Saturday, December 29, 2012

December and igloos

Scroll down for more catching up of all the fun learning and playing we did last month!

As for our igloo, here she is! After 3 years of having one inside in Kindergarten, I was so excited to build one in my backyard for outside time. What I did not consider was the wind. It broke the igloo. Twice. So I gave up and brought it inside and they love it! It's in place of the Reading Center tents and still near the books so they often take a book inside to read. It also adds to our Dramatic Play and a lot of make-believe and pretend play happens here.
I have more layers added since this picture was taken, and we're still accepting milk cartons! Thanks for all the ones donated already. They sure loved playing in it even more once the doorway was added, and they'll love as it gets closed in on top.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas in Preschool

Winter Celebrations week then became Christmas! Our typical house-keeping dramatic play (which is a huge favorite) was transformed into a more Christmas-y home with a felt tree. Thank you pinterest! There was also a mini tree with mini ornaments and they had a great time decorating both trees. There were shoe box presents they could fill and pass out and they loved doing that! There was also a train-a huge favorite with the boys, and Christmas masks that were a huge hit. They loved being Santa, reindeer, and elves, etc!

I have tons of Christmas books that we had a great time reading. We made Christmas cookies with play dough, and made lots of ornaments and loved the glitter glue a little too much. We had Christmas cards and a mailbox at the writing center and had so much fun writing and sending them to each other! It was really sweet to watch.

**This part of the post was added later, and I can't believe I forgot it! I made these Christmas Tree counting cards because of how much the kids liked the apple and acorn tree counting cards from the fall. I decided to add ornaments to these trees in the correct number to help with their counting. The fall trees were geared for 5-year-olds and I think this helped bring the activity to a more independent 3-year-old game. Then I put the papers on cookie sheets, and added magnets to Christmas-y pom poms. The kids liked it a lot. It was an extra activity in my hallway the second week so as I help get kids into snow gear, the ones who are done or waiting have something to do. I used all free commercial use clip art to make this, so I'm sharing it with you here. I don't know how to create a zipped file, so they're all separate.

We had some great large groups too. I especially enjoyed reading and discussing the Grinch. They don't always sit quietly for story time and I questioned doing a long book, but they were mesmerized! We talked about maybe not getting presents on Christmas, but being happy to be with our family and they got super chatty talking about all the people in their families and how much they love them. It made my heart melt a little :) We tried to think of nice things that would make the Grinch's heart keep growing and got a great list. Thanks for all of you who did it as homework too! We really helped our Grinch out! Some of their ideas:
  • give presents
  • share
  • help someone who fell down
  • hold my baby brother
  • give someone a hug
  • play games with your family
 p.s. anyone know how to rotate a pic in blogger? not me!

I always love finding out what these kids learned in a week or two, and they really surprised me! We learned about the word "compare" and thanks to another Sesame Street podcast, I think we got a great hold of that word. We then compared Hanukkah to Christmas and I could not believe how much they remembered about Hanukkah from just one day! They were throwing out suggestions like crazy for our venn diagram, and always knew the right place for me to write it. These kids are brilliant. Love them.

The big highlight was our Christmas party. It was crazy and fun! I am so glad we had moms and grandmas there to help! Thanks to everyone for the donations as well! It made for a fun party. We stared off decorating our sugar cone Christmas trees and eating lots of candy! We had self-select time before we settled down to read the Polar Express. Then we got to make our silver jingle bell necklaces. Threading those pony beads on the ribbon was hard work for little fingers, and that's why it's such a great fine-motor skill! We then got to go upstairs for the first time. This was so fun for them! They helped count and scoop the hot chocolate into the maker, pour in popcorn kernels and watch them pop, melt and pour butter, shake popcorn bags, and make their own sugar cookie. We watched Frosty the Snowman while we enjoyed all of our treats. They also loved seeing my baby and the other two baby brothers visiting with their moms! After the movie and clean-up, we headed back downstairs to wrap their presents for you and make their cards. We finished just in time for Show and Tell and we rushed on home! I'm sad I didn't get a group picture in their cute jammies, but we were just so busy having too much fun all day!

Thanks for all your help all week! I couldn't have done so many fun things without all of your help! Enjoy your break and see you back soon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


We started off our Winter Celebrations with Hanukkah (I never know when to spell it Chanukkah). Every kids helped make our potato latkes and sat quietly watching them cook while we read a Hanukkah story. We ate them with applesauce and they loved them! It made our classroom smell really good too! Here's the recipe I found:

 Hash brown potato latkes
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 10 minutes per batch Makes: 12 latkes

1 pound hash browns, defrosted if frozen
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
5 tablespoons canola oil, or as needed

Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Heat oil in a large skillet until hot. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of potato mixture into the oil; fry, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with apple sauce or sour cream.

We learned about Hanukkah from a great book during large group, then learned the Dreidel song. They sang this every day, over and over, all the way up to Christmas break. They must have liked it! Hope you enjoyed it too! We played the dreidel game for large group and although I'm not convinced I know how to play it exactly right, we had a lot of fun! Thanks to one of our grandmas for helping so we could split into two groups and not have to wait long for our turns.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Arctic Animals

Arctic animals are my favorite, and it was the perfect time of year to learn about them and wrap up our huge animal theme! Antarctica was a big part of the Social Studies core when I taught Kindergarten, so I still love teaching about it. It was hard to do it all in just 2 days!

Dramatic Play was my favorite this week. We went to Antarctica, the South Pole, on Monday and learned how to be scientists. I had a lot of fun playing with the kids and showing them what scientists in Antarctica do. We used lots of cool words like "observe" and "discover" and we ventured outside and observed the animals of Antarctica. The kids would take their maps and notebooks and were writing things down like crazy. I have some of the best pictures I'll share with all you parents later. They were having great discussions about the different animals they were discovering in the South Pole.

For large group on Monday, we read about penguins and learned that Daddy Emperor penguins carry their eggs on their feet, and that they can break or freeze if they fall. We practiced being daddy penguins by balancing bean bags on our feet and trying to walk. It was a great exercise of patience and problem solving! Some kids just gave up and picked them up, while others held them on by bending over and holding it there. Some never made it very far with their tiny steps. It was fun to watch them figure it out. They even asked to try it again Wednesday during self-select time, so I got the bean bags back out. Both days, we wore penguin masks and marched around singing Penguins on Parade and taking turns leading and following.

Wednesday we switched Dramatic Play to the North Pole and got to be scientists again! They really enjoyed seeing new animals at the North Pole. It's confusing for kids because books and movies often show penguins and polar bears together since they both live in the snow. I was surprised how quickly they caught on that penguins live to the south, bottom of the world, and polar bears live in the north, or top of the world.

That knowledge helped us out in small group as we sorted our toy animals on our world map. They did an awesome job! I barely had to help, they remembered it all from their playing.

I think the kids' favorite part of the week was our magic snow. It started out as a tiny amount of powder, then when I added water, it grew and filled our tubs! It was such a fun science experiment! We got to play with all different Arctic animals from the North and South pole in the snow. They loved it! You can get it here and see a video on it. I also saw it in small packages on the toy aisle at Dollar Tree. They loved finding out it's the same stuff in diapers that makes diapers hold moisture and grow too!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ocean Animals

We had a lot of fun during ocean animals week. Dramatic play was a beach, similar to what we had for our summer DP here. Except my cool trees lost their leaves, so no palm trees this time.

The kids were really into the fish toys and posters all over the room and were always asking what kinds of fish they all were. They loved racing the fish and chasing each other with the sharks too.

I have 3 ocean floor puzzles and we spent a lot of time on them this week. Puzzles are such a great skill for kids and they have a lot of fun putting them together and breaking them apart again.

We did a lot of math and number recognition this week too. These math puzzles from Lakeshore are some of my favorites that I have! I have a lot of them, and we've played with them before, so now they really knew how to use them when I got out the ocean ones. In order to see the picture, you have to put the numbers in order from 1-10. There's no fitting pieces into tricky spots or anything, just knowing your numbers and how to get them in order. I love that you can see right away if you got it wrong because the picture doesn't look right. We did these together several times, practicing our counting and naming the numbers. Number recognition is all about repetition, and this was great practice for us!

