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!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Letter Ii


What could be better for the letter Ii than ice cream?!  We had a delicious science project on Monday.  I bought 3 flavors of ice cream, and each child predicted whether they would like each flavor.  Believe it or not, several kiddos didn't think they would like the cherry cordial, or peanut butter fudge flavors! 

 Before our taste test, I had each child predict which flavor would be their favorite, and we graphed our predictions.  The next part was our favorite: tasting!  We tried one flavor at a time, and gave them a thumbs down, or more likely, a thumbs up!

 Here are the results of our taste test.  Some kiddos did indeed prefer the flavor they had predicted, but several children were surprised to discover a new favorite.  Scientists make predictions and test them, just like we did, and it is okay even if your prediction isn't the same as the outcome.  That's part of how we learn new things!


 We continued with the ice cream theme on Tuesday with a cool finger painting activity.  The kiddos helped me to put shaving cream, paint and glue in a pan, and to mix it.  We painted ice cream with the resulting goo, which stays puffy when it dries.  This was a fun, sensory experience, not only for our sense of touch, but also for the wonderful smell of the shaving cream!  I found the idea here.

The inspiration for our sensory box this week came from www.lifeisaparty.ca  Once again, the sensory play was a huge hit with the kiddos, and they pretended and role played and talked and talked about ice cream all week.  Do you see the blue plate with sparkly pompons on it?  The children didn't know it, but they were practicing sorting and classifying as they played, as well as working those fine finger muscles.  Incorporating plastic fruit, cookies and cakes, plus empty bottles from sprinkles really took this play much further than just the bowls, tubs, and pompons have in the past! 

Here is an activity that is part of each week here at school: making a page for our abc photo albums.  Each child puts stickers and stamps that begin with the letter of the week on a page topped with a die cut of the letter.  You can see I incorporated a sorting activity too, with insects and instruments mixed in with the Ii items.  On the facing page in their abc photo album I'll mount a photo of them doing one of our fun letter of the week activities.  The kiddos love their photo albums, and read them often... reinforcing the letter sounds as they admire their work and their photos.  When they eventually leave me, each child has a fun abc book to take home, full of photos of themselves. 

Our Itsy Bitsy Spider activity came from Mailbox magazine.  The kiddos colored a house, then taped on a straw with a plastic spider on it, to make the water spout.  They moved their spiders up and down the water spout as we sang the song, and of course we read The Itsy Bitsy Spider, by Iza Trapani.

Musical instruments were available to play outside, and the kiddos came and went from that area...

... but by far their favorite outside game this week was "monster".  Mostly the teachers are the monsters, and chase the kids while making growling noises.  The kids never tire of this game!


Here's another part of our routine that I haven't blogged about yet: our singing and dancing time.  Each day, once breakfast is over, we clean up the toys and gather on the carpet.  I have created an educational  playlist on Youtube.com for each week of the year, and we all dance and sing together.

I like to start each session with a fast paced, high activity song or two.  We especially love Storybots, Harry Kindergarten, and The Learning Station, as well as Sesame Street Podcasts!  Each playlist includes an alphabet song and counting song, and most include a Spanish language piece: El Perro and El Gato are awesome, and Sesame Street has many great videos available too.  I try to incorporate nursery rhymes most weeks, and then a few more things that I think every child should know.  By the time we've finished 25-30 minutes of singing and dancing, we're ready to sit down for a few minutes to do our daily preschool time.

One of our songs this week was The Inchworm Song.  We sang about the inchworm measuring the marigolds... and then looked for inchworms on our marigolds outside while we sang the song some more.  We didn't find any inchworms, but we still enjoyed the marigolds!

I'm thrilled with how a new (to me) art project worked out this week.  I found this project at http://www.flickr.com/photos/artsyt/3592528765/in/pool-78198665@N00.  We looked at photos of real irises - I couldn't find real ones - and at Van Gogh's Irises, then chose pinks and purples to make our symmetrical iris paintings with.  A touch of yellow for the inside of the flower finished them off.
 Aren't they beautiful!  The children were very proud of their irises, and I'll be adding them to our Artsonia gallery.

Our field trip this week was to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.  We hadn't been to the new Curious George exhibit yet, and the kiddos were eager to see it.  It was terrific!  We played at the fruit stand, mini golf, a construction area, blew huge fans at pinwheels, and much more!  One group of kiddos even got to see a rattlesnake, skunk, bobcat and armadillo!



Of course, we always enjoy the Children's Museum area, with trains, a hospital pretend area, and a grocery store.

