Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall, Fall, Beautiful Fall!

 It all starts with the Fall bookshelf!  There are so many great Fall-centric books for young children.  I love to mix some nonfiction with fiction each day as we explore our changing Fall world.  We can see  the trees changing daily, but what do the animals do to get ready for Winter's arrival?  Fall is a very busy time in the natural world!  Here's a peek into my Fall bookshelf...maybe you will find one you don't already have!

It's time for Fall Festival Fun in our dramatic play area! I have a Fall Harvest Festival Dramatic Play Set available in my TPT store to help create just the right Fall feeling and inspiration!

The kids had a blast taking leaves off trees and pretending to be at the pumpkin patch!  It is a fantastic way to celebrate Fall and lead into the Halloween Season!  Just wait until you see what we did to make it even better!  (Coming this week)

One of my favorite Fall art Project is what I like to call "Squishy Paint Leaves". It really is a wonderful way to bring Fall and all of it's colors into your classroom!  We start with a large leaf cut from white or manilla construction paper.  Then, with dollar some squeeze bottles, we squirt red, orange, yellow, and purple (I use mostly fluorescents except for red) I tell my kiddos that we need house at least 2 colors...but they always opt for all 4!  Next, we cover your paint-squirted leaves with plastic wrap and then manipulate to cover the paper leaf and been the colors.  The reveal is the best part...The kids peel the plastic and are awestruck by the's magical!  When the leaves are dry, I display them out in our hallway mimicking leaves blowing in the is BEAUTIFUL!

Fall means leaves, but it also means learning.  I love to begin some 'seek and find' letter activities around this time of year with my PreK kids.  They know quite a few of their letters by now, but I like to assess and find out where they really in letter identification.  I have a center that I call 'Mark the Letter' just for this purpose.  I have a printable with alphabet letters in either uppercase, lowercase, or a mix...I choose which level I think the kids are capable of doing.  I also have some nice Fall alphabet flash cards in both upper and lowercase that we use for a 'draw' pile.  The kids use daubers to mark the letters as the cards are drawn and placed face up on the table.  We talk about words that have the beginning sound of the letters as they come up.  It is fun, engaging, and all the kids cancel successful. Flashcards and printable are available in my All bout Fall Literacy Centers and All About Fall 5-Day Complete Lesson Plans Available in my TPT store.

More Fall yet to come!  Have a great week, and HappyFall!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Apples Week!

Last week was our Apples week!  We did a lot of fun activities and learned so much about how apples grow and are harvested.  We began the week making glitter apples to put on out bulletin board in the hall.  The kids loved this simple activity which required nothing but die-cut apples, glitter and glue sticks.  They made as many as they wanted and enjoyed every minute of it!

Next came our "apple basket" name activity.  Every student had a 'basket' (a paper sack with a handle and their name printed clearly on the front) Uppercase apples were in one 'orchard', and the lowercase apples were spread face-up on our rug.  A visit to the uppercase orchard started the hunt for their names.  After they 'picked' their uppercase apple and put it in their basket, we moved to the rest of their name!  They were so excited that they could find their letters, and that they got to keep the apples with the letters of their name.  My hope is that some of them will take it home and work on spelling and recognizing their own names as well as learning the letters in their is a fantastic activity!
With our sensory bin, filled with tiny apples, and apple pie smell,  our dramatic play apple orchard, apple tasting station, and all of our apple math and literacy connections...we never ran out of engaging activities, and we never stopped learning!
Our apple sensory bin made with oatmeal,
cinnamon sticks, tiny apples, tweezers and
magnifying glasses for a fun exploration!

We used apples cut 2 ways to make our apple stamping pictures!
Puffy paint apples!  Learning about the parts an apple!

Paper plate apple cores! Just add paint,
stems and leaves!
Making our names in apples!

The seasons of an apple tree
Ten Apples Up on Top comes to life!  
Ten Red Apples activity to go with
 Pat Hutchins AWESOME book!
Feed Johnny his apples! Counting game
Play-doh apple tree counting mats
Ollie's Orchard dramatic play...a HUGE hit!

Our Bulletin board in all its glory with the glitter apples from the beginning of the week and the puffy paint apples from later that week when we learned about the parts an apple. 
What a fun week of learning!  We used all of our senses and had a wonderful time!

I have so many awesome Apples products in my TPT store!  You will find all the activities pictured here and so much more!

Apples! Complete Classroom Bundle
Apples Word Wall Cards
Apples Alphabet
Apple Orchard Dramatic Play Set
All About Apples 5-Day Lesson Plan for Preschool, PreK, K & Homeschool


Thursday, October 12, 2017

We're Going on a Leaf Hunt!

Fall is in full splendor around here!  Each year I love to watch the fascination kids have with this vibrant season!  Today we read a book about finding leaves, then we took bags outside to gather leaves for a project we will do tomorrow.

The kids loved being out in the sunshine, discovering the reds, golds, and purples of the season.  There was a moment when the biggest, most magical gust of wind came and sent leaves sailing all around us.  It was delightful to watch the reaction!

When we came back to the classroom (after our leaf hunt AND music class) we made some amazing Fall "triangle trees'.  It was a nice tie-in to our leaf hunt and a quick center for a busy day!

Happy Fall!

 If you have the time, check out my TPT Store...I have so many fun, engaging and developmentally appropriate center ideas, and complete lesson plans to make your job easier and a lot more fun!

Here's a few links to some Fall favorites...
All About Pumpkins Math Centers for Preschool, PreK, K & Homeschool
All About Fall Complete Lesson Plans for Preschool, PreK, K & Homeschool
Fall Fun Lesson Plan Bundle

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Two Favorite Circle Time Activities...and Most Effective!

Circle time is the time of day when the class comes together.  We practice how to sit, how to listen...we sing songs, and read books.  We talk about, sing about, and learn about whatever our theme for the week might be.  Circle time is a VERY important part of any preschool or pre-k day.  Much like "morning message, or morning meeting" in the primary grades, circle time is the way we start our day in order to ensure that we are 'on the same page' and ready to learn.

I have added 2 activities to my circle time that have been transformational!   One is a literacy/name activity, and one is a math/number sense activity.  They are simple, quick, and have a HUGE impact on student learning through the year.  Each one can be leveled up as the year progresses, and the kids absolutely LOVE these activities.  If I ever forget, or run out of time...I hear about it!

Name of the Day

I have a magnet board and an organized set of magnetic letters that I will load into a little box that I keep in my circle time cart.  I always pick the names for the week all at once and make sure I have all the letters I need in my little box.  When I first begin this activity, I write the child's name on the board as shown and 'scramble' the letters below.  Sometimes the child needs help.  We may start by saying "Whose name begins with the letter M?"  Usually someone will pipe up and we will narrow it down, but sometimes we need to just tell the child. "Michael...YOUR name begins with M!"  Then Michael will come up and match the letters either on top or below what is written.  I cycle through all the kids in the class this way until I know they are ready to move on to the next level.  "Level 2" begins when we have worked on level 1, talking each day about the one uppercase letter at the beginning of each name and the subsequent lowercase letters.  At this point the kids will be ready for ONLY the scrambled letters on the board with no writing.  We always mention the Uppercase letter as a clue until the kids just know what the clue is.  Watch for the kids to just automatically know whose name it is each day.  We have a strict rule of NO CALLING the name out!  "Level 3" comes at the very end of our Pre-K year...letters scrambled, and the name of the day child will write their own name on the board.  It is amazing how much they progress in name recognition, spelling, reading, and writing with this one activity!

Number of the Day

Supplies needed for this activity are pretty simple.  You will need a dry erase board and markers. small manipulatives, (I like to change my manipulative to fit our theme as much as possible) and a small clear jar.  I will choose a number for our 'Number of the Day'.  I start small at the beginning of the year and I will repeat numbers that the kids are having struggles with to do over and over-6 and 9 are biggies for the preschool set!  I will hold the board towards the kids and write the number.  The kids usually call it out while I am writing, or we practice being quiet and waiting and we practice choral response when I am done.  I then say, "That is one way to say 6, here is another!"  and I write the word s-i-x.  We say the letters together and I say "Thats another way to say 6!"  Then I draw dots...I ask the kids to count with me as I draw the dots.  I purposely draw the dots like dice faces.  When I am done I say "I have to draw box (or boxes) around them so they don't roll away!"  Then we count the dots in the boxes.  If I have two boxes as above, we would count the dots in one box, and normally I would write that number under each this case '3'.  Then we ounce the dots in the other box and write the number underneath-then I ask, "Are there still 6 dots?"  Then we count all the dots.  This is a great way to begin the idea of 'fact families'.  So here we have covered counting, one to one correspondence, subtilizing, and an intro to fact families!  Then I choose a student to come and count 6 items and put them in the jar.  I make sure that the entire class can watch and count with the chosen student.  We then display the board with all of our ways to say '6', and the jar directly in front of it in a highly visible place the entire day.  

These two activities are so simple, but they cover such a wide range of our core standards and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, working together, and most of all...they are fun!  

I LOVE teaching little ones and challenging them to learn and explore new things each day!  I have so many fun lesson plans and center ideas in my TPT store...follow the link to explore!  (I have plenty of free items to try as well )


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Back to School Bulletin Board-With a Purpose

I know it is Summer and Back to School time is so far away for many of us...but if you are a teacher, you know that you are already thinking about how to improve everything in your classroom and all of your lesson plans.  I'd place bets that a lot of you teachers have already been hard at work, at least mentally, getting ready for the new school year!

In ECE we like everything we do to be intentional.  Every part of our day includes some kind of learning.  Even at snack time we will talk about what shape our cracker is, which of our five sense are we using?  How can we remember our good goes on and on.

I begin my year with a bulletin board that not only welcomes the kids, helps the parents learn the names of all the kids, but also adds an element that I use to show progress through the year.  In other is VERY intentional.

The board is outside my classroom door.  It is big-in fact I have 2 classes, morning Preschool and afternoon Pre K, so I break it into 2 separate boards.  It starts out with these flowers with empty centers and names placed boldly on each flower.

I have the words "Watch", "Us", "Grow" placed across the board above the flowers.  I have laminated the flowers, stems, and leaves so I don't have to make them each year.  I added the grass last year and I kind of like it.  

During the first week or two we do a center activity where we look into mirrors and notice our faces, usually during our "About Me" unit.  I ask the kids to notice their eyes color, hair color, if they have nose...where does it go on their face?  Do they have eyelashes?  Eyebrows?  Then I offer large circles in several flesh tones for the kids to re-create their face...we even add yarn hair!
The faces then go into the center of the flower with their own name on it!  I usually take a photo of each flower-including the name so I remember who it is!  The photo then becomes part of their end of the year progress book for their parents-which will show a current's amazing to see the change!

Here are a few examples.  The face with red hair is one of my Preschoolers ages 3-4, the other 2 are my Pre K kids, ages 4-5.  This way, the parents can also see the progress from the Preschool (3-4) to the Pre K (4-5).  It showcases developmental progress from one year to the next.  

I love this project, and so do the parents.  I think this is one of my favorite bulletin boards of the year!

This is just one of the activities in my "About ME"  5-day lesson plan available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Just follow the link below for this on a other 'done for you' lesson plans.
All About ME 5-day Lesson Plan for Preschool, PreK, K, and Homeschool


Monday, June 26, 2017

Storm Clouds in a Jar!

I LOVE doing science experiments with my preschoolers.  But as much as I love it...they love it even more!

One of my all-time favorite experiments to do with both my preschool 3-4's and my PreK is what I like to call "Storm Clouds in a Jar".  We do this experiment during our weather and seasons unit.  I read a few books about rain and briefly describe the water cycle and how clouds get so full of water that they need to let it go as rain.  The darker the cloud, the more saturated it is with water.

The kids get so excited when I tell them that they will be making their own storm cloud and rain in a jar...they are a little bit confused as well. So...I show them what we will be doing!  I have everything I need set up to do a whole group demonstration.

A mason jar
shaving cream
blue food color or blue liquid water color
pipettes or other droppers.

I fill the jar about 2/3 full with water.  Then I make a 'cloud'
of shaving cream that will float on top of the water.
Then I take the blue water and pipette and start to squeeze
droppers of blue water onto the cloud.  Soon the cloud becomes saturated  enough for the blue water to drip down
like rain.  The "OOOH''s and "AAAh"'s are so great!
At that point the kids cannot wait to get started and they
all want to come to my center first!

It is so much fun to watch the kids at this center.  The level of engagement and interest is off the charts!  One of the best parts is watching the kids get excited not only about their own little 'storm', but they are just as excited watching their friends little 'storms' develop as well.  They cheer each other on and encourage each other as they watch the experiment unfold before their eyes.  

This experiment and so many other fun and engaging centers are included in my 'All About Weather and Seasons' Complete 5-Day Lesson Plan available on teachers Pay Teachers.  You can follow the link below or the tab at the top of my blog.  


Sunday, June 25, 2017

I LOVE My Alphabet Wall!

I love my is my happy place.  I spend so much time there, I have to make it special and it has to be a place that I love and that my students find fun, exciting, and inspires them to learn.

One of my favorite things to do is to change my alphabet wall to go with my theme.  I can hear the groans already..."Isn't that a lot of work?"...."One more thing to do?"...No, it's not a lot of work, and yes, it is one more thing to do, but in my experience it is one more thing with a HUGE impact.

In ECE we strive to teach, but to keep things developmentally appropriate and experiential.  By changing my alphabet wall to go with my theme, I touch on things my students are excited about, increase theme vocabulary and usage, AND it's a fun and sneaky way of working in letter recognition and beginning sounds.

I have a few photos of my ever-changing alphabet wall I'd love to share.

 This is my Spring Alphabet wall.  The kids love seeing changes, and each letter brings up questions and discussions related to our theme.
 Below is Fall...It can be tough to find pictures for letters like "I, Q, and X", but I take liberties.  My aides love to see what I come up with...sometimes it's quite funny!

 Halloween is one of my favorites.  I found a great Halloween font on Teachers Pay Teachers that made it just perfect!

Thanksgiving is next...I loved coming up with just the right words and pictures for this one!

Every one of these alphabets and more can be found under "Themed Alphabets" in my TPT store.  Below is a full listing with links.

Change it up, have some fun, learn a ton!