Tag: 1st grade

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Are you looking for a fun Valentine’s Day activity for your kids that doesn’t require glue or glitter? I learned a long time ago that I am not a crafty mom, but I am more than willing to set up open-ended play ideas for my kids! Sensory play has been a wonderful way for our girls to explore new tactile materials over the years. This simple Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin combines smooth textures and lots of opportunities for fine motor play and math discovery.

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

As I mentioned in this post about sensory bin storage, we keep a big basket down in our basement with all of our sensory bin materials: dried corn, peas, and beans, uncooked popcorn, and various shades of rice and noodles. (You can click here for instant access to our favorite tutorials about dyeing rice and noodles.) 

I’m usually not a big fan of using rice because cleanup can be a giant pain. However, the varied colors in this Valentine’s Day sensory bin make it worth it! For this sensory filler, I left 1/3 of the rice white, and split the rest into two colors: pink and red. The best part of using colored rice is adding fun accessories like funnels and jars. The sound of rice filling up a glass jar is a wonderful sensory experience for all ages!

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

You can extend the play of this Valentine’s Day sensory bin by changing out the accessories every week or so. We love using heart gems from dollar stores and ice cube trays to practice one-to-one correspondence (counting). We also have gathered these items:

  • red cups (these are our favorite)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutters (we have had these for years)
  • and a stainless steel bowl, funnel, and jar (glass or plastic, whatever your kids can handle)

You can also add magnetic letters or small heart-shaped foam stickers with letters written on them (see video below) for a literacy activity.

If you try this Valentine’s Day sensory bin, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Get four more Valentine’s Day activity ideas to help your child build attention span and independent play skills.

Just add your information below to get instant access to our FREE Valentine’s Day Invitations to Play download!

Best Books for New Readers

Best Books for New Readers

Not too long ago, a friend reached out to me for some new book recommendations. Her oldest daughter is getting ready for Kindergarten, and she wants to be sure that their family library has a variety of books for new readers. As parents, we often hear a lot about books for babies and great books for reading aloud, but finding “just right” readers for our five and six year olds that aren’t boring or dry can be tricky.

Note: I strongly believe we should continue reading to our children long after they become readers themselves. There are lots of beautiful picture books for older children, so don’t be too quick to rush into chapter books exclusively!

Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

Children who are learning to read have lots of internal motivation…at first. As parents, our goal is to make sure that our children have access to humorous, high-interest books. You know, books that our children actually want to read. Keep in mind that some children will LOVE stories, while others will be drawn to non-fiction or how-to books. (One of my students, a reluctant reader, fell in love with joke books during third grade. He read every humor book the library had on the shelf before moving on to higher-quality literature in his fourth grade year.)

As the mom of a new reader myself, I try to keep a healthy balance between “easy reader” books and higher quality literature for my 1st grader. Honestly, I see it as being similar to checking out a Nicholas Sparks book and a classic by one of the Bronte sisters for myself. Sometimes, it’s nice to kick back with an easy “beach read.” Good readers read a lot, so new readers need lots of books to choose from.

Organizing Books for New Readers

Our home library used to be organized by author’s last name, similar to the public library. Once my youngest became an independent reader, I reorganized the shelves by reading level. It was a lot of work at first, but I’ve seen her confidence grow. It’s nice that she can quickly find a book that she wants to read from a tub of books she knows she can read. Scholastic has a Book Wizard tool that makes leveling most books a cinch!

Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

Best Books for New Readers

This is not an exhaustive list, and your children might find other books they prefer! Hopefully it will give you a good starting place when you go into the library or book store. If you would like a printable copy of the list (with even more book ideas!), just fill out the form below. It will arrive in your inbox immediately.

(Just a reminder that Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here.)

Maisy books by Lucy Cousins

We read a LOT of Maisy when our girls were younger. There are lots of titles available, and the text is usually simple and silly.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (and sequels) by Doreen Cronin

 

I believe strongly in the power of humor to keep new readers motivated. If your child doesn’t know the Click Clack series, add these to your library list!

Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola is incredible. I adore all of his books (and there are LOTS), but this sweet autobiographical series is a must-have for new readers. Tomie’s childhood is laugh-out-loud funny and sweet.

mouse books by Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum and Owen are our two favorites, but Lilly’s adventures are fun, too! Kevin Henkes knows how to write for children, so you can’t really go wrong with any of his books.

Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin

When Pete the Cat first arrived in bookstores and libraries, children and adults alike were smitten. For some reason, James Dean (the creator of Pete) and Eric Litwin (the original author) have split ways and the newer books aren’t as memorable or fun to read. I Love My White Shoes and Four Groovy Buttons are great!

Everything written by Leo Lionni

Lionni is a gifted artist, and most of his books feature animals, a sure kid-pleaser. Little Blue and LIttle Yellow is different from most of his books, which oddly makes it my favorite. A Color of His Own and Swimmy are other beloved books in our house.

Frog and Toad collection by Arnold Lobel

I remember reading these books as a child, and I love sharing them with my own girls.

Anne Rockwell

As I mentioned above, my second daughter much prefers non-fiction books. Anne Rockwell’s stories are a good balance–lots of facts and simple illustrations! These two were big hits in our family.

Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is a fantastic author for new readers. Henry and Mudge is one of two series she’s written that I often recommend for young children. What’s better than a series of early reader books featuring a boy and his dog? (P.S. When I Was Young in the Mountains is one of my favorite picture books of all time!)

Mr. Putter and Tabby books by Cynthia Rylant

This is another sweet series of books for new readers. Try the first two books from the library and see if your family enjoys the characters.

Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems

Mo Willems has been a favorite author of mine since Knuffle Bunny came out. The Elephant & Piggie series is laugh out loud funny, while still talking about some of the BIG feelings that our new readers struggle with. Best of all, there are lots of choices to keep your kiddo giggling.

What are your favorite books for new readers?


Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

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Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway

Are you ready for the winter break? The colder temperatures have arrived in Iowa, and we are making a long list of activities that will keep us busy inside over the next few months. We have our favorite educational toys for open-ended play, winter books, and list of 30 boredom busters. We’ve even signed up for online music classes! The winter months are an excellent time to try new learning activities, like a fun unit study.

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade

Homeschool Complete reached out to us with a free downloadable unit study to try. We love spending time outside at our local nature trails, so the park unit study was a perfect choice! We have not received any additional compensation for this review, and all opinions are our own. This post may contain affiliate links to items that we love and recommend. Thank you for supporting our growing book collection.   

I downloaded and printed off the entire 46-page unit one Sunday afternoon. Each of the four lessons came with a full-color worksheet and reusable resources (BINGO board, hundreds chart, blank calendar, and more), along with a supply list and lesson plan. After looking over the week’s lessons, we made a list of books to get at the library, including one of our favorites: The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks

One of my favorite things about this unit study was how easy it was to print and go. The girls loved it, too! Each day, they asked me which fun things we’d be doing together. And even though we have a full math and grammar curriculum, both my first grader and fourth grader loved each day’s’ language and math activities. It was fun for them to do lessons together!

Each of the four days, we read a library book about one of the U.S. National Parks: Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. We had a blank map to identify where each park is located so we could talk about the weather and landmarks. We also supplemented with regional music from The Okee Dokee Brothers.

Day 1:

Our favorite activity on Monday was learning about open syllables. Even though we love our spelling curriculum, we hadn’t yet learned about this fun rule. We spent the rest of the week looking for words with open syllables.

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade

Day 2:

Our favorite activity on Tuesday was writing acrostic poems. The girls also built a fort and enjoyed “camping out” while we talked about the Grand Canyon.

Day 3:

Our favorite activity on Wednesday was definitely the geyser investigation. The girls LOVED the activity, even though it was beyond simple to set up and do! They have been talking about Old Faithful ever since.

(Honorable mention on Day 3: learning about onomatopoeia. Our library didn’t have the recommended book, so we checked out a football-themed book instead. My little Packer fans loved it!)

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade

Day 4:

Our favorite activity on Thursday was the math lesson on area. It’s actually a topic my 4th grader has been working on in her Saxon lessons, and her math-minded little sister was happy to get to measure and multiply, too. After doing the previous day’s lesson, they immediately understood why area is measured in “square” inches, and they loved getting out their rulers and racing each other to solve the problems.

Day 5+:

Even though this product is a four-day unit, we have more than enough ideas to keep the learning going throughout the rest of the month. Our girls want to check out more books about other National Parks and plan a spring break trip to go visit one.  There are additional activities we can do when spring comes around too, like leaf rubbings and kite-building!

GIVEAWAY:

We absolutely adored this unit from Homeschool Complete. My girls are already asking when we can do another one! It was easy to print and find materials, but most of all, the activities were engaging for my six-year-old AND my nine-year-old. I would encourage all of my U.S. readers, whether full-time homeschooling or not, to enter this giveaway!

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade


Homeschool Complete – Parks Unit Study Giveaway (Valued at around $57)

This giveaway includes a printed copy of the unit study (student & teacher pages) plus all the manipulatives and games included in the lessons for the Homeschool Complete “Parks” Unit Study.

• Parks Unit Study
• Sight Word Flashcards
• Sight Word Bingo Game
• Compound Word Memory
• Student Journal
• Square Tiles
• Spelling Squares
• 100 chart
• Multiplication & Division Flashcards
• Calendar

Click here to enter:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade


Even if you don’t win the free unit study, you can get 20% off anything at the Homeschool Complete store through December 24th!

Use code: ROLLPR20

 

Before you go, tell me:
How would you use this unit in your family?