Updating My Preschool Centers Signs

Laminating Ocean Theme Centers Signs and Winter Calendar Cards
Laminating Ocean Theme Centers Signs and Winter Calendar Cards

Since I apparently chose the wrong paper to use as a backing paper for my centers signs, the old ones were in desperate need of being replaced.  I had taken them all down because my room was being painted over the summer, which made me notice just how faded the backing paper was.  Note to self:  don’t laminate just any pretty paper that you want to hang on your wall all year long.

Printing new ones meant I could also switch up which set I use this year, so I decided to choose the Ocean Life Preschool Centers Signs this time around.  For the last couple of years I had been using the Blues and Greens set, which also matches the classroom jobs that I currently use.

I ended up having extra space at the bottom of each laminating sheet, so I looked ahead to see which calendar cards I still needed to print for the year.  I decided to print cards from my Winter Theme Calendar Set, so now I have calendar cards printed, cut, and laminated all the way through January.

New Class Pet
New Class Pet

My daughter and I have also gotten our new class pet set up in his tank, mostly thanks to my daughter who loves animals of all kinds and enjoyed doing most of the work for me.  She named him Jonah.

Do  you have a class pet?

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Editable Personalized My Fall Book

Editable Personalized Fall Book
Editable Personalized Fall Book

Recently I have been playing around with editable pdfs because I know how much my students love reading books with their names in them.  I just put the finishing touches on my first book, which is a fall themed eight page book that students can read and color.  In order to make a set of books for each member of your class, you only need to type all of their names one time into the class list and the pdf does the rest for you.

Fall books stacked, cut in half, trimmed and ready to staple
Fall books stacked, cut in half, trimmed and ready to staple

When I print my books I trim the tops, bottoms, and right sides.  I leave the edge on the left for a good stapling area.  The file is set up to make it easy to stack, trim, and staple.

Stapled books
Stapled books

Books are all ready to color as well as to draw what your students think of when they see fall.

Ready to color and read
Ready to color and read

Interested in a set of your own books?  Please click on the graphic below to head to my Teachers Pay Teachers shop, Laura’s Lily Pad.

Editable My Fall Book
Editable My Fall Book
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Choosing Fall Calendar Cards

PreK Classroom Current State
PreK Classroom Current State

I keep seeing all of these classroom set ups that are beautiful and organized and ready for students.  In the meantime, my classroom looks like the photo above.  Thanks to a great volunteer and my director, my room just received a fresh coat of paint, which required my room to get to this state until the paint has a bit of time to set.

Acorn and sunflower ABAB set
Acorn and sunflower ABAB set

Despite this, I ventured into my room today to try out my fall calendar cards to see which ones I might like to use this autumn.  Before I printed them out I looked at my themes for the year to get an idea of which calendar cards I might want for each month of the entire year.  After doing that I penciled in a couple new ideas for calendar cards for the spring that I hope to add to my calendar bundle later.

Leaves and rake ABC pattern
Leaves and rake ABC pattern

I realized as I was taking these photos that I did not print the page with the days of the week to go along with my fall calendar numbers and month.  That will be next on my list.

Turkey and pumpkins ABB pattern
Turkey and pumpkins ABB pattern

I chose to make my calendar cards a bit smaller than the pocket because I have found that those too close to the same size as the pocket are really difficult for preschoolers to put in the calendar.  My cards try to take into account that you may have a laminated edge around the cards.  Even with this laminated edge there is room to easily slide the cards in and out of your calendar.

Interested in some calendar sets for your classroom? Just click the image below to check out the fall set. I added two more sets of months cards after I decided I just had to have a couple more choices for myself.

Fall Calendar Set
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Preschool Summer Camp Art Projects

As promised, I am sharing the Mondrian Inspired Cross Canvas projects that we completed during our summer preschool art camp.  I teased you above with our Red, White, and Blue themed art project in progress.  Keep reading to see how that one turned out.

Mondrian Inspired Cross Canvas
Mondrian Inspired Cross Canvas

Most of our students painted every section of their canvases.  I put out the colors one usually sees in Mondrian works, but a couple students got creative at the end and created a new color.  I was not surprised since we did have color mixing practice during this camp and the new color was this student’s favorite color.

Creating A New Color
Creating A New Color

I did have a few students who were younger who had projects that looked like this one.  I think they are very beautiful as well.

A Little More Abstract
A Little More Abstract

In order to make these cross canvases, we purchased the canvases from the local craft store.  I used blue painters tape to tape off the cross design.  Students used acrylic paints to paint their projects.  We let them be finished whenever they said they were finished and asked again the next day if they wanted to add more if they had not painted the entire canvas.  We were okay if they said they were finished then.  No pressure, just fun.

Now what were we doing with that top photo of our work in progress?

Fireworks Craft
Fireworks Craft

I drew black lines on the black paper with sharpie marker.  (For one student I drew in white crayon since the child has some vision issues.  I could probably have used white crayon for all, but I was not sure how the project would turn out yet and did not know if the crayon would end up showing up.)

Students drew on the lines with colored glue bottles.  I had red and blue glue ready for them.

After the glue lines were drawn they sprinkled red, white, and blue sand on the glue.  We started out with small spoons, but then decided to just try using fingers and that worked just as well and kept some of them from going too overboard with the sand.

