Monday, March 27, 2017

Signs of Spring!

This week we begin our 'Signs of Spring' unit.  Here in Utah we are seeing blossoming trees, daffodils, green grass and leaves beginning to show their spring green on the tips of tree branches.

I began our day reading the BEST book I have ever found to illustrate the changing season and the fickle nature of springtime here in the west...'When Spring Comes' by Kevin Henkes.  It so perfectly describes the transition from Winter to Spring.  There is even a picture of snow-beaten daffodils...we had those last week!  It was so relatable, the kids were mesmerized!

I can't believe I have taught PreK for so long and missed this little gem!  It is perfect!

We also tried out a few activities from my 'All About Spring" 5 day unit/lesson plan.  They were really fantastic centers!  One was in conjunction with the book by Lois Ehlert 'Planting a Rainbow'.  I have the template in my lesson plan, (link will be at the end of this post) I use Avery dots to make the 'rainbow' center of the flowers and the kids add the rest!




We also Counted flowers into flowerpots...such a cute activity!  I did this one to numeral 15 for a challenge for the kids that were ready for it.  I had lower numerals for the kids that weren't quite there yet-this activity would be a great assessment tool for one-to-one correspondence, counting, numeral recognition and fine motor skills.



Our letter literacy center was a fun upper to lowercase letter match with a beginning sound picture in the center of a flower.  The kids loved finding the matching parts to the pictures...and it was a great way to double check if they had the right letter match!


It was a wonderful and FUN day!  for the complete 5-day plan complete with book list, art, science, math and literacy centers (and so much more) follow the link below!


Happy Spring!  More to come!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Top 5 Building Toys for Preschool, PreK, and up!

My class has always loved building toys.  Our construction week gives us an opportunity to use our favorites...and more.
Over the years I'v noticed that my kiddos seem to gravitate to certain building sets more than others.  I know if I put any of these 5 toys out at our block center...the learning, creativity and problem solving skills will be tested and improved!
#1...Melissa and Doug Jumbo Extra Thick Cardboard Blocks in 3 Sizes!  I have a small classroom, so I move the block table out of the room and set out 2 big bins of these blocks.  The kids absolutely love the space and freedom of using the floor and the adjacent shelves and wall in their building.  This year they created an amazing castle!  They were so excited to show me their structure and tell me how they worked together to make an amazing structure.



#2...Magnatiles!  My kiddos love Magnatiles!  They can build up and down, and they can make really wonderful flat designs on the table or floor as well.  Magnatiles are sturdy, durable, come in beautiful jewel tones, and they are so versatile!  When I put magnates out for free play or centers, there are always lots of kids waiting for a turn.  The only drawback to Magnatiles is the expense.  I know there are some knock offs out there but I have yet to try them out.  If you have...I'd love a review!




# 3 Foam Unit Blocks.  Unit blocks are awesome!  We have a wood set, but the foam set...though not as sturdy, are quiet.  For a small classroom that can be a lifesaver!  They are considerably less expensive than traditional wood unit blocks, and the potential for creating amazing structures is still there!  My kiddos love them!



# 4 Lego Duplo Blocks.  Kids LOVE Legos...I use Duplo in my classroom to eliminate choking hazards.  The hand strength and fine motor skills needed to build with Legos is fantastic for development.  The creativity unleashed by legos is second to none.  Legos are my absolute favorite block center toy...and I think the kids would agree!




# 5 Nuts and Bolts Builder.  It never fails...each year I put out my Nuts and Bolts building set and I'm asked if it can be brought out the next day.  There are so many different configurations and things to do with this simple set, the kids NEVER run out of interesting and unique things to build.  I think this set is a MUST for any Preschool or PreK classroom.  It sparks creativity and imagination as it builds fine motor strength and problem solving skills.  We love this toy so much that is is almost time to buy a new one...but it has been going strong for over 8 years!  Well worth the initial investment!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Three Little Pigs

During our Construction theme I love to explore the story of The Three Little Pigs.  We read as many different versions of the story that we can during the week.  I am always surprised by how much the kids love the story and how they can't wait to hear each one again and again.

I have put together a list of the books I read during the week with links for purchase on Amazon.





The kid's favorite by FAR was 'The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf'.  When we re-enacted the story, that was the version they most closely followed.  You can't go wrong with any of these stories...they are all entertaining, engaging, and sure to please your class!

Construction Shape Review!

As we continue our Construction theme, we hit so many core standards, I thought I'd share one of my favorites.

Shape Trucks!  I give the kids 4 different truck templates to choose from.  We have a cement truck, a dump truck, a crane truck, and an excavator!  We use circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, and ovals to make our trucks.  In the end we embellish by putting drivers in the truck windows, a load in the dump trucks, stops, a construction site...we just use our imaginations!

All templates for trucks and shapes are included in my "All About Construction" Lesson plan available on Teachers Pay Teachers.  just follow the link below!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Construction-Unit-Plan-for-Preschool-PreK-K-Homeschool-3033813


Here are some photos of my kiddos having fun making their trucks!






They had so much fun and really began to grasp how shapes make up their world!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Construction Week STEM activity!

My class LOVES our Construction theme...so much, that we are into our third week.  I love the construction week because it is a great way to hit dozens of our core standards while keeping the kids engaged and learning.

