Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A is for Animals

Interesting morning!  Goes to prove that, as a teacher, we must be flexible!  We didn't even touch one activity we had planned but we did activities that weren't planned today because that's just how the interest and conversation went.  So though we didn't do everything...it was still a profitable morning!  Maybe even more profitable that if we had just done what was planned.  :-)

A few activities we enjoyed:
Cloud Dough Exploration
This was something I had come across on Pinterest.  The original website was
8 C. of flour to 1 C. of baby oil.  Mix well with your hands.

My thoughts toward Cloud Dough...
*  Something we'd do again, yes.
*  Messy, yes.  But a clean messy.  Meaning, the flour gets all over but it cleans up easily.  I think playing with it in a sensory table vs. at the floor level would lead to a little less mess.  But if I was large center based, I would encourage the use of smocks!  We changed clothing for the two youngest. 
*  Makes your room smell lovely and your hands soft.
*  We used one batch with two people but really, I'd probably use one batch for one person next time. 
*  Next time, we'll play with it using spoons, cups, and other kitchen supplies.  The safari animals are always fun in sensory material but doesn't lead to the molding that could be done. 
*  All age groups would enjoy.

Our focus letter this week is A.  These past few weeks have been I, J and now A.  All three of these letters begin in the center vs. in the upper left hand corner. 
This was a very simple activity that they loved!  Remember that it's not necessary to always have "new" activities and sometimes the simpler, the better!  I did have a capital A lightly drawn on the page.  We talked about how it started in the center and that's where they put their first sticker.  They then put stickers on as they would write the letter.  Great conversation with the variety of animal stickers that were available!  (The white A was T.'s-2.5 years old. Shows a bit of his personality.  Very orderly.  He loved this activity.  However, keep in mind that many 2 year olds would just put the stickers anywhere on the page, and that is okay.)

There Was an Old Lady is always a favorite . So many variations out there now also!
This CD, book, and flannel set came from Lakeshore Learning.  Stories like these lead to retellings pretty easily. 

They had noticed with There Was an Old Lady that those animals we would find at the farm. This led directly into creating a venn diagram about farm and zoo animals.  I should have started with those flannel pieces because we did talk about how we'd find a fly, spider, and bird at the zoo...not just at the farm.  :-)

When doing Venn Diagrams...remember to think from their perspective and what their experiences might be.  They put a horse and chicken in the middle of the two circles.  Why?  Because our local zoo has those.  :-)  I'm surprised they didn't put a cow there also since our local zoo have cows also.  It's more on the petting zoo type of zoo.   The bottom right picture shows a bit of disorganization.  That is because this was not a planned activity.  :-D  They handled the disorganization fine but it's not how I would have done the activity if I had planned it.  We got talking about where those zoo animals would have lived if they weren't at the zoo...which leads to conversation about habitats which leads to Ms. Amber scrounging for a visual of habitats which leads to them getting all excited and wanting to match the pictures to the habitats.  LOL  So instead of their normal World World segment as I get lunch together...they worked with habitats and animals.  :-P  Can't complain!

And...we even got a good 30+ minutes outside today.  Been an interesting winter and there have been more than desired days that we were inside for whatever the reason.

Monday, February 27, 2012

J is for Jungle and A is for Animals

Last week we had a snow day so our J activities got cut short a bit.  So, Monday we started with Jungle Animals to connect the two letters. 
We started out by looking at the two books Walking Through the Jungle by Julie Lacome and We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs.  Both of these books are very rhythmical and well liked!  My main goal was to lead them to see that some of the animals were similar but the habitat was different.  A jungle was more of a rain forest type habitat and safari was more of a savanna type habitat.  I did not bring out the Venn diagram today.  That's coming out later in the week.  :-)  If your children are interested...you may wish to go into the difference between a rain forest and a jungle!  :-D  And you may wish to mention that really the lion isn't the "king of the jungle".  Something we found out this morning.  Lions like the wide open grasslands and do not spend much time in areas where there are a lot of trees.  However, maybe a jaguar (part of the cat family) would be considered the king of the jungle.   With older kids, you could really get into this theme and learn a lot of cool facts---a lot of cross-curricular could be slipped in!  With preschoolers, best to keep it simple.  (Though, my mind is already roaming with how I could use this topic to teach my school-age students next year!  Could turn into quite a project!)

