Tic-Tac-Bow: Simple games for the holidays

My staff and I enjoy whipping up simple games around the classroom all year long but the holidays offer up so many fun trinkets and symbols that it makes whipping up simple holiday games just so easy to do.

When working with young children, you quickly learn to keep all games open-ended even if you have modeled it after a traditional game like tic-tac-toe. The children will definitely think of their own rules for play which helps keep them interested in playing the game.

Miss Abby added a writing component to inspire the children to make their marks. As the children played the game, they kept “score”.  Now I don’t know what “winning the game” or “keeping score” meant to each child but as you can see, we had some great score keeping going on!

The focus of simple DIY games is to promote conversation, cooperation, taking turns, building friendships, and exposing the children to a variety of games that invite them to strategize, problem solve, think, and make decisions.

Leaving the games out so the children can come back to them over several days or weeks also helps the children master their skills and understanding for how to play a game with each other.

In the end, simple games for preschoolers should be…. well, simple! The more you have to explain “how to play the game,” then chances are the children will be less inclined to choose to play the game on their own.

When the game is simple and there is no pressure to win or follow specific rules, the children will take ownership of the game playing experience which leads them think “I can do this,” and “playing games is fun!”

Gingerbread Matching Game

You can view a short video of our gingerbread matching game on Instagram or Facebook!

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By | December 9th, 2016|Categories: Christmas, DIY, Games, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Fall festival games and activities for preschoolers

Each year, our preschoolers and families join us for our fall festival. It is a time where the families can get to know each other a little better and the children can show their parents (or other caregivers) all around our preschool environment. I thought I would share with you some photos of our games and activities that we explored this year…

2016 Fall Festival

2016 Fall Festival

We use all of our spaces around my preschool to host the Fall Festival. I find it works best to spread things out so there is lots of room for play and exploration. To kick off our festival, we always provide a “map” or checklist of things the families can do together. As soon as the families arrive, we greet them, hand them a checklist, and off they go…

Fall Festival

The parents brought food in for this event. I think my parents have figured out by now that I am not a good cook so if they want something creative, healthy, or filling to eat – they bring it along and add it to our snack room (prek classroom)…

Fall Festival

The families can sit, eat and visit in the snack room. However, it was such a beautiful fall day, that many of our students preferred to take their snacks outside to eat.

Fall Festival

The families could take their time and visit each area set up for play as they chose. Now let me take you on a little tour of our games and activities in action around the preschool. Let’s start with the Spider Web…

Fall Festival

To make our spider web, I simply wrapped a long, very long, length of string all around the trees in our outdoor play scape. I wrapped the string as low as I could get it but just as a side note, as the children climb over and under the spider web, they will step on it and as they do, the web will begin to slope lower and lower to the ground. So don’t start too low! I generally wrap the string knee high to begin with…

Fall Festival

Our spider web is almost always the favorite part of our fall festival. Toddlers and preschoolers find their way through the web by going over or under it…

Fall Festival

Next up is the Mummy Wrap. For any child that wants to wrap up a parent or any parent that wants to wrap up a child, this will keep them busy for a little while…

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

Head on down to our outdoor classroom for some pumpkin play dough…

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

Some Geo Pumpkin Pinning…

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

And some corn seed sensory play…

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

Then back outside for pumpkin bowling: Roll a pumpkin down the lane to knock over our pumpkin seed pins!

fall-festival2150

In our game room we had Pumpkin Tic-Tac-Toe: No X’s and O’s here – we had orange and white pumpkins!

Fall Festival

Pumpkin Plinko: Drop the pumpkin down the plinko board and see what number it lands on!

