Friday, September 27, 2013

Shapes Shapes Shapes!

Here's some of the fun we had during shapes week!

Dramatic Play:
Pizza Restaurant

 Added literacy with job charts and signs for ordering. Also great math with this.

 Math and sorting. Pizza toppings made with shapes I cut out from foamie sheets. Each day at clean up, the kids had to sort them back into their right spots. It took time, but it's an important math skill!


We had a blast making pizza this week in DP! We had play dough and toppings so they could make their own, plus some plastic pizza pieces too. It was a hit all 4 days. They were so cute as workers dressed in their aprons and chef hats, and taking orders (always filling out the order forms and receipts) and serving each other. One day, 2 kids were working like crazy while the others stood in line to order and sat at the table waiting. The "workers" were running around like crazy taking orders and making pizzas and one said, "It's so hard to work at the Pizza Restaurant when it's so busy!" We recruited a few more workers and they got through the busy rush. This play was serious business. Check out these great pizzas:

I tried a new play dough recipe this week with baking soda and cornstarch. It was great the first day, but then got super sticky, so I went back to my go-to recipe I use all the time. I didn't get it here, but it's the same one I had from college and I know it works.


The first week, we set up bowling. The kids loved the pizza restaurant and bowling alley together. One kid even planned his birthday party there and invited the others to come eat pizza and bowl. It was perfect.

Day 3, we had masking tape shapes on the ground and a basket of objects to sort by shape like this, and day 4, we had a giant foam number puzzle with shapes for each number.

Small Manipulatives:

We did several shape puzzles (large floor ones and small), played with pattern block and other shapes magnets to make pictures and patterns, and played shape dominoes.
We also used pom poms to make shapes. They loved this one!
Shape sponge painting
Q-tip art in small circles (the point was to use their fine motor skills to make dots, but they all just painted all over the pages).
Gluing foamie shapes to make pictures
Play dough with shape cookie cutters

Sensory Table:

We had 2 more days of rainbow rice since they loved it so much. Week 2, we had cloud dough, which is flour and baby oil mixed together. It was the perfect consistency for our ABC molds.

Shape stamps (made putting stickers on milk carton lids) thanks pinterest
Shape tracing

Large Group:

Jake the Snake is similar to Mitch the Fish and Scat the Cat, except Jake makes different shapes with his body. I have pictures of Jake wrapped around shapes in a folder, and they switch as we sing the song.

I'm Jake the Snake,
I'm happy and awake.
I'm a magical guy,
I can change my shape.

We also sang 2 songs from Dr. Jean's cd Totally Math, Shape a Loo and I Spy a Shape.
We danced and sang about shapes, and searched for them around the room as we sang.

Shape a Loo
Here we go shape a loo, here we go shape a lay, here we go shape a loo, all on a happy school day.
We put the triangles in, we take the triangles out, we give the triangles a shake shake shake, and turn them all about.
(repeat with other shapes)

I Spy a Shape
Do you spy a rectangle? A rectangle? A rectangle? Do you spy a rectangle, in the room?
Yes I found a rectangle.....
(repeat with other shapes)

We did a shape each day for 4 days (circle, square, rectangle, triangle) and hung pictures on our shape wall, then played I Spy a Shape and found them all over the room.
We read many great shape books too.

Small Group:

Thanks for your help with this one, parents! We made a book based on Brown Bear, Brown Bear, using shapes. With pre-cut shapes, the children made a different animal for each page. I still need to bind them and have a child who was absent finish theirs, then they'll be coming home. They look great and I'm excited for the kids to "read" them to you. They learned so much with this activity, and I was impressed listening to you moms helping and reviewing their shapes with them. The Kindergarten core wants the children to be able to use shapes to make a picture, and that's what we were teaching here.

Some great shape resources to keep teaching your kids at home:
Shape Play
Colors and Shapes
Name the Shapes
Big Bird's Shapes
Different Shapes
Creating with Shapes
Shape o Bots
and so many more once you find these, you'll see the rest!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Your Child's Safety

This theme has been on my mind all summer. A friend shared some articles on how to protect your child from sexual abuse and it's been on my mind ever since. As uncomfortable as it seems to discuss this topic, we all know it's something we have to teach our children. (One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.) I vaguely remember being taught about it in school, with groups coming in and doing skits and talking about our "uh-oh" alarms. We also had the Safety Kids books and tapes as kids and I remember the song about "sometimes you just gotta yell and scream." Stranger Danger was a popular concept to teach back then, but we know now that most child abuse and abductions happen by people we know.
I'm not an expert in this area, but I am a concerned teacher and parent. I've researched and read a lot about this topic and want to share what I've learned with you so you can better protect your child. One of the biggest ways to prevent our children from being sexually abused is by having a close and open relationship with them. Predators go after the weak, and are unlikely to harm a child if they know that child will tell someone. Through the "grooming" process, they often test the boundaries and if a child tells a trusted adult at this phase they will often back off (Time magazine had an article about Jerry Sandusky that discussed this tactic. It was scary to learn how many kids did tell, yet he still hurt so many who didn't.)
I will not be discussing with your preschoolers how to stay safe from child predators during our 2 week Safety Unit. I believe this is something that you should be teaching in your home and did not feel it was appropriate for me to talk about with them.
We will talk a little about strangers with a book called Don't Talk to Strangers by Christine Mehlhaff. It gives a general overview of who strangers are and why we don't talk to them and what to do. I think a valid fear in parents is that a stranger will hurt your child, but we don't want to scare our children so much that they are scared of everyone. Another fear of mine is my child getting lost when we are out somewhere. A general rule I'm trying to teach her (and I'll talk about with your kids) is how to find someone to help them. At a grocery store, they can go to the front where you buy your groceries and tell them you're lost. They can look for a police officer in uniform. I have also taught her to look for a mom with kids. A mom with kids is a stranger you can trust (I hope!). Another person would be a grandmother.
As a mom, I'm scared to talk about this topic with my own child, and so I've tried to arm myself with information to help me. I hope to do the same for you. Here are links to articles I've read and found helpful and hope that you do as well.

Stranger Danger:
Tricky People are the New Strangers
Dr. Phil
How to Teach Your Child Stranger Danger
Stranger Danger Resources
Tips for Parents
10 Ways to Test Your Child about Stranger Danger

Protecting your child from sexual abuse:
Protect Your Child From a Predator
10 Body Safety Rules
Books to Teach Kids Appropriate Touch
I Said No
Lessons to Parents from the Sandusky Verdict
In Plain View: How Child Molesters Get Away With It

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ABC Books

This is a little unrelated to preschool, but this was on my list of things to share this summer, and I totally forgot. For my end of the year gift to all the kids, I made a cool (at least I thought so) ABC book for each child. I did a page for each letter of the alphabet, printed them and put them in dollar store albums and they each got their own book with pictures of them and their friends from the preschool year.

Well, here's my secret to the book. I am an avid digital scrapbooker (here's the blog I actually update regularly for that), and used this amazing ABC kit by AmyDane Designs.

I didn't even have to make the pages, because they are brag book pages I bought pre-made. So, I can brag all I want about this book, because all I did was slip pictures (with photoshop) into an already made page, and add the journaling. I don't see the brag book pages for sale anymore, but she does have this great quick page pack that would make and amazing alphabet book!

I'm sharing this now because AmyDane Designs is going out of business this month! So all her kits are 75% off and then they'll be gone forever. So, if you're into scrapbooking, or want to make an ABC book for your child, go grab it now because at the end of September, it will be gone! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Colors, cont'd

Love this video. Shared it with the kiddos and they loved it too.
Click here for a cool game too!


I have been scheming this theme in my brain for a year now! I always planned on combining it with Eric Carle, but as I planned it, there are just way too many fun things to do that just focus on color, that I couldn't fit all the fun Eric Carle things too. So, he got bumped to his own theme later in the year.

My goal with this theme was not to teach colors (they already know them), but to teach about mixing primary colors to make secondary colors, and to also introduce sorting (since sorting by color is usually the easiest). I definitely think we accomplished those 2 goals!

Dramatic Play: Paint Store
Thank goodness for college lesson plans, because I wasn't sure what to do here. The paint store was tons of fun. They loved working there (cash register is ALWAYS a hit and never gets old), and they loved painting! They "painted" the whole room over and over again and had a great time doing it.

Blocks: Mega Blocks and Legos
They're colorful, right?

Painting with primary colors. Great introduction to mixing colors and discovering what they do on their own. Didn't snap pictures, but we had some great art!

Gelatin molds. SO FUN! We called these "breast implants" in college.
It's just Knox Gelatin (3/4 cup boiling water to each packet, plus a little butter spray in each mold to make sure they come out) in bowls and various containers (the cool whip ones were great). The kids each had 2 small cups (old spice containers) with colored water (primaries only, for mixing) and eye droppers (generously donated, and also collected from my baby's Vitamin D drops). This was a HUGE SUCCESS! Some kids stayed here the whole hour. It starts with just squirting the water in, but pretty soon they have them torn to pieces and they're just loving rubbing their hands in it. What a FUN sensory experience and one we're going to have to repeat, they loved it so much. I only had 6 containers, but all 9 kids started the day doing it and no one complained when I asked them to scoot to add more chairs and to share their gelatin. They were awesome at sharing.

