Word Wall Ball

Last week  I put on a Word Wall Ball for our military homeschool group and it was… word wall ball titleAWESOME!  Okay, I know that is totally braggy but I’m just really happy with how well it went and how much fun we all had.

So what is a Word Wall Ball you ask?  Well, my sister gave me the idea from something she observed in a kindergarten class.  The idea was that kids would have their list of sight words on their word wall when they have learned all of them they earn a ticket to the Word Wall Ball.  Really we just celebrated everyone’s accomplishments in reading, whether it was learning sight words or starting to read for the first time or finishing a grade level.

DSCN1720We held it at the community center on base and everyone brought a potluck dish to share for lunch.  I said for the kids to dress fancy for them–whatever would make them feel special–and boy did they dress up.  I had helium filled balloons floating around with strings long enough for the kiddos to catch them and then other balloons on the ground for kids to bounce around (if you know me IRL you know what a big deal this was for me because I HATE balloons).  When they entered I had royal music playing (alright, it was just the march from Sleeping Beauty) and as soon as the kids came in and saw the balloons and everything they started screaming and bouncing around and dancing.

In addition to the balloons and dancing, we also did a cake walk.  If you haven’t done a cake walk, you are seriously missing out.  Think happy musical chairs with cupcake prizes.  We had sight words cards for our spaces.  When the music plays the kids walk around the circle.  When the music stops, we call out a word and the child standing on that space gets a cupcake and leaves the circle.  Add in a DSCN1686new kiddo and begin again.  We just played until everyone got a cupcake. (Okay in a real cake walk it would be cakes and then you would start with a whole new group, but I really like it this way.)

Download the Sight Word Cake Walk

 

I also had out scratch out for the kids to do.  Such an easy craft–just set out the supplies–but such a big hit.

img075

And we had a photo booth!  I think I love the pictures even more than the kids loved taking them. 🙂

DSCN1695 cropped

I found my props online; then just cut them out and added shish kabob skewers.  I recommend using an exacto knife for the eye holes and other fine details.  And before sure to glue the skewers with the pointy end against the paper piece so no one gets hurt.  So many are for weddings or adult parties but I found good ones for the kiddos at Accent the Party (a great list) and Creative Juice.

DSCN1685

 

But the best part of all for everyone was recognizing the children’s accomplishments.  On the walls I had a img074book for each kiddo celebrating their achievements in reading.  I had the parents write me with what they wanted to celebrate and then I just copied and pasted them onto the book stencil.  At the end of the party we gathered the children around to acknowledge each of their accomplishments.  After announcing the child’s name, I would read their “book” to the group and we all cheered.

I am uploading the book template as a powerpoint file so that you can make adjustments and add your text.  I am also adding it as a pdf in case you can not open the powerpoint.

Book template powerpoint

Book template pdf

DSCN1730 fixed

In homeschooling kids can miss out on public recognition of their achievements.  While we shouldn’t do things just for the applause, it certainly is nice to be celebrated.  I think all the parents were surprised at just how much it meant to our children to recognize them in front of the group.  You would have thought they won the lottery when I called a name.  We will definitely be doing this again in the future.

wwb pic copy

That night the girls told me how proud they were of themselves.  Looking at those smiles, I know that the greatest part for them was getting recognized for their hard work.  And one of the greatest parts for me…  Mia ran up, gave me a giant hug, and said “Thank you Mama!”

P.S. We used the plain scratch art paper that I actually cut in half sheets and it worked just great. The kiddos loved creating their own designs. But if you are looking for something a little more fancy or structured, there really are all kinds of great options.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

To get back into the school groove, we started with a unit based on the classic alphabet book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin.  There is a reason so many kindergarten classes start the year with this book.  For us it was a DSCN0221great way to review our letters and ease back into our school schedule. To get in the spirit, we started with a palm tree I made in our school room.  I just used brown construction paper and part of a very cheap green plastic tablecloth.

Letter Hunt

DSCN0224I printed these letters out on cardstock and hung them around the house the night before our letter hunt.  I was surprised how much the girls enjoyed finding them and for some reason wearing them.  They were still in their pajamas when we got started.  We then hung the letters up on our palm tree just like in the story.