Fall Festival

Monster Mystery: Are you brave enough to stick your hand inside each tub to feel and guess the parts of our mystery monster?

fall-festival2116

Scare-a-Scary: Stack the ghosts up…

Fall Festival

And knock them down with our corn seed-filled pumpkin balloons…

Fall Festival

Scary Scarecrow says “Howl like a wolf!” or “Clap 3 Times” or “Walk Backwards” and more…

Fall Festival

After you play each game, grab a ticket for a prize at our prize station. You can decorate your own bag to keep your tickets and prizes in…

Fall Festival

And last, but not least, was Fall Bingo…

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

Now back up to the prize station. The children turned in their tickets to collect candy or small trinkets for prizes before heading home. I actually used the honor system for this and let parents monitor how much candy or trinkets they preferred their child to collect…

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

Along with turning in tickets, everyone was invited to pick a prize-filled pumpkin from the pumpkin patch…

Fall Festival

You can pop the pumpkin right away to get to your prize or wait until you get home…

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

Fall Festival

That wraps up our Fall Festival for 2016. It was a beautiful fall day to spend with students and their families all enjoying a fun day of play!

Fall Festival

 

By | October 30th, 2016|Categories: Fall, Halloween, Holiday Ideas, Seasons|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments

DIY Pumpkin Puzzles

We have been exploring the outside and the inside of pumpkins all week long and along the way, I happened to notice that my younger preschoolers are particularly fascinated with putting the lids on and off the pumpkins that are sitting on this shelf. I have titled this post DIY  Pumpkin Puzzles because that is exactly what these are only I didn’t intend for them to be puzzles…

DIY pumpkin puzzles!

The pumpkins sitting on this shelf were prepared by my prekindergarten class yesterday. The prekindergarten children cleaned out small pumpkins as part of their exploration of the insides of a pumpkin. After the children left for the day, I finished making sure all the pumpkins were completely cleaned out and then set them on this shelf until the prekindergarten children can take them home this week…

DIY pumpkin puzzles!

But when my younger class of children came to preschool this morning, they were all about opening up each pumpkin that was on the shelf then trying to figure out how to put the lid back on…

DIY pumpkin puzzles!

I happened to also have another version of DIY Pumpkin Puzzles set up for the morning only we used this version for painting.. Perhaps next time I get in a pumpkin carving frenzy, I will intentionally add a few pumpkin puzzles for play…

DIY pumpkin puzzles!

The pumpkins I carved for painting didn’t seem to be as interesting when it comes to putting together a puzzle. Perhaps because I carved the pumpkin tops into simple basic shapes…

DIY pumpkin puzzles!

I think it was just that my students preferred trying to figure out how to put the more complex lids back on the pumpkins…

Pumpkin Puzzles

However, the children did find my DIY Pumpkin Basic Shape Paint containers interesting and everyone spent time at the table exploring the pumpkin painting process…

DIY pumpkin puzzles!

But my favorite discovery of the day was how much my students enjoyed the complexity of matching pumpkin lids to pumpkins and not the easy ones – but the hard ones that even I have trouble putting back on!

DIY pumpkin puzzles!

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By | October 29th, 2014|Categories: Halloween, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , |6 Comments

Easter egg parachute game

My class loves to head outdoors and play parachute games and today was one of the first beautiful spring days we have had so far so we took advantage of the great weather with this simple Easter egg parachute game…

Easter egg parachute game by Teach Preschool

I had set aside a bag full of empty plastic Easter eggs (I think I had about 30 or so) to play with on our parachute. We started out by tossing all of the empty plastic eggs onto the center of the parachute we had spread out across the grass…

Easter egg parachute game by Teach Preschool

Then the children moved the parachute up and down making the eggs bounce all over the parachute and up high into the air…

Easter egg parachute game by Teach Preschool

The kids loved it and were delighted to watch the eggs fly into the air. I loved listening to all the laughter as they played…

Easter egg parachute game by Teach Preschool

And after all the eggs popped off of the parachute, it was time to go hunt them down and toss them back onto the parachute to do it again. One thing to note is that my students are already familiar with the parachute. They know how to hold it and to work together to make it a fun experience for everyone…

Easter egg parachute game by Teach Preschool

The empty plastic eggs were super light so they popped up easily and flew threw the air. It was a bit windy outside which also helped our parachute get some great movement. I think this is now officially one of my favorite parachute games or activities to do with a bag of Easter eggs…

Easter egg parachute game by Teach Preschool

We finished off our game by playing the “Hello Game” and then taking turns to run under and through the parachute!

Easter egg parachute game by Teach Preschool

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By | April 18th, 2014|Categories: Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Hugs and kisses tic-tac-toe

With Valentine’s day coming soon, we were inspired to create our own hugs and kisses tic-tac-toe game…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

Yesterday, I shared how we patterned with hugs and kisses using this great set of X’s and O’s.  As I explained in that post, many of our students were already familiar with the idea that X’s and O’s stood for hugs and kisses. Lots of our kids like to write them in their simple notes to each other. I am quite certain this was something taught at home and then shared with each other in our writing center. For those who didn’t know, it took them about a minute to catch on to the idea…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

Once we finished creating our patterns, we gathered up all of our X’s and O’s and moved over to a table to work on playing a game of hugs and kisses tic-tac-toe…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

The first thing we had to do was create our tic-tac-toe boards.  Deborah demonstrated what a tic-tac-toe board looks like, using just 4 lines to create 9 boxes.  The children were eager to play so found their markers and rulers and quickly got started creating their game board. Once again, most of our students already knew how to make a tic-tac-toe board but Deborah shared anyway for the benefit of those who might need a little prompting…

Hugs and kisses tic tac toe by Teach Preschool

The process of creating the game board wasn’t much of a challenge for our pre-k children since they are used to creating  graphs and charts.  They quickly whipped up their lines and soon had a great looking set of tic tac toe boards.   One or two of our game boards had more then 9 squares, but that was okay.  Especially since we have a habit of making up our own rules for just about every game we play…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

Once their game boards were complete, the children were ready to play.  At first, they played by themselves, filling their game board with X’s and O’s…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

Once they had the hang of it, they were ready to challenge each other to a game…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

There were no real winners or losers in our game of tic-tac-toe.  It was just a basic lesson in learning how to play a game together.  You certainly don’t need X’s or O’s to play.  You can use buttons, lids, cereal, pasta, or any fun shape.  When the children were all done playing, they put their game boards in their baskets to take home, ready to challenge their families to a game of hugs and kisses tic-tac-toe…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

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By | January 26th, 2014|Categories: Games, Holiday Ideas, Valentine's Day|Tags: , |2 Comments

Patterning with hugs and kisses

We recently highlighted the letter Kk and since Valentine’s day is coming soon, we thought it would be fun to sneak in the letter K and Valentine’s day with a few hugs and KISSES…

Patterning with hugs and kisses by Teach Preschool

To start off our day filled with hugs and kisses, we read the hilarious book “Dinosaur Kisses” by David Ezra Stein…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

“Dinosaur Kisses” is about a little dinosaur who sets out on a journey to learn how to properly kiss someone.  Only he gets it all wrong. He chomps, stomps, butts heads, and even eats someone when he tries to give a kiss. In the end, he makes a friend that is just like him and decides his version of kissing is more fun…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

We used this book as a segue into our discussion on hugs and kisses or “X’s” and “O’s” with our pre-k children.  Deborah found this great set of hugs and kisses table scatter at Target or Wal-Mart a few years ago.  But this activity could easily be done with cereal, beads, or pasta of some sort.  Surprisingly, most of our children already knew that X’s and O’s commonly stand for hugs and kisses. But for those who didn’t, we did explain that O’s stand for hugs and X’s stand for kisses.  We brought out our X’s and O’s, along with our small felt boards to explore some patterns.  Each child got their own felt board and a small pile of X’s and O’s.  First the children sorted the X’s and O’x into two piles…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

Then each child counted up the number of X’s and O’s that they had in each pile.  We compared which of their piles had more or less.  And we talked about which child had the most or the least…

Patterning with hugs and kisses by Teach Preschool

The children then went to work on creating a pattern with their X’s and O’s…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

When working as a class on something like patterns, we always take time to go around the room so that we can listen to everyone’s patterns…

Hugs and Kisses Tic Tac Toe by Teach Preschool

We always start out with a simple AB pattern, or in this case, XO pattern and work our way up to something more challenging.  This was such a fun way to talk about hugs and kisses!  And in the end, we all agreed that these hugs and kisses were MUCH better than dinosaur kisses…

