Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's a New Week

Posted by Kristin at 12:13 PM 0 comments
Naptime got away from me yesterday before I was able to post.  Pesky laundry!  LOL!  Anyway, we started letter C, the color yellow and our shape is the square.  I haven't fully planned what I want to do this week, so I went into circle time with no specific goals other than to introduce the new concepts.  The kids took over though.  After practicing the hard /c/, we read Copycats from the AlphaTales series by Scholastic.  The kids enjoyed finding the "c" words in the picture at the end of the story.  We also compared squares to rectangles and discussed the differences and then found several examples of each and talked about why one was/wasn't a square.  I was just about to sit the kids at the table for free "coloring" when someone said, "Mickey Mouse starts with c," and then it mushroomed from there!

The immediate response from E was, "No it doesn't."  I asked her what it started with then.  She made the /m/ sound and carefully surveyed the alphabet we have displayed on the wall making the /m/ sound over and over until she located the M.  "M," she said, "not C."  So, I wrote Mickey Mouse out on the whiteboard and pointed out that while it does start with M, it does have a C in it which makes the /c/ sound.  Somehow we made the switch to parents' names and whose name started with what and the kids were pointing out similarities in names faster than I could write them.  Finally when the whiteboard was full of everyone's name, every parent's name and Mickey Mouse, and there where circles and underlines and arrows all over the place.  Finally, I told the kids we had to stop.  I was already 20 minutes late starting lunch, eek!  They happily went off to free play and I happily went off to make lunch thinking about how far they've come in such a short time.  Learning is an amazing thing!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

B Words and an Oval Hunt

Posted by Kristin at 3:20 PM 0 comments
Today we worked on our B words and I originally planned to get the Play-Doh out, but the kids begged to do an oval hunt.  The plus side was that they liked the activity so much that they wanted to do it again.  The downside was that I wasn't sure how successful they would be.  Circles are easy to find, ovals, not so much.  But, I have some good hunters and overall smart cookies.  This is what they found.  Not bad for an impromptu hunt.

The holes in the "jingle ball," the baby links, top of
the maraca, the tea set creamer, the wooden bead and
the Disney and Crayola emblem on the puzzles.

Block Play

Posted by Kristin at 2:35 PM 0 comments

Block play is one of the most beneficial activities that children can engage in.  Blocks encourage imaginative play, provide opportunities for fine motor development and develop a sense of spacial awareness (among other things).  For this reason, I have numerous sets of blocks:  wood unit blocks, colored wood table blocks, Legos, cardboard "brick" blocks, patten blocks--you get the idea.

Today, we incorporated our "B" theme and used the small table blocks to build big buildings.  This is a pretty small set and almost all of the kids were playing together at the same time.  I was waiting for squabbling about who has more pieces and who took who's piece but that didn't happen for almost 20 minutes.  That's a preschool miracle!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bubble Painting

Posted by Kristin at 2:16 PM 0 comments
With this week being B week, bubble painting sounded like a spectacular idea.  I haven't bubble painted in many years (like maybe 10 years!).  I remember exactly two things about this activity: 1-the kids loved it and 2-blow, don't suck (the straw, that is)!  Everything else I figured I could do on the fly!  It went pretty well.  I'm sure there is an exact recipe somewhere, but we just mixed a few things together and voila-we had bubble paint.

Items needed:  dish soap, water, various colors of paint (we used washable tempra), straws, shallow containers to hold the mixture. 

I used approximately 1/2 tsp. dish soap, 2-3 tbsp. of one color paint, and maybe 1/4 cup water.  Mix in a shallow container and stir with a straw.  We made three different colors:  purple, yellow (turned green by the blue dish soap-so a science lesson too-can't beat that!), and orange.

Technique:  This is pretty easy.  Once the mixture has been stirred, insert a straw into it and blow gently.  Bubbles will start to form.  Blow bubbles until they are standing well above the container.  Then place paper over the bubble stack and let it drop or gently push it down.  The bubbles will burst on the paper creating a fun effect.  When you lift the paper, you can also pop the remaining bubbles, which the kids thought was great fun!  Please stress the importance of not sucking the soap/paint up the straw.  It does not taste good.  The four year olds were good at it, but I blew the bubbles for the 3 year olds and younger.  After my kid got a mouthful of orange paint, he was more than happy to let me do the blowing! LOL

A close up of the finished product.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Letter B and the Color Orange

Posted by Kristin at 6:02 PM 0 comments
Getting ready for circle time!
Yesterday we started work on letter B, the color orange and ovals.  We did a brief overview of the letter sound and how to make the letter and worked quite a bit on calendar concepts.  The kids are getting good at the days of the week and months of the year songs.  They are also counting to 20+ (whatever calendar day we're on).  Each day we practice counting with exercises.  Yesterday it was 22 arm circles, 22 jumping jacks, and 22 marching setps.  Our group activity was identifying names and then finding the letter B in each person's name. 

The kids are showing a lot of progress in identifying different shapes in letters.  When one child pointed out the lowercase letter d as a b, another child quickly pointed out that they were both made of a 1 line and 1 circle, but the line was on the wrong side of the d.  Good skill development in my opinion.

Today, I snapped quite a few pictures.  We worked on fine motor skills again today.  This time we practiced sewing (or lacing, but sewing sounds so much more exciting if you are 3-4 years old).  I cut the letter B out* of cardstock and hole punched around the outside of the letter.  The kids had a great time sewing up their B.  I sat with each child individually, but they caught on quickly.  I think we'll visit this activity again in the next few weeks and see if they can do it all on their own. 

*I thought about having the kids cut their own letter B out, but decided against it, as that would be really labor intensive to both cut and lace at the same sitting.

We also read Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes, worked on our calendar and had an "orange hunt."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making letter/sound connection

Posted by Kristin at 3:19 PM 0 comments
I think one of my main objectives as a preschool teacher is to set the stage for learning.  Children need the opportunity to see learning as fun and when exposed to material often enough, it will become part of their knowledge base.  I don't expect very child I work with to be able to read by the time next August rolls around (it would be nice, but that's not realistic).  But, with enough repetition through various means, I hope that all of the kids will have a good knowledge base with which to build when they go to kindergarten.

With that being said, we are already working on making letter/sound connections.  "A says /a/," as the song goes and the kids are taking words and listening for that sound.  Today we made a list of  "a" words.  The kids also worked on an "a" song/poem and found the a's in it.

Every day is getting more exciting.  Kids who were never interested in sitting down to write or color are asking when circle time is and are cleaning up quickly to be ready.  They run to the table for work there.  They are growing up so much! (sniff, sniff)
Mr. Yellow shirt even brought his Lightning McQueen
laptop from home to share with his friends.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Circle Hunt

Posted by Kristin at 3:34 PM 0 comments
With circles being our shape of the week, I had to find a gross-motor activity involving them.  I decided on a shape hunt.  Each child had one minute to find something in our classroom that had a circle on it.  I don't think anyone needed the full minute, because it seems that our room is full of circles (circles on the baby gate, storage boxes and wheels were popular, but pans from the kitchen set and examples from our artwork also popped up.

We also completed our first worksheet.  It's not something I do a lot of, but I found pages from a shape book that I had when I taught pre-K in summer school several years ago (like 9 or 10-can I say "packrat!").  The kids had a great time talking to each other about where the circles could be found and most spent time really "working" on the page.  I'm very impressed!

Then we were on to Play-Doh.  Today the kids were armed with circle cutters and letter A cutters and stamps.  Of course for the little ones, poking at the dough was great fun too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Circle Collages

Posted by Kristin at 3:00 PM 0 comments
Our activity today focused on circles.  Armed with circle shapes of several sizes and colors, the kids made collages.  Because of the amount of cutting involved, I had the circles pre-cut (thank you to my daughters and their friend).  The kids chose their background paper and glued the circles as they pleased.  Of course I was on glue patrol making sure that the resource was used in reasonable amounts, so no pictures were taken of the kids actually doing the project.  But here is the finished product.

Apple Trees

Posted by Kristin at 2:40 PM 0 comments
Yesterday we continued our work with the letter A and color red.  We added our first shape as well:  circle.  It was my original intention to start a family theme unit, but I kept coming up with so many ideas for the skills we were working on that I didn't have time for the theme.  I really like themes, but I'm thinking that we may stick with letters, numbers, shapes and colors for a while as the kids seem very content with that.  Once we cover all of the basics, I think it will be easy to incorporate them into themes.  We'll see.  It just sort of depends how the kids are doing and what I think they need.

What starts with the letter A, is red (sometimes) and is sort of circular?  Apples, of course!  We practiced our short a sound and identified apples as an "a" word.  I introduced an apple fingerplay.  I found it in Teacher Created Materials Early Childhood Themes Through the Year.

"Five Red Apples"
Five red apples hanging in a tree.  (Hold up 5 fingers)
The juiciest apples that you ever did see. (Point to eyes)
The wind came by and gave an angry frown, (Make an angry face)
And one little apple came tumbling down. (Roll arms and point to the ground)

Repeat with four, three, etc.

Following the fingerplay, we made apple trees.  The purpose of this was to work on cutting skills (particularly holding scissors correctly and holding the paper with the opposite hand).  It was exciting to see improvement over just last week when we were cutting.  I helped most of the kids guide the paper, but I didn't have to do hand-over-hand on the scissors with any!  Progress.

Here's apple tree making in action!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Budget Update!

Posted by Kristin at 12:58 PM 0 comments
It was my intention to do this every week, but, like most things, I get behind!  For the first week, I had some pictures made at Walgreen's.  I had three copies of each child and a set of their parents for the "All About Me" book.  That was $5.95.  Then I purchased 6 plastic folders with the prongs to hold the pages of their books and other wonderful stuff to come.  That was $3.00.  This brings my total to $10.95 for the year so far.  To some this wouldn't seem very thrifty, but back to school shopping time is my single favorite shopping season of the year (who needs Christmas? LOL).  Keep in mind I did get my shopping fix in with my kids' school supply needs, but I don't get to play with those! ;)

We played hooky!

Posted by Kristin at 12:54 PM 0 comments

I had a list of several things to do today to finish up the week, but the weather is so beautiful outside.  Having come off of at least three weeks of 100+ degree temperatures and the kids begging to come in after 5 minutes, I couldn't make them come inside.  And I didn't want to come in either.  So, we played outside all morning (like 3 hours!).  The kids chased some poor lizard that made the unwise decision of coming out in the open.  They took turns on the teeter totter (a fabulous donation from C's family).  They practiced "pumping" on the swings, which is a definite pre-kindergarten skill because my experience is that kindergarten teachers don't push kids on the swings.

I was wondering if skipping a day so soon after starting would break the routine I've really been trying to set, but most of the kids asked when we would have circle time, so I think they enjoy it.  I told them that since it was so beautiful, we were playing hooky today.  But, we'll still do all the calendar stuff while I've got them captive at the snack table this afternoon!

I'm off tomorrow and will be headed out of town, so see everyone on Monday.  We'll be starting a Family theme and continuing with Letter A and adding triangles (at least that's what I'm thinking today).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just Because

Posted by Kristin at 8:36 PM 1 comments
This has nothing to do with preschool, but our baby turned 1 today.  He needs some screen time!
I'm just not quick enough to get the picture of the cookie going in, it was already gone!
All Done!


Posted by Kristin at 8:27 PM 0 comments
Is it ok to say that I hate paint?  Well, maybe I don't HATE paint, but I definitely find painting with a group of children challenging.  In my younger (read crazier) years, the kids painted once a week and without fail I would end up scrubbing something that was not intended to be painted.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I swore off painting and have successfully managed to keep most paint out of the inside of my house since (he's three and a half now).  I have let the kids paint outside on the easel and shoot watercolors at pieces of paper clipped to the fence and of course paint with water on the sidewalk.  I'm not an ogre, but I do like to minimize my cleaning tasks when possible.

It became clear when I reorganized my shelves that I have a lot of paint and if I plan to have it all gone by next July, I'd better get crackin'!  Today's activity incorporated both our letter A and the color red.  Plus, it gave us some much needed practice in the fine motor skill area.  I worked with several to correct their grip on the paintbrush and from the looks of the pictures, they're doing well.  Now, the key is to get them to do it on their own!  I'm just never satisfied, am I?


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