Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An SLP's Easter Egg Hunt

I have a theory that anything can be turned into a language activity. This holds true for an Easter Egg Hunt! Here's how:

Easter Egg Hunts have lots of fun words to make sure children know. These include
Action words:
Pick up
Talk about the words with your children, exposing them over and over again until they can understand and use them during conversations.

Concepts- Prepositions
Have the children look in specific places, listening for the location word.
"Look under the chair"
"Look behind the ball"
"Put it in the basket"
"Walk around the tree"
"Where did you find the egg?"

Concepts-Open and Close; Half and Whole
When they have gathered the (plastic) eggs and start digging in and finding their candy and toys, talk about the eggs they will open. Afterwards, they can close them, too. When they are open, talk about how they have half of an egg and when they are open, talk about how they have a whole egg.

Answering Questions
When your child is done with their egg hunt, ask them questions
"Where did you find eggs?"
"What did you see?"
"Who has more eggs?"
"How many did you find?"
If your child has trouble answering questions, give them a choice--"did you find a blue egg or a yellow egg?" When they are answering, make sure they use complete sentences...don't let them get away with 1 or 2 words! Remind them to "use your words."

You don't have to feel like there is a need to sit down and "work" with your child to work on their language skills...just focus on some simple words and  concepts during regular activities. Most of all--have FUN!!

I'm editing to add some information about how we did our egg hunt! We had the students collect paper eggs outside. When we came in the classroom, the students gave us the paper eggs; we counted them to turn it into a counting activity. We *could've* even turned it into a graphing activity by writing their names and graphing how many each student found. Most and least concepts could've been focused on! Then, we gave the students little treats inside of their eggs.
The students also made their own bags for the egg hunt by requesting stickers, etc, (e.g. "I want an egg" etc)


Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring umbrellas

Umbrella is a great word!
It has 3 syllables, so it gives us a chance to practice multisyllable words by clapping each syllable and using intonation to help the kids hear the unstressed syllable.
It helps teach the concepts over and under (the umbrella is over our head; we are under the umbrella) and wet and dry. It's a great vocabulary word to know when you are in a rainy season...imagine NOT being able to ask for your umbrella--you'd get pretty wet.

To help learn all about this word, we made umbrellas! We borrowed this activity from the blog Lucky Me.

Vocabulary-umbrella, rain
Concepts-under/over, wet/dry, half/whole

We gathered our materials- paper plates, scissors, markers, glue, blue paper raindrops, brown paper handles, stapler
Before the students requested their umbrella (I want an umbrella), we took a look at the paper plates. We showed the whole plate with the pieces put together, then, we held them apart to show half of a plate.

Next, they decorated their paper plate with markers any way they wanted, requesting their markers (I want red marker" etc).
They requested their rain (I want rain) and glued them to their umbrella.
We also talked about how rain is wet.
After they requested their handle (I want a handle), they stapled thier umbrella together.

When they were done, they manipulated their umbrella and put it over their heads so that they were under it, keeping dry.
They look great on our window on a sunny day!

Spring Painting with Flowers

It's springtime! The flowers are blooming and the allergies are abound!!

For our small group rotations, we painted with flowers. We used fake flowers this year, although we've used fresh flowers in the past. Fresh flowers are really neat to use because we occasionally got some petals into our paintings.

Vocabulary- flowers

We gathered our materials
 Flowers, paper, different colored paints

The students requested their paper (I want paper) and then requested their paint (I want red, I want orange, etc).
We gave them the idea to just paint a couple of times with each flower, going up then down--that way, they could see the outline of their flower better. But, really, they could do it any way the wanted!
 The kids had lots of fun painting with flowers!
I think they came out pretty nice!

Getting Ready for Spring!

