We spent two weeks on our Community Helpers theme. One of our crafts involved mixing paint to make a fire. I showed my students red and yellow paint, putting some of each on the paper. I placed a piece of plastic wrap on top of the paint and asked them to mix the two colors to make a fire to put out. We discussed how we started out with yellow and red and then I asked them what other color they saw when they were finished. The next day we painted hands blue after gluing on a hose. Students used their blue hands to make water come out of the hose to put out the fire. Activity was inspired by this pin.
Thanks to another teacher I received these small red cups. I placed foam numbered flames with hot glue onto each cup after discovering that sticky tack definitely does not work. Students sprayed the cups to put out the fires. As the sensory bin was used it got more difficult to place the cups in stacks due to the fact that the cups slide around in the water.
These community helper puzzles were a great find at the Green Valley Book Fair. I love that they are self checking; they will not go together unless they are in the correct puzzle.
In addition to community helper activities we also worked on letter C activities. My students are very interested in everything dot marker, so I put together many different dot marker activities for my students. The one pictured can be found here.
Our pretend play has been an Auto Shop. Printables for this are from Pocket of Preschool. I discovered a few things this year that were not an issue last year. I tried a different method of raising up the car this year. The cubes worked okay, but one student tried to kneel on one of them. So, we ended up sliding the two crates directly under the car, which actually allowed two spots for the students to lay under the car at a time.
I also discovered that my students liked twisting the pipe cleaner wires around the crate instead of into the car. I did not complain since it was still great fine motor work for them.
I also discovered that my students liked dumping things into the car and sometimes needed help getting things out to put them away.
Next we will take the car and turn it into a tractor for our pumpkin patch.
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?
This past week I prepared my room for my PreK students to come have a Sneak Peek on Friday. Since I was keeping my ocean theme from last year I just had a few updates to work on to make things fresh and new.
I needed to reprint my welcome sign since I did not have time to laminate it last year and the spots where the sticky tack was attached to the paper had that greasy look to it. Now that it is reprinted and laminated I won’t have to worry about that in the future.
I had to do some work to my birthday display as well. The sign had to be trimmed and laminated, names had to be added to the birthday bags, and a few bags came down since I currently have a few less students this year so far. Will try to get a finished photo this week with the sign above it as well.
I start the year with my ocean theme calendar, but switch up the number cards throughout the year to work on different patterns and to go along with themes or seasons.
Since I did not have to start from scratch with my ocean theme I had some time to work on my dramatic play Pizza Shop. I purchased Pocket of Preschool’s Pizza Restaurant set to help me add to what we already had available at school. I love that she has all the labels as part of her set. Labeling everything really helps with clean up since students know where things are supposed to go.
I bought the green containers and the pizza pans at Dollar Tree as well as the measuring cup and measuring spoon. I think that trip just about used up the gift card that a lovely parent gave me as an end of the year gift.
I set up a quick craft to help decorate the dramatic play area with help from my students. During the Sneak Peek I had paper pizzas with toppings to glue on using glue sticks. Besides being a simple activity that will help decorate pretend play, it gave me an idea of how my students use glue sticks. I can already note which ones need a few pointers.
Here is the Pizza Shop display with the pizzas my students made at the Sneak Peek. The Pizza Shop sign comes from Sparklebox. That one was already in our pizza prop box so I just had to put it on the bulletin board.
Here is a glance at the pizza pan full of toppings, some from a couple sets we already had, with some additional toppings I made with suggestions from Pocket of Preschool’s set.
Now to get ready for the first day of school this week.
We recently completed our Pond theme in my preschool classroom. We were lucky enough to get some gray tree frog tadpoles to visit our classroom during this theme. The tree frogs like to lay their eggs in the water in our above ground pool before we open it for the summer, so we always save some of them before cleaning the pool. They will continue to live in my classroom through the next month so we can watch them grow throughout our summer camps.
For some reason my sensory bin looks a bit less like a pond this year than last year, probably due to the fact that I was using our new larger sensory bin that is red instead of blue. The bin has some flat blue glass beads in the bottom, a bunch of frogs purchased from Oriental Trading, some lily pads made from foam, and some tadpoles made with pony beads and a bit of pipe cleaner, inspired by this. I used brown beads and pipe cleaner since that most closely matched our real tadpoles in the classroom.
