Friday, January 27, 2017


Dramatic Play

I made a winter bear cave out of a tent, plus added all the stuffed bears we have, and 1 polar bear costume. They loved hibernating and caring for their baby bears. It was darling.

Gymnastics mat!

This was their first time playing on it, and it's perfect for days when we can't go outside and play. We learned how to wait in line and take turns, since the rule is 1 kid at a time. They had fun doing somersaults and other silly tricks they could think of.

Lincoln Logs

These are a hit and the kids always love them, but I'm always iffy about them with this age group. They want to build with them, but they are a little complicated. I got a lot of requests to build them houses. So I spent a lot of time here, showing them how to stack them and helping them build. It's doable and they got the hang of it.

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
After we acted it out, I told them I was putting it into the dramatic play area the next day, and they were not ready to give up their bear cave! So it went into the block center instead. They acted out the story over and over and over.

Besides these fun things, I had small animals and puzzles on the shelf. The animals, especially, were a hit.


We painted with watercolors.

We played in shaving cream with bears. They were so funny, making it into a bear wash, instead of a car wash. Great sensory and pretend play!
Small Manipulatives

Counting Bears
I wanted to use these in several math activities this week, so they were available for free play as well. I was taught that children usually can't use manipulatives and toys like this to learn, until they've had a chance to explore them and free play with them, and that's what they did.

Animal lacing cards

Bristle Blocks


Teddy Grahams

Porridge, to go along with Goldilocks. They actually loved it, and most had seconds. I was kind of surprised. A few only tasted it, but at least they tried it.

Black Bear food. This was my favorite snack of the week. We sang about black bear food, and hunted for it, but I'm sure they remember better by tasting it themselves! We ate family style, and passed the food around the tables. They took what they wanted, then passed it along. I was very proud of how well they did. They had mixed nuts, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and grapes. They all at least tried everything, then they continued to pass them around for seconds until it was all gone. They each got a gummy bear as well, to represent the bugs bears eat.

Large Group

We learned 2 new songs, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, and Are You Sleeping Little Bear?

The bear went over the mountain,
the bear went over the mountain,
the bear went over the moutain,
to see what it could eat!
And what do you think it ate?
And what do you think it ate?
It ate___________on the mountain,
it ate __________ on the mountain,
it ate _______ on the mountain, as much as it could eat!

We also learned the word hibernate.

Day 1, we read Alaska's 3 bears and learned about polar bears, grizzly bears, and black bears. We spent a long time reading and comparing the 3 bears. It goes into details about the differences in the bears, their habitats, and what they eat, so they were fascinated learning all of that.

Day 2, we read Goldilocks and the 3 Bears and acted it out several times, until they all had turns to be in it.

Day 3, we read Black Bear Cub at Sweet Berry Trail. I hid pictures of bear food around the room, and they had to forage for it. I was surprised at how much they loved it. They begged for me to hide more, so they could forage more.

Small Group

We actually both worked with the kids and the counting bears to sort, count, and make patterns. We did different things with the kids each day. Sometimes they did things on their own, and other times they had to sort them as a small group. Lots of great learning!

Friday, January 13, 2017


Such a fun transition, to go from Christmas, to a winter wonderland! My kids were so excited as I set up, and spent all day Monday playing Snow Queen and King.

Dramatic Play
Days 1 and 2, a winter wonderland. There was snow to shovel, "snowballs" to throw, and hot chocoa to make, plus winter animals and snowmen to play with. On the dress up side, were hats and gloves and mittens, along with snowmen and penguin masks. They loved it and had so much fun! The pretend play was fantastic, ranging from snowball fights and regular hot chocolate making, to penguin friends dancing around, and the hot chocolate salesman adjusting to make hot chocolate just for penguins. They enjoyed shoveling more than I expected, and even attempted snow angels.

The hot chocolate stand was a last minute addition after I had set up. I dyed rice brown with brown paint and rubbing alcohol, but it turned out light, so I could have just used brown rice. I added cocoa for the smell, but it didn't stay on either. I didn't clean out the hot chocolate can, so you could really smell it while they played. I love that it added to the sensory play of hot chocolate making. They loved this area, and it always had 2 people working. It got messy, as expected, but I was surprised how much actually stayed on the sheet under the table.

Day 3, I took out the snow and hot chocolate stand, and added the mitten from our activity the day before. The animals stayed as well, and, of course, deer and moose joined the others inside the mitten. They insisted I read the book over and over as they took turn acting out parts. They had fun being able to play in the mitten without all the kids in there to tell the story. It gave the kids who didn't want to with the whole class (understandably) try it out.

Day 4, was the same as day 3, except I added a snow cave and some stuffed bears. We talked a bit about hibernation, and it's a perfect segueway into our next unit on bears.


Winter puzzles

Snowman counting bottles

Cardboard bricks

Duplo legos


Day 1, we had a sensory day and played in "snow." This is pretend snow that expands in water. It's a huge hit every year! They also had arctic animals and penguins, plus plastic "ice crystals." I loved the pretend play that went on here too.
Added bonus, they had lots of questions about their animals, so I pulled down my arctic animal books and we read about walruses and penguins. Learning sticks and becomes more authentic when it's something the kids are interested in.

