February 23, 2013

Ss is for Salt

I know, at this point, that you know how much I love to do sensory activities with the kids.  I feel like using a sensory tool wakes up their senses, especially those of touch and smell, which ultimately makes the experience more meaningful to them.
We decided to use salt for our letter Ss activity.  The kids really got into this!  They loved how the salt felt and sounded "scratchy", and that you could shake the tray to "erase" when you were finished writing.
As the children practiced writing Ss, we talked about the /s/ sound and several words that begin with Ss.  We also put our hands together and made a slithering motion, like a snake.
Keep in mind that as we study a letter each week, we don't just do one activity at the end as a wrap-up.  We talk about the letter all week long, point it out in different places, find words that begin with the letter and so on.  The kiddos can practice the letter at home just as easily.  You don't need any special craft supplies to point out Ss in a book or magazine, or to find Ss on a Stop Sign!
For more letter Ss activities, please visit:
Hope you have a Super Saturday and a Spectacular Sunday!

Rr is for Red Hots and Raisins

Hey guys!  I was juuuuuuust about to post our letter Ss activity, when I realized that I never posted for letter Rr.  Ack!  So sorry!  I know you totally look forward to all of our letter postings, so without further ado, here it is:
Rr is for Red Hots and Raisins
I always have the kids trace the uppercase and lowercase Rr with their finger first.  This is not only so they can learn how it "feels", but also the correct way of its formation.  I see a lot of kids at this age forming letters from bottom to top, and sometimes even sideways.  If your kid is doing this, don't worry or panic!  It's completely normal.  They are simply getting the hang of using a writing utensil to make the letters.  Forming them correctly will come with time and practice.
After we trace, I ask the children to make the /r/ sound and to think of an Rr word.  Most of the time, they can give me a word pretty quickly, but if not, I simply ask, "Do you see anything on the table that might start with the /r/ sound?"
Next, they used raisins and red hots to "trace" the Rr.  I also slipped in some math, and had them to use an AB pattern with our Rr foods.  Math and literacy activity at the same time?  Score!
For more Rr activities, please visit the following websites:
And in case you were wondering - not one single kid wanted to try a Red Hot!  One child exclaimed, "Nooooo!  It will burn my mouth!!"  No worries, Little Guy.  No Red Hots for you!

February 22, 2013

Let Me Introduce You to...George Washington

We had some presidential fun on Wednesday learning about our country's first president, George Washington.  I was happy to know that several of our kids already knew who he was when I pulled out our big poster.  Way to go, little history buffs!
During Circle, we talked about how important George Washington is to our country, pointed out Washington D.C. on our map, and showed Washington on the quarter and one-dollar bill.
In math, we used red, white and blue unifix blocks (I love these things!) to create a simple flag pattern.  We used a blank flag found at Coloring Castle, and the kids had to place blue blocks (with star stickers) on top of the stars, as well as connect lines of red and white blocks for the stripes.  This activity also reinforces colors and fine motor development.
For art, we made two projects.  The first was a George Washington mask, like this one:
I cut out the middle of a paper plate, and the kids glued cotton to the top to represent Washington's white hair (which we also learned was a wig!).  Then we talked about how the men wore ruffly shirts at that time, and we used doilies for that purpose.  I taped on a craft stick, and they held it up to their faces, so they could be President Washington!  (Of course I had to take their pictures, but for the privacy of our students and families, I will not be posting them here.  They did come out super cute though!)  I originally found this idea in The Mailbox magazine several years ago.
Our second project was a tri-corner hat, like Washington wore.  I decided that our hats would be red, because we needed some color, complete with patriotic stickers.  This craft was easy peasy!
Cut 3 strips of red (or blue or white) construction paper.  Ours were about 3.5" x 12".  Give your kids some flag, eagle, dollar bill or other patriotic stickers, and let them go to town!

Next, staple the ends of the strips, as shown, forming a triangle.
Finally, pop it on your kiddo's head, and sing!
My hat, it has 3 corners.
3 corners, has my hat.
And had it not 3 corners,
it would not be my hat!
We read a presidential emergent reader about George Washington from Kindergarten Smorgasboard, and looked at pictures from:
A Picture Book of George Washington (Picture Book Biography)

Since we had an ice day today (aka no school), we will study Abraham Lincoln on Monday.  Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!  Stay safe out there, and have a great weekend!

February 18, 2013

Our Class Valentine Party...

...was a smash!  The children loved playing different kinds of games (and didn't even realize they might be learning something!), and enjoyed a red-licious snack!
We read the book:
and the emergent reader Valentine, Valentine, What Do You See? which can be found over at Kindergarten Smorgasboard.  It is a gem!  Go over and check it out!
At the math center, the kids played a number match game with heart boxes...

...and compared weights of sweetheart candies.

At the round table, we had a valentine pom pom transfer game, where they picked up a pom with tweezers and transferred it to the lid (which was turned over.  I wanted  you to see the pretty side for the pic.).

Also at the round table, we had two more sweetheart activities: a graph and a color sort.
At the sensory table, we had large sweetheart candies that I asked the kids to stack.  I originally wanted them to see how high they could stack the hearts, but one little guy decided to make multiple stacks. I love how these kids are such creative thinkers!  They are at an age where thinking outside the box is normal, because they don't know any different.  I wish we, as adults, could do the same!
For snack, I didn't get any pictures, because we were sooooooooo busy.  We made fruit punch slushies with the blender (ice + Hawaiian Punch), which the kids ADORED.  Who knew?!  Two simple ingredients that you probably have at home can make you a superstar to your child!  (The children know that ONLY a grown-up is allowed to operate the blender.)  We also had heart-shaped cakes and chips.
One last thing - we also had a heart estimation jar at the math table.  The kids were supposed to guess how many hearts were in the jar without opening it up to count them.  They wrote their answer on a piece of paper, and at the end, I gave out a treasure box toy to the one that was closest.
How many do you think are in there?
We had two kids that guessed the closest amount - 12.  There were actually 30 glittery hearts in the jar!  We will do more activities like this using estimation.
I hope you all had a love-filled Valentine's Day!

February 14, 2013

Be My Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!
Yesterday, we continued our theme of all things love with more valentine fun.
The children played a challenging game of Match the Sweethearts, where they had to pair up a small heart and a big heart.  The trick was that they weren't matching colors - they were matching words.  They did a great job and paid very close attention to the spelling of each word.
At the same center, they played a similar game, except this time, the words appeared on valentine plates.  One child said, "This is making me hungry!"  I love the things they come up with!!
In Circle, we reviewed the letter Ss (ask your child to use his/her hands to slither like a snake), and read the books:
I Need A Valentine (Holiday Lift-The-Flap)          Happy Valentine's Day, Curious George
Miss D found an adorable new toy for the kids by Melissa and Doug - a wooden birthday cake set!  It has candles, a server and decorations for the cake.  This was a big hit, and one group of kids even sang "Happy Birthday" when they were at this center.  Too cute!
Other center's of the day included:
  • tracing wavy and boxy valentine lines
  • sandbox
  • playdough hearts
  • easel
 I wanted to also show you these heart pins that I made for the kids in the 3 & 4 year old class.  One little boy noticed that Miss D was wearing a crocheted heart pin, and asked why he didn't have one.  (Aww!)  I just couldn't resist, and had to craft some up for them to wear too!  These pins were inspired by a post from Make and Takes

For the pin above, I used a safety pin to attach it to my shirt, but for the children, I used paper clips.  I'm always worried that I'll accidentally stick them with a safety pin, and besides that, we didn't have enough to go around.  The paper clips worked out just fine!

 I hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day/Evening, enjoying the ones that you love the most!

February 11, 2013

Easy Mardi Gras Masks

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras!  This holiday, also known as  Fat Tueday, marks the last day before Lent begins.  At my kids' school, they have a Mardi Gras parade, and the children all bring in handmade, decorated masks from home.  This is an easy peasy, frugal project that uses items from Dollar Tree and your own craft stash!
We started with:
  • Blank masks -  8 pk from Dollar Tree in gold, green & purple
  • Small, multi-colored pom poms
  • Glittery shamrocks - several in a pk from Dollar Tree
  • Shiny star stickers
  • Heart foamy stickers
  • Shamrock confetti - green & white
  • Star garland - purple
  • Glitter - green & silver
  • Elmer's glue (for the kids) & hot glue gun (for the grown-ups)

I just put everything on the table and let my kids decide what they wanted on their masks.  They added the stickers first, then we hot glued items like the shamrocks and feathers.  (Only grown-ups should operate the hot glue gun please!)  The last thing they did was to squirt on some Elmer's glue and sprinkle on the glitter!