It's Spring! We've taken down the leprechauns and shamrocks and brought out our flowers, Easter bunnies and bugs.
Our vocabulary bulletin board is up, including a lot of vocabulary words

Rabbit, egg, basket, chick, rain, umbrella, rainbow, flower, butterfly, caterpillar, bee

Our library is set up with books about spring and Easter

Our kitchen has its springtime tablecloth
There are even posters and decorations
We set out some flower hats for the kids to wear
We also have bunny ears, stuffed flowers and stuffed toy Peeps.

We've got 3 weeks  full of spring, Easter and bug activities. We'll also have our Spring Break!! A great time to rest!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Natural Materials Workshop

Last weekend, Rachel and I went to a Natural Materials Workshop that was presented by Little Owl Preschool. Little Owl is a Reggio-inspired preschool that will be opening up soon. I will admit, Reggio is new to me, but I'm very excited to learn about this philosophy! It centers on the interests of the child, with the teachers as co-learner and collaborator and the environment as another teacher. Very neat!
We participated in some really cool projects, and I was excited to give Rachel the chance to interact with other students.
We got Rachel's ever-present-she-can't-live-without backpack and went exploring! They had several stations set up with different activities and projects for the kids to do.

Sensory Tubs

Three sensory tubs were set out for the kids to explore. A couple had some small seeds inside and another had soft, cool white sand. The kids could dig inside, feel around and even play with some little toy animals. There was also a bowl nearby for them to use to explore the seeds and sand.

Natural Materials Collage
 At this table, the kids took a piece of a board and made a collage. I loved the way they had baby food jars full of glue and paint brushes to put the glue on! There were tons of materials to use--sand, seeds, lavendar, sea glass, acorns, dried flowers, shells, etc. It was very free flowing and child directed!

Sun Painting on Silk
The kids could choose a piece of framed silk and then painted on some colors. Next, they were able to choose objects to put onto their silk, including starfish, shapes, animal shapes, shells, buttons, etc. Then they put it in the sun to dry. Once dried, they took the objects off and it was so cool to see how the outline of the object appeared!

Flower Prints
Rachel got to put on some cool pink goggles and play with a hammer. She was set! The kids put some fresh flowers between 2 pieces of cloth and hit it with a hammer or mallet. They pretty much knocked the moisture out of the plants which left beautiful colored prints of the plants. Unfortunately, Rachel grew bored quickly and went off to the next station. I thought it was cool! So much so that I even tried to do this activity in my classroom...but it didn't work! Oh well!

Nature Baskets
They put out several baskets full of natural materials for the kids to explore, including sticks, sea glass, seeds, yarn, rocks, shells, etc. Rachel had a blast carrying around a basket...and dumping the contents all over the place.

Here are Rachel's collage and sun painting
And here are Rachel's favorite activities from the whole afternoon
Those were taken before her epic tantrum of the afternoon...

We had a really great time and I'm enjoying watching Rachel explore and learn, and I'm looking forward to learning more!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eating Green!

We talked a lot about colors and rainbows during our St. Patrick's Day theme, especially green. A fun science activity is showing the kids how to make green by mixing yellow and blue, and a delicious way to do this it with food! It's a pretty similar activity we did with our squish bags, but much tastier!
This is an idea that I borrowed from a great blog called Little Fingers Big Dreams!

Vocabulary- Green
Pre-science experiments
Basic concepts- full/empty, more/same

First, we gathered our tasty ingredients-vanilla frosting, food coloring, graham crackers, plus 2 clear bowls, a spoon.
We started by putting the white frosting into the clear bowls.
We talked about all the senses--how it looked and smelled (yummy!). It was also a time to do a quick look at the concepts full/empty and more as we put frosting in one bowl and not the other (empty), then just a little in the other so that one had more and finally having the same amount in each bowl.

Next, we made some yellow frosting by putting food coloring in (we even snuck in a quick counting task by counting out 5 drops!)
and the kids got a chance to stir (and practice saying "he is stirring").

Same with making the blue frosting.

Then the students requested a plate ("I want a plate") and a graham cracker ("I want a cracker"). [And, what shape is a graham cracker?--a rectangle! sneaky way to talk about shapes ;)].

