Bears books such as C IS For Clown or The B Book.


  • The best way I have found so far to teach distinguishing between syllables is to just clap out the sounds. Example would be my name Jennifer, so they hear three claps, one at each sound segment. You can do this with any and all the words you want to practice. If your childs name is a two syllable word, have them find as many two syllable words as you can. Or build and look for a three syllable word, and then a four syllable.


  • Once your child begins to hear those beginning sounds as a different sound they will be able to start rhyming words. Rhyming skills come from practice and us as adults telling kids those words rhyme. The more they hear rhymes the better they will understand. If you can get them to play the games above and tell them they are making rhyming words, they will understand the concept over time.

Enjoy your special time with your kiddos today!

Songs, Motion and Retells

Apr 25

I have always loved singing but as an adult I never let my voice be heard in public singing. But catch me in my car and the radio will be up loud with me singing along out of tune and at the top of my lungs. When I changed grades to Kindergarten several years back, my first and most frightening thought was “Oh NO!!! I am going to have to sing out loud! They are going to hear my terrible pitch. Those poor babies!” But sing I did! (I mean it is pretty much a given that all kindergarten teachers are doing a lot of singing throughout the school day. ) So, those first several weeks were a stretch for me but the kids didn’t even notice. Before I knew it, I was enjoying myself singing as much as the kids were.

That leads me to the next skill. Singing!!! Kids learn so much from singing kids songs and/or chanting rhymes. It gives them experiences in language, rhyming and even motor skills. Songs also help them to remember important information. We sing songs about all of the holidays, themes we are learning about such as pumpkins, and butterflies, numbers, and other fun experiences. And they remember the information we are singing and then apply it to situations or other experiences.

Of course going to your local store and buying a Kids CD of songs is a great idea but there are lots of other ideas and places you might want try or use. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Work on singing some of the old tried and true ones you learned as a kid such as Itsy, Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, or You Are My Sunshine.
  • Check out some of the great songs and rhymes on Kindergarten websites. One of my favorites is:
  • Check out YouTube, I was amazed at the number of songs for kids.
  • Go to your local library and see if they have a preschool class to attend for free. My local library has 4 different classes a week where kids and their parents can come for free and hear stories, sing, dance and all of those other fun things we do at school.
  • Look up your childs favorite picture book on line. There are tons of ideas and songs out there for free. I have found all kinds of songs and rhyming activities to go with books on line. My favorite website for books and themes is:
  • Look for characters to use while you are singing. My kids love when I have the characters in a song that they can use to play with while we are singing. A couple of great websites for rhyme and song characters are : and

Most importantly have fun and next time you’re in the car or have an extra few minutes, belt out your favorite kids song with your little one as loudly as the neighbors will allow.

Letters And Sounds

Apr 24

This is one of my favorite tips, because parents love teaching their kids letters and sounds. You get to see such great progress. Kids love learning them and let’s face it, the alphabet song is fun to sing. A couple of things to add after your child knows the alphabet song by heart include:

  • Have them identify both the capital and lower case letters in order . You can do this by reading alphabet books, playing with alphabet puzzles or even flash cards.
  • After they know their letters of the alphabet in order, it is time for them to learn them out of order. When your child can quickly name each of the capital and lower case letters out of order, they absolutely know them.
  • Next is the sounds that each letter makes. When learning the vowels stick to the short vowel sounds.

In my classroom I have the kids practice their letters and sounds with flashcards. Each of my flash cards has a picture, the capital and lower case letter and the word that matches the picture. I start out with all the cards in alphabetical order, when they have those down, I mix the cards up. As we practice each card I point to the two letters one at a time and say the name of the letter. Next I point to each letter again saying the sound the letter makes each time. Next, point o the picture and say the name of the picture. Lastly, point to the word on the bottom of the card and say the word. Here is an example of my A card I use in class. I would say: A, a, /a/,/a /, apple, apple.


I have attached my set of cards I use in my classroom for you to print as well.

Big Alphabet

I go through these quickly and over and over again until the kids have them down. I am always amazed at how quickly they catch on and memorize these cards. I hope your kids will enjoy learning their sounds in a snap!

How Good Is Your Memory

Apr 22

I remember playing concentration with my mother when I was a little girl and then playing it again with my own children as they grew up. Little did I know at that time, the game of concentration helps build important remembering and recognizing skills. You can buy all kinds of memory game cards at Target, Walmart and even the Dollar Store to play with your children. There are even several great memory games to play.

But if your goal is just too quickly practice this skill due to lack of time or lack of child interest, you don’t need to buy any cards or games. Put a few small items out in your house. (I used a little car, eraser, pencil and penny to start with my grandson). Place the four items under a little box or towel. Tell your child you are going to show them the items under the box but only for a few seconds and after you recover the items you are going to take one away. I usually count to myself to 20 before I cover them up again. I the secretly take one items away and then show the items under the box to the child again. I then ask them to tell me what is missing. The goal before they start kindergarten is to remember 5 or more of 7 items you have placed in the box without having to look a second time.

Other ways you can work on remembering details include:

  • Have your child retell you stories you are reading to them. The more language they use that is directly from the story (especially repeated sentences) the better.
  • Have them tell you the order of places you went on a day of errands. Or what order you will go about your errands with them.
  • Talk about their day at daycare or preschool. Make sure they try to put things in order by when they did them beginning with the first thing of the day.
  • And play memory games with the as much as possible. They love to play games and building how many things they can remember in a row is a very important skill

Happy Tuesday and enjoy playing with your little one today.

