Country Fun Lessons

~~ everything preschool

Bear Sees Colors


17220234We are really working on our colors right now. That means many stories where color is a main theme. Many of these stories will be new to the children here, but today I enjoyed sharing a new one to me: Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman. Now Bear is a familiar character to us, so it was fun to explore a new book with him.

The children noticed that not all our rainbow colors were in the story which allowed us to talk about colors we find a lot in nature vs colors we find in our clothes and toys. Think “purple, orange and brown”.

While reading the story we stopped to see if we could “see” the same color as bear in our space. Then it was time for a project where we practiced our colors, had some sensory experience and movement.

We gathered small color scraps from the scrap box, taped down a large piece of contact paper and had our paint sample color chips in hand. The idea was to randomly flip over the color chips, find an example in the scrap pile, run across the room and stick it down to the contact paper as quickly as we could.


After a few rounds we placed a paper frame over a section of the contact paper. One of the children was trying to find a section where all the colors were. They could not. We solved that by replacing scrap pieces into where the frame was until we got all the colors we wanted in place. The frames were cut free of the contact paper sheet and will find their way home.

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Thinking Winter Interests……


We have snow on the ground and it’s finally cold. Christmas is past so it’s time to be thinking about winter interests so I can support where my young group is to further their learning while expanding their experiences. Being surrounded by wildlife I love exploring the idea of hibernation while learning more about those animals and plants that surround us. Another area is taking advantage of our snowy weather for some fun weather experiments especially around snowflakes. Both of these areas are above the skill set, needs and even interests of the current group.

They are all about independent skills, colors, shapes and active play. I’m going with snowballs to pull expanded lessons and experiences together.

Today it was about:

  • circles, triangles and squares
  • small, medium and large
  • fine motor
  • understanding of both how and why we use glue
  • body parts, purpose and location
  • lastly dressing appropriately for the weather


I had precut 3 sets of shapes in white paper. Each set consisted of a large, medium and small of the shape. First we labeled each shape. Then I tossed them out on the floor and had the children sort them together into piles by shape. Next we talked about how the same shapes were different – size. We picked out largest, then smallest for each shape. Then we discussed that the remaining shapes fit between the largest and smallest. They come in the middle and we labeled as medium size.


th Now to read Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. The images and language are perfect for generating discussion with the children here. Lots of “W” questions possible. Answers to “what/where/why” questions allow for increasing vocabulary with me adding in descriptive words to their answers as the discussion continues. With this story we talked about what it means to build a snowman. What is needed. How you did it.  What kind of weather was needed.


searchWe were able to talk about the snowmen in the story:

  • Counting the snowballs it took to make each.
  • Talking about the shape.
  • Why 3 and circle worked for building snowmen.
  • What was used to embellish the snowmen.
  • What we saw the animals taking from each snowman How that compared to what we see animals taking from our outside feeders in the winter.

IMG_0248Then it was time to make our own snowmen. I allowed the children to chose from the precut shapes. They all chose circles. They wanted snow on their pictures so using corks we stamped out some snow before gluing down the circles to build our snowmen.

Once the circles were down it was about adding items on, so we truly had snowmen, not just a pile of white circles. Colors and shapes were discussed as embellishments added. Even with the scrap material box available it is always interesting to see how the choices of peers influence them.



These snowmen were made by 2 to 4 year olds. Each as unique as the child who built it.

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Anything Autumn (from the Past)


Another gathering of posts. This time all about activities on Autumn topics….

Apple Number Book:
Material; 2 sheets 8×11 red construction paper, scraps brown and green
10 sheets white paper – I use copy paper
cork or round sponge shape for stamping (in a pinch use finger print)
red stamp pad or paint

Cut two large apple shapes from red paper. I set up the copy paper to print from my computer with the number symbols and written name for 1-10. You could free hand or if old enough, children could write themselves. staple book parts together. Children stamp a red mark to represent the number on each page.

Title book – Child’s name then Apple Counting Book. Add stem and leaves as desired.

Watercolor Apples:
Watercolors are a fun medium to use with children, but I find I usually go to the tempera paint first. With watercolors children get to experience colors blending and color control first hand. For this project watercolor paper does work best.

