Monday, October 31, 2011

C is for ...

C is for cat!

This was a nice rhyming book.  Not a book I'd go out and purchase but one I'd get from the library again.  There is a mouse on every spread of pages which was fun!

KWL Chart
We used the computer today as a "research" tool.  I find that what happened here is very typical for this age group.  My students are very use to giving "dictation" so 'what I know' is really easy.  The hardest part is the 'what I want to know'.  Usually you have to help them out in this regard until they are use to thinking like this.  And then 'what I learned'...with a group of children is pretty easy again.  They like to tell about new information.  And one child's comment will spark another child's thought and so on. However, with K.  She was ready to do something else by this point.  KWL charts are a great tool to extend thinking.  Perfect for a beginning of a theme, learn about the topic and end with the KWL chart by reviewing what was learned.

Scissors: Calico Cat
I like how this cat template looks similar to the letter C. for the template
Crayon-paint resist.  Part of our "research" was to find out about colors of the cat.  So the main colors of a calico cat were black, white, and orange.  She did have some white crayon markings on there but I can't see them in this picture.  We, of course, to time to trace the c.  Magic C is the term used in Handwriting Without Tears and I often state as a reminder to make a circle, magic c and close it up. 

-at Family Review
Typically I use lowercase letters for 'reading' activities like this...obviously, since when I pulled my paper letter squares down (OTC, by the way) I had very few lower case we used upper case instead.  The paper letter squares are nice but you can do the same thing with letters cut out of magazines and newspapers. 

Fine Motor: Lacing Cat

Addition/Subtraction Cat
I've been wanting to get more addition and subtraction activities in for K.  This is a very simple paper plate cat which can be used multiple times.  We talked about the number 5, how it was formed, what the word looked like, how it looks with dots (like dice).  You can't really see it in the picture but the light pink nose is just a piece of paper with the number 5 on it.  Then we used cubes to think of three addition facts and three subtraction facts that would equal five and wrote them on the whiskers.  I used sticky tack to hold the nose and the whiskers so we can do this again with other numbers.

Color Cats
If this looks familiar-I used these color cats during our summer program.
I made it more challenging for my preK student by having the color word card in lower case but the magnets in upper case.  Just a little way to reinforce that upper/lowercase matching.  I made this activity flow a little more smoothly/timely by having the letters for each color together with the color cards.  It's important not to spend too much time on one thing because they may lose interest.  So think about what specific goals you want to have and focus on those.  Works so much better to do small tasks with a specific concept multiple times over the course of time vs. trying to teach a specific concept all in one large session. 

Math: Patterns
Well, one thing I love to do is create activities.  The other side of it is that I've had K. since a baby so I like to do "new" things. Well, anyway...I keep forgetting that stuff done awhile ago she would have been too young to really remember/grasp the concept so I've been really trying to go out to my tubs and glance through the before I start planning and making something new.  Help save on cost and time.  So this was one of the activities I pulled out of one of the bazillion tubs.  LOL  Mailbox publication activity I'm sure.  Looks like their type of pictures.  You could easy "stretch" any animal like this either drawing freehand or using a coloring sheet.  I laminated the cardstock cat (and dog) and placed a piece of velcro across the body.  Then the pieces were laminated and velcroed also and voila!  :-)

Art: Table Top Easel

We had lots of fun today...hope you all did too!

Friday, October 28, 2011

R is for...

R is for Rainbow!

Well, we didn't get to everything this week due to illness but...that's the way it goes.  Glad it landed in our "R" week since R is a familiar letter. 

Rainbow Bottles
All age groups love this type of activity.  One year my bro-in-law had a large trash bag full of transparent bottles and I took them into my school-age program and they loved them!  Those bottles didn't have lids so we stuck clay on the top and turned them into creatures.  Such fun!  Today we simply created rainbow bottles.  It was a RoseArt kit.  But you don't have to buy a kit.  Use recycled containers and if you don't want to purchase colored sand, you can always color salt.  Great fine motor! 

Rainbow R
This ended up being a two day project.  The initial gluing on of strips allowed for us to talk about the actual colors of the rainbow and introduce/reinforce ROY G. BIV.  This was just a fun tidbit...not something I expect them to remember and as you can see, she chose not to put the color strips in order and that's okay also.  Actually, I see a pattern and I'm betting she probably would have completed that pattern if there were more of those colors.  :-)  We let it dry completely and then traced the letter R on the back for her to cut out.  A little harder than we expected, having to go through the second layer of paper but she did it!

