May 19th, 2013
Children need to hear something, see it, move and repeat a new concept in order to grasp the lesson. This was the message of Heidi Butkus, a kindergarten teacher and credentialed reading specialist during the Minnesota Kindergarten Association conference, May 3-4 in Litchfield.
“A child’s retention will increase by 40 percent when they see, say and repeat the new concept,” Butkus said.
Heidi Butkus shared phonemic awareness ideas with teachers during the Minnesota Kindergarten Association conference May 3-4, 2013.
The combination of action, sight, listening and repetition creates a multi-sensory learning experience, which reaches most or all students. Students with learning disabilities can be taught this way. Butkus explained that the brain has different modes of comprehension so if you can’t reach a student through sight or sound alone, the movement or repetition component could make a different.
Butkus then put her theory into action and provided teachers with different multi-sensory learning ideas to teach words and phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to sound out letters to make words. For instance, bat is “ba-aw–at.” She also explained that you can combine two words (play + ground = playground or basket + ball = basketball) to introduce this concept.
Parents and caregivers can use her ideas at home to teach words and phonemic awareness. It’s important to start by getting up and moving while teaching these lessons. Here are some of Heidi’s tips:
To find more fun lessons from Heidi, visit her blog here. Remember to incorporate movement, repetition and creativity into your lessons. A multi-sensory activity will help your child learn.
© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2013
April 28th, 2013
A diamond has four sides and looks a bit like a square but it has different angles. It has two parallel sides. Draw a diamond for your child to see as you explain this fun shape.
Another good way to show your child how to make a diamond is to start with two triangles. Put these together to show your child how the triangles fit together to make a diamond.
Here are some other ideas to teach your child about diamonds:
- Cut out diamonds of different shapes and sizes. Put these up around your house and go on a diamond hunt. Have your child practice tracing the diamond shapes with her finger.
- Take a field trip to a baseball field. Can you tell what shape the mound is? What about the bases? What shape do the ball players run around? Practice running around the bases.
- Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and hold up a diamond when you say “Like a Diamond in the Sky.”
- Draw three different-sized diamonds on a blackboard or three pieces of paper. Have your child determine which is the smallest and which is the largest.
- Color diamonds on a piece of paper.
- Make a diamond name game. Cut out diamond shapes- one for each letter of your child’s name and extra letters for the alphabet. If you are spelling Justin, you will need 32 diamonds – 6 for the letters in J-u-s-t-i-n and 26 more for each letter of the alphabet. Next, write Justin’s name on a big piece of paper. Have him go on a diamond hunt to match the letters in his name. For younger kids, only write the letters in his name on diamonds to hide around the house. Help him arrange the letters to spell his name.
- Put a bunch of foam shapes in a bowl or dish. Have your child sort out the diamond shapes.
- Use white labels and cut out diamond shapes. Practice putting these on a sheet of colored paper.
- Explain that diamonds can also be worn as jewelry. Show your child a photo of diamonds in a book or on the Internet. Ask her if the diamond jewelry looks like the diamond shape.
- Read these books about diamonds: The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle; The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns; Shape Space by Cathy Falwell; Spot Looks At Shapes - Eric Hill; Look What I Can See: A Preschool Book that Teaches Colors, Shapes, Numbers, and Much More! by Joanne Sandlin and Tracey Burner.
- Cut up straws into different-sized pieces. Draw a diamond shapes on paper. Use the different-sized straws to match the edges of the diamond-shapes on your paper.
- Eat a snack of square crackers. Try to change the squares into diamonds.
- Make diamond-shaped kites out of construction paper.
- Fly a kite outside. What shape do you see? Can you get the kite to fly with or without wind?
- Make a diamond person. Cut out two large diamonds for the head and body. Cut out smaller diamonds for the eyes, ears, and nose. Decorate the rest of the diamond person. Don’t forget to name your diamond friend. Try to think of “D” names since diamond starts with “D.”
Have fun with the diamonds in your life. The more kids are exposed to shapes, the more they will be ready for preschool and kindergarten.
