Wednesday, December 21, 2011

S is for Sewing a Snowman!

Just a quick post to share the picture of the final product of K.'s sewing project.  :-)

Today is the last day before winter break.  May take a break from blogging or may post a few pictures of what my own kiddos are planning on doing over break.  Still hoping for snow! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

S is for Snowman! Day 5

A few more activities with a snowman theme...
Marble Painted Snowman
Wish I had a large class for this activity!  They'd all be SO different!  Today I demonstrated how to draw a snowman filling a paper and encouraged them to use three circles to drawn their own snowman on their paper, freehand.  The newly turned 4 year old immediately started fist drawing circles so thus I recommend having two very different colors of crayons so that you can outline around their snowman as a visual of where to cut!  Then they cut out their basic snowman drawing, marble painted, glued to background and added details.  Simple and turned out lovely!
Ah...some day T. will actually participate instead of preferring to pull up a stool and watch.  It's kind of amusing.  He's very content just to watch.  A little different than my other two boys who were well into doing art, sensory, and other activities by his age but they all grow and develop differently.  T.'s an observer...especially with anything that might potentially be messy.

Melted Snowman Silly Putty

They did enjoy this (not T., of course...wouldn't touch it after the initial try!  LOL).  I purchased these from OTC for A.'s 3rd grade class as a little something for around the holiday times.  Since class numbers have dropped since I ordered the class kiddos here are "benefiting".   It's a neat concept...the outside of the snowman tends to rub off...about a third of them came with paint rubbed off in spots on the containers and thus flakes get in with the silly putty but the kids don't seem to mind.  Good sensory activity!
We combined it with having potato flake trays also.  So with two sensory experiences...we didn't get to everything planned.  Oh well, some other time!
Snowman Colors
I did provide tweezers but they chose to use their fingers as the perler beads were really too little to manipulate to their button places with the tweezers.  :-)  Matching the hat to the snowman was great for color review and I love that they are labeled with the color words with the font I like the best.

Rhyming Snowman

I have a large selection of stamps, a garage sale finding.  You could just use magazine pictures or print some as well.  So, the other day I had my boys go through the stamps and find as many matching rhyming pairs of stamps they could find.  Actually there wasn't very many!  I was surprised there weren't more.  The picture is pretty self explanatory for how I created it.   The children enjoyed this and it was great review!

Monday, December 19, 2011

S is for Snowman! Day 4

Over the weekend we got a little bit of snow...but only the roads are still white...the grass is back to the lovely greenish brown color of fall.  Hoping for snow over break.  Since it will be the "first" snow, my boys will spend a lot of time in it!  Yes, kind of a selfish thought but really, we are ALL ready for a good snow!

So a couple of snowman activities to share today.
Candle Warmer Snowmen
Inspired by Teach Preschool-who did fall leaves with their candle warmer.

She made more than she wanted on her paper so we just sent the "extras" home.  I love that she put earmuffs on some, a scarf, crazy hats..a good variety.  Shows that her creativity is starting to develop.  At the beginning of the year she would have just used one color and one design on all of them. 
K. definitely enjoyed the melting process...and how much smaller and smooth the crayon became.  We will definitely do this again...maybe as more of a free exploration...with more colors but today we focused on snowmen as an intro to this type of activity. 
The first two steps:

Vowel Snowmen
Vowel Song
The vowels of the alphabet
I know them all by name.
I know them all by name.

The vowels of the alphabet
I know their short sounds too!
/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/
/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/
/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/
I know their short sounds too!
You can find the Snowman Vowel Sort Worksheet at  The link next to the image of the vowel sort snowflakes.  You'll notice that our "worksheet" doesn't look like the original.  :-)  I'm not a big worksheet fan and just doing the worksheet would not be enough practice for me so I cut the snowmen out, placed at the top of a large construction paper and used our alphabet miniatures to sort (using different objects than the pictures on the worksheet) and then had her sort and glue the pictures onto the snowman as a review.

Snowman Sewing Project
I don't know if I mentioned that we started a small sewing project.  I know I posted a picture on facebook.  This is K.'s first project that represents something.  We've done sewing explorations before but this time we are creating a simple snowman.  Obviously we aren't quite done yet...she has some buttons to sew on the belly and she wants a carrot nose then we'll decide how she wants the mouth and if she wants arms or not and other details.  Not sure if we are going to leave it as a banner or make it into a small pillow.  We are using felt as the felt shapes stick to the felt background and allows for a little easier time in sewing a shape to the background.  She's done a great job and my 8 year old son wants to start one...good winter break activity! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

S is for Snowman! Day 3

Well, raining and 50 degrees out this morning on the way to school.  LOL  If the temperature dropped we would have quite a bit of snow covering the ground. :-P 

Counting Technique
I've shared this before but it's something I'm going to share again.  Preschoolers sometimes recount or forget objects when they are counting, especially if they aren't in a straight line.  Allowing them to place a small bead (or other object) on each item helps out with this, especially with numbers over ten.  If the child is counting concrete objects, encourage them to move them (to a specific area-such as the left of a piece of tape) after they have counted it.

