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!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Erupting With Fun: Preschool Volcano Activities

What is cold when it is dormant, hot when it erupts, and totally cool all the time?
Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!
Check out all the awesome volcano pictures Ms. Debbie pulled to show the children - they were fascinated by the glowing lava  - who isn't?!  The kiddos even got to act out being volcanoes, and going from dormant to erupting. Jumping up to erupt was their favorite part!
Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!
Debbie had a bottle covered in clay to look like a volcano, which we partially filled with some baking soda ahead of time.  When she poured in vinegar (dyed red), the chemical reaction had "lava" flowing out of the vent hole.  Oh my goodness were the kiddos excited!
Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!

We followed up our reading, singing, dancing and demonstration, with science and art activities that also stretched our fine motor skills.  To make our volcano diagram, the kiddos tore construction and tissue paper, glued them, wrote their names, and then cut and pasted labels for some of the important parts of a volcano: magma, vent hole, ash, and lava.
Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!
Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!
(The label for magma is on the back, because it is only magma while it is underground.  As soon as it emerges from the vent hole it is called lava.)

We had fun sorting out things that are hot (like a volcano) and things that are cold.
Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!

The highlight of the whole time was definitely letting the children build their own pebble volcanoes, and mixing baking soda and red vinegar.  They wanted to do it over and over - and with almost 60 children attending this week, we used 3/4 gallon of vinegar, and 4 pounds of baking soda!
Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!

Do you teach your kids about volcanoes? Here are some fun art and science activities to take you beyond baking soda and vinegar!
The awe on their faces was worth every drop!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dinosaur activities and books - roaring good fun!

Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!
We love dinosaurs!  There's so much to love: they're big (mostly), make awesome noises (especially when voiced by small children), stomp through the prehistoric forests, chase each other, and generally get away with behavior that isn't often encouraged in children.  Who doesn't sometimes want to live vicariously as a dinosaur?!

For story time this week we read 3 lovely dinosaur fiction books: Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs, Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones, and Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp.  I talked about how much I love Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp in my last blog post, and it is, in fact, the reason we focused on dinosaurs this week - I really wanted to read it again!  Then big question was what we could do along with the books.

If you Pinterest (I believe that really should be a verb, because I do it all the time), you know there are a gazillion fantastic and fun activities to go along with any subject.  Here's a link to my dinosaurs board for those of you who also use Pinterest as a verb. 

We sorted dinosaurs by color.  I made some very simple sorting mats by cutting brightly colored copy paper into quarters, and then mounting 4 of the resulting rectangles on white construction paper.  We had a supply of red, blue, green and yellow dinosaurs in one of our resource kits, so a simple sorting activity was born.
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!
 I say simple, because yes, it is simple.  Simple to prepare, and simple for the children to use, but still very satisfying for young learners!
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!

 I brought in a couple of fossils for the children to explore (carefully).  This child was fascinated with the small vug of crystals in my amonite.
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!

There was dough for the children to make imprints in, much like fossils, but without the millions of years of waiting. (Nobody has time for that!)
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!
Of course, what I have in mind as I put the activities together, and the possibilities the children see, are not always the same thing.  Dinosaur skeletons dancing in the dough?  Why not, after Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp?!
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!

Here's another possibility I never considered.  Tyrannosaurus Rex balancing on his tail and doing the splits.  Bet you never thought of that either!
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!

Here's another early math concept we worked on this week: patterning.  I made AB, ABC, AAB and ABB dinosaur patterns, and the children (and parents) read the patterns, then extended them. 
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!

Our final activity was digging for dinosaur in the Jurassic sand.  There were usually 6 - 8 children gathered around this sensory bin, pretending, digging, or just running the sand through their fingers.  Little do they know they're working on their finger muscle strength, preparing their hands for all the jobs they will do!
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!

As the children left, we asked them to put one stamp on today's graph: Which book did you like best today?
Dinosaur activities and books - fun science, math, and of course literacy.  I love the Jurassic sand idea!
They loved Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones best of all.  After all, who doesn't like dinosaurs?!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Bash: Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp

This week I'm participating in another blog hop with #Kinderfriends - we're going to share some of our favorite books.
Dinosaur Stomp: dinosaur books, activity and FREE counting game!

If you're a regular reader, you know how hard it is for me to come up with just one favorite book - or even genre of books!  (Check out some more of my favorites on this blog post.)  Since I have dinosaurs on my mind for story time this week, I decided to share my favorite dinosaur book with you: Saturday Night At the Dinosaur Stomp.  (No, I'm not being compensated for linking this.)

Dinosaur Stomp: dinosaur books, activity and FREE counting game!

I'm on my second paperback copy of this fun book by Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Scott Nash.  The first copy fell apart due to excessive loving on by lots of children, and my current copy isn't pristine either.  The book has been around since 1997, and I have yet to meet a group of children who don't love the rhythm and rhyme, the upbeat fun and gorgeous pictures.  I read Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp to my first graders, to my own children when they were little, and to 16 years of preschool and kindergarten kiddos.

This page was my oldest son's favorite!
Dinosaur Stomp: dinosaur books, activity and FREE counting game!

There are so many fun ways to extend the dinosaur themed learning- like sorting them by color or shape.  I made this simple sorting mat by cutting colored copy paper into quarters, and gluing one rectangle of each color onto a piece of 9" x 12" construction paper.
Dinosaur Stomp: dinosaur books, activity and FREE counting game!

Want to have your students work on numbers 1 - 20?  I made this freebie just for this book bash!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Dinosaur-Counting-and-Sequencing-1-20-2552564
If you are looking for even more dinosaur learning activities, I hope you'll check out my Dinosaur resources on TeachersPayTeachers, and check out my Dinosaur Board on Pinterest.

