Thursday, September 22, 2016


Dramatic Play and Blocks
What else says family week like housekeeping and chores? We have lots of them this week! I kept up the housekeeping area, although it did get rearranged to accommodate our grocery store in the block area. This is always one of my personal favorite centers! It was popular both days, and we learned a lot of patience and turn-taking, or at least tried. 1 register and 3 carts and never enough.
I love watching kids act like adults as they shop and count money and talk. The dialogue is so cute and entertaining! They love acting like us. We also had to learn responsibility as we put groceries back, over and over again, so others could keep playing. This center was constantly busy for 2 days. The housekeeping side of it only got a little bit of traffic, and we're ready for a change.

I love the grocery store for many reasons. One, it's cheap and easy! I just use garbage, and reinforce it with packing tape. I've been using many of these food boxes for 3 years of Kinder, plus 2 years of preschool, and they're in great condition. I have some "dramatic play" food boxes too, but it doesn't get played with as much, because I don't think they recognize it. They know their environmental print.
I also love how easy it is to tie in literacy and math, with the labels, counting, numbers, money, and sorting. So much learning as they play!

Tuesday, was snack prep. I shared my family's favorite bread recipe and we made bread together. We took turns and counted scoops, and each got to add in and mix things. I like keeping this a free choice center, because they're not forced to help, but most of them choose to at some point. I was surprised some watched it mix the whole 10 minutes.
Their favorite part was kneading with their hands, so one we had the loaves rising, I pulled out play dough, and unlike last week, the table was busy with kids playing the whole rest of the time.

Thursday, we got the paint out, and people shaped stamps. Here's some samples:

Small Manipulatives
Tuesday, was bristle blocks

Thursday, was number peg puzzles (forgot a pic)

I added colored pens on the table and they loved them.

I got out the sensory table for the first time, and we learned about keeping things inside the table and not splashing, as it was filled with water this week. Since our dishes had done a wonderful job at making mud food, I decided the kids could help wash them. Like grocery shopping, doing dishes is one of those other menial chores families love. And they actually really loved washing these dishes, and ended up throwing in all the play food too. It was a hit, and they were excellent rule followers!

Large Group
We learned the word "relative," and also reviewed "unique" as we talked about how each family is unique. It's fun to talk about and read about families, because they all yell to me at once who is in their family, where their grandparents live, their cousins' names, etc. They get so excited to talk about their families!
We drew our family members in our journals, and also in a family tree. We "sang" (mostly danced) to "All I Really Need" by Raffi while we played instruments. It's all about only really needing love in our families. They loved getting to use the instruments.

Small Group
I introduced patterns with these Lakeshore people. We played with them last week, so they wouldn't be brand new today. I have learned to never expect learning with a toy the first time they use it. They need that chance to play first. I was pleasantly surprised how many could copy and extend my patterns, and a few kids even made their own patterns!

Miss Kim played a family matching game with her groups, and they talked about types of families and things families do together from the pictures.

Friday, September 16, 2016

All About Me!

We had a great week learning about ourselves, mainly so we can get to know each other. Here's a few of the things we did this week:

Dramatic Play
I kept the housekeeping up from last week. I usually keep anything up for 2 weeks, as most themes do go 2 weeks. As usual, everyone played there day 1, and by day 4, it was much less busy. Getting ready for something new!

Tuesday, we played with the doll house. I have random people who can't sit, and a bunch of mismatch furniture, but that never stops them. They seemed to really like it. I had planned to use it during family week, but my son actually got it out this weekend and begged for it to stay out for school.

Thursday, we had out the Duplo Legos. They had a great time building towers. and used a lot of team work and cooperation to build the taller tower they could, together. One of many reasons I love block play!

Tuesday, we had out play dough and blank face mats so they could make faces. In past years, the kids begged for play dough. Each kid played with it for a bit, but they definitely preferred to play elsewhere.

Thursday, we made faces. I had facial features cut out of magazines, plus paper hair, and they could glue them onto paper. Some made faces, others played with glue, and some others just made a collage.

Small Manipulatives
Tuesday, we did lacing cards. I got these at Dollar Tree and the dollar section of Target. Love them! For only $1, they're great sturdy quality, plus I love the strings! And yes, I do get excited about good strings for lacing, with nice tips that make it easy for kids. This was a surprisingly popular center, with lots of sewing all day!

Thursday, we had out the flannel board story of The Little Engine that Could. We told the story Tuesday, so today, they could play with it and retell it.

