All set up and ready for preschool

I have been sharing a bit about the process of setting up our preschool classrooms over the past week. The good news is that when our first day of preschool arrived, we had the classroom all set up for the children…

There is always something more I can think of to be done and since taking these photos, I have already made just a few slight changes and additions…

We tried to think through every part of the classroom so that we could find things easily…

Right down to even our snack supply cabinet and snack baskets…

We wanted to be sure that traffic flow would work well too and that there would be a good variety of centers for the children to explore…

In the photo above, we still didn’t have our bookshelf attached to the wall, but now we do…

We have another shelf in the indoor classroom just above our light table…

We also added a new rug for our circletime area.  I had a red rug there but it was too small for our class this year, so I ordered a new rug and it came in on Tuesday, right after our first day of school. The red rug was moved under our light and magnet center area…

The set up of the classroom makes such a huge difference in all things regarding classroom management and keeping kids comfortable, engaged, and excited about preschool…

And our first week of preschool was super busy…

And super fun!

 

 

By | August 31st, 2012|Categories: Back to School, Classroom Setup|Tags: , , |23 Comments

Glue bottles with brushes and paper collages

In my previous post, I shared with you all about the “Tools We Use in Preschool.”  Another tool we  will use all throughout the school year is glue. We often use two main types of glue – our glue bottles with brushes and our squeezable glue bottles (without brushes). For this post, I am going to share with you how we explored glue bottles with brushes…

We started by setting out a glue bottles with brush for each child along with our cutting scraps from the day before. In addition, we set out scissors and a canvas for each child to work on.  You will notice that our canvas is a small square of foam board.  Covering a large canvas with small pieces of construction paper scraps is hard for young children so we provided a small canvas so they could complete their canvas more easily. We also chose foam board because we happened to have a piece left over and glue can be so soggy on construction paper…

The children started by working on opening their own glue bottles and then they began brushing glue on the canvas…

Then the children added pieces of construction paper on top of the glue…

Although there were plenty of scraps already cut up in the paper bin, some children preferred to use the scissors to cut up more construction paper pieces.  Now we have two process going on – cutting and gluing…

Each child chose the color or colors of paper they wished to add to their canvas…

In my experience, it is not all that unusual for some children to think you need to pour the glue out of the glue bottle first, then use the glue brush to spread the glue around.  This is why it is a good idea to take a few minutes at the beginning of the year to let the children give the glue bottles a try while you are there to give some guidance on how the glue bottles can be used…

All of my students caught on quickly. Now that the children have had this simple introduction, we can plan other activities throughout the school year and let them continue to master the gluing process…

I think the children’s construction paper and glue collages are each uniquely designed…

And are perfect for our very first art display on the wall!

Available on Amazon

By | August 30th, 2012|Categories: Back to School|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

The tools we use in preschool

For our very first day of preschool, we jumped right in and explored the tools we use in preschool.  The “teaching” goal of our day was to give the children a chance to learn about our classroom and where to find our “tools” and how to use or take care of our tools. ..

During circletime, we discovered several tools tucked away in our story box that we can begin to use right away like glue, scissors, magnifying glasses, tweezers, crayons, markers, and more…

Each tool had its own very short story to tell.  For example, a glue bottle likes to be squeezed but when you are done squeezing the glue – the lid needs closed up tight so that the glue wont dry up!  Not every story will be remembered right away, but it gives us a starting place for building up knowledge about our tools for preschool.

