Monday, December 18, 2017

First Grade Leveled Reading and Shape Art Project

Let's Make Shapes
We read the leveled reader titled "Let's Make Shapes" from the Reading A-Z website today at our homeschool. Free trial memberships to the Reading A-Z website are available. At the time that I am writing this, you can get the free trial simply by going to the Reading A-Z website and selecting the link. During this trial, you can download and print books for FREE! There is a limit to how many you can download each day, but when I tried I could download as many as 15 books per day. It costs me approximately 10 cents a page or $1.50 per book to print them at my library.

The Reading A-Z website is my favorite source for books to teach reading at home. The book level for "Let's Make Shapes," is J. For those of you that aren't familiar with Reading A-Z, level J readers are at the upper first grade level. (The next level K is considered second grade reading.) It correlates with Reading Recovery or DRA at level 16. The book shows fun drawings that can be created from simple circles, squares, rectangles and triangles. The book shows the reader how to use these shapes to create a smiling face, a mouse, a caterpillar, a fish, a jack-o-lantern,
Jack-O-Lantern from a circle and triangles
a pine tree, a truck, a dog, a bus and a house.

When we read the leveled readers, I underline any words in the book that are difficult for the child. When we are finished reading, I ask them to write each word and they become our spelling words for the week. When we do spelling, we discuss the meaning of each word, perhaps draw a picture or act it out depending on whether it's a noun or a verb. I've found this is a perfect way to incorporate spelling into our homeschool lessons.

House from a Rectangle and Triangle
After reading the book, I had my boys draw shapes on construction paper and cut them out. We then used the shapes to make the pictures from the book. My boys chose to make a jack-o-lantern from a circle and small triangles, a house from a rectangle and a triangle, and a caterpillar from half circles. I let them pick with pictures to make because they enjoy it more if they are able to choose.

This activity helps building reading skills and and art skills at the same time.

Here is another level J book by Reading A-Z that is available online from YouTube if you'd like to learn more about the leveled readers. (Their is an online version of the books called RazKids.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Teaching Inside, Outside, and On

Simple Games, Activities and Strategies to Teach Kids the Concepts of Inside, Outside and On

this lens' photo
There are many pre-math concepts that need to be taught. Of these concepts, INSIDE, OUTSIDE, and ON are important. Kids need to understand placement and location of objects and understand the meaning of these words to help them understand directions later in their learning. Try these activities with kids to ensure they have a sound understanding of the words inside, outside and on.

Game of Inside, Outside and On the Circle

Teaching Kids Inside Outside and On with Games

Inside Outside and On 1. With masking tape place a large circle on the floor.

2. Begin by standing inside the circle. Tell the child you are in the circle. Step outside the circle, telling the child that you are now outside the circle. Step on the perimeter of the circle. Tell the child you are now “on” the circle.

3. Repeat by having the child stand in the circle. Tell them they are inside. Have them step out of the circle and tell them they are outside the circle. Have them step on the perimeter of the circle and tell them they are on the circle.

4. Have them play Simon says and tell you inside, outside, or on the circle. Do as they instruct and move in, out or on the circle as they tell you to do.

5. Reverse roles and play Simon says again. You instruct the child to move inside, outside or on the circle.

Draw a Picture to Teach Inside, Outside and On

Teaching Inside, Outside and On to Kids

Teaching Inside Outside and On Help your child draw a face. Begin by drawing a circle. Ask the child where the eyes belong. Praise their correct answer and direct them if they answer incorrectly. Ask the child if the location of the eyes is inside our outside of the circle. Again, praise correct answers and teach if the answer is incorrect. Repeat with the mouth and nose, asking the child if it is inside or outside the circle. When making the hair and ears, show the child that they are ON the circle. Draw an object such as a tree or a sun outside the circle. Talk to the child about where this object is located.

Children Learn Through Play

Teaching Kids at Home

Teaching Kids at Home Children learn through play. Each day as they explore the world around them, they are learning! Pushing children into an academic setting too quickly can squash their enthusiasm for learning. Make learning interesting for your child with Play-Smart. You’ll find lots of ideas for helping your child learn while they are having fun!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teaching Sense of Smell to Kids | Learning the 5 Senses

Learning Sense of Smell

this lens' photo
Teaching the five senses usually begins in preschool and Kindergarten. These concepts will be used later in scientific discovery as kids explore various attributes of objects in the world around them. Before they can begin observing and documenting facts about the world, they need to understand the five sense they use for observation and how those senses work.

Learning about our sense of smell can be fun! Children usually enjoy putting their nose to work and talking about what they discover through their sense of smell. Here are some fun activities to teach sense of smell to kids.

Activities to Teach Smell to Kids

Teaching Kids Sense of Smell and Having Fun Doing It!

1. Ask what part of your body is used to smell. If the child does not identify "nose" as the answer, simply tell them. Model smelling with your nose by sniffing something fragrant. Let them smell it too.

2. Walk around smelling anything aromatic that you can find, discussing what you are smelling and whether the smell is pleasant or unpleasant. Ask the child to describe the smell. Write your observations down in a notebook.

