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, December 29, 2013

S is for Santa, of course!

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
It is December, and the kiddos are ever so ready for Christmas!  We focused on the letter S this week, so of course, Santa had to come into the picture, regularly!  Our upper case S craft had a Santa hand print on it, but the very most fun "Santa" activity was dressing up!

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten Several years ago I bought a large kid sized red fleece top, and red pants.  I added white fleece around the cuffs and hems, added an old black belt, a fun fur beard, Santa hat, and my own black snow boots, and voila!  We have a Santa costume.

 Not everything was about Santa, of course.  We still did a lot of regular activities, like practicing writing our names on the ipad.  The kiddos are using Writing Wizard, which allowed me to enter their names and other words to practice. 
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

 We also worked hard on more ornaments for our parents this week, in preparation for our class Christmas party.  I love the snowmen CDs, which I found on happyhooligans.ca from November 29, 2013.  I painted old CDs with white acrylic paint ahead of time, and the children added button eyes, black bean mouths, and a twisted square of orange tissue paper for the noses.  Super cute!  The only difficulty was that when I stacked the CDs, some of them stuck together.  Next time I'll put a piece of wax paper between them.

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
  Here are our hand print choices for this week: Santa, swans, and snails.  You can see all our hand and foot print art ideas on my handprint alphabet pinterest board.
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

We had some beautiful days this week, and took advantage of it to get lots of outside time.  The kiddos were so adorable, here are some of their favorite outside play choices:
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Drawing, coloring and writing at our outside table...
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Playing on the swings.  Swinging on their tummies is ever popular, and since every child I've met wants to do it, it must feed some kind of a need.  These two were super cute holding hands and swinging side to side together!
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Running, chasing, playing...
 The kiddos were fascinated by the jack-o-lantern pumpkins rotting in the dormant veggie garden.  I watched them run up and poke at them, to see how soft they had become, and realized this one was ready to split open. I didn't want it to eventually mush under anyone's prodding, so I poked a hole in it, and opened it up for the kids to see.  Everyone wanted to look, and I had to ask them to not pick out the seeds from the rotting pumpkin!

Do you wonder what secrets these two are sharing? So sweet!
Then came the biggest event for the week, our Christmas party, complete with a visit from a certain jolly old guy!

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Several times a day for the last two weeks, I've read the children one of my books of The Night Before Christmas.  Every time, I make the same hand motions for the kiddos, and they have all memorized most or all of the poem!  We start our Christmas party each year by reciting it to our parents.  Needless to say, the children who have been with me for several holiday seasons know it really well!  Our moms and dads were very impressed!
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Before our party, we talked about gift etiquette; looking at the giver, saying thank you, and making a positive comment about the gift - even if it is just to notice the color or to acknowledge the thought behind the gift.  So often our kiddos are overwhelmed with gifts, and tear through them.  Taking the time to be appreciative is important!

Julie and I give each child a small gift to keep. This year the kiddos got a small stuffed animal.
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

The second gift the children open is something to stay at school for us all to enjoy.  We got new books, some puzzles, and stuffed animals!
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Do you remember being a child?  One thing I remember is my love of paper, any kind of paper!  After we had opened our gifts, we gathered up the paper to save for crafts the next day.  Used fancy wrapping paper with snowmen and shiny sparkles is "trash" to most adults, but to the children, it is treasure!  They cut it, pasted on it, and decorated it like crazy the day after our party!
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Our gifts to our parents is all the ornaments we've made.  I treasure the Rudolph ornaments my boys made with their hand and foot prints when they were small, the popsicle stick snowmen, and paper gingerbread men... I hope our parents all find these as precious as I do! 
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Then Santa came to see us!  A few of the children weren't too sure about him, but most were thrilled to have him visit. 
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Before the party, I prepped plates with candy, green frosting, a plastic knife (to spread the frosting), and an ice cream cone.  Turning these ingredients into Christmas trees was our culminating activity, and it was wonderful!  I found the idea here, and all over pinterest.com!
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
As you can see, the children were very engaged with this project!  (Gee, candy, sugar cones, and a craft project all in one, wonder what attracted them?)
S is for Santa, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Happy Holidays!  I hope your Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, is as sweet as can be!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rockin' December with the letter R

 It's December, and I still have lots of learning planned, but the kiddos are getting very excited about Christmas.  We've been cooped up all week because the ice from last week's storm hasn't melted and it's colder than we Texans are really prepared for.  What to do?  Reindeer activities!

We started the week with a few rounds of Hooves, Belly, Antlers, Nose, sung to the tune of Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes.  We needed Rudolph noses to go with that! 
 Do you love the antlers?  I traced and cut out lots of little hands this week, and we used some on our uppercase R, and turned it into Rudolph too. 

 As you can see, we worked on lots of ornaments for our school Christmas tree.  We will give them all as a gift to our parents, at our Christmas party later this week.

Here we are working on our Pete The Cat ornaments.  Painting is precision work, and we were very careful to make Pete the best we could.  As it says in the story, "Give it your all, give it your all.  At Christmas we give, so give it your all!"

 We also stretched our fine motor skills by cutting and gluing a surprised Rudolph collage, which I found here.  We reviewed circles, triangles and rectangles as we worked, but the scissor skills were the main learning experience for us on this project!

 We did a lot of art and craft projects this week!  Here we are painting stars to assemble into Christmas tree sculptures!  I found this idea via pinterest.

