Category Archives: Preschool

Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story

I have multiple subscriptions to Scholastic magazines. I recently posted my review on Geography Spin. Go read it if you haven’t already! This post is about Storyworks Junior.

Storyworks Junior has several great articles in different genres. It was very difficult to decide which one I should do first with the kids. For several nights now, the kids have been asking whether my husband and I would like to watch their doll show. They usually ask when it was bedtime, so we always said no. This morning, as soon as they woke up, I asked them if they would like to do their doll show. Of course, they said yes. So, I picked a play from the October 2016 issue of Scholastic’s Storyworks Junior: Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story. One of the good things about Storyworks Junior is online access to archived issues; even though I haven’t been subscribing since October 2016, I still have access.

Both of them were already familiar with the Cinderella story so they picked out the characters. They decided which Disney dolls would play the characters in Yeh Shen. Katie had read the play so she just explained to Jessica that there’s only one step sister and they didn’t need two dolls for step sisters. After picking out the dolls, they decided on a costume for themselves. They only have one Mulan costume, so one of them became Elena of Avalor instead. Katie said, “let’s pretend that I’m attending a Cinco de Mayo.” Next, we read our lines for practice. Jessica can’t read fluently yet, so I told her the lines and she repeated them. After our practice, I made the video. The finished product is below.

The kids said it was a lot of fun and they would like to do it again. It took us about four hours for just one article. Storyworks Junior comes in 6 issues per year and each issue is 32 pages. I don’t know whether the classroom teachers who have subscriptions are able to go through the whole magazine with their class in two months. The good thing is that if they don’t, the kids get to keep the magazines and can share it with their families for more fun activities at home.

After our first activity using Storyworks Junior, we’re going to try to do all of the plays first. Currently, there are 6 issues available in Storyworks Junior so there’s 6 plays. I think this is great training for the future, for when I plan to ask the kids to write their own play. They are already coming up with impromptu plays (which they call “doll shows”) on their own, but having exposure to plays written by professionals would enhance their play writing skills.

The magazine is marketed to 3rd graders, 2nd-grade readers and struggling readers in the upper grades. However, I think this would be a perfect resource for gifted first graders as well. Most of the kids in my daughter’s first grade gifted class have been reading chapter books but they were reading decodables at school because all first graders are issued the same books, gifted or not. Storyworks Junior would provide highly engaging material to gifted first grade readers. For $7.85 per year per student, this is a great bargain for gifted first grade classes.

The magazine also comes with a teacher’s guide. So far, all of the skills sheets that I have seen in the teacher’s guide are language arts related skills. I have been looking for arts integration into the articles like the coloring sheets that other Scholastic magazines have, but so far, I have found none. The plays could be a lot more fun if there were cutouts for kids to color and pretend to be the characters in the play. However, even without any changes, I think Storyworks Junior is already great for its price. You get more than what you pay for.

How My Kids Develop Math Confidence

When my older daughter, Katie, started kindergarten, she initially did well in math because the first two months were just a review for her. We played some number games during the summer before she entered kindergarten. When the teacher started covering topics that I hadn’t taught her, she started struggling. I recall she came home one day, dejected, and she told me that she was not good in math. So I started tutoring her in math using the Connecting Math Concepts program, and it took us five months to finish. Even before she completed the program, I noticed her excelling at math in school again.

Her school used the Envision 2012 program. It was a lot prettier than the program I used. It had fun characters in their worksheets. It even had interactive videos which the teacher played in class. The worksheets were very colorful. However, the reason my daughter was struggling was because it did not offer enough repetition for the lessons to be internalized. The topics were tackled for a week or two and then the class moved on another topic without reviewing the previous ones. When the topics that were already covered were needed again, the kids had forgotten it already, which added to the frustration as they were covering new concepts.

When kindergarten was over, I started Katie on ST Math. She completed the kindergarten and first grade math curriculum before she started first grade. She liked it a lot as it uses play-based math games. She is now attending a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. Everyone in her class were identified as gifted/high achievers. Although her current math class is more advanced, she is not struggling at all because she was able to internalize the kindergarten concepts.

After my experience with teaching Katie how to learn math, I am now applying what I learned to teaching Jessica. Jessica is only 3-1/2 years old, so I cannot use Connecting Math Concepts (CMC) yet. CMC is quite boring for a young girl to learn math. So, I started teaching her math using games. From the picture below, you can see the number train that Jessica put on the board. I love these numbers. You can do a lot with them. Some days, she sorts the numbers into groups of 1s, 2s, etc. Some days, I’ll ask her for the numbers and if she picks the correct number, I put the number in a bowl. I call it the number soup. She’ll pretend to eat the bowl of soup when she’s done. Currently, she’s learning the numbers from 0-5. When she has mastered it, I will introduce new numbers one at a time.

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I bought this number set from Amazon. You can find the link below. If you have time, you can just cut the numbers from an old cardboard box. I just find buying them easier. It saves me time and they’re also sturdier.