ABC and 123: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Show and Tell #23

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Hello Dear Readers! I have a confession to make, I haven't been able to make it as many links each week as I would've liked. This summer has been so busy for me and it's really flown by. Last week was very hectic because after we finally got all the paperwork and stuff done for our daughter to start at one preschool we found out there was finally an opening at the one we really wanted. So we've been scrambling to catch up!

I hope you all know how much we appreciate your participation. I will try to make around to everyone this coming week ~ Katie, Katie's Nesting Spot And now, to return to our regularly scheduled programing...here are our three weekly features. Please go around and show some comment love☺


Annette at Live, Learn, Love shared her daughter's learning success, so go over and give a high five!

Night Owl Crafting made this very fun Subway Art for her room, and only realized afterward it's missing one important word. Can you figure out which one?

Aren't these such a fun idea? What a great first day of school treat! Tonya at Abundantly Blessed, you did a great job!

Now it's your turn! Link up so you can have a chance to be one of our three randomly selected participants next week! If you haven't had a chance to link up yet, today is the last day of our month long Organization Party! Thank you to everyone who has already hopped on☺

Plus, mark your calendars for our Back to School Party, it's September 10th and we're hoping for a big turn out!

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Please remember these rules:

~Post an "Ah Ha Moment," favorite lesson, experiment, learning game, field trip, whatever you're currently working on, or your child's fridge worthy artwork, handmade gifts or anything holiday related.

~Direct link to your post, not your home page.

~Include a link back to us or our link button in your post.

~If you come back and your link is missing, double check to make sure you've followed the directions!

~Lastly, please try to visit and comment on, at least three links. Spread the comment love and make someone's day!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Play To Learn ~ ABCs Part 1

Welcome to this week’s s Play To Learn! We’re big into our ABC’s over here, so this post is fun creative ways to learn our letter’s and sounds! Ready to get learning?

Our newest venture was with the Wikki Sticks. Normally I’m not a fan of these guys because they get into the carpet, and when I say “into” I mean “INTO”! But, under well supervised use, they are a great learning tool for letter and even shapes, plus they’re fun to mold into different objects as well! I found these super cute Alphabet Fun Cards by Wikki Stix that were perfect for us.

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I also like to mix in motor skills at the same time we are learning our alphabet, so we do things like our large floor cards. My daughter hops on a card and says the letter or number or I’ll tell her to hop to one.

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We do lots of letter matching to help with recognition, in this case she I wrote uppercase letters on clear spoons, and lowercase on white spoons. She then matched them to an alphabet sheet.

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We love our 11 x 11 Pin Geoboard, we use it to make letters, numbers, shapes etc!

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Here she matched lowercase magnetic letters to a page with uppercase letters on it and below she matched uppercase to uppercase. You can vary this activity depending on your child’s skill level.

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We also do logical thinking games as we learn each letter such as puzzles, patterns, size sorting and reproducing a patterned image:

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I like to try and keep it fun, so we play games such as the below alphabet game which also helps with counting and number recognition!

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Here she is sorting vowels from a stack of different alphabet manipulatives and grouping them on the correct vowel circle:

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Here I had picture cards and she matched the beginning sound letter to the image:

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Those are just some of many ideas for learning the alphabet. If you want to see more, feel free to head over to Confessions of a homeschooler. Just click on the ABC’s & 123’s link at the top of my blog. And don’t forget to come back next time for ABC’s part 2!

If you have more ideas to share, or would like to be included in future “Play To Learn” posts, please email me at homeschoolerconfessions {at} gmail {dot} com, we’d love to hear from you!

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Tunes for Kids: Carol Johnson

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

"If the word “carol” means “to sing joyously...
then CAROL JOHNSON certainly lives up to her name!"

According to her personal website...
Carol Johnson has been an active performer most of her life, playing guitar and singing since childhood with four sisters throughout her native Wisconsin, and earning degree in music from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. Her current passion and focus on uplifting children’s and family music began and blossomed as she raised her own two children.

In addition to nationwide appearances at thousands of schools, libraries, festivals, camps, churches and conferences, she has sung at the Grand Ole Opry, at Wolf Trap International Children’s Festivals, has been featured with the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Meijer Gardens Summer Family Series, and with the St. Cecelia Music Society Youth Choirs. Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, she was privileged to take her songs and song-leading talents to Russia; more recently she led songs of peace at Corrymeela, a center for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Through a series of songwriting sessions with children in “high risk” neighborhoods in her hometown, she and the children created songs of peace, which became her latest CD, “Circle of Peace”.

During the summer months our local park has a bi-weekly children's concert, Kid Tunes at Noon. It is a great time for the community to come together for music and a picnic. The most recent artist to visit our town was Carol Johnson. This may age me terribly, but since my own mother was a preschool teacher, I have many memories associated with several of the older Carol Johnson songs. In her years as a musician she has continued to write and perform new songs, however at this concert she blended in plenty of my good ole' favorites so I could share them with my own children.


