Football Math Touchdown

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This math-heavy lesson from Raddish Kids was a little tough to tailor to a kindergartner, but I appreciated the challenge, and that Raddish had us thinking about new concepts and skills. We’re excited to make more ballpark fare to go along with the learning!

The lesson begins with brainstorming a list of sports. I put white poster board up on the wall just like a teacher and gave Travis a big sports-couch-voice, “Go!” He soon had a great list.

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I told him today we would focus on football, and went through some of the facts that Raddish provided. Did you know that the first official football game was all the way back in 1869? We watched a quick overview of the rules and took a look at all the gear players have to wear.

Pause a moment and make a second chart with your child, focusing on what we learn from losing and what we learn from winning. I was proud of Travis coming up with items like, “You learn not to cheat” and “not getting upset when you lose”.

Now go over a bit of football facts and figures (6 points for a touchdown, 3 points for a field goal etc.) and set up some math problems with manipulatives. We used dried beans, and I talked Travis through three problems. First up, addition:

If the Dallas Cowboys scored 2 touchdowns and 2 extra points, how many points did they have altogether?

Travis counted out 6 beans for each touchdown, plus the extra two, then added them all up. This is a sophisticated problem for a kindergartner, and I don’t think he even realized it!

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We next did subtraction:

Last night the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the New York Jets by a score of 7 to 10. How many fewer points did the Chiefs have?

Again, manipulatives made it a cinch. He counted out each team’s score in beans, then took away 7 from the Jets pile. How many were left? “Three!” he declared.

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Finally, fractions:

If there are 4 quarters in a game and 2 have been played, how many are left?

Beans made the answer clear.

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After that big brain workout, we needed a physical one! We played two fun variations on “football” that we found online, adapting them to be a mom-and-son game instead of requiring teams. For the first, I set up a yoga mat as the end zone. His job was to get as many balls as possible into the end zone in 1 minute.

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For the second, he stood on a target (we used stacking rings) and had to catch a ball. If he caught it, he moved the target to his end zone for a point.

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We even had an adorable cheerleader on the sidelines!

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Finish up with a football read at storytime. Travis enjoyed A Running Back Can’t Always Rush, by Nate LeBoutillier

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Exploring Patagonia

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Here was a very different lesson plan from Raddish Kids, in conjunction with the Comida Argentina recipes Travis has been cooking up. My kindergartner got to learn social studies, all about one region of the world!

Truth be told, the unit was quite simple compared to many Raddish lessons. I showed Travis the Patagonia region on a fantastic map we have featuring elevated surfaces for mountains. He immediately picked up on how mountainous the region was, and also how close to the ocean.

We read a few fun facts about the area, including the discovery of dinosaur fossils. Then it was time for a video!

Raddish provided a worksheet for children to draw images of what they learned in the travel video. Travis immediately paused it and said, “Mom, there’s water!” His delight was infectious, pausing the clip every few seconds to draw the glaciers (“silvery mountains!”), desert, flies, or any other things that jumped out to a five-year-old boy.

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There are numerous ways to continue the lesson from here. Children are encouraged to present their knowledge while pretending to be something, be that an archaeologist, chef, journalist, or artist.

Because Travis loves YouTube clips, I suggested he be a travel blogger giving his review of Patagonia. But first, he wanted to make those glaciers! He raided the craft bin and wrapped Styrofoam balls in aluminum foil. These were glued to a sheet of shiny cardstock as “ice”. He added dowels as “desert”. All of this received lots of glue on top as snow.

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Without further ado, here’s my little travel blogger, enticing you to Patagonia!

“Owl Do It” List

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Fall is here, and with it a return to routines and responsibilities. If your child is having a hard time adjusting to the steps involved for school or sports or around the house, then you can put together this adorable chore reminder list.

To make the chart, I cut owl pieces from felt, using light blue for the body, dark blue for wings, yellow for beak and feet, and black for feathers and eyebrows. I used hot glue to affix all these owl parts, minus the wings, and then glued on wiggle eyes.

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For the wings, poke a hole in the felt and use a brad to attach them to the body. Now the wings can move up and down!

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Glue a piece of dark blue cardstock onto a cardboard rectangle. Add a smaller square of light blue cardstock on one half; glue the owl to the other half. Glue a post-it notepad on top of the light blue square.

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Now write in chores, reminders, or anything else that’s helpful for your child! Travis felt proud crossing off steps in the morning.

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If you like, glue a felt loop near the bottom and slide in a pen. That way your child will never have to go searching for one. You can also glue a magnet onto the back of the cardboard so the list hangs up on the fridge.

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Hopefully soon you’re hearing, “Owl do it myself!”


Environmental Print

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In the final week of summer, Travis undertook a multi-part assignment to search for the print all around us: on food labels, on street signs, on toys, etc. Such words, known as “environmental print” can be great first sight words for pre-readers, and can encourage kids to learn!

So after concentrating on a letter a day for a little while, the idea now was for Travis to spot and notice full words.

