Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dr Seuss

Nothing beats Dr. Seuss week! The kids love it, and I love it, there are so many fun books to read and things to do. It's so hard to narrow down which books to choose.

Dramatic Play

We just played house because we hadn't in awhile. It's not necessarily themed, but they didn't seem to mind, and just enjoyed playing.


Mega blocks

Stuffed pets


Baking soda and colored vinegar. This is a favorite sensory experience. I only have 6 spots at the table, but the kids were so good at sharing since they all wanted a turn. The kids who didn't have a chair were able to stand a still get a turn to share a tray so they could play too. After all the colored vinegar was gone, I sent them off the play, dumped out the trays, and refilled them. The ones who had to stand got chairs first, then others joined and they got to do it again. This is such a cheap and easy, and fun, experience! They strengthen their small motor skills with the droppers, explore cause and effect with the baking soda and vinegar reaction, and mix colors.

Glitter and glue. The ONE day a year we'll do glitter, and now it's done! Sorry your child's backpack is still covered in it. It never leaves, but they love it and I had pictures drying on every spare space in the room.

Oobleck, with the book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. It's just cornstarch and water, which makes a non-newtonian goop. It's a solid if you're applying pressure, and a liquid if you let it go. It's super fun to play in! And for kids who have hated slime, they loved this.

Small Manipulatives

Horton the elephant cards with "trunk" links

Bristle blocks

Pom pom sorting with tweezers

I replaced the pocket charts with an alphabet chart for the rest of the year, so they can practice their letters and beginning sounds.


Dr Seuss stickers

Dr Seuss stamps


green eggs and ham, of course!


The snow is back (boo!) but the kids have loved it. I've made colored water in recycled bottles each day and they love painting the snow!

Large Group

We learned the word "illustrator" this week, and reviewed "author" too, since Dr Seuss and Jen Brett are bother authors and illustrators. We also learned about the unique things in Dr. Seuss's books, like rhyming, and his silly made up characters and pictures.

Day 1, we read Horton Hatches the Egg, then played a rhyming game. Each child had a card with a word, and they had to find the other child with a word that rhymed. We played it several times. They are great rhymers!

Day 2, we read Cat in the Hat and talked about patterns, like the red and white pattern on his hat, then they made hats by coloring a pattern.

Day 3, we read Horton Hears a Who and sorted our "clovers" or pom pom balls by color and size. They had to lift them with tweezers for added fine motor skills.

Small Group

I read "My Many Multi-colored Days," and one group made a picture together. I had different colored paints with people sponge stamps in them, and they worked as a group to make a big mural.

The other group did a fishing activity after reading "1 Fish 2 Fish Red Fish Blue Fish."  After fishing for magnetic fish, they put them in order, 1-10.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

We just celebrated 1 day this year. We played house in dramatic play, played with ABC foam puzzles at the block center, and valentine-themed flat marble pages for small manipulatives. We decorated our sacks for art, and used the extra stickers and things to make pictures. There were also valentine stamps at the writing table.

For large group, we played Valentine-themed Bingo with conversation hearts, then had a heart-stacking contest. Afterwards, we did small group activities of number matching, and a valentine puzzle while I called kids to pass out their valentines, then it was already time to go home! We had a fun day!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Jan Brett

I love this week! Jan Brett is one of my favorite authors, so I love doing a whole theme surrounding her books, and introducing her to the kids! My youngest son groaned when I told him what we were learning about, but that's mainly because he didn't know who she was, or how fun her books were! There were no complaints during the week!

Dramatic Play

This was based on her books, The Three Snow Bears, and Annie and the Wild Animals. The "bear cave" had 3 polar bears inside, and blankets for their 3 beds. Outside, I had a bunch of stuffed and puppet wild animals from the other book.


Giant mitten and mitten character puppets. We had done this story last year, although 2 of our students are new this year and hadn't done it, so instead of doing as a large group again, it was just out for free play. I ended up reading it 3-4 times as they had fun acting it out. It was on the shelf and played with several times during the theme week.

Noah's Ark book, and Noah's Ark toys and finger puppet set

Lincoln Logs


Cardboard easels

Slime with markers. These kids do not like oozy yucky slime I've learned, but this recipe (white glue mixed with water with a little dissolved borax) leaves it thick and not sticky. I love leaving it white because then they can use the dried out marker box to color it. And they can still enjoy squeezing and stretching it without mess.

Beads and pipe cleaners


Small Manipulatives

Number pegs

Animal words puzzle

Mitten ABC clothesline

Lacing cards

Flat marbles with Jan Brett themed pages

Jan Brett number matching in pocket charts


Tortilla snowflakes with cinnamon

Bread and Honey, and we read the book Honey Honey Lion

Large Group

We learned the word "author" this week. I introduced Jan Brett as an author and illustrator and told them one thing that makes her books unique is her secret pictures on the sides of each page that show us what else is happening in the story. They loved looking for them as we read each book! We also learned that Jan Brett loves to travel the world and that's what inspires her stories. As we read each book, we marked it on our map where it was from.

Day 1, we read The Three Snow Bears. They quickly caught on that it's similar to Goldilocks and the Three Bears and just knew how it was going to end. We then used sorting bears and sorted them by big, medium, and small, then sorted by colors. Afterwards, they each took turns using the scale to weigh different quantities of bears and we learned words like heavier and lighter.

Day 2, we read The Turnip. I also showed them the Russian version I have of that book and we compared the two. I taught them a few Russian words too, and they loved trying to say Babushka! I lived in Russia many years ago, and showed them a lot of the fun things I'd brought home. They were way more interested than I expected them to be! They especially loved the stacking dolls. I have a 5-piece one that tells the story of The Turnip, but their favorite was my 10-piece one because the pieces get so tiny at the end.

Day 3, we read The Hat, which features Hedgie the hedgehog. My neighbor brought her pet hedgehog to our class, which was a big hit! He was very shy and preferred to stay curled up in a ball, but she was able to get him to at least poke out enough they got to see his cute face and feet. Some of the kids were willing to try to touch and hold him, while others were scared and stayed by me, preferring just to watch. Once we went outside to go home, the hedgehog was running all over the front yard, so the kids had a great time watching him move and run, and really getting to see his face!

Day 4, we read Daisy Comes Home. This book takes place in China, so I showed them some of the things I brought back from China, since I got to spend a semester there in college. Again, I was surprised how interested they were in just showing them stuff. They loved the lantern and paper dragon the most.

Small Group

My group did a puzzle page of The Mitten where they had to cut out the pieces, then glue them on a paper with pictures. The letters on the puzzle matched up with the beginning sound of the picture. It was good cutting practice and letter and sound recognition.

While my group worked, the other group got to play with the sorting bears and scales some more from large group.

The next week, my group read The Gingerbread Baby and played a Gingerbread Baby board game. We had also read The Umbrella, so the other group colored a rainforest mural, and rainforest animals they got to glue on to the mural. 

All of these games and extra themed things come from Jan Brett's website, which is full of fun lesson ideas for each book, games, coloring pages, etc.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Right off our wild animal unit, we delved into a unit about one of my favorite animals...penguins!

Dramatic Play

It was more of a sensory play this time around, as I brought in the sensory table and filled it with penguins and "insta-snow." I left the snow a powder the first day, so the kids could watch me add water to watch the snow grow. They love this stuff and almost all 9 were crowded around this table the whole first day.

The second week, after we had learned about the difference between Antarctic and Arctic animals, I added another sensory table with water beads and polar animals from the North Pole. They loved this too and this tiny table was busy and crowded all week!


Feather painting, white paint on black paper, with feathers as brushes. They also liked using them as quills to try to write.

"snow paint" shaving cream, white glue, and glitter

Epsom salt painting. I didn't get any pics, but they painted with a water/epsom salt mixture on dark paper, and once it dries, it leaves the sparkly salt crystals behind.

Small Manipulatives

Numbers and counters on the magnet board


Building link things (no idea what they're called!)

Large Group

We learned the song, Penguins on Parade, which I own on a cassette tape, so it's a little dated! They love it though, because we get to wear penguin masks and march/waddle like penguins around the room as we sing.

We learned the word, Antarctica and found it on our map and globe.

Day 1, after reading about penguins, we learned about the difference between animals at the North Pole (Arctic) and South Pole (Antarctic) and sorted our animal toys by where they live.