We did more math in large group with our new song, 5 Little Crabs. Instead of having the kids help hold the crab pictures, we had them on the board and them subtracted as the song went along. I already learned with 5 Little Monkeys that we're not quite ready to subtract ourselves and sit down-we want to hold a monkey the whole song! They did great with this activity and counting to 5! We also played a fish counting board game in large group where they picked a card, counted how many of that fish in the picture, then match the card to the picture. They did so great, they played it alone in self-select time the next week and all remembered how to play.

The highlight of the week was our growing sting ray. I love Dollar Tree! We measured it the first day, then put it in water. They were checking every few minutes and having me pull it out to compare to our first measurement. They were so sure he was growing by the second. Wednesday was a real treat because he had doubled in size and outgrew his jar! Weeks later, he's dried up and shrunk back down, and they still ask how he's doing!

Other fun things were eating our ocean in a cup, which was swedish fish in blue jello, and sewing with ocean lacing cards (an excellent fine motor skill). We also sang and danced to a lot of music! The kids have really enjoyed turning songs on during self-select time too and I love it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preschool Songs

With sending my daughter to nursery at church, I've realized how hard it can be to decipher the songs that she's learning there, and she's constantly asking me to sing them with her. When I know it, I can, but she gets frustrated when I don't. That being said, I thought this same thing could be happening to you parents, too. I write some of the lyrics on our newsletters, but that doesn't really help with the tune. We love watching some silly songs on youtube at our house, and I started searching for many of the songs we sing at preschool. My girl loved watching and singing along and I thought I'd share with you, so enjoy! I couldn't find them all, but here's what I found. Some are not sung by the same artists, but I found versions close to what we have sung in class so your child should recognize them!

Spider on the Floor:

Five Little Monkeys:

Tootie Ta

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Dreidel Song (we'll learn it this month)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back to blogging!

Sorry parents! I've been a little busy and distracted and have not been great at keeping you updated on our blog. I added a few new posts below, so scroll down and check them out.

This month is already flying by! After baby's arrival, we took a week off of school, then thanks to my wonderful husband, and a wonderful grandma, we were right back to school! We even added 2 new friends to our class! The kids have been amazing and done really well with our substitute teachers! I am so pleased with how well they've done at just sticking to their routine of school, and even how well they've adapted to the changes. I have felt so great after having this baby, I've actually joined the class each day to lead large group and it's been so much fun to get right back into teaching.

The first week back, we still had a foot of snow, so we changed the routine a little bit to have outside time last. This way, we weren't doing the snow gear thing all day! Even with 3 of us, it took about 10-15 minutes to get them all ready and outside! Because of this, we may only have outside time once a week when I'm back to teaching on my own. The kids loved playing outside in the snow, especially painting the snow with the colored water in squirt bottles! They had a lot of fun learning about farm animals. We played animal sound bingo, had stick horse races, and both Troy and Kerrie got down on their hands and knees and took the kids for horseback rides! We had to cancel our field trip because of the weather, but we'll just reschedule for the spring! We also played with farm puzzles and counting games. It was a great week!

 This week, the weather was great again, so we were back on a regular schedule. We had a super fun day, wrapping up our unit on farm animals, and also learning a little about Thanksgiving. We shook a bottle of whipping cream to make our own butter to put on crackers for snack. And thanks to our substitute "grandma," as all the kids call her, we also got to make ice cream that we enjoyed after playing outside. We sure are grateful for the cows who give us milk! We learned a little about Thanksgiving, made turkeys, and sorted Skittles by color on these turkey sorting mats. Well, to be honest, we ate a lot of Skittles. We'll continue to work on the sorting thing!
 Sorting Skittles. Fun activity for Thanksgiving Day!
Our awesome substitutes will help out 1 more week after Thanksgiving, then back to me full time! Thanks for all your help and willingness to be flexible this month! Your kids are the best!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Week

Thanks to the late arrival of baby boy, we got to come to school the week of Halloween! We had so much fun, so I am so glad we were in school and that I got to be a part of it! Here are some of the fun things we did:
  • The block area was turned into a giant spider web. Not all the kids were thrilled about this, but they warmed up to the idea! We had lots of bugs and spiders for the kids to play with, and I challenged them all to try to collect the bugs by staying on the web as they walked. It was a great activity for balance and their large motor skills. Also fun for the imagination! Many of these bugs also ended up in some tasty dishes in the kitchen!
  • We made pictures with Halloween stamps and stickers in the writing center.
  • We played with the squirrel pattern cards and apple and acorn counting trees from our week about fall. The kids loved having these back out!
  • We read lots of spooky Halloween stories.
  • We got dressed up for Halloween! Grandma Kerrie visited our class and played with us, read us books, and led a fun game of Halloween Bingo for large group time.
  • We played in pumpkin guts!
  • We acted out the story of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat, and also learned a new song, Spider on the Floor by Raffi. We did the song over and over, they thought it was so much fun!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pet Store

Here's the fun Pet Store we had for dramatic play the week we learned about pets:

There's just something about that cardboard box and cash register that is like a magnet to these kiddos! They just love it.
I think the highlight for me was the literacy and math I was able to pull in. All the animals had a sign for where they belonged, and then the signs for pricing were on the inside and outside of the "store" sign. They had a great time buying animals from each other and they would even check the sign to tell the customer how many dollars it cost. They don't all know all of their numbers yet, so I was able to help them. The best way to enhance number recognition is repetition, so I'm trying to incorporate a lot of numbers and counting into all the things we do to give them as many exposures as I can!
But the real highlight was watching the kids ring up the customers. The cash register's belt really moves and so the kids would put the smaller animals on the conveyor belt (like the frogs, and even the fish taken out of the bowls) and they'd push the button to move the animal along the conveyor belt until it beeped. It was so funny and cute to watch! Luckily, none of them work at a pet store yet.

The kids' highlight of the week was definitely one of our great moms bringing in their pet kitten. They are still walking about it, weeks later! What a cutie!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Just a little review of our fun times learning about animals.

We spent the last 2 weeks learning about wild animals, that live in the wild and aren't taken are of by people. We did a lot of math with sorting activities, such as putting animals into groups of wild, and not wild.

For dramatic play, we had a zoo the first week. The kids really loved working at the ticket booth. They loved writing out and selling tickets, and also selling and buying snacks. I overheard some pretty fun conversations back and forth. They were SO GOOD at sharing and taking turns here all week. I was so impressed there was no fighting over the cash register, but they took turns like champs instead. They got a lot of literacy in with their ticket writing, and also the animal signs. This helped them to clean up and sort the animals back into their cages too. The animals were also cared for well and all had a wide variety of food and snacks in their cages by the end of the day.


The second week, I changed dramatic play to a Veterinarian's Office. I forgot to take pics, but they had a lot of fun here too. Many stuffed animals spent their day getting shots and being wrapped in ace bandages. Poor things were taken care of very well.

The animal hats were a lot of fun in both dramatic play centers, and sometimes went with us outside too, where the kids could run and play like wild animals to their heart's content. It was great.

This is an "animal parade" a few of the kids built and put together one day. They all pitched in as they saw what the first child had done and had a great time. They cleaned up great too, and sorted the animals back to where they went in the zoo, according to their signs.

Another center they enjoyed was the lacing animals. Lacing and sewing cards are an excellent small motor manipulative for this age group. I have seen sturdy lacing cards at Dollar Tree lately and it's such a great quiet activity for a preschooler. I used to take these to my Sunbeams (3 year olds) class in church and they were great to keep them busy and quiet when needed. These ones I made from animal paper plates that you can get at any grocery store. I definitely recommend lacing cards at home!

This week we are learning about pets, and are learning the word "tame." We did some more sorting of animals, this time sorting them by wild and tame, to use our new word. We also made a Venn Diagram listing what animals would be good pets, or bad pets. They were all excited to share all they knew about their pets, or the pets of their grandparents. We even had a kitten visit our classroom and that was the highlight of the day! It's all they could talk about as we got backpacks ready to go home. We also did some great art, and had lots of fun playing in the pet store. I'll be back soon with more pictures from pet week!