And TA DA!  Here are the finished products:
I love that they all turned out so differently, even though I presented them with the exact same materials for crafting.  (Btw, the green one with minimal decorations was created by my 6th grader, who I'm pretty sure was only creating one to humor me.  Good kid!)
Have a blast decorating masks with your kiddos and check out the list below for more fun Mardi Gras activities.


Hello!  Today we started our valentine unit with a focus on hearts.  We read:
Day It Rained HeartsHedgehug: A Sharp Lesson In Love
In the math center, the kids played a game called "How many sweethearts in the jar?" created by 2 Teaching Mommies.  If you are looking for something fun and educational to occupy your kids at home, this is the place to find it!  Check out their site for lots of free printables to reinforce pre-k skills.  They even have Tot Packs for the little ones!
I didn't take a lot of pictures today, because some of the kids were busy making valentines (for you!), while others decorated their mailboxes.  They will flip-flop on Wednesday, and the ones who haven't decorated their boxes will do so, and the others will make their valentines.
Our other activities today were:
  • housekeeping
  • big foam blocks/wooden puzzles/dollhouse
  • writing/drawing in flour trays
  • playdough hearts
  • color by number (also at the math center)
  • decorating our mailboxes or making valentines
  • tracing our names with pencil
  • heart exercises (jumping, kicking, running, etc)
  • letter Ss - slither like a snake
The children are already on the countdown for our Valentine's Day party!  They know it's only 4 more sleeps until they get to pass out their valentines and candy.  We're excited too!

February 9, 2013

Garrett Morgan's Traffic Light

February is Black History month, and we always like to expose the children to famous black inventors, musicians, politicians, etc.  At this point, they do not see many differences between themselves and their peers, and one that they hardly ever notice is skin color.  I love that about preschoolers!
On Friday, we learned about an inventor named Garrett Morgan.  He is responsible for the very early traffic light, which was more like a sign that flipped from "STOP" to "GO".  Eventually it evolved into our modern day stoplight.  You can read more about Garrett Morgan here.
For Circle, we read:
Red Light, Green Light (Blue Ribbon Book)
and looked at pictures in:
Our sorting center was popular!  The children sorted red,  yellow and green beads into compartments of a wooden box.  They used a plastic stick to pick up the beads.
 They also sorted red, yellow and green letters into the coordinating bowls.  During this activity, they also matched the letters they took out of the basket to the alphabet chart.  Tongs were used for this matching game.
We made playdough stoplights at the playdough center!
Our art project was to create a stoplight stick.  We used a tongue depressor, red, yellow and green dot labels, and black crayons to color the background.  So simple and easy!  To go along with this, we looked at the pictures of Garrett Morgan's early traffic signal, and talked about what each color of a stoplight means.
Other classroom activities of the day included:
  • reviewing the letter Rr and completing a hands-on activity to go along
  • playing Silent Stop and Go.  Ask your kiddo to teach you how to play!  This was a good game for eye contact and watching, rather than listening.  I hardly spoke, but used hand gestures for "stop" and "go".  For example, I would ask the kids to clap their hands.  When I motioned "stop", they would stop.  When I motioned "go", they would begin clapping again.  They really had to watch me to know what to do!
    Next week is going to be lots of fun as we gear up for             
                                                          Valentine's Day!                                                               

February 6, 2013

100th Day Celebration!

We had so much fun in preschool today!  Duing Circle, we looked at what 100 can look like in terms of size.  We discovered that 100 pieces of cereal is relatively small compared to 100 school buses lined up down the street!
We read:
Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten (Miss Bindergarten Books)The 100th Day of School  (Hello Reader!, Level 2)
At the math center, we compared the weights of two snacks at a time using our balance.  Most of the time the kids could visually tell which snack would be heavier, but a couple times they were surprised by the scale!
We asked the children to think of something they'd like to eat 100 of - anything at all - and they came up with great answers!  (And another child actually did bring in 100 grapes for her snack.  Mmm!)  They also drew a picture of the food they chose.  They are becoming amazing little artists!

Our most anticipated activity was the 100th day cape.  They loved this!  Many thanks to Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business for sharing this "super" fun idea!  We added a label in the middle that says "This super kid can count to 100!", and they added 100 mini stickers all over their cape.  We tied it loosely to close it up, so all they have to do is slip it over their head to put it on or take it off.    

Other 100th day activities included:
  • counting our bananas - We now have 100 and will practice counting them in various ways each school day (by 1's, 10's, chunking some together, etc)
  • building with 100 tongue depressors + playdough = lots of awesome creations!  The kids created hand weights, sandwiches and lollipops, just to name a few.  :)
  • coloring our 100th day bags and exploring what 100 crayons looks like.  Did your child like the 100 treat that was in his/her bag?  (They thought it was going to be candy, but it wasn't!  Or wait, does sugary cereal count as candy?!)
  • eating our 100 snacks at snacktime.
  • 100 exercises - 10 sets of 10, including knee bends, leg kicks, squats, etc.  We got a workout in!
  • I didn't have time to teach the "100 Days" song today, but we will for sure get to that on Monday.  Using this song, the kids will learn how to count by 10's.  Turns out to be easy peasy for them once it's set to music!
Before we got started with our 100 activities, we played in the Block Room, and discovered that we got some new building materials - brick blocks!  These are so colorful, sturdy and well-designed (a Melissa &  Doug creation), and the children went straight to work building structures with them.  Thanks so much to the generous parents who donated these super cool blocks to us!
Happy 100th Day of School!

February 5, 2013

Qq is for Quiet Tracing

Maybe it's a bit of a stretch.  Qq was a hard one to come up with a sensory activity!
We maximized our use of the gingerbread (before we had to say goodbye to make room for the Feb. sensory), and created this center:
Qq is for Quiet Tracing (Shh!)
We had the kids trace Qq in the gingerbread several times.  They rock at stuff like this!
We went over the /q/ sound during Circle, and named off some Qq words.  Sometimes I even need helping thinking of some!  We came up with queen, quiet and quarter.  I know there are many others, but since Qq is not the most popular of letters, my mind wasn't flooded with choices.
We did touch on the fact that more often than not, Qq is partnered up with Uu.  This will make more sense to them, once they start reading and spelling.
Try playing I-Spy with the next book you read to your kiddo, and ask him/her to point out some Qq words.  Have fun spending some quality quiet time with your kid!

The Missing Mitten Mystery

 Are you laughing yet?!  This is what I saw when I walked into the classroom on Monday morning!  Three mischevious Tiggers - one in a bassinet, complete with pacifier, diaper and baby powder; one riding the horsey; and one in the high chair, snacking on veggie straws.  Isn't this pure silly fun?!  I love it!  (Thanks for making my morning bright and sunshiney, Pops!)
Today, after all of us finished gawking and oogling over the Tiggers, we read:
The Missing Mitten Mystery
This book is adorable!  If you've not read it, you're missing out.  Check it out at the library or grab a copy at the bookstore.  I love love love the end!  After we read, the children took a few minutes (and by minutes, I mean seconds) to find our missing red mitten.  It was under the table by our library books!
At the matching table, the kiddos worked on a mitten color match game as well as a similarly-designed football number match game (1-10).  There was also another mitten matching game, in which they were supposed to match the designs on the mittens.
At the discovery table, we worked on the concept of left and right.  Your child brought home a yellow paper with a pair of mittens.  We placed our hands on the mittens, and sang, "This one is the left, and this one is the right" several times, while pointing to each hand.  We also worked on mitten lacing, which they did very well with!  These are in the hallway for your viewing pleasure.  :)  I'm very proud of the effort and concentration that these smart cookies used for this activity!
Wednesday, the kids will be introduced to the February sensory table in the block room.
The base is red and white beans, and the sensory items include:
  • heart doilies and pink foam flowers
  • pink and white feathers
  • various sizes of red, pink and white bottle caps and lids
  • 2 small empty playdough containers
  • heart ribbon
  • red and white pipe cleaners
  • valentine cupcake liners
(Before Wednesday, we will also add some scoops, spoons and cups.)
The kids were eager and interested as I was preparing this table.  I knew they wanted to get into it right away, but I wanted them to have a few minutes of free play at the end of class.  It will be ready and waiting for them on Wednesday!