Nonna's Favorite Quotes:

Nonna's Favorite Quotes: "The best way to make children good is to make them happy." — Oscar Wilde, author and poet

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inside...Outside

When I was a child, the emphasis in the classroom was on memorization of information. It didn't seem to matter if you understood the process as long as you could give the correct answer. I remember a teacher answering one of my many questions with "It isn't yours to question why, it's only yours to do or die."

Fortunately, there has been a shift in education toward teaching critical thinking skills, that now takes thinking beyond memorization and into analysis and logic.  Children are now taught how to think instead of just what to think.

Below is a worksheet that will help your child become a critical thinker. Have your child describe each picture and decide if it's an outside or inside activity. Ask if there are any activities that could be done both inside and outside. Ask your child to describe what would happen if they did the outside activities inside, or vice versa.

To Print: Double click on the sheet to open it. Then right click and choose Print Picture.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Identifying Patterns

A child's world is surrounded by patterns... the stripes on a zebra, the spots on a dog, the rhymes in a book or song.

Encouraging a child to recognize patterns will help them make sense out of what they see and hear. Patterns help a child figure out how things fit together in their world, and they help them predict what will happen next. The ability to recognize patterns also makes a child a good problem solver. Here is an activity that will reinforce pattern recognition skills.

To Print:  Double click on the sheet to open it. Then right click and choose Print Picture.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let's Make a Match

Pre-reading skills are skills that children need to acquire in order to learn to read. One of the pre-reading skills is the ability to match. Since part of what we do in the process of reading involves matching, children need to learn to match shapes, patterns, letters, and finally words. The following worksheet will help your child develop this important skill.

To Print:  Double click on the worksheet to open it. Then right click and choose Print Picture.



Here are some other activites that will reinforce matching skills.
  • Card games
  • Dominoes
  • Activity books involving matching shapes, pictures and letters
  • Pairing up socks, gloves, or shoes
  • Shape sorters
  • Jigsaw puzzles

Friday, January 20, 2012

Grandparent Wars

I found this quote  by Richard L. Evans... "Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.”  I think some grandparents need to make this their mantra. I'm acquainted with a lot of grandparents that are determined to be their grandchildrens' favorites. They wage this constant war to somehow outdo the other set of grandparents by spending more money.

I grew up knowing only one grandparent and we were very close.  So, after listening to a grandma I know lament about how she didn't have the money to buy her grandkids all the things that her son-in-laws parents could, I decided to write down all the things that came to mind when I thought about my grandmother.

I remembered...

...that I was always welcome at her house. I never had to call before I came. I could always just stop by to say hello. She always greeted me with a smile...and fed me.

 ...sleeping over at her house. In the morning she'd wake me by walking past my room singing "Good morning to you." to the tune of Happy Birthday.

...sitting with her while she cleaned out her dresser drawers. I loved looking at all her scarves and purses and jewelry. She always seemed to find something that she "didn't want" that I could take home with me.

...watching her bake. She made great pies and cookies. She would let me help and would leave just enough in the mixing bowl so I could have a taste of her delicious dough.

...her attending all of my school plays, my dance recitals, and my softball games.

...that she was never mad at me (of course, that's because I was a perfect child.) She let me know when I did something wrong but she was never angry with me.

...that she gave me my first job and patiently tried to make me into a salesperson.

What I don't remember is what she bought me. I know she would buy me Christmas and birthday presents and she would sometimes bring me home clothes and jewelry from the dress shop she managed, but I can't give you specifics. I found out later that she would give my mother money if I needed something special, but I didn't know that at the time.

My grandmother was not about "stuff"...she was about loving me and wanting to be with me. She was about listening to me. She was about being nice to me and my friends when we stopped by. She was about encouraging me to be honest and truthful and respectful. Being with my grandmother was a comfortable place to be. My grandmother was not perfect. In fact she made my mother crazy at times. But as her grandchild, I had no complaints. I sought out her company and I think that says a lot.

My own mother was the same with my children. They enjoyed her company because she enjoyed theirs. She never tried to impress them with "stuff". She was there when they needed a ride somewhere. She was at every school play and ball game. She knew all their friends and favorite movies. When they got in trouble at home they could hide out at her house but only after she talked with them about what they did wrong and reinforced our position at home. She loved them with her whole heart and soul and they knew it. They had other grandparents (and stepgrandparents) but she was truly their favorite. Not because of what she bought them, but because of how she loved them.



Don't engage in the "battle"... be yourself, give of yourself and your time, give your love... and you will be loved.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ready...Set... Go!

As we head into the second half of the school year, those of you who have a preschooler that will be entering Kindergarten in September may be wondering if your child will be ready for this next step.

