Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and 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, November 27, 2016

A Quick and Free Sorting Center

True confession #1: I have a sweet tooth, and indulge myself with an altoid or 2 (possibly 3 or 4) when I'm driving.  So does my son.  Between us, we've accumulated a few of the awesome hinged tins that the breath mints come in. 

True confession #2: Since I'm using the empty containers for a learning activity, I can justify the candies... um, I mean breath mints.  I'm not having those for myself, it's for the children!

See?  Each empty tin makes a good place to sort 2 items, and 4 empty tins means 8 places to sort things.

My kiddos have always loved teeny tiny things - I recently blogged about our teeny tiny notebooks , and I've often mentioned our sensory bins full of all manner of items for the children to manipulate.  This tiny activity is one of my favorites, because it's a super easy, quick, FREE math center that engages young children for a long time!

As you can see, all I did was put a variety of seasonal items into a pretty dish, and put out the empty altoid tins with it.  In this case I've included plastic jewels, pompons, beads, jingle bells, and some small pictures.  I also like offering foam shapes, they usually come in a container with 6-10 different shapes, which are also usually 6-8 different colors, so we can sort by shape or by color.

(The pictures I used in this sorting tray are from a Christmas counting center that I just finished putting together, which is available in my TeachersPayTeachers store.)

One of the best things about this kind of sorting activity, is that you probably already have things on hand that the children can sort, and those tins?  You can use them over and over again, with any theme you want.  It's almost enough to make me eat more altoids! ;-) 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Teachers That Give

It's the holiday season, and in the spirit of giving, I'm linking up with a group of teachers to bring YOU some holiday gifts!  Presents before the holidays?  Why yes, yes indeed!

If you haven't had a chance to grab this forever free Christmas resource yet, I hope you'll check it out.
Christmas Sentence Picture Match is ideal for a reading or literacy center, and includes 12 sentences and matching pictures. Santa Claus, tree, star, gingerbread man, snowman, Rudolph reindeer and bells are included in sentences that focus on commonly used nouns, preprimer and primer words.

A forever freebie is a nice start, but you deserve something more this holiday season, so for this week only I'm making this resource free too! (It will return to it's normal price on Saturday December 2nd, so grab it quickly!)
If you download these resources and like them, the very best way to say thank you is to take a minute to rate them and leave me feedback on TeachersPayTeachers.  It absolutely makes my day to hear how the resources I create are being used around the world!

And now, for the final and best gift of all, I'm giving away a $25 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers!  I'd love for you to check out my store, but there are also millions of amazing teaching resources to choose from, made by many thousands of teachers, so you are sure to find something that you can use in your classroom! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more ideas, freebies, and gift card giveaways, hop over to these bloggers too!

Wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Torn Tissue Paper Poinsettias

Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 As we approach the Christmas season, teachers everywhere are trying to teach children the skills they need to learn, as well as incorporating fun seasonal activities.  It isn't always easy!  Our students get more and more excited as the holidays approach, and who can blame them?  It's an exciting time of year!  Today I thought I'd share one of my go-to activities for December learning.
Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 I always have a stash of used gift wrap tissue on hand.  Yup, used.  I remember as a child looking at all the beautiful tissue paper and wrapping paper, and wanting desperately to play with it.  I've always had this thing about paper. :-)  As a teacher, I try to remember what it was like to be a child, and to honor the spirit of my kiddos.  I also have to be budget conscious.  Reusing beautiful cast offs is one way to do both.  (After birthday parties and holidays I smooth out the tissue paper and fold it up, ready for the next craft occasion.  I've done it so long, my daycare parents know to set it aside, and often help with the folding and saving.)

Tearing is a great fine motor work out, and there is no wrong way to do it, so the children typically enjoy tearing red and green tissue paper into strips for their projects.

Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Next they glue the tissue strips onto a plain white background, I usually use printer paper.  There's a trick to this: don't put the glue on the tissue paper, it will tear easily.  Rub your glue stick onto the background paper, then push the tissue onto the damp glue.  (Of course glue sticks are also another fine motor work out for young children, but don't tell them that!)  I encourage my kiddos to put down 4 - 5 strips of one color, then to make an AB pattern by inserting the other color between them.  We add a little crumpled yellow tissue in the middle of the poinsettia.

Trim around the edge of each strip of paper (I do this for my preschoolers, but first graders are pretty good at it), then have them glue the finished poinsettia onto a solid colored background. Ta-da!

Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

This is a fun and simple center activity your students can do by themselves or with an adult, and makes a lovely art companion to one of my favorite Christmas books, The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Math Fun with Tiny Notebooks

Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten 
I've always had a few children who are fascinated by teeny tiny things, and you probably have too.  There's something about looking for and playing with super small - or super large - things that seems to feed a need in children.  Today I'm going to share a really inexpensive way to use things you might otherwise throw away to engage your kiddos in math. 

Here's what you'll need: whole, half, or quarter sheets of white and colored paper.  I used copy paper, but whatever you have around is great.  You also need a stapler, scissors or a paper cutter, and tiny stickers.  (Look at the stickers, you probably get them in the mail on free address labels that ask you for a donation to whichever fundraiser bought your mailing information.  I get a lot of them, so I cut off the address and save the stickers.  *** This part is important!  Do not separate all the stickers, there need to be at least 2 of them on each piece of paper for the children to peel the stickers from the backing paper.  Trust me, you don't want to deal with individual stickers. ***)
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Next you'll cut the colorful and the white paper to the same size.  I made full sheets, half sheets and quarter sheets - and the half and quarter sheets were some I "saved" from copier errors that didn't take up the full page.
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Staple the papers into booklets, and fold them.  You now have teeny tiny notebooks, which my students LOVE!  You can use these just as they are - I've made these available along with pencils and magnifying glasses for outside play, and saw some amazing drawings of the tiny critters that live on our playground. 
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

For a super simple math game with fine motor development, try offering a dice, pencil, stickers and notebook.  This one was made with quarter sheets of paper, so they're very little!  Just right for rolling a dice, showing the number with stickers, and writing the corresponding numeral.
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Maybe your kiddos are ready for some early addition practice.  Use two dice, and a slightly larger notebook.  (I used a half sheet of paper notebook.) 
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

The notebook I made with a full sheet of paper is great for larger stickers, or more information.  Here I'm using it for basic addition sentences.
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Have you used tiny notebooks or address label stickers with your children?  I'd love to hear of other uses - share your tips and tricks in the comments!
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten