Tie dyeing chenille stems

Tie dying chenille stems (pipe cleaners) is a fun little process we explored in our classroom during our study on stars.  This tie dye process could really be used for any shape made out of a chenille stem but we happened to be talking about stars on this particular day…

During our circle time, we read the wonderful book titled “Stars” by Mary Lyn Rae which is available to purchase here…

To extend our story about stars, each child made a set of their own colorful stars to take home and each child selected one star to display in our classroom window…

For this tie dye process, all you need are white chenille stems (pipe cleaners) and several containers of colored water. We used partially filled baggies to hold our colored water. The baggies have water with just a drop or two of food color in them…

The children dipped the chenille stem stars in the colored water then set them out on a paper towel to soak up the excess water…

This process could have been done in any number of ways. We could have possibly used bowls of water instead of baggies, but the children liked putting the stars in the bags of colored water and then swishing them around until they were fully colored…

Some of the children figured out that if they only dipped one corner or edge of the star in at a time, they could make a tie dye affect and end up with multiple colors on their stars…

I had plenty of white chenille stems on hand for the children to explore the coloring process. We will definitely try this again but perhaps next time, I will just let the children bend the chenille stems into shapes on their own – this would add another step to this process that the children would enjoy…

This was a new process for us and like any new process that has lots of potential, we will continue to try it and adjust the process along the way until we have covered the many different ways the process can be explored…

After our stars hung in our window for about a week or less, we made a new discovery…

All the stars turned white again! I am not sure what happened to the color. Did the sun bleach the stars? Did the colored water drip off and dry? Hmmm….

We now know to keep a closer eye on our colored chenille stems in the future so we can determine why they turned white again. A little science and discovery along the way…

 

By | February 18th, 2012|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: , , , , |4 Comments

Exploring newspaper

Newspaper is a fun medium for exploration in preschool. We started out in circletime with reading a few headlines and hunting for a letter ‘Nn’ and different colors in our newspapers…

I brought over a random stack of newspapers to look through and each child had their own to open, fold, close, and “read” as we went along with our morning circletime…

This wasn’t a “sit and listen to me” circletime session. I simply modeled a little newspaper reading for the children as they explored their own newspapers and we talked about what they were finding through casual conversation….

After circletime, the children found a variety of newspaper activities throughout the classroom including these interesting newspaper paint brushes I made for them to paint with…

The paint brushes were strips of newspaper stapled to the end of a craft stick. I made some of the brushes with short strips of newspaper and some of them had curly strips of newspaper. I added tape to some of the brushes if they needed a little reinforcement but most of them were fine without the tape….

The children used red, black and white paint because we discovered that those were the three most used colors in the newspapers we had explored earlier that day…

After each newspaper paint brush was used, we threw the paint brushes away. They really can’t be shared or reused all that well so I made a bunch of the newspaper paint brushes in advance…

The children enjoyed discovering the color gray through this process. We really hadn’t painted with gray paint before so having a new color come from our color mixing was a nice surprise…

 

Who knew that black, red, and white paint would make such pretty colors?

 

Snow scientists at play

We had a nice surprise this morning before heading off to preschool – it snowed! Usually, we have lots of snow by now but this was our first “real” snow day this school year. So we had to take advantage of it…

The children managed to scrape together just enough snow to build a snowman. They added a nose and ears using some of the play food from our classroom. They also added Ms. Abby’s scarf as the final touch…

On their way back into the classroom, the children were given small trays to scrape up some snow and bring back with them. I had thought they would bring in a small amount but they chose to pick up as much snow as they could carry…

And so we had to drag out the big magnet board to put some of the snow on and the rest of it stayed on the individual trays…

At first, I only set out paintbrushes and colored water for the children to paint their snow…

But once the children got started, I decided to add droppers to the process too…

The children liked the droppers best. They liked poking holes into the snow and then adding the color inside the holes. The droppers made them feel like they were scientists…

The children took their time exploring, examining, and coloring the snow…

Some of the children preferred to work on their own little tray of snow and some preferred to work on the big group tray of snow…

This wasn’t a planned activity for the day but how can you resist not making a snow day out of a snow day?

Once the children decided they were done exploring the snow, we piled all the colorful snow on the large tray and took it back outside…

By the end of the day, most of the snow had already melted away but perhaps we will have one more day of snow before spring! We shall see!

 

By | February 15th, 2012|Categories: Science and Nature, Winter Art|Tags: , , , |12 Comments

Everyday light table play

I have a small light table that is always out and available for play in my classroom.  I use this light table for simple activities and try to keep something out and available for light table play every single day…

One of the drawbacks to having wonderful natural light in my preschool classroom is that the light and colors on the light table aren’t nearly as brilliant during the day as it is when I play at home with the light table at night. But the light is still effective and to keep it interesting, we try using the light table in a variety of ways…

Many of the photos I am sharing on this post today come from an entire year of preschool light table activities. We are always exploring so many different light table activities, that I haven’t even had time to write about most of them. So I thought I would at least share with you different ways we use the light table in our classroom…

We use the light table salt box to explore the writing and drawing process….

We use the light table to promote number and letter recognition….

We use the water beads on the light table to explore magnification and prism affects on the newspaper letters…

We hunt and pick up small objects through holes on the light table for a little fine motor play…

We extend the books we read like the book “Stars” by Mary Lyn Rae

We use the light table to explore art and to take a closer look at our artwork once we are finished…

We explore colors, color mixing, and science on the light table…

We explored physics and centrifugal force with marbles in a petri dish – this was pretty cool…

We stacked the dishes up in many different ways and made the marbles go round and round by moving the dishes in a circular motion…

It was hard to take a photo of the marbles moving…

We explore drawing and story telling with these laminated story strips for the light table…

The children lay the laminated strips across the light table to make the story move…

We play games on the light table…

We explore as many different materials on the light table that we can come up with…

We explore water beads on our DIY light table when we need a large light table surface…

And on some days the children come up with their own unique plan for play on the light table…

You can see more ways we explore the light table here on my previous light table post!

Available on Amazon

By | February 13th, 2012|Categories: Light Table, Powered by Play|Tags: , , , |20 Comments

Choosing the right preschool for your child

It is that time of year when parents are starting to make decisions about where to send their child to preschool.  If you are new to sending your child to preschool, you need to know that it is important to start looking for a place early and to get on a list. Quality preschool programs can fill up rather fast and then you are left scrambling to find another place to go.  Just take a look at the lengths these people will go through in this article! 

If you are looking for a preschool, you may be wishing you had a check list of questions to ask or things to do so I am going to do my best to give you a little help…

Step One

The first thing you will need to know are the basic logistics of the preschool programs in your area. It is a good idea to check out more than one preschool and compare the information. 

Find Locations:  Find out the location of the preschools in your area that are a convenient driving distance for you.

Get Referrals: Ask other parents where they send their children to preschool and to tell you what they like about their child’s preschool. The reasons they give may influence your decision to send or not send your preschooler to the same school.

Make Contact: Contact a few preschools in your area and ask the following questions…

  1. What age does my child need to be to enter your preschool program?
  2. What days of the week do ___ year olds attend your preschool?
  3. What time does preschool begin and end each day?
  4. Do you have extended or after preschool hours (if this is needed)?
  5. What will the tuition rate be for my ___ year old?
  6. When is tuition due?
  7. Is tuition due weekly, monthly, annually?
  8. What other expenses will be involved in addition to tuition throughout the school year?
  9. Will the children go on “out of school” fieldtrips?
  10. Will the preschool provide snack or will this be the parent’s responsibility?
  11. How many students will be in my child’s classroom?
  12. How many teachers will be in my child’s classroom?
  13. What are the dates your preschool starts and ends?
  14. What dates are you closed throughout the year?
  15. Do you follow the same calendar as the local school systems?
  16. How do you notify parents of last minute school closings due to inclement weather or other?
  17. What are your policies about illness and keeping children home?
  18. Is your preschool licensed or certified by any agency? If so, which agencies?
  19. Do you have a website I can go to for additional information?
You may be able just to ask for an enrollement packet to get the answer to most of the above questions…

For preschools that are full you can ask…

  1. Is there is a waiting list and how do I get on it?
  2. How will I be notified if an opening comes up?
  3. What is the cost to get on your waiting list?
  4. When do you make final decisions and close or finalize enrollment?

Step Two

Once you have narrowed down your choice based on location, cost, session times and days then you will want to see if you can stop by and visit the preschool. This is a good reason to start looking before the current school year comes to an end so you can actually see the school while it is in full swing. Many preschools close during the summer and will not be available to give tours.

Visiting the preschool:

I recommend going without your child on your first visit to the preschool. This will give you the chance to check out the school and ask a few questions before introducing the preschool to your child.

  1. Call ahead and see if you can set up an appointment to see the school.
  2. Ask if you can return for a second visit and bring your child with you to visit the classroom and meet the teacher.
  3. Keep in mind that if you are visiting during school hours that the teacher may not be able to stop and chat with you for any lengthy period of time.
  4. A visit like this should be your opportunity to observe the classroom environment and to get a feel for the classroom environment as well as the personalities and teaching approach of the teachers in the classroom.

During your visit to the preschool you may wish to consider the following….

Observations What to look for… Questions (the answer should be yes!)
Artwork The kind of artwork that is displayed around the room. Does the artwork look child-made?
Table Activities The types of activities out on the tables. Do the activities provide opportunities for interaction, conversation, creativity, decision-making, and hands-on play or exploration?
Toys and Equipment The toys and equipment available for play Are there plenty of toys to keep a large group of children busy and engaged in play?Are the toys and equipment of good quality and good condition?
Centers The types of choices (centers) made available to children through play. Is there an easel, water table, sand table, and other centers such as science, math, art, writing, books, puzzles, play dough, and blocks set up and open for play throughout the room?
Cleanliness and Organization The cleanliness and organization of the environment. Are tables, chairs, toys, shelves, cabinets, floors clean and free from excess clutter?Are toys and materials organized in baskets and set out to foster decision-making, interesting choices, play, independence, and responsibility?
Cubbies Coat hooks, baskets, or shelves. Is there a place for children to store their personal belongings while at preschool that they can reach and manage independently?
Conversations The conversations of children and teachers If children are present and playing in the classroom, do you hear talking, laughing, singing, asking questions, and expressing their ideas, preferences or point of view?Do you hear the teachers speaking warmly, kindly, and respectfully to the children? Do you hear teachers encouraging the children to be confident learners by inviting them to make choices, decisions, and be a part of the activities in progress?
Movement Children at Play Do you see children moving about the room, engaged in centers, working with their hands, exploring materials, and at play with one another?
Outdoors The outdoor environment. Is there an outdoor area where children can run, climb, walk, explore, climb, and participate in other types of play?

The above table provides some of the most common areas of considerations when visiting most preschool classrooms.

Questions for the teacher:

If you have a chance to talk to the teacher, then you may wish to ask the following kinds of questions….

  1. How long have you been teaching ___ year olds?
  2. How long have you been with this preschool?
  3. What kind of background in education and experience in teaching young children do you have?
  4. What is your teaching philosophy (In what ways do you believe children learn best)?
  5. What is your discipline policy? (How you will handle inappropriate behavior in the classroom)?
  6. What kinds of rules will you expect the children to follow and how will you help the children meet your expectations?
  7. What type(s) of curriculum (if any) do you follow?
  8. In what way(s) do you assess “progress”?
  9. What kinds of activities will the children do throughout the day?
  10. Do you have a daily schedule I can keep?
  11. In what way(s) do you provide parent communication?
  12. Will you be having parent/teacher conferences?
  13. How do you feel about parents visiting in your classroom (Does the teacher have an open door policy)?
  14. How do you feel about parents volunteering in your classroom? In what ways can parents volunteer to help out in your classroom?

 

Notice that I am not giving you right or wrong answers to the above questions. These are just for you to use as a guide in order to get a feel for the kind of program you will be sending your child to. 

 

The Perfect Preschool
There really isn’t a perfect recipe for helping you choose the “perfect” preschool for your child. In the end, it will be your job to find a preschool that seems to be the right fit for you and your child.  Trust your own instincts in the process and find a preschool that makes you comfortable and confident leaving your child.