Snowman Themed Addition
In our schools, they use linking cubes a lot with their math facts-addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.  Since this is the case, for me, it's important to introduce the use of linking cubes so they are a familiar as a "tool" as well as a toy.  So today we used them with an addition activity.  Each of the snowmen had a number on them.  I actually color coded them, but that is not necessary.  Works better for young students though.  Vocabulary we used: more/less, odd/even, add, take away/subtract, equal/how many in all, math fact.  I wrote the math facts on the dry erase board (corresponding colored markers) but you may wish to have your child write the math facts themselves if they are at that level.  I had a younger student today so chose to do it myself.  Each child turned over a snowman, stated the number on the snowman, and found that linking cube strip.  Then we put them together and counted how any in all. And I wrote the addition fact and we continued on.  This would make a nice bag center...especially for a kindergartener.  They should be able to do this activity on their own, filling in a math sheet with the math facts and answers.

Word Chunk Snowman
Used /s/ sound words and placed as many buttons as chunks in the word on the snowman.  These mat could also be used for number snowman,  or listening for beginning/middle/ending sounds as well. 

And some nice open-ended activities today:
Shaving Cream
We used this for our "snow" paint this week and thus needed (yes, I was told that) to pull it out for free exploration.  And since we were going to use the polar set with the "snow" dough...and that didn't work out due to the stickiness I pulled them out with the shaving cream.  :-P  See T. on the left there in the bottom picture.  No way was he going to even get close enough to get any of that stuff on him.  LOL  Some day...right now he just tells me he's going to watch. 

"Easel" Art
When we put our house up for sale, I moved a lot of stuff to storage and our easel was one of them.   So, used our sliding glass door as our easel.  :-)  Great conversation takes place when they are doing things side by side!  (And actually, the sliding glass door is a whole lot easier to clean than the easel.)

Music and Movement
Wanted to share that one of items we use for music and movement are holographic icicles.  You'll find those right now at the dollar stores...and everywhere else too! I bought three+ years ago during the after xmas clearance sale for .25 a piece.  :-P   I left them "as is". Cover the staple backs with tape as a safety precaution. They've lasted a long time but we don't have them out all the time either.   And so how you use your music and movement materials, the age of your children and their energy level are all going to play a part in how long they last.  The children really enjoy these "streamers". 

We had a laugh-filled morning and H. asked his dad..."Why did you come so soon?" at pick up time today.  :-P  Made my day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

S is for Snowmen! Day 2

No snow yet...actually the forecast is rain!  :-(  Oh well.  39 degrees out today when we went outdoors.   We're having fun with our snowmen days!  Here's a few more activities we did with the focus of snow and snowmen.

Snowflake Snowman
Children explored with painting a piece of paper with watercolor/salt mixture.  They also explored with cutting paper snowflakes.  :-)  They made at least one large, medium, and small snowflake to create a snowman on their watercolor background. 
Especially fun to watch them open that first snowflake they made!

Salt Snow
Children love to use eyedroppers so after exploring with salt a bit I provided some watercolors and eyedroppers.  I've done this before with liquid watercolor.  This time I used what I had on hand...and that was the watercolor "spray" bottles that make such a mess!  LOL  My hands were covered with watercolor just preparing the bowls!  Oh well!  The children enjoyed the process and yes, they have slightly stained hands...but I thank my families because they understand that the process of an activity is so much important than the outcome and whether or not their child got dirty or not.  :-)  I try to minimize stains but they do happen, especially with this particular brand of watercolors! 

Snowman Seriation/Measurement
Just simply created my own snowman seriation set in Print Shop awhile back.  Children order by size then use the linking cubes to explore with nonstandard measurement.  Also, I incorporated the concept of estimation or "guesstimation" with this activity.  In the first grade classroom I was in they were doing estimation and one thing I noticed was that this was difficult for the children to do.  Obviously they had very little experience with it.  Most had a really hard time logically thinking about what would be larger (they were working with addition/subtraction facts) and what would be smaller.  There were also some that had a difficult time "letting go" and guessing and understanding that it was okay for them to have the incorrect guess.  So I told myself that I was definitely going to be doing more "guesstimation" activities here with my kiddos.  So we did today.  Do you think you will have more or less cubes than the green snowman?  Encouraged a guess with each snowman and let them know that whatever they "guessed" was a-okay mainly by just being matter of fact and stating..."Okay...let's fnd out how close we were!" 