© Let’s Talk Kids, 2013
April 8th, 2013
Spring has sprung! The days are getting longer, flowers and trees are budding and birds are returning home. Has anyone seen a robin? It’s often said that seeing the first robin means that spring has arrived.
What have you noticed as signs of spring around your home? Share these observations with your child and ask them to do the same.
Some say nature is the best classroom. We agree. There are many studies saying that children today maybe nature-deprived. Healthy outdoor play provides children with growth and development. Thus, we share these fun ideas to teach your children in spring outside.
- Go on a color hunt. Look for objects that are different colors. Try to find a blue egg, green grass or leaves, yellow flower buds from tulips or daffodils, white clouds and a blue sky. Which items can you find that are black or brown? Consider writing down a list of the colored objects you found.
- When it’s raining, put on your boots and go outside. Bringing your umbrella or wear your rain slicker. Dance in the puddles and sing, “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, the Old Man is Snoring.”
- As the snow melts, put on your boots and explore the great outdoors. You can also make a mud pie. Start by bringing a cake pan outside and fill this with mud. Children love the sensory experience of putting their hands in mud. Also, use a sheet of paper and have your child make mud handprints. If it is warm enough, have them make mud footprints. Getting dirty is a great learning experience for kids. If you are worried about a mess, remember that children are washable and you can bring them inside to clean up afterwards. Have fun cleaning up in a warm bubble bath.
Allow children to play outside and get messy, they clean up easily.
- Be a nature inspector. Bring your magnifying glass outside and inspect the ground. Can you find any bugs? Can you find signs of budding flowers? Lift the kids up to see the budding trees. What else do you see as you explore?
- Go on a bird expedition. Look for birds, nests or eggs. Did you find any? Describe what you have found.
- Make a sensory game. Start by blindfolding your child, next find common spring items that have different smells – like a flower, new grass, dirt, wet wood or tree leaves. Have your child guess what it is by the smell. Repeat this activity and make it a feeling game. Can you guess what each item is just by touch?
- Go on a worm hunt. Dig into the ground and see if you can find a worm. Put them in a clear, plastic container to watch how they move. Allow your child to hold a worm to see how it feels.
- Celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Wear rubber gloves when you go outside to help pick up litter. When you pick up items from outside or on the streets, make sure to dispose of them properly. For the more creative types, come home and make a mural or collage out of what you found.
- Learn about baby animals. Spring is a time when many baby animals are born. Go to a local farm or to the zoo to visit the baby animals. Talk about what type of animals you see- how is the baby animal similar to it’s mom or dad? Look at the animal; does it have fur, feathers or scales? Would it feel soft or rough? Pet the animals if you can.
- Play at the playground. Spring is the perfect time to enjoy your local parks and playgrounds. Allow your children to run, slide, swing or climb. Being at the playground helps promote strong bones and build muscles.
Enjoy exploring and learning in nature’s playground.
© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2013
March 25th, 2013
Parents and adults need time away from kids. Time to reconnect as couples or just interact with other adults. To get out, it’s important that adults feel confident in the babysitter they have hired.
An added benefit of hiring a teenager to be a babysitter is that it gives them a chance to be with kids, interact and learn about child development. The benefit to the child is that she learns there are more caring people in her life. She can trust people who are older and may find a role model.
Choosing a good babysitter is important.
How do you know that the babysitter you have hired is good, will be kind to your kids, not make a mess or have friends over?
Here are a few tips to find a good sitter.
- Ask for recommendations. Find out who your neighbors, friends, church or synagogue members use or who they trust. Ask them what their children think of the babysitter.
- Conduct a phone interview. Call your new babysitter and ask a few questions. See which families the sitter has worked with, ask what ages they feel most comfortable with, etc.
- Bring potential babysitters over for an interview. Let your child met the new babysitter and vice-versa. See if it is a good match. As a teenager, Candi vividly remembers going over to a neighbor’s house to meet the kids. She had a chance to play with the kids and get to know them personally. This was nice since going to their house for the first babysitting job was easy. They knew her and she knew them. The parents also got the added comfort of knowing the kids and Candi clicked.
