Saturday, October 7, 2017


Dramatic Play
Apple Orchard
This was a super fun center. Many of the kids recognized the trees from our Fall Dramatic Play center from last year, but I did change a few things. This was focused on the apple orchard, and I added the cash register stand too. They loved picking apples and pretending to make apple pie. The second week, I also added the apple ornaments we had used to stack in large group.

As for the "apples," I discovered last year that the sticky velcro didn't stay on the balls great, and would come off and stay on the tree, instead of staying on the ball. So this year I was reworking how to do it, and realized they stuck great to last year's sticky velcro, which was still there.  So instead of having one side of the velcro on the tree, and one on the ball, both pieces were stuck on the tree. The balls would stick to the sticky side and stay on the tree, and get pulled off easily too. Over the first few days, some started to lose their sticky side, so I just added some more.

Duplo Legos
These are always a hit, and were busy for 2 days.
This activity is a good one for patience and taking turns. I usually have to help set up the pins, since they get knocked down easily as they set them up, but they all tried to do it on their own. They did have to be helped taking turns, because they were fighting over the balls and cutting in line. So I lined them up, one would go, then that person had to help me set them up for the next person. There were only 3-4 in line when we started, but as others saw they weren't fighting anymore, more joined the line and they all got a chance to bowl. Later, they used the pins to whack the balls from the apple center around the room. Go figure.

There were also many puzzles available that were played with several times.

Apple spin art
I cut out apples the size of the salad spinners, and they had watered down red, green, and yellow paint. They could use a spoon or medicine syringe to add paint to their apples, then they spun them. I barely had to help, they all got them spinning on their own. They turned out so great! A few let me keep theirs to hang in our tree a few more days.

Apple marble painting
I didn't cut out these apples, since the marbles would roll on the whole page anyway, but there was a printed apple on their paper. Again, we used red, green, and yellow paint, with spoons and marbles in them. They used the spoons to drop the marbles on their paper in the tray, then rolled them around. Some just rolled them a few times to get a few stripes, while others kept going until their whole page was covered. They turned out great too!

Apple condensed milk painting
I cut out larger apples for this one. I had sweetened condensed milk in a 6-muffin tin, and colored them red, green and yellow. Since this paint is so sticky, I covered the table in paper too. And I'm glad I did! There were paint trails everywhere. I love painting with this because it's a different texture and a fun sensory experience, but this is not art to keep long. It is a milk product, so the pictures get spots after a few days. I told the kids to take them home and show them off, then throw them away.

Apple stamping
We had to do this during 5 senses week too, since this was the cancelled day from my sick child. But they had been excited to do it, so we did. I just cut apples (ones from my mom's tree that weren't edible) in half, and we dipped them in paint and stamped our papers.

Small Manipulatives
Fall pattern cards

A is for Apples with flat marbles (from The Measured Mom)

Apple counting mats

ABC blocks

The magnet board had the 3 main characters from Ten Apples Up On Top, and red apple magnets to play with.

The pocket chart was flash cards matching numbers.

Apple dry erase boards

ABC stamps
Apple stickers

We tried so many different apples snacks this week, then graphed if we liked them or not. It was so much fun! The first day, we also graphed which color of apple was our favorite after trying 3 different kinds. Here are the yummy snacks we enjoyed:
Red, green, yellow apples slices
Apple Jacks
Freeze dried apples with cinnamon
Dried apples
Apple sauce
Apple juice
Apple muffins
Apple cider
Apple pie (this was the day we missed with my sick kids, so we waited and had it during 5 senses week)
Here are our graph results:

Sensory Table
It had oats and cinnamon sticks, plus red, yellow, and green pom pom balls to be like apples. I had thought about adding the plastic apples from my fall pattern cards, or the apple ornaments we used to stack, but we were always using them for something else.

Also, the diggers are back! You may not have noticed them missing, but they each had a broken bolt for the last few weeks. My husband replaced them this weekend and the kids are thrilled to have them back and working again!

Large Group
We learned a new song, 10 red apples. I have 10 red apples in our class tree, and I'd take them out as we'd sing and it subtracted apples. We learned lots of fun things we can make with apples.
Here's the lyrics:
10 red apples hanging in a tree.
Best looking apples I ever did see.
Gonna make apple pie for my friends and me,
9 red apples hanging in a tree.

It goes on as they count down and they make apple cider, applesauce, apple jelly, apple muffins, apple strudel, apple juice, baked apple, and apple fritters. Last verse:

1 red apple hanging in a tree.
Best looking apple I ever did see.
Only 1 apple left, oh my oh me.
No more apples, hanging in a tree.

Day 1, we read Ten Apples Up on Top. I put the kids in 2 groups and gave them some apple ornaments and play dough, and they had to work together to see how tall they could stack their apples. The tallest we got was 5. It was a challenge to do it and work together, but with a lot of encouragement, they did it!

Day 2, we made apple boats after we read about apples. We watched our apple halves float, then made sails on bamboo skewers. They made them lopsided and tip over, but they still had fun making them.

Day 3, we wrote in our journals about our favorite way to eat an apple.

Day 4, we were supposed to color and cut out the 4 steps in the life cycle of a tree and glue them to a headband, but that was our cancelled sick day. :(

Small Group
I may have explained this already, but I only have Miss Kim on Thursdays this year. But I've still wanted to do small groups on Tuesdays, so I have 1 group work independently while 1 works with me, and they've done great!
One group worked independently on apple counting mats (from Kelly's Kindergarten), while I worked with the other on writing in their journals. We had run out of time last week to journal our favorite nursery rhyme, so now we're all caught up.

The next Tuesday, one group worked on puzzles, while the next group came to me two at a time, to make their Ten Apples Up on Top names. They were so excited about it! I only took two at a time so I could observe them and give them enough help. Some didn't need any help, while others weren't sure of the order of the letters, so I had them get their name magnet from the hall and follow the letters on that. They did great with that help, and didn't need me to tell them what came next. I just helped name letters they didn't know.

With Miss Kim, one group worked on the apple counting mats with her, so she could double check their counting. The other group worked with me on patterns. We made patterns from my red and green apples, then colored it in on our paper. Since we didn't have that other Thursday for the second group to do it, we'll catch up on it next week.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nursery Rhymes

I have been looking forward to this theme all summer! I just kept coming up with ideas, so I made sure it was at the beginning of the year so we could try them all out sooner.

Almost every center was based on a Nursery Rhyme, and had a poster there for them to see it. I made it a point to let them know which nursery rhyme it was and read it to them. I also had them asking me, and loved that. So much literacy!

Dramatic Play: Bakery

This was based on Pat-a-Cake and The Muffin Man

I was shocked myself that I hadn't done a bakery before, and had so much fun putting it all together. I started with the foods I had, then got ideas from pinterest for the cookies and cinnamon rolls. I had planned on just using play dough like I have for the pizza restaurant, but loved the felt ideas for less mess! Then off to Wal-Mart (cheaper than the dollar store) for mixing bowls, spatulas and whisks. I already have dollar store cooking sheets for magnet play. I added a few labels, including some on recycled strawberry containers, and we have a bakery!


This center was popular and busy all week. I love that they use the stove as their oven and it's so cute watching them take orders and giving the customers whatever they grab instead of what they ordered. We had to learn to share and take turns, by waiting for the oven and timer and mixer. Those were really fought over the first day, but then it calmed down a lot after that. I was constantly reminding them that part of sharing is waiting. And also to ask for turns, and be polite and let kids waiting hav a turn if you've had it for a long time. Some kids take things with them to the next center (like the mixer) instead of giving it to the next child :) But most of the time, they are ok with waiting and taking turns. They love telling me when they're done and that they'd given it to the waiting friend!


Farm Animals, based on Mary Had a Little Lamb, Baa Baa Black Sheep, This Little Piggy, To Market To Market, Little Bo Peep, and Little Boy Blue.

Castle play set and felt board, based on Old King Cole.

Puppet Theater

This was up for 2 days, so they could use their homemade puppets the second day.
I was very impressed by their puppeteering skills. They told great stories with their puppets and put on fun shows, plus took turns being the audience and listening and clapping for each other. I love that cooperation! It was great having a bakery next door that delivered too, so many yummy treats for the audience!

Flannel boards
We used this to tell the Nursery Rhymes in small group, then it was in small manips, or here in the block area the rest of the days, so they could retell the Nursery Rhymes.


Finger painting, based on Little Jack Horner and his thumb :)

Cotton balls and glue, based on Mary Had a Little Lamb and Little Bo Peep

Puppet making

These turned out fantastic! They were really interested in it. And while a specific end result isn't my goal, I was impressed these all had distinct faces and most had eyes and mouths. This showed me how much they're growing as their art expression has become more purposeful.
It was fun watching them give each other ideas, so many of them ended up with similar looking wings from the feathers. They were pretty equally interested in doing paper sack and paper plate puppets. When they came back the next day, they could use them in the puppet theater, that was up again.

