More Community Helpers in PreK

Color Mixing Fire Fighter Painting
Color Mixing Fire Fighter Painting

We spent two weeks on our Community Helpers theme.  One of our crafts involved mixing paint to make a fire.  I showed my students red and yellow paint, putting some of each on the paper.  I placed a piece of plastic wrap on top of the paint and asked them to mix the two colors to make a fire to put out.  We discussed how we started out with yellow and red and then I asked them what other color they saw when they were finished.  The next day we painted hands blue after gluing on a hose.  Students used their blue hands to make water come out of the hose to put out the fire.  Activity was inspired by this pin.

Putting Out Fire in the Sensory Bin
Putting Out Fire in the Sensory Bin

Thanks to another teacher I received these small red cups.  I placed foam numbered flames with hot glue onto each cup after discovering that sticky tack definitely does not work.  Students sprayed the cups to put out the fires.  As the sensory bin was used it got more difficult to place the cups in stacks due to the fact that the cups slide around in the water.

Community Helper Puzzles
Community Helper Puzzles

These community helper puzzles were a great find at the Green Valley Book Fair.  I love that they are self checking; they will not go together unless they are in the correct puzzle.

Community Helpers Count and Clip Vehicles
Community Helpers Count and Clip Vehicles

I found a great set of community helper vehicles and people to clip together.  Creating this uses quite a few clothes pins, so I suggest grabbing a set at the dollar store.

The pile of people to clip to the vehicles
The pile of people to clip to the vehicles

In addition to community helper activities we also worked on letter C activities.  My students are very interested in everything dot marker, so I put together many different dot marker activities for my students.  The one pictured can be found here.

Letter C dot marker activities
Letter C dot marker activities

Our pretend play has been an Auto Shop.  Printables for this are from Pocket of Preschool.  I discovered a few things this year that were not an issue last year.  I tried a different method of raising up the car this year.  The cubes worked okay, but one student tried to kneel on one of them.  So, we ended up sliding the two crates directly under the car, which actually allowed two spots for the students to lay under the car at a time.

Auto Shop
Auto Shop

I also discovered that my students liked twisting the pipe cleaner wires around the crate instead of into the car.  I did not complain since it was still great fine motor work for them.

Auto Shop Supplies
Auto Shop Supplies

I also discovered that my students liked dumping things into the car and sometimes needed help getting things out to put them away.

Next we will take the car and turn it into a tractor for our pumpkin patch.

Community Helpers in PreK

One of my community helper questions of the day
One of my community helper questions of the day

We start our day with our Question of the Day.  I usually have questions that go along with whatever we are studying, so this past week we have had several questions about community helpers.  I thought this one would be one that everyone would say yes to, but that was not the case.  Learn something new about my students every day.  My community helper themed questions can be found in this set.

Block area with play house on fire and firefighters on blocks
Block area with play house on fire and firefighters on blocks

To go along with our question, I had put out the play house with laminated flames stuck to it.  I also found a set that was meant for play dough play and used it instead to attach to blocks for some block area fun.  One of my students had all the fire fighter blocks balanced on the fire truck block and slid it across the carpet to put out the fire.

Writing Center Stamp and Write
Writing Center Stamp and Write

Our writing center focused on the letter M during the week.  We used the Alphabet Stamping Set with some ink pads and my alphabet stamps from Melissa & Doug.  This writing center will return in a few weeks with another letter.  I like to switch up what is in the writing center and then circle back to something familiar in a few weeks with another letter or theme.

Letter M Punch Out
Letter M Punch Out

This is a center that I did not expect to be as huge a hit as it was.  Part of the reason is probably that I found a couple of different punches that were easier for my beginning of the year PreK students to use.  No luck finding a photo of the ones I used online, but the students could line up the letter in the shape and then punch using their thumb and two fingers.  There is a similar type punch here.  I had a few try out the hand grip hole punch, but we need to work up to that one.  You can find one of the hole punch sets here.

Count and Clip Bandaids
Count and Clip Bandaids

I am discovering more about the group of students I have this year.  I had several who were interested in trying out the first set of count and clips I put out this year.  I have found that some years kids really enjoy these and other years they get ignored.  Happily this seems to be a good year for these if this past week is any indication.  Students count the bandages and then clip the clothespin to cover the correct number.  This set came from Making Learning Fun.

