Thursday, January 19, 2017

Polar Express!

I LOVE teaching my students about Polar Animals!  Last week was our polar animal week...It was so much fun and so busy!  I wanted to hit a few highlights...in pictures

We made 'Arctic Hares in the Snow'.  We talked about all the animals that camouflage in the winter.  We looked at pictures of animals in spring and summer and the winter coat transformations that make them become part of the polar landscape.

 Then we made penguin hats and learned about the many different kinds of penguins that live in oour coldest regions.  We walked and talked like penguins, and wore our awesome penguin hats all day!
                                                                   



 What would Polar animal week be without polar bears?  We made the cutest and simplest polar bears out of paper plates and cotton balls.  The kids added eyes and a cute nose and mouth.  This one was my favorite....


Follow the links below for some great Polar Animal resources!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Create a Little Winter Science Magic!

I'm thinking that I might start a 'Sunday Science' series of posts.  This week during our 'Winter' unit, my PreK class got to make Borax snowflakes.  This is one of my favorite experiments that I do with the kids all year.  It can be a little dicey, but if you have good control over your class, and stress how important it is to follow directions...you should be able to complete the experiment with no problems at all.

I'm going to give some step by step instructions with photos...bear with me, this post will be long!

First assemble everything you will need.
1 box of Borax
Mason jars-1 per snowflake
pipe cleaners cut in to 3 pieces a width that will fit into mouth of jar
a pencil-not round!
yarn or string
measuring spoons
measuring cups
scissors
food color (optional)
tape and sharpie (if you choose to label jars with names)
large craft sticks or spoons for stirring


The recipe for the snowflakes is as follows (I use this method for younger children)
6 Tablespoons Borax
1 cup HOT water
1 cup cool water
food coloring (optional)

Twist 3 pipecleaner pieces together to make a snowflake, and add string.  tie one end of the string onto a pencil (not a round pencil, or the string will unroll and the snowflake will get stuck on the bottom.)

I talk to the kids about the dangers of HOT water.  I how them how to hold their jar and stir so they don't get scalded by the water. (in 6 years, no one has been scalded)  I do this experiment in small groups...3-4 kids at a time.  I go over the rules about handling HOT water again.

Each child is given a jar with their name on it-or you can do 1 jar for the group.  We look at everything we have assembled and name each item.  I tell the kids that borax is powdered soap crystals and that we are making a 'solution'.  We count the tablespoons of Borax as we measure them into the jars.  Them I add the HOT water only and we stir breaking up clumps if needed.

After stirring for quite a while,  when I can see the majority of the Borax is dissolved, we add the cooler water and stir some more.

Then we are ready to add the food color and the snowflake.  The water will be very cloudy at first.  Let the pencil rest across the top of the jar-winding the string around it so that the snowflake is not touching the bottom of the jar.

We then say a little magic spell-I usually make it up on the spot. This year it went something like, "Abracadabra goodness sake, please become a snow flake." (silly, but the kids love it!)  We slowly and carefully place the jars on a shelf and go on with our day

By the next morning the water is clear and the crystals are clearly visible.  Actually, most of the time crystals have formed within 30 minutes.  Its wonderful!

The next day I assemble magnifying glasses, paper towels, and a large tub to dump the remaining solution into for center time.

I call the kids in groups of 3-4 to my center and we have our big 'reveal'!  I dump the solution and place the 'snowflake' carefully on the paper towel.  The kids are allowed to examine their snowflakes and the crystals that have formed int he jar for as long as they like.  They always ask how we made ice...I tell them to touch the snowflake...it is not cold.  it is not ice...it can be hard for them to understand.  I try to explain the best way I can to 4-5 year-olds how the saturated solution clings to the string and pipe cleaners as the solution cools and the soap reverts to it's origional form.

I place the snowflakes carefully in a baggie wrapped in a paper towel for them to take home.  They are so excited to show their parents at the end of the day...it is an absolute thrill to see how happy and engaged they are.  I always listen to how the kids will explain the experiment to their parents...it's adorable!

Kids LOVE science, and I LOVE exploring right alongside them!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Snowballs!

Winter is snowmen.  Winter is snowflakes.  Winter is about staying cozy and reading good books.

We stayed in and read 'Snowballs' by Lois Ehlert.  I love her books.  They are so simple and sweet.  She blends art and color, texture and text in colorful pictures that are never the same thing twice

Snowballs follows a day where after saving a bag of "good stuff" for abig snow, a big snow finally happens as do...a snow dad, snow mom, snowy, snow girl, snow cat, and snow dog are all made using the "stuff".  The kids love looking at the stuff that is used for each different snow creation.

We made a tray of our own "good stuff" and using plain white paper plates..made our own snow faces!

The kids really got into this activity.  Even the kids that hurry through art centers took their time and created their own little masterpiece.  We had a lot of fun and imagined even greater snow people and animals!

If you like this idea it is included with many others in my lesson plans and center packets for winter.  Just follow the links below!









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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What would YOU do on a Snowy Day?

Happy New Year!  Today we head back to school...I'm tired, but excited to see the kids!

We begin January learning about Winter.  My favorite Winter book to share with the kids is "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats.  The pictures are wonderful...they just draw you into the story.  The author has also managed to capture the feeling of a snowy day and the feeling of being a child.  Its a magical story thatchildren always seem to enjoy.

