I am a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist has helped me, but it also has hurt me over the years. How could being a perfectionist possibly be bad you may ask? In the past, I have kept things to myself, or put things off because I simply wanted it to be THE BEST! This blog is a prime example.
I kept repeating the following thoughts in my head over and over…eventually I will create a blog, one day I will create a blog, I’ll learn how to do that someday. I wanted my blog to be perfect. I wanted to have perfect posts and photos to compliment them planned out. I wanted my blog to be aesthetically pleasing with an amazing color scheme and have all the buttons, bells and whistles of well known blogs. The reality is… if I waited to be ready and have all these things done… would I really ever be ready?
This weekend, I said to myself, why wait? I put the fear of it not being PERFECT behind me. This blog is FAR from perfect and I am still learning how to even use this website, but I DID IT!
Done is better than perfect. That is my quote for 2020! I will be posting blog posts for my past Instagram posts along with new content weekly. If you are unfamiliar with my Instagram, I will be sharing teaching ideas for school age kids, toddlers, babies, and more! I am really excited to begin this journey! Be sure to subscribe and follow Taylored to Teach to receive FREEBIES and new content from me!
What is a STEM Toy? What is a STEM Bin? You may have seen me post about these on my Instagram page, or you may have seen them on Pinterest. You may be wondering, what is the hype about STEM? Read below to find out why STEM is awesome, not only in the classroom, but also at home!
What is STEM?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
What is a STEM Toy or a STEM Bin?
You may be wondering, what is the difference between a STEM toy and a STEM bin. The answer is, not much.
Teachers generally call plastic containers filled with STEM manipulatives/toys, STEM Bins. These classroom bins often include task cards and building challenges for students.
STEM toys are basically the same exact thing. You probably already have some amazing STEM toys at home. The main difference is your STEM toys are probably not in plastic containers with directed task cards for your child.
What are the benefits of STEM Toys/Bins?
Develop hand-eye coordination
Require fine motor skills
Promote spatial skills
Require problem solving
Encourage designing and building
Develop life skills such as: perseverance, discipline, and resourcefulness
Promote social skills including: collaboration and communication
Ways to use STEM Toys/Bins in the classroom
Ways to use STEM Toys/Bins at home
Brain Breaks (except they’re actually still learning)
Things are currently a little different around the world when it comes to children learning and education. Teachers and parents are in need of digital activities for learning at home now more than ever.
Have you heard of Boom Learning? I discovered Boom Learning when I was searching for digital resources while virtually teaching my students. Boom Learning Cards are convenient, fun, and a lot of them are FREE!
If you are signing up on your own without a teacher/classroom, create a free teacher account for yourself.
If you are signing up with a teacher/classroom, the teacher will provide a pin or other information for how to set up a free student account.
You can create a free account if you have five students or less and you don’t plan to create your own learning decks. I would check out all of the account options on Boom Learning’s Website to see which suits you the best. They are very affordable!
Do I have to set up a classroom?
Whether you’re a classroom teacher, homeschooler, or a parent, you will need to set up your own classroom.
This video tutorial below is very helpful to get started!
How do I assign decks?
Free and paid Boom Learning Decks will be available to assign in your library.
Wondering what to expect for your future kindergartener in the fall? I’ve teamed up with several educational accounts to bring you information and resources to help prepare your child for the school year ahead.
Erin from @taught.by.tatum gave us some extraordinary fine motor skills information and activities during our #letsgetreadyforkinder segment. Fine motor skills are very important for incoming kindergarteners! Read below to find out ways to help prepare your child!
What are fine motor skills?
Fine motor skills are coordinated movements using the small muscles in the hands and fingers. This includes things like zippering, buttoning, gripping a pencil, using scissors, etc.
Fine motor skills are good for self help and academic reasons.
Jessica touched on this earlier in the #letsgetreadyforkinder segment with self help skills. You can find a list of those skills here.
Hands on academic activities are important to help strengthen those small muscles in the hands and fingers.
Check out some ways to practice fine motor skills below:
work on having your child grip a pencil correctly while writing
work on gripping a crayon correctly while coloring
Jessica from @eat_play_read provided us with some great information about social and self help skills! Taylor from @kidsrcapable also gave us some great tips for dealing with separation anxiety. I think this information will be especially useful for your soon to be kindergartener this fall due to the current circumstances. Read the bulleted information below to prepare your child for school.
