Category Archives: Writing

Learning Chinese Characters at Preschool

3 part cards izzy

The preschool class is learning to read and write Chinese characters.   We’re beginning with numbers and then will progress to other simple characters.  A variety of methods are being used to facilitate learning.

The Montessori 3 part card method is being use to introduce the characters. Children are shown a whole card with a picture and the Chinese character beneath the picture. The whole cards are placed on the table and then matched with the corresponding pictures and characters.

3 part cards elijah

 

 

 

 

 

The iPad is being used as a tactile method to facilitate writing. Our Chinese teacher shows children the correct order in which to write the characters. Children then practice writing and can do the activity as many times as they want since the sheet can be erased and reused. Children’s work can then be shared with parents through email.

ipad 4 marcus

ipad 4 chase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After completing the Montessori 3 part cards and the iPad exercises children are ready to write the characters on paper worksheets.

worksheet max

worksheet bella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Pandas Preschool

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December Activities

sensory tub

December has just begun and we’re all very busy!  The children have completed many activities already and there are so many more to do before Christmas vacation begins.

sensory group 2

 

 

 

 

 

The winter sensory tub (inspired by Teach Preschool) has been a big hit with all the children.  Even the adults can’t keep their hands out of it!  A tub was filled with plastic frosty snow.  Penguins and an iceberg from a game we have were added to the snow along with clear and blue acrylic ice cubes.  Some wood scoops and a couple wire Christmas ornaments were added.  The blue confetti snowflakes add some cool color to the tub.  We’ve had a couple incidents where the children have thrown the snow up to watch it fall, but who wouldn’t be tempted to do that?

pompom elijah 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children continue to learn Chinese with Gao Laoshi and are beginning to learn to count to 20.  A couple felt Christmas trees were attached to the wall and velcroed pom poms  were set out in a dish.  This activity helps children to practice counting as well as learn Chinese color vocabulary.

chinese writing elijah 1

 

 

 

 

 

Gao Laoshi has started introducing some simple Chinese characters to the children.  They’re beginning to write numbers.

counting marcus 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas shaped erasers have been set out at the math center for children to work on one-to-one correspondence.

popsicles max 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colored craft sticks were also set out at the math table.  Velcro dots were attached to the ends on both sides so that the children can build geometric shapes  with them.

stones group 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A basket of clear and different shades of blue stones have been set out at the light table for children to build with.

fingerpaint groupfingerpaint seneca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger painting on foil was a new experience for all the kids.  They enjoyed seeing the shiny foil through the paint.

Little Pandas Preschool

Zoo Phonics Montessori Inspired Sand Paper Letters

Preschool is in full swing and the children are learning Zoo Phonics along with all the other activities they are engaged in.  Zoo Phonics letters are reviewed during circle time and then related activities are offered at the language arts table during center time.

I’ve been doing  some research about different early childhood programs and  have found some wonderful activities to do with kids.  One of the activities provided in Montessori programs is sand paper tracing letters.  I’m not really sure the idea originated with Montessori since I remember making them in one of my elementary education methods classes many years ago.  However, they are a staple teaching resource in Montessori programs.

The Zoo Phonics program teaches children lower case letters and their sounds using auditory, kinesthetic, and visual means.  The sand paper letters adds another sensory input for the child to learn the letters.  Children trace the letters with their finger while saying the letter’s sound.  Some sites I read state that children who use this method of learning letters also tend to develop good handwriting.

I found several sites that sell the sand paper letters, but I wanted some that support our Zoo Phonics curriculum so decided to make them.  The letters were printed, cut, then glued to a wood rectangle with a glue stick.  A Super Gel Pen Adhesive was used to trace the letters.  Red and blue sand was then sprinkled over the super glue.  A layer of Mod Podge was applied over the wood tile to hold the sand in place.  Montessori usually uses red for consonants and blue for vowels, so I used similar colors.  Zoo Phonics teaches children that vowels are the hardest workers, so children will begin to recognize vowels by the blue color.   All of the supplies to make the letters were purchased at Michaels.

Montessori uses moveable letters in their classroom in addition to the sand paper letters.  Moveable letters are individual letters Children use  to create words.  I’m making 6 sets of the sand paper letters which will also serve to be a moveable alphabet.  

Little Pandas Preschool

The iPad at Preschool

I purchased an iPad for the preschool class a few weeks ago, and we’re just beginning to explore how we will use it with our kids.  About 10 or 12 years ago we did have a computer in the preschool class, but at that time it was not as successful a tool as I had hoped it would be.  In the past few years we have again used computers in the preschool, but they’re always used with teacher supervision, so the children don’t really get a hands on experience with them.  I think the iPad will prove to be a more versatile tool for preschoolers than a computer is.

The greatest advantage of the iPad is the tactile experience it provides children who do most of their learning through sensory means.  The frustration with using a keyboard or mouse no longer exists permitting children to engage in meaningful learning.

Since we’ve only had the iPad for a few weeks we only have a small number of applications.  I’m am looking for good quality applications for the kids that teach preschool concepts, support our curriculum goals and teach Chinese.   A few of the applications we are using include Montessori CrosswordsTracing ABC, and Lingu Pingu which teaches Mandarin Chinese.  I did another search today and found some others that I’m going to let the kids try next week including some interactive books and a drawing pad.

