Sink or Float: an exploration with nature

Water is such a wonderful resource in the preschool classroom as it can be used for all types of play, exploration, and learning. One of our most recent water activities was to gather up some items from nature then answer the question “Does it sink or float?”

Sink or Float with Nature by Teach Preschool

The children started out by reviewing a short checklist of nature items I put together based on the kinds of items I knew were available around our school grounds…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Then each child took their checklist outside to find and gather each of the items on their checklist…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

As the children found each item, they brought the items inside and set them by their name until they had every item on the list sitting on the table…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Now we were ready to begin our exploration with sink or float. The children chose the first item on their list which was a piece of bark and made a guess as to whether the bark would sink or float. Once the guesses were all in, the children dropped their bark in the water to check their guesses and make any other observations they found interesting…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

The bark was then removed from the water and we repeated the process for each item on our check list which included sticks…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Leaves…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Rocks…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

And flowers…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

This bright group of students were able to guess quickly which nature items might sink or float but some of our items tricked us a bit since it had rained the night before. The bark was particularly tricky because although some of the pieces of bark floated, some of them sank depending on how wet they were. We also took a few minutes to watch our leaves float across the water by blowing on them…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

A terrific study on the concept of floating vs. sinking!  If you would like a copy of our checklist – just click here for the PDF!

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Links to Grow On

Exploring what will sink or float in preschool by Teach Preschool

Balloons and Water by Teach Preschool

Sink or Float Bottle by Chasing Cheerios

F is for Float by Brilliant Beginnings

By | May 18th, 2013|Categories: Science and Nature|Tags: , , , |7 Comments

Make and play with Venus Fly Traps

The Venus Fly Trap has to be one of the coolest plants to check out in preschool. After a discussion in our classroom on this rather unique plant, we made a simple paper plate Venus Fly Trap and then used them to catch a few bugs in our sensory center…

Venus Fly Trap by Teach Preschool

Our discussion was kicked off by our Scholastic magazine’s coverage of the Venus Fly Trap…

Venus Fly Trap by Teach Preschool 2

Then the children headed to our outdoor classroom to make their own paper plate Venus Fly Traps. They started by cutting around the edges of a green paper plate…

Venus Fly Trap by Teach Preschool 3

Then they folded their paper plate in half and added eyes or other features to complete their hungry plants…

Venus Fly Trap by Teach Preschool 5

Then the children took their bug eating plants over to feed them at the bug/rice sensory table…

Venus Fly Trap by Teach Preschool 8

We had lots of Venus Fly Trap pretend play going on all throughout the morning…

Venus Fly Trap by Teach Preschool 9

And lots of squeezing fly traps and pinching up rice and bugs – some great fine motor strengthening through our play…

Venus Fly Trap by Teach Preschool 6

Available on Amazon

Dandelion blow painting

For many, having a yard full of dandelions would be quite the nuisance, but for a class of preschoolers dandelions are a welcomed site! This year we had more dandelions than I have ever seen surrounding our wooded area so we put all those dandelions to good work in our classroom…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

This was a simple process that began by each child dripping a puddle of paint onto the center of a piece of white corrugated cardboard…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

Next, the children added a smaller puddle of glue on top of their paint puddle…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

Then the children used a small spoon to mix up their paint and glue…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

As the children mixed up their paint and glue, they spread the mixture around the cardboard leaving most of the edges free from paint so they could hold their painted boards when we went outside to hunt for dandelions…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

The children carried their cardboard pallets outside in search of dandelions…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

Then they held their dandelions up close to their paint and blew…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

The dandelion seeds landed in the paint and we were able to examine how the wind can take seeds from one place to another and spread them out on the ground so new plants would grow…

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

We set our dandelion blow paintings aside to dry over night and then gently took them home. The dandelion seeds stood up on the paint but I’m not so sure how long they stayed that way once the paintings went home….

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool

A wonderful experience in exploring how seeds are carried from one place to another combined with an interesting art experience!

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

 Simple Seed Mosaics by Teach Preschool

Wind Theme by Ready, Set, Read

A Spring Treasure Box by Little Wonders’ Days

Celebrating graduation day in preschool

We are soon coming to the end of our current school year and in honor of the time we have spent together and what the future holds, we celebrate with a fun, simple, but very memorable preschool graduation…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

There are many different thoughts about whether or not it is “appropriate” for preschoolers to participate in a graduation program or ceremony. I can’t answer that for you because I think it all depends on the approach you take and if your approach will be a meaningful and enriching experience for your students and their parents. While you consider what you believe is in the best interest of your students and parents, I thought I would share what our graduation day was like last year and talk a little bit about why we celebrate this day together…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

Why we celebrate

I have a small preschool and all of my students are with me from the day they enter the program until the day they leave my program.  During their time with me, my students grow and learn so much that it is simply amazing. I don’t want the last day of their time with me to just come and go as if it wasn’t significant. I want my students and their parents to know that their time in preschool was precious and that I valued every second of it. I want to offer my students and parents the chance to celebrate the closing of their preschool years and the beginning of new experiences to come. Our graduates are moving on to new discoveries and new accomplishments but they take with them the many discoveries and accomplishments we shared together and this is all worth celebrating…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

How we celebrate

In my preschool, all the students are involved in the graduation celebration. They all march down the red carpet together with the younger (future-graduates) leading the way.  Last year, all the children marched down the isle to the lively tune of “I’m Bringing Home My Baby Bumble Bee.”  This got our program off to a fun, relaxed, and very preschool focused start…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

Before graduation day, we went outside a couple of times and practiced our walk down the isle so the children would know what to do on graduation day but my assistant and I were there to remind them as needed on the day of graduation…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

We also spent a couple of days practicing our songs that we planned to sing for the parents.  The songs we sing each year are usually all songs we have been singing throughout the school year so the children are already familiar with them and comfortable singing them together…

Lauging together on the stage

On the day of graduation, all the children sing a couple of songs together first and then our graduates sing a song on their own plus demonstrate a few things they have learned throughout the school year…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And then I call up each child to the stage. Each of our future graduates get a certificate for completing a year in preschool…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And each of our graduates get their diploma for completing their preschool experience…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

While each student is up on the stage, I take a quick minute to share something special about each child. This gives parents a little extra time to take photos and me the chance to tell how proud I am of each of my students…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And once all the children have received their diploma or certificate, we end our celebration with a fun song the children can freely dance and have fun with…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

The parents and children then all stick around and eat cake, visit with one another, and then we call it a night. I would say the entire presentation lasts about 45 minutes from walking down the isle to dancing to our last song. Because our graduation celebration is held outdoors, we don’t try and do a slide presentation but no worries, my parents have been seeing photos of everything we do in our classroom all year long in our private online forum and here on the blog.

Wrapping it all up

This year, I might change up the order or layout or the songs we sing just a bit but what will be the same this year and every year will be the focus of our celebration. The focus is always on the accomplishments my students made throughout the year and the great things that are ahead.  The graduation ceremony is designed to celebrate those things through a fun, relaxed, and simple preschool celebration.

PS. For those who are wondering about our graduation robes, we ordered them from Rhyme University this year. I hope I get them on time! As far as why we wear them? Because they are beautiful and it makes our graduates feel special. Besides all preschool age children love dressing up – especially to come to a celebration!

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Links to Grow On

Ideas for Graduation Day on Pinterest

Drip-drop nature painting in preschool

It is so exciting to see new growth coming up all around our preschool. Along with new growth came an invitation to spend our morning hunting for different colors of nature and creating our own drip-drop nature paintings…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

When the children came to preschool, they found paint swatches and empty paper plates all set up on the table and ready for questions and discussion about what these could possibly be for…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Mrs. Courtney took the time to mix up paint colors that matched each of our paint color swatches. The paint colors looked so lovely that the children couldn’t wait to explore all of the wonderful colors but first we had to go outside and gather up items from nature…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

We took all of our paper plates out and invited the children to see if they could find items from nature that would match each color on our paper plates…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Mrs. Courtney began by taking the children on a nature walk through our woods and while on their walk, they talked about what colors they could see all around them and began collecting some items for our collection…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

When the children returned from their nature walk through the woods, they began the process of sorting items from their nature walk on our paper plates…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

There were still many colors missing so the children continued to search for more colors of nature until we were able to find at least a few things for each color on our paper plates…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Once we had a good collection of nature colors on our paper plates, we took the plates inside to compare the items we had collected. We compared which color had the most items and which had the least. For the color orange, we didn’t find anything at all but no worries because one of our students happened to have an orange shoe which gave us the opportunity to compare nature and non-nature for a few minutes…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

After a morning of hunting the colors of nature, we used the items we found to explore the process of drip-drop painting. The children began by selecting nature items from our paper plates to arrange on their own cardboard palette…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Once the children had arranged the items they wanted on their cardboard palette, they began dripping spoonfuls of paint on top of the items they selected.  (The paint has glue mixed in with each color so when the paint dries, the nature items will stick to the cardboard palette or the paint)…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

The children were free to add as many items as they wished onto their paintings. Some of the children used a little bit of every color and a selection of every color of nature items we had collected while others chose just one or two items to drip paint on….

