Today I am having some quiet time at home with no children to prepare myself for the Easter celebration tomorrow. It is a beautiful, sunny day and the grass is mowed thanks to my oldest daughter. My youngest helped me sell some items on Craigslist, which has helped with spring cleaning as well.
Above you can see the artwork of my students in preparation for Easter. We made the palm leaves for Palm Sunday and the crosses as we discussed Good Friday. The crosses were made with painters tape and the idea was to dab the paint with the circular sponges with handles, but my students all had other plans, which is okay. I just laughed at myself because it was one of the very few times that I made an example for them to see of what it might look like when it would be finished after the tape was pulled off.
I have also been hard at work this week on my Teachers Pay Teachers shop, adding lots of alphabet goodies, including a massive bundle of everything alphabet that I have created so far.
Don’t forget to check out my spring calendar freebie, even if you just want to save it for next year. I hope to add a bunch of new calendar sets soon, so if you have any in mind, please let me know. I am currently working on one with insects.
This year we have had an entire week dedicated just to penguins. I was excited to bring out my life size penguin creations that I have saved from when I taught sixth grade many years ago. (See, there is sometimes a good reason to save things.) I have fond memories of teaching middle school and love seeing my current students measure themselves against an emperor penguin.
If you notice there is a small photo of the penguin nearby. This is just one of many photos of real penguins hidden around the room for our penguin search dramatic play. I found the penguin photos here. I created a check sheet for the students to carry around the room on a clip board, along with binoculars and gloves, to search for many of the kinds of penguins. Along the way nearly every student became an expert at putting on winter gloves.
Besides searching for penguins, my students could also go ice fishing. Inside were laminated fish with staples in them to make them stick to the magnetic pole. (I gave up on having any type of magnet stick to laminated items a while back. Staples are much cheaper and don’t fall off.)
I had some penguin counters to use with this spinner game, so I added it to my math and fine motor area. You can find it here. I like finding games that I can use fun counters with since the three dimensional counters attract the students even more than any clip art can.
This is how this puzzle was left at the end of the day, but I did have several students work through getting the puzzle into order from eleven to twenty to make the penguin picture. It did help to have some numbers drawn along the side of the board. I laminated and put magnets on the back of this puzzle. I am finding that my students do better with these types of puzzles on the magnet board because they do not slide around as much when they are trying to line them up next to each other to complete the puzzle. This puzzle comes from here.
My director bought us some insta-snow to try out, so I added it to my sensory bin, along with a tube of penguins. I found photos to match the penguins in the tube and hung them above the bin. Several students matched them up and asked me the names of the different penguins while playing.
We also had some sensory play at the writing center with baking soda and white hair conditioner. I used some penguin and fish alphabet letters I found here to have students choose which letters to write, although many tried out letters in their names instead. The students enjoyed this so much that I promised to move the baking soda and conditioner over to the large sensory bin the next week so they could play with it in other ways, rather than just flattening it and drawing letters.
At circle time we used the pocket chart to go through the emperor penguin’s life cycle. We also read some books and tried balancing bean bags and balls on our feet to pretend to be a daddy penguin. The cards at the bottom were photos of opposites in Antarctica. I was able to go through these cards with a few of my students during centers time to introduce the idea of opposites.
One of my fine motor activities included using our poke pin. I found this penguin, which several of my students started to work on but did not finish. I think that preschoolers probably need smaller poke pin projects if we want them to complete them. I just encourage my students to work on them and come back again another day add some more holes. I also had some half sheets of letter review available for students who wanted a smaller poke pin project.
These are just a few of our penguin centers. We also did our sponge penguins again. You can see an example of that from last year. We also ended the week with black and white day and a penguin snack.
Do you have a penguin week in your preschool? What is your favorite activity?
We often do a hibernation theme in January. This year we focused mostly on bears, but also included discussion of other animals that hibernate through our question of the day, some hibernation songs, and books that we used.
I decided to use our tent to act as a cave to go along with our hibernation and bear theme. When I found a few different ideas online that related to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, I knew our pretend play would revolve around that book. I found printable signs to hang around the room for each place in the story. I also discovered a map that was meant to be used for retelling the story, but we used it as our actual map, finding each place in the room as we searched for the bear in its cave. In addition, I found some story retelling puppets that I trimmed and laminated to make badges to each child playing would know which part he or she had. The photos of each item will lead you to where I found these items.
For our fine motor and math center I discovered a winter themed Cariboo game and a roll and cover game. My students had enjoyed Cariboo in December so I decided to pull it out again with these winter themed cards. Since I had a few students out during the week I was able to spend some time playing the roll and cover game with individual students to check on number sense.
We worked on a few crafty projects during our hibernation week. The easel was set up on one side with q-tips, white paint, and black paper. The students enjoyed experimenting and did well writing their names with the qtips when they were finished. We also painted a box with a heart on the lid to go along with our study of the visit of the three wise men. We put a heart inside that said, “I give my heart to Jesus” after discussing the gifts the wise men brought and what gift Jesus really wants from us.
My students really enjoyed several of our songs during this week, including:
Bear Hunt by Steve Songs
What is your favorite hibernation activity for preschool?
At the beginning of the year you are busily making lots of things with students’ names on them. You think you are just about ready with everything when in walks your director or principal with news of a new student. Suddenly you need to have one of everything ready for the new student.
Here are some things I keep in my new student file in the classroom and on my computer that will hopefully give you some tips to make getting a new student a little easier.
For your computer files:
Coat hook labels
I learned to save my file with a sample name on the coat hook label, cubby label, and anything else that I want to actually match up the font size and color. You would think you would remember the font size or the name of the font, but when a new student shows up midway through the year you may be testing out different sizes and then getting frustrated when you print it out and it just does not match.
If you like the coat hook and cubby labels here, please check out my Ocean Theme Decor Bundle. I set up the file so that you will automatically get the same size and font, but you can also switch it up and make changes if you have a favorite font on your computer.
For your paper files:
Lunch place setting
At the beginning of the year I have had my students use watercolor paints to discover the mystery word that I have written in white crayon. The word ends up being their names, which ends up getting laminated and used by our table washer to set places for snack and lunch. I put a couple sheets of paper cut the correct size to match in my new student file. It would probably be smart for me to toss a white crayon in there as well.
Birthday display supplies
Height chart supplies
For my student birthdays and height chart I just write the names and information on with a sharpie on the laminated item, so I make sure I have a few extra laminated pieces in my file, ready to go. I also make sure I have a couple extra birthday crowns copied and ready to go in my birthday file, especially since this year I don’t have an assistant that I can send down to copy one at the last minute.
Writing center supplies
I also have a writing center with student name and photo cards, so when I create these I go ahead and cut the card stock the correct size for a few extras to stash away. That way the card stock will be the same color and the same size.
For class books I usually just make sure we create a fresh one on a new topic soon after getting a new student, but I do like to add new students into our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look Who’s In Our Room book, so I make a complete set of supplies to make a couple pages of the book for any student who arrives after the first week of school.
Question of the Day name tags
For answering our question of the day I made up some quick name labels with different borders. I laminated and then wrote with sharpie so that I can change as needed. For example, partway through the year I will change them to last names to that students get used to recognizing those.
A special thanks to Classroom Doodle Diva for the cute clip art girl for my blog post image at the top of the page.
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. The calendar set can also be found in my Ocean Decor Bundle.
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: