Saturday, September 9, 2017

Welcome Back to School!

And just like that, another school year is underway! If you'll check out the above tabs, I updated them over the summer with new pictures that show off the new (from a year ago) paint job in the preschools, plus the newly done backyard! The play house soffit and fascia were completed Labor Day weekend, so I still need to add that update. I also added a post that's been a work in progress over the last year, that gives details of our centers and how and why I teach the way I do.

As for the school year, we kicked it off 2 weeks ago and here's all the fun stuff we did:

Dramatic Play: School!
This is the first time I've done this DP, and they really liked it. They loved using the pointers and having me be a student. Their teaching style consisted of pointing to things and asking "what's that?" and praising me when I got it right. Great start!
We mixed it up week 2 with the white board side and markers.


Mega Blocks

I forgot a pic, but they could play with these all day, every day, and never complain.

Floor puzzle

Car rug


Water colors. No pic here.


Play Dough

Cardboard Easels
I've always hated that I don't have room for painting at an easel daily, but this was a great alternative and they really liked it. They loved having their own paint trays and space to paint, and it's just more fun when it's on an easel! I added water for brush cleaning and regret that, some paint got very runny! And they love mixing colors, so who needs to rinse brushes anyway?

Small Manipulatives

Lacing cards

ABC lacing beads


Bristle Blocks (forgot a pic)

Also: pattern blocks on the magnet board and ABC matching cards in the pocket charts

Writing Table
I always have paper, markers, crayons, pencils, scissors, and glue. These are the things I added each day:

Colored pens

Color change markers (they loved these! They work great, and bonus, are from the dollar store)

School chalkboard paper

School white boards with dry erase pencils (PS, love these. They don't stain like markers)


Sensory table had wheat and scooping materials

We added letter tiles the second week. They loved finding their letters and spelling their names.

We also had out balls, and just enjoyed the new grass in the backyard! The swing set and sandbox are always busy, with the grape vines ("grape forest" as they call it) a close second. And they love the play house too. Plus, they've discovered our raspberry patch and love snacking on those and the grapes while we're outside.

We had some typical crackers and juice days. Our favorite day that's already being requested again, was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They sing this song all the time now!

Large Group

We focused these 2 weeks on learning and reviewing rules, and learning new songs. All of our books were school-related. The songs weren't, but are just for fun. We learned a new one each day, so now we have more songs to add to our rotation from last year. We learned Down by the Bay, Peanut Butter and Jelly, The Music Cantor, and a new weather song. We also kept last year's songs, 5 Little MonkeysHello Neighbor Song, and Tootie Ta in the rotation for singing time the last 15 minutes each day. The youtube links are not what we use in class, most of these are from my Raffi and Dr Jean collections, but they let you hear and know the song :)

Small Group

We drew self-portraits, and wrote in our journals about our favorite thing to do at school.

We also made leaf prints for our summer tree, and practiced tracing our names.

Monday, June 12, 2017

1 egg case hatched!

Truth be told, I haven't paid much attention to the praying mantis egg cases since school ended. I just asked my kids to let me know if they hatch. I've been out of town for the past week, and was just going downstairs to do vacation laundry this morning, and happened to see baby praying mantises all over their habitat! My kids were so excited. Since I have no reason to hang onto them for preschool kids, we took them straight outside. Some were still hatching out of the egg case, while others took off right away. It's been outside all day, and still has quite a few hanging out inside. Hopefully they'll all get out before it rains tonight!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Favorites week!

I didn't get pics of it all, but here's what your kids chose as their favorite things to do from the school year:

Dramatic Play



Pizza Restaurant

Doctor's Office



Magnatiles (this was actually on the shelf for the full 2 weeks, and was off the shelf and being used constantly these 2 weeks. If I had to pick 1 favorite toy of the class this year, this is it, hands down! If you're ever considering a toy for your child for birthdays or Christmas, this is a great one!! It never grows old. And they can be so creative with it. I got my set of 100 on Zulily for $19 a few years back, no joke. They can be pricey, so watch for deals! They are SO worth it.)

