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, May 31, 2014

Happy Pig Day!

Oinky oink oink! 

Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
For those of you familiar with the Elephant and Piggy books by Mo Willems, no translation is necessary, but just in case you have missed the book Happy Pig Day!, "Oinky oink oink!" means Happy Pig Day!

We love Mo Willems, and read all the Pigeon books last week, so this week we read all the Elephant and Piggy books we could find.  I have 10 of them... okay, I had 8, but bought 2 more last week in preparation for this unit.  I had to!  (I have a compulsion about children's books.  I know the first step in recovery is admitting there is a problem... but I like it, and don't want to recover!)

You should know that there are a LOT of websites with awesome ideas about how to celebrate Elephant and Piggy.  Mo Willems' official site is awesome, as is http://www.pigeonpresents.com/.  You can also see the free event kit - designed for libraries and classrooms - for Elephant and Piggy books at http://www.pigeonpresents.com/teachersguides/EandP_eventkit2013.pdf.  I found a lot of my ideas there.

This idea came from Abby the Librarian.  I printed pigeon and duckling pictures from the event kit mentioned above, and the children chose which to color.
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
We glued a coffee filter onto a foam bowl.  I would have preferred paper, but foam is what we had.  They tore different shades of brown construction paper, and glued them to the coffee filter on the outside of the bowl.  I cut pieces of yarn that were long enough to tie on the children's heads and under their chins.  Cut these longer than you think you need, it's better to have a little more to work with!  I showed the kiddos how to sew the yarn up into the base of the bowl and back down - this created the loop to tie it to their heads.
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
 We cut out their Pigeon or duckling picture, and taped it in the "nest" we'd created.  I hot glued some Easter grass and plastic eggs around the birds.  Here we are, responding to the book There's a Bird on Your Head!
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

Another of our favorite Elephant and Piggy books is I Am Invited To A Party! In this book, Elephant and Piggy prepare for a party - and wonder if it is a fancy party, a pool party, or a costume party.  They dress for all three at the same time!  

We prepared for all kinds of parties by mix and matching costume pieces.  The kiddos LOVED having costume play, and I love that it was also tied in to a literature unit.  These kiddos are obviously ready for a fire fighter party...
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
 ... any kind of costume party...
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
 ... a mad scientist construction worker karate party....
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
 ... and a fancy cheer leader party.
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
 We chose a picture of each child (I also have a photography problem, and take hundreds of pictures of the kiddos each week) dressed up for the party, and made a class book.  The text says: "(Name) is ready for a ______  ______ party."   Here's our cover:
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

Another class book we made this week was an innovation on I'm A Frog!  The children put the words "I am a...." in order and glued them at the top of their page, then completed the sentence.


Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

 We really like to make class books, partly because the children love to read the books they've helped to make, and partly because I take advantage of this fact by having them order words, complete sentences, and illustrate their writing, so I can bind it into books.  We made a book telling what we want to do for "Happy Pig Day" - which was on Friday.

The children all wanted to dress up some more, or eat "pig food" like in the book.  Pig food doesn't sound appetizing to you?  In the illustrations to the book, Elephant and Piggy eat fruit and cookies.  Now you know the attraction!
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
 We made piggy hats too!  I bought a couple of sheets of neon pink poster board, and cut it into 2" strips.  (Each poster board made 11.)  The children cut out contrasting pink circles, and added nostrils.  I measured and stapled the pink strips to fit each kiddo, and trimmed several inches of extra paper from the ends.  With the extras, we were able to cut triangle ears to add to our hats.  Little piggy eye balls finished it off.  Aren't they adorable?!
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

Earlier in the week, when we first read Happy Pig Day!, the children noticed the confetti on the end papers, and wanted a confetti party.  I said no, real quick!  Confetti?  It would be all over the classroom.  The children would get wild and crazy and out of control.  No way! 

During the week I changed my mind.  Part of my teaching philosophy is
"When we engage children in rich experiences and make learning joyful, they learn to love learning, and become lifelong learners. To this end we must provide learning materials and experiences that are engaging and meaningful to the child."
That being said, I knew I had to provide the learning materials and the experience, because it was something meaningful to the children.  Yes, it would be all over the place, but a vacuum would fix that.  If we were going to get wild and crazy, we could do it right before heading outside to play... so we did it!  I am so glad I let the children have the confetti! 

I started by seating everyone ready for a group photo.  I showed them the bag of confetti, and told them we would have one chance to throw it for the picture.  If they threw it early, they wouldn't have any for the picture, but if they could wait, we would all have some.  We practiced throwing together (empty handed) on the count of 3, and quickly mastered it.  Everyone held out their hands for a small pile of confetti, we posed, we counted, and.... ta-da!
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
 The kiddos scooped it all back up, tossed it again and again, rolled in it, made snow angels in it... and I remembered being a kid.

I grew up in Australia, and confetti was a staple at weddings.  I remember my parents trying to keep me out of the used confetti on the ground afterwards, but there were always children scavenging for the colorful pieces of paper, wanting to throw it over and over.  Today my students reminded me of myself at their age, only this time I was the adult in charge, and was able to say, "Yes!"

Here they all are, laying in the spent confetti.  That $1 packet of confetti bought them at least $10 worth of joy.  I'm smiling as I think about it, and maybe you are too.  Awesome value for some tiny bits of paper!
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

We encouraged good behavior choices this week with piggy stamps, and this afternoon got out elephant stamps too.
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

We finished the week off with a Happy Pig Day snack time.  We wore our pig hats, and ate the pig food the children were writing about earlier in the day: applesauce, pink cherry juice, and cookies - no nuts (sorry Pigeon!).
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.

 At snack time one of the kiddos asked if I would get out the corn for them to play in outside - because, he said, Piggy would like it.  What could I say.  Now the children are as happy as pigs in... corn!
Happy Pig Day! Activities and ideas for celebrating the Elephant and Piggie books.
Oinky oink oink!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pigeon week - the Mo Willems books come to life!

We love the Pigeon books by Mo Willems.  In fact, we love all his books!  Children love his characters, and the simple and engaging text keeps them coming back for more.  We had to have a Pigeon week at school!

On Monday we read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  I found a game by the same name, so we practiced some great board game skills, like counting spaces to move and taking turns as we played.  The kiddos loved it!  Okay, they love a lot of things, but they kept coming back to the game all week, so in my book, it's a hit.  Check it out here on Amazon.  (No, I don't get anything for telling you, I just share because you might want to know.)

In the book, Pigeon really wants to drive a bus, and tries all kinds of ways to persuade the reader to let him.  We didn't let him, but the kiddos were thrilled when we went outside to play, and they found the big cardboard box I had saved for them to "drive". 
We also started a set of Pigeon graphs that I made to accompany the books.  You can see the cover and several of our graphs in this picture:

On Tuesday we read The Pigeon finds a Hot Dog! and of course, we had hot dogs for lunch!  We graphed who likes/dislikes hotdogs in our class, and also which condiments we like.  Turns out, we're mostly ketchup people.  We also got to play another cool Pigeon game: Pigeon-Match-ominoes.  We played it as a bingo game, and as a dominoes game, which was super cool.

 On Wednesday, the Pigeon wanted a puppy.  We made a class book of what we would wish for, and of course, graphed about the Pigeon's ideas too.

 Thursday was cookie day - because we like cookies, just like Pigeon and Duckling do in The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?  Pigeon likes cookies with nuts, but Duckling prefers no nuts.  We graphed what we preferred, and found that most of us prefer chocolate chips and no nuts, so that's what we made!





 Don't our cookies look delicious!?  We ate the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for snack, with a big glass of milk.  Yum!
 While reading The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? we noticed that Pigeon and Duckling have very different attitudes.  Pigeon is very emotional, and gets upset very easily.  He forgets his  manners, and melts down in every book!  Duckling on the other hand, always uses manner and a small, sweet voice.  We sorted these attitude cards, listening to both real Pigeon and Duckling quotes, as well as things I imagine both characters might say, or that my students sometimes say.  The children decided Pigeon was a bit whiny, and decided they would prefer to play with Duckling.  I'm really hoping that some of my friends will remember to use "Duckling" attitudes more often!  It seems to be working, they are already talking about ways to say things nicely, and I heard a LOT of manners when I served lunch on Friday! 

