December 1, 2012

Rudolph & Olive

On Friday, we read:
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) (Pictureback(R))Olive, the Other Reindeer [Hardcover]
We talked about being nice and friendly to others, even if they are different from us.  Just like Rudolph learned, being different is what makes us special!
The kiddos crafted Rudolph puppets for their art project, and happily played with them when they were finished.  :)  See the antlers?  They are your child's handprints!

We used our foam Christmas trees and ornaments game again, but this time the children played a bit differently.  Instead of using dice and putting the trees in numerical order, I placed them randomly, and just asked the kids to match the same number of ornaments to the star on the tree.  If a star had the number 4, then they would place 4 ornaments on that tree.  This time, I allowed them to choose if they wanted to participate in this center, and I'm happy to report that most children were eager to decorate these trees!

Tomorrow I will post about our letter Kk activities.  Stay tuned!

Christmas Countdown!

It's Christmastime at Preschool!
I'm going to try to get you caught up on this week's happenings over the next couple of posts.  We have started decorating our classroom, and the kids are getting into the festive holiday spirit. 
On Monday, we read:
The Christmas Story (Usborne Bible Tales Series) for Young Children Who Are Just Beginning to Read - Paperback - First American Edition 1997Merry Christmas, Curious George
We began learning about the letter Kk, and we made a Christmas countdown chain.  The chain was good for number recognition and AB patterning.
We gave the kids directions that they're supposed to rip one link off the chain each night, starting tonight.  Then they can count how many days (or sleeps) left until Christmas.
On Wednesday, we read:
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
We continued to review Kk, and made stand-up Christmas trees for our art project.
Aren't they cute?!  I think these would look darling on a window sill, shelf, or anywhere to brighten up the house for Christmas!  They were so simple to make - just use paint chips from the hardware store, stickers and clothespins.

 In math, we played an ornament game.  The children worked in pairs, rolled the dice, and decorated foam trees with pom-pom ornaments.  The trees were numbered 1-10, in order.  See the #4 tree?  Yeah, they got a little too ornament happy on that one!  :)
Coming soon:
I will be posting about Friday's class, and hopefully picking out some songs for the kids to sing at our Christmas Family Fest.  Since I've already heard a couple of kids singng "Jingle Bells", that one is sure to be on the list!  We do still need an accompanist.  Anyone interested?  Let us know!

November 30, 2012

December Sensory Tubs

Last week, we introduced the kids to the December sensory bins, and so far, they love them.  We have two tubs, meant for individual use, but sometimes extra little hands just can't resist!  The children are very good at sharing with their classmates.  :)

In each December sensory tub, we've added a base of red and green peppermint rice.  I found this idea at Growing a Jeweled Rose.  The rice is "flavored" with peppermint extract, and I only use food coloring and water to change its color.  So, if we have any hungry kiddos who want a sample, it's completely safe!

Included in both tubs are the following:
  • red snowman cup and white spoon for scooping and pouring
  • pinecone
  • bow
  • foam angel cutout
  • plastic hollyberries on a stick
  • bells
  • gold and silver stars
In the top bin, you will notice a small nutcracker.  Sadly, he was dropped and beheaded, and is awaiting repair at Santa's Preschool Workshop.  He will be back next week, good as new!

Sensory tubs are very easy to put together at home.  This one (below), I put together for my daughter (5) and my son (7), who both still love to do sensory activities.  I found all of the items around the house and mixed in with our Christmas decorations.


My kids' sensory tub includes:
  • small red mitten with red/white and green/white beaded candy canes
  • white pitcher for pouring and a red spoon for scooping
  • wooden teddy bear
  • red wooden tree shape
  • small snowman box with tiny gold instruments inside
  • bell bracelet
  • red and green straws
My kids wanted peppermint candy cane rice, so I dyed half red and left the other half plain white.  Personally, I think the red/green combination is much more vibrant, but I aim to please!
Please comment and post pictures if you try a sensory tub at home.  I'd love to see it!

November 25, 2012

Stoplight Behavior Chart

Meet the newest addition to our classroom:
Our Stoplight Behavior Chart!
The children were introduced to this behavior chart last week, and are responding well to it.  The meaning of the colors is similar to that of a real stoplight:
Green = Go; ready to learn
Yellow = Slow down; think about it; warning
Red = Stop; time out
Each morning, the kids start with their clip on Green.  (Each clip has a child's name on it, but for safety purposes, I turned the clips over, so that no names would show in the picture.)  If a child breaks a classroom rule (example: running in the classroom), we will give them a warning.  If the behavior persists, we will ask the child to move their clip up to yellow, and think about how they can change their behavior (example: walk, instead of run).  If the child still chooses to run after thinking about it, they will be asked to move their clip up to red, and sit in time out.
At the end of each day, your child will place a green, yellow or red dot on his/her behavior chart.  When your child has collected 10 green dots, he/she will earn a prize from the treasure box.  This will hopefully encourage the kids to have good behavior and to follow the 3 classroom rules.
Classroom Rules
  1. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
  2. Use walking feet.
  3. Inside voices.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.  Behavior charts are a new concept for us, and there will be some trial and error.  Our main goal is to help the children learn to follow rules, while also being able to have fun and enjoy their time in preschool.  Please talk with your child before school about keeping hands/feet to oneself, as well as using walking feet and inside voices.  Ask your child after school what color their clip landed on, and why (if it was yellow or red).
Thank you for your help in getting your kiddo ready for the world of "big school"!

Jj is for Jumping!

I loved watching the kids do this activity!
We worked together as a whole group to jump on the Jj.  Each child took a turn, while the others cheered him/her on!  I love it when they encourage each other without being prompted. 
First, the kids jumped on the uppercase J...
...then they jumped on the lowercase j!
While they jumped, they sounded out /j/, and when they finished, I asked them to name a Jj word.  Lots of kids said "jump", while others named words like "jaguar" or "jellybeans".  A couple of kids even knew some Jj names, like "Jerry" and "Julie"!
Next up is the letter Kk, which we will learn about this week.
I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving!

November 17, 2012

Mmm, Pumpkin Pie!

Pumpkin pie...the traditional Thanksgiving dessert that most of us just can't do without!  Well, our pre-k kiddos got a little pre-Turkey Day taste of this sweet, delicious dessert.  We learned that pumpkin pie is made from real pumpkins, as well as spices like nutmeg, ginger and allspice.  But what did the kids want MORE of?  The whipped cream, of course!
They also had fun creating their own pretend slice of pumpkin pie for our art project. If you'd like to craft some more at home, they're easy peasy! Check it out...
You will need:
brown construction paper (1 piece will make many slices)
brown/tan tissue paper
small paper plates
glue and scissors
Cut triangles out of the brown construction paper.  Mine were about 4" long, and about 3" across the top of the pie slice.  Glue your slice onto the plate.
Next, cut the tissue paper into small squares.  Place glue along the top of the pie slice.  Crumble a square of tissue paper, and stick it to the top of the slice.  Repeat across the top.  This will form the crust.

Now, depending on the size of your cottonballs, you may want to tear them in half.  Ours were large, and the kids only needed a small "dollop" of whipped cream.  Glue the whipped cream onto the middle of your pie slice.  And...(drumroll please)...
You have created a delicious-looking pumpkin pie, perfect for pretend play!

By the way, I heard some adorably cute quotes from kids today, as they were making their pumpkin pie crafts.  One girl said, "Making this craft is making me hungry for pumpkin pie!", while a boy said, "This looks so good, I could eat it right now!"  Aren't they so sweet and funny?!
We read the books:
and sang the song "Turkey Pokey".  Ask your kiddo to sing it for you!  "You put your right wing in, you put your right wing out..."
The kiddos completed their letter Jj activity as a group.  Look for that post at a later time this weekend.  I'll give you a hint: it involved lots of jumping!
I will also be posting about our new behavior chart, and the details that go along with it.  It's working well so far!
Happy Weekend!

