At play with baby: shiny paper

What is baby Clara doing today?

She’s getting ready for the holidays!

Paper red, silver, and gold…

This paper feels a little bit cold!

Cut the paper into small pieces and stick to laminating paper…

And Clara can explore some more!

See what Clara’s mommy made with all that shiny paper…

As with anything you do with babies – always monitor what they do and don’t let them eat the paper!

By | December 20th, 2010|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

A very special award for Teach Preschool

I recently won the Edublog award for the Best Individual Tweeter. I really don’t know much about this award but I do know that it was an award given to me by my peers and followers and that makes it a very special blessing.

Over the past year, I have had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people who are all involved in early childhood education. Here are a few others that I have had the privilege of getting to know along the way and who also won an Edublog award…

Teacher Tom won for the Best Teacher Blog

Donna and Sherry of Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning won for the Best Group Blog

Karen from PreKinders was the runner up for Best Resource Sharing Blog.

Teacher Tom wrote a wonderful article that expresses my view as well for this award. What this award represents is our ever-growing online early childhood education community that has come together through this unique online environment to support each other and work together to achieve a common goal. In my mind, that goal is to create excellence in early childhood education.  We each do this in our own way and that is what I love the most.

What I love…

I love that we all bring different perspectives into the field of early childhood education. I love that we are all passionate about the field of early childhood education. I love that we are both similar and different in our approach and classroom environments. I love that we all share the same desire to help teachers and children be successful in the early childhood learning environment. I love that we care about young children.

I love what others have taught me since I have started Teach Preschool too! I am motivated every time I see a new idea and a new approach to go into the classroom and try it out. I am motivated by the folks who follow me on Twitter and Facebook to do my very best everyday.

A special thank you to Vanessa Levin for nominating us all. She deserves all the props and her own award for all she has accomplished too!

If you aren’t following these folks, let me invite you to do so. They are truly exceptional and I appreciate all they do for me.


By | December 20th, 2010|Categories: Awards|Tags: |3 Comments

We made Santa in preschool!

We made all kinds of Santas this past month. I wasn’t able to catch all the action but I did catch some…

These little ones colored a paper bag with red markers…

Then the glued on construction paper eyes and a hat…

And added cotton balls for Santa’s beard and one for the tip of the hat too…

Here are a few more Santa crafts…

Paper Plate Santa

Construction Paper Santa

Paper Plate Santa

By | December 19th, 2010|Categories: Christmas, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , |2 Comments

We made marshmallow snowmen in preschool

After our Thanksgiving feast, we ended up with tons of marshmallows left over and they were starting to go stale. So instead of throwing them all away, we decided they would be perfect for making marshmallow snowmen.

The children caught on to this idea very easily. They each started by tracing three circles on a sheet of blue construction paper. In some of the classes, the children traced their own circles. In the younger classes, the teachers had the circles already traced on the paper.

Next the children outlined the circles with glue. In some classes, the children used a glue bottle and squeezed a line of glue on the circles. Learning to control the flow of glue from a glue bottle and to trace lines at the same time with a glue bottle takes a lot of practice. Clearly these children have been given plenty of opportunity to practice this skill!

In another class, the children used glue bottles and brushes to brush the glue on the paper…

After adding the glue, the children began to put marshmallows on the glue…

I noticed that the children who used brushes tended to also fill the center of the snowmen with marshmallows…

Where the ones who used glue bottles tended to only create the outline of the snowmen with their marshmallows. Hmmm, interesting!

Many of the children who outlined their snowmen with the marshmallows also added eyes, nose, and other features with a marker…

Although we used glue to put the marshmallows on the paper, one teacher said you can also lick the bottom of the marshmallow or get it wet with water to make it stick to the paper. I haven’t tried that!

While I was taking photos, one group of children asked me to take a picture of their hands on top of the marshmallows. How could I resist?

Thank you to Kiboomu for sharing this idea on their blog! We loved it!

By | December 17th, 2010|Categories: Winter Art|Tags: , , |4 Comments

Cookies for Santa cookbook

Our Kindergarten class made these wonderful “Cookies for Santa” cookbooks to give their parents as a Christmas gift.

We happened to have a bunch of brown hot pads in a box that was supposed to be used for another project last year but never did. So our kindergarten teacher, Mrs. R., decided they would make great book covers.

Mrs. R worked very hard on designing the process for making this parent gift so that the children would truly make all the parts that would go into this gift. She began by having each child’s family send in a favorite cookie recipe.

Mrs. R. took the time to read the recipes as they were sent in with the students and they talked about what the different kind of cookies would look like and what kinds of ingredients would be in each cookie recipe.

Then Mrs R. invited each child to draw a picture (with markers) of their cookies on a piece of paper sized to fit inside the hotpads.

Next Mrs. R used the color copier to copy all of the recipes and each of the drawings so every child could include every recipe and every drawing in their cookbook.

Once all the recipes and drawings were completed, Mrs. R. had the children sit in a large circle on the floor and they work together to collate their books. Each child took a recipe and the drawing that went with it and glued them inside the pages of their book.

Mrs. R. said that the construction of the books took a little time for the children to do and she was impressed by how engaged and excited they were to be making their very own cookbooks for their moms and dads.

There are 15 children in Mrs. R’s class so there ended up being 16 recipes included in the book. Mrs. R. added one of her own favorite recipes as well 🙂

The one part of the book that Mrs. R.ended up doing without the children’s help is sew together one edge of the potholders together to create the book binding.

