Welcome to Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten! My class blog is the place I share information about some of the fun learning activities we are doing at school. I hope to provide parents with insight into what we are doing, and why, and to share ideas with other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!
Monday, February 13, 2017
This simple behavior management trick has been that miracle for me many times over, so I thought I'd share it with you today. Best of all, all you need is ten pennies and two pockets, and you even get to keep those!
This technique works for students who are craving your attention, and who'll do just about anything to get it. The key, of course, is to give them positive attention when they are doing something right, because even that student wants your praise and your love - they need it much more than the sweethearts who you already adore. This is where your ten pennies come in!
At the start of the day, put your pennies (or any other small, inconspicuous token) in a pocket. Your job, every day, is to find and praise ten positive things about your target student. You may have to dig deep to find those ten things at first, things like, "John is in line," (not facing forward, but hey, he's there) or "Mary has her pencil ready" (yes, she's fidgeting with it, but it's in her hand so she could be ready to write). Each time you praise your target student, you discretely move one penny to a different pocket. The physical presence of those pennies serves as a constant remind to you to look for the positive, and if it's 2pm and there are still 8 pennies in your pocket, you had better really start looking!
I have to admit, when I first heard about this technique 20+ years ago, I was skeptical. I wasn't sure that my target student even did 10 positive things each day, and truth be told, there were days when I didn't manage to find 10 things. On those days we both went home exhausted, and we probably both felt like failures. Slowly, by showing her I noticed her and cared about her, we were able to build a better relationship. I know this miracle technique worked, because when we set up a behavior management plan with her family, the big "prize" she wanted to earn was to spend more time with me. She worked really hard, and began to earn the chance to stay late after school occasionally to help me in our classroom. I've used it with many other students, and it has always made a difference.
Is this ten cent method going to transform your classroom overnight? No. Can it make you a better teacher, one who helps all your students to feel successful? Yes, and that is miracle enough!
Monday, January 30, 2017
A couple of years ago we were lucky enough to have a penguin exhibit at our local museum (Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.) Most of the exhibition was photographs, but there was also a docent with this beautiful taxidermied penguin, so we were able to get up close and check it out. It amazed us all to see how tiny its feathers were!
We had fun making our own penguin rookery, complete with chicks sitting snug on the father penguins' feet. I displayed them on a large sheet of polystyrene foam, and the mottled white background looked icy. (I've recently updated this activity and added a non-fiction book, and made it available here.)
Jack Hartman, penguin dance
Happy Feet brain break
The Learning Station, Penguin Song
We learned about the letter P the same week we learned about penguins, so we made some pink or purple lower case letters, and added some penguins to it. The children got to choose how many little penguins they made for their letter, so we added a little math by making a graph about how many penguins we used. Super simple, and totally relevant to the children - oh yeah, and it was a good reason to practice writing their names!
Here's another fun penguin activity that ties back into penguins sliding on the ice. Freeze a tray of water a couple of days ahead of time (you want it frozen completely solid). Sit a toy penguin on it, and see if it starts sliding. If you have it laid flat, the penguin won't move unless you scoot it along. Then slowly raise one end - I used stacks of dice - until your penguin goes sliding on the ice. Experiment with the ramp you've created - what else slides? How high do you need to prop the end?
You probably already know I love to use hand print art with the children each week too, so one of our choices was a hand print penguin - with a textured "snowy" background. I mixed approximately half shaving cream and half white paint, and let the children finger paint that onto their paper (fun!), then we made the penguin separately, and glued it on once the background was dry. The shaving cream/paint dried with texture and a lovely silky feel to it. If you haven't tried this yet, you'll be amazed by the results!
For even more penguin ideas, check out this post and this post here on my blog. If you're looking for resources you can download and print to help you teach your children about penguins, you can see what I've created here.
What are your favorite penguin activities? I'd love to know!
Friday, January 20, 2017
You surely know by now that children's books are a huge part of my planning and teaching! I try to also include both fiction and non-fiction. While it's more traditional to tell our little ones stories, I've found that they're very interested in learning how their world works, and find non-fiction fascinating too.
We often make hand prints or foot prints to go along with our learning themes, and polar bears are no exception. We even made narwhal prints, and watched an awesome video about narwhals!
Learning to read sight words is an important part of kindergarten and first grade, so I made this sight word game for us to practice with. (It includes cards for letter learners, and PP, P and 1st grade sight words, so it's pretty flexible. Who wouldn't want to help those baby bears get to their momma, right?
I've found a lot of children - and adults for that matter - don't realize that polar bears and penguins don't share the ice. Polar bears live in the Arctic, near the north pole, and penguins (mostly) live in the Antarctic, near the south pole. Here's a little song I wrote to help the children remember the difference:
Download it free by clicking on the link or the picture! If you have a map or globe in your classroom, have a child point to the correct location as you sing each verse.
While you're reading and singing the song, how about some more facts about polar bears and other arctic animals? I laid them flat for a picture, but they work really well in a pocket chart (but pocket charts don't photograph well, with all the reflections off the plastic).
I like to use sentence to picture matching activities as a literacy center, and most of my students are really good about working with the materials. Still, sometimes we need to show written work, or have some kind of accountability for the students, so they all come with follow up worksheets. Here's one of them:
Another fun, hands on sensory activity to do is to build with ice cubes. You can certainly use plain old regular ice cubes, chances are good that you have some on hand, or if not, you can buy a bag of ice at any grocery store or gas station. I like to make over-sized ice cubes, using whatever empty containers are available and headed for the recycling bin. It's amazing how much fun giant ice cubes are as a building tool, and they take a nice long time to melt too.
If you're building with ice cubes, you might also want to show the children a video of how an igloo is built! I like this one. After you watch this, be prepared to see a lot of building going on - and have some nice large blocks on hand.
We've also explored how polar bears thick layer of fat, or blubber, helps to insulate them - you can see that post here.
So what other activities do you like to do when you're learning about polar bears? I'd love to know!
P.S. Stop back by next week to see how we like to learn about penguins.
Friday, January 13, 2017
This month the KinderFriends are bringing you some of our favorite books (you'll want to blog hop and check this out!),
You can't have a list of snow books without the classic The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats.
The "snow" in the picture is a mix of about half paint and half shaving cream, spread around with my fingers. Your kiddos can add foot prints or lines from a stick, just like Peter did in the story!
While you are reading about snow, how about some snow themed learning activities? I recently finished Snow: STEAM learning, which includes 6 activities for science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).
Here are some of more of my favorite snow themed stories:
The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs: a wordless book that will have your children reading the pictures and telling the story.
Let's Go Home, Little Bear, by Martin Waddell: little bear is scared of the unfamiliar sounds he hears while walking in the snow, but the real focus is on the loving relationship between big bear and little bear. This is one to snuggle up and read with your own children, but will also be loved for group story time.
I Have to Go!, by Robert Munsch: What can I say, Robert Munsch totally understands children, and if you ever were a child, or have parented someone who is toilet training, this is hilarious!
50 Below Zero, by Robert Munsch: While you're looking for Robert Munsch books, grab this one too!
Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner: This lovely book imagines the reason why snowmen sometimes look a little worn around the edges in the morning - surely it's not just the weather, what have they been doing?
Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick: The authors/photographers spent many winters feeding and photographing forest animals, and turned their amazing photos into an award winning picture book. You'll want to have birdseed on hand after reading this book, so your children can leave it out for the critters that live near you.
Snowy, Flowy, Blowy, by Nancy Tafuri: In just 24 words Tafuri sums up the months and seasons of a year. Illustrated beautifully, this deceptively simple book is wonderful for starting conversations about the seasons and weather.
Now, for even more favorite stories, hop on over to Pocket Full of Centers!
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Scoop some up, add some droppers of warm water and some more of cold paint, and let the kids explore. It's a fine motor work out, and absolutely fascinating!
If you're looking for more ways to learn about winter, check out my most recent resource:
Monday, December 12, 2016
Last week I saw a lovely idea for making a hand print menorah, but couldn't find the print out to use for it. Not to worry, I put one together, and the children made their hand prints, drew on flames, and added a die cut shamash (the helper candle). My sample isn't nearly as cute as children's hands are, but it will at least give you the idea. :-) Want a copy? Here you go!
this awesome video tutorial - it's not for the little kids, but once you know how it works, you can teach them! Over the years I've taught this game to many, many preschoolers. They learn both math and social skills as they play: turn taking, putting one in the "pot", and how to take half: I teach the kiddos to do "one for me, one for you" to do this. Did I mention the fine motor workout of moving small objects and spinning the dreidel?
I also love to read/sing the children's book version of Feliz Navidad each December. The catchy tune and repetition helps the children learn at least the refrain in Spanish and English, and it makes great background music as we put together our pinatas. (Paper sacks with colorful tissue paper fringe.)
I've made a lot of fun resources for Christmas, and some for Hanukkah; you may not have seen these new ones yet. If you're looking for some ready to go learning fun, please check them out! (They're 20% off for the next 3 days, and for more great resources, search #KinderFriends on TeachersPayTeachers!)
There's even a FREE video of Nine Little Reindeer - check it out!
Now, as promised, there's a gift! We're giving away a $25 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers! On the off chance you aren't a teacher yourself, enter anyway - you know a teacher who would LOVE this as a present! (No, don't know any? I'll take it! Pick me, pick me!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you'll hop on over and check out the next stop on our blog hop:
Wishing you the happiest of holidays, and a joyous and prosperous new year!