Under construction with our DIY fix-it box

I have a collection of toy hammers, nails, and other plastic tools that I have accumulated over the past several years and  my grandson has recently found a big interest in playing with them.  To give us a place to store all the tools and to give my grandson a different way of playing with them while indoors, I was inspired to create a DIY fix-it box!

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

To make the DIY fix-it box, I recycled an old box by spray painting it first then cutting different sized holes for play. I think I may add a few more holes before it is all said and done, but for now, my grandson has enjoyed the box as is…

Fix it box

This is a very sturdy box so when my grandson crawls across the top or pounds the box with the hammer, it holds up pretty well but of course, any time you use a box there will eventually be some wear and tear…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

I put holes in the box for the nails and screws to fit in and added rubber bands just for a different twist on using the box…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

My grandson likes to pull all the nails out and push them back in or drop the plastic wood pieces through the hole in the end of the box…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

When my grandson discovered he could open the box, he found the inside of the box to be just as interesting (if not more) as the outside of the box…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

Inside the box were more tools, a calculator, paper, clipboard, and crayons to invite additional kinds of play…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

And then there is the natural desire to climb inside the box to check things out…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

The fix-it box will eventually make its way to my discovery center in my classroom but for now it is undergoing seriously play testing…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

Here is a little collage of the fix-it box in action…

DIY Fix it Box by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

By | July 26th, 2013|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , , , |10 Comments

Neighborhood under construction in preschool

The process of building our own neighborhood would have to be considered one of my most favorite or at least right up there at the top of the list of favorite studies we did last year.  I will share with you what we did and why I place it so high up on my list of to dos…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Like we do on most occasions in my classroom, we began our study with a focus on houses. We read the book How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

My original thought was to focus solely on houses but houses naturally lead to neighborhoods and community…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

After reading our book about houses, we took a few minutes to look over a blueprint that I stole borrowed from my husband’s construction office…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

We talked about the different parts of the blueprint including the lines and measurements and windows and doors and other aspects, without going into too much detail, that a blueprint of a house provides for constructing a house…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

the children were then sent off to explore our centers for the morning.  At the easel, the children found rulers and pencils and highlighters to expand the idea of creating a blueprint of their own…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

I had included some drawings on the paper already to give them a place to start but the children mostly used the pencils and rulers to draw lines in various directions which I thought was great skill building work in itself…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

At the table, the children found cardboard house shapes that they were invited to personalize any way they wished…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

A slit was cut in the bottom of each house shape so a small cardboard rectangle could be placed inside the slits to help the houses stand on our large table later on…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Every house was unique in design and included many of the different parts that we had pointed out during our circletime discussion…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Once the children completed their houses, they took them over to the large table covered with butcher paper and stood them up.  In the mean time, two of our students got busy making roads on our butcher paper with black construction paper and chalk…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The children used glue sticks to tack the roads down on the paper. The children worked together until the roads went all the way around our paper…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The entire morning was an amazing sight of young children working together to build their neighborhood. From exploring the blueprint process to designing houses to building roads, the children stayed engaged and focused and continued to each work at their own pace at what they found to be the most interesting part of the process…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

Throughout the morning, the children continued to add roads and houses to our paper and then came the cars, signs, people, and animals from our block center…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The neighborhood was left open for play and for adding more items throughout the morning…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

So  why was this unit at the top of my list? The first reason is because the children were engaged in the process and each contributed something a little different to the process. The second reason is because of the collaboration that was involved and how that collaboration truly resulted in a community that you could both feel and see…

Be my neighbor by Teach Preschool

The third reason is because the process invited creativity, writing,  pretend play, cutting, gluing, coloring, construction, engineering, and the list of skills goes on. The fourth reason is because the entire day was rich with new words and language such as construction, elevation, blueprint, design and so on.  Finally, I loved how the process was both open ended and yet intentional. The making of the houses and roads were intentional at each center but  each center then led to the community in the middle and  was open ended in design, play, conversation, and materials….

