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!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Holidays Kinderfriends Blog Hop

Welcome to the #Kinderfriends holiday blog hop!  We know there are many celebrations going on at this time of the year, and thought we'd share some fun ideas about ways to celebrate - and we're throwing in some freebies and a gift for one of you, because who doesn't like holiday gifts?!

Last week I saw a lovely idea for making a hand print menorah, but couldn't find the print out to use for it.  Not to worry, I put one together, and the children made their hand prints, drew on flames, and added a die cut shamash (the helper candle).  My sample isn't nearly as cute as children's hands are, but it will at least give you the idea.  :-)  Want a copy?  Here you go!
Would you like to play the dreidel game while you're talking about Hanukkah, but don't know how?  Today a friend pointed me to this awesome video tutorial - it's not for the little kids, but once you know how it works, you can teach them!  Over the years I've taught this game to many, many preschoolers.  They learn both math and social skills as they play: turn taking, putting one in the "pot", and how to take half: I teach the kiddos to do "one for me, one for you" to do this.  Did I mention the fine motor workout of moving small objects and spinning the dreidel?

I also love to read/sing the children's book version of Feliz Navidad each December.  The catchy tune and repetition helps the children learn at least the refrain in Spanish and English, and it makes great background music as we put together our pinatas.  (Paper sacks with colorful tissue paper fringe.)

I've made a lot of fun resources for Christmas, and some for Hanukkah; you may not have seen these new ones yet. If you're looking for some ready to go learning fun, please check them out! (They're 20% off for the next 3 days, and for more great resources, search #KinderFriends on TeachersPayTeachers!)



There's even a FREE video of Nine Little Reindeer - check it out!

Now, as promised, there's a gift!  We're giving away a $25 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers!  On the off chance you aren't a teacher yourself, enter anyway - you know a teacher who would LOVE this as a present!  (No, don't know any?  I'll take it! Pick me, pick me!) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you'll hop on over and check out the next stop on our blog hop:

Wishing you the happiest of holidays, and a joyous and prosperous new year!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Stacked Stars Christmas Trees

Christmas is sneaking up on us, and you're probably planning the Christmas art projects you want to get to with your students - and some kind of year end celebration, report cards, shopping and cleaning and wrapping for your own family, juggling staff meetings and... you're probably short on time and energy, even if you have visions of meaningful lessons and carefully crafted learning activities.  If you have everything under control, please share your tips!  For the rest of us, I thought I'd share another simple holiday activity that takes almost no preparation.

As is so often the case, I found my inspiration via Pinterest.com.  Unfortunately, the pin doesn't go to the correct page on the blog, and it is in French... but here's the pin to show the idea.

To make this adorable stacked star Christmas tree you'll need some light card (I used manila folders), star shapes in several sizes, paint, beads, one pipe cleaner per child, and doodads to decorate with.  We used sequins, but use what you have on hand.  It's also helpful to have small pieces of styrofoam to use as a base for your trees, but florist foam would be another option.

On the first day (it's a 2 day project) the children painted their stars, and we let them dry.  Later I cut the stars out - my kiddos were 3-5 years old, and I guess I wanted the finished product to look a little more polished than it would with 3 year olds doing the cutting.  If you have the time and patience, and your children have the skill, let them cut them out.

To assemble our stacked star trees, we first put one bead in the center of a pipe cleaner, and folded the pipe cleaner over.  Twist the ends together a little, to make one strong supporting "tree trunk".  Make tiny holes in the center of each star, and have the children order the stars by size, from smallest to largest.

Next the children will alternate threading on the stars (from smallest to largest) and 3 beads - the beads separate the layers of stars and give height to the trees.  When all the stars and beads are on, stick the remaining end of the pipe cleaner into the styrofoam or florist foam base.  Have the children decorate their trees with sequins, pompons, or other shiny bits and bobs, then proudly display them until it's time to send them home!


 If you're also looking for some help putting Christmas learning centers together, please stop by my TeachersPayTeachers store and see some of my other holiday activities!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December $75 Gift Card Giveaway

Thank you for stopping by my blog!  As I often do, I'm participating in a gift card giveaway - I think it's a nice bonus for my loyal readers, a little something to say thank you for making me a part of your day.  Teachers and parents put so much into teaching and learning with their kiddos (our own, and those we share a year or two with through school), and finding beautiful resources on TeachersPayTeachers makes our jobs just a little easier.  If you'd like to go on a $75 shopping spree, read on, and enter below! 

Prize:  $75 Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher).
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 12/13/16 and is open worldwide.

And don't forget to enter our weekly $25 Teachers pay Teachers gift card giveaway as well!

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rocking December with Rudolph

I love teaching the letters R and S in December - between Rudolph and Santa, there's plenty of awesome activities, books and crafts, and the children are so eager to do them all!  Today I thought I'd share just a few of our favorite Rudolph activities, besides reading the Classic book by Robert May and singing the Christmas carol that almost everyone knows.

Another fun song for the preschool and kindergarten crowd is a variation on Head and Shoulders: Hooves, Belly, Antlers, Nose.  I found an adorable video of children singing it here, your kiddos will quickly make it their own!  I like to add a red sticky dot to the children's noses when we sing this one - and it makes a really cute picture for their families!

You've probably seen the painted hand print reindeer included in my photo above, I recently found a version via pinterest that also included Santa in his sleigh - that's one to try this year!  While some children aren't eager to have their hands or feet painted, I've found that most do warm up to the idea, and then enjoy the tickly sensation of the wet paint brush on their hands.  It's a fun sensory experience, and a quick one on one time with a teacher - hand prints are one of our favorites!

I've also made the construction paper hand and foot print reindeers for... well, for ever!  I began making these with my preschoolers when my own children were tiny, and each year I still bring out these treasured ornaments - we have a slew of them, one for each year that the boys would still go for it, showing their hands and feet growing incrementally year after year.  These make fantastic gifts for parents, and trust me, even if they have had one every year since their children were born, they'll be thrilled to have another!  (Teacher tip: trace the children's hands a day or two before you want the children to assemble the reindeer, so you can cut them out.  Nap time is a great time to sit and prep for this!)

I wish I could claim the Surprised Rudolph idea as my own, but the idea came from a faithful attempt.  She in turn found her inspiration on Artsonia.com.  Have you met Artsonia yet?  Check out our school gallery, then look around at all the other amazing lesson plans that are there to inspire you!  This cute project not only looks adorable, but gives the children a lot of fine motor practice with scissors
 and glue,
plus tracing around a circle shape, and talking about squares, triangles, rectangles and positional words. 
That's a lot of learning for a holiday decoration!

Let me know if you have some other fun reindeer activities to share - I'm always on the look out for more fun learning ideas!