Learning about Martin Luther King Jr. in preschool

Today was Martin Luther King Day and we took the opportunity to explore concepts such as kindness, peace, speeches, and dreams.

I had the opportunity to go to several of our classes today and share this video with the children. I liked how the video talked about MLK in a very simple way. It shares some of his childhood and touches on some of the hardships and success MLK had in his life. The children loved the short clip and listened intently to MLK’s voice as he spoke to the masses about his dream for unity and peace…

After we viewed the video with the younger classes, the discussion with the children naturally led to how we are different and how we are the same. We talked about how wonderful it is that we can all be friends. The conversation was simple, sweet, sincere, and I enjoyed it immensely.

I was surprised to discover that many of the children didn’t understand what the word “peace” meant. As I entered this classroom, the children were making these wonderful symbols of peace but when I asked them why they were making them, they didn’t really know.

So while the children got their hands painted to make their hand prints, we talked about the word and meaning of peace – again, keeping it all in very simple terms that they could understand…

And in this class, the children were making their dreams. We talked about the word dream and how Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that we could all be friends and be kind to one another…

The children then told the teacher what they wish could be done to help everyone be friends and the teacher recorded their responses on a dream cloud.

Not everyone was able to grasp these concepts the way they were presented today but they will as we continue to model for them the concepts of hope, love and peace…

The biggest challenge was explaining the dove. These children made a dove in their classroom, this is something I have more to say about later along a whole different line of thought, but keeping with the theme of this post – the dove also symbolized peace and this was shared with this PreK class as well. The PreK children really zoomed in on the fact that Martin Luther King had four children and that he went to college. Then they all wanted to tell me what they were going to be when they grow up!

One of the most impressionable moments of my day was when I went to visit the Kindergarten class. The children listened intently to the video and then began talking about how we all have different hair and eyes. I kept waiting to see if they would mention skin color.  And then it was brought up by one of the children.

I showed the children my hands and they noticed that my hands were bony and red. One child said, “That’s because you are old! Old people’s hands get that way” and all the children laughed:)  It was such a heartfelt day today. I really can’t describe.

So let me just leave you with this…

Preschoolers are so sweet and just too fun!

A special thanks to Preschool Daze for the wonderful ideas I was able to share with our teachers.

Links to Grow On..

Crafts for MLK Day from Frugal Family Fun Blog

Celebrating Skin Color from Mommy Moments

I have a Dream Linky from Rainbows Within Reach

By | January 18th, 2011|Categories: Holiday Ideas, MLK|Tags: , , |0 Comments

At play with baby: bouncing balls

A big ball, medium ball, and a small ball too…

A red ball, yellow ball, and one the color blue…

What can Clara do with three balls on the ground?

She can push them, and follow them, and roll them around!

The small ball is soft…

The red ball is bumpy…

The blue ball is smooth…

The balls are no longer sitting on the ground but Clara found them as she looked all around!

By | January 17th, 2011|Categories: Infant and Toddler, motor skills, Sensory Play|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Making colorful and scented rice for preschool

When I get started on something – I just keep going until I have exhausted all the ideas I can come up with or until all my dishes are dirty or until I run out of supplies – which ever comes first.

This week, I worked on making colored rice to use for a variety of projects and sensory activities. I don’t yet have a plan as to when I will use the rice, but I know I want to use it at some point.

I started off making the rice using this recipe from Praying for Parker. I added about a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and about about 30 drops of food color to a quart size baggie then mixed added about 2 cups of rice and mixed it all together…

I wanted brilliant colors – so I added lots of food color. I liked using the alcohol and food color combination because it helped the rice to dry almost instantly. The key to making this is to not overdo the amount of liquid you mix the rice with and to let it dry completely before putting it away in an airtight container…

The one thing I didn’t like about using the rubbing alcohol was that it left the rice with a slight alcohol odor. So I got to thinking that maybe I could try dying the rice with a little bit of Koolaid instead. I mixed one packet of Koolaid with a tiny bit of very hot water so the Koolaid would dissolve completely.

Then I poured the dissolved Koolaid powder over the 2 cups of rice I had in the bag….

Then I sealed the baggie closed and mixed the Koolaid liquid through the rice…

Then I set it out on a piece of wax paper to dry overnight.  Since I used a water based liquid, I wanted to give the rice extra drying time before putting it away…

I tried out several colors of Koolaid packets I had in the house and discovered the red, orange, blue, and purple colors had the brightest finish and the strongest smell ….

Make sure the Koolaid is dissolved completely before trying to mix it with the rice. I used the end of a spoon to stir the Koolaid in the water just to be certain…

I even tried making some chocolate rice by using cocoa – it turned out okay but was a little harder to get it to mix correctly because the cocoa and water stayed thick…

But in the end – the cocoa rice worked out too. Not my favorite but it is a keeper!

Overall, the Koolaid rice turned out maybe a tad lighter than the food color/alcohol rice but not so much that it mattered. In one bag, I added a little food color to the koolaid because I thought it was too light. The smell of the Koolaid rice adds a new sensory experience that can be really fun!

Now that I have my collection all ready to go, I need to decide what I want to do with it. The gang on Teach Preschool on Facebook gave me lots of ideas! Oh, and I stored all my rice in plastic jars I bought from the Dollar Store!

If anyone wants to read more comments about using or making colored rice – click here… to view the comments left on Facebook!

I am linking this post to A Mommy’s Adventures stArt!

By | January 16th, 2011|Categories: Sensory Play|Tags: , , , |25 Comments

Messing around with the color brown in preschool

As part of our color review week, the children tried out a little brown finger painting but instead of using brown paint, they used chocolate pudding.

After mixing up a bowl of chocolate pudding, they dipped their fingers in the pudding and began making brown pudding prints on a piece of paper…

To this point I noticed that the children were treating this process much as they would any other finger painting process. The main difference was that rather than being given a shallow container or small dab of finger paint to work with – they had a large bowl of ooey gooey chocolate material to work with.

It didn’t take long for the children to discover that they could reach into the bowl and take out as much pudding as they wanted.

The painting quickly migrated off the paper and onto the table…

The children kept adding more chocolate pudding paint which led to an even greater sensory experience…

As time went on, we had paint all over the table and dripping down the edges of the table onto the floor. So as the children played, their teacher and I began wiping up paint off the floor just to keep it from getting all over the room…

Eventually the pudding paint started thinning out which led to a new type of play. Instead of just playing with the pudding, the children began using their fingers to draw in the pudding paint….

The teacher and I both agreed that the next time we do this type of activity we would just cover the entire table with a table cloth and not worry about trying to make this into some type of “art project” they would take home. By using the entire surface of the table, the children were able to stay focused on their play and  not worry so much about trying to create some sort of picture…

Because the teacher was willing to just watch and see how things progressed naturally, the children ended up with an experience that led to color recognition, sensory play, letter and shape writing, a finger licking here and there, and lots of laughter and fun…

I am linking this post to No Time for Flashcards!

Ice play in preschool

Today, we enjoyed a little ice play.

Sometimes the simplest of ideas can be the most enjoyable for young children. The teacher in this class set out a bowl of ice with some cups, smaller bowls, and spoons…

The children scooped the ice from one container to the other…

And some children used their hands to pick up ice cubes….

What makes an activity like this so successful is that it is truly all about discovery, exploring, and play…

We won’t be able to hang this up on a wall when we are finished but we can talk about our experience…

And during the process of our ice play we discovered the ice was cold and when it melts, water runs all over the table and down on the floor!

And when the teacher isn’t looking, we can place an ice cube on the handle end of our spoon and it suddenly becomes a Popsicle!

Can you see all the learning (and fun) going on just from some simple ice play?

I am linking this post up to The Play Academy!

The things that go on in our preschool classroom

Because most of my articles only focus on one activity at a time, it may look like there is nothing else going on in the classroom. So today, I wanted to show you how there are lots of things going on all at the same time…

Each day, our teachers follow a lesson plan that includes a set of structured activities – these activities are often the ones I share with you. But through out the classroom environment we have shelves/centers that are filled with a variety of things for children to do.

