Introducing: The SCARECROW in the Yard

imageYou may have heard of The Elf on the Shelf but I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of The Scarecrow in the a Yard. Why haven’t you heard of it?  Probably because I made it up three days ago when I saw a 5ft scarecrow for sale at the craft store for $7.

Who is this mysterious straw stuffed friend?
He was inspired by the character No Noggin from the special Curious George: Halloween Boofest (also on Netflix)-a scarecrow who looses his pumpkin head. Maxwell loooooves this show. So, I knew he’d be totally bumped if we had a scarecrow of our very own. Our Fall Friend Scarecrows(very important to market him as a friendly-not scary – scarecrow) was waiting to meet Maxwell and Patrick right outside their playroom window one morning after I’d told Maxwell I thought I heard a scarecrow outside the night before.

The Scarecrow stays outside all day scaring away crows, but at night when all of the birds are asleep he can come down from his stick!

What can scarecrow do?
1) He watches kids play all day and has fun watching them clean up, share,  and learn.
2) If any toys are left inside at the end of the day he likes to sneak inside at night and take them!
3) When he sees children make happy choices he will get them surprises.
4) He loves Fall and likes to surprise people by decorating their house at night.

Why a Fall Friend Scarecrow?
1) It’s fun.
2) Apparently, the good opinion of a straw stuffed piece of felt holds greater sway over my sons’ actions than does mine. They really wanna impress this guy.
3) He helps me keep the playroom clean by stealing toys.
4) There are so few ways to meaningfully observe Fall in Texas since the two seasons here are Summer (April – September) and slightly less hot summer (October-March).
5) It’s super cheap.
6) It probably creeps out our neighbors to see a scarecrow facing into our house and periodically moving it’s position around our yard. This just makes me chuckle 🙂

I will continue to make updates on new ways Scarecrow interacts with us throughout the Fall. Goodness I love how kids make MY imagination come alive 🙂

Updates:
Scarecrow Decorates for Fall

Great Website with Lots of Songs About Fall and Scarecrows
http://www.preschooleducation.com/sfall.shtml
Before revealing scarecrow each day we sing one of our scarecrow songs.

The Floppy Scarecrow
Sung to: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Floppy, floppy scarecrow
Guards his fields all day.
He waves his floppy, floppy hands
To scare the crows away!
Repeat and replace Hands with arms, toes, head, legs, etc…

Scarecrow
Sung to: “Teddy Bear, Teddy bear turn around”

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, turn around.
Scarecrow, scarecrow, jump up and down
Scarecrow, scarecrow, arms up high
Scarecrow, Scarecrow, wink one eye
Scarecrow, scarecrow, bend your knee
Scarecrow, scarecrow, flap in the breeze
Scarecrow, scarecrow, climb into bed
Scarecrow, scarecrow, rest your head

I’m a little Scarecrow
Sung to: “I’m a little teapot”

I’m a little scarecrow stuffed with hay.
Here I stand in a field all day.
When I see the crows,
I like to shout
“Hey! You crows, you better get out!”

Fall Songs and Videos

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September 21st marks the Autumnal Equinox and the first day of Fall.I thought I’d share this unvetted list in case anyone else is also in the beginning stages of planning their Fall playlist. In addition to lots of leaf, apple, and pumpkin activities that I plan on doing throughout the season we’ll be singing lots of Fall songs. I just began my search for songs and videos.

YouTube Videos About Fall and the Seasons
Falling Leaves
Fall and Autumn Counting Song
Sesame Street: Guess the Season Song

Great Website with Lots of Songs About Fall
http://www.preschooleducation.com/sfall.shtml
A selection of the songs I think we’ll try first
The Leaves are falling  “Farmer in the Dell”

The leaves are falling down
The leaves are falling down
Red, yellow, green, and brown
The leaves are falling down

A Squirrel Song
Sung to: “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain”

I’ll be gathering all the acorns till they’re gone.
I’ll be gathering all the acorns till they’re gone.
I’ll be gathering all the acorns, gathering all the acorns,
Gathering all the acorns till they’re gone.
(Children make collecting motion with their hands)

And I’ll put them all inside my little home.
I will put them all inside my little home.
I will put them all inside, put them all inside,
Put them all inside my little home.
(children pretend to place nuts in tree house)

And I’ll eat the nuts until the winter’s gone.
I will eat the nuts until the winter’s gone.
I will eat the nuts until, eat the nuts until,
Eat the nuts until the winter’s gone.
(children pretend to eat acorns)

Then I’ll do it all again come next fall.
I will do it all again come next fall.
I will do it all again, do it all again,
Do it all again come next fall.
(children make gathering motion with hands and arms again

Frisky Squirrel
Sung to: “The Grand Old Duke of York”

Oh, the frisky little squirrel
He gathers nuts and seeds.
He hides them for the winter months
So he’ll have all he needs.

Refrain:
Oh, up-up-up he goes
And down-down-down he comes.
He runs around – goes up and down.
His work is never done. (repeat refrain)

Strategies to Build Your Little One’s Confidence and Investment in School Before, During, and After the First Day: Out First Morning of MDO

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Upon picking up one very joyful and enthusiastic little boy today from the first day of his two day a week Mother’s Day Out (MDO) Program I knew I’d made the right choice in enrolling him. More on that decision making process on my post Choosing to Send My Son to a Two Day a Week MDO In Addition to Homeschooling .

In addition to talking to the teachers and staff about their curriculum, learning methods, songs, books, and language used in the school I wanted to make sure that Maxwell would get the most out of the program by building his confidence and investment.

Below are some of the strategies we used before, during, and after school:

Before School-
1. Attend an open house or at least type the school in advance
2. Let your little one help choose their backpack, lunch box, and nap mat.

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3. See what the school’s policy is on bringing lovies for nap time and if it’s allowed have them choose one and explain to the toy what school will be like.
4. >Featured Activity < The morning of school we made a poster and recorded what Maxwell was most excited about and then I told him to be ready to tell me what he liked most when I pick him up. This really did an amazing job of avoiding the all to common exchange of “how was school” answered shortly with “it was fine.”

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During school-
1. Prepare a special treat to be waiting for them in their car seat to celebrate their successful first day of school. Nothing too big, I just got him a special rare juice treat.

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2. Breath, remind yourself they’ll be fine, and keep yourself busy to avoid going to back to the school and picking them up early. If I hadn’t been a prek teacher myself I wouldn’t have believed it, but really, they do have fun once the parents leave.
3. Use this time to create things for homeschool or dishes and laundry there’s always plenty of those to go around.

After school-
1. Complete the first day of school poster.
2. After the first day, have a regular part of your day be your child teaching you, their toys, their siblings what they learned that day.
3. Draw pictures of specific aspects of school- a friend, a toy, something they learned, something they ate and have them dictate what their drawing is about.

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4. Make a “school wall/board” to showcase their school artwork, calendars, and reflections.
5. Make their day the center of that night’s dinner table conversation. It’s an important day for them.

Have compelling conversation starters:
-Tell me about a time you felt funny/happy/sad/proud/excited today
-Describe your lunch for me.
-What did your friends eat?
-Could you sing me a song you sang today?
-What books did you read? Could we act them out?
-Tell me about a time you shared something. How did you feel?This line of questions will garner richer dialog than the old “How was your day?” Plus, it’ll get them used to telling you about their day in a detailed way that could be helpful if issues at school ever arise.



If you’ve ever Googled or Pintrested (yeah I know

that’s not really a word) the phrase “first day of school” you know that there is an unlimited number of resources out there. These are a few simple ones that work for us.

Back to School Resources:

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The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
This book is great for any parent child separation and has a million cute activities you can support it with. I actually read this book on the first day of school when I taught before having kids as well.

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Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Season 1 Eposide 3: Daniel’s Babysitter/ Daniel Goes to School
Also, great for any parent child separation. I have Maxwell watch this any time we’re going on a date night, a meeting, or even just a yoga class at the Y. The song is everything.
“GrooownUPS Come back!”

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Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Very sweet little book about three owls that have to be brave while their mother is gone hunting for good. I have said “be brave like owl babies” countless times because of this book.

Happy back to school everyone 🙂

Letter Sound Song

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Watch part of our go-to alphabet song here on YouTube. It covers letter name, sound, and a thing that starts with the letter.

Having Maxwell do it himself allows me to see his gaps in knowledge and let’s me correct wrong sounds and letters in a fun way.

You can even change it up and do action words for a movement activity.
J for jump jjj
C for clap ccc

Sorting by Color and Rocking Your Kid’s World

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Materials:
Painter’s tape (my best friend)
Pictures of various objects that are primarily one color
Color word cards
A Wall
(We used a color wall display we bought from a teacher store, but you could easily use magazine pictures and construction paper. )

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Resources:
Song Video: What Color Do You Like?
The boys love, love, love this color song (especially Patrick), and I find myself singing the tune all day too

Book: and to name but just a few: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue By Laurie Rosenwald

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Related Post:
Toys that Teach : Color Sort Vegetables

Objectives:
Child will be able to identify colors
Child will be able to recognize color words
Child will be able to sort objects by a single attribute (color)
Also builds vocabulary

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

Lesson:
The Rocking Your Kid’s World Part:
Although it could be fun to set this activity up with your kiddo-especially an older kid who could cut out the color objects from a magazine-there’s nothing quite as awesome as surprising your little one with a wall full of colorful fun when they wake up.
Investing kids in learning is 80% of the struggle to get them learn and let’s face it, colors are just cool, and this simple painters tape grid changes wall decorations into an interactive game.

The teaching sorting part:
1. Sell it- “wow! Look at this color wall! All of these colorful things want to be in their color rectangle. Can you help me sort, or put them in the right place?”
2. Show how it’s done- Choose an object and have them name it. Ask what color it is and speculate where it might go. This models the thought process of sorting for them. Then choose the correct location and stick it down.
3. Have them help you-Have them choose a picture, ask them what color it is and where they think it goes. Help them stick it down.
-Repeat doing it with them until they seem to grasp the concept of sorting. This may not happen at all the first few times and you may need to do it with them for the whole activity.
-When they grasp the sorting concept act like you’re going to put one in the wrong place and have them instruct you how to do it correctly.
-For younger kids just focus on naming the colors while sorting.
4. Do it on their own- If they’re able they can then sort all of the pictures. Encourage them to name the objects as they go.  “This is a yellow lemon and this is a yellow ducky. They’re both yellow do they go together.”

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Encourage Self-Correction

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-If a purple flower ends up in the pink rectangle. Saying “no that’s wrong” could intimidate them from trying. Instead try “hmmm I notice something funny about one of the pictures in your pink rectangle. Do you see something that looks different than the pink things?”

5. Wrapping it up- When all of the objects are sorted it’s time to CELEBRATE and review! “Yay! All of the pictures are in their color rectangles! You worked so hard sorting all of these things by their color! ” Then identify each color again and try to have them tell you what is in each color.

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Variations:
-This could be done on a smaller scale as a folder game
-On a magnet board
-You could sort actual objects onto colored paper. Apples on red, green, or yellow paper.
-With contact paper instead of painters tape.

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