My favorite album as a child was Might As Well Make it Love, which features the song Love Grows.

Love grows, one by one
Two by two and four by four
Love grows 'round like a circle
And comes back knocking at your front door....

The song has familiar hand motions.

My children's favorite album is Circle of Peace.



We all love the song "Bump in the Night" from the Album titled "Isn't It Good to Know."

Sample songs from each of these albums are available by clicking the title link above.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to Set Up a Homework Center

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

It's that time of year again. Time to think about routines, procedures, and homework. Today's post suggests several tips for putting together an effective homework station.


Roots and Wings Co. put together an adorable homemade homework caddy.
This article from Microsoft explains the hows and why of putting together a motivational homework center for your students.
Raising Tomorrow's Men used a tip from Family Fun to put together personalized homework centers for her young men.
The Suburban Jungle suggests saving money by building your own built in homework station with simple furniture pieces.
You will be interested in checking out what B3 Designs made out of this piece of recycled cardboard to organize homework supplis.
Pigs Do Fly also altered the homework station found in Family Fun to fit her child's needs.

We Are That Family made a simple and efficient homework center.

This printable writing checklist from Homework Helper would be a useful document to keep in your child's homework center.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lunches and Snacks: Bento Style

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Today we wanted to introduce you to one of our readers, and friend, Shannon from What's for Lunch at Our House. It's no coincidence that we are featuring her site just in time for you to begin packing those back to school lunches. You are certain to find some wonderful lunch and snack suggestions. Getting your children involved in the kitchen creating and packaging their lunches will be much more enjoyable with a bit of Bento inspiration.

What's for Lunch at Our House

What's for Lunch at Our House is a 3+ year running food blog, featuring bento lunches prepared by Shannon for her two children. Previously featured in the Dallas Morning News, AOL's Parent Dish and Dallas Child among others, Shannon blogs about healthy, creative ways to feed young children, with a focus on balance and presentation,

The appeal of bento boxes was the idea of a variety of healthy food in bite sized form, a better way to make sure her daughter was able to finish her lunch in the allotted time. Shannon is also interested in bento's environmentally friendly nature and the idea of reusable containers and waste-free meals. Their family's lunches are almost 100% trash free (occasionally something really messy does require a baggie). They use bentos, reusable cutlery, stainless steel water bottles, reusable bags and even cloth napkins. If being green while packing back to school lunches is important to you, learn more about the supplies she uses to create and package meals.

Here is a sampling of Shannon's clever, tempting, and healthy meal suggestions:




Under the Sea - that adorable fish is a hard boiled egg!

Mmmmm....you also won't want to miss all the delicious dessert recipes on What's for Lunch at Our House.

Thank you so much Shannon for submitting your creative kitchen suggestions and allowing us to feature your fun foods today!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Show and Tell #22

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Happy Tuesday Everyone! And just why is it such a happy day for the Katies? Why because it's time to see what all our wonderful readers are up to! Here are what three of our readers have be busy making, doing, or learning.

Can you guess what the homemade kazoo's at Poliwog started out at? Find out in her green friendly post.Heather Lynne at Raising Memories, showed how you can turn a rainy day into an art experience.
Find out how your child can get started with finger knitting at the Mother*Lode,

Now it's your turn! Link up so you can have a chance to be one of our three randomly selected participants next week! We'd also love it if you'd take a moment to link up to our Organization Party, going on ALL month long! Thank you to everyone who has already hopped on☺ Plus, mark your calendars for our Back to School Party, it's September 10th and we're hoping for a big turn out!

abc button


Please remember these rules:

~Post an "Ah Ha Moment," favorite lesson, experiment, learning game, field trip, whatever you're currently working on, or your child's fridge worthy artwork, handmade gifts or anything holiday related.

~Direct link to your post, not your home page.

~Include a link back to us or our link button in your post.

~If you come back and your link is missing, double check to make sure you've followed the directions!

~Lastly, please try to visit and comment on, at least three links. Spread the comment love and make someone's day!



This Show & Tell is sponsored by BitDefender.

Don't forget our giveaway for a copy of BitDefender 2011 Total Security! This is great software to help keep your kids, family, and personal information safe! In our opinion Internet safety is something you can never be too careful about! Get help with BitDefender and their online community BitMoms.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Teach Mama: Print Referencing During Read-Alouds

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

There's no denying the fact that read-alouds provide parents (and teachers) with a perfect time to sneak in a little bit of learning for children.

Whether the time is used to talk about story elements (characters, plot, setting, etc.) or to model reading comprehension strategies (questioning, predicting, connecting, etc.), read-alouds can be used as a platform for teaching a number of important literacy skills even before children are able to decode the text themselves.

