Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monsters Under My Bed

At 4, many of our little preschoolers are a little wary of Halloween. I found this cute little fingerplay in a Mailbox magazine years ago and made these little monsters out of pom poms to go on my storytelling mitt/glove. Before I do this, we have a discussion about how monsters are not really "real". I tell them the monsters in this story are imaginary, and actually, it's a silly story about how the child doesn't want to go to bed, so he tries to tell his mom that there are monsters under the bed. My "talk" usually always works, and often the kids tell me they are not afraid of monsters anymore!

5 Little Monsters
5 Little Monsters under my bed,
1 crawled out from under my spread
I screamed for Mama, and Mama said,
"Get those monsters out from under your bed!"

4 Little Monsters under my bed,
1 crawled out from under my spread
I screamed for Mama, and Mama said,
"Get those monsters out from under your bed!"

3 Little Monsters under my bed,
1 crawled out from under my spread
I screamed for Mama, and Mama said,
"Get those monsters out from under your bed!"

2 Little Monsters under my bed,
1 crawled out from under my spread
I screamed for Mama, and Mama said,
"Get those monsters out from under your bed!"

1 Little Monster under my bed,
He crawled out from under my spread
I screamed for Mama, and Mama said,
"Get those monsters out from under your bed!"

No Little Monsters under my bed,
None crawled out from under my spread
I screamed for Mama, and Mama said,
"Go to SLEEP!"

These are our three favorite monster books:

Be sure to stop by the "FREE Monster Linkie Party" hosted by Debbie Clement over at Rainbows Within Reach!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mrs.Ayn's Pre-K had a Farm, E-I-E-I-O!

One of my favorite units to teach (yes, I know, I say that about all the units) is the farm. I realized that I've never written here about that, although we usually do some really fun things. Due to our shortened school year this year, our unit was really cut short. I thought I would share some of the things we did this year, as well as in years past.

Over the years, I've gotten many of my great ideas and activities from other great teachers who have very generously shared their ideas on their websites and blogs. Pre-K Pages is a great website and I've gotten several wonderful farm themed ideas there. I make the "OINK! Game" with cards for literacy and for math.

I loved the Folded Barn on Pre-K Pages, and use that with a mini daily activity that I do. Each day, I post a simple "how to draw a ..." farm animal with 3 or 4 easy steps using basic shapes. It's mostly about the fine motor practice and following directions. The barn is a cute way to collectively display the "mini activities".
This barn displays a horse, pig, cow and duck (just in case you needed a little interpretation).

We are really working on fine motor skills at this point in the year, and need lots of practice tracing and cutting. The pigs on the bulletin board at the beginning of this post were a great way to help the kids practice those skills without realizing it.( I could have simply traced the shapes, and photocopied it on color paper for the kids to cut out, but they would miss out on the tracing skills.)  They traced coffee can lids to make the shapes for the pigs.


After they cut out the circles, it's fun to see how they put them together.


They really come out cute, however they are assembled.

We made the chicks on that bulletin board out of loops of yellow paper.

We try to change the learning environment often, and add theme materials whenever possible. In our dramatic play area, we converted our "box" to a barn to house our stick ponies. I made stick ponies for years out of small mop handles and paper and they would always be destroyed within a couple of days. I finally found these cute stick ponies at the Dollar Tree. 

I pulled out every farm animal toy I could find for the children to explore and play with. 

In our flannelboard center, I have pieces available for The Little Red Hen, Old MacDonald, as well as this wonderful set with 100+ pieces of farm felts.

I added a small set of farm stencils to our writing and art centers, and smiled to myself when the kids discovered this farm themed stencil in our alphabet stencils. 

Last year, this was a longer unit and near the end of the year, our writing skills were coming along nicely. We wrote this lovely class story about the farm. Looking at this story now, many months later,  I can tell which stories we'd recently read (Click, Clack Moo, Duck On a Bike, Mrs. Wishy Washy) just by the details they'd written in the story. I am beaming with pride as I look back and see how this groups writing skills developed and progressed. I am so excited to see what this new group envisions when we become more skilled at writing stories.
Once Upon a Farm 
    by Mrs. Ayn's Pre-K 2
Once day on the farm, there was a pig, a horsey, a cow, and a goat. They were all in a big corral. The duck was on a bike. The animals tried to ride a skateboard. Then, they wanted to ride on the tractor. The farmer came and told them to come inside to take a bath. After the bath, they ate cookies, pizza and milk and crawled under their electric blankets.      The End 

We of course read lots of great farm themed books, act like farm animals with visors and puppets, and act out familiar stories like Mrs. Wishy Washy. We sing lots of fun farm songs. One of our favorites is "Down On The Farm" on the Simple Songs For Preschool cd from Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool. It's a great cd with easy to learn and easy to sing songs. Get your copy by clicking the links above. 

"Mrs. Ayn's Pre-K
 had a farm...
    E-I-E-I- O! 
And on that farm 
    They had some fun,
    E-I-E-I- O! "

I'm having difficulty with the Amazon widget again, but hope to come back and post some of our favorite farm reads soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ready for Accreditation...almost

One of the things that has kept me so busy this year is our impending NECPA accreditation. NECPA stands for "National Early Childhood Program Accreditation". NECPA is nationally recognized, with quality standards comparable to NAEYC's ,  going way above and beyond state child care regulations. The NECPA observational verification visit will assess (among many other things): teacher/child interactions, health and safety practices, school administration, best teaching practices, student progress, the physical learning environment, and our family/school interactions and relationships. (Not much really, just everything!)

We have worked very hard for the last couple of years to make sure that every classroom in all three of our schools are accreditation ready. At this point in our process, I hear in my head  "NECPA, NECPA, NECPA" in the same sing-song voice that Jan Brady used to say "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" on the Brady Bunch.

Overall, the accreditation is a good thing. In the end, we will have the very best child care centers in our town--and the documentation to prove it. But logistically, this process has been a pain. In Georgia Pre-K, the amount of paperwork that we have to keep is simply overwhelming. Now, we have a 3-inch ring binder of the NECPA required forms we fill out daily.

We've had to make some changes. I've had a small woodworking center in my class for years, but we've used play tools and golf tees as hardware.  Teacher Tom writes frequently about his use of real tools and implements on his blog. I've often commented that while I admire his bravery, I'm simply not ready for that yet. We are using real screwdrivers, levels, tape measures nuts, bolt and wrenches. That's about all I can handle for the time being.


I even got my husband to come up to the school to help me. I still hadn't hung my beloved Jan Brett alphabet since I'd moved into my new room.  He was so sweet to come and help me. (Truth be told, he probably came just to see me, as I've spent a lot of evenings there lately!)

I've got my barn still set up in dramatic play...

We're adding to Our Little Pre-K Community and still have our doctor's office, construction zone, and outdoor cafe. We also have theme boxes for the children to explore a variety of other things, as well. This week, our theme boxes include: community helpers, pizza place, beauty salon, and an additional medical box for the children to use in this center. 

We still have our kitchen/living area for home living play.

I set up a little fruit stand in dramatic play, as well.

Tomorrow's the day! The final visit..I think we're ready. I know we have the best centers in town--no question. Now, it's time for us to show it off. Then, we wait. It takes a few months before we'll know if we made it.

Fingers crossed. X

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Using A Picture Schedule in Pre-K

In one of my most popular posts last year, Picture Schedules in the Pre-K Classroom,  I described the picture schedule that we used in our class.  I've received many emails about that schedule. Shortly after writing that post, my friend I and were fortunate to be invited to observe a preschool program in South Carolina that had implemented Conscious Discipline in all 22 of their pre-k classes.  We visited many of those classrooms and saw some really exciting things going on. One of the classrooms had this picture schedule posted for their kids to manipulate. I had to take pictures! Our class theme/acronym is F.I.S.H. (Family Involvement Starts Here).

I made one of these this year. Mine is pretty similar to the one above. I have it located on the bottom of a low hanging bulletin board, so it is at just the right height for little hands to manipulate.  We have a "time keeper" class job, so the children take turns being in charge of the schedule.

We have a "time keeper" class job, so the children take turns being in charge of the schedule. They simply move the fish to the appropriate fishbowl at each transition time throughout the day.

The kids really enjoy manipulating the schedule and will remind each other that it's time to change it. I often see children going over independently to refer to it. As I mentioned my my earlier post,
 "manipulating the schedule can be an especially helpful task for some children with autism or special needs. It is also very soothing for a child with separation anxiety. They can look and see what comes next and when "Mommy or Daddy is coming back."

 This new picture schedule seems to be really working out so far. I have a few that are struggling with separation anxiety and this has been a  really helpful tool to them. Now, I just need a little teacher magic to help me manage my time. I keeping getting behind schedule!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our Pre-K Community

Last week, we talked about our community and the people who work around us, as well as the jobs they do. We've built a mini-community in our classroom, using each center as a different location. We have a doctor's office, construction area, restaurant, school, police department and even an outdoor cafe!

The doctor's office was set up in our science center, so the doctors could do research in between seeing patients.


One of small group activities was to talk about some of the things you might find in a doctor's kit and glue them onto our "doctor's bag". We used band aids, craft stick (tongue depressor), q-tip, gauze and a cotton ball.

Our little indoor restaurant was hopping with lunch orders.

It's such a small community that the firefighters and policemen have second jobs working the register at the local cafe!

Our block center was a construction zone. Buildings were going up left and right, so I guess the economy is good in our community!

Our "Roads and Bridges" department was located in our sensory table. The children enjoyed bulldozing new roads and making hills!

To get a little fine motor practice, we used grocery store sale circulars and a few magazines to cut our pictures of food. We glued these on construction paper to make "menus" for our restaurant and outdoor cafe.

Deborah Stewart, over at Teach Preschool, posted about an outdoor cafe she created at her new school. I was so taken by the idea and was writing my lesson plans for our "Community" week, so I just added that in. We do a lot of changing to various areas of our learning environment, but I hadn't really extended dramatic play outside. I thought this might give us the perfect chance to do it! The kids have loved it. I think we'll keep our "Sidewalk Cafe" theme box by the door for a while, then we'll switch it out. Thanks, Deborah, for the inspiration, the kids are loving this!

One day, we drew flowers on the sidewalk with chalk all around the cafe. It's made a nice little garden to dine by!


My favorite meal served at the Sidewalk Cafe: SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS! I thought it was pretty ingenious of the kids to use the sweet gum balls as meatballs, but many of the younger kids call them "meatballs" when they find them on the playground, so it's probably not a stretch of the imagination to them!

Bon Appitite!

Thanks for stopping by!

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