Construction Theme Sensory Bin
Construction Theme Sensory Bin

For our sensory bin this week I chose rocks and aquarium gravel.  I also used construction vehicles.  This makes for a loud sensory bin, but the kids loved playing with it all week.  In the past I have used rocks with sand, but since we used sand during the first week of school I wanted to give them a different experience.

After a day of play...
After a day of play…

And just to keep it real, a look at the bin after a day of play.

What are some of your favorite community helper theme centers?

Pets Week in PreK

Pets bulletin board ready for student work
Pets bulletin board ready for student work

A trip to Dollar Tree helped me find a bulletin board background in an unexpected spot.  I have used plastic tablecloths from Dollar Tree for my bulletin board background before and loved them because they were so easy to put up; the static made me almost not even need to staple them.  This bulletin board background is not a tablecloth, though.  It is supposed to be a shower curtain.  I put a construction paper frame behind my students’ work so it does not feel too busy.

Writing Center Pet Words
Writing Center Pet Words

I have two sets of my pet words cards, one full sized that I use in my pocket chart, and this half sized one that I have for my writing center.  To make the half sized one I chose to print two to a page, which makes it a great size for small pocket charts or to put on a ring for the writing center.  I like having the photos of the animals next to the words when possible as opposed to clip art, which can work great for games and other activities in the classroom.

First Pet Themed Question of the Day
First Pet Themed Question of the Day

We start our day with our Question of the Day as students enter the classroom.  My pocket chart hangs on the outside of the bathroom door, which is near the entrance of the classroom.  I place the student names on the top of the lunch bin cubbies, so that students can pick up their names after dropping of their lunches.  My pet themed questions can be found in the Question of the Day bundle or this set.

Pet Themed Puzzles
Pet Themed Puzzles

We got this set of Melissa & Doug pet puzzles last year.  They are a bit challenging for our students so we photocopied a finished puzzle for students to lay the pieces on top of to complete the puzzles.  I discovered this past week that it was a better idea to have the puzzles in separate containers instead of the container the puzzles came in; otherwise the pieces get all mixed up easily.

Pets Playdough Mats and Cutters
Pets Playdough Mats and Cutters

Since we did not have much play dough time during the last week I made sure to have some this week with some pet themed play dough cutters as well as some play dough mats that I found at Sparklebox.  The students do not always use the mats to make what is suggested, but it does sometimes give them some ideas.

Added the Light Table to Dramatic Play
Added the Light Table to Dramatic Play

Last week our dramatic play was mostly grooming and feeding, so with Pets Week, I added in the light table for x-rays as well as some veterinarian tools like a stethoscope, eye dropper, shot, and thermometer.  I found several of my x-rays here.  I printed them on transparencies and then laminated for sturdiness.

These are just a few of the pet themed activities that we did during Pets Week.  What are your favorite pet themed activities?

 

Homes Theme in Prek

Matching Families to Houses
Matching Families to Houses

For PreK this past week we had a Homes theme.  Along with that, we talked about the first four days of Creation, when God created our earthly home.  We use Cross Connections for Early Learners for our Bible lessons.

One of our activities involved using the families counters.  I used a clip art house from one of my favorite clip artists, Zip a Dee Doo Dah Designs, to create houses for this activity.  I just printed the houses on the appropriate colored paper and laminated for durability.

Rooms Sort
Rooms Sort

Another sorting activity involving some fun clip art was also in my room.  This one involved sorting furniture and fixtures into the correct rooms in a house.  You can find this clip art from Dave’s Simple Teaching.

Day and Night Creation Bin
Day and Night Creation Bin

For our sensory bin we worked with the idea of each of the first three days of creation.  For the first day I put in black and white beans to represent day and night.  I later added cotton balls and blue streamers for day two of creation.  I also added toy trees and plants for day three.  In the next week we will add to this bin with things from the remaining days of creation.

