Family Theme in PreK

QuestionsAndLetterWork

For our Family theme in my PreK classroom we also focused on the letter F.  Our questions of the day related to family and our letter F.  You can find the family related questions in this Question of the Day set.  The letters in your name questions are a freebie in my shop.  I printed mine on colored paper for more interest.

I did find that my students who were a brother had a hard time not counting themselves when deciding how many brothers they had.  I do have brothers in my classroom so we did some counting to figure it out, but it is a concept we are still learning.

The cards for the letter F are part of my Alphabet Bundle.  I use them during circle time to talk about things that start with a particular letter, to sort between a letter we have already worked on and a new letter, during our small group writing and drawing time, as well as in creating our letter books.

EaselIdeas

One of my goals for the last couple of years on and off was to make sure I have some new ideas for my easel so that there are different kinds of opportunities to work on a vertical surface.  This week I found a great set of family cards from Fantastic Fun and Learning that I could laminate and add magnets to for one side of the board.  This was played with often during the week, which is great since sometimes that side of the board gets forgotten since you cannot see if from most of the room so kids forget to look at it except when they are lined up for leaving the room.

The other side we used with dry erase markers and practicing creating pictures with circles.  You can find the free printable here.

FamilySorters

Since my students discovered the family sorters late in the week, I kept them out this week, but made the houses stand up and found some new sorting mats.  Students discovered new ways to sort the people and pets throughout the week.

(Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links that earn me a few cents if you purchase through the link.)

 

HousesCreationBin

For my family theme in PreK I printed some photos of houses in the area from the real estate website so that students could choose one they might be familiar with and build it.

Our Bible lesson for two weeks is about God creating people and the world, so my sensory bin is a creation bin, with something added each day based upon the days of creation.  We use Cross Connections for Early Learners in our school for our Bible curriculum.

Day One:  white and black beans to represent day and night

Day Two:  cotton rounds or cotton balls for water in the sky and blue foam shapes to represent water below

Day Three:  trees and green hill to represent plant life

Day Four:  star shaped ice cubes for sun, moon, and stars

Day Five:  fish and birds

Day Six:  animals and people

ScienceMagnets

Science this week involved magnets, so there was a lot of fine motor practice.  The gumball magnet counting game is from Lakeshore.  I discovered the Melissa & Doug picture maker on clearance at a craft store one summer.  I am thinking by the price at Amazon that it may be discontinued so I would suggest watching for it at yard sales both online and off.

PatternBlocksandPlayDough

We worked on letter T and F for our pattern blocks as well as doing fish and train patterns.

Play dough is out nearly every week, especially at the beginning of the year.  This week we had face mats out from Sparklebox.  I put out different faces each day during the week.

PoemCalendarPhotoLayout

As part of my circle time, we have a poem or song every week.  To go along with letter F, we had Little Miss Muffet.

As you can see from the calendar it was a big week for birthdays in my classroom as well.  Lots of birthday crowns….

To go along with our family theme we sang a couple songs and learned some of the ASL signs to go with them.  These are In A House and Mom Has a Mom, both from Signing Time!

VetDramaticPlay

We changed our doctor to a veterinarian this week, complete with several pets.  I like to use the labels from Pocket of Preschool and many of the printables as well for this center.

VetDramaticPlay2

My daughter was kind enough to share many of her old stuffed animals for our pretend play.

WritingCenterPhotoLayout

My students are really enjoying the writing center so far this year.  We have our names to practice again this week, along with letter F and T.  In addition, I added family words and paper from Pocket of Preschool.  I had one student who practiced writing nearly every other students’ name during the week, giving them to the students as presents.

I would love to hear about your favorite family theme activities in your classroom.

 

About Me Theme in PreK

AboutMeSensoryCrochet

For our second week of PreK we focused on an About Me theme, with lots of emphasis on our names and the letters in our names.  The sensory bin was full of green rice, pasta in the shape of alphabet letters, and alphabet magnets, along with tools to interact with the letters and rice.  In addition, I used a clip art font that matched the pasta to create an alphabet sheet that letters could be matched with.

I also introduced my crocheted alphabet letters to my students.  I keep these out all year long.  You can find the crochet patterns to create these here.  When I created them I chose to use the same color for the capital and lowercase to help with matching.

AboutMeEasel

Although we have many activities that include several letters of the alphabet, we do have a focus letter of the week.  Our first letter is T, so one side of the easel had words to build with letter magnets that start with T.  You can find these cards from This Reading Mama.  I cut them apart and laminated them for my purposes.  I used the two sets of alphabet magnets below for this activity.  I did not like the shape of the lowercase t in the foam magnets and did not have enough to have six of them anyway.

I use a large binder clip to attach my small bins on the side of the easel that does not have a shelf.

(Note:  all Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you purchase through my link, which helps me pay the bills.)

AboutMeMathandFineMotor

I introduced the family counters this week, along with houses that I printed on matching colored paper. Students were mostly given a chance to just play with these however they liked. Many sorted by color and some started playing pretend with them. I will add some more ideas with these next week since our theme will be family.

Some of the building bricks ended up on the math and fine motor table with the opportunity to build the letter that starts your name. At least one student made at least four different letters, including the first letter of his name. I will put the letter making cards in the block center after this so students can try this again if interested.

 

AboutMeChicka

One of the books we read this week was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  We also found the letters in our name with dot markers while some students also used the letter T dot marker page to find the letter T as well as pictures of things that start with T.  The Chicka Chicka page can be found here.  The letter T dot marker page is part of my Alphabet Letter and Sound Search.  For these sheets I only place a handful of letters and sounds on each sheet so that students are not overwhelmed.  For example, the T sheet has T, F, M, and P only.

We created our own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look Who Is In Our Room book during the week.  We used green feathers for the leaves, so no cutting a million leaves for the teacher and assistant since kids are not that proficient at cutting during the first couple weeks of school.  The trunk was brown construction paper this year, although I have also used sandpaper in the past.  Foam letters were used for student names and I added a photo of the student to help students read the book to themselves once it is placed in the classroom library.

On the last day of the week we ate a special Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree with a graham cracker, green apple slices, and alphabet cookies that I found at Walmart.

AboutMeLiteracyWriting

My assistant and I finished making the name cards for the writing center.  These consist of the student’s photo with name at the top and blank boxes below each letter for name practice.  These cards will be in the writing center all year for practice.  Students right now are mostly focusing upon their own name, but some want to practice their friends’ names as well.

I also found some letter T handwriting practice to laminate as well.

In the crafts and literacy center I introduced using a poke pin.  I use a couple layers of cork board with a carpet square underneath to protect the table.  I use the large poke pins for this and only have this center available to one student at a time.  I also make sure it is near the area where I or my assistant is working for this introductory week so there are no accidents.   I used the letter T sheet from this set.

AboutMeScience

For science this week I pulled out as many shades of knee high panty hose as I could find.  Students could put them on their arms to compare shades to see if any of them were close to the shade of their own skin.

Fingerprints were a huge favorite this week.  Lots of kids covered in purple ink.  The fingerprint page with the magnifying glass is found at Making Learning Fun.

 

 

 

First Week of PreK Activities

NameMatsPin

Our first short week of PreK is officially in the books so I can share what we accomplished this week.  We started with creating our meal time name mats.  I cut white card stock in half lengthwise and wrote each student’s name on them with white crayon.  I also wrote it lightly in pencil on the back so we would know which one to give to each student.  Students painted with watercolors to reveal the secret message, which were their names.

Once dry I laminated them and the students who have the job of getting tables ready for snack and lunch get to put out the names on the tables at meals so everyone knows where to sit.  You would be amazed how quickly everyone learns everyone’s name when there is the incentive of actually choosing where everyone sits for meals.

We put our watercolors in test tubes with small brushes.  The sample above is from Amazon, which is an affiliate link.  We may have gotten ours from Oriental Trading.  I always use some sticky tack at the base to stabilize them and reduce the chance of the whole thing being knocked over while painting. I also highly recommend the brand of liquid watercolors above. We had another brand and the containers were much easier to end up with the watercolor all over your hands while dispensing it. The other brand also did not seem as deep, no matter how much you added to water.

MathFineMotorPin

For the first week and quite a few more students than last year, I purposely chose many activities that children could successfully interact with on their own.  I put out the ocean animals and the sorting bowls, along with the hand tongs that I found at Walmart in the kitchen section. I also put out bags with name puzzles. This year I found a different border for every student so when a letter inevitably ends up out of a bag and on the carpet I can more quickly figure out whose it is.

The first set above is the one we have in our classroom. The second set has more colors but I have not seen it in person. These are both affiliate links.

SandySensoryPin

Since my classroom theme is ocean based I decided to go with a sandy sensory bin.  The sand ended up being a bit dusty, so we ended up removing the sifters and spraying water periodically to keep the dust down.  This sand will end up being disposed of after this week since it was so dusty.  We chose some colored shells that were leftover from something, another couple sets  of hand tongs and fish theme ice cube trays from Walmart, and some ocean themed bath toys from Dollar Tree.

