Penguin Week in PreK

This year we have had an entire week dedicated just to penguins.  I was excited to bring out my life size penguin creations that I have saved from when I taught sixth grade many years ago.  (See, there is sometimes a good reason to save things.)  I have fond memories of teaching middle school and love seeing my current students measure themselves against an emperor penguin.

Are you taller than an emperor penguin?
Are you taller than an emperor penguin?

If you notice there is a small photo of the penguin nearby.  This is just one of many photos of real penguins hidden around the room for our penguin search dramatic play.  I found the penguin photos here.  I created a check sheet for the students to carry around the room on a clip board, along with binoculars and gloves, to search for many of the kinds of penguins.  Along the way nearly every student became an expert at putting on winter gloves.

Ice fishing with a chinstrap penguin
Ice fishing with a chinstrap penguin

Besides searching for penguins, my students could also go ice fishing.  Inside were laminated fish with staples in them to make them stick to the magnetic pole.  (I gave up on having any type of magnet stick to laminated items a while back.  Staples are much cheaper and don’t fall off.)

Counting practice with penguins
Counting practice with penguins

I had some penguin counters to use with this spinner game, so I added it to my math and fine motor area.   You can find it here.  I like finding games that I can use fun counters with since the three dimensional counters attract the students even more than any clip art can.

Penguin counting puzzle
Penguin counting puzzle

This is how this puzzle was left at the end of the day, but I did have several students work through getting the puzzle into order from eleven to twenty to make the penguin picture.  It did help to have some numbers drawn along the side of the board.  I laminated and put magnets on the back of this puzzle.  I am finding that my students do better with these types of puzzles on the magnet board because they do not slide around as much when they are trying to line them up next to each other to complete  the puzzle.  This puzzle comes from here.

Insta-snow and Penguin tube
Insta-snow and Penguin tube

My director bought us some insta-snow to try out, so I added it to my sensory bin, along with a tube of penguins.  I found photos to match the penguins in the tube and hung them above the bin.  Several students matched them up and asked me the names of the different penguins while playing.

Sensory Writing Center
Sensory Writing Center

We also had some sensory play at the writing center with baking soda and white hair conditioner.  I used some penguin and fish alphabet letters I found here to have students choose which letters to write, although many tried out letters in their names instead.  The students enjoyed this so much that I promised to move the baking soda and conditioner over to the large sensory bin the next week so they could play with it in other ways, rather than just flattening it and drawing letters.

Penguin life cycle and polar opposite on the pocket chart
Penguin life cycle and polar opposite on the pocket chart

At circle time we used the pocket chart to go through the emperor penguin’s life cycle.  We also read some books and tried balancing bean bags and balls on our feet to pretend to be a daddy penguin.  The cards at the bottom were photos of opposites in Antarctica.  I was able to go through these cards with a few of my students during centers time to introduce the idea of opposites.

Penguin poke pin
Penguin poke pin

One of my fine motor activities included using our poke pin.  I found this penguin, which several of my students started to work on but did not finish.  I think that preschoolers probably need smaller poke pin projects if we want them to complete them.  I just encourage my students to work on them and come back again another day add some more holes.  I also had some half sheets of letter review available for students who wanted a smaller poke pin project.

These are just a few of our penguin centers.  We also did our sponge penguins again.  You can see an example of that from last year.  We also ended the week with black and white day and a penguin snack.

Do you have a penguin week in your preschool?  What is your favorite activity?

Back After the Blizzard and Finished Our Penguins

Penguin with a side view
Penguin with a side view
Another penguin creation
Another penguin creation

Aren’t their feet cute? I am so pleased with how these turned out with the addition of the feet using painted fingers and just a bit of the hand.  I tried having the papers turned upside down or sideways so the fingers would be pointed the direction that made sense.  A few students decided they wanted their hands to be pointed a particular way and I went with what they wanted since it is their artwork.

Sponge penguin preschool craft
Sponge penguin preschool craft
Another penguin friend
Another penguin friend

One student had great fun doing a count down to placing her hands on the paper,”…..5, 4, 3, 2, 1″ and splat, onto the paper.

My checkerboard penguin friend
My checkerboard penguin friend

Now if I could just figure out awesome art projects like these for every theme.  That is one of my goals, to keep adding more open ended projects that really make my students think and create because they always turn out in surprising and awesome ways.

January Projects for the Fridge or Bulletin Board

I am really enjoying the snow days, but am itching to get back to school to finish our sponge penguins.  We still need to add the feet to them.

When I saw this project on Teach Preschool’s site I knew I wanted to make them.  This is the third year and each year has been different.  The first year I had a student who made a large letter H in a AB pattern and then added eyes, beak, and feet.  Last year one of the first students started swiping with the sponge and that was the end of the sponge look, but they still ended up looking very unique.  This year the students understood the concept so they did actually sponge their penguins.

For this project I found dollar store sponges and cut them into squares.  I used blue ones for black paint and red for white, which I think helped the kids keep straight what they were doing since we did not end up with any sponges in the wrong paint.  I also have some examples of penguins both face on and in profile for the students to look at while creating.

I am planning to have them use their hands to make some feet for the penguins when we finally get back to school, drawing some inspiration from Mrs.Hodge’s example.  I think we will probably have the fingers facing down and not paint the whole hand.  If it goes well, I am sure I will take some more photos.  I thought I had photos of all of the cute in progress penguins but only found one photo on my memory card.  Not sure how I messed that up.

What art projects have your students been working on lately?  Do you have any projects waiting to be finished at school during all of these snow days?

For more ideas for a Polar theme, please check out my Pinterest board:

Follow Laura’s Lily Pad’s board Polar Animals on Pinterest.

 

What a teacher does when stuck home in a blizzard

Crocheted Hobbes
Crocheted Hobbes

Since it has snowed most of the day yesterday as well as all day today, I have had the chance to work on several projects around the house.  Some of them are related to teaching and some are related to family.  The crocheted Hobbes is for my youngest daughter who shares my husband’s love for Calvin & Hobbes.

I worked on the crocheting part of the project over Christmas break since that is the part of the project I enjoyed doing.  The whole putting the pieces and parts together part of the project is not my favorite.  It involved me taking apart most of the parts at least once before being satisfied with how it was turning out.  I found the pattern on Ravelry.

While I was working this morning on a game for my Polar unit the girls got bundled up to take the dog out since he refused to go by himself.  Once out in the back yard the dog had to leap like a deer in order to move around in the snow that was already up to his chest.  (You will notice he is on a rope, which is because he has great leaping ability and unfortunately learned to leap the fence.  The rope is attached to a clothesline that goes across most of the yard so that he still has the majority of the backyard available to him to run.)  We have gotten quite a bit more snow since then in addition to some blowing and drifting.  I anticipate at least one snow day before we head back to school.

Arctic Adventure Path Game
Arctic Adventure Path Game

My girls were kind enough to play my Arctic Adventure Path Game with me to test it out since the snow days have kept me from trying it out with my students like some of the other Polar themed items that I have been creating.  I also discovered that printing on draft mode still looks good for this project, although I do need to be in the room with the printer or it shoots the paper out and who knows where it might land.

PolarGameBoardslide4small

You can see one of the two game boards here.  The other has lowercase letters so that you can choose which skill to work on with your students.  There are also three different sets of game cards so that you can work on letter sounds, matching same letters or matching capital and lowercase letters.