To start, I had the group observe and describe an apple. Our goal was to come up with works for as many letters of the alphabet as we could. I then took these words as listed them in an apple shape.










I printed this out and then cut an apple shape out of the watercolor paper which covered the words. The children painted the apple shape with their watercolor sets. After drying flat, so colors settled and didn’t run, I stapled the shape to the word sheet. When the apple is lifted the words are revealed.


Printing with Apples:

We cut apples to show the core and the ‘magic’ star. Using a folded paper towel with red tempera paint on it as the stamp pad the apple sections were inked/stamped, then pressed on circle shapes pre-cut from posterboard.

Pointillist Leaf:
When I came across the work of Georges Seurat I knew it was very adaptable to projects with young children and that school-age would also enjoy.

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In this project we first went on a leaf search around the yard. Our goal was to find colorful leaves that were really fresh.
The children had fun finding leaves that had red, orange and yellow through out them. Our yard is loaded with sugar maple trees and they are great for these colors. The children also decided to get the biggest leaves they could.

I offered to trace around their leaf of choice, and they all took me up on it.That was fine with me, as this lesson wasn’t about tracing skills. It was about exploring the unique painting style of a Master.

We had paint tubs with red, orange, green and yellow as those were the colors of our leaves. I placed 4 q-tips in each cup. This would keep them color clean and still allow different children to be using the same color.

I demonstrated how to hold the q-tip (like a pencil) and make up and down dots. I showed what a stroke looked like and how it affected the picture. I showed how to place dots together for color changes. We found that a strong color like red needed to be used before orange, or the orange got lost. We decided not to worry if we went a little outside the tracing lines because we would still have the leaf shape.

The children got right into this project. When done they even signed their names in Pointillist style. A lot of positive feelings from this project.

For true Pointillism style you should not let the colors mix, which would mean letting your work dry after each color was used. That would have made for a very time consuming project and interest probably would have been lost. So our color mixed a little, but the children got to explore and develop an understanding of using dots, not strokes for developing a painting.

The choice of using a fall leaf allowed for a lot of color in a small, recognizable item. This worked great for my preschool level. My school-age might enjoy trying to do a landscape style painting in the future.

Fall Tree:
Material needed: cardboard, 3 sheets tree colored construction paper, stapler, white glue, tissue paper squares in Fall leaf colors, tape, pencils or paint brushes

We started by painting a cardboard rectangle (4×5or6″) green for our grass base. These dried while working on the tree.

I admit I needed to work on how to shape this tree a few times before I attempted it with my students. I used 3 sheets of recycled copy paper to get comfortable with the pulling of the branches. I also tried cutting the branches after pulling, after rolling and before rolling. I didn’t find a great difference for myself, but decided to have the students cut the branches before rolling. I did this because we are really working on cutting skills with a few of my younger children.

I had each child fold their paper the long (hotdog) way and cut from one edge to the fold line. I tried to get them to cut fairly close together. Next time I might have them draw lines for better spacing, but this time free cutting worked even though we have some very thick branches.

We then stacked the 3 papers, rolled up and pulled the inner one up from the cut end slightly. Once the child got the look they wanted I stapled the trunk once about 2-3″ up from the end. I found you can also pull from the bottom, but with the outer sheet. Pulling the inner paper spaces the branches better I think.

Once stapled, each child set about bending or folding down their branches for their tree shape. Since we were making a Fall tree we then glued tissue paper in Fall leaf colors around our branches.

We slit and cut out a circle shape in the middle of the painted cardboard to make our tree base. We cut the trunk all around about 1″ up. After placing into the circle we folded back the cut ends and taped in place. This base allows the tree to stand freely.

Acorn Painting:
How lucky we are to have the variety of natural space around us that we can explore and draw from. As part of our study of trees we noticed all the acorns under the 2 oak trees in the yard. Children seem to love gathering acorns, but then what do you do with them.

Unlike the chipmunk in Chipmunk Song by Joanne Ryder we have no need to gather and store them for our winter food supply.

I had recently read some posts about painting with balls, which reminded me of the marble painting we usually do in February and I thought why not try with the acorns. Now how to incorporate even more skill development, use tongs for handling the acorns. I had the foundation of our activity.

