{fill in the blank} Easel Stories

early writing activity for kids My daughter got this Melissa & Doug easel from Santa and she loves it but at our house we share most everything and her brother got a chance to play with the easel with this Fill in the Blank Easel  Story.  Writing , spelling and reading all come together with creativity and storytelling in this fast to set up activity. If you do not have an easel you can enter for a chance to win one from Melissa & Doug below or use a big sheet of paper on the wall. The reason I am suggesting the wall or an easel is because when kids write on vertical surfaces likes these their arms, wrists and hands naturally go into the proper position for writing. This makes it easier for many kids that struggle and doesn’t hurt those who aren’t either.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some dry erase makers, a dry erase board / easel and a big imagination.
  2. Start by writing out a simple story on the easel with dry erase markers.fill in the blank easel stories early literacy Here is mine – Once upon a time there was a ________ named _________. He was brave, smart and ____________ . One day he found a magic ____________ and it started to ____________. He thought that is was amazing and ran to show his ___________. when he got home his magic ____________ disappeared! He looked for it everyday but never saw it again.
  3. Invite your writer to come fill in the blanks.  Have them read it out loud.fill in the blank early writers activity
  4. Fill in the blanks. fill in the blanks spellingMy son kept asking me how to spell things. Here is what I do when he asks. I will ask him first to sound it out. If he is struggling I will help. Generally I ask that he uses his 6 year old spelling for everything. Spelling is developmental and if we skip stages in development there can be struggles later on. Invented spellings are a really important step. Kids aren’t misspelling things they are just spelling them at their level of development. As your child progresses feel free to correct them little by little. My son can read well and simple words like dog, hat, car are ones that I would not hesitate to correct his spelling but words like furious, sword or friends I am still encouraging him to sound out and spell at his level. Interestingly he spelled sword correctly later in the lesson.fill in the blanks sounding out and spelling
  5. He didn’t like my ending so he edited it. ” When he got home his magic sword would shock people.” fill int he blanks stories and spelling activity
  6. When he was done writing he proudly read it back to me.fill the blank stories for kids

Watching my son write this really showed me how hard white boards can be for new and struggling writers. Many need the friction of a chalkboard to help them form letters correctly. This easel has a black board on the other side and if you aren’t lucky enough to win it in our sweepstakes you can make your own dollar store ones like we did.

Enter For A Chance To Win

deluxe standing art easel from Melissa & Doug

Fill out the form below. Please only one entry per household. SWEEPSTAKES NOW CLOSED

Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel and Companion Set from Melissa & Doug

Official Rules
This sweepstakes is open to American residents 18 years or older. To be eligible for the sweepstakes you must enter your name and email in the google form embedded in this post. 1 winner will be drawn at random, using Random.org, after the sweepstakes closes on January 14th 2013 at 8:00pm PST. The winners will receive the Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel and Companion Set , valued at approximately $115. After the winner is notified he or she has 48 hours to respond with their mailing address to ship their easel and companion set to ,or another winner will be chosen at random. No purchase necessary.The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Any information gathered through the sweepstakes including email and postal addresses will not be used in anyway other than contacting winners and shipment of winnings. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
 
I am a blog ambassador for Melissa & Doug and am compensated for my work. The sweepstakes prize is provided for the winner free of charge from Melissa & Doug.

Rhyming Peg Board {Learning After School}

Rhyming pegboard literacy activity for kidsMy son is a good student but like most new writers he needs to work on his fine motor skills . He enjoys writing now but I still like to sneak in some fine motors skills in with activities he loves like rhyming. This rhyming activity uses novelty to keep kids interested. The rubber bands and pegs are great because it takes a lot of patience and fine motor skill to carefully place them on the correct pegs. This was just enough novelty for my son to be eager and interested even after a long day at school.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a shoebox or other sturdy box ( we used our Kiwi Crate) , push pins , elastics, a sheet of paper, glue stick or double stick tape and a marker. rhyming activity for kids
  2. *Before doing anything make sure that the push pins are secure when you push them into your box. Test out how far apart you can make the push pins and stretch your elastics so they stretch but aren’t so tight that that pull the push pins out and turn them into projectiles.
  3. Write out a list of words on the right side ( we did Christmas themed words but obviously do what works for your kids). Write a second list on the left of rhyming words. rhyming game with elastics
  4. Tape or glue onto your box.
  5. Add push pins remembering to keep them not too far apart. rhyming activity for kids 2
  6. Add a kiddorhyming activity for kindergarten to start matching these words up. rhyming pegbard match game for kindergatenThis is a fast activity but it’s designed to be. It’s a splash of learning not a long lesson. My son really liked it and I plan on making more with different themes , spelling words etc…Rhyming pegboard

Neighborhood Photo Safari & Photo Book For Kids

After making our Alphabet Photo Magnets my so has been asking to get a chance to use my camera again. Today we went all around town and took photos of places that we go to or past often. The power of this activity is to relate the photos in the book to the photo safari and previous experiences at each location. The book itself is simple but each page is much more than it’s text. The photos will prompt storytelling by even the youngest child. My daughter talked her way through 3 consecutive readings . Making the book was also a great learning experience for my son and while there are much more polished options like photo books from places like  snapfish and keepsy doing it all by hand is valuable too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some page protectors , a report cover or small binder , a camera, a clip board, paper and marker. You will also need a printer and a template for the book. You can  download it here , it’s very simple but effective.
  2. Get ready with a list of where you need to go.
  3. Get buckled in and don’t forget your camera.
  4. As we went around town my son took the photos and checked them off the list.
  5. At the fire station we expected to just take a photo but they invited us in and it was by far the highlight for both my kids.
  6. Taking the photos was fun but walking around town with each other was pretty awesome too.
  7. At home print out the book pages and the photos.  Grab some scissors and glue too.
  8. Cut the photos out. Cutting is a really important skill for kids to master especially around my son’s age ( just about to go to kindergarten) so I really wanted him to do as mush of the cutting as possible.
  9. After they are cut add the glue.
  10. Slide into the page protectors and into the report cover.
  11. Read. I am kicking myself for not getting a photo of my daughter reading but she was wiped by the day and took a monster nap. By the time she woke I was knee deep in dinner prep. but I could hear her telling her dad ” Again! ” as they read it over and over.

