Preschool Favorite Authors, Sandwich Shop, and Letter J

Question of the Day for Dr. Seuss
Question of the Day for Dr. Seuss

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.

Easel with J words and painting with water
Easel with J words and painting with water

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.

Race to the Top counting game
Race to the Top counting game

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.

Count the Colored Fish
Count the Colored Fish

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.

Alphabet Trash Sensory BIn
Literacy and Art Table

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.

Alphabet Trash Sensory Bin
Alphabet Trash Sensory Bin

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.

Sandwich making station
Sandwich making station

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.

Table set up with mustard, ketchup and placemats
Table set up with mustard, ketchup and place mats

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.

Ordering and Drinks Station for Sandwich Shop
Ordering and Drinks Station for Sandwich Shop

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.

What fun are you having in preschool this week?

Please note that some links are affiliate links.



Spaghetti, Please! Healthy Habits Sensory Bin

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.

Getting ready to cut and laminate the alphabet and number meatballs.`
Getting ready to cut and laminate the alphabet and number meatballs.`

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?

Back After the Blizzard and Finished Our Penguins

Penguin with a side view
Penguin with a side view
Another penguin creation
Another penguin creation

Aren’t their feet cute? I am so pleased with how these turned out with the addition of the feet using painted fingers and just a bit of the hand.  I tried having the papers turned upside down or sideways so the fingers would be pointed the direction that made sense.  A few students decided they wanted their hands to be pointed a particular way and I went with what they wanted since it is their artwork.

Sponge penguin preschool craft
Sponge penguin preschool craft
Another penguin friend
Another penguin friend

One student had great fun doing a count down to placing her hands on the paper,”…..5, 4, 3, 2, 1″ and splat, onto the paper.

My checkerboard penguin friend
My checkerboard penguin friend

Now if I could just figure out awesome art projects like these for every theme.  That is one of my goals, to keep adding more open ended projects that really make my students think and create because they always turn out in surprising and awesome ways.

Transportation Art in Preschool

I have a few art projects that I really cannot wait to do each year because they always end up being very unique each year and for each student.  One of those projects was inspired by Deep Space Sparkle’s project for kindergarten.  Since I have preschoolers I altered the project a bit to take away the cutting requirements, although you can see by my examples that some of the kids ended up using scissors to get the shapes they wanted.

We started out by painting paper.  I gave the students several color choices and asked them to choose one.  The first color started with a large brush and students were instructed to paint the entire page that color.  Once they finished I asked them to choose a second color.  For the second color they were given a small brush and instructed to give the paper lots of dots.  With lots of dots the paint would not get mixed and we would get an interesting set of papers for the second part of the project.

Painted paper after punching some circles
Painted paper after punching some circles

Once the paper was dry I punched a bunch of circles out of the sheets since we were planning on making a Things That Go! class book and I knew many of the creations would need wheels.  I then took the rest of the paper and cut it into various sized rectangles and a few triangles.  I put the shapes in different containers so that the students could choose the ones they wanted to make their book page.


I provided my students with some clip art of various transportation vehicles as well as having the book Alphabeep, A Zipping Zooming ABC available that we had read earlier in the week.  (Affiliate link)

Some students decided right away what to make and used the shapes available to make their vehicle.  A few decided that the shapes they had were not right and got out the scissors.  This involved lots of cutting to attempt to get an octagon for one student’s school bus and involved so many pieces and parts that the helicopter almost did not get off the ground.  My friend who wanted to make the helicopter needed me to push all of his cutting to the side, which helped him get back on track and create his masterpiece.

Schoolbus --- Can you see the stop sign on the right between the wheels?
Schoolbus — Can you see the stop sign on the right between the wheels?

Once each student decided he or she was finished I asked the student to tell me what I should write about the vehicle.  I then typed those sentences up and put together our class book so that we could read it aloud over and over.  My students like to stand up when I read the page that they have illustrated.


I whipped up a quick cover for our book, thanks to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah‘s clip art.  The student’s artwork went into page protectors.  A few students had to have their sentences placed on the back of the page before since there was no room to place the words without covering their creations.