The pages that went inside the book were stapled together in the center and then the first and last page of the stapled paper were glued to the inside part of the hot pads so they would stay firmly in place.

To decorate the outside of the cookbook, the children twisted green pipe cleaners pieces around a long brown pipe cleaner stem to create pine branches.  The branches were then tied together and attached to the loop on the hotpad with a length of red ribbon.

Once the cookbooks were completed, the children wrapped them up in tissue paper and added a craft stick snowman as their card to the top of the gift.

All the children were very proud of their “Cookies for Santa” cookbooks and couldn’t wait to give them to their parents.

What I really liked was the texture of the cookbooks. They were thick and had the feel of a worn out old favorite book you would lovingly keep out on the shelf. Well done Mrs. R! I only wish you had made one for me:)

I am linking this post to No Time for Flashcards!

By | December 16th, 2010|Categories: Christmas, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , , , |13 Comments

Working on weaving in preschool

I have learned so much from others since I started Teach Preschool. I am always amazing at the creativity of all the other bloggers out there and I am constantly sharing the ideas I read about with the teachers and children from my school.

As I continue the process of setting up classrooms, I want to add fresh ideas for play in the centers/shelves. I have seen the idea of weaving all throughout blog land and then I stumbled on these blue baskets in the Dollar store and knew they would be perfect for a weaving activity in the Fine Motor center.

I purchased four of the baskets for this classroom. The teacher added strips of ribbon and strips of foam for the children to weave in and out of the holes in the basket.  I always like to provide enough materials for at least 2 to 4 children to play with so they can play together. Working together keeps the children stay engaged in the process, invites conversation, and promotes cooperation and collaboration.

We will switch out the types of materials the children use with these very light-weight baskets periodically. The little girl above also has a clothespin in her hand which she is using to pull on the strip of foam.

See My Montessori Journey and The Activity Mom and Let the Children Play for more on putting together a weaving activity!

The child-centered classroom: shelves

As a general rule, when I set up classrooms, I find that it is most helpful to make sure that shelves face the area that you want the children to play…

For example, if I have a shelf with art supplies on it (an art center) then I will set the shelf up near a table or facing the table that the items on the shelf should be played with.

When it comes to selecting shelves (or building them) I like to make sure they are sturdy, a good height for children, and can free stand in the middle of a room.

With good, sturdy, freestanding shelves – I am able to place the shelves strategically throughout the room. Shelves can be used to…

  • Divide up the room into small areas (centers)
  • Provide natural and easy to identify boundaries of play
  • Make the room look interesting, inviting, and organized
  • Cut down on the amount of open or unused space in the middle of the room

What I ultimately want to do is create an environment, using the furniture in the room, that makes sense to young children. I want the children to be able to put away their own toys or activities and to choose freely from the items on the shelves.

Once I have my baskets and shelves all figured out – then I am ready to start selecting the materials to go on each shelf…


The classroom environment is a partner in the teaching process!

By | December 13th, 2010|Categories: Centers, Classroom Setup|Tags: , |4 Comments

We made Christmas tree paper pillows in preschool

This simple Christmas tree was made by our four year olds.

The children started by coloring and decorating two green construction paper Christmas tree shapes.

Next, they stapled the two trees together leaving a little hole for stuffing…

Next, the children gathered two tissues and wadded them up…

And then the children stuffed the tissue into the open end of the tree…

Once the tissue was inside the tree, the remaining hole was stapled closed…

And they had their very own Christmas pillow!

By | December 12th, 2010|Categories: Christmas, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , |6 Comments

Setting up a child-centered classroom

One of my jobs is to oversee the set-up of classrooms at our school. I have been trying to take some photos as I go along in some of the classrooms so I can share with you some pointers that work for me but the more I work on the classrooms, the more I think of that needs to be considered. If I try to write out every thing that needs to be considered when setting up a classroom, I would need to write an entire book. So for today, I am going to just talk about baskets!

Choosing Baskets

Choosing baskets may seem like a silly place to start but I can’t tell you how much time I invest in trying to find baskets that fit all the shelves we have in each classroom.  Some of our shelves were built and others were bought from various locations so finding baskets that fit neatly on each shelf is always a challenge.

Lately, I have been hitting the jackpot at the Dollar store. These baskets are bright, colorful, plastic, sturdy, and durable. Because the baskets will get a lot of use, they need to last and we need to be able to wipe them down. At one point, we bought some really pretty canvas covered baskets which looked terrific for about a month and then they started wearing down and getting dirty. Because they were canvas, we couldn’t wash them so I am now switching them out for something else.

Another thing I like to do is to coordinate our baskets so the children can easily remember where they got a basket out and where to put it back when they are done playing. I want the classroom as a whole to make sense to the children.

In some shelves I will put baskets that have a variety of shapes and sizes. This depends on what I plan to keep in those baskets.

With the exception of things like floor puzzles, I like everything to be in a basket where the items just say “Play with me!”

I also purchase baskets with lids so they can be stacked on top of each other or just because they came with lids. But putting a lid on every basket is not something I set out to do. My focus is always on ways to make the items accessible and manageable to the children.

I will continue to build my collection of baskets for each shelf but as I do, I have to think about what will go inside each basket. I will save that for another blog post:)

Links to Grow On…

How to Clean Up the Preschool Classroom

Labeling Your Baskets and Shelves

Adding things to do in your child centered classroom

Shelves in the child-centered classroom

Where do you put things to dry?

Visit Pre-k Pages for additional photos and ideas for setting up classroom centers