A Few Nursery Rhyme Activities in PreK

 

A Rather Tall Wall for Humpty Dumpty
A Rather Tall Wall for Humpty Dumpty

We have been having literacy themed studies in our early learning center lately, including a study of nursery rhymes.  Above you can see one of the science based activities that went along with Humpty Dumpty.  My students were given some blocks, a Humpty Dumpty Easter egg with some washers inside to make him magnetic, and a magnet.  They built walls, put Humpty Dumpty on the wall, and then tried to make him walk along the wall with the magnet without falling.

Another Humpty Dumpty Wall
Another Humpty Dumpty Wall

As you can see, different students had different ideas about how to build a wall for Humpty Dumpty.  I also sent home a bag with instructions to fill it with something that would keep Humpty Dumpty safe.  We then recited the Humpty Dumpty rhyme, tossing the bag with the raw egg and whatever they brought to keep him safe off the wall (preschool shelving.)  The kids loved waiting to see whether each egg made it or not.  This year we had some break and some not, which is great.  One year none of them broke so I let the kids put an egg in the bag with nothing so they could see one break.

Baa Baa Black Sheep Sensory Bin
Baa Baa Black Sheep Sensory Bin

When I looked at my past lesson plans I could not immediately remember what I had done for a sensory bin with Nursery Rhymes.  Then I saw the sheep and the cards in my box of Nursery Rhyme stuff and realized what an easy bin this is.  I just poured in our art supply box of pom poms (Amazon referral link)  in, along with some cards and sheep from Making Learning Fun and a few tools for fine motor practice and I was set.  We did not play shear the sheep as suggested.  Instead they filled their sheep with wool based upon how many pom poms the sheep suggested.  Of course, the students also made up their own games all week as well, including lots of different types of sorting.

Library Dramatic Play
Library Dramatic Play

To go along with our literacy theme the dramatic play area was turned into a library.  One of my coworkers created much of this last year, with help from Play to Learn Preschool’s set.  This was a great way to get students to remember our library shelf by moving it into dramatic play and adding opportunities to share stories with one another with big books and felt pieces for retelling.

Story Time Area
Story Time Area

Felt pieces were placed in the blue bin below the easel.  I switched them out based upon books and rhymes we had been doing during circle time.

Check out and return area
Check out and return area

Students were very excited to check out library books and take them home.  Most students were good about bringing books back quickly, but we did have a few who needed some reminding.  This is good practice for when they go to elementary school and need to keep track of school library books.

Puppet Show
Puppet Show

After the first week of Nursery Rhymes I added the puppet show to the library.  Our pastor was kind enough to build this for our school.  I placed puppets in the center that went along with our nursery rhymes and Bible stories so that they could retell them with the puppets.  It also helped give them ideas and reduced the temptation to turn the puppets into boxing gloves.

Nursery Rhyme Calendar Set

We have been using our Nursery Rhyme Calendar during our literacy weeks.  I chose to use the Hey Diddle Diddle version with an ABCD pattern.

Question of the Day Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes, Favorite Books

We also used many questions from the Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes, and Favorite Books set, including the one above.

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?

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.

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.

 

Apple Theme in PreK

Apple Suncatchers Craft
Apple Suncatchers Craft

A week full of apple activities in my PreK classroom involved crafts, sensory fun, fine motor play, and two tasting experiences.  We also had our dramatic play Pumpkin Patch, which carried over from Farm week and continues through Pumpkin week.

Apple Themed Sensory Bin
Apple Themed Sensory Bin

The sensory bin for apple week includes a base of split peas.  I made apples from pipe cleaners so that they were magnetic.  This idea was found at Modern Preschool.  I also added cinnamon sticks for my students to rub together for added scent.  Apples are both from a local craft store as well as Attributes Apples from Learning Resources.  Somewhere along the way I picked up an apple shaped colander and ice cube tray to add to my collection.

Apple Coverall Games
Apple Coverall Games

I ended up switching out the apples in the coverall game for the Attribute Apples, since they seemed to stand up better and not roll around as easily for little hands.  These games come from Recipe for Teaching.

Apple Spinner Game
Apple Spinner Game

We also played this apple spinner graphing game with linking cubes.  Students who played did fairly well.  I think the cubes were easier to keep in place than pom poms while spinning.  I found this game at Playdough to Plato.

Building with cubes
Building with cubes

For this fine motor center students used cubes to build an apple tree, an apple, the letter A, and our letter focus of the week, which was d.  The apple themed pages can be found here.  The letter d page is part of my Lowercase Alphabet Linking Cubes and Triangles Set.  It can also be found in my Alphabet Bundle.

Apple Orchard Magnet Play
Apple Orchard Magnet Play

This set of apple orchard magnets were meant to be used with play dough, but since I am always looking for new ideas for my easel, I decided to use them this way.  You can find them at LifeOverC’s.  I was happy to discover that the large binder clips would allow me to have a couple small containers on this side of my easel to hold magnets or other items.

Letter D word building on easel
Letter D word building on easel

I was excited to use my brand new alphabet magnets this week, so I decided to put up these d words on the other side of my easel for the week.  Of course, one “d” disappeared on the first day of the week.  Still happy with the magnets and may end up getting another set sometime soon.  The only thing that would make them perfect is if the t was straight on the bottom.  The printables come from This Reading Mama. I cut apart the pages and laminated for use on my easel.

Qtip painting
Qtip painting

My students love to use Qtips to paint.  I found these sets on 1+1+1=1.  I put out apple colors for painting.  I also put out the letter D qtip painting since that is our focus letter of the week.

Apple cutting practice
Apple cutting practice

I have a few students who will sit at a cutting center and go through pages and pages of cutting.  Once we are finished cutting I add these to the scrap bin for scrap bin art.  Scrap bin art means getting out the scrap bin, glue, and scissors and letting them just create whatever they want.  Other times I let students take home their cutting in an envelope or set it up for students to glue their pieces down like a puzzle or in a pattern when finished.  This set is from This Reading Mama.

Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin Patch

My students made these pumpkins during farm week to add to our pumpkin patch.  They are attached with clothespins so that the students can practice some fine motor skills to pick a pumpkin during pretend play.

Hay ride
Hay ride

The front of the hayride is our car from the auto shop, with just a larger hole in the top so kids can climb inside.  The hay ride area has hay that students cut in it.  The walls have our corn stalks that students painted the week before.

More Pumpkin Patch
More Pumpkin Patch

All of the printables you see came from Pocket of Preschool’s Pumpkin Patch.  I like that she has many suggestions for the students creating portions of the pretend play.

Popcorn and Cookies
Popcorn and Cookies

My students love pretending with the real popcorn machine.  This was given to me personally and we do not use it enough for real to justify keeping it.  However, knowing that I use it every year in dramatic play makes me find a place to store it.  The cookies hiding out on the lower shelf were made by me.  I will have to find a close up to share another time.

New cash register and tickets
New cash register and tickets

My youngest wanted to go to IKEA recently, which caused me to upgrade my cash register.  There were several other things I would have liked to buy for my preschool class, but I kept it to just this.  My students happily worked with paper from the scrap bin to make lots of money for the drawer.  I am happy to say that this register does not eat money like my last one did.  The last one would get money stuck inside so that I had to unscrew the bottom to rescue it.

Other things I used during Apple week:

Question of the Day Farm, Apples, Pumpkins, Fall Themes

Question of the Day Farm, Apple, Pumpkins, Fall

Alphabet Letter Emergent Readers Bundle A to M

Alphabet Emergent Readers

We also made apple sauce in the crock pot and did an apple taste test.  My youngest was happy that there was left over apple sauce for her to eat.

Besides the apple suncatchers we also completed some marble art that I will share along with our Pumpkin week items.

Down on the Farm Theme in PreK

One of my farm themed questions of the day
One of my farm themed questions of the day

We start each day in PreK with a question of the day.  Most of them relate to the theme we are working on in class.  My students’ parents really like to wait to see which answer their children will pick before they leave for the morning.  You can find farm themed questions in this set or in my Question of the Day bundle.

Rosie's Walk path game
Rosie’s Walk path game

One of the many farm themed books we read during our farm theme is Rosie’s Walk.  I found this path game at Making Learning Fun and braved using our large laminator to create it.  I used this as a shape review game.  I also printed the felt board pieces from the same sight for my students to use in the library corner during the farm theme.

Matching horses with their clothes pin legs
Matching horses with their clothes pin legs

For another sorting and fine motor activity, I had my students match up horse clothes pin legs to laminated colored bodies.  I used permanent marker to color the legs since paint does not seem to stay.  I used this in assessing my student knowledge of colors as well as pincher grasp.  I found the printable horses here.

Pattern Blocks on the Easel
Pattern Blocks on the Easel

I try to use my easel in different ways, so for the farm theme I used one side with pattern block patterns.  I put contact paper on top of the print outs and gave the students foam pattern block pieces (affiliate link) to stick to the contact paper.  It stays sticky enough to be used for a couple weeks, if interest stays.  I switched out a couple of the pictures for the second week to renew interest for those who had already tried it the first week.  Some of the pattern block pages come from PreKinders and the alligator, which goes with our letter that we were studying, comes from Jessica’s Corner of Cyberspace.

Farm themed sensory bin with bird seed
Farm themed sensory bin with bird seed

For my farm themed sensory bin, I used a filler of bird seed.  I created fence pieces with hot glue and two sized of popsicle sticks.  I also added letters to sort the animals.  We had some lincoln logs to create a barn as well.  As a preschool teacher, I am sure you can imagine what it looks like at the end of each day (or even a few minutes after the kids get to school.) Many of the animals come from a farm themed tube, but others are ones that my youngest daughter outgrew.

Poke Pin Pig and Letter A
Poke Pin Pig and Letter A

One of the fine motor activities that my PreK students enjoy is using the large poke pins.  For our farm theme I found a poke pin pig from This Reading Mama.  I also pulled out a letter A poke pin page from this set of Miss Helen’s Hippos.  I have a few cork board sheets stacked on top of each other to help keep from getting tiny holes in the table.

Farm Animal Word Building
Farm Animal Word Building

Another resource I used from Making Learning Fun were these letter tile cards.  You can find the letter tiles on Amazon (affiliate link).  It did take some work to get them to print out correctly for me because I did not have the size paper suggested.  Not sure which story these corresponded with since I printed them out quite a while ago.

Dramatic Play Prep Cutting Practice
Dramatic Play Prep Cutting Practice

During our first week on the farm I had my students work on creating items that would go into our Pumpkin Patch the following week.  We created pumpkins from paper bags.  Students cut leaves for plants, cut popcorn pieces for the popcorn machine, and cut hay for the hay ride.  I was able to have each student take a turn so I could assess everyone’s cutting skills at this point in the year.  All of these cutting ideas come from Pocket of Preschool’s Pumpkin Patch dramatic play set.

Next I will show you how the Pumpkin Patch turned out…

Pets Week in PreK

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

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

Writing Center Pet Words
Writing Center Pet Words

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

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

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

Pet Themed Puzzles
Pet Themed Puzzles

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

Pets Playdough Mats and Cutters
Pets Playdough Mats and Cutters

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

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

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

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

 

Homes Theme in Prek

Matching Families to Houses
Matching Families to Houses

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

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

Rooms Sort
Rooms Sort

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

Day and Night Creation Bin
Day and Night Creation Bin

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

Pets Grooming and Care Station
Pets Grooming and Care Station

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

Grooming Station
Grooming Station

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

Feeding Our Pets
Feeding Our Pets

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

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

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

Letter F book

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

Rhyme of the Week
Rhyme of the Week

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

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

 

Shark Tank PreK Dramatic Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you have in your dramatic play area?

 

Cleaning and Rearranging My Preschool Classroom

Preschool graduation has come and gone.  Now is the time to clean and rearrange my preschool classroom.  I was fortunate enough to have a great helper along with two preschool student helpers work on scrubbing down all of the chairs, tables, and shelves in my classroom.

Stacked and clean and out of the way for the moment
Stacked and clean and out of the way for the moment

The chairs were in a lovely circle around the circle time rug to dry, thanks to my young helpers who pretended it was a castle.  I stacked them so I could do my rearranging and vacuum all the bits of Magic Eraser from the rug.

The photos in this post show the aftermath.  Now I am ready to start rearranging to get ready for Art Camp next week.  My preschool has three day camps each week of June; I will be teaching the first two this year. I will be using three easels, although only two were in the room when I snapped some photos.

Dramatic Play area looks rather empty right now, but soon will be filled with an ice cream shop
Dramatic Play area looks rather empty right now, but soon will be filled with an ice cream shop

The corner will become the ice cream shop.  Thankfully we already had a bin full of items to create the shop that we have used in other years and I will be adding just a few finishing touches to it before camp starts.

I will be spending tomorrow morning in my classroom, hoping to get most of the way ready so that I won’t have too much to think about when next week rolls around and it is camp time.

Does your school do anything different in the summer months?