Day 2, we read a book about Emperor Penguins, and learned that the father penguins carry the eggs after the moms lay them and pass them to them. So, we practiced balancing "penguin eggs" on our feet, by using beanbags. The children had to walk a few feet to their partner without dropping their eggs, then pass it to the partner, who then got a turn to walk balancing the egg. I don't think any of our poor eggs would have survived on the ice, but as one of the kids pointed out, I think penguin feet are made to balance eggs, and ours aren't!

Day 3, we learned about how penguins stay warm in the cold. We read that they have oil on their feathers that makes the water run off of them. We did a simple experiment, combining oil and water, and learned that they don't mix. So, feathers covered in oil, would repel water instead of soaking it in. Then, we tried to fit 9 feathers into a 1 cm squared box on a piece of playdough. They were very crowded, and we learned that penguins have 9 feathers in every square centimeter on their bodies, so having so many feathers also helps keep them warm.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Wild Animals

At the request of some students who wanted to learn about bats, we did focus on bats the first day, then the rest of the weeks were focusing on a variety of wild animals, so we could hopefully touch on most everyone's favorites!

Dramatic Play
Week 1: bat cave. It wasn't super fancy, but a tent made a good cave. I have some bat posters I got at a teaching conference years ago, and finally got to use! I also hung bats from the tent ceiling (that didn't last-they were torn down and played with right away!) and put some other creepy crawly animals in the cave, like scorpions, snakes, and spiders. They enjoyed playing in here the 2 days it was up, but by the end of the 2nd day, I was ready for it to be done. They just did less playing and imagining they were bats, and more rough housing and knocking the tent over. It's a good 2 day center.

Week 2: Zoo. They loved this! I kinda set up cages with blocks, but they had to improvise and expand them a lot. I'm not sure why, but I hadn't expected them to want to pretend to the animals as much as they did. The zookeepers were super busy, rebuilding cages, chasing down their escaped animals and getting them back into their cages, and also feeding their hungry animals. They had a great time. They often lacked visitors to the zoo, since so many were animals, so I had to buy a lot of tickets and visit often. The stuffed animals were fun, but they liked the animal costumes and being the animals the most.

Mini-zoo with small animals, then the second week, the zoo expanded into the blocks area.

I also had several animal puzzles and games on the shelf that got played with a lot. They especially loved playing animal headbands! It was hilarious to watch. They'd be giving someone clues, and another kid would just walk up and yell to them what animal they were. We're still catching on to asking questions and giving clues I guess!


Bubble wrap roller painting. This was a fun new painting experience they really liked!

Play dough and animal cutters

Q-tip painting


Small Manipulatives

File folder games

ABC animal foam puzzles

Animal puzzles

Flat marbles and animal ABC pages from here

Animal lacing cards

Magnet board: pattern blocks with animal cards

Animal stickers

We finally have snow! I filled the colored water bottles each day, and they love going out and coloring and painting the snow. They especially like mixing colors with each other to make new colors. I just use old empty bottles like syrup, shampoo, ketchup, honey, etc. I found the ketchup bottles were a little harder for them to use, but they were able to do it if they squeezed hard enough.

Large Group
We learned 2 new songs, Going to the Zoo by Raffi, and The Elephant Song by Dr. Jean. And we learned the word "wild."
Day 1, we read Stellaluna. We learned about bats by watching a youtube video about them. I was most impressed that they eat so many bugs! I'm sure the kids only heard the part about vampire bats that feed off animals, and didn't pay attention to much else!
Day 2, we made a giant venn diagram on the floor, and sorted our toy animals by wild, domestic, or both.

Day 3, we read about and learned the life cycle of a frog.
Day 4, we read about animal habitats, then watched this Sesame Street clip about habitats. It doesn't get much better than Lin Manuel Miranda rapping. Then we took the toy animals, and sorted them into habitats by placing them by a picture of their home.

Small Group
We don't have Miss Kim coming anymore, with her new work schedule, so they are learning to work independently in one group, while another group works with me. It's going quite well!
One group drew and wrote in their journals about their favorite animal, while my group was practicing cutting a zoo animal wheel thing. The finished product wasn't a big deal, but practicing cutting was!
The next week, my group practiced numerals and counting with animal magnets. The other group worked on an ABC animal puzzle together.