As we talked about each tool, we passed it around the circle so each child could take a closer look at the tool…

And then we spent our day actually using some of those tools. After all, we know the best way to master the tools of preschool is to use them often throughout the school year. Here is how we explored our scissors today…

 The children were able to stop by the cutting table for a little cutting practice…

The children cut up scraps of paper, left over from last year, then shook all their cut up pieces of paper in our group paper bin to save for another activity we will do later this week…

The children could cut the scraps up as much as they like…

 And in our outdoor classroom, we explored tweezers and pompoms…

The children simply selected any color of pompom they liked and used the tweezers to sort them or just to take them in and out of the jar…

 The children didn’t care for the big tweezers all that well, so we pulled out all the smaller ones and the children found them much easier to use…

And we explored so many more tools but no need to share them all today as we will explore them all plenty of more times throughout the school year…

Available on Amazon

By | August 29th, 2012|Categories: Back to School|Tags: , , , , |33 Comments

Preparing for the first day of preschool

This is just a quick post to wish those of you getting ready to go back to preschool a VERY blessed year!  It took me all day, but I am pretty much ready to go. I had a few things I still wanted to do but you know how that goes – it is a work in progress…

Tomorrow, I will share more about my completed classroom – but these are a few of the little things we have all set and ready to go…

Journals

I purchased simple blank books for our journals.  Mrs. Courtney added everyone’s name to a journal and they are all set to go…

Math Bags

For those of you who have been following my blog for some time, you probably know all about our math bags.  We will be doing math bags again and I will share more on them as we go along.  If you want to read up on the previous year of math bags, you can start by clicking here: Math Bags. Mrs. Courtney added each child’s name to a math bag and my job was to prepare the parent note to go home with the math bags.  Ummm, I will do that in the morning…

Story Telling Box

I also made myself  two little story telling boxes. Well, they could also be called treasure boxes but I am calling them my story telling boxes for now because I want to really focus this year on helping my students express their own ideas, thoughts, and stories.  I am hoping the story telling box will get us off to a good start…

Okay – like a said, this was a quick post to wish everyone well and share a short update!  Have a great year in preschool!

Available on Amazon

 

Setting up the preschool classroom is always a work in progress

There are so many details that go into a preschool classroom. It seems like the list of “to-dos” just gets longer once you get started…

My wonderful new assistant, Mrs. Courtney, and one of my very generous student grandparents, Mrs. T, has pitched in to help me get things ready for preschool and there was an enormous amount of work to do. In our outdoor classroom, we had to start by doing a little power washing and then we started setting up the floor mats and furniture…

In our indoor classroom, we made sure all the floors were cleaned then began the process of setting up the furniture in there too…

I like to start with the furniture so we can see how the space will be best used and since we have a pretty small amount of space to work with, we have to make every part of the classroom counts…

Once the main pieces of furniture are in place, then we can see what furniture needs to be moved a little bit this way or that way so we have good traffic flow and each center will work out well for the children…

Once all the furniture is all set, we can begin the process of bringing in baskets and adding the materials we want to keep on each shelf…

We spent a lot of time making decisions about what we wanted on each shelf and what we wanted in each basket. We often changed our mind along the way as we would think through which items would be better for the beginning of the school year versus which items we will wait and rotate onto the shelves throughout the school year…

In our indoor classroom we are starting the school year off with a block center, writing and art center, reading and puppet area, puzzle and math center, light table area, magnet center, easel, and circletime area…

In our outdoor classroom, we are starting with our water table, sand table, window easel, paint easel, discovery center, and two tables in the center of the room for additional activities we will bring into the classroom each day…

Not only do we have to make sure our classroom furniture and center supplies are all set up but we also have to think through our teacher supplies. We want to be sure everything is accessible and organized in each classroom…

And all the while, I keep stopping places to do a little shopping.  For our outdoor classroom, I found this wonderful shelf from Michaels to hold supplies for the children to use…

Next comes the process of hanging pictures, preparing bulletin boards, labeling things, and all those other finishing touches which I will share more on in my next post.

Available on Amazon

By | August 27th, 2012|Categories: Classroom Setup|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

Reading Chrysanthemum and exploring our own perfect names

One of the most meaningful first words to a child is his or her own name. The story of “Chrysanthemum,” by Kevin Henkes, is about a little girl whose name is Chrysanthemum which, according to her parents, is the perfect name….