Snowman Alphabet
Children chose a hat, stated the letter, found the picture to put it on.  The only representation I didn't care for was that they used "earth" for the letter E.  Hmmm.  So I did that one for them but they did the rest.  :-)

Oh!  I did want to share the book we read today.  Repetitive, which allows for more interaction.  Humorous in a very simple way!  Might want to check it out...was so fitting for us this week because we have some "sneezy" issues going on with this cold going around.
Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright

All for now...maybe I'll take the time to look at some other blogs today and see what others are up to this week!

Monday, December 12, 2011

S is for Snowmen!!!

So, if I do a week focused around snowmen and we do the snow dance "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" will we get any snow?  It's sure chilly out but in my opinion, if it's going to be cold...we need snow!  Unfortunately, the forecast doesn't look all that promising for snow.  Actually, I hear it's suppose to get warmer?!?!?!  Oh well.  We'll pretend!

Before I get started I'll share one of the pics of K. retelling Silly Sally with her "retelling map".  None of the pictures turned out all that grand.  Mainly because of the light coloring.  But it'll give you an idea of what we did.  She wanted to take this home right away.  :-) 
As you can see, we simply cut a large piece of paper and then drew the "map".  We made a curvy "path" from town and then she looked in the book and figured out who Sally met first and what details she needed to draw for each animal's "home".  So she drew a mud hole for the pig, a doghouse for the dog, she just placed the loon in the river, and drew a "yellow meadow" for the sheep.  Then she retold it.  She's really has gotten to be quite the storyteller around here!  It has influenced T.-2 years, quite a bit as he now is starting to "tell the story" of a book he looks at.  How fun! 

So...back to this week.  :-)  S is a hard letter to learn, for letter formation anyway.  Sound is picked up relatively quickly but to learn to write it is a little more difficult so I decided to add an "extra" week and do a whole week on "snowmen".  Definitely a personal thing.  I couldn't imagine just doing a 1 day theme on snowmen...there is SO much that can be done!  And I love the snow/snowmen.  :-)  We'll use it again before winter is out, I'm sure! 

"Snow" Dough
One of the first things K. did when we got back from the school was to cook up a batch of "snow" dough.  :-)  Just the basic recipe but with a bit of paint/glitter.  I had forgotten that when I add paint it's much more sticky.  Oh well, the kids enjoyed it anyway and got the extra hand strengthening by kneading in some flour to help with the stickiness!  K. used the dough to practice some sight word reading and spelling before playing with the dough on its own.  The lowercase letter words but uppercase letter sticks was intentional.  :-)  This way we were reinforcing upper/lower case letter recognition/matching along with our other goals.

Parts of a Snowman Brace Map
The meaning behind a brace map is to help the children see parts to whole or whole to parts.  Young children tend to see only the "whole" so this is a good activity for them!  What a great job she did with the "copywork" parts of the snowman words!  Those lowercase letters are getting easier and easier!  And something that put a smile on my face...we were sounding out the word eyes and I wrote "eye" and she's like..."e doesn't make /i/ sound!"  Well, no it doesn't...thanks to the lovely English language.  :-D 

Oil Pastel Snowmen w/ Snow Paint
4 yrs                                            8 yrs
This was an art lesson she did with her Kindergartners without the use of circle tracers.  I definitely love how she taught the U head vs. a circle and then put the hat on top.  And once again, I can't believe I've never really used oil pastels with the children previously.  Though they are a bit more expensive than crayons (but they are holding up well being used by 2-8 year olds) they are so much more bold and easier to work with than crayons!  We practiced creating a snowman on scrap paper first because there is a tendency to draw small and that's so hard to cut out.  The "sparkle" is a mixture of salt and glitter that I had left over from another project.  The "snow paint" is just shaving cream and glue.  I really had to encourage her to "use it thick".  It's been awhile since we've used this "snowpaint" and she had forgotten that when it'll dry puffy so the thicker you put it on...the bettter!  Sidenote:  Please remember that it's definitely a process when creating art.  If you do this activity with a large class of preschoolers, I guarantee that you'll get at least one project that will be completely covered in snow, no snowmen to be seen and that's okay!  :-P 

Family Name Graph
I find that it was much easier to include graphing activities when I was in a large group setting.  It was very easy to have a daily graph where the children answered a simple question by putting their name symbol in the appropriate column...then discuss the results.  One year we had each child create a snowman using the letters in their name and we compared their names lengths.  Well, that's a little more difficult to do with my very small group.  :-)  So this year, I decided to do a family name "graph" where they used the names of the members in their family.  Then we compared size and such.  I encouraged K. to use the conventional rule that first names start with a  capital letter but the rest is written in lowercase letters.  If you have a younger group, either encourage the capital letter writing, since that is what they tend to learn first or don't say a word about it at all and let them write as they wish.  If you have a very very young group, write the letters yourself and use it more as a letter recognition activity. 

