Fall on the Farm and the Letter Gg

Many of us visit pumpkin patches and corn mazes in October, so this week's theme is inspired by Fall on the farm. All farms have spiders (which reminds me of Charlotte's Web), so I grouped them in with our theme as well. We're also covering the skill of ssorting this week. If you aren't able to set aside time to work on sorting (or whatever the skill of the week is) in great depth, that's okay. We don't teach these skills in just one week either; rather, we offer multiple opportunities to practice them every day, or discuss the skill as we naturally use it during the day (ie: we're reading a book, and ask the children what color the pumpkin is, or we are washing our hands and ask the child what the first step is, and the last). Plus, as you may already be aware, many of the activities we do each day require multiple skills at the same time, but we don't shy away from these activities because they require a lot of skills; we use them as a learning opportunity. For example, the game Candy Land requires one to follow multiple-step directions, have an understanding of colors, be able to differentiate between types of cards, know the difference between forward/backward, wait patiently for their turn, etc., and by playing the game with your child, you can help him/her with the aspects that may be a bit challenging for them.

Sorting

Sorting is the ability to look at a number of items, assess their various characteristics, and group them into categories based on these differentiating factors. It's is a skill that we commonly lump in with math (or pre-math), but it is also important for literacy and daily life. It helps us better understand, and communicate about the world around us. Sorting helps us organize and feel a sense of control of our lives, as well (not to mention, it helps keep us from accidentally dying our white clothes pink in the laundry). Patti Barnes (commonly known as RedHeadedPatti on her internet magazine) explains on EspeciallyEducation.com that:

 

a child who has developed strong  sorting skills will find it easier to:

  • Make matches

  • Identify sets

  • Classify items by single attributes

  • Classify items by multiple attributes

  • Recognize and create patterns

  • Understand patterns, relations, and functions

  • Compare sets for differences and similarities

  • Recognize relationships between sets

  • Understand how rules apply to sets

 

Meanwhile, a child who has not developed robust sorting skills may not only have difficulty later in math but also in:

  • Understanding how to connect new pieces of knowledge with what is already known

  • Making informed judgements

  • Making and enacting decisions

  • Coping with events that are out of routine

  • Dealing with the unexpected.

Before a child can sort items based on differences, they need to be able to match and sort by similarities. For example, if you have a bunch of Lego toys, identifying which Legos are all the same color, or all the same size/shape, will be easier to start with than identifying the ways in which each of them are different. Sorting physical items (as opposed to just discussing how items are different) is helpful as well because abstract thinking is often challenging for three, four and five-year-olds. Another helpful hint is to have cups or containers out for your child to sort the items into, and you may want to give them ideas of how they can be sorted to start (ie: colors, sizes, shapes, textures, cars vs. trucks, toy cats vs. toy dogs....).

There are some suggestions for sorting activities in the gallery below, but you probably already have items at home that can be sorted. You could mix various colors and shapes of noodles in a bowl, or maybe your child can help you sort the laundry, or toys. Maybe there's a sorting project at home that your children can help with. When my children were younger, we somehow ended up with an abundance of coloring supplies (it probably helps that I'm a teacher), and I felt the need to better organize them. I also wanted buy-in from my children, so I purchased the containers, but they got to pick how they sorted them (by color, or type--crayon, pencil, marker).

Zoo Phonic Letter Gg: Gordo Gorgilla

Our letter this week, Gg, has both a soft and hard sound. We are focusing on the hard G ("guh") this week. Once your child can identify items that start with this sound, though, you may want to move onto soft G. Please note, though, many children struggle with recognizing the difference between soft G and J. This is perfectly normal. Eventually, as children are learning to read and spell, they will begin to memorize whether words begin with a G or J.

 

There are a few suggestions for G activities below, as well as a video about gorillas. If you are wanting to tie this into sorting, consider having your child sort items around the house based on the sounds they start with. Maybe you want to have three baskets out, one for toys that start with the short E sound, another that begin with F, and a third for the "guh" sound. You might want to model the sorting for them to start (especially with younger kiddos).


 

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Fall on the Farm

When I think of a farm in Fall, I think of corn mazes, pumpkins, scarecrows, spiders, harvest and hay rides. That being said, the activities pictured below are slightly heavy on the pumpkins; my apologies. Some of these projects require supplies you may not already have at home, like contact paper and yarn (for a spider web activity), golf tees or pipe cleaners. Feel free to improvise, or maybe you've been looking for an excuse to visit the Dollar Store or a pumpkin patch. Of course, you may want to provide adult (or older child) supervision if your child is hammering golf tees (or nails) into a pumpkin, or mixing paint colors. Safety is always my first concern, followed by the potential for staining. Great learning can happen, though, as children make messes, experiment, and investigate. Children often enjoy mimicking us and playing "grown ups," which may be helpful when it's time to clean up the messy paint brushes or pumpkin seeds. Most clean-up activities can be made fun if we bill it that way.

The videos below include a lovely read aloud by Mrs. Albert of "Walter's Wonderful Web," by Tim Hopgood, about Walter the Spider's challenge to make the perfect web. It teaches shapes, engineering concepts (like which shapes are stronger), and has a great lesson about perseverance. "Five Little Pumpkins" (also featuring Mrs. Albert) is a flannel board poem with counting. Your child may enjoy drawing a picture of pumpkins on a gate afterwards. If they are wanting to write the numbers to go along with the pumpkins, but don't know how yet, it may be helpful for you to first write the numbers with a light-colored marker for them to trace, or write them on paper for them to copy from.

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