Getting ready for Kindergarten is more than just learning the ABCs. A child will be exposed to new social experiences and new rules.  Here's my list of 12 simple things that a parent can do to help prepare their child for this transition.

  1. Daily routines are very important. Regular meal times and bedtimes are a good start. A preschool child should be getting eight or more hours of sleep at night.
  2. Your child should be participating in regular physical activity. Weather permitting, your child should go outside and play everyday.
  3. Teach your child to become independent by helping them develop dressing, eating, and personal hygiene skills.
  4. Take your child to a wide variety of places. Expand their world (and their vocabulary) by going to the library, the mall, the park, the zoo, the supermarket, etc.
  5. Talk to your child and read to your child. This one may seem like a "no-brainer" but you'd be surprised at how many parents use the television to entertain their children. Talk, talk, talk and don't forget to listen.
  6. Sing songs together and don't forget to dance!
  7. Provide your preschooler with toys and games (or household objects) that encourage imagination and manipulation. Be sure to include activities that involve the alphabet and counting.
  8. Provide your child with the opportunity to play with other children on a regular basis. This will provide you with opportunities to teach them social values, cooperation, sharing, taking turns, and appropriate ways to disagree.
  9. Teach your child courtesy. "Please" and "thank you" are very important words.
  10. Establish acceptable behaviors in and outside the home.
  11. Make sure you have the following items available for your child to use: pencils, markers, chalk, paper, scissors, paste, and Playdough. Encourage them to draw, scribble and create.
  12. Provide your child with books, magazines, or flyers for them to "read" or handle.

Preparing for Kindergarten is a process that starts long before the first day of school. By getting a head start with learning new skills and becoming more independent, your child will have an easier transition when the school bell rings in September.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ryhme All The Time #3

Here's the last sheet in my series of three Activity Sheets that reinforce the following skills:
  • letter recognition
  • letter sounds
  • word recognition
  • ryhming
The directions are the same as for the previous sheets (posted on Jan. 13th.and 15th.) Depending on the age of the child, you may have to write the beginning letter on the blank at the beginning of each word. If they can print their letters, let them do it themselves. Or your child can draw a line from the correct letter to the picture.  

Remember to make up silly rhymes using all or some of the words in each box. (Example: The hog and the dog sat on a log. or Can you hug or tug on a bug?)

To Print: Double click on the sheet to open. Then right click and choose Print Picture.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rhyme All The Time #2

Here's the next sheet in my series of three Activity Sheets that reinforce the following skills:
  • letter recognition
  • letter sounds
  • word recognition
  • ryhming
The directions are the same as for the previous sheet (posted on Jan. 13th.) Depending on the age of the child, you may have to write the beginning letter on the blank at the beginning of each word. If they can print their letters, let them do it themselves. Or your child can draw a line from the correct letter to the picture.  

Your child can also make up silly rhymes using all or some of the words in each box. (Example: The wet jet flew into the net. or Ten men sat on a pen.)

To Print: Double click on the sheet to open. Then right click and choose Print Picture.

Next: Rhyme All The Time #3

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rhyme All The Time

Children play with language all the time. They create silly ryhmes and nonsense words. This kind of word play is a very important step in learning to read. They learn that letters and sounds go together to make words and they start to notice that words are all around them... in books, in stores, and in their home.

Here's an Activity Sheet that will help to reinforce the following skills:
  • letter recognition
  • letter sounds
  • word recognition
  • rhyming
Depending on the age of the child, you may have to write the beginning letter on the blank at the beginning of each word. If they can print their letters, let them do it themselves. Or your child can draw a line from the correct letter to the picture.  

Your child can also make up silly rhymes using all or some of the words in each box. (Example: The man with the pan ran to the fan. or The cat with the hat sat on a bat.)


To Print: Double click on the sheet to open it. Then right click and choose Print Picture.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Ape to the Apple" Activity Sheets

I'm finishing up my series of vowel activities with the sheets below. These three activity sheets will help a child develop control of their small hand muscles, commonly called fine motor skills. Developing fine motor skills helps a child make the precise movements that are necessary to form letters. These activities also work on eye-hand coordination.

I've divided the sheets into three levels: (Age levels are a general guideline. Parents should take into account their child's ability level and interest.)

  • Level 1:  (Age 2) Focuses on straight lines. Reinforces left to right to mimic the process of reading and writing letters and words.
  • Level 2:  (Age 3) Focuses on simple straight, zig zag, and curved lines, again reinforcing left to right. I recommend that you start with the Level 1 sheet first and then move on to Level 2. Being able to conquer Level 1 will give your child the confidence to try Level 2.
  • Level 3:  (Ages 4-5) More complicated line patterns. Excellent practice for children who are starting to write. Reinforces left to right. I recommend that you start with Level 1 and Level 2 sheets first before you attempt Level 3. Being able to conquer Levels 1 and 2 will give your child the confidence to try Level 3.