We do an art and literacy center to go with the story.  I read the story either in whole group or in our small groups at the beginning of the center.  I have made up a template of the main character Peter in his snowsuit.  We re-create a picture in the story while I ask the kids in the group what THEY would do on a snowy day.  I write down what each child says and add their answer to our bulletin board outside our room



The parents love to read what their children have to say and it is a fantastic way to bring literacy and creativity together while discussing the different characteristics of a winter day.  It is perfect for a Weather unit too!

I have this activity and some other great Winter resources available in my TPT store.  Just follow the links below if you are interested!





Monday, December 19, 2016

You better watch out, you better not cry...

Today We made Santa masks!  With us being in school until (gasp) the 22nd...we HAD to make this week fun!  My awesome aide Sarah took a paper plate and cut  out 1/2 of the inner circle and held it up to her face and said "Ho, Ho, Ho!"...that did it...another favorite pre-k craft was born.  We added glitter, cotton balls and construction paper cut into hat shapes...oh...then we added a stick for a handle...and voila!  

The kids absolutely LOVED this craft.  Most of them spent the rest of center time playing Santa.  It is so great when an art project becomes part of dramatic play! 

This activity is a keeper for sure!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas is Coming!

Teaching Preschool and PreK during Christmastime is a double-edged sword...They are anxious, sensitive, full of energy, and tired...but they are also excited, happy, awed, and so full of the Christmas spirit that they carry magic with them wherever they go.

My children are grown (23 & 20) and while Christmas will always be magical, it has lost that childlike fascination with EVERYTHING Christmas-y.  I am so grateful that I get to spend my days with little children.  I get to feel that magic each day.  I get to watch them light up when they tell me what they hope Santa will bring them, when they tell me where their silly elf has hidden that day, and when they talk about how magnificent their Christmas tree is!  I see in their eyes my children at that age, and even myself.  I love it so much.

I like to make our classroom as magical as I can.  Every year on December the first and elf comes to visit our class.  He stays every day and moves around to keep a good close eye on the kids.  He is the first thing they look for when they walk in the room...it never fails, but at leas once during the season he just really loves a particular spot and stays there an extra day! (LOL)

This week we will be doing a craft that I first did last year when I was just tired of doing the same old thing.  I wanted to make a wreath that would add some Christmas to our room and the kids could take home and decorate their own space when we were done with school for the break.

I love doing paper plate crafts, and we have a TON of them at our school, so I hatched a plan!

We cut out the inside circle of a cheap paper plate.  This was done by the teachers of course!  Then, we let the kids paint the plate all over with green washable paint-I let my kids be very liberal with the paint.  We laid in on pretty thick.  Then we gave the kids green glitter shakers and sparkly bits-we have jars of sequins and sparkly shapes, so does any craft store worth it's salt-and we let them stick sparkles and shake glitter to their heart's content!  They had a BLAST!  Was it messy?  Of course it was...but that is what early childhood is all about!

As a finishing touch we ties some red yarn around the top when they were dry.  We ties just enough so the wreaths could hang nicely.


As you can see, they really are quite beautiful!  Some kids were minimalists, and some kids wanted even more glitter and pizazz after it was completely covered!  It was so much fun watching each of them create their own special wreath.  Every day from the time we made them until they left on break, they would go over to the bulletin board and just stare at their own, and their friend's wreaths marvelling at the beauty and the glow.  It was really special.

Here is a view of one of our boards from last year.  This is the Preschool (3-4's) board.  I love the different coverage of paint, and the placement of the sparkles.  It is so sweet to see what they make with their little hands.  

I can't wait to see what this year's class does!  Knowing the darling group I have...it will be just as magical!

Please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Shop and check out my Christmas lesson plan!  It has 5 art projects and more than 5 awesome literacy and math projects included.  These wreaths are just one art project included!






Thursday, December 8, 2016

I LOVE Gingerbread week!

I have had a blast with my Gingerbread unit this year!  The kids LOVE the books I've been reading...they know the words and say them right along while I'm reading!  They are so excited to do every center this week!  They can't wait to paint, decorate, mark letters, play memory games...you name it!  I have so many fun center activities, It is tough to decide which ones to do and which to keep as back-up for next week!  I want to do them all!  I have to thank the awesome clip artists-Laura Strickland at Whimsy Clips, Krista Walden with Creative Clips, and EduClips!  I adore the cute clip art, the kids LOVE the fun images, and I have come up with so many fun ways to use their wonderful work.

An activity that I did today with my PreK is and emergent reader entitled "One Yummy Gingerbread Man".  It is a fantastic sequencing activity that never fails to please!  I think I have done this activity for 5 years now, and it is always a favorite.  The key is to use "fancy" scissors.  I have a bunch of scrap booking scissors from my mom's days of doing paper crafts..thanks mom!  The scissors are a little bit harder to use than our regular scissors, so there is a fine motor skills element to the activity as well as just the sequencing element.  I think my favorite part of this activity is the look on the kids faces as they 'bite' off the parts of the gingerbread man...especially the head...they all get such fiendish grins!  I wish I knew who to credit for this amazing activity, but I found it online years ago and I just don't remember-but, a huge shout out to the creative teacher who made this before me...great activity!

I took two days to finish this activity.  I have a class of 18, and I needed to take my time with small groups of two to three kids at once.  We also had to really practice using small amounts of glue so that our pages wouldn't stick together.  If you know PreK kids, you know that using a small amount of glue can be very challenging!  I am so happy that I decided to break it into two days-it was so much more enjoyable for me, and the kids got a lot more out of it.  

More Gingerbread coming tomorrow!

Please check out my gingerbread lesson plans, center activities, and dramatic play sets on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Just follow the links below!