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!






Monday, December 5, 2016

Run, run as fast as you can...

The story of The Gingerbread Man is a classic tale with a not-so-happy ending.  I'm always surprised by how my preschoolers and pre-k kids react to the first story I read during gingerbread week.  Today I read the first original tale of the little old man and the little old woman who made the gingerbread man who met an awful fate by not thinking things through.

BOTH classes today (3-4 year-olds in the morning, and 4-5 year-olds in the afternoon) didn't believe it was the end when the fox ate the gingerbread man.  They wanted their happy ending, they wanted the hero to have an out...but alas...not so lucky!

I'm excited to read the next books on my list-maybe there will be a better outcome for our hero...?

Today we marked the beginning of Gingerbread week by making gingrbread men and women for our bulletin board.  Tis year the kids were very imaginative and used the materials on hand in fun and interesting ways.  I like to set out a sorting tray with puff balls, sequins, buttons, jewels, and cotton balls.  We add our glitter and we are ready to go!

Here are some photos from our bulletin board from years past.  I'll post this year's board when we are through.



More Gingerbread fun is on its way!

If you want some amazing and engaging Gingerbread center ideas and activities check out my "All About Gingerbread" Lesson plans and center ideas on Teachers Pay Teachers!


Happy Holidays!



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Bulletin Board Evolving...

Yesterday I added the squishy paint leaves down the hall, and changed my bulletin board trees to Fall colors.
 The leaves look fantastic!  They are curled like real leaves, and what a gorgeous pop of color!  The kids were so excited to see their work down the hallway.  We dyed coffee filters on Tuesday with liquid watercolor in orange, red, yellow, and magenta.  They are so beautiful!  We cut leaf shapes out of the dyed filters-making sure to write names on the leaves...then we used the leftover scraps to make leaf 'piles' at the bottom of each tree for a real authentic Fall look!   I cut clear contact paper in wavy strip and stuck the scraps to the contact paper to make it easier to add the 'piles' to the bulletin board-it lookes great!

Today we will be adding something special to the Fall board...I wonder what it will be?

Happy Fall Y'all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It's FALL!

This week my class is focusing on Fall.  Fall in Utah is so beautiful!  We can see the mountain trees change color long before the trees in the valley begin to change.  The kids have been watching this phenomenon for a few weeks now, and they are eager to learn and experience more!

We started our week with one of my favorite activities...Squishy Paint Leaves!  This process of manipulating and mixing color is so much fun, and the kids are awed by the results!

We begin with a large, plain white leaf cut from 12 x 18 construction paper.  I put red, orange, yellow, and purple flourescent paint into 'mustard and ketchup' squeeze bottles from the dollar store, and use a roll of platic wrap to cover the paint.  It is a fast activity,  so I choose one or two kids at a time in small group centers to do this activity.

I tell the kids that they need to choose at least 2 colors, but most of them choose every color!  I will squeeze the paint in a dramatic swirly motion on their leaves...I have tried letting the kids do this step with really horrible results! (they are 3-5 after all!)

The tough part is not touching the paint until the platic wrap is covering the surface...
 Then I let the kids start to manipulate the paint over the plastic wrap.  I love to watch as they feel the coolness and texture of the paint and then turn their hands over to see no paint on them!  They are always so surprised!  I will instruct the kids to try to cover all the 'white part' of the leaf as they squish the paint around.  Next comes the big reveal!  I love to watch their faces as they see the beautiful leaf they have created...

You can see the vibrancy of the leaves on our drying rack in this photo!  They are amazing!  They will curl as they dry, and I actually love that part...they look more like real fall leaves!  The finished product is quite wonderful and I will put them in my hallway to look like giant fall leaves blowing in the wind!

I'll show the final display results in my next post.

The best part about all of this fall fun, is the awesome way it all blends into Halloween!  I try to limit Halloween activities in the beginning of October to keep the kids as calm as I can...but there's no way to hold off something so much fun for very long!  I have BIG plans for my hallway bulletin boards this season!  Thsese leaves are only the beginning!



This is just ONE of the awesome activities in my All About Fall 5-Day Unit Lesson Plan for Preschool, Pre-K, K, and Homeschool! in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Follow the link below for This lesson plan and so much more from Teach PreK!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Fall-5-Day-UnitLesson-Plans-for-Preschool-Pre-K-K-Homeschool-2801309


Happy Fall!



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

'Ollie's Orchard' Apple Unit Dramatic Play

We love to make our dramatic play center
fun and extra special!  For our All About Apples unit we turned our dramatic play area into an orchard complete with trees for apple picking!

