Letter Harvest Corn – Alphabet Craft for Kids

alphabet craftsWe love adding letters to plain old crafts and making them into an  alphabet craft. It’s a simple way to work on letter recognition and kids love it. This simple ear of harvest corn went from plain to rad with some letters. More importantly my daughter spent time with each letter making it’s sound, suggesting words that also make that sound, and really being engaged. I didn’t plan on her tracing the letters with a marker but I loved her suggestion. I always run with her suggestions because even though I came up with the idea this is HER creation and I don’t want her to think there are steps so much as options. So try adding some letter stickers to whatever you are creating to turn a simple craft into a literacy activity.

Gather your materials. You will need some watercolor paper, a pencil, scissor, foam stickers in any color but we chose to match ours, some paint ( use paint daubers if you want them to dry quickly), and some glue or double stick tape. harvest corn letter craft

Start by drawing an ear of corn and the stalks separately.letter corn craft

Time to paint. These Do A Dot Art ( affiliate link) really do dry quickly especially when you use water color paper. corn letter craft for preschool Kids love them too. My class and I just did a variation of this number art project with them and they painted for ages! As you can see I didn’t cut the pieces out. Over the years I have discovered kids will paint all the way to the edges if you leave it but if you cut the shapes out they will often paint in the middle only. corn painting for thanksgiving

When both are done you can grab the foam letters and play a little game of ” Can you find the letter…” while the paint dries. alphabet craft indian corn

Add on the letters. letter indian corn craftPeeling stickers of the backing is a valuable fine motor activity so let them take their time and only help if they ask. No need to rush. corn craft for kids with letters

After she popped the yellow letter stickers on she decided to trace the letters with a red marker. It took a lot of concentration and hand control. I thought it was rad. corn craft for children

Cut out and glue or tape together with double stick tape. corn craft farm craft for preschool

All done! Don’t forget to display it someplace where your child can see all their hard work!fall alphabet craft letter corn on the cob

Books About Farms

All book lists include affiliate links

Margaret_Wise_Brown_Big_Red_Barn

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my very favorite books to read to my daughter before bed although it took a while before she warmed up to it. I was worried because I loved reading it to my son and couldn’t wait to share it with her.  The story is simple readers see a day in the life of a big red barn and all the animals inside. Each animal is introduced in the seamless text that reads like a melodic poem. It’s  calm , soothing and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are perfect, I love how the sky subtly changes as the night beckons.  A wonderful book for anytime, but especially poignant before bed.

The Grumpy Morning

The Grumpy Morning by Pamela Duncan Edwards is a great book. I think I got it as a freebie with a scholastic order years ago, either way I am so glad I have it. The book follows all the animals on a farm as they wake up grumpy and hungry and needing attention from the farmer.As a parent I like this because it’s a great reminder that we need to feed our bodies for the day to be at our best.  As a teacher I love this book because I could talk about whining, and demanding and ask my students if there are better ways to get what you want.

duck-on-a-bike

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon tickles my funny bone. I love this book, the message is awesome too. Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. Also how cute is a duck riding a bike? Kids even young ones get the message loud and clear as well.  The illustrations are amazing and your child will love the farm animals and the tractor at the end. Oh and please tell me I am not the only one waiting for “Duck on a Tractor” ? I’d buy it in a heartbeat !

If you have 30 extra minutes to work on literacy what would you spend it doing? Simple ways parents can help their kids read.

help your child read

If you had 30 extra minutes to work on reading what would you spend it doing? I get asked this question a lot. 

After reading with them, to them, and listening to them read or tell you stories? Well that depends on the child but I will try to answer this question in a very general way to give all of you some ideas of what you can do to make a big impact with only a little time. These are my go to skills that are easy for parents to help children with and that make a big difference when kids get a little extra practice with them. Here are just a few ways parents can help their kids read.

 

Toddlers & Early Preschoolsensory alphabet activities

 

Play with letters. Incorporate them into your play with magnetic letters, letter stickers, and alphabet blocks. Make special note of letters that are meaningful like the first letter of their first name. As you play , abel the letters but leave drilling or quizzing to the teachers in their future, there is no room for drills or quizzes in play.

 

Here are some letter play ideas :

Stamp & Match
Salt Tray Letters
Alphabet Cookies
Shell Letters
Alphabet Sensory Tub
Alphabet Playdough
Touch & Feel Alphabet

 

Preschool & PreK

letter sounds

 Letter Sounds

This is the next step to playing with letters. Now your child knows almost all the letter names and hopefully many of the sounds as well. These games work on both these skills.