Anyway...a few of our activities today.  Hope your day went smoothly and lucky you if you have snow!  :-P

Friday, December 9, 2011

S is for Snake!

Button Snake
Very easy to make.  I created this in ten minutes while sitting on the floor with the children during free play.  It's something I've seen on the Internet over and over, especially on Montessori homeschool sites, and have wanted to make but never took the time.  So it's not the most beautiful job since I was in a hurry but it is a nice little activity...especially for toddlers!  I added the possibility of making a pattern for my preschoolers.  Simply cut the squares of felt.  Sew a button on the end of a ribbon and one of your felt squares on the other end.  Cut slits in the felt squares to fit the button size.

Snake Circle Map (Thinking Map)
This is one of the simplest of the eight thinking maps.  Simply put your main topic (we chose snake but I've seen them use circle maps with the letters in the alphabet so we could have done the sound /s/).  The goal is for the children to "brainstorm" everything they know about that topic.  It's very similar to the K in a KWL.  I did add simple pictures (excuse them...I'm definitely not an artist!) but one of my goals with activities like this is to help them make the connection that everything we say can be wrote down.  It's also a great way to model conventional "rules" with writing/spelling and I can "sound out" a word to reinforce that as well.  And the children ALWAYS love to see what they are dictating, written down.  It makes them feel it should!  The bubble map, which is one of the few I hope to use next week, is great for "prereading" if done just right.  They'll be able to "read" sentences and that's awesome.  Always are teaching that these are tools as well, not just "decorations".  You probably can't see the actual sentences on the map very clearly.  One was "Slither by some rocks and get a new body!"  She was so excited to tell me that.  So that conversation went on for a bit...talking about what has happening there.

Snake Cake by Yukiko Kido
This is a "flip a word" book.  Simple way to reinforce word families/rhyming.   Very bold illustrations!  Several word families in each book.

Alphabet Snake
This activity turned out really nice!  The cutting was a little difficult for the newly turned 4 year old as the lines were narrow and there was a lot of turning but it was relatively easy for the older 4 year old.  This pdf. file has both the upper and lower case letters.  I used the upper case snake for the younger child and the lower case snake for the older child.  If I was just doing this 1:1 with K. I would have had her write the letters on the stickers for practice with those lowercase letters. But since we were "working together" today and needed to be somewhat completed with the activity at around the same time, I went ahead and wrote the letters.  I wrote them on the stickers in a left to right-top to bottom pattern to reinforce that for the younger 4.  I would definitely do this activity again.  Using the stickers was great to add a little more fine motor to the activity!

Pattern Snake 
We practiced creating snakes the dry erase board,  because they have a tendency to draw small, then we drew a big one on a large paper.  The snakes above are the ones they drew.  :-)  I helped with the patterning...they told me what kind of patterns they wanted.  I encouraged them to use markers to section up their snake.  We talked about different types of patterns.  Polka-dots (K. had on a polka dot shirt, yeah!  Worked out to be a lovely introduction to the activity), stripes, etc.  Then they were encouraged to use a different pattern in each section of their snake.   The outcome wasn't exactly what I expected after they did the one on the dry erase board with me but they were excited and proud about their work so it was a success in my opinion.  :-)
Loved T.'s letters.  He handed me a marker and I thought he was having a hard time with the cap so I took the cap off and handed it back to him.  He shakes his head no and tells me, "write you T here"  Then "O" then "G" then "again G" and "again G" and eventually "'nother G" until we wrote all those G's and I distracted him by singing the alphabet song.  He started wanting those letters when the kids started writing "snake" on their paper.  Interesting, I see in the picture...K. wrote "sMake".  She was sounding out the word herself before I wrote it on the board (that's why she knew to put the e at the end since she hasn't mastered the knowledge of silent e.)  Today in our reading lesson she was interchangeably using /m/ and /n/ for the letter n.   So I know something to work on with her!  Really watch and listen when you can to your child when they doing their "own work" and you are just an observer.  You'll learn alot about what they have truly grasped and what you may need to spend more time with!  Sidenote...the picture on the bottom left has an addition to the end of his body.  :-)  H. decided to add a rattle! 

All Tuckered Out!
Been trying to keep her awake in the afternoons.  Today she was doing okay, I could tell she was tired and we weren't going to get much done in the afternoon without it taking a long time and perhaps some frustration taking place so after our reading lesson she occupied herself for a bit. Eventually I went and got her some thick Disney books to look at since she enjoys looking at pictures, especially of stories like Cinderella, Bambi and etc.  Well, I went into the other room to take care of a few things on that end and came out to see she had moved all the books to the floor and , well, guess she decided to take a nap.  :-)  Wishing it was me!  But something about licensing rules and sleeping while children are in attendance seems to hold me back from napping during the day.  :-)

Hope you have had a lovely week.