April 28, 2013

Spring Weather: Rainy

The last couple of weeks have been a little different in our class, because we've had assessments and parent-teacher conferences.  As we wrap those up this week, things will get back to normal.  Last Friday, we continued learning about spring weather with the topic of rain.  We've certainly had our fair share of that lately!
We read the books:
Notice on the book Rain by Robert Kalan, he actually uses the word rain over and over to illustrate rain falling down.  This technique is used throughout the book.  It's a pretty awesome way to illustrate and provide reinforced literacy!
We took a survey and found that all but one of our students likes rain.  I definitely thought it would go the other way!  Using a picture graph like this helps the children to visualize the number of kids who do like rain versus those who don't.

Our art project was a simple umbrella made of 1/2 cupcake liner and a J-shaped pipe cleaner.  (We've also used bendy straws for the umbrella handle.)  The kids glued cotton clouds to the top of their paper, and sprinkled on raindrops with blue markers.
For math, the children were given number cards 1-10, and they worked together in pairs to place the numbers in the correct order.  After completing 1-10, some groups moved on to 11-20, and one pair even made it to 21-30!
At the end of class, we had a fabulous parent reader come in, and she read:
Mud went perfectly with our rain theme, because most kids love to play in the mud after it rains!
Other activities of the day included:
- writing center: tracing and coloring clouds and rain, as well as writing practice on the white boards
- playdough and easel
- housekeeping and puzzles
- block center
- letter Yy review

April 19, 2013

Spring Weather: Cloudy

Have you had enough rain yet?!
In our community, there is quite a bit of flooding, so I think it's safe to say that we've gotten our fair share for the moment!  Maybe the weather is making up for the drought we had last year?
On Wednesday, our class learned about cloudy weather.  We read:
I adore Eric Carle books, and this one is no different!  His stories are always very cute, easy enough for young children to understand, and his illustrations are amazing.  In this story, Little Cloud changes his shape from a regular puffy cloud to lots of other things, including a bunny and a shark.
For our art project, we asked the kids to fingerpaint a cloud, and they got to decide what shape their cloud would be.  This kiddo decided his cloud changed into numbers.... 
....while this one changed into a smiley face!  Such clever little meteorologists!
Since I've been assessing kids for conferences, I didn't get a chance to snap many pictures.  Our other centers of the day included:
- sensory: cloud dough
- easel: crayons and markers
- highlighter tracing ABC's and numbers
- housekeeping and train set
We also had a parent reader at the end of the day, and she read:
The kids loved this story!  We don't get to read a lot of fairytales in our class, and stories like The Three Little Pigs often become favorites of the younger crew.  They are able to remember the repetitiveness of the storyline, so that they can retell it over and over.
Here are some other books about clouds that your child may enjoy:
Next up - rainy spring weather...and we sure do have experience with that!  See ya!

April 16, 2013

Spring Weather: Windy

Spring brings lots of different types of weather, and we will be studying about three kinds this week.  Monday was all about the wind.  In Circle, we read:
We talked about the way the illustrator showed things blowing in the wind in his pictures.
In Centers, we:
- started assessments for Spring conferences
- completed our letter Xx activity
- practiced tracing and writing our name
- dramatic play in housekeeping
- drove cars on playmat and built with blocks
We also did a fun and quick science experiment with the kids.  We made a chart with 6 different objects, then asked the kids to predict whether the wind (a fan) would blow the objects off the table.  If you look at the predictions and the results, you'll see that they got most of them right.  Our brilliant little scientists are sooooo smart!
Tomorrow we will study all about clouds, and Friday's class will be about rain.  See ya!

April 14, 2013

Jelly Beans

Friday's class was all about jelly beans!
We started the day in Circle by reading:
This old lady has swallowed some crazy things this year...including a whole turkey at Thanksgiving!  The kids love this series of books, and there seems to be one for every holiday of the year.
We graphed a small cup of jelly beans at the math center, and talked about "least" and "most".  The children also counted the total amount of jelly beans, then of course, got to munch on them!