For dramatic play I went for simplicity since we did not have a long time for centers during the week due to rehearsing for graduation. I found this kiddie pool on clearance at the end of the summer last year and grabbed it to make it into a bird’s nest. It also makes a great pond. The lily pads are place mats I found at Dollar Tree. I already had the frogs. The ping pong balls are from Dollar Tree as well. I wrote an alphabet letter on each one and students had to catch them with the net and then place them in the correct spot labeled with the same letter on small paint palettes.
Frogs are similar to the ones pictured above, found on Amazon.
I was also excited to find this small garbage can at Dollar Tree and created a frog for a counting game. The other teacher I work with had some plastic flies. Students rolled the dice and then used the tool to pick up and feed the frog.
We also had a fun catch the bugs game with pink toy noise makers that I also found at Dollar Tree. I placed a section of velcro on the ends and cut up small pieces of felt for the children to catch with their frog tongues. You can find out more about this idea here.
For my pocket chart calendar I would use these calendar cards:
We started the week with a leftover question of the day from our snow day on Friday. We do a question of the day every morning as we come in the classroom. Many of the parents hang around to see what their children will choose as an answer. We needed to do this question since we still needed to read Green Eggs and Ham as well as have our special Dr. Seuss snacks which were saved from Friday’s “no snow” snow day. If I recall correctly we had a tie in responses with this one, which is unusual.
This week our easel has painting with water on one side and practicing writing words that begin with J on the other. Sometime I use these word sheets with magnets or stamps, but this week I decided to let them write the words with the dry erase markers. I found these sheets on This Reading Mama’s blog. I decided to use water and a brush on the other side because I had put it out a few weeks ago when I realized I had no plan for the other side of the easel and the students loved it and spent a bunch of time practicing letters and drawing shapes, especially some of my friends who are not quick to choose activities involving manipulating writing implements.
In my fine motor and math center I found a Race to the Top game with linking cubes. My students have enjoyed using linking and snap cubes as well as dice games. This one has just enough of a twist from activities we have done recently to keep their attention. Race to the Top can be found on The Measured Mom’s blog. We are using the one that goes to twenty but she also has one up to ten. To get students started with this game I invited one student to play with me. Once we started the game another student came over and asked to play so I let that student take my spot. If one student quits I either jump in to play or ask another student if she would like to play if the student playing cannot figure out who to ask.
This game is best saved for the second half of the year because students need to only count the fish of a specific color, not all the fish. I highlighted the color word with a dry erase marker that matched its color (although I apparently missed the one on top when I took the photo.) You could also put a color word chart at this center. I chose this game because we are reading Swimmy by Leo Lionni as well as Flotsam by David Wiesner.
My large square table is where we do our art and literacy activities. Some of the activities we started the week with included play dough with alphabet stampers (similar to those linked below), Letter J crowns, painting alphabet letters to create a class alphabet book and a chameleon craft on paper towels which we plan to spray later in the week.
Due to a very large number of absences this week we may not end up with a whole alphabet book. I am contemplating what to do since I ended the day with only four out of ten students. It is pretty difficult to get twenty six letters painted with that many absences.
When I decided to do this sensory bin it reminded me of one I made a long time ago for a Vacation Bible Camp. It had been a bin full of shredded paper and my fellow teacher had commented, “Who would have thought that preschoolers would love to play with trash so much?” I had several kids playing with this right away on Monday. A couple boys kept catching pieces with the grabbers I found at the dollar store and bringing them to me to show me which letter that was caught. This Alphabet Pick Up game can be found in Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station. The grabbers were found at the dollar store and were similar to those shown in the photo link below.
Our dramatic play area became a Sandwich Shop this week. I used the foam pieces I had cut last year, placing them in aluminum trays from the dollar store. Growing in PreK has some printables and was my inspiration for the beginning of this center.
On the table for customers are place mats as well as ketchup and mustard. These were also found at the local dollar store. I did not realize when I purchased them that they were meant to be joke bottles. The kids love them because when you open the lids and squeeze them a little string that is red for ketchup or yellow for mustard pops out.
The big addition to the sandwich shop was my drink station, inspired by Play to Learn’s post. The students figured it out right away, although I did have one moment when a student pulled the colored tissue out of it. Another student informed me and I fixed it and explained to the student what it was since I am unsure he had any idea why the tissue was there. To the left of the drink station are trays of crocheted cookies and plastic chips. I have a couple different ways of ordering that I will alternate in this center. One is found at PreKinders and the other was found at Growing in PreK, which was linked above.
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.