http://www.teachpreschool.org/new1/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Houses-and-Pigs-151.jpg

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

Three Little Pigs and a DIY puppet stage by Teach Preschool

House Painting by Brick by Brick

Measure the House by Let’s Explore

H is for House from Play and Learn with Dana

 Rainbow Village Printable by Inner Child Fun

More fun with fixing

As mentioned in a previous post, we read the book “Fix-It” by David McPhail then explored different opportunities and tools for fixing things all around our classroom. Today, I want to share with some more fun we had with fixing…

More fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

On our “Fix-It” table, the children found a set of broken dishes and silverware with a sign up above that said, “Can you fix it?”  Who on earth would have broken Mrs. Stewart’s dishes and “Can we fix it? Yes we can!”…

More fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

The dishes I used for this process are all plastic that I got from the Dollar Store (Deals). I chose the dishes because they look almost real.  To cut the plates in half, I used a pair of scissors to snip one edge then carefully snapped the plates in half. The children did ask me if the dishes were real and I had to explain that they were plastic dishes and only looked real…

More fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

For the silverware, I snapped the handles off kind of low so the children could more easily tape the handle back to the fork, knife or spoon…

More fun with fixing by Teach Preschool

And as the tool of choice for fixing the dishes, I set out rolls of tape on our tape dispenser (which was our tube holder last week and a paper dispenser on other weeks) and invited the children to use the tape to see if they could fix the dishes…

More fun with fixing by teach Preschool

The children spent a lengthy portion of the morning fixing dishes. For the plates, the children had to start by matching two sides of a plate together.  Most of the plates matched up pretty nicely but since they were broken, we didn’t worry about perfection here. Once their plates were matched up the children used tape to fix them (put them back together)…

More fun with fixing by teach Preschool

To put the silverware back together, the children had to match the handle of the silverware to their fork, knife, or spoon. Again, we were not looking for perfection in the matching process but I did hear several of the children discussing with one another which handle went with the knife versus the fork or spoon. The knife handle was a little different than the other two handles. Once they found a match, the children used tape to fix the handles on our silverware…

More fun with fixing by teach Preschool

While fixing the dishes, the children had to really work to keep their items in place, pull off their desired tape from the tape dispenser, cut or tear the tape, and put the tape around the handles or across their plates. The children would test their dishes to see if they were secure. If not, the children added more tape until they were satisfied…

More fun with fixing by teach Preschool

Eventually, we ran out of “real plates” so the I gave the children some left-over paper plates to fix. While watching the children try to coordinate so many different skills to fix their dishes, it was often tempting to want to jump in there and help them but I always try to remember this quote…

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

~Maria Montessori

And the children did succeed – in fact, the children were master dish fixers!

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

As the morning progressed, the children continued to add to the process of fixing their dishes and started drawing or printing on them too…

More fun with fixing by Teach Preschool

The children’s dishes were more beautiful after they had been fixed than they ever were before!

More fun with fixing by Teach Preschool

A couple of the children went home with an entire set of dishes…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

And real quick, I want to go ahead and share this final “fix-it” process of the day. Someone tore up all of the pictures in the basket and the children had to find the matching two pieces of a picture and glue the picture back together. I wouldn’t say that this was the most popular center of the day but we did have a few takers and they did a wonderful job searching through and finding the matching pieces to their picture they chose to fix…

Fixing Torn Pictures

Available on Amazon

 

Reading David McPhail and fun with fixing

The bloggers of the Virtual Book Club are celebrating the works of David McPhail this month and my class enjoyed the simple and sweet book titled “Fix-It” then spent the rest of our morning having fun with fixing…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

“Fix-It” by David McPhail is about a little bear that wants to watch television only to discover that the television is broken. Little bear is very upset and while the “fix-it” bear tries to fix the television, mamma bear and papa bear try to keep little bear distracted…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

Nothing that mamma and papa bear do to make baby bear happy works until she sits down with mamma bear to read a good book…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

We used this book as our springboard into exploring different things we can fix and the tools we use to fix them.  In my story box, I had a hammer, screwdriver, tape, glue, and a sewing kit.  I took out each item, one at a time, and asked the children if they could think of different things each item could fix…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

After our brief discussion on our tools to fix things, the children found several things around the classroom that needed to be fixed as well including a whole set of boxes that were left in the block center along with all our tools and some tape…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

The children worked together to fix the boxes so the boxes could hold stuff again. Some of the children focused on taping the flaps of the boxes closed…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

While others preferred to use the tools to try and “fix” the boxes…

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

Some of our tools even made it over to the table. Looks like these little puzzles needed a little fixing too!

Fun with Fixing by Teach Preschool

Be sure to check out my next Fix-It post coming later this week and see the linky below for more ideas for activities to go with the books of David McPhail brought to you by my fellow virtual book club members…

Available on Amazon

 

Up and coming authors that will be shared in the Virtual Book Club include the following…

  • February 18th-Dr. Seuss
  • March 18th-Julia Donaldson
  • April 15th-David Shannon
  • May 20th-Leo Lionni
  • June 17th-Gail Gibbons
  • July 15th- Jez Alborough
  • August 19th-Donald Crews

VirtualBookClub

To see more ideas from the other participating Virtual Book Club just check out the linky below! Remember, if you are viewing this post by email or in a RSS Reader, you may need to click on the title of this post to view the linky from the blog post…

Participating Bloggers

Toddler ApprovedMom to 2 Posh Lil DivasRainy Day MumReading ConfettiInspiration LaboratoriesPlay Dr. MomMommy and Me Book ClubKitchen Counter ChroniclesTwo Big Two LittleCreative Connections for KidsThe Golden GleamJuggling with KidsTaming the GoblinCrafty Moms ShareReady Set Read 2 MeFamiglia and SeoulThe Good Long RoadThe Educator’s Spin On ItImagination Soup3 DinosaursRoyal BalooBeing A ConsciousParentNo Twiddle TwaddleCrayon FrecklesThe Pleasantest ThingAdventures in Reading with KidsSmile, Play, LearnCreekside LearningOur Feminist Playschool, and Teach Preschool!

David McPhail Virtual Book Club Linky

There are a few rules for this blog hop that we ask you to follow, so make sure to read them:
  1. Link up only posts inspired by David McPhail that share children’s book inspired crafts, activities, recipes, etc. Any other posts will be deleted.
  2. Visit other blog posts on the linky and comment on or share the ones you love!
  3. Add our Virtual Book Club button to your post if you’d like.

By | January 21st, 2013|Categories: Children's Books|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments

Lots of drops

The word “drop’ all by itself is a fun word but to combine the word with other words like gum drops, lemon drops, and rain drops the word “drop” can lead to even more fun…

I introduced the song, “If all the rain drops were lemon drops and gum drops” by writing the word drop on this chart….

I asked my students to help me think of picture words we could add to the word “drop” to make a new word. To get them started, I drew a raindrop on the paper and the children easily caught on to the idea and then with a few hints from me, the children came up with the words, “gum drop, and lemon drop.” …

And this is where I messed up. I was so focused on introducing the children to that song that when one of my students added the word “strawberry” to our list of drops – I didn’t think to just run with it and let the children make up more fun-drop words!  Don’t you hate when you miss a fun opportunity because you were too focused on your own agenda?  Well I missed it.  I added the strawberry but when we went to sing the song my student said, “and don’t forget about the strawberry drop!” But I didn’t add the strawberry drop to our song…

If I had to do this all over again – and I hope I get the chance – I will just change that silly song to whatever drop my students like.  I mean, how hard would have been to sing, “If all the raindrops were strawberry drops and ____ drops!”  Well even though I regret my missed opportunity, the day didn’t stop there and soon my students were having fun making gumdrop sculptures…

The children found gum drops and toothpicks set out to explore any way they wish…

In fact, we were actually engineering all kinds of shapes and structures with gum drops…

