Friday, October 21, 2016

All about Fall!!

Dramatic Play

I am so grateful to Pinterest for this one! I combined a few ideas I found for our apple orchard/leaf raking/pumpkin patch dramatic play center this month.

The apple trees were the biggest hit! I'm grateful to Pinterest for the idea of using the velcro and balls for the apples, especially because I could use all 3 colors of apples. It was great for learning about apple varities, and sorting colors!
This center was a learning curve for me, as the kids played and I had to tweak it a little. I first just made the trees of construction paper, but the strong velcro kept pulling them off the wall. So I taped it together and got it laminated. It worked much better that way. It still wasn't perfect, as the velcro sometimes came off the tree or balls, but it worked well enough.

I took the pumpkins out the first 2 days of the center, so it wasn't so overwhelming. Then, I added them in to change it up and it brought some interest back. That also made them want to be farmers, so I had to get out my cowboy hats and vests, then they requested the stick horses. I also added the shopping carts, because they needed to carry their pumpkins they bought from the farmers.

I was surprised how much they played in the leaves too! I couldn't find any big rakes, I should have bought some in the summer, but they loved the small ones just fine. They would rake piles and jump in them, not caring that they didn't really provide cushion. They also had fun gathering them into the boxes, then taking turns lying down and dumping leaves on each other and burying each other.

I love adding the books too. It gets kids interested in reading who might not go to the reading center that day, and it taught them more about real orchards and pumpkin patches.

The orchard and pumpkin patch reminded me of farming, and since we're not doing a farm unit this year, I got out all the farm toys. They loved it and wanted it back, so it stayed out all 3 days.

I also kept the cars out and added farm puzzles, plus some shape ones from last week, to the shelf. I've found I like having options to pull out besides what's out, but they need to be limited if I don't want a huge mess! The counting farm puzzles were played with every day!

Day 1, we painted fall pictures with fall colored tissue paper squares, and liquid starch.

Day 2, we made apple prints. I cut them in half both ways, so they could also see the star the seeds make. We had red, yellow, and green, plus orange if they wanted their prints to look like pumpkins.

Day 3, we did apple, pumpkin, and leaf spin art. This was a huge hit, and a busy center all day! I had papers cut out in apple, pumpkin, and leaf shapes for them to choose from, and fall colors out. I add a little water to thin the paint, and they use eye droppers to squirt it onto their papers. I do that to add fine motor skills. Then they spin them in salad spinners.

Small Manipulatives
Day 1, fall floor puzzle

Day 2, fall pattern cards and manipulatives

Day 3, apple counting mats. They did these with me in small group last week, now they got to play on their own. Print your own from Kelly's Kindergarten.

Day 1, we had a mom come in and bring different apples to sample. They loved tasting and learning about different apples, and getting to keep some seeds too!

Day 2, we had apple chips and apple juice, plus some crackers.

Day 3, we made applesauce. They loved this so much! They each got turns using my victorio strainer to smash the apples, and turn it to get applesauce. They loved all the "gross parts" too, which is just peels, stems, and seeds. We added cinnamon and they loved it. Most of them had seconds.


Sensory table
I filled with with black beans, then added fall things like real acorns, plus plastic acorns, pumpkins, and apples. They really liked playing here and gathering and sorting the fall-related toys.

They also still love playing with the diggers, swing set, and sandbox. The play house is always fun too. We also played some baseball and basketball this week.

Large Group

Day 1, we used corn syrup and food coloring to paint leaves. This is a favorite activity I love to do every year. It's sticky, and takes a long time to dry, but I love the final product! It's also fun to learn about mixing colors, as I just use yellow and red, and they have to mix them to make orange, if they want orange. They are now hanging in our class tree.

Day 2, we went on a walk to find deciduous leaves and trees. I was so impressed of their use of the word "deciduous!" They screamed it every time they found a tree with changing leaves. They also gathered leaves and we helped them make observations of them on their leaf hunt paper. We even got to taste freshly picked grapes at my neighbor's house (one of our classmate's grandmas), and they found some fresh raspberries to pick and taste at my house too. So glad we got to see, smell, touch, and taste fall!

Day 3, we wrote in our journals about our favorite thing about fall.