Download Large Lowercase Letters here

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Coconuts, of course!DSCN0232

You can’t talk about palm trees without exploring coconuts.  I picked some up at the grocery store and after touching and describing them from the outside we broke them open (well, their dad broke them open) and then we all got to taste the coconut milk.  It was different than all of us were expecting.

Mia's face shows exactly what she thinks of the coconut

Mia’s face shows exactly what she thinks of the coconut

Coconut Volcano

I stuffed one of the coconut halves with baking soda and then we took turns pouring the vinegar in to make our volcano explode.  Having recently visited Hawaii, the girls loved mixing two things they saw on their trips.  And then of course, they had to play in the mixture while it was fizzing.

Coconut Volcano

Shake & Color

This was another letter review activity that I’ve seen on a few different sites.  We made these palm trees out of Sprite bottles then filled them with rice and small laminated letters (I used the color version of their worksheet).  The girls would shake the bottles and then identify the letters they saw and color them on their worksheet.

Shake and Color Game

Download Student Version Shake n Color Game in black and white

Download Shake n Color Game in color

Boom Boom Letter Game

The girls loved this game which we picked up from Kindergarten Kel here.

DSCN0386[1]

Letter Sensory Bin

This was super simple to set up but fun for the girls.  I just tossed magnetic letters into our sensory bin with some blue water to mimic the ocean. They fished the letters out with chopsticks (great for motor skills) and then sorted them by capital and lowercase.

20140908_140035 (2)

Playdough Number Cards20140908_110351

These number cards from Kindergarten Celebration were a huge hit with the girls.  They filled in the squares on the ten frame for each number and also formed the numbers out of playdough.  You can find the cards here.

20140908_110412

Letter Worksheets

Chicka chicka boom boom worksheetWe also used these worksheets I picked up online.  For the uppercase letters the girls marked the letters with dauber dots as we read through the first half of the book.  The lowercase worksheet involved matching the letters together.  Click on the links below to find the worksheets.

Uppercase Chicka Chicka Boom Boom worksheet

Lowercase Chicka Chicka Boom Boom worksheet

 

Bathtub Fun

This was all purely for fun but the girls LOVED the themed bath I did for them.  The palm tree pieces are cut from regular fun foam sheets–when wet it sticks to the tiles easily.  I used some alphabet pieces we already had although you could also cut those from fun foam if necessary.  The girls also played with the coconut pieces but if you do this, be sure to clean them carefully.  We learned that the hard way.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom bathtub

Snack time!

We also enjoyed snacks inspired by the book.  I saw a few different versions of these online.  For us, we used grapes to make the coconuts.  The girls were also much more willing to try something new (they have never been a big fan of kiwi) when it was in the shape of a palm tree.

This one was made from apples, graham crackers, and grapes

This one was made from apples, graham crackers, and grapes

This lunch was made of banana, kiwi, grapes, cheese, and sliced turkey

This lunch was made of banana, kiwi, grapes, cheese, and sliced turkey

We also baked Chicka Coconut Banana Booms.  You can find the recipe here from Growing Book by Book.

Letter Collage

I precut the pieces of the palm tree and then the girls assembled it.  They then decorated the tree with letter stickers and were supposed to make a collage using magazine pieces.  Unfortunately things didn’t go according to plan.

DSCN0384[1]

As for other art projects, there are tons of cute ideas online.  We kept running out of time and the girls weren’t feeling crafty so as much as I loved all the ideas I saw, we never really made any of them. 🙁

Pinterest

Need more ideas?  Feel free to check out my Pinterest board!

Sharing a Love of Reading

My post yesterday about the Goodreads reading challenge prompted a conversation about sharing your love of reading with your 560581_4169830516604_1861102797_nlittle ones.  As I said yesterday, we agree that reading is important and that parents are children’s best role models, so it’s important that parents role model reading for enjoyment.

