Friday, April 13, 2012


Various activities from this past week.
Flower Bead Sorting
A great "practical life" activity.
The variety of materials you can put in with the flour and sift is endless so you can make it theme related very easily!

Flower Shop
One aspect of a home-based preschool that I struggle with is that many of us are unable to do the typical 'centers' that a center-based program can do unless you have a space separate in your home or are wiling to give up the "home-like" environment.  We do not and nor are we willing to give up the home-like environment (I say "we" because home-based child care/preschool effects the whole family).  So dramatic play is often provided in a tub of thematic materials and the children seem to have no issue with making it work for them.  It's really more me that prefers the 'center approach' to preschool...specifically wishing for a designated larger area for dramatic play.  But so be it.  When we do the flower shop we have the various materials for a shop available but also incorporate the piano bench and the puppet stage.  Oh, the puppet stage gets used in so many different ways.  :-D  The kids can be pretty creative.  I guess that's one benefit to having a dramatic play tub route vs. a center is that their play becomes very imaginative and that's a plus!
Basic materials we've used...
seed packets
Styrofoam for arranging
small watering cans
phone/phone book
cash registers
paper and pencils
dress up clothes

Calendar Wall
I took down a lot of our posters and such that we had accumulated over the past couple months.  It was getting to be a very busy wall!  So the materials we use frequently I put in a plastic dish tub nearby: month poster, counting sticks, Handwriting Without Tears Materials, and of course the weather symbols, crayons, pointers, individual calendars, etc.  So that left the visual schedule, weather mat, and calendar.  In it's place I put up flowers that focused on the vowels and a few basic word families to reinforce word families and rhyming.  Color and shapes are back up with the butterflies for T. who knows his colors but not all of his shapes.  A caterpillar that counts by 10s was added also.  A pattern sun as well.  They really got excited to see the changes.  So thought I'd just remind you again that if you are one who puts up displays and leaves them all year (or posters for your children)...consider rotating them.  I find that my kiddos often stop interacting with a display after it's been up about 3 weeks.  So about a month is a good time to switch them out and jump start that interaction again.

Blot Flowers
The process of this type of activity is awesome.  If you are T., one downfall is that it's least if you do it the way Ms. Amber/Mom shows you how to do it.  LOL  I encourage the use of a LOT of paint.  I had some leftover paper flower shapes from last year and so I simply folded them in half and reopened them and provided various colors of paint and brushes.  The children brushed paint on the flower, folded them shut and pressed...which if you have a lot of paint it squishes out the sides.  But that's fine!  They can paint anywhere on their flower, I do not encourage them to paint only one side and then press.  The results just aren't as bold and no matter where they paint, they'll get a symmetrical result.
Accordion Folded Spring Flower Collage
I was going to simply have them create a vase of flowers but this week I was inspired by Make and Takes and I cut a cereal box in half and provided a "buffet of stems" as she suggested.

Window Box Seriation
These turned out a little different than I first planned but to add the seriation from small to tall in there I had to change my plans from foam flowers and craft sticks stems to paper flowers and stems.  I initially thought that I would write the color word directly on the stem but that would have only worked if they had used a red flower for the small stem and since I gave them a choice we just wrote the word under the flower on the window box.
Simply fold a 9x12 piece of construction paper in half and trim to make your window box shape.  Provide various size paper stems and a selection of flowers.  Children glue the flowers to the end of the stem.  Open up the window box paper and glue to the top inside of the window box.  Then they add glue to the perimeter of the window box and fold and press to complete.
With this youngster, we worked on color recognition and counting to 5 instead of seriation. 
Parts of a Flower Painting
inspired by Teach Preschool
I had hot glued a small pom pom toward the bottom of the paper to represent a seed.  Then they were given brown and green paint and their choice of colors for the flower.  After they painted, they labeled the parts.  Today I chose to let them copy the word and I found that using the spiral bound index cards work quite nicely!

Dot Flowers
I picked up some colored sticky dots for dot flowers this last week. Great fine motor activity with the sticky dots and markers.
Later when my boys came home they spent a few minutes with the dots also to add to the flower shop.  :-)  Not sure if you can see it but the 6 year old created a lady bug (picture on the right) and on his flower he has black dots...which are aphids!  LOL

While on the subject, this is another way I used the dots this week.  I placed a dot on a child's right hand to help him remember which hand to use.

Encourage crossing the midline.  Note: he's turning his body vs. crossing over.
Continuing to encourage crossing the midline.   Getting use to it now after some instruction. 
Encouraging the use of right hand.*
* I do not usually emphasize one hand or another with toddlers and preschoolers. In this situation I'm choosing to.
Just a little info on crossing the midline and hand dominance.
When a child does not cross their midline, the child will equally use both hands. It's might be considered a great thing to be able to use both hands but what usually happens is that the child develops two mediocre hands vs. a strong dominant...specialized for writing hand. Studies have shown that these students have poor handwriting all through their schooling. So therefore, when I plan activities, I'm often incorporating the crossing the midline skill or setting up their work so that they have ample opportunities to experience that movement.

Phonological Awareness: Word Chunks/Syllables
On our flower pots I placed a piece of tape labeled with the numbers 2-3-4.  Then I pulled out some of the seed packets from the Flower Shop and we clapped out the names and tossed a bean bag into the appropriate pot as well as placing that seed packet near the pot.  They enjoyed this simple activity...anything that gets the moving is well-liked!

Flower Arranging
This is always a favorite and so I usually bring it out when it fits into our plans.  Those little glass vases are pretty durable.  I purchased them at Wal-Mart.

Clothespin Flowers
Can't say these are the prettiest flowers I ever have seen :-) but they fit the bill for what we needed.  This was mainly for T., our toddler.  The older children did seem to enjoy it and worked a bit more with patterning.  Clothespin work is always great for fine motor.  I thought I'd be able to find another set of clothespins at the dollar store so we could sort by type of clothespins but they didn't have any but the wooden ones.  Can you believe it?  For awhile they had so many different types of clothespins! 

And while we are on the topic of sorting...
This is from The Mailbox.  They have theme kits now and so when I had a certificate I purchased a couple to see what they were all about.  This particular activity was in the bugs and garden theme kit.  I put this up in our entrance way and each day before we went outside we sorted by a different characteristic.  I love that about this activity!  We can sort it by size, color, type of flower, insect and by how many leaves!  Awesome for learning that we can sort by different characteristics.  That is one thing most preschoolers seem to struggle with...coming up with more than one say to sort a set.  :-)  So the question of the week this week was..."Can you see another way we can sort these?"  In this particular picture they had sorted by bugs...bees, ants and ladybugs.

Color Matching Flowers
I'm pretty sure I posted this activity before.  But in case I haven't...this is a very simple activity that works with fine motor skills, color recognition, and in this case, color words for K.  The flower pattern came from a Mailbox publication I believe and I simply colored the flowers and added pompoms.  For  younger children, color code the words for older children, keep them black. 

Foil Flowers
Permanent markers (these were a clearance sale metallic...beautiful!) are a great writing tool for foil.   These are 12x18 pieces of construction paper with a flower cut out of one side.  They colored the foil and we taped it to the inside of the paper, glued the other half and folded over.  They looked pretty plain and K. had the idea of putting flowers on them so that's what we did.  They arranged and I hot glued.
And since one should not waste paper....  :-)
The children told me things about themselves to write on their flowers with those lovely metallic permanent markers.  :-)

Silent E Makes a Long Vowel
K. and I have been working a lot with vowel sounds and how that often when there is an e at the end of a word, it makes the previous vowel long.  She knows this rule but often does not look ahead in the word before she starts sounding out the word.  This was a simple but helpful activity to get her to look ahead and find out whether the vowel will be long or short.  I chose the clipart from Print Shop and on one flower typed cvc/short a sounds.  And on the other flower I put the word with the silent e to make it into a new word.  So, cap/cape, at/ate, van/vane, etc.  I simply cut off the petals and she glued them back on after reading the words.  I do have this document that can easily be shared if you wish for it.  Just leave a comment or send me a message.  Same for the next activity...

Ways to Make 6
Decomposing Numbers
She really enjoyed this.  It's a bit further than what I normal do with PreK students but this is an example of taking a child a step further than where they are.  She picked up the pattern that the purple was going down and the red was going up in the numbers at the third set and she thought that was very cool.  :-D  She had chose purple and red stamp pad so I found purple and red buttons to use and we used those buttons to create a hands-on component to this activity.  She made the circles with a pencil eraser and since this was our last activity of the morning and she was ready to be done I finished it up by adding simple petals to make flowers.  When doing a step for the child...just remember to ask for permission first.  It IS their work and they have the right to choose whether they want the "finishing look" or not.  :-)

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