Saturday, December 21, 2013


 As I always say, we had a great time these last 2 weeks! How can you not have fun, celebrating the holidays?

 Dramatic Play
We went back to the housekeeping dramatic play (always a favorite) with the addition of 2 Christmas trees (one was a felt one on the wall) and Christmas masks. The kids love the masks and had fun playing "Santa Claus" and delivering presents, made from empty boxes I had wrapped and placed under the tree. The mirror was awesome this week because they loved switching masks and checking themselves out.

The block area was taken over by the Christmas tree and fake presents, plus the felt tree on the wall. This is also where we collected your donations, under the tree in big wrapped boxes. I also had the doll house out. Maybe the old-fashioned feel of a doll house under s Christmas tree makes me think of Christmas. The dolls even had their own little tree.

We made snowflakes for our class tree. I had the paper cut into squares and folded, and they only had to cut it. I knew it'd be hard, but they did a great job! I was impressed. They all cut off the corners because that was the easiest, some cut out a few more shapes, and they mostly cut slits. I only had to help a little. They loved opening them to see their creation! We then added glue and glitter. It was a fun mess!

 Day 2, we painted the salt dough ornaments they had made Tuesday. They were all colorful and bright! A true preschool masterpiece. You can see a few on our tree.

 We decorated these styrofoam "trees" with pipe cleaners and pony beads from here. It was planned as a fine motor activity for the small manips area, but it fit better at the art table. I honestly didn't expect it to be a big hit, but they all did it! They really wanted to take them home too, but they stayed at school. It was a really good fine motor skill that required a lot of concentration. I was also pleasanly surprised when I checked them out to see how many patterns were made, with no help or prompting to do so by me!

We played with peppermint playdough. I used my usual recipe, but added some peppermint extract so they smelled like candy canes. It still smelled like playdough, but left their hands peppermint-y and they loved that. Some even tasted it, and regretted that. We had Christmas cookie cutters and this was a very popular center!

 Small Manips
We had Christmas ABC and picture puzzles.

We played Charlie Brown Christmas dominoes.

We played with the counting tree magnets. There are magnets on the pom poms so they can attach to the trees on cookie sheets. It's a great counting activity. I made the sheets with non-copyrighted pictures, so you can download them here if you want to try them out at home.

I made this bean bag toss board, and the kids loved having a fun and active game, that required sharing and taking turns! It was a hit.

We had out 2 books on cd, The Polar Express, and The Night Before Christmas the whole 2 weeks too. 

This is usually a rotation of stamps, stickers, and stencils in addition to the writing materials always available, so Christmas added a fun twist.
We had Christmas cards out the first day, and I put them away, except every day they begged for them, so I had to pull them back out each day. They wrote and delivered them to each other for 4 days and it was so cute and kind!
 We also had Christmas stamps and stickers.

Besides the usuals, we had Christmas tree waffles for snack. The kids helped prepare the batter, then cleaned up as I cooked them. I cut their waffles into 4 triangles and stacked them to look like trees. I got the idea from here on pinterest, but ours weren't quite as fancy :) They were tasty, and almost each kid ate 2! 

Here's the recipe we used (they especially loved beating the egg whites)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
Mix together dry ingredients. Combine egg yolks and milk. Stir into dry ingredients. Stir in oil. Beat egg whites until very stiff. Fold into batter. Don't over mix. Makes about 8 waffles.

The last day, we bagged the healthy thing for once, and decorated sugar cookies that we ate with hot (lukewarm) chocolate. It's Christmas :)

Snow. We figured if I dress them as we eat snack, we can get 10-15 minutes of outside time before we need another 5-10 minutes to get boots and coats off for large group. It's time consuming, but they need the active time, and they love it so it's worth it. We did have 2 inside days with the inversion and storm.

 Large Group 
We read "Merry Christmas Mouse" and "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies" with my stuffed mouse as incentive to listen quietly (we passed it to good listeners as we read). We wrote our favorite Christmas traditions in our journals, then instead of small group, our Mom helper helped us make salt dough hand print ornaments. Their favorite part seemed to be helping make and mix the dough. They each rolled them out themselves too and did a great job!
 Day 2, we celebrated St. Lucia Day and read about and looked at pictures of how they celebrate in Sweden. For small group, we split into boys and girls to make our hats. The boys made cone "star boy" hats and the girls made candle wreaths. I wanted to get a group picture, but as they finished we were getting coats on and such and just run out of time.

 Day 3 was all about Christmas trees (this is the day we had the counting trees in small manips, the styrofoam trees in art and trees for snack). We read "The Best Christmas Tree Ever" and then made our name trees. Man, these kids are SMART! I had their trees cut with the letters of their name, and they had to spell out their name to make their tree. Then they used their markers to decorate their trees with ornaments. Without prompting, they started comparing names and counting how many letters each person had, who had more and fewer, and which letters were the same and different. I never had to lead the conversation or butt in, yet they were doing all sorts of great learning from each other!
 Day 4 was about finishing our service project for The Road Home. A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you for donating. We were able to go above and beyond my original plans, and add a few extra items to each kit, plus have boxes of donations beyond just the Hygiene kits, so thank you! During snack, I started the movie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and they gathered on the floor to watch once they finished. I then called them over one at a time, so they could each pack a kit. They were very thoughtful in picking things they liked the best. Each kit had: shampoo, soap or body wash, washcloth, comb or hair brush, tissues, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, tooth brush, flossers, chapstick, a toy, plus a crocheted stuffed animal (hand-made by my Grandma, the Great-Grandma of 4 of our students). The bags were even hand made by one of our preschool grandmas so the kids have a good bag to keep!
We had to cut the movie short (skipped some scenes to end it quickly, but I explained them all and they got to watch the ending). We played 2 active games (it was needed on a day we skip outside play). The first was finding Gingerbread Men and Women around the preschool, by searching for the ones that matched the ones I had. The second game was this one from Pinterest. They LOVED it and I highly recommend if for getting some wiggles out! We then passed out some presents, and did small group before heading home on a crazy snowy day!

Small Group
The first week we skipped it, for help in large group activities.
The second week, we made candy canes with pipe cleaners and pony beads. It was a good fine motor activity, and patterning activity to practice our math skills.
My group made handprint Christmas trees.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Dramatic Play
We blasted off to space in our rocket ship and rocket packs. They had so much fun and played so well together, I kept it out both weeks, although I had only planned on using it the first week.
Week 2 I added other cardboard vehicles. I transformed diaper boxes into cars and planes. I learned that spray paint does not cover them, but at least turns the baby heads different colors :) I simplyt attached elastic straps for their cars and some wheels. My daughter did point out that Daniel Tiger's cardboard cars looked better. I guess I was just leaving more room for imagination (which ended up being good, instead of lazy, because some kids pretended the cars were trains).

Dramatic Play carried over here, but the first week it was smaller, so I had out a variety of large cars, trucks, trains, and boats.

I also added this shape game week 2.
We played with lots of cars!
We drove cars on playdough.
We drove cars through paint.
We drove cars through shaving cream.
And took one break from the cars to make rocket packs too. One of the kids mentioned making one with his mom and adding stickers. So I checked my "beautiful junk" stash and had enough for a rocket pack for each kids. I added some felt flames and a little coat of spray paint, then they got to dress them up with space stickers.

Small Manips
I had a cool felt play area, perfect for this unit, dropped off on my porch from a neighbor this week! It fit perfectly on our new round table too. The kids loved it.
We played with transportation lacing cards (thanks Dollar Tree).
We played with transportation file folder games (thanks to cards from Dollar Tree).
Week 2, I had a different car rug out with the big chunky cars, planes, trains, and boats.
We also played with a Thomas matching game.
We re-enacted The Little Engine That Could with the flannel board story.
We had a book on cd, called Big Heli and Little Heli.

Transportation and construction stickers.
Transportation stamps

We had some inside days with temps below 10 degrees, and the days we did go out were snow days!

Our 2 transportation-related snacks were:
Banana Airplanes
Each child got half a banana, pretzel sticks for wings, and mini colored marshmallows for windows and they each creatively created their own airplane.
We watched part of a Mighty Machines movie about Airplanes as they ate.

Apple Boats
Each child got half an apple and pretzel sticks to make a sail and put it together themselves.

Large Group
Day 1, we learned and read about Boats, then played Will It Float? with many classroom objects. It was fun making predictions, then charting our results.
Day 2, we read about different types of transportation, then wrote in our journals about different types we've used and like.
Day 3, we read The Little Engine that Could, then retold the story with our flannel board.
Day 4, we read about construction vehicles, and made patterns with vehicle cards.

Small Group
Week 1: Transportation Math
Our mom volunteers helped the kids practice counting with dump trucks by counting blocks into them. I found it here on pinterest. We had the printable dump truck, but they liked using a real truck.
I helped them practice patterns with these cards that are also a free printable. I was very impressed that EVERY child can correctly extend a pattern. I tried to have the older group create their own patterns and we weren't as successful, but they tried and I'm proud of where they are, cuz they're right where they should be. We'll keep practicing!
Week 2: Transportation Literacy
Our mom volunteers helped the kids play this letter parking game. I wrote the alphabet in "parking stalls" on box lids, and the kids drove cars into the stalls that matched the letters the moms had on flash cards.
I practiced letters and sounds with them at our "alphabet center." We've used it to practice our small and capital letters, but today we used pictures to sort by beginning sounds. To tie it into transportation, they "flew" a big airplane to the chart with their picture, and had to land it in the right letter.