Saturday, March 29, 2014

Eric Carle

All of my nerdy teacher dreams are coming true with these fun author/illustrator weeks! I love hearing them use the words author and illustrator, and even say that they want to be one some day. I also love hearing them use the names of the people we're learning about and seeing their excitement as we learn more about them. So, this week was all about another common favorite, Eric Carle, and they were so excited to see the books and show me which ones they had at home and already knew all about. It was fun to help them learn about an author they already knew, and introduce them to other books by him too.

Dramatic Play
Since so many books by Eric Carle are about bugs, we played with bugs in dramatic play, and had all of Eric Carle's bug books as part of it. This was a huge hit with the kids!! We even took the bug catchers outside each day to search for live bugs too.
We went with the bug theme and had a large bug floor puzzle, plus bug dominoes, and bug number puzzles. These were lots of fun and got lots of play time. They especially loved the floor puzzle and seeing such large pictures of their favorite bugs.
For the second week, I highlighted Eric Carle's book, Friends, and set out 2 multicultural floor puzzles. The kids needed more help from me on these, but we got them put together with cooperation!

 Q tip painting

Easel painting
I have a few pics of the kids doing it and it was a huge hit! They loved painting like a real artist :) Since I only have 1 easel with 2 sides, they were great at taking turns at the easel or sitting at the table and it was a constant turnover of kids painting.

Tissue paper squares and glue. 
No pics here either, but lots of great creativity and art!

Cloud art
Inspired by Eric Carle's book, Clouds, I set our blue paper and cotton balls with glue so they could make cloud pictures. We hung some of them up around our spring tree since spring can be cloudy and rainy.
Small Manips
Ladybug ABC puzzle with The Grouchy Ladybug
Hungry Caterpillar Colorforms storyboard
Hungry Caterpillar puzzle
Rhyme puzzle 

We ate some snacks from The Hungry Caterpillar: plums, strawberries, apples, oranges, strawberries, pears, swiss cheese, and cake. They ate as they watched the movie version of the story. The movie came in handy on the next rainy day when we couldn't go inside, so we watched a few more stories during snack.
We read Pancakes! Pancakes! and made my favorite pancake recipe. They were a huge hit! They each ate 3 and wanted more. You can find the recipe here.  

 I filled the sensory table with blue water and rubber ducks and had the book, 10 Little Rubber Ducks

Being interested in bugs, we took the bug catchers out each day and had lots of fun searching for and catching bugs. I had found some big worms the weekend before while pulling some plastic out of my garden area, so I saved some to pull up with the kids and we found lots of huge worms! They loved that. We also found slugs and ants. One day, we saw a curled up spider and thought it was dead. They asked if they could pick it up and I just asked them to use the tweezers (only because spiders freak me out). Once they got it in a bug catcher, it started running like crazy and freaked me out, but not the kids! They loved it and one girl wore it the whole time outside. Gross, but I'm glad they don't have my irrational fears.
Large Group
 Day 1, we read The Hungry Caterpillar, and made pattern caterpillars with pipe cleaners and beads. I had leaves with holes punched in them and they thought it was so fun helping their caterpillars "eat."

Day 2, we read The Mixed Up Chameleon, and talked about Eric Carle's style of illustrating. I had paper with different colors painted on it, and they told me what shapes to cut out and they helped me put together a picture of their choosing, an elephant. Kind of :)
Day 3, we read Polar Bear Polar Bear, then worked on graphing the characters from that book.
Day 4, we read The Tiny Seed, then planted sunflowers in a cup.
Small Group

 I helped my groups work on their number books.
Our mom volunteers helped our kids make Hungry Caterpillar pattern necklaces.
They also played The Hungry Caterpillar game with the kids to work on counting.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dr. Seuss


It was impossible to not have fun during our Dr. Seuss theme! We learned about the word "rhyme" and did different activities each day to practice rhyming. I also challenged myself to make most of the activities related to a Dr. Seuss book. Here are the other fun things we did:

Dramatic Play
This was a tough one to come up with, but I looked through some books and decided on One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and went with a fishing hole! I had magnetic fishing poles, with magnetic fish, plus I used foamie material to make 10 fish, numbered 1-10 with paper clips on them, so they could also be fished out. I was impressed how many kids fished them out, and lined them up in order (with no prompting!) Great number practice.
The second week, we got out the puppets and puppet theater.