Weekly Reader
We don't subscribe but I do save my boys' for future use (this particular one was from 2006) and I've had a few freebies come my way.  So this ran with our new found knowledge about the "king of the jungle".  :-)  I hadn't planned to use this today but decided this would be about perfect.  Added pipe cleaner snip its to find the words "some" and "are" since those are the repeated words.  Then when she rereads it without me, she has an easier time of it.  I suggest use of wikki stix also.  They don't move as easily as pipe cleaners.  :-)

Hundreds Chart
This day it was only K. so I pulled out a hundreds chart again.  This color coded hundreds chart came from http://fun-in-first.blogspot.com/2011/02/colored-number-grid.html.  She loves her 10-100 song that we've learned and so she took a colored chip and moved it down the column as she sang the song.  We moved the chip around the hundreds chart as we "recounted" our number of days sticks.  We had used our counting sticks as we normally due, counting by 1s, making buddies and seeing if it was odd/even, comparing to each others (more, less, equal), counting by 2s.  But today we used our counting sticks like tallies and counted by 5s also. 
 Showing that on the hundreds chart was good!  After exploring with that hundreds chart we did a hands-on "what comes before and what comes after" number activity working with jungle animal minis with numbers (http://www.sparklebox.co.uk/) to form a numberline from 1-20.  This was more difficult than I expected for her.  She really had a difficult time with the "before".  Using the term "after" seemed relatively easy but using the term "before" was not.  So we'll work on that.  She's really taken to the hundreds chart and really doesn't seem as overwhelmed with all those numbers as I thought she'd be.  She really has taken a liking to it.  She remembered many of our number chart patterns that I introduced last week!
Letter Sort
This "file folder activity" is visually appealing.  This printable has tall letters, short letters, monkey tail letters and loop letters.  The loop letters has a picture of a snake...which goes with many short/turtle letters.  Just a bit confusing for preschoolers.  Adding that "loop" category would make a nice venn diagram though.   Might just do that!  So I put a piece of paper over the loop and we just sorted by tall/giraffe, short/turtle, and tail/monkey letters.

Shades of Green Jungle 
This art activity really led to some great conversation.  First off, we had noticed the various shades of green in our book that we read.  Then we revisited how we make light and dark colors. 
So she made light green and dark green and we had regular green paint.  We used white with a bit of green, and green with a bit of brown to make the lighter and darker shades.  Then we used a J sponge to make our "jungle" with the shades of green.  Added stickers and voila! a simple art and fine motor activity!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I is for Instruments

A lovely site:  http://www.dsokids.com  I especially like the Listen Tab- we can listen by instrument or composer and read about the instrument or composer.  We did so as we looked through our number instrument pictures.
Numbers Chart
http://www.sparklebox.co.uk/ for the instrument pictures.  I printed them smaller to save paper, ink, and laminate.
In elementary, they use a hundreds chart.  I personally think that is too overwhelming for most preschoolers.  But I do see the benefit of introducing and working a bit with a number chart.  Once a child sees the patterns...it's a lot easier to count in the higher numbers and to recognize those higher numbers.  So today, we looked at a hundreds chart (and she noticed the 10, 20, 30 and sang our song to one hundred) but then made our own out of the number instruments, but only up to 50.   She did great and I was pleased with where the conversation went and what patterns she noticed. 

Musical Numbers
These xylophone number cards are from her Letter of the Week "Curriculum".  I printed them smaller and we used them with various instruments.  They stated the number and then shook, tapped, etc whatever instrument they chose.  A very simple activity but it is well liked.  This would be a lovely transition activity for a larger preschool group.  I suggest that you keep the cymbals OUT of the choice of instruments as there will be complaints from other students or your own ears will complain! 

