For our bird theme week we managed to create three completely different art or craft projects with my PreK students. I enjoyed how they all turned out so our hallway is filled with bird themed projects.
Our first project involved painting with feathers. (aff. link) I gave students blue and yellow feathers that they could dip in the same color paint to paint the paper. I also provided pipe cleaner (aff. link) bird feet to dip in orange paint. Students could use all or just one of the choices to create their artwork.
In more of a craft vein, we created our hatching egg birds. Someone donated hundreds of already cut out egg shapes made of a thick textured paper. I drew a jagged line for students to practice their cutting skills first. They also painted a circle and triangle yellow to be the head and body of the baby bird. This project was inspired by Young School Art.
The next day I had the students put the craft together. They cut tissue paper to make the grass. Some students made a fringe and others cut the tissue paper into strips. I enjoyed how the students placed the feathers and the top of the egg to make the birds have some personality.
Since we had a center to create insects and bugs recently, we took the idea to adapt for birds. I could tell that my students were thinking much more about how to create their bird after having the practice with bugs recently.
The wings for this project came from a center we had during the week for cutting practice. Several students enjoy cutting so there were plenty of wings to use for this project.
Coming up next I will share some of the centers we explored during our bird theme week.
Since it is Teacher Appreciation Week, there will be a sale on Teachers Pay Teachers on May 8 and 9, 2018. My store will be 25% off with the code THANKYOU18. You can head over to my shop and find some goodies. Now is a good time to purchase some bundles for the fall or to use as review at the end of the year. Below are a few bundles I use all year long in my classroom that will be awesome deals during the sale.
One very popular center during Bugs, Spiders, and Insects week was the Build a Bug Center. I gathered a bunch of shapes on a tray, along with glue sticks. I had construction paper available for students to create a bug. I also made scissors available in case a student wanted to cut any of the shapes before gluing. One student created four different bug art pieces at this center during the week. I quickly filled up my bulletin board. You can see the first batch below. The last set (which somehow escaped my camera) looked increasingly like specific insects as we discussed more about them as we went through the week.
In our science center we continued to observe our caterpillars as they each turned into a chrysalis. We also did some observation of these insects from a Lakeshore set called Real Bugs Discovery Kit. (aff. link) Some students also completed the Bug Observation Form that I printed from Sparklebox. Several kids asked me if those were real bugs.
We created a several day craft to walk through the steps a caterpillar takes to become a butterfly. You can see our caterpillars above. I gave the students each a clothespin and a bin full of pom poms along with liquid glue. They chose the colors they wanted and glued the pom poms on the clothespins. I helped put the eyes on this time.
The next day we wrapped yarn around a cardboard tube to create the chrysalis. We put the caterpillar in the chrysalis and then used markers to color a coffee filter, which we then sprayed with water. Finally, when dry, we had the caterpillar grab its wings and emerge from its chrysalis. They are currently hanging all around the room with the butterflies clipped to their chrysalis as if they just emerged.
We played a small group rhyming game with a ladybug theme during our bug week. I placed half the ladybugs in the grass, which is a drying rack for baby items that I picked up as a special buy at Aldi. I found a very similar one on Amazon. (aff. link) My students each received a few ladybugs and then took turns choosing a ladybug from the grass. They then all looked at their ladybugs to figure out which person had the ladybug that rhymed to make a match. You can find these ladybug rhyming cards on TPT.
Our dramatic play for our insect them was BeeKeeping. I utilized some pieces that one of my coworkers had put together last year along with some printables from this Honey Bees Dramatic Play set. I always want labels for everything in my dramatic play because it helps with literacy development as well as clean up. The beehive above is a file box. (aff. link)
Inside the beehive there are hanging file folders that are covered with artwork of beehives and some with painted bubble wrap. The artwork helps the students fill out the checklist that is also part of this set, so students need to look carefully at each part of the hive to check for danger.
I laminate my inspection sheet and have a dry erase marker and eraser available at the center for students to complete.
To be a beekeeper we needed gloves, a hat with netting, a smoker, and some tools to gather the honey. Next year I will probably add some kind of white shirt to be the beekeeper’s clothing.
You cannot have bees without some flowers for them to gather nectar from, so I pulled out this set for students to water. They also had fun taking them apart and putting them back together in various ways. This set was found at Toysrus and was called the Mix and Match Flower Garden. A similar set that does not have the base can be found here. (aff. link) I actually have it as well as use it during our gardening unit.
For checking out more about bees in our pretend play area, I have this book. It is called Honeybees, An Amazing Insect Discovery Book. This book has some great photos for students to look at while in the pretend play area.
We started our Bugs, Insects, and Spiders week with a question of the day that would go along with our dramatic play area. I love the photo of the kids in the beekeeping suits in this question. This question is part of my Spring Question of the Day set.
Pattern blocks are inviting when on the easel with sticky paper. The pattern blocks are made of foam. I used painters tape to put up clear contact paper over the insect theme pattern blocks that I printed out from PreKinders. You can find pattern blocks from Teacher Created Resources. (aff. link) We often use Contact brand liner (aff. link) for these projects, but have also used Duck brand (aff. link) as well. Since this side of my easel does not have a tray, I use a large clip to hold a container for the foam pattern blocks.
The other side of the easel has some alphabet review for my students. The Alphabet Beginning Sounds Match is from my shop. I like having a handful of letters for my students to review, instead of the entire alphabet.
I used both capital and lowercase alphabet magnets for this center. This set of alphabet magnets can be found here. (aff. link) I am liking this set of alphabet magnets, although the lowercase t does have the curve at the bottom.
During our Bug, Insect, and Spider week we did a couple sewing projects. This center got a bunch more use out of it after we created a spider web with a paper plate as one of our craft projects. I had a difficult time finding a source for these. I would not suggest buying them at this price, but wanted to share more branding information in case you could find them somewhere else.
How can you have Bug, Insect, and Spider week without Cootie? (aff. link) My set has one missing leg, but none of the kids seemed to notice this year. Putting the legs on is probably the biggest challenge for preschoolers since the legs look like they should go on one way, but really go in on more of an angle.
We used some linking cubes to measure some insects this week, thanks to this great freebie. Most of my students did not bother with filling out the form, but a few tried it. They did enjoy measuring how big each insect was. You could use a variety of non-standard measuring tools for these critters; we used linking cubes similar to these. (aff. link)
My sensory bin was filled with shell, rotini, and bow tie pasta to represent the stages of a butterfly. I also picked up some bug catchers, small nets, and tweezers from Dollar Tree. The nets try to slide off the plastic handle, so I will probably glue the plastic handle shut for next year. I also have some plastic bugs from Melissa & Doug to catch. They look similar to these (aff. link), which may be the updated version since I have had these for several years. Some friends captured bugs while others used the bug catchers to sort pasta.
My next post will share some more of my buggy week with a look at our bee keeper dramatic play that I was fortunate to have a bunch of help creating from both a coworker and a great set online that I purchased.
For our favorite author week in PreK I chose to use Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond books. Since many of them involve baking, we had a baking themed sensory bin. The base was flour and oatmeal.
My students loved playing with this bin and used lots of pretend play while working. The best part was looking over and seeing kids who obviously had touched their faces while playing. We had several who had to not only wash hands afterwards, but also get a wipe to clean faces.
We do not often make puppets in my class, especially with lots of pre-cut pieces, but since I found this template online and we had our library pretend play up with the puppet show I thought this was the perfect week for a puppet. You will notice that the puppet above had some whiskers that shifted while drying.
Not sure what the plan was with this puppet’s whiskers, but love the planning for the chocolate chips on the cookie. Several kids also opened the mouth to draw inside, which was great thinking.
I was lucky to find cookie cereal at Aldi that was allergen free for my class, so we were even able to have a cookie snack at the end of the week. We used the cookie cereal with this ten frame match up that you can find free from KidSparkz. There are a few other activities also available with the set.
We also played this spin and cover game with our Aldi cookies. This one seemed to work okay with the spinner being attached to the game, although I usually prefer them to be separate since my preschoolers sometimes make all the pieces go everywhere when spinning.
During most years my students really enjoy dice games and dot markers, so combining the two usually means I need to make more copies before the end of the week. This Mouse Cookie game is from Royal Baloo.
We also had some letter and sound review with this cookie and milk matching game. The linking shapes we used were a bit finicky, so my director and I both are thinking of adding a set like these to our wish list to purchase. If you know of a great brand, please let me know.
After I shared If You Give A Pig A Pancake, I put out this story sequencing activity. I put velcro on it as well as laminating it instead of having it be a cut and paste activity to make it more age appropriate for my student’s abilities. They enjoyed following the story in the book and placing the pictures on in the circles.
I try to switch up how we work with our letter books each week. This time around I decided to have them use watercolors at a center throughout the week so that we could cut them up and put them in our letter books on Friday. My letter books are in my Alphabet Bundle, or you can get the Letter J books separately to try them out.
Our Bible lesson this week was Jesus riding into Jerusalem. I decided to put this path game on the easel and use alphabet magnets that match my student’s names as their game pieces.
My science table this week was filled with this Learning Resources gear set. My students enjoyed exploring this set throughout the week. Since we had not used it this year I just put it out for exploration, with no specific instruction or requirements. I did answer questions if students asked.
One of the art projects that I love to work on with my students each year is this penguin sponge art project. Each year they turn out just a little different from the year before. This year I gave my students square sponges and black and white paint. I showed them how to press down and lift to make squares. Some students did that and others used other techniques.
We had already studied a bit about penguins before starting this project and I gave my students a pile of penguin photos to look through before starting. You can find a printable set here of the different types of penguins. We did just the sponge painting part of the project on the first day and then added feet, eyes, and beaks the next class. I was especially impressed with the penguin family one student chose to create since he remembered he had created a family when it came time to choose how many eyes, beaks, and feet he needed to make even though we had some time off in between due to weather.
This year I gave students the choice of black or orange feet and beaks. Some went with what matched the penguin photo and some probably chose what the person next to them chose. To check out past penguin projects, see this post and this one.
You can also spy one of our polar bear crafts. This was made by painting with marshmallows in white paint. Some of them look quite a bit more like dogs than polar bears, so kids were quick to correct moms who admired their “dog.” This craft came from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.
I used inexpensive sponges from the dollar store for the penguins, but the ones in the Amazon referral link above look like they might be fun to use since they seem to have a great texture to them. It could also just be because they are so bright and colorful that I am drawn to them.
Although we had a short week, we did have time to complete two transportation arts and crafts projects.
We practiced our paper tearing to create our traffic lights. I traced three black circles on the black paper and wrote the color words on each. I gave the students three strips of paper in red, yellow, and green. I showed them how to tear the paper and had them tear up all the red, yellow, and green. After that we discussed which color went on top, middle, and bottom and what each color means. We had already done a traffic light song during circle time earlier in the week so they would be familiar with this.
The best part of this activity was having a student who always has trouble opening her snack be able to open it during snack time after all the paper tearing practice. Hopefully I can remind her of the paper tearing the next time she has trouble with her snack package.
One of my favorite art projects each year is my Things That Go project. This takes several days to complete. This year I gave students the choice of using red, blue, or yellow paint to initially paint the entire sheet of paper. After painting they then chose a secondary color to paint designs on the paper, like dots, squiggles, and lines. This year’s students were not as into the designs portion of this project.
Once the paper was dry I cut all the student sheets into squares, circles, triangles, and rectangles. Students used the shared shapes to create whatever mode of transportation they wanted to create. I gave them some photos and a book to look through for ideas. Trains seemed to be very popular this year, probably due to the train station and train tracks in the pretend play and block area.
For science during this week one of our activities involved magnets. I placed masking tape tracks on the science table and placed a couple pieces of magnetic train on them. I used our magnet wands (Amazon affiliate link) and showed the students how they could use the magnet wands to move the trains without touching them. The kids really enjoyed this and even raced each other a few times.
While I was in my room setting up for our next theme I found a few Transportation q-tip projects on the drying rack. You can see how my students complete them in different ways. This year all the students seem to do a good job holding the q-tips with a pincher grasp, but if you have any problems with students fisting them you can cut them in half as I needed to do last year with a few of my students who really struggled with fine motor skills. Although I don’t require my students to do so, the words are in light gray so that they can be traced as an additional part of the center activity.
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.
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.