Today there was a new attraction that I think I liked as much as the kiddos: huge foam blocks in lots of shapes and sizes.  Check out the creation 3 kiddos worked on together for at least 30 minutes.  We LOVE our museum!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hooray for Hh

 We began this week by pulling items that start with Hh out of a heart bag left over from Valentines, and then wore hats and rode hobby horses.  The kiddos always love this activity!

 I also made a new sensory bin with a Halloween theme.  I used black, orange, green and purple pompons, plastic spiders and rats, the eucalyptus pasta that I wrote about last week, and Halloween favors that I picked up cheaply last year on November 1st.  This bin has been played with almost constantly all week, the children enjoy picking out their favorite items (the baby rats are very popular).  This is a lovely, calming activity for many of them, and develops their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they play.  They're also practicing classification and sorting skills when they collect similar items, and there is a lot of language development as they talk about what they are doing, and Halloween in general.  They all have a lot to say about Halloween!

 Another fun way to work on math skills this week was sorting Halloween themed foam shapes.  I've made up some game boards to facilitate this play: sorting big and little...
 ...sorting by color...
... and recognizing and continuing patterns.  One of the wonderful things about these activities is that once I made them, they are ready to use for many years, by many many kiddos.  We don't need work sheets to learn skills!  Hands on activities are better, more engaging, and far more developmentally appropriate for young children.  We work with patterns and sorting in a lot of different ways, and almost every day, so the kiddos were able to complete these activities independently, and feel successful with a new and exciting activity.

It was very stormy for most of Monday, but in the afternoon the rain slowed to a drizzle, and we were all ready to get outside and burn off some energy.  We had a nature treasure hunt.  I gave each child a small sack, and we walked through my yard and along the street to search for pretty leaves, fallen flowers, and acorns.  Several children told me it was the best day ever!
 It got even better when we went back inside and used home made dough to hold our treasures!  I added some mini pumpkins to the mix, which made cool impressions in the dough.


A logical extension of this activity for the kindergarteners, was to sort the treasures I had collected for them (they took their own treasures home).
Next, we looked at photos of madalas made with natural materials, which I found with a web search.  They were beautiful, and full of math too.  We noticed that mandalas have repeating patterns, and that we needed greater amounts of small items to go around the circle than of larger items.  As we continue working with these, we'll see how we use multiples of the same number as we arrange them.
 Can you imagine the careful work the children did to make these, the fine motor skills they worked on, and the conversations about shape and size and color of these beautiful materials?  By noticing where to find different shaped leaves and acorns, the children are building an ecological identity too - coming to know their school and neighborhood better, learning to value their piece of the world.  This activity encompasses art too, and provided amazing sensory experiences. 


Another art experience for another rainy day, was to thread foam shapes and beads onto pipe cleaners, and to stick those firmly into a recycled styrofoam base.  Once again, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination was practiced.  You can see more of our art work here.

Thursday was "hat day".  We read some books about hats, played with my collection of hats, and made our own party hats.  The kiddos decorated the hat while it was still flat.  This is how to make one, if you'd like to try it too.  I showed the children how to curl a pipe cleaner around and around their finger, to make a swirl that sticks up, and they chose curling ribbon to hang down.  I stapled those in before rolling the hat into a cone shape.  You can also see our Haunted House H craft in the background of this photo!  The windows flap open, and there are spooky stickers hiding behind them.

One of our friends turned 4 this week, so she chose two friends to help her bake her birthday cupcakes.  This friend had never cracked an egg before.  Look at her focus!

I took another group of kiddos to Green's Produce, on Arkansas Lane in Arlington, to check out the gourds and pumpkins, and of course, to take some cute fall photos.  Green's is definitely my favorite pumpkin patch!

The kindergarteners also had a field trip one afternoon, to the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.  Their website is http://www.cartermuseum.org/.  It is a beautiful museum, and free, so even if the kiddos can only handle a short visit, it is well worth it.  This group managed to walk through almost all the exhibits, and learned some fantastic art vocabulary.  We started with landscape, portrait and still life, noticed drawing, painting, photography and sculpture.  We saw a short video about how brass sculptures are made, and saw busts, abstract art, and mobiles.  While we were there, I bought a beautiful children's book, I Spy Shapes In Art, by Lucy Micklethwait, in the gift shop.  By the time we left, the skies were clearing, and we ran and ran in the grass outside, and admired this sculpture before heading home.
The following day I had the children read the book to me - which they could all do - and we learned some 3D shape words as we looked for shapes in the famous art works.  Hmmm... that would be reading, art and math, all in one "lesson", and disguised as fun.

One more awesome project for this week: hand prints in the style of Andy Warhol.  I found the idea via Pinterest, but the original source is createartwithme.blogspot.com.  When I first saw these, I thought they were fantastic, but doing them with the kiddos, and seeing them all lined up?  WOW!  I will definitely be doing this project again in the future!

Earlier this week Ms. Julie and I traced each child's hand, and cut out 4 copies of them in colors of the children's choice.   We pulled rectangles of matching color, so everything was ready for the kiddos to assemble, and then we looked at some of Warhol's repeating images of soup cans and Marilyn Monroe.  We noticed the vibrant colors, and talked about contrasting colors that pop off the page in this "pop"ular art.

The kiddos did a great job of assembling their work, choosing where to place each background rectangle, which color hand to place on each contrasting background, gluing around the perimeter of each piece, determining which hand they needed to paint in order to match the paint to the cut out hand print, and finally rubbing their hands in a tray of paint and printing on the colorful hand prints.
 Check out the finished products!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Good Golly, it's letter G

 We had a new sensory play experience this week, just for the letter Gg: ghost dough!  I found the idea at http://www.growingajeweledrose.com, and knew the kiddos would love it!  I put some baking soda into a pie pan for them, added some shaving cream, and they mixed and formed it and squished it around.  There were buttons and beads to add to create ghostly faces.  The kiddos really enjoyed it, but I think the pie plates were limiting.  I think next year we'll put it directly on the table!
 BOO!

One of my all time favorite stories for kiddos is Go Away Big Green Monster, by Ed Emberly.  Each year we read the book, and as a follow up, make our own monsters.  The kiddos squish green paint in the fold of heavy paper to create the symmetrical face, then add the features right into the wet paint as we retell the story together.  Each monster seems to have it's own unique personality!
 

Another annual event is taking our photos with chocolate googly eyes.  We'll make a book with photos of everyone showing their googly eyed faces, with the simple text, "____ has googly eyes."  Again, the kids LOVE it!

 We make graphs several times a week, and this was no exception.  As you can see, giraffes were a fave this week, maybe because we had just finished making our hand print giraffes when we did this graph.

Here's a math manipulative for the letter Gg: geoboards.   We pull these out some days after lunch, in between taking turns in the bathroom.  The children stretch rubber bands over the pegs on the board to form various shapes.  (Several kiddos made parallel lines this time, so you may hear a new vocabulary word if you ask your child about it.)

 We also had a fantastic field trip to Mrs. Lowes' Farm this week.  If we'd gone last week, I would have emphasized the /f/ sound of farm, and if it was next week, we would have focused on /h/ for hayride.  We did get to see, pat and feed goats, but truly, what the kiddos will remember is touching the many animals, playing farm themed games, and the hayride.  They were so gentle, and enjoyed the farm so much, we will definitely go back again next fall!

 Something I am trying to focus on more this year, is doing more art with the children.  You can see more of our artwork in our school gallery at our Artsonia.com gallery.  Each child chose to make either a ghost or a giraffe hand print, and we all made gumball machines.
  This is one of my new art projects, and it came from http://onecrayolashort.blogspot.com.  Wayne Thiebaud is an American artist who frequently painted dessert items.  This project is inspired by his Three Machines.


 We had a second field trip this week; we went to Green's Produce for gourds - which is another fancy word for pumpkins.  Did you know pumpkins are not always orange, or round, or smooth?  We saw bumpy pumpkins, flat ones, long ones, green ones, white ones, some with red and green, some pink ones... there are a LOT of different kinds!  We bought 6 cool ones to decorate our entrance with, and a dozen little ones for the kiddos to decorate next week.  My favorite thing about the pumpkins is cooking and eating them!  After Halloween, I will start baking pumpkins, making pumpkin puree with the flesh, and freezing it ready for our pumpkin cooking.  I'll make plenty of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin pies for us to eat at school during the winter months, and the children will each make their own pumpkin pie to take home for Thanksgiving.  Our pumpkins are well loved!  With crazy amounts of vitamin A, C, fiber and minerals, they are a healthy addition to our meals too!

This last activity has nothing to do with the letter Gg, but was such a hit, I have to share it with you.  I've been incorporating more sensory play into my curriculum this year, and found this one at http://www.growingajeweledrose.com.  This is Eucalyptus scented pasta.  So many of us are experiencing allergies right now, and when I saw the idea, I knew the scent would help clear our noses.  I just happened to have Eucalyptus oil on hand, so I made up a batch.  The cardboard slides were packing in a box recently, which I kept, knowing they would be good for something fun.  We rolled large acorns, which we collected at the zoo last week, down the slides with the pasta, and had an awesome time.  This kind of play is great for developing fine motor skills, cooperating with friends, experiencing different textures and scents, and the repetitive nature of the play is soothing and calming.  The children went back to this activity over and over.  I think next week I'll add some Halloween themed items to make it new all over again!