But one little girl spent more time at the table than any one else and what do you think she was busy making?  Yep – lollipop gumdrops…

She had orange drops, lime drops, strawberry drops, grape drops, white drops, all lined up in a row. Now if I had followed the lead of my strawberry drop girl earlier, we could now be singing, “If all the lime drops were orange drops and grape drops!”  But no, I dropped the ball completely! Darn, darn, darn!!…

We could have went back to our chart and added more drops later in the day but sometimes a missed opportunity is just that – a missed opportunity.  By the time the children were done playing in all of our centers for the morning, they had moved on to other topics of interest…

 

I assure you, the children didn’t feel or perhaps even notice this missed opportunity to expand on one of their ideas but I am telling you this story today so that you won’t have to go home kicking yourself like I did.

If your students take an idea you share to a place you didn’t expect it to go…

Just go!

Change the song, change the plan, make up something new – but whatever you do – DON”T DROP THE BALL like I did and miss out on an opportunity that may just be better…

So in the end, my students didn’t remember the raindrop song at all. Boo hoo (add tear drops to that list)! In the future, I hope I can remember to really listen to what my students are saying and follow their lead. I don’t want to have to keep writing posts about how I missed out on a moment that was most likely irreplaceable…

Available on Amazon

 

Pppppp is for pumpkin painting, pouring, pounding, and playdough play

We have been doing lots of pumpkin exploration and our latest exploration includes pumpkin painting, pouring, pounding and playdough play….

Pumpkin Painting

We used the same pumpkins over several days for all of our play. We started with painting pumpkins on the first day…

The children found pumpkins and paint sitting out on one of our tables in the outdoor classroom.  We had gathered plenty of pumpkins for the purpose of exploration rather than to be used as a “take-home” type deal so the children were given lots of latitude to paint the pumpkins any way they wished…

The children painted all sides of the pumpkins. Some of the children painted faces but others preferred to paint designs or to explore a little color mixing on the pumpkins…

Gradually, more and more pumpkins made their way over to the painting table until every pumpkin had been beautiful decorated with paint…

Pumpkin Pounding

We used the same pumpkins (but on a different day) to explore pumpkin pounding…

These kids were crazy over pumpkin pounding – I mean they loved it! Absolutely loved it…

The children had to wear goggles if they wanted to pound the golf tees in the pumpkins and they had to wait until there was an open spot in order to take a turn.  But we had many other things in the classroom going on so the children did very well waiting for a spot to open up. Well, we did have to do a little negotiating along the way, but it was all worthwhile and everyone had plenty of time to take a turn at pumpkin pounding…

So what do you do once you have all of those golf tees in a pumpkin?  Hmmm, we have yet to figure that out but if we can’t pull them out then we will figure out something..

Pumpkin Playdough

On another day, we decorated our pumpkins with playdough…

Almost all of our store bought playdough colors are all mixed together now so we used it for one last time adding eyes, nose, mouth, ears and any other feature the children liked to our pumpkins…

The children kept adding to the pumpkins or taking the playdough off and starting over…

Pumpkin Pouring

Our pumpkin water play didn’t include the use of real pumpkins but instead we used our water bottles and our pumpkin water (red and yellow water mixed together)….

It is getting pretty cold outside now so this will be one of our last days for outdoor water play…

So the children mixed up the yellow and orange water to make pumpkin water and then enjoyed a little pumpkin water pouring…

Available on Amazon

PS.  For those of you viewing this post by email…

Did you know that if you click on the title of your email it will take you to the actual blog post?  Be sure to stop on by the blog sometime and look around!

By | October 16th, 2012|Categories: motor skills, Outdoor Play|Tags: , , , , , |12 Comments

Making valentine critters in preschool

I just love seeing all the bright colors of hearts in my classroom right now! They make my whole classroom look so cheerful…

Today would have been the perfect day to read the book “My Heart Is Like a Zoo” by Michael Hall but of course, I couldn’t find my copy so I had to improvise a bit….

