This past week I prepared my room for my PreK students to come have a Sneak Peek on Friday. Since I was keeping my ocean theme from last year I just had a few updates to work on to make things fresh and new.
I needed to reprint my welcome sign since I did not have time to laminate it last year and the spots where the sticky tack was attached to the paper had that greasy look to it. Now that it is reprinted and laminated I won’t have to worry about that in the future.
I had to do some work to my birthday display as well. The sign had to be trimmed and laminated, names had to be added to the birthday bags, and a few bags came down since I currently have a few less students this year so far. Will try to get a finished photo this week with the sign above it as well.
I start the year with my ocean theme calendar, but switch up the number cards throughout the year to work on different patterns and to go along with themes or seasons.
Since I did not have to start from scratch with my ocean theme I had some time to work on my dramatic play Pizza Shop. I purchased Pocket of Preschool’s Pizza Restaurant set to help me add to what we already had available at school. I love that she has all the labels as part of her set. Labeling everything really helps with clean up since students know where things are supposed to go.
I bought the green containers and the pizza pans at Dollar Tree as well as the measuring cup and measuring spoon. I think that trip just about used up the gift card that a lovely parent gave me as an end of the year gift.
I set up a quick craft to help decorate the dramatic play area with help from my students. During the Sneak Peek I had paper pizzas with toppings to glue on using glue sticks. Besides being a simple activity that will help decorate pretend play, it gave me an idea of how my students use glue sticks. I can already note which ones need a few pointers.
Here is the Pizza Shop display with the pizzas my students made at the Sneak Peek. The Pizza Shop sign comes from Sparklebox. That one was already in our pizza prop box so I just had to put it on the bulletin board.
Here is a glance at the pizza pan full of toppings, some from a couple sets we already had, with some additional toppings I made with suggestions from Pocket of Preschool’s set.
Now to get ready for the first day of school this week.
Monday is the big day for me and the official beginning of my personal back to school. Our family started school at the beginning of the month with my oldest daughter starting cross country practice, so getting to sleep in has been gone for quite a while for me. Monday starts my online college course, so this week is truly my back to school week.
I will be taking a course in Christian Doctrine as I am working towards synod certification in Early Childhood Education through Martin Luther College. This is my last three credit hour course, so I am excited to get it completed.
Back to school for me as a teacher starts Wednesday with work days to prepare my classroom. I am sticking with my ocean theme, so just need to freshen it up and make everything that has student names on it, but we all know there is still plenty to do. I have my calendar all ready with my ocean themed items, like the months you see.
I will also be choosing which question of the day I want to use from my set. I will probably use this one some time the first week.
In celebration of a new school year I am having a giveaway for a Teachers Pay Teachers $10 gift card. Teachers Pay Teachers is also having a one day sale on Monday which I am participating in, so fill your carts and watch your emails as I will send out notice as soon as the giveaway ends.
As I have been busy getting ready for my church’s Vacation Bible Camp this weekend, I have also been making my wish list for the Teachers Pay Teachers back to school sale. You can click through to my shop through the awesome graphic below, made by Glitter Meets Glue Designs.
Once I make it through Vacation Bible Camp, I need to finish up a few products that I have started that I want to use during this new preschool year. I am working on a new set of dot marker printables that I am very excited about. You can see a draft of one of them below.
I am also working on some alphabet based emergent readers to add some variety to the ones I already use in my classroom. So far I have added one set to my shop.
I am very happy that I spent all of last year creating my Question of the Day Bundle because now I just pull them out each week and am ready. No more scrambling at the last moment before kids come in to think of a question or scrambling to find my list of questions on my plans so I can put them up. I just grab my printed, laminated sets for each day and put them in my pocket chart.
Of course, I will have at least one more set of questions get added to the bundle this year because you know that themes are never exactly the same from year to year and I spy at least two new ones this year that we did not do in my classroom last year. If you have any themes you don’t see in my Question of the Day Bundle, please be sure to let me know so I can add them.
Our preschool has some awesome manipulatives for the students to work with throughout the year. I especially like the Excellerations® Linking Cubes and Triangles. I felt that these could be even more beneficial for some of my students if I made some activity cards to give them some direction for building. I had the idea in the back of my head for most of the last school year, but just never found the time. I finally sat down this week and figured out the clip art size to work for these cubes and triangles.
Don’t do what I did and forget to print to actual size if you get these activity cards. When creating this set I was having some issues with the printer and completely forgot to make sure the pages were set for actual size and had them print to fit. I was in panic mode for a bit until I realized that I had print to fit, which made the cubes and triangles totally not fit.
I put clip art from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs on each card that starts with the letter to help with letter sound connections to the alphabet letters. I also know that many people may not be blessed with the use of a color printer, so I made the set in gray scale as well.
What are your favorite manipulatives to use in your classroom?