 

It is important that you love the preschool and feel accepted and appreciated as the parent of your preschooler.  If you lack confidence in your child’s preschool, it is very possible that your child will pick up on your concerns and feel apprehensive about going to preschool.  Your child’s preschool should meet the needs of the whole child and you want to feel confident that your choice in preschool will make the early learning years for your child and your family a successful experience.

 

Talking about Preschool on Fox Morning News…
This is a very short segment, you may enjoy the live but shortened version of this post on this 3 minute video aired over at Fox Morning News in January….

What does preschool look like?

The following is a gallery of photos I put together from my own classroom to help you visualize the preschool experience.  If you are reading my blog regularly, hopefully you are learning about the preschool experience because there is much more than I can possibly show you below! You can hover over each photo to read a little bit about what we do in preschool… 

At preschool we……

And don’t forget outdoor play!

Of course, every classroom will have its own personality, style, and design -but hopefully, this will at least give you insight as to what preschool is all about as you head out to visit preschools in your area.

My very best in your search for your next preschool.

May your preschooler have the best experience possible!

~Deborah

Please note..

This post was written as a request from Toddler Approved. If you haven’t checked out the Toddler Approved blog – Do me a favor and pay her a visit today!  Or stop by Toddler Approved Facebook Page and tell her Deborah from Teach Preschool sent you! 



Do you have other tips?

If you have other tips for parents on what to look for when searching for a preschool, please share them in the comments below!

Making tissue paper heart collages in preschool

I have this wonderful stack of brightly colored tissue paper all saved up and perfect for making a colorful collage…

I set out a bunch of tissue paper hearts in a variety of sizes and colors along with the colorful Glue Paint that I shared how to make yesterday: See How to make Glue Paint here!  The children started by painting glue on their paper….

It didn’t matter which color of glue paint they used and how many different colors they used. Once they painted some glue on their paper, then they started adding tissue paper hearts on the glue paint…

Each child took their own approach to this, some children painted all of their paper then added the hearts and others painted a little area, added a heart and then painted some more…

The children learned that if a tissue paper heart tore to just put another one on top of it and add more glue paint.  The tissue paper hearts can be layered one on top of the other by using the glue paint as needed to hold the tissue paper in place…

And no need to worry about wrinkles either – the glue paint added on top of the tissue paper hearts will smooth out the hearts leaving a wonderful design of hearts on the paper….

In other words – add glue paint, hearts, more glue paint, more hearts, more glue paint on top!

If you have excess glue – just add more hearts to soak it all up or set it all aside and the glue will soon dry…

Once the children completed their glue painted heart collages, we encouraged them to add their own names to the paper then set them aside to dry…

The glue paint dries very quickly and results in hearts that are very stiff to the touch…

I think if you try this on wax paper – it just might work as well and then you would have a beautiful heart suncatcher!  I wish I would have thought of that sooner)…

 

Linking this post up to…

Mon to 2 Posh Lil Divas: Sunday Showcase – Valentine’s Edition!

Mama Mia’s Heart 2 Hearts Sharing Saturday

Show-and-Share Saturday Link Up and I Can Teach My Child

By | February 11th, 2012|Categories: Valentine's Day|Tags: , , , , , |10 Comments

Making glue paint in preschool

Before I share my next post, I need to take a minute to share with you how to make glue paint….

Ingredients

You need a cup, paintbrush, glue, food color, and water.

(You can use white or clear Elmers school glue)

Instructions

Squeeze some glue into the cup (I used about 1/4 cup glue)…

Add food color to the glue…

Then add the water (I used about 1/2 cup water)…

Stir it all up with your paintbrush until the glue and water are fully mixed together…

About Glue Paint

  • Glue paint is great for gluing light weight materials to paper such as tissue paper or crepe paper.
  • By adding the water, the glue paint spreads easily across the paper and dries quickly and firmly.
  • By adding the food color, the children can see the areas of the paper where glue has been added plus it makes a fun paint all in itself…
  • When painting with the glue paint on thin paper, a soft bushy paintbrush works best.

