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.

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.

 

 

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?

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?

PreK Ocean Theme & Pizza Shop Sneak Peek

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.

WelcomeSign

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.

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

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.

Pocket chart calendar with ocean theme months and dates
Pocket chart calendar with ocean theme months and dates

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.

The shelf area of the pizza shop. Still in need of some more toppings.
The shelf area of the pizza shop. Still in need of some more toppings.

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.

Set up for Sneak Peek with a simple pizza collaborative craft
Set up for Sneak Peek with a simple pizza collaborative craft

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.

Pizza Shop bulletin board display with student pizzas
Pizza Shop bulletin board display with student pizzas

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.

Look at all the toppings, but someone forgot the crust and sauce.
Look at all the toppings, but someone forgot the crust and sauce.

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.

Back To School and Giveaway

Monday is the big day for me and the official beginning of my personal back to school.  Our family started school at the beginning of the month with my oldest daughter starting cross country practice, so getting to sleep in has been gone for quite a while for me.   Monday starts my online college course, so this week is truly my back to school week.

I will be taking a course in Christian Doctrine as I am working towards synod certification in Early Childhood Education through Martin Luther College.  This is my last three credit hour course, so I am excited to get it completed.

Ocean Theme Calendar
Ocean Theme Calendar

Back to school for me as a teacher starts Wednesday with work days to prepare my classroom.  I am sticking with my ocean theme, so just need to freshen it up and make everything that has student names on it, but we all know there is still plenty to do.  I have my calendar all ready with my ocean themed items, like the months you see.

School themed question of the day
School themed question of the day

I will also be choosing which question of the day I want to use from my set.  I will probably use this one some time the first week.

Bonus Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers

In celebration of a new school year I am having a giveaway for a Teachers Pay Teachers $10 gift card.  Teachers Pay Teachers is also having a one day sale on Monday which I am participating in, so fill your carts and watch your emails as I will send out notice as soon as the giveaway ends.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner has been emailed.  Congrats to Karen S!

Best Year Ever Sale

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.

 

best-sale-ever-instagram

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.

DotMarkerPreviewPage

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.

LetterAReaders2Alphabet Letter A Emergent Readers Set

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.

Question of the Day Bundle
Question of the Day Bundle

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?

Preschool Pond Theme Activities

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.

Pond Sensory Bin
Pond Sensory Bin

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.

Dramatic Play Pond Area
Dramatic Play Pond Area

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.

Feed the Frog Flies Game
Feed the Frog Flies Game

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:

 Frog Calendar Bundle
Frog Calendar Bundle

Calendar Bundle Frog Pond Theme

Have you done a pond theme in your classroom?