Summer break has officially begun, although there is still much on my to do list. I still have two summer camps to finish preparing for and to teach next month as well as a summer conference. I also want to go through my cabinets at school and reorganize them as well as putting in order the mess that is my “school area” at home.
Then, since I am not just a teacher, but also a mother….I have a list of things that need to happen related to my children. There is middle school orientation, two different summer church camps, and Vacation Bible Camp that will involve the whole family. OH, and did I mention the family trips to visit grandparents?
I had to get myself organized so that I would not forget anything so I downloaded a monthly calendar and put in the essentials. That keeps me from forgetting major events.
How about the day to day, though? I discovered an app a couple years ago called Motivated Moms to keep track of my day to day housework type chores. I have now started to use it to also keep track of the teacher projects that I am working on as well as my Teacher Pay Teacher projects.
My life is not filled with the latest and greatest technology, so I use the app with my Kindle Fire and it works great for me. They have options for Android and Apple products. It is easy to customize and I like that it has set chores already for each day, which reminds me of some of the things you should do every once in a while, like turning your mattress or changing your filter for your heating/air conditioning unit.
If you are interested in checking it out, please click the button above.
Now I am off to get a popsicle before I tackle the next thing on my list.
We recently completed our Pond theme in my preschool classroom. We were lucky enough to get some gray tree frog tadpoles to visit our classroom during this theme. The tree frogs like to lay their eggs in the water in our above ground pool before we open it for the summer, so we always save some of them before cleaning the pool. They will continue to live in my classroom through the next month so we can watch them grow throughout our summer camps.
For some reason my sensory bin looks a bit less like a pond this year than last year, probably due to the fact that I was using our new larger sensory bin that is red instead of blue. The bin has some flat blue glass beads in the bottom, a bunch of frogs purchased from Oriental Trading, some lily pads made from foam, and some tadpoles made with pony beads and a bit of pipe cleaner, inspired by this. I used brown beads and pipe cleaner since that most closely matched our real tadpoles in the classroom.
For dramatic play I went for simplicity since we did not have a long time for centers during the week due to rehearsing for graduation. I found this kiddie pool on clearance at the end of the summer last year and grabbed it to make it into a bird’s nest. It also makes a great pond. The lily pads are place mats I found at Dollar Tree. I already had the frogs. The ping pong balls are from Dollar Tree as well. I wrote an alphabet letter on each one and students had to catch them with the net and then place them in the correct spot labeled with the same letter on small paint palettes.
Frogs are similar to the ones pictured above, found on Amazon.
I was also excited to find this small garbage can at Dollar Tree and created a frog for a counting game. The other teacher I work with had some plastic flies. Students rolled the dice and then used the tool to pick up and feed the frog.
We also had a fun catch the bugs game with pink toy noise makers that I also found at Dollar Tree. I placed a section of velcro on the ends and cut up small pieces of felt for the children to catch with their frog tongues. You can find out more about this idea here.
For my pocket chart calendar I would use these calendar cards:
My PreK students always keep very busy on Monday mornings since there is so much new in the classroom. This week is our Creepy Crawlers theme. I was energized from my spring break to discover some new ideas that I am glad to find engaging to my students. This spider web game was a big hit.
I discovered an idea for the spider web when browsing Pinterest. I knew I already had a hula hoop that I had found at the dollar store last year, so I pulled that out, along with some masking tape. The example on Pinterest showed cotton balls, but I thought that black pom poms would look more like bugs or flies caught in the web.
I overheard one of my students saying that it was like a carnival game. I only had one student try to grab the hoop, which I think is quite a success, especially since that student did not try grabbing it again. We used up quite a bit of energy playing this game and worked on our gross motor skills.
Spent a little time this evening working on lesson plans for my upcoming bugs and insects theme. Love this macro photo of a bee covered in pollen, although it does make me a bit itchy to imagine that pollen all over me.
Working on a word wall to use next week, so making a list of insects and bugs that I want to be sure to include in my search for interesting photos.
Which insects and bugs do you like to use in your preschool creepy crawling critter theme weeks?
We started the week with a leftover question of the day from our snow day on Friday. We do a question of the day every morning as we come in the classroom. Many of the parents hang around to see what their children will choose as an answer. We needed to do this question since we still needed to read Green Eggs and Ham as well as have our special Dr. Seuss snacks which were saved from Friday’s “no snow” snow day. If I recall correctly we had a tie in responses with this one, which is unusual.
This week our easel has painting with water on one side and practicing writing words that begin with J on the other. Sometime I use these word sheets with magnets or stamps, but this week I decided to let them write the words with the dry erase markers. I found these sheets on This Reading Mama’s blog. I decided to use water and a brush on the other side because I had put it out a few weeks ago when I realized I had no plan for the other side of the easel and the students loved it and spent a bunch of time practicing letters and drawing shapes, especially some of my friends who are not quick to choose activities involving manipulating writing implements.