Patterning with hugs and kisses by Teach Preschool

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Gingerbread man playhouse

Gingerbread is such a fun theme to explore during the winter time.  There are so many fun books to share with the children and of course, there are the gingerbread cookies and gingerbread houses…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

To kick off our Gingerbread unit, we read the story “The Gingerbread Loose in the School” by Laura Murray. This is a super fun book about a class that makes a Gingerbread man but then leaves it to cool while going out to play. The Gingerbread man thinks he has been left behind so he goes off in search of the children and runs into a few obstacles along the way…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

After reading our story, the children went on a hunt for some paper Gingerbread men we had hidden around the classroom…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

After collecting all the Gingerbread men from around the classroom, we set them all out to see how many we had found…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

Then to get us stretching and moving and (and for a little listening practice too) we played “Gingerbread Man Says”….

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

After our big introduction to the Gingerbread man, the children were off to play in our Gingerbread centers. One center was this adorable gingerbread scene that Deborah and Hayden created from a paper box, a few pine boughs, some fake snow and some real gingerbread men cookies…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

The houses were decorated with foam stickers on both sides to invite the children to play from all sides…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

We left the tops of each gingerbread house open so that the children could reach in and out of the houses from all directions as desired. One of the favorite things to do was to make it snow inside the gingerbread houses…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

The children were intrigued by role playing with real gingerbread cookies…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

The children brought over blocks from the block center to add to their play…

Gingerbread Man 117

A few of the children brought over cars too…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

Several of our gingerbread men got broken along the way but the children found this to be an interesting part of their play. It seems that there was also a gingerbread man hospital with a doctor on call for all the broken legs and arms.  And by the way, before we began, Deborah assured the children that they would get their very own gingerbread man to eat at snack time and the children easily understood that these were just for play…

Gingerbread Playhouse by Teach Preschool

By the end of the day we did have snow all over the classroom and even a few reports of fake snow in children’s hair when they got home from school which must mean that the children were truly immersed in their play!

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By | December 29th, 2013|Categories: Christmas, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , |2 Comments

After christmas for the birds

I have written about this book before but here it goes again! We read “The After Christmas Tree” by Linda Wagner Tyler before Christmas since my students wouldn’t be in school after Christmas. Oh well, I really like this book and thought they would get the idea either way…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

Perhaps you are one of the many who are in the process of taking down the Christmas tree and putting away all the ornaments.  Well don’t be too quick to think Christmas has to be completely over. “The After Christmas Tree” is about a child who decorates the Christmas tree by putting seeds and nuts out for the animals after Christmas has come to an end…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

After reading our book, the children made pinecone bird feeders to hang on a tree out in the woods behind our preschool…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

I realize that many of you who teach in preschool cannot use peanut butter so you will want to replace the peanut butter with something else in this process like cream cheese. We do not have any peanut allergies in my class so the children spread peanut butter all over their pinecone which was not an easy process to do without getting quite messy…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

Once the pinecones were covered with the peanut butter, the children moved to the other station to add birdseed on top of the peanut butter. And once again, you may not be able to use birdseed due to allergies but don’t let that stop you from finding an alternative idea for feeding the animals…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

I tied a string to the pinecones before the children started so that they could hang the pinecones on our trees when finished…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

There are many ways you can expand on feeding the animals besides making a birdseed pinecone like simply sprinkling nuts and berries and seeds around the bottom of a tree…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

Once we completed our pinecone bird feeders, the children went for a walk out into our woods to select a tree for hanging our birdfeeders…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

Last year, I let the children hang their birdfeeders on a tree right beside our door and the animals came and ate up! But we had so many animals come that they broke all the limbs on the little tree we had selected so this year, we took the birdfeeders out a little farther and chose bigger trees to hang them on…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool

The children did a wonderful job hanging up their bird feeders on a very cold and snowy day…

After christmas for the birds by Teach Preschool
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By | December 27th, 2013|Categories: Children's Books, Christmas, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , , , |4 Comments

