Nocturnal Animals in PreK

Alphabet Bat Building
Alphabet Bat Building

During our Nocturnal Animals week I pulled out the bat building activity that I created last year.  It was inspired by a bat counting craft on Fantastic Fun and Learning.  I painted the parts of the egg carton black and put colorful eyes  on the bat bodies.  Wings are craft foam with puffy paint (referral links) letters.  I chose to use three different colors for the letters to make it easy for me to give a hint to a student who was having trouble finding a match.  I could tell them that it needed to be the same color.

Owl Number Matching
Owl Number Matching

The owl number matching activity was from KidSparkz on TPT.  I sometimes use this tabletop pocket chart (referral link) for matching games for my students.  It tends to draw some of their attention when just placing the cards on the table would not.

Magnet Letter Matching
Magnet Letter Matching

For my easel this time we had letter matching magnets.  You will notice that some of the letters are capital and some lowercase for some mixed practice.   Looks like this one is not still available online due to being updated.  I do have an Alphabet Magnets set that I use at other times that you can find here.  Mine is based upon working on just a handful of letters at a time.

Nocturnal Animals Sensory Writing
Nocturnal Animals Sensory Writing

My timing was not the greatest for this sensory writing activity since we had done something similar recently with our winter theme, so this one was not quite as popular this time around.  I do try to avoid doing similar activities on back to back weeks for the most part.  I found the word cards here.

Post Office Dramatic Play
Post Office Dramatic Play

About this time of year is usually the right time to open a post office in dramatic play.  My students love making cards and letters for each other and manage to practice lots of fine motor control and alphabet formation in the process.  Most of the printables for the dramatic play area came from this set from Primary Delight.  I had a blue bag that I used puffy paint to write the word “MAIL” on for the postal worker bag.

Mailbox from photo company
Mailbox from photo company

The mailbox came courtesy of our class photo company a few years ago.  It was where unwanted photo packages and payments were to be delivered.  Afterwards I painted it blue and put the label on it.  The kids loved filling and emptying it.

Mailboxes for students
Mailboxes for students

Each student has his or her own mailbox for mail to be delivered.  Some of the mail was junk mail donated from home and other mail was created by the students.  In addition we had some boxes that I put velcro on with the matching velcro on a laminated label.  Students enjoyed attaching the labels and deciding who would get the package.

A few books we used for nocturnal animals included:

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen


Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

We also read several nonfiction books about various nocturnal animals.  Any favorite books about nocturnal animals that you love and would like to share?

Bundles I Use All Year, A Giveaway, and A Sale

Favorite Bundles, Sale, and Giveaway
Favorite Bundles, Sale, and Giveaway

I am realizing as I share some of the activities we do each week in my classroom that I don’t always share some of the items I use on a regular basis.  Since TPT has a sale coming up (more on that below) I know bundles are something I tend to purchase during these sales and figure you might like to see some bundles that you can really save on this week.

 

Question of the Day Bundle
Question of the Day Bundle

My Question of the Day Bundle gets used daily in my classroom.  For example, this week I am using some Valentine and friendship questions.  I place my questions on a pocket chart near entrance to the classroom with student name cards placed nearby for students to choose their own name and respond to the question.  You can see the pocket chart (referral link) I use below.

I also use several of the items in my Alphabet Bundle weekly.  I do not use each part every week, but rotate through them for variety.  I do use the alphabet emergent readers each week that I am reviewing an alphabet letter, rotating through whether we will be cutting and pasting or coloring in our books.

Alphabet Bundle
ABC Bundle

My students really enjoy dot markers, so I use them often in different ways.  Below you can see an example of the alphabet letter search included in the ABC Bundle.

Sample Dot Marker from ABC Bundle
Sample Dot Marker from ABC Bundle

My students also enjoy stamping as part of the writing center this year, so I rotate stamps in with my Stamp and Write pages from my ABC Bundle.  Letter stamps are from Melissa & Doug (referral link).  I wrote the letter name on the side of the stamps as well because they will not stay standing up and give enough space for little hands to grab them.

Writing Center Stamp and Write from ABC Bundle
Writing Center Stamp and Write from ABC Bundle

My students also enjoy building so I rotate my linking cubes and triangles (referral link) into my room every so often and add the alphabet building cards from the ABC Bundle.  If you have ideas for theme pictures sets for the cubes and triangles, please let me know.  This is definitely on my list of ideas to work on making more cards for since my students enjoy them.

Alphabet Building with my ABC Bundle
Alphabet
Building with my ABC Bundle

The other bundle that I use all the time in my classroom is my Calendar Bundle.  Right now I have the Nursery Rhymes cards in my calendar and will probably move on to the Spring set next.  My students love guessing the pattern each month.

Calendar Cards Bundle

So now, on to the special announcements.  Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale on February 14 and 15.  Using the code XOXO, you can get up to 25% off items in participating shops.  All of the items in my shop will be discounted the additional 25% off.  This means these bundles will be super deals.

Finally, I have a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card to give away.  To enter, follow the instructions below.  Giveaway begins at at 12:00am February 13 and ends at 12:00am February 14.  I will contact you Wednesday morning so that you can get your gift card in time to use it during the sale.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winter Centers in PreK

Winter Sensory Bin with Aldi pasta, dollar store metallic snow and snowflake tray
Winter Sensory Bin with Aldi pasta, dollar store metallic snow and snowflake tray

In the midst of our winter theme in preschool I came down with the flu as did half of my class, so this winter theme sensory bin actually was used in the classroom for a couple of weeks.  The base is white rice, which my husband was kind enough to run out and get for me since we had lots of dyed rice, but no white.  There is winter themed pasta that I picked up at Aldi, metallic winter themed table scatter and a snowflake tray from Dollar Tree as well as alphabet cards from 1+1+1=1.  I could have used my winter alphabet cards, but I decided to use those in another area of my classroom instead.

Winter Sensory Bin tools and recording sheet
Winter Sensory Bin tools and recording sheet

I did decide to utilize the recording sheet from my Winter Alphabet Centers for my sensory bin.  Students worked together to mark off as they found the alphabet letters in the bin.  Since we are a preschool classroom and not kindergarten, I do not require every student to complete the sheet.  I do suggest it to students who I believe are developmentally ready to do the activity or work with a student to do a few letters to get them started.  The crayons I used are the triangle shaped Crayolas. (referral link)  Using these helps keep them from rolling away when they are dropped in addition to helping with proper grip.

Winter Sensory Writing
Winter Sensory Writing

I decided to use my Winter Alphabet Cards in my writing center this time around.  I picked up white sand and a metal tray at my local Dollar Tree.  I used a couple clothespins to help hold the card in place.  An unsharpened pencil (or fingers) were used to draw the letters.  I tried adding some glitter to the sand, but it just all settled to the bottom, so I would not recommend it.

Snowman Number Match on a tabletop easel
Snowman Number Match on a tabletop pocket chart

This Snowman Number Match is a great freebie from A Dab of Glue Will Do.  For games with a bunch of pieces I find that my students are more interested in them if I display them in different ways.  This time I pulled out my tabletop pocket chart (referral link looks similar to the one I have) and found that they fit very well.  Other times I may add magnets or velcro to use them on my easel or felt board.

Snowman Magnets
Snowman Magnets

One side of my easel for my winter theme was made up of these snowman magnets that I picked up at the Dollar Tree.  They seem to often have magnet sets meant for a refrigerator that my students enjoy using.  Later this was switched out to some story retelling pieces for The Jacket I Wear in the Snow (referral link to book).  I used the felt board pieces with magnets from Making Learning Fun.

Snowflake Match with Snowflake Bentley
Snowflake Match with Snowflake Bentley

Because of the flu I never was able to read portions of Snowflake Bentley (referral link) to my students, but I did have it out for them to look at, along with these snowflakes to match.  I thought I printed these from PreKinders.  It appears that she may have updated her file with different snowflakes if I am correct.  I used sticky tack to attach one set to the table and then students can place the correct match on top.