November 15, 2012

Indian Corn

On Wednesday, pre-k learned about Indian corn.  This is not normally the kind of corn we eat.  We see it around Thanksgiving, and it makes a nice decoration because of its many colors.
We crafted our own Indian corn using a corn pattern, dot markers and a paper bag.  I decided to cut out the corn and husk shapes, so that the kids could focus on where to place the different colors.  I love how each child used the same 4 colors (red, blue, purple, brown), yet each one created a completely unique ear of corn!
We read the books:
The Story of ThanksgivingThank You, Thanksgiving
We also created patterns with the geoblocks again, and the children have been busily baking Thankgiving playdough cookies and cupcakes.  :)
For math, we played a game called Turkey Tracks.  The kids worked in pairs and were given a turkey mat with numbers 1-10.  They rolled the die, then covered that same number on their mat...with candy corn!  Yes, we used candy corn as our markers, and then the children got to eat some as a treat for a job well done.  I normally don't like to give candy as a reward, but we're in the midst of the holiday season.  So let's step outside of the preschool box and have a little fun!
See you for our next lesson...pumpkin pie!  :)

Ii is for Ice

Last week + Monday, we studied the letter Ii.  This letter is tricky for kids in terms of words beginning with long /i/ and short /i/.  There just aren't that many of them in their vocabularies yet!
One that they definitely know, however, is ice.  First, the kids traced Ii with their pointer finger.  Then they put on a glove, grabbed a piece of ice, and traced Ii again.
They learned the sign for Ii (pinkie finger straight up, all others down).  We also learned a little chant:
Ii says (short) i, i, igloo
Ii says (long) i, i, ice cream
The chant helps them remember which sound goes with which words.  The English language can be tough for kids!
Next up - Jj.  This one should be easier, since it only makes one sound, and starts a word that most preschoolers love to do - jump!

November 14, 2012

Turkeys: Gobble Gobble!

It's almost Turkey Time!
On Monday, we continued our Thanksgiving study with stories, actvities and a craft about turkeys.
  The kids made gobble-tastic turkeys by coloring the beak orange and wattle red on a turkey pattern.  Then I painted 4 of their fingers - red, blue, green and purple, and we stamped them in an arc shape on their paper.  They glued the turkey body on, and added 2 legs.  Aren't they the cutest?!

We read the books:
This Is the TurkeyWhat Is Thanksgiving? (Lifft-The-Flap Story)
and we talked about all the food that we eat on Thanksgiving Day.  Many people (me included) end up napping after we've gotten so full!
For literacy, we wrapped up our study of Ii, and that will be covered on the next post.
In writing, the kids traced a turkey.  They could use one or more colors, and I'm happy with the progress they're making!  Tracing activities help to strengthen the fine motor muscles used in writing.  We mostly use markers for tracing, because they are chunkier than pencils and easier to grip for preschoolers. 
For math, the kids used patterns and geoblocks to make corn and turkeys.  (Sorry I didn't get a picture!)  They did a great job of placing the different shapes where they were supposed to go, and one boy even made his own pattern - a Transformer!  Now that's thinking outside the box!
In music and movement, we learned a new song - The Turkey Pokey!  The tune is to Hokey Pokey, and we use wings, beaks, turkey toes and tail feathers.  Ask your kiddo to sing it for you. 
Gobble Gobble!