Finally, we shook off the extra sand and set it out to dry.

Firework craft
Firework craft

I had never done this particular fireworks craft before and was pleased with how it turned out and how it kept the students engaged.  It even seemed pretty sturdy to take home once it dried.

Now that camp is over I have been busy working on new projects for my shop.  Be sure to head over if you are thinking about the new school year already.  If there is anything you don’t see that you would like, or a different color scheme, please feel free to contact me.  July is my time to create.

My latest listing is below.  Two more calendar sets and then I will set up a bundle for the year.

Transportation Calendar Set
Transportation Calendar Set
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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.

 

 

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Cleaning and Rearranging My Preschool Classroom

Preschool graduation has come and gone.  Now is the time to clean and rearrange my preschool classroom.  I was fortunate enough to have a great helper along with two preschool student helpers work on scrubbing down all of the chairs, tables, and shelves in my classroom.

Stacked and clean and out of the way for the moment
Stacked and clean and out of the way for the moment

The chairs were in a lovely circle around the circle time rug to dry, thanks to my young helpers who pretended it was a castle.  I stacked them so I could do my rearranging and vacuum all the bits of Magic Eraser from the rug.

The photos in this post show the aftermath.  Now I am ready to start rearranging to get ready for Art Camp next week.  My preschool has three day camps each week of June; I will be teaching the first two this year. I will be using three easels, although only two were in the room when I snapped some photos.

Dramatic Play area looks rather empty right now, but soon will be filled with an ice cream shop
Dramatic Play area looks rather empty right now, but soon will be filled with an ice cream shop

The corner will become the ice cream shop.  Thankfully we already had a bin full of items to create the shop that we have used in other years and I will be adding just a few finishing touches to it before camp starts.

I will be spending tomorrow morning in my classroom, hoping to get most of the way ready so that I won’t have too much to think about when next week rolls around and it is camp time.

Does your school do anything different in the summer months?

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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?

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Happy Easter with a Calendar Freebie Reminder

Easter board

Today I am having some quiet time at home with no children to prepare myself for the Easter celebration tomorrow.  It is a beautiful, sunny day and the grass is mowed thanks to my oldest daughter.  My youngest helped me sell some items on Craigslist, which has helped with spring cleaning as well.

Above you can see the artwork of my students in preparation for Easter.  We made the palm leaves for Palm Sunday and the crosses as we discussed Good Friday.  The crosses were made with painters tape and the idea was to dab the paint with the circular sponges with handles, but my students all had other plans, which is okay.  I just laughed at myself because it was one of the very few times that I made an example for them to see of what it might look like when it would be finished after the tape was pulled off.

I have also been hard at work this week on my Teachers Pay Teachers shop, adding lots of alphabet goodies, including a massive bundle of everything alphabet that I have created so far.

Spring Calendar Numbers

Don’t forget to check out my spring calendar freebie, even if you just want to save it for next year.  I hope to add a bunch of new calendar sets soon, so if you have any in mind, please let me know.  I am currently working on one with insects.

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Penguin Week in PreK

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

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

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

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

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

Counting practice with penguins
Counting practice with penguins

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

Penguin counting puzzle
Penguin counting puzzle

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

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

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

Sensory Writing Center
Sensory Writing Center

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

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

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

Penguin poke pin
Penguin poke pin

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

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

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

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Bears and Hibernation in Preschool

We often do a hibernation theme in January.  This year we focused mostly on bears, but also included discussion of other animals that hibernate through our question of the day, some hibernation songs, and books that we used.

I decided to use our tent to act as a cave to go along with our hibernation and bear theme.  When I found a few different ideas online that related to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, I knew our pretend play would revolve around that book.  I found printable signs to hang around the room for each place in the story.  I also discovered a map that was meant to be used for retelling the story, but we used it as our actual map, finding each place in the room as we searched for the bear in its cave.  In addition, I found some story retelling puppets that I trimmed and laminated to make badges to each child playing would know which part he or she had.  The photos of each item will lead you to where I found these items.

Bear Hunt Cave
Bear Hunt Cave
Bear Hunt Snow
Bear Hunt Snow
Bear Hunt Map
Bear Hunt Map
Bear Hunt Name Tags
Bear Hunt Name Tags

For our fine motor and math center I discovered a winter themed Cariboo game and a roll and cover game.  My students had enjoyed Cariboo in December so I decided to pull it out again with these winter themed cards. Since I had a few students out during the week I was able to spend some time playing the roll and cover game with individual students to check on number sense.

Winter Theme Cariboo
Winter Theme Cariboo
Roll and Cover Bear Hibernation Theme
Roll and Cover Bear Hibernation Theme

We worked on a few crafty projects during our hibernation week.  The easel was set up on one side with q-tips, white paint, and black paper.  The students enjoyed experimenting and did well writing their names with the qtips when they were finished.  We also painted a box with a heart on the lid to go along with our study of the visit of the three wise men.  We put a heart inside that said, “I give my heart to Jesus” after discussing the gifts the wise men brought and what gift Jesus really wants from us.

Qtip painting on easel
Qtip painting on easel
Epiphany Craft
Epiphany Craft

My students really enjoyed several of our songs during this week, including:

Bear Hunt by Steve Songs

What is your favorite hibernation activity for preschool?

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