Snowman Letter Sounds with cotton balls
Snowman Letter Sounds with cotton balls

I also used another PreKinders activity during our winter theme.  This set of Snowman Letter Sounds cards were used with cotton balls to cover the pictures that started with the letter at the top.  I pulled out just a few cards to use, which worked well since we were low on students on most of the days of this them due to illness.

Winter Roll and Graph
Winter Roll and Graph

Roll and graph is a center that is popular with my students this year, especially when there are dot markers (referral link) to mark the graph.  My Winter Roll and Graph is found in my Winter Bundle.  I specifically made it only up to six since preschoolers do not always have the stamina to complete the game if it goes up to ten.

Winter Letter Tiles
Winter Letter Tiles

Another popular activity with my students were these Winter Letter Tile cards, also found in my Winter Bundle.  A couple students who are still working at naming their letters spent quite a bit of time building words.  This helps me see that they are starting to recognize the visual differences between letters.  I chose to print the lowercase cards so that we are just matching lowercase to lowercase, but the set also includes blank cards (with the word under the picture) and cards with capital letters.

Winter Math and Literacy Centers Bundle
Winter Math and Literacy Bundle

For those of you looking forward to Spring, I have created a Spring Bundle that has all of my math and literacy ideas with a spring theme.

Spring Math and Literacy Centers Bundle
Spring Math and Literacy Centers Bundle

Preschool Penguin Art

Preschool Penguin Sponge Art Project
Preschool Penguin Sponge Art Project

One of the art projects that I love to work on with my students each year is this penguin sponge art project.  Each year they turn out just a little different from the year before.  This year I gave my students square sponges and black and white paint.  I showed them how to press down and lift to make squares.  Some students did that and others used other techniques.

More of our penguin projects
More of our penguin projects

We had already studied a bit about penguins before starting this project and I gave my students a pile of penguin photos to look through before starting.   You can find a printable set here of the different types of penguins.  We did just the sponge painting part of the project on the first day and then added feet, eyes, and beaks the next class.  I was especially impressed with the penguin family one student chose to create since he remembered he had created a family when it came time to choose how many eyes, beaks, and feet he needed to make even though we had some time off in between due to weather.

Penguin art with a polar bear sneaking into the frame
Penguin art with a polar bear sneaking into the frame

This year I gave students the choice of black or orange feet and beaks.  Some went with what matched the penguin photo and some probably chose what the person next to them chose.  To check out past penguin projects, see this post and this one.

You can also spy one of our polar bear crafts.  This was made by painting with marshmallows in white paint.  Some of them look quite a bit more like dogs than polar bears, so kids were quick to correct moms who admired their “dog.”  This craft came from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.

I used inexpensive sponges from the dollar store for the penguins, but the ones in the Amazon referral link above look like they might be fun to use since they seem to have a great texture to them.  It could also just be because they are so bright and colorful that I am drawn to them.

Polar Week in PreK

 

Polar Expedition with Ice Fishing
Polar Expedition with Ice
Fishing

Now that I have recovered from the flu, I have a chance to share the last few themes we have been working on in my preschool classroom.  This year we focused on Polar Animals instead of just penguins, so I was able to pull out some of my favorite Arctic Animal activities as well as penguin activities.

For dramatic play we started with a Polar Expedition with a tent and ice fishing.  The fishing poles (referral link) above are what I used.  I laminated fish that I cut using my Cricut and then put a staple or two in each so that they could be caught with the magnetic poles.  Photos of polar animals were placed around the area with a laminated checklist on clipboards.  I found several of the printables for this dramatic play at Sparklebox.  Students used binoculars (referral link) to find the animals.  Our binoculars are fairly similar to the ones at the Amazon link.  We also had dollar store gloves to wear while doing everything.

Polar Expedition Supply Area
Polar Expedition Supply Area

The more labels for where everything goes, the better.  I usually try to have the word and the photo or matching clip art.  If there are not labels things soon get very messy and clean up takes forever.

Dramatic Play Bulletin Board
Dramatic Play Bulletin Board

My dramatic play area has a small bulletin board that I change out to match the area.  I managed to find a cute border for it at Dollar Tree that had polar animals on it.  The foam snowflakes also came from Dollar Tree.  During the next week we switched out what we were searching for and added some more photos to the board.

Arctic Measurement Center
Arctic Measurement Center

I was happy to get to pull out my Arctic Measurement Center this year.  My students love the snap cubes and will build a tower as long or tall as the arctic animal and then count them for me.  I laminated the pages back to back to save on laminating sheets.  I have discovered that the linking cubes are just as wide but make slightly shorter towers because of the way they link together.  I still sometimes use them for variety but keep that in mind if I want to have my students fill out the counting sheet.

Arctic Clip and Match Game
Arctic Clip and Match Game

This Arctic Animal Count and Match Game is one I was happy to pull out again.  My assistant a few years ago worked very hard getting this one together for me.  I like that the clips have the animals to match up with the cards along with the counting.

Penguins on ice
Penguins on ice

The Penguins on Ice (referral link) is from Lakeshore Learning.  My students loved using this set to sort by color and to make patterns.  The ice bars connect in two ways, which was a great discovery for my kids.

Polar Path Game
Polar Path Game

I had my Polar Path Game all ready to play and then we had just enough weather to cancel school.  Students draw a card and then move to the letter the animal starts with to get to the igloo.  The game comes with people that you can print out to play the game, or you can use any other small token to play.

Pop n Drop Penguins
Pop n Drop Penguins

We did have time to use this game, Pop N Drop Penguins (referral link).  Students push down the center to make the die pop.  They move their penguins all the way around the board.  There are extra directions for making penguins fall through the bridges, but we did not use those this time since students mostly played independently.

Spin 20 game
Spin 20 game

I found this free Spin 20 game when I was perusing Pinterest.  You can find it at The Printable Princess.  I had some penguin and polar bear erasers that I think I got at Walmart several years ago that I used for this game.  With preschoolers I find it is best to have pieces that won’t fall over or move easily when the spinner is attached to the same sheet where the pieces go.

Life Size Penguins from the 90s
Life Size Penguins from the 90s

So I used to teach middle school when I first got out of college.  We did a nonfiction unit on Antarctica and the students did a group project to draw a life sized penguin.  They had to research more than one source and had a bunch of facts to go with them.  I saved several of the penguins and have started pulling them out each year for my preschoolers to see how tall they are compared to a penguin.  And this is why teachers save everything.

Below are some things from my shop that I used but did not get photos of in my classroom.

Question of the Day Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter, Polar Lands
Question of the Day for this theme
Arctic Math and Literacy Bundle
Literacy and Math Centers for an Arctic Theme
Polar Theme Calendar Bundle
Arctic Theme Calendar Bundle

Transportation Art and Science

Transportation Bulletin Board
Transportation Bulletin Board

Although we had a short week, we did have time to complete two transportation arts and crafts projects.

We practiced our paper tearing to create our traffic lights.  I traced three black circles on the black paper and wrote the color words on each.  I gave the students three strips of paper in red, yellow, and green.  I showed them how to tear the paper and had them tear up all the red, yellow, and green.  After that we discussed which color went on top, middle, and bottom and what each color means.  We had already done a traffic light song during circle time earlier in the week so they would be familiar with this.

The best part of this activity was having a student who always has trouble opening her snack be able to open it during snack time after all the paper tearing practice.  Hopefully I can remind her of the paper tearing the next time she has trouble with her snack package.

Wagon Things That Go craft
Wagon Things That Go craft

One of my favorite art projects each year is my Things That Go project.  This takes several days to complete.  This year I gave students the choice of using red, blue, or yellow paint to initially paint the entire sheet of paper.  After painting they then chose a secondary color to paint designs on the paper, like dots, squiggles, and lines.  This year’s students were not as into the designs portion of this project.

Things That Go car project
Things That Go car project

Once the paper was dry I cut all the student sheets into squares, circles, triangles, and rectangles.  Students used the shared shapes to create whatever mode of transportation they wanted to create.  I gave them some photos and a book to look through for ideas.  Trains seemed to be very popular this year, probably due to the train station and train tracks in the pretend play and block area.

Train Things That Go project
Train Things That Go project

For science during this week one of our activities involved magnets.  I placed masking tape tracks on the science table and placed a couple pieces of magnetic train on them.  I used our magnet wands (Amazon affiliate link) and showed the students how they could use the magnet wands to move the trains without touching them.  The kids really enjoyed this and even raced each other a few times.

Magnet Powered Trains
Magnet Powered Trains

While I was in my room setting up for our next theme I found a few Transportation q-tip projects on the drying rack.  You can see how my students complete them in different ways.  This year all the students seem to do a good job holding the q-tips with a pincher grasp, but if you have any problems with students fisting them you can cut them in half as I needed to do last year with a few of my students who really struggled with fine motor skills.  Although I don’t require my students to do so, the words are in light gray so that they can be traced as an additional part of the center activity.

Q-tip Painting
Q-tip Painting

Transportation Theme Ideas in PreK

Transportation Sensory Bin
Transportation Sensory Bin

This year we only had a week for transportation as opposed to two weeks last year, so I had to squeeze in my favorites.  Besides the bin full of train tracks from IKEA, my sensory bin was one the favorites of the week.  I put some packing “peanuts” in the bin along with some plastic vehicles for filler.  I used my Transportation Sort cards in the bin.  I laminated the cards and placed several staples in each so that the magnet fishing poles (Amazon affiliate link) could catch them to sort.

Transportation Sorting Mats for with the sensory bin
Transportation Sorting Mats for with the sensory bin

I was fortunate to find a Melissa & Doug Magnetic Picture Maker (Amazon affiliate link) on clearance a few years back at a craft store.  Although my students may not have completed the pictures, they did enjoy using the magnet to move the little circles.  I will pull this out later in the year when they have more stamina and a bit more fine motor control to see how successful they are.

Melissa & Doug Magnetic Picture Maker
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Picture Maker

My students still love anything related to dot markers and dice, so the Transportation Roll and Graph was completed by several students.  Some even kept rolling until all of the vehicles won.  This roll and graph is made to go up to five instead of ten to meet the stamina of my students.

Transportation Roll and Graph, a part of my Transportation Bundle
Transportation Roll and Graph, a part of my Transportation Bundle

Something else my students really enjoyed this week was the Transportation Qtip center that I somehow managed not to get in a photo.

Transportation Q-tip Painting

Since we had several weather issues and some health issues in my home, I did a quick train station pretend play area.  My photo does not include the extra box that ended up being the engineer’s car.  The students have been very busy with the simple area, buying tickets, driving the train, handing out tickets, climbing in and out of the train, and fixing the train.

Train Station Dramatic Play
Train Station Dramatic Play

For my writing center this week we did the Transportation Stamp and Write.  My students are starting to remember how to do this since we have used similar pages in the past.  I use the Melissa & Doug stamp set (Amazon affiliate link).

Stamp and Write
Stamp and Write

For some additional alphabet practice, we used my Lowercase Alphabet Building Set with the last six letters of the alphabet that we have learned.  I am very happy that my director found the Excellerations Linking Cubes and Triangles Set (Amazon Affiliates Link).  I think the triangles make the letters look more like the real thing and give a bit more challenge.

Alphabet  Building
Alphabet
Building

For some other transportation ideas, please check out the art project results from one of my past years.  I have not yet had a chance to photograph this year’s results.

So Much For Space Week

Space Theme Sensory Bin
Space Theme Sensory Bin

We were starting back from Christmas break with a space theme, which goes along well with our Bible lesson about the three kings following the star.  Then, on top of the crazy cold weather, we had a glancing blow from that super storm which resulted in a two day week.  Not much time for space.  I will be giving the kids one last day to play with a few things on Monday before moving on, however.

You can see our space theme sensory bin above.  I used black beans as the base.  I also included some glow in the dark stars of various sizes as well as the space themed tube. I have included links to similar items below. I get a small commission if you order through my link. I picked up the space tube at Michaels or ACMoore and I am unsure where the stars came from since my director picked them up. I know our pack did not have as many as the example I found online, but they look like the same kind.