Here are some more of my favorite dinosaur stories:
Dinosaur Stomp: dinosaur books, activity and FREE counting game!

To see more favorite books from #KinderFriends, continue our blog hop by going to
 Photobucket

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Insects, bugs and things that creep

Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)
Oh yes, we got buggy this week!  This is a great time of year to learn about insects, and it seemed natural to follow up our caterpillar and butterfly learning by learning about other insects.  Do I even need to  tell you that the children loved it?!

In between our insect books (both fiction and non-fiction, of course!) we sang a song about insect body parts: Head, Thorax, Abdomen, and labeled a large diagram with the parts mentioned in the song.  Fun!  We saw pictures - including a life size drawing - of one of the biggest insects to ever live on earth, the meganeura.  Meganeura looked like a dragonfly, but it was up to 36 inches from wing tip to wing tip!  While the adults in the room seemed to all be grateful it is extinct (it lived 300 million years ago), we had the children graph whether or not they would like to meet one, and they overwhelmingly said yes!
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)

We also had a live ladybug visit us, along with a nice supply of aphids for it to eat. (Unfortunately they all came from my oleander bush, which is yellow with aphids in some places.)  I need all the ladybug help I can get in my garden!
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)

We also had ladybug dough play, with black beans to make spots.  We revisited a word we worked on last week, symmetry, and enjoyed the feeling of mushy dough and hard, slick beans.
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)
We're going to use the dough again next week to make our own fossil type imprints, so a couple of kiddos borrowed their parents' phones again to take pictures of their creations.  I love seeing them remember this idea from past story time sessions!

Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)
We had out lots of magnifying glasses, plastic insects, informational cards and the like, as well as puzzles, all out of one of the early learning kits that are available for check out.

The most popular use of the plastic insects was the dirt sensory bins - with tall, tall grass, just like in Denise Flemings' book.  We set 5 of these sensory bins up on the patio outside our community room, so our families could enjoy the spring sunshine along with the bugs and dirt. 
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)

While enjoying the sensory play bins outside, some of the children helped me to look on the day lilies for "evidence" of bugs.  We found some!  The children told me they think these petals were chewed by caterpillars, probably very hungry caterpillars!
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)

Finally, since we did read In The Tall, Tall Grass, we followed it up with making our own tall, tall grass, an idea I saw here.  The children glued on words, wrote their names, fringe cut the paper to make "grass", and decorated it with brightly colored insects.
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)
Insects, bugs and things that creep: Science, literacy and math activities for preschool (with a healthy dose of sensory fun!)
So much fine motor development, preparing those little fingers for writing and much, much more!

Next week we'll learn about another kind of animal that is extinct - and much bigger than the insects.  Can you guess what it is?  Come back next week to see what we learn!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Don't Let the Pigeon run Story Time!

Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.
Guess who showed up to story time this week?!  Hot dog, Duckling friend, buses and all.  Pigeon!
Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.

Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.
Sometimes Pigeon is a little.... shall we say... insistent.  Apparently that is HIS hotdog!  Fortunately for Duckling, Pigeon did eventually agree to share the hotdog.

Our friends painted Pigeon handprints.
Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.
 They counted stars on buses (no Pigeons were permitted to drive)!
Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.
They even pretended to help him take a bath.  We were planning real water and washcloths outside, but the weather was a bit too cold for it, so we had nice warm bath play inside.
Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.
Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.

We did venture outside for a few minutes to release our lovely butterflies.
Over the last 3 story times we've watched them grow from tiny caterpillars, to cocoons, to butterflies.
Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.
What an amazing metamorphosis!  Today it was time to release them.  The breeze seemed to excite our butterfly friends, but none of them ventured out of their net home until Ms. Debbie and I gently guided them out.  This one hung around behind the others, and everyone had a chance to see it up close.
Don't let the Pigeon run Story Time - ideas for extending the Mo Willems books.
It's just as well the Pigeon was inside doing fun activities, and not bothering these beauties! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Butterfly Learning at Story Time

Have you ever raised caterpillars into butterflies, and watched the magical transformation up close? I've done it many times with classes of children, and we're doing it again at the library.
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!
A week ago we received a special package, 5 tiny little caterpillars in a jar of food, and a net home for them to grow into.  We observed the tiny creatures, and talked about what they would soon do.  (You can see that post here.)

When we returned to story time this week, we no longer had caterpillars - we had 5 magnificent cocoons!  Ms. Debbie carefully showed them to the children, then transferred them into the net home they'll soon inhabit.
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!

We read several butterfly books, both fiction and non-fiction, and learned some great new vocabulary: proboscis, metamorphosis, life cycle, symmetry, chrysalis and more.

To follow up we painted egg carton caterpillars, and gave them pipe cleaner antennae.
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!

We made life butterfly life cycles from pasta (risotto for eggs, rotini for caterpillars, shells for the chrysalis, and of course bow-tie noodles for the butterflies!
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!

We practiced the concept of symmetry by decorating some lovely die-cut butterflies.
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!

We even made a pictograph: Do you prefer caterpillars or butterflies?  Can you guess which one was the most popular?
Lots of activities, ideas, and art projects to do while you're learning about butterflies with your preschool or kindergarten kiddos!

For all the learning and fun that we had, the best is yet to come.  We're waiting for our butterflies to hatch, and then we'll take them outside, where they belong, and set them free.  If we are very lucky the life cycle will start again in the garden around our library, and we'll have butterflies all summer!