Bristle Blocks

Number Pegs

Car mat and cars

Toy castle

Small Manipulatives

Lacing ABCs

Lacing cards

Small magnets (balls, sticks) idea what they're called ;)

Puppet theater

Reading Center
They requested all the stuffed animals come down from the cupboard, so they were added, along with some of my favorite books!


Painting in many different ways!
-spin art
-marble painting
-roller painting

2 snack preps, then art...they love cooking! They made mummy hot dogs, a request they remembered from Halloween. And we also made cookies for the last day.

This technically wasn't a favorite they'd chosen, but apparently slime making went viral this year, so I hadn't been able to find glitter glue all year to make it, and finally had a good reason to do it! It was a big hit.

Many kids asked for the recipe. I don't use an exact one, but if you google elmer's glue and borax slime recipes, they'll get more specific. I was using 6 bottles of glue, and you don't just times the recipe by 6, so that's why it's not exact. I pour in the glue, add a bottle or 2 of water and mix it in. Then I added a spoonful of borax to a couple of cups of warm water and stirred until it dissolved. I added it to the glue as I stirred and stopped when it felt like enough. It was actually too wet, and I had to pour some water off. I also added a little more borax water, as it was too sticky. That's why my recipes aren't exact :) You can store it in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

The kids voted for their favorite snack, which they all just wanted popsicles. So I convinced them to pick 3 more for the other days.
We made mummy hot dogs, which were just hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls.
We had goldfish crackers and juice.
We made chocolate chip cookies. Some of you requested that recipe, so here it is:

2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large packages vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
4 cups chocolate chips (we did half peanut butter chips)

Cream butter, sugars
Beat in pudding
Stir in eggs and vanilla
Blend in flour and baking soda
Stir in chocolate chips

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes

Large Group/Small Group

We read some of my favorite books, that don't necessarily fit in a theme, but I just love to read. We practiced the songs we had chosen to sing to our parents. We wrote in our journals about our favorite preschool moments. We drew self portraits to compare to the self portraits we had drawn at the beginning of the year. We played ABC bingo and put together rhyming puzzles. We made potions-this was most important to the class! Good old-fashioned baking soda and vinegar, made magic with some dish soap, food coloring, and test tubes to mix them in. And we also took a fun field trip to visit some chickens, and play in a different yard! We really had a fun 2 weeks playing!!

Thank you for a great year! I will get pictures up soon on dropbox and email you, so you can download the ones you want. We seriously had so much fun this year. I am excited to have most of you back next year! Have a great summer!! We'll be working hard on finishing the yard, so we'll have some gorgeous green grass to run on! Thanks for your patience with our construction this spring.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Releasing our butterflies

I was so happy to have 4 butterflies to release by Thursday! The last guy was hanging on in his chrysalis, but he had changed quite a bit later than the others. It was cool to see its wings through the chrysalis, though.

It was only 60 degrees and cloudy, so just barely warm enough. Based on past experience, they love the sun and fly like crazy when it's hot. Since it wasn't, they didn't really do anything. They just sat in the habitat, and opened their wings. Eventually, we got sick of waiting (and kids were losing interest), so I pulled out the piece of watermelon that one was sitting on. It didn't move, so each child that wanted a chance to hold it, got to. They loved that! As they were passing it around, 1 butterfly did fly out and fly around the yard. They chased it everywhere as it flew and landed in the orchard, the irises, and grapes. It was so fun.

The one on the watermelon eventually flew off too. So I pulled out the flower with another butterfly, and got it to walk onto my finger. It was so calm and content, so each child who wanted a turn, got to hold it on their finger. They loved that!

The 4th butterfly was parked on the lid, next to the chrysalis that hadn't emerged, so I didn't dare pull it out. Eventually, we just went back inside.

We went in and got ready for our program and then once parents arrived, I noticed the last butterfly had emerged! We just missed watching it happen.

