Making our own trees with clay in prek

I have already shared with you our tree farm sensory play which was a huge hit so today, I want to share with you the trees our prek students were invited to make as a part of our study on tree farms.

Making trees in Prek!

We have been spending a lot of time working with air-dry clay this year. The interesting thing about clay is that it isn’t soft and pliable at first like play dough is. Clay is much more challenging for fine motor skills to work with which I am noticing is a very good thing in our Pre-k class.

Making trees with clay in Prek!

To get the clay pliable, the children have to really work those fine motor muscles. In some cases, they need to put their whole bodies into the process. After a few minutes of warming up and kneading the clay, it does become a wonderful material to create and construct with. But first, you have to get the children to work their way through the challenges of using clay and for some children, that may require just a little bit of coaching and encouragement.

Making trees with clay in Pre-K!

My student’s have been using the clay to make beads and ornaments of their choosing but for this process, we focused on using the clay to make a base (or the roots) of our trees.

Making trees with clay in Pre-K!

After making their base, the children added their tree branches.

Making trees with clay in PreK!

When the children were happy with their tree they could wrap up the roots just like they did in our book, “The Great Spruce” by John Duvall.

Making Trees with Clay in Pre-K!

To wrap up their tree roots, they needed a piece of burlap and some string and some help. Some of the children helped each other wrap, hold, and tie while others tried to do it on their own.

Making Trees with Clay in Prek!

Where needed, Miss Lauren or I either helped with tying up the roots or held the string while the children worked to tie the roots up on their own.

Making Trees with Clay in Pre-K!

This process was definitely a combination of craftiness and fine motor skill challenges. I’m thinking that it might fall at a three on the process scale but the children stayed engaged in making their own trees and they will be a wonderful way to bring discussions about our tree farm home to mom and dad.

Making trees with clay in Pre-K!

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By | December 4th, 2016|Categories: Christmas, Creative Art|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Tree farm small world sensory play!

I put together a small world tree farm for my students to explore a little bit of sensory and pretend tree farm play. I wasn’t sure if my students would really be all that excited about the idea but to my delight, they absolutely loved it!

Tree Farm Small World Sensory Play

Our question of the day was, “Have you ever been to a tree farm?” Some of our students said “yes” while others said “no.”  Our question led into our morning discussion on trees, roots, tree farms, and lots of fabulous pretend play in our small world tree farm.

Small World Tree Farm Sensory Play

To begin our day, I read the book, “The Great Spruce” by John Duvall. This was a book about a little boy who loved his tall spruce tree and how he was led to dig it up and share it with others. It is a sweet book about family, traditions, and caring for trees.

Small World Tree Farm Sensory Play

After reading our book and talking about how the roots of the Great Spruce had to be carefully dug up and wrapped in order to move the very big tree, the children headed off to explore the different centers set up around the classroom.

Small World Tree Farm Sensory Play

One of the favorite centers of the day was our small world tree farm. After setting it up the night before, I actually didn’t think the children would find it all that interesting. But to my surprise, they LOVED it.

Small World Tree Farm Sensory Play

Instead of putting animals and other things in the small world center, I invited the children to go and choose their favorite animals, people, or trucks and cars from our block center to add to the table for their play.

Small World Tree Farm Sensory Play

By the way, the table the children are playing on is an old train table that I painted and converted to be used for various processes in my classroom like math, small world, sensory play, and so on.

Small World Tree Farm Sensory Play

For the tree farm, I simply added a supply of little stand up Christmas Trees, brown construction paper (for the dirt), and a little bit of fake snow. All the supplies came from Walmart. I didn’t want to add too much snow as this was intended more for pretend play than digging into a sensory experience but the small amount was just enough to capture imagination and not get all over my classroom in the process!

Exploring Tree Farms in Preschool!

The children then added people, animals, and a few other props from our block center. I was actually surprised how selective the children were in what they added. Instead of overloading the table, the children really thought about what they wanted to add and adding their own ideas definitely kept the children engaged in the process of pretend play.

Tree Farm Small World Sensory Play

The table was buzzing all day long with small to large groups of children at play. The play was simply beautiful to watch. From hauling trees, family outings, trucks at work, and a little snow piling along the way…

Exploring Tree Farms in 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

Gingerbread man exchange in preschool

Our class was recently invited to join in on a Gingerbread Man exchange. This was a really fun exchange between about 15 teachers around the US and their students…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

When the first set of gingerbread men came in the mail, I brought them to the classroom to share with my Pre-K students…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

I had enough gingerbread men letters to open that I handed each child an envelope to open and see what super cute gingerbread might be hiding inside…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

We had all kinds of gingerbread letters show up over the next three days which gave us a chance to let our preschool age class open some too. The children opened up the mail and then we read the letter that came with the gingerbread tucked inside…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

This was such an interesting way to begin our unit on the Gingerbread man…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

Of course, now that we were already receiving gingerbread men in the mail, we had to get on the ball and make some to send back to the classes who sent to us. We started by writing the letter that we would include in our envelopes as a class. The children dictated to me what kinds of things they would like to say in our letter…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

And when the letter was complete, I read the letter aloud to the children then typed it up on our computer. Next all the children signed our typed letter and I made copies of the final signed letter…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

In the mean time, the children got busy making their own construction paper gingerbread men…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

Each child could make as many gingerbread men as they liked but most of them made two. Some of the children made an extra one to take home with them too…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

Throughout the morning, the children worked on their gingerbread men then chose one to put in an envelope along with our letter…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

After everyone had a gingerbread man all ready to go, we sealed up our envelopes and I added the addresses from the list of addresses I was given…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

We displayed our gingerbread men with the letters we had received on our board (I added more since this photo)…

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

A super cool experience for me and for the children!

