Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Family and Friends

We had a fun 2 weeks talking about our families and friends. I really can't emphasize enough how much these kids love talking about their families! They go on and on, all at the same time, and don't even realize 7 other kids are talking at the same time. And they only say good things too. :)
We had fun talking about family trees. The one I sent home was found here for anyone interested in printing another one. It's a great family lesson at home. We made one in our classroom tree too. As we talked about the word, relative, we added other relatives besides grandparents like aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. They were all talking and talking about their uncles, cousins, brothers, etc. and really excited about it all. We talked about how some kids in our class have step parents too, and they're so lucky to have more moms and dads and siblings in their family trees, so some kids have a really full tree. I really tried to celebrate our great families because it's important that all kids love the family they come from, even if it seems different from others.
We also read the story The Turnip. I have a Russian nesting doll (matryoshka) that tells this story and they had a lot of fun retelling the story with that. We also had it out to play with the next 2 days.  Their reading comprehension is impressive and I'm so proud at how well they listen to, and remember the books we read.
We read The Relatives Came the second day and we talked more about their relatives, especially cousins. It was pretty much a repeat of the above-mentioned chaotic sharing of family stories.
We had our grocery store and kitchen back for dramatic play. It's amazing how much better they are at playing together, compared to when I had it out at the beginning of the year. Instead of fighting over the register, they actually took turns on it without much prompting by me and were content to do something else, like shop for groceries or play in the kitchen, until someone was done with the register.
Other fun things we did:
Wiki stix. We started making numbers, and ended with a table of spiders.
Play dough. Each day we cleaned up art early to have some play dough time. They ask for it almost every day. We did the lowercase alphabet stamps again and it's a challenge to find the letters they want since they know their uppercase letters better. It's great letter practice mixed with play.
Puzzles. Today I had 6 of the 8 kids help with an ABC floor puzzle and that's rare. I usually only have 1 or 2 who have been interested in puzzles all year.
ABC lacing beads. How did I not get these out sooner? Huge hit. They were naming letters as they practiced the fine motor skill of lacing. Win win.
Pattern block magnets. I loved pattern blocks as a kid, and they're even better as magnets. We had some way cool designs made and I grabbed my camera to snap some pictures, and the battery was dead. Boo. We'll have to do it again.
Played outside. They love it and miss it! Glad we got out again!
Growing paint. Found the idea on pinterest here. And here are the directions.
Ours looked even better, I thought. At least they looked like a 3 year old did them. :)
They were so amazed by this process, and enjoyed the stickiness and messiness of the painting. They loved seeing and touching them after they were microwaved too. It was pretty much like cooking a pancake in the microwave, and they all wanted to eat them. I told them no, although it was all edible ingredients. Just flavorless I guess. I'm only disappointed in how the paper folded as they dried and cooled.

 As I was racking my brain with what else we did, I remembered we celebrated Valentine's Day! We started the group celebrations with conversation heart graphing. I was super impressed by their graphing skills and self-control! 2 of the older kids got it right off the bat, and the other kids just checked theirs, had a little prompting from me, and they all figured it out. I asked super hard math questions like, which color did you have the most or least or same? And they knew the right answers! May not seem super hard, but this is a Kindergarten-level skill, so be impressed that your 3-year-olds can do it!
We then used our hearts we hadn't eaten yet to play Don't Eat Pete and they thought it was so funny!
We handed out Valentines and it was a bit of a challenge because we weren't all excited about handing out the treats we brought, but with some prodding (and pointing out treats received), we all shared with our friends. We even fit in show and tell that day. I got the graphing page here and game here.

We worked really hard on sharing when we talked about friends. My daughter's new favorite show is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and I have to admit that I love it too! We watched a 1 minute clip with a song about taking turns. Find it here. (You can take a turn, and then I get it back!) We then role played taking turns, and watched it again. We played Memory and practiced taking turns some more, then watched it again. I was really trying to drill that song into their heads! I think it worked because they were singing it when they came back the next week. I'm singing it with them as I help them take turns in real play, because that's when it counts. It's one thing to role play and practice, but one of the most important skills children learn in preschool is socializing, and that includes sharing. We will be using this song lots the rest of the year!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I just realized I never posted the completed igloo photos, so here they are!!

A little lopsided on one side, but surprisingly sturdy. They way the kids run in and out, I'm shocked the doorway is still standing. And now I stare at it each day and wonder when I'll just have to rip it all back down.   :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I love me!

We're starting out our week of love, with talking about loving ourselves! We talked about the word respect, and role played ways we show respect to things, each other, and ourselves. We did start out the school year with a week about ourselves, but we're doing different activities and have a more in-depth focus. The first week was about getting to know each other. This week was more about having pride in ourselves.

Dramatic Play
We had a Doctor's Office. They'd played with these tools before when we had a Vet's Office, and they loved that. This time the focus was on people and they got right into their roles! Especially on the 2nd day. I have some great pics of your kids (which I'll get you on a cd at the end of the year, btw) playing in this center. We had lots of patients with broken legs and arms that had to be bandaged, and these doctors sure gave a lot of shots! No tears, though. We had sick babies that were loved and taken care of, and given lots of shots too. One "doctor" was walking around scribbling in her notebook, and kept talking about knowing everyone's diagnosis. Not sure where she learned that word, but she used it all day! The office even got busy enough, we always had patients in the waiting room. Good thing we had books to look at, and the classic dr's office toy to keep them occupied. It cracked me up, watching them sit and wait, then have the dr call the next kid in. It's all so realistic. This is the great thing about dramatic play. They get the opportunity to act out and play with real-life experiences they know. It's the great part about a play-based school.