After school, I took them outside, and the newly emerged one flew off first! It was sunnier and warmer, so the other quickly followed and they flew off without letting any of us touch them! I'm so glad for the earlier weather so that each child got to hold one of our butterflies.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I got nervous over the weekend, when nothing happened! Monday was day 11-12 for some of them, and the instructions say they should emerge in 7-10 days. I had them outside much of the day Monday, thinking they might need some warmth since it is cooler downstairs and it'd been a cold weekend.
Tuesday morning, my kids woke up and saw a butterfly! We got breakfast and I got an orange slice to feed it, and when I put it in, I noticed 2 more butterflies! I was most excited to see the dented one on the floor had emerged and was just fine.

The kids were excited to see them, but a little bored, because they just sat there. I wasn't sure what time they had emerged, but I did explain to them that they need time to dry and stretch out their wings, plus get the blood flowing.

During snack, they started flapping more, then even flew around. So as the kids finished, they came and watched them, and all got to see them flap and fly. They were squealing and laughing and loved watching them move!

It's going to be so much fun to release them on Thursday!

**note added Wednesday, one more butterfly emerged, one more to go!

Monday, May 15, 2017


Dramatic Play

The first two days, we played in ant tunnels.  I also had butterfly and ladybug headbands for them to play with.

The second two days, we played the butterfly life cycle. I truthfully wasn't sure if they'd get it, but thought of it as my kids were playing in sleeping bags one time and looked like caterpillars. They got it and loved it! I was so impressed! They loved wiggling around, then going in their chrysalis, and shedding their skin to become a butterfly. Some even were ladybug larva, then a pupa, then a ladybug. My teacher heart sang :)



Dramatic Play extended over, but this also became our science bug center for our live bugs. Look how tiny the caterpillars started!!

There were also bug games and puzzles available for them to play, and they did them all.


Bug sponge stamping. I added some plants too.
We did snack prep to make ladybug pizzas. Then painted.

We made egg carton bugs.
Looked at live ladybugs! I bought a bag of 1500 at Smith's, and was super disappointed that 75% were dead :(  But the live ones were fun to watch and release.

Small Manipulatives

Pattern puzzle magnets with bug patterns

Insect Dominos

File Folder Games (thanks to my son's awesome church teacher)

Bee Counting Game (thanks to that same teacher)

Bug Size Sorting (again, amazing primary teacher)

Ladybug ABC puzzle
The Hungry Caterpillar story board and puzzle
 We had bug stamp markers
and bug tracing/coloring pages 

Our bug-specific snacks were the lady bug pizzas.
And caterpillar kabobs, which they made by putting grapes and blueberries on their skewers. They were delicious, healthy, and a great fine motor activity!


We had bugs in the sensory table with wheat.

I also had jars for bug catching. We looked underneath things in my yard and found lots of worms, centipedes, spiders, and earwigs. We also had fun chasing and trying to catch baby grasshoppers! They're fast little guys, and we did manage to catch 2.


Large Group
We learned the word Life Cycle, and used the bug models I had to learn about the life cycles of Butterflies, Ladybugs, and Praying Mantises. Then, they got in groups of 3 and took turns with the models and put them all in order.

We made caterpillars by gluing pom poms on clothespins. They will transform later.
We took a field trip to my neighbor's beehive. She forgot and wasn't home, but we still got to see the hive and bees, touch real wax from the bees, and see one of the boards they had built their honeycomb on. We also saw many bugs on our walk.

We read The Hungry Caterpillar, then painted a coffee filter with watercolors for our butterflies. Once they dried, our caterpillars transformed into butterflies!

We wrote in our journals about our favorite bugs we learned about.

Each day, we sang Head Thorax Abdomen to learned about insects. It's to the tune of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.

Head, thorax, abdomen. Abdomen. Abdomen.
Head, thorax, abdomen. 6 legs and antennae.

Small Group
Miss Kim worked on math. They did the bug 1-10 puzzles, then sorted bugs by size.

My group did math too, using a bug measuring book I have. It has an attached measuring tape, so we read the book and took turns measuring the bugs on each page.

Week 2, Miss Kim played The Hungry Caterpillar board game with her group.

My group reviewed patterns and made caterpillar necklaces with green penne pasta and red pony beads.