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Crayon Resist Harvest Moon:
I took the harvest moon as a chance to work on introducing some art medium to my young preschooler. We traced a large circular tub cover to get our full moon shape. SANY1760 Then it was time to color it in using a good waxy yellow crayon. It’s hard work to color in a shape enough to work for crayon resist.  Next it was time to explore watercolors and large brush strokes. Our first attempt didn’t work really well. The watercolor covered the moon too well. SANY1764 So we tried again. This time we didn’t paint over the whole moon. Just the edges needed to resist the watercolor paint. We got our Harvest Moon.SANY1762

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Halloween Past


As I’m cleaning up my sites I figured it might make it easier if I pulled some old posts together for easy browsing. Here are a group of activities done for Halloween……….

Halloween Folded Cat:


For this project you will need 1 piece each of black and orange construction paper, scissors, glue and scrap paper

  • For my youngest children I have all the parts done, so we put together like a puzzle discussing the building of the cat and pumpkin as we go – step by step.DSC04343
  • For those that can cut, they cut out the large U-shape for the body, the cat head and tail, that I have pre-drawn.
  • For those that can cut and have good drawing skills, I help them do their own drawing and then they cut every part out.

Fold the black paper in half carefully to get the cat’s body started. Place the folded edge closest to you. Mark about 2″ in from each side to mark legs. Mark 2-3″ from fold to mark body. Now connect these marks in a U shape. This will give you the standing body.

DO NOT cut the folded edge. DSC04344

Take 1 of the U pieces cut inside about 1″ to form the tail. Trim and round off 1 end (should look like a J). DSC04347

With other U piece cut to form head with ears.DSC04345

From scrap cut 3 long, thin strips for whiskers, eyes, and nose.DSC04354 DSC04355DSC04356DSC04357

Glue all parts together as desired.



From orange piece cut pumpkin shape to size like with cat. Use scrap to complete as Jack-O-Lantern.DSC04360

If you are concerned about how the cat will stand over time cut two 1/2″ strips of black about 4″ long. DSC04361

Place them together and fold each end about 1/2″. These will be glued inside each of the legs, so when standing can only go so wide.

*This same process can be used for any animal you wish to make.
Scarecrow Body Tracing:
Every year I try to find one project where we trace our bodies. This year I had a package arrive with a pile of kraft paper as the stuffing material just before Halloween ~ Fall time and that meant scarecrows ~ Body tracing gives us a great opportunity to learn about the body parts and how they are interconnected, fine motor skills, self awareness….

Here’s an example:

scarecrow DSC04512

Leaf Face Pumpkin:
Tried to be creative in combining Halloween activities with academics this past month.

dsc02126.JPG dsc02127.JPG

Here we took some leaves from our annual leaf collection, taped them down to make a face and finger painted over them. After everything dried we cut out a large pumpkin shape, added a stem, removed the leaves and cut out the clear space they left. We backed the cut out spaces with yellow construction paper. We now had super large jack-o-lantern for hanging at home.

This was a great way to take the activity of collecting leaves, comparing them, sorting, etc. and expanding it into an art activity. Both the finger painting and cutting are strong motor skill development activities. Developing our jack-o-lantern also develops body awareness.
Haunted House:
It’s almost Halloween and one of my young artists asked if there was a free time project she could do? I suggested making a haunted house picture. We discussed some ideas and then headed for the art supply closet. This simple project used only construction paper, glue, scissors and imagination. This young artist got so involved, she filled up the rest of her day.

SANY2138 SANY2140 Willow always tries to help when the scrap box comes out.

SANY2139 The details really make this project. Can you find the ghosts, witch, witch’s broom, and gravestone? SANY2141

Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern:
This is a simple project which always is a success. SANY2036

Materials: large paper bag, newspaper, paint, construction paper scraps, 8″ string

I start this project by turning the paper bag inside out so there is no writing visible. If you have a plain bag this isn’t necessary, but I recycle bags from a weekly grocery shopping. SANY2011 Next you crumple individual sheets of newspaper up and place in the paper bag.  This is a lot of tactile and both gross and fine motor skills development from my thinking, but just fun from the kids point. Crumple until the bag is really full. SANY2012 Now push the newspaper down some and twist the top of the bag closed. SANY2013 Tie off the top with string right at the base. Then it’s time to mix the paint. SANY2014 I like mixing up the colors we use from the 3 primary colors.  I always use the lighter color as the base and little by little add the darker. It’s easier to get darker, but sometimes you cannot add enough to get lighter. Wanting a pumpkin orange so started with yellow, added red SANY2015 and got our dark orange. SANY2016 Time to start painting. Smocks good idea here.SANY2018

SANY2019 Let dry over night and add the facial features you want to make your jack-o-lantern come to life. By adding some yellow you get the effect of a candle lite pumpkin.

Stuffed bags like this can also be made for Thanksgiving turkey, smaller ones for apples and the head of a scarecrow. for just a few more ideas.

Cereal Box Mummy:
The original idea and directions for this fun, simple project come from Then She Made….

I adapted it a little.

Materials: empty box, white fabric (old sheet), glue gun, googly eyes

Start by closing up your box well. SANY2037 Then tear up the fabric into strips. The tearing process is fun and very easy for young children to do. You just need a small cut to start, grab hold on both sides of the cut and tear.SANY2038 Put a spot of glue on the bottom edge of the box and start wrapping a fabric strip around the box, covering it well. SANY2040 Glue it when it ends and start another strip. Continue until box is covered. At this point I realized the top and bottom were not covered. We could have continued wrapping over, around, but that could have become a problem with attention and frustration. What to do? Tried gluing pieces onto top and bottom, but didn’t like the look. SANY2041Time to start over. Off came the strips and we decided to wrap strips to cover the top and bottom then do another layer so sides got wrapped. SANY2046 This went smooth and we ended up with a totally wrapped mummy and happy child. Last but not least the googly eyes got added. We decided they looked best if covered a little by the fabric. SANY2049 Think this project will look nice with the stuffed jack-o-lantern.

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Making “Orange” and Jack-O-lanterns


We’re learning about the primary colors and how you can combine them to get all the colors we want. 22364495186_bb3031ce20_o

Fall and Halloween are a great time of year to work on making “Orange” from red and yellow. It’s fun to combine the 2 colors adding more of one or the other to get the color you are looking for. 22401253191_a7332a3aa6_o  21767735074_575b2a10af_o 22206359190_8e155067cd_o

We were going for a color similar to the pumpkins from the garden.

Once we had our color it was time to have some fun painting. In came my tool basket. 22202465430_0e2df9e13a_o The children got to explore what these different tools provided for texture when painted with.  They were allowed to try whatever tools they found interesting.22206651048_65991f6113_o 22207552629_e136b67dae_o You can see they found just about all of them worth exploring. 22405202631_c4e58b963f_o

The group painted big sheet will be used for make your own Jack-o-lanterns.22219953430_d4b6e97ee7_o

We talked about the shapes found on our faces and locations of features. We hunted up circle shapes to trace (I traced and cut-out for this group) and then got out the black scrap shapes to build our creations.boo_22421290510_o

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Learning Without a Lesson


I’ve always believed that learning occurs from whatever activity you are involved in. I believe that for young children especially the best learning occurs naturally whenever they are engaged. I also believe it’s about the process, not the product.

I have always made materials to use for lessons and activities here. I have also often let the children help in the making of the material. Why I do this is for that “learning without a lesson”. There are important lessons that can not be taught in what we think of as school lessons or play.

While observing a visiting specialist’s lesson an idea was triggered and I went on the hunt for CVC cards which I would be able to use to work with both beginning and ending sounds and word families. I could make myself, but I figured I could probably find some online and save time. I did just that. On TPT, I found CVC Phoneme Segment cards by Lavinia Pop – 76 cards to download for $3.

I decided to print the cards off this morning the children were playing. I wondered if it would draw any attention. If so I intended to get the children talking about the pictures that were printing off. What image? What was beginning sound? What letter makes that sound? Could they figure out the last letter by it’s sound?

The 1 Pre-K here today came right over and our conversation started. Other children came and went. I also decided to write in the letters for each image, as I thought would provide more ability to adapted the material for later usage. “R” handed me the printed sheets and named each letter as I silently wrote them out. Not only did this provide reinforcement of letter recognition, but she saw we engaged in writing out words composed of letters – reinforcing that concept.

Once done it was time to cut apart and laminate. “R” got out the laminator and sheets, but waited for me to plug in. Allowing to help in this way supports independence, self-esteem, and also safety practices. Next “R” asked where else she could help.

I showed her how to place the cut cards, telling her only 4 to a sheet and she proceeded to problem solve that – 2 rows of 2. DSC06314DSC06312 She also put the sheets through the laminator.

M4H06315 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

I had to reshow her how to push in until the rollers grab. We talked about why it worked that way and what a laminator does. Learning here includes following directions, expanding language, fine motor, math, science, value of tools, following through with project start to finish. Working with an adult.

Again others were in and out, but “R” was completely engaged.

DSC06316Last part was sorting out some bulk letter tiles I have. We worked together to sort into uppercase/lowercase. To start, we will be using the lowercase to play with the cards as I wrote the CVC words out in lowercase.

With the help of one willing learner our game material is completed and waiting for use for other lessons to be learned.

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Future Engineers?



We have tons of building materials always available here, and recently my 2 – 4 yr olds have been taking a pile of recycled cups and stacking “mountains”. This activity shows a skill growth over just stacking legos or our large cardboard blocks.

I’ve been observing this team work and process and today finally was able to get the activity on video. (There are 3 separate videos to cover the activity to provide easier viewing.)

– Watch how they know cups might need to be moved to get the correct distance to allow for the stacking.

– Watch how they are cooperating as they stack on opposite ends.

– Listen to the conversation during the building for language and vocal intonations.

We also had some inappropriate interaction that was handled through removing of self and off camera reflection on better way to handle response. I also redirected a younger child to find other play. This younger child is not at a developmental level with their play to be engaged in the building with these materials. Although wanting to be part of the activity it ended up interfering and I felt it was important to support the effort of the 2 builders.

M4H06304 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

M4H06305 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

I supported the problem solving in this child-directed activity by explaining and modeling a solution. You will also see the children problem solving solutions as they ran out of stacking materials.

M4H06306 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

So much learning demonstrated through this play as demonstrated through the Maine Early Learning Guidelines:

Approaches to Learning Domain

A) Initiative and Curiosity

  • Expresses an eagerness to participate in and learn about a widening range of topics, ideas, and tasks
  • Finds more than one solution to a question, task, or problem
  • Recognizes and solves problems through active exploration, including trial and error, interactions and discussions with peers and adults

B) Persistence and Reflection

  • Persists in and completes an increasing variety of tasks, activities, projects, and experiences
  • Sets goals, develops plans, and completes tasks
  • Demonstrates a capacity to maintain concentration for a meaningful period of time on a task, set of directions, or interactions, despite distractions and interruptions
  • Applies prior experiences, senses, and knowledge to new learning situations
  • Considers and implements different approaches to carrying out a task
  • Alters approach to tasks when initial approach does not work
  • Recognizes and solves problems independently through trial and error and by interacting with peers and adults
  • Seeks help appropriately from another child or an adult when encountering a problem

Mathematics Domain ~

Mathematical Decision-Making Domain

  • Uses planning to acquire a desired outcome (e.g., selecting appropriate types and quantities of materials)


  • Begins to recognize, copy, extend, and create simple patterns

Personal and Social Development Domain ~

A) Self Control

  • Seeks adult help when needed for emotional support
  • Recognizes own and others’ emotions
  • Describes own and others’ emotions

B) Self Concept

  • Explores and experiments with new interests
  • Develops a growing understanding of how own actions affect others
  • Accepts the consequences of own actions
  • Expresses pride in accomplishments

C) Social Competence

  • Interacts appropriately with familiar adult(s)
  • Interacts with one or more children
  • Interacts respectfully and cooperatively with adults and peers
  • Participates as a member of a group through sustaining interactions with peers
  • Listens with interest and understanding to directions
  • Listens with interest and understanding during conversations
  • Uses compromise and discussion in play, and resolution of conflicts with peers

Science Domain ~

B) Scientific Process

  • Explores and experiments with different materials, objects and situations
  • Identifies problems and proposes ways to solve them
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Hug Monster


Wrapping up a week of heart related activities available to play with, I pulled out my dollar store gadget box, paint and pink papers. After each child that wanted to explore made a choice of paper I took my scissors to them. For fun I tried to cut around the perimeter before the children counted to 10 twice. Almost made it. Figured a fun way to practice counting and pushed me to cut quickly and slightly messy.