Alphabet Rainbow
Came across that cute alphabet rainbow at Sparklebox and decided to use it with a sensory tub activity.  Hid colorful magnetic letters in a tub of sand.  She found them and as she did trace that upper case letter.  She then put it on the magnetic dry-erase board where she thought the letter would go, using her alphabet rainbow as a guide.  I did not plan to use lower case letters as Sparklebox's font isn't what I teach so...she's welcome to trace those at home (and I encouraged her to look for those letters at home) but I didn't include that in our activity.  I chose to use this as an informal evaluation of how she was forming the letters.  I was glad to see that the letters that we have "taught" were formed just as I taught them.  The others weren't, but that's fine.  We'll get there! 

Rainbow Numeral Formation:
Not exactly what I had initially thought to do, but it worked out just fine.  I added other colors in there besides just ROY G BIV as I wanted to review those also.  She placed the numeral cards in order 0-9 and then used mancala beads to make that number on the felt.

Exploring with Rocks
Not really a "rainbow" activity but something I wanted to do this week.  I did add rainbow colored magnets to be used with weighing rocks and a rainbow tablet with a rainbow set of markers for documentation if they wished.  Anyway, these rocks we picked up at Lake Huron.  My eldest chose most of them.  I encouraged them to pick them out of the lake instead of off the shore because then we could see how colorful or what cool design was on the rock when we used water during our exploration.  Found some neat ones!

While on the rock topic...Story Rocks
An idea I've seen many places but the most recently was at TeachPreschool.
I actually created these myself placing the modgepodge on like my kiddos would just to see what would happen.  I plan for them to create their own in the near future.  For this set I used all /r/ beginning sound words.  Great stories came from it! Simply glob some modgepodge onto the rock, place the picture on top and modgepodge over top of that again.  Simple.  FYI:  these were polished rocks from a dollar store.

Sewing R
Plastic canvas is perfect for beginner sewers.  I use yarn needles and tie the thread at the eye.  This does not work with yarn (makes it too thick to pull through) but is perfect for embroidery thread.  Then we have less of an issue of the needle coming off the end.  I made three bundles of thread to start with... ROY     G       BIV.  Looked neat.  Then she'll be welcome to use any colors she wants when those are done.  This is an activity we keep out for awhile and work on it as interest lasts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

R is for...

R is for rockets!

But before I get into that maybe I'll mention we had so many bouts of laughter today.  Such a joy!  We kind of switched things up and went with the the flow.  I feel there needs to be a pretty good routine in place but I also believe that, especially at the preschool level, we need to just let some things go in order to enjoy the process of things a little more.  It also teaches them to be flexible.  But I only suggest doing this after you have a good routine in place so that you can get right back into the routine because really, without the routine, we wouldn't get half as much done!  And the children's behavior wouldn't be all that becoming.  :-)   But anyway...had two great trainings last week.  One was an online training regarding children's imagination and the other was about laughter being the greatest medicine.  I find that most trainings that are offered, ones that I can afford and are nearby anyway, are usually just reviews and it use to "get to me".  I'm taking time out of my busy schedule to do training only to really not learn anything.  But...on the plus side...they are usually are great reviews.  I think we need that too.  And, though I really didn't learn anything new at the last two trainings, they did make me do some self-evaluation and realized that I'm getting too stuffy in my old age.  :-)  Letting personal stuff get in the way of my teaching and my ability to laugh.  So...excellent trainings!  When we can smile/'s such a stress reliever, child and adult alike!  We were in the middle of one of our biggest laughs today and we pretty much had tears coming to our eyes and one say, "Ms. Amber...I so love you."   Then the other pipes up..."I DO TOO!"  Aw, made my heart melt.  Almost brought real tears!  LOL  But the point is...we must laugh!  One thought passed on at the training was that laughter is JUST as important as fresh air and good food.  Wow!  There some food for thought!

R is for Rockets!
Our book for the day. 

