Making memory books in Pre-K

My students made the sweetest Memory Books and I wish I could have shared them earlier but time just got away.

The children began their memory books a few weeks before our last full day of school. I purchased hard bound blank books but I think any kind of blank book would work just as well.

The children started by painting just the cover of their blank books with watercolor paints then we set them aside to dry.

A few days later, the children then glued a photo of their own self on the cover of their book…

And then they glued a photo of each child in the class inside each page of their book.

The next week, and on our very last day of school, each child was given his or her book and invited to let the other children find the page with their picture and either draw a picture or sign their name. The only rule was that “you can’t draw on the pictures or draw silly in someone else’s book because every book is special.” The children were SOOOO excited about their books and so thoughtful about the process, that I probably didn’t need to make any rules but just in case.

Oh, I almost forgot to say that we had been talking about memories all through the morning before we started signing our books. We had a “memory stone” that the children passed around the circle and as they each got a turn to hold the stone, they shared something that they remembered about their year in Pre-K.

Some of their memories were sweet, some were silly, and some had nothing to do with Pre-K! But we loved sharing and listening to each other’s memories no matter where they came from.

After sharing our memories, the children were off to play in centers and to sign each other’s memory books.

I was worried that the children would get tired of signing their names or decide that it wasn’t fun but I didn’t need to worry. The children spent all morning signing names, sharing photos, and laughing and talking to each other about their photos.

It was actually quite incredible watching the children take their time to write their names over and over again without complaint! It was just pure joy all around.

I also worried that the children wouldn’t understand the process of signing the books but once again, I didn’t need to worry. They totally got it!

The children took their books home at the end of the day and were so excited to share them with the parents too. The only thing I forgot to do was sign the books myself! Hey – come to think of it – no body asked me to sign their book. Ha!

Aren’t these books just amazing? I think they are and these children are too!

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Good morning math!

Every morning when my students come to school, we jump right into a little loose parts good morning math!

What started out as a simple way for the children to “sign-in” has gradually turned into a wonderful way to promote simple math and more in our classrooms.

In both our preschool and pre-k classroom, the children start each day looking for their name on a wooden cookie or plastic bottle cap with a magnet on back then moving their name from “home” to ‘school.’

As we gather all the children together to start our day, we review the boards to see who has come to school. This simple process has led to so many math related discussions. How many are at school today? How many are still at home? How many children do we have total in our class? Are there more at home or at school? How many names start with the letter ‘L’. And the list goes on.

Because the children’s names are involved in the process, the children have a natural interest and love to explore all of the names in a variety of different ways. The children love to put all the first letters of their names together to see if they spell a word. They love to estimate how many children are at school then count out loud together to see if their guesses were on track. The children love to line up the loose parts or stack them to see how high the stack is when everyone is at school.

Through our loose parts sign-in, the children explore graphing, estimating, counting, measuring, and other math related processes. The children also compare and contrast their names, the letters in their names, the lengths of their names, and they quickly learn to recognize each other’s names.

A simple sign-in process that has taken on a whole world of possibilities as we follow the children’s interests and build on those interests. Super cool stuff!

Daily attendance with a me stick puppet

One of the first things I like to have the children get into the habit of doing when they enter the classroom is to find their name. In our PreK class, Miss Cobb came up with this fun idea of creating stick puppets for our daily attendance board…

Daily attendance with a me stick puppet

To make the puppets, the children were invited to decorate a craft stick person any way they wished. Miss Lauren set out glue and a variety of collage and art materials for the children to choose from. On the handle of each stick puppet was the child’s name…

Daily attendance with a me stick puppet

The children found the puppet with their name printed on it and went to work designing their puppet anyway they wished. After drying, we noticed some of the pieces needed a little reinforcement so they wouldn’t fall off of their puppets while in use. We made sure that there was enough glue to hold the pieces in place without changing anything the children had created…

Daily attendance with a me stick puppet

Each morning, the stick puppets are set out on our shelf waiting for the children to see them as they enter the classroom.  The children put their back packs away then come back to the shelf to find their own puppet…

Daily attendance with a me stick puppet

And then put their puppet in their name pocket on our board so everyone will know who has come to preschool that day. You will notice a little helper stick is in the photo below as well. Each day the helper is moved to the next pocket and that will be our helper of the day….

 

Daily attendance with a me stick puppet

The children have quickly become familiar with this daily morning routine. It is a simple way to help them notice and recognize their name on the board and we can build on the process by talking about who is missing or how many children are present during our morning circletime…

Daily attendance with a me stick puppet

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The name game

You’ve probably all heard of the old song “The Name Game” that goes “Shirley, Shirley, bo birley, banana fanana fo firley, fee fi fo mirley, Shirley.”  Well, this name game is a little different, but just as much fun I assure you!  This simple game is a great way to practice name recognition…

The name game by Teach Preschool

To prepare for our name game, we wrote each child’s name in large letters on a piece of sturdy cardboard.  We wanted our name boards to be sturdy so that they could be used again for other games or activities.  The goal of our game was to promote name recognition by building on fun experiences.  To begin our game, Deborah held up each name board and let the children call out the names as she distributed the boards to each individual child…

The name game by Teach Preschool

The children took their name boards and pointed to their letters, attempting to spell their names.  Our older children know all of the letters in their names, while our younger ones are still working on theirs…

The name game by Teach Preschool

Our name game was fashioned after “Simon says.”  Deborah played Simon and called out directions like, “Simon says stand on your name!”

The name game by Teach Preschool

Or “Simon says hold your name above your head!”

The name game by Teach Preschool

The children loved this new game!  Games like this are a great way to get some large motor exercise while indoors on a cold or rainy day.  And we really just scratched the surface with the name game.  There are so many other ways to use our name boards.

For example…

Students call the shots:  The teacher can hold all the name boards and turn one over.  Whoever’s name is revealed gets to pick an action for the whole class to do like, “Cohan says touch your toes.”

Name relay:  Line up all the names on a wall in a gymnasium or area with a large space to move.  Have the children stand on a line and listen for their name to be called.  When their name is called, they run and touch or pick up their name board.

Friendship swap:  Give each child the name board of one of their classmates, then instruct the children to go find their own name and swap it from their friends.

Practice letter sounds:  We use the Amazing Action Alphabet for learning our letters and sounds.  Each letter sound is associated with an animal action.  Each child holds their name board while the teacher holds up letter cards.  The teacher then says, “If your name has an S in it, slither like a snake.”

The name game by Teach Preschool

Can you think of any other fun ways to use our name boards?  Share them in the comments section below!

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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

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Links to Grow On

The Value of Name Recognition in Preschool

Digging up the Letters in our Names

My Name Book