Children learn to write letters with Tracing ABC.

Tracing ABC allows the teachers to set the pages to either lower or upper case letters. Our children are learning lower case letters which compliments the Zoo Phonics program.

It is also interesting to see how the children are using the iPad in the classroom.  One of my major concerns was that the kids would choose only to use the iPad and not choose to work at other learning centers.  When the iPad was originally introduced all the children wanted to gather around it.  Each morning after music circle time a teacher shows the children all of the centers and any new activities that have been set up.  The children are then given the opportunity to choose which center they want to work at.  This week I noticed that the iPad was not the first choice of most of the kids.  Other learning experiences were still appealing to them.

This is the opening screen of Lingu Pingu.

This is the opening screen of Lingu Pingu. From here children choose which page they want to play at.

Lingu Pingu's kitchen vocabulary page.

Since we only have one iPad in the classroom I was interested in how children would take turns.  A kitchen timer was introduced in the iPad center to help regulate turn taking.  As children want a turn with the iPad their names are written on the blackboard.  At this point each child gets 10 minutes and when the timer rings the next child gets his turn.  This has worked beautifully.  The children are free to engage in other learning centers knowing they will get their turn.  All of the children have been successful at leaving the iPad when their turn is complete.

I spent several months thinking about how the iPad would be used in our classroom including how preschoolers could safely handle it.  My first inclination was to find a way to lock the iPad down at a table specifically for its use.  However doing that would take away part of the experience the iPad can provide due to its mobility.  I found a Big Grips case that is designed for preschoolers.  It has worked really well and enables the children to use the iPad anywhere in our classroom.  The iPad can be placed vertically or horizontally in its stand or used without the stand.  

The Big Grips case and stand.

Overall I’m pleased with our iPad experience so far.  It is only used during morning center time, so children are still engaged in other activities throughout the day.  Teachers have the freedom to use it at anytime with the group as it supports other learning experiences.

During my research over the past few months I came across this link and Youtube video.      Weblogg-ed » Kids and the iPad      I have several ideas I want to try with the kids and I’m sure over time we will think of more creative uses for our iPad.

Zoo Phonics Bendaroos

The Bendaroos were added to our language arts center this week.  Zoo Phonics cards were printed and laminated.

Bendaroos are pieces of string or wire that are covered with a thick coat of colored wax.  This was the first time the children used them, so some kids were more interested in exploring the new media.

Other children chose one of the Zoo Phonics cards to work with.  They laid out the Bendaroos onto the cards to form the letter.  Currently the children are learning letters m, b, t, d, h, and p.

I found the Bendaroos at our local learning supply store.

Little Pandas Preschool

A Morning at Preschool Post #1

Our new school year is well underway and the kids as well as the teachers are having fun doing all the activities.   A typical day begins with free play while the kids wait for their friends to arrive. At 9:00 they participate in circle time which includes music and Chinese activities.  After circle time the children may choose to work at a variety of centers the teachers have prepared for them. Each center has three to six activities to choose from.

On this morning most of the children opted to work at the language arts center.   V. is working on a Zoo Phonics activity where he is filling in the “b” outline with playdough.

Next V. chose to practice writing “b” with Crayola window markers on a plexiglass sign holder.  The boat worksheet is inserted inside the sign holder.  This year the Zoo Phonics curriculum is being integrated with our science themes. We’ve been working on measurement and exploring balls, so the children have been learning all about the letters b and m with Bubba Bear and Missy Mouse.

These gel bags were featured in the toddler activities post a couple days ago.  The gel bags are fun for all ages and help children to develop the fine motor skills needed to learn handwriting.  

The teachers rotate through the centers and help the children as needed.  With the exception of the Zoo Phonics activities Gloria encourages the children to learn Chinese vocabulary while completing tasks.

Children love sensory activities.  A. is playing with the rubber bands that were set out as part of our movement and motion unit. The teachers started several rubber band balls for the children to add to.  As the balls grow bigger the children will play with them and compare them with the other balls they’ve explored.  As we move farther along in our movement study the children may also discover other attributes of the rubber bands.

Sand is the absolute ultimate sensory activity!  The children can’t get enough of it.  The sand table helps children to develop many skills including math, language, and social interactions.  Currently the sand table is equipped with many measuring utensils to compliment our measurement unit.  Through their play the children are learning about volume and comparing the different units of measurement.

In the past we’ve always used authentic Oregon beach sand in the sensory table, but I discovered colored sand over the summer.   I love color and can’t wait to try out the purple sand.  Although I’m sure if the kids choose the color we might have to buy pink!

The children are very busy at preschool and this is only part of what was accomplished on this particular morning.  The next post will include the rest of the morning’s activities.

Little Pandas Preschool

Toddler Activities

The toddlers played with gel bags.  The idea was found at Teach Preschool and helps to develop fine motor skills that will be needed later for learning to write.  

The children can draw designs on the bags or move the objects inside with their fingers.

The toddler class sponge painted with red and yellow paint.  Fall leaves will be cut from the paintings to decorate their classroom.

Little Pandas Preschool

Zoo Phonics at the Preschool

The preschoolers learned about Allie Alligator today. They saw her shaped as the letter “a” and then read Allie’s page in the first reading book. While reading Allie’s page the children looked at all the items in the picture and pointed out which ones begin with “a”. They’re also working on some pre-writing skills.