Uh Oh Snow Dough in the Space Sand
Uh Oh Snow Dough in the Space Sand

So it was the first day back after Christmas break and we had snow dough on the art table and space sand on the writing table.  They are nowhere near each other, but near the end of the day I found snow dough in the space sand.  I picked out the big pieces and decided the rest were stars.  See what we were doing with it below.

Space Theme Sensory Writing Center
Space Theme Sensory Writing Center

I found the cards for this activity at Homeschool Creations.  The black sand I found at a dollar store as well as the metal pan.  If you do not see black sand at your local dollar store, you can also try your craft store.  The smallest size container I see through Amazon is here.  I have also heard of people dying sand, but my experience has not been successful at this point.

Space Theme Question of the Day

Above you can see a quick phone shot of one of my questions for this space theme week.  It was interesting to see that not every kid thought they would like to live in the space station.  Maybe if I had put “visit” the answers would have been different.

Below you can find a few of the items in my shop that I used in my class for my space theme.  Please don’t laugh at the cover to my space word wall; it is the very first item I listed for sale in my shop and I no longer have an editable file because my computer crashed shortly afterwards.  I am quite disappointed that we did not have time to play my space path game and will figure out some other time to pull it out soon.

Outer Space Path Game
Outer Space Path Game
Question of the Day Space, Hibernation, Friends, Healthy Habits, Dinosaurs
Question of the Day
Space Theme Word Wall
Space Theme Word Wall

Christmas Fine Motor Activities

Decorating the Christmas Tree
Decorating the Christmas Tree

There are many activities to practice fine motor skills in preschool, especially during the Christmas season.  As you can tell by the branch of the Christmas tree with all the ornaments sharing the same branch, this tree is in my PreK classroom.  Since I purchased a new tree for my home this year, I brought in a four foot tree for my dramatic play area, along with some ornaments that I picked up at the Dollar Tree.

Christmas theme qtip painting
Christmas theme qtip painting

I could put out qtip painting practically every day of the year and I would have students working at this center.  I don’t put qtip painting out every week, but do put it in my rotation since it is always popular.  This set of Christmas Qtip Painting is found in my shop.  It has several options, including this type, one in color, and one with no clip art, just the dots.  The words are in a gray shade so that they can be traced if you have kids at that stage of development in your classroom.

Stamp and Write Christmas theme
Stamp and Write Christmas theme

For some mixed practice with the alphabet, I put out this stamping set.  I am embarrassed to say that I realized there was a title on some of the pages that said a different stamping set, but I fixed it when I printed out mine and noticed it.  I was very pleased that one of my students who has suddenly figured out how to write without a fist grip was interested in doing these sheets two different days during the week.  He did a great job finding the correct letter to stamp and did great with attempting to write the letters as well.  We have free choice centers for most activities, so it was great to see a student who is making some growth in pincher grip skills work on this center more than once during the week.

 

Christmas Theme Sensory Bin in PreK

Christmas Sensory Bin
Christmas Sensory Bin

I was finalizing my lesson plans when I realized I had no idea where my Christmas sensory bin material was.  I took a look at last year’s plans and remembered that I had thrown it all away because it was looking rather tired.  It had been a long weekend and my brain was not working so I headed over to Dollar Tree to gather some materials since I needed some inexpensive ornaments for our classroom tree.

All Dollar Tree supplies
All Dollar Tree supplies

I picked up red and white paper shred, meant for gift wrapping.  I also picked up these long stretchy cords in green and gold that were meant to be used in crafting wreaths.  I cut them into pieces.  I also purchased a couple Christmas tree shapes trays and several Christmas boxes that could open.  In addition there were some Christmas erasers and a couple sets of Christmas ornaments that were shaped like presents in two different sizes.

A little close up of some of the items in the bin
A little close up of some of the items in the bin

Since we had much less time than usual in our classroom this past week I will be using this bin again this week.  To change it up a bit I am adding some jingle bells, a magnet wand, and a couple tools for picking up items.

I did have to remind students that the small present shaped ornaments were not to really be opened since all that was inside was a piece of styrofoam.  A couple did get opened anyway, but after a reminder we made it through the week with only two casualties out of twenty ornaments.