Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Leaves Activities for Teaching

Here is a fun fall activity to do with your kids at home or in the classroom that includes working on language, vocabulary, and math concepts while building those crucial fine motor skills.  Throw in some creativity and your children will have lots of fun too!  And if you are wondering why I chose turkeys to put in the trees, keep on reading for links to explain why turkeys roost in trees.  It's always great when you can add some nonfiction real facts along with a fun math activity.

I love to use paint sticks to make games. In fact, my next few posts will be on making games and activities out of paint sticks and crafts stick.  Be sure to sign up by email at the top right corner, so you don't miss any of the fun.

If you are a teacher, you can make a tree to model in whole group and then make 2 trees for small groups.  I have my students work in pairs.  One builds the math tree and the other provides the "math conversations."  Then they switch roles.  If you are a parent, each child can have their own tree or they can work together.  Are you having a fall party?  This would make a fun craft to make that has a learning object too.

As with any activity, free play is so important.  Children need lots of opportunities to play as they learn. And remember this game builds fine motor skills because the children will use their pincer grasp (squeezing their thumb and pointer finger) to open and close the clothespins.

Materials Needed
  • 1 paint stick 
  • 10 jumbo craft sticks
  • Elmer's glue or equivalent
  • Fall color leaves
  • Clothespins
  • Animals
I bought my leaves at the Dollar Tree.  They came in a small package, and we had a few left over.  You can also use felt or construction paper leaves.  

I purchased the felt owls and turkeys at Michael's craft store (remember Michael's 40% Sunday coupons), but they also had turkey shapes at the Dollar Tree.  I included turkeys and owls in the FREE PRINTABLE.

Holding the tree with one hand while putting the animal on the branches requires fine motor skills.  If your child is younger, you can help hold the tree while he puts the animals on the tree.  Practice, play, practice, play, repeat. 


For older children,  let them make their own tree from beginning to end by using the Elmer's glue and allowing the sticks to dry.

For younger children build the base of the tree using a glue gun to attach the branches to the tree.  Then they can build the rest.
  • Place the paint stick vertically.
  • Place jumbo craft sticks in the arrangement desired.
  • Use glue or a glue gun to secure branches.  See above for older or younger children suggestions.
  • Let tree dry.
  • Place drops of glue on the branches.
  • Lay leaves on top of the glue.
  • Let dry.
  • Glue animal shapes on clothespins with a glue gun.



Level 1

Goal:  Fine Motor, Counting
  • Children play by putting owls or turkeys in the tree.
  • Children count as they add animals.
  • Children say, touch, and count or use one-to-one correspondence.  
  • Children say one number for one animal and count in sequence (1, 2, 3, 4 . . .).
Level 2

Goal:  Fine Motor, Number Recognition, 
  • Add number cards or use playing cards. 
  • 10 clothespin animals.   
  • Number cards are included in the free PRINTABLE.
  • Put numbers in a small container or sack.
  • Children draw a card.
  • Children put the number of _______ on the tree to match.
  • Children remove animals.
  • Repeat.
Level 3

Goal:  Addition
  • Add a die to the game.
  • Roll the die.
  • Name the number.
  • Put that many _______ on the tree.
  • Roll the die.
  • Put that many _______ on the tree.
  • How many ________ are on the tree?
Goal:  Subtraction
  • Put 10 animals on the tree.
  • Draw a card.
  • Take that many ______ off the tree.
  • How many _______ are left on the tree.
Glue animals on both sides of clothespins to provide a balanced tree and to give both hands fine motor practice.

Math Conversations to Have with Children

Tell me about your tree.
How many ______ are on your tree?
Do you have more _______ or _________ on your tree?
Do you have fewer ______ or ________ on your tree?
Are they equal?


I've included some internet sites that explain more about wild turkeys.
Click HERE for a website that tells more about turkeys and listen to the different sounds that a turkey makes.  There is also some video of turkeys.

Click HERE for an explanation about why turkeys sleep in trees.


Did you like this post?  I can wait to share the next post with you - more paint stick fun!

I purchased a box of these paint sticks to use with my children. I like them because they are smooth and without any markings.  I'm a paint stick fan and Home Depot and Lowe's can't keep up with me :)

Amazon links are included for your convenience.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Take A Closer Look at September Blog Hop

Hi everyone! 

Remember our blog hop last month before the big BTS sale? 
The one where 10 of us gave a freebie sample of our best sellers?? 

Well, we are at it again! This time, we are offering up a freebie sample of our favorite September product! 

So that means I have to name a favorite product for September.  Hmmm! Since many of you are teaching about fall and apples, I am sharing a sample of my Apples Reading Fluency for Little Learners.  If you are not familiar with my blog, here is the most important thing you should know.  I love using songs to teach reading.  I make up songs all.the.time - for everything.  Procedures - Phonemic Awareness - Phonics - Sight Words - Reading Strategies - Writing Strategies - Math . . .  And then I use those songs to teach literacy skills.

