After many weeks of random snow days, delays, and holidays we now have a promised full week of school with preschoolers who have no idea whether we eat once or twice each day. (Once on delay days and twice on regular days.) To help celebrate back to a routine that should make life easier once we get used to it again I have a couple items to give away.
In addition, Teachers Pay Teachers has announced its quarterly sale which means my shop will be 25% off when you use the code: TICKTOCK at checkout.
This is a great time to buy bundles because they are already regularly discounted and the sale makes them a steal.
For example, I use activities from my Alphabet Bundle every week. Whether you are a letter of the week fan, do letter of the day, letter boot camp, or mix it all up there is plenty in this bundle to help you out. Below is just one example of the items in the bundle.
It includes lots of centers ideas, including a newly added Spring Geoboards set.
The Question of the Day Bundle is also used daily in my classroom. This week I am using the nursery rhyme related questions. Below you can see one of the insect themed questions that I will be using later in the year.
Where’s the freebie? I just recently added a Dental Health set of count and clip cards to my TPT shop. Just click the cover below to be taken to my shop for the freebie and to pick out some goodies for the sale.
Finally, I have a giveaway of a $10 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers as well as a giveaway for one resource from my shop that is worth up to $5. This giveaway ends at 12:00 am March 1. I will send out an email to the winners that day.
So, please enter the giveaway and do not forget the code of TICKTOCK to get your full 25% in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 25th and 26th.
I would especially like you to do the entry involving commenting on this post about your favorite book that you need more resources for.
Although we technically had two weeks of transportation in PreK it was broken up by the weather.
As always I started each day with our Question of the Day. Around this time of the year I change the student name tags to last names so that they can start recognizing those. I put first names on the back of the tags so that they can check to make sure they are correct as they grab their tags to answer the question. For the siblings in my class I put all of the first names on the back of each tag.
This time I put the pattern blocks on the fine motor table, although I do sometimes use contact paper and put them on the easel. You can find some pattern blocks sheets here and here.
Since we are not doing a space theme during the school year this year, I decided to use my rocket drawing activity during transportation week. I found this at Making Learning Fun.
One of the letters we focused on during our transportation unit was letter K. We used letter magnets to build words that start with that letter from This Reading Mama. I use these magnet letters (affiliate link.)
My Melissa & Doug Magnetic Picture Maker was really popular this year with a few of my students this year. I was fortunate enough to discover this on clearance at a craft store a few years ago. This requires fine motor control and stamina since it has so many pieces to fill in a picture.
My Transportation Bundle includes this roll and graph game that I had my students complete with stickers. This one is for my students who are still working on stamina so it only goes up to five. I try to balance the activities in my room to appeal to different levels of the students in my classroom.
For my writing center I also chose a couple different activities from my Transportation Bundle to meet the interests and levels of my students. I use the alphabet stamping set from Melissa & Doug (affiliate link) and crayons. Just trying out new stamp pads. Still looking for the perfect stamp pads, so if you have any you love, please let me know.
The other writing center activity from my bundle involves dry erase markers and writing transportation words for my students who are ready for that.
I also used my transportation sort game in my sensory bin along with magnet fishing poles. In order to make the cards magnetic I just put a few staples in the edges of each one after laminating.
For the science table I started with magnet wands and magnetic trains. I showed the students how to use the wands to make the trains follow the taped paths without touching the trains.
The other science activity for transportation involved building bridges. I found some ideas here. I printed and laminated photo examples and provided the supplies and let the kids experiment.
Another letter focus activity comes from my Alphabet Bundle. Students use dot markers to dot the letter and pictures of words that start with the letter. I purposely limit the letters and letter sounds on each page with this set of dot marker pages.
In the block area I added my train set from IKEA. I have had this set since my girls were little, but there are many similar sets out there. This one looks fun as well.
I was also gifted with some stencils that include transportation themed ones from Lakeshore. (not affiliate link) These are great because they are really sturdy. It does take a while for preschoolers to understand that they have to hold the stencil still while working with it, so the sturdy ones work best. I would like to try out the Melissa & Doug set as well.
Those were my main centers activities during my Transportation theme. If you would like to check out my Transportation Bundle and Transportation Calendar set, you can click through to them below.