We built with Mega Blocks.

Oobleck, inspired by the book, Bartholomew and the Ooblick. Ooblick is one of my favorite sensory play items, and it's just simply water and cornstarch! It's known as a "non-Newtonian goop," at least that was the term I learned in college, because it defies Newton's Laws by acting as a solid and liquid at the same time. It's seriously fun, even for adults, and I recommend trying it at home (and preparing for a mess)! You squeeze it and it turns hard and you can break it, then, within seconds, it's runny and drippy. So fun!
Truffula trees, inspired by the book The Lorax. I had a variety of collage items that reminded me of the trees in the book (pom pom balls, feathers, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks) plus glue, and I let them go wild! Keeping art open-ended, I didn't tell them to make truffula trees, but some of them did ask about the materials and the book there, and I told them the materials reminded me of the trees. We had some beautiful art projects!
 Sweetened condensed milk painting, just because it's colorful and fun! It was a sticky hit, and we had lots of beautiful art. This is one of the projects you need to take a picture of, because you can onlyu enjoy it for a week before the milk starts to go bad and you've gotta throw it out.

ABC noodle collages with the book, Dr. Seuss' ABCs. They loved pouring on lots of glue and noodles! Great letter review too.

Small Manips
Dr. Seuss hat matching game from here

Rhyme puzzles

ABC magnet letters

Horton the Elephant counting links to go with Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg


Snack time was fun, and I was so proud of myself for doing a themed snack each day!

We used goldfish cracker counting mats from here, and practiced counting our goldfish crackers before we ate them, and also read One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

We read Ten Apples Up On Top, one of the favorite books they ask to read over and over, and I gave them each a styrofoam cup with a bamboo skewer in it, and they had to stack 10 apple pieces up on top. It was a great math and counting activity, plus good fine motor practice too.

We made green eggs and ham (the kids each got to crack one egg, they loved it), and we added blue food color to make the yellow eggs turn green. Great science! While they waited for them to cook, they watched the video of Green Eggs and Ham on youtube, since no one had the book to check out or buy during Dr. Seuss' birthday week! They were delicious!

We made Cat in the Hat kabobs, to practice making patterns and more fine motor skills. They put bananas and strawberries on bamboo skewers to make the hats. They were yummy!

Large Group
Day 1 , we read The Cat in the Hat, listening for rhyming words, and then we made our own paper plate hats by coloring red stripes in a pattern.

Day 2, we read The Lorax, then practiced more rhyming words. They each got a Lorax mustache, and I read pairings of words. If they rhymed, they held up their mustache, if not, they kept them down. We got a cute class pic too!

Day 3, we read Horton Hears a Who, and then used pom-pom clovers to sort and graph. They asked to have these "clovers" back out to play the next few days too.

Day 4, we read The Foot Book, and practiced measuring by using paper feet. They did awesome!

Small Group
  Our mom helpers helped the kids rhyme by using ABC magnets to make a 3-letter word, then changing the first letter to make a new word that rhymes.

Our mom helpers played a Cat in the Hat rhyming memory game I found here.

I helped the kids work on their number books.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Families/Robert Munsch

After a successful author/illustrator week with Jan Brett, I was excited this week to read and learn more about Robert Munsch. He's famous for writing Love You Forever, which is a great book! We focused on families, and that book, and also read many more of his funny family books.

Dramatic Play
We had the housekeeping center back out, with the kitchen, washer/dryer, baby bath and cradle. This will also be a favorite dramatic play! So simple, too. It coincided with our blocks area.