Each class runs a little differently. In most of our classes, the teachers will set up a lesson plan activity at one or two of the classroom tables and then invite the children to participate. Those who are not participating in the planned activity are off playing in the centers throughout the classroom.

Every day, the children are given the opportunity to paint at the easel or select writing tools from the writing center to draw or color or trace or stamp…

Sometimes a child will go off alone to color or read a book…

And at other times, the children will all want to be together…

Everyday, the sand and water table are open for the children to explore…

Some children play quietly…

And others get so loud that your ears start to feel like they are going to fall off…

The children also spend time playing with the materials from the thematic work boxes we set out each week…

These are just a few examples of activities that are happening everyday throughout the classroom day but I hope it let’s you see that although I may only share one activity at a time here on my blog, that there is much more going on around me…

I’d love to hear a little bit about how you manage your classroom…

What’s you’re social media personality?

Exchange magazine published an article in the January/February, 2011 edition titled, “What’s you’re social media personality?” written by early childhood professionals, Fran Simon and Chip Donohue PhD.  In order to actually read this article you would need a subscription to the magazine so I will give you just a few of the highlights…

Fran and Chip identify 5 “social media personality” types:

  1. The resistor
  2. The intimidated
  3. The personal user
  4. The tester
  5. The expert

For each of these personalities, Fran and Chip provide a wonderful description of each personality type and what challenges are ahead for each personality type and how to move from being a resistant social media user to a confident social media user.

Then Fran and Chip offer up different examples of social media sites that you can use to build a solid social network for your early childhood program and how each site is different. They give examples and information on these recommended sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube – depending on your professional social networking goals and needs. In addition they offer up smart do’s and don’ts when it comes to using social networking sites.

Now for one of the best parts of the entire article..

In the middle of the article, Fran and Chip provide three examples of early childhood focused organizations that do a good job working with social media and guess who is number 3 on that list?  Yep, you guessed it – Teach Preschool!!!  Is that the coolest thing ever or what?

Want to learn more from the experts?

I was fortunate to have met Fran Simon through Twitter when I first started Teach Preschool. She is truly invested in building a strong early childhood education network. I know that she would love for you to hook up with her too!  I borrowed the bios below from the article in Exchange magazine...

– Go and meet Fran Simon!

Fran Simon is the Chief Engagement Officer of Engagement Strategies, LLC, her own national marketing, social media and early education publishing consulting company. She has been a professional Early Childhood educator and a passionate technologist since 1981. Early in her career as a multi-site child care administrator, she learned that her ability to use technology to accomplish her goals was one of the most powerful skills in her administrative toolkit.  Fran also used those skills in her positions at Teaching Strategies, Inc., the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, and as a Board Member and Vice President of the Technology and Young Children Interest Forum of NAEYC.

Fran on twitter…. Fran on Facebook…  Fran’s blog!

– Chip Donohue, PhD!

Chip Donohue, PhD, is the Director of Distance Learning at Erikson Institute in Chicago and a Senior Fellow of the Fred  Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. He is a leader in the innovative use of technology and distance learning methods to increase access, create pathways, enhance learning, and improve teaching practices in early childhood education. He spends lots of time playing with new technology tools to enable relationships and build learning communities online.

By | January 10th, 2011|Categories: Messages from Deborah|Tags: |2 Comments

Snowman and mitten activity boxes for preschool

Our activity boxes this week consisted of snowmen and mittens…

In the snowman activity box we placed paper plate snowmen shapes and small felt cut-outs for the childrern to add as buttons, eyes, nose, scarves…

The snowman activity boxes (just as we do each week) were then placed on classroom shelves for the children to select from this week during their free play time in centers.

