Country Fun Lessons

~~ everything preschool

“My Maine” Books Completed #bookingusa


We have finished our books about Maine that came about from our involvement with Booking Across the USA Trip 2 (2014). You can catch prior posts about specific pages here and here.

We finished off our Earth to Home booklet page by adding photos of our homes with pictures of ourselves on the reverse side. The USA map, outline of Maine and our home photo all tuck behind the coffee filter earth. To see you just pull out the yarn. (We call this a pull-out book.)

DSC04784 DSC04785

We also settled on our yoga poses that represent things about Maine. Some of these poses are adapted to work for the children and connecting to Maine. Having a page depicting these poses means they can share with family.




The children took  items I have gathered from many beach walks and had out for them to observe and explore and made a type of I Spy page.

What the Sea Left Behind by Mimi Gregoire Carpenter was the inspiration for this page.

Once they were happy with how the items were spread out on the sheet they each got to use the iPad to take a photo to be added to their book.



Next came the desire for a light house. I thought this project might offer some good scissor practice, review of shapes and a little pattern practice.

We had checked out pictures of many of the light houses to be found here in Maine and noticed they all have a tower that we could show in a rectangle shape. The lights are located at the top, another rectangle to square shape and the last is a triangle roof. Many of the light houses appear to have stripes because of being constructed from stone. A pattern of stripes would show this. Take another rectangle and cut into strips, gluing down in a pattern on the tower base.

We used parts of the state tree and flower (White Pine and pinecone) for some creative texture painting. We used pieces of the tree bark, pine needle bunches on the branch and pinecones at different stages of development for our painting utensils.


To fill any empty pages the children could pick informational pages on Maine animals from a learning coloring book  on the wildlife of Maine.

Now all that was left was to glue everything into place in the piano hinge style books I had ready. (These books I pre-made to save time. This batch was a larger size constructed from posterboard to hold 9″x12″ papers.)

Here are the finished books:

ryleighHAzen Chloe

The more formal preschool lessons have now been wrapped up for 2013/14.

In the next month I’ll be reflecting on how what happened matched to the original curriculum ideas for 2013/14. That will support curriculum development for 2014/15.

Our Maine (Booking Across the USA) continues…..


We took part in Booking Across the USA again this year. The children showed a lot of interest, so the original idea was expanded into making personal books about Maine. We have been working on those books and had planned on pulling them together this week, however we were gifted with a container of tadpoles over the long weekend. You guessed it – interest has focused on tadpoles and frogs. Since I try to program around the interest of the children we are putting the books aside for a week to focus on our tadpoles.

Here is what we have so far:

Wordle of Maine words:

Maine wordle

Yoga Poses: (Loved this idea for developing yoga poses for their state from Kids Yoga Stories)

We have some of the same poses, but that’s to be expected where we are both New England states with shorelines, mountains and 4 seasons. We talked about yoga poses we have done and how they relate to Our Maine. We wanted to find six poses we could do as part of our book. Here they are:

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Mountain – We have lots of mountains in our state, but one special one is Mt. Katadian. Mountains offer lots of opportunities for work and play in Maine year-round.

Tree – Lumber is an important product in Maine. From Christmas trees to paper mills. Many kinds of trees stand tall and straight in our forests. Our state tree is the White Pine. Our state flower is the pine cone and it’s tassel.

Boat – With all our rivers, lakes and the ocean we see boats of all kinds and sizes.

Eagle – Eagles are not uncommon in many parts of our state. A local business has an eagle live cam set up along the Maine coast that we watch yearly.

Seal – May/June finds many seal pups in trouble off our coast and beaches. Many worldwide know the story about a special harbor seal and the harbor master of Rockport, Maine.

Snow Angels – You need to enjoy snow to enjoy Maine winters. A favorite activity for young children when there is a new snow fall is making snow angels.

We are having so much fun with this are finding even more poses to do. Our finished book page will have directions and benefits for all the poses we end up with.

Our Earth to Home booklet is almost done. Just have to add pictures of our home and ourselves.


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Christmas Chain


My one true preschooler isn’t into “real” lessons as yet, although I keep trying. However, he is totally into “doing projects”. So now I’m really working on “doing projects” that are more than just an addition to a lesson, or just a craft. I’m doing my best to provide “addibles” to our projects. Just like I do “addibles” to our meals with pureed vegetables. With a project the “addible” is something like: sorting out the materials needed, labeling every item, lots of counting (1-to-1 relationships), same and different, phonetic awareness, expanding language in discussing what we are doing and making, etc. The focus of the project isn’t now the open ended creative project, but everything academic I can added without it becoming a “lesson”.

For Christmas our family always made a paper chain for decoration. I seem to have done this through all my years of teaching also. This year I decided I needed to do more than strips stapled or glued into a chain. So….

I decided to make an interlocking chain. We talked about different shapes and settled on the oval. I drew up the pattern. SANY2289 SANY2290 Talked about how it looks like an O ( letter in my preschooler’s name), if you hold from the tab it looks like an ornament which starts with O and makes the “O” sounds……

We then talked about Christmas colors and C chose green and red. We counted out 6 sheets of each color for a total of 12. Folded sheets in half and half again. I cut out the links as C skills in cutting folded paper would have had us working on that too long. SANY2292 We talked about different green and red color items while I cut. Also talked about how it was like a mask. SANY2294 Once everything was cut out I had C sort into 2 piles – same by color. SANY2293 We counted each pile again to be sure 6 in each and total of 12. SANY2295

Then I had C chose his AB pattern – green/red. I had him lay out his complete pattern. SANY2296 Then it was time to put the chain together.

All you do is slide the new chain piece through the holes of the closed previous chain piece. Fold or close it up and continue on. SANY2298 SANY2299 SANY2300 SANY2301 Some good fine motor work here. As C added pieces we checked the pattern and counted the pieces of the growing chain. C had to stand up because the chain was getting almost as long or tall as he is. SANY2302

He was so excited about the finished project. He thought it was like a really big mask. SANY2304

Lots of concepts reviewed, practiced and even some new introduced.

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I started today’s lesson off with 2 plastic Easter eggs. Yes it’s not the right holiday, but the differences are so clearly apparent with a large orange egg and a small blue egg. We were able to talk about what C observed and group the observations into same and different. I then flipped over the strips I had made this morning one at a time for C to first find the items that were the same. Then he found the one that was different and told me why it was. By the last strip he was pointing to the thing that made the item different even before he showed me the ones that were the same. The strips worked really well.

Now it was on to the work with patterns. I had 27 items (3 items/9 of each) that we sorted into piles (same/different). Then I modeled an AB pattern. I had C helping to solve what would be placed next in the pattern about half way through the modeling. SANY2311 He then made an AB pattern that we talked through together. C immediately made another AB pattern after that with no help or prompting by me. He was laughing and chatting the whole time. A sure sign that he was feeling good about what he was doing. SANY2315

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Pick Up the Trash!


C is totally into the trash truck that comes weekly for trash and recyclables. He also really likes a computer game where you pick up items and place into the trash can. So to give us lots of fun practice as we learn our numbers, I thought I could adapt the trash can computer game.

We started with a large oatmeal container, gray paper, scissors and glue. I had C cut the construction paper into strips that he could glue around the oatmeal container. Lots of fine motor skill work with this project. By overlapping the strips it gives the look of a galvanized trash can. C was really pleased with what he made.


Next will come the trash for the can….
To finish the trash can game we needed to cut out and laminate groups of items. I got some of the school age children to help me with this. They decided on an item and then went through magazines, fliers and newspapers until they had cut of 5 of that item. They were then glued down on poster board. I cut our each item and laminated them. Once the laminated sheets were cut apart we had the game pieces. The children had fun helping and they got some language development, fine motor practice and practice in citizenship. Activities like this allow me to continue to reinforce lessons from home and school.

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To Play:

  • empty the items from the trash can
  • spread out face up
  • leader calls out a number and item
  • player finds that number of the item, counts out as collects, and counts again as places in the trash can
  • continue until items are all gone or you have played enough and interest is waning

You can adapt this game to meet many needs, interests and skill levels. It’s a nice change from sorting, picking up and piling or putting into a box. The trash can tied into an area of interest which enhances the interest in the game and thus provides more fun while practicing/developing our counting skills.

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Preschool Weeks Oct. 25 and Nov. 1


These two weeks were about the letter “N” and starting to really work on our numbers. Our number work now is about  recognition and one-to-one correspondence. We continue to practice writing older letter and “N” using newspapers and dry erase boards. I model and C copies. Every time a letter is written it is named and we talk about the sound it makes and things that start with it.

To tie Halloween and numbers we made a simple counting book. Start by cutting 5 strips of poster board to whatever size you want. I did about 3″x8″. Fold one end back about 3″ to 4″. SANY2080 Make a stamp pad from folded paper towels and add a little tempera paint in the color needed for the thumbprint/finger print you are going to make. SANY2081 SANY2082 SANY2083 After the prints dry you can use markers to add the details. After C added the details I wrote the number symbols and the name of each item. I let C choose what he wanted to for his pages. He decided on bats, pumpkins, ghosts, hollow tree, and spiders SANY2098 Now it was time to combine the separate sheets into the book. SANY2099 I took a small length of cardbook, folded it around the gathered pages, and stapled in place. SANY2101 I think of this as a flip style book. SANY2102 It is very adaptable and the children are involved the whole time.


We also did a lot of sorting play with foam Halloween shapes. One day I extended the sorting lesson into our first lesson on patterns.

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I modeled and we discussed each step as I did. I had C guess what would come next and I placed, we checked and if correct left it, if not we discussed, guessed again, and checked. After 4 modeling sessions I let C do his own pattern. He did great, was having fun, so we worked on more patterns with the form shapes. While setting up the patterns he was also discussing the similarities and differences in the foam shapes. I love seeing the carry over of past lessons. It’s one way I know the learning is occurring and gives me direction for future lessons.


I love making games that can be used in the lesson and then taken home for more family involvement and practice. One type of game I use over and over is the paper plate/clothespin game or wheel. This time I did a counting wheel: 1-5. SANY2158

Games of this type are simple, low cost, easy to adapt in what is taught and how it’s played. Over the years I have also found that children will keep playing this type of game, which is important, as repetition is needed for learning a concept. The added benefit is the fine motor skill that is also developed with the repeated clipping of the clothespins.


C is getting into doing projects, but not into a normal lesson. He wants to do a project to take home. I’m trying to find projects that will get the lesson material across to him, until he is ready for the more skill oriented lessons.

Preschool Oct.18 – 22


This week the letter was “H”. Again we used our dry erase boards for practicing past letters and our new letter “H”.

I tied H in with Halloween which C is interested in now. We made a stuffed Jack-o-Lantern which allowed us to work on motor skills, following direction, colors and facial body parts. We also did another craft – Cereal Box Mummy. We are continuing to work on motor skills, following directions and this craft allowed us to work on problem solving also. Both crafts were simple, large, quick and fun.

C is not interested in school games on a daily basis, so I am trying to just pull in activities and learning opportunities a couple of times a week for very short periods of time. As interest changes, so will the depth of the activities. It’s nice to know that just through all the play that occurs here on a daily basis C is getting exposed to what he needs to begin or continue developing his educational foundation. The “school” activities will come in time.

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Preschool Week 4 “F” & “E”


We started off this week with a review of the past introduced letters – I, T, L. Using our small homemade dry erase boards I modeled the formation as I named the letter. C then wrote his letter, naming his. We erased and kept practicing. Then we tried our 2 new letters. C noticed right away the difference between these 2 letters.

Using 2 packages of special 30D stickers we made matching flashcards. We were then able to use these 2 sets for different flashcard activities.

farm flashcards

We grouped in every way we could think of – color, job, purpose.

We ordered by size.

We copied or matched – after a few times of C following my set-up we switched and I copied his.

We described each object/sticker.

In the future we can play memory.

Our art lesson was a collage in the style of Eric Carle. For complete directions click here.

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“F”, “E” and “H” Activities


Last week’s preschool activities were about F and E and our last project was a collage done in the style of Eric Carle with textured papers we had made previously.SANY1995 SANY2003. One of my school aged children decided to also make one. SANY2005

This week I introduced the letter “H”. I may not go all out decorating the space for Halloween, but I enjoy doing activities around this holiday. Our first project was to make a stuffed jack-o-lantern. This is always a fun activity with lots of learning taking place (fine motor skills, color recognition, body awareness..)

SANY2011 SANY2013 SANY2019 SANY2036

He wanted a scary, mad face, with a nose, eyes and ears just like his. I cut the shapes as I was directed and he glued. Think we got the scary, mad just right.

We spent time practicing all our old and then our new letter on our white boards.  SANY2023 Making these dry erase boards has turned out to be one of the best things about the new space. They are used each day in so many ways.

Last night I was going through materials on hand and old ideas for another Halloween project to finish off this week. Found a few, but nothing was really calling to me. Then early this morning while catching up on my Reader (all the blogs I follow) I saw the cutest mummy idea. It was one of the Crafty Crow post ideas and was from Then She Made…. which was a new blog to me. Off I went to check it out. It was as simple as it looked and would work just great with the skills and interest of my preschooler. SANY2039 SANY2046 SANY2049 Think this mummy should look right at home with that scary jack-o-lantern.

If you want more detailed information on these projects, preschool lessons, and books we’re reading please go to the appropriate Country Fun Expanded blogs found in the sidebar.

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Preschool Week 3


This week we continued working around trees and leaves. We took full advantage of the beginning of the Fall season for here in Maine. Through our discussions and observations we learned that leaves go through big changes in the Fall. They lose their green color and the yellows, reds and oranges that were hiding we can finally see. We also learned that after they fall from the tree and die they turn brown. We decided that the colors of Fall are green, yellow, red, orange and brown. With all the art projects we did we also have a good understanding that yellow and red make orange.

We also observed that there is more wind during the days right now, especially the afternoons. It is also getting colder. We need shirts with long sleeves, sweatshirts, or fleece jackets when we go outside. Also no more bare feet outdoors.

Apple orchards are plentiful in this area and it’s a perfect time of year to do projects based on apples. My children stay with me for multiple years, so I really try to do different activities each year. However, one activity we always do is “Apple Magic”.  Anytime you say magic to a child you get their interest and apples are so common they really question this. But there is truly magic in every apple. All you need to do is cut it in half through the fat part, not stem to blossom, to find the magic. When you cut an apple this way you will find a star where the core is. SANY1888 An apple has 5 petals, and on the blossom end you can see those five petal points and a very tiny star. The star is where the seeds are held. If you use a corer utensil to slice your apples, you can cut that in half and find the star.

We made homemade slow cooker apple sauce. All you do is core and cut up the apples into wedges, place into the slow cooker and about 1 cup water and cook on high at least 2 hours. If fruit is soft, turn off and let cool. If not, cook another hour. We puree after cool. This way we get the health benefits of the skins. Can run through a food mill instead, if you wish. I find this sauce does get brownish, but that’s ok with us. Tastes really good and bakes up fine.

We made Apple Puff Pancakes following a recipe from King Arthur’s Flour for lunch.

We practiced writing our letters: T, L and then did a little leaf rubbing.  We first made a large T on 8×11″ blue construction paper, with brown paint. Then we made smaller L’s around the T. We thought of these as the tree truck and it’s leaves. We did a rubbing over each L painted once everything was dry. To see click here.

For another tree craft we did acorn painting. It is on the idea of marble painting, where you roll a marble around on a piece of paper with paint blobs on it. To change it up and get in some fine motor skills development I need for a young preschooler, I decided to put the acorn into the paint first before rolling around.

I took an old muffin tin and place a little paint in 4 fall colors in 4 tins. I spaced the paints apart within the muffin tins. I put an acorn in each color. Now an 8×11″ piece of construction paper was placed on a newspaper covered baking pan with low sides. The children used tongs to grip the acorn and drop onto the yellow paper. Then they shook the baking pan around moving the acorn around. When done with an acorn they used the tongs again to get it back to the paint tin. They did this until they liked that painting they had. Then I removed the acorns and provided just acorn caps to use for printing on the yellow paper. Here the children were encouraged to explore how manipulating the cap would give them different print designs. They were having so much fun with the caps I needed to remind they to stop when they got the look they wanted. To view  click here.

An art lesson around the style of Georges Seurat was done by tracing one large maple leaf. We then used q-tips to paint the dots needed for his Pointillism style. For full directions for this lesson click here.

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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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