DoctorPlayPin

At the beginning of the year I like to have a pretend play theme that is not too complicated or with too many pieces to pick up at the end of centers time.  Since the next week is an About Me theme, doctor seemed to be a good choice.

I put the light table in pretend play to be the x-ray machine and examining table for the baby doll.  I found the x-rays at Tried and True.  I printed them on overhead projector sheets and laminated for durability.  I have some of the animal ones for when we switch over to a Vet theme later.

ScienceCenterPin

My science center needs to be a in more central location this year due to having more students and needing more spots for eating snack and lunch together.  I was planning that the science center would have two spots with the other two chairs for the waiting area for the doctor’s office.  This worked until more than two wanted to use the science center so I may end up having the science center have four spaces whenever it seems like it should be popular.

I have shells to be sorted and looked at with a magnifying lens as well as several sensory bottles and a view finder with ocean animals like the Amazon affiliate link above.

PlayDoughPin

At the arts and crafts table we worked on our name mats as well as one other craft project this week.  I also made play dough, which I put in slide lock bags with names on them.  This gives students another reason to want to recognize their own names and helps with reducing germ sharing.  In addition, I rotated dot marker activities (found at Gift of Curiosity and 1+1+1=1 , cutting strips, and qtip painting on this table throughout the week.

CircleTimeAreaPin

I got a brand new Froggy to dress for the weather since mine had lost a foot at the end of the year after five years of use.  I managed to break our laminator while prepping to laminate him and was fortunate to have someone to come to my rescue and let me laminate him and his two large jackets.  The rest of the pieces fit in my small laminator.

I started my year with my ocean theme calendar.  I still have this alphabet set up in my circle time area, although I may update it with my ocean theme one soon.

FinishedBoard1

I also completed my ocean bulletin board with my student crafts.  They put together scuba divers.  My daughter and I took photos of the students that I made into circles to glue on the face of each diver.  The children got to decide whether they wanted their diver to swim upward or downward.  I then helped them figure out how to place the head so it would be facing correctly.  This does mean that some of them look like they are wearing their oxygen masks on their stomachs.

Prepping for PreK Open House

GettingReadyForOpenHouse1

The last week has been all about getting ready for our Sneak Peek, or Open House, in PreK.  There is lots of arranging furniture after the floors are buffed, printing and laminating items with student names, organizing supplies and labelling everything as well as decorating doors and bulletin boards.  Not to mention actually doing lesson planning.

PreppingBulletinBoard1

Since I am sticking with an ocean theme this year I wanted to change up a few things, including my idea for the hallway bulletin board.  I often have student names on fish or have students create some kind of fish craft to put on the bulletin board, but I wanted something different this year.

A church member found that his work was going to throw away this large spool of blue plastic sheeting.  For those of you old enough to remember overhead projectors, the sheeting is about the consistency of those rolls, but blue in color.  The ocean themed bulletin board paper was looking like it had a few too many staple holes, so I was about to tear it down when I came up with the idea to cover it with the blue plastic sheeting.

PreppingBulletinBoard2

I added a few fish to the board and then covered the bottom with a layer of the blue plastic sheeting.  You can see above a bit of the difference between the top fish and bottom fish.

I had to wait until I had some help for the top layer because that spool is heavy.  I will share the next step in the next post, along with our added student crafts which the students will work on during the first week of school.

Questionsforfirstweek

Since I updated my Summer Fun question of the day set this summer, I decided I really needed to use some of them the first week of school.  I chose to use the question about liking tricycles or slides for the Sneak Peak Open House.  Slides was the winner for my classroom.

Question of the Day Bundle

If you don’t want to have to think about which question to ask every day all year, you can use all of my hard work with my Question of the Day Bundle.  I created it because I used to write the question every morning when I first started doing my question of the day and would sometimes be racing to come up with one before the first kid came in the room because it slipped my mind.

Ocean Theme Decor Bundle

As always happens, I have a new student to create name tags for before our first day of school.  I will have to get out my ocean themed name tags files from my decor bundle for some last minute additions.

Alphabet Bundle

On the agenda for the next couple of days before the official first day is making play dough, finishing up lesson plans, and trying to get ahead on printing from my Alphabet Bundle for at least the first month.  I also hope to get a few great photos of my bulletin board once completed because it makes me smile and one of my students was already fascinated with it.

Preparing Name Labels for PreK

QuestionNameLabels

When you finally get your class list you have a whole list of your own of things that need to get made for your classroom.  You need coat hook labels, cubbie labels, question of the day name response cards, and on and on.  Since I just got my list I pulled out two files from my Ocean Decor Bundle that I have used the last few years and my brand new editable file that I just created.

You can see my brand new editable file above.  I will use these for my Question of the Day responses as students come into the classroom.  I will make a new set later in the year with student last names on them so that they will know those as well for kindergarten.

CoatHookLabels

My coat hook labels will have velcro on them so that they can be moved each week.  I keep the classroom jobs above the coat labels so the names move down each week to switch jobs.

LunchBinLabels

Although I thought I had printed and laminated all the lunch bin labels I just noticed one label crumpled in the bottom of my backpack.  I went ahead and printed a label for myself and my assistant so we can have lunch bins as well this year since I had to print a new label to replace the crumpled one.

It is just about time for me to order some new laminating sheets for all of the back to school laminating.  I had great luck this past year with this set.  (This is an affiliate link.)

With any of my editable products, please be sure to open in Adobe Acrobat for successful editing.  When open in a browser the editing function will not work correctly.

You can find all of these labels in my Ocean Decor Bundle.

Ocean Theme Decor Bundle

If you have a forest theme I do have one freebie file of labels for you to use.

Forest Animal Editable Labels

 

Taking Care of the Classroom Betta Fish

TakingCareofClassFish

Now is the time of year that many teachers think about getting a new pet for the classroom.  A betta fish can be a great choice for a classroom pet.  There are a few suggestions I would make to help make your new fish happy and healthy throughout the school year.

Tank size

I know that betta fish are sold in tiny containers and small tanks are so cute, but they are not a healthy choice for your betta fish and can lead to way more work than you have time for and poor health for your fish.

I recommend a five gallon tank  (Amazon affiliate link) for your betta fish.  This way you can purchase some items for your fish to explore and it makes it more challenging and interesting for your students as well.

TankCleaningSupplies

Cleaning Supplies

You can see the original container I was given for the first fish we had in our classroom.  Not a good choice.  The water level seemed to need to be added to nearly daily and it had no top.  Not safe for the fish since bettas are notorious jumpers and not good for little hands that like to check things out or put things in the tank.  I did end up using it to help me make water changes to the tank, though.

You need a good sized container to fill with water and put in your water conditioner to give it a chance to do its work before you dump it in the tank with your fish.  I try to keep this filled with treated water for when I need to add a bit of water to the tank.

Water conditioner (aff. link) is all you need to use tap water with your fish.  I believe the kind I have calls for a capful to a certain number of gallons, so I just use a tiny amount for my container.

CleaningPlants

Cleaning the Tank

You should clean out your tank about once a month.  When you do this you should remove your plants and rock formations so that you can wipe them down to remove algae build up.  I rinse them in regular water and wipe with a paper towel.  Do not use any kinds of soaps or detergents.

Check the filter at this time as well.  My tank’s filter is a bit too strong for my betta so I found directions to make something to help with that from a part of a water bottle.

Make sure you turn off your filter before removing water.

CleaningRocks

Now I clean the rocks with this tool. (aff. link) This is where that too small fish tank comes in.  I use it to pour the dirty water into as I clean the rocks.  Remove about a third (no more than half) the water.  If you do not leave at least half the water in the tank you may shock your fish’s system by too big of a change in the quality of the water.

Add water back in with your container you have your conditioned water in.  Once the water is back in you can turn on your filter again.

FreshCleanTank

I am researching replacing our fish’s filter with a weaker filter since betta fish do not need a strong flow.  So a sponge filter (aff. link) may be our next purchase for him.

 

Back To School Sale and a Giveaway

Slide09

The Back to School sale is almost upon us at Teachers Pay Teachers.  I already have some goodies in my shopping cart to help me create some new things for my classroom this year.

The sale starts Wednesday, August 1st and continues Thursday, August 2nd.   You have the opportunity to save up to 25% off.  Just remember to use the code:  BTSFRESH.  I have personally forgotten to put in the sale code in the past and kicked myself for it.

If you purchase bundles on the sale days you will have the opportunity to save even more, since they are already discounted compared to purchasing the items separately.

The bundles in my shop that will be heading to the printer soon to get ready for the school year include these:

Alphabet Bundle

I already have the building cards laminated as well as the magnet pages, but I will be printing dot marker, stamping, and emergent readers all year long from my ABC Bundle.

Calendar Cards Bundle

I have many of these calendar cards already printed and ready to go, but I am sure I will end up printing at least one more set to switch things up this year.

Question of the Day Bundle

I just need to laminate the summer set from my Question of the Day Bundle since I updated it over the summer and want to use some of the questions for the first week of school.

Fall Math and Literacy Centers Bundle

I need to laminate the geoboard cards from my Fall Bundle.  As soon as I know for sure the names of my students I will be printing out the fall books with their names on each page.

