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!