Last minute valentine collage for prekindergarten

I titled this for prekindergarten but any child that has the fine motor skills to do this activity will be able to whip it up fairly quickly.  All you need is some construction paper strips to make the hearts and some glue if you want to put the hearts on a piece of paper to make a collage of hearts.

I was literally just sitting here reading through all the new blog posts that are out there when this idea by Lightly Enchanted popped up at me. I sat and tried it right there on my desk to find out…

As I read the post by Lightly Enchanted, I wandered how hard it would be to just make simple hearts out of construction paper strips instead…

I used different lengths and widths of paper strips to see how they would turn out.

[The shorter the length and thinner the width of paper – the more challenging it is to manipulate the paper]

Start off by folding a long, thin strip of construction paper in half then open back up…

Now roll one side of the strip towards the folded center and stop before you get to the center…

Next roll the other side towards the center fold and stop…

Now stretch the curled sides back out so they are not so tight and let go. Pinch the folded middle in tight one more time and you have a heart!

Some of my hearts were skinny, some long, some short and as I looked at them I thought they would make a beautiful 3-D collage so I glued them on a paper candy heart insert that I had left over from one of my valentine boxes that I wrote about the other day:)

Now I have this beautiful collage to adorn my desk and a quick little something to keep hands constructively occupied if we run out of valentine candy, games, cards, and more tomorrow! LOL!

I am linking this up at the last minute with No Time for Flashcards!

Valentine mailboxes and magnets for preschool play

I started collecting these little red and white mailboxes from the dollar section at Target sometime in January. I thought they would make terrific additions to our February valentine work boxes…

To provide a variety of different learning opportunities and types of play, I included magnetic numbers because the mailboxes are magnetic and it would be a fun way to add address numbers to our boxes…

Also included are paper and markers to write addresses and mail letters. I also made these little heart shaped envelopes for a little fun mailing and a little number sorting and matching…

The construction paper envelopes you see here are simply made of heart shapes cut from construction paper and then folded to make an envelope. You can see how to make these with more detail here from Tinkerlab…

Inside each heart envelope is another surprise!

These little mailboxes and the magnetic numbers lend themselves to dramatic play, conversation about addresses, and they promote a little number recognition and counting practice as well…

The children will ultimately decide how they wish to interact with the materials – this is why I want to keep provide the materials but leave most of the play open ended. I am sure the children will come up with ideas that I would never think of!

See what PreK Pages did with her mailboxes too…

Be sure to save those valentine boxes for future activity boxes and some open ended play!

Are preschoolers interested in magnets?

I would have to answer the question to the title of this post as a big “YES”!

What caught my attention about today’s play with magnets was that the little boy was playing with the magnetic toys on the side of a book shelf….

At first, I thought the entire side of the shelf was magnetic but after looking a little closer, I realized that he had discovered that only the screws were magnetic and was engaged in this most unusual discovery and play…

Other children were playing with the magnetic toys as well in their own way. I often see the children turn the magnetic toys into microphones…

And building tall towers…

But I have to give this little one a hand for the most creative and out of the box idea I have seen so far. Through his play, he was discovering how many magnets can line up before falling down and which side of the magnets will attract and which will repel.

Letting children have time to freely explore their environment can lead to wonderful discoveries and opportunities for learning.

I would have ever thought to integrate the magnetic toys with the screws on the side of the bookshelf – I have learned something new about our learning environment and the ingenuity of the children in this class just by observing.

Bravo!

Available on Amazon

By | February 11th, 2011|Categories: Centers, Classroom Setup, The Value of Play|Tags: , , , |11 Comments

Writing the letter of the week

Each week, when a new letter is introduced, the teacher invites each child to come up and try to print the letter on the dry erase board. The teacher begins by printing a capital and lower case letter on the board first – she identifies each letter as she is writing them for the children to see.

Then each child comes up and takes a turn to print the letter. The children in this class really look forward to their turn to try and make the letter. This week they were writing the letter “O”.

The teacher doesn’t really use this time as an instruction on letter writing – she simply invites the children to explore the letter and the writing process freely without any correction or concern for whether it actually turns out looking like the letter or not.

It always gets more challenging to find a place to write the letter once the board gets all filled up but the children actually like the challenge of finding a space to print the letter. It makes it more of a game and takes away the worry of making perfect letter formations.

Once all the children have had a turn printing the letter, then the teacher sets the board up so they can see it throughout the day.  Then she extends the learning experience by reading a book that also has the letter “O”.

Reading aloud to young children is an important part of building their interest in writing as well as expanding their knowledge in language and literacy.

Who knew that the letter O could be so fun to explore!

See what else we do for the letter of the week!

At play with baby: hello hands!

Baby Clara has two hands!

Clara uses her hands to tear paper…

Clara uses her hands to reach for the ball…

Clara uses her hands to squeeze her soft toys…

Clara uses her hands to feel her bumpy ball…

Clara uses her hands to hold her bottle…

Clara uses her hands to put things in her mouth…

Clara uses her hands to help her crawl on the floor…

Clara’s mommy took pictures of Clara’s hands and made a special book of Clara’s hands!

Clara likes to look at her hands in the special book…

Clara’s mommy put pictures of Clara’s hands above the changing table…

Now Clara and her mommy can talk about Clara’s hands while she is getting her diaper changed. This keeps Clara’s attention so she doesn’t roll around while having her diaper changed.

Clara’s mom made exploring hands a fun and practical experience!

Infant Lesson Plan

By | February 9th, 2011|Categories: Infant and Toddler|Tags: , , , , , |4 Comments

Deborah in the news

I have been enjoying the opportunity to present some simple information on our local news station. On today’s segment, I came prepared to introduce several ideas that young children can explore for Valentine’s day. If you are viewing this by email, you may need to come to the blog to see the short news clip!

The valentine activities I brought to share were included my most recent posts…

This was my second time to present on our local news station (you can view my first appearance here) and I have been invited back on a monthly basis. I am enjoying this new media outlet and learning something new with each opportunity. I am a rookie at this and have some questions about all of this. I would love to hear your thoughts….

1. What kind of ideas would you find of value for a March, April, or May segment? I am supposed to keep up with current trends, holidays, or events such as St. Patrick’s Day or Spring Break or other interesting current events but want to spin them from an early childhood education perspective.

2. I have to bring props so whatever idea I choose needs to include great visuals – do you have any prop suggestions that would fit on a long, skinny table top?

3. If you have had any short 3 minute segment television experience, do you have any presentation tips for me?

4. And most importantly, should I wear my hair up or down?

By | February 8th, 2011|Categories: Media|Tags: , , , , |22 Comments

DIY valentine boxes and cards for preschool

This is a really cool and simple valentine box and matching valentine cards you can make with your preschooler.

Start off with a sheet of poster board and fold it in half – long edge to long edge…

Now open it back up and fold the long edges into the center leaving four creases lengthwise in your board…

Now fold the poster board into thirds from the short edge. See below…

When you open the poster board back up, you will have 12 squares made by all your folds….

Now you need to take a pair of scissors and cut on each folded line that runs along your long edge of the poster board – stopping when you get to the middle folded lines…

Cut all the folded lines on both sides of the long edges of the poster board…

I want you to know that describing the above proces was a lot more difficult than actually just doing it! Now you are ready to fold your box…

Just bend all your flaps and folds around and you will see the box start to take shape. Tape each side so it will stay in place but you will see one gap in the top of your box – that is for children to drop valentine mail in so don’t tape that part…

You can now invite your child to decorate the box. You can either unfold the box and decorate it first – or decorate it after you have folded it. I tried it both ways – it just depends on how you plan to decorate it…

If you decorate before it is folded up, then just decorate all the way down the center and straight across one of the flaps on each side of the folded center. The box below was decorated with construction paper squares and glue to represent my favorite book, Elmer the Elephant!

After the box is decorated as desired, then fold it back up and tape the edges in place. The box below was decorated with watered down glue and tissue paper hearts…

I tried a number of other ways to decorate the boxes too. This box was decorated with heart-shaped cookie cutters dipped in paint…

And this box was decorated with red shiny paper I saved from my valentine chocolate boxes…

And for every valentine box I made, I also created matching valentine cards! A very designer looking package in the end…

You can personalize each box based on your child’s interests…

I hope I explained this well enough for you but if you have any questions just drop me a note below…

I am linking this post up with Kid’s Get Crafty over at Red Ted’s Art Blog!

By | February 8th, 2011|Categories: Valentine's Day|Tags: , , , , |12 Comments

Save the valentine box for preschool

Go out and treat your self to a box of chocolates but be sure to save the box!

The valentine box is more than just a box it is also an experience…

The chocolate dividers inside the valentine box can be used for a little sensory play, patterning, and a sorting game!

Don’t forget the big heart that comes in most valentine boxes. This big heart makes a great canvas for painting or decorating…

Just flip the heart over to the side without any print and decorate it!

And that fabulous shiny red paper that the box is all wrapped in should be saved too…

The shiny paper tears easily and can be used to make a wonderful collage on clear contact paper!

And what can you do with the chocolates that are in the box? Well, you can eat them or the children can try a little taste testing! Let the children predict what will be in each chocolate morsel and then take a bite!

Now, I have given you every excuse to buy yourself a box of chocolates so go ahead and treat yourself – do it for the sake of quality early childhood education!

See how you can make this wonderful chocolate play dough for another fabulous idea to use a valentine box for!

I am linking this post up with Kid’s Get Crafty over at Red Ted’s Art Blog!

P is for pink polk-a-dots in preschool

Each week, the teachers at our school continue to focus on a letter of the week. This isn’t the only time that the children will explore a given letter but it is an opportunity to give a letter some special attention. This week the focus was on the letter P!

I noticed that focusing on the letter of the week is also a time when children whose name starts with that letter get a little extra recognition. When I go into a classroom and ask the children to tell me what letter they are talking about the children immediately begin to tell me if their name starts with that letter…

As we explore the letter of the week, we want to make sure the sound of the letter is somehow concretely emphasized. For example, while the children are painting their letter P’s  I can say, “You are painting pink polk-a-dots with a pencil on your letter P!”   This simple activity gives lots of opportunity for physically engaging children in an activity that connects the sound of the letter with the shape of the letter.

Playing with a polk-a-dotted paper cup also gives opportunities to emphasize the sound of the letter P…

How about we paint the paper cup too!

And make some paper cup piggy puppets!

And don’t forget that P is for Pepperoni Pizza too!

The letter P is actually a fun letter because there are so many concrete and tangible ways to explore the sound of the letter.

Now when we get to a letter like “X” or “Q”, it is always a bit more challenging…

By | February 7th, 2011|Categories: Letter of the Week, Painting|Tags: , , , |12 Comments

Cupid’s arrow teaches terrific concepts in preschool

Cupid’s arrow is a fun way to introduce a variety of concepts…

We can learn that arrows point us in a certain direction like Up, Down, Left, or Right…

We can search for arrows on signs inside and outside of our classroom…

And we can explore ways we can care about each other.

So cut up some strips of construction paper…

And set out the glue…

And have fun with arrows!

I am linking this post to No Time for Flashcards!

Check out this super cute arrow game too!