Sensory & Sounds Dinosaur Dig

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One of our most favorite activities in the Dinosaur unit is definitely the letter sound sensory  play activity! This activity will need a little extra prep (cutting, getting small sensory bin set up) but the reward is well worth it. Here's what you'll need if you want to play! 

  • small sensory bin- this can be anything from a plastic shoe box to a sheet pan, although you'll want the sides of the bin to be high enough to keep the sensory items inside while still being low enough for your little to reach in. We're using the container from a melissa and doug stamp set. :) 
  • small sensory material- dry rice (or rainbow rice) dry beans, or if you're super brave maybe sand? 
  • picture circles
  • dinosaur cards
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Macie Jane has been working on letters and their sounds for about a year now so she could probably do all 26 cards at one time but in an effort to protect her from frustration or from the activity extending longer than the novelty lasts I only had her find and match half the letters. 

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She would hunt through the tray of dry beans to find little picture circles. She would identify the picture and it's initial sound. Then she would search through the cards to find the letter for that initial sound. It helps to lay out all the cards to see all the possible letters (some can be tricky.)

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Sadie (young 3) had fun jumping in to play with the beans and look for pictures. This activity could easily be adapted for speech and language practice with different picture cards to support articulation skills of various sounds (phonemes.)

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Unit 11: Transportation Recap

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We began the first week as we always do with a little letter fun! This week we pulled out the paint and play cars and didn't waste any time! The girls painted the letter W with the Wheels of toy cars! Tire tracks make great decorations! :) 

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Donald Crews is an author we've read a lot of books from this year. Freight Train didn't disappoint. It was a perfect book to read/look through with all three of my children (ages 5, 3, and 1.) While Sadie (3) continued to explore the book and we talked about colors, Macie Jane used number train cars to practice ordering numbers. 

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This activity helped her review number order but was also a good practice in left to right progression. 

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When it was all finished I hung it up over our calendar area for a reference anchor. Isn't it adorable?

Next up was a sorting activity. Macie Jane and Sadie looked at several different forms of transportation and had to determine where they traveled- land, water, or sky. Macie Jane practiced scissor skills cutting out the forms of transportation and had fun gluing them where they belonged in the sorting chart. 

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The torn paper traffic light was a hit! For some strange reason preschoolers LOVE shredding up paper. I gave the girls 3 sheets of paper- red, yellow, and green. They happily tore the paper into tiny pieces and sorted them into three piles according to their color. Then using the printable as a guide they filled in the three traffic light circles with the correct colors. 

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There were several more activities in the unit including a great speech/pronoun practice activity. If you want to see more you can find the full unit along with a book and resource list by clicking the button below. 

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I helped Sadie review and practice using pronouns like he, she, and they. Sadie has a tendency to use the pronoun "them" when she should use "they" and doesn't use he/she pronouns frequently or correctly. Technically this is still developmentally appropriate and nothing to be concerned over, however, I don't believe it's a bad thing to practice correct pronoun use either. We had fun with the activity, I reinforce it in conversation, and we'll just watch her speech skills develop. :)

We wrapped up the unit with lots of giggles and fun! We got a wooden board and a few toy cars, made predictions on how fast those car would go at various heights, and tested out those predictions. Cars raced across the den and the girls had fun seeing how fast they could get the cars to go. :) 

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Great Picture Books About Transportation

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Typically when we start a unit I'll grab a Gail Gibbons book along the same lines of what we are studying? She's a great non-fiction storybook author. Her books are perfect for curious little eyes to explore pages full of information even before they are ready to read. This one is no exception covering every form of transportation from cars to cruise liners. 

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Freight Train by Donald Crews is a good one for younger preschoolers with few words but colorful pictures. It names the various cars on a train and uses fun imagery to show the speed of a train racing down different tracks. Short and sweet! 

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Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen is another great preschool book! Full color pages with lots of action and describing words. Seeing play different forms of transportation zoom around different scenes is so much fun! From traffic to trolleys and choppers this adorable book is definitely a great one for the lover of everything that goes! 