The Gingerbread Man Exchange by Teach Preschool

About the Exchange  – I was not in charge of this Gingerbread Exchange. I was invited to participate by another teacher so I don’t have any other details I can offer up about how to do an exchange like this but the idea doesn’t seem that hard to put together on your own if you would like to do so…

Gingerbread 081

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By | December 28th, 2013|Categories: Circle Time|Tags: , , , |4 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

Marvelous mittens

The Mitten is one of our favorite winter stories to share with our preschool children.  There are many versions of the story by different authors, and we’ve read them all!  We have several mitten activities to accompany these books that I would like to share with you today…

Marvelous mittens by Teach Preschool

The Mitten is written in a way that it provides a wonderful opportunity for the children to re-tell, or act out, the story.  After reading our story during circle time, we invited the children to retell of their own version of the mitten

Marvelous mittens by Teach Preschool

There are many skills to be gained from exploring math on a felt board, such as learning colors, patterning, counting, and adding.  Felt board mitten math is another great circle time activity…

Marvelous mittens by Teach Preschool

Hanging mittens on a clothes line is great for building fine motor skills…

Marvelous mittens by Teach Preschool

Another excellent way to encourage fine motor use is through weaving.  This mitten weaving activity is a fun and colorful way to get those little fingers working…

Mitten-Weaving-by-Teach-Preschool

Painting with mittens is an excellent way to explore color and texture through creative art…

Painting-with-mittens-by-Teach-Preschool

We paired a few of these activities with the book The Three Little Kittens.  It is another great book, especially if you are planning a whole unit on mittens!

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By | December 23rd, 2013|Categories: Children's Books|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

The sweet smell of Christmas book and activity

“The Sweet Smell of Christmas” by Patricia M. Scarry is one of those books that I just love for many reasons. It is interactive, simple to read and understand, and it integrates the all important sense of smell (and taste) with the holiday season…

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

This book also talks about real things that are easy to gather up during the holidays like candy canes, pine cones, oranges, gingerbread cookies, and hot chocolate! Throughout the book are illustrations of the different objects with stickers that the children can scratch and sniff…

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

I gathered up most of the scratch and sniff items shared in the book (I didn’t add an apple because I forgot) and placed them into a container for the children to explore while we read our book…

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

Before reading the book, the children looked over the items in the basket and then we began reading. The children were invited to watch the book closely and each time they saw something in the book that was like something we had in our basket, they could take the object out of the basket and set it on their story board…

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

The children continued to watch each page of the book and look for the next new item they could smell and then take from the basket…

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

I am certain their favorite item to gather out of the basket was the candy cane. I let the children open their candy canes to smell and to taste as we finished reading the rest of the book…

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

A fun morning of conversation, story telling, and using our senses to discover the many sweet smells of Christmas…

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

Oh, and with the story and activity, snack was all ready to go too!

Sweet Smell of Christmas book and activity By Teach Preschool

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By | December 21st, 2013|Categories: Children's Books|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

Simple gift bow game for preschoolers

I think I have said this before but it is worth repeating, Christmas bows are awesome! They come in bright colors, they are shiny, and they can be used in all kinds of ways in the classroom…

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

Mrs. Courtney recently shared a terrific collection of ideas we have done in the past with gift bows which you can see by clicking here. After sharing her post, Margaret from Your Therapy Source left a comment with additional suggestions for getting kids moving with simple games with bows and so these ideas are compliments to you Margaret!

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

For our first game, we tossed a bag full of Christmas bows in the middle of the floor then went on a color hunt! I called out a color and the children had to run, grab that color of bow, then go back to their spot in the circle…

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

A fun way to work on color recognition and get some exercise in the process!

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

For our second game, the children gathered up all the bows and tossed them into the center of our “parachute.” We used a round tablecloth for our parachute because it was smaller and we don’t have a very large amount of space in the classroom for a big parachute…

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

Once all the bows were on our parachute, we worked together as a class to shake the bows off the parachute then put them all back on again…

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

Keeping everyone doing their part of the parachute game is a good lesson in cooperation and collaboration so we stopped every once in awhile to regroup and then off we went to shake those bows again…

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

Super simple fun! Thank you Margaret for adding fun ideas for play to our fun pajama party day!

Simple gift bow games for preschoolers by Teach Preschool

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By | December 20th, 2013|Categories: motor skills|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