Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Correction on Feelings/Emotion

We had our alphabet mats out and were moving to some various movement songs and I realized that I said "Sammy" on the Getting To Know Myself CD was the song that was great for emotions.  Well, that's not correct.  The correct song on this CD is... Feelings.  :-)  Hmmm.  Interesting title.  Anyway, at the Head Start program we often referred to this particular CD as the Sammy CD.  The main two songs we did were Feelings and Sammy :-)  I just got confused. Sorry!  I changed it in the post.


Another side note:  My not quite two year old was stamping today.  And then he started putting the stamps in a row and "counting" and then looked at me and said "three!"  Oh, that put a huge smile on my face.  No, he wasn't counting correctly...and there were definitely more then three but boy oh boy...he isn't even two yet and he is exploring with counting already.  Yeah!  Just had to share it with someone.  :-)  Lucky you!  LOL


All for today.  Sorry.  Needing to prepare for our summer.  I did come across a new site I'll share with you.  I plan to incorporate her lessons this summer with my own boys and K Readiness students.  Relatively new site, www.theartgarden.info.  A daily "art journal" task as well as an art lesson a week, seems like is the plan.  I may not use her videos that were made for the children but they are there if you are interested!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Cool book I found at the library! 

It's getting purchased soon!  Hardcover at www.amazon.com is only $10.79 right at the moment!  I see there is an additional similar books, More Life-Size Zoo; Life-Size Reptiles; Life-Size Aquarium; Life-Size Sharks and probably more!

So, I have laminated zoo animals that some of my 3rd and 4th graders made for me a few years ago.  We've had them up on the wall this past week.  Today, I had the older preschool students and even though it was "free Friday" I decided to label the panda.  Then I left scrap paper, craft scissors and crayons accessible to the children.  Yes!  It worked!  No one took on the elephant but they did the others.  :-)  Remember that it's not the outcome that matters...it's the process.  So if they write the incorrect letter and so on...it doesn't matter.  The point is teaching them to "sound out" and mainly to explore with writing.  This is not the time to focus on correct letter formation either.  :-) 

I had one child tell me when she first came to me that "I can't write, I can only scribble."  My response is, "We call that kid writing and Ms. Amber loves to see kid writing."  We want to encourage the labeling and pretend writing.  One thing leads to the next, naturally.  But I often find that, especially older, children who have not been exposed to it being okay to "kid write" feel like they "can't" because it doesn't look the same as adult/older kid writing.  That makes it difficult for them to be willing to explore...but exploring with writing is a must!  So ENCOURAGE!  Side note:  I discourage the use of letter tracing worksheets until they are older.  I very seldom use it in preschool and very seldom even at the Kindergarten stage...but some children like them so use them sparingly if you do use them.  Do authentic writing activities...it makes a difference!

*  Most importantly...have writing tools and various types of paper available for them to write on at any time of the day.  Sometimes that's hard when you have littler ones around you that want to write on the couch or the wall, accidentally or on purpose.  But if that's the case, have a special place for your older ones to get their writing tools.  Putting them in a pencil box or a container that is just out of reach of the younger but not the older...or in a container that the older one can open but not the younger, etc.  I place a "pad of paper" (scrap paper cut and stapled) in our science tub with pencil in there.  Pencil cleans easily so I don't worry at all about the younger one getting it.
*  Do you make a grocery list?  This can be something very meaningful for your child.  When you look at the add and write your list...have another ad nearby with a list like piece of paper and pencil.  Something that the children like to do is cut and paste food items onto their paper and then they can label their pictures.  Even better, if you can tell them things you are getting at the store and let them find them in the ad, cut-paste-label, and then take them to the store with you and that is their list to be used to find the items, put them in the cart, and check it off. 
*  Have them help you make name cards for the dinner table, writing the names of the family members.
*  When you do a dictation activity from their artwork or story, encourage them to write it down first.  I encourage you to write the actual story on a separate piece of paper and attach it to the back if you wish...but if you are displaying the work (which you should) display only their picture and writing if they did the writing.
*  Label the room.  Sometimes we see labeling taking place in preschool rooms.  Yes, go ahead.  Preferably, have it on laminated cards that can be removed and the children can label the room.  And if you label it...don't forget you did!  Use it to your advantage...you can incorporate a lot of literacy activities with labels (letter sounds, word chunks, abc order, how many letters in a word, sticks and curves, and more!)  You can do it theme related like we did this time with zoo animals or you can label actual items in your house (ie: chair, door, window, etc). 
*  Make homemade birthday cards and thank you notes.  Writing simple words such as I, love, you, mom, dad, thank you, Happy, Birthday, names of family members, and so on (make it meaningful for the activity) on index cards and punching a hole in the corner and putting on a ring is very handy.  You can add to it as they want a new word and if you keep it available you'll find them using it on their own.
*  Alphabet photo book:  Take pictures (or bet yet...let your child take pictures) of things in and around your home for each letter of the alphabet.  Put the picture at the top of a 9x12 piece of construction paper and encourage your child to write the upper/lower case letter and even the word.
*  On the same note, take pictures of family members and encourage your child to write their names below the pictures.
*  If your child(ren) use 3 part nonclementure cards (I call them vocab cards) one of the activities the children can do after they have worked with the cards is to make their own "3rd part" by writing the word the way it sounds to match the pictures or copy the word if they wish.
*  One year we created a large group nest, did marble painted eggs.  Then children told me facts about birds/nests and we wrote it in strips of paper and added it to the nest.  You can do something similar with any theme and perhaps THEY want to try their hand at writing a few strips.  :-)
*  Make your own Memory game.  Provide same size/color rectangles and sets of stickers so they can make a pair.  Have them place a sticker on each card and you can write the word on one card and they can write the word on the other card.  Then play like Memory. 

