Friday, November 15, 2013


We had a lot of fun learning new things for our Music week. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it was good for us and the kids really enjoyed it!
Dramatic Play
The kids have been begging to have the kitchen back out, since the first week of school. I love making new and elaborate dramatic play centers, but sometimes they just want to play housekeeping. So, we had the kitchen, washer and dyer, plus all the babies back out. Kids all love playing "house" and it's fun for them to be able to act out and play the things they also see and do.
For the second week, I was thinking along the lines of the Arts, since we were learning about Music, and decided to pull in some Theater, with our Puppet Theater. The first day we had it out, I put it in our "Small Manipulatives" area (Large Group area too)so we could keep out the housekeeping things, but it was a big hit, and we didn't have enough room there. So, the second day, I did pull out the kitchen things and put the Puppet Theater over there. We had some great shows, brought chairs over for our audience, and it was a hit the second day too!
The first week, we had out Mega Blocks again, because I have a Mega Blocks piano that plays music, and they can build with it.
The second week, I moved the instruments over here for more room, and added our dancing ribbons and scarves by the mirror. They loved watching themselves dance!
Small Manipulatives
Since the book on cd was such a big hit during Halloween week, I found some more music ones at the library for the kids to listen to and read, that were out at the cd player all week.
I also had the instruments in this area the first week. We had a drum for about 30 minutes each day, but it was loud enough, that I could only stand them playing it the first half hour. I was glad I gave them to chance to play on it. Kids love banging drums and being loud!
We also had some number and counting puzzles in this area the second week.
We played with the Nursery Rhyme felt board stories too.

We started the week with bubble wrap painting, where they painted pieces of bubble wrap, then stamped it onto their papers.
The next day they made drums. I helped them attach the construction paper they wanted, then they decorated with markers, stickers, and glue and sequins.
Another day we just enjoyed painting with water colors.
The last day we made kazoos. I used toilet paper rolls with wax paper held on with a rubber band. We learned with the first 2 kids, that if you paint the paper, the wax paper doesn't vibrate and make the same sound anymore. What a great way to learn a lesson, instead of me just telling them. They told the other kids and showed them their first kazoos, and no one else tried painting the paper.
We had beans and cups in the sensory table.
I also took advantage of the fall weather (and a new table graciously donated by a wonderful preschool Grandma), and took some glue and paper outside for "nature art." They had a blast! We had it out several days and they really liked it. They were surprised I let them glue anything they wanted. Art is all about the process, and creativity, so why not! They glued leaves, sand, dirt, beans from the sensory table, and rocks (which they learned didn't stick).
We also enjoyed a new area of our playground, which has been covered up by leaves so they didn't notice it before. They realized we have some fun climbing rocks and were building towers from rocks and playing fun make believe games out here.
I took advantage of what could be our last warm weather days this fall, and pulled out our tents and tunnels for a week too. The kids played ants and tag in them, and had lots of fun!
We had 2 "musical" snacks. Our first was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and we read a book to learn the song, Peanut Butter and Jelly. If you don't know it, here it is:
First you take the peanuts and you smash 'em, you smash 'em. (repeat)
CHORUS: For Peanut, Peanut Butter, and Jelly. (whisper jelly) (repeat)
Then you take the grapes and you mash 'em, you mash 'em. (repeat)
Then you take the knife and you spread it, you spread it. (repeat)
Then you take your mouth, and you eat it, you eat it (repeat)
Our next "musical snack" was Rice Krispies cereal and milk. I told the kids their cereal would "sing" when we added milk. They were silent as I poured, and you could hear it popping all over! They loved it and had seconds to hear it again.
Large Group
First, we learned one of my all-time favorite preschool songs, The Music Cantor by Dr. Jean.
Chorus: I am the Music Cantor, I come from Slavic Lander. Eekon Shpeela, Eekon Shpeela.
I'm the viola. I'm the viola.
Vi-o-vi-o-vi-o-o-la, Vi-o-vi-o-o-la! (while playing viola)
I'm the piano. I'm the piano.
Play, play, play, play, play, play, play, play. Play, play, play, play, play play. (while playing piano)
I'm the viola. I'm the viola.
Vi-o-vi-o-vi-o-o-la, Vi-o-vi-o-o-la! (while playing viola)
I'm the tuba. I'm the tuba.
Oompa, oompa, oom-pa-pa. Oompa, oo-oo-oompa. (while playing tuba and bending knees up and down)
I'm the piano. I'm the piano.
Play, play, play, play, play, play, play, play. Play, play, play, play, play play. (while playing piano)
I'm the viola. I'm the viola.
Vi-o-vi-o-vi-o-o-la, Vi-o-vi-o-o-la! (while playing viola)
I'm the bagpipe. I'm the bagpipe.
Nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee. Nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee. (Plug nose for nasal sound, wiggle throat with index finger to change voice)
I'm the tuba. I'm the tuba.
Oompa, oompa, oom-pa-pa. Oompa, oo-oo-oompa. (while playing tuba and bending knees up and down)
I'm the piano. I'm the piano.
Play, play, play, play, play, play, play, play. Play, play, play, play, play play. (while playing piano)
I'm the viola. I'm the viola.
Vi-o-vi-o-vi-o-o-la, Vi-o-vi-o-o-la! (while playing viola)
I'm the radio. I'm the radio. Click.