Paint onto our lids and time to explore the textures the different gadgets made.DSC06246  DSC06247


Once dried I asked if anyone wanted to make a “Hug Monster?” Round of “Yes!!!” and “What’s a Hug Monster?” My answer – “Can you show me how you would hug a friend?”  “What does Cookie Monster or Grover look like?” Took off from there labeling body parts, fur, big eyes…..

I cut out desired eyes, mouth, nose parts from our scrap paper box. (Each folder in the box holds a different color of paper to make it easier at selection time.)

DSC06254  DSC06255

I showed how to take long strips and accordion fold arms.

Then a heart was chosen from the hearts left over from other activities this past week.

Glue everything where desired and you get:

DSC06260 DSC06261 DSC06262

What would you need for your “Hug Monster”.

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Love Those Little Unifix Cubes


Unifix cubes are a material I find children of all ages love to play with. I do keep them up and away from daily play, because of infants in care, but with direct supervision even infants can have fun with unifix cubes.

I love to teach with them, so they often find their way into the space. Check out the learning fun we had  today when the cube box came into the space.

Understanding patterns is a foundation concept for mathematics. Unifix cubes allow us to build great pattern towers in a small space, working individually or in group.

DSC06182  DSC06183

Then you can branch off to just building the biggest tower you can. That means you have to solve a couple of problems: how to keep a tower from breaking apart and how to get up high enough to place the cubes. DSC06184 “R” solved by bringing over a chair and asking for me to hold the tower.

Lets sort and then build our own patterns. DSC06186 and build……DSC06190 and build DSC06193 until taller than myself. Another opportunity to problem solve: how to measure against myself? DSC06196 “M” solved this by laying his tower on the floor and laying down next to it. Once he could see blocks past his head he knew the tower was taller than he was. Used the wall of the fort to be sure measured from the same starting point.

They make a wonderful sensory tub for little hands. The interaction between ages is great for a little one who wants to do what the rest are doing.

DSC06189 DSC06188

What about counting to 100 by 10’s……..DSC06187 That means lots of counting with some addition and subtraction.


Picking up and stacking or making a finger pattern is great for fine motor.

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Pumpkins! Have We Got Pumpkins!


This year the pumpkin patch went just a bit crazy. We’ve had fun watching them grow over the summer. In checking over the weekend I found that about half the pumpkins had unexpected rotten spots. Those got left for the wildlife and the rest I harvested. They look nice lined up on the side porch where hopefully they will cure and be ready for passing out in Oct.

However, one had a couple of worms in the stem, so I decided it would be fun to explore it today before it rotted. What’s a little more heat in the kitchen on this steamy morning.

We’ll end up with roasted chunks for eating, puree for later use in soups and baked goods, and the best……roasted, slightly salted seeds for snacking!

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Top that off with all the spontaneous learning:

  • pumpkin life cycle
  • size comparison
  • sensory exploration
  • language development – huge, smooth, bumpy, sticky, wet……
  • counting
  • “P” and sound – other “P” words
  • fine motor
  • plant needs and parts
  • team work/cooperation
  • developing attention span
  • problem solving
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My Top Ten Teaching Techniques

1. Keep it simple and flexible ~ ~ 2. Truthful positives and praise ~ ~ 3. Review and reinforce ~ ~ 4. Transitions flow ~ ~ 5. Let them do it / Get them involved ~ ~ 6. Timely surprises ~ ~ 7. Variety- styles, materials, methods, expectations ~ ~ 8. Be Yourself ~ ~ 9. Value individuality ~ ~ 10. Validate end product

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