Family Theme in PreK

QuestionsAndLetterWork

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.

EaselIdeas

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.

FamilySorters

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.)

 

HousesCreationBin

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

ScienceMagnets

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.

PatternBlocksandPlayDough

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.

PoemCalendarPhotoLayout

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!

VetDramaticPlay

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.

VetDramaticPlay2

My daughter was kind enough to share many of her old stuffed animals for our pretend play.

WritingCenterPhotoLayout

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.

 

About Me Theme in PreK

AboutMeSensoryCrochet

For our second week of PreK we focused on an About Me theme, with lots of emphasis on our names and the letters in our names.  The sensory bin was full of green rice, pasta in the shape of alphabet letters, and alphabet magnets, along with tools to interact with the letters and rice.  In addition, I used a clip art font that matched the pasta to create an alphabet sheet that letters could be matched with.

I also introduced my crocheted alphabet letters to my students.  I keep these out all year long.  You can find the crochet patterns to create these here.  When I created them I chose to use the same color for the capital and lowercase to help with matching.

AboutMeEasel

Although we have many activities that include several letters of the alphabet, we do have a focus letter of the week.  Our first letter is T, so one side of the easel had words to build with letter magnets that start with T.  You can find these cards from This Reading Mama.  I cut them apart and laminated them for my purposes.  I used the two sets of alphabet magnets below for this activity.  I did not like the shape of the lowercase t in the foam magnets and did not have enough to have six of them anyway.

I use a large binder clip to attach my small bins on the side of the easel that does not have a shelf.

(Note:  all Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you purchase through my link, which helps me pay the bills.)

AboutMeMathandFineMotor

I introduced the family counters this week, along with houses that I printed on matching colored paper. Students were mostly given a chance to just play with these however they liked. Many sorted by color and some started playing pretend with them. I will add some more ideas with these next week since our theme will be family.

Some of the building bricks ended up on the math and fine motor table with the opportunity to build the letter that starts your name. At least one student made at least four different letters, including the first letter of his name. I will put the letter making cards in the block center after this so students can try this again if interested.

 

AboutMeChicka

One of the books we read this week was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  We also found the letters in our name with dot markers while some students also used the letter T dot marker page to find the letter T as well as pictures of things that start with T.  The Chicka Chicka page can be found here.  The letter T dot marker page is part of my Alphabet Letter and Sound Search.  For these sheets I only place a handful of letters and sounds on each sheet so that students are not overwhelmed.  For example, the T sheet has T, F, M, and P only.

We created our own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look Who Is In Our Room book during the week.  We used green feathers for the leaves, so no cutting a million leaves for the teacher and assistant since kids are not that proficient at cutting during the first couple weeks of school.  The trunk was brown construction paper this year, although I have also used sandpaper in the past.  Foam letters were used for student names and I added a photo of the student to help students read the book to themselves once it is placed in the classroom library.

On the last day of the week we ate a special Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree with a graham cracker, green apple slices, and alphabet cookies that I found at Walmart.

AboutMeLiteracyWriting

My assistant and I finished making the name cards for the writing center.  These consist of the student’s photo with name at the top and blank boxes below each letter for name practice.  These cards will be in the writing center all year for practice.  Students right now are mostly focusing upon their own name, but some want to practice their friends’ names as well.

I also found some letter T handwriting practice to laminate as well.

In the crafts and literacy center I introduced using a poke pin.  I use a couple layers of cork board with a carpet square underneath to protect the table.  I use the large poke pins for this and only have this center available to one student at a time.  I also make sure it is near the area where I or my assistant is working for this introductory week so there are no accidents.   I used the letter T sheet from this set.

AboutMeScience

For science this week I pulled out as many shades of knee high panty hose as I could find.  Students could put them on their arms to compare shades to see if any of them were close to the shade of their own skin.

Fingerprints were a huge favorite this week.  Lots of kids covered in purple ink.  The fingerprint page with the magnifying glass is found at Making Learning Fun.

 

 

 

First Week of PreK Activities

NameMatsPin

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.

MathFineMotorPin

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.

SandySensoryPin

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.

DoctorPlayPin

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.

ScienceCenterPin

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.

PlayDoughPin

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.

CircleTimeAreaPin

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 started my year with my ocean theme calendar.  I still have this alphabet set up in my circle time area, although I may update it with my ocean theme one soon.

FinishedBoard1

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.

Taking Care of the Classroom Betta Fish

TakingCareofClassFish

Now is the time of year that many teachers think about getting a new pet for the classroom.  A betta fish can be a great choice for a classroom pet.  There are a few suggestions I would make to help make your new fish happy and healthy throughout the school year.

Tank size

I know that betta fish are sold in tiny containers and small tanks are so cute, but they are not a healthy choice for your betta fish and can lead to way more work than you have time for and poor health for your fish.

I recommend a five gallon tank  (Amazon affiliate link) for your betta fish.  This way you can purchase some items for your fish to explore and it makes it more challenging and interesting for your students as well.

TankCleaningSupplies

Cleaning Supplies

You can see the original container I was given for the first fish we had in our classroom.  Not a good choice.  The water level seemed to need to be added to nearly daily and it had no top.  Not safe for the fish since bettas are notorious jumpers and not good for little hands that like to check things out or put things in the tank.  I did end up using it to help me make water changes to the tank, though.

You need a good sized container to fill with water and put in your water conditioner to give it a chance to do its work before you dump it in the tank with your fish.  I try to keep this filled with treated water for when I need to add a bit of water to the tank.

Water conditioner (aff. link) is all you need to use tap water with your fish.  I believe the kind I have calls for a capful to a certain number of gallons, so I just use a tiny amount for my container.

CleaningPlants

Cleaning the Tank

You should clean out your tank about once a month.  When you do this you should remove your plants and rock formations so that you can wipe them down to remove algae build up.  I rinse them in regular water and wipe with a paper towel.  Do not use any kinds of soaps or detergents.

Check the filter at this time as well.  My tank’s filter is a bit too strong for my betta so I found directions to make something to help with that from a part of a water bottle.

Make sure you turn off your filter before removing water.

CleaningRocks

Now I clean the rocks with this tool. (aff. link) This is where that too small fish tank comes in.  I use it to pour the dirty water into as I clean the rocks.  Remove about a third (no more than half) the water.  If you do not leave at least half the water in the tank you may shock your fish’s system by too big of a change in the quality of the water.

Add water back in with your container you have your conditioned water in.  Once the water is back in you can turn on your filter again.

FreshCleanTank

I am researching replacing our fish’s filter with a weaker filter since betta fish do not need a strong flow.  So a sponge filter (aff. link) may be our next purchase for him.

 

How To Edit Text in an Editable PDF

EditingEditablePDFs

Sometimes you open a pdf you found or purchased online that is editable.  However, you are not sure how easy that is going to be to do yourself and are hesitant to mess with it.  Since I have been creating my own editable pdfs for myself lately I thought it would be a good idea to share how to make changes to them and any others you may find online.

Your first step is to open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Although there are other pdf readers out there, they may not have all the features of Adobe that allow changes to be made.

You will see blue areas of the file.  This is the area to click on and start typing.

HighlightText

Once you have typed something, click and highlight that text.

ChangeTEXT

Now press CTRL-E for PCs.  I understand that CMD-E works for Macs, but have not tested it.

A Form Field Text Properties section will now pop up where you can make changes to highlighted areas of text.  You can change color, alignment, font, font size, make text bold, italic, and underline.

You can choose any font you have on your computer as well as typing in a font size if you want a larger size than shown.  Be aware that fonts that are too large will not fit.

If you want the text properties to continue in the next text box you will either need to choose them all again in the next box or you can save some time.  Copy and paste the text from your first box into the next one.  Now the next box has the same text properties and you can just edit it with the text you want.

Ready to color and read
Fall Editable Book with name added in

Not every editable pdf will allow you all of these changes.  It all depends upon what settings the file creator set.  For example, my editable books (such as my Fall Book shown above) have a specific font set so that it will match what is in the book, but my labels allow you to make many changes.

RainbowBundleSquareCoverThe labels shown in the example are contained in my Rainbow Decor Bundle.

Pond Life in PreK

QuestionoftheDay

We start each day with our Question of the Day, so Pond Life week started with questions about turtles, frogs, and dragonflies from my Animals set.  I like having questions with photos, especially for students who may not have seen any of these creatures in real life.

FeedTheFrog

On our fine motor and math table we played Feed the Frog with black pom pom flies.  I found the trash can at the local Dollar Tree, but they do not currently have them in stock.  I have seen other versions that use a parmesan container as well.  I would like to get some plastic flies (aff. link) to go with this game.  I had students roll the die to see how many flies to feed the frog with the tool.

PathGame

I made a spinner for this path game so there would not be competing dice on the same table.  Students move their frog along the lily pad path to the finish.  These frogs (aff. link) look like the set I have used in several places in my classroom, including this game.  I also used the frogs in my sensory bin with water and pony bead and pipe cleaner tadpoles with green foam lily pads.

turtlelettersound

I used these ABC Turtles from maketaketeach, along with letter tiles for some work on letter sounds.  This is a center that mostly required some assistance from myself or my assistant to at least get them started with the activity since many know their letters, but are still working on letter sounds.

WordBuilding

For the Pond word building students had to be able to match up lowercase and capital letters.  You can find the cards for this at A Teaching Mommy, along with several other printables for this theme.  I try to have my students sometimes match lowercase to lowercase and sometimes capital to lowercase or lowercase to capital letters when we use the letter tiles.

writingcenter

My writing center had a die with letters on it to practice writing on this sheet from PreKinders.  However, a couple girls ended up doing the heart grid above during their time at this center.  I promised to take a photo of it for one of the girls.

ScienceCenter

We are watching our caterpillars grow, so they are on the science table, along with frog life cycle stamps, some Pond Life words and some magnifying lenses.  Pond Life words were found at Sparklebox.  This is a UK website, so be sure to check wording and spelling for printables there.

PondPuzzles

I put out our Pond Life puzzles for my students to work on the large rug.  These are challenging puzzles, with no picture underneath, so are good for this time of the year.  The puzzles are say Excellerations by Discount School Supply on them, but I cannot find them anywhere online to share a link.

Calendar

I could have used my frog themed calendar this month as well, but chose to use the insects set instead since I really like all these cute insects in this set.  We are also growing our caterpillars into butterflies as well as doing an insect theme this month.  If you really have a hard time deciding which calendar numbers to use each month, please check out my bundle.

During story time we used several pond animal themed books.  There are affiliate links to them below so that you can get a closer look at them by clicking on the book covers.

This version of Five Little Ducks is a board book with cut outs.  I usually use this one during farm week and read the next one during ponds week.

The illustrations by Ivan Bates in this version of Five Little Ducks are really cute.  I like how each duckling has something to give its mother when they return.

Jump! is one of those chain stories.  Each animal jumps because of a larger animal.  The version I have also has Spanish in it.

Frog and Toad stories are fun to share at this time of year because students are better at longer stories.  They also enjoy hearing stories that involve characters they know.

It’s Mine! by Leo Lionni is all about some frogs that are selfish and how they learn not to be.  I channel my inner three year old to read the lines of the selfish frogs.

This one has some great photos of frogs without filling the page with too many words for a preschooler to handle.

Bundles I Use All Year, A Giveaway, and A Sale

Favorite Bundles, Sale, and Giveaway
Favorite Bundles, Sale, and Giveaway

I am realizing as I share some of the activities we do each week in my classroom that I don’t always share some of the items I use on a regular basis.  Since TPT has a sale coming up (more on that below) I know bundles are something I tend to purchase during these sales and figure you might like to see some bundles that you can really save on this week.

 

Question of the Day Bundle
Question of the Day Bundle

My Question of the Day Bundle gets used daily in my classroom.  For example, this week I am using some Valentine and friendship questions.  I place my questions on a pocket chart near entrance to the classroom with student name cards placed nearby for students to choose their own name and respond to the question.  You can see the pocket chart (referral link) I use below.

I also use several of the items in my Alphabet Bundle weekly.  I do not use each part every week, but rotate through them for variety.  I do use the alphabet emergent readers each week that I am reviewing an alphabet letter, rotating through whether we will be cutting and pasting or coloring in our books.

