Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We're digging Dd!

Happy Wednesday friends!  I hope you're enjoying learning about the letter D with all our activities this week - and I'm here to share even more!

Have you ever made play dough with your children? It's a great sensory experience - this dough is even scented with sugar free Kool-Aid - and it is cheaper than buying, and lasts a LONG time! Making dough is this week's cooking activity!

While we're talking about sensory activities, I have some adorable hand print ideas for you this week! 

I found the idea for the dinosaur here, and the duck inspiration here.  You can also find a lot more great ideas on my Hand print and Foot print Pinterest board.

If your child is a junior paleontologist - a dinosaur scientist - I have an abundance of dinosaur themed learning activities, including this free counting and adding activity!

It includes 2 sets of dino number cards 1 - 20, the addition mat pictured at top, and a worksheet. (Sorry, the plastic dinos and number tiles don't come with it.)

My students also had a blast making these dragons! I taped bubble wrap to the table (or to boxes), let the children paint all over the bubble wrap, and then we laid paper over the painted bubble wrap, pressed down to take a print, carefully lifted the paper, and ta-da! Scales!  When its dry cut out your dragon, and provide paper scraps to add details!

For dog lovers (please tell me you're ALL dog lovers!) I have this cute letter counting activity.  

Children choose a dog name card, count how many letters are in the name, and count out a matching number of doggy bones OR if they're working on letter recognition, they can match the letters in each doggy name with 1" letter tiles.  

While we're focusing on letters, here's a fun initial sound activity for Dd!  Go on a scavenger hunt for things that start with Dd (think duck, dragon, deer, donuts, dogs, etc.), a few things that do NOT start with D, and a non-breakable dish.  Children go through the items one at a time, placing only those that start with D on the dish.  As they do, they sing this song (to the tune of there's a spider on the floor):

"There's a d___ on the dish, on the dish.  There's a d___ on the dish on the dish.  If I had a wish, I'd put a d____ on a dish, there's a d____ on a dish, on a dish."  (Click here to hear me sing it on my YouTube channel.)

Finally, you and your kiddos can make letter D crafts!  There are a couple of ways to make the dotty D.  For the one pictured below I offered wine bottle corks to dip in paint and stamp onto our D.  They're a great size for small hands to hold, and make a lovely circular dot.  Another way to do it is to use a circle punch and work finger muscles to make lots and lots of polka dots to glue on.  

The lowercase d is a dinosaur - we added a head with mouth and eyes, and triangles for the tail.  I had the children glue a piece of white paper behind the hole in the d, and in that space I wrote "First the dinosaur, then its tail."  If you made the lowercase b craft, you can see that these two letter crafts complement each other, and help children remember the difference between the two letters.

Are YOU digging the letter Dd yet?  Subscribe or come back next week for hands on ideas for the letter E - it's exciting!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Get Dirty with Darling and Delightful Ideas for D

 Dinosaurs, dots, dress ups and dirt - Dd can be delightful!

Lets start by going dotty - for International Dot Day! Do you know the book The Dot by Peter H Reynolds?  Check it out here:

There's even an International Dot Day to celebrate this book - and it is Tuesday September 15, 2020-ish.  Perfect timing to make lots of dots with your little ones!

However you make your dots, it's likely your table top will be dirty by the time your little ones are done.  Don't worry, make clean up a fun sensory experience by putting a dollop of (non-menthol) shaving cream on the table, and letting your darlings clean it up!

You could also take your learning outside and dig in the dirt - or the sand box! Digging is another fun sensory activity!

Of course we need to sing - how about 5 Little Ducks?  

Does your child prefer dragons?  They'll love this one!

If you enjoy these videos, I'd love for you to follow me on YouTube.com for more early learning ideas!

I haven't mentioned field trips yet, but getting out and exploring the world is an awesome way to learn!  The ability to have as many field trips as work for my children and I is actually one of the main reasons I continued teaching preschool and kindergarten from home after my own kiddos went off to school.  For the letter D week I love to take the children to a donut shop (thank you again Krispy Kreme for welcoming us each year!), and to the dinosaur dig at our museum.  

Of course, you can have a lot of fun at home too!  How about dressing up and dancing?

I'd love to hear how you and your child are enjoying the letter Dd - if you post about it on social media, please tag me on Instagram @paulabeckerman2399 or on FaceBook: Paula's Primary Classroom!  See you on Wednesday for even more ideas for Dd!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A cool collection of Cc activities

 Let's continue our letter Cc explorations! (If you missed the first installment, see it here.)

Activity #6 Castle and Sun collage creation.

Castle and Sun is a famous painting by Paul Klee (pronounced Clay) that I like to show the children during our letter Cc week.  The colors are bold, and it's made entirely of geometric shapes, so it's perfect to review squares, rectangles, triangles and circles.  What shapes can they see in the picture?  What does it look like to them?  Are there any doors or windows?  Turrets? (Use those great vocabulary words, you'll be amazed how many your children remember and use correctly!)

After we look at the picture, we build (construct!) castles with blocks, and I ask which part of their castles they build first.  Turns out you start at the bottom and work your way up - a concept I want them to think about BEFORE we make our paper collages.

 Check out all the geometric shapes in our blocks, just like we saw in Castle and Sun.  Hmm... what shapes do they see?

Finally I give the children a pile of squares, rectangles and triangles plus 1 circle (the sun), and they construct a collage from the bottom of the page up.  They already know the sun goes up in the sky, they're pretty smart you know!

If you and your child are practicing shapes, you might also like these hands on learning activities I've created.  This is Sorting and Drawing 2D Shapes:

 ...and this is Patterns with 2D Shapes

But wait, there's more! (Sesame Street wasn't the only TV I watched.)  Activity #7: Cat hats

Get ready for cuteness overload with this super simple cat hats!  I took a sheet of black construction paper and cut a long strip to go around each child's head.  (Pro tip, when you staple it, make sure the smooth side of the staple is on the inside against your child's head so it doesn't poke, scratch, or snag their hair).  We cut out and glued / stapled the nose and ears on, then crept around or crouched like cats.  Too cute! 

 Watch a quick how-to video here.

Activity #8 Painting with toy cars.

Paint or stamp pads + cars + paper = happy children.  It's easy, it's fun, why not?

Activity #9: Cow collage.  

The link above is to the French language site where this adorable cow idea came from.  You may think this multi-step art project will be too much for your littles, but the artistic ability of children has often amazed me!

Step 1: Children use crayons to draw flowers around the edge of their page.  It's important to use crayons because the next step is...

Step 2: Watercolor paint resist.  Children paint over the entire paper with one color of watercolor paint.  Look how the crayons resist the water, and it soaks into the paper around them, leaving the crayon pictures beautiful and bright!

Step 3: When the paper is dry, cut a rectangle from brown paper.  Have your child draw a smaller rectangle to cut out (the space between the cow's legs), then cut along the lines to make the cow.  From the little scrap rectangle they can make a tail.  Provide scraps of another color to make the rectangle nose and mouth (there are those shape words again!), plus horns and a tuft on the end of the tail.  They can add white circles for the eyes, and add the details for the face.  It's amazing to me that these were made by 3-5 year old children!  

I'd also love to see what YOUR child makes - if you post on social media, please tag me @paulabeckerman2399 or on FaceBook Paula's Primary Classroom.

 Activity #10 Songs!

We HAVE to have songs, right?  For Grandfather's Clock I like to tap rhythm sticks.  As they recite this rhyme children get to experience 3 different tempos for the music, and they're practicing self restraint to match my speed.  If you don't have rhythm sticks you can get the same effect with a couple of wooden spoons, or a pair of chopsticks.  Get creative!

 While you have your sticks (or improvised instruments) out, let's tap on our shoes for Cobbler Cobbler.  A cobbler is a job we don't see often any more, it's what we call someone who makes and fixes shoes.  We practice tapping to a rhythm, and the concepts of up and down in this fun rhyme:

Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe,  (tap on your shoes)

Have it done by half past two.

Stitch it up,  (tap sticks above your head)

Stitch it down,  (tap sticks on the floor)

Make the finest shoes in town.  (tap on your shoes)

Sneaking Cat Rhyme is one I found on Literary Hoots Cat Storytime.  Check it out, there are LOTS more fun cat rhymes and activities for cat loving children to enjoy!  It can be made even more fun by wearing the headband from activity #7.

 What other children's songs and rhymes can you think of for the letter Cc?  Let me know in the comments, and maybe I'll record them and add them to my YouTube channel for you!


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Can You C What I See?


C is for Cookie! - can you tell I grew up with Sesame Street?  My children did too, but even if we hadn't, we'd still love cookies for the letter C week.... and all the other weeks too!

Activity #1 this week is cooking!

Children love to cook, or at least, that's been my experience.  There's something almost magical about spending time with your favorite grown up, doing grown up things like cracking eggs and measuring flour, and turning all those ingredients into something delicious!  It definitely takes longer to cook when you have little hands helping you - but let me jump waaaaaaaay ahead and tell you that you'll be so glad you took the time to teach them when you have a teen who can make dinner for the family!  I've taught at least 100 children (age 3-5) how to crack an egg, and you can too!  You'll do a lot of explaining and hand holding, and you'll probably pick some egg shells out of the bowl and wipe some egg of the counter top, but how else will our little ones grow?  

I digress.  C is for cookie - so help each other make a simple sugar cookie dough, then roll it on the counter like you would to make play dough snakes, curl it a little into a C shape, and bake.

While they're baking, I recommend reading any one of the books about Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar.  Your kiddos will let you know what to do after you cook them 😄.

For times when you can't actually cook, making a camera cookie is a fun alternative!  You'll need a square of graham cracker, some peanut butter (or other spread), a small round cookie, and a few small round candies.  Give your child a butter knife, and let them spread the peanut butter on the graham cracker, then arrange the toppings to look like a camera.  Smile!

Activity #2:  Hungry Caterpillars

Surely you know the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle?  It's wonderful for learning about the life cycle of butterflies, but that little caterpillar lends itself to making a letter C shape to reinforce the letter sound too! For the upper case letter C we make a simple clown face on our letter cut out - and hey, cutting starts with C too, so remember to let your littles work their finger muscles and cut their letter out!

Activity #3 Hand prints - are you and your little ones loving the hand painting process as much as mine always have?  Here are some cute ideas for letter C!  (I've linked the original source for each handprint below, you can see many many more on my Handprints and footprints Pinterest board.)

Cake - paint your child's palm and enough fingers to show how old they are.  When the paint is dry use markers or glue on small pieces of paper to make the "flames" on the candles.

Camel - paint their whole hand, then let them add a neck and head to their camel.  When the paint is dry they can draw on the details.  For the sandy background on my example we tore some tissue paper, then used a glue stick on the solid paper, and stuck the tissue paper down.  (If you try to put the glue stick on the tissue it will probably tear.)

Caterpillar - perfect for anyone who is hesitant to get their whole hand painted, just finger tips and a leaf cut out.

Crab - paint one hand at a time, make the palm prints overlap slightly.  When it's dry let your child add wiggle eyes and claws.

Castle - paint their whole hand, when it's dry they cut and paste triangles to turn their finger prints into turrets, and add doors and windows.

Clifford - one big red hand print.  I have to admit I drew the outline for Clifford's features, then the children added a triangular nose and wiggle eyes. 

Activity #4: Crawl into a cave and find things that start with Cc.  "Sure," you're thinking, "Let me pop out to my local cave with my babies in tow and see if there just happen to be C things in it.  What could go wrong?" 

Well... nothing if your "cave" is a card table with a blanket thrown over it, and you and your child look in the toy box or around the house for things to put in the cave.  Think cup (I had a clown cup from the circus!), cows, caterpillars, cats, castles... it's amazing what you'll find when you start looking!

No room for a card table cave?  Put your letter Cc things on a table to play with!

Activity #5 Sensory play with construction vehicles or toy cars in corn.

If you've been following me a while you will know this, but for those of you who are new: if you can take sensory play outside, you'll have less clean up.  I love using feed corn for sensory play: it's super inexpensive, natural, and the squirrels clean up everything we spill.  One bag lasts a whole year, as long as you keep it dry.  I store it in our sensory play table in the garage, then scoot it out when we want to play with it.  Some people store sensory materials in tubs, and choose which one(s) to play with.  Some people don't like the mess of it at all, and choose not to do this kind of activity.  Do what works for YOU!

I hope these activities keep you and your little one happily busy learning!  If you post to social media about these activities I would LOVE to see!  Tag me on IG @PaulaBeckerman2399 or on FB Paula's Primary Classroom.  

Come back on Wednesday for 5 MORE ideas for the letter Cc!  


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The best activities for learning Bb

 Welcome to part 2 of letter Bb preschool activities you can do at home or at school!  In the last installment I talked about baking bread, going on a bear hunt, enjoying a teddy bears' picnic, and lots of fun backyard activities you and your child will love.  Let's explore even more ideas today!

Activity 1: Songs  

You had to know there would be songs!  You probably already know Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and if you do, you might even have a baseball bat and ball you and your littles can enjoy.  Here are two more letter Bb songs:

Beetles in the Basin in the Bathroom


Here is the Bee Hive


If you'd like to check out the counting clip cards and other early math activities with a bee theme, click here to see them in my TeachersPayTeachers store. 

