Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baby Chicks in a Nest

I made one of these this morning to put out at center time, and before I knew it, the kids all wanted to make one. They turned out really cute, and were a great sensory activity.  They got to shape the straw in a circular shape before gluing it into a rolled paper bag. I had a bunch of these bags already with the tops cut off, so we used those and just folded them down a little. They popped a pom pom in the middle and added googly eyes and a scrap of construction paper for a beak! Easy peasy! The friends had a lot of fun making these.

This would go great with Deborah Stewart's "Three Little Birds" song. We'll definitely be singing it tomorrow!

You should definitely check out more of Deborah's songs at Little Fingers That Play!
Sunday, March 28, 2010

Paper Lunch Sack Lift the Flap Book

I was telling a friend how to make one of these and realized it was easier to make it and post it than it was to describe how.

Take several paper lunch sack and stack sideways with the flaps all facing up on the same side. Staple or bind the open ends of the sacks together.Write whatever text you'd like and be sure to use the flap!

 Add text and illustrations to the rest of the lunch sacks. My book stops at 7 because the foam stickers I was using had guns as the other three shapes and I didn't want to put them in the book.

Wee World Update

The boys planning their strategy. 

Thought it was time for a Wee World update. After my last post on St. Patrick's Day, the kids started to leave Wee World. A few would visit here and there, but they kind of felt like their job was done. One or two friends played there the remaining couple of days that week.

This week, I decided we needed something to develop some sort of new interest. I got a small basket of burger joint toys, and some old people figures we had in blocks. When we took them out, the kids had a blast using the figures for imaginative play. This was exactly what I had hoped for when we got this going. The neat thing is that they can be a little more boisterous that they are able to in the classroom. I hope this type of play will continue for a long, long time!

 Planning a secret bee attack!

 "You be the Mommy and I'll be the Grandma......"

I think they are really enjoying exploring new possibilities in Wee World. It has become very interactive. I got a new notepad this weekend for all the wonderful anecdotal notes I'm sure to get next week. (I know, always trying to work the assessment in somewhere!)

Thank you again, Teacher Tom. Without your wonderful idea and all your inspiring Little World posts, I would not be able to see all this wonderful learning in action!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Class Pets.......Beasts of Burden?

When we started our year, I struggled to come up with 2 living things that our class could care for. I am not good with plants, so I dismissed the idea of a plant right off the bat. Last year, the class had hamsters, but the upkeep and and the cost of bedding, etc. was more than I wanted to take on this year. Years ago, I had a fire bellied newt that we kept in our home for a friend for about 8 months. I really wanted to get one for my class, but no one here in town carried them, in in Pre-K, you've got to be able to replace it on a minute's notice. I finally decided on aquatic frogs. The plan was for something that the kids could do most of the care for. I was told that they were not as dirty as most fish, so we went with it.

I got two and when school started, we named them. I had them at home for about a week before taking them to school and our family came up with all kinds of cute names linked to frog stories and characters. I thought surely "Kermit" or "Froggy" (from the Froggy book series) would surely be one of the names. WRONG!
In short order, our frogs were named Superman and Ariel!

My assistant teacher had hermit crabs at home that she offered to bring to share with our class. The kids love them! We take them out to the playground and let them play in the sandbox (with teacher supervision).

They have molted and the friends thought that was fascinating to watch! The great thing about the hernit crabs is the are travel safe, so the kids can sign up to take them home on weekends. We send them home in this great travel tank that even monitors the humidity! (It also belongs to my assistant.)

The frogs have been fun to watch and the kids have loved them, but we've had our share of trials and tribulations. One of our parents donated a large fish tank that we were keeping them in. We had a lot of problems keeping the tank clean. It seemed to need a lot more upkeep than I had planned. When the weather got cold, we had to consider a tank heater. I found out that there was one with the tank supplies that were donated. Then, one frog friend "went to be with his froggy mama". (We released a turtle earlier this year and told the kids he needed to be with his turtle mama, so when one of the kids suggested this was where the frog had gone, I just went with it. I know, I'm a coward! I just would rather not start an ordeal where there's not one already. I vow to do better......next time. :)

I didn't realize that the heater had to be fully immersed in water and the cord only allowed it to hang from the top of the tank. Our tank was only half full of water (they didn't need that much). One early morning before anyone else was there, I was trying to clean the tank a little and the heater apparently touched the edge of the tank and exploded. The hiss and sizzle of electricity scared me half to death! This was right before Christmas break, so I brought home "Frog Friend" for the vacation to keep him warm. Over the vacation, I found this cute little corner tank for $9 at Walmart...everything included!  I found cute little lily pads that even float on the top!

When school started back, I bought another frog and added him to the tank, but he only lasted about 2 weeks. I felt really guilty about the large donated tank and decided I would make a terrarium out of it. Maybe if the plants need VERY LITTLE care, I could manage to keep them alive. While I had good intentions, I couldn't seem to get going. I finally got the tank fully cleaned---we had rainy weather and I had to wash it outside. I did research and found that there were some specialty supplies needed, like aquarium charcoal, so that took a while for me to get. After several weeks of procrastination, I finally got the terrarium started last week.  First, we layed each layer: gravel, charcoal, moss, soil, moss. Luckily, we have lots of spaghnum moss growing naturally outside, so I didn't have to buy that.

When we went on our pet store field trip earlier in the fall, I saw lots of cute little terrarium plants that needed very little care. After that, I saw terrarium plants everywhere. That was one of the main reasons I decided to try this. I went out this weekend to get plants and nobody had any! Ugggghhhh! I bought the last three I could find and found another plant that was a little bigger, but thought it might work. We planted them this week.

Our finished terrarium turned out nice. I'm sure we'll add to it as we go, but it is a relief to finally have it done!

I noticed our frog tank was getting yucky and I REALLY didn't want to do the whole tank cleaning thing as often, so I did some research and read that snails would do the trick. I told the kids we would be adding snails to the tank. When we went to play outside, inevitably, the friends found a snail. "Can we keep him? We could put him in our tank!" I quickly made a judgment call to put him in a little habitat in our science center until we found out if he would survive the environment change.

That night, I checked the internet and found that land snails and aquatic snails are two different species!
I did go out and I got a couple of aquatic snails.

( I wish I had taken another picture today~ the tank doesn't have any green algae on the flowers or glass anymore!)

In almost two short days, our tank is almost spotless! The little suckers (pun intended) have done an amazing job. Considering all I wanted was 2 hassle free living things for my classroom, this has been quite the ordeal. I hope we are done for the year! I can't take any more pet drama! : )
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Honest Scrap

I received this award from Deborah Stewart who has 

Teach PreschoolLittle Fingers That Play and Excellence In Early Childhood Education

I am a fan on her Facebook page, where she fosters an amazing community of teachers sharing with each other. 

Deborah selected the following recipients:

"Teacher Tom, Matt Halpern, Scott Wiley,  Danny Chiu - because they are all guys doing amazing work with young children and I think their blogs are super cool!
And for the girls….
Shara Lawrence Weiss, Marcy Fox, Ayn Colsh, Vanessa Levin, Karen Nemeth – because they are amazing early childhood educators and bloggers that go out of their way to support everything I do!" 

I can't believe I have been included in such prestigious company. These are ALL awesome bloggers and I value their contributions to our profession.  I am learning so much each day by connecting with the awesome folks in this community. A BIG thank you to Deborah, who shares selflessly,and brings us all together! Deborah, YOU ROCK!!!


The rules for accepting the award are…

“You have to first list 10 honest things about yourself (and make them interesting), and second — present the award to seven other bloggers.”

Okay, so here goes....

1. I have issues with wet wood (unfinished). This is a big joke with my family~ there are many, many jokes made about my aversion to wet wood. I even broke my toe a few years ago when my brother chased me around the kitchen with a wet wooden spoon!

2. I have a very large family. (VERY LARGE!) I have a brother and 5+ sisters (15 nieces and nephews) .....and we all get along!! We rent a really big house each summer and all vacation together!

3. When I first started working with children, I was told I would never cut it in the classroom.(But I'm still here!)

4. When I first met a few of my students from this year, almost two years ago, they really thought I was Rapunzel. Two or three still mention it occasionally. (I have long, red hair.... go figure!)

5. I don't tell my husband or my children who I vote for .... EVER!  I'm not generally a political person. I do have strong political feelings about some things, but I keep them very private.

6. I love crafts, but have very, very little natural talent. It's sad, really.  :(

7. I LOVE BASEBALL !!!! I don't necessarily follow the statistics of the game, but I love the game itself. I'll watch anything, any team from little league to MLB, I'll even listen to it on the radio! My favorite Mother's Day gift of all time was when my husband got box seats for a Braves game and arranged childcare for the kids. Go BRAVES!!!!

8. I am still  a rocker at heart. I may not be able to tolerate the noise level of a rock concert every night, but every once in a while, I can still let loose!

 9. I collect children's literature. Our living room is packed with bookcase upon bookcase filled with children's books. Finding a new one that I haven't heard before is a treat!

10. Although I can't sing, I was recently told that I am known as "the music lady" at our preschool. I play a lot of music and have a wide variety on hand usually.

Now, for the seven bloggers who I want to share this award with…

teach mama
Getting Messy With Ms. Jessi
Irresistable Ideas for Play Based Learning
Kat's World
miller moments
Inspiration Surrounds...Creativity Abounds
Once Upon A Day In Preschool

Of course, some of my favorites were listed with Deborah's, so I didn't name anyone she listed. This gave me the opportunity to share seven of the blogs I visit regularly and thank them for all they share!  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wild, Wild West

Earlier this year, one of our neighboring classes had a "Western Day". As they paraded around our school, several of my kids wanted to know when our western theme would be. I realized that our calendar was planned for the year, and I hadn't planned a western week this year. The kids asked again, so I thought I would take another look at our calendar. The only week I thought I could change was the following week. I knew that it would be a fun theme, but I finally had my lesson plans for the week finished early. I ended up deciding to just scrap the week I'd planned, and see what I could come up with. The week went well and we took lots of pictures.

When I was asked the other day for some good activities to do for a western theme, I decided to go through some of the pictures and realized somehow most of them had been deleted. I thought I'd share some of the activities we did that week before any other shots were gone or I forgot the ideas completely!

Family Involvement Activity
I sent a construction paper boot home with each child and asked them to decorate it with their families. They were allowed to use any adornments they chose. The boots turned out really cute and the families were very creative!

Draw A Cowboy
I gave the students die cuts of hats and boots to glue to the top and bottom of a page. I then asked them to draw a cowboy in between!

Decorate A Catcus
Die cuts of cacti were available in the art center. Many of the kids decorated with collage materials. (I also had hay in the art center that week. It made nice "thorns"!)

Country Music and Square Dancing

 My friends love to dance! Here are a few the hit the top of the Billboard in our class:

These Boots Are Made for Walking
Cotton Eyed Joe
Rocky Top
Thank God I'm A Country Boy
Oh, Susannah
She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain
Home On The Range

Math and Language Arts Activities

Roll 'Em, Round 'Em, Corral 'Em
This was a fun math activity I made up. We used farm animals and rolled the dice and put that many animals  in our corral. When all the animals were corralled, we took turns counting all the animals in each corral together. "Who had the most? The least? More horses? More cows?" There are lots of possibilities for this game!

I programmed boots and cacti die cuts (hand cut! ughh...) with uppercase, lowercase letters, numbers and dots for each number to have in centers and play games with.

I also did some of the activities here at Hummingbird's Educational Resources.

Special Lunch
We made Beanie Weenies for lunch one day. We made a Trail Mix with Cheerios, Chex, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, M&;M's, raisins, goldfish, etc. The kids could pick which ever mixture they wanted (with a limit on the sweet stuff)!

One day, we made s'mores! Mmmmm!

Sensory Table
 We had two sensory tubs going since I couldn't decide which I wanted to do. One tub had sand and water with gold painted rocks and sifters for panning gold. The other had hay. The kids took turns hiding different types of toys in the hay.

Dramatic Play  

I transformed our dramatic play area into a ranch. There were dress up clothes and lots of cowboy hats available (even a pink one). We made hobby horses with troughs full of hay, had a paper campfire, a tent, lantern and bedroll. The kids loved "camping out under the stars" !

Cowboy Vests
We used bulletin board paper to make cowboy vests. In the past, I have used brown paper bags, but they are complicated to cut and it ends up being a lot of work for the teacher. This was simply a sheet of bb paper folded in half with the neck cut out. These freed us up to allow the children to get about the more important task of decorating them!

Outdoor Activities:
These were a lot of fun, we'll definitely try them again!
Barrel racing with trikes--the kids loved this!
What time is Mr. Cowboy? Round Up Time! (Just like "What Time Is It Mr. Fox? )
Potato Sack Races  (even more fun to watch, tee, hee, hee!)
and a lasso game where the students had to throw a hula hoop "lasso" and try to "rope" a "steer" (chair)

Some of our favorite reads:
How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Dragonfly Books)
Armadilly Chili
Pecos Bill
Armadillo Rodeo
The Gingerbread Cowboy
Armadillo Tattletale
Bubba the Cowboy Prince
Matthew the Cowboy
Cowgirl Kate


This was a great unit to teach and the kids had a lot of fun with it. It allowed me to touch on a lot of different areas, which gave me  a lot of flexibility to come up with activities that focused on the skills I really needed to assess.  I will definitely do this again next year!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pizza! Pizza!

With St. Patrick's Day activities and the groundbreaking of Wee World, I never had the opportunity to share our field trip to Mellow Mushroom Pizza this week. One of our parents very generously hosted our pre-k class field trip at their pizza restaurant this week. The kids got to tour the dining room and kitchen, toss dough, and watch pizza being made. We then practiced "dining out" by being served our pizza in the dining room. What a wonderful way to practice table manners, restaurant etiquette and social skills!

Really cool artwork everywhere!

I didn't get a clear shot so I borrowed this shot from their Facebook page. 
Really cool sculptures and carvings!

We got into character as soon as we arrived!

We love our chef hats!
We toured the kitchen.
Is this really how pizza starts?

 Watched the dough getting formed. AMAZING!!!!

You must be a superhero to do this!

Then, we got some dough of our own.

 Ooey gooey

 Look what I can do!

Working that hard really builds up an appetite!
We sat down to a wonderful lunch!
We have a pizza theme box in dramatic play that will certainly become popular again. Mellow Mushroom gave us a few clean boxes to add to our center!

Thank you Mellow Mushroom for the wonderful opportunity to visit a real pizza restaurant!

Thanks for stopping by!

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