The Remarkable Farkle McBride
This is one of those books where we have the conversation that "This is a fiction book and would it really be okay to behave like he did?  No, and what could he have done differently."  However, it is a very humorous book and it has a bit of onomatopoeia and goes through some of the various instrument families ending with Farkle McBride being the conductor of an orchestra.  I haven't found one child who does not like this book and though I would recommend it for PreK or older children, most any age (including my 2.5 year old) stays interested throughout the book.  Must have been all the onomatopoeia's.  :-)
Not the greatest picture.  Sorry, we used the black and white mini book.  A World of Music, each page shows another continent with an instrument that originated from there.  Neat!  Great conversation.  I did want to put a plug in for www.kidssoup.com.  They have SO many resources.  It's so worth the membership fee.  I also have the ABC Twiggles membership but I don't think I'll keep that membership up but I do think the KidsSoup membership is worth it.  It is the one site that I actually pay a membership for and am glad that I do.  Perfect for preschool teachers or homeschooling moms! 

Before we did this book we used the globe and sang the following song
to the tune of "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands."

We've got the whole world, in our hands.
We've got the whole world, in our hands.
We've got the whole world, in our hands.
We've got the whole world in our hands.

We've got North and South America in our hands.
We've got Europe and Asia in our hands.
We've got Africa and Australia in our hands.
We've got the whole world in our hands.

When we did this song with the Head Start program, we used an inflatable globe and passed the ball around during the first verse and worked it so that an adult was at the second verse.  (We got good at that too!).  Then the teacher would point to the continents during that second verse.  :-)  I think this was off the Dr. Jean CD.  I really do not know for sure though.  Today, by the time we were done with our lesson about world instruments and the world in general...we sang the song about four times and she had the first verse down and could fill in most of my pauses for the continent names.

I Vocab Cards
Vocabulary cards were from www.abctwiggles.com. 
K. chose a word from our I Vocab Card selection, built the word with Scrabble tiles, calculated how many points the word equaled, and wrote the word in it's section.  When we were done, she put them in order on our wall from smallest amount of points to largest. 
*  There are various Read, Build, Write mats available on the web.  Since we were adding numbers and were going to need to see all the numbers together, I chose to just use our old dry erase lapboard.  :-) 
*  The calculator definitely added interest and it reinforced the + and = signs.
*  Veggie container works nicely to keep the tiles contained and orderly.  I choose to put the letters for each word together and she had to "unscramble" them to build it.  It takes too long for her to find all the letters from just a pile and she loses interest fast.  So if you don't want to separate all your letter manipulatives for each word, then please organize them in alphabetical order for your child.  Otherwise it really won't be a success (speaking from experience) and do plan on the activity taking longer that way!

Just a side note here about what I was able to observe that you all can't see with just pictures.  K.'s first word and second words written were pretty wibble wobbly.  They are usually with dry erase markers anyway...but definitely more than normal.  So I brought her attention to how she was holding the marker.  Then she corrected and went on with more confident strokes.  When she noticed a wibble again she corrected on her own...yippee!  Also, lately I've been encouraging her to notice how much space she has to write her words, bringing her attention to lines and so forth.  You can kind of see it in the top right word "iguana".  She started out really big and then said to me, "Oh, I need to write small."  She noticed it on her own!  Okay...big smiles from this teacher!  And, of course, this was perfect to reinforce short and long I sounds.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I is for ice and igloo and other misc. items!

First off I would like to share our new "keeping healthy" process for outside.  :-) 
This has been floating around Pinterest.  What a great idea!  Have the tissue and trash right there!  Use double sided tape or hot glue to attach two boxes of tissue to each other.  Then rubberband together for additional support.  I created a visual to put on the front for my preschoolers.  I plan on laminating the label and attaching with sticky tac so that it can be reused.  I imagine that the boxes will need to be replaced eventually.  :-)  Someone had the thought of attaching a small bottle of sanitizer...I like that idea also, but I have a large one that needs to be used up.  I might create a little "box" on the side for a small pump bottle sanitizer in the future so that it's all one piece for easy transferring.

I is for Igloo
A great fine motor/scissors activity.  Reinforce upper and lowercase letter I.

I is for Ice Transfer
I loved what I heard from T.- 2.5 yrs old as he was transferring (pic on right).  A few of the crushed ice pieces were too big for that bottle he was using and he'd say "too big".  "Here small one."  Then after a couple of too big ones he started looking in his bowl and saying out loud whether it would fit or not.  This age is great!  They are transitioning from toddler to preschool behaviors.  :-) 

A Word about Puzzles
We had a puzzle day over the weekend.  Recently I found some puzzles on sale...then 2 more boxes on clearance at another store and that same week one of Donnie's coworkers gave him a box of 4-100 piece puzzles for the boys.  So!  :-)  I love puzzles and wish I had a space in my house to keep one up all the time.  A large one at the kitchen table really doesn't work well.  Cuts our workspace for daily activities in half and messes up our supper routine.  :-D  Well, some day maybe I'll have a puzzle table we can keep a puzzle going without getting in our way! 
Anyway...we have a ton of puzzles...from wooden knob puzzles, to foam puzzles to 4 piece+ jigsaws.  One thing we do with jigsaws is to flip them over at the end of the first time putting them together and writing a couple letters or a symbol on each piece to represent the puzzle title.  That way when a piece gets left out on the floor (which it will!) then we better know where they go.  It's wise to label the box with the corresponding symbol.  A word about puzzles and preschoolers...give them a chance!  I have a set of 12 piece alphabet puzzles that we work with frequently but seeing a preschooler capable of a 24 piece jigsaw is not uncommon.  :-)  Here's one we did today...
Color Wheel
Yesterday, we did the 12 piece Letter I puzzle so today I pulled out a 24 piece color wheel puzzle we got at a dollar store (they aren't always the best quality coming from the dollar store but this one wasn't bad!).  This was to reinforce the cool colors vs. warm colors lesson we had yesterday.  They did well working together.  One reminding them that "That can't go there it's has a straight part."  and another reminding "We need to look for the same colors."

Toddler Color Sorting
I find that having "tray work" out for Mr. T. here really helps our morning go successfully.  There are activities he's just not ready for or doesn't spend as much time with so having a variety of trays out for him to work with independently is very beneficial.  And since there is a big possibility we'll be homeschooling next school year...I wish for him to get accustomed to independent tray work.  Use one tray at a time, putting the tray back, etc.  Here I provided a variety of colorful items.  I placed one item in each section of the tray and he sorted the rest of them.  After he got over the fact that it was sort by object vs. sort by color...this activity really appealed to his natural sense of order.  :-)

Puzzles and Toddlers
Since we are on the subject of puzzles and toddlers...
These types of puzzles are great vocabulary builders.  He was manipulating/playing with the puzzle pieces and he'd show me one and I'd sing a little song to go with it.  Kind of like Old MacDonald's Farm.  Oh the simple things like adding a song.  :-P  They love it and it's very beneficial!

Monday, February 20, 2012

I is for igloo

I decided to read Jan Brett's The Three Snow Bears today to go along with our I is for igloo theme.  Cute book, I love the illustrations best.  The endings of these retakes of the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears tend to leave me hanging a bit.  I don't always agree with how they end.  :-)  Still a worthwhile read!

I simply scanned images from the book that went along to create a retelling activity.

Long I-Short I
A very simple activity to create.  :-) 
I folded two pieces of l2x18 white construction paper in half (together), cut the basic igloo shape, cut the top layer on the fold to make "doors", stapled the two igloos together, and added the few details there were.  K. cut out the Long I-Short I pictures.  She glued the labels in the igloo and then glued the pictures on the correct side of the igloo.  The short /i/ sound is a bit difficult for her to remember yet.  She gets it confused with short /e/, understandably.  So we've been doing quite a bit with short vowel sounds the last little while.  The Long and Short Vowel sort pages can be found at http://firstgradealacarte.blogspot.com/2011/11/e-i-o-u-sorts.html

Measuring Igloos

We've done quite a bit with nonstandard measurement and using a ruler such as this (Print Shop) helps the children to transition from nonstardard measurement to "real" measuring with a rule.  After estimating how many penguins wide each igloo was, she measured with the ruler and seriated.  Then she was welcome to take the ruler around to measure other things she could find.  (If I hadn't created this activity BEFORE I had decided what book I was doing...I would have used polar bears instead of penguins.  :-p)