We usually begin talking about tools and their uses.  The kids are so excited to learn that we use tools in our classroom each day...scissors, paintbrushes, markers, glue sticks...and our HANDS!  This year, I created a great lesson plan for TPT with a fun toolbox craft included.  The kids LOVED making their own toolbox with a handle and full of all the important tools they would need.
They were so proud of their work!

A simple and fun activity that fits perfectly into our Construction Theme is "Cups and Sticks" STEM activity.  We use jumbo craft sticks and plastic drinking cups we have on hand from our snack supplies.  I will do a short demonstration on how the kids can use the cups and sticks to stack and build or build long roads and bridges.  I let them know they can build together or by themselves.  I always add that no one can knock over a friends tower or step on the cups.  I have procedures in place so that the kids know how to behave in these centers!

The results are amazing and so much fun to watch!





 I have a week's worth of great Construction center ideas for math and literacy too!  Check out these great construction products!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Construction-Unit-Plan-for-Preschool-PreK-K-Homeschool-3033813
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Construction-Math-Centers-for-Preschool-PreK-K-Homeschool-3033275
 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Construction-Alphabet-2949161
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Construction-Literacy-Centers-for-Preschool-PreK-K-Homeschool-3033392
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Construction-Word-Wall-Picture-Cards-3033834
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ConstructionWorkshop-Dramatic-Play-Set-2391449

Happy Building!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

St. Patrick's Day is Coming!

I LOVE Saint Patrick's Day!  I love to do all of the fun rainbow and shamrock crafts with the kids, I love to stage a 'Leprechaun' visit for my class full of mischief and glitter, and I love making what would be an ordinary day so much fun!

I teach at a catholic school, so I always teach a Saint Patrick religion lesson to my kids.  I had a hard time finding an age appropriate story of Saint Patrick's life and legend so...I wrote my own!  I have included it in my "All About Saint Patrick" lesson packet on TPT.  I will add link below.

I love how Saint Patrick used the shamrock to teach the trinity.  The trinity is a very abstract concept for most ages, let alone preschool and prek...but they do the sign of the cross, and I find that teaching that each leaf of the shamrock represents each part of the sign of the cross makes sense to them.  I explain that every leaf is part of the same shamrock just as each part of the trinity is part of the same God.  I'm sure some of it gets lost in translation, but it is a good start for the concepts they will learn as they move through catholic education.


Here is the link to the entire lesson-so many AWESOME activities are included!https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-St-Patrick-Minilesson-for-Preschool-PreK-K-Homeschool-3032704


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

What I have Learned in the Last 12 Days

Has this ever happened to you?

You think you are 'so prepared' because you have almost all of your work saved to a really awesome (so you thought) external hard drive...if my computer crashes...I'm set!

Until the night comes when you plug in that trusty drive into your computer and...nothing happens.  It doesn't even show up as a 'device' on any computer in your home.  Commence panic...big panic...my LIFE is on that drive.

Five and a half hours later and an angel of a husband going to 2 stores to get a new one...I recovered about 85% of my data...sucks...but what is a girl to do.

Ok...I've accepted my losses, gotten over my panic and moved on.

Exactly...seriously...EXACTLY one week to the second of my hard drive woes...I unplug my macbook to find...NOTHING...outer darkness...black screen with a cursor only.  Seriously...really?  Is this really happening?

After 3.5 hours and a lengthy session with the kind folks at Apple...I have an appointment to take it in to the store for further help...but it is probably going to have to be restored to it's original state.

I am sick...my photos of every high school dance which my 2 daughters attended over six years are on that computer hard drive.  (they were both Homecoming queens...pretty special memories) Every family vacation, Christmas, you name it...EVERYTHING!  (Not to mention all my business photos, photos for my end of the year slide show...products I am currently working on...representing HOURS of work...you get the picture!

I sleep about 2 full hours that night...I have 36 hours before I take my computer into the Apple store.  Thank GOD I had a half day of school, or I think I would have had to call in...which I never do unless I am dying or have to have a colonoscopy or something similar...I'm ALWAYS at school.

So, yesterday I take my new hard drive and my macbook into Apple.  They are able to save everything...I will send them a Valentine...

But, my computer will be wiped clean.  All apps will need to be downloaded again, (no more Picassa...so SAD) all favorites and bookmarks will be gone.  No passwords will be saved...It is not going to be easy when I get it back...I'm grateful for next weekend being President's day.

Here are some choice words of advice for everyone...

  • Write down every password for every account you have and make 10 copies...put them in every spot you might look
  • Back up your work in time machine EVERY time you use your computer.  
  • Back up your back up
  • Print out everything you might need to refer to or need for your taxes IMMEDIATELY and file them in a safe place
  • Write down every password for every account you have and make 10 copies...put them in every spot you might look...should I say it again?
I'm so sad for all of the lost work time...I will never get it back.  I'm ready to get my computer back and do it right this time.  Maybe I'll get it back today...maybe tomorrow after school...but I will be better...I have learned...it is painful, but I have learned.

I have also learned that making hundreds of TPT products on a computer with 4GB of memory is NOT going to cut it anymore...saving up for the big Macbook Pro with 16 GB of memory...I'm thinking I should have enough by June...

Thanks for listening and I hope it helps some poor soul like me!