So I had grand plans when I found these penguin erasers at Oriental Trading and then we had a bunch of snow days. Since I already created several games I decided to use some of them in our early care room instead.
Above you can see the Penguin Grid Game. Students roll a die to figure out how many penguin pictures to cover. If you don’t have the erasers (and I noticed that they are currently out of stock at OTC) the students could use goldfish crackers to feed the penguins or Aldi’s has penguin crackers as well that could be fun. I see that the erasers are also available at Fun Express, but I am unfamiliar with that company.
The younger students in early care worked on matching penguin colors to fill in the grid, while the older ones worked using the die as well.
For the Penguin Path Game, students chose their favorite color penguin to take from start to finish. They rolled the die and moved the appropriate number of spaces. This involves practice counting as well as working on one to one correspondence when moving along the path.
There is also a spinner included in this set of math games that can be used to play the path or grid game. I chose to make the spinner separate from the boards in case you want to use the die instead. I also find that students tend to knock their pieces all around while spinning if the spinner is attached to the board.
In our PreK classroom we work on patterning with our calendar cards daily, but I also like to rotate in centers on a regular basis to practice patterns. These ones can be used without the erasers by using the answer choice pieces at the bottom of each set of pattern strips.
I cut and laminated mine to use with the erasers, but if I did not have the erasers I would cut and laminate the answer choices. I would then utilize velcro dots or clothespins to have students secure their response to the strips.
This set of Penguin Math Games can be found in my TPT shop. If there are other penguin related activities you would like to see be added, please let me know.
Our Polar theme week was shortened quite a bit because of snow creating snow days and delays. We still managed to fit in a few fun polar theme centers and activities, beginning with our Question of the Day. One of the questions asks students if they are taller than an Emperor penguin, so I had one displayed in my room so they could figure it out after taking a guess.
The life size penguins are from way back when I used to teach middle school and did a penguin research unit. The final project was the life size penguin, which I now pull out each year to share with my preschool students.
Easel activities included a penguin number order puzzle is one of several in 3Dinosaurs’ penguin pack. I laminated and added magnets to the back to use on the easel. I find that students are more likely to do these puzzles on the easel than sitting in a bin on a table. The magnets also help the puzzle pieces stay still while students are attempting to put it together.
On the dry erase side of the easel I put up a step by step for drawing a penguin. I am unsure where this particular one came from, but found a few similar ones here and here.
During January we do an assessment of several skills of our PreK students, with patterning being one of them. I used these Penguins on Ice (affiliate link) to assess three different types of patterns with my students. Even students who never want to leave the block area were happy to come play with the penguins with me.
There are plenty of penguins and ice bars to have several students at this center at a time. I set it up for two students, but occasionally ended up with three with no problems. If I had gotten out all of the ice bars I could have definitely had four spots to play.
Most activities and centers in my classroom work on fine motor skills alongside literacy and math skills. Above you can see a counting activity with polar animals from my math center that I found here. Students needed to match the clothespins with the clipart of the animal before clipping it onto the cards.
Since my students this year enjoy Q-tip activities I pulled out my new Polar Q-tip Painting set, which is also part of my Arctic Math and Literacy Bundle. Students use a qtip or cotton swab to paint the dots and can use the qtip or another writing utensil to trace the polar animal’s name.
We played some Pop’n Drop Penguins this week. I simplified the game rules for students since I did not have a student this year who already knew how to play. They enjoyed popping the die in the middle, while I enjoyed the die not bounding around the room.
I also had out an Arctic TOOB set, similar to this one. It appears that mine has some extra pieces in comparison. I used the printable cards from Montessori Soul to go along with my set.
Since we had a good amount of snow outside that shortened our week I was able to put real snow in our sensory bin with our Penguin TOOB. I also found some penguin cards at Montessori Soul that I stuck to the lid of the sensory bin so that students could match with the figures.
I added two different activities to my writing center. The first one utilizes my alphabet stamps for practice stamping and writing polar animal names. This is also part of my Arctic Math and Literacy Bundle, or can be found separately here. Most of my stamping activities earlier in the year are for the beginning letter, but by this time in the year there are several students ready to stamp whole words and write them.
The other writing center activity involved coloring by code. Since my students do not know the words for the colors I colored over the words with the correct color on each sheet. We also had an older student visiting who colored the samples for the center to help students understand to color the entire area, not just the individual number to complete the activity. You can find these sheets here and here.
In addition to the real snow in the sensory bin, I created some snow with baking soda and white hair conditioner. Students drew the alphabet letter in the snow.
Since we had not used our poke pins in a while I pulled out this penguin poke pin sheet. Since it was a short week there were not too many students who finished this one. The Polar q tip sheets could also be used with poke pins to make an activity that is shorter in duration for students whose hands get tired with this penguin. I use the large pins below along with a couple cork board squares under the paper for this activity.
Since I still had my Penguin Hunt dramatic play up from the previous week, I added some ice fishing to it. My director had created the ice fishing with the same thick blue plastic that I had utilized earlier in the year to make my bulletin board look like an aquarium. She added magnets to some plastic fish. The fishing poles we had are from Lakeshore, but the set below already is set up with fish and looks great as well.
If you are planning your Polar Animal or Penguin theme in your classroom, be sure to check out the activities I have in my shop below by clicking on the images. Since I did not have time for them all I will be sharing some of them with my early care students next week.
I created the Penguin Math Centers to go along with a cute set of penguin erasers I picked up on clearance at Oriental Trading. I will share some of the activities in action soon.
Our PreK winter theme must have been to get my students ready for the eight or more inches of snow we received over the weekend.
I created a new winter theme sensory bin this year inspired by Differentiated Kindergarten‘s idea with ping pong balls. Since I am dealing with preschoolers I made my bin a letter recognition activity. I drew snowman faces on the balls that had an alphabet letter written on the back side. Students caught them with the tool and marked on the alphabet sheets that I had printed half size from my Winter Bundle or Winter Alphabet Centers. I am providing affiliate links below to Amazon to help you find the supplies for this bin. The scoopers I have are from Oriental Trading, I believe, but I would love to get the set below soon (and an extra set of ping pong balls.) I also added cotton balls as suggested to mine.
My students did a great job keeping the balls and cotton in the bin. When prompted they did a great job filling in their sheets to mark which alphabet letters they found. We are still working on getting some students to remember to put their name on their sheet in case they don’t finish and will return later in the day or week to complete the activity.
I was very pleased with how hard my students worked on creating the pictures on geoboards. I only made loom bands available this time and showed students to only stretch them between two pegs. I was lucky to find a clearance sale at Oriental Trading to pick up some more bands, so you might check to see if they still have any on clearance there. The cards are also part of my Winter Bundle or Winter Geoboards.
Since my dramatic play will be for two weeks, I put up our Penguin Hunt activity. Some years I have a Polar Expedition with Arctic animals to search for and other years I have penguin to search for in the classroom. I found the printable penguins to put up throughout the room on a site that has apparently shut down, but there are some similar ones here and here. I made my own laminated checklist for students to find the penguins with small versions of the larger photos.
To play in the center, students had to put on gloves. This is a great way for them to learn how to put on gloves. These were purchased at our local dollar store. We did need to bring them home over the weekend to wash as they did start to smell a bit at the end of the week after many sets of hands wore them.
We also had play binoculars to search for all the penguins.
During the next week we will add ice fishing to the area.
I used my table top easel to set up part of this snowman number sense set from A Dab of Glue Will Do. I only used numbers five through ten for this center.
Another number related center was my Winter Count and Clip set. I chose to use the set with the dice at the bottom this time. There are also cards with fingers to count and numerals. I found the mini clothespins at the local Dollar Tree.
My final math center for the week was this simple path game with spinner. There is also an option for dice with this game as well. I used water bottle caps along with the printables made to fit on them for game board pieces. This is also part of my Winter Bundle.
I utilized magnets and contact type paper this week on my easel. For the black side I used snowman magnets found at Dollar Tree. On the white side I put up a pattern block mat for a snowflake from PreKinders. I put it up and then put some contact type paper sticky side out on top of it. I provided foam pattern blocks to stick to the mat to create the snowflake.
Our science activities this week included playing Thin Ice. The balls are in a moat with water. Students use the tongs to grab a ball and gently put it on top of a tissue. They attempt to get all the balls to the top before the tissue breaks.
We also matched snowflake designs. I attached one set to a cookie sheet. This set I can no longer find online; I think it may have been updated since I printed it. I would really like to print this one of snowflake photos to match next year if I can remember.
I had two different writing center activities this week. The first used my alphabet cards from my Winter Alphabet Centers set. I used salt to be my snow and flat glass beads to place on the letter that the student has drawn. A couple of the snowflake clothespins were used to hold up the chosen card.
You can see the interesting creation a student left me at the end of centers time one day. I had to take a picture of it.
The second activity was to help review some of our alphabet letters. This activity comes from This Reading Mama. I cut the graph down to be shorter so that students would have more likelihood of finishing before getting tired of writing letters.
Part of every morning and circle time is our Question of the Day time. You can see an example of one of my winter questions. This time marshmallows won out for the most responses.
We also worked on building winter words with our letter tiles. I also sometimes use part of this set for stamping and handwriting practice. This is also found in my Winter Bundle.
Next I will share favorite books, songs, and poems for our winter theme.
Our first week back from winter break was a short three day week, so I centered most of my plans for bears and hibernation around the book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Amazon affiliate link) by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen.
The first craft involved painting the backs of paper plates with brown paint and scrapers. This project was inspired by this one for Brown Bear. The paint scrapers/brushes are similar to the ones with the green handles in this set below. After students painted with their choice of scraper/brush, I cut the shape to make the mask. The next day students attached ears and nose.
Some students used their masks to be the bear in our pretend play area. I utilized a discontinued Cranium building set to make a large open cave area so that I could clearly see what students were doing while pretending to be a bear. You could also utilize a pop-up tent.
I found a map set that matches the order of events in the Bear Hunt book. Part of this was also used on my easel to put the map in order after reading the book together. I also used signs around the room to use with the map to travel around the room to find the bear. The map was laminated and put on a clipboard for the two students who were searching for the bear to follow around the room until they reached the cave and the bear. The bear was the third student playing in the pretend play area.
Students could also re-create the Bear Hunt in the block area, where I provided the characters as well as some winter trees and some blue and brown felt which could represent the water and the mud in the story.
Our question of the day related to hibernation all week, including the one above. There were actually a few children who voted to hibernate all winter. The hibernation questions can be found in my Question of the Day Bundle, or in the smaller set of questions here.
I played a matching bears game with a few students during this short week. This gave my students a chance to see that there was more than just brown and white for types of bears.
Always a favorite with any set of cards is the Cranium Cariboo. This is also no longer made, so if you see one anywhere be sure to snag it. My only challenge is to remind my students to use the cards to pick which door to open because they get so excited about finding the balls that they forget. The winter themed cards were a freebie on TPT.
The Roll and Cover game was matched with the size sorting bears and a foam die. This game suffered the indignity of being at the same table as the Cariboo game, so was sometimes ignored or played while waiting for a spot to open up for Cariboo. The bears below come in three sizes. I am not sure where we got ours as they come in four sizes with the numbers 3, 6, 9, and 12 on their bellies, which I just discovered this year. I had always assumed they were three different sized until I noticed the numbers.
Play dough is a great activity for any week. It is especially good for back to school after a break. The play dough mats I used came from Child Care Land (I don’t see the exact one there right now but she has some cute printables for play dough.) and Sparklebox.
We also worked on some letter activities during the week to go along with the letter I, including punching. Students work on recognizing the letter as well as building hand strength. I use regular hole punches as well as some crafting ones I found at the dollar store that seemed to be a little easier for some of my students to use.
I tried to have some bears in my sensory bin but students kept thinking they were just in there by accident from the roll and cover bear game. The bin is white rice, winter pasta, silly bands shaped like the alphabet, snowflake table scatter, flat clear glass beads, a snowflake container from the dollar store as well as a large scoop I just picked up from Dollar Tree, along with a few other tools to pick up things. The scoopers below look great and will probably be added to my list soon. The set I have I believe were from Oriental Trading Company. I like them but they do occasionally come apart when students try to use them with two hands instead of like scissors.
I was happy to discover one new book for this week on Christmas clearance at Walmart as well as one at our local used book store. Favorite books this week include the following:
My favorite new addition to my apples in PreK week this year is the apple orchard. I had seen several pretend play areas from other classrooms and decided I wanted to add some apple trees this year.
I used cardboard to create the tops of my apple trees, attaching them to the bottom of the bulletin board with a long strip of velcro to keep my students from pulling the tree tops down with the apples. I chose to have one tree for each color of apple. The apples are ball pit balls, which I purchased from Walmart because I waited until the last minute to put this together. You can find some on Amazon through the following affiliate link:
I put a small amount of velcro on each ball and the matching side on the tree top. I figure when I am ready to take down the tree tops I can put it all in storage for next year.
Our writing center is very popular this year. For the week we had some apple pre-writing from Confessions of a Homeschooler as well as name practice and practicing the letters we have focused upon so far this year.
Apple math in PreK involved lots of counting during the week. We used some roll and cover games from Recipe for Teaching. We also played Hi Ho Cherry-O and just pretended they were apples. You can find the updated game that actually has apples as well as cherries and blueberries at this affiliate Amazon link:
These apple orchard magnets were meant to be used with play dough, but I wanted something for my student to work on a vertical surface so I utilized them this way. You can find them at Life over C’s.
We also used linking cubes to build apple trees and our qtips to paint our letter focus of the week (M) as well as letters that go with the apple theme. The linking cube apple tree is from 123 Homeschool for Me and the qtip pages are from 1+1+1=1. The paint pallets were purchased long ago, so not sure where, but there are some on Amazon here (affiliate link):
I filled my sensory bin with green lentils, decorative apples, an apple shaped colander, an apple shaped ice tray, a couple cinnamon sticks, and some apples made from pipe cleaners that could be caught with magnet wands.
The science table involves a STEM building challenge to build an apple tree that will hold the most apples. Toward the end of the week some students decided to add to the challenge by making the tallest tree as well.
Our apple theme arts and crafts projects for PreK involved lots of paint.
For our apple core, students painted top and bottom with the apple color paint that they wanted. They added seeds to the middle with a marker.
The apple tree involved some cutting practice. I marked the brown paper with two lines to cut to make the trunk. This gave me a chance to assess cutting skills during this project. Then we used bath puffs to paint the green top of the tree. I had plenty of yellow and red circles for students to glue on to their apple trees.
I enjoy most the arty crafty projects that all look different from each other, so I am pleased with our apple trees this year.
For my Pet theme in PreK I wanted to introduce the roll and graph center in small groups. I did not find a roll and graph that I liked, so I created one of my own. The next day my director showed up with the pet counters (affiliate link) and I realized I had made my game to match them.
I purposely made my game only go up to five since many preschoolers do not have the stamina to get a winner in this game if it goes up to ten.
We played it at first with a dry erase marker in small groups and took turns rolling until one of the pets won the game. After all students had played this way I put it out on the math table with the pet counters to play the game.
You can find this game in my new Pets Math Centers. This also includes count and clip cards, a path game, and a measurement center.
During Pets week we continued to play in our Vet Center for dramatic play. We even had a pet fish. I used the original container our real betta fish came in to create a pet fish for our center. The fish attached with fishing line so that it appears to float inside.
For writing during Pets week we reviewed letters T and F and added P. Dry erase activities were available again as well as a new stamping center.
I decided to cut the stamping center pages in half since it is the beginning of the year. This made the students much more likely to try it out since it did not look like too much to do at once. I also reduced the stamps to only the ones needed. Later in the year I will have the entire alphabet out when using these stamps.
Since our focus letter for Pets week in PreK is letter P, I had to pull out my pizza felt pieces. My students made lots of different pizzas, with several pizza faces being created as well. We did have some peppers get destroyed, so I brought the pieces to circle time and talked about being careful with our felt pieces.
We also had to sing the Silly Pizza song from Signing Time!
I do not do quite as many signs as Rachel does while singing with the kids, but I do work on all the main signs, like apple, crackers, ice cream, cereal, and so forth.
The other side of the easel had a size sort with common pets. I am pleased that more students are noticing this side of the easel this year, probably partly due to having more students so that the most favorite spots are taken and they need to do a little more exploring.
Play dough is still a favorite so I put out two mats from Sparklebox. I W alaminated them with something on each side. I have found that a magic eraser does wonders for cleaning these mats when play dough residue builds up on them.
We had several birthdays the week before and several children wearing birthday crowns, so I decided to put out a crown that everyone could wear who was interested with this letter P hat center that I purchased from Beth Gordan. A few students made two hats, one to wear and one to share with a younger sibling.
My letter cards from the Letter Pp Book are in my circle time area all week, except when we borrow them to draw something on our dry erase boards that starts with our letter or when coloring our letter books in case my students want their pictures to match. These are also in my alphabet bundle.
My students loved the poem of the week since it was quite the tongue twister. We practiced lots of P sounds and searched for the letter P in the poem.
Science this week was not specifically related to pets because we had some sunflowers that were ready for exploration. Last spring my class planted sunflowers and I was able to save a couple huge heads for some up close discovery. We will save some of the seeds to plant this spring.
Since we have been studying Creation in our Bible curriculum, our sensory bin has changed each day for six days to represent the six days of creation between family week and pets week. My students were happy to discover what was new each day.
In my next post I will share some of our songs, books, and arts and crafts projects from Pets Week in PreK.
For our Family theme in my PreK classroom we also focused on the letter F. Our questions of the day related to family and our letter F. You can find the family related questions in this Question of the Day set. The letters in your name questions are a freebie in my shop. I printed mine on colored paper for more interest.
I did find that my students who were a brother had a hard time not counting themselves when deciding how many brothers they had. I do have brothers in my classroom so we did some counting to figure it out, but it is a concept we are still learning.
The cards for the letter F are part of my Alphabet Bundle. I use them during circle time to talk about things that start with a particular letter, to sort between a letter we have already worked on and a new letter, during our small group writing and drawing time, as well as in creating our letter books.
One of my goals for the last couple of years on and off was to make sure I have some new ideas for my easel so that there are different kinds of opportunities to work on a vertical surface. This week I found a great set of family cards from Fantastic Fun and Learning that I could laminate and add magnets to for one side of the board. This was played with often during the week, which is great since sometimes that side of the board gets forgotten since you cannot see if from most of the room so kids forget to look at it except when they are lined up for leaving the room.
The other side we used with dry erase markers and practicing creating pictures with circles. You can find the free printable here.
Since my students discovered the family sorters late in the week, I kept them out this week, but made the houses stand up and found some new sorting mats. Students discovered new ways to sort the people and pets throughout the week.
(Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links that earn me a few cents if you purchase through the link.)
For my family theme in PreK I printed some photos of houses in the area from the real estate website so that students could choose one they might be familiar with and build it.
Our Bible lesson for two weeks is about God creating people and the world, so my sensory bin is a creation bin, with something added each day based upon the days of creation. We use Cross Connections for Early Learners in our school for our Bible curriculum.
Day One: white and black beans to represent day and night
Day Two: cotton rounds or cotton balls for water in the sky and blue foam shapes to represent water below
Day Three: trees and green hill to represent plant life
Day Four: star shaped ice cubes for sun, moon, and stars
Day Five: fish and birds
Day Six: animals and people
Science this week involved magnets, so there was a lot of fine motor practice. The gumball magnet counting game is from Lakeshore. I discovered the Melissa & Doug picture maker on clearance at a craft store one summer. I am thinking by the price at Amazon that it may be discontinued so I would suggest watching for it at yard sales both online and off.
We worked on letter T and F for our pattern blocks as well as doing fish and train patterns.
Play dough is out nearly every week, especially at the beginning of the year. This week we had face mats out from Sparklebox. I put out different faces each day during the week.
As part of my circle time, we have a poem or song every week. To go along with letter F, we had Little Miss Muffet.
As you can see from the calendar it was a big week for birthdays in my classroom as well. Lots of birthday crowns….
To go along with our family theme we sang a couple songs and learned some of the ASL signs to go with them. These are In A House and Mom Has a Mom, both from Signing Time!
We changed our doctor to a veterinarian this week, complete with several pets. I like to use the labels from Pocket of Preschool and many of the printables as well for this center.
My daughter was kind enough to share many of her old stuffed animals for our pretend play.
My students are really enjoying the writing center so far this year. We have our names to practice again this week, along with letter F and T. In addition, I added family words and paper from Pocket of Preschool. I had one student who practiced writing nearly every other students’ name during the week, giving them to the students as presents.
I would love to hear about your favorite family theme activities in your classroom.
Our first short week of PreK is officially in the books so I can share what we accomplished this week. We started with creating our meal time name mats. I cut white card stock in half lengthwise and wrote each student’s name on them with white crayon. I also wrote it lightly in pencil on the back so we would know which one to give to each student. Students painted with watercolors to reveal the secret message, which were their names.
Once dry I laminated them and the students who have the job of getting tables ready for snack and lunch get to put out the names on the tables at meals so everyone knows where to sit. You would be amazed how quickly everyone learns everyone’s name when there is the incentive of actually choosing where everyone sits for meals.
We put our watercolors in test tubes with small brushes. The sample above is from Amazon, which is an affiliate link. We may have gotten ours from Oriental Trading. I always use some sticky tack at the base to stabilize them and reduce the chance of the whole thing being knocked over while painting. I also highly recommend the brand of liquid watercolors above. We had another brand and the containers were much easier to end up with the watercolor all over your hands while dispensing it. The other brand also did not seem as deep, no matter how much you added to water.
For the first week and quite a few more students than last year, I purposely chose many activities that children could successfully interact with on their own. I put out the ocean animals and the sorting bowls, along with the hand tongs that I found at Walmart in the kitchen section. I also put out bags with name puzzles. This year I found a different border for every student so when a letter inevitably ends up out of a bag and on the carpet I can more quickly figure out whose it is.
The first set above is the one we have in our classroom. The second set has more colors but I have not seen it in person. These are both affiliate links.
Since my classroom theme is ocean based I decided to go with a sandy sensory bin. The sand ended up being a bit dusty, so we ended up removing the sifters and spraying water periodically to keep the dust down. This sand will end up being disposed of after this week since it was so dusty. We chose some colored shells that were leftover from something, another couple sets of hand tongs and fish theme ice cube trays from Walmart, and some ocean themed bath toys from Dollar Tree.
At the beginning of the year I like to have a pretend play theme that is not too complicated or with too many pieces to pick up at the end of centers time. Since the next week is an About Me theme, doctor seemed to be a good choice.
I put the light table in pretend play to be the x-ray machine and examining table for the baby doll. I found the x-rays at Tried and True. I printed them on overhead projector sheets and laminated for durability. I have some of the animal ones for when we switch over to a Vet theme later.
My science center needs to be a in more central location this year due to having more students and needing more spots for eating snack and lunch together. I was planning that the science center would have two spots with the other two chairs for the waiting area for the doctor’s office. This worked until more than two wanted to use the science center so I may end up having the science center have four spaces whenever it seems like it should be popular.
I have shells to be sorted and looked at with a magnifying lens as well as several sensory bottles and a view finder with ocean animals like the Amazon affiliate link above.
At the arts and crafts table we worked on our name mats as well as one other craft project this week. I also made play dough, which I put in slide lock bags with names on them. This gives students another reason to want to recognize their own names and helps with reducing germ sharing. In addition, I rotated dot marker activities (found at Gift of Curiosity and 1+1+1=1 , cutting strips, and qtip painting on this table throughout the week.
I got a brand new Froggy to dress for the weather since mine had lost a foot at the end of the year after five years of use. I managed to break our laminator while prepping to laminate him and was fortunate to have someone to come to my rescue and let me laminate him and his two large jackets. The rest of the pieces fit in my small laminator.
I also completed my ocean bulletin board with my student crafts. They put together scuba divers. My daughter and I took photos of the students that I made into circles to glue on the face of each diver. The children got to decide whether they wanted their diver to swim upward or downward. I then helped them figure out how to place the head so it would be facing correctly. This does mean that some of them look like they are wearing their oxygen masks on their stomachs.