Colored bubble paint. Fail. It looks awesome on this pin, but not so awesome in our class. We tried it 2 ways, one with blowing a straw into the bin of colored bubbles and placing the paper on it to make prints. It's fun, but I guess I didn't use enough color. The kids preferred blowing them anyway. They had fun, and got some color on their papers, but barely. It ended up just being very messy, with bubble solution inside. (oh, and I did try it the night before and knew it wasn't going to be great, but still did it) Bubbles are better for outside!

Elmer the Elephant tissue paper painting. I had this fun book Elmer's Colors for the kids at the art table, then they got to choose one of 2 elephants, and then use liquid starch to paint colorful squares to their elephant.  I rarely do art that seems "crafty" like this one did, with an already-planned end result (colorful elephant), but it went great with our theme, and tied in literacy. I sat at the table and read the book over and over again as they painted, and that got the kids bringing more books over to read and I spent almost 30 of the first 60 minutes just reading out loud as they painted or listened.

Color puzzles
Color book with coordinating CD
Paint chips with clothespins (not really interested)
Color sorting file folder games (not interested)
Colored horses with clothespin legs (loved this)
Pom Pom rainbows (really liked)
Pom Pom drop (fun and different way to sort, seemed to like it)
I liked the clothespin activities because of the great fine motor-building activity that it is, but I think that's what got them frustrated. They really do have a hard time opening them and would really only try with me helping, showing how, and encouraging. It's surprising to us how hard a task that is for little fingers (which is what makes it great for strengthening those tiny muscles).

Reading Center:
SO MANY great books about colors and mixing them.


They are loving the swing set and some never leave it!
We also had colored water to mix in the water table on day 1. They had it all mixed to brown within a few minutes (which was the plan) and had fun.

Day 2, I had the primary colors in squeeze bottles and soap containers to make it take a little longer and it did! They loved mixing the colors and showing me what they made.


We also had colored sheet spraying both days, with primary colors in squirt bottles that they coud spray on a white sheet.

Week 2 we had rainbow rice in the sensory table and they loved that too! I made the colored rice by mixing 6-8 cups of rice in a bag with a few drops of food coloring and 2-3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. Once all the colors dried, I mixed them all together. This was really popular and we'll be keeping it out next week too.

Rainbow goldfish (to sort then eat)
Painted toast (milk with red and blue food coloring). They each got to "paint" a little on their bread with a pastry brush and they all learned how to make purple.
Smoothies. We mixed together a lot of different colors of fruit in our smoothie and made guesses what colors it would make. The kale won out and we had green smoothies!

Large Group:

Color Soup
(not sure of the tune name)
Take some cherries, put 'em in the pot. Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot!
Pour it out and what will it be?
The prettiest red you ever did see!

(repeat with orange, lemon, lime, blueberries, grapes)

Red, and orange and yellow and green,
Blue and purple colors are seen,
Mix them together and what will it be?
The prettiest rainbow you ever did see!

Scat the Cat
(file folder has cat cut out, with colored papers inside)
I'm Scat the Cat, I'm a happy cat,
If you don't like my color, you can change it like that! (pull out colored paper to change cat)

Mitch the Fish
(file folder with fish cut out, and colored papers inside)
I'm Mitch the fish, I can swim and I can swish,
I can change my color, if you wish!

Week one, we tried this paper towel experiment that taught us about absorption, and mixed our colors! They loved coming back Thursday to see them all mixed together.

Week two, we did another experiment with celery to watch it absorb colored water. It wasn't as obvious as the first experiment, but we still made awesome predictions and got to check out our results, and see where the colored water had climbed the celery.

We also made patterns, read great books, and sang songs. This is such a singing group (YAY!) so we've had lots of fun singing. They are also LOVING their classroom jobs and helping with that, and it's making it easier to have only some kids help hold song props too. They could not handle taking turns with songs last year. They all needed a song prop, and are doing great this year at just singing when they're not helping.

Small Group: Big Success!
The first 2 weeks were awesome and I am SO excited about this! Thank you 100 times for being willing to help, because we are doing great things in small group! I loved being with just 4 kids to do an activity. I could level it to each group (some we just mixed colors, and others we found the letters in the color names, etc.).

In my groups, we mixed colors.
Week 1, were the playdough color wheels (you can get primary color play dough at Dollar Tree. Love it.
Week 2, we mixed colors with paint. Some were patient and stayed with me, and other had interesting color mixing, but we all learned through fun :)
In the other groups, they sorted and mixed.
Week 1, moms read Freight Train and helped the kids order their train, then sort objects by color. Awesome math skill.
I also put this in the block area, week 2, since they loved the train so much. They sorted and played!

Week 2, moms helped kids make new crayons by mixing up our old ones. I didn't get any pictures, but you should have seen your kids' creations come home. They turned out great a colorful and are fun to color with! It was a great way to use up last year's broken crayons.

SUCH A FUN WEEK!!! SO much great learning in science, math, art, and literacy. Loved it.