Art:  Rocket In Universe
We definitely enjoyed the process of this project.  Often we are doing our activities separately.  The main reasons are because then I can provide more individualization and do more activities in a smaller space.  But working together has such benefits and so I try to slip that in as often as possible.  Conversations are great when they are sitting next to each other doing something similar.  Actually, today, I set up the kitchen like I normally do and as we got close to that time I decided...hmmm, let's do this all together today.  And we did most of our work on the floor!  A lot more space there. 
You can see the corner of the computer in the picture.  CMU Child Development Lab have computers available for their preschoolers but...they are used for research vs. any games the children might play.  I use mine for both.  I actually have a "children's" computer for games.  Can't get the Internet to work on that one so end up using the lap top for research.  Screen time is kept to a minimum here though.  I figure they get more than enough at home and even at school.  So today, we used our computer as a research tool.  Google images (be careful what you google and I strongly suggest that you google it first so you know what's going to pop up-even with "kid" things and if you are doing an impromptu search with them, if possible keep the screen toward you and only show it to the children when you have previewed it.   Can you tell I'm talking from experience?!)  Anyway, we searched "planets and kids".  I had already searched "universe" and wasn't pleased with the outcome so switched to something more specific.  One child pointed to Earth right away to say, "Hey, that's where we looks like our globe."  We have a globe on the end table that we refer to quite a bit.  So, yeah!  That was exciting.  We talked about how they all looked like circles/spheres but were different in color and size.  Talked about stars, meteor showers and other simple thoughts about the universe.  Then I gave them oil pastels to create their planets (and Diego, for one child LOL).  They then painted over with watered down black paint.  Added their rocket.  Interesting that they put the rocket in practically the same place.  That happens more often when doing art side by side then when they are doing art on their own.  Then added stars if they wanted.  They were "gummed" stars but it didn't work well.  So we ended up gluing and in my opinion, that didn't work well either since the edges curled up for whatever the reason but they didn't mind so I kept my mouth shut.  :-D  
We are doing a similar project this afternoon with the school-agers.  Will try it on cardboard since the paper seems so thin.  We'll be making our rockets out of cardstock shapes also.  I'll share them when we complete the projects.  It'll be at least a 2 day project, I imagine.

Fine motor and Phonological Awareness Activities
Cute little packet.  The next few activities are from HomeSchool Creations.  Quite a few things in it that we didn't check it out. Might be perfect for your kiddos or might be able to be used as a jumping board.
They put the "starburst" on the correct beginning sound of the vocabulary cards.  And I had laminated the writing cards...Rocket to the moon! dry erase marker works great for that.  Great prewriting skill activities!  I'm glad to see more and more of these available.  At one time I created them myself but now its a more commonplace to see/find. I wish that they used hollow lines though instead of dotted lines to trace, but that's a personal opinion!  Beggars can't be choosers and their printables make my busy life easier.  :-)

10, 9, 8, 7 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 BLAST OFF!
The number and rocket cards were from the Astronaut Preschool Pack, mentioned above.  Her suggestion was to punch a hole at the bottom of the number cards and add links.  That's an idea.  :-)  I didn't know where my links were and really wanted to do the rocket below it (Mailbox) for a scissors skill activity.  So I used the cards this way.  First, we put them in order from 10-1.  That's hard for a lot of preschool children.  It also gave me a good idea of where they were at with number recognition.  No, this isn't the font I use but I strongly believe in using multiple fonts for various activities so that the children can recognize them interchangeably.  So after we put them in order, I had the children start cutting out their rocket and adding their astronaut.  One child drew a picture of the other child and said she was mad because "it ran out of gas".  Oooh!  That WOULD be a problem!  LOL  Then he added himself in there later.  Anyway, since they are at different skill levels for scissors, this worked out perfectly.  I put one square of paper under each number (actually wrote our number 10 and 9 on the cards so they could see how we write them) and encouraged them to write each number on their square.  This was to help me see where they were regarding numeral formation, so no help from me-unless they specifically asked for it.  Great little scissors and math activity combined!  If it looks familiar, I believe I did this during our summer program.  I had put their actual picture in the window then.
Math: Rocket to the Moon
Seriation/Ordering by size.  This was also in that Astronaut Preschool Pack.
This was not a scissors activity so I cut them out ahead of time.  See their moons?  We had talked about them having craters so that is why both of them chose to have spots in their circles.  :-)  One chose to do theirs from smallest to biggest and the other from biggest to smallest.  This is a skill that requires practice.   Typical preschool standards expect ordering a set of three-big, medium, small.   With practice they can't get way beyond a set of three.  Just a little FYI there.  :-P  It just requires practice.  To save paper and such you could just laminate one set and use them over and over.  But since I have a small group, I like to do it this way so the parents know what we are doing.  We counted them, talked about the biggest/smallest, first/last, even/odd and so on.