- Check on certifications. See if your babysitter has completed a babysitting clinic or a CPR class. While this might not be a deal breaker, it will help you feel more confident leaving your child in their care. Cinnamin has taught babysitting clinics in the past. “I have seen young caregivers grow in confidence as they learn first aid tips and ideas to keep the little ones safe,” she said. Check with your local community education or the YMCA to see which teens have completed the course. It might be another idea to find trusted, caring sitters.
- Websites. While there are many different services to advertise for babysitters or find caregivers, we remind you to be cautious. We have all heard bad news about how these services can be
- questionable. Make sure if you use a website to advertise for a sitter or find a caregiver that you interview them personally. Start with a phone call to feel each other out; listen to your instincts. With the ambiguity of the web, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for references from other families they have worked with in the past. Make sure to follow up with a call or email and get a recommendation. We strongly encourage you to meet first since everyone should feel comfortable in this working situation.
- Trust your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable with a potential sitter, don’t use them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
After you hire a sitter, parents also have a responsibility in making the babysitting experience successful. First, negotiate the hourly rate and prepare your home and little one. Create an emergency contact list and post this by the phone or on the counter. Share this with your babysitter. Remind the sitter on how she can reach you. List bedtimes, rules or routines you want the caregiver and child to follow. Make sure the babysitter knows your other expectations. If you want them to clean up the toys or do the dishes, state this.
To prepare your child, explain that you are going to be gone and that Susie, who came over last week, will come to play with you. Tell him to listen to Susie and follow the rules, you will ask Susie how he was. Also say you want them to have a ton of fun together.
By working out all of the details beforehand, you can have a fun night out while your child has a fun night in!
© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2013
March 14th, 2013
Teaching children about the days of the week can be fun, but it is also a challenging task. Most kids have difficulty grasping the concept of time and days. Caregivers must be patient in this lesson and repetitive in their teaching.
Make a calendar to show kids the different days of the week.
Here are some fun ways to teach the days of the week:
- Use this “Days of the Week” song, which is sung to the tune of the “Addams Family” theme song. While you are singing, use a calendar and show children how the words of the song and days on the calendar go in order.
- Write out the days of the week on a white piece of paper. Gather seven markers and a calendar. Color the word “Monday” and the entire column of Mondays on the calendar the same color. Repeat this for each day. This activity helps highlight the day that your child is learning and also shows the spelling of each day.
- Using lined paper, write out the names of each day of the week. Cut the names out and paste them in order on another piece of paper or tape them to the wall. Practice putting the days in order.
- Make your own calendar. Start by printing out a blank calendar on your computer. Have your child color a photo to go with the month. Older children can create a 12-month calendar.
- Sing this song “Seven Days of the Week (I Never Go to Work)” by They Might Be Giants.
- Create your family story using the days of the week. Take seven sheets of paper and write a day (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.) on the top of each sheet. On Sunday’s page, draw or write the things that your family does on Sunday. You can also cut out photos to glue in your book. Continue this process for each day of the week. Have fun making and reading your book.
- Count down to big events by using a calendar. For instance, if grandpa will come to visit on Saturday, show your child that you have three days until he arrives and count out the days. You can also write down things you will do each day or draw photos to help your children realize when the big day will come. Explain that on Thursday, we will go to story hour at the library and eat dinner. On Friday, we will watch a movie and eat popcorn. When we wake up on Saturday, grandpa will come!
- Use a calendar to talk about today, tomorrow and yesterday. Children can see on the calendar that yesterday you went to swimming lessons, today you visit the dentist, and tomorrow you will play with a friend.
- Create a week caterpillar. Start with eight 3-inch circles cut out of paper. The first circle will be the caterpillar’s head. Write the month and dates on this circle and also draw a face. Next, glue together the other seven circles to represent each day of the week. Write out the day of the week on each circle.
- Discuss which holidays happen in a month. Use a calendar to show the current month. For instance, in March spring arrives. There is also St. Patrick’s Day. Show your child which days have a holiday or special event. Consider coloring these days a special color or drawing a picture to represent the holiday on your calendar.
Remember that repetition is key when teaching the days of the week. Fun activities will help children really understand the concept. It can be tricky and maybe even frustrating at first, but using these simple techniques will help your child understand the days of the week.
© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2013