They absolutely loved this song, especially the bagpipes!
We learned the word, rhythm, and practiced different rhythms each day, like slap, clap patterns, or moving to slow and fast rhythms.

Day 1, we read about different instruments, then we shook our sillies out with eggs shakers, using Raffi's book and song:
Gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out. Shake, shake, shake my sillies out. Shake, shake, shake my sillies out, and wiggle my waggles away!
Gotta clap, clap, clap my crazies out. Clap, clap, clap my crazies out. Clap, clap, clap my crazies out, and wiggle my waggles away!
Gotta jump, jump, jump my jiggles out. Jump, jump, jump, my jiggles out! Jump, jump, jump my jiggles out, and wiggle my waggles away!
Gotta yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out. Yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out. Yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out, and wiggle my waggles away!

Day 2, we learned about speed and tempo of music, and also that music expresses feelings. I played some music and we talked about if it sounded fast or slow, and happy or sad. Then we danced with our dancing ribbons (awesome dollar store craft with shower curtain rings and a spool of ribbon) to different types of songs. We moved fast and slow, and I tried to show them how to move with the music and the mood of the music. It was so fun to watch them all move and express themselves.
It was fun to have the ribbons out the next week, and they'd ask for music and dance more.

Day 3, we continued day 2's lesson, but instead of dancing to the music, we painted to it. I had a mural in the hallway (linoleum is easier to clean than carpet) and they painted to the music. I was using a movie's soundtrack this time and one song was so slow and sad, and one child begged me to change it, so we did and found happier music. Some kids just painted, not paying attention to the music at all, while others I watched go slowly with the slower songs, and speed up with the up-tempo ones. We now have a beautiful art piece hanging above dramatic play!

Day 4, we had free choice singing time, to get more time to practice and sing all the songs we've learned so far, and we also had a mom come in and show us her daughter's violin, and let each child try playing that. It was definitely a highlight of our week!
We had another mom visit during snack the first week to show the kids her guitar and let them each play it. Thanks to both of these moms! The kids talked about those 2 things (and playing the loud drum) more than anything else after this theme was over!

Small Groups
We made egg shakers. The volunteers of this group were awesome, filling eggs with cotton balls, or overfilling, to show them how it effects the sound. The kids got to choose from lentils, rice, or beans for their shakers, then decorate them with stickers. The different items didn't effect the sound too much, but just allowed them to have a choice and control, which preschoolers love.
I played Instrument Memory and Bingo with the kids, to learn instrument names. We also learned that instruments come in families, and what those families are. We sorted our pictures from our games into those families. They may not remember them all, but a first exposure to the vocabulary is a start!
We made rubber band instruments. We had wonderful "beautiful junk" donated by all of you, including tissue boxes, shoe boxes, cans, and other containers the kids chose from. They all made different sounds so they enjoyed choosing their favorite, and again decorated with stickers.
I read and discussed Sounds All Around with my group, then we played a game. I had 8 cool whip containers (thanks again to your beautiful junk donations) filled with 4 different objects. Since they couldn't see inside, they had to shake the containers and try to find their match by listening to the sounds.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!

 I had so much fun dedicating a whole week of learning to Halloween! This is a holiday and theme that the kids are just obsessed with and love, so we couldn't not have fun!

Dramatic Play
How to make something Halloween-ish, but not scary at all? I thought about sticking to the spider web game from last year, but remembered my castle from last year's Fairy Tales unit!

So, I gave the castle some new paint (since we learned too late last year that the cheapest brand IS the cheapest), and added a small Halloween touch. Seriously, 2 signs and a welcome mat. Not scary at all, but still Halloween! I even added a few friendly ghosts and bats from the ceiling.
The castle was a hit, but mainly for what was inside....costumes! All kinds. Almost my whole collection. There were witches, clowns, pumpkins, dragons, knights, princesses, ballerinas, animals, cowboys/girls, safari people, and I think that may be it. Plus random wigs and hats. They had a blast!
They changed and changed over and over and become such fun characters. I loved seeing them dress up, head over to the writing or reading center awhile, then back for another costume change. They needed a way to hold swords and one kid suggested a belt, so I made him a yarn belt and pretty soon everyone had one. They used them to carry swords, stick horses, wands, and artwork. Very creative kids.

On actual Halloween, they were all coming in costume, so I had the spider web on the floor with bugs, plus the headbands and hats from There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat (we did it in large group last time), plus the blocks were in there too. They had fun playing again, but not as much fun as they did with the costumes, plus they were all drawn to playdough on day 2.

Day 1 we made egg carton bats courtesy of this pin.
I knew it wouldn't take long and wasn't sure how much interest it would hold (all who wanted to try did it first, then moved on. When art isn't open-ended, it doesn't last), so I had a sensory activity to try too. Thanks to a mom's suggestion (and a rainy day so I couldn't put it in the sensory table outside), we did spaghetti and green jello with Halloween bugs and other toys. It was a huge hit. My girl stayed the whole 45 minutes (in costume, of course) and the others came and went, but it was always a busy area. They love slimy sensory experiences!
Day 2 we had orange play dough with Halloween and Fall cookie cutters.

Small Manips
We played with fall pattern cards (squirrel, leaves, apples)

Spider web lacing cards

We had Halloween stickers and foamie shapes

and Halloween stamps

We had 1 rainy day, which gave us extra large group time for pin the tail on the black cat and lots of songs.
On Halloween we had pumpkins in the sensory table and a few kids gathered some seeds, but none of them would touch it. It's my 5th year doing this, and the first year the kids wouldn't play in it!

Large Group
So fun. We sang 5 Little Pumpkins and Spider on the Floor from the Raffi cd (they asked to do them over and over, especially the spider one). We did a Halloween poem each day, and they all got to participate in playing a part as it built up.
Day 1, we read There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat, and the kids wore headbands to help tell the story.
Day 2 we made these candy corn torn paper pictures off of pinterest, and it was awesome! I didn't expect them to do as well as they did, or to enjoy it and spend as much time on it as they did. I expected something quick that they didn't necessarily love, but they took their time on their art. Tearing paper is such a great fine motor skill, and it should be encouraged! Making art out of it is just a plus. We also squoze in a very quick game of Don't Eat Frank before we headed home.

Small Group
The volunteer moms helped teach the pumpkin life cycle by helping the kids create pumpkin "time lines."
My group played a phonics game, but we tied in Halloween because the cards were on pumpkins. I reviewed some letters and sounds with them and identified which pictures started with which sound. They then got a pile of cards with 3 different sounds, and had to sort them with the 3 letters. I was very very impressed with how well they did!

So fun. Again :) We made this cute mummy dogs from this pin, but ours were a little less cute. They made their own and loved doing it. They loved them and wished and begged for seconds!
On Halloween we had healthy snacks of pumpkins and ghosts from this pin.

My favorite moment of Halloween week is when a child asked me to play the cd with its book. I don't have a reading center with headphones, so when I have a book on cd, it just gets placed in front of the cd player if they want to listen to it. As soon as it started, they all came over. They probably went through it at least 4 times, but some listened more. It was fun to see them all huddled around the book in their costumes, intently listening!
This is a group of readers! I change the books out in the reading center each theme, and they flock to them. I get asked to read a story every day and I love it. Once I sit and start reading, they just flock over, and I usually have at least 7 of the 9, if not all of them, for at least 1 story. Then they all start pulling books and we just read and read until I realize clean up time has passed. It's awesome. I love reading to them, and love that they're hearing lots of these stories I can't fit into small and large group.