One other very important technique parents can incorporate during read-alouds is print referencing. Print referencing is so easy and takes so little time that sometimes it can be incorporated into a read-aloud without saying a word! Believe it!
  • Print Referencing: Print referencing is simply pointing out basic elements of print as a text is being read.
It's all about getting emergent readers interested in print by "highlighting the forms, functions, and features of print during read-alouds" (Zucker, Ward, and Justice, "Print Referencing During Read-Alouds: A Technique for Increasing Emergent Readers' Print Knowledge." The Reading Teacher, 63(1), pp.62-72.

We all read the title of a book before we begin reading, right? We know where to begin reading and automatically read the first word on the top left side of the page. We skim over the words in an illustration and often don't even think to read them. But print referencing has us do simple things like point to the title or the first word on the page as we read it; print referencing has us point to the word in the illustration and mention it instead of ignoring it.


Print referencing can be incorporated into any read-aloud--fiction, nonfiction, poetry--anything's game.
Here we used Disney*PIXAR's World of Cars.

So how can parents and teachers use print referencing and what texts should they use? Zucker, Ward, and Justice suggest that print referencing can be incorporated "when teachers are reading books with children with the intent of promoting literacy development" and that one read-aloud per day should include some sort of print reference. That's easy enough.

Here are a few ways to incorporate print referencing in a read-aloud:
  • Page order: We read this page first, and then we read the next one. . .
  • Point out the title of the book: This is the title of the book. It tells us. . .
  • Point out text direction--top to bottom, left to right: We begin reading this word, and then we move. . .
  • Talk about the author/ illustrator: The author wrote the book. . .
  • Discuss the names and concepts of letters: I see the same letter in two words/ Can you find a letter 'M' or 'T'?
  • Concepts of word: Let's count the words on this page. . .
  • Short/ Long words: Which word is longer/ shorter. . .
  • Read captions/ subtitles: The caption here tells us about the photo. . .
  • Point out words in illustrations: Here it says 'mail' on the mailbox. . .
Print referencing has been proven in numerous studies to be beneficial for children in developing a solid understanding of word concepts, alphabet knowledge, and overall knowledge of print. The above suggestions are only a sampling of ways to incorporate print referencing into a read-aloud, but they offer a solid starting point for parents and teachers.
It's been shown that "the read-aloud context is a powerful one" in which "young students have the opportunity to engage with ideas in texts above their reading level" with texts full of "important ideas and themes of consequence" (Heisey & Kucan, "Introducing Science Concepts to Primary Students Through Read-Alouds: Interactions and Multiple Texts Make the Difference." The Reading Teacher, 63(8). p. 667). Providing students with simple but meaningful support during read-alouds can yield strong benefits long-term. All we need are a few tricks to keep in our back pocket. Happy reading!

(Photos in this post are taken from Disney*PIXAR's World of Cars, Foreword by John Lasseter)


Next up:
That's it, my friends! This is the last of my series here on Literacy, and I thank Katie and Katie sincerely for the opportunity to have contributed as the Literacy Consultant for ABC and 123 for the last few months. Cheers!

You can find more on this topic and others over at teach mama, where Amy shares the ways she sneaks a little bit of learning into her children's every day. . . or as often as she can with a 6, 5, and 3 year old. Or join her--and many other ABC & 123 friends--at we teach where they're chatting up a storm, sharing ideas, and learning a little themselves.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dramatic Play

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Children learn through dramatic play. Where they are trying out all kinds of roles and responsibilities they are learning to understand the world around them. As they process new expereinces kids also develop social skills, imagination, and creativity!

Several of our readers have come up with some great dramatic play stations. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Teaching with Preschoolers has a post of tips for putting together prop boxes for dramatic play.


Preschool Planner 101 has a detailed post about how to put together a dramatic play in the POND station.

Sharin' with Sharron has posted suggestions for outdoor dramatic play including a picnic and camping set up.

Bakers and Astronauts explains the importance of a dramatic play area and shows pictures of several of the items included in theirs.

Kelly from Doing Life Together put together a cocoa stand.


Counting Coconuts put together a playdough garden center.


Two Little Seeds practiced life skills with a launderette play center.


Kim from Life of a Modern Mom put together an amazing play house.


Kami at Nurturing the Tender Years put togther a fun mailbox and envelopes for a mailbox practice center.


Flipflops and Applesauce suggests playing spaghetti restaurant, with a real spaghetti dinner!


Other Dramatic Play Theme Suggestions:

  • Library
  • Beauty Salon
  • Video Store
  • Beach
  • Doctor Office
  • Ice Cream Truck
  • Florist
  • Mechanic
  • Medical Supply Store
  • Hardware
  • Under the Sea
  • Farm
  • Pizza Shop
  • Gift Wrap Station
  • Construction Zone
  • Bakery
  • Veterinarian
  • Travel Agent
  • Fire Station
  • Science Lab

Child Care Lounge has a great list of items to add to your prop box for several different centers.