Why?  Because these songs become meaningful print for students to make connections.  Singing helps increase oral fluency, which in turns helps build reading fluency.  Singing the words takes away the "fear factor" when encountering new texts.  If they can sing it, they can be supported in reading it.

My FREEBIE is a copy of the predictable text words to the song to use in a literacy center, during guided reading, or as homework.  The predictable text helps support emerging readers.  Parents enjoy hearing their children sing the song, and it engages them too. Have your students color the apples to match the text.  They can also underline the color words with markers or crayons to match.  Throw in an apple pointer for tracking the print, and they are ready to go!

Here is a sneak peek at "Take a Bite" which is included my Apple Reading Fluency for Little Learners.  I just finished recording a mini-video to go with the song that can be played on a computer and also added an mp4 file to use on an iPad.  And for those who DON'T have tech, the packet contains the printable book in many different sizes, a pocket chart activity, and the mp3 song to play the music too.   

My students receive a fluency folder at the first of the year that contains songs to use as a warm up for guided reading.  These fluency folders stay in their reading boxes to use when reading independently, with a friend, or during small group instruction. When it is time for guided reading, they get their book boxes, and pull out their fluency folder.  They read their songs and poems along with familiar text.  They know to get started right away and not waste time.  They have a mission.  We are readers.  We are building our stamina.  We are building fluency.

My students also use these song sheets to play "What do you notice?"  This activity is differentiated for students.  Some children may notice individual letters.  Some children may notice that many of the words "match." Some children may notice a familiar sight word.  Some children may notice a phonics pattern (silent e in bite).  Have your students highlight what they notice to help them read the text.  Here is a quick glance at what else is this packet.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Sign up by email at the top right of my blog to receive other ideas for your classroom. 

ARE YOU READY  . . .  HOP on over to Jessica's blog Second Grade Nest.  She has a great FREEBIE just for you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Johnny Appleseed and Apples

It's fall and almost time to celebrate Johnny Appleseed's birthday.  I went back into the recording studio and just finished 2 new mini-videos, book sets, and activities to use with your thematic unit on apples.

The first is a video called "Let's Pretend We're Johnny Appleseed."  It contains what plants need to grow, shows the life cycle of an apple tree, and contains fun sequencing motions to keep your students moving.  This set also includes the song, printable books, and activity cards in both color and black and white.

Here is a sneak peek of the video and previews from the packet.  I used the adorable clipart from Whimsy Workshop Teaching.

For more information click HERE.  Your children will love acting out the motions while learning literacy skills too.

The 2nd mini-video is called "Take a Bite." It's a fun way to get children ready for apple tasting time and to choose which one is their favorite apple.  A printable book is also included in this packet along with a pocket chart activity too.

For more information about this printables click HERE. This clipart is by Krista Wallden from Creative Clips.

Both are on sale through this week.  If you plan on purchasing both, I have bundled them together to save money.  You can find that link HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Fall!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Circle Time Games

GRAB YOUR STUDENTS' ATTENTION! NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT - I FOUND THEM at the Dollar Tree!  Yes, that is an unusual way to start a post.  But if you have attended my sessions on games in the classrooms, then you know that I post updates when I find new grabbers.  I usually find them at Michael's, Toys R Us, and Target during seasonal times of the year (Halloween, Christmas, Easter).  This time . . . THE DOLLAR TREE!

Here are 20 ways to use these grabbers in your classroom.  If you need a visual you can watch the video on this post when I was a guest on a local television news show.

  1. Play follow the directions game using 1, 2, 3 or 4 step directions. 
  2. Spell your name. K (squeeze left grabber) a (squeeze right grabber) t (squeeze left grabber) h (squeeze right grabber) y (squeeze left grabber) and then pass to the person on the left.  Play continues until everyone has a turn.
  3. Count the syllables in your name. Ka (squeeze left grabber) thy (squeeze right grabber)
  4. Blend compound words. sun (squeeze left grabber) shine (squeeze right grabber) sunshine (squeeze left and right at the same time)
  5. Spell your word wall words. Refer to #2
  6. Segment phonemes in words. cat (squeeze both at the same time) "c" (squeeze left grabber) "a" (squeeze right grabber) "t" (squeeze left grabber) Pass to the person on the  left and continue around the circle.
  7. Blend phonemes into a word. "d" (squeeze left grabber) "o" (squeeze right grabber) "g"    (squeeze left grabber) dog (squeeze both together)
  8. Delete the first phoneme.
  9. Substitute the first phoneme.
  10. Do math combinations:  5+5=10
  11. Skip count by 2's.
  12. Count to 5.  
  13. Count to 10.
  14. Count backwards from 5.
  15. Count backwards from 10.
  16. Pattern games. Squeeze left out, squeeze right up, squeeze left out, squeeze right up
  17. Practice phonics' patterns. ay (squeeze both together) "a" (squeeze )  
  18. Say your letters and sounds. b (squeeze left) says "b" (squeeze right)
  19. Place value.
  20. Practice learning left and right.
Now go find those grabbers at the Dollar Tree and have FUN while teaching!

Thanks for stopping by!