Each day, we sang songs and practiced our new word, deciduous. I was stressed a few days before the theme started, because Sesame Street no longer had their deciduous videos on their site. Luckily, I found them, and the kids loved them! Here they are, if you want to watch with them.
Deciduous tree
Deciduous rap

We sang "10 Red Apples hanging in a tree" and learned 10 different ways we can eat apples. This song is so old, it's on a cassette tape. They were fascinated I had to rewind it.
We also sang "Leaves are falling," which they love, because I dump leaves on them as we sing, and they get to gather and throw leaves on themselves.
5 Little Pumpkins was also a big hit! We sang the Raffi version.

Small Group
My group practiced number recognition and counting with apple tree counting and little apples.
Kim's group made leaf rubbings with crayons. This was actually a kind of difficult small motor activity, but they had fun.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Shapes Shapes Shapes!

I say this every time, but I love this theme! I forget how many fun shape activities I have until I start planning, then I regretted I only had 4 days to get them all in! Here's some of what we did:

Dramatic Play

Pizza Restaurant



The kids had A LOT of fun in this center! We had to work a lot on sharing and taking turns, as they all wanted to be the chefs and cashier. They used play dough and toppings to make their pizzas, then I let them "bake" them in the stove. Not sure why I didn't think of that last year. It was a huge hit! They'd set the timer and everything. Dramatic Play is my favorite center to observe, since they have the best conversations.
We also learned cleaning up and sorting by putting toppings away where they go. We did a lot of numbers and counting, plus there is literacy everywhere in this center with labels and orders.
As usual, it was super busy and crowded the first 2 days, but by day 3 and 4 they didn't play here as much. That's why I have to change it each theme.


Day 1, we made pictures with foamie shapes and glue.

Day 2, we painted with shape stamps.

Day 3, we used paint dab markers to make circles. Here's my toddler demonstrating:
Day 4, we used the art table to make our pizzas for snack. What a huge hit! I didn't get pictures, but their pizzas were beautiful. We used greek pitas for our crust, then added the sauce, cheese, and toppings of their choice. It was fun after playing in the pizza restaurant for 2 weeks, to finally get to make real pizza. They even got to help me cut olives with a real knife and they loved having that responsibility. After they were done, most ran straight to the pizza restaurant to keep making more pizzas! We had the wikki stix at the art table with the shape mats after we made the snack.


Day 1, I had bowling set up. We learned a lot about patience and taking turns, plus helping each other as they had to set up the pins. There was some great cooperation happening.

Day 2, were foam shape and number puzzles.

I loved these especially as we cleaned up and we were looking for and labeling specific shapes, plus counting and matching that to the numbers.

Day 3, we had the magnet tiles. These are definitely the kids' favorite block!!

p.s. These are super expensive, so if you ever want some, I highly recommend Zulily. I got a set of 100 for $19!!! Not even kidding. They are one of the very favorite toys at our house, so they're worth the money, but I love a bargain.

Day 4, we played with the small wood blocks.

Small Manips

We had different shape puzzles and games all week.

I've also added a magnet wall in this area, so we had shape magnets too. They love the pattern blocks.


I added shape stencils to the writing center.

Large Group

Day 1, We focused on circles, and after reading about shapes and learning our new shape songs, we played with the shape mats and pom pom balls pictured above.

Day 2, We focused on squares, and matched shapes on this Learning Shapes Train. It stayed out the next days for them to add and remove shapes.

Day 3, We focused on rectangles, and made these shape pizzas. On the back, I wrote how many of each shape after they helped me count. They were all correct, but some added more shapes after we counted, if you noticed their numbers were off.

Day 4, We focused on triangles. We played shape bingo and it was a huge hit!

Small Group

Week 1, my group worked on making patterns with shapes. They are doing great at copying and extending patterns!
Miss Kim's group used wikki stix to make different shapes, and turn those shapes into things.

Week 2, my group sorted shape magnets into shapes and colors. We also graphed them.

Miss Kim's group stamped blocks into play doh to make shape prints.

We added some fun songs this theme too.
Jake the Snake (I use a folder with pictures of the snake making different shapes)
     I'm Jake the Snake, I'm a happy snake,
     I'm a magical guy, I can change my shape!

2 are from Dr. Jean's Totally Math cd:

Shape a loo by Dr. Jean

I Spy a Shape by Dr. Jean

I love that those two songs are so active! They love searching for shapes in the I Spy one, and dancing and waving their shapes around in Shape a Loo.