Large Group
We learned the word "unique" and talked about the things that make us special and unique. plus the things that make us all alike. We learned about each other by sharing our stars. We drew self portraits after admiring our features in the mirror.We read great books and told stories. We learned the song "Growing Up" by Dr. Jean that shares some traits we have at each age from baby-4 years old.

Small Group
I am so excited to have started small groups this week! Your kids are SO super duper lucky this year, I can't even explain. We have my neighbor, Miss Kim, coming each week to volunteer. She approached me before school started and I couldn't pass up a great teacher coming to help out! She has been the church Nursery leader of all 3 of my kids, and is WONDERFUL with children! She has fit right in from day 1, and the kids love her. Anyway, with Kim here to help, I've split the class down the middle by age, so we can do more focused activities.
My group read "I am Confident" and wrote in our journals about things they can do that makes them feel proud of themselves.
Kim's group did a giant floor puzzle of kids from around the world.

Bonus Learning:
One of our students found this cold dragonfly outside before school, not flying, and brought it in. I found a strawberry container to put him in, and he was a HUGE hit! I got down the magnifying glasses, and he was our impromptu science center. He got much more active as he warmed up, and we learned to not shake or hurt him, then released him once we got outside.

Another grandma from our class also brought us some wasp's nests with dead wasps for us to check out too. Please feel free to bring these fun discoveries! I'll admit they're a bit creepy, but absolutely fascinating too!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Back to School!

I am so excited to be back to school! We have a great class, and I can already tell they're going to get along with each other wonderfully! Here's what we did the first week of school (and I forgot to take many pics, so sorry!):

Dramatic Play
Housekeeping. This is always a favorite. We had the kitchen, food, aprons, chef hats, baby dolls and clothes, beds, blankets. bath, plus the washer and dryer for laundry. There was a LOT of playing here, as kids always seem to love playing house.

Tuesday, we had out Mega Blocks and they were a huge hit.
Thursday, we had out the road mat and cars and road signs.

I'm doing this area a bit differently this year, because now I have those 2 storage shelves there. The foam building blocks and cardboard brick blocks will always be there and available, because I think they work into so many other areas of block play. The second shelf has cars and things, and I may rethink that always being out. It ended up a huge mess both days, with every block, and car, dumped out. So, I think I will limit what's on the shelf and available. I love when they can expand their play, but an overwhelming mess doesn't exactly invite creative play either. Back to the drawing board :)

Tuesday, we painted with water colors.
Thursday, we used scissors and glue sticks. These are a staple at the writing center and always available from now on, but I introduced them today and took the time to show how to use them. Scissors are a work in progress, but they now know how to roll up glue sticks and use lids. Important life skills here.

Small manipulatives
Tuesday, we had out puzzles.
Thursday, we played with ABC lacing beads.

Tuesday, we learned where paper and our writing supplies are located. There will always be paper, crayons, pencils, colored pencils, markers, glue sticks, and scissors available. I usually add something new each day too.
Thursday, we had white boards with white board colored pencils. I am SO excited about these because they don't stain like dry erase markers!

Nothing too exciting here, just crackers and juice. We are getting the snack routine down before we get too fancy with making our own. I've added some snack helpers this year, in order to have every child have a job each week.
2 kids will help bring the writing table and red table over for snack (I like us to all sit together, family style). Another hands out hand sanitizer, while one hands out napkins, and another hands out cups. Not too hard, but we are working on staying in our seats, while these helpers walk around the table to pass out, instead of running back and forth everywhere. Again, life skills here. They even helped pour their own drinks, and I'd like them to be pouring them completely on their own, eventually.
I also focus a lot on cleaning up our spots ourselves. Snack is great for eating, but it's mostly about sharing, interacting, and being responsible, plus have good manners.

I was most excited to play outside! Compared to my first 2 years, outside play is much more exciting! We have a bigger swingset with a climbing wall, a much bigger sandbox, and the play house! I didn't even get out the sensory table yet. We have to learn rules and how to safely and properly use each thing, so we start smaller. We also got new diggers that are a huge hit! They can be in the sandbox or garden, and we are definitely going to be getting dirty this year! We've already turned the play house into a mud pie kitchen, so lots of creativity and dirt.

Large Group
Our word was "learn" and we learned each other's names and added them to the word wall. We also learned new songs like "Hello Neighbor," "Tootie Ta," and "5 Little Monkeys." They love singing! We read books, learned school rules, and played I Spy to tour the room. We also wrote in our journals about our favorite parts of school. I try to do 1 journal entry each theme. They start out with only pictures, but I write their words for them, and they start to learn the concept of putting their ideas into writing, and that their words have meaning and what they look like in print. Important pre-reading skills!