Alphabet Bundle
ABC Bundle

My students really enjoy dot markers, so I use them often in different ways.  Below you can see an example of the alphabet letter search included in the ABC Bundle.

Sample Dot Marker from ABC Bundle
Sample Dot Marker from ABC Bundle

My students also enjoy stamping as part of the writing center this year, so I rotate stamps in with my Stamp and Write pages from my ABC Bundle.  Letter stamps are from Melissa & Doug (referral link).  I wrote the letter name on the side of the stamps as well because they will not stay standing up and give enough space for little hands to grab them.

Writing Center Stamp and Write from ABC Bundle
Writing Center Stamp and Write from ABC Bundle

My students also enjoy building so I rotate my linking cubes and triangles (referral link) into my room every so often and add the alphabet building cards from the ABC Bundle.  If you have ideas for theme pictures sets for the cubes and triangles, please let me know.  This is definitely on my list of ideas to work on making more cards for since my students enjoy them.

Alphabet Building with my ABC Bundle
Alphabet
Building with my ABC Bundle

The other bundle that I use all the time in my classroom is my Calendar Bundle.  Right now I have the Nursery Rhymes cards in my calendar and will probably move on to the Spring set next.  My students love guessing the pattern each month.

Calendar Cards Bundle

So now, on to the special announcements.  Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale on February 14 and 15.  Using the code XOXO, you can get up to 25% off items in participating shops.  All of the items in my shop will be discounted the additional 25% off.  This means these bundles will be super deals.

Finally, I have a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card to give away.  To enter, follow the instructions below.  Giveaway begins at at 12:00am February 13 and ends at 12:00am February 14.  I will contact you Wednesday morning so that you can get your gift card in time to use it during the sale.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Polar Week in PreK

 

Polar Expedition with Ice Fishing
Polar Expedition with Ice
Fishing

Now that I have recovered from the flu, I have a chance to share the last few themes we have been working on in my preschool classroom.  This year we focused on Polar Animals instead of just penguins, so I was able to pull out some of my favorite Arctic Animal activities as well as penguin activities.

For dramatic play we started with a Polar Expedition with a tent and ice fishing.  The fishing poles (referral link) above are what I used.  I laminated fish that I cut using my Cricut and then put a staple or two in each so that they could be caught with the magnetic poles.  Photos of polar animals were placed around the area with a laminated checklist on clipboards.  I found several of the printables for this dramatic play at Sparklebox.  Students used binoculars (referral link) to find the animals.  Our binoculars are fairly similar to the ones at the Amazon link.  We also had dollar store gloves to wear while doing everything.

Polar Expedition Supply Area
Polar Expedition Supply Area

The more labels for where everything goes, the better.  I usually try to have the word and the photo or matching clip art.  If there are not labels things soon get very messy and clean up takes forever.

Dramatic Play Bulletin Board
Dramatic Play Bulletin Board

My dramatic play area has a small bulletin board that I change out to match the area.  I managed to find a cute border for it at Dollar Tree that had polar animals on it.  The foam snowflakes also came from Dollar Tree.  During the next week we switched out what we were searching for and added some more photos to the board.

Arctic Measurement Center
Arctic Measurement Center

I was happy to get to pull out my Arctic Measurement Center this year.  My students love the snap cubes and will build a tower as long or tall as the arctic animal and then count them for me.  I laminated the pages back to back to save on laminating sheets.  I have discovered that the linking cubes are just as wide but make slightly shorter towers because of the way they link together.  I still sometimes use them for variety but keep that in mind if I want to have my students fill out the counting sheet.

Arctic Clip and Match Game
Arctic Clip and Match Game

This Arctic Animal Count and Match Game is one I was happy to pull out again.  My assistant a few years ago worked very hard getting this one together for me.  I like that the clips have the animals to match up with the cards along with the counting.

Penguins on ice
Penguins on ice

The Penguins on Ice (referral link) is from Lakeshore Learning.  My students loved using this set to sort by color and to make patterns.  The ice bars connect in two ways, which was a great discovery for my kids.