3. Gather several strong smelling household items. Without the child watching, place the items individually into a paper bag. Ask the child to identify the smell inside the bag without peaking. Play this game with several items asking often what part of your body you use to smell.

Other Ideas for Teaching 5 Senses to Kids

More Ideas to Teach After Sense of Smell

Teaching the other senses: hearing, touch, sight and taste.

Teaching Long and Short to Kids

Long and Short

this lens' photo
Long and short are preschool and kindergarten math concepts that children need to grasp in order to compare objects later. Here are some ideas to help a child learn the comparison words: long and short and how to apply these concepts to daily life. For kids who are struggling in trying to understand these concepts, books read frequently comparing long and short often help.

Photo by Cardivonius.

Comparing Length

Teaching a Child About Long and Short

1. Place two crayons of equal length horizontally on a table. Explain that the crayons are the same length.

2. Next, cut a straw into multiple length pieces. (One 3 inch pieces, two 4 inch piece, and one 5 inch piece works well.)Ensure at least 2 pieces are equal lengths.

3. Lay them out horizontally on the table. Ask the child to look at the straws. Ask the child if two pieces are the same length. See if the child can identify the straws that are the same length. If not, tell the child which are the same.

4. Remove the 3 inch straws from the table.

5. On two index cards, write the words "long," and "short." Place the index card labeled, "short" under the 3 inch straw. Place the card labeled long under the 5 inch straw. Point to the cards and read each to the child.

6. Ask the child to identify the "long" straw and "short" straw.

7. Repeat this with other objects around the house that are long and short, such as strings, people, and toys. If you feel the child can answer a question as to which object is "longer," or "shorter," then ask the child to identify that object. If the child is struggling, or you don't feel they are ready to answer the question. Keep pointing out long and short objects until they have a better grasp of the concept.

8. Read books about long and short to your child for reinforcement of the concept.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

4 Ways to Develop Preschool Math Skills at Home

Learning About Same and Different

Before beginning to work with numbers, preschoolers develop math skills that involve discrimination. Simply put, this means knowing what objects are the same and what objects are different. Children learn to sort, classify, sequence and create patterns long before they begin counting. Using real objects, talk to your child about what is the same and what is different. Objects that a child can hold onto are called, “manipulatives” by teachers.

Working with manipulatives gives children a concrete example of “the same” and “different.” For example, offer a child two square blocks that are the same in size and shape, but a different color. Talk to the child about their likenesses and differences. Another example would be to offer a toddler two oranges and an apple. Talk to the child about which one is out of place, odd or doesn't belong. Explain to the child that this is “different.”


Sorting and Classifying

preschool blocks
Matching, sorting and classifying help children build their logical thinking and math skills. Use clear containers and scrap items from around the house to encourage sorting. This is a wonderful opportunity to recycle materials for games. Used plastic containers and bowls can be washed and reused as storage bins. Small plastic cups, or tin soup cans can also be used as sorting containers. Below is a list of items that can be fun for children to sort or classify by color, size, or shape:
  • Blocks
  • Buttons
  • Cars
  • Shapes cut out of scrap material
  • Crayons
  • Cereal
  • Socks
  • Pencils
  • Coins
  • Silverware
  • Flash Cards or Playing Cards
  • Photocopied Pictures of family members


Patterns and Sequencing

Another important preschool math skill is patterning and sequencing. After children have learned to recognize shapes, they can next learn to put these shapes into predictable patterns, such as a-b-a-b, or a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a. One way to teach preschool shape patterns is with hands-on manipulatives. String a pattern of beads with a child. String the pattern yourself, as an example, then ask the child to duplicate the pattern.

Popcorn, berries, buttons, candies, blocks, pasta, cut-out shapes, and ink stamps all make excellent manipulatives for building preschool shape patterns. These do not all need to be strung on a string. Stamping the pattern on paper, or gluing the objects in a pattern on paper will work. Another idea is to simply lay out the objects in order on a table and ask the child to repeat the pattern with their own objects. This patterning by example will help your child to develop critical preschool math skills.


Learning Directions and Sequencing (Teaching Prepositions)

Spacial directions and locations also help a child develop preschool math skills. Preschoolers need to learn the meaning of directional words, such as up, down, inside, outside, front, back, near, far, over and under. These words are sometimes referred to as prepositions because they describe the location of objects.
A terrific game for developing the awareness of direction or location is the game, “I Spy.” Say you see something and give clues about it’s location using prepositions. For example, "I spy a red object outside the window. This object is under a tree."

Preschool math skills can be encouraged at home by learning shapes, identifying same and different, sorting, patterning and learning spacial directions. Many of these activities can be done with little to no monetary investment. Simply talk to your child, play games with your child, and making math skills an important part of your daily routine.



  • Photo of preschooler with blocks by jessicafm.
  • "Help Your Child Get Ready for Math." Continental Press. 2005. Elizabethtown, PA 17022.


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How to Teach Number Conservation

These activities are typically done at the beginning of the Kindergarten school year to ensure the child understand the concept before moving on in math.

Counting Counters for Number Conservation

DSCA3981Materials: Blue and red counters, or other math manipulatives.
  1. Put 5 red counters in a line. Directly below the red counters, line up 5 blue counters.
  2. Help the child to count the red counters, pointing to each red counter as the child counts outloud. When the child is finished say, "Yes, five. There are five red counters," to reinforce the total number of red counters.
  3. Help the child to count the blue counters, pointing to each blue counter as the child counts aloud. When the child is finished say, "Yes, five. There are five blue counters," to reinforce the total number of blue counters.
  4. Talk to the child about both groups of counters having the same number.
  5. Now, space the blue group of counters wider apart. Ask the child if both groups still have the same number. If the child does not understand that both groups still have five counters. Count with the child to show them that the spacing does not change the total number in each group.
  6. Repeat this game often beginning with various groups of numbers, for example, start with 2 groups of 4 chips or 2 groups of 3 chips. Arrange the groups in similar patterns and then space the blue chips farther apart. Each time asking the child if there are more blue chips, or the same number.


Drawing Circles to Teach Conservation of a Number

Materials: Paper and PencilDSCA3982
  1. Begin by drawing 2 groups of 4 circles on a sheet of paper. Draw the first group going down. Draw the second group going accross.
  2. Point to the first group of circles and ask, "How many circles does this group have?" Write the number by the group if the child answers correctly. If the child does not answer correctly, help the child count the circles.
  3. Point to the second group of circles. Ask the child, "How many cirlces does this group have?" Write the number given by the group or help counted, if needed.
  4. Direct the child to the number written by each group. Explain that each group, regardless of placement, has the same number.
Repeat the activities above as many times as necessary until the child develops a clear understanding of conservation of a number (the number of items in a group stays the same regardless of placement). If the child struggles, try the activities with a smaller number of objects (two or three) then move up to groups of five objects. Once a child has mastered the concept of number conservation, the child is ready to move on to "one to one correspondence," also known as "counting with meaning." To learn more about teaching one to one correspondence, see more by this author below.

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Teaching One to One Correspondence in Kindergarten

The concept of one to one correspondence is introduced as a precursor to counting with meaning. When children begin counting, they can often sound off the numbers from memory without giving it much thought. This is called "rote counting." Assigning meaning to the numbers, by helping the child understand that the number 1 represents one object, number 2 represents 2 objects, etc. Before, counting with meaning can be taught, children will need to understand how to match groups of equally numbered items, or one to one correspondence.


How do you know if you should teach One to One Correspondence?

If a child counts objects skipping over ten of them as they count to 3, you will know that they are having trouble assigning meaning to numbers and need to understand one to one correspondence. If a child can already count with meaning, they already have a good grasp of one to one correspondence.


Be Fair!

Have the child pass out something to everyone in the room, for example a plate. Before you begin, tell them to, "be fair and make sure everyone gets a plate." If the child can not do this, model it for him/her and keep practicing until they can give one object to each person. Other ideas for objects that can be passed out are: toys, cups, candy, napkins, forks, pencils, pieces of cake, etc.


Counting Groups of the Same Number

Materials: 6-10 household objects.
Count out a group of objects. They can be forks, spoons, counters, quarters, pennies, or anything that you have around the house. Begin by counting out a small group of 3 objects. Place them in front of the child as you count. Now ask the child to repeat what you did. See if the child can count on a second group of the same objects. If the child can not do it, model the counting out of the second group, then start over and ask the child to do it after being shown. In this activity the groups of objects should be identical. For example, a group of 3 pennies and a second group of 3 pennies. After the child is successful, move on to larger groups of objects.


Dice Drawing Game

Materials: Paper, pencils, small round objects
Draw 2 squares on a sheet of paper. Ask the child to place one counter on each square. Counters are small round manipulatives used to teach math, if you don't have counters you can use any small round objects that are identical in shape or size, such as dimes or raisins. You can also draw the circles onto the squares, but this may be more difficult for some children. If the child cannot place a counter on each square, model the activity and then ask the child to repeat it. Once the child has mastered this activity, put more dots on the squares to make "dice." See if they can place equal numbers of dots on each square die that's been drawn.


Matching Games to Teach One to One Correspondence

Materials: Reusable cans, yogurt containers, or plastic bottles with the top cut off, markers, construction paper, straws.
You can recycle materials to make your own one to one correspondence games at home. Use empty bottles, cans, or yogurt cups to make containers. Cover them with construction paper. Place dots one through 5 on the front of the containers. Have the child practice one to one correspondence by putting the correct number of straws in each container. For example, a container with 5 dots, should have 5 straws placed in it. Other household items such as craft sticks, spoons, or forks can be used in place of the straws. A similar game that can be used to teach one to one correspondence with dots is the parking garage game. Use old milk cartons to create "garages" as seen in the photo. Place dots on the top of each garage and have the child drive the correct number of cars into each garage. DSCA3978
Once you have mastered teaching one to one correspondence with objects, children will be ready to learn to count with meaning. This concept is typically taught in kindergarten, but the bsic principles can be used with any child.

Photo Credits: HS Schulte

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