To introduce our valentine critter collages, I placed a set of colorful construction paper hearts in a loose pile on my black flannel board.  I asked the children to take a guess as to how many paper hearts they think are on the board. One of my students immediately shouted, “Oh, you mean estimate!”

I was so excited because each of my students made a guess today without hesitation. They shouted out guesses anywhere from 4 to 100. My Pre-K student guesses were pretty close to the actual number which made each of the children quite happy!  After all the guesses were shouted out, I reorganized the hearts on the board and we counted them all together…

After counting all the hearts, I rearranged the hearts on the board and asked the children if they could tell me what new shape the hearts made when I “put them together like this!”  I didn’t worry about a right or wrong answer, any guess worked quite well…

The children all made great guesses including clover, butterfly, and flower.  I made several more shapes and the children continued to guess what shape the hearts would make each time I rearranged them on the board….

When I put the heart shapes across the board this way, one of my students shouted, “Look Mrs. Stewart – You made a pattern!”  Okay – now talk about feeling quite proud of a bunch of kids today!

And when I put the shapes this way, the children immediately decided that this was a caterpillar or worm…

And for this final heart critter – the children easily guessed that this was a person…

Once we finished our circle time, the children were invited to make their own critter collage with construction paper hearts and glue…

On the table were a bunch of pre-cut hearts (of various colors and sizes) and glue. The children selected the hearts they liked and went to work making their own critter collages…

Every child chose their own way to arrange their hearts and glue them down. Some of the heart collages were very simple in design and others were more complex…

Some of the children really focused on making a critter and other children preferred to just glue their favorite colors of hearts on their paper rather than trying to actually make something specific…

Once all the heart critter collages were all completed, I had the children print their own names on their paper then set them aside to dry…

Not everyone can print their names but all the children like to “write their own name” on their paper – especially since we use permanent markers to write our names…

I hung all of the children’s critter heart collages on my wall using a sheet of black construction paper for the backdrop…

Made my entire classroom look cheerful!

Be sure to stop by and enter the 12 Piece Craft puzzle give-away. Give-away ends February 13th at 10:00pm EST 

 

Table top sandbox play in preschool

I hadn’t set out sand in the sensory table until this past week and boy did the children love it!

Along with the sand, I put out a large shallow box, some shovels, and some trucks for “tools for play”…

The box is on the table and the sand started out in the plastic bin. The children used shovels to add sand into the box then used the trucks to push the sand around…

By adding the shallow box, the children had a large open flat surface to explore the sand on. This led to some great imaginative play. The children made mountains and roads and tunnels…

At the end of each day, I poured all of the sand back into the bin so the children could start with a clean surface each day (well almost clean)…

The children added their own tools for play throughout the week as well. I have a shelf with all kinds of buckets and scoops that they can choose from as they wish. I also have a set of wooden blocks I picked up from a construction site for the children to use if they wish. Sometimes, the table gets a little overloaded…

I highly recommend table top sand play but keep a broom handy!

By | September 10th, 2011|Categories: Around the Classroom|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

Our play dough is under construction in preschool

Wrapping up our first week in preschool, we continued to explore our new classroom environment and enjoy a few fun activities along the way. Today we pulled out the play dough and play dough accessories but instead of using all those fun play dough accessories, the construction workers showed up with their tools and hard hats and went to work…

 

They used screwdrivers to make lots of holes in their play dough…

And saws to cut the play dough into tiny pieces…

And hammers to flatten out the play dough…

They worked and worked on their play dough with those tools. Perhaps they will try the play dough accessories on another day!

 

Here is a fun little activity for construction. See Hammer Time from Fugal Family Fun Blog

I agree with  A Teacher at Heart that Teacher Tom has shared the best recipe for homemade playdough!

Make your playdough smell good by adding Kool Aid – see this recipe by The Chocolate Muffin Tree!

See other playdough recipes here!

By | August 26th, 2011|Categories: The Value of Play|Tags: , , , |22 Comments