Feel free to share what you've done with your own children/students!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shape Bean Bags

Since we still have a zoo theme going on, I'll share one zoo game we used this week and then move onto something else.  :-)

Trend Enterprises, Inc. 
Not sure where I got this particular game from, most likely from a teacher's store or perhaps even a Scholastic Book Fair.  I love the real-life photo aspect.  This type of activity really helps them notice patterns also. 

I don't believe I've shared this particular shape bean bag set yet.  It gets quite a bit of use. 
I purchased this Educational Insights product and service bell from www.amazon.com.  We keep the service bell right in the bag with the bean bags.  Children are encouraged to state what shape and color they have and toss it toward the bell, making it ring.  It's not all that easy but they love the bell.  I think that I'm going to put creating various types of targets, specifically those that make noise, on my "to do" list.  :-)  One I have in mind is a box that has bells handing from ribbon so that it's a larger target and still provides that auditory reinforcement.  They love anything with bells.  :-)  I am open to any ideas that you all have!  I like this set because they use all the basic colors/shapes and have the word printed directly on the bean bag.  This makes it easy to slip in various literacy components.

We also have a set of plain bean bags from www.discountschoolsupply.com.
This isn't the exact set but similar.  It looks like they are now selling a bean bag CD with their sets.  That's nice!  I haven't use this particular CD but have used others in the past. 

Side note:  you can always make your own bean bags!  :-)