Making muffins for snack, then I put out the rhyming games and sequencing games we had played before in small group. They were great at making the muffins, and added all the ingredients, including cracking the eggs. Some stayed the whole time, others came and went as it was their turn to help. It got a bit messy as they added the batter to the paper cups, but I love having them help and getting that experience. We cleaned up after :)

Small Manipulatives

Nursery Rhyme puzzles: Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, Jack and Jill

Felt Board with nursery rhymes

Spider lacing cards based on Itsy Bitsy Spider

Clothespins and mittens based on 3 Little Kittens
One child had worked so hard to get them all in numerical order (even the teen numbers I had debated using!), then another came by and took them all down to "wash" them then rehung them to dry. I liked the versatility of this center from learning numbers, to playing pretend, then adding in the pinching of the clothespins for the fine motor skills.

Also, number magnets on the magnet board, and rhyming cards in the pocket charts


Each day there were different Nursery Rhyme coloring pages available


Boiled eggs for Humpty Dumpty. They loved reciting it and dropping their eggs to crack them!

Cottage Cheese, for Little Miss Muffet's curds and whey. Only about half of them liked it, so they also had crackers.

Pudding from Georgie Porgie

Muffins from The Muffin Man


The sensory table had a flower garden based on Mary Mary Quite Contrary

The second week, it had water and spiders and was based on Itsy Bitsy Spider
 They would sing the rhyme as they poured water to wash their spiders down the "spouts." They had to learn to work together because it was hard to hold the spout, place the spider, and pour water, so they helped each other hold and pour, then switched jobs. There was problem solving too as the spider legs would stick to the spout made from pool noodles. They figured out if the spider was on its back, it would go down the spout easier.

Large Group

Each day, we used the flannel board to tell the nursery rhymes that were in the centers they did that day. Then those nursery rhymes were what was made available the next day for them to play with. That way, it'd be familiar.
We also learned Dr. Jean's Nursery Rhyme ABC rap. It goes fast, so we did it without her music the first 2 days. I know if we sing it enough, they'll get it. That video is awful quality, by the way, but it at least gives you the song.
Day 1, the flannel board and song took the whole time.
Day 2, we also learned 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, I caught a fish alive. I lined up cards 1-10, then they took turns fishing for my number fish and matching it to the card. They really enjoyed it!
Day 3, we played active Nursery Rhyme games and did London Bridge and Ring around the Rosies They really loved all the dancing! We even got out the parachute to do more Ring around the Rosies as part of singing time after small group. Plus, we bounced food from the bakery on the parachute as we sang Pat-a-cake.
Day 4, they illustrated their favorite Nursery Rhyme in their journals.

Small Group
Miss Kim has only been available on Thursdays, so I've made a few adjustments to how we've done small group. I still do it because it's easier for them to pay attention and do more difficult activities when there's fewer children.

Day 1, we sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. One group worked on their own with these Montessori-inspired trays. They had star pasta and had to sweep them with a paint brush into the shape. I thought it would take them 30 seconds and they'd be bored waiting for my group, but that was not the case! I was actually surprised, and relieved, with how much focus it took. A few even complained that it was too hard, but I don't feel that it was. It just took some focus and effort and it was good for them.
The other group worked with me on pin pricking stars. First they just pricked anywhere to make a night sky. They were so amazed holding it up to the light and seeing the dots! Sometimes the simple things are most amazing to them. Next, I had them trace the outline of a star to make a star-shaped constellation. As they finished, they switched with the other group, and did both groups that day.

Day 2, we had Miss Kim. We worked on rhyming words. Miss Kim did this game,

and I did this one,

both from The Measured Mom. They were great rhymers!!
She has this great article on why teaching rhyming (and Nursery Rhymes!) is an important literacy skill, although, I do remember reading research in college that says kids can learn to read fine without rhyming, but that it can make it easier. So, don't stress if your kid isn't rhyming yet! That's why we do rhyming things a lot!

Day 3, I worked with a small group doing Nursery Rhyme sequencing, while the other group did Nursery Rhyme coloring.

Day 4, Miss Kim and I did more rhyming. My group did rhyming puzzles, while hers played rhyme memory.