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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
We started the week with a leftover question of the day from our snow day on Friday. We do a question of the day every morning as we come in the classroom. Many of the parents hang around to see what their children will choose as an answer. We needed to do this question since we still needed to read Green Eggs and Ham as well as have our special Dr. Seuss snacks which were saved from Friday’s “no snow” snow day. If I recall correctly we had a tie in responses with this one, which is unusual.
This week our easel has painting with water on one side and practicing writing words that begin with J on the other. Sometime I use these word sheets with magnets or stamps, but this week I decided to let them write the words with the dry erase markers. I found these sheets on This Reading Mama’s blog. I decided to use water and a brush on the other side because I had put it out a few weeks ago when I realized I had no plan for the other side of the easel and the students loved it and spent a bunch of time practicing letters and drawing shapes, especially some of my friends who are not quick to choose activities involving manipulating writing implements.
In my fine motor and math center I found a Race to the Top game with linking cubes. My students have enjoyed using linking and snap cubes as well as dice games. This one has just enough of a twist from activities we have done recently to keep their attention. Race to the Top can be found on The Measured Mom’s blog. We are using the one that goes to twenty but she also has one up to ten. To get students started with this game I invited one student to play with me. Once we started the game another student came over and asked to play so I let that student take my spot. If one student quits I either jump in to play or ask another student if she would like to play if the student playing cannot figure out who to ask.
This game is best saved for the second half of the year because students need to only count the fish of a specific color, not all the fish. I highlighted the color word with a dry erase marker that matched its color (although I apparently missed the one on top when I took the photo.) You could also put a color word chart at this center. I chose this game because we are reading Swimmy by Leo Lionni as well as Flotsam by David Wiesner.
My large square table is where we do our art and literacy activities. Some of the activities we started the week with included play dough with alphabet stampers (similar to those linked below), Letter J crowns, painting alphabet letters to create a class alphabet book and a chameleon craft on paper towels which we plan to spray later in the week.
Due to a very large number of absences this week we may not end up with a whole alphabet book. I am contemplating what to do since I ended the day with only four out of ten students. It is pretty difficult to get twenty six letters painted with that many absences.
When I decided to do this sensory bin it reminded me of one I made a long time ago for a Vacation Bible Camp. It had been a bin full of shredded paper and my fellow teacher had commented, “Who would have thought that preschoolers would love to play with trash so much?” I had several kids playing with this right away on Monday. A couple boys kept catching pieces with the grabbers I found at the dollar store and bringing them to me to show me which letter that was caught. This Alphabet Pick Up game can be found in Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station. The grabbers were found at the dollar store and were similar to those shown in the photo link below.
Our dramatic play area became a Sandwich Shop this week. I used the foam pieces I had cut last year, placing them in aluminum trays from the dollar store. Growing in PreK has some printables and was my inspiration for the beginning of this center.
On the table for customers are place mats as well as ketchup and mustard. These were also found at the local dollar store. I did not realize when I purchased them that they were meant to be joke bottles. The kids love them because when you open the lids and squeeze them a little string that is red for ketchup or yellow for mustard pops out.
The big addition to the sandwich shop was my drink station, inspired by Play to Learn’s post. The students figured it out right away, although I did have one moment when a student pulled the colored tissue out of it. Another student informed me and I fixed it and explained to the student what it was since I am unsure he had any idea why the tissue was there. To the left of the drink station are trays of crocheted cookies and plastic chips. I have a couple different ways of ordering that I will alternate in this center. One is found at PreKinders and the other was found at Growing in PreK, which was linked above.