How to Help Children Learn the SHAPES (and REMEMBER Them!)

How to Help Children Learn the Shapes

Learning to identify the basic shapes can be a challenge for many young children.  Even after being told the names of the shapes many times, children often confuse one shape with another, or forget some of their names entirely!  This leaves teachers and parents puzzled; why in the world is this so hard when it seems like it should be so easy?

Skills Children Need to Identify the Shapes

There are a few basic skills that must be in place before children are going to be able to master shape, letter, or number identification.  Without each of these skills, children will probably make limited progress in mastering the shapes- OR, they will seem to learn them, and then shortly thereafter forget them.

1.  Visual Perception

One of the most important skills necessary for shape, letter, and number identification is visual perception.  Visual perception is what allows you to tell the difference between a square and a rectangle, an oval and a circle, or a letter C and a letter O.  Basically, if a child’s eyes can’t “see” the difference between the shapes yet, then no amount of drill and practice will change this.  Developmental Optometrists do vision therapy with children that have severe problems in this area that affect their academic achievement, but the average child will not need professional help; he will simply develop the visual perception that he needs with time and practice.

Visual Perc1 Collage2

One way to find out if a child can see the difference between a square and a rectangle is to show them both shapes, and ask them if they are the same or different.  (But make sure the child understands the words “same” and “different!” first!)  If the child sees no difference, then you’ll need to simply practice helping the child identify the differences between the two shapes by asking, “How is this shape different from that one?”  Help the child “notice” that the square has two long sides and two short ones, and that an oval looks “squished” rather than perfectly round, etc.  Have the child try to describe these differences aloud, and practice sorting paper or plastic toy shapes into groups, saying the name of each shape as he goes.

Visual Perc2 Collage2
 Children also benefit from copying, drawing and building the shapes with sticks, Legos, blocks, or other types of building materials.  This can help them understand what the difference is in each one as well.  There are some shape copying pages on my blog post here that are free to download if you would like to try this.

2.  Visual Memory

There is a certain amount of simple memorization required in learning the names of the shapes, as well as in learning the numbers and letters.  Sometimes, children will seem to have learned the names of the shapes, but then when retested a few months later in the year, many of them have forgotten them (especially the children from lower socio-economic families.)  I think that this is probably due to lack of USE.

People remember information and vocabulary that is USEFUL to them, and tend to forget information whatever is not.  When teachers move on to new skills and leave the study of the shapes behind, children may forget them if parents do not refer to them by name fairly often at home.  And research shows us that lower socio-economic parents tend to use academic vocabulary less frequently at home than their higher socio-economic parenting peers.

We are more likely to remember

So what can parents and teachers do to solve this problem?  Make sure that you refer to the shapes often and make knowing them necessary and useful to the children.  Example: “Leon, please sit down on the spot with the red triangle on it.”  “Angela, the pencils marked with a yellow rectangle are for the girls today.  Tomorrow the girls will get the pencils with the blue squares.”  “Gage, would you like to wear the shirt with the gray ovals on it, or the one with Spiderman in the rectangle today?”

 

These are "Sit Spots" shapes that stick to the carpet because they are made of a very durable Velcro type of material.  Children can be assigned a shape to sit on each day so that they need to find it and practice telling their teacher or friend what shape they are sitting on each day.

These are removable “Sit Spots” shapes that stick to the carpet because they are made of a very durable Velcro type of material. Children can be assigned a shape to sit on each day so that they need to find it and practice telling their teacher or friend what shape they are sitting on each day.

 

I always use music and movement to help my students remember the shapes!  The Jumpin’ Numbers and Shakin’ Shapes cards make a huge difference in my students’ ability to remember the shapes because of the movements that are integrated into each lesson.  Each time a child sees a shape (or a number,) they respond by making a motion and saying the name of that number or shape.  It’s quick and easy, and when combined with the music, the children really love the lesson! Check out the video below.

This is what the DVD with the music for the Colors & Shapes looks like:

 

3.  Language

Children are much more likely to really learn and internalize the shapes and their differences if they are given the opportunity to practice describing them.  Just the act of SAYING what they see and putting it into words makes a big difference!  For example, ask a child:

  • “How do you know that this is a triangle?  How do you know that it is NOT a square?”  (Possible answer:  I know it’s a triangle because it has three sides.  It couldn’t be a square because squares have four sides.”)
  • “How many corners does this shape have?  Tell me in a complete sentence.”  (Possible answer:  This shape has three corners.  Hey, that’s a triangle!”)
  • “What shape is that door?  How do you know?”

 

Children remember more when they have a chance to describe what they know.  So ask them to put it into words, either to you or to each other!

Children remember more when they have a chance to describe what they know. So ask them to put it into words, either to you or to each other!

 

NOW PULL IT ALL TOGETHER!   Have Them Build Those Shapes and Tell You What They Are!

This is the fun part!  Letting children build shapes is lots of fun, and kids generally love it!  Last year, I did it with craft sticks in two different sizes (mini and standard sized) and let the kids stick them together with modeling clay.  This worked great for all of the shapes except for the circle and the oval.  For that, they would need to either draw them or build them with yarn, or use blocks designed especially for the purpose of constructing shapes.

 

These children are building hexagons with craft sticks.

These children are building hexagons with craft sticks.

We did this in small groups.  First, I had them build the shapes flat on the table with NO clay.  This saved us time, because sticking the clay onto the ends proved a little bit difficult for some.  After we made some shapes and discussed the differences, I showed them how to make those same shapes and connect the sticks with modeling clay.

Child's Triangle with Sticks & Modeling Clay

 

I also had one 3-dimensional cube already made for them to see.  This was done at the end of the year, so the children had already been introduced to the volume shapes.

When you give children the chance to build something harder, they often can surprise you!

When you give children the chance to build something harder, they often can surprise you!

 

In my opinion, a Kindergartner that has mastered the shapes can:

  • Identify a shape on a flash card by telling you the name without hesitation
  • Describe it
  • Build it
  • Explain why it is NOT one of the other shapes
  • And older children in first and second grade must start to tell you how many vertices (corners) and angles each one has as well!  So children that are advanced can begin working on that!

And don’t forget our 15% off sale going on right now, and ending on July 31st, 2014!  Use the code JULY14 at checkout on HeidiSongs.com.

Other HeidiSongs resources for practicing shapes include:

Shape Creatures Worksheets

Dinosaurs & Robots Pattern Blocks Activity

The Shape Song & Singable Book Project

The Colors & Shapes DVD

Jumpin’ Numbers & Shakin’ Shapes CD/DVD

Jumpin’ Numbers & Shakin’ Shapes Bingo Game

 

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How Do You Know If A Child Has ADHD?

How Do You Know If A Child Has ADHD?

 

Many teachers and parents often find themselves scratching their heads wondering if a child is just, “active,” or “immature,” in the classroom or if their behavior is indicating Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

It can be a challenge to sift through a child’s behavior to determine if how they are acting is typical for a child their age or a sign of something more.  Parents often wonder if the child’s behavior is caused by the way a certain classroom is run, (ie. “It’s the teacher’s fault!”), and teachers sometimes wonder if the child’s behavior is cause by a lack of discipline in the home (ie. “It’s the parents’ fault!”).

Whatever the cause, both parents and teachers should remind themselves that attempting to place blame on someone else in the child’s life will only cause more problems, and won’t solve anything.  When parents and teachers work together to support a child in the classroom, everyone wins!  Teachers are usually more willing to be patient with a child whose parents seem supportive; parents are usually more willing to help with problems at school when the teacher seems to be patiently working with them for the good of their child.

Commonly referred to as ADHD, Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder is the diagnostic name of a collection of symptoms often seen in children and adults that impact an individual’s ability to control impulses and focus. For school age children these symptoms often impact a child’s ability to complete assignments, keep their body still enough not to disturb others, and keep their full focus on a task.

The following information below outlines the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

How Do You Know If A Child Has ADHD?  heidisongs.com infographic

 

It is important to note that only a medical professional can make a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder!  So even if a caring relative or teacher believes that your child may have an issue, don’t panic!  Don’t be afraid to seek help from your child’s pediatrician.  A diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t mean that your child must be medicated; but it does mean that your child may be entitled to certain accommodations (adjustments) in the classroom that can help him or her succeed.  Occasionally, parents do not take their child to the doctor to check for ADHD because they assume that the only thing that he can do is medicate the child, which they would not want.  But that is simply not true!

Once you have an official diagnosis, your child has the right to receive whatever reasonable adjustments that can be made in the classroom.  He or she also has the right to NOT be disciplined for behaviors that he truly cannot control.  All of these things happen when you request what is called a 504 plan for your child, (but we’ll write more on that later.)  But here’s the point:  no diagnosis, no accommodations.  Your child can be disciplined for any rule he breaks, and will need to do everything in the classroom that everyone else is doing, without any special help.

If you are concerned about a child’s behavior start with keeping track of when and where the behaviors occur. Children who have ADHD experience their symptoms in multiple settings so they would have difficulty completing classroom assignments as well as having difficulty at home with tasks like putting away laundry or following a schedule. There is some new research looking into the effects that food has on ADHD symptoms so keeping a food diary is a helpful piece for understanding a child’s behavior.

If you do suspect a child is being negatively impacting by the symptoms of ADHD contact the child’s doctor. Then come up with a plan between the child’s medical team, teacher, and parents to help the child learn to thrive at home and school.

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Our Sing & Spell Vol. 6 DVD is HERE- And a 15% Off SALE SITEWIDE!!

HeidiSongs Sing & Spell Vol. 6 DVD is HERE!

Great news!  Our DVD version of Sing and Spell Volume Six is HERE!  And we are having a 15% off sale on our whole website to celebrate, just in time to help you get ready for the new school year!  Read more for a re-cap of our newest products, and you’ll find our sale code at the bottom of the post!

Sp6 DVD

And guess what?  The CD version of Sing and Spell Vol. Six was just named the Creative Child Magazine‘s Educational CD of the Year!  Isn’t that awesome???

HeidiSongs' Sing & Spell Vol. 6 DVD is HERE!

This is my little friend Rusty, who learned to read at the age of TWO, in part by singing and dancing along to HeidiSongs DVD’s!  (You can read more about his amazing story here.)  I sent him a Spelling 6 DVD as soon as it came out because he has been waiting so patiently for SUCH A LONG TIME!!!

 

Not only that, but our Colors and Shapes DVD was named their Educational DVD of the Year! 

Colors & Shapes

This HeidiSongs Colors & Shapes DVD just won Creative Child Magazine’s Educational DVD of the Year award!

 

(We weren’t able to enter our Spelling Six DVD in the contest because it was not completed until a few weeks ago.  We’ll have to enter it into their contest for next year.)

Many thanks to Tracy Wright, who tried the songs out for me in her class and videotaped her students for the YouTube clip above!

Words covered on this DVD are:  ask, ate, day, does, every, give, going, her, him, just, many, must, no, off, only, our, ran, show, soon, take, them, think, walk, well, went, yes.  It also includes a “Bonus Track” of  the Opposite Song, which goes along with our great little book by the same name. 

 

The Opposite Rhyming SongBook and Project by HeidiSongs

This is a page from our Opposite Rhyming Songbook, and an example of the little project that I made to go along with it! Kids can make their own little Opposite Book- or just a few pages from it!  The masters for the project pages are a downloadable purchase for $4.00.

 

The Opposites Rhyming Song Book from HeidiSongs

This is our Opposites Rhyming Songbook! It is a STEAL at only $5.00!  I got several copies for my classroom and used them in reading groups.

 And YES- in case you were wondering, opposites are indeed a part of the Common Core!  You’ll find them under the Language Standards under Vocabulary Acquisition & Use, section 5b for Kindergarten.  I copied it for you here:  “Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).”

 

IMG_0815

Children can make one page at a time from the Opposites Rhyming Song Book, or do the whole thing. I LOVE the little mice! LOL!

 

We also have our Hidden Sight Words Worksheets, Vol. 6 already posted and ready to go for Sing and Spell Vol. 6, not to mention all of the other Sing and Spell titles as well!  These are just four dollars for the downloadable file of worksheets for all 26 words!

To find the worksheets for other words, just click on the Sight Words Tab on the side bar of the “Our Products” section of our website, and click on each of the individual Sing and Spell the Sight Words CD/DVD titles.  Each one has a set of these Hidden Sight Words worksheets that go with it.

HiddenSW6-V1

 

FYI:  The general workbook for Sing and Spell Vol. 6 was just completed today; I’m hoping to post it to the website for a downloadable purchase this weekend (perhaps by Sunday?)

And while you are shopping, let me remind you of our other products that came out recently, too!  We have the I Spy CVC Words Vol. 2 Fold & Print Books, a downloadable project that I finished at the very end of May.  I REALLY value these books because they help children focus on comprehension when they are reading sentences with VERY basic sight words and those three letter CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.  You can also find the first set that go along with our CVC book Vol. 1 here.

 

I also finished & posted the Hidden CVC Words Worksheets for our CVC Book, Vol. 2 in the middle of May!  I like this set because the puzzles are actually a bit little bit more challenging!  Just look at how our graphic designer Krista blended all of the letters together to make them harder to find!  Some teachers told me that they assigned a different color for different words, so that the children would really have to read and (hopefully) understand each word, rather than just one.

 

Then we have our new Hidden NUMBER worksheets!  I think these will be great if you do a number of the week, etc.  Kids have to count and find a certain quantity of objects, and then color in that section a certain color if they do.  :)

 

We also have Hidden Alphabet Letters, too.  Gee, is there ANYTHING we cannot hide?  LOL!

Hidden letter worksheet

The sale code is JULY14, and it is good on our entire website, HeidiSongs.com (but not on the HeidiSongs TPT store.)  Don’t forget that the sale ends on July 31, 2014.  So get it while the getting is GOOD, and happy shopping!

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Follow me!  Did you enjoy this post?  Do us a favor and share it with your friends!  And follow this blog by signing up email updates, or follow on Bloglovin’.  You can also follow me on TPT!  I’m also on PinterestFacebookTwitterGoogle+ and YouTube, too!  Don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter (on the left sidebar) for special deals and promo codes that you won’t find out about anywhere else.

 

 

 

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We Have a WINNER From Our “Pin It to Win It” Contest!

Pin it To Win It

We have a winner from our “Pin It To Win It” Contest!  In case you missed it, the contest ran for just one week, from June 23 to July 8th, 2014.  To enter, each person just needed to pin one product from HeidiSongs.com to Pinterest, and then fill out the entry form online at the link I provided.

And our winner is….

 

Elizabeth Polston!

Elizabeth will get to choose one $15 product of her choice from our website, HeidiSongs.com, (which we will mail to her with no charge for postage, of course!)

 

It looks like Elizabeth is a teacher in the Rowland Heights School District right here in Southern California!  She entered the contest on the Fourth of July. Congratulations, Elizabeth!  :)

We’ll do another Pin It to Win It Contest soon, so stay tuned, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Heidi

attitude

 

 

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Follow me!  Did you enjoy this post?  Do us a favor and share it with your friends!  And follow this blog by signing up email updates, or follow on Bloglovin’.  You can also follow me on TPT!  I’m also on PinterestFacebookTwitterGoogle+ and YouTube, too!  Don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter (on the left sidebar) for special deals and promo codes that you won’t find out about anywhere else.

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Getting Ready for Kindergarten: Summer School at Home, Week 7!

 

Summer School at Home Week 7Welcome to Summer School at Home with HeidiSongs, Week Seven!  This week I will be sharing my favorite Pinterest “Pins” (pictures posted on Pinterest) that could be used at home or in the classroom to help children learn or prepare for the skills typically taught at the beginning of the year in Kindergarten.  I hope you enjoy it, and that it will help your little ones get ready for Kindergarten!  And enjoy the rest of your summer- whatever happens to be left of it!

Getting Used to Being Apart from Mom or Dad

 

Name Writing Practice

Here’s a neat idea I found on Pinterest that would work great for family names or classroom names alike!  It came from the blog called Katie’s Nesting Spot.  She calls it the Family Name Tracing Book.  All you have to do is write each child’s name with a dotted line, and put a picture next to it.  Laminate it (or even cover it in clear Contact Paper) and then let children practice tracing the names.  I would also suggest giving the children another card that has a picture, but has no name to trace so that the child gets used to writing the name on his or her own.  I also like having the children match names to pictures!  Just make another set of cards with the pictures and names, and cut them apart like puzzle pieces.  Mix them up and have the children match the names to the photos by fitting them together.

 

Here’s another idea:  just put the names and pictures into a dollar store photo album and have the children copy the names with a dry erase marker and erase!  Cheap and easy (other than the photos, of course!)  The picture below shows math flash cards, but this could be done with any kind of writing, including names, letters, numbers, etc.

 

Letter & Sound Identification Practice

My Alphabet Ideas Board on Pinterest is CHOCK FULL of fun ideas for helping kids learn the letters and sounds!  It’s one of my favorite boards.  Below you will find just a few of the ideas that I like the best.

Okay, I LOVE this idea of having kids make alphabet letters out of Lego or Duplo blocks!  And this homeschooling mom is giving these cards away FREE- if you sign up for her email newsletter.  Otherwise, they are two dollars.  You will also find a pin for her lower case cards on my Alphabet Ideas board as well.

 

Lego Alphabet Cards

This came from WildflowerRamblings.com. And the cards are FREEEEEEE – (to her email subscribers, anyway!)

 

 

Lego Alphabet Cards 2

Isn’t this a sweet picture? Love it! Click here to see this pin on Pinterest from WildflowerRamblings.com.

 

Here is a really FUN idea from a blog called “Toddler Approved” that I really enjoy!  This is written by another homeschooling mom, and I just LOVE her ideas!  Ninety percent of the time, they are ideas for active learning that I think would be adaptable to children that are older than toddlers, with very little tweaking.  The idea below simply involves writing letters on cars and having the children drive the cars through the paper “tunnels” that have the matching upper or lower case letters. However, you could easily tape or glue a flash card with a picture on it on top of the tunnel to have the child drive the car through the tunnel with the matching SOUND.  For example, a child could drive the A car through the Apple Tunnel, and the B car could be driven through the Bear Tunnel.  Get it?  We have flash cards with small pictures for each letter of the alphabet in our Alphabet Book, Vol. 2 Book. 

This idea is from a FANTASTIC blog called Toddler Approved.  It has tons of great active learning ideas for young children ages one year old to about second grade, I would say.

This idea is from a FANTASTIC blog called Toddler Approved. It has tons of great active learning ideas for young children ages one year old to approximately second grade, I would say (depending on the needs of the child, and how good you are at adapting the given ideas!)

 

The Alphabet Workbooks from HeidiSongs are a great way to help children practice what they know, build fine motor skills, and confidence in themselves.

Idea:  Take the flash cards from the Volume Two book and put them on a “tunnel” as in the idea above.  Have kids drive a car with a letter on it through the tunnel with the matching letter sound.

Also, don’t forget to check out our Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds CD/DVD.  Music and movement is the very best way I know of teaching young children the alphabet, numbers, words, etc.!

 

Developing Math Skills

Here is a fun and easy idea that I shared at the I Teach K! Conference in Las Vegas!  I pinned it here.

Chicken Pox Numbers IdeaThis pin from Pinterest has EIGHT great ideas for teaching numbers using toy vehicles!  That’s always a hit with little boys, that’s for sure!

This is a great post from a blog called, "The Measured Mom," who is a teacher that now homeschools her children.  She posts TONS of very high quality freebies every week.  Check it out!  It's an AWESOME blog!

This is a great post from a blog called, “The Measured Mom,” who is a teacher that now home schools her children. She posts TONS of very high quality freebies every week. Check it out! It’s an AWESOME blog!

This looks like a really fun idea, too!  It could be played with tongs or tweezers and any small objects you have around the house.  Let your child turn an empty tissue box into a frog or any other kind of hungry creature!

 

And for more practice writing numbers, check out our “Counting Creatures!”  These cute little monsters and robots could make just about anything seem like fun, I think!

 

 

Here’s another fun and easy idea that I found on Pinterest from the Stay at Home Mom Survival Guide.  I suggest that if your dots go past ten, circle the sets of ten before adding any more dots.  This will help the children count out the dots in sets of ten and then count on from there, which is an important skill that they will need to learn in Kindergarten anyway!

 

If your kids are past learning 0-10, check out our Counting Creatures, Vol. 2 book, which has pages for learning the numbers 11-20.

And remember to try a little music and movement to help them remember those numbers and shapes, too!

 

Identifying Beginning Sounds & RhymingTo practice rhyming words, find a book of nursery rhymes and read it with your child.  Can your child say any of them aloud without help?  If he or she can, that is a good indication that your child is developing a sense of rhyme.  You will also find lots of ideas to go with nursery rhymes on my Nursery Rhymes Ideas Pinterest Board here!

And may I just say I LOVE this idea from Mrs. Lee’s Kinder Kids blog!  You just take a spider ring and put it on a pipe cleaner spout so that it can go up and down.  How fun is THAT?

 

 

If you would like to share any more great ideas or pins from Pinterest, I would love to hear them!  Please share!

 

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Follow me!  Did you enjoy this post?  Do us a favor and share it with your friends!  And follow this blog by signing up email updates, or follow on Bloglovin’.  You can also follow me on TPT!  I’m also on PinterestFacebookTwitterGoogle+ and YouTube, too!  Don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter (on the left sidebar) for special deals and promo codes that you won’t find out about anywhere else.

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