A Month in Moments - August '19 Edition
WOW summer is flying by! I hope this summer has included outdoor adventures, slow days, good books, melty popsicles, and TONS of water play :). This month, I'm playing around with a new format for my Month in Moments calendars - everything is on one page - book list, supply list, calendar, descriptions! This has helped me to be concise and it should be more user friendly. However, it might be harder to print legibly because it is a calendar sized layout. If you print and have issues OR use it and love it, please let me know! You can message me from my watch wonder bloom Facebook page for a quick reply :). This month, the focus is playing with school readiness in a few different ways that I'll outline below. Whether the learners in your life learn at home, in preschool, or school, you'll find something useful to play with at home together to create meaningful moments as well as some letter play ideas and books you could use in the classroom!
Create textured letters that inspire kiddos to trace the shapes of letters. Then, practice writing! Start teaching letters using your child's name, rather than going in alphabet order or doing a letter of the day.
Week 1: School Memories - Talk to different family members to learn about their school experiences. You can use this as an opportunity to work on phone/video chat etiquette and it is a great way to work on speaking to new friends because your learners get to take on a different role - the role of interviewer. Some questions they could ask are: (1) What do you remember about school? (2) Who was your favorite teacher and why? (3) Did you have recess? What games did you play? (4) What did you learn? (5) Was school hard? (6) What books did you read? (7) Was lunch yummy? (8) What rules did you have to follow? From there, you'll take a look a school pictures or pictures of family members when they were younger to think about then versus now. Add on to a notebook or memory book to use for the month. The Day You Begin would be a great read this week.
Week 2: Name Games - I watched a Facebook Live with Miss Barton of The Kindergarten Chronicles and a popular question was, "What does my kid need to know before kindergarten?". A few things brought up were: basic self-care (tying shoes, opening different lunch components), letter sounds (many schools jump straight into sight words now...), their name and how to write it, etc. Learning the alphabet, the names of each letter, and the sounds each letter makes is best done in context rather than a letter of the day. One of the most important contexts for letters is our names. Spend this week making textured letters, rhyming words with your name, practicing drawing letters and more. I love the books The Name Jar and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for this week!
Week 3: Morning Meeting - More and more, I am seeing teachers who feel like they cannot take the time to do a morning meeting (or have been very clearly told not to do a morning meeting). I loved morning meetings in school, I think this is where a lot of the soft skills we hope children develop are cultivated as they have the opportunity to listen to each other, take turns with different responsibilities, feel secure in routines, ask questions, and more. If you are able, if there are ways to blend curriculum into a calm introduction to the day, I think it is worthwhile. This might include calendar math or poems of the day, etc. At home, I think a morning meeting gives us a breathe of calm before the crazy of the day. The tasks for the week encourage you to find out what your kiddos want to know and build on it with songs and snippets of information or quotes related to topics of interest. You'll also make weather predictions and share your feelings - sneaking in some science and social emotional learning :). Twig and Who is Happy? would be good for talking about feelings this week.
Week 4: Schoolish Snacks - Think beyond PB&J this week as you work together to remix sandwiches, create your own trail mixes, and more. My sister got our family hooked on making frozen breakfast burritos as an easy way to have a balanced breakfast. If breakfasts or lunches are rushed in your house, take the time to prepare frozen meals this week. Doing this as an assembly line together is fun and might lead to silly kitchen memories. Click the links for an omnivore recipe and a vegan recipe option. You can add in play with counting, measuring, and fractions as you work together with food. Other skills to work on this week would be making sure your kiddo knows how to open all the things you might put in their lunch box (those cans of fruit y'all...) and how to pack up and clean up after their lunch.
Week 5: Pack it Up! Leverage your kiddos' skills so they can help prepare for the day! Whether they put a snack container in the diaper bag or pack their entire backpack, giving kiddos opportunities to take ownership over things like packing their bags will help them with transition times at school and might help you get out the door. You'll start the week by talking about what's in your bags and why, packing a real or fake backpack and searching inside of it, hunting for school supplies around the house, and making your own bags or pencil pouches :). As we get even closer to the start of the school year, the classic story, The Kissing Hand, is a lovely read.
Ready for the calendar? Download it here!
Looking for some more ways to get ready for the school year? Here are a few additional activities!
Random supplies students used to make "mascots" to get to know each other!
Create a giant KWL chart. It took me a while to get hooked on these as a teacher because we did them a bit too often in school, but I think they're a little bit magical :). KWL - or "Here's what I Know", "Here's what I Want to know", and "Here's what I Learned" charts - are a useful tool to help learners regulate their own learning. By inviting learners to share what they know about a topic, even if it is a misconception, boosts their confidence and curiosity. From there, they can ask questions that can be explored through reading, playing, going to new places, etc. If you do this on giant paper and add to it from time to time as a family, it could create a really cool record of what everyone has dug into for a year.
Practice your basic information together. Work on saying and writing your phone number and address. Talk about who you should give this information to.
Try your morning routine. Time yourselves each day for the week and see if you can speed it up! One way we sped up our morning routine was to roll up 8 outfits and put them in a shoe hanger in the closet. We still got to choose what to wear but it was streamlined and less overwhelming in the mornings.
Meet the bus stop. Walk to the bus stop if your child will be riding the bus. Turn it into a math game and count the steps. Take giant dinosaur steps on the way home and see if you end up with more or fewer steps.
Interview a neighbor. If your kiddo is playing on the playground with kids of different ages, ask what their favorite memory was from the year before. They'll get to exercise their memory and your kiddo will learn from their near peers :).
Write a family newsletter. Create a few sections on a piece of paper. Add titles or sentence starters like: "Here's what we did this week", "Here's a drawing of a place we went to", "One thing you should know about each of us is...", "Our favorite meals this week were...", etc. When kiddos start school, they'll spend time on icebreakers that aim to get kiddos comfortable in their classroom with the learners around them. They may be asked to talk and share about themselves. Some kiddos need help talking to peers at all and others need help knowing when to let other friends talk. A newsletter can lead to an organized discussion that lets kiddos practice for school, and it's a fun record of a week you have this summer!
Most importantly, ENJOY your summer! Play, celebrate moments of curiosity and learning, get outside, and go for an adventure! AND, have fun preparing for the adventures in learning in the year ahead! Try something from the calendar? Please share using #watchwonderbloom so I can learn what readers enjoy and want to see changed!