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Friday, December 6, 2019

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Sharing A Christmas Carol With Your Entire Family - a Preschool Christmas Activity

Today Kristen from A Mom's Quest to Teach is sharing our next Preschool Christmas Activity--ways to share the classic A Christmas Carol!


One of my all-time favorite stories for the holiday season is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. No matter the age of your child, there are so many different ways for you to share this classic story with them. From picture books to the original tale and cartoons and movies, you can share the story of the redemption of Ebeneezer Scrooge with them yearly.

Read Aloud 



Reading aloud the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, the three Ghosts, and the Cratchit family can become a fantastic holiday tradition. Charles Dickens enjoyed reading the story aloud before audiences of various sizes. His first public performance was in December 1853. He presented the tale over the course of three hours and—without any props or costumes—brought the characters and setting to life. If you wish to read the tale aloud in its entirety or via an abbreviated version, there are multiple editions available. In fact, there is a special Christmas with Dickens by Cedric Charles Dickens that includes the famous tale in an abbreviated version that can be read aloud in about an hour.


For Your Little Ones 



If you have little ones and want to introduce them to the classics there are many books available. One of my favorites is from the BabyLit ®  book series. A Christmas Carol is a colors primer by Jennifer Adams that features key characters from the story and connects them to different colors. It is helpful for the parent or reader of the BabyLit ® to have a good understanding of the story to help fill in the details for children who are curious as to who the characters are and why they are represented the way they are in the board book.  



Learning Words 



To help reinforce the reading of the words and the colors, I created coloring sheets with the words from the story for our children. Depending upon your preference, you could offer your children crayons, colored pencils, markers, or even paint to fill in the words the matching color from the story. This provides a fun way to introduce vocabulary and allow your children to learn their colors. We used colored pencils and then cut the words out so we put the story in order using the words. 



Crafts 



As one of the biggest symbols of the Ghost of Christmas Present is a wreath, we have created several different versions over the years including this new one! I asked our older son to draw the holly in the wreath and our younger children painted the holly leaves and berries in between the leaves. You could also have your children finger paint the berries. We will hang our wreaths up to help decorate our kitchen during the holiday season. 



For Older Siblings 

Pretend Play



Create or purchase hats for your children to wear representing the different characters.



A top hat for Ebeneezer Scrooge

A crown or tiara for the Ghost of Christmas Past
A wreath for the Ghost of Christmas Present
A hood for the Ghost of Christmas Future
A bonnet for Mrs. Cratchit
A cap for Tiny Tim

Retell the Story

Choose one scene from each of Scrooge's trips with the three ghosts and recreate as a diorama. There are some key scenes to pick from in A Christmas Carol. From the past, children can pick from Scrooge's time as a student or while he was working for Mr. Fezziwig. When the Ghost of Christmas Present first arrives, he brings with him a huge feast. He then takes Scrooge to see the Cratchit family. The visit by the Ghost of Christmas Future brings sadder scenes to recreate including a visit to the grave of Scrooge himself.

Creativity Time

For your oldest children, a fun idea might be to take one or two of the more famous quotes from the story and have them write them out in calligraphy or using other fancy lettering. You could also try your hand at knitting as one of the key character features of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit is their knitted scarves.



Sharing A Christmas Carol With Your Entire Family was written by Kristen at A Mom's Quest to Teach. Kristen is a housewife and mother to a teenage stepson and two younger children (son, 6, and daughter, 4). Kristen holds a BA in History and an MS in Teaching. She is an NJ State-certified social studies teacher. Kristen has worked as a volunteer at a National Park site, in the education department of a metropolitan zoo, and as a high school history teacher.




Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!




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Thursday, December 5, 2019

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3 Easy Gingerbread Crafts for Preschoolers - Preschool Christmas Activities

Today Jennifer from OrganizedHomeschooler.com is sharing 3 gingerbread crafts that you AND your preschoolers will love! This is the next post in our Preschool Christmas Activities series!

The holiday season is such a wonderful time with little children. Their excitement is palpable and contagious. I like to capitalize on that excitement by reading Christmas books and doing crafts. These easy gingerbread crafts are perfect for the holiday season.


There are plenty of gingerbread-themed books that could accompany these craft projects, but one of my favorites is The Gingerbread Man: Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray.

In this story, the Gingerbread Man and his classmates make gifts for members of their community. They go around town delivering the gifts.

This is one of my favorite gingerbread-themed books because the cute rhyming text talks about community helpers.

Read the book and then dive into these festive crafts.

These cinnamon scented gingerbread crafts are a fun and festive way to create gingerbread men for all kids, but it is especially handy for children with dietary restrictions that make the cookie version off-limits.

Decorate a scented gingerbread person


Decorating a scented gingerbread person is the very first step to these crafts.

Materials:
* Sandpaper
* Gingerbread shaped cookie cutter
* Pen
* Scissors
* Cinnamon stick
* Glue
* Decorations - The options here are pretty limitless. I used coffee beans, google eyes, red pom moms, craft pony beads, dried beans, and paint pens.


Trace a gingerbread cookie cutter onto sandpaper

Begin by tracing a gingerbread cookie cutter onto the back of a piece of sandpaper. This works best with a pen. Pencil is not dark enough to see clearly.

You can use any grit sandpaper you have handy. I used 180 grit.

Cut out the gingerbread man shape with scissors

Cutting out the traced shape requires adult scissors, so it might be best left to an adult.

Rub the sandpaper with a cinnamon stick

Rubbing the sandpaper with a cinnamon stick adds the holiday scent. The sandpaper acts like a grater but it also holds onto the cinnamon particles.

The cinnamon scent is real, so it is not overpowering like artificial cinnamon can be.

Decorate the sandpaper gingerbread man

The gingerbread man can be decorated with many items that you have around your own home. Take a look through your craft supplies and kitchen pantry to see what you can find.

I used regular Elmer's school glue to attach all of the decorations.

Make as many scented sandpaper gingerbread as your kiddos like. I like to leave out a tray with pre-cut sandpaper gingerbread men, cinnamon sticks, glue, and decorations. Then my kids can make as many gingerbread as they like, whenever they like.

There are 3 options for using the scented gingerbread men, so you can never have too many!

3 Easy Gingerbread Crafts for Preschoolers


All of these easy gingerbread crafts use the scented sandpaper gingerbread men.

Make an ornament


It is super simple and quick to turn the scented gingerbread men into ornaments. All you need to do is attach a loop of ribbon onto the back of the sandpaper gingerbread man. I attached a loop of ribbon with heavy duty packing tape, but hot glue would also work.

Create a festive garland


Create a cute holiday garland by stringing an assortment of sandpaper gingerbread men onto a length of ribbon.

This can be done two ways:

* Create small slits in each gingerbread arm and weave the ribbon through the holes
* Hook each gingerbread man onto the ribbon with a paper clip

When my kids were in the toddler and preschool stage, I preferred to use the paperclip technique anytime the garland would be within their reach. This gave them the freedom to rearrange the gingerbread as often they wanted.

Make a gingerbread wreath


Create a truly one of a kind gingerbread wreath. All you need are a few of the scented sandpaper gingerbread, fake pine needle wreath, flexible metal ornament hooks, and hot glue.

First, glue an ornament hook on the back of each gingerbread man using a dot of hot glue.

Then, just arrange the gingerbread men around the wreath. Attach them with the hook.

If your preschooler enjoyed this book and crafts, consider planning a Gingerbread Day- a full day of gingerbread-themed fun!


Jennifer Knick is a homeschool mom of two. Before having children, she was a kindergarten teacher. She shares organizational tips, hands-on lesson ideas, and great book lists at OrganizedHomeschooler.com. In her free time she enjoys reading and spending time with her husband. Follow her online on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.



Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!




Never miss another post again! Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox! Sign up here!! 

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Monday, December 2, 2019

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Christmas Tree Cookies ~ Preschool Christmas Activities


Today is the first day in our Preschool Christmas Activities series! I have some fantastic "visitors" to share Christmas activities they like to do with their preschoolers that go along with Christmas books! Today, Charlene is getting us started with these adorable edible trees...and a wonderful book!

Stacked sugar cookie star and the tale of three trees Christmas book activity

Christmas Book Activities For Kids - The Tale of the Three Trees


Have I got a Christmas treat for you today!

Are you familiar with the children's Christmas book, "The Tale of the Three Trees"?

Let me tell you - this is one adorable book. Probably one of my very favorite Christmas books for kids.

You can buy this book in bookstores all over. You can also order it in on Amazon. This is a great book to add to any Christmas library.

But for purposes of time, I am going to drop the embedded YouTube version of this book here. That way you can read this book with your kids right now. And then we can jump right into the fun Christmas activity for preschoolers that surrounds this awesome book.

Read The Tale of the Three Trees


"The Tale of the Three Trees" is a story about three little trees who live on the top of a hill.

Each of these little trees has a dream of what they want to grow up to become.

The first tree wants to become a grand treasure chest filled with the grandest and most valuable treasure known to man.

The second tree wants to become a strong sailing boat that is important enough to carry the greatest of kings and queens ever to walk the earth.

The third little tree doesn't want to be cut down. She dreams of staying on that hilltop forever and growing grand and tall. She wants to grow so tall that when others look to her, they look to Heaven.
Well, time goes by, and eventually, each tree is chopped down.

To his dismay, the first tree is not turned into a grand treasure chest but is instead turned into a trough for animal feed.

The second tree is disappointed when he is turned into a lowly fishing ship and not a big, strong sailing boat.

And sadly, the third tree is turned into a wooden beam and thrown into a woodpile, forgotten and alone.

And you will have to read the story to find out what happens to these trees next...but let me tell you - it is a tear-jerker! (Seriously - I cry every time I read this book. Or even just re-tell it! I'm such a softie.)



Stacked sugar cookie star and the tale of three trees Christmas book activity

Making Star Trees as a Fun Christmas Book Activity for Preschoolers


So what are we doing with our preschoolers today to make reading this fun Christmas book even more fun?

Why, we're making Christmas TREES, of course!

4D Sugar cookie Christmas trees. Don't these look so fun?



4D Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees

I know it looks complicated, but really, these stacked Christmas trees aren't that hard to make.

First, you'll want to start with your favorite sugar cookie recipe.



You're welcome to download it if you like.

But really, you can use any rolled recipe you want.

Making these stacked sugar cookie trees is a beloved Christmas activity at our house. In fact, we do it almost every year!

Star Tree Cookie Instructions


Gather your kiddos together and do some fun baking. Mix, refrigerate, and roll, and you're ready for the next step!

Next, you'll want to cut your dough into various sized stars.

There are kits available that you can buy. These kits are nice to use because they make the stars uniform and spaced out nicely, which makes them easier to stack. But if you have a couple of star-shaped cookie cutters in varying sizes, that will work nicely as well.

Cut your dough out, making sure each child has a star of each size. You might want to cut out a few spares in case any get broken. (Or eaten!)

Bake your cookies according to your recipe's instructions. You can read your new Christmas book while you wait for them to cool!

Once they have cooled completely (this is important!) you can get to stacking!

Give each child a star of each size and have them organize the stars in order from smallest to largest.

Take the biggest star and put some delicious frosting on top. (I always use store-bought frosting for this.) Then take the next largest star and place it on top, but kind of off-centered so the 5 points of the star are sitting in the middle of the bigger cookie's points.

Now frost that cookie and top it with the next-largest star.

And so on.

When you've reached the smallest cookie, you can either stick it flat or stick it so it is standing upright. Whichever is easiest for you.




Decorating Your Star Trees


Now you can add other decorations to your star, as desired! Edible pearls, nerds, and MNM's all work nicely for this part. Or you can just use regular sprinkles!

While you are making your tree, you can talk about the book you just read and how each of the trees had their dreams fulfilled in surprising and unexpected ways!

Leave your star trees to enjoy for a few days, or eat them right away.

Either way, this is a fun Christmas activity your kids can enjoy year after year!

And if you don't own this fun Christmas book yet, wouldn't it be a great Christmas gift idea for your kids? (We usually like to include a lot of non-toy Christmas gifts for our kids.)

About The Author



Charlene Hess headshot

Charlene Hess spent many years teaching kids before she had her own kids. She now has 7 kids of her own, whom she has been homeschooling for the last 10 years. Charlene still teaches other children outside of her home but finds great joy in exploring the world with her family. Charlene has participated in many leadership trainings with John C. Maxwell. Charlene and her husband blog about their homeschooling and parenting adventures over at https://hessunacademy.com.

Christmas Book Activities For Kids - The Tale of the Three Trees




Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!




Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!




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Thursday, November 28, 2019

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FREE Christmas Preschool Printables

Deck the halls! Or at least the tables! These fun Christmas preschool printables are free and ready to use!



You will find dozens of pages with our preschool favorites, like dot pages, dot-to-dots, shadow matching, games, and more!

You can click on either the image or the list below!


          













Are you looking for more hands-on Christmas activities? I have arts, crafts, science, and more all in our Preschool Christmas Theme HERE!

 

And if you're looking for something with a religious approach, check out this Advent curriculum full of science:





Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!




Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!




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Monday, November 25, 2019

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Take Top Courses From the Top Early Childhood Training Provider this Thanksgiving Break

Are professional development or child development courses on your "to-do list?" If so, this Thanksgiving break is a great time to take incredible courses that fit YOUR schedule from the leader in early childhood training!


The Best Early Childhood Training Provider:

If you've been here for a while, you know that I've taken several courses from ChildCare Education Institute, including Sensational ScienceActive Learning in Early ChildhoodBuilding Literacy Through Nursery Rhymes and Children's Poetry, and Bright Beginnings: Age Appropriate Activities for Infants and Toddlers.  Every single course was well organized and contained useful information that was easy to apply immediately! I am happy to recommend them completely!

ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI) makes getting professional development super easy because their web-based programs are available 24-7--all the time--even over Thanksgiving break! I've noticed that the hours for each course are very close to the actual time the course takes, so if you want to take two hours the day before Thanksgiving and schedule a 2-hour course for yourself, you can!

And (unlike most of their competitors) CCEI provides student support and online communities for their learners! You can connect with other teachers working on the same courses as you! In fact, CCEI has graduated more than 15,000 early childhood professionals from their CDA and other certificate programs! And more than 99% of those graduates also recommend CCEI!  

ChildCare Education Institute also stands out among training providers because they are a CDA Gold Standard training provider AND are nationally accredited by both the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

Here's a visual chart that highlights some of the unique characteristics of ChildCare Education Institute and shows how other early childhood trainers compare:


My top favorite features of courses from ChildCare Education Institute are the following:

* Awesome research-based course materials!

* CONVENIENT web-based courses!

* Over 150 courses in English & Spanish--there is always something that is interesting to study or needed for my own professional development!

* IACET CEU's available at no extra cost! (CCEI will even electronically transmit your completions to state registries where available!)

* You can try it all out for free! There is always a free trial course available for new CCEI users!

* Thousands of people recommend CCEI! (Yes, I am one of those people who like to read other reviews before buying something...and over 99% of CCEI's students love them!)

If you check out the chart above, you'll notice that there is no other early childhood training provider who offers all of those features.  CCEI is definitely the industry leader!


And just in case you're wondering what you should take this week, I have the top five courses for you to check out! Any of these would be perfect to fit in around your Thanksgiving plans...or if you need PD hours, take all five!

Top ECE Courses:


CCEI112A: Child Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Reporting Requirements for Early Childhood Professionals: Learn how to recognize, identify, and categorize child abuse, who mandated reporters are, and how you can report child abuse.

CHD106: Understanding and Promoting Infant Development: Learn the stages of infant development and strategies to encourage development and learning in each stage.

CUR120: Trouble-Free Transitions that Teach: Learn practical and fun ways to implement smooth transitions throughout your day.

CHD103: The Child's Digital Universe: Technology and Digital Media in Early Childhood: Learn what research is telling us about technology and how digital media is changing childhood and early education.

SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings: Learn what mindfulness is and how you can incorporate it into a classroom to encourage a calming and reflective environment.


In addition to these popular courses (actually, in addition to any course you take), professionals taking courses with ChildCare Education Institute under one of their center-based subscription plans have access to their library of over 10,000 activity ideas! Have you ever wanted to find a new activity to go with a theme and not wanted to scour the internet? This is the perfect solution, and CCEI is the ONLY training provider to offer this to their students! It is a brilliant idea, and just by itself is worth the tuition for any course!

So, what are your plans this week? Are you hosting Thanksgiving? Are you going to take one of the courses I mentioned? Let's get that to-do list taken care of!  And you know I'd LOVE to hear from you! You're always welcome to send me an email or catch me on Facebook (Preschool Powol Packets) or Instagram (Preschool_Powol_Packets) too!


Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!




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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

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How to Teach Reading {Part 3 of 3}

If you've been following along with the How to Teach Reading series, you know that this is the final article! We laid the ground work with Pre-Reading for Preschoolers in Part 1, we discussed how to tell if your child is ready to read in Part 2, and now we are going to cover how to actually teach your child to read!



The good news is that once your child shows all the readiness signs I discussed in Part 2, there are literally a million different ways to teach him or her how to actually read!  And for the most part, they all work! Some work better than others, though, and that's what we're going to discuss here.

Research shows that the best reading instruction combines 3 elements: word study, phonics and decoding, and meaningful stories. This means that your reading lessons should include sounding out skills (word families, word meanings, rhyming, etc) AND sight words AND meaningful stories with these first two elements in them.  There are virtually unlimited ways to do this!  Each of my children, and other children I've taught, have learned through a different method.

As a homeschooling parent and/or classroom teacher, you basically have two options: 1- use a pre-made curriculum or 2- create your own. I'm going to address both of these.

First, How to Teach Reading with Pre-Made Curricula:

There are a LOT of amazing curricula available to teach reading! As long as the program includes the three elements I talked about above, your kids will be fine. Here are my personal favorites (in no particular order, I HIGHLY recommend both of these programs):

1- Reading Eggs: Reading Eggs has interactive lessons online, a set of readers that you can order that correspond to the lessons online, a set of corresponding workbooks, and a set of maps and reward stickers for each level. I purchased the readers for one of my 6-year olds and both she and my 3-year old (at the time) LOVED them. If your child enjoys online games (or your schedule needs you to share the teaching responsibility), this program is a great fit! I still recommend buying the physical workbooks and readers because the more senses you use, the better kids remember what they're learning. The child that I purchased these for did the online lessons at her leisure, read the books and did the workbooks with me, and then supplemented the lessons with a little extra sight word practice (read below for more details...our "practice" is quite fun). 

2- All About Reading from All About Learning Press: This is a physical curriculum that comes with readers, teacher script, magnetic manipulatives, a puppet, and more. I have two favorite things about this curriculum: 1- The readers are FANTASTIC! The stories are very creative and my kids really enjoy them. 2- The whole system uses an Orton-Gillingham (or multi-sensory) approach. This has been very helpful for my kids that were more dyslexic than the others because it required them to physically connect with and manipulate the letters and words they were working on. If you want to learn more about All About Learning programs, HERE is my affiliate link

Both of these programs literally tell you what to do in every lesson--teaching reading could not be easier!  You can supplement with topics or letters your kids are particularly interested in, some of the activities I share below, or just stick to the outline!

I have also looked at and used several curricula made by teachers and parents online. Again, as long as you've gone through the checklist, your child is ready, and the curriculum you are looking at includes all three elements, you should be good to go!

And remember you can do lessons at the kitchen table, a desk, on the floor, in a tent, outside, or anywhere else you want! Keep it fun!



Secondly, How to Teach Reading with Your Own Reading Curriculum:


Making your own reading curriculum is not difficult. Here is a step-by-step on what I would recommend:

1- Set aside 20 minutes a day for reading lessons. Plan to spend half of that in hands-on learning activities that review the concepts you've introduced in the first half. If your child is particularly excited, you could have two 20-minute sessions in a day. ;)

2- Print a list like this one of the 44 phonemes in English as a planning reference. Simply check off each phoneme as your child masters it. Keep this in your teaching materials.

3- Choose a set of readers. It is VITAL that your child has little books to read! You can buy the readers from either of the curricula I discussed above (without buying the whole curriculum), check some out from the library, buy a pre-owned set, find some online, or even make your own! Look for books that only introduce 1 or 2 new letters and only 1 sight word with each book.

4-  Make an outline of the order you want to teach the letters and sounds. I always start with my child's name--those are the most meaningful letters you can find for your child!  Then I go in the same order as the reader set I'm using.  This is a common order I've used, more or less (often my kids will be interested in a letter out of order, and I always go with what they're interested in!):


I only introduce one or two sounds for each letter at a time. I like this order because it lets them form words immediately, during the first lesson! But, since I'm flexible with the order, it's handy to have the phoneme chart in #2 to keep track of what sounds you need to cover.

5- During your lessons, introduce a new letter or review a letter you're working on. You can do this by writing, reading, or playing games. Then introduce and/or review sight words. This can also be done by writing, reading, or playing games!  I use the sight words in the readers we're working on or a list like Dolche's or Fry's.  Finally, end with a chance for your child to practice written activities that include the letters and words in your lesson.

Here are a few activities that you can use to teach and/or reinforce letters and sounds



Alphabet Hop (I love that she went with the random letters her daughter wanted to use!)

Letter Sorting
Magnetic Letter Sorting

These activities reinforce different phonics skills:

Rhyming Word Family Game (I LOVE that she used lavender in her bin--the sense of smell activates memory centers in your brain!)


And these activities can be used with sight words.


Tactile Spelling (for sight words)


I'm sure you can start to imagine the HUGE variety of ways you can teach reading! 

I'm going to throw in just a few more notes about what I've learned working with dyslexic readers:

1- They CAN learn to read beautifully!

2- They NEED hands-on, kinesthetic activities to learn the fastest. Letter cards, blocks, and tiles are extrememly helpful.

3- The more senses they use, the better! This is why I love All About Reading. Look up Orton-Gillingham if you want to learn more about multi-sensory reading activities.

4- Small letters on crowded pages are literally painful for these kids to read. We learned this the hard way when we tried a popular reading curriculum that just doesn't work for dyslexic kids. The "white space" around the letters you're working with is extremely important.

5- Don't give up! Dyslexic kids process reading differently than other kids--you just need to give their brains a little time to wrap around the process. If you find yourself struggling, don't be afraid to reach out and get help. Every school district has people specially trained to help dyslexic kids learn to read--giving them a call is not a sign of giving up!

Be confident and patient with your kiddos--your confidence will build theirs, and you'll have little readers in no time!


Learning to read and being part of the teaching process is an exciting adventure to go on with your kids!



I hope I've made the process a little more approachable with this series, and that you and your children have a wonderful time learning to read together!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the posts in this series--you can always leave a comment, send an email, or catch me on Facebook or Instagram! <3 



Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!




Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!



KEYWORDS: pre-reading, how to teach reading
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