Forest Animals Decor Bundle

I also have lots of classroom decor items, including some new bundles.  You can check out Classroom Decor in my shop to see more.

Before you go on your sale spending spree, be sure to leave feedback for any items on TPT that you have purchased in the past.  You receive credits for doing this that can be redeemed when you make your next purchase.  Another way to make your money stretch further.

What would the Back To School Sale be without a giveaway? I am giving away a $10 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  The giveaway will end at midnight Wednesday night so that I can send out your prize in time for you to make the most of it during the sale.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

How To Edit Text in an Editable PDF

EditingEditablePDFs

Sometimes you open a pdf you found or purchased online that is editable.  However, you are not sure how easy that is going to be to do yourself and are hesitant to mess with it.  Since I have been creating my own editable pdfs for myself lately I thought it would be a good idea to share how to make changes to them and any others you may find online.

Your first step is to open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Although there are other pdf readers out there, they may not have all the features of Adobe that allow changes to be made.

You will see blue areas of the file.  This is the area to click on and start typing.

HighlightText

Once you have typed something, click and highlight that text.

ChangeTEXT

Now press CTRL-E for PCs.  I understand that CMD-E works for Macs, but have not tested it.

A Form Field Text Properties section will now pop up where you can make changes to highlighted areas of text.  You can change color, alignment, font, font size, make text bold, italic, and underline.

You can choose any font you have on your computer as well as typing in a font size if you want a larger size than shown.  Be aware that fonts that are too large will not fit.

If you want the text properties to continue in the next text box you will either need to choose them all again in the next box or you can save some time.  Copy and paste the text from your first box into the next one.  Now the next box has the same text properties and you can just edit it with the text you want.

Ready to color and read
Fall Editable Book with name added in

Not every editable pdf will allow you all of these changes.  It all depends upon what settings the file creator set.  For example, my editable books (such as my Fall Book shown above) have a specific font set so that it will match what is in the book, but my labels allow you to make many changes.

RainbowBundleSquareCoverThe labels shown in the example are contained in my Rainbow Decor Bundle.

Geoboards in PreK

FallGeoboardsPin3

In the summer preschool teachers have time to play with the geoboards.  We had some random free cards with ideas for students to create with the boards but I really wanted some cards that went along with some of our themes to use this year with my students.  I started out with ideas based upon some fall shapes.

I picked up my geoboards from the Green Valley Book Fair, but they have a set on Amazon (aff. link) as well.

I discovered that my daughter’s abandoned loom bands (aff. link) work great with the smaller geoboards.  I tested my patterns with both loom bands and regular rubber bands.  Sometimes the regular rubber bands are a bit large and need to be wrapped to one side of a loop to curve around.  The loom bands obviously will not stretch all the way across the board.

FallGeoboardsPin2

In my examples that I have shown in this post, the apple is made with rubber bands for the apple portion and loom bands for the leaf and stem.  I used rubber bands for the leaf and acorn.  The rake is made with all loom bands.  As you can see from the photos I place both portions of the rubber band on one side of a post to change directions for curves or points.

As with anything with small parts, I do not start using geoboards with rubber bands or loom bands until I am familiar with my students and know if any still put things in their mouths.

These fall geoboard cards can be found in my shop separately or as part of my Fall Bundle.  The bundle currently includes twelve different activities to use in your classroom.

FallGeoboardCardsSquareCover

FallBundleSquareCover

Using Question of the Day in PreK

QuestionUpdates1

Since I taught several summer camps this year I decided it was time to refresh the questions in my Question of the Day Summer Fun set.  This set has questions that are great for the beginning and end of the school year if you do not teach over the summer.  I usually use a few at the end of the year and a few at the beginning when kids are thinking of outdoor activities.

I place my questions on a long pocket chart that I purchased from Amazon; they apparently do not currently offer it through Amazon, so I linked directly to Lakeshore.  I hang it with Command Hooks (aff. link) on the back of our classroom bathroom door since that is near the entrance of the room.

The top of the lunch cubby area is where I place the students’ name cards so that they can find the card and answer the question before moving on to centers activities at the beginning of the day.  At the beginning of the year I put first names on the cards, but about halfway through the year I put last names so that they will begin to recognize those as well.

During circle time one of my students is in charge of counting the responses so that we can discuss the numbers, decide which number is larger, and discuss words like more, less, tie, and unanimous.  They get very excited when we get a unanimous response.

QuestionUpdates2

These Summer questions are also included in my Question of the Day Bundle, which has more than enough questions for the entire year.  I just have a few of my new questions to laminate for the new year and then I am set.