Things we've done in the past:
* Bean bags are a perfect size to explore with the different types of catching and throwing and other coordination activities. 
*  Balance a bean bag on our heads.
*  Move around the room with a bean bag on head in various ways.  End with a big "aaaa-choooo!" and flip your head down so it falls of.  I encourage forward and backward walking, running, galloping, skipping (for those ready), the slide, etc.
* We lay our alphabet mats down on the floor placing them randomly in a rectangle.  Each child chooses a bean bag to hold.  We play some music and move around the mat in various ways.  When the song ends each child tosses their bean bag onto the mat.  Then we go around to each child and they pick up their bean bag and tells us what letter it is and if they can the sound and a word that starts it.  Having noticeably different bean bags works best.  :-)
*  On the same note, I lay basic concept cards/mats down and the children toss their bean bags onto the concepts.
*  We had a set of exercise cards and the children tossed their bean bag on a number mat (you can make your own out of an old shower curtain or twister mat if you wish.)  Then they did the particular exercise that many times.  On the note of a Twister mat, you can use it without defiling it by writing numbers on it.  :-)  Have a child spin the spinner, state the color and each of the children toss their bean bag onto a corresponding color.
* I've used them for patterning, counting, forming letters, shapes and numbers.  If you create your own you can use a variety of color/texture of materials!  One way we did the patterning was to create one on our floor with space between each one (you can make a masking tape "template" if you wish).  Then the children jumped next to or over each one stating the pattern.  So if you used red and green bean bags the children would jump (jumping with both feet off of the ground is one thing I look for) over each bean bag saying red, green, red, green.  Great for those kinesthetic learners.
* I set out a selection of plastic flower pots (Target dollar section one year had good size pots in different colors with a daisy on the front of each of them :-P) and corresponding colored bean bags.  The children were encouraged to toss their bean bags into the corresponding colored pots.
* If you have a large group, a bean bag works well for transitioning or sharing.  I've used a sharing stick with a very young group before where the child with the stick is the one we listen to.  I've used the bean bag the same way.  We do a bit of planning and reviewing and of course it can spark a lot of conversation.  When I am limited in time I bring out a bean bag or something similar so the children have a visual of whose turn it is to talk and they can talk when they have the bean bag.  (Side note:  I'm big on conversation/verbal language so we try to make sure there is enough time for that!  That's one nice thing about a small group...it's much more feasible to have meaningful conversation.)
* Bean bags are great to use in activities to reinforce body parts and positional words.  Most bean bag CD's that you can get (check your local library) will include songs to reinforce these concepts.
*  I've graphed with bean bags by color.  If you make your own, keep this idea in your mind.  You can sort by texture, color, size and so on. 
* I placed a masking tape beginning line.  Each child stood at the line with their bean bag and each tossed it in front of them.  Then, taking turns (otherwise it's too confusing), the children walked to their bean bag counting the number of steps.  We wrote it down on a chart that had their names on it(numeral formation/recognition) and then compared the numbers.  We continued as interest kept (actually quite a few rounds).
*  Hiding bean bags around the room (hiding anything around the room, for that matter :-)) is always a hit.  Then you can reinforce whatever concept your bean bags will reinforce. So color, number, alphabet, and shape.  I've been known to masking tape basic concepts/pictures onto my plain bean bags.  They hold up for a little while.  :-)
*  Ah, yes.  Once I put on zoo and farm animal pictures.  I placed two hula hoops on the floor.  One labeled with farm and the labeled with zoo.  Then the children sorted and tossed into the correct hoop.  I remember that I had done this with an older group and so I put some that they could find in both places...to see what they would do with it.  LOL  It was so funny.  Sparked conversation and so we went into problem solving.  You know what they came up with?  A Venn Diagram!  Yeah!  I had wondered if they would.  We had done it previously a few times.   Remember you can plan problems to arise.  It's very important for them to learn how to analyze a problem and come up with a solution that works for everyone!  Of course, if you have a group that is young and you have not introduced a Venn diagram...you can use something like this as an introduction...just don't expect them to come up with that solution on their own!  
*  On that same note, I've also done healthy/non healthy food sorting (or good for our teeth not good for our teeth) .
Well, that is all, off the top of my head, for the moment.  :-)  I'm sure there are more things that we've done or what can be done with bean bags.  Feel free to comment and share things you have done with bean bags, I'm always looking for "new" ideas or reminders!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Zoo II

Again, just a couple pics as this week is CRAZY with things to be done!  :-) 

Our ABC display to correspond with the Zoo Theme.
These are paper "library" pockets from the dollar store. Definitely are not as durable as the "real" library pockets but they work.  Maybe someday I'll make my own out of cardstock. Right now, the paper ones are time savers.  http://www.quality-kids-crafts.com/puppets-alphabetanimal.html is where I got the animals from.  I haven't had a chance to really check out this website but it looks interesting!  Let me know if you find something helpful from this site.

This might also interest a few of you.  It's something I do off and on throughout the school year.  I make it theme related simply by adding clipart. 
It tells me where they are at with their name as I do not help them on this sheet (which also means they don't get a name card to copy from either.)  And it shows me their development with drawing a person.  This particular child is three years old.  Can I expect all 3 year old children to draw a picture of themselves like this?  No, typically I see a large circle with 2 scribble eyes and a mouth and sticks coming out for arms and legs.  I love listening to children as they draw, and I strongly suggest you do the same.  For example on this one...that line down the center of the large oval (back) could have been thought of as a scribble/mistake, etc but this 3 year old specifically told me that this was his spine.  :-)  He's very aware of his physical self.  Spine is a word I hear from him often.  We talk about the parts of the book frequently, including the spine.  :-)  He also told me he was drawing a thumb, finger and pinkie and that he has 2 eyes and he needs another arm over here because he has two arms.  Note that he also has a "back" and a smaller circle head! 
Another thought, today I made a point to pull out some board games.  We get so busy with our other work that often boardgames get pushed to the side, mainly because with preschool you have to be right there facilitating.  So I planned to get some in today and we ended up with CandyLand.  Nothing zoo related.  LOL  But that's okay.  Please don't forget your boardgames with the preschoolers.  Flipping cards, rolling dice, moving small manipulatives are great for fine motor.  Learning how to follow directions-visual/verbal and taking turns are important skills as a well.  And a lot of board games reinforce basic concepts also! 

Have a lovely afternoon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Will keep this short today as it's my husband's 38th bday and I probably should make him a cake at least.  :-) 

I chose 4 of the wooden zoo animals shapes. I believe I got these prepainted, on clearance, at Michael's.  Then I created the word cards.  On one side is capital letters on the other is lower case letters.  I sorted out the letter tiles (Wal-Mart), upper and lower case.  For the older students I tend to use upper case word card and lower case letters or vice versa.  For my younger ones I tend to match the same...so if they chose the upper case then I'd give them upper case letter tiles.  We talked about beginning sounds, word chunks, letter names, sticks/curves and more.  Side note:  It's important to have the exact letters set aside for them to use if you are doing upper to lowercase because, really, at preschool they very seldom know them all.  It helps with a little problem solving as well.  For example.  One child just didn't know what the lower case d looked like.  So I encouraged her to do what she knew.  At the end, the only one left was the lowercase d.  She "figured it out" all by herself.  That helps boost their confidence level.

Another very simple activity you can do...
Math Mats/Grid Games
Both of these mats are from www.prekinders.com.  They are very easy to make on your own also.  Children roll the dice and cover that many animals with a manipulative.  Can be played with more then one child, taking turns rolling their dice and seeing who can cover their mat first.  I provided magnetic chips and a magnet.  They love "clearing the board" with a magnet.  Usually I encourage left to right progression.  Today they wanted to just put the chips anywhere on the board.  Either way is okay.  

Monday, May 23, 2011


So, we got our new feelings toys.  They are called the Kimochis Mixed Feelings Pouches. Not quite what I expected but last week they were on the shelf and they used them a little bit, especially toward the end of the week.  One thing that one child noticed right off was there was not a happy, mad or sad face. We had just talked about how happy, sad and can be overused and there were so many other feeling words out there.  :-)  These sets each come with a "make your own" so maybe we'll draw one for each of those feelings.  I thought I got them all but today I see there is one more pouch that has the happy, sad and mad.  So maybe I'll purchase that one with my next order just to have to whole set.  Here is the link:
Side note:  The feeling word is printed on the back of each.

A bit about emotions in our program and a few simple activities and at the end is something we did today with the Kimochis and our zoo theme.  :-)

A lot of what we do with regards to emotions is done informally, through conversation.  It's very important to label your own feelings and talk your way through "problems" that arise.  It's also important to help children label their feelings also.  We problem solve all day long and along with problems come various emotions...so label them and teach your child to state their feelings when their are talking to their sibling/friend.  So, even though the majority of our emotions learning is done informally and through conversation...here are some things we've done in the past.

*  If You're Happy and You Know It:  We often change the "happy" to other feelings and change the action accordingly.  Much more meaningful if you let the children choose the action.
*  Make feelings finger puppets.  You can easily make these on your own.  You can also draw directly on the children's fingers.  They love this.  One time we sang "Where is Thumbkin?" song and I had drawn a different face on each finger. :-) Printable:  http://www.supersimplesongs.com/worksheets/halloween/emotionsfingerpuppets.pdf  I'm sure there are plenty more finger puppet patterns available but this one is very simple and you can use the idea to make your own feeling finger puppet set.
*  Feelings Collage:  perfect scissors and language activity.  Have them cut out pictures of faces showing a variety of feelings from magazines and glue onto construction paper.  Encourage conversation!  "Tell me what you think they are feeling?"  "What do you think happened here?"
*  Feeling Stamps/stickers or make your own simple circle faces with different feelings.  Encourage them to make patterns.  Children love crowns and a pattern crown might be just the thing. 
How Are You Peeling? is a cool book!
*  Paint to different types of music...this helps children get "in touch" with how they are feeling.  When we painted with fast classical music I heard them state, "exciting and happy".  When we painted with slow classical music I heard "sad".
*  Feelings can be slipped into the "basic concept activities".  One thing my kiddos enjoy doing is when I put flash cards up on a wall/door and let them move across the room (run, walk, skip, jump) and with a fly swatter, jump up and slap a card, telling me what it is.  You can do the same thing with emotion pictures.
*  Play concentration with feeling cards.
*  Sensory is a perfect way to "release" emotions.  You can really tell what a child is feeling when they are working in the sensory pool/table/tub.  Wow!  When you sense frustration/anger etc, even if you don't know where it's coming from (we get that more when we have children coming into our home/center...perhaps the morning was rough at home, etc) you may wish to get out the pounding activities.  Pound bubble wrap, egg shells, dirt clups, etc with a child sized hammer.
*  Feelings, on Getting to Know Myself CD (Hap Palmer) is a great song about feelings!  Check your local library.
*  Feelings journal.  Each day provide a page with a large blank section and predictable, fill in sentences at the bottom such as
In this picture I am feeling _________________.  I feel this way when ______________________.  Have them draw a picture of themselves with an emotion (do after you have reviewed the different emotions) and then when you have all the pages done, make a construction paper cover and staple.  Keep out so your child can read and reread the book!
*  English muffins are perfect for making edible faces :-)