Just for Fun!
Okay, well, this was an adult made rocket.  We do very few of these.  But I just knew that they would be a hit and I was right!  They flew all over creation!  I gave them the choice of colors and they decorated it but that was about it.  But dramatic play was at a high point when they were done with them! 
Instructions were from Enchanted Learning.  Not my favorite site (and no, I will never purchase a membership there) but this one was worthwhile.  :-)   It was raining and I knew we wouldn't get outside and they were flying their rockets through the universe so I opened up the doors to the "rest" of the house and they "flew" around (which they love to do...I don't do that often so it's always "special".) child has had an issue with a lingering cold and after so much physical activity she was really starting to cough and getting red in the face so I encouraged her to find something calm to do for a little while and this is what happened....
Isn't that sweet?!  She has really taken to "reading to Trent".  I love it, he loves it, she loves it! 

Lovely day!  Hope yours was too!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

B is for...

B is for Butterfly!
(amongst other things)
Each Thurday we do an ABC Twiggles letter craft for the focus letter.  Thus, I usually use the paper craft as our theme for that day.  Never have I done butterflies this late in the year but you know was a perfect cheery thing to do on this very dreary, rainy day!  :-) 

Some of the other planned activities that we did today....

Butterfly Numeral Formation
 Numeral recognition, counting and numeral formation.

Butterfly Mat w/ Playdough
One of the children in attendance today was sick when we did the playdough with the golf tees so I pulled those back out for him.   The pattern was a reproducible from The Mailbox.  I love this picture of T.!  So much learning takes place through observation and he's definitely watching the older child here.  :-)  Often, when I see this type of observation take place, it won't be long before T.'s back at whatever the other child was doing and trying it out, even if he had been there already.  Love it!  One benefit of a mixed age group.

Sensory: Bird Seed
I gave them a choice of /b/ sound sensory materials today and this is what they chose.  It's a nice material to work with and will go through funnels too (though they chose to use the paper towel tubes instead).

Melissa & Doug 
I chose the /b/ sound words to use today.  Only 4, just about perfect for timing and interest.  Loved hearing about the letters recognized and the realization that the words all started with b!

Roller Painting Butterflies
The process...
cut                                                        paint
                     fold and pat                     open and exclaim!  :-)
Repeat as often as desired!           
A little different process for toddlers.  We'll cut it into a butterfly shape after it's dry, if he wants too.

Oh, and this last one is just seasonal...I was going through the closet and seen that I had completely forgotten about having this wooden jack-o-lantern matching set, purchased from Oriental Trading.    This is a very large set so I only choose 10 pairs to work with.  Easy enough for the older child.  Really need just 3-5 for toddlers.  Before I put something like this on the shelf for free play, I like to "introduce" it first.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

B is for...

B is for baby boy...who is sick.  :-(
I'm really surprised K. and I got as much of our planned preschool activities done as we did. Though we did move some to the afternoon.  The other little guy I have in care-7months-has a cold.  Normally naps during the majority of our preschool morning so it works out swell.  But today he had a 15 min. nap and no matter what I did he fussed and cried.  Just not feeling well.  Doesn't work well with a preschool routine!  And we ended up not being as organized as we normally are.  And to give you an the end of the morning I ended up putting my container of glue sticks in the spice cabinet and the cinnamon in my storage cabinet.  :-)  But that's the way it goes. It's that time of year.  Sometimes you just have to be flexible and hope that sickness runs its course very quickly!

B is for bears!
 Well, this was going to be Monday's theme but we ended up doing "finish up" projects and the only bear related activity was starting a paper mache' bear (inspired by  Looks like a koala right now, koala bears are really marsupials and only got the "bear" part of its name because of it's similarities in appearance by the English settlers in the 18th century-Australians very seldom call them koala "bears".  There's your piece of trivia for the day!   Today she did her third layer of paper.  She loves the feel of sliding her fingers down the strip of newspaper to get the excess glue/water mixture off of the strip.  I've never done this with preschool age before...always this is an experience!  It's not been too difficult or messy either...but I bet a whole class of preschoolers doing this might cause a bit more mess! 

After our typical calendar, weather, and Handwriting Without Tears activities, we moved onto discussing bears.  K. had many things to say about bears today!
In case you can't see the words clearly...and excuse my penmanship.  Never has been the greatest, especially when trying to keep up to the children and their dictation and for some reason I can't ever stay in a straight line.  But, the children seeing us write each word is so beneficial.
"Bears eat animals."
"Bears fight with other bears."
"Bears like sea otters.  Them eat them!" (There must be a book or TV program recently that gave information about sea otters and bears because she was telling me "facts" even before we started talking about bears!)
"Bears get up and go down.  They stay there for 2 hours."  (At one point she repeated with the word weeks instead of I asked her to tell me more and figured out that she was talking about "hibernation", which-a side note- bears are "true hibernators" because they can be roused during the hibernation period unlike other hibernators.
" Bears have lots of hair on them."
"Some bears are white.  Black and white and them have lots of muscles. Brown bears sleep in a cave."
"When the snow dries the white bear dies."  (She was pretty adamant about this one when I was trying to get more information about what she meant.  So if anyone can clue me in?  :-)  My understanding about polar bears and "hibernation" is that it is only the pregnant females that hibernate.)
"Some bears come out of their cave when the snow dries.  Them be happy."
"Bears have sharp teeth."
"Pooh bear is a yellow, and his shirt is red, bear."

We did an addition activity that I will definitely do again.   Today's activity wasn't as organized as I would have liked, partly due to the baby, partly due to not thinking it through myself first.  We did 5 facts today and either tomorrow afternoon or Friday we'll do another 5 on the back of the sheet.  And the next time we'll do it in a much more organized fashion.  Allowing her to choose which addition strip she wanted to work with was definitely up there in things she likes.  And, why not give her that freedom.  A child will definitely retain more when they feel like they have a bit of control and are enjoying what they are doing.
 I had laid out the addition strips.  Oh, why am I using addition strips?  Because this child has explored with informally adding and subtracting for quite a while and now she's often telling me things like 3=3=6.  So, giving her the visual is the next step.  Definitely will help with when they are doing addition facts in Kindergarten.  So, I used the strips from  She used counting bears to place in a group above each number.  Then she colored the bear next to the number according to the color of the bears she chose.  Then, together we pointed to the numbers and math symbols saying the addition fact correctly, she added all the bears up together finding the total.  Glued the strip on the paper and wrote the correct answer.  The original activity had number answers available but I wanted numeral formation practice as well as number recognition.  When we do this again... the activity will be more organized and we'll do it on the floor where there is more space.  Bears will be in a smaller bowl, corresponding colored crayons will be in a small cup and placed on one side of the paper.  The large paper will be in front of her and on the other side will be the strips laid out and a glue stick.  I will also encourage her to glue the strip first and place the bears directly on the paper.  A thought that popped into my head in the middle of the activity was that this would be a good activity to use the divided plates...which mine were out in the garage.  You then put one set of bears in a small divided section and the other set in the 2nd divided section.  Then when it's time to find the total, you put both sets in the large divided section.  This gives children the visual and tactile experience of what addition is all about.  I'll do that in the near future and post it so that you have a better idea of what I'm babbling about!  :-)

Cinnamon Bear
For a scissors/sensory activity today, she cut out a bear shape.  We talked about the shapes that were on the bear...ovals and circles and the differences.  Before finishing her cinnamon bear, she used her cut out bear as a template to paint white dots around with a qtip to begin the first step of a polar bear (she finished by coloring the inside with white chalk and adding facial features).    Then as that was drying she went back to her cinnamon bear.  She used brown crayon first and then saw the brown oil pastel sitting there and she asked about it.  So I went ahead and encouraged her to use the oil pastel on top of her crayon and showed her how to smear it with a napkin to make her bear look fuzzy.  She loved it and so we'll soon be doing some oil pastel exploration!  She then used a glue bottle to trace around the perimeter (and yes, she uses that word when she's gluing) of each circle and oval.  Then she took a paste spreader and spread the glue from the ends of the shape to the center.  Made for a really cool design in the belly of the bear!  Sprinkled liberally with cinnamon, shook it off, added eyes and voila!  Sure smelled good in here today!

Oh, and we did do a worksheet today.  What?!  A worksheet?  :-)  Yes, as mentioned before, I'm not a big worksheet fan.  However, I'm striving for K readiness and no matter what the people in early childhood say and no matter how I'd really like to run my program in accordance to the recommendations, we do have to do some activities and routines that are not recommended because in Kindergarten they do a LOT of it.   Better for the children to experience a little of it, mainly in their preK year, so that the transition to the "have-to" sit down busy work is not foreign to them and they transition more easily.  I really struggle with some of the newer recommendations, moreso now that 2 out of 3 of my boys have gone through Kindergarten.  Not that I don't usually agree that it's for the "best" but to implement what they want and to not take into consideration what our local teachers are doing in elementary school...well... enough said.   We all have to make our own opinions about what's best by our own experiences and such.  I tend to tell my families that I'm a pretty good mix of "old and new" school  beliefs/theories.  I definitely am "old school" in some of what I do and I won't apologize for it.  :-)

Hope your week is going smoothly!
Edit:  :-)
Here's the end product of her qtip polar bear.  I love how she either writes letters/words on her own or asks me to write it somewhere else so she can copy it correctly.  Yes!  The next step to becoming a successful writer!