Marble play in a Christmas ball

If you happen to start early, you can find clear plastic Christmas ornaments at Walmart and other stores that carry craft supplies. I like to stock up on them when I get the chance and I had quite a few left over from last year. Now that I have some time at home with my grandsons, we took out a few marbles and our Christmas ornaments for a little creativity and play…

At play with Christmas Balls and Marbles by Teach Preschool

To make mommy a gift, I added a couple of drops of acrylic paint inside each ball. Just a tiny drop is all you need for this…

At play with Christmas Balls and Marbles by Teach Preschool

Then my grandsons dropped in a marble and we taped up the top. Then the boys shook the marbles all around the balls which is definitely the fun part…

At play with Christmas Balls and Marbles by Teach Preschool

Once the paint was all swirled around inside the plastic ornaments, we dumped out the marbles and had a set of beautiful ornaments to give mommy and their other grandma for Christmas…

At play with Christmas Balls and Marbles by Teach Preschool

Since shaking the marbles is really the fun part, we put a few marbles in empty clear plastic ornament (no paint added this time) and taped up the top…

At play with Christmas Balls and Marbles by Teach Preschool

Then the boys started shaking away. They were so serious as they concentrated on the marbles going around the ornaments…

At play with Christmas Balls and Marbles by Teach Preschool

The boys enjoyed watching the marbles spin around the balls really fast and then really slow….

At play with Christmas Balls and Marbles by Teach Preschool

Looks like I will need to restock on our plastic ornaments for next year!

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By | December 24th, 2013|Categories: Christmas, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , |4 Comments

Winter in a bottle |A kid made Christmas ornament

Winter time has started early this year for us and my students are so excited. To capture the essence of winter, my students created their very own winter in a bottle and turned it into an ornament as one of our parent gifts this year…

Winter in a bottle Christmas ornament by Teach Preschool

To make our winter in a bottle, we gathered…

  • Empty water bottles
  • fake snow
  • pine branches
  • berries

Before making our ornaments, I set the bottles, pine branches and fake snow out for the children to explore. They enjoyed the sensory experience of playing in the snow and filling their bottles…

Christmas in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

Some of the children decided they were snow scientists as they used the variety of tools we set out for play…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

All throughout the morning, children stopped by to explore the winter in a bottle center…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

Later in the morning, we used the materials to make an ornament as one of our parent gifts.  To make the ornament, the children started by filling their bottles with a small amount of fake snow…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

Then the children added a pine branch to represent the many pine trees we have outside our classroom…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

And to add a little bit of color, the children added some berries that we found on one of our trees outside. We didn’t set the berries out for play and we have talked often about not eating the berries the children find outside in our environment. The children plucked a few berries off the branches to add to their bottles…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

Once the children completed their winter in a bottle, we closed it up with a lid and added a ribbon around the top of the bottle for hanging up their ornament…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

I went back later to hot glue the lids onto the children’s bottles to make sure the bottles would make it home without falling open along the way…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

After the children completed their Winter in a Bottle ornaments, we wrapped them up with red material, purchased at Hobby Lobby, and set them aside until it’s time to take them home…

Winter in a bottle ornament by Teach Preschool

A couple of things to note (trying to think of what questions folks often ask me)…

  • We couldn’t use real snow or it would melt before the children would get it home but don’t worry, we played and will continue to play in plenty of real snow too.
  • We didn’t want the bottles to be too heavy so they would hang nicely on a tree at home without weighing down the tree branches.
  • The pine needles on the pine branches may well dry out and fall off over time but this can be part of the learning process for the children.
  • The plastic water bottles we collected and used are called Aqua Pod!  They do not have a label on them that leave a sticky residue which is wonderful. They are not super thick but we love them.  These bottles are available at grocery stores like Marsh.

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This idea is only one of many wonderful ideas for making beautiful Christmas ornaments with kids.

  • To share your own ideas or to see the 50+ kid made ornaments being shared, stop by Mama Miss today!
  • See the schedule of all the other blogs joining in this kid-made ornament series by clicking here!

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By | December 17th, 2013|Categories: Christmas, Holiday Ideas|Tags: , , , |6 Comments