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

This little guy only wanted one rock and one small flower on his cardboard palette…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Although he chose only two items from nature, he spent the longest of everyone painting his palette until every single space on the palette had color…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Whether a child used lots of paint or very little and lots of nature items or very few, the results of their nature palettes were astounding which I am excited to share with you…

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Drip-Drop Nature Painting by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Head outdoors for a listening walk by Teach Preschool

Take a picture walk by Teach Preschool

Nature Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

By | May 5th, 2013|Categories: Painting, Science and Nature|Tags: , , , , |16 Comments

Window tracing on a sunny day

We have big windows all around our indoor classroom and fortunately, they all sit down low enough for my students to see outside anytime and even to enjoy a little window tracing on a sunny day…

Window Tracing on a Sunny Day by Teach Preschool

We explore window tracing off and on all throughout the school year. To set up our window tracings, we start by drawing or using our printer to print out different shapes, words, or even our names on printable overhead projector transparency film. We then cut around the shapes and use clear packing tape to attach them in different places to our windows…

Window Tracing on a Sunny Day by Teach Preschool

Sometimes, we leave the clear printables up for several days or even weeks along with sheets of thin newsprint paper for the children to stop by and trace anytime they are interested in giving it a try…

Window tracing on a sunny day by Teach Preschool

The opportunity to trace in our windows creates an interest in the tracing process but when we see that interest starting to go away, we simply remove the tracers and use our windows for something else for awhile…

Window tracing on a sunny day by Teach Preschool

We are intentional in where we place our tracing sheets on the windows, placing some up higher for the taller children and others down low for our shorter students…

Window tracing on a sunny day by Teach Preschool

The children use a variety of marking tools for tracing – from markers to crayons. They can choose for themselves and if you are wondering whether our students mark on the windows, all I can tell you is that if they do, it is most likely an accident because I can’t recall a time where I had to remind a student or even tell a student to mark on paper and not the window. The children just seem to naturally know what the purpose is and are more interested in taking home the tracings they made on paper then leaving them behind on the window…

Window tracing on a sunny day by Teach Preschool

As you can see, we have spent time tracing our names, characters from one of our Eric Carle books, and lots of shapes…

Window tracing on a sunny day by Teach Preschool

Some of our students get quite creative and overlap their tracings as they draw…

Window tracing on a sunny day by Teach Preschool

And for those who would like to paint or color in their shapes, they are certainly welcome to do so but I find most of our students prefer to just run and put them in their cubbies to take home…

Window tracing on a sunny day by Teach Preschool

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Links to Grow On

An Outdoor Window Walk by Teach Preschool

DIY Window Easel by Teach Preschool

A Rainbow Stained Glass Window by The Artful Parent

Five tips for taking preschool journals outside

This was our very first time since spring has sprung to sit outside and write in our journals. Don’t get me wrong, we go outdoors for lots of different types of activities everyday but for some reason, taking our journals outdoors to write in them hadn’t been a part of the plan. I learned a few things along the way and thought I would share these five tips for taking the journals outside…

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

Tip #1: Check the grass

I hadn’t thought much about where the children would sit when they went outside to write in their journals. In my mind, they would wonder off into our big grassy yard and find a cozy spot to sit back and write.  However, the grass was super wet so most of our students were not so thrilled about sitting in the grass. My kids asked if they could go back in and get a chair but Mrs. Courtney keenly directed them to our rocks and encouraged them to go take a seat on “nature’s chair.”

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

It took a few minutes for some of my students to settle into one of nature’s chairs. The children kept going from spot to spot trying to decide where to sit but after trying out several spots, the children finally found that cozy spot to write in their journals…

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

Tip #2: Check for bugs

My next thought was now that the children are all settled into their cozy writing spots, they would look all around them, find inspiration from nature, and get to drawing and writing.

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

Well the children did find inspiration but it kind of turned out to be an inspired distraction. Now that spring has sprung, we have bugs everywhere. Everything from ants to roly-pollies crawling around our nature chairs and although they were an inspiration, they were also a big distraction from actually writing in our journals…

Five tips for taking journals outdoors by Teach Preschool

#3 Check your time

I really thought that this would just be a quick activity that we could throw into the middle of our day then move on to the rest of our planned activities but little did I know. It turns out that bug hunting must come first and simply cannot be rushed or ignored…

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

#4 Check your hands

If you aren’t a big fan of holding bugs in your hand, then bring a small bucket or box because there is a good chance you will be asked to hold out your hand so the children can share some of their amazing nature finds with you (including the bugs)…

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

#Check your expectations

After the rush to explore bugs and find a dry seat, our students finally settled down to write in their journals. Oh good, I thought, now we can gaze out into the beautiful landscape, connect with nature, and be inspired to create some beautiful journal entries…

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

However, the journal entries were not our most profound work. The children’s stories were the shortest I have been told all year long and the drawings were quick and to the point but no worries, the outdoor writing experience was all worthwhile. I think what we need is to take our journals outdoors more often…

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

So while Mrs. Courtney and I tried to hurry up and jot down what the children told us to write in their journals, the children left us there to go off and do more bug hunting of course!

Five tips for taking journals outside by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Let’s Get Writing Outside by I’m a Teacher, Get Me Outside

10 Tips for Keeping a Journal in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Paper name puzzle for preschool

By the end of our school year, most of our students are easily recognizing their own name and the names of all the other students in our classroom. So to make this process a little more challenging, we invited the children to explore their first and last names by putting together a paper name puzzle…

Paper Name Puzzles by Teach Preschool

All throughout the school year we have our names up and available for the children to see and use. A name puzzle isn’t the place to begin with name recognition but rather an idea to follow-up the many other ways our students have been exploring their names…

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Having spent most of our school year exploring our names and having access to them throughout the classroom, the children were more than ready to put together a paper name puzzle. Mrs. Courtney and I prepared the name puzzle by printing their first and last names out on a strip of construction paper then cutting the names into individual letters. To help make this process more manageable for the children, each child’s first and last name puzzle was clipped together in one stack…

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

First names were in one color of paper and last names were in a different color of paper. The children used their name cards from our attendance board as a reference for completing their paper name puzzles…

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

To complete the name puzzles, the children organized the letters in their first name and glued it on another sheet of paper…

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Then organized their last name and glued it on a piece of paper…

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Looks simple right? Well think again! Having to organize all those letters then glue them down was a challenging and time consuming process for our kids…

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Our students did a terrific job organizing and gluing their name puzzles back together because they were ready for this process. I am quite certain if we had tried this a few months ago, the children would have complained that this was too hard so know when your kids are ready for such a big undertaking!

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

To show you the finished puzzles, Mrs. Courtney and I put together my first and last name…

Name Puzzles in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

The Value of Name Recognition in Preschool

Digging up the Letters in our Names

My Name Book

By | May 2nd, 2013|Categories: Name Recognition|Tags: , |2 Comments

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs

Our children love to create fold-over paintings.   So it was no surprise that they all really enjoyed making these beautiful butterfly fold-overs to decorate our classroom…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

To begin creating their butterflies, the children folded a plain piece of paper in half …

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

Next, the children took a pair of scissors and snipped off the corners of their folded paper…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

While the paper was still folded, the children then snipped 1, 2, 3, 4 small slits down the folded side of their paper.  For some children, we drew small lines on their paper as a guide.  These small slits will be used to hold our butterflies’ antennae…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

Once the cutting was complete, the children were ready to paint their butterflies.   The children unfolded their paper and spread it out in front of them.  Then they selected their paint and spooned it on to one side of their paper…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

When they had their paint just as they wanted it, the children were ready to fold their papers again.  Once their papers were folded over, the children gently rubbed their hands over the top to evenly distribute the paint…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

Then they were ready for the big reveal…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

Some children added more paint and repeated the fold over process.  Those that were satisfied with their butterfly’s colors, went on to add their antennae.  For the antennae, the children taped together two bendy straws…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

The last step was to weave the straw antennae through the slits that they made in their paper at the beginning of the activity.  For some children, this step proved to be a bit challenging, partly because the paint was still wet, so we offered our assistance as necessary…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

This was just one of many different ways we explored butterflies in our classroom. This particular process required some guidance as it included the challenge of folding, snipping, and weaving. We had to look for the “folded” edge and the “corners” of our paper but our students were ready for this type of challenge and did a remarkable job…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

When the children were finished, we had beautifully painted fold-over butterflies decorating our classroom windows in preparation for our up and coming Mother’s Day Tea Party…

Beautiful butterfly fold-overs by Teach Preschool

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Links to grow on:

Fantastic foil fold-over painting by Teach Preschool

Butterfly sensory bags for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

Tissue paper caterpillars by Teach Preschool