Social Skills Checklist
Waiting their turn to talk in a conversation
Listening to a story
Separation Anxiety Tips
Prepare students by reading stories about the start of Kindergarten
Practice loving, firm, and consistent “see you later” and goodbye
Practice calming down moments when child is not stressed.
Check out Go Noodle for calming activities “Bee Breaths” or “Bunny Breaths”
Caitlyn from @theitsybitsy.classroom gave us some amazing information about counting and numbers during out #letsgetreadyforkinder segment. Read below for her tips on how to prepare your furture kindergartener!
Teachers would like students to have a decent foundation of how to count when entering Kindergarten. Maybe they miss some numbers, maybe they only make it to five, maybe they only make it to ten, but the concept of counting is a good way to start.
Ways to practice:
count things you see
count snacks, count toys, count flowers outside, etc.
count starting at different numbers, for example start at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or start at 3, 4, 5 ,6
Even if your child is not actually counting, model how to count. Children are always listening and absorbing information.
Eventually, your child will work on counting all the way to 100 or even to 120 during Kindergarten.
Counting Groups of Objects
An important skill when learning how to count, is being able to count objects in a group.
What does this mean? It means counting five objects and understanding the last number they said, five, is the number of objects in the group.
During kindergarten, children will use the skill of counting objects in a group to work on adding and subtracting.
Ways to practice:
count snacks, count toys etc.
elaborate that the last number they said is how many there are of that object
The first step when it comes to being able to identify numbers, is being able to determine a letter from a number.
Tell your child what the letter is for the wheel and what sound that letter makes. Example: This letter wheel is for the letter A, remember that A says “Ah”. Can you find all of the pictures that make the “Ah” sound?
Your student will then clip all of the pictures that start with the A sound with a clothespin. This is great for fine motor skills!
Here is another printable puzzle! This one is a two piece puzzle, but I also have a version that is three pieces (picture piece, uppercase piece, lowercase piece).
This puzzle is a little more challenging since the picture is on one piece and the letters are on another.
Children will match the letter puzzle pieces to the beginning sound puzzle pieces. You will definitely want to check their work on this one to make sure they matched the letters correctly. If they had a few mixups, be sure to talk about them and tell them the sounds those letters make.
For example: Great try with this one, but the car picture does not go with the letter K. Do you remember what other letter makes the “kuh” sound? Great job, you are right, it is the letter C!
I originally created this printable activity to be used with connecting links, but it is also a great activity without them!
Children will match the uppercase and lowercase letters and then find all of the beginning sound pictures that go with that letter. I have included over 150 beginning sounds picture cards. These picture cards include both the short and long vowel sounds.
I would only do a few letters at a time so your child does not become overwhelmed.
Memory match games are always a huge hit with my students. Any type of memory match game has great benefits for your child!
Memory matching games:
improve attention, concentration, and focus
use critical thinking
improve visual recognition
require spotting similarities and differences
use short term memory
This Beginning Letter Sounds Memory Match game is a fun way to recognize the letters and learn their sounds.
You can find this printable memory match game here: Animal Alphabet Memory Match Game
Kids LOVE Play-Doh, so why not build some letters using it? Print these beginning letter sounds play-doh mats and then place them into page protectors. Your child can then roll Play-Doh to form letters. Talk about the sounds the letters make. Example: J is for Jellyfish. J says “juh”.
Reading books about letters with your child is another great way to help them with their beginning letter sounds. There are tons of books that work on the alphabet and letter sounds, I bet you even have a few at your home already!
If you don’t, I really love the book A is for Apple. I really like this book because it is interactive with flaps and pictures but also tracks to trace the letters.
Letters in Names
The last letter related topic I am going to talk about is letters in names! It is important that your child learns the letters that make up their name. I wouldn’t even focus on the sounds the letters make when doing these activities, because that might get confusing for your child.
When teaching beginning sounds, I usually start with only the short vowel sounds. For example: A is for apple. After students master the short vowels I then move to long vowel sounds. For Example: A is for acorn.
If you want to talk about the sounds the letters make in your child’s name that is fine, but it is not necessary if you are just focusing on them learning their name and spelling their name.
Some fun ways to practice learning and spelling names include:
These are just a few ways to practice learning letters and beginning sounds! Be sure to follow me on Instagram @tayloredtoteach so you don’t miss out on any information from our #letsgetreadyforkinder Kindergarten Readiness Week! This information will be on my Instagram highlights titled “Kinder”. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions!