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!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Penguin Fun

 Do your students love penguins?  Winter is a great time to learn about penguins - and other polar animals!  Last week I shared some ideas for learning about polar bears, so this week I thought I'd blog about penguins.
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

A couple of years ago we were lucky enough to have a penguin exhibit at our local museum (Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.)  Most of the exhibition was photographs, but there was also a docent with this beautiful taxidermied penguin, so we were able to get up close and check it out.  It amazed us all to see how tiny its feathers were!
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
After walking through the photo exhibition and seeing pictures of penguins doing all the things penguins do, we noticed a lovely, long bench.  The children decided to practice tobboganing, which is just sliding on our bellies.  This is one of the ways penguins move across the ice!
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Back at home we tried holding "eggs" on our feet, just like daddy penguins do all winter. We were inspired by the book Without You, by Sarah Weeks, pictured here along with some other fun penguin books:
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Standing still was pretty easy, but when we tried to waddle with our "eggs" on our feet, they went rolling.  We decided we would not make good penguin daddies, that's a hard job!

We had fun making our own penguin rookery, complete with chicks sitting snug on the father penguins' feet.  I displayed them on a large sheet of polystyrene foam, and the mottled white background looked icy.  (I've recently updated this activity and added a non-fiction book, and made it available here.)
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
We also watched some awesome youtube.com videos about penguins.  These links will take you to some of our favorites!
Jack Hartman, penguin dance
Happy Feet brain break
The Learning Station, Penguin Song

We learned about the letter P the same week we learned about penguins, so we made some pink or purple lower case letters, and added some penguins to it.  The children got to choose how many little penguins they made for their letter, so we added a little math by making a graph about how many penguins we used.  Super simple, and totally relevant to the children - oh yeah, and it was a good reason to practice writing their names!
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Here's another fun penguin activity that ties back into penguins sliding on the ice.  Freeze a tray of water a couple of days ahead of time (you want it frozen completely solid).  Sit a toy penguin on it, and see if it starts sliding.  If you have it laid flat, the penguin won't move unless you scoot it along.  Then slowly raise one end - I used stacks of dice - until your penguin goes sliding on the ice.  Experiment with the ramp you've created - what else slides?  How high do you need to prop the end?
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

You probably already know I love to use hand print art with the children each week too, so one of our choices was a hand print penguin - with a textured "snowy" background.  I mixed approximately half shaving cream and half white paint, and let the children finger paint that onto their paper (fun!), then we made the penguin separately, and glued it on once the background was dry.  The shaving cream/paint dried with texture and a lovely silky feel to it.  If you haven't tried this yet, you'll be amazed by the results!
Penguin Fun (math, science, reading and craft activities) from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

For even more penguin ideas, check out this post and this post here on my blog.  If you're looking for resources you can download and print to help you teach your children about penguins, you can see what I've created here.

What are your favorite penguin activities?  I'd love to know!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Polar Bears

Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
It seems to me that there are two great times to learn about polar animals: in the winter, when they come to mind along with snow and ice, and in the summer time, when the idea of cooling off sounds lovely.  We've done both, and either way, the children love it!

You surely know by now that children's books are a huge part of my planning and teaching!  I try to also include both fiction and non-fiction.  While it's more traditional to tell our little ones stories, I've found that they're very interested in learning how their world works, and find non-fiction fascinating too.
Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
I love to make this cute polar bear craft with my youngest kiddos, but for my first graders I'd add the non-fiction booklet to it too.  Either way, these sure look cute for a display!
Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
We love to do hands on activities!  Here we are, exploring the idea of the arctic ocean, using killer whales, seals, polar bears, Alaskan crabs and more.  Do you see the ice cubes in the second picture?  Some of our animals like to get out on the ice, and float along or rest for a bit.  (Some of our friends like to play with ice and water when it's hot outside too!)
Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

We often make hand prints or foot prints to go along with our learning themes, and polar bears are no exception.  We even made narwhal prints, and watched an awesome video about narwhals!
Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Learning to read sight words is an important part of kindergarten and first grade,  so I made this sight word game for us to practice with.  (It includes cards for letter learners, and PP, P and 1st grade sight words, so it's pretty flexible. Who wouldn't want to help those baby bears get to their momma, right?
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Bears-on-the-Sea-Ice-Sight-Word-Game-1600295

I've found a lot of children - and adults for that matter - don't realize that polar bears and penguins don't share the ice.  Polar bears live in the Arctic, near the north pole, and penguins (mostly) live in the Antarctic, near the south pole.  Here's a little song I wrote to help the children remember the difference: 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Polar-Bears-and-Penguins-Song-FREE-2972278
Download it free by clicking on the link or the picture!  If you have a map or globe in your classroom, have a child point to the correct location as you sing each verse.

While you're reading and singing the song, how about some more facts about polar bears and other arctic animals?  I laid them flat for a picture, but they work really well in a pocket chart (but pocket charts don't photograph well, with all the reflections off the plastic).
Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
I like to use sentence to picture matching activities as a literacy center, and most of my students are really good about working with the materials.  Still, sometimes we need to show written work, or have some kind of accountability for the students, so they all come with follow up worksheets.  Here's one of them:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Arctic-Sentence-Picture-Match-Reading-Center-1633241

Another fun, hands on sensory activity to do is to build with ice cubes.  You can certainly use plain old regular ice cubes, chances are good that you have some on hand, or if not, you can buy a bag of ice at any grocery store or gas station.  I like to make over-sized ice cubes, using whatever empty containers are available and headed for the recycling bin.  It's amazing how much fun giant ice cubes are as a building tool, and they take a nice long time to melt too.
Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Learning about polar bears, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
If you're building with ice cubes, you might also want to show the children a video of how an igloo is built!  I like this one.  After you watch this, be prepared to see a lot of building going on - and have some nice large blocks on hand.

We've also explored how polar bears thick layer of fat, or blubber, helps to insulate them - you can see that post here.

So what other activities do you like to do when you're learning about polar bears?  I'd love to know! 
Paula

P.S. Stop back by next week to see how we like to learn about penguins.

Friday, January 13, 2017

12 awesome books about snow!

12 Awesome books about snow from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
I love winter.  I also love spring, summer and fall - somehow by the time each season comes around, I'm ready for it again.  I love all the fun things each season brings: snow, green leaves and flowers, long lazy days, brightly colored leaves... so welcome winter!

This month the KinderFriends are bringing you some of our favorite books (you'll want to blog hop and check this out!),
12 Awesome books about snow from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
and I guess I have snow on the mind, because I started pulling out my snow books, and... well, sure enough, I have some favorites!  Who doesn't?!

12 Awesome books about snow from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 I have to start with Snowballs by Lois Ehlert, one of my all time favorite authors, and all time favorite books.  I love her collage style illustrations, how she uses photos of real objects, plus paper crafted details!  She also does a marvelous job of using items from world cultures: amongst the items included in this book you'll find a Bolivian hat, Peruvian sock, African kente cloth, a Guatemalan purse, English silk tie, and a Thai applique heart.  The story stands alone, but so do the illustrations, and you could spend a long time searching for all the amazing little details Ehlert has included.  I'll be reading this book to the children later this week!

You can't have a list of snow books without the classic The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats.
12 Awesome books about snow from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
The little boy in the book, Peter, discovers snow, and explores it thoroughly.  It almost makes me want to go play in the snow too!  I found a cute follow up art activity via pinterest, and drew some silhouettes of Peter to use in it.  I've scanned it, and you can grab it free here.

The "snow" in the picture is a mix of about half paint and half shaving cream, spread around with my fingers.  Your kiddos can add foot prints or lines from a stick, just like Peter did in the story!
12 Awesome books about snow from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

While you are reading about snow, how about some snow themed learning activities?  I recently finished Snow: STEAM learning, which includes 6 activities for science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Snow-STEAM-Investigations-2947861

Here are some of more of my favorite snow themed stories:
The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs: a wordless book that will have your children reading the pictures and telling the story.
Let's Go Home, Little Bear, by Martin Waddell: little bear is scared of the unfamiliar sounds he hears while walking in the snow, but the real focus is on the loving relationship between big bear and little bear.  This is one to snuggle up and read with your own children, but will also be loved for group story time.
I Have to Go!, by Robert Munsch: What can I say, Robert Munsch totally understands children, and if you ever were a child, or have parented someone who is toilet training, this is hilarious!
50 Below Zero, by Robert Munsch: While you're looking for Robert Munsch books, grab this one too!
Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner: This lovely book imagines the reason why snowmen sometimes look a little worn around the edges in the morning - surely it's not just the weather, what have they been doing?
Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick: The authors/photographers spent many winters feeding and photographing forest animals, and turned their amazing photos into an award winning picture book.  You'll want to have birdseed on hand after reading this book, so your children can leave it out for the critters that live near you.
Snowy, Flowy, Blowy, by Nancy Tafuri: In just 24 words Tafuri sums up the months and seasons of a year.  Illustrated beautifully, this deceptively simple book is wonderful for starting conversations about the seasons and weather.

Now, for even more favorite stories, hop on over to Pocket Full of Centers!
http://pocketfulofcenters.blogspot.com/2017/01/winter-favorites-blog-hop.html


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Painting on Ice

Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 If you live in the northern hemisphere, you may well be looking out on wintery scenes like these:
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Beautiful, yes, but also very cold.  You and your students may well spend more time indoors during the winter, but that doesn't mean you can't explore the ice and snow!

Scoop some up, add some droppers of warm water and some more of cold paint, and let the kids explore.  It's a fine motor work out, and absolutely fascinating!
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Your students might learn about changing states of matter as they add drops of warm water to the ice. 
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Where does all that paint go when you drip it in?
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Is it underneath the ice?
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
That stuff sure is cold on our fingers!
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
It's a lot of fun to drip paint into the ice!
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
And to add more, and more!
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Quite beautiful really!
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
It's amazing how long this fun can last - maybe even after parents and siblings arrive for pick up, because they may want to join in too.
Painting on Ice, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

P.S.
If you're looking for more ways to learn about winter, check out my most recent resource:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Snow-STEAM-Investigations-2947861
Thanks for stopping by!
Paula