But with active little ones in the house, it can be very hard to show that you read for pleasure.  I read their books to the girls, but how do I show them how much I love to read?  It’s not like I can just sit around the house reading all day.  (Hmmm, or can I?)   When it comes to reading, of course reading aloud is the most important thing you can do for your child.  But here are some other ideas to show your young children that you yourself are also a reader:

  • Have your books out where they can see them.  In addition to our bookcases filled with our books, we also leave our books around the house and let the girls know that those are the ones we are currently reading.
  • Talk about books.  I love books and talking so this is very easy for me.  At the dinner table, we talk about what we are reading, interesting tidbits.  We also reference books that we love.  (I’ll be honest, in our house that means a lot of Harry Potter references).  And of course we talk to the girls about their books as well.
  • Read when your children read.  At first I thought this was impossible with little ones.  Now when the girls are looking at books, I get out my book to read.  I try to sit with them during their quiet time at least a few times a week and read my book as well.  They especially love laying on our bed looking at books together.
  • Let them look at your magazines and books.  Of course you want to be sure that the magazines are appropriate for them to look at but the girls love flipping the pages in my magazines and making up stories.DSCN1198
  • Share books that used to be yours.  If you have any books leftover from when you were little, share them with your kiddos and tell them about how much you loved them.  If you don’t, see if you can find copies of your favorite childhood books and share those.
  • Show interest in your children’s books.  Usually the girls choose which books we will read, but sometimes my husband or I pick the books.  We will talk about which ones are our favorites or why we want to read a certain book.  It’s hard to make your children interested in reading if you show no interest in the books they choose.  And try to not sigh or complain if you hate a book they like.

But what if you aren’t a reader yourself?  Well, then this is one of those times you fake it until you make it.

 

Start your year off right… Read!

It’s the start of the year so it’s also time to kickoff a new reading challenge with Goodreads.  Last year was the first year I did the reading challenge and I loved it!  You set your goal and then as you read books you add them to your Goodreads account.  Here’s mine,

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Mrs. E has
read 1 book toward her goal of 32 books.
hide

Last year I had no idea what to make my goal so I just chose 25 books thinking that sounded good.  After our beach week with my sister the super reader I had to adjust it to 30.  This year I’m aiming for 32.  (I know that’s kind of arbitrary because of text size, etc. but I still think it’s neat to see how many pages you’ve read.  Just in case you’re wondering, which you probably aren’t, I read 14,051 last year).

Since now is the time for making resolutions, a wonderful one would be to read more this year.  We all want our children to be good readers.  And we all agree that parents are children’s best/first role models.  And yet, many parents do not role model reading for their children.  Maybe you don’t like to read yourself or feel like you don’t have time, but if you want your children to be good readers then you need to make yourself a reader too.  Find something you enjoy reading and make time. (One of my favorite times to read is while blow drying my hair.  Of course, this might also explain the many bad hair days I have.)

If you do join Goodreads, feel free to friend me!  🙂

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Of course we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle many times during our caterpillar/butterfly theme!  We made caterpillar puppets, colored placemats, and practiced the days of the week.  Our stained glass butterflies also complimented the art from the book too.

Caterpillar Puppets

These caterpillar puppets were lots of fun!  I was inspired by a kit in the Oriental Trading Company’s catalog.  To make them we used: red cardstock, green cardstock (light and dark colored), black paper, green paint, sponges, paper fasteners, black pipe cleaner, and two Popsicle sticks.

Ahead of time, I cut out five circles (one red, two light green, and two dark green).  The girls sponge painted the green circles.  We hadn’t done sponge painting before and they thought it was hilarious.  Then they glued the eyes and nose/mouth (they both called it something different).  I connected the pieces with the paper fasteners so that they can move together then we glued on the pipe cleaner antennas  and the Popsicle stick handles.

Our puppets also went great with the book Balloons Over Broadway, The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet.  We got this book at Thanksgiving time and the girls never let us put it away.  They love reading about the puppets!  It is a great book.  And Tony Sarg, the creator of the famous Macy’s Parade balloons, was actually inspired by a very similar caterpillar puppet.

Placemats

When searching for printouts for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, most were someone else’s drawings, not Eric Carle’s.  I finally found this coloring page.  After talking about the food in the picture, it was actually the girls’ idea to make them placemats.  I just ran each page through the laminator and we’ve been using them for the past week.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar coloring sheet

Days of the Week

For each day during the week we ate the food the caterpillar ate that day as best we could–apples, pears, strawberries, and oranges.  We weren’t able to get plums so we ate prunes instead.  🙂

We also sang this song courtesy of Homeschool Share.  It goes to the tune of the Adam’s Family theme song:

Days of the week (snap, snap), Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday
There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday
And then there’s Saturday
Days of the week (snap, snap), Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap)

 

 

%d bloggers like this: