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Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

  • 1.  Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 24 days ago
    I am very excited about starting a position in a pre-k classroom. I currently teach in a preschool classroom (3-year-olds). I will be teaching sight words, early reading, writing, and math (basic addition and subtraction) to pre-k students. I would like to know what specific standards/concepts should I stress to prepare students for kindergarten. Example: should the children only learn numbers to 20 or higher? etc.

    The students I will be teaching in the fall are not very advanced. Many do not know how to write their names and other basic skills. This is why I am very interested in specific standards/goals for children who will be entering kindergarten. I want to make sure that I prepare them for their future schooling in the best way possible.

    I am also interested in appropriate learning materials/curriculum, (such as workbooks), I can use to provide a bridge for kindergarten skills. I would like to begin using the Handwriting Without Tears workbook for Pre-K. I used the preschool version at a previous position and would really like my director to buy a book for each child.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!


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    Jennifer United States
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  • 2.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 24 days ago
    First, I'd say to go to your state's board of education to find the early learning standards for your area and age group. Then I'd think about what is pushing you to do such a strictly academic approach with four year olds. It should be clear that NAEYC's positions on curricula in preschool is based on the research and developmental data that show young children learn best through child-initiated, teacher-facilitated play. Unless your assessment on each child shows they have moved through all of the previous stages of early literacy, of math, of symbolic thought etc, these students will not benefit in the long run by across the board worksheets. I wouldn't use them at all unless one or more individuals have shown solid understanding of text concepts, have adequate fine motor, and have the desire to write emergently. Even with that, I would individualize worksheets so that they relate to things each student's wishes to write, and for what purpose, be that a letter to a friend, labels and signs for play, or creating a storybook to be read to the class.

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    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
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  • 3.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 24 days ago
    Why sight words? They really aren't developmentally appropriate until Kindergarten.

    As far as standards go, each state has their own. You should be able to use a search engine, like Google, to find the ones for your state.

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    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 24 days ago
    Hi Heather,

    I was told by my director that I should begin to teach the children sight words and early reading. I am getting an entirely new class of children because the previous class is moving on to kindergarten. The previous teacher was teaching them numbers, letters, sight words, early reading, subtraction and addition and so on. I am trying to take her lead as far as teaching is concerned.

    At my school, this class uses a lot of worksheets (even if it is not developmentally-appropriate). I just want to prepare these children as best I can.


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    Jennifer United States
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  • 5.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 23 days ago
    My predecessor, who is now the Kindergarten teacher at my school, also taught sight words and made sight word books for the kids to read. I will not teach them unless my students demonstrate the ability to handle them. In the 4 years I have taught at my current school, that includes 5 students. My job has been to educate other teachers and parents  (especially the parents) about Developmentally Appropriate Practice and why it's so important. I've also been reading anything I can get my hands on the explains reading and writing in preschool from a developmental standpoint. NAYEC has 2 great publications, Learning to Read and Write, and Much More Than the ABCs. Additionally, I've been reading I AM Reading by Kathy Collins and Matt Glover. There is also a book by those  authors rhat talks about writing, and I don't have it near me right now. I've been sharing these books and articles with my principal, and have her full support, and with the Kindergarten teacher. She still teaches more academically than I do, but she understands where I am coming from.
    Congratulations on your new position and have fun with your students. There are 2 teachers you could follow who do make "academics" playful; Pocket of Preschool and Pre-K Pages. Both have websites/blogs. Both sell items on Teacher pay Teachers. Both have Facebook pages.

    ------------------------------
    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI
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  • 6.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi Heather,

    Thank you so much for your help and your book suggestions. I will look into both of these. I will not start the school year off with sight words. I will first assess the student's knowledge and proceed accordingly. I will start the school year teaching basic letter and number knowledge and slowly work up to sight words.

    I too enjoy the work of Pre-K Pages and Pocket Of Preschool. They are both excellent resources. I have used them in my previous classrooms and will continue to use them in my pre-k classroom.

    Thank you for your congratulations. This will be a wonderful experience!

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    Jennifer United States
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  • 7.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 24 days ago
    Congratulations, Jennifer on the opportunity you will have to work with pre-k children. I enjoy children at this age because they are interested, engaged in activities and curious about the world around them. I am curious about the curriculum you will be using to guide you in preparing the learning environment for and with the children. How did you arrive at your thinking about what it is you will be teaching the children. I found as a teacher of young children, I followed the lead of the children as they explored Interest Areas I created based on observations I completed of each child and a review of materials I received from the child's former teacher to know where the child was in their development, how they learned and what were some things they were interested in the past that I could use to begin to design the learning environment.

    My current thinking about how to prepare the learning environment for young children in influenced by the thought to start with the strengths of the child and prepare experiences to support the child to move forward in the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. I use continuum of typical development of children as a guide to the journey I support for each child in their development and am consciously focused on wanting to build a child's confidence that together with me, they "can do" and accomplish so much that leads to them having the foundation they need to succeed in school and life.

    I found the children enjoyed handwriting experiences in the Dramatic Play area when they would write down foods they wanted to buy at the store or wrote letters to family members and friends.

    As I now have the wonderful opportunity to serve as a coach for Pre-k teachers, I approach this work from a strength-based perspective as well. I consider each teacher I work with as capable and having knowledge and skills to prepare the environment for the children to learn. I am their "guide on the side" helping them think about and improve their ability to teach and learn from the children.

    I suggest you read the draft NAEYC Position Statement and think about how it can apply to your role as a Pre-k teacher.

    Best wishes for a wonderful year as a Pre-k teacher.

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    Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
    Better Futures LLC
    Senior Consultant
    Washington, DC
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  • 8.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 24 days ago
    Hi Robert,

    Thank you so much for your congratulations. I have taught infants to preschool previously. I wish to enter a more academic-based environment that the pre-k at my school offers. I really enjoy the more hands-on, academically-based classroom environment and style. I do not get to do as much hands-on teaching with the 3's as I would like and find that this is a happy medium.

    As far as curriculum goes, the school does not have one. I am used to either using the Project Approach or Creative Curriculum. I wish that the units were longer than a week so that I could use the Project Approach to the best of my ability. I love the in-depth and rich nature of this curriculum.

    I plan to individualize the environment as much as I can. I want to make sure that each child learns each concept fully.

    Thank you so much for your tips.

    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
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  • 9.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 23 days ago
    Hi Jennifer, I spent many years teaching pre-k and I would simply like to remind you that young children are always learning.  Again, according to research and developmental standards, children learn best while playing in stimulating environments while exploring questions that emerge from their own thoughts.  I also teach for Champlain College and I help guide masters students in early childhood education to see the value in naturalistic play.  This is play that is open-ended and guided by children and not by teachers.  I try to help educators see the learning that happens during such play.  In fact, more learning takes place during such rich play experiences than learning that occurs during teacher guided activities.  Now that you are in your new position I invite you to become a teacher researcher.  Observe closely to see what types of learning occur during play vs teacher guided lessons.  I would suggest you use a larger lens than academics for viewing learning.  Look for resiliency, kindness, moments of wonder, empathy, risk taking to name a few.  Let us all know what you see.  I wish you much success.
    Deb
    Growing Wonder
    Facilitator of the YCSIF
    Instructor for Champlain College

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    Deborah Schein
    instructor and consultant
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 10.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 23 days ago
    Creative Curriculum has Studies that can last at least 6 weeks. Have you tried them?

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    Laura Mykel
    Marion NC
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  • 11.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi Laura,

    I am familiar with the Creative Curriculum and used it briefly in a school that I taught in. We only used basic elements of the Creative Curriculum in our teaching. I will definitely look into this curriculum and see if I can increase the amount of time spent on each unit.

    Thank you for your suggestion. It means a lot to me.

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    Jennifer United States
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  • 12.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    Creative Curriculum units can be training wheels (if you choose a pre-made Study) or wings to fly with (using the CC template to flesh out a detailed lesson plan that relates to significant interests of the students.  When you use a Project Approach, even when written via Creative Curriculum, you are able to teach "deeper" instead of "wider."

    Concepts of all academic skills are learned through meaningful, relevant activities in preschoolers. Without really grasping the concepts of things like "letters make sounds, groups of letters make words, many words make sentences, and text conveys meaning," children are rote learning -- they are memorizing meaningless data, maybe even a lot ("wider") but they may not grasp the fundamental purpose of all of it.  Worse is the likelihood that Sight Words will teach them that reading is a chore, a mechanical process that sucks the joy out of whatever the words actually mean.

    A language-rich, print-rich environment is really the best way for 3's and 4's and 5's to begin learning about reading and writing: it suggests and invites them rather than commands them.  Why not start the year off with a Library Study, visiting the local library, observing what parts of it the children like or have questions about, recreating a Library in your Dramatic Play area, and inviting all students to create the books for the library themselves?  Have all of your direct instruction tools out, but let them explore them individually and extend their interests towards choosing their own special words to spell and put on the covers. There is room for every child to begin and participate, and there will be room for each to grow at their own pace with this method.  Children who are resistant to join in can be observed in play, and new opportunities can be found or created to entice them to write something: a sign for their Lego creation, a "Missing You" card for the sad child dealing with Separation.

    In a play-based classroom, you have the freedom to see HOW they best approach various skill areas, and you have the time to tailor the curriculum to unique needs.  * This is a gift that no other grade level classroom can ever truly offer them!  Don't waste their big chance to develop a genuine LOVE OF LEARNING.

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
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  • 13.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 19 days ago
    Hi Mars,

    I do understand what you mean and enjoy the process you are taking to preserve the play aspect of learning, but sight words and early reading are required parts of the pre-kindergarten program at my school. I can't go against my director's wishes. Many of the children seem happy to have learned basic reading skills and some are beginning to read very simple stories (such as the Bob books series)

    I have decided to create a Project Approach curriculum for the children. For our Under the Sea unit, we will be talking about our prior knowledge of the ocean and sea animals, taking a virtual field trip to an aquarium, drawing our favorite sea creatures, graphing whether we have ever been on a boat, and investigating sea shells and discovering if they are univalves or bivalves and so on.

    I am still an advocate of Handwriting Without Tears and will try to get my director to purchase this early handwriting program.

    I thank you and the others that have answered my questions. You have all been very helpful.

    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
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  • 14.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 23 days ago
    I will never forget the kindergarten teacher who said that "kindergarten readiness" should be defined as social emotional readiness not academic readiness. She preferred children who had been to a play based preschool for that reason. The Massachusetts "Preschool and Kindergarten Standards in Social Development and Approaches to Play and Learning" which are available on the mass.gov website are an excellent resource.

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    Margery Heyl
    Chicago IL
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  • 15.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 23 days ago

    Hello Everyone,

    I thank you and respect all of your ideas and concerns over the academics in the Early Childhood Environment. I do understand the need for play and social-emotional skills. This is the environment I need to work with due to what my director and previous lead teacher have set forth. They want curriculum and academics in the classroom. I am expected to teach sight words, early reading, subtraction and addition. I do not have a choice in this matter.

    I do read to the children and speak about the stories we have read. I create hands-on science experiments and learning materials. My room is set up into very simple centers that never change with themes. The children are constantly playing and interacting with one another in imaginative play experiences. Most of their day is play-based. Only short bursts of time are spent in circle time and teacher-directed learning.

    I have read many books on Early Childhood Development and the importance of play. I am not able to change my school's academics or the way it is run. I enjoy teaching and wanted to work with older children so that I could interact and teach for longer periods of time. I do not want the children to feel overwhelmed by curriculum, but they are expected to know how to write their name, recognize simple sight words, know their uppercase and lowercase letters, and basic number concepts by the end of pre-k. This is expected by my state's educational standards. I will do all of this to the best of my ability so that they will not feel "academically-stressed" by the time they reach kindergarten.

    I have read and heard many kindergarten teachers state that many of their children do not know how to hold a pencil properly or how to use scissors by the time they reach this grade. They also are having difficulty writing properly (beginning to write from bottom to top instead of top to bottom). They find this very upsetting and wish that pre-k teachers would focus on these skills. Many kindergarten teachers feel that they are spending too much time correcting handwriting, pencil grip, and scissor practice. I do not want this to occur in my classroom. This is why I am very interested in curriculum and appropriate teaching practices. This way, I will avoid added stress on the teachers and children in the future.

     



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    Jennifer United States
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  • 16.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    Jennifer,
    I'm just curious what state you are in?

    ------------------------------
    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    Jennifer, you've opened a good topic here, with passionate and reasoned replies based on what is best for children in Pre-K.  Just chiming in to add to Margery's comment.  Every Kindergarten teacher I've ever talked to has said that they aren't needing children to come into their classrooms with any of the academic skills you're calling "curriculum".  They want kids who can be in community, know how to interact with others, have some self-regulation skills, problem-solving skills, and are creative thinkers.  Those are the children who are ready to learn and are appropriate Pre-K skills.  That doesn't mean that you don't do pre-reading and reading and writing with them.  Rather that those, like science math, are best learned as part of play and fun inquiry.  Skill-and-drill, worksheets, and flashcards aren't appropriate.

    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi Aren,

    I have spoken to other kindergarten teachers that have a differing opinion than this. I believe it all depends on the mindset of each teacher. Some may have no problem with children not being as academically prepared, while others may become frustrated that they do not know how to write their name, know their letters/numbers, or know how to properly manipulate scissors.

    I am following the rules set forth by my director and the children's previous teacher. This is how this school feels that children should learn and be taught. This is what the school expects from the incoming teacher.  You can still make learning fun with hands-on activities (that I do on a daily basis).

    I do not feel that teaching a child how to properly use scissors, correct pencil grip, early writing concepts, and basic math developmentally-inappropriate. This school favors worksheets as long as they are used sparingly. The current teacher uses them and I will continue this process. I can not go against the wishes of the director or the school. I am also basing my lessons on my state's standards.




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    Jennifer United States
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  • 19.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 21 days ago
    Every semester I have at least one student (and recently it's been several students) who -- when they realize what they are being asked to do is developmentally inappropriate -- quit their jobs and find a place where they can do what they have learned is right for young children.  The NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct informs us that we should not do anything that harms young children, and we know that a developmentally inappropriate curriculum will harm children.  It might not harm all of them, but it will certainly harm some children in ways that won't show up immediately.

    The students who end up quitting and finding a better program struggle with this decision, believe me.  It's not easy for them to make that move.

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    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
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  • 20.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    I think what Aren is saying is that when children have an opportunity to develop the social and emotional skills either at home or in a quality early childhood program they arrive in kindergarten feeling confident about taking the next step. Children can learn the academics when they feel good about themselves. I too have spoken with many kindergarten teachers and they say that when children know the basics of community living they are more likely to ease into the standards of kindergarten.

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    Joyce Daniels
    Adjunct Instructor
    Sierra College
    Fair Oaks CA
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  • 21.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    Hi Jennifer,

           Please know I completed my Hello account creation to respond to your question because I felt for you so deeply when I first read it. I could recall a slight familiar frustration as I flashed back to my first center experience as a teenager.

         What I'm saying is, I have been in your shoes. Do your best. I really think tasteful environmental literacy can help here, if you haven't already considered. Things such as labelling the containers with pictures of the contents and the title. I would do "door" and "window" but you also don't want to overwhelm children with too much.

         This may not be appropriate for a Reggio based program, so it might not be right for you but I would consider looking into it. If you have bilingual children in the room, including the word in their home language would be a great cultural inclusion practice, again with care not to be overwhelming.

    I wish these forums had "like" buttons. So many excellent post! You've got this Jennifer! I can tell because you cared to ask : ) (smile)


    Kayleigh F.
    Student
    Indianapolis, IN

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    Kayleigh Francis
    Ivy Tech Community College
    Indianapolis IN
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  • 22.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    Hi Kayleigh,

    Welcome to Hello! Thank you so much for answering my question. I already have environmental print in the classroom, but I appreciate your suggestion. My director is insistent about me teaching sight words, early reading, and subtraction/addition. I will do my best to make this learning experience as fun as possible for all the children.

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    Jennifer United States
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  • 23.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 19 days ago
    Good luck, Jennifer. I hope you'll continue to ask questions about various preschool approaches. A reflective attitude is super helpful here, making sure you have clarity of what you believe as well as facts. I say this because it seems like you had asked for the best way to begin Literacy work, but when positions contrary to your own were raised, you returned to your director's position as non-negotiable. I think this forum is a beautiful place to ask for ideas and knowledge, especially when highly experienced and educated teachers offer their knowledge. I hope this discussion did deepen your understanding in some way.
    Happy First Day of School!

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 19 days ago
    Hi Mars,

    Thank you for your well wishes! I want to let you know that I do have a reflective attitude towards developmentally-appropriate learning, I also understand that there are different and new approaches that are being suggested by you and other teachers. I am new to this classroom. I need to follow certain learning objectives that are currently in place at my school.

    I never wanted this discussion to turn into a right way/wrong way argument. I just simply wanted to know what Pre-K learning standards needed to be met and the different curriculum choices that were effective for this age group.

    I have decided that I will be using the Project Approach as my curriculum. For handwriting, I will be using Handwriting Without Tears. 

    I feel as if some teachers are suggesting that I should walk into my director's office and tell her that what she is doing is developmentally-inappropriate. Please take a moment to think about my position. I am a new teacher to this room, I am coming from a younger preschool room, and I am following direct instructions given to me by my superior.

    I will not risk my employment because I do not like how our program is being run. Sometimes, we need to work as best we can with what we are given. This is what I am currently doing and will continue to do for now.


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    Jennifer United States
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  • 25.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 18 days ago
    Oops, sorry that I sound adversarial on the printed page. It's just because of my passion for creativity in this work. I hope you are able to offer new ideas to your director, slowly perhaps, over time.

    What state do you live in? That's the best way to look up Learning Standards that she is concerned with. I'd be happy to look them up and maybe by email can offer a few other activities designed to meet those Early Literacy Standards and Early Math Standards. Feel free to email me privately. Maybe you will like adding some additional activities, maybe within your theme, to deepen the literacy and math.

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    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------