This book is such a wonderful book which presents all kinds of different messages you can build on but I chose to use the book as a way to emphasize how every child’s name is meaningful and special…

Because my preschool is not yet back in session, I shared this book with my three year old nephew and we followed up the book by exploring his name in a couple of ways…

Name Puzzle 

First we talked about how Wyatt has a perfect name and then I invited Wyatt to join me at the table to explore the letters of his name. On the table was Wyatt’s name fully written out and in the basket were the letters of his name on separate cards…

Wyatt explored each letter of his name for a few minutes as he put the name puzzle back together in his own way…

Name Painting

Our next activity was a simple name painting…

I printed Wyatt’s name in large print on a sheet of white drawing paper and Wyatt used a dot shaped sponge dipped in tempera paint to decorate his name…

As Wyatt and I explored his name together through our experiences today, we discovered that Wyatt’s name is absolutely perfect!

AugustSummerVirtualBookClub

This book is just one of many Kevin Henkes books being shared today.  Please take a minute to check out the blog hop below and feel free to add your links to any Kevin Henkes inspired posts as well. 

 

There are a few rules for this blog hop that we ask you to follow, so make sure to read them:
  1. Link up only posts inspired by Kevin Henkes that share children’s book inspired crafts, activities, recipes, etc. Any other posts will be deleted.
  2. Visit other blog posts on the linky and comment on or share the ones you love!
  3. Add our Virtual Book Club button (shown above) to your post if you’d like.
Remember, if you are viewing this blog post by email, you will have to come to the blog to view the additional links being shared in the blog hop below…

By | August 24th, 2012|Categories: Children's Books|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

TODDLER lesson plan tidbits

I know, from personal experience, that writing a toddler lesson plan can be a daunting task so let me share with you a few tips that might help you begin the process using the word TODDLER as our guide…

Toddler

For this post, a toddler is being defined as a child who is crawling or just beginning to walk and going on up through the age of two.

Observe

Before writing a toddler lesson plan, take the time to observe the toddler(s) in your care. While observing, take time to notice…

  • Toddler interest
  • Toddler vocabulary
  • Toddler motor skills
  • Toddler play
  • Toddler interactions
  • Toddler behavior

Development

From your observations, you will begin to see trends in toddler development. The toddler’s stage of development should be the guide behind all planning.

Doing

To promote toddler development, the toddler must be an active participant in his or her own learning. Toddler growth and development begins to take shape as toddlers are doing something and interacting with others.

 

Learning Environment

 A safe but challenging, interesting, and inviting learning environment is a critical part of promoting toddler development.  Toddlers need consistent freedom to explore the learning environment. The learning environment includes any place a toddler spends time – outdoors or indoors.

Experiences

As a toddler is given the opportunity to explore the environment, a variety of tools and materials need to be present and available that provide lots of different kinds of experiences for toddler play and exploration.

Repeat

As different experiences within the toddler’s learning environment are repeated, new developmental milestones are both introduced and mastered.

Putting it all together

So now that you have the TODDLER tidbits for what needs to be considered as you design your lesson plans, let me share with you how I would go about putting this all together using one of my own experiences…

As I  observe my grandson, I notice that he has just started wearing shoes and is particularly interested in walking in those shoes.

I know that learning how to walk on a variety of surfaces with shoes on or off is a developmental milestone that my grandson needs to master so I want to give him opportunities to do a little walking by providing many types of walking experiences on different types of surfaces…

I can provide these walking experiences both in the indoor and outdoor learning environment though natural opportunities in play and exploration and the more we repeat the different types of walking  experiences the sooner he will master the ability to walk on different types of surfaces whether he is wearing those brand new shoes or not! …

Forming it all up

Putting the toddler learning experience in a lesson plan form would look something like this…

By | August 24th, 2012|Categories: Around the Classroom|3 Comments

Fine motor acorn play

I love how preschoolers live in the moment. Sometimes, as a preschool teacher, it is easy to think that certain things or topics should only be considered for play in the classroom during a specific time of year…

Well, I am here to tell you that preschoolers can teach us a thing or two about appreciating the things all around us, no matter what time of year it is. Just like my nephew taught me last week when we went for a little walk outside…

First he found some acorn caps on the ground and decided he wanted to keep them  – I thought acorns were only supposed to be around in the fall…

Then he set the acorn caps out on a piece of wood and began to count them…

When we went back inside to my classroom, he set the acorn caps out on a table and began to count them again…

Doesn’t this kid know that you are not supposed to play with acorns during the summer? Isn’t that a fall activity?