Want more songs for Bb?  I have a Letter Bb playlist on my YouTube channel - click here to check it out!

Activity #2: This week's hand (and foot!) print ideas are a bumble bee, bear, and butterfly. Bea-u-ti-ful!

Last week some of you shared your hand print creations with me on Instagram 💗💗💗💗💗!  I would LOVE to see how you and your littles use any or all of these learning activities!  Please tag me @paulabeckerman2399, or leave comments on this blog - it absolutely makes my day!

Activity #3: Make binoculars

You'll need 2 paper tubes, a sheet of paper, a hole punch, and about 18' of yarn.

Start by measuring the length of your paper tubes, and cutting your sheet of paper to that width - keep all the length.  You'll have a long rectangle.  Tape or glue it to one of the paper tubes, carefully lining it up the ends of the tube and the paper.  Wrap it around both tubes, then tape or glue it in place.  (Remember, your little one can do the taping and gluing, only help with the parts they can't do well, and always let them do as much as they can!)

Use the hole punch (this part is probably too difficult for your child) to punch one hole on the outside of each tube.  Thread the yarn through and tie the ends so your child can put the binoculars around their neck.  It's fun to look through the binoculars to look for things that start with the letter B!


Activity #4  Butterfly paintings

You probably remember doing something like this when you were little: fold a paper in half, apply paint to one side, fold the paper shut, smush it, then open it again to find a symmetrical painting.  I recommend having plenty of paper on hand, because most children LOVE the magic of this simple activity.  

This is a great time to introduce the word symmetrical - being the same on both sides.  It's a great word, and once they start looking they'll notice LOTS of things are symmetrical: their face, many doors, lamps, the fireplace, the tv, the couch and more!  If they ask - and someone's child will ask - things that are not symmetrical are asymmetrical.  

Activity #5 Sensory play with a basket of beads / buttons / dry beans.

A lot of children really enjoy sensory play.  Just running your hands through a bowl of beads feels marvelous, and this is something our children don't get to enjoy often enough.  Sensory play can include water play, mud and sand play, soft animals, finger painting, smelling jars and much more - all staples of early childhood learning.  You can connect sensory play to letter learning by choosing materials that start with your focus letter, such as beads, buttons, or dry beans.  

Sensory play can get very messy - children are scientists who explore the world with wild abandon, and don't always keep materials in a container as parents and teachers might wish.  There are some easy ways to make sensory play a happier experience for both you and your child:

1. Know it will get messy to some degree, and put this kind of material out when you have the time and patience to deal with it. Stay close enough to supervise and redirect if your child starts throwing small pieces all over.  Make sure they know your expectations (Do you them to keep the materials in or near the container?  Do you expect them to help pick it up afterwards? Is there a time limit on how long you can keep it available?)

2. Place your sensory bin on a large towel or sheet, so when they're done most of the materials can easily be scooped back into the bin.

3. Consider taking water, sand and dry food materials outside to play, where clean up is easier.  I used to buy feed corn for our outside sensory bin, and whatever we didn't clean up, the squirrels would take care of.

4. Consider the ages and stages of your child(ren) and make sure materials won't be a choking hazard.

5. If the materials don't offer a way to play, your children will invent something - so put in a couple of scoops or bowls for them to fill, add some toys to hide and dig up, or add a favorite bath toy - the kind you pour water through - so they can pour materials through it.  Bored children WILL find a way to be entertained.


Activity #6: Letter Bb crafts

When I taught preschool one of our weekly activities was to cut out both the upper and lower case letter of the week, and to decorate them with things that represented the letter.  I had a copy of our alphabet letters posted along the top of the wall, and many of my students put their letters up on their bedroom walls and created their own alphabet wall at home.  These activities evolved over time, and your letters don't have to look like mine - there are many right ways of doing things in this world!  I'll share my ideas with you, but if there is something that is more meaningful to you and your child, do that instead.  I've taught a lot of children, and know a fair amount about early childhood education - but YOU know YOUR child best.