Let’s Put That Together

Apr 19

I don’t mean to literally build anything though! We want your child to look for reasons things are the same and different and then make groups to go with their thinking. And to top that off, we want your child to be able to explain their thinking or why they made the groups they did. Sounds hard? But it really isn’t!

The easiest way I have found to teach this skill is with buttons. Get a small bag or cup of buttons. Have your child sort them by:

  • Size
  • Color
  • Number of button holes
  • Shape

I started out with color since it seems to be the easiest to understand. The first couple of times we work on this skill we have the kids divide the buttons into two groups. An example of my thinking would be: buttons that are blue, and buttons that are not blue. You can do the same thing with each of the ideas. After they have the simpler ideas of grouping things only two ways go on to having them group them in many ways. An example of that would be: Small, medium and large button groups.

The more you can have them talk about their ideas for their groups the better. Question their thinking, see if they can trick you, and talk a lot about the process of grouping items with similar and different attributes.

Other ideas you can use for sorting:

  • Keys
  • Toys
  • Blocks
  • Hot Wheel cars
  • Super Hero figures
  • Barrettes and/or ponytail holders
  • Earrings
  • Stickers
  • Silverware
  • Plastic dishes
  • Play food
  • Clothes/shoes

Talk, Talk, Talk

Apr 15

I remember when my kids were all little, the house was always loud and full of conversions ( a little fighting too). There were 5 of them, something was always going on! Those conversations were just a natural thing in our household and I loved it. I think most families are probably just like ours. Thoughtful, fun conversions from everything about what they did at school today to how their brother took their toy.

With that in mind, some of the things I have found in coming kindergarteners struggling with include being able to come up with a reasonable answer to an everyday problem and being able to talk about the books we have just read. Here are a few ideas that you can use at home during your conversions to help build their language.

  • Think of reasonable situations and ask your kids what they would do. Examples I use with my grandson include: What would you do if you were hungry? What would you do if you walked into your bedroom and it was dark? What would you do if you wanted to go outside but it was cold? How can you help your mom at home tonight?
  • A second idea is to give them lots of choices. When you are pouring them juice ask them which glass they would like you to use. How would you like me to cut your sandwich at lunch today? Let them pick out their own clothes and then ask them how those clothes are alike and different?
  • Every time you read to them ask them who the characters are, what the setting is and what happened in the story. The more detail from the story ( or even exact language) the better. Try to get them to tell you the story in the sequence or order the story actually happened in the story.

Remember the more they talk at a young age the better. Also, the more they hear complex language from you as their model, the more comfortable they will become with using it themselves. Enjoy your family time!

Coloring, Cutting, And Writing

Apr 11

Fine motor skills cover a huge range of things we do every day. In school we notice the lack of fine motor skills through coloring, writing and cutting. We look at both the product that each child has produced when they finish a project as well as how your child grips a pencil or crayon and how they hold the scissors when they are cutting. Fine motor skills are built through time and practice. I hope that you already have crayons, color books, pencils, paper, kid’s scissors and lots of other fun art materials that you and your child have been using to make great things for the refrigerator door with. If you can make sure their pencil and scissor grip is good, that is wonderful. If it is not, try and give them a gentle reminder and show them how you would like them to hold each item. I know kids get frustrated with parents over this. Just do the best you can, I don’t want your child to get upset or discouraged. I would rather they enjoy art, writing and cutting all they can at home. If they are frustrated with you trying to help them, here are some sneaky ways you can get them to practice their fine motor skills and not even realize it.

* Work on practicing tying or learning to tie your shoes

* Practice keyboarding on the computer or I-pad

* String beads or buttons together

* Build structures and things with little Legos

* Pick up little objects and put them into groups. I used beans, buttons, little rocks, etc. with my kids

* Make up hand motions to songs and practice them. Or use the good old favorites like “Wheels On The Bus” or “1, 2 Buckle My Shoe”.

* Button or snap their clothes. Even have them button their sweaters onto a hanger when they are helping you with the laundry.

* Get some of the fun art kits at the Dollar Store, Walmart, Target or your local craft store. All of these stores have seasonal art projects for little kids in their dollar or holiday section. My grandson has enjoyed making all kinds of place cards, window decorations, door hangers, etc.

* Decorate cupcakes or cookies. Squeezing the little tubes of icing and placing the little decorations on top is fun as well as good practice.

Remember the more they have to use their little fingers to pick up or manipulate small objects into place the better. And most importantly have fun. If it is great fun you will not only have some fantastic stories for them to talk about, but you will have built wonderful memories while helping their development and they will never be the wiser.

Let’s Play Ball

Apr 09

It is amazing how much gross-motor skill children can pick up from playing with a ball. They start out not being able to catch it, than move to the stage where they catch it by trapping it up against their body with their arms. As they progress through the stages they can throw the ball, strike the ball with a large paddle or bat, and kick the ball forward by running up to it. BY the time they are in kindergarten they will begin to and then master being able to catch the ball with both hands, hit a stationary ball, bounce and catch the ball and kick the ball while they are running.

All of these stages come with exposure and repetitive playing with balls, paddle, and bats. I know this is a harder and harder thing for kids to master as our children begin to spend more and more time indoors. But it is well worth the time to take your kids outside and play ball with them. You can pick out which part of the stage they are in from the list above and work on the next part with them.