Friday, October 12, 2012


On week 2 of our Wild Animals unit, we are learning about animal habitats! This is a great video for your kids to help them review habitats at home. Have you noticed yet that I love Sesame Street? I just think it's a great show to help children learn vocabulary and other great things! I couldn't find the shorter videos, so here's the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our deciduous tree walk

Your kids took the pics today as we walked searching for deciduous trees that are going to change colors and lose their leaves. We saw many leaves on the ground, many trees just starting to change color, and even saw an apple tree, which we were so excited about! We had apples on Monday for snack, plus apple sauce and apple juice today. They were excited to see some growing on our neighbor's tree.
Here are their beautiful pictures. The finger one is just one of many!


I love fall! I had a fun week teaching your kids all about it too. I see light bulbs turning on in their little minds and they're really understanding the things we talk about. I hope they're pointing out signs of fall that they're seeing to you too! The trees in our neighborhood are still pretty green, but we could see the bright colors on the mountain on our walk, and found many more trees just starting to change and lose their leaves.

Fall Math

 Apple tree counting. I printed the tree mats from Kelly's Kindergarten and laminated them years ago. They've survived many years already! I got the "apples" from Dollar Tree. They're just a berry bunch that I cut up and they look like apples. I store them in baby food containers. I also added acorns that we found a family walk last week. They loved that they were real acorns! The kids can look at the number on the basket and count how many apples or acorns to put in the tree.
 Fall patterns. I bought these pattern sets in a Scholastic book order a few years back. I love that they come with pattern cards. At this age, just matching the object to the picture on the card is a great beginning math skill. They were definitely doing that today! It helps reinforce colors too. One girl had to get creative because she was making a pattern that needed yellow squirrels, but the other kids had them. She replaced the squirrels with yellow leaves and made a great pattern! I helped them extend their play by helping them extend their patterns. We only did these simple AB patterns today:
 Here are some harder patterns, like ABC, that we will start getting into once they can all extend an AB pattern:
 I was surprised how popular these fall pattern toys were today. They also enjoyed just playing with them on their own, and some made their own patterns too (see the apple pattern at the top).

For snack this week, we had apples since it's fall! On Monday we tasted fresh apple slices. We had red, green, and yellow. When they each finished, they colored an apple to show which was their favorite and then hung it in the tree. When everyone was done, we counted our results on our "graph." 3 liked red, 2 liked yellow, and 1 liked green. I was glad they didn't all copy the first person and they each chose their real favorite!

Fall Art
We changed our tree this week too! Thanks to a parent helper on Monday, we painted our fall leaves. This has been a favorite art project of mine as long as I've been teaching. We painted with corn syrup. The kids got to choose red, yellow, or orange and we added the food coloring to their corn syrup on their leaf and they got to paint. Since there isn't orange food coloring, we learned that red and yellow mixed together make orange. They've been drying since Monday and were ready to hang this morning. The kids kept commenting on how pretty our fall tree looked. I have to agree! A few leaves even fell and they said it was like a real fall tree. I knew they'd been listening this week! I'll have to figure out a way to attach some of the heavier leaves. Here's a close-up of our shiny leaves:

 Today we did another fall art project, starch painting. The kids got to choose a fall picture printed on cardstock to paint. They added tissue paper squares in fall colors. They then paint over it with liquid starch. The starch makes the tissue paper bleed and stick. Some just enjoyed painting with a lot of starch because it was turning colors in our bowls.
 You'll notice I don't do a lot of "crafts" in preschool. Crafts teach a child to copy and follow directions and that's great, but our goal in art is to learn creativity. Even this week is a little tough for me to have ready-printed pictures that they're painting. I don't do that often. I love to see them explore and create whatever comes to mind with the mediums they are given to create with.

Fall Dramatic Play

We went camping in Dramatic Play this week. I honestly couldn't think of a fall-related dramatic play. Fall just makes me think of leaves changing, and the mountains, so that's why we went camping! A few leaves on the ground made it relate to our week.
Roasting marshmallows was the highlight of this area all week. It's just cotton balls glued onto dowels we had in our kitchen for years.
I was pretty proud of my creative grill I made. It's a cooling rack on a paper tray. They seemed less than  impressed.

 I found all the food cooking in the fire. Makes sense. Wish I'd thought of it!