Cash resgister and order forms
The kids have loved this center!  They pick apples, take orders, sort, count, and play!  One of the best things we noticed is that they are taking the knowledge that they have acquired through our books and discussions and applying it to their play.  They are using all of their new apple vocabulary words, and talking about the lifecycle of apples and apple trees.  We love to see our creative curriculum at work!
Trees and bunting signs.

Bags, apples, aprons and baskets


Trees with apples attached with velcro

 The signs-including the bunting signs-for our Apple Orchard dramatic play set can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, along other awesome sets to make your dramatic play the best center in your classroom!

Apple Orchard Dramatic Play Set


Apple Picking FUN!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

All About Apples!

Yesterday we kicked off All About Apples week.  The kids are excited and ready to learn!  We talked about the parts of an apple yesterday and we made apple cores from paper plates to extend our learning and make it fun!

We also went 'apple picking' for our names.  We made little baskets out of brown paper sacks cut down with fancy scissors.  We added a handle, and wrote the kids names in bold on the front of their baskets.  They then went 'apple picking' for the letters in their names-which were written on die cut apples in colors of red, green, and yellow.  This was such a great and simple activity!  The kids were so happy that they could find their letters and that they got to keep their apples!  So each student went home with a little apple "name kit"!  I will do this activity again! (maybe a pumpkin patch?)



We rounded the day out with play-doh mats with tenframes and apple trees.  This brought in counting, one to one correspondence, we introduced tenframes and number sense concepts, and...fine motor skills!  The best part was the fact that the kids had fun and therefore they were engaged!


You can find all of these fun activities in my 'All About Apples' lesson plans in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Apples-5-Day-Unit-Lesson-Plans-for-Preschool-PreK-K-Homeschool-2788555


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Community Helpers in Preschool and Pre-K! So much FUN!

This week we began our unit "All About Community Helpers"!  The kids absolutely LOVE learning about Community Helpers.  We had an Emergency center in our dramatic play area where the kids could be a doctor, a nurse, or a firefighter.  The way they let their imaginations run wild was a marvel to see!

PLAY IS LEARNING!!

There is no doubt about it!

One of our favorite activities was making traffic lights!  We talked about each color of a traffic light and what it represents, then we put it all together with glitter to look like it was illuminated, tied some string to the top and hung them in the hallway.  It looks FANTASTIC!







We also made simple firefighter hats by painting paper plates, cutting a hole for a good fit and a 3-D effect.  We added a badge...and just waited for them to dry overnight.  The kids wore their hats outside to play and as they left the classroom at the end of the day.  It was so easy and so much fun!











In my "All About Community Helpers" lesson plan in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, I have those activities, plus a week's worth of math and literacy too!  One of the favorites is the "Putting out the Fires" math game shown below.  We made it more fun and engaging by allowing the kids to wear firefighter hats while playing!

We're on to Apples this coming week...I'm trying some new things!  I hope the Apple activities are as much fun as our Community Helper centers have been!


All About Community Helpers 5-Day Lesson Plan for Preschool, Pre-K, and Homeschool

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Classroom is AMAZING This Year!

Yes...I am tooting my own horn...but I have been hard at work since JUNE creating things for my classroom and making it exactly how I want it to be.

School starts tomorrow...I'm excited, and just a tiny bit nervous.  I'm always a bit nervous.  Teaching 3-5 year-olds is tricky the first few weeks.  There are separation issues, potty issues, runners, oppositional kids, etc.  I can handle all of it just fine...but it's the not knowing that makes me on edge.

At least I don't have to worry about my classroom!  It is ready to go and so is my first week of lessons!

One of my favorite new things this year is my sign-in area.  I had an old AV cart that was scratched up, had an old ugly skirt-someone TRIED to make it look better at one point, but after 5 years...its not me...so it had to go.  So I found some contact paper leftover from an earlier project, bought some updated fabric and ribbon, changed my bulletin board paper, border, and headers, and...

voila!

I absolutely love it! Now everything is bright, color coordinated, clean, and happy!

I changed my interior boards for the kids weekly artwork as well.


My birthday board is a bit different this year too!


Cubbies, 


class "pet" math and theme board,


Schedule and weather!


I have a kit almost ready to post to Teachers Pay Teachers.  I'll make note when it is finally done and posted!

I love the color, the way everything coordinates, and how fun, bright, and happy everything is.  I hope the kiddos like it!  I guess I'll find out tomorrow.  I hope I remember how to be a teacher...2 1/2 months is a long time to go without practicing your craft!  

Now its off to the store and I'm going to enjoy my day! 


You can find my fun classroom decor on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Just follow the link below!





Saturday, July 23, 2016

Getting ready for school means organizing at home

I finally purchased some awsome book bins from Steps to Literacy.com this summer.  I spent a few hours sorting and categorizing my books, making labels and voila!



Nothing fancy, my space is very limited, but now I can just grab a bin and drop it in my bag, or I can find a book quickly when I need it.  I feel so good now that everythng is clearly marked, clean, tidy, and also bright and fun!  I'm ready for the year to begin...at least as far as my books at home are concerned.

I'm also hoping to figure out how to take better staged photos.  I was in a big hurry with these, so here ya go!

I've included the link to the bins I purchased at the end of this post...much cheaper than Really Good Stuff, and just as sturdy!  Its still a bit of an investment, but I'm really pleased.  The bins are deceptively large.  When I first saw them I thought I would have to order more...I will in the future because I have a book-buying problem... but these held my entire collection which fills half of a small room in my house!  yay!

http://www.stepstoliteracy.com/plastic-book-boxes-fun-colors-16395.html
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Friday, July 22, 2016

I have such good intentions!

I am going to be a very dedicated blogger...

Starting ...

NOW!

Yesterday I recieved the fabulous Emily Ley Planner that I ordered 4 days ago.  It has so many nice and simple features, plus daily, weekly, and monthly breakdowns from August 2016 to July 2017.

My idea with the planner is simple.

I need to schedule all the little tasks I have to do for school, home, TPT, Tailwind, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and this blog.  Wow...it's exhausting even reading that line.  Hopefully I will be able to simplify by scheduling these tasks to one, two, and three times a week bites.  That way I can take photos of my cute class doing the center activities in my TPT products so that I can pin, gram, FB, and blog away about the truly awesome stuff I do with my class.

I'm giving this blog and TPT my highest priority.  I have big plans for growing my store and learning some marketing skills this year.

I know this is the rambling post.  Its good to processeverything that is stressing me out right now.

That done...

I'm workin on a really cute Family and Friends unit/lesson plan right now.  I have photos to post of my favorite project from that unit.  Stay tuned...it's pretty awesome!



If you want to see the cute planner I mentioned click on the link below!
https://www.emilyley.com/collections/simplified-planner

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Three Weeks Left

Got the class list yesterday and now I'm starting to panic.  I have done so much already to prepare for the coming school year, but I feel like I have miles to go.

Monday I went into my classroom and set the tables, chairs and shelves where I want them.  I am adding to my classroom decor set each day.  I have made a new weather center-almost done, a new job system-almost done, class schedule cards, number line, center signs, center tags, shape posters, back to school alphabet, new bulletin board signs, forms, assessments, centers...but still I have SO much to do.

Only another teacher knows how this feels.  So much comes raining down on you at once.  Then there are the endless meetings with teams, faculty, the principal, families, and room parents the week leading up to the first day.

Panic has set in.  I've done this routine so many times before.  There never seems to be enough time to put all of my great ideas into action.  This year I am more organized, my classroom storage is labelled and neat, the toys are labelled and contained, I have more resources than I know what to do with for nearly every theme...except the beginning of the year...why is that?

It's a no-brainer!  I got this!

I'm sure that I will get to a place I'm satisfied with...I'm sure I will dot my i's and cross my t's before that first shining face comes through the door that first day.  I always do.

Just breathe...just breathe...

Monday, July 11, 2016

In the Beginning...

School's out, but anyone who thinks that teachers don't work in the summer doesn't know any teachers REALLY well!  I haven't received my classlist yet...which is late for my school, but already I'm getting things ready for the beginning of a new year.  Today I'll be stopping by my classroom to begin putting things back in order, laminate a few things I've made, visit with some fellow teachers who will also be there today, and to chronicle my classroom set up for this blog!  

I've got some great ideas for the coming year, some changes to make to the curriculum, some awesome game-changing organizing that I've already done...and more to come...and some fantastic new activities to try out with my kiddos!

I teach at a Catholic school which has been around since the 1950's.  We are landlocked in a residential neighborhood.  We are hurting for space, our building is old, and our preschool is situated in a basement...sounds terrible, but it's amazing!  Our school houses grades 2 (toddlers) thru 8th, our faculty is top-notch, our principal is unbelievably supportive, and our parents are phenomenal!  I feel so fortunate. 

I also have a little store on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.  Below is a link  to my freebies, my fantastic lesson plans, center activities, and more.  I have some really fun dramtic play sets that my kiddos have enjoyed over the years.  

Teach Pre K on TpT

I'm excited to share!