Clean Up and Storage

  • Because glue paint is mostly water, it will rinse out of your cup and paintbrush fairly easily with warm soapy water but you should rinse the brush out after each use or the brush will get stiff.
  • You can store your cups of glue paint with a plastic cover over the top of the cups but when you go to use it again, you must stir the water and glue again because the water and glue tend to separate as they sit over time.

My next post will show you how we used the glue paint, so be sure to check back tomorrow!

Linking UP….

To Show-and-Share Saturday Link Up and I Can Teach My Child

By | February 11th, 2012|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

Making valentine critters in preschool

I just love seeing all the bright colors of hearts in my classroom right now! They make my whole classroom look so cheerful…

Today would have been the perfect day to read the book “My Heart Is Like a Zoo” by Michael Hall but of course, I couldn’t find my copy so I had to improvise a bit….

To introduce our valentine critter collages, I placed a set of colorful construction paper hearts in a loose pile on my black flannel board.  I asked the children to take a guess as to how many paper hearts they think are on the board. One of my students immediately shouted, “Oh, you mean estimate!”

I was so excited because each of my students made a guess today without hesitation. They shouted out guesses anywhere from 4 to 100. My Pre-K student guesses were pretty close to the actual number which made each of the children quite happy!  After all the guesses were shouted out, I reorganized the hearts on the board and we counted them all together…

After counting all the hearts, I rearranged the hearts on the board and asked the children if they could tell me what new shape the hearts made when I “put them together like this!”  I didn’t worry about a right or wrong answer, any guess worked quite well…

The children all made great guesses including clover, butterfly, and flower.  I made several more shapes and the children continued to guess what shape the hearts would make each time I rearranged them on the board….

When I put the heart shapes across the board this way, one of my students shouted, “Look Mrs. Stewart – You made a pattern!”  Okay – now talk about feeling quite proud of a bunch of kids today!

And when I put the shapes this way, the children immediately decided that this was a caterpillar or worm…

And for this final heart critter – the children easily guessed that this was a person…

Once we finished our circle time, the children were invited to make their own critter collage with construction paper hearts and glue…

On the table were a bunch of pre-cut hearts (of various colors and sizes) and glue. The children selected the hearts they liked and went to work making their own critter collages…

Every child chose their own way to arrange their hearts and glue them down. Some of the heart collages were very simple in design and others were more complex…

Some of the children really focused on making a critter and other children preferred to just glue their favorite colors of hearts on their paper rather than trying to actually make something specific…

Once all the heart critter collages were all completed, I had the children print their own names on their paper then set them aside to dry…

Not everyone can print their names but all the children like to “write their own name” on their paper – especially since we use permanent markers to write our names…

I hung all of the children’s critter heart collages on my wall using a sheet of black construction paper for the backdrop…

Made my entire classroom look cheerful!

Be sure to stop by and enter the 12 Piece Craft puzzle give-away. Give-away ends February 13th at 10:00pm EST 

 

Getting ready for a valentine’s day party

Today we started getting ready for our Valentine’s day party which we will have next week on Valentine’s Day! It seems like we have been out of school for every major holiday there has been so far this year so it is nice to finally get to celebrate at least one holiday on the actual day of the holiday…

I thought for our Valentine bags, we would try the popular paper tube heart printing. I didn’t try this ahead of time so when Miss Abby and I sat down at the very last minute to make our tubes, we had a few of them looking a little lopsided…

Basically, what you do is take the end of a paper tube and fold it in to make the heart.  I can’t really explain it but if you look at this photo shared by one of my readers over at Teach Preschool on Facebook, you will see she did a great job making her heart shaped paper tubes…

Photo contributed by Mandy B. Leech

Mandy said that she folded the tubes then added a piece of tape to keep the fold in place better and to keep the kids from squishing the fold out! Wish I had thought of that

Photo contributed by Mandy B. Leech

But ours still turned out pretty cute and the kids enjoyed painting with the tubes. Anytime we get to use a new tool for painting, my kids enjoy it…

Most of our kids stamped with the tubes to make hearts and then we had a few that preferred to rub the tubes all around their bags – so they have a more of a painted mural for their valentine bags….