To Print:  Double click on sheet to open. Right click and choose Print Picture.

Level 1


Level 2


Level 3

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nonna and Me ABCs BINGO Game

Our ABC's BINGO game is now available on our website. Children learn to match uppercase and lowercase letters while they play an old-fashioned game of Bingo.

Game Boards are numbered so children can pick a new board each time they play. This way they can practice matching all the letters of the alphabet. We've provided helpful clues to assist children in making matches by including the matching letters on each Game Board and Game Card.

The first player who covers all 6 letter squares on their Game Board calls out "BINGO" and wins the game.
For 2 to 6 players / Ages 2+

Remember... Literacy starts with the ABCs. Have fun!


To purchase the ABCs BINGO game, or any of our other products, just click the link below.

Nonna and Me WEBSITE

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'd Like To Pick A Vowel

The purpose of these worksheets is to reinforce letter recognition, or more specifically, vowel recognition. When teaching a child to recognize letters, it's good to try different fonts so that a child will learn to recognize letters no matter what font is used.


To Print:  Double click on the sheet to open it.  Then right click and choose Print Picture.





Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A as in Alligator...

When children know most or all of their letter sounds they are ready to start putting these sounds together to form short words. Teachers often start with rhyming words that contain short vowell sounds. This seems to be a good starting point for introducing decoding in reading.

Here is a worksheet that will help reinforce the short vowel sounds.

To Print:  Double click on the sheet to open it. Then right click and choose Print Picture.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Involvement = Success

The following information was taken from a report written by the Michigan Department of Education. The report was called "What Research Says About Parent Involvement In Children's Education."  These findings reinforce what I have always believed... parental involvement in the home has a significant effect on a child's success in school.


Where Children Spend Their Time:
  • School age children spend 70% of their waking hours (including weekends and holidays) outside of school.
When Parents Should Get Involved:
  • The earlier in a child's educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects.
  • The most effective forms of parent involvement are those that engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home.
Impact of Parental Involvement:
  • 86% of the general public believes that support from parents is the most important way to improve schools.
  • Lack of parental involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools.
  • Decades of research show that when parents are involved students have (1) higher grades, test scores and graduation rates; (2) better school attendance; (3) Increased motivation, better self-esteem; (4) lower suspension rates; (5) decreased use of alcohol and drugs; (6) fewer instances of violent behavior.
  • Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students' academic success as family socioeconomic status. 
  • The more intensly parents are involved, the more beneficial the achievement effects.
  • The more parents partipate in schooling, in a sustained way, at every level, the better for student achievement.
Parent Expectations and Student Achievement:
  • Among the most consistent predictors of children's academic achievement and social adjustment is parent expectations of the child's academic attainment.
  • Parents of high-achieving students set higher standards for their children's educational activities than parents of low-achieveing students.

The Michigan Department of Education also found that families whose children were doing well in school exhibited the following characteristics:
  1. Established a daily family routine. Example: Providing time and a quiet place to study, assigning responsibility for household chores, being firm about bedtime and having dinner together.
  2. Monitored out-of-school activities. Example: Setting limits on TV watching, checking up on children when parents are not home, arranging for after-school activities and supervised care.
  3. Modeled the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work.  Example: Communicating through questioning and conversation, demonstrating that achievement comes from working hard.
  4. Expressed high but realistic expectations for achievement.  Example: Setting goals and standards that are appropriate for the child's age and maturity, recognizing and encouraging special talents, informing friends and family about successes.
  5. Encouraged children's development/progress in school.  Example: Maintaining a warm and supportive home, showing interest in children's progress in school, helping with homework, discussing the value of a good education and possible career options, staying in touch with teachers and school staff.
  6. Encouraged reading, writing and discussions among family members.  Example: Reading, listening to children read and talking about what is being read.

Message for 2012...
Sandi Zobrest (Nonna)
As the founder of Nonna and Me, I am dedicated to providing parents of young children with tools to help reinforce a variety of skills needed in the kindergarten classroom. Nonna and Me products are designed to introduce readiness material in a fun way, using repetition and reinforcement. I strongly believe that parent-child interaction is an important element in a child's development. I encourage parents to watch our DVD, listen to our CD and read our books along with your children and then initiate discussions about what they see and hear.

Throughout the coming year I plan to continue to post information and printable activity sheets on my blog to help you work with your children at home. If there is anything else I can provide you with, please let me know. I welcome your comments.