In my fine motor and math center I found a Race to the Top game with linking cubes. My students have enjoyed using linking and snap cubes as well as dice games. This one has just enough of a twist from activities we have done recently to keep their attention. Race to the Top can be found on The Measured Mom’s blog. We are using the one that goes to twenty but she also has one up to ten. To get students started with this game I invited one student to play with me. Once we started the game another student came over and asked to play so I let that student take my spot. If one student quits I either jump in to play or ask another student if she would like to play if the student playing cannot figure out who to ask.
This game is best saved for the second half of the year because students need to only count the fish of a specific color, not all the fish. I highlighted the color word with a dry erase marker that matched its color (although I apparently missed the one on top when I took the photo.) You could also put a color word chart at this center. I chose this game because we are reading Swimmy by Leo Lionni as well as Flotsam by David Wiesner.
My large square table is where we do our art and literacy activities. Some of the activities we started the week with included play dough with alphabet stampers (similar to those linked below), Letter J crowns, painting alphabet letters to create a class alphabet book and a chameleon craft on paper towels which we plan to spray later in the week.
Due to a very large number of absences this week we may not end up with a whole alphabet book. I am contemplating what to do since I ended the day with only four out of ten students. It is pretty difficult to get twenty six letters painted with that many absences.
When I decided to do this sensory bin it reminded me of one I made a long time ago for a Vacation Bible Camp. It had been a bin full of shredded paper and my fellow teacher had commented, “Who would have thought that preschoolers would love to play with trash so much?” I had several kids playing with this right away on Monday. A couple boys kept catching pieces with the grabbers I found at the dollar store and bringing them to me to show me which letter that was caught. This Alphabet Pick Up game can be found in Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station. The grabbers were found at the dollar store and were similar to those shown in the photo link below.
Our dramatic play area became a Sandwich Shop this week. I used the foam pieces I had cut last year, placing them in aluminum trays from the dollar store. Growing in PreK has some printables and was my inspiration for the beginning of this center.
On the table for customers are place mats as well as ketchup and mustard. These were also found at the local dollar store. I did not realize when I purchased them that they were meant to be joke bottles. The kids love them because when you open the lids and squeeze them a little string that is red for ketchup or yellow for mustard pops out.
The big addition to the sandwich shop was my drink station, inspired by Play to Learn’s post. The students figured it out right away, although I did have one moment when a student pulled the colored tissue out of it. Another student informed me and I fixed it and explained to the student what it was since I am unsure he had any idea why the tissue was there. To the left of the drink station are trays of crocheted cookies and plastic chips. I have a couple different ways of ordering that I will alternate in this center. One is found at PreKinders and the other was found at Growing in PreK, which was linked above.
I have a Healthy Habits theme coming up in my preschool classroom for the next couple of weeks. The other teacher of four year olds and I wanted to swap sensory bins after a week so I wanted to come up with something fun that was not terribly messy since the other bin involves messy fun with pretend teeth and brushing.
I searched a bit around and discovered a photo of a spaghetti themed sensory bin. I also looked into using real spaghetti but that seemed a bit too messy for this time around and would probably involve making new spaghetti each day, which I did not really want to sign up myself as well as my fellow teacher to do.
I checked out our pom poms supplies and discovered a lack of large brown ones for meatballs and not much in the way of small ones for cheese so I headed off to the craft store. Unfortunately there were no brown pom poms to be found there and only mixed sets that might have yellow so I needed another solution.
In comes the pom pom maker I saw in the crochet and knitting aisle. I picked this Clover brand one up and found it very easy to use. (You can use my affiliate link to see more details about it from Amazon.) In the past I have made those cardboard rings to make pom poms and felt like I did not make ones that were uniform or well tied. So far, so good with these ones. I will do an update after a week of use by preschoolers to let you know how they fare.
Next up is cutting off white yarn into foot long sections to look like spaghetti. My yarn actually came from the mill ends section of the local craft store, unlike the white yarn pictured above, since I already had it on hand from another project. My inspiration used real pasta, but not spaghetti. Since we have had real pasta as well as real spaghetti in the sensory bin before this year, I wanted to try something new.
For sauce I pulled out some red felt and cut it into organic looking blobs. We will see what the kids think of that tomorrow when we have our first day of school this week.
I also created some quick meatballs with alphabet letters and numbers on them for some review activities. My plan is for the students to pull out a letter with a tool and then make that letter with one of the yarn spaghetti noodles on the plate. With the numbers I was thinking the students could make a plate with that many yarn meatballs or that many spaghetti pieces. I found a similar idea for kindergarten students with words on Mrs. Bremer’s Class blog.
Can’t have a spaghetti sensory bin without this song. I need to remember to teach this one to my students tomorrow.
I am looking forward to seeing what my preschoolers think of this spaghetti sensory bin tomorrow. What is in your sensory bin this week?