Travis made a collection over a few days, pulling labels from food boxes at home and noticing signs around town.

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Great early sight words include STOP on a red hexagon, the “One Way” of a black and white arrows, or stores your child knows by name.

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Next up, I asked Travis to sort the print we had found. We had two main categories: street signs and food labels. Feel free to add multiple categories though, depending what your child has seen!

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A further great exercise was adding them to the pages of his Alphabet Dictionary.

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This was great both for recognizing the opening letter of each word and for sounding it out. He rightly noted that Fig Newmans could have gone on the “F” page or the “N” page!

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Finally,you can make a few “puzzles” by cutting some of the larger labels into pieces.

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If you are able to make copies of photos or have double of certain food labels, you could even turn it into a game of Memory.

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How else could your child play with “environmental print? Please share in the comments!

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Sight Word Tower

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It doesn’t seem possible, but summer is over and school starts tomorrow! That meant it was time to culminate Travis’s summer sight word practice with one final fun activity.

I wrote each word from our index cards onto the top of a paper cup.

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I challenged Travis to build the cups into towers – any way he chose! – but as he worked, he had to say the word on that cup.

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Not only was this a neat building challenge, but I was able to pinpoint which words still gave him pause.

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The activity is so simple but so beneficial, we’ll keep these cups on hand for the school year!

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Plus it became a race to see if he could blurt the correct word before the resident menace (baby sister) came over to knock down his towers.

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Alphabet Dictionary

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As with playing Letter Detective, here’s an activity you can do with your child over the course 26 days. We ended up taking a short-cut (read on for why!) but Travis really enjoyed the process.

To start, I made a “book” with a printed letter of the alphabet glued onto colorful construction paper for each page. Hole punch these and tie together with yarn.

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Each day, Travis drew something beginning with the assigned letter on its page. Then we went through stacks of fun stickers and added anything that started with that letter.

“A” received an apple drawing, as well as apple and alligator stickers on the first day.

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He was so excited to get a second chance to comb through the sticker packs on day #2, and found bananas, bunnies, and buses for “B”.

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Plus drew a “bagel”!

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After a few days of focusing only on one letter per day, I realized Travis was frustrated finding stickers he couldn’t use yet. So instead, I laid out all the printable pages for him, and a whole pack of stickers, and made it a free-for-all.

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Well wouldn’t you know he loved it! “Thanks for buying all these stickers!” he declared, happily stickering all over, occasionally asking me where one belonged.

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Based on the sticker themes in our set, we had some letters that received lots (S for stars, T for trains) and some with relatively few.

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We got a little creative; our E page was covered in “emotions” from emoticon stickers.

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Another idea is to supplement with pictures cut out of magazines. One way or another, Travis was very proud of his “dictionary.”

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It was a great phonetic addition to the tracing and modeling we’ve done throughout the summer.

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I would say this boy is kindergarten ready!

Letter Detective

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For 26 days, Travis has been playing detective. Letter detective that is!

For the assignment (a neat suggestion from his summer pre-k to kindergarten workbook), I purchased a small glass jar with a lid and set aside a collection of pennies.

Each day, he was tasked with finding one letter of the alphabet. Every time he notices it, a penny goes in the jar. Fair game includes magazines we read, food labels, street signs around town, and more.

When we started with A, he needed lots of prompting, but over the course of the day he spotted 8 As.

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8 pennies in the jar!

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Truth be told, it was hard for Travis to find the letter of the day as we drove; his recognition isn’t fast enough to keep up with the speed of a car. But at-home materials proved more fruitful, and the goal is to count up the pennies at the end and perhaps earn a small reward!


Stick Letters

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I recently made sure to collect a variety of sticks: some long, some short, some very straight, and some slightly curved. Because I knew Travis and I had stick letters in our future!

The following day, I dumped out the bag of sticks on the floor and told him we’d be going through the alphabet.

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Now, this was a real test for Travis as we prep for kindergarten, because I knew it would require patience to work through all 26 in one sitting, plus he had no guidelines to follow for the letters. I am thrilled to report our summer work is paying off; he was fascinated and focused the whole time.

Part of the fascination is that we turned it into a challenge: which letters would take the fewest sticks, and which the most?

He started confidently with 3 sticks for A. But then B really gives him pause; I pointed out that to make curves, we needed more sticks, but they had to be short ones. That meant a total of 6 sticks for B!

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He began working his way through the alphabet and this was a great way for me to notice which ones gave him pause. At first he boldly clustered the lines of E together. I helped him see one went at the middle, one at the top, and one at the bottom.

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M and N were a little tricky. We focused on a vocalizing an “up down up down” pattern to help him get there.

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Could he turn P into an R by adding only 1 stick? He could, no help required!

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Curvy S needed so many sticks.

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But the winner for the most sticks was the curviest – Q, requiring a total of 8.

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Meanwhile, he aced the ones that used only 2 sticks: L, T, and V.

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We loved everything about this activity, from the nature walk to collect the sticks, to the feeling of accomplishment, to the fun of making each letter.