Pets Grooming and Care Station
Pets Grooming and Care Station

Since our pets theme is coming soon, we switched to animal care in our dramatic play area.  I used several items from Pocket of Preschool’s Vet Dramatic Play set to create this area.  For this week we were only focusing on grooming and feeding of our pets, with x-rays and vet visits coming in the future.

Grooming Station
Grooming Station

The labels are really a must for dramatic play.  It really helps the students clean up when it is time and keeps things from getting chaotic.  The kids did have a little problem with the purple sponge matching a red sponge label.  Maybe I will look for a red sponge for next year.

Feeding Our Pets
Feeding Our Pets

I matched the color pom pom for food to the main color of the animal for easy sorting at clean up time.  Last year the students never thought to actually open the fish food container since when you pop it open it does not look open.  This year they have figured it out and have opened it and stuffed and re-stuffed the pom poms in the container.

Pattern Block letters T and F
Pattern Block letters T and F

For some reason I only have photos of the letter T pattern block page, although I also had out the letter F one as well.  We had T the week before and letter F this past week, so I put both out for the students to work on, along with a train and fish pattern block.  The letters come from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  As with all printables that need to be an exact size, watch your settings when printing.  You usually want to print actual size to make it work with your blocks.

Letter F book

For our letter F we also did our letter book in small groups.  This week we used the gray scale book with just the word.  We will work our way up to using the ones with the entire sentence.  I want to also make a set of the color books for our library, especially for during our review weeks.

Rhyme of the Week
Rhyme of the Week

We have a rhyme every week on our pocket chart.  This past week’s was Little Miss Muffet.  I found the cards to match the poem at Sparklebox.  We read the poem during the week with a pointer.  If the poem has a song, we usually sing it as well.  Soon, we will start looking for our letter of the week in the poem as well.

There are many other activities that we worked on during the week in PreK, as those of you who work in a preschool know how full a week can be.  Next up will be our Pets week.   What themes are you working on this month?

 

About Me and Letter T in PreK

About Me and Letter T in PreK
About Me and Letter T in PreK

After our three day introduction to PreK week, we jump right in to our About Me theme, along with some emphasis on the letter T.  We also spend time working on recognizing the letters in our own names and the order.  Although I have a letter of the week, we always do work with other letters during the week as well.

Dot Marker Letter and Sound Search for T
Dot Marker Letter and Sound Search for T

My students are familiar with the use of dot markers, but are not familiar with having to dot particular spots on a sheet or leaving some blank.  I introduced my Alphabet Letter and Sound Search activity with students who chose to check it out.  Since it was the first time doing an activity like this, I printed out the color clip art for letter T to place next to the sheet so students could just search for those to dot after finding the capital and lowercase T.  These sheets, along with all of my alphabet activities, are found in the Alphabet Bundle as part of the letter books.

Push Pin Fine Motor Work
Push Pin Fine Motor Work

For some fine motor work, I got out my large push pin and cork boards.  I used a smiley face from This Reading Mama’s About Me theme as well as the letter T page from this alphabet push pin set.  I was very pleased with the endurance of my students with this center since I know that it can make preschool hands tired to work on these.  I did make the smiley face half page sized to reduce the amount of poking needed.

About Me Cutting Practice Strips
About Me Cutting Practice Strips

Also in the This Reading Mama set were some cutting practice strips that I put out for scissor practice.  I had students put the cut pieces into a separate bin so that we can use these later for making patterns or glue practice.

Building Alphabet Letters with Legos
Building Alphabet Letters with Legos

My students really enjoyed using the large legos last week in the block center, so I pulled out enough legos for them to make the first letter of their names as well as the letter T.  I found the lego letter cards at Wildflower Ramblings.  For this center some students made letters, but some just built with the legos.  As the year goes on I will encourage students to do the suggested activity first before creating on their own.

Beginning of Alphabet Sensory Bin
Beginning of Alphabet Sensory Bin

Our sensory bin was filled with alphabet pasta, some green rice, and some foam alphabet letters.  I used this pasta alphabet clip art to create each student’s name so they could find the letters of their names in the bin.  I also made a sheet with the alphabet in order so they could search for alphabet letters.

Stamping Letters in My Name and Not in My Name
Stamping Letters in My Name and Not in My Name

My writing center this week was focused on recognizing if a letter was in a student’s name or not.  I found a printable from Little Literacy Learners that we used with our letter stamps.  I was pleased that just about every student chose to work on this center this week and were fairly successful in finding the sheet with their own name before starting stamping.

These are just a few of the activities we worked on this week in PreK.  We also made our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look Who’s In Our Room class book as well as creating self portrait dolls to remind us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made to go along with our Bible lesson.

Welcome to PreK Week

Our first week of preschool was this past week.  I was able to finish getting my room all set up with my ocean themed items in plenty of time for our Sneak Peek.  I even had a new student enroll after our Sneak Peek and got her name everywhere in the room before school started.

Student names move down each week while jobs stay where they are
Student names move down each week while jobs stay where they are

My classroom jobs are placed over the coat hooks in my classroom.  I have to decide each year which jobs to use, based upon how many students are in the classroom.  I place velcro dots above the coat hooks and move the student names down one space each week to change jobs.  This way line leader is always at the head of the line and caboose at the end.  It also helps save the wall.  I used to move the jobs and ended up taking paint off the wall from moving them down each week.  The Helping Hands sign is part of my Ocean Decor Set, which also includes this set of jobs and more.

Question of the Day
Question of the Day

I purchased a new long green pocket chart for my Question of the Day.  I like that it is long enough that students can make one long column of names to answer the question.  It makes it easier to visually see which answer has more when we count and discuss during circle time.  If you need some questions for your Question of the Day, please check out that section in my shop.

Ocean Animal Sort
Ocean Animal Sort

For fine motor and math, I placed ocean animal sorters with matching color bowls and a couple types of grabbers to work on pincher grasp.  The sea animal counters are from Lakeshore.  The ones I see online do not have penguins, but appear to have sharks instead.  We also did a roll and graph with ocean animals.

Sandy Sensory Bin
Sandy Sensory Bin

My sensory bin had sand with shells, sea glass, and shark teeth to discover.  Students enjoyed using the sifters and scoops all week.  I had to sift through the entire bin of sand to pull out everything I had put in the sand.  I would not be surprised if someone discovers a shark tooth out in the playground sandbox later in the year since that is where I put the sand when I was finished.

Writing Center with colored sand
Writing Center with colored sand

Since it is the beginning of the year I want the writing center to be simple and fun.  My students thought the red, white, and blue sand were sprinkles and enjoyed trying to create the letter on the crab’s stomach.  I will admit there were students who also drew designs in the sand with the crabs.  The crabs are from Learning Resources, but I found an Amazon link here.

Ocean Calendar
Ocean Calendar

I use my ocean themed calendar for the beginning of the school year before moving on to fall themed sets.

Puffer Fish and My Seahorse
Puffer Fish and My Seahorse

Last year I had my octopus above my classroom all year, so I needed to change it up a bit for this year even though I really loved my octopus.  I decided to create a seahorse.  Our main craft for the first week were the puffer fish you see on the bulletin board.  They were inspired by these puffer fish.  With my students we painted the paper plates one day, then added eyes, mouth, fins, and white dots the next day.  I ended up doing the cutting since when I was first planning this I had several less students scheduled to be enrolled in my class.  Once I saw that the class was larger I knew we would not have time to do the cutting this early in the year without taking too much time.

Looking for items in my post?

Ocean Theme Decor Bundle

Fall Calendar Set

Question of the Day Bundle

How was your first week of school?

 

Shark Tank PreK Dramatic Play

Shark Tank Dramatic Play Set Up
Shark Tank Dramatic Play Set Up

Since I am using an ocean theme for my classroom this year, I thought a Shark Tank dramatic play area would be a fun way to start the year.  I also know that we will not be doing a separate ocean theme week this year, so I do not need to save this pretend play idea for later in the year.

Thanks to a past Vacation Bible Camp we had made duck tape portcullis pieces that we had saved.  These work out perfectly to be a pretend shark tank.  To make this, we stuck silver duck tape sticky sides together in a grid pattern.  These are hung from the ceiling with fishing line to make them low enough for my students to look through the holes at the sharks and other ocean life.

Another view of the duck tape shark cage
Another view of the duck tape shark cage

A coworker put together most of the supplies for this dramatic play.  Oxygen tanks are made from large soda containers, flippers are made from foam sheets, an old camera is the underwater camera, and some inexpensive goggles finish it off.  I added a foam shark hat from ACMoore for the shark to wear.

Supplies for Shark Tank with labels for putting away and added literacy
Supplies for Shark Tank with labels for putting away and added literacy

Since dramatic play is a favorite area I always want to make sure I get some literacy development in this center.  This time we have labels for where everything goes with both the picture and the word.  We also have badges for friends using this center to wear.

Badges to wear in the shark tank center
Badges to wear in the shark tank center

What do you have in your dramatic play area?

 

More Prep Work On My Ocean Theme Preschool Classroom

Coat Hook Cards and More Calendar Cards
Coat Hook and Lunch Bin Cards and More Calendar Cards

Prepping my classroom for a new year means lots of printing and laminating.  I finally decided to go ahead and print some things with student names on it yesterday.  Of course, I received a new student as soon as I did that so I had more printing and laminating to do today.

In my photo above you can see my lunch bin labels and coat hook labels, which can be found in my Ocean Decor Set.  The labels are editable so that you can type in your own student names.  I airbrushed out most of my students’ names in the photo above, but you can see a bit of the font from the first letter of the names.

As usual, I had a bit of space in my laminating sheets, so I printed up my Nursery Rhyme calendar cards for Hey Diddle, Diddle.  I will probably use these in March to go along with our literacy related themes that month.

Birthday Display
Birthday Display

I completed my birthday display today as well.  The poster in the middle is also part of my Ocean Decor Set.  I printed it as a poster and pieced it together before running it through the large laminator.  The gift bags are white with scrapbook paper glued to the front and ocean animals attached to the front with each student’s name and birthday written on them.  I laminate the ocean animals and write on them with sharpies.  At the end of the year the names and birthdays will come off with magic eraser.

Tomorrow I tackle the bulletin board and the dramatic play area.

 

Updating My Preschool Centers Signs

Laminating Ocean Theme Centers Signs and Winter Calendar Cards
Laminating Ocean Theme Centers Signs and Winter Calendar Cards

Since I apparently chose the wrong paper to use as a backing paper for my centers signs, the old ones were in desperate need of being replaced.  I had taken them all down because my room was being painted over the summer, which made me notice just how faded the backing paper was.  Note to self:  don’t laminate just any pretty paper that you want to hang on your wall all year long.

Printing new ones meant I could also switch up which set I use this year, so I decided to choose the Ocean Life Preschool Centers Signs this time around.  For the last couple of years I had been using the Blues and Greens set, which also matches the classroom jobs that I currently use.

I ended up having extra space at the bottom of each laminating sheet, so I looked ahead to see which calendar cards I still needed to print for the year.  I decided to print cards from my Winter Theme Calendar Set, so now I have calendar cards printed, cut, and laminated all the way through January.

New Class Pet
New Class Pet

My daughter and I have also gotten our new class pet set up in his tank, mostly thanks to my daughter who loves animals of all kinds and enjoyed doing most of the work for me.  She named him Jonah.

Do  you have a class pet?

Editable Personalized My Fall Book

Editable Personalized Fall Book
Editable Personalized Fall Book

Recently I have been playing around with editable pdfs because I know how much my students love reading books with their names in them.  I just put the finishing touches on my first book, which is a fall themed eight page book that students can read and color.  In order to make a set of books for each member of your class, you only need to type all of their names one time into the class list and the pdf does the rest for you.

Fall books stacked, cut in half, trimmed and ready to staple
Fall books stacked, cut in half, trimmed and ready to staple

When I print my books I trim the tops, bottoms, and right sides.  I leave the edge on the left for a good stapling area.  The file is set up to make it easy to stack, trim, and staple.

Stapled books
Stapled books

Books are all ready to color as well as to draw what your students think of when they see fall.

Ready to color and read
Ready to color and read

Interested in a set of your own books?  Please click on the graphic below to head to my Teachers Pay Teachers shop, Laura’s Lily Pad.

Editable My Fall Book
Editable My Fall Book