We also played a jelly bean roll and cover game.  The kids rolled a die, then used a jelly bean to cover the same number on their board.  This template, as well as the graph, were found at Oopsey Daisy.
Our other centers included:
- a listen & do activity: color the jelly beans
- playdough / dot markers at the easel
- housekeeping / jelly bean puzzle
- train & big blocks
I have been anxious to show the children our new butterfly garden sensory tub, but up until Friday, we hadn't had time.  They were so excited!  When I showed it to them, I heard lots of "oooh" and "wow".  Score!  I love it when they are so interested in something, and they just can't wait to play with it.  We only had a few minutes per pair of kids to play, but we will definitely have more play time this week!
We will complete our letter Xx study on Monday, and we will also begin letter Yy.  Can you believe we're at the end of the alphabet and the school year?!  Pre-K graduation will be here before we know it!

April 11, 2013

More Bunnies and Carrots

Our class loves bunnies!  Who doesn't?!  They're so cute and fluffy, and there's a million activities you can do with this theme.  There's no way we could fit them all into one day!
On Monday, we read the first Knuffle Bunny book by Mo Willems.  I told the kids that we would finish the series by reading the next two books, which is exactly what we did on Wednesday.  They really got into these books!  I think they're great, because the stories are simple, and when you have all three books, the kids can make comparisons between them.  We read this one during Circle:
In the first book, Trixie is a toddler who loses Knuffle Bunny at the laundromat, and by the second book, she is in pre-k and her bunny gets mixed up with a classmate's bunny, that is *almost* exactly like Trixie's.
At the math center, the kids used foam bunnies to make AB patterns (blue, pink, blue, pink or pink, blue, pink, blue)...
...and they also matched mini carrots 1-12 onto the number line.  We have been focusing on number recognition, and the children are getting lots of good practice matching and being able to pick out the correct number that we ask them to find.

 For our art project, we created Knuffle Bunny in the washing machine!  (This is from the first story.)  It's hard to tell from the picture, but the plate that has the circle cut out has plastic wrap over it, to make it look like the window in the washer.  Knuffle Bunny took a bath and got all nice and squeaky clean!
Feed the Bunny was very popular yesterday!  We asked the kids to pick some carrots from the carrot patch to feed to the bunny.  They enjoyed petting and feeding the bunny, and re-planting the carrots in the patch.  We even had a giant carrot for the bunny to nibble on!
At the writing center, there were 3 carrot "eggs", each one containing a different word - bunny, carrot and hop.  The kids were asked to copy each word on a blank sheet of paper, and they did an outstanding job!  Do I expect them to be able to read these words, or to copy them correctly?  No.  This center was mainly a fun activity, designed to encourage the children to write and draw, which helps to strengthen their fine motor muscles.  They will need them when they go to big kid school!
Most of the kids painted carrots at the easel, and their paintings are amazing!  Please take a moment to check them out in the hallway.  This is just a sampling, and you can see that all four of these masterpieces are unique.  Keep in mind that this really is amazing, especially since they didn't have a sample to look at.  We just encouraged them to visualize a carrot in their heads, and this is what they came up with.  Fantastic!
At the end of class, we read:
In the third book, Trixie misplaces Knuffle Bunny on an airplane, and decides that she'll be ok without him.  This one is really heartwarming, and I always tear up a little at the end.  You should really check out this series at the library or bookstore.  You will love it as much as your kids!
Hop on over to Pigeon Presents! for more Knuffle Bunny activities, printables, puzzles and even a video!  Then check out Go Mo for an online Knuffle Bunny baggage claim game.  Have fun!

April 9, 2013

Bunnies and Carrots

We had a great time learning about bunnies on Monday!  In Circle, we read a Scholastic reader called Hello, Bunny!, in which we learned that a baby bunny is called a kitten.  Who knew?!
Our centers included:
- art: listening/following directions bunny & carrot activity
- writing names on chalk clipboards
- bunny games: mini bowling, barrel of bunnies, real-life bunny picture puzzle
At the math center, the kids were given bunny picks (used for cupcakes, found at Wal-Mart).  They were asked to put the bunnies in the playdough grass in order, 1-12.

