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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Duke is My Dog

Let's start today with the letter D. Print and save for your alphabet book.

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bob and Candy

Today we have the letters B and C. Remember, when your child finishes all 26 letter sheets you can staples them together and make an alphabet book.

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

Friday, February 24, 2012

My Ape Amy

I'm putting together a series of individual alphabet activity sheets that will all follow the same format. All 26 sheets will have the same three sections:
  • a little story using words that contain the specific letter,
  • a section where children are asked to name pictured objects that begin with the letter,
  • and a third section where children can practice writing the letter.
I'll start with the letter A today and over the next few weeks will take you all the way through the alphabet to Z. When your child finishes all 26 you can staples them together and make an alphabet book.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mean Preschool?

“If only you knew how mean she really is... You'd know that I'm not allowed to wear hoop earrings, right? Yeah! Two years ago she told me hoop earrings were *her* thing and I wasn't allowed to wear them anymore. And then for Hannakuh my parents got this pair of really expensive white gold hoops and I had to pretend like I didn't even like them and... it was so sad.”     From the 2004 movie “Mean Girls.”

Bullying:  Using superior strength or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what you want.
You wouldn’t think that preschool parents would have to worry about their children being bullied in school, right? Wrong. I’ve heard from the parents of a 5-year old about how their daughter (let’s call her Annie) is being bullied by another 5-year old (let’s call her Sara) at their preschool. And what makes it worse is that these two little girls used to be best friends.

This year Annie and Sara are in different classes. Annie expected to continue their friendship, but apparently Sara has moved on to a new set of friends and has set new “rules” for Annie. Annie is told not to speak to certain people, not to follow her or any of her new friends, not to use certain playground equipment, etc. Sara tells Annie that the other kids don’t like her and don’t want to talk to her. The results have been devastating. Not only is Annie now acting the same way to her siblings…telling them what they can and can’t do or say... she’s no longer excited about going to school. Annie is very confused about what is happening and doesn’t understand what has made her unlikeable.

What Annie has been experiencing is the type of bullying that’s referred to as “social exclusion,” a powerful tactic used to isolate and control another person. Social exclusion doesn’t usually involve the violence that you associate with bullying. Instead, the victims of social exclusion are shunned or ignored.

“Treated as if they don’t exist, or as if their very existence is the problem, victims of social exclusion are singled out by whispering campaigns, gossip and mocking laughter. Isolated from a group, alone at lunch, on the playground and on the bus, the isolation is real and painful. Social Exclusion is difficult to spot, hard to stop and leaves lasting, sometimes fatal, damage to the self-image and self-esteem of the victim.”    The New Bullying
But in preschool…really!

Where does a 5-year old learn this type of behavior? My suggestion would be to take a good look at what these children are watching on TV. Even children’s programming can contain examples of bad behavior towards others. And kids soak up this stuff like a sponge. Careful pre-screening of television programs and movies is a must.

So what do you do now?
First, parents need to inform their child’s teacher that this is happening. Then teachers must get involved quickly. An important goal is to strengthen the child’s standing with their classmates. If a child has at least one good friend at school they are less likely to be bullied.
Here are a few ideas:
  • Simple lessons, songs and role play are an effective way to introduce the topic of bullying to little ones
  • Teach children how to invite another child to play with them or how to join in with others at play.
  • Pair students together for activities throughout the day so they can get to know each other.
  • Be vigilant on the playground, encouraging organized play and making sure non-social children are not excluded.  
Parents and teachers must encourage all children (those who are being bullied and those who witness it) to report any bullying to an adult. Students deserve to feel safe and happy at school. But when they experience bullying of any type, effects like depression, low self-esteem, health problems, poor grades, bad behavior, and suicidal thoughts can last long into their future.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A My Name Is Alice...

Here's a fun alphabet poem for your little ones...

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Not Your Grandmother's Kindergarten

I originally posted this on my blog in October. I've had several requests to post it again. So here it is...

Nonna shares:
When I went to a parochial school kindergarten in the early 1950’s, the only prerequisite was age. Kindergarten was a half-day session filled with coloring, singing, snacking, napping, making stuff out of clay, finger plays, and lots of playtime in general. In the 50’s, kindergarten’s emphasis was socialization and following directions, not academics.
Preschool-productsFollowing directions… I don’t think that was one of my strong points, because one of my most vivid memories of kindergarten was the time I colored the hearts on my mother’s Valentine’s Day card orange. My teacher, Mrs. Hannon, made such a fuss about hearts being red, not orange, that I cried when I gave it to my mother (those were the days when no one cared about making children feel bad about themselves!).

When I became a teacher in the early 1970’s, kindergarten was still pretty much about socialization and following directions. The kindergarten teacher in my school was a wonderful, fun-loving woman with a child-like personality. Her classroom seemed to be a little more academically structured than the one I remembered from the 50’s, but gauging from what my first graders knew, academics was not anywhere near a priority. I remember the first day of school, when I told my first grade class to line up single file in the back of the room. Not only did most of the children not know where the “back” of the room was, I threw in the words “single file”. Tears, tears everywhere… How was I to know that “single file” (a commonly used requirement for lining up in a parochial school) would be a foreign concept to these little public school children (Oh no! I had become Mrs. Hannon!).

Mémé shares: 
In the years that I taught preschool, which was before there was Sesame Street, our mornings were spent in play.  We told parents that “play” was their child’s “work” and through play they would learn shapes, colors, large and fine motor skills.  Ha! That is what babies are doing now in their cribs.

Nonna shares: 
Let’s jump ahead to the new millennium… As kindergarten becomes more and more academic, children are required to do more and know more. In addition, many kindergartens are moving from a half-day to a full-day schedule. The requirements and expectations for kindergarteners go far past the month they turn 5. They are expected to enter kindergarten knowing the basics and be relatively adjusted to a classroom situation.

I’ve been on numerous websites finding lists of what incoming kindergarten students should be able to do in the 2000’s. Here are some examples. (OK, I’m in trouble. My husband says that there are several of these that I still can’t do. Please don’t tell Mrs. Hannon!)

•    Listen to stories without interrupting
•    Recognize rhyming sounds
•    Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
•    Understand actions have both causes and effects
•    Show understanding of general times of day
•    Cut with scissors
•    Trace basic shapes
•    Begin to share with others
•    Start to follow rules
•    Be able to recognize authority
•    Manage bathroom needs
•    Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
•    Begin to control oneself
•    Separate from parents without being upset
•    Speak understandably
•    Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
•    Look at pictures and then tell stories
•    Identify rhyming words
•    Identify the beginning sound of some words
•    Identify some alphabet letters
•    Recognize some common sight words like "stop"
•    Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
•    Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
•    Count to ten
•    Bounce a ball

Source: Family Education

The bottom line here, as I see it, is that early childhood education will make a huge difference in a child’s success in school. And while some parents feel they can prepare their children for kindergarten at home, what they can’t provide is the classroom experience. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the parents’ role in preparing their children for school is vital.  I created Nonna and Me products to help them do just that.  But we can’t underplay the importance of a formal preschool setting. I believe that a child will benefit greatly from a combination of both. I’ve seen that combination do wonders for my own grandchildren.

That being said, I think it’s important to also address homeschooling. I applaud those parents who are educating their children at home. It takes a dedicated, structured person to take on this responsibility. I do believe that if a parent is diligent, knowledgeable, and focused on what a preschool child needs to accomplish academically, and can combine this with regular social activities such as play groups and activities at church or in the community, it can produce the same results.

Mémé shares: 
Like many of us Baby Boomers who thought retirement was on the horizon - only to realize our ship was sinking and we wouldn’t make it to the horizon - I am still teaching and grateful to be doing so.  That puts me in a position to observe on a daily basis what the expectations are for this next generation (yet to be named).  Nonna is spot-on when she says that what happens in kindergarten doesn’t stay in kindergarten and never started there in the first place. If a child is not in pre-school (or being taught effectively at home) by age 3, that child will be far behind his peers in the learning process, which is now curriculum based rather than socialization oriented.

This is definitely not your grandmother’s kindergarten!

(PLEASE NOTE: If you are seeking a nature-based or play-based Preschool for your child, search Online! Many states do offer Preschool options that focus on play-learning rather than academics. Montessori schools are also another great option for those who can afford it.)


About  Nonna and Mémé

Sandi Zobrest, B.A., M.Ed. (Nonna) is the founder and creator of Nonna and Me educational preschool DVDs, CDs, and books.  Nonna and Me was originally created for Sandi's first grandchild. This bright and happy little girl was born prematurely and was experiencing some developmental delays in language. The “Nonna and Me ABCs” DVD and books helped her in the development of language skills. Sandi received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Mercyhust College in Erie, PA and her Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA. Sandi is a retired teacher currently living in Arizona with her husband, two children, and three grandchildren.
Mémé and Nonna

Nonna and Me is truly a family affair, dedicated to assisting parents by providing them with quality educational materials. I am confident that you will find Nonna and Me products to be a great tool for the 21st century preschooler.” 