More requesting--"I want blue" "I want yellow" "I want a spoon"

Then, we all got to mixing--yellow + blue = green!

The best part--eating the green!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Misc. St. Patrick's Day activities

Well, I was out for a couple of days, abiding by our health policy where "if you're not feeling well enough to participate, it's best to stay home," so I was not able to take many pictures of some of our St. Patrick's Day activities. But, here's a quick summary of what the students did when I was out!

Squish Bags
We used Ziplock bags, shaving cream, blue food coloring and yellow food coloring.
The students had to request each item as they went along ("I want a bag," "I want yellow" etc).
First, they requested their bags
Next, they requested their shaving cream to squirt into the bag. They got to squish around the shaving cream for a bit.
Then, they choose to put in one color and squished it around, then the other
Last, they continued to squish the yellow and blue around in their shaving cream until it turned green.

Tissue Paper Rainbows
This was an activity that even our Occupational Therapist liked because it really helps increase fine motor skills! We also got a chance to work on our vocabulary words: rainbow and pot of gold.
The students requested different colors of tissue paper and ripped it up into smaller pieces. Then, they dipped them into some glue and put the tissue paper onto their rainbow.

Green Gs
We focused on the letter G for our ongoing phonemic awareness activity where we address the sound/symbol relationships. In this theme, we talked about how G says the /g/ sound, like in "green."
The students requested their G and all the green things that they could fit onto their letter as they were reminded that G says /g/!
And our only photo...


Leprechaun Hats

The word "leprechaun" is a pretty hard word, whether you have difficulty with speech and language development or not! It's got a lot of syllables, it's not a word we encounter too often and it's got some harder sounds, like /l/ and /r/. So, we really made a point to bombard the students with this word during our St. Patrick's Day theme. I was really impressed with the students who got it!
One way we exposed the students to "leprechaun" was to make Leprechaun Hats!!

Vocabulary- leprechaun, green, shamrock, hat
Descriptive words
Requesting- for example "I want a hat"
Sequencing- First, Next, Last

We started out by talking about leprechauns--what they do, what they wear, what they look like, etc. We also talked about what we needed to make our leprechaun hats (a hat, a black band, a shamrock, a beard, a long black band, glue and a stapler---There is no pattern--we just drew until it looked right ;)).

First, we had students request the hat (they continued to request each piece at each step)
Next, they glued on the black band

Then, they glued on a shamrock

Next, they glued on the beard

Last, we measured their heads to staple on the long black band

When they were done, we reviewed the steps we did to make the hats and they got to look at themselves in the mirror.
I think they looked pretty cute!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Counting Book

Leprechauns love to have gold coins in their pots of gold, and preschoolers love to count, so, why not make a St. Patrick's Day Counting Book?

Vocabulary- leprechaun, pot of gold, gold coins
Counting to 5 with 1:1 correspondence
Number recognition

First, we gathered our materials- enough books for each student, lots of gold coins, glue, a  pot and a leprechaun.
We talked about each item, giving the students repeated practice with naming the vocabulary. They could hear the words over and over again and have a chance to say them.

Throughout the activity, the students needed to request items before they got them ("I want a book;" "I want a leprechaun"). The first thing we did was to decorate the cover with the leprechaun, pot and some gold coins. They could follow our pattern or put them anywhere they wanted.

Next, we went through the book, page by page to add the gold coins.
On each page, there was a number written (we use the Touch Math concept; that's why there are dots on the numbers) to work on number recognition and a circle drawn on to represent how many gold coins went on the page. This helped them with counting with 1:1 correspondence. Finally, there were written words to help encourage pre-reading skills.

As the students requested their gold coins, they had more and more practice with counting.
This activity is a nice example of how pre-academic concepts, such as math, can be incorporated into speech and language therapy! The students practiced counting as they practiced requesting and vocabulary!