Oh well, I decided that since he was so interested in the acorn caps, I might as well go along with it. So I handed him some chopsticks…

And a baby food jar to put his summer time acorn cap collection in…

Turns out that collecting, counting, and tweezing acorn caps is the coolest summer time idea ever!…

Available on Amazon

 

Sorry – Amazon doesn’t seem to have any acorns:)

Puzzle box game for toddlers

While in the process of getting my preschool ready for our first day, my little tag-along decided to try out all of our puzzles…

Sitting on the table along with the puzzles was a wooden Kleenex box that we plan to used in our classroom.  I dropped a puzzle piece in the box first and the puzzle box game began…

My grandson stood at the table and dropped every single puzzle piece he could in the box.  I think he stood there for about 15 minutes just adding adding blocks. Then he would lift the box and start again…

If a piece didn’t fit quite right, he would continue to push it around until he either got it to drop in the box or it fell off the edge…

Most of the pieces fit easily into the opening of the box. I really enjoyed watching as my grandson worked those puzzle pieces into that box…

My grandson hasn’t quite figured out how to get the puzzle pieces back onto the puzzle boards but he’s got the puzzle in a box game down!

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

Looking for more Puzzle Play!  Check out all these ideas on Pinterest!

How to make skittle paint

Yesterday, I shared a little glimpse of the Teach Preschool workshop for teachers. While presenting to the teachers, I demonstrated how to make M&M Paint.  One teacher then asked me if you can use Skittles candy instead. Well, I didn’t know so today, I gave it a try and wanted to share the results of Skittle Paint with you…

Gather your materials

You will need skittles, water, cups, paint brushes, and paper.

The amount of Skittles depends on the amount of paint you want to make.  In this tutorial, I used two regular sized bags of Skittles.  For my class, I would probably use at least one, maybe two, large bags of skittles.

I also used two different flavor of Skittles. The flavor didn’t seem to matter – they all worked the same.

Sort the skittles

I sorted the skittles by color. In my classroom, I would invite my students to sort the skittles – great activity for color sorting, comparing, grouping, counting, estimating, and color recognition…

Then place each of your sorted colors in a dish you can use for painting…

Add Water

Next, add enough water to cover the top of the skittles. Remember, the more water you add, the paler your color will be. For stronger color, add less water…

Now stir or swish the Skittles around in the water. The color will immediately start to come off of the Skittles and change your water to the color of the Skittles…

Now you are ready to paint with the Skittle Paint.  The paint will be like painting with water color paint. It is a very thin paint but slightly sticky to the touch…

The smell of the Skittles starts to fade a bit once the water is added.  But – FYI – if you taste the water, it tastes like very sweet Koolaid. However, once the Skittles start to dissolve in the water , they are not all that tempting to want to drink or eat but the good news is that Skittle Paint is non-toxic…

Because the Skittle Paint is a pretty thin consistency  – I decided it would be fun to try dripping the paint on a paper towel and it worked fabulously…

My niece joined in with me and made her own Skittle Paint designs…

Lots of possibility and fun with Skittle Paint! Now it is your turn to give it a try…

Comparing candies

To compare the difference, M&M paint does seem to be a little thicker, works very well with paint brushes,  and M&M’s do not dissolve completely – only the shell dissolves.

Skittles keep on dissolving as long as you are stirring them or they sit in the water. I only let my Skittles sit for a few minutes before painting with them.

You can view M&M Paint here! 

Both candies are non-toxic but you need to be considerate of any food allergies your students may have before trying either type of paint. 

Super simple and super fun!

Available on Amazon

By | August 21st, 2012|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , , |14 Comments