November 12, 2012

November Sensory Tubs

Today, the children will be introduced to the November sensory tubs.  Yes, November is half over, and I have been slooooooow at collecting things to put in this month's tubs.  It was kind of hard to come up with ideas for this one!
But nonetheless, here it is.  Ta da!
Our November sensory includes:
  • yellow-dyed rice (which will very quickly be mixed with the underlying orange rice!)
  • plastic mini red gourds
  • tea cups and orange spoon/scoop
  • real mini pumpkin and white gourd
  • Pilgrim and Native American stand-ups
  • Mayflower stand-up (not pictured)
I hope the kiddos enjoy these bins!
I'm sure they will, because they always ask to play in them.  We end up with lots of rice on the floor, but they are doing such a great job scooping and pouring!
I love activities like this that the kids and I both get excited about, and that provide sensory stimulation, as well as fine-motor muscle development.
Yay for sensory tubs!

November 11, 2012

Thankful Quilt

This week we were busy with parent/teacher conferences and learning all about The First Thanksgiving.  Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just right around the corner?  It snuck up on me this year!
As part of our month of thanks, we decided to make a Thankful Quilt.  (Since names are listed on each paper quilt square, I decided not to include a photo on our blog.  You can check it out in person on the wall outside our classroom.) 
I simply adore every answer that the children gave!
When I asked, "What are you thankful for?  What makes you happy?", the kiddos gave very sweet, innocent and thoughful responses.  Please take a moment to read the answers your child gave, as well as those of the rest of the class.  They are just amazing!
On Friday, we learned about Pilgrims and Native Americans.  We read the books:
T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving StoryMy First Thanksgiving
to learn about the story of the first Thanksgiving.
We looked at pictures from the book:
Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy
and compared our clothing to that of the Pilgrims, as well as chores that the children did then and now.  It was very interesting to the kids!  They did not realize how much work children had to do at that time.  Quite a change from today, for sure!
We are still working on the letter Ii and will wrap that up on Monday, along with introducing the letter Jj.
Happy Weekend! 

November 6, 2012

I Am Thankful For...

On Monday, we began our month-long celebration of Thanksgiving!
We read the book:
Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks
We gave lots of examples of things to be thankful for, or in a preschooler's mind, things that make us happy.  Many children cited food, toys and family - all things that are central to their world right now.
I didn't get to snap any pictures, but we also worked on our paper Thanksgiving Quilt.  I asked each child individually to name a few things that they're thankful for, wrote it on a colorful quilt square of their choice, and they decorated it with fall stickers.  All the children did a great job, and were very thoughtful with their responses.  We will hang the quilt outside of our classroom for all to see, and I will post pictures on our blog as well.  I am thankful for twelve amazing little pre-kindergarteners who brighten my days, make me laugh, and are pure blessings from above.  :) 
We finished up assessments for our upcoming conferences, including a cute monster color-by-number page.  The sandbox and easel centers were open, and loved by all.  These kiddos sure do love to paint!  Picassos-in-the-making, perhaps?  Yes, I think so!
See you on Wednesday! 

November 4, 2012

Hh is for Hand and Heart

Who knew so many body parts begin with Hh?!
This was a discovery for many of our kiddos!  We learned that hair, head, hands and heart all start with the letter Hh.  We made the /h/ sound, and felt our breath on our hand as we did so.  Ask your kid to show you!
We practiced skywriting Hh and naming many Hh words. I traced each child's hand and drew a heart inside to color. The kids also traced a dashed Hh, and learned the Hh sign.

Gg is for Green Glowstick

I made some green-tinted salt, and got a green glowstick wand for our letter Gg activity.
The kids used the glowstick like a pencil to form Gg in the salt.  They loved it!  They did a very good job writing Gg as well.  Usually the straight, stick letters are the easiest for them to form at this point, but most kids are getting the hang of the curvy letters too. Great!
During this individual activity, I asked the children to make the Gg sounds - hard /g/, like goat, and soft /g/, like giraffe.  I think it is equally important for them to learn hard and soft consonant sounds, just as it is to learn short and long vowel sounds.  The more their brains are exposed to these different sounds, the easier it will be for them to start reading!
We also learned the sign for Gg, and talked about lots of Gg words.  Ask your kiddo to name a few, and even find some around the house.
Groovy! :)