B is for butterfly.  You (or your child) can draw or cut out an upper case letter B from a piece of construction or printer paper.  Notice how the top and bottom half of the B are symmetrical?  Remember our symmetrical butterfly painting?  How could your child turn their B into a symmetrical butterfly?  We glued on shapes, and I guided children to find 2 of each shape, and to place one on the top and one on the bottom of the B.  A pipe cleaner bent in half, with the ends curled around my fingers make simple antennas, which we stapled on.  If your child wants to add a couple of wiggly eyes, or long thin oval to represent the butterfly's body, go for it!

b is for bat and ball.  When I was in kindergarten Mrs. Potts taught us "first the bat and then the ball for b" - and it stuck with me.  I could tell the difference between b and d because d was "first the dog and then its tail". Thank you to Mrs. Potts, my students made their letter b crafts with a paper baseball bat and paper baseball, and I printed the words on it so they and their parents would remember.  

If your child is starting to pay attention to letters, and enjoys coloring, you may like this FREE activity to practice Bb, Cc and Dd.  Please follow their lead on what is enjoyable - the most important thing they're learning in preschool and kindergarten is that learning is FUN!  We're setting the stage for their attitude towards school for the rest of their life - that's a big responsibility!  If they don't want to color or do worksheets, please don't make them.

Most of the resources I make for preschool and early kindergarten are games.  If you want more play based learning activities, I'd love for you to check out my resources on TeachersPayTeachers - and no, you don't have to be a school teacher to use the site, parents are teachers too!  

Thank you for reading all the way through.  I really would love to know how you're using these ideas!  Let me know in the comments, or tag me on Instagram: @PaulaBeckerman2399 .  See you next week for the letter Cc!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Get busy with the letter b

I hope you enjoyed lots of letter Aa activities last week - if you missed that post, see it here.  Now let's get busy with the letter Bb!  There are SO MANY great things you can do to reinforce the connection between the letter B and the sound |b|: ride bikes, blow bubbles, bathe baby dolls, bake bread and more!  There are so many in fact, that I'm going to break this week up into 2 blog posts - are you ready to get started?

Activity #1  Bake bread.  

Yum!  If you have access to a bread machine it is super easy to make bread, but even if you don't, it's worth the time!  After you get online and find a recipe that appeals to you, you and your little one will do a lot of math as you prepare your dough: measuring teaspoons and tablespoons of ingredients, counting in cups of flour, and don't forget the real life skills of scooping and pouring. I've baked bread literally hundreds of times with children as young as 2.5, and the trick is to let them help however they can.  You probably don't want to have them measure and pour cups of water - how much would make it into the dough, and how much would spill?  Some things are too heavy for little hands, and some measurements need to be relatively precise.  

What to do?  Hold their hands in yours and help them scoop teaspoons of ingredients, then let them dump it in. 

Have them rest a measuring tool on the edge of the mixing bowl, and you pour liquid ingredients into that, then they dump it in.

Count scoops out loud together.  

If you're using a bread machine, show them which button to push to start it, and hold the lid open and watch it go for a minute.

 If you're kneading by hand, share the dough with them and let them knead for as long as they can - if you're talking about the bread, the sticky feeling of the dough, how you want to eat it when it's done, they'll hold out longer - and strengthen their hands as they do!

Once you've got the bread started, consider taking a close look at a piece of bread together.  Does your child notice all the bubble holes in the bread?  That's what makes it light and fluffy to eat!  

Yeast is the ingredient that makes the bubbles, and it needs warm liquid to do it.  If you put a little yeast in some warm water in an empty bottle, add a pinch or two of sugar, then stretch a balloon over the bottle, you'll trap any gas the yeast makes. 

It will probably take about as long as baking the bread does - so it's great to do these things at the same time!

Of course the best part of baking bread is eating it (smelling it cook is a close 2nd)!  Still, make sure you save a little for the next activity.

Activity #2: Teddy bears picnic

Bread isn't the only food that starts with the letter B - there's bananas, berries, bologna, broccoli... enough to make an excellent teddy bears picnic!  I like to read the book, but you can also listen to the song on YouTube.com, and then pack your basket with food that starts with B, grab your favorite bear(s) and book(s) and head to the backyard to enjoy your picnic! 

Activity #3: Go on a Bear Hunt

I learned this song / game first from Dr Jean's song, then later found the book and story retelling by Michael Rosen, and later still the version from The Learning Station.  My favorite is the book - and seeing the author tell it is fantastic!  However you learn it, going outside and pretending to go on a bear hunt is FUN!

While you're outside for your bear hunt, take a little time for:

Activities 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8: Bounce balls, bathe baby dolls, ride bikes, blow bubbles, and observe bugs!

That's more than enough for one blog post - but come back on Wednesday for a second installment of letter Bb activities!