I don’t think it will make any difference in the end whether the children had cute valentine printed bags or beautiful shades of pink and red murals – they will still all hold the same amount of cards and treats which, I assure you, will be all that matters come Valentine’s day…

The Kid Blogger Network presents…

Valentine Ideas Blog Hop!!

This post is part of a crazy cool blog hop that you do not want to miss out on!  Just check the linky below for some terrific ideas for Valentine’s day! I was blown away by all the really cool ideas this year. Well done blogging friends!!

Valentine's Day Ideas Blog Hop
Participating bloggers…

Mama Pea Pod, Let Kids CreateMy Creative FamilyHands on: as we growLa Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life,  AngeliqueFelix.comThe Golden GleamTeach PreschoolCritters and CrayonsLiving at the Whitehead ZooThe Iowa Farmer’s WifeNurturestoreKitchen Counter ChroniclesThe Chocolate Muffin TreeJamie’s JumbleThe Outlaw Mom BlogMama SmilesThe Mommies Made Me Do ItDinosaurs and OctopusesMom to 2 Posh Lil DivasToddler ApprovedMessy KidsRainy Day Mum, JDaniel4sMomGlittering MuffinsRed Ted ArtMommy and Me Book ClubPutti PrapanchaDilly-Dali ArtCreative Connections for KidsMommy LabsDe tout et de rien: Activités pour le PréscolaireImagination Soup.netRockabye ButterflyClassified: MomKids Creative ChaosA Mom with A Lesson PlanPlayDrMomRainbowsWithinReachLiving Montessori NowCurly BirdsGrowing A Jeweled RoseThe Home TeacherA Little Learning For TwoSun Hats and Wellie BootsThe Imagination TreeMummy Mummy MumCritters and CrayonsLa-La’s Home DaycareCome Together KidsTinkerlabDirt and BoogersMultiple Mummy

 Looking for even more Valentine ideas?

Check out my Valentine’s Day Pins on Pinterest!

By | February 8th, 2012|Categories: Valentine's Day|Tags: , , , , , |7 Comments

Table top easel painting in preschool

Last summer I made a whole set of small table top easels from cardboard and today, we used them for tabletop easel painting…

I also made paint palettes from cut up strips of empty apple cartons. I filled the cups of the ‘disposable’ paint palettes with different colors of paint and gave each child their own paint palette to work with…

As the children painted, they freely mixed the colors in their own paint palette. Although the children really didn’t need water for this, the children asked for a cup of water anyway to rinse off their paint brushes. It somehow made the children feel like they had the complete artist package just by adding the cup of water…

The children asked for more paper and paint as they continued to explore the painting process. I just kept adding paint on top of the old paint and we didn’t worry about whether the colors were getting mixed up a bit on the palettes. Painting is all about mixing colors….

Some of the children held their paint palettes while painting and others kept them on the table to work with. After lots of use, the paint palettes get a little flimsy so the children only used them on the table. I let them figure that out as we went along…

And some of our children enjoyed exploring the difference water made when painting. They discovered the texture and the color was quite different if you added water to the paint or paint brush…

We used terms and sentences like paint canvas, paint palette, thinning the paint, mixing the colors, stroking with the paint brush, and so on….

We also used a variety of different types of paint brushes. There wasn’t much thought that went into which brushes we used, I just handed them out randomly…

In time, our painting space started looking – well – very artistic!

I wish everyone of you could have been there to see this experience because I honestly don’t know how to give it justice. It wasn’t that the children walked away thinking, “I just made a beautiful painting,” although I think they were all quite beautiful, it was that this was a beautiful experience…

My students kept telling one another – “I am making this painting for you!” and “Come and look at what I painted for you!” and “Don’t you love it?”  They all made me smile at their generosity towards each other…

My students have grown as artists throughout this school year and this was an amazing experience of art expression, dramatic play, color mixing, independence, generosity, and creativity. One of my students’ said, “We are like real artists!”  And I must say, they truly were…

This post is linked to Red Ted Art’s Blog: Kids Crafts Linky Party  and to Kreative Resources!

By | February 7th, 2012|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: , , |13 Comments