The oldest kiddos were even able to cut out their stars, and help assemble the sculpture with a pipe cleaner and beads.  Everyone enjoyed having a variety of sparkly bits to decorate their trees with!

 We needed to experience the ice too, so I brought some of it inside, and provided droppers, liquid watercolors, and warm water.  We were scientists, and experimented with dropping the liquids into the ice to see what happened.  The warm water melted the ice faster than the paints.  We mixed colors, turned our ice over to see how the paints had seeped through, and got cold fingers!  The kiddos all wanted a long time to explore the ice, and several asked their parents if they could continue ice play at home. 

 As always, we made hand print art for the letter of the week.  Here are some samples, and you can see more samples of our artwork at www.artsonia.com  For other hand and foot print art ideas, and the sources for them, please check out my Handprint Alphabet board on pinterest.

 A review of this week wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Christmas junk craft box.  The kiddos don't think it is a junk box at all, as it is filled with various left over craft treasures for them to use however they wish.  It always amazes me the things adults will throw away, which could just as easily fascinate a child first.  Kids are very inventive and creative!

Our week concluded with a viewing of Polar Express, complete with pajamas and lots of trains to play with.

Next week, letter S!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pete The Cat Saves Christmas ornament

I just finished creating a new ornament for my pre-k and kindergarten students, and want to share it!

 Like so many other people, my kiddos and I LOVE Pete the Cat.  One of our stories this week is Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, by Eric Litwin and James Dean.  I wanted a follow up activity for my students, so I drew Pete the Cat on card stock, and painted him.  The trim on Pete's hat is made of fleece, and I used a touch of fleece to make a pompon for his Santa hat.  Black sharpie for the eyes and whiskers finishes Pete off.

My kiddos will be painting Pete later this week.  I can't wait to see a dozen Petes on our class Christmas tree! (Sneak peek, they loved this!)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nutty for N

It's the first week in December, and we're learning about the letter N, so of course we have to make nutcrackers!  We watched a short youtube.com video about nutcrackers (see it here), then got to work making our own.  I gave each child a paper cut to 3" x 8.5", with lines drawn at 4", then every 3/4", and the kiddos cut those out.  The large piece became the body, and the narrow strips the arms and legs.  They also cut out a circle to make their nutcrackers' face.  Look how hard this child is concentrating to hold the scissors!
Next the children assembled their nutcrackers, gluing each piece to their paper.  You can see we had both a real nutcracker and a kid-made example to help them understand where to place the pieces. 
The final touch was adding faces, hair, and details to the uniforms.  We even had a gold pen to dress up the uniforms!  I love how unique each nutcracker is!  We admired these as we listened to music from The Nutcracker during snack this week.

 You might think we'd work a lot on numbers this week, to tie in with the N theme, but shapes seemed to come up again and again.  We're talking about 2 dimensional shapes a lot, of course, but the kindergarteners especially have also been learning names for 3 D shapes.  I love The Shapes Song 2 on youtube.com to teach shape names - and many of the kiddos even remember dodecahedron from watching it!

I took a group of children to the story time at the Botanic Research Institute of Texas this week.  They have the best story times I've ever seen!  While the children were arriving, there was a tent with stories to read, word puzzles to go with the story of the week, and this fantastic sorting activity.
 After the stories, the children chose from more activities.  My group especially loved using nutmeg scented salt dough to anchor a sprig of rosemary, and wrapping it up to look like a little Christmas tree.  The nutmeg and rosemary smelled wonderful, and little fingers got a workout with the salt dough and red yarn.
 There was also a sink and float station, where the children put small stones and cranberries into a tub of water.  Can you guess which ones sank, and which floated?  Now, why haven't I thought of cranberries as a seasonal play item before?!  We'll definitely be repeating this fun activity at school this holiday season.
 Another new-to-me activity this week was making our names on snowmen and Christmas trees.  I found the ideas via Pinterest, the tree was from http://mrskarensclass.blogspot.com, and the snowman came from http://www.thissimplehome.com.  The kiddos chose which they wanted to make, and cut out circles or triangles to write the letters of their names on.  Cutting, especially circles, is a great fine motor skill, and writing and glue practice are always skills we need to work on in pre-k and kinder.
We'll definitely do this activity again next year!  I noticed that several children did a much better job of writing their names on this activity than they usually do.  Perhaps focusing on just one letter at a time made this seem a more manageable activity, or maybe they were so pleased with their cutting that they worked extra hard to write the letters in their names.  Either way, they worked hard, wrote well, and loved the activity!

I did notice that it isn't as easy to read the names written on the dark green Christmas trees as it is on the snowmen.  Next time I'll reward their careful work (and make it easier to read) with a marker to write their letters!

 I love the hand print narwhals and nests the children made for their hand print alphabet books this week.  Narwhals aren't exactly day to day preschool conversation at my house, so we watched a short youtube.com video about them.  You can't go wrong with National Geographic videos!

You can see all the art in our on-line art gallery at http://www.artsonia.com/schools/school.asp?id=141038.  We'd love for you to check it out!

 For another fun art project, we made torn tissue paper poinsettias.  I found the idea here, but it originally came from artprojectsforkids.org. 

I save used tissue paper from gifts, and offer it as an art medium.  The paper tears or cuts easily, comes in every color imaginable, is free, and takes up almost no storage space.  What a perfect medium!  The kiddos were very focused on their creating, and created gorgeous holiday art. 

Finally, here's a sneak peek at some more Christmas activities that we have in store for the kiddos!