Cool Colors Painting
A nice open ended art activity-painting on aluminum foil.  I cover a piece of cardboard (cereal box cardboard works great) with aluminum foil and tape at the back.  When we paint on aluminum foil, I add dishsoap...this helps the paint stick to the foil and not flake quite as much.  Also gives it a shiny, smooth look, at least while they are painting with it.  :-) 
We've been talking a bit about seasons the last few weeks and so we started this activity reminding ourselves what a color wheel looks like.  (There are many different types of color wheels.  I like to use the simple six color color wheel with preschoolers.)  I cut the wheel in half, in front of the children, keeping one half warm colors and one half cool colors.  Then we talked about what each half reminded us of.  Summer colors or winter colors.  Worked perfectly!  Led right into the discussion of the warm and cool colors and how where there are igloos it's "winter-y" feeling out...cold...cool.  So I provided the cool colors- blue, green, and purple- for them to paint with.  Just to encourage noticing detail and conversation I gave K. a small, medium and large paintbrush.  :-)  She loved that little one!

Sugar Cube Exploration
Decided to have my husband pick up sugar cubes for this week as it is similar to blocks of ice/snow that would have been used for igloos.  They built with them for a bit.
Then I gave them colored water and eye droppers.  :-)  K. kept telling me, "It's going down!"  "It's timbering!" (My personal favorite.), "Oh, Ms. Amber...remember when we did D is for Dissolve?"  BINGO! 

Will let these be all for now.  Will share what we did with our I vocab cards in another blog.  Hope you have a lovely week! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart Math

So since it's Valentine's Day...we're a digressing and doing a bit more with hearts.  :-)  We are also doing most of our activities "together" to encourage sharing and conversation about friendship.

A few of our math activities we did today...
Number Line Addition/Subtraction
I believe I've already posted a similar activity we did recently.  There was some changes I wanted to do with it to make it more helpful to the children so we did it again and yes, it was more helpful.  One of the changes was to put them on the same side of a number line (instead of having them face each other).  Today we shared a number line because we did quite a few "sharing" activities today as it was Valentine's Day.
The sharing led to "closer quarters" and I love this picture!  We had done a few addition and subtraction facts together and I had stepped back out of the conversation to see if they really understood what we were doing.  Here they were discussing what number they needed to start with.  :-)

Odd/Even Number Exploration
I like to provide various ways of looking at concepts.  Truthfully, my students have already picked up odd and even number concept by our daily calendar activity using craft sticks. 
One child passes out the craft sticks (ie: today is the 14th so they are passing sticks to the rest of us and then add as many as they need to get to 14), we set them out in front of us in a row and then buddy them up.  They know that if all their sticks have a buddy than it's even, but if one is left without a buddy it's an odd number.   We also take the time to talk about who has more/less or equal number of sticks and K. has been in the habit of counting her sticks by two's when she has quite a few at the end of the month.

Today, we just simply used heart beads and pipe cleaners to show that connection. 
A closer up of one of the children's numerals.
The extra fine motor component of putting small beads on small pipe cleaners is a plus also!

Pattern Crowns
:-) I love K.'s expression...she had just dropped her purple play doh on the floor. 
Hard to see their actual patterns so...
H. is a young 4 yet and so he was encouraged to an ABAB pattern.  I wouldn't say it's mastered completely yet but he did do this ABAB mostly on his own once he got started.  I say that it's not mastered yet because he can copy and extend but he doesn't truly recognize a pattern on it's own and usually he needs help in getting a pattern started.  K. is 5 yrs. now and I told her she could create any pattern but it could NOT be an ABAB pattern.  It's hard to see her's but she did an ABBC pattern! 
Our pattern pieces are simply cut from  Valentine gift wrap from the dollar store!  I love these cheap veggie/dip containers.  I have a bunch but use the black one the most because it's more appealing visually.  Allows for the children to see all their materials in a somewhat organized fashion.  Actually, I find that they use more of a variety when offered like this vs. all sorts of materials mixed together (which, yes, I've seen some teachers do-goes along with my toy box philosophy!  :-D). 

Hope you all are having a great week.  This week looks like it's going to be a short week again.  Was hoping to get I and J together in one week but since we had Valentine's day, Friday is a day off of school, and both preschool children have appointments this week.  So we'll change up our plans.  :-D