My boys played in this almost non-stop the next 2 days!

Day 2, we did epsom salt painting. It's one of those projects that isn't super interesting as they do it, because it just looks like water, but is super fun to see the results, once the water evaporates and only the salt remains. They were excited to see their dried pictures the next day and compare them.

Day 3, I brought in a bucket of snow for them to paint. I had cups of colored water and brushes, and they painted away. It was always a busy center. Once they'd used up most of the water to paint and mix, I added spoons and they started to dig and build with the cups. Once kids asked for help building snowmen, we talked about making big, medium, and small balls. I pulled out beads for faces, and pipe cleaners for arms. This center stayed busy all day.

Day 4, was "snow paint," which is a mixture of shaving cream, elmers glue, and glitter. This is the opposite of the epsom salt paint, where this is more about the experience than result. They liked the fluffy snow and took lots of turns painting. Once it dries, it's not quite as interesting, since it loses all its fluff.

Small Manipulatives

The magnet board had snowmen to build

Number snowmen with buttons for counting

Mitten ABCs and clothespins. Clothespins are great for fine motor skills, plus the literacy skill of practicing the letter names or putting them in order.
Mitten numbers. Same skills as before, just numeracy instead.
Frozen folder and magnet games
Frozen Memory


snowflake stickers

To celebrate winter, we had frozen Otter Pops, plus Frozen (the movie) crackers.

We made snowmen with powdered donuts and pretzels and chocolate chips.

I cut tortillas into snowflakes, which they informed me didn't look like real snowflakes (thanks guys, I try), and toasted in the oven with olive oil cooking spray and cinnamon/sugar.

We played in the snow! We shoveled, squirted it with colored water, and tubed down the hill.

2 days, were also spent inside. The first, was when the temp was in the teens after the big storm, and the next was when it was raining, so it was a soggy mess, plus we had a bday at the end of the day to celebrate. They didn't complain about these inside recess days at all, because we played with the parachute! We made mushrooms, sitting on the outside and inside. We sang Round and Round the Seasons Go as we walked and skipped in circles. We shook foam snowflakes on it as we sang Snow is Falling. This was fun since they would fly off. It led to some fun math activities as we'd count how many were left. When we got to low numbers like 5, we'd shake, then count how many were left, and count how many had flown off. Lots of great math! We worked so hard shaking those snowflakes off, we even got hot and sweaty. We bounced bean bags, too. Their favorite part was landing one on the ceiling fan. We reviewed our shapes as we skipped around singing Shape a Loo, and putting our shapes onto the parachute to shake.

Large Group
We learned the word "coniferous" and also reviewed "deciduous." We sorted pictures of trees and looked for trees outside. They had a really good grasp on coniferous evergreen trees by the end of the 2 weeks.

Day 1, we read Millions of Snowflakes, a counting book, then talked about how each snowflake is unique. We then made borax crystal snowflakes. They didn't look much like perfect 6-pointed snowflakes, but looked very much like a preschooler made them, and I love that! I encouraged them to make any shape they wanted with their pipe cleaners and tried to not help much, except to show them how to twist them, so it would truly be their unique snowflake. I often see the perfect ones on pinterest and want to do it for them, but this is their art, so I let them do all the work they can. They sat in a borax/water solution overnight, and turned out awesome! They were so amazed!

Day 2, we read The Mitten by Jan Brett. We then retold the story twice, so each child who wanted a turn to go inside the mitten, could. Each of them tried it. They didn't all like to stay inside, but that's  expected and I don't make them do it if they don't want. Here's some playing in it:

Day 3, we read a seasons book, then made a Venn Diagram to compare winter and summer.

Day 4, we read The Snowy Day, then wrote in our journals about what we like to do on a snowy day. One girl was writing and writing as she scribbled along the lines, left to right, as she said out loud all the things she does in the snow. It was amazing! She clearly recognizes that written words can express our thoughts, and even that it goes left to write, across the lines. She filled 3 pages with her snowy day adventures. Some kids watched her and told me she was writing wrong, since she wasn't drawing a picture at the top of her page like they were. I explained it's because she was writing words and was doing fine. A few other kids then began to scribble along their lines as they told about their snowy day.

Small Group

Week 1, I helped the kids make name snowmen.
Miss Kim played the fly swatter game with the kids, where she drew a number out of a stack of number cards, and the kids had to hit the number on the wall. Once they found the number, she also had them jump that many times, or clap, or some other activity that got them counting.

Week 2, I did a mitten experiment with the kids, where we made a prediction about the warmest gloves, then put them on and put our hands in the snow to find out which ones were warmest. I loved hearing them try to say "prediction" and "conclusion" as we learned about the scientific process.

Miss Kim did winter art with her groups. They painted with blue and white paint, then added glue and epsom salt.