Friday, January 31, 2014

Jan Brett/Winter

This was such a fun week for me, to begin our author spotlights! Jan Brett is one of my very favorite author/illustrators, and it was great to showcase so many of her books! We reviewed our vocabulary words, author and illustrator, and I was impressed that by Day 2, they also remembered Jan Brett's name! They asked about her a lot, and loved that her picture was in the back of almost every one of her books. We learned some cool facts about her, like that her books are often based on her traveling, and I loved that each author description in each book was different, spotlighting that book and what influenced her to write it. I shared those in the books I read in large group, and I also spent a lot of time reading in the reading center too, they really wanted to hear her books and learn more about her!

Dramatic Play
The kids had so much fun acting out Goldilocks and the Three Bears last week, I promised it would be in dramatic play this week. It was a great transition to the new theme.

They had so much fun! They gathered together and acted it out several times. With the kitchen being there, I thought it'd also be used for housekeeping play, but they just acted out the story over and over! There was a doll, and 3 stuffed bears, if they needed them in case there weren't enough people to act it out with the masks, but as soon as 1-2 kids started acting it out, a few more always joined in! I never helped, and it was so cute watching them retell the story to a T!

The second week, we had out the giant mitten and the masks and sign and books, from the story we read and acted out in week 1. I never saw anyone act out the story, but lots of kids loved climbing inside the mitten!


We played Lincoln Logs. I've found they're a bit frustrating to kids this young, since you have to put them together a certain way and don't just stack anyway you want, but we tried them again. They had a great time, and it really pushed them. A few kids were very determined to build a house. I had to help quite a bit, to show how to stack them, but once they got the hang of it, they were building houses and towers. This was a popular center all 3 days!

We went with the winter theme, and did Epsom salt painting to create "ice crystals." Since the results are delayed, they just enjoy painting with water, and are shocked when they come back the next day to see their dry and crystallized pictures!

We played in fake snow for a sensory activity. There were different polar animals in them. We still had water beads from before, so they added some water beads to the snow too. They had a great time playing with each other here.

We made "snow paint" by mixing glue with shaving cream. One of the bowls had glitter in it too. It was a fun sensory experiment, and became sticky finger paints for a few of the kids. :)

Small Manipulatives

We did an ABC floor puzzle and a sequencing puzzle.

The third day, we played with the manips we had done in small group the week before. The counting snowman buttons, and the ABC mittens. I added a clothesline and clothespins for the mitten game, and they loved that! Using clothespins is a great activity for strengthening those little finger muscles!


Aside from the usual, I made them cinnamon tortilla snowflakes from an idea I got here. I folded and cut the tortillas like a snowflake, then added a little melted butter and cinnamon sugar, then baked them right before snack. They were a huge hit and they begged for seconds!

We colored the snow with spray bottles, and ketchup and mustard bottles, filled with water and food coloring. They loved this! They preferred the condiment bottles because they're faster and easier, but I love when they use the spray bottles because it's such good exercise for their little hand muscles.

Large Group
Day 1, we read The Three Snow Bears. It made for a great transition from our bear unit. They loved the story, and comparing it to Goldilocks. They also loved looking at the hidden pictures on the side that Jan Brett uses to tell more than just the story. They loved pointing out what was happening in each one.
I also had planned some fun snow and ice experiments, but they require freezing weather, which we had all December, but it was now in the 40s. We just did one of them, where we gathered snow samples outside and brought in to melt. We checked on them on day 2, and noticed which ones were dirtier, but that even the ones from pure white snow that hadn't been walked on, still had dirt in them. We talked about eating snow and how it might be dirty, and also how the clean snow gets dirt in it. Since we were stuck inside with the inversion, we talked about the dirty air and such too. Great discussion and lesson!

p.s. The yellow snow is from where they had been coloring the snow :) We have found deer poop out here, though, so I guess it could be anything :)

Day 2, we read The Mitten, my favorite Jan Brett book, then acted it out! It got squishy in our giant mitten, but they had so much fun!I had name signs for them, plus masks I got from Jan Brett's website.


Day 3, we read Annie and the Wild Animals, then chose a wild animal to glue onto our lids for our snow globes. We'll add the water and glitter next week, once our glue is dry.
We had extra time since we couldn't go outside because of the air quality, so we also played a Jan Brett memory game, with numbers and pictures by Jan Brett that we had to count and match to the numbers. It's from her website too. We can never practice counting too much! Especially using our fingers and tracking.

Here's the finished projects:

I know they have high risk of shattering, so hope they survived at your houses. I know our animal came unglued, but many of the kids said they were going to open it up at home anyway to get the animals back out :)

Small Group
Week 1, our mom volunteer helped practice counting and number recognition with snowman button counting. The kids count the buttons onto the snowmen, to match the numbers on the hats. I also have that number of dots on the snowman, to help them with their counting and one-to-one correspondence as they learn to identify the numeral matching the number of objects. They also helped the kids place the snowmen in order 1-10. Awesome moms, going above and beyond!
I worked with the kids on ABC order, as we placed mittens with letters written on them in ABC order. We also played Jan Brett memory with character cards from her website.
Both of these activities were out to play and explore on their own the next week, now that they were shown how to do them.

Week 2, we only had 1 day, so the volunteer helped me do a literacy activity with the whole group, and I was glad for the extra help! We did a beginning sounds worksheet puzzle, where the kids glued a piece with a letter on it on top of the picture with the same beginning sound. In the end, they had a picture from The Mitten. I was very impressed with their ability to hear the beginning sounds, and match it to the letter! They were small letters, which are often harder than capitals, plus there was a b, d, and p, so that was tricky, but they got it! I got it here from Kelly's Kindergarten.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


We had such a fun 3 days, learning all about bears! We learned the word, hibernate, and also talked a lot about habitats. We also used a lot of math vocabulary as we compared sizes of the 3 bears (black, grizzly, polar), small, medium, large, and also more sorting and patterning.

Dramatic Play
I tried to make a bear den and winter scene, so I covered the tent in a white sheet, and had white sheets on the ground for snow. They did ask why there were sheets, and I simply explained it was snow on the bear cave and ground. After that, it was always a cave instead of a tent, so I thought it was a great success!
I had different stuffed bears (which meant 1 with a graduation hat) there, plus a few rabbits, deer, and a moose since they live in the same habitats.
The kids loved the bear cave and we had lots of growling bears in there, that would also come out and chase people. It was a great place to hibernate, and, as always, they loved the stuffed animals.

Nothing really bear related this week, just fun art!
We did spin art for the first time this year. It was a hit and I had pictures drying all over the room! We used coffee filters since they fit perfectly inside the salad spinners, and we used the eye droppers to get the paint on our pictures. That's hard for some kids, but it's a good fine motor challenge and they all got it going after being shown a few times. Here's an older picture of our salad spinner spin art, because I forgot to take one!

We made winter bird feeders to put outside. We spread peanut butter on toilet paper rolls, then rolled them in seeds. We had lots of kids choose to keep theirs at school, so we took them outside after snack. I showed them all the branches they could reach and put them on, but they all chose the same branch :) Some also went home with the kids, so I hope they found a good spot for them!
The last day was sensory play, with water beads. They loved them! This was my first time trying them, but I've been dying to since seeing them on this blog. Here's the direct link to fun water bead activities. I think I was hesitant, because I read story about a kid eating them. I decided these kids were mature enough to not eat them, plus I kept reminding them. I don't think I'd try it with a younger group. I didn't get pictures, but here's some so you can see what they are. I found ours at Dollar Tree near the vases. The kids had a great time playing in them, bouncing, them, squishing and breaking them, and I can't wait to try them again with other things!

We had animal stencils and stamps. They also got into snowflake making again, so I folded lots of paper while they got lots of cutting practice!

Small Manips
We did puzzles, and had a book about black bears to listen to on a cd.
We played with our counting bears, and I was impressed by the patterns they made with them!
We also sewed with lacing cards.

We had 3 fun snacks this week!
Day 1 introduced our large group activity, by sampling foods that black bears eat. We had black berries and strawberries and grapes, spinach (to represent them eating plants) with Ranch to make it good, and gummy worms since they dig for grubs and bugs. They didn't all love the blackberries and spinach, but they all at least tasted both of them, so I call that success. The ones who liked the berries, couldn't have enough!
Day 2 we ate Teddy Grahams, then I read to them about Grizzly Bears and how they catch salmon in rivers, and we had a few gummy fish too.
Day 3 we ate porridge, since we were reading Goldilocks and the 3 Bears for large group. Almost all of them liked it, but they at least all tasted it.

We only had 1 inside day because of bad air. We enjoyed playing in the snow, and even got to sled down our little hill! They are great about taking turns with the 2 sleds. They love being out in the snow!

Large Group
Day 1, we read about black bears. We learned lots of great information, such as: they're scared of people, they climb trees, mamas care for their cubs, cubs like to play, and they eat berries, honey (plus bees), nuts, and bugs. We learned a new song, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, and we reviewed the things black bears eat. They then glued a bear picture on their sacks, and we crawled around like bears to find food. The food were just these papers they collected in their sacks, then colored to take home.

Day 2, we read Alaska's 3 Bears and compared the different habitats and diets of Polar Bears, Grizzly Bears, and Black Bears. We then sang The Bear Went Over the Mountain again, plus learned a song about hibernation, Are You Sleeping Little Bear? We used those songs as we crawled around the room, pretending it was fall and we were fattening up, then crawling into our den (the tent) to hibernate all winter.

Day 3, we read Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. We had time to act it out twice, so all the kids had a turn to be a character. They helped gather and set up the props, and they knew just what each character said! They wanted to play it over and over again, so I promised it would be in dramatic play next week, so they can act it out some more.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain song (and bear food pictures) from the Growing Up WILD! curriculum
The bear went over the mountain,
the bear went over the mountatin,
the bear went over the mountain,
to see what it could eat.

And what do you think it ate?
And what do you think it ate?

It ate _______________on the mountain, (foods: plants, berries, bugs, meat, nuts)
It ate _______________on the mountain,
It ate_______________on the mountain,
As much as it could eat!

Are You Sleeping?     found here
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Little bear? Little bear?
You will sleep all winter,
through the cold, cold, winter,
Little bear, Little bear.

Are You Sleeping?
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Little bear? Little bear?
You will wake in springtime,
in the warm, warm, springtime,
Little bear, Little bear.

Small Group
Since week 1 was only 1 day, we didn't have small group. Our large group and show and tell took the whole time!
I played a number dice game with the kids to practice counting and number recognition. They had a bear outline with numbers all over it, and they rolled the dice, we all counted the dots, then they had to find and circle the number on their bear.
Our mom volunteers used our bear counters to help the kids sort by color and size.