 Here are a couple pics before we got started.  I have been planning an activity like this for months but $$$ kept getting in the way.  Well, I hit the jackpot at one of the garage sales I was at on Friday!  Yeah! 
Are you thinking, "what on earth?!"  :-)  This was a fine motor activity that incorporated feelings and zoo animals.  Each of those wallets/change purses cost me 10-20 cents a pieces vs. the $7-8 I was finding at the stores!  Even the dollar stores didn't have anything besides zippers!  So I purchased quite a few wallets/change purses, not all used with this activity, that provided a variety of fasteners.  Inside each was one of our Kimochis.  One of the items I picked up was a little picture album, with a completely different latch.  I put in pictures I found on Google and the animal name in each one.  24 zoo animals all together!  I encouraged them to tell me what they thought the animal was feeling and why.  They enjoyed this.  We'll have it out all week.  Tomorrow will be the same Kimichos and then I'll "surprise" them by changing the items inside of the pouches.  Awesome fine motor...working those fasteners!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bugs: Butterflies III

Thought that a few of you might enjoy some of the other butterfly songs I've used in the past.  These are not my own original songs.  I've collected them over the years and most I do not know the authors of.  So, if you do know who the author is, please let me know so I can give credit where it belongs.  Thanks.

Butterfly Song:
I found a butterfly on me!
She started out in a very small way.
An egg smaller than my toe!
Next a caterpillar she would be.
In a chrysalis is where she'd lie.
That's how my butterfly came to be!

~ Jennifer Runkle
* I created index cards with a picture to represent each verse. For example) The first card would be A B C D E on it. The second card had a picture of a girl with a butterfly on her nose. Google images and you'll find many you can use for your own personal use. The children really enjoyed this "raplike" song. They got into it, definitely

Caterpillars and Butterflies
Let's go to sleep            (Wiggle fingers.)
The little caterpillars said.
So they curled up         (Cross fingers and
In a chrysalis bed.         close hands as if praying.)

They will awaken         (Open fingers slowly.)
By and by,
And each one will be  (Clasp thumbs and
A lovely butterfly!           wiggle fingers like wings.)
* Fingerplays are great fine motor activities.

Oh Butterfly!  © Christa Koch of Preschool Education .Com
Sung to: "Oh Christmas Tree"
Oh, butterfly, Oh, butterfly
How I love your colors.
Oh, butterfly, Oh, butterfly
How I love your colors.
You fly so high and beautiful,
Your so soft and gentle.
Oh, butterfly, Oh, butterfly,
How I love your colors.
*  I used this as a review for colors using one color butterflies for young children.  For older children I used this song to introduce various patterened butterflies.  I've used fictional clipart or real photography.  Great vocab boosters!

Color Butterflies
The first to come to the garden bed
Is a lovely butterfly of brilliant red.
Then in comes another and that makes two,
Fly right in, my friend of blue.
"The garden is fine, the best I've seen,"
Says the butterfly of springtime green.
Our garden needs a sunshiny fellow,
Fly in, butterfly with wings of yellow.
Little friend of purple, fly in too,
This garden is waiting for a color like you.
Orange, orange, you've waited so long,
Fly right in where you belong.
Butterflies, butterflies, you're such a sight,
Flying together-a springtime delight!
Susan M. Paprocki
*  This works well with a felt board and felt butterflies in solid colors.  If you don't have a felt board, add magnet to the backs of laminated butterflies and use on a magnetic surface.  And if you don't have magnets there is nothing wrong with just laying them on the floor in front of your child.  :-)


The Life Of A Butterfly 
Sung to: "Skip to My Lou"
I'm a caterpillar, wiggle with me,
I'm a caterpillar, wiggle with me,
I'm a caterpillar, wiggle with me,
What'll I be, my darlin'?

A chrysalis, now sleep like me.....
What'll I be, my darlin'?

A butterfly, come fly with me...
Come fly with me my darlin'.

Now all together, lets do all three.
A caterpillar, a chrysalis, a butterfly -- three.
Move your body like this with me.
The life of a butterfly, darlin'.
*  Sometimes we have the wiggles...so here is a theme related song to help with following verbal instructions AND the wiggles!

Caterpillar, warm and furry
You are always in a hurry
Munching, munching, munching leaves
Eating anytime you please.

Caterpillar, warm and furry
You are growing in a hurry
Curl up tight, snug and warm
You'll be safe from summer storm

Butterfly, butterfly,
Where do you roam?
Who's lucky garden do you call your own?

Butterfly, butterfly
Why won't you stay?
Why are you always,
Fluttering away?
*  A poem like this  make for great conversation starters.  I also used it to lead into comparing the differences between caterpillars and butterflies.

I've wished for wings, but I don't know
Just how a kid gets wings to grow.
If you could show me how to do it,
I bet there would be nothing to it!
*  This little poem makes for a good imagination booster.  What child does not really "wish" for something they really can't have.  You may wish to have a blank paper or one with a simple butterfly border and encourage your child to draw what they would do or where would they go if they had wings.  Or maybe, what animal/insect would they be if they had wings.  Be sure to take dictation!

I'm a Butterfly
(tune: Pop Goes the Weasel)
 I spin and spin my chrysalis (circle fingers on palm)
Then go to rest inside (close fingers and rest hand on palm)
When I come out, I've changed indeed (open fingers slowly)
Look! I'm a butterfly! (fingers fly away)
*  I call these piggyback songs.  They use a familiar tune.  A song like this is catchy and easily remembered and are great for younger children or ones that are not a family member.  That way when they go home, they have a little song and it reminds the parents to ask how they day was.  :-)

Pretty Butterfly
Pretty, pretty butterfly
Flying up in the sky.
Pretty, pretty butterfly
Fly, fly, fly, fly.

Light upon my shoulder
Then upon my nose.
Light upon my tummy
Then upon my toes.

Pretty, pretty butterfly
Light upon my head.
Pretty, pretty butterfly
Time to go to bed.
*  This works well when you've made coffee filter or tissue paper in baggie butterflies.  You can also make a craft stick puppet butterfly for a scissors activity.  Then encourage your child to move their butterfly to the corresonding body parts. 

So, thought of the day...how do your organize your ideas so you can easily find them?

A few years ago I pretty much got rid of my paper system.  I wasn't even using it anymore.  I was going to the internet and so on.  So I went and scanned in the ideas I wanted to keep and through out the rest.  I had created a formatted page in Word to fit the way I think when I lesson plan.  Now, if I come across a neat idea I can save it right into the theme file and activity organizer for future use.  I save pictures and such directly into that file.  It makes it nice and organized and when I'm not quite sure what it is I want to do I can browse through a file or two and that's usually enough to jumpstart my brain.  If you are interested in the "activity organizer" I use personally for Word, feel free to contact me and I'll send you the attachment.
Two butterfly related books the children enjoyed this week.
Waiting for Wings and The Butterfly Alphabet

Both are very informational, which I love!  Waiting for Wings, at the end has a each of the featured butterflies and what they look like in each part of the cycle.  The Butterfly Alphabet gives the name of each butterfly it features and also information about each one.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bugs: Butterflies II

So, finishing up our caterpillar/butterfly week.  Here are some of the things we did today.

Marbleized Butterflies
1.  Child cut out the butterfly.  Reinforcing the term symmetrical.
2.  Child spread shaving cream onto tray.  I chose to review basic shapes, letters, and numbers as I was put the shaving cream on the tray.
3.  Child used straws (and one ended up with eyedropper) in liquid watercolor to dribble onto the shaving cream.
4.  Child swirled the paint into the shaving cream with craft sticks.
5.  We gently pressed the butterfly paper onto the top of the shaving cream.
6.  I scraped off the remaining shaving cream and then wiped clean with paper towel.
BEAUTIFUL!  They repeated to make prints on paper.  We haven't decided quite what we'll do with them yet.  They dried very quickly :-) but they'll need to be put under something heavy (ie: books) to flatten out the curled up edges before we work with them.  Next time I might try cardstock.
Side notes: 
*  This was messy!  Well, we live and learn.  We found out that really, eyedroppers/straws don't work well when your fingers are covered in shaving cream so we ended up with the instruction that they were welcome to explore the shaving cream with their fingers AFTER they were done printing.  I'll definitely do it again though!  Though messy...it cleans up relatively easy.
*  Straws work for children with great fine motor skills.  For those that do not have great fine motor skills, use eye droppers.  I couldn't find all my eye droppers, for some reason, so decided on the straws thinking they could do it but the one child could not do it without much frustration so I gave him the one eye dropper I could find and said it didn't matter if he mixed the colors.  He definitely had an interesting gray brown when he was done.  :-)

Oh, by the way, I have a bowlful of shaving cream in my fridge.  :-P  One child suggested it and went on to predict (even saying "I predict...") what he thought would happen if we left it in the fridge for a certain amount of time.  So we did, and really, there wasn't much change :-) so it's still in there.  We'll check it after nap again.  Please encourage their curiosity!

Butterfly Sewing Card
This particular pattern was from www.kidssoup.com but they can easily be made without a pattern.  Remember that old greeting cards work well for "sewing".  Use cardstock or cardboard as construction paper can rip easily.  Today I encouraged them to go from hole to hole in order.  There have been times where I'll write the numerals on the back of the pattern just to reinforce number recognition, counting, and numerical order. 

Clothespin Word Spelling
I chose only three of the bugs from the set or they'd be there all day and become uninterested.  I chose a small, medium, and large word and we sorted by size and word chunks first.  I placed all the clothespins, in random order, with letters up in a single layer on the tray.  I heard sounds and names of the letters as they were working here.  Actually it looks like I snapped this picture at the right time.  If I remember correctly she had found the letter p and was saying /p/ /p/.  The 4 year old put the letters on randomly the 5 year old went from left to right finding each letter in a row.  Shows where they are in their development.  Clothespin activities are great for fine motor!  Slip them in when you can!

Butterfly Counting Cards
I placed the cards in our dollar store butterfly napkin holder.  They randomly chose eight cards to work with.  This is a good way to introduce something and then if possible, leave it out so they can work on the rest of them if they desire.  I believe the little butterfly erasers that they used to mark the answer were another dollar store find.  I used this more for number recognition.  Best to do that type of activity randomly as otherwise they are just orally counting and guessing what the number is.  I also included higher numbers as a bit of a challenge for the older ones.  My 3 year old student was sick today.  :-(  But I would have only put numbers 1-5 plus three larger numbers as he's still working with those particular numbers.

Skip Counting "Extra" for the 5 year old
We've been skip counting by 10s with him to help him get the counting patterns.  Really, making charts 1-10 is really just redundant for him and not interesting so I thought I'd give him a little challenge.  :-)  I had set it up for up to 20 but took it back apart as it was still a bit too much for him to get.  Sometimes we do these charts as a hands-on...like yesterday's bow tie pasta number chart.  He asked me, "I get to take this home, right?"  :-)  So I'm going to take this as a positive...that he enjoyed this little bit of a challenge.  This activity was from a Mailbox publication.

What's this have to do with caterpillars/butterflies/bugs?  Nothing.  Other then one was using the magnetic balls and said, "Look!  I made a caterpillar...no, it's a snake."  :-)  But this child asked specifically for the magnets today.  One thing that is hard for me, with being home-based, in my main living area, with mixed age groups is that I can't leave a lot of the stuff out.  My personal belief is that children should have interest centers and many types of materials should be available for them to explore on their own.  But we really can't do that here.  Maybe someday I'll have a program where I WILL be able to do it that way.  :-) So in the meantime, I encourage them to tell me what they'd like to do and when they do I try my best to allow for it, if not on that day, then as soon as possible.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bugs: Butterflies

Small group today...wasn't quite sure how to handle myself.  :-)  Only 2 preschool students and 1 child younger then preschool age.  It sure was fun though!  It was drizzly out and they wanted to start kitchen time early so we did and spent a LONG time with our work. Was so interesting to observe them and listen to their conversations!  If you don't take the time to do that regularily, please do.  I know it's not always the most natural thing to do but listening to them will tell you a lot about their development, interests and even the things that might be bothering them.  

So, I wore cream top and cream colored skirt today because we weren't "really" painting.  LOL  I should have known better.  I was splattered and smeared with paint by the time the morning was over.  They really got into this project...one I've done variations of many times a year.  They never tire of it!  Here's some of them.  My only limit was, "when the paint gone, it's gone."  They didn't use it all up but most of it.  So then I filled them back up for the next kiddo. 
Butterfly Blots
Aren't they cool?!
We used "nancy bottles" which you can get from http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/.  These are a nice size for little hands.  Squeezing the paint out of them is a great hand strengthener also.  We used primary colors plus white. The difference between the 3 and 4 year old's exploration was that the 3 year old put paint everywhere on the paper in random spots and designs.  The 4 year old planned what she was doing.  The 3 year old also enjoyed the pressing down of the paper...."It's squishy!".  The 4 year old wasn't too sure about it and wanted me to do it.  Though I always encourage them to do it because it's "their work" so she did until it squished out the sides of the paper.  :-) 

Here's a little song we've been singing.  I had a couple copies of the booklet in my tub but they aren't all that clear and I wonder if they've been copied over and over.  I was thinking I got it off of Dr. Jean's website but I didn't see it on there.  So if anyone knows where I can find a little booklet that goes with this song, I'd love to have the original.   

The Butterfly
Tune:  Up on the Housetop
First comes the butterfly who lays an egg.
Out comes a caterpillar with many legs.
Oh, see the caterpillar spin and spin.
A little chrysalis to sleep in.
Oh! Oh! Oh!
Look and see!
Oh! Oh! Oh!
Look and see!
Out of the chrysalis, my, oh my!
Out comes a beautiful butterfly!

Clothespin Butterflies
Awhle ago I put out a request for scrap material and a couple people in the area supplied me with lovely material.  We use it for various projects.  This is a great fine motor/sensory activity we've done with the materials.  I had cut rectangles and squares out of the material to provide a large variety of color, design and texture.  Then they squish the material together in the center and added clothespins.  K. wanted to put them up on the wall (she must have remembered from a couple years ago!)  So she designed our butterfly wall art!  We've two of them now.
Butterfly and Caterpillar Sound Mats
These can be found at http://www.kidssoup.com/.  This is one site I actually pay a membership to.  It is very worth my while.  (Thanks, Lorrie, for introducing me to this site.)  Typically I would use this type of activity as "file folder" activities.  Laminate it and use them here during our program but I like to send these type of things home on occasion because if a parent doesn't see the types of things we do then they don't know we are doing them.  It also makes it easier for them to reinforce the concepts we are teaching.  Can be costly if you are printing them off for each child.  Perhaps they have a black and white version...they typically do!

Split Pin Butterfly
We did the caterpillar earlier in the week.  
The butterfly takes a little more effort and time...especially for the 4 year old who is very conscious of how her cutting looks.  It's exciting though to see my students become so capable with their cutting skills!  This little guy didn't really know how to hold a pair of scissors correctly, and was at the snip/fringe cutting stage.  Now?  He cut the wings out all by himself with minimal help (getting started is the hardest) and reminders of how to hold the scissors.  Daily scissors activities pay off, definitely!

Butterfly Number Chart
I love to use black paper as a background.  Makes the colors so bold looking.  The butterflies are just dyed bow tie pasta.  I use rubbing alcohol and food coloring in a resealable bag.  The longer you leave the pasta inside the bag the bolder the colors...just don't leave it so long that it gets gooey and sticks together.

Here's another simple visual discrimination activity.
Another one that's been around here for quite awhile.  I put Trent up to the table this morning and he just looked at it like, what on earth?!  So I picked one up and matched and then walked away to see what he'd do.  He picked up another and moved it from one to another saying "uttfly" but the butterfly never landed.  :-P  A little young yet but sometimes he does things that surprise me and so I was just curious of what he would do.  If it was just 3 butterflies he could probably have handled it but I think it was way to stimulating and, in turn, overwhelming for him.  Back to preschool students:  It's definitely beneficial to enourage them to describe the butterflies.  If they are unable to describe the butterflies then ask them questions like "where are the butterflies with stripes?"  This helps them notice and label patterns.  Boost that vocabulary!