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!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Music!


 It's true that anything you can do in your classroom, you can also do in your outdoor classroom.  Playing instruments is better outside.  When everyone plays instruments inside, the volume is overwhelming.  Not so outside!  We also have more room to move around, so the kiddos  play marching band, adding a gross motor workout to music time.  By the way, our conductors have TWO batons! 
 






Roll 6 and splash!

Browsing Pinterest recently (an addiction!) I discovered an idea from www.toddlerapproved.com that really looked like fun: Roll 6 and splash.  It seemed simple enough, involving a shallow container of water, a dice, and some children, and as it is incredibly hot here in Texas during the summer, I thought we'd give it a try.  Wow!  Awesome fun for the kiddos, who have asked for it every day since!

 The kiddos took turns rolling a dice.  If they rolled a 6, they got to splash.  This was the first splash, so everyone was still dry, and no-one quite knew how far the splashes would go!
 Oh joy!
 I have to admit, after a few minutes of patiently rolling the dice and waiting for a 6, the game degenerated into a major splash fest!

 Yes, the kiddos were completely soaked, completely happy, and pretty well cooled off for the afternoon.
Will we play it again?  Are you kidding?  We already have!

Friday, June 28, 2013

International Mud Day

Yes, there really is an International Mud Day!  International Mud Day started in Nepal just a couple of years ago, and is an opportunity to enjoy nature and the outdoors in the messiest of ways.  If you can't get messy and play in the mud when you are 4, when will you ever get the chance?  I believe in hands on learning - and boy, was this hands on!

We started our afternoon with edible mud pies for snack: chocolate pudding topped with crushed chocolate cookies.  Yum!

 When we stepped outside, the girls went immediately to the mud table...
 ...and the boys went to the swings.  This happened last year too - the girls want to play in the mud, and the boys want nothing to do with it.
 The girls got to work making mud pies right away.  I had dry soil on the table, and a huge container of water next to it.
 Add a little water to the mud, and you get pie!  They were enjoying the mud, but not getting dirty.  I'm a little sad that at 3 and 4 years old, our kiddos already know the social conventions of staying clean.  Do I want them filthy in the house?  Goodness no, but I do want them to have the experience of playing in mud, stomping in puddles, and just generally being kids.
 So, I broke the barriers by getting muddy myself.  They were intrigued, but not jumping right on in with me!
 Next we added herbs and sticks, leaves and grass... and got into it a little more.  They really did need to see me get muddy to believe me that it was okay.
 Finally, tentatively, they started putting mud on themselves.  Look how excited this kiddo is!
 We had a fine old time in the mud, and made a great many delicious pies!  When the kiddos started tiring of the mud play, we took all the muddy water, and put it on thirsty plants in the garden.
 Here's the aftermath of our play.
 This is how to make a "mud shake" - sort of like a milk shake, but much more fun!
We cleaned up by taking all the lovely wet soil/mud pies, and putting everything in the vegetable garden.  Look how messy we got!  
One of the kiddos said several times, "I love mud day!  I want to do this again!" That, right there, is why I teach early childhood.  I get to be a big kid, and play in the mud too.  She's right.  We really should do this again.  I love mud day too!

Bubbles!

What could be more fun for the kiddos than blowing bubbles?  Blowing HUGE bubbles!  Every few days I get out a large outside table, fill it with bubble solution, and get out all the bubble toys I can find.  Here are a few pictures of us enjoying the bubble table.










There are many many recipes for terrific bubble solution, but the first one I tried has satisfied me, and made these gigantic bubbles.  I'm simply diluting palmolive dishwashing detergent, 1 part detergent to about 8 parts water.  We love it!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Literacy everywhere

Do you love to read?  I do.  There is nothing quite so relaxing as curling up on the couch and losing myself in a story.  I love how books feel and smell, and the places they take me.  I love learning new things from non-fiction books, love looking at books about art, poetry... I love books.  I remember learning to read with Eric Hill's Spot books, and I've never outgrown children's literature.  I have about 2500 of them, enough for a small library.

So it should come as no surprise that one of the things I love about teaching preschool and kindergarten, is seeing and helping children learn to love reading and writing too.  There is nothing quite like watching children choose to read and write!  It really doesn't matter where we are, inside or out, there are always literacy activities available.  As a teacher, I have planned and structured reading activities; teaching the children to read, reading to them, listening to stories, and of course, lots of talking!  I model writing, and help the children to write their own stories, from sounding out words to adding punctuation and details.  Still, watching the kiddos take ownership of reading and writing, choosing it when there are so many other options available, it so gratifying.  Here are a few examples from the last week...

 Forming letters and words with wiki stix...
 Writing in our journals...
 puzzles...



Pretending to write with part of a toy that is shaped like a pencil...
 Reading to one of our mommies in the backyard...
Sounding out words...

Thank you families for sharing your children with me, and letting me be part of this special time in your child's development! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bye-bye, butterfly!


Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
We've watched as our painted lady caterpillars grew large,
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
made cocoons,
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
and even as they hatched last week and today.
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

We've seen their long proboscis sucking up juice from an orange,

Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
and provided them with flowers too. 
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
We've learned a lot from watching them, but butterflies aren't meant to live in a cage, let alone inside.  It was time to release them.
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Several of the butterflies were ready, sitting on the net as close to freedom as they could get without a little help.
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Most of them flew away quickly, but the last few took their time.
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
This one sat on my hand as I went from child to child, giving everyone one last close up visit before it too flew.
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 This one knew a good thing, and stayed a little longer to drink it's fill.
Bye-bye Butterfly: raising and releasing painted lady butterflies with Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 What a wonderful experience! 

If you're raising butterflies too, you may like these butterfly resources I made to go along with this experience.   You can see them here and here.