Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Handmade" Christmas Trees

Last week I drug out an old dusty box I had forgotten about over the years. To my joy I found Christmas decorations my kids had made when they were small. One of those lost decorations was a Christmas tree made from one of my daughter's tiny hands. I immediately hung it on the wall. After staring at it a few days it dawned on me that my students are about the same age as Katie when she made this precious object. I took it down from the wall and looked at how it was made. Six hand prints stacked in a pyramid shape with a rectangle trunk, circle ornaments, and an Ellison cut star on top. It took two days for all 20 kids to make one. I hope all of my kids parents enjoy this wonderful keepsake. I hope they look back  13 years from now as I did and remember their tiny child whose small hands made this tree.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hiding Gobbles for Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving one of the many books we read was Run, Turkey, Run. By Diane Mayr. The book is about a turkey who is trying to hide from Farmer so he does not become Thanksgiving dinner. One of the many activities we did for this book was to disguise our classroom turkey Gobbles using costumes from Build-a-Bear Workshop. The kids loved it. They created SpiderGobbles, Fireman Gobbles, Cheerleader Gobbles, Darth Vader Gobbles, and such. The turkey was purchased from Build-a-Bear Workshop with stuff points from their Stuff Club Program. The costumes were purchased around Halloween when the store had plenty in stock. The manager (a former student's parent) of our local store knows we use their animals in our curriculum and sends e-mails when items on our wish list are on sale/clearance. She also lets us know when a new animal we may want becomes available.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Haunting We Will Go

Since we live in a very small, very rural community the Pre-K department decided to celebrate Halloween we would experience Trick-or-Treating. Most of our kids had been trick-or-treating before but only to relatives or  they have gone to the Fall Festivals held by local churches. Very few had actually went door to door trick-or-treating. We asked our new principal about trick-or-treating the teachers in our building. He was game and we had around 95% of the teachers sign up to participate. Our parents brought in small trinkets or toys for the teachers to pass out instead of candy. We spent an hour and a half going from classroom to classroom saying trick-or-treat and thank you. The children loved it. It was a great experience for all ages.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Leaves Are Falling Down

We are having a blast learning about Autumn or "Fall" as we call it here in Tennessee. Our favorite activity has been the song "The Leaves Are Falling Down." It is sung to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell and goes like this:
 The leaves are falling down.
 The leaves are falling down.
All over  (a child's name)
and all over town.
We use index cards with the children's name written on them to keep up with whose turn it is. At the line all over ____ we drop silk leaves on the child's head. The children love it. The activity keeps a long waiting list.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Smelly Socks

On Monday during story time we read Smelly Socks by Robert Munsch. The kids absolutely loved it. It is about a young lady who gets new socks and will not take them off, not even to wash them. To extend the story further we decided we would wash Tina's sock for her since she makes her classmates wash them. I added two dolls and two pairs of clean socks to the water table along with a little soap. The kids spent the whole morning taking turns washing those "smelly" socks.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shape Snapshots

On Friday, I read Tana Hoban's wonderful book, Shapes, Shapes, Shapes. It is a wordless book filled with beautiful photographs of shapes in the environment. We looked at each page and identified what shapes we saw in each picture and checked them off with the list of shapes she included in the front of the book. After our reading we decided to make our our version of the book. First, we made a list on the activboard of what shapes we thought we might find. Next we lined up with our cameras and explored outside the grounds of our school. The kids then found a shape and correctly identified it. Next the kids used one of our two cameras. They, yes you read right my four year old students, snapped pictures of their shape. After all 20 had taken a picture of a shape we compiled our photographs and made our own Shapes, Shapes, Shapes book. The kids enjoyed it so much I am planning on spending a few extra days next week and letting the kids make a 4-5 picture photo book to take home and photo books on each individual shape.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Teaching With iPad and iPods

