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.
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.
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.
Something else my students really enjoyed this week was the Transportation Qtip center that I somehow managed not to get in a photo.
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.
I wanted to use some sensory writing in my writing center during my fall theme, but had not found exactly what I wanted in my stash or online. I ended up using the clip art I had purchased for my calendar sets to make some alphabet cards that I can use in several different ways, depending upon where I want to use them. I had thought I was going to use a more fall themed salt or sand in my center, but I forgot to check for supplies and ended up using green. The kids did not care at all about having a fall color sand or salt and someone was at this center all week long.
I got the idea for using the clothes pins from Play to Learn Preschool. With this center there is always a bit of salt or sand on the table and floor by the end of the day, but a little bit of reminding how to gently shake the tray to clear it makes it be less and less each time you pull it out.
We did a few crafty projects for our fall theme. One of them involved baking soda paint and vinegar drops for a science twist. First, I let the students pick which leaf they would like to paint. I found some leaf templates online and enlarged them a bit. Students chose the color of baking soda paint, which was baking soda, water, and liquid watercolor. Note that the paint needs to be stirred frequently.
Once students finished painting they got to add vinegar for some fizzy leaves. Once these dried I cut them out and we put them up in our fellowship hall windows to help decorate for our Thanksgiving Feast.
Another of our crafty activities involved giving students various sized strips of brown paper to create a tree. Once the tree was created, students could use the end of toilet paper tubes to dip in fall colored paint to create leaves on the trees. The leaf idea came from here. I enjoy this activity because every student’s project definitely looks different than anyone else.
My sensory bin was filled with fabric and foam leaves. I also had a leave shaped tray as well as acorn and pumpkin shaped colanders. In addition I had table scatter in the shape of leaves, acorns, and Indian corn. Students had fun sorting as well as searching through the leaves for all the hidden treasures. I could have easily added an alphabet set from my Fall Alphabet Centers to this as well, but wanted to keep it more open ended for this week since I was using them in my writing center already.
I had space on my pocket chart for many of the words in my Fall Themed Word Wall set. This could also be used in my writing center for word writing, depending upon what I have done in that center the week before. I try to rotate the types of activities in each center so that kids don’t start ignoring a center because it always has the same basic activity.
I was happy to see several students have success with my Fall Word Building activity. I have introduced using the letter tiles (affiliate link) at least one other time with my students, but had much more interest in using them with this set. They use the letter tiles to spell the fall words. In the set there are options to simply match letters, match capital to lowercase, or to spell with only the word under the clip art. Since my students do not have much experience yet, we used the lowercase set to match letter to letter.
I pulled out Sneaky Snacky Squirrel (affiliate link), which is always a hit. The only thing you need to watch is that some kids want to really jam those acorns into the logs. I had to take the log from one child who had jammed them nearly all the way through.
Finally, another hit this week was our Personalized Fall Books. I was hoping these would be a hit, especially after the work it took for me to figure out how to make them so they would be easy for everyone else to make their own later. I used these in small groups. We took turns sharing what the picture was and reading what our sentence said after I helped the first child figure it out. They really enjoyed being able to read a book with their own name on each page. I look forward to using more of these with my students and have plans for more in my shop soon. (I already have the Winter and Spring ones ready.)
As promised, I am sharing the marble painted apples and pumpkins that we created during the apple and pumpkins themes. Students had a great time rolling their marbles back and forth through the paint and only a few got away.
I am always looking for new activities for my easel and felt board. I discovered the suggestion to use milk filters for printing for felt boards on Making Learning Fun. In this case I printed a puzzle for pumpkins week. The one thing you have to watch is that these can get messed up if they get wet.
Table scatter can often be found in craft stores, the dollar store, or the dollar spot. I had some pumpkin table scatter that I paired here with pumpkin theme ice cube trays from the Dollar Tree. I put two different kinds of tools to grab the pumpkins with for fine motor practice.
For this center students need to choose a number and then count out that many pumpkin seeds. This set of cards can be found at ChildCareLand. I placed this center next to the spot where I have my number posters so that students could use it for reference if they were unsure of the number. I modeled how to use the number posters to help them as well.
I made Pumpkin Slime, which seemed to be great for the first few days. This recipe had Borax in it and I think the last time I made it I used liquid starch instead. It worked great at first. I added pony beads to it, which the kids loved picking out. However, something happened the Thursday evening of this week to change the consistency of the slime. The first kids to get into the bin could not get the slime to let go of them. It took a very long time to figure out how to get the slime off of them, so I had to close down the bin for the day. I am not sure if there was a change in weather that caused the slime to change or what, but I think I may try a liquid starch recipe the next time.
Our letter focus this week was the letter B. When I do dot marker activities with my students I like to have a few different options. Dot markers tend to be a popular center and students are at a variety of levels in their alphabet awareness at this point in the year. For students ready to start listening for the B sound I use my Alphabet Letter and Sound Search pages. I also found a few other letter B dot marker activities, including the one pictured above by RoyalBaloo.
I always make play dough for my classroom. For this time of year I made orange play dough with pumpkin pie spice added to it. I put it in individual slide lock bags with my students’ names on them. This way students need to use name recognition to find their own play dough. They also need to be responsible for their own play dough as well as keeping their germs to themselves. The play dough mats shown are from Living Well Mom. I did have several students create pumpkins to go on these mats, which is great since occasionally students just ignore the mats and play (which is fine as well.)
For this pumpkin alphabet match I only chose the letters we had focused on so far this year. This way there were not too many to spread out and get confused over at this point in the year. I found this set at This Reading Mama. I wish the lowercase letter a was a different font for this set, but since I did not cut apart the capital and lowercase letters for my set it works out okay.
For science we had several pumpkins on hand to explore in different ways. At first we checked out the outsides with a few ways of measuring the pumpkins. One of the days I had a bin full of water so that the students could explore sinking and floating. Our final day involved exploring the insides of the pumpkin.
These are a few of the activities we completed during Pumpkin week. What is your favorite pumpkin related activity in your classroom?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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?
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.