Our preschool Christmas pajama party…

One thing that I am really not that good at is planning special events and parties for the children. I tend to use a very specific approach in the classroom and all have some sort of teaching or developmental goal so planning games or activities just for the fun of it is actually quite a challenge for me….

I am not complaining, just commenting on an area that I either need to hand over to my parents or really work on improving.  I felt so disorganized for this day, but I don’t think the children really noticed – but I felt it. It really wasn’t all that bad – I just wanted to do better.  Moving on – here are a few highlights of what we did today….

Searching under the tree for a present..

Each of the children brought in one gift and set it under the tree.  I also added a gift for each child under the tree. We just had to start off our day opening those gifts – the children were too excited to possibly do anything else until they got to open some gifts!

Filling up candy canes…

I set out candy and empty candy cane tubes for the children to fill up and put in their stockings. Once the children had filled their tubes, we used clear packing tape to seal them and send them home…

Completing our cards for mom and dad…

We had previously made Christmas cards for our parents and I saved the completed cards for today (if you didn’t see our parent cards, you can view them by clicking here)

Today, we colored a picture on the inside of the cards and folded them in half to prepare them for our parent gifts which we had also previously made (if you didn’t see our parent gift, you can view them by clicking here)

Wrapping up the parent Christmas gifts…

The children also wrapped their own parent gift to take home

Once the children wrapped up the parent gift, they decorated the white wrapping (butcher) paper with markers and added a bow to the top…

The parent gifts and cards were now all ready to take home…

Stories, Songs, and Games

We read two books today – “The Polar Express” and “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bell.”  Before reading “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bell,” I gave each child a Christmas bell. Each time I said the word “bell” the children rang their bells. We also sang some Christmas songs including “Ring Those Bells” which I previously shared with you.

We also played musical stocking. The children passed the stocking around the circle while we played some lively Christmas music.  Then when the music stopped, the child holding the stocking picked a gift out of the stocking.  All the gifts in the stocking were the same and we played until each child had a gift from the stocking…

Snack and a movie…

Since this was a pajama party, we had donuts and milk for snack (breakfast) and we set back to watch a short movie in our “classroom theatre”…

We watched “The Gruffalo” narrated by Helena Bonham Carter.  The children and I had never seen this movie before and we all LOVED it.  The movie lasts about 30 minutes long and the children chose to sit in chairs:)

Watching the movie on our classroom wall, using my laptop and projector, was a very big deal!!   This was a 3D movie so the animation and graphics were outstanding. This movie was also told in story book form – it was extremely well done. We had never watched a movie in our class before and so this was a very fun treat for us all…

So that covers all the highlights of our Christmas pajama party – if you have ever had a pajama party or a holiday party, I would love to hear your ideas in the comment below so please share!

The books we read today and the Gruffalo movie…

      

By | December 23rd, 2011|Categories: Special Occasions|Tags: , |14 Comments

Our preschool parent Christmas gifts and cards

For our parent Christmas gift, each of the children participated in making a class cookie recipe book…

We had spent time a few weeks earlier looking at cookie recipes and exploring terms like recipe, ingredients, measurements, oven temperature, degrees, cooking time, and so forth….

Then we created our own cookie recipe as a group…

The children were then asked to draw a picture of their own cookie and give us the name of their cookie, the ingredients, and the baking instructions.

I made copies of the children’s drawings and typed up their “recipes” then put them all together in a book for each child to take home as the parent gift…

Before sending the recipe books home, I read one copy to the children during circletime…

For the cover of the book, the children made cookie cutter prints on white paper…

Once the cookie cutter printed paper was dry, I cut the paper in half and saved it for the cover of our recipe books…

The entire process was done over a span of three weeks. We worked on each part of the gift one little piece at a time…

Parent Christmas Card

For our parent card, the children used a marker, paints, and their fingertips to make a string of Christmas lights.

Most of the children drew their own light string but some of the children requested help with the string…

The children dipped their finger in the paint to add the lights to their strings…

Although the cards were similar, they still each had their own uniqueness and the children’s special fingerprints to personalize them a bit…

After the cards were completely dry, the children folded them in half and drew a picture on the inside of the card for their parents…

This completed our parent cards and we attached them to the gifts once they were all wrapped up…

 

By | December 23rd, 2011|Categories: Christmas|Tags: , , , , |9 Comments

Glittery glue ornaments in preschool

In my last post, I shared with you our glittery stars and mentioned how we saved the glitter for another adventure.  Well this was our next glittery adventure….

It is hard to tell in these photos, but the children are using plastic holders that I had left over from Christmas. The holders were originally the packaging used to hold small store-bought Christmas ornaments.  We used the store-bought ornaments on our classroom tree and I saved the plastic holders for this idea…

I cut the holders apart and invited each child to choose one they would like to use.  The children started by filling the bottom of the plastic holder with a thin layer of glue…

Once each child’s plastic container was filled with glue, the children then added glitter on top of the glue.  This was the same glitter we used to make our glittery stars

This time, the children used their fingers to sprinkle the glitter on the glue rather than using the glitter bottles…

By using their fingers to sprinkle on the glitter, the children got a nice fine motor work-out as well as a fun sensory experience…

The children added as much glitter to the top of the glue as they wanted because in the end, I had them shake the access glitter back onto the glitter tray so it didn’t matter if they over filled the containers for now…

After the children completed their glitter sensory play and filled up their containers, I set all the glittery glue containers aside to dry for over a week…

And once the glue was completely dry, we peeled the glue ornaments out of the containers and here are the results…

Make sure the glue is completely dry before peeling from the container.  If the bottom is still white, then it is not ready to peel…

I added a length of yarn so the children could hang them from their trees…

 

By | December 22nd, 2011|Categories: Christmas|Tags: , , , , |8 Comments

Using lots of glitter on our glittery stars in preschool

This was the first time, I have introduced the use of glitter to my students this year.  And oh my, did they love it!! And oh my, did they use a ton of it!!

I suppose I could have approached this in a different way but I was actually prepared to let the children waist  explore all the glitter I had set out:)

In the process of using all that glitter, we made one star out of cardboard for the class Christmas tree topper…

Our cardboard star was then glued to a paper tube and set aside to dry. After it was dry, we placed the star on top of our Christmas tree…

The children enjoyed this glittery experience. In time, we will focus on being a bit more frugal with the glitter but since this was our very first time to explore this new material, I wanted the children to feel free to explore.  We did talk about the different holes in the top of the bottle and how the lid didn’t need to be set on the biggest hole openings – but that didn’t quite register with the children as a concern just yet…

I have to show you this star that one of my girls made. The happy face was so perfect that I thought my assistant must have somehow helped her but as you can see from the photos, this little one did it all by herself…

After all the stars were done, all of the different glitter colors were now mixed together so I just scooped it all into one tray and saved it in an empty glitter container for our next glittery adventure…

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By | December 22nd, 2011|Categories: Christmas|Tags: , , , |19 Comments

Christmas stockings and candy cane glitter in preschool

We have wrapped up our holiday activities for this year but there are so many things I never got around to sharing so I hope you will bear with me as I wrap up the year with a few more holiday activity posts…

In the process of blogging over the past few weeks, I have received some comments from folks sharing ideas that I just love and one of those ideas was to crush up candy canes to use as “glitter” on paper.  I am not sure how others use their crushed up candy canes but I liked the idea and figured something would come to me…

To make the candy cane glitter, the children broke their candy canes into smaller pieces, placed them in a baggy, and then went outside to crush the candy canes with hammers.  If you plan to use a hammer, I highly recommend wearing eye goggles or using smaller hammers than we did or even covering the baggies with a cloth to soften the blow.  Our kids like to hammer hard!  We also had to make sure to double bag the candy canes because it didn’t take much for holes to be made in our baggies…

Because I wasn’t sure what we would use the crushed up candy canes for, the bags were set aside for a couple of weeks. I finally set out the crushed up candy cane for the children to use as candy cane glitter on their stockings.

I also set out cotton balls and white paper strips for the children to use.  Every child could choose to use the materials they desired and each child created a unique stocking with the materials…

Some children went all out and added all the materials to their stockings and others selected only one material to use on their stockings…

It is always fun to watch my students as they create. The children are becoming increasingly confident and sure of how they want to proceed when we introduce any new art experience…

Sometimes, I barely get the materials out on the table and the children have already jumped in to implement their plan of action. There was a time that I would try to give specific directions on how to make a stocking but I have learned that the children’s ideas turn out far more inventive and creative when I give them the freedom to create on their own…

One thing we did learn is that the candy cane glitter will “bleed” into the glue and even through the paper if we use too much – but we didn’t let that minor concern stop us from doing it any way….

After the stockings were dry, I added a loop and stapled the edges so we could use them for our Christmas party and gift exchange….

By | December 21st, 2011|Categories: Christmas|Tags: , , , , |12 Comments

Hot cocoa play day for preschoolers

The days are getting very cold here and a fun way to warm things up is to have a hot cocoa day…

We had a little bit of everything going on around our classroom including some hot cocoa and marshmallow fine motor play…

We also enjoyed our homemade hot cocoa play dough (I put the hot cocoa playdough inside the hot chocolate mix can before the children arrived).  See this recipe for making your own Chocolate Playdough

The children were quite surprised to discover the hot cocoa playdough once they opened the can…

The children explored the hot cocoa playdough by digging it out with our plastic tongs and filling up their paper cups…

We also did a little hot cocoa painting by mixing a little chocolate extract into our brown paint…

The children glued their hot cocoa mugs to a sheet of blue construction paper…

And then the children painted their hot cocoa mugs with the hot cocoa paint…

And of course, the children added a few marshmallow prints dipped in white paint to top it off…

Afterall, every good cup of hot cocoa has to have marshmallows! …

Some of the children used their marshmallows dipped in white paint to try a little color mixing as well…
Our entire classroom smelled like hot cocoa for the day!  We even served up some hot cocoa to drink during our snack time…

A day filled with the wonderful smell of hot cocoa and fine motor marshmallow fun…

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Links to grow on…

Playdough recipes from PreKinders

Hot Cocoa ideas save on Delicious….

By | December 20th, 2011|Categories: Centers|Tags: , , , , , |14 Comments

Ribbon and lace sensory play in preschool

I have shared a few ideas you can do with ribbon like a little ribbon weaving and painting or making ribbon trees.  We also have had a little fun with our ribbon and lace sensory trays…

This is easy to throw together if you have some lace or ribbon on hand. I simply set out scraps of both on a tray along with scissors for the children to do a little cutting and snipping…

The textures from the different lace makes this an nice sensory experience and the cutting keeps the children engaged in exploration and play…

We will save most of the little pieces for another activity some day. But for today – we just explored the materials and the cutting process…

By | December 19th, 2011|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

Ribbon weaving and painting in preschool

Yesterday, I shared how we made ribbon trees in our prek class but we have also been exploring ribbons with our threes too…

This doesn’t have to be a holiday activity. In fact, these ideas are great ways to use up some of that left over ribbon from the holidays…

I set out these dish or sink mats (from the Dollar Store) along with several skeins of ribbon at one table for a little ribbon weaving and tying…

The key to making this fun, is letting the children choose ribbon to cut and weave rather than having the ribbon already cut up…

Some of the children preferred to weave the ribbon in and out of the holes…

And some of the children preferred to tie knots with the ribbon…

Very open ended process that invites great use of fine motor skills!

We also explored a little ribbon painting!

We set out some colorful paint, scissors, and different colors of ribbon for the children to paint with. The children cut a length of ribbon, dipped it in the paint, and dragged it across the paper any way they wish…

We  covered the entire table with paper and let the children freely paint with the ribbon anywhere they wanted.  When the paint dried, we cut up the large ribbon painted paper into individual squares for each child to take home…

The children enjoyed ribbon painting together…

By | December 18th, 2011|Categories: Centers|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

Ribbon trees and tying knots in prek

With so many beautiful ribbon colors, textures, and designs, we have been exploring different uses of ribbons throught out the holiday season…

I saw this beautiful idea for a Ribbon Christmas tree card on Pinterest but we adapted this idea published by Create: just a bit to make the process fun for our prek class.  Instead of making a card, we focused on measuring, cutting, and then tying knots with the ribbons around our twigs…

I loved the idea of making ribbon trees and in the process, my students found ways to make this process interesting to them.  This little one decided to measure out lengths of ribbon by our classroom Christmas tree…

Once the children measured out a good length of ribbon, they then cut their different lengths of ribbon from the skeins…

And then they worked on tying the ribbon around the twigs.  Miss Abby and I showed the children how to tie a simple knot and each of the children worked very hard at managing that ribbon and making knots. Overall, this was a challenging but engaging process for my prek students…

After all the measuring, cutting, and tying knots around their stems, we had some very pretty ribbon trees to take home…

Oh, and yes, the children did go outside to find their own twig for this process…

I have a few more ribbon ideas to share with you so stay tuned!

By | December 17th, 2011|Categories: Christmas|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

Our five senses snowmen in preschool

We have been exploring the Five Senses of Christmas along with other activities surrounding snow and snowmen so as a review of all of our senses, each of the children created a Five Senses Snowman…

I borrowed this idea from PreK—Preschool Ideas from Noey! Before making our snowman, we reviewed each of our senses in circle time…

I gathered bells, googly eyes, cinnamon, candy canes, and cut out snowman arms from sand paper.  As we passed around each item, we talked about how we can see with our eyes…

And we can feel the sandpaper arms with our hands…

And we can hear the bells with our ears, taste the candy cane with our mouth, and smell the cinnamon with our nose…

Then the children went to the table to make their own Five Senses Snowman…

Thank you Noey for this great idea. It fit perfectly with our Five Senses of Christmas unit we have been exploring the past two weeks…

By | December 16th, 2011|Categories: Winter Art|Tags: , , |9 Comments