Many Merry Mittens

For a previous Winter unit, one of my coworkers printed a collection of various mittens from Google Images and used them to work on adjectives and describing. I loved the idea, but wanted to change up the images to make the activity a little more versatile with matching pairs. So I designed my own mittens and I'm using them to target language concepts including same vs. different, descriptive words, and interrogatives, as well as identifying shapes and colors.

For a transition activity, preschoolers draw a mitten and practice describing, "My mitten is..." or receptive identification, "Find the mitten that is..."

I can scaffold this activity by adapting the language to suit various levels (big polkadots vs. little ones, hearts vs. three hearts, etc). We're also developing visual memory, turn-taking, and the concepts of 'same' and 'different.' I choose three or more pairs and lay them face down in rows on the table for a mitten memory match: 

Players take turns flipping over and describing two mittens in search of a pair. If a set is made, the player keeps it. If they are not a match, both mittens are turned back over. When the cards are all gone, the player with the most pairs wins.

I printed a second copy to use for "Go Fish," which is great for working on asking questions, yes/no responding, identifying shapes and colors, using and understanding adjectives.

I'm sharing my mittens here. Let me know below if you grab them.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

As we wrap up the madness of state reporting and parent-teacher conferences (is anyone else ready for a break?), we're also gearing up for a new thematic unit. I'm always excited about starting a new unit; after a few weeks, the old one tends to get, well, old. Plus, we'll be reading The Three Bears, a personal favorite.

This classic story lends itself really well to sequencing and retell and I specifically target descriptors and comparative adjectives. I love the simple, colorful illustrations in this version, and my preschoolers love the little token of presence that Goldilocks leaves at the foot of Baby Bear's bed.

We're bringing the story to life and working on language objectives (more info about my service delivery model in this previous post) at Dramatic Play.

On one side of the center, we set up Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear's beds. I painted the headboards onto posterboard and laminated them with visuals for their corresponding occupants and opposites. Papa Bear's "too hard" bed is without padding, while Mama Bear's "too soft" one is cushioned with a pillow, wrapped and covered in blankets.

Preschoolers assume the character roles, designated by these no-eye-coverage-required masks that one of my teammates made by hot gluing laminated pictures of the three bears (similar here and here) onto foam visors. Goldilocks is a headband covered in yellow felt and adorned with yellow yarn braids. We also included a blazer and tie for Papa Bear, an apron for Mama, baseball cap for Baby, and dress for Goldilocks. 

Our little "cottage" has a full kitchen stocked with dishes, empty miniature cereal boxes (identifying environmental print), milk, and oatmeal ("porridge") containers. I used Boardmaker visuals to label the porridge bowls, chairs, beds, and bins for clean-up. 

I believe that repetition and experience impart saliency for little ones; using a story to segue into assuming roles and modifying play ideas leads to lots of interaction and expanded language, particularly for children demonstrating difficulties with abstract play or those with limited vocabulary and verbal delays. Books can be acted out in play across environments. How do you make literacy experiential? What are your "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" favorites?

Quick Picture Artic

Trying to incorporate articulation therapy into the preschool classroom setting (I don't do any pull-out) is challenging and sometimes the best-laid plans fall through. I'm always looking for a quick grab-and-go artic activity to chart a few data points. I've generated a collection of preschool-vocabulary-friendly picture worksheets that I tend to use in a pinch.

/p/, /t/, /k/, /g/, /f/, /s/, /z/, s-blends, "j", "ch", "sh", /l/

In the classroom, I keep copies to snag pictures for a variety of activities. I have a set that I made into replacement cards for my Cariboo game (I know it's out of production, but I LOVE this game for artic practice with little ones). For some quick practice, they make great placemats for snack (we put snack items on the pictures). I also share them with parents for at-home practice with a letter outlining suggestions for use, including:
  • Color, cut, and glue. Practice saying each word as your color, cut out, or glue pictures to make a collage or piece of artwork.
  • Turn the worksheet into a parking lot for matchbox cars. Name the picture on which you park.
  • Cut out two sets of the cards, flip them upside down, and play “Memory.” Limit the number of pairs that you present at a time so that your child can be successful.
  • Play “Bingo.” Give clues describing the picture and have the child name the item before placing a marker on each one.
  • Roll a die and place the corresponding number of (dried noodles, pennies, beans, poker chips) on the pictures. Say the name of each one as you cover it. Win the game by filling up the whole board.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt. Hide the pictures around the room and name each one as you find them.
  • Play “I Spy."
  • Incorporate the pictures into another board game (I like Crocodile Dentist, Don’t Spill the Beans, Jenga, Connect Four). Have your child say a word before each turn.
  • Create a Grab-Bag or Surprise Sound Box: Cut out the pictures and have your child pull them out of the box. Find actual items from around your house to mix in! Make it even more fun and fill your box with dried rice or beans.
  • Carry a set of words with you to pull out during waiting times at the doctor, restaurants, etc.
  • Cut out the cards and use them to play “Go Fish."
  • Stick stickers on each picture. Have your child tell you where they are going to place or where they put their stickers.
What else would you add to the list?

Chocolate Chip Categories

I have a whole group of little ones working on categories or related vocabulary objectives and many of these overlap with my ECSE's goals for colors and shapes. I created this cookie category sort so that we can multitask on some of those objectives...

Students name the items and sort cookies onto their corresponding category cookie sheets using a spatula (bonus motor component). I put the printed cookie sheet mats on real cookie sheets to make it a little bit more fun and realistic. For a table-top activity, students can pull cookies out of a cookie jar for sorting rather than using the spatula.

Additionally, I can use the cookies to target following directions, wh- questions, and descriptive vocabulary objectives. Instead of using the cookie sheet mats, I lay out a whole bunch of cookies, give the student a spatula and an empty cookie sheet, and play, "I Spy." We can also play as a game with two students: whoever scoops the cookie up first keeps it on their tray; the student with the most cookies at the end is the winner.

You can grab copies of my category cookies and trays here and here. Please leave a comment if you download. I'd love to hear how else you use them.