Today during Center Time we had our first small group lesson using the iPad and iPod touches. We have been learning about apples all week so naturally I chose to introduce the letter Aa during this theme. This morning we review an Uppercase A. Using the app Letter Tracer I reviewed the letter A and demonstrated how to make the lines that form the letter. We practiced together using the tracer mode. After correctly demonstrating the letter A three times without help in tracer mode, I would demonstrate to each student how to write an A in the free hand mode. The child then switched to free hand mode and practiced several times writing an A without the tracer. Before leaving the table each child was given a piece of paper and asked to write an A. After using the app 13 out of 16 children could correctly write an A on their paper.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ipods in Preschool

Yesterday we introduced the Ipods to our group of preschoolers. They were a huge hit. Right away we had a waiting list to last all of Center Time. Some of their favorite apps to play were Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Matching Zoo, Shape Builder, Word World, Wood Puzzle, and the First Words Apps. The children easily picked up on how to choose their game. The touch screen was easy for little hands to maneuver. We will be be exploring a few apps on our own for a few days. Later this week we will have our first lesson using Letter Tracer to learn how to make the letter Aa.

We like Apples, Yes We do! We Like Apples, Do You?

This week we are studying apples before we go visit our local apple orchard. We read Apples, Apples, Apples and Apple Farmer Annie. In the Dramatic Play area we set up our own apple stand. The fake apples were purchased from our local Hobby Lobby, the visuals were printed from, reusable bags donated from the local Wal-mart, and we use fake money and junk mail credit cards as currency. The roles the children are assigning themselves are the cashier, shoppers, and the order taker. In the Math Center we are counting seeds. The seeds are medium black pom poms. Children pick up the "seeds" with tweezers and add the correct amount that corresponds to the apple's numeral. We are focusing on the numbers 0-4 while building our muscles we use to write and cut with. In the water table we are "bobbing" for apples with fish nets and small plastic apples bought from Wal-mart. Children must scoop up the apples with the nets and place them in the measuring cup hanging on the table. At the Discovery Center children are tasting Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples and choosing which one we like best. They love to find their friends names to see which one they liked. When our graph is finished we will see which one had the most and least votes for apple we liked best. We are making orchards in art using our arm for the trunks, our palms for the tree top and our fingers for the apples. The children are loving these activities and are becoming excited about our future trip.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Reading" Our Story

Friday finished up our first week together. On Wednesday I introduced the activboard to my students. We play the game "Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?" We moved cookies with our names attached from the cookie jar to a plate. The kids LOVED it. All their parents and I heard for two days was the chanting of little voices singing "**** took the cookies, who me, and couldn't be. This morning I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? It is one of my favorite read alongs at circle time. After reading it together a couple of times we played through the story on the Activboard. At center time I left the flipchart open for free play and the following was captured

Monday, August 23, 2010


Today was the first day with all 20 kids this year. My assistant and I decided to spend the day playing and getting to know these precious souls before we hit the ground running with our curriculum. It was a decision I do not regret. I had a wonderful time exploring, pretending, and just generally being a kid again. We built a castle using the life size lego blocks wearing our paper crowns. We spied for the dragon using our paper towel holder telescope and slayed it with our pointer swords when he knocked down our castle. Our story was repeated several times so everyone could wear the towel to be the dragon. We built a zoo to contain all the runaway animals that wandered along the road rug in the block center. Housekeeping turned in the doctor's office where we took our babies to get their school shots. But the best use of our imagination was when we went outside and turned our 8x8 sandbox into the beach. I enjoyed playing with my kids today. I observed more language, reading, and math skills during our time together than any paper assessment would have told me. I think the "play all day" approach is one I should stop and take more often.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New app for my iPad

Like most tech junkies I know I could not wait to get my hands on my new iPad. In fact, I spent most of the weekend playing with my new toy. I have wondered just what can you do with it besides use it as a big iPod touch. While I was spending hours trolling through the app store I found several apps I would like to try out with my students. One in particular, Bean Jar Kids HD, is a great app to help us keep focus on obtaining a goal. The kids get to add a jelly bean to the jar each time an objective is met and when the required number of beans are in the jar it cheers. You can also remove the jelly beans as well. The program allows up to four different jars labeled with words as well as a picture for non-readers. I am planning on using this with my class as our compliment jar as well as with a couple of students who need visual reinforcement to accomplish their goals.