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 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!


  1. This is crazy awesome! Best teachers ever!!!

  2. Aw, thank you! All these things make it more fun for us too.