Here are some games and activities for letter sounds and recognition :

Flip Top Phonics
Letter Sound Pound
Unlock The Letter Sound
Princess Phonics
Letter Sound Match

 

PreK & Early School Agethe one thing you should do to help your kids learn to read

Starting to Read { simple words )

Play with rhyming. Rhyming is such an important phonics skill but what I love about it is that it’s packed with play. No parent or child wants to spend the small bit of time they have together fighting about learning. Rhyming games can fill that need for fun and for learning.

 

Here are some great rhyming games:

Rhyming Dominoes ( adjust the words to your child’s level)
Rhyming Tag
Rhyming Jars
Rhyming Peg Board
Find & Rhyme

 

Kindergarten

sight word activities

Learning to Read { reads a little but not fluently yet }

Sight Words

Make sight words fun. When I say sight words I am not just talking about true sight words that can’t be decoded by sounding out but also the high frequency words that your child will encounter over and over while reading. When they can read them quickly without decoding them it makes reading easier. They can spend the time sounding out the bigger harder words instead.

Here are some great sight word activities that are FUN and worthwhile. Instead of the words used in these activities substitute with the list of  sight words from your child’s teacher. If you don’t have one ask for the one they are using :

3D Word Search
Sight Word Dominoes
Outdoor Sight Word Game
Sight Word Jump & Grab ( Hands On As We Grow)
Sight Word Target Practice ( Toddler Approved)

School Age

vocabulary

Reading Independently { and fluently}

 Vocabulary. When children are learning to read much of the focus is on the mechanics of reading, the sounds the letters make and how they work together. Once they start to read we shift a lot of the focus to the meaning of the words and text they are reading. We focus on comprehension and one way that parents can really help with that is to work on boosting vocabulary ( another is simply asking your children “ What did you just read?” while reading together).  When we expose our children to a big buffet of words it makes reading easier because they recognize the words and can decode it more quickly as well as understand it’s meaning ( and thus the text) with more ease.

 

Here are some fun ways to work on vocabulary with your kids :

Tips for working on vocabulary with your kids
Word Window
Muffin Tim Word Game ( Growing Book by Book)
Word A Day Cards ( Teachmama.com )

 

These are just appetizers for literacy intended for those 30 extra minutes you may have. As parents I see our role as scaffolds to support our children at whatever level they are at. For more about literacy check out Raise A Reader on Scholastic Parents. Amy Mascott and I share tons of ideas to work on literacy with your children.

 

Pinecone Painting & Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Pinecone painting thanksgiving turkey craftPinecones are everywhere!  As certain as the fallen leaves, the pinecones that beg to be picked up and thrown ( hopefully not at each other) are everywhere. I decided we should create with the pinecones and what better to make right now than a Thanksgiving turkey craft ? What I love about these Thanksgiving turkey crafts is that you get to choose if you want to just do some painting with pinecones or if you want to use that painting to make a turkey craft, OR do multiple paintings and leave one as just that and create a craft with the other. Whatever you choose I hope you have as much fun as we did shaking that box and watching the paper fill with bits of color.

Gather your materials. You will need a couple of dried pinecones, some paint in any colors you want, a box that your child can handle themselves, and some great paper. If you want to turn the painting into a turkey you will also need some scissors, googly eyes, brown, red and orange paper and glue. We added some fun glitter paint for some sparkle. pinecone painting supplies

Start by placing the paper in your box and adding paint. pinecone painting activity for toddlers

Pop the pinecones in. pinecone painting for kids

Shake it up! pinecone painting for preschool

Make them roll, bang together, and generally have fun with it! pine cone painting for kids

Let it dry. pinecone painting for kids two ways

While it’s drying cut out a simple turkey torso ( do they have torsos?) , waddle, and beak. turkey craft for kids pinecone painting

Cut  the painting into a half circle. pinecone painted turkey craft for thanksgiving

Add glue for the turkey torso. pinecone painted turkeys

Add it and more glue for the eyes, beak, and waddle. thanksgiving turkey craft with pinecones

Let dry. pinecone painted turkey craft for kids

 

Books About Turkeys

all book lists contain affiliate links.

a-plump-and-perky-turkey

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman is such a cute and funny book about a town that needs a turkey and the hilarious lengths they go to to find one. The town is sadly outwitted by the turkey and end up eating shredded wheat for thanksgiving. The illustrations kept my little man interested when he was a toddler but he only started understanding the dark humor at around 4. I love this book because of the humor makes me giggle. My son was a little off put by the idea of the towns folk eating the turkey and was relived when he escaped before they shoved him in the oven. I like that he is starting to understand that the meat he eats is actually a cooked animal, we take that for granted but for many young kids this is a huge realization!

10 fat turkeys

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston was a classroom favorite, it’s about as silly as a book gets and the kids had no clue they were actually learning about subtraction while listening to the crazy rhymes. This won’t explain the pilgrims , or talk about the Mayflower, but it will make your kids laugh! Very cute!

t is for turkey

T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Storyby Tanya Lee Stone is a cute alphabet book with simple but accurate facts about Thanksgiving. I love that there is such a push for telling kids about what really happened and not just the closely held myths. The reader follows a long with a class play that covers all the important parts of the first Thanksgiving from the Mayflower landing on. This is a great introduction for young preschoolers. The illustrations are fun and rich so there is more than just the limited text to explore.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Crafts For Kids { link yours! }

preschool blogI know it’s not even Thanksgiving and already I am pinning Christmas crafts but for teachers, home daycare providers and well organized parents it’s time to plan for these amazing holidays. Even though the title of Link & Learn this week is Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts for kids please feel free to add other celebrations as well. I know that Hanukkah is starting mid December this year, Winter Solstice is the 21st, and Kwanzaa begins on December 26th. My point is that everything and everyone is welcomed. Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts for kids are just the two most searched for on our site right now!

You can see more of our holiday ideas on our Pinterest boards :

best pinterest boards for Christmas planning

DIY Thanksgiving {everything Thanksgiving}

Holiday Crafts & Activities { all holidays }

Christmas with Little Kids {gifts, crafts, activities for 10 and under crowd }

Christmas at Home { everything Christmas but mostly sugary treats… I am not eating sugar right now but man am I pinning it}

Enough about MY stuff, let me see yours!



9 books & circle time activities for 2 and 3 year olds { with FREE Printables}

circle time lesson plans for 2 and 3 year olds Now that I am back in the classroom I get to lead circle time again. I LOVE circle time, I love seeing all the little faces looking up at me and that moment when they connect to the material.  I teach 2 and 3 year olds so my circle time is short and simple. We all sit on the floor and read a book and do a coordinating group activity. This all takes at most 10 minutes but more often 5 or 6. Keeping it short means making your students successful. I would rather have a 2 minute activity where they were all engaged and I can praise them for that than a 10 minute one where kids are losing interest and not at all engaged.  Here are 9 books and dynamic circle time activities for 2-3 year olds

This list contains affiliate links.

how big is a pig

Book : How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton

Activity : Sorting large and small

Activity set up :

printables for circle time

  • Print out the image above by clicking it and printing.
  • Cut the animals out and laminate or use contact paper to cover. Add magnets or velcro if you want to do this activity on a magnet or felt board.
  • Add the large and small barns to a box or the board you are using. Click on the images below to print.

sorting small barn sorting Large Barn

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Give each child one or two animals telling them that they are going to help you decide if these animals are large or small. If you have their attention take the time to ask if they know another word for large.
  • Invite each child one at a time to add their animal(s) to the right size barn.
  • After all the animals have been sorted count the animals together as a group.

 

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circle time lesson for harold and the purple crayon

Book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Activity : Make The Color Purple!

Activity set up :

  • Gather a snack size ziploc for each child, blue, and red liquid paint, a small bowl, one paint brush, and duct tape.
  • Add a small amount of both colors in the ziplocs. Secure with duct tape. Trust me your circle time carpet will thank me. Set aside where kids can’t see.
  • Add paint to the dish.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the group if anyone knows how we make the color purple. Tell the students that today they get to be color scientists and they will be making purple.
  • Demonstrate how the colors mix together in the dish.
  • Hand out the ziplocs and encourage them to squish the colors together to make purple.

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secret seahorse circle time activity for preschool

Book:  Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone

Activity : Sea animal or  land animal?

Activity set up :

  • Gather animal figurines likes these Safari Ocean Animals and Wild Republic Animals
  • Grab two shallow containers. You can fill one with grass and dirt and the other with a little water or green and blue paper respectively. If you are in a rush skip this, just grab the animals and make two piles!

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Give each child one or two animals telling them that they are going to help you decide if these animals live on land or in water.
  • Invite each child one at a time to add their animal(s) to the right habitat.
  • After all the animals have been sorted count the animals together as a group.

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trashy town circle time activity

 

Book: Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha

Activity : Taking Out The Letter Trash

Activity set up :

  • Gather some magnetic or other manipulative letters ( at the start of the year I always focus on the first letters in my students names), 4-5 mini garbage cans like these Mini Desktop Trash.
  • Label the trash cans with the letters you are focusing on. You will only be using the same amount of letters as you have cans so you will need duplicates for medium and large size classes.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Tell the children that Mr. Gilly took out the trash but they get to sort it! Their trash isn’t old banana peels and soup cans, their trash isn’t even trash at all, it’s letters!
  • Give each child a letter.
  • Invite them to show the class their letter and find the correct can for it.
  • If your class has good letter recognition skills you can make this more of a challenge by using lowercase letters sorting into uppercase trash bins.

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emotion activity for circle time

 

Book: Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods by Sandra Boynton

Activity : Happy? Sad? or Angry?

Activity set up :

  • The days leading up to this lesson invite each child to make happy, sad, and angry faces for photos.
  • Print out the photos and laminate them.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Invite the group to make happy faces, sad faces, and angry faces.
  • Shuffle the cards so you use at least one of each child during the activity so no one is left out.
  • Hold the cards up one at a time and have the group decide how that person is feeling.

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The Busy Little Squirrel

 

Book : The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri

 

** Only to be used in a facility where nut allergies are not an issue. You can use photos of nuts if that is the case.

Activity : Sorting and Counting Nuts

Activity set up :

  • Gather a dozen or so nuts in the shell ( walnuts, chestnuts and almonds work well. A nutcracker as well ( a real one like this ( affiliate link) not the fancy ones).
  • Gather 4 baskets. Place all the nuts in one basket taking out one of each kind for the

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the children what the squirrel was gathering for winter. Show them the inside of each of the nuts.
  • Tell them that you have some nuts like the ones the squirrel was gathering but you need help to find out how much of each kind of nut you have.
  • Sort the nuts together.
  • Dump each basket and count as a group.

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activity for mr. cookie baker

 

Book:  Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington

Activity : Shape Match Cookies

Activity set up :

cookie shape sorting printable

  • Print out the image above ( click to enlarge) and cut the cookies out. Laminate or use contact paper to cover.
  • Print out the jar printables below ( click to enlarge) and tape to the front of an empty jar or basket.

cookie shape match triangle jar

cookie shape match square jar

cookie shape match heart jar

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the children if they can help you put all the cookies in the correct cookie jar.
  • Hand each child one or two cookies.
  • Invite the students to place the cookies in the correct jar. If a child is having a hard time don’t just swoop in, see if another child can help.
  • After sorting count the contents of each jar.

* Tip the younger the group the more simple the sorting should be. At the start of the year I would only have 2 options and nearer the end I would expand that to 3 or even 4.

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Northwest Coast Learn the Alphabet cover

Book:  Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others)

Activity: Fishing for Letters

Activity set up :

  • Gather some magnetic letters, a small blue towel, and a magnetic fishing pole. You will also want a cookie sheet or magnet board.
  • Lay out the blue towel and place the letters on top.

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the children if they had a favorite animal in the book. Tell them that you thought the salmon ( or just fish) were very neat.
  • Tell them that they get to go fishing too! But that they are going to fish for letters!
  • Invite each child up to fish for a letter. When they have one ask them if they know what letter it is, if not label it for them. Place the letter on a magnet board or cookie sheet.
  • After all the children have fished a letter review the letters that were caught and then release them back out into the ocean!

 

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alphabet under construction

 

Book: Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming

Activity : Building with letters

Activity set up :

The lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Tell the children that they will get to be builders today just like the mice in the book and build with the alphabet.
  • Bring out the bin of cardboard blocks.
  • Invite each child to pick out a block, tell the class what letter is on the block and place it in the middle of the rug to make a tower.  If the tower is getting too high build a 2nd one.

 

I hope these ideas are something you can use or adapt to your classroom.  I have been having so much fun being back at circle! What is your favorite circle time activity? Link or comment below!