We also introduced new sensory tubs with cloud dough.  Have you heard of this?  It's really cool, and very easy to make!  I found the recipe at Inner Child Fun, and there are a bunch of other ones out there.  This stuff is super soft and it just feels nice to squish it in your hands!
At the end of class, we read:
This is the first in a series of three books by Mo Willems, and it is great!  Not only is it a cute story, but the pictures and art are very cool - drawings are integrated with real-life photos.  If you have a chance, check this series out at the library!
Tomorrow, the kids will be introduced to another new sensory bin in the block room - the butterfly garden.
This tub includes:
- birdseed as its base
- mini purple daisies (artificial)
- pink and yellow butterflies
- artificial leaves
- two plastic potted flowers
- wooden spoons and plastic bowls
I can't wait for them to try this out!  I think they're going to like it.  It was hard enough for me to keep my own hands out of it!  See you tomorrow!

April 4, 2013

Easter Egg Hunt

Are you having a super fun Spring Break?!
We decided to stay in town, get some things repaired (joy!), and just do fun things in the city.  We're having fun, except we can't stray too far from home - we have a couple of sick boys here!  Whatever you decided to do, I hope you're having a fun {and healthy} time!
On Wednesday before Spring Break, our pre-k'ers had an Easter celebration.  In Circle, we read:
(Because of the snow day on Monday and no school due to Good Friday, we did not start a new Letter of the Week.)
We decorated our little Charlie Brown tree with glittery Easter egg ornaments.  It was hard for the kids to push the ribbon onto the branches, but we had two very patient big kid helpers to assist them!

In Centers, we...
- painted with foam brushes
- sculpted with playdough
- decorated our Easter bags with stamps and stickers, then stuffed them with green, shredded paper
- played the Bunny and Egg ABC file folder game
- played in the sandbox and housekeeping
We also worked in pairs to match up patterned plastic eggs.
What holiday would it be in our class if we didn't somehow incorporate a science experiment?!  For this one, we used marshmallow Peeps.  As you can see in the picture, the one on the left is what we started with - a normal-sized, pink Peep.  We placed it in the microwave for 10 seconds, and repeated this 3 or 4 times.  It's hard to tell, but on the right, our Peep grew!  The heat expanded the marshmallow to 2 or 3 times its original size.  The kids LOVED this experiment, and our big kid helpers pretty much conducted the whole thing!
Toward the end of class, we had our egg hunt.  Since the grass outside was still wet, we decided to just have it in the Block Room, and I think the kids were fine with that.  (As long as they got some eggs, I don't think it mattered where their hunt was located!)
We also read an adorable story, complete with tiny animal figures hidden inside its thick, board book style pages:
I hope you all had a joyous Easter, filled with happy family celebrations!  We went to church, and then back home for a quiet family brunch.  We played a game of hot/cold with the kids, to find their Easter baskets.  The Easter bunny is running out of good places to hide their baskets at our house!  He may have to use a litte more creativity next year...
Enjoy the rest of your Spring Break!  See you on Monday!