Book

In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner is amazing.It’s premise are the comings and goings of a town in all four seasons. There is limited text, which serves only to steer readers to look for specific people in the highly detailed illustrations. Each season has multiple pages and the people remain constant throughout the seasons. So you see inside an apartment building , the town square, the park, railroad station etc… in every season. You see the changes in town, the progression and of course the distinct weather in each section. The pictures also progress within the seasons, so a fire truck with a flashing light can be seen on every page in one season with the last page showing it getting to the fire . I can’t possibly explain the amazing detail and sheer number of things to find, make up stories about and spark your child’s imagination in this book. My son adores it. After renewing it multiple times from our library I bought it as his 2010 Valentine’s gift. It goes everywhere with us, perfect for long drives , waits in the Ob’s waiting room and plain old playtime he picks it up every day and finds something new.

What I really love is that because there is no text but still multiple story lines it’s helped my son to understand that literacy isn’t just about words, it about explaining what’s going on, and reading the pictures too. The absence of text has allowed me to really show him that . Now he has started grabbing books with text and telling me he’d read me the pictures, which boosts both his confidence and his enjoyment of independent reading.

Edited for 2011: My son is still crazy over this book. When I am desperate for him to chill out so I can get my daughter down for a nap nothing keeps him occupied ( and quiet) like this book. It’s magic!

Edited for 2012 : My daughter has now started to enjoy this book too. She loved finding the baby in each page.

Journal Writing ( for pre-writers)

literacy activities for kids Guest Post by Rebekah Patel

One way I build literacy skills with my preschool daughter is to dedicate time to journal writing.  Our journal time is inspired by what I learned when I facilitated Lucy Calkin’s Writing Workshop with my former students.  My daughter is a pre-writer because she writes only a few words and no sentences, but she can develop language skills by composing her thoughts into a writing journal.  Through journal writing, she learns the ideas she  talks about can be put onto paper.

For journal writing, I provide her a journal and colored pencils.  The journal can be handmade or a store bought sketch book.  It is important the pages are unlined because pre-writers will mostly draw in their journal.

We begin journal writing by reviewing what we wrote about the previous day.  Then, I model one simple writing idea in my own journal.  When I first modeled journal writing, I drew a picture and wrote.  I observed that my daughter was very hesitant to write anything in her journal.  Now, I only draw pictures in my journal, and she has become more confident and independent in creating her own ideas in her journal.

Below are some writing ideas that I have used for my daughter, but when you model writing for your child make sure the writing is relevant to your child’s life.

 

 

Writing Ideas

  • How To’s – brush teeth, do laundry, bake cookies
  • People and Pets  - Mama, Papa, grandparents, cats
  • Events – parties, trip to library, holidays
  • Their World – rain, home, school, grocery store
  • Likes – food, clothes, places, television shows
  • Feelings – sad, happy, angry
  • Learning – topics of interest such as planets, wild animals, weather, numbers

After I have modeled writing, my daughter begins to write about her idea.  She is free to write about a topic that interests her, and she doesn’t need to write about the same topic I showed her that day.  During this time, she works independently for about five minutes.  She often writes about a new topic, but I do notice she has other typical behaviors displayed during journal time.

 Writing Behaviors

  • writing name over and over
  • letter writing practice
  • scribbles
  • copying Mama’s work
  • a lot of family and pet pictures

Once she has finished writing, she tells me about her writing.  I transcribe her words on the page.  Sometimes she doesn’t want me to write directly on her page, and I will write her ideas on a sticky note.  I stay positive about the work she shows me even if she has spent the entire time scribbling.  I know she doesn’t end up scribbling every day, and there may be some days she has hard time figuring out what she would like to write in her journal.

literacy activities for kids

 Journal writing builds children’s confidence in their writing ideas.  It allows children to learn to stay focused on writing tasks.  As children develop, they will start writing more words in their journals.

 

Rebekah is a former elementary school teacher who now is a stay at home mom.  In her blog, The Golden Gleam, she shares art, play, and learning ideas to light up kids’ lives.   

Halloween Word Search

word games for new readers

I can’t take full credit for this activity idea . Word searches in bottles of rice, popcorn kernels etc.. have been around for as long as I have been teaching and probably much much longer. I was reminded of the simple genius of these last night when searching Pinterest for sight word ideas for a reader who was looking for more activities for her son.  I pinned this activity onto my early literacy pinterest board but felt like I needed to make my own version using Halloween words.  Here is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some filler ( we used our Halloween Sensory tub filler ) like black beans , orange lentils and creepy toys!  You will also need some stiff paper ( we used paint chips but card stock will work too), a clip board, markers and a permanent marker. You will also need a large plastic jar, water bottles work too but you may want to take the larger spooky toys out of the mix.
  2. Write out the words your child is searching for I had my son help me think of Halloween words.
  3. Write them on the paint chips or card stock. I wrote some words out multiple times and some like Boo! only once. Just to make it successful but challenging.
  4. Cut and pop them in the jar with the filler.
  5. Search !
  6. Cross the words out when you find them.
  7. We challenged each other to find words. I like this game because it gets kids reading, searching and can be adapted to any level. For younger kids use plain letters, older ones cut the letters of the words out and have them search and spell!

My Favorite Halloween Book For Little Ones

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!