Back to School

It’s that time of year again- summer is over and it’s time to get back into the swing of things with the official start of school. We did homeschooling all summer this year just because it was nice to have some projects to look forward to each day with staying home all the time, but in honor of the start of the new school year, I thought we’d do some “traditional” school activities this week- think ABC’s, 123’s, school busses, pencils and for the toddlers- colors! Don’t forget to pop by my toddler post “Tot School” and my recent post “Preschool Calendar Time” for more ideas on setting up a homeschooling routine for your littles!

Literacy:

-ABC dot sticker match: Write all of the capital letters on a paper towel tube and also on a set of dot stickers. Repeat on another tube and sticker set using lowercase letters (I actually used vinyl roll tubes from my silhouette vinyl cutting machine if you have one of those- they’re much sturdier, but paper towel tubes will work fine! You could also use a few toilet paper tubes, or a sheet of paper and just scramble the letters up if you don’t have any paper towel tubes saved!). Have your little match the uppercase letter stickers to the uppercase tube letters, and lowercase to lowercase as you review the letters and their sounds (we did this over two days). You can also have them match uppercase to lowercase if they have a sound letter recognition background already (ie. they know most of their letters by sight). The best part, you can do this activity over again with the same tube like we did- just use a different colored dot sticker set than you used the first time so they know which ones they’ve found! I got the idea from Busy Toddler!

-ABC puzzle: If you don’t own any of these, they’re great for letter and sound practice. You can buy them on Amazon for $10 and they’re fun to pull out and practice letters with anytime! They’re made by “The Learning Journey” and they have tons of great letter, word and number matching puzzles for preschool! Since my little doesn’t know all his letters yet, I held up the capital and lowercase and said them (unless it was a letter I know he knows- then he identified it) and the letter sound. Here’s a short video showing you how we practiced each letter before he put the puzzle together!

-Rhyming word puzzle: I love this puzzle because even pre-readers can do it almost on their own since the pictures on the cards give them clues about what the printed words are! I gave my little 4-5 pairs at a time so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the pieces at once. Then I read the words to him (a few of them are a bit tricky- like a picture of envelopes isn’t “envelope” it’s “mail”) and had him find the two that rhyme! This is another puzzle by The Learning Journey and is available on Amazon!

-All about me interview: I used to have my third graders fill out and share an “All About Me” page at the start of the school year, so last year I started doing it with my preschooler too. Of course I ask him the questions and write his answers for him, but it’s a fun way to work on oral language and thinking skills. I got the printable here and skipped the “my crush” question for obvious reasons… lol

-Back to school book list: Here are the books we enjoyed this week that went along with our back to school theme!

Math

-Ping pong ball number match: This one is so easy and fun! My littles are both obsessed with ping pong balls, and you can totally use the set from my Harry Potter toddler post if you have them on hand (we used new ones though). Just write the numbers 1-12 on each ball and also at the bottom of an egg crate and have your little identify and match the numbers. This is quick and easy and definitely one you can do over and over throughout the week!

-Number clip and dot matching: I traced a circle on cardstock using a mixing bowl, then divided it into 10 slices. I drew dots showing 1-10 in each slice, and wrote the corresponding numbers on clothespins. Then my little counted each set of dots, found the matching digit and clipped it on the correct slice. I got the idea on from Elena Carattoni on Pinterest!

-Counting by tens: My little can count to 100 with very little mistakes, so I thought I’d introduce skip counting this week! We made 10 sets of handprints, with 10 fingers per set and wrote the numbers by ten between the prints. We discussed (and reviewed each time we made a new handprint set) how there are ten fingers on both hands altogether, and we can count by tens like this: 10, 20, 30 (I would count the prints we’d made so far to help us get to the next number). I suggest writing the numbers as you go (rather than before you start) to make sure you have enough room for the prints. Also, I just poured a little Crayola washable paint in my little’s hands and had him carefully rub them together and make the prints himself. Then I cleaned them with a wash cloth for the next color! We practiced counting by ten during calendar time the rest of the week using our chart! Oh, also I used an 18 inch paper roll to get the giant paper! LoL You can get them on Amazon for about $10 and they’re also great for tracing your little’s upper body to “send a hug” to loved ones who live far away!

-Shape threading: I got these awesome threading shapes at Target a few months ago, but you can easily make your own by cutting shapes out of cardstock, punching holes around the edges, and using a shoelace or a piece of yarn with tape around the end (similar to a shoelace end)! We reviewed the shape names first, then I had my little thread them!

-Shape sort: Cut out various shapes from cardstock or construction paper. Trace them so they have a match on another piece of paper. Then review the names of the shapes with your little and have them match the shapes to their spot! Another shape sorting activity we’ve done previously is to cut out large shapes (square, triangle, circle) and several smaller shapes (square, triangle, circle) and have your kiddo sort all the circles in the big circle, all the squares in the big square and so on!

Science/Social Studies:

-Me on the Map: One of the Kindergarten standards for social studies is for littles to know their address by heart. A fun introduction to this is to read the story “Me on the Map” with your little then identify THEIR special place on the map. To do this, make a flip book by cutting out smaller and smaller rectangles in different colors and stapling the top corner. At the bottom of each page, write (starting with the top page) house, street, city, state, country, continent and the corresponding places you live in, in regards to your family. Next, give your little a map or picture of each place (we did maps until we got to our house) and explain what it’s a map of and where they are located on each map. Also review the name of their place on the map as you go (ie. “This is a map of the whole world! There are 7 continents and we live on the one called North America which is here.”) Have your little color their place on each map, then glue it into their flip book. I got this idea from Rock It Mama!

-Address practice: After completing the introduction activity above, I wrote each part of our address on a sticky note and put them on the wall. Each day we said the parts in a sing-song chant 5 times while “high fiving” each part to help my little memorize it. Sometimes, repetition is the only way to get there and that’s ok! I got this idea from Creekside Learning but also used “high fiving” learning in my classroom if there was a particular thing my students were having trouble remembering.

-Giant phone number practice: Another kindergarten standard is to know your phone number- a fun way I found to practice this is by making a GIANT phone using paper plates and having your little practice “dialing” their number (I just used my number since we don’t have a house phone). I got the idea from my friend Kim on Facebook! (PS the giant silver painted wrapping paper rolls on my little’s back are a jet pack he made… hahaha)

-Goals for the year: I always had my third graders set goals for themselves and write them down at the start of the school year. Then I’d save them in an envelope for the end of the school year so they could look back and see if they’d met those goals. I explained what a goal is to my little (something you want to learn or do) and had him set his own goals for each subject. (Yes, I messed up spelling “remember” but it’s important to teach children that nobody but Jesus is perfect, so I just crossed it out and kept going! A mistake doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ruined or you have to start over! It might mean you should write in pencil though… hahaha!)

-Good citizen chain: We read “Peaceful Piggy Meditation” which discusses removing yourself from overwhelming or stressful situations and taking a minute to breathe and calm down (sooooo perfect for preschoolers and adults too- am I right?!). We also talked about how “meditation” means “focusing your brain” and how you can focus on Jesus and His holy spirit through prayer to give you His peace and calm. Then we thought of ways we can show God’s peace to others by making a good citizen chain- I wrote down our ideas on strips of paper, then my little helped me tape them into a chain.

Art:

-Back to school haircut: We’ve done this activity three times now and it never gets old for my little! You make people out of paper plates and let your little give them a “hair cut”. We pretended they were getting back to school hair cuts to go with our theme- he cuts their hair bald every time, but it’s a cute activity that also practices scissor skills! I got the idea from Four Cheeky Monkeys!

-Make yourself: I did this activity at the start of the school year with my students to go with their “All About Me” interview. I had my little choose a mini person made from construction paper (you should have some on hand if you did my “Freedom and Justice for All” week- if not, you can get them on Amazon for about $7 or have your little choose their skin color from construction paper and cut out a person- a gingerbread man cookie cutter would make a good template to trace!). Then I had him choose his clothing color- he picked black for the pants and shirt- and trace his person on the black paper, then cut it out, then cut off the head, hands and feet to make holes for the outfit. Then he glued the outfit on his person, added some hair I cut out for him (he picked the color and style), and drew on a face!

-Draw your family: Another introduction activity I used to do with my students is to have them draw a picture of their family and share it with the class- so I had my little do the same thing! After all, drawing builds creativity, fine motor skills, and thinking skills- plus it’s fun!

Supply/shopping list:

  • The books “Me on the Map” and “Peaceful Piggy Meditation”
  • Rhyming word puzzle (purchased or made)
  • ABC puzzle- capital and lowercase (purchased or made)
  • 2 Paper towel tubes
  • dot stickers
  • yarn/shoelace
  • egg carton
  • ping pong balls (12)
  • paper on a roll
  • paper plates (12)

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