Mary C. Prus, B.A., MATL. (Mémé) taught and administered Early Childhood Developmental Programs in Erie, PA. for 20 years, including the Maura Smith Child Learning Center on the campus of Mercyhurst College, where she had received her Bachelor’s Degree (many years earlier). Which only proves - what goes around, comes around!  Currently she is teaching sixth grade Middle School in Memphis, TN. She is a long distance grandmother to three grandchildren.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Coloring By Number

Happy Valentine's Day! Here's a fun coloring activity for your kids. Match the numbers with the correct colors to complete this Valentine's Day picture.

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

Once an Advocate...Always an Advocate

Sandi Zobrest
It all started when they told me that Jim, my first baby boy, was deaf. I allowed myself two weeks of crying and feeling sorry for myself, and then the fight began.

So many questions ran through my mind those first few weeks… Why is he deaf? What can I do to fix it? Will he ever learn to talk? Where will he go to school? What will he grow up to be? I had no answers. That was the scariest part of all.

And I had serious questions about myself. I didn’t know if I had the emotional, physical and mental strength to deal with a handicapped child. I had no idea about what struggles and triumphs lay ahead of me. But what I did know was that this beautiful baby boy could not speak for himself… that would be my job.

I set out to learn as much as I could about deafness. I’ve always felt that knowledge is the key to control. As long as I knew what I was talking about, people would listen and that would give me more control over the things that would affect Jim’s life. I also knew I had to find my voice. As a child, I was never one to speak up. I never felt comfortable speaking in public. (Looking back, I think it was because I didn’t feel I had anything important to say.) But now, representing someone who had no voice, I found the strength to overcome that fear. I knew I had many important things to say, and I would make people listen.

And so my life as an advocate began. Over the last 37 years…

·        I have fought with teachers and school administrators about Jim’s educational needs,
·        I have educated family, friends and neighbors about deafness,
·        I have taught Sign Language to whomever was interested in learning to sign,
·        I have served as President of two local associations for the deaf,
·        My husband and I moved our family from Pennsylvania to Arizona so Jim could attend a school for the deaf,
·        We filed a lawsuit against our public school district because they wouldn’t provide funding for an interpreter for Jim in a Catholic high school. We won that case, after 6 years of hearings and appeals, in the Supreme Court of the United States. And because our attorney petitioned the court, this was the first time in the history of the Supreme Court that an interpreter was provided for the deaf.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. When you have a special needs child, your work never ends. I remember the day Jim graduated from high school. I thought I could finally sit back and take a deep breath. Look how far we had come. Then, as the ceremony began, the lights were turned off on the graduates and the lights were turned on for speakers on the stage. And there sat my son and his interpreter in the dark!! Here we go again. It took 10 minutes of arguing with the man in the control booth to convince him to turn up the lights so my son could see his interpreter.

Now that Jim is a grown man, my advocacy work has dwindled to occasional pep talks about decisions he makes in his life. But I have found another passion…

My first grandchild, Lina, was born prematurely. As she grew into a toddler she began to experience some obvious developmental delays. She was definitely behind in her communication skills. So again, I armed myself with knowledge… what should she be doing and when should she be doing it.  I created some fun letter and word activities on my computer to help her. I added some music and sound effects and called it “Nonna and Me ABCs.” (“Nonna” is the Italian word for Grandma.) She loved it and started communicating more and more.

By the time she entered preschool at 3½, she knew all of her ABCs, along with the sounds they made and words that began with those sounds. “Nonna and Me” was working! So at the urging of my family, and with the help of my son Sam, “Nonna and MeTM the company became a reality. My goal is to provide educational and fun materials to help parents prepare their preschoolers for kindergarten.

So what about my role as advocate? Last year I was asked to sit in on a parent-teacher conference regarding my granddaughter’s progress in preschool. Her teachers were not aware of her abilities because apparently she was not communicating in the classroom. Because of the knowledge I had armed myself with beforehand, I was able to communicate with them on their level, and they listened to what I had to say. We came to an agreement on how we could all work together to benefit Lina and it worked.  It never ends…

Once and advocate…always an advocate. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Opposites Attract

Preschoolers are naturally curious about what is alike and different. Here is a two page activity that reinforces the concept of opposites
Cut out the pictures on the first page following the dotted lines.
Paste each picture on the correct space in the colored boxes on the second page to match the opposites.

To Print
Click on a sheet to open it. Right click on the sheet you want to print and choose Print Picture.

Page 1

Page 2

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

V is for Valentine

Here's a fun Valentine's Day activity that helps teach the letter V. I've included some similar letters on the path to help with letter recognition skills.

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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Alphabet Lake

Letter recognition is the ability to name the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet. The ability to name each letter helps store it in a child's memory. Learning to recognize letters is an important part of learning to read. Try this worksheet below that provides a fun alphabet activity for your preschooler.

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