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If your littles are like mine you know that it's not just the forms of transportation that captivates them its their sounds too! Zoom Zoom by Robert Burleigh is a perfect solution to meeting both those desires! His rhythmic and rhyming story tells of a city full of sound! From sun up to sun down and everything in between this cute book is a thrilling ride! 

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Y is for Yacht. The letter we are studying during this unit is the letter Y which inspired reading this book. It is one of those awesome, interactive preschool books. Your little will love reading all about the many different kinds of boats (there are SO many! ) This board book format has pages that open up into huge pages with giant illustrations of ferries, and sailboats, and tugboats and more! Great for the nautical loving little in your life! 

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The pigeon, need I say more? We love this silly, sometimes emotional, little fella! Mo Willems has a fantastic sense of you humor and littles pick up on the silliness right away! This one will have you in stitches. Bless that pigeon's heart, all he wants to do is DRIVE THAT BUS!!! (Also, the pigeon is part of a larger series of books all of which are adorably funny! Definite favorites around here.)

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To the typical family travel is not the most fun part of vacation, aparently that's not the story for these bunnies. They take 12 different modes of transportation to arrive at their destination- home. Your little is sure to love the adventurous traveling these bunnies do and the fun pictures accompanying them. 

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Last, but not least Delievery was a sweet book to read and comes perfect right after our valentine celebrations last week! "Aaron Meshon's playful, tender and almost wordless story, a grandmother sends love to the moon and back to get a very special delivery to a very special boy!" This book was written with so much love and you can certainly feel it! 

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Today we read Donald Crew's picture book, Freight Train. It's a perfect book for preschoolers of different ages and stages. Sadie loved the bright colorful train cars and Macie Jane really liked learning about the different types of train cars. We used the book as inspiration for our numeracy play today.

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We used a printable in the transportation unit along with a sentence strip but a long piece of construction paper would suit just as well. I cut the train cars out for this activity because I wanted Macie Jane focus more counting than cutting (although it wouldn't be bad for her to do both- we were limited on time too.) I glued the engine car at the end of the sentence strip and reviewed left to right progression. (We count/write from left to right.) Then I let her independently order the cars. She got most of them in order but had a few mixed up. We reviewed number order together and she glued the cars on to the sentence strip. 

This activity serves as a great anchor. I put it up over our calendar area and I'll plan to use it as a reference for future activities as well as for daily review. 

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Our next activity was a sorting activity. These are so fun for both girls in their respective stages of development in preschool. 

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Macie Jane is getting really good at using scissors while Sadie still just has a great time cutting everything into bits- nothing wrong with that. :) After the various forms of transportation were cut out in one piece I let the girls sort them according to where they travel, land water, or in the sky. It was a hit and the gluing portion was equally engaging as the cutting part was! :)    

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Want to see more of our fun? Keep up with us on Instagram and Facebook! Stay tuned for more transportation fun this week and next! 

Unit 10: Valentines Recap

 February is one of my favorite times of year! We LOVE celebrating love day! It was a no brainer that we'd include the holiday in our learning! We read some real great valentine books and had a blast incorporating all our learning goals with valentine fun! 

February is one of my favorite times of year! We LOVE celebrating love day! It was a no brainer that we'd include the holiday in our learning! We read some real great valentine books and had a blast incorporating all our learning goals with valentine fun! 

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Here are a few of the titles we read. You can be sure to find a book by Gail Gibbons in almost every unit we've studied. She's one of our favorite non-fiction picture book authors! Are you a Gail Gibbons fan too? The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond was another favorite but I think our most favorite was Valentine Express by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (not pictured.) It's a precious story of an adorable duo creating and delivering the most thoughtful valentines. 

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At this point in the preschool school year we're working on identifying number words. Macie Jane isn't sounding them out to read them but rather memorizing what they look like and "reading" them that way. We used our number cards in the unit along this activity to reinforce this skill. 