Polar Path Game
Polar Path Game

I had my Polar Path Game all ready to play and then we had just enough weather to cancel school.  Students draw a card and then move to the letter the animal starts with to get to the igloo.  The game comes with people that you can print out to play the game, or you can use any other small token to play.

Pop n Drop Penguins
Pop n Drop Penguins

We did have time to use this game, Pop N Drop Penguins (referral link).  Students push down the center to make the die pop.  They move their penguins all the way around the board.  There are extra directions for making penguins fall through the bridges, but we did not use those this time since students mostly played independently.

Spin 20 game
Spin 20 game

I found this free Spin 20 game when I was perusing Pinterest.  You can find it at The Printable Princess.  I had some penguin and polar bear erasers that I think I got at Walmart several years ago that I used for this game.  With preschoolers I find it is best to have pieces that won’t fall over or move easily when the spinner is attached to the same sheet where the pieces go.

Life Size Penguins from the 90s
Life Size Penguins from the 90s

So I used to teach middle school when I first got out of college.  We did a nonfiction unit on Antarctica and the students did a group project to draw a life sized penguin.  They had to research more than one source and had a bunch of facts to go with them.  I saved several of the penguins and have started pulling them out each year for my preschoolers to see how tall they are compared to a penguin.  And this is why teachers save everything.

Below are some things from my shop that I used but did not get photos of in my classroom.

Question of the Day Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter, Polar Lands
Question of the Day for this theme
Arctic Math and Literacy Bundle
Literacy and Math Centers for an Arctic Theme
Polar Theme Calendar Bundle
Arctic Theme Calendar Bundle

Fall Theme in PreK

Fall Writing Center
Fall Writing Center

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.

Fall writing center in action
Fall writing center in action

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.

Fall Leaves painting with baking soda paint
Fall Leaves painting with baking soda paint

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.

Adding vinegar for fizz
Adding vinegar for fizz

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.

Fall Tree Craft
Fall Tree Craft

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.

Fall Sensory Bin
Fall Sensory Bin

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.

Fall Word Wall
Fall Word Wall

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.

Fall Word Building
Fall Word Building

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.

 

 

 

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel

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.

Personalized Fall Book
Personalized Fall Book

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.)

Preschool Summer Art Camp

Art camp was this month with preschoolers ages three through five.  I filled the room with many art centers, including three easels.  This meant six spots for working so I had to think up some different ways to use them.

Contact Paper and Foam Pattern Blocks
Contact Paper and Foam Pattern Blocks

I have used contact paper on my easel with foam pattern blocks in the past.  However, this time instead of having a picture to match the students could create whatever they wanted to make.

Chalk and Dry Erase Easels
Chalk and Dry Erase Easels

I also set up one easel with chalk and an eraser and another with dry erase markers and an eraser.

Painting Easels
Painting Easels

The side facing the main part of the room was the painting side.  On the first day of camp I offered two shades of paint and long artist brushes.  The second and third days I offered different painting tools for variety.  I sent home many artist’s creations during camp.

Clay in the Sensory Bin
Clay in the Sensory Bin

So students could experiment with clay and clay tools I set it up in the sensory bin.  In the photo I had not taken the clay out of the bag yet.  At the end of each day I covered the clay with a damp paper towel or two and covered the bin.  I did need to spend a little time training in proper use of the tools so that stabbing was not the only technique attempted.  I was pleased to see that one of my students who generally does not like to touch play dough decided to check out the clay during art camp for quite a while.

Sharpies and Photo Paper
Sharpies and Photo Paper

When I purchased ink I sometimes get packs that are good deals that include photo paper.  I rarely end up using the paper so when I noticed a suggestion to use photo paper and sharpies, I thought art camp would be a good week to try it.  I made up a couple sample ideas and just let the kids who were interested draw whatever they liked.

Bubble Painting
Bubble Painting

I realized that none of the teachers in our school had done bubble painting this year, so I tried that the first day.  As one usually finds, the projects that are not the first ones turn out a little better as the teacher gets the kinks out.  The kids had a blast blowing bubbles and we did not get too much mess (or any paint sucked into anyone’s mouth.)  Definitely process art.

In my next post I will share our big Mondrian inspired canvas project.