Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas!

I wish this theme could last all month! There are so many fun Christmas-themed learning activities, that it was hard to narrow them down to just 3 days worth, but I think we got it all crammed in.

Dramatic Play
Christmas tree! I decorated the top half, and they added ornaments as they made them in art, so the bottom was decorated too.
I also have this random assortment of foam Christmas masks I inherited from a retiring teacher back in my public school days. They are a huge hit each year! I added presents under the tree, and we had kids dressed up as Santa, his elves, and reindeer. They turned the bean bag chairs from the reading center into their sleigh, and they spent the day delivering presents to the kids in class. They also went to the writing center to make cards to go with their gift deliveries. I loved watching them play and get along together, plus get creative in their gift giving and play.


I had out a bean bag toss and bean bags. It was used a lot, but the bean bags also went into the presents for delivery by Santa and his elves.

We played with the magnatiles and jingle bells. They would use them around the blocks since they stuck to the magnets, and they also liked making houses to fill with the bells.

On the last day, I got out our trains and tracks. They loved them! My kids had actually gotten them out over the weekend, and although they weren't on my original plan, I left them out because trains around a tree just says Christmas to me.

Day 1, we made ornaments. I had a variety of foamie ornaments and stickers. I wanted something that didn't have to dry and could be hung up immediately.


Day 2, we played with peppermint scented play dough. It made the whole room smell peppermint-y, and we also had the cinnamon smell from the salt dough for small group, so the room smelled extra Christmas-y and yummy! I love adding the smells into the sensory play.

Day 3, we painted our dried salt dough ornaments. When I look at the Pinterest versions, they're all perfect and cute and I want that, but I also want them to be the kids' creations, so they were not perfect, but I think they turned out pretty darn cute. Hope you enjoyed them as well! A few kids chose not to paint them, and a few missed school the last day, so some of you also got to enjoy them in all their natural color glory!

Small Manipulatives
Christmas tree and Santa magnets

I used styrofoam christmas trees with pipe cleaners in them, and the kids decorated them with beads. Its a great fine motor exercise for little fingers!

The next day, I used the same trees, but put thumb tacks in them and had small elastics for them to stretch over them, to make geoboards. This was my first year trying it. They each tried it at some point, but not many of them stayed for long. It was a pretty difficult skill, but definitely doable.

On the third day, we had Christmas tree print outs on cookie sheets, with magnetic pom pom balls to decorate them. This is a great fine motor skill, and also helps teach counting and number recognition.
On the table, I had out foam gingerbread men, with pom poms, bows, and gems they could use to decorate and re-decorate them. I had a lot of fun at this center with a group of kids, making silly gingerbread men. I added the tweezers to help with fine motor skills, but they mostly used their hands, which was easier.

The first and third day, I had out Christmas cards (thank you Dollar Tree!), and they were a huge hit. I think we went through 40. Some made some to take home for family, while others used them as part of their play in delivering, and I had quite a few delivered to me. It was just great watching them write and color as they dictated what they were "writing." This is such an important pre-writing skill.

The second day, I had out Christmas stamps. Some came home with the stamps also up and down their arms. We also had a lot of pretty pictures made and delivered to each other.
Large Group
Day 1, we read the Grinch who Stole Christmas, then talked about being kind to show love at Christmastime. We made hearts where they kids drew, and we wrote, what they could do to be kind at home, and what they could do to be kind at school. We sent the family ones home, and hung up the school ones on our wall to help us remember.

Day 2, we read the Polar Express. Then we made jingle bell necklaces. I wanted them to make patterns, and they were great at following and extending the patterns I made first. Some of them made patterns, while others would make 1 pattern for a bit, then switch to another one. Some didn't make a pattern at all, but that was fine. Threading the beads onto the string was a difficult, but doable, fine motor skill for them.

Day 3, was our Christmas party. Thanks to the moms who came and helped! We rotated between 4 different centers to learn about different holiday celebrations. Each read a book and did a craft.
Group 1 celebrated Christmas by making beaded candy canes on pipe cleaners. They worked on fine motor skills, as well as patterning.
Group 2 celebrated Saint Lucia Day from Sweden by making hats. The girls made wreath hats with candles like Saint Lucia wears, and the boys made cone-shaped star hats.
Group 3 celebrated Kwanzaa by weaving mats, called Mkeka. It was a great fine motor skill for them.
Group 4 celebrated Hanukah by playing the Dreidel game. They loved it! I sent home a bag of Hanukah gelt (chocolate coins) and a dreidel made from a pencil, if they wanted to try to play again at home.

Small Group
My group used cinnamon salt dough found here, to make handprint mittens, inspired by this. I loved how the smell enhanced the play. They really wanted to eat them since it smelled so good! I did cinnamon graham crackers for snack Thursday, since they wanted to eat cinnamon so much, and they tasted much better than the salt dough would have.

Miss Kim's group worked on spelling their names and putting the letters in order, by making name Christmas trees. It was a little difficult, making the names go vertical, but they got it with help. They got to decorate them with markers too.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Feelings and Emotions

Dramatic Play
Doctor's Office


 The pictures pretty much explain it all. There was a waiting room, receptionist desk with calendar and notebooks, plus a phone, then the dr. office. There was a big chair for the big patients, and a baby bed for the dolls. We have all sorts of dr. tools, plus empty pill bottles, ace bandages, q tips, and popsicle sticks. Each day, I added something new to make it interesting. Day 2, I added glasses and band aids (those were a hit), and the 3rd and 4th days, I added dentist items so it could also be a dentist's office.

Cardboard bricks

Puppet Theater

I managed to not take many pics of art this week, but here's what we did:
Play dough face mats


Collage faces


Small Manipulatives
Feelings puzzles and game

Lacing cards

Bristle Blocks

Links, and whatever this collection of things from Wendy's are called.

Blank faces for drawing in emotions

Snow! We switched our schedule to go outside last, to accommodate how long it takes us to get ready to go outside. The snow was so much fun! They love tubing down our little hill, and all tried it. They also love eating the snow. The second week, I also added bottles of colored water to color the snow. We've had a lot of fun outside this week! Please remember we go outside all winter, so pack all the winter clothes they'll need out there. We've had lots of cold hands this week. I have a few extra gloves, but not enough for everyone. And I've appreciated the labeled ones, since a few have been left at school and I've been able to get them home to you.

Large Group
Day 1, we read Meet the Moodsters. The Moodsters help a little boy overcome and talk about some strong feelings. I found it on clearance at Target a few years ago, and the kids love it because it came with a "Moodster Meter" that helps them share their feelings. They loved the book and the meter!
We did an activity with feelings cubes, where I would roll one cube with emotions on it, and another with animals, and they have to act out that emotion and animal. It's fun to watch.

Day 2, we read My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. He uses colors to talk about feelings. We than painted our own feelings. The papers came home just a bunch of mixed colors, but the process was wonderful! As they chose colors, they actually talked about what feeling they were showing with that color. We had a lot of great conversation going on as we painted.

Day 3, we read The Way I Feel. We played the feelings cube game, and acted out lots of different emotions from the book. We also watched a Sesame Street clip about jealousy.

Day 4, we read Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day and talked lots about grumpy feelings. After small group, we got together as a large group again to talk about empathy and thinking about how other people are feeling. We've had a few problems outside, with kids not taking turns with the snow tubes, or just jumping on them in front of other, instead of waiting in line. We watched a Sesame Street clip about empathy, then as we got them dressed in their snow clothes, they watched part of a Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood episode about the same topic. It was nice to discuss a relevant topic, and we related that once outside, that they needed to think about how other people are feeling before they used a tube twice in a row, or butted in line, or took it from another person. The talk definitely helped!

Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood are awesome resources for learning about feelings! I love how they describe and show them on a child's level. I especially like the songs Daniel Tiger sings. We used the song about anger all week, "When you feel so mad, that you want to roar. Take a deep breath, and count to 4." I recommend looking up episodes of both of these shows if there's a particular thing you want to teach your child, or help them with. It's most helpful when you also take the time to discuss it with them.

Small Group
Week 1, I talked to the kids about anger and sadness. We read a book about anger, then role played several situations that could make them feel angry. We practiced taking a deep breath and counting, then talking calmly to express our feelings. They were GREAT at role playing, and without much prompting, knew exactly how to express their feelings. Although, minutes later, they were fighting over blocks again and yelling, hitting, and throwing, instead of taking deep breaths and talking about it. But, that's why we're still in preschool. We'll keep working on this throughout the year.

Miss Kim did this Sesame Street worksheet to help kids talk about their feelings.

Week 2, my group and I role played different feelings with puppets in the puppet theater. I had it out in the block center this week for them to play with, so it wouldn't be new. I know they wouldn't be able to use it how I intended in a lesson, if they hadn't had a chance to play and explore with it first.
They were a lot of fun, and I loved role playing with them. Even the kids who don't like to talk in front of the class, were fine doing the puppet show. It was cute watching them choose an emotion and then act it out. It was also fun watching them doing it again during free time, after having done it with me.

Miss Kim helped the kids make pipe cleaner faces. She read an emotions book with them, and they would change their pipe cleaner to make that face expression. Then they glued on the mouth to bring their face home.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Dramatic Play
We had the housekeeping/kitchen set up back. I added some turkey plates and cups to make it more Thanksgiving-ish. They loved cooking Thanksgiving feasts for each other!

We played with mega blocks. I also brought out some trucks and tractors. I'm loving having this extra shelf for either dramatic play, or the block center, to add a few extra things the kids can pull out. There were also puzzles of things we learned about in past themes.

We made turkeys, kinda :) I actually just had out glue and feathers and eyes, plus markers if they needed to draw anything. A few decided to make turkeys, but many made monsters, people, or just glued things together. It's why I love open-ended art! They can do and make whatever they want!

Day 2, we painted with feathers, and pipe cleaner turkey feet. It was funny watching them stomp the feet and act like turkeys as they painted.

Day 3, after our field trip, we did a turkey craft one of our moms supplied. The kids got to glue the turkey head and fathers to a body made of a brown paper sack. It was lots of fun, and really glue-y!

Small Manipulatives
The first day, we had our chameleons from last week out. They had been left to dry over the weekend, then I added the top spinning plate. They enjoyed playing with their plates and the stuffed chameleon.
We had out our favorite fall manipulatives, the squirrel pattern cards and apple counting cards.For Thanksgiving, we added turkey feather counting cards. They also liked playing with the feathers by sorting them by color.

I also added Leap Frog ABC magnets to the magnet board.
We played with wheat in the sensory table outside, along with all the other fun things to play out there! They really liked the wheat for digging and pouring. It's just so relaxing.

Large Group
We learned the word gratitude, and each day read a new Thanksgiving book. They taught about the pilgrims and Indians, and also about things we can be grateful for today. After reading each day, I also had them add thankful leaves to our tree, making it a thankful tree. Many ideas were pretty general, like family and friends, and some got pretty specific, like green popsicles. We also kinda learned the song, Over the River and Through the Woods.

On day 1, we reviewed our colors with Skittles turkey sorting mats. They got to sort their pile of Skittles by color, then they could eat them, or put them in a bag to bring home.

Day 2, we wrote in our journal about things we are thankful for. We also made our name turkeys, where the kids had to put the feathers with letters of their name in order. Their names were written on their turkey body to help. I didn't take pics, but you should have seen their turkey come home!

Day 3, was our field trip to Dick's! Thanks to all of you who came. Our host, Randy, was great with the kids and let them run and jump and be loud, so they all had a lot of fun. We toured the back of the store and saw where all the groceries are stored. We even got to go inside the fridges and freezers, and moo at customers from behind the milk.
We got to check out the loading dock, and ride up and down. They even got to go inside a frito lay truck, which they thought was amazing. Then they got to feed cardboard to the cardboard recycle monster. My son has been talking about that part ever since.
As we walked past the meat counter, we were also stopped by a customer who thought the kids were just so cute, she had to give each of them a dollar, including all the younger baby siblings. The kids loved that part!!
The bakery was pretty amazing too. We got to see glazed donuts, freshly dipped, and the giant ovens, plus watch the cake decorators at work.
The kids' favorite part was eating chocolate chip cookies at the end.
Once back at school, we added our favorite foods we are thankful for to our thankful tree, and they all said cookies!

Small Group
My group practiced rhyming words. I have a fall harvest game, with matching rhyming words. Rhyming is a difficult skill at this age, but I think worth introducing. They all did great at recognizing which words rhymed as I said them out loud, but did struggle with finding rhyming matches in the pictures by themselves. We worked as a group to match the rhyming cards. This is a skill we'll be working on all year.