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Our following directions activity really had me laughing. Oh my, what an adventure it is juggling both girls with two very different personalities and trying to complete this activity. Sadie, who is 3, had an entirely different outcome than Macie Jane (just turned 5.) It was a perfect example of those exposure type activities I talk about. Macie Jane followed every direction and Sadie.... well... Sadie had an adventure of her own. I will say she did try to follow some of the directions before scribbling over the front and back of the page. :) 

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Any activity involving a toss able cube is a win in our books. Both girls loved this activity although it was geared a bit more for Macie Jane's age range. Sadie used it to practice number recognition and Macie Jane used it to practice transferring, counting, and left to right progression. This is another one of those great activities that seems small but packs so many skills in! 

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Ok, now, y'all know there is NO question here. When preschool includes candy we are SOLD! This activity was perfect for both girls. Sorting and counting for Sadie and those skills along with comparing amounts for Macie Jane. We all had a great time and good sugar rush after this activity!

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One of our more messy activities was the Valentine invitation to play. I provided the girls with materials and invited them to make and create however their hearts desired. We went through several rolls of washing tape, lots of stamps (some on paper some on skin), and made many memorable valentines. Invitations to play typically capture the girls attention for a good amount of time and are great opportunities for them to develop creativity and imagination. There was no end product in mind just independent, open-ended play with age appropriate materials. 

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STEM activities are beginning to rival the girls love for crafts. The fizzy hearts activity had them mesmerized. I didn't shy away from talking technical with them. We talked about acids and bases and identified which vinegar and baking soda were. We made guesses about what would happen when the two combined and didn't waste anytime exploring the experiment. The classic fizzy explosion experiment never gets old. We had a great time and they thought it was just the most awesome experiment! (Can you see the heart in MJ's pan?)

Want to grab the valentine unit to use with our littles? Click the link below or join us for our newest unit available on my resource page! We'd love to play and learn with you! 

Unit 9 Winter Recap

Unit 9 Winter Recap

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We loved our big pile of winter and snow themed books! Especially because these last few weeks in South Carolina have truly felt like winter! So chilly and perfect for snuggling up with books! :) One of our first activities was to practice counting with marshmallows and a cocoa counting page. Unfortunately, I dropped the ball and completely forgot to grab mini marshmallows at ALDI and we improvised. All the marshmallows from the box of Lucky Charms suited just as well. I might say Macie Jane enjoyed the activity all the more for that reason. :) 

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That same day we also did a receptive listening activity. The was something new and I was excited to try it with both girls! The activity uses a set of cards with different images printed on them. Each card has a written direction that I read aloud and the girls would follow. Phrases like, "touch the mitten by the mug with a snowflake" or "before you touch the mug touch the pink mitten." Some were more tricky than others but I think they really enjoyed the activity. Both girls asked to play it again! 

Scissor skill actives always hit a warm spot in Macie Jane's heart. I'm not sure I've met a little person who loves to chop paper into itty bitty bits as much as she does. :) I let her go town chopping up the paper to her heart's content after practicing following the lines. It's great hand strengthening and she's having fun so, why not?! 

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The Snowman invitation activity was a little surprising to me as far as who really took to it. I supplied the girls with a ball of orange Play-doh, tiny sticks, beads, crayons, and snow man templates. It was Sadie who really stuck with the activity long after Macie Jane lost interest. She made a whole snowman family and decorated them to the nines with beads and scribbles. Invitation to play activities are completely open ended. I give the materials and offer no directions or suggestions. I let their imagination lead the way. Typically these activities captivate both girls. (They do usually end up creating a sizable mess but nothing a little teamwork to tidy up can't fix.)

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We jumped back into journaling. The girls both have Primary Composition notebooks. They have blank space at the top of the page for coloring and wide guidelines for writing. We glue projects into the notebooks (rightwards, letter of the week, etc) but mostly we use them to draw a picture of our Bible story, unit theme, or anything they imagine. We accompany they pictures with dictated sentences. I'll ask them about what they colored and write it down. In the next month or so I'll start letting Macie Jane title her picture. I'll dot out the title and she'll just trace the letters.