There are six total Pigeon books out now, so we had two of them on Friday: Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! and the latest book, The Pigeon Needs a Bath!  I wish I had thought to video tape the conversation about staying up late!  We graphed which of the Pigeon's excuses each child would try out on their parents, and what they thought might actually work.  Hysterical! They were comparing notes on what works, and when: apparently when they are sick, asking for a glass of water is almost always effective!  Generally speaking, they prefer to try having a nice talk - almost all the children thought that would buy them some time!  Who would have thought they had this all figured out by 4 or 5 years old?!

Our grand finale of the week was this one:
After reading, and graphing our favorite things about bath time, the children helped us to find good bath toys, and we went outside to have pretend bath play in the water table. 


We had so much fun learning with Pigeon and Duckling!  We covered a lot of math skills, between graphing, and measuring ingredients for cookies.  We wrote a couple of class books (Don't Let the Pigeon drive....  and I want a ______ cookie, please), and read and read and read.  We had sensory play, gross motor play, took turns playing games and worked on being sweet like Duckling.  We learned so much - but the children think we played all week.  Is it any wonder I love the Pigeon books too?

Friday, May 16, 2014

On The Farm!

I don't know if I've ever seen the kiddos as excited as they were today!  They've been looking forward to visiting the farm where one of their classmates lives, and he's been talking about it for weeks.  Lots of parents and grandparents joined us, transporting their students so we could all make it in one trip.

Ms. Julie and I worked hard to gather all the kiddos together, and to get quiet enough to listen to directions - and the farm rooster crowed loudly.  The kids laughed and laughed!  I tried again and again, but the rooster had impeccable comedic timing, and kept the kiddos laughing.  I thought we were going to need to cook him up for lunch!  :-)

When we calmed down and sat in a big circle, our hosts brought around their bunny, Dolly, for us to hold and pet.  He was so soft!
 A few minutes later we met two kinds of chicken, a Silky and an Americana.  They were very different!
 There were horses and a donkey outside for us to meet, and a nanny goat and her almost grown son.  Last year, when we visited, he was just a kid, but he's a big boy now.

 We returned to the barn to see more animals, and sat sweetly to wait for the horses.
 Steele was a favorite with a lot of the children - he's a one eyed, pirate horse.  He's a gentle giant who lost one eye to disease this year.  We fed him treats, so he really liked us!
 Canton is a miniature horse, much less intimidating for the children as he was just about their height.
 One of the things the children remember doing last year, and were very excited to do again, was to throw rocks and dirt into the pond.  It's the little things in life!  Fortunately for us and for them, the ducks were on the other side of the pond hiding in the grasses.
 Our hosts had collected a bunch of no-longer-fit-to-eat eggs, and we got to have an "Easter" egg hunt.  The kiddos hid the eggs, and then collected them again.
 And where do you think we wanted to hide the eggs?  In the grass?  Not so much.  By the rocks?  Yes, but just a few.  No, we wanted to hide the eggs in the sand pile.  Buried.  And then climb the pile.  We're hoping we found them all, and our hosts don't discover more eggs a month from now! (Pee-ew!)
 We were all sandy, so we got blown off with the air compressor and the leaf blower.  You can see the wild and crazy joy in their eyes as they played those games!
 I considered mailing the kids home... okay, not really.  There was a giant cardboard box by the barn, and anyone who's ever met small children knows that they are like kittens, cramming into cardboard boxes at every opportunity.
 Finally, we piled up on the mower and four wheeler for a group picture, before loading everyone into cars to head back to school.
We had a blast, met lots of animals, and checked out farm equipment.  As one of the grandparents with us said, "This is the best field trip.  You can't make any better fun than this."  Thank you so much Mara and Jerry for sharing your morning and your farm with us!

P.S.  One of the parents that went with us has also blogged about our trip - from a parent's perspective.  Check that out here: http://www.pondfam.com/blog/2014/05/ !