March 25, 2013

10 {Snowy} Day Activities Round-Up

Ok, first of all, is this crazy weather, or what?!  Here we are at the end of March, and we've gotten about 5 inches of snow, with more falling as I type.  Last year at this time, we were experiencing 80 degree temperatures, and enjoying the beginning of a no-jacket, warmer-than-usual spring.  This is complete madness, I tell you!
Whew.  Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'd like to share some fun, inside activities that you can do with your kid using materials you probably already have at home.  (Because we don't need to make a special trip to get craft supplies in this mess!)
Today (Monday) is a snow day for our class, and your kiddo will probably want to play in the snow a little bit.  So you'll indulge, then warm them up with hot chocolate, a snuggly blanket and some tv.  You might play Barbies or Legos and watch a movie, but then what?!  At my house, my daughter isn't satisfied with tv.  She'd rather be doing something hands-on.  Are your kiddos like that?
Here are some fun things to do while it's freezing outside!
At breakfast or lunch, give your kid some magic milk!  No, this isn't just for St. Patrick's Day.  You could use your child's favorite color or something with a springtime feel - yellow or orange, maybe?  Details on this super-easy, yet super-exciting trick are over at Feels Like Home.
Magic Milk
Hop over to Make and Takes for an adorable bunny craft made out of plastic Easter eggs.  So cute!
Make an Easter card or two (or three!) for out-of-town relatives, neighbors or friends.  Inner Child Fun shares the details for this quick and easy craft.  No inkpads?  No problem!  Washable markers work just as well when "painted" on little fingers!
Kids Activities Blog shows how to make this festive pencil-stamped Easter egg.  Again, I think markers would work for this just as well as an inkpad.
Easter Egg Craft: Simple Pencil Eraser Stamps for kids
Got some of those marshmallowy peeps hangin' around your house?  Do some easy science experiments with them!  Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas gives the deets on this activity, as well as a few experiments with eggs.
Make these adorable bunny ears with your kid using construction paper, glue, scissors and a stapler or tape.  This and other sweet Easter activities, crafts and printables are over at Kaboose.
Isn't this little bunny family too cute?!  I think this would be a good one for my own family to try at home!  I love it!  Head over to iVillage to check it out!
Cardboard Tube Bunny Rabbit Family
DLTK supplies a printable template and instructions for how to make this "egg-cellent" wreath, just in time for Easter!
Easter Paper Plate Wreath
Practice letter recognition with this idea from No Time for Flash Cards.  If you don't have letter magnets, just write letters on a piece of paper, cut them apart, and stuff them into the eggs!
alphabet for starters
Oh. my. goodness.  You have got to go over to Creativity in Progress to find out how she made plastic Easter eggs into these darling little tea cups!  And seriously - what child, boy or girl, doesn't like a tea party?!  Craft up a few of these, grab a blanket and some stuffies, and have a seat on the floor for some some good ol' pretend play with your little one!
Creativity In Progress plastic egg teacups and more
If you still need more ideas for keeping your kid occupied, because let's face it, we may be inside for a couple days, check out Inner Child Fun's 50 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained During a Blizzard.
Whatever you decide to do today, have fun, giggle a lot, and enjoy this day with your child.  Hug them, kiss them, and make sure they know just how special they are to you!
See you soon!

March 23, 2013

Green Eggs and Ham

We continued on with Dr. Seuss month and one of his most famous books:
The kids adore this book!  They love the sing-song rhymes, and they helped to say each set as we read along.
"Do you like green eggs and ham?
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like green eggs and ham."
For art, we made a plate of pretend green eggs and ham.  We used white foam and a green pom pom for the egg, and green foam and a white page reinforcer for the ham.  The kids added a "Green Eggs and Ham" sticker wherever they wanted on their plate.  Yum!
At the math center, we gave the kids a basket of green eggs, numbered 1-10, in random order.  Their job was to open the egg, then add the corresponding number of yellow poms, and close up the egg.  After all of the eggs had their yolks back in, the kiddos had to place the eggs in numerical order, 1-10 in the carton.  This was definitely a fun math game for them!
By far, the highlight of the day was actually cooking green eggs and ham!  Each child got to help crack open two eggs.  Then we whisked them together, and added green food coloring (about 20 drops).  We added a few pats of butter (in honor of our previous assistant-extraordinaire, Ms. Threasa) into the skillet, and began scrambling the eggs, adding in the diced ham after a few minutes.  I'm excited to say that all 7 kids that were present had 3 helpings of green eggs and ham!  I think they kind of liked it!!
"I do!  I like them, Sam-I-am!"
Other activities of the day included:
  • skywriting, sounding and signing letter Ww; see our Ww activity here.
  • March sensory tubs and easel "paintings" with dot markers
  • housekeeping center
  • out-of-the-blue conversation at Circle about what they want to be when they grow up - we heard kids say things like teacher, hair-cutter, doctor, mommy, and cleaner

At the end of class, we read another Dr. Seuss book:
"Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"