More Community Helpers in PreK

Color Mixing Fire Fighter Painting
Color Mixing Fire Fighter Painting

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.

Putting Out Fire in the Sensory Bin
Putting Out Fire in the Sensory Bin

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.

Community Helper Puzzles
Community Helper Puzzles

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.

Community Helpers Count and Clip Vehicles
Community Helpers Count and Clip Vehicles

I found a great set of community helper vehicles and people to clip together.  Creating this uses quite a few clothes pins, so I suggest grabbing a set at the dollar store.

The pile of people to clip to the vehicles
The pile of people to clip to the vehicles

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.

Letter C dot marker activities
Letter C dot marker activities

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.

Auto Shop
Auto Shop

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.

Auto Shop Supplies
Auto Shop Supplies

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.

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?

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?

Fine Motor Work With The Alphabet

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.

ABClowercasecubestriangles

What are your favorite manipulatives to use in your classroom?

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.