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We got good counting and number reading practice in too! Both snowman popsicle stick and the muffin tin counting activities required Macie Jane to read number words and comprehend their meaning. Bonus: The popsicle stick snowmen were just TOO cute!

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We wrapped the week up with a FAVORITE activity! Back from last year by popular demand, I recreated the hot cocoa sensory bin. A bag or two of pinto beans, cottonballs, toy mugs, and a ladle. Y'all, I can't tell you how long they played "Hot Cocoa Shop" (...also can't tell you how many pinto beans I keep finding everywhere- haha!) They LOVED this! They came back to it throughout the weekend before I put it up for my sanity sake, but I think I'll be pulling it out again this week for sure. They're just too cute playing together. 

It was a really sweet and super fun week learning about winter, playing and learning with the winter theme, reading number words, practicing fine/larger motor skills, speech, STEM, and more! Now we're excited to hop into all things Valentine's! We'd love to have you join us! Find our newest unit and a list of all you'll need to follow along on the resource page or click the link below! 

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Click to get your February Play & Learn Calendar! 

Unit 8 Penguins Recap

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The last two weeks have been full of penguin fun! We started out 2018 with all kinds of arctic animal learning and playing! Macie Jane learned a new sight word, "it." I always love when the sight words are easy to sound out. I wonder if your little had as much fun sounding out the word "it" as we did? I hope so! That tell-tale I'm-so-proud smile is one of the best things! It thrilled my heart to see her beam with excitement reading a word! I know it did the same for yours! Sadie (3) isn't doing sight words yet but she had her moments beaming with pride this week too! I think the shape penguins were her most favorite! Feeling extra proud of her shape identification skills!  :) What were your little celebrations and victories in the penguin unit? Whether they're big, hard things you've been working through or tiny victories I think it's super important to really celebrate growth! Keep the learning positive and focus on the good! :) 

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As far as favorite activity goes the jury is still out. Both girls LOVED the letter snow tray and I loved that clean up was as simple as running the vacuum. :) I filled a shallow container with epsom salt and the girls used their fingers to draw letters (Macie Jane) or make shapes (Sadie) Aren't sensory activities so much fun!? The other favorite was easily the Roll-a-Shape activity! This one both girls really got in to. Sadie had fun recognizing shapes (and throwing the cube- haha!) while Macie Jane really enjoyed graphing out the information. They would take turns tossing the cube, recognize the shape on top, and then add a stamp the chart for each shape rolled. 

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The instinctively of a competitive nature is just so funny to me! Macie Jane exclaimed as we rolled and played which shapes were "winning" and which didn't have any stamps or had very few. :)  

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Shape penguins were a lot of fun too! I got a lot of really funny messages and emails from y'all about the directions on this one. :) I'm updating the unit with example pictures for all future uses. Drop me an email if you purchased the unit and want the updated version. :) hello@alittlelearner.com

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This afternoon we wrapped up the unit with a little shaving cream play and a really great STEM activity! We harvested ice from a bowl using salt and string! I'm not sure how much salt we have left in the house but the girls had so much fun trying to get the ice to stick to the string! 

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We read lots of both fiction and non-fiction stories in this unit and if the weather permits (it's been crazy cold here) we're planning to visit the zoo soon to see the penguins play! :) What was your favorite part of the unit? I always love hearing from you! I hope you'll join us next week as we jump into our next unit on Winter! Click the button below to see a preview of the unit and find a book list if you want to get some of the books on hold at your local library. :) 

Unit Nine: Winter
5.00

An interactive, fun-filled unit themed all about winter! Almost 30 full color pages focusing on skills such as literacy, numeracy, geometry, speech, rhyming, motor skills, STEM, and much more! Required resources are minimal. Accommodations for support or enrichment are included in the activity descriptions. This unit includes a BONUS activity to make your own- use it to review letters, numbers, shapes, colors or anything you can imagine! 

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