Tuesday, October 21, 2014

{FREE} Halloween Hats Which One is Different? Cards!

These cute preschool cards are perfect for Halloween fun!

Playing Which One is Different games can help your preschooler develop visual discrimination, which is an important pre-reading and pre-spelling skill!  And if you use clothespins or paperclips to mark the different hats, you will be strengthening your preschoolers fine motor skills and small muscles too!

Just print these {FREE} cards off, laminate them, and put them in a bin with clothespins!  Or, put them in a "busy bag" with paper clips!  Or let your preschooler mark them with pompoms at the table while you make dinner!  There are loads of possbilities!

Click here to download your {FREE} Halloween Hats Which One is Different? cards from Teachers Notebook!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

16 Pre-Spelling Activities for Preschoolers AND All About Spelling!

These preschool activities do more than just entertain...they actually prepare your preschooler for future spelling success!  And, keep reading to find out why I love the All About Spelling program!

Spelling is an exciting and challenging skill, and there are loads of things you can do with your preschoolers to prepare them to be successful at spelling.

These 16 activities develop skills that will be helpful for your children as they learn begin learning to spell words, whether that is very soon or a couple years down the road!  Keep reading to learn more about my favorite spelling program!

Pre-Spelling Activities for Preschoolers:

* Visual Games and Activities:

1- Red Light, Green Light
2- Pretend play games with cars, dinosaurs, fairies, action figures, etc..
3- I spy...
4- Coloring pages
5- Memory or matching pages like these
6- Lego or other block-building activities
7- Which One is Different activities like these cards
8- Sequencing activities

* These activities help develop the ability to discriminate between letters, words, and numbers that are visually similar (like b and d).
* They also help develop the ability to focus on one object (or letter) in a sea of background images.  (foreground-background discrimination)
* Sequencing activities help your child "see" letters and sounds in order.

* Auditory Games and Activities:

8- 20 Questions
9- I'm thinking of an animal that...
10- Finger Plays
11- Rhyming Games
12- When I say ___, you ___ - style games
13- Dragging out words (instead of telling your child to "put his shoes on," you say,
"put your shoes oooooooooooonnnnnnnnnn."
14- Singing

* These activities develop the ability to hear differences between and within words (auditory discrimination). 

* Multi-sensory Activities:

To be sure, any of the activities above could be made into a multi-sensory activity.  The two activities that I am including here, though, have an incredible amount of power to prepare children to read and spell.  They consistently show up in research as indicators of student success in reading.  Any preschool experience should include as much of these two activities as possible!

15- Talking and (language rich) playing with your child
16- Reading with your child

* These activities create a language-rich background and a wealth of background knowledge for your children to draw on as they continue to learn reading, spelling, and other skills.

Once your child is ready to begin learning to spell, you will want to find a structured spelling program that covers the 44 English phonemes in an engaging and memorable way.  All About Spelling is, hands down, the best program I have found to teach spelling.

{Affiliate links below}

We began using All About Spelling last spring with my then 6-year old.  She is dyslexic and had struggled with spelling in the past.  I was originally attracted to All About Spelling because it is multisensory and boasts an ability to help dyslexic students.  Only two weeks later, I saw a significant improvement in both her spelling and reading skills!

 As we have worked through Level One (seven levels complete the program on a high school level), I have been consistently impressed with the program.

Here are my top 7 reasons for loving All About Spelling:

1- It is hands-on!  My daughter loves physically manipulating the magnetic letter tiles.  My younger kids love to join in too--they are actually learning the letters as they play with them!

2- It is multi-sensory!  In addition to the tactile letter tiles, there are activities that involve writing, listening, and visually analyzing words.

3- It is adaptable!  There are skills she already knows, and she flies through those lessons.  On the other hand, it is really easy to spend an extra day on skills that are more challenging for her.

4- It reviews material well!  New skills must be reviewed if they are to be retained, and All About Spelling does a fantastic job making sure you remember new skills.  AND, the reviews are built into the lessons so that you (the teacher) do not need to worry about it!

5-  It is easy! It is easy for the teacher and it is easy for the student.  Neither needs any special skills!  You just need to spend about 15-20 minutes a day working on spelling!

6- It is positive one-on-one time with my daugther.

7- We can both see improvement!  While I appreciate seeing my daughter improve, it is even more important that she see her own spelling skills increasing. This motivates her to keep working and makes the challenging lessons "worth it."  This is probably my favorite part of All About Spelling:  She can see herself improving!

Spelling Can Be Easy When It's Multisensory

What does a typical lesson look like?

There are several types of lessons, but most of the lessons have the following elements:

1- Review

2- Alphabetizing practice
3- Phonics, spelling rules, or other spelling concepts
4- Practice with the tiles or other manipulatives
5- Practice writing the words
6- A chart to mark off each "step" in the lesson.  I have to comment more on this one because it is one of my daughter's favorite parts.  She is very list- and goal-oriented and loves being able to put a sticker on each step as it is completed!

I honestly can not think of anything negative to say about All About Spelling.  Because I have seen so many good things from it, I intend to start using All About Reading as well.  Both programs were written by Marie Rippel, an educator who rose to the challenge of creating a spelling curriculum as she worked to teach her own child who struggled with dyslexia.  It has now expanded into a wonderful, family-owned company that I am happy to recommend to everyone.  In fact, I have been recommending it to anyone who asks me about curriculum!


What kinds of activities do you use to teach spelling or pre-spelling skills?  Do you have a favorite?  I'd love to know!

Disclaimer: We received an All About Spelling Level 1 set and a Deluxe Spelling Interactive Kit for review purposes.  All opinions shared are mine!  I only share materials that I expect my readers to love!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Halloween Science: Pumpkin Rockets

Halloween Science: A Pumpkin Rocket is a fun physics activity that your oldest and youngest kids can enjoy together!


Inspired by this plastic cup rocket launcher, I picked up some cups with jack-o-lanterns on them during my last shopping trip.  I included an affiliate link at the end of this post, but you could just as easily draw some faces on a paper cup with a permanent marker.

Once you have your pumpkin rockets (aka cups with pumpkin faces on them!) ready, just follow these easy steps to launch your pumpkin rockets right out of this solar system (aka across the living room)!

How to Make Your Pumpkin Rockets

1-  Snip two large rubber bands so they lay flat.  Tie 4 knots: one in each end of each cut rubber band.  You may want to prepare a few extras in case one of your rubber bands break.

2-  Cut 4 small slits in the top of your plastic or paper cup.  Place duct tape at the bottom of each slit to reinforce it, and stop it from tearing farther than you want.

3-  Insert a knotted end of each rubber band into each slit in the cup.

4-  Set your Pumpkin Rockets on top of the launcher, press down carefully, and let them fly!!

What's going on?

Newton's third law of motion says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  When you push down on the rubber bands with your pumpkin rocket, the rubber bands push back with an equal amount of force.  When your hands get out of the way, that force shoots the rocket up...and away!

Do you love Halloween Science?  Be sure to check out our Ghost Balloons and Optical Illusions too!

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Friday, October 10, 2014

25+ Ideas for Teaching Kids Who Can't Sit Still!

Do you have an active learner?  Then you will love this collection of more than 25 ideas to teach kids who can not sit still!  Also, keep reading to learn more about the fantastic Project Sensory!

I have always thought that all children should be able to move throughout the day.  Perhaps this stems from my inability to hold still for more than about thirty seconds at a time.  This is coming to be even more meaningful to me as I have a child that struggles to hold still even more than I do.  I suspect it is related to some sensory processing challenges he has, but his need to move becomes much more apparent as he gets older.  The fact is, however, that all children have sensory needs, and research is now showing that exercise improves academic performance in children!  

Moving while you learn is natural and makes the educational process more engaging and memorable.  I hand picked these ideas for teaching active children for two reasons:

1- They are fun, active teaching ideas.
2- They are very adaptable.  For example, the Spelling with Tin Can Drums (pictured top right) can be used for the suggested spelling or adapted for learning numbers, shapes, or other concepts.  It can also be used across several ages.  

These ideas are fantastic for kids who can't sit still, and they work wonderfully for children who can!  Even if your child can hold still and do worksheets, it is much more fun to learn with them while you are playing!

I hope you love these ideas, save them for later, and are able to use them as a reference with your own kiddos.  Keep reading below the list to learn more about Project Sensory, a new project to help meet the sensory needs of children!  And now...

25+ Ideas for Teaching Kids Who Can't Sit Still:

The Alphabet Parking Lot at I Can Teach My Child
Using the Garage Door for learning letters at Sugar Aunts
Spelling with Tin Can Drums at And Next Comes L
Conceptualizing 100 With Blocks at Preschool Powol Packets
Letter Recognition Sensory Play at Little Bins for Little Hands
Teaching math through play at Thriving Stem
Plastic Cup Learning Games at Little Bins for Little Hands
Bubble Wrap Shape Printing at Multi Crafting Mummy
Math Pop at Chicken Babies
Letter Harvest at Growing Book by Book
Letter Recognition Game at Betsy's Photography
Post it Noun Hunt at School Time Snippets
Swat That Sight Word at School Time Snippets
Number Line Smash at School Time Snippets
Read Your Way Scavenger Hunt at School Time Snippets
Shape Activities at Stay at Home Educator
Dice And Beanbag Game at Stay at Home Educator
Car Track Delivery Game at Stay at Home Educator
Alphabet Circle Seek at Stay at Home Educator
Matching With a Sensory Bin at Life Over C's
How I Teach a Fidgety Child at Lemon Lime Adventures
Moving With Math at Real Life at Home
Reading to Active Kids at A Mom With a Lesson Plan
How I Teach Active Learners at Adventures in Mommydom

I am writing this post as part of the Decoding Every Day Kid Behaviors Blog Hop.  Dozens of bloggers share insight into common challenges you may have with your children!

I mentioned earlier that not sitting still can be related to sensory processing.  All children have sensory needs.  In elementary school we often talk about five, but there are actually eight different senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, touch, proprioceptive, vestibular, and interoceptive.  All children process information through their senses differently.  When that processing interferes with behavior or lifestyle, we start to talk about sensory processing disorders.  Many of these behaviors can be helped with the right intervention...for example, a child who craves sensory input may not be able to sit still, but can still learn using some of the strategies listed above.  This same child may get fidgety in public or need something to keep his hands busy during a lesson.

{Affiliate Links Below}

Dayna from Lemon Lime Adventures is passionate about sensory processing and is launching Project Sensory to help families and teachers who work with children with sensory processing needs.  The Sensory Fix Toolkit was originally put together for a child with sensory processing disorder, but the company is determined to get the sensory tools and experiences to all children that they need to succeed!

Sensory Fix™ for Everyday Sensory Needs 

October is Sensory Processing Month, and Project Sensory is giving away one complete Sensory Fix Toolkit AND over a dozen different sensory processing tools during a huge giveaway event!  These kits would be fun for any child and especially useful for a child who struggles with sensory processing.  You can enter here...just scroll down to the bottom!

I just have to add one more thing about Project Sensory.  Dayna is creating a program where she is donating complete Sensory Fix Toolkits to classrooms!  As a former public school teacher, I can not even tell you how cool I think this is!  At the time, I had never heard of sensory processing, but I used to use similar "fixes" for kids in my class who needed help focusing,  These kits would make teaching and learning so much easier!  I seriously love how she is planning on giving back to the educational community!

And, since we are just beginning Sensory Processing Month, be sure to grab a {FREE} 100 Sensory Activities printable and check out the Sensory Processing Awareness Challenge!

Do you use active learning techniques with your kiddos?  I'd love to see more ideas!  Feel free to leave a comment or share your ideas on our PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Halloween Science: Ghost Balloons

This week I am sharing fun and easy Halloween science activities!  Today, we are making Ghost Balloons!

If you love blowing things up with vinegar and baking soda, make sure you see our quick and easy balloon science activity and the more Halloween-y growing glove experiment too!  We took the basic idea from these activities and used a ghostly balloon to celebrate the Halloween season.  Of course, if you're not particularly fond of Halloween, you could use the same concepts without the ghost!

Simple Supplies:

* white balloon
* black sharpie
* water bottle
* vinegar
* baking soda
* optional: funnel

Easy How To:

1.  Draw eyes on the white balloon.  Make them nice and dark...they will definitely lighten as the balloon expands!

2.  Add about 2 tablespoons baking soda to the balloon.  I like to use a funnel.  Be careful not to smudge the eyes!

3.  Add about 1 cup of vinegar to the water bottle.

4.  Secure the balloon to the water bottle, making sure the baking soda does not fall in accidentally.  If you are using a 12" balloon (which I do recommend!), slide as much of the "neck" down on the water bottle as possible (without breaking the balloon, of course!).  This will help the balloon stand up better.

5.  Quickly shake the baking soda into the balloon and watch your ghost grow!  We especially liked how the eyes lightened as the balloon stretched.

6.  Let your kiddos touch, play, and experiment with the ghost!

What's Happening:

Vinegar and baking soda react with each other to form carbon dioxide, a gas that bubbles up, out of the bottle, and into the balloon!

Did you catch yesterday's Halloween Science post, an optical illusion?! 

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Welcome! I'm so glad you're visiting! I am a public school teacher turned homeschooling mom who runs a small home daycare. I love to teach, create fun and exciting resources, and share the educational journey that we get to live!

This blog is full of ideas and resources for parents teaching preschoolers! One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to meet you all--be sure to say hi! You can always leave a comment or email me anytime at PreschoolPackets at gmail dot com!



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