We had our grocery store out. This is a big time favorite too. They love using the shopping cart, and the cash register most of all. I love having this giant dramatic play center out and the kids had a really fun time playing families. This center was constantly busy and buzzing, all 4 days.

Day 1 we made slime. It's super fun to play with, and we also used our dried out markers to color it. I love that we have a good use to dried up markers! They loved playing with this and I loved it too. It's fun, because you can hold it and squeeze it and break it like something solid, but it also drips and flows kind of like a liquid. It's fascinating and just as much fun for adults. I hate that I forgot to get a picture!
It's super easy to make and here's the recipe:

In large bowl, mix 2 cups white glue and 1 1/2 cups water
Then, in 3 small bowls mix until dissolved 1/3 cup warm water, 1 tsp borax
Now add the contents of the small cups to the glue and water mixture. It will quickly coagulate in the bowl, you can lift it out, then add the other small cups. You can add color to the solutions, but I keep it white. 

Day 2, we used the art table for snack prep, and made yummy homemade bread. We used this recipe for miracle bread, that can be done in an hour. It took just over that for us. We then brought out the slime again to play with the last half of our self-select time.

Day 3 we just used the classic water colors.

Day 4 we had elmer's glue with googly eyes and wavy hair. Their imaginations went wild and we had some fun, mostly monsterish, creations!

We played an ABC bingo game, with beginning sound pictures.
We played with magnetic counting books.
We did a puzzle that makes a game board for an ABC safari game. It was super popular and we'll have to do it again.
We played with the giant 123 foam puzzles.

Fun snacks
Nothing says family and home to me like homemade bread, so we did that one day, like I mentioned above. It was delicious and they begged for more!

I also helped them make another one of my favorites snacks from growing up, no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. We were able to make them in an electric frying pan so they could all help. They LOVE cooking and helping and taking turns with all the ingredients and mixing. Here's my family's recipe:

Melt 1 stick butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup and 1 TB evaporated milk. Mix in 3 cups of oatmeal. Drop onto cookie sheet with wax paper or saran wrap, and let sit in the fridge. Easypeasy.

Large Group
I decided to review our vocabulary word from friendship week, Cooperation, since it's so important.
Day 1, I read Love You Forever, and thought I could be all tough, but just cried. It sure got the kids quiet as they just stared at me :) It led to a great discussion about how much our moms love us, and always will! We then drew pictures of our families in our journals.
Day 2, we read Alligator Baby, then graphed our family members. We knew everyone would have parents, but it was fun to see how many brothers, sisters, and pets we have. We also graphed if we had grandparents who live close, or far away. They wrote their names on the post it notes before bringing them up, for more name writing practice.
Day 3, we read The Sand Castle Contest and each child shared their favorite family vacation. I had planned to have them write about it in their journals, but we were short on time and just shared instead.
Day 4, we talked about cooperation in families, and did role playing on how we can cooperate with our families. I explained to them how moms and dads work so hard, but just can't do everything at home themselves. We headed over to dramatic play, assigned a few kids to be parents, and they recruited kids to help them do dishes, make dinner, do laundry, grocery shop,  and take care of pets (the dog role-playing was excellent). So if your kids came home amazingly helpful, you're welcome. If they were just the same, like mine, then we'll keep trying :)

Small Group
I started working with the kids on some number books. We're doing a book for each number 1-10. They learn how to write the number (they look pretty good because I'm helping them write them, hand over hand), and also how to count to that number. They will come home when they're all done. They have to count out that number of crayons to color the number, we write the number, then they also draw that many items on the back. When you go over them, you will see some mistakes, but I am working with each of them, one by one, and call it good as they count their items and we fix our mistakes. They're doing great work!

Our first mom volunteers helped the kids sort pictures by babies, children, and adults, and they also played a family memory game with pictures of different types of families.

Our second mom volunteers helped the children color their family trees, drawing themselves, their moms and dads, and their grandparents.