We recently completed our Pond theme in my preschool classroom. We were lucky enough to get some gray tree frog tadpoles to visit our classroom during this theme. The tree frogs like to lay their eggs in the water in our above ground pool before we open it for the summer, so we always save some of them before cleaning the pool. They will continue to live in my classroom through the next month so we can watch them grow throughout our summer camps.
For some reason my sensory bin looks a bit less like a pond this year than last year, probably due to the fact that I was using our new larger sensory bin that is red instead of blue. The bin has some flat blue glass beads in the bottom, a bunch of frogs purchased from Oriental Trading, some lily pads made from foam, and some tadpoles made with pony beads and a bit of pipe cleaner, inspired by this. I used brown beads and pipe cleaner since that most closely matched our real tadpoles in the classroom.
For dramatic play I went for simplicity since we did not have a long time for centers during the week due to rehearsing for graduation. I found this kiddie pool on clearance at the end of the summer last year and grabbed it to make it into a bird’s nest. It also makes a great pond. The lily pads are place mats I found at Dollar Tree. I already had the frogs. The ping pong balls are from Dollar Tree as well. I wrote an alphabet letter on each one and students had to catch them with the net and then place them in the correct spot labeled with the same letter on small paint palettes.
Frogs are similar to the ones pictured above, found on Amazon.
I was also excited to find this small garbage can at Dollar Tree and created a frog for a counting game. The other teacher I work with had some plastic flies. Students rolled the dice and then used the tool to pick up and feed the frog.
We also had a fun catch the bugs game with pink toy noise makers that I also found at Dollar Tree. I placed a section of velcro on the ends and cut up small pieces of felt for the children to catch with their frog tongues. You can find out more about this idea here.
For my pocket chart calendar I would use these calendar cards:
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.
I have a Healthy Habits theme coming up in my preschool classroom for the next couple of weeks. The other teacher of four year olds and I wanted to swap sensory bins after a week so I wanted to come up with something fun that was not terribly messy since the other bin involves messy fun with pretend teeth and brushing.
I searched a bit around and discovered a photo of a spaghetti themed sensory bin. I also looked into using real spaghetti but that seemed a bit too messy for this time around and would probably involve making new spaghetti each day, which I did not really want to sign up myself as well as my fellow teacher to do.
I checked out our pom poms supplies and discovered a lack of large brown ones for meatballs and not much in the way of small ones for cheese so I headed off to the craft store. Unfortunately there were no brown pom poms to be found there and only mixed sets that might have yellow so I needed another solution.
In comes the pom pom maker I saw in the crochet and knitting aisle. I picked this Clover brand one up and found it very easy to use. (You can use my affiliate link to see more details about it from Amazon.) In the past I have made those cardboard rings to make pom poms and felt like I did not make ones that were uniform or well tied. So far, so good with these ones. I will do an update after a week of use by preschoolers to let you know how they fare.
Next up is cutting off white yarn into foot long sections to look like spaghetti. My yarn actually came from the mill ends section of the local craft store, unlike the white yarn pictured above, since I already had it on hand from another project. My inspiration used real pasta, but not spaghetti. Since we have had real pasta as well as real spaghetti in the sensory bin before this year, I wanted to try something new.
For sauce I pulled out some red felt and cut it into organic looking blobs. We will see what the kids think of that tomorrow when we have our first day of school this week.
I also created some quick meatballs with alphabet letters and numbers on them for some review activities. My plan is for the students to pull out a letter with a tool and then make that letter with one of the yarn spaghetti noodles on the plate. With the numbers I was thinking the students could make a plate with that many yarn meatballs or that many spaghetti pieces. I found a similar idea for kindergarten students with words on Mrs. Bremer’s Class blog.
Can’t have a spaghetti sensory bin without this song. I need to remember to teach this one to my students tomorrow.
I am looking forward to seeing what my preschoolers think of this spaghetti sensory bin tomorrow. What is in your sensory bin this week?
We are now officially back to school after our Christmas break. I spent some time over the weekend getting my room set up for our theme of Transportation. The other PreK teacher and I worked together to come up with two sensory bins so we can trade them for the second week of the theme. Above you can see the fishing for transportation items bin. The pictures of land, air, and water transportation items are laminated and have a few staples in each of them. The staples make the magnetic fishing poles be able to catch them. In the past I had tried having magnets, either buttons or magnetic tape, on the back, but then the magnets tended to fall off. The students catch the item and then place it on the correct mat for where they would find it.
The students enjoyed using this center today and the teaching assistant enjoyed not having bunches of sensory bin items all over the floor to sweep, especially since we had peppermint rice in December which ended up everywhere. In the picture there are wheel shaped pasta (Amazon referral link to get a closer look at the type of pasta) added in for some fun.
What theme are you starting 2016 with in your classroom?