We did spin art, and I can't believe I waited this long in the year to do it. I have salad spinners I found at the DI for $2 each years ago (they can be $20 new). They drop in paint, spin it, then repeat. We did it with the normal paint, then watered it down to see if it worked better. Both worked well and it was fun to compare the 2 versions. We had a lot of color combining and I love that they are learning what the primary colors make when mixed together by actually seeing it happen.
We also played play dough, which we hadn't for awhile. We had the rollers and small letter alphabet stamps. It led to some great discussion because they were looking for the first letters of their names, so we talked about small and capital letters, and looked at our ABC posters in the rooms to find the small versions of the letters they knew. Great learning through play here.

We also played blocks, and more puzzles this week. They also used the scissors and glue more in the Writing Center, now that they've been reminded they're there. I like to supervise scissor use :) and they're doing really well.

We read The Little Engine that Could on Monday and they loved it. They had mostly all read it before. We read the e-book version on my computer, and for some reason, the same story seems more mesmerizing on a computer (and there were no graphics or anything). We retold it with a flannel board story, that was also out Wednesday for them to play again. We were stuck inside with gross air again, so we watched part of The Little Engine that Could video I found online. It was a cute cartoon version. They all knew what was coming next since we had just read and re-told it, yet they were still so nervous that the train might not make it up the hill in the end! I heard "I think I can" over and over during their play time on Wednesday.
Wednesday we talked about feelings in large group. Their faces were hysterical as they showed me what they would look like when scared, happy, sad, nervous, etc. I loved it. We role played what to do when someone makes you angry too. I think it's important for kids to understand that all the feelings they feel are ok, and not bad. It's your actions that can be bad. We talked about it being ok to be angry, but we practiced saying "I feel angry because..." instead of screaming and hitting. Let me know if I've cured any temper tantrums. :) My daughter still has them. We also talked about feeling proud, like the Little Engine did when she got to the top of the mountain, and talked about different reasons we feel proud. All this talking and such was done in smaller chunks between different activities. Really stretching these inside days!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Nursery Rhyme week

What a fun follow-up to Fairy Tales!

Dramatic Play
We had a puppet theater here. It included the stick puppets and masks from Fairy Tale stories we read, plus their books to help the kids remember the stories. I also had a variety of animal puppets that were a huge hit both days!

On the first day, we also made puppets in art. We made paper sack puppets and stick puppets. The kids loved cutting and gluing. I hadn't realized how much help we needed with scissors because I hadn't realized how little we'd used them. They've always been available in the Writing Center, but having them in art brought more attention to them. I had to offer a lot of help, but it was great cutting practice and small motor skill building!
It was fun seeing the kids take their puppets to the theater and play with them. They were all so creative.
 Day 2, we painted with cotton balls for all the Nursery Rhymes with sheep and wool in them. They could use their fingers to hold it, and some chose to use a clothes pin. I told them the different rhymes with sheep in them as they painted.

Small and Large Manips
I have 4 nursery rhyme puzzles which were all a hit. The kids learned to work together and we did all 4 puzzles several times, with different groups of kids. Puzzles are such a good small motor skill, and also good for logic and reasoning!
We used the rhyming puzzles too, after using them on Monday for large group.
We also played with some awesome flannel boards. It seems old-fashioned, but they don't know it! I have about 30 different Nursery Rhyme flannel board stories, so I had different ones out on different days, plus every rhyme we told in large group, we also told on the flannel board. They really enjoyed telling the Nursery Rhymes on the boards during self-select time. They'd often point out one of the Nursery Rhyme posters, and I helped them find the stories for the board.

Here are some other activities we did, and rhymes we read:

Little Miss Muffet
We ate curds and whey for snack (cottage cheese). It wasn't as big of a hit as the porridge, but they all tried it. They liked dipping crackers in it the best. This was a favorite rhyme to retell on the flannel board all week.

Georgie Porgie
We had pudding for snack and this was definitely a hit, and we even dipped graham crackers in it. We'll have to do this one again!

Hickory Dickory Dock
We sang the Barney version, shown here and practiced counting, and what number comes next. We also used this to introduce our vocabulary word, rhyme, and find rhyming words. We found the rhyming words in all the Nursery Rhymes we read after starting with this one in large group.

Humpty Dumpty
We colored boiled eggs. I couldn't believe how much they liked this! They counted food coloring drops with me and were just mesmerized by this activity. I tried to do large group after dying the eggs (thinking they could listen and sing while the eggs just sat there), but we had to keep checking the eggs over and over! They really just loved to stare at the cups. They loved hos bright they turned out and were so excited to take them home.

And, the highlight, we got to go outside! The inversion cleared, and we had a new layer of snow! I know you all got to see your kids out there when you picked them up, and I hope they had fun. They sure were acting like it! They all took turns tubing down our little hill. They sprayed the snow with spray bottles, ate some snow, and made great snow angels. They even dug out our slide. I hope we get to enjoy more outside time soon! They really do need that chance to get outside and move.