Miss Kim's group played a harvest counting game. They all had harvest mats with pictures of grouped vegetables, and had to match the numeral cards to the correct amount of vegetables. They are doing wonderfully with their numbers and counting!

Both of these games were found at Kelly's Kindergarten.

Friday, November 11, 2016


Parents, sorry I have not stayed as caught up on the blog as I should! The goal is to post the weekend after the theme, but life has been too crazy to get to it. I am caught up now, and should hopefully stay that way now! 3 kids are crazy, plus my husband works from home on our computer, so I have to wait until night, when we're much busier. That problem has now been solved, and I should stay more caught up. Thanks for your patience!

Dramatic Play

Paint Store. Thanks to all of our painting projects this year with the bathroom remodel, and building the play house, I had lots of empty paint cans for the store. Lots of brushes and stir sticks too. The color samples were gathered from Lowes and Home Depot, then I just added the cash register and shopping carts.

As usual, the cash register was a hit, and they spent a lot of time shopping for blocks and scanning the legos on the belt. I guess the paint cans were just too big!

The paint supplies were a hit all on their own. While I did see kids buying paint, they just loved taking the cans and brushes all over the room to paint the walls and furniture. It was a lot of fun.

Blocks (I forgot to take pics)

Week 1, we had out waffle blocks. These are new, donated by a sweet neighbor, and are a huge hit! They can build tracks and roads easily, and they loved that.

Week 2, we had out Duplo legos, then the foam blocks.

Day 1, we simply painted with primary color paint, so they could start exploring with mixing colors.

Day 2, we used colored beads to make necklaces and bracelets.

Day 3, we had tubs full of baking soda, and bottles of red, yellow, and blue colored vinegar. This is more sensory than art, and they loved it! They not only got to experiment with mixing colors, but they got to watch it fizz and bubble too. They were so great at sharing, as well. Each kid got one tub and could use it until their vinegar was gone, then they let someone else have their seat while they played something else.

Once everyone was done, we used the art table to make their painted toast for snack. I colored some milk red, yellow, and blue, and they used pastry brushes to brush it onto bread, then we toasted it.

Day 4, we did Jello art. They had glue and shakers full of different colors and flavors of Jello to sprinkle on. They had a lot of fun with this too and I had a huge stack of pictures afterwards! It was messy, but the room smelled so good for days! Way better than the vinegar day :)


Small Manipulatives

Paint chip cards with matching clothespins

Folder games

Rainbow cards with pom poms and tweezers

Color puzzles


Colored horses with matching clothespin legs

Color Dinosaurs


Our color-specific snacks were colored goldfish that we sorted before we ate them, and the painted toast.

Sensory Table
Days 1 and 4, I had bottles of primary colored water that they could mix in clear tubs. This was a huge hit both days, and I loved seeing all the color combinations they created!
I forgot to take a pic, but here's one from last year:

Days 2 and 3, we checked on our decomposing pumpkin and observed its changes.

Large Group

Day 1, we read White Rabbit's Color Book and added colored water to cups with paper towels sticking out of them to start an experiment.

Day 2, we read Mouse Paint and checked on our experiment. The colors had risen up the paper towels, and dripped into the empty cups to mix and make new colors. We mixed the remaining colors, just to get to watch them change.

Day 3, we watched this Primary Colors video (several times, by popular demand), and read Color Train, then sorted things by color.

Day 4, we read The Mixed Up Chameleon. We then painted paper plates to make our changing chameleons.

We also learned 3 new songs, Mitch the Fish, Scat the Cat, and a rainbow song.

I'm Scat the Cat, I'm a happy cat,
if you don't like my color, you can change it like that!

I'm Mitch the Fish, I can swim and I can swish,
I can change my color, if I wish!

Small Group
Miss Kim was not able to come these last 2 weeks, so these activities were actually done as a whole group, instead. The kids did very well!!

Day 1, we read Freight Train, then searched for colors around the room. You can even see that chairs and bean bags were brought over! They had so much fun sorting.

Day 3, we mixed play dough together to make our color wheels.

Day 4, we made paint mixing worksheets and mixed all the primary colors together to make secondary colors.

We mixed the primary colors in so many different ways, on every day, so I hope the kids remember now all the colors they can make from the primary colors! We had a fun and messy week playing with color!