Friday, May 25, 2012

Check it Out: Literacy Beginnings: A Prekindergarten Handbook

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

For many the school year has come to a close or is quite close insha'Allaah. Literacy Beginnings: A Prekindergarten Handbook by Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas, is a book that those who teach in a traditional school setting or homeschool setting may find immensely beneficial and may wish to add to their summer reading list in preparation for the new school year insha'Allaah.

The book very helpfully provides sample schedules for a preschool day, lesson plans for various literacy strands in the curriculum and even a preschool continuum for teachers and parent-teachers to benefit from. Also included in the book are developmental charts for three and four year old children that aide in planning lessons that are developmentally appropriate. The appendices are a treasure trove for preschool teachers and while not all of the information is Islaamically appropriate, you will find much that sets you on your way to efficient, relevant lesson planning insha'Allaah. The full-colour photographs of preschool classrooms that effectively support preschool learning are also a wonderful resources to assist you when planning how to arrange your own classroom.

More than that, the authors offer practical ways for teachers to support emerging readers and writers, and provide concrete examples alongside the activity recommendations. Assessment of Literacy Learning is also included. Sound, easy to implement tools for assessing students literacy progress appear throughout the book.

While you may not be able to locate this book in your local library, it is an investment you or your school may wish to consider as its contents may assist the preschool teacher in charting a path that will help him/her design a fun, engaging learning community that supports the literacy development for his/her incoming students for the new school year...waallaaahu a'lam.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Toddler Butterfly Crafts, Activities and Books

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

These are a few books and activities that can be used when teaching about butterflies to toddlers and preschoolers insha'Allaah.

For storytime, you may wish to read aloud Ana alfaraashah and for reference you may find the book Ten Little Caterpillars helpful or it can be part of your selection of books for a unit on butterflies insha'Allaah.

The book Ana alfaraasha, like all of the books in this really wonderful series, has a bookmark inside of the book attached with a piece of ribbon. Each book mark is the animal featured in the story. Infants may also enjoy these beautiful board books as well. When using this book for toddlers, they can make butterfly book marks after hearing the story read aloud:

For the book Ten Little Caterpillars, there are many crafts and activities that can be done using this book as well.

The story of Ten Little Caterpillars ends with one of the caterpillars turning into a butterfly. For this part of the story, you can make flannel/felt pieces for your read aloud and invite children to come up and help tell the story with the pieces as you read:

The felt pieces show the apple tree branch that the caterpillar attached itself to, the chrysalis of that butterfly and the chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly, and the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly that the caterpillar turned into. Not pictured: the little caterpillar that climbed the tree branch.

If you're wondering why there are two chrysalises pictured, it is because if you've talk a bit about how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly by the Permission of Allaah and you use the last three pages in the back of Ten Little Caterpillars as a teaching tool, later children can see if they remember which chrysalis belongs to the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly at the end of the story.

The last three pages of the Ten Little Caterpillars show different caterpillars and the type of butterfly or moth they change into. The pages also briefly mention what type of food each caterpillar eats. Using those pages, you can make caterpillar cards and butterfly cards for some (or each) of the caterpillars and butterflies in the story. Below are the caterpillar and butterfly cards for four of the butterflies in the story.

In your literacy centre or after you have read the story with your little one you can lay the cards out and invite the child to match the caterpillar to the correct butterfly. For this age group, have the book ready to be used for help insha'Allaah.

Children can also do many other crafts involving butterflies, and they can learn the basic parts of the butterfly and label them on a worksheet. The picture of the butterfly can be found here insha'Allaah (in the section labeled Art, scroll down; it is the seventh (7th) file for download).

If you use this in your Kindergarten unit on Butterflies, you can also introduce symmetry. You can find worksheets here and here.

Enjoy insha'Allaah!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wow! Said the Owl Book Activities

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

The book Wow! Said the Owl is a book about colours that your pre-school aged students/children may enjoy very much. The book is also easy to adopt to other languages (i.e. the text lends itself to on the spot translation).

Wow! Said the Owl is the story of a little curious owl who decides that she wants to know what goes on during the day when she is usually asleep. To satisfy her curiosity she sleeps through the night and awakens in the morning to discover a world of colour she previously did not know about.

The refrain in the story is "Wow! said the owl" and in the classroom or home you can easily replace the word "Wow" with "Subhana'Allaah!". During storytime, pre-school children enjoy the refrain and having the chance to repeat it. There are also many activities that can be done with this book. Below you can see three activities that can be done with Wow! Said the Owl.

Click on the picture for a larger view
Note: In the file the owl's stomach is not see through as pictured above
The worksheet on the right is a garden that children can draw butterflies on. In the story the little owl observes butterflies as they fly through the garden and the owl notes all of the colours that the garden contains. During the art period children can make butterflies from construction paper and then cut them out and paste them into the garden, or they can use butterfly stamps or stickers to place the butterflies. They can also use foam butterfly cut-outs and glue the foam butterflies into the garden. And of course, children can simply draw and colour butterflies to place in the garden as well.

Under the book there are story sequencing cards that help children with reading comprehension and recall skills. The cards show all of the scenes from the story where the owl said, "Wow!" or in this case, "Subhana'Allaah!". After listening to the story read aloud once, (in groups) children are given a set of the story sequencing cards and invited to listen to the story again, this time, putting the cards in the correct order when they hear the refrain, "Subhana'Allaah! said the owl" followed by whatever action or thing the owl sees. These cards are also easy to put in the literacy centre (remember to laminate them first). The teacher records the story being read aloud and during centre time students listen to the story and use the cards to show what happens first, second, third, etc. in the story. Here students not only work on reading comprehension and memory skills, they also have a chance to practice ordinal numbers. Additionally, you can write the numbers 1-7 on the back of each card showing which card comes first, second, etc. in the sequence, thereby allowing children to self-correct when they have completed the activity. When the child finishes the activity, he/she turns the cards over and if the cards are in the correct order from one to seven, the child knows they have ordered the cards accurately.

The story sequencing cards can also be used with young toddlers to help them work on finding hidden objects. After cutting all cards out, sit with your infant and show him/her one card at a time and invite him/her to find the owl. If you have read the book with your child sitting on your lap or next to you, he/she may remember the scenes from the story and this will support their effort to locate the owl. If you notice the child having difficulty finding the owl, provide simple clues to assist. Do not allow the child to reach a level of frustration before providing clues.

On the left hand side of the book, there is an owl on a Popsicle stick. The owl pictured is teacher's owl but the students can easily make the same type of owl (or you can make a photocopy of the owl cards in the file and give each students a copy to glue a Popsicle stick to. Be sure to use cardstock or another similarly heavy paper). After you have read the story aloud, tell children that you will read the story again and when you get to the part where the owl says, "Wow!" or in our case, "Subhana'Allaah!" they hold up their owls and say the refrain with you (i.e. Subhana'Allaah! said the owl"). Pre-school children seem to really enjoy this activity. Perhaps it's the chance to raise their voices *smile* but they really get involved in the activity and the laughter is great to hear.

If you'd like to try the activities pictured insha'Allaah, you can download them here.

There are many activities that can be done with this book. You can make a felt story board to go with the story and during storytime, children can come up and place the felt pieces in the appropriate places/spots. You can also find many owl related crafts on the Internet but please remind the children not to include facial features on their owls. Do you have any ideas you think might go well with this book? Please share!

Enjoy insha'Allaah!


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