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.

 

 

Road Trip to the Book Fair

Silly Book Fair Visit Photo
Silly Book Fair Visit Photo

On Saturday my youngest daughter and I decided to take a road trip to the Green Valley Book Fair, near Harrisonburg, Virginia.  We generally visit the book fair once or twice a year in conjunction with a trip to visit relatives.  However, I recently saw a book that we really wanted at least two copies of advertised on their facebook page as being available this time, so we decided to just make a day of it together.

 

Photo borders to add to my collection from the Green Valley Book Fair
Photo borders to add to my collection from the Green Valley Book Fair

The Green Valley Book Fair is not to be missed if you are a reader and especially if you are a teacher.  This time I mostly picked up items for my daughter and for some summer reading, but I also managed to get some photo borders for my classroom as well as some geoboards.

Three Summer Reading Selections
Three Summer Reading Selections

For my summer pleasure reading I grabbed three books, one of which I finished before we had been home for 24 hours.  I picked up a copy of Fahrenheit 451, The Long Walk, and Stalin’s Daughter.  I read The Long Walk Saturday afternoon, evening, and finished it Sunday morning before church.  Since my husband has seen the movie and appreciated it, I will probably watch that soon as well as part of my summer break.

The book that we just had to have copies of was Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.  We borrowed a copy from the library after reading Between Shades of Gray.  My daughter really wanted a copy for herself and we decided that my other daughter will gift a copy to her history teacher as an end of the year gift since she read Between Shades of Gray at my daughter’s suggestion earlier in the year.

What are you reading this summer?

Creating a New Student File

At the beginning of the year you are busily making lots of things with students’ names on them.  You think you are just about ready with everything when in walks your director or principal with news of a new student.  Suddenly you need to have one of everything ready for the new student.

Here are some things I keep in my new student file in the classroom and on my computer that will hopefully give you some tips to make getting a new student a little easier.

For your computer files:

Coat hook name labels
Coat hook name labels

Coat hook labels

Cubby labels with Question of the Day name tags above
Cubby labels with Question of the Day name tags above

Cubby labels

I learned to save my file with a sample name on the coat hook label, cubby label, and anything else that I want to actually match up the font size and color.  You would think you would remember the font size or the name of the font, but when a new student shows up midway through the year you may be testing out different sizes and then getting frustrated when you print it out and it just does not match.

If you like the coat hook and cubby labels here, please check out my Ocean Theme Decor Bundle.  I set up the file so that you will automatically get the same size and font, but you can also switch it up and make changes if you have a favorite font on your computer.

For your paper files:

Mystery word water color name place setting
Mystery word water color name place setting

Lunch place setting

At the beginning of the year I have had my students use watercolor paints to discover the mystery word that I have written in white crayon.  The word ends up being their names, which ends up getting laminated and used by our table washer to set places for snack and lunch.  I put a couple sheets of paper cut the correct size to match in my new student file.  It would probably be smart for me to toss a white crayon in there as well.

My birthday display in progress.
My birthday display in progress.

Birthday display supplies

Height chart supplies

For my student birthdays and height chart I just write the names and information on with a sharpie on the laminated item, so I make sure I have a few extra laminated pieces in my file, ready to go.  I also make sure I have a couple extra birthday crowns copied and ready to go in my birthday file, especially since this year I don’t have an assistant that I can send down to copy one at the last minute.

Writing center supplies

I also have a writing center with student name and photo cards, so when I create these I go ahead and cut the card stock the correct size for a few extras to stash away.  That way the card stock will be the same color and the same size.

Class books

For class books I usually just make sure we create a fresh one on a new topic soon after getting a new student, but I do like to add new students into our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look Who’s In Our Room book, so I make a complete set of supplies to make a couple pages of the book for any student who arrives after the first week of school.

Question of the Day name tags

For answering our question of the day I made up some quick name labels with different borders.  I laminated and then wrote with sharpie so that I can change as needed.  For example, partway through the year I will change them to last names to that students get used to recognizing those.

A special thanks to Classroom Doodle Diva for the cute clip art girl for my blog post image at the top of the page.

What do you keep in your new student file?

Spaghetti, Please! Healthy Habits Sensory Bin

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.

Getting ready to cut and laminate the alphabet and number meatballs.`
Getting ready to cut and laminate the alphabet and number meatballs.`

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?

Planning for December, part two

Just before Thanksgiving my coworker and I attempted to plan the entire month of December together. I will admit that I did a good job of getting this coming week planned, but only have a general idea of the rest of the month. I am grateful that my coworker wanted to plan this way, though, because it will really make the rest of the month much easier.

Christmas Q-tip Painting
I decided that I wanted some fun fine motor practice for my students this month. We have done a few q-tip painting activities in the past, mostly focusing on making the shapes of the letter of the week. The set I created involves dot painting along the outlines of Christmas related drawings. I will probably use the black line with the clip art this time around in my classroom.

To use these printables I provide q-tips or other cotton swabs and a small paint palette with a few colors of paint as well as a paper towel to set used swabs on. There are a few students who really like to mix colors, so I do need to remind them that these are shared paints for the center and that mixing is not a choice. I will try to make sure I do have an activity in which those students who like to mix paint will be able to mix during an art project, if possible, during the week. Otherwise, I will try to let my happy mixers be the last to use the paint at the end of the last centers time so that they can mix to their heart’s content.

Visit TPT and make  your wishlist now

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site wide sale Monday and Tuesday, so make your wishlists now and be sure to check out one of those days. I have a few items I want to purchase myself and need to decide how much I can budget. Some are just to use in my classroom and some are to make items to use in my classroom as well as add to my store.

Planning for December in Preschool

12 Days of Christmas Set

Thanks to an awesome customer I have twelve new questions for the holidays for my Question of the Day Bundle.  Between these questions and the ones already in the bundle I am sure I have plenty for the entire month of December.  I may end up making a few more, though, since we are focusing on the five senses during December and I may want to have a few questions that relate the senses to Christmas.

I am also planning to switch my pretend play from a Construction Site to a Post Office, so I have a bunch of work to do before Thanksgiving so that I don’t feel overwhelmed when I get back.  I need to pack up the golf tee nails, the sand paper, the wood, tool sets, and construction vests.  Since I am planning to move my writing center into the Post Office I need to pick up a bunch of Christmas cards from the dollar store to stock that part of the center.