Fall Festival and My Marvelous Mustache

I bet you're wondering where our posts have been, right?  Well, things have gone from slow and steady to run as fast as you can in our classroom!  (And for me, outside the classroom as well.)  I think it's just that time of year, with holidays approaching, that life tends to speed up.  So, I'm going to try my best to get you all caught up (minus two weeks ago), and stay up to date on our classroom happenings. 
Last week, we had a ball at our Fall Festival party.  We broke up into two groups to enjoy even more fun and games.  In the block room, the kids played the pumpkin crawl, pumpkin bowling, and jack-o-lantern toss.  In the classroom, they fished for Frankenstein, stamped faces on pumpkins, played in the rice sensory tubs and made googly eye necklaces. 
We read:
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of AnythingHappy Halloween, Curious GeorgeHAPPY HALLOWEEN, CURIOUS GEORGE by Raymond, N. T. (Author) on Sep-22-2008 Board Books
For snack, we had orange drink, a pumpkin cookie or bat brownie, and...
Air-Popped Popcorn!
 The kids were amazed, and kept asking us to make more popcorn!  They even jumped up and down to help the popcorn pop.  Total cuteness! 
Here are the not-so-scary googly eye necklaces we made.  This craft was based on an idea I saw from Make and Takes.  Check it out - she has lots of other fun and super silly googly eye jewelry that you can make with your kids!

The highlight of our week, however, was our Wednesday theme - My Marvelous Mustache.  Oh yes, we had great fun with this one!  This was probably the goofiest, most fun lesson we've taught yet!
We read the book Moosekitos, about a moose family reunion that is invaded by mosquitos.  Moose's mustache and glue saved the day!
Moosekitos : A Moose Family Reunion
The kids played for quite awhile with mustaches-on-a-stick, and they also liked the Mustache Match.

Then, of course, we all had to try the stick-on mustaches.  What a riot!
Honestly, I don't know how guys do it.  That mustache just about made me sneeze, it was so itchy!
This was a roll on the floor, laugh til you cry kind of day.  The best, for sure!

October 19, 2012

Frankenstein Candy Wraps

Since we played our Fishies for Frankenstein game on Wednesday, and I had been scouring Pinterest for ideas (that site is addicting, right?!), I decided to give the kids a special treat to celebrate Fall Break.  I didn't find quite what I was looking for online, but when I was in the Halloween aisle at the grocery store, it hit me - Frankenstein Candy Wraps!
These are super easy, and pretty quick to whip up.  Here are the supplies you'll need:
  • Scotch tape
  • Glue (I used Elmer's clear gel) or glue dots
  • Black Sharpie
  • Small googly eyes
  • Purple (or black) construction paper
  • Green Post-Its, 3x5 size (copy or construction paper would also work)
  • Scissors
  • Fun-size candy bars (I used Kit Kats)
First, tape the ends of the candy bar wrapper down.  Place your candy bar on the green Post-It, and wrap around, so that the end of the Post-It lies on the back of the candy bar.  Even though the Post-Its have a sticky component, I still taped mine, since they don't seem to stick very well when you curl or wrap them.

Next, cut a strip of purple construction paper about 1"x4".  Cut uneven triangles across one long side (this is the hair).  Place Frankenstein's hair over the top of the green wrap, and tape in place on the backside.
Now you'll add the facial features with your Sharpie.  Be creative and make your Frankensteins as cute or scary as you'd like!  I didn't want to scare my pre-k kiddos, so I made mine cute and friendly.  :) 
Glue on the googly eyes, and make sure to add a scar toward the top, and over the left eye.  Give him a nose and a stitched (or unstitched) mouth.  For girls, you could even add a little bow with pink or red construction paper (or ribbon) and maybe even eyelashes!

Now your sweet treat Frankensteins are ready to be gifted!  My kids gave each of their teachers one with a little note saying "Happy Fall Break!".  Let your kiddo help you make a batch for friends, a party or even a random act of kindness.  :) 
Happy Fall!