Things That Go! class book
Things That Go! class book

For more transportation ideas, please check out my Pinterest board:
Follow Laura’s Lily Pad’s board Transportation Theme on Pinterest.

January Projects for the Fridge or Bulletin Board

I am really enjoying the snow days, but am itching to get back to school to finish our sponge penguins.  We still need to add the feet to them.

When I saw this project on Teach Preschool’s site I knew I wanted to make them.  This is the third year and each year has been different.  The first year I had a student who made a large letter H in a AB pattern and then added eyes, beak, and feet.  Last year one of the first students started swiping with the sponge and that was the end of the sponge look, but they still ended up looking very unique.  This year the students understood the concept so they did actually sponge their penguins.

For this project I found dollar store sponges and cut them into squares.  I used blue ones for black paint and red for white, which I think helped the kids keep straight what they were doing since we did not end up with any sponges in the wrong paint.  I also have some examples of penguins both face on and in profile for the students to look at while creating.

I am planning to have them use their hands to make some feet for the penguins when we finally get back to school, drawing some inspiration from Mrs.Hodge’s example.  I think we will probably have the fingers facing down and not paint the whole hand.  If it goes well, I am sure I will take some more photos.  I thought I had photos of all of the cute in progress penguins but only found one photo on my memory card.  Not sure how I messed that up.

What art projects have your students been working on lately?  Do you have any projects waiting to be finished at school during all of these snow days?

For more ideas for a Polar theme, please check out my Pinterest board:

Follow Laura’s Lily Pad’s board Polar Animals on Pinterest.


What a teacher does when stuck home in a blizzard


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.

Arctic Adventure Path Game
Arctic Adventure Path Game

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.

A Work in Progress



After having finished up two weeks of my transportation theme last week I find myself realizing that I really need to crank out a bunch more questions for my Question of the Day Bundle, especially since I need the questions for my classroom fairly soon.  So I started with some space themed questions even though we are not doing a space theme this year at my school.


When making my questions I really like to incorporate real life photos so that the questions are interesting as well as possibly showing my students something they have not seen before.  I do have a couple students who can read a bit, but for the most part my assistant or I read the question of the day to our students.  This year I don’t seem to have too many students who just want to answer what other students are choosing.  Last year I had a few who always wanted their names to be next to a buddy’s name, regardless of the answer choices.

One of the student jobs in our classroom is the Question of the Day Helper.  That person goes over to the pocket chart and counts the responses and reports them to the circle so that we can discuss them.  We talk about most, least, unanimous, and ties.  Just today we had a unanimous answer, although it would not have been if all of my students had been there since the question was about whether there was a letter H in anyone’s name.


I just finished up another set of questions for this bundle, with space, hibernation, friends, Valentine’s, and healthy habit themed questions.  Since I am very concerned with making sure that the photos and graphics do not print poorly, the latest version of the bundle includes a link to a Dropbox file with set six in it.



January 20 and 21 is a sale day at Teachers Pay Teachers.  My Question of the Day Bundle as well as everything else in my shop will be on sale.  Make sure you remember to use the code above.  You can click through to the sale using the graphic above.

Things That Go Sensory Bin


We are now officially back to school after our Christmas break.  I spent some time over the weekend getting my room set up for our theme of Transportation.  The other PreK teacher and I worked together to come up with two sensory bins so we can trade them for the second week of the theme.  Above you can see the fishing for transportation items bin.  The pictures of land, air, and water transportation items are laminated and have a few staples in each of them.  The staples make the magnetic fishing poles be able to catch them.  In the past I had tried having magnets, either buttons or magnetic tape, on the back, but then the magnets tended to fall off.  The students catch the item and then place it on the correct mat for where they would find it.


The students enjoyed using this center today and the teaching assistant enjoyed not having bunches of sensory bin items all over the floor to sweep, especially since we had peppermint rice in December which ended up everywhere.  In the picture there are wheel shaped pasta (Amazon referral link to get a closer look at the type of pasta) added in for some fun.


What theme are you starting 2016 with 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.

Planning for December in Preschool

12 Days of Christmas Set

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.