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!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nutty for N

It's the first week in December, and we're learning about the letter N, so of course we have to make nutcrackers!  We watched a short youtube.com video about nutcrackers (see it here), then got to work making our own.  I gave each child a paper cut to 3" x 8.5", with lines drawn at 4", then every 3/4", and the kiddos cut those out.  The large piece became the body, and the narrow strips the arms and legs.  They also cut out a circle to make their nutcrackers' face.  Look how hard this child is concentrating to hold the scissors!
Next the children assembled their nutcrackers, gluing each piece to their paper.  You can see we had both a real nutcracker and a kid-made example to help them understand where to place the pieces. 
The final touch was adding faces, hair, and details to the uniforms.  We even had a gold pen to dress up the uniforms!  I love how unique each nutcracker is!  We admired these as we listened to music from The Nutcracker during snack this week.

 You might think we'd work a lot on numbers this week, to tie in with the N theme, but shapes seemed to come up again and again.  We're talking about 2 dimensional shapes a lot, of course, but the kindergarteners especially have also been learning names for 3 D shapes.  I love The Shapes Song 2 on youtube.com to teach shape names - and many of the kiddos even remember dodecahedron from watching it!

I took a group of children to the story time at the Botanic Research Institute of Texas this week.  They have the best story times I've ever seen!  While the children were arriving, there was a tent with stories to read, word puzzles to go with the story of the week, and this fantastic sorting activity.
 After the stories, the children chose from more activities.  My group especially loved using nutmeg scented salt dough to anchor a sprig of rosemary, and wrapping it up to look like a little Christmas tree.  The nutmeg and rosemary smelled wonderful, and little fingers got a workout with the salt dough and red yarn.
 There was also a sink and float station, where the children put small stones and cranberries into a tub of water.  Can you guess which ones sank, and which floated?  Now, why haven't I thought of cranberries as a seasonal play item before?!  We'll definitely be repeating this fun activity at school this holiday season.
 Another new-to-me activity this week was making our names on snowmen and Christmas trees.  I found the ideas via Pinterest, the tree was from http://mrskarensclass.blogspot.com, and the snowman came from http://www.thissimplehome.com.  The kiddos chose which they wanted to make, and cut out circles or triangles to write the letters of their names on.  Cutting, especially circles, is a great fine motor skill, and writing and glue practice are always skills we need to work on in pre-k and kinder.
We'll definitely do this activity again next year!  I noticed that several children did a much better job of writing their names on this activity than they usually do.  Perhaps focusing on just one letter at a time made this seem a more manageable activity, or maybe they were so pleased with their cutting that they worked extra hard to write the letters in their names.  Either way, they worked hard, wrote well, and loved the activity!

I did notice that it isn't as easy to read the names written on the dark green Christmas trees as it is on the snowmen.  Next time I'll reward their careful work (and make it easier to read) with a marker to write their letters!

 I love the hand print narwhals and nests the children made for their hand print alphabet books this week.  Narwhals aren't exactly day to day preschool conversation at my house, so we watched a short youtube.com video about them.  You can't go wrong with National Geographic videos!

You can see all the art in our on-line art gallery at http://www.artsonia.com/schools/school.asp?id=141038.  We'd love for you to check it out!

 For another fun art project, we made torn tissue paper poinsettias.  I found the idea here, but it originally came from artprojectsforkids.org. 

I save used tissue paper from gifts, and offer it as an art medium.  The paper tears or cuts easily, comes in every color imaginable, is free, and takes up almost no storage space.  What a perfect medium!  The kiddos were very focused on their creating, and created gorgeous holiday art. 

Finally, here's a sneak peek at some more Christmas activities that we have in store for the kiddos!

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