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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
As I have been busy getting ready for my church’s Vacation Bible Camp this weekend, I have also been making my wish list for the Teachers Pay Teachers back to school sale. You can click through to my shop through the awesome graphic below, made by Glitter Meets Glue Designs.
Once I make it through Vacation Bible Camp, I need to finish up a few products that I have started that I want to use during this new preschool year. I am working on a new set of dot marker printables that I am very excited about. You can see a draft of one of them below.
I am also working on some alphabet based emergent readers to add some variety to the ones I already use in my classroom. So far I have added one set to my shop.
I am very happy that I spent all of last year creating my Question of the Day Bundle because now I just pull them out each week and am ready. No more scrambling at the last moment before kids come in to think of a question or scrambling to find my list of questions on my plans so I can put them up. I just grab my printed, laminated sets for each day and put them in my pocket chart.
Of course, I will have at least one more set of questions get added to the bundle this year because you know that themes are never exactly the same from year to year and I spy at least two new ones this year that we did not do in my classroom last year. If you have any themes you don’t see in my Question of the Day Bundle, please be sure to let me know so I can add them.
Our preschool has some awesome manipulatives for the students to work with throughout the year. I especially like the Excellerations® Linking Cubes and Triangles. I felt that these could be even more beneficial for some of my students if I made some activity cards to give them some direction for building. I had the idea in the back of my head for most of the last school year, but just never found the time. I finally sat down this week and figured out the clip art size to work for these cubes and triangles.
Don’t do what I did and forget to print to actual size if you get these activity cards. When creating this set I was having some issues with the printer and completely forgot to make sure the pages were set for actual size and had them print to fit. I was in panic mode for a bit until I realized that I had print to fit, which made the cubes and triangles totally not fit.
I put clip art from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs on each card that starts with the letter to help with letter sound connections to the alphabet letters. I also know that many people may not be blessed with the use of a color printer, so I made the set in gray scale as well.
What are your favorite manipulatives to use in your classroom?
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?
Since it has snowed most of the day yesterday as well as all day today, I have had the chance to work on several projects around the house. Some of them are related to teaching and some are related to family. The crocheted Hobbes is for my youngest daughter who shares my husband’s love for Calvin & Hobbes.
I worked on the crocheting part of the project over Christmas break since that is the part of the project I enjoyed doing. The whole putting the pieces and parts together part of the project is not my favorite. It involved me taking apart most of the parts at least once before being satisfied with how it was turning out. I found the pattern on Ravelry.
While I was working this morning on a game for my Polar unit the girls got bundled up to take the dog out since he refused to go by himself. Once out in the back yard the dog had to leap like a deer in order to move around in the snow that was already up to his chest. (You will notice he is on a rope, which is because he has great leaping ability and unfortunately learned to leap the fence. The rope is attached to a clothesline that goes across most of the yard so that he still has the majority of the backyard available to him to run.) We have gotten quite a bit more snow since then in addition to some blowing and drifting. I anticipate at least one snow day before we head back to school.
My girls were kind enough to play my Arctic Adventure Path Game with me to test it out since the snow days have kept me from trying it out with my students like some of the other Polar themed items that I have been creating. I also discovered that printing on draft mode still looks good for this project, although I do need to be in the room with the printer or it shoots the paper out and who knows where it might land.
You can see one of the two game boards here. The other has lowercase letters so that you can choose which skill to work on with your students. There are also three different sets of game cards so that you can work on letter sounds, matching same letters or matching capital and lowercase letters.