I happened to catch this little girl while she was exploring one of the snowman activity boxes. There was no need to explain what to do with the materials in the box – she got the idea as soon as she saw what was inside…

Something she did that I hadn’t expected was sit and fold each paper plate snowman up. She really liked that fact that you could fold the snowman and decided that it would also be fun to hang the snowman on our mitten clothesline…

Which brings me to our mitten activity box which was also available on the classroom shelves for the children to play with this week…

The mitten activity box simply contained laminated mittens, clothespins, and yarn. The teachers helped stretch the yarn across the room and tied the ends to two chairs for the children to hang up their mittens…

This group of children worked together to hang up all the mittens…

We will have to see if we can find a higher place to hang up the clothesline next week:)  We could have expanded on this activity by encouraging the children to find matching pairs or put the mittens in numerical order, but instead we just let the children play and make up their own rules of play as they went along …

I am linking this post to ABC and 123: Show and Tell

By | January 10th, 2011|Categories: Activity Boxes, The Value of Play|Tags: , , , |14 Comments

Snowflake puzzles in preschool

There are lots of snowflake ideas out there and at the end of this post, I have collected a few links to other ideas that I would love to try. But first, let me share with you this simple snowflake puzzle we made this past week.

The PreK children in this class were given a printout of a snowflake (I do not have a copy of this printout), some blue construction paper, scissors, and glue to get them started.

The children used their own judgement in this class to cut out simple construction paper shapes that will fit inside the snowflake pattern…

Then they glued the construction paper shapes onto the snowflake…

In the PreK class next door, the teacher had pre-cut the construction paper shapes…

I noticed that the children who cut their own shapes spent more time working to make sure the shapes fit in each space of the snowflake puzzle….

They would cut, visually measure, cut some more, and work out the positioning of each construction paper shape until they were satisfied…

When the children finished their work, they each printed their own name on their puzzle…

In the class where the pieces were all cut out for them, the children covered their snowflake more fully and although most of the children started out trying to fit the pieces into each section – I noticed that in the end, they tended to not worry so much about whether a piece fit here or there…

The same project with two different teaching approaches. This happens all the time! My message to all teachers as I observe their individual teaching approaches is to always keep in mind what the children are capable of doing and give them the opportunity to try.

Now here are some of those snowflake links I promised you….

Tired, Need Sleep : Crystal Snowflakes

The Artful Parent: Marshmallow and Toothpick Sculptures

Let’s Go Fly a Kite: Snowflake Matching Game

The Seeds Network: Popcorn Snowflakes

The First Grade Parade: Symmetrical Snowflakes

Frugal Family Fun Blog: Easy Snowflake Suncatchers

I Can Teach My Child: Puffy Snowflakes

A Little Learning for Two: Paper Snowflakes

The Honorable Mention: Q-tip Snowflakes

Alphamom: Plastic Berry Baskets into Glittery Snowflakes

Almost Unschoolers: Glittery Snowflake Window Clings

The Artful Parent: Bleeding Snowflake Tissue Prints

Frugal Family Fun: Tape Snowflakes

I am linking this post up with No Time For Flashcards!

By | January 9th, 2011|Categories: Winter Art|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

We made paper plate snowmen globes in preschool

No Time for Flashcards is always such an inspiration to me and where possible, I share her ideas with our teachers so we can try them too! This week, our Pre-K classes borrowed Ali’s snowman – snowflake craft idea!

We gathered up…

  • Small and large paper plates (with a small circle cut out of the center of the plate)
  • Foil cupcake liners
  • Red ribbon
  • Construction paper shapes for the face and hat
  • Googly eyes or sticker dots
  • Glitter
  • Glue
  • Markers

Right out of the gate, the children started with the most challenging part of this activity! They folded their little foil cupcake liners into three parts then took the scissors and snipped a few small angled cuts along the folded edges of the foil liner…

I wondered if the children would be able to do this – and they really amazed me! They were very competent in folding and making their tiny cuts. A good sign that these children are getting lots of cutting practice!

So then the children were ready to open their snowflakes and smooth them out…

With the snowflake cutting completed, the children were ready to begin gluing their snowflake-snowman together…

They glued the foil cupcake liner on top of the hole cut out of the paper plate then flipped the plate over and added some glue to the front of the plate and sprinkled on a little glitter…

Next, the children worked on making the face of the snowman on a smaller paper plate…

Once the children completed their snowman face, the teacher in this class helped the children staple the snowman head and body together…

In the other class – the children added hats and scarves first:)

Super cute!

By | January 6th, 2011|Categories: motor skills, Winter Art|Tags: , , , , |5 Comments