Monday, April 11, 2011

Mom's Who Teach Mondays

We're super excited to kick off our "Mom's Who Teach Mondays" series where we will be featuring moms (aka YOU!) who teach their children.  We love sharing tips on how to teach educational things, life skills, social skills, art, etc; pretty much anything! Enjoy!

Jackie, a stay at home mom of 2 and former first grade teacher shares......

After teaching first grade for five years, I am now a completely happy stay at home mom with two children, Cole and Kate. I was able to juggle mothering our firstborn and part time teaching for two years, but once our sweet baby girl came and my son got older, my heart just needed to be at home full time. Being able to use the teaching skills I learned in my university and classroom settings now at home with my almost 3 year old son is a completely wonderful feeling. He's finally to an age when I can plan activities and mini lessons and he'll actually sit still and participate (mostly) - so fun! Although his attention span can be anywhere from 10 seconds to 5 minutes which keeps things challenging in a good way.

We're focusing on letter recognition and sounds and what has worked great for us is taking a letter a week and planning as many activities, outings, meals, library books, and everyday occurrences around the focus letter. I do enjoy the planning side of teaching, so I usually plan as much of the week in advance as I can so I'm not scrambling each day to throw meaningful, educational things together. 
Just a short to-do list of what I'll try to map out:
  • Put library books about things that start with the focus letter on hold online so I can pick them up on Monday. This week I checked out books on rainbows, rabbits, race cars, reptiles, and robots.
  • Write/type words to put on our word wall. I try to keep it under 10 words and use words he is interested in or that would be a high frequency word. We did Rr, red, rocking chair, rug, race, rainbow, Red Sox (his tball team name!), rocket, read, and rice.
  • Try to incorporate any focus letter foods into my weekly meal plan. We made rainbow cupcakes, ate rice several times, had rolls, and made red jello.
  • Daily activity - I try to introduce Cole to a new activity each day; usually a new game, pretend play, song, craft, food, or place to visit. We pretended to be race car drivers, took a rocket trip to the moon, and did a rainbow puzzle I made out of different colored construction paper.

I'm usually planned out by that point, but excited for the week ahead! Here's what this week looked like. I always keep in mind the life skill of flexibility and be realistic; some days we won't have time to make that meal or read that book. Kids get sick, things come up, he may not be interested, and I just usually end up moving some things to different days. But at least I'm prepared for the best!


  • Letter introduction: I love's website and so does Cole. He would spend over an hour on it if I didn't regulate it. I used it weekly during computer time with my first graders and it's really fun for building phonics and computer literacy. They have cute graphics and sounds that go with each letter, so I let Cole take over once I get to the site and he clicks and runs it all. He clicked on the letter R and went through the slides. I let him watch it (over and over) for 15 minutes.
 Letter shape and sound: I cut out an R out of sandpaper and talked about the shape it is and how we create it (start at the top, straight stick down, back to the top, make a big bump and then a kickstand). We did it in the air with our fingers a couple times, then I let him trace it on the sandpaper R.

  • Word wall: I think it's important that although he can't read, he still sees the focus letter in word form and he usually even memorizes a few cards by the end of the week. I've been trying out different "walls" in our home to post these words, seeing which place gets the most exposure. I've put them on the door to his room, a wall by the family room where he plays, this week they were on a wall in the hall. Next week I'm trying the dishwasher :) I always have him with me and we put them up together. I'll say the word and he'll repeat it, then he'll point to the focus letter in the word, and finally he sticks it to the wall. We also stuck up the sandpaper R for this week, because it's Rough. Some words don't go on the wall at first, there are usually a couple words of things we find in our house that could be labeled (red, rocking chair). I have him take these and put them on the object.


  • Play Day: We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood with about eight other pre-preschool kids Cole's age. The moms are all great, involved moms and we decided several months ago that these kids that aren't in school yet could use a weekly educational activity and play date. So we meet every Thursday am for an hour, we rotate who is hosting each week and they are in charge of doing some kind of movement activity, craft, and snack with the letter of the week. If you have a child this age and don't already do this, I highly recommend getting together a group and starting this! Not only are the activities age-specific and fun, the social interaction is invaluable.

  • Robot day: For our weekly activity, we pretended to be robots with homemade outfits (cut a head hole and two arm holes in a upside down paper grocery bag - works good for astronauts too) that went racing to the moon on a rocket (barstool). The pretending got a little out of control (Kate was a baby alien robot that liked to ride the rainbows), but it was sooo much fun. 
  • Red: also wore red and made red jello.

Weekly ongoing
  • Throughout the week, whenever possible: reinforce word wall by asking him to point to certain words, point out the focus letter in everyday print (on shirts, fridge, road signs, in books, etc), practice tracing it on arm, table, grass, with tub markers, steamy mirrors, etc.

This was a good week! Towards the end of the week, I noticed that he was mixing up the letter R with F when finding it in some words, next week we'll do a word search for Rs to reinforce recognition. It's important to assess informally throughout this whole process and try to add extra activities that can reteach whatever skill may be lacking. During G week, we needed a lot of extra practice with creating the actual letter G so I made a lot of tracers for him to go over with different markers to get more writing activities in. Most importantly at this age though, I've found that keeping it low stress and high interaction and engagement is key. I want him to be excited about learning and associate positive experiences and feelings with "school work". I can't wait for preschool in the fall!

Thanks Jackie for the AMAZING tips!

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Kate Pettit said...

You are one AWESOME mom Jackie! I love all those ideas:) Thanks for sharing. You are so inspiring!

Sarah said...

This was a wonderful post. Many good ideas and I made me very excited!

The Doutre Family said...

I am a first grade teacher and I'm pregnant with my first. I'm so glad I found this website. It's refreshing to find mothers that know and care about their children's education. I love all the ideas here.