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!

Available on Amazon

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

Simple DIY family puzzles for preschool

If you want to capture a young child’s attention, then focus on the things that matter the most to the child and one of those things is the child’s family.

DIY Family Puzzles!

Our preschoolers have a way of reminding us about what matters most to them through their everyday conversations and interactions.

Playing with babies

And although any time throughout the school year is a good time to celebrate families, the holidays are especially a good time to focus on the things that really matter.

Taking care of baby

Many of our student’s families are growing. It seems new babies are being born every time I turn around. So as you can see, playing with babies is one way they can explore the role of different family members. The children also explored families by putting together their own simple DIY family puzzles.

DIY Family Puzzles

Miss Abby invited the parents to email her a family photo which she then printed out and cut a part. All the children’s family members were mixed up and placed in a basket. The children were invited to sort through the photos to find the members of their family and create their own family puzzle or collage.

DIY Family Puzzles

While searching for family members, the children shared their found photos with each other. What a wonderful opportunity to build community, conversation, and celebrate families all together.

DIY Family Puzzles

The children easily stayed with this process because the process was built around what matters the most them. Yes, if you want to engage a child in any process, find out what matters to the child and start from there.

DIY Family Puzzles

What a joy it is to celebrate the families of these sweet young children with them!

diy-family-puzzles2046

High five for our sense of touch!

We spent time exploring our hands and if you are going to explore your hands, you just have to add a little high five into the mix…

High Five for our Sense of Touch!

I made a few DIY hand-shaped sensory cards for the children to explore their sense of touch…

High Five for our Sense of Touch!

The children were invited to stop by throughout the day to give the hands a high five and to feel how each card might be just a little bit different…

High Five for our Sense of Touch!

We invited the children to describe the different textures they were feeling…

High Five for our Sense of Touch!

We had hands that were rough, soft, smooth, bumpy,  sticky, and fluffy…

High Five for our Sense of Touch!

This little guy liked to feel all the cards with his eyes closed first and then tell us what he felt. I thought that was an excellent idea!

High Five for our Sense of Touch!

Links to Grow On…

I Have Hands! by Teach Preschool

Handprint Color Mixing by Teach Preschool

By | June 25th, 2016|Categories: Sensory Play|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

How to make the easiest DIY liquid watercolor ever!

It’s summer and a rainy day here which is the perfect kind of day for me to sit at my kitchen table and tinker around with new ideas. And that is how I figured out how to make the easiest DIY liquid water color ever.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

What you need…

You will need a set of colored craft sticks, some clear cups, and water.

Now the kind of colored craft sticks you buy can make a difference in the strength or vibrancy of the color. I used a package by Horizon Group which is the simple colored craft sticks available at most Walmart stores. I tried a more expensive brand and they didn’t work as well. So for this, go with the cheap stuff.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

Clear cups are not a must have but this is the kind of process that is so much cooler when you can really see the color change in progress.

Water is a must. Just use tap water or bottled water. If you want to make a bunch and store it, then go with bottled water so it keeps its clarity longer.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

What you do…

Invite your students to help you sort the sticks by color. Yes, this is a great exercise for math, science, and art! Then invite your little ones to fill clear cups with water. How much water is really up to you. I just filled my small cups up about 3/4 full so the ends of the craft sticks stayed rather dry. Then drop the craft sticks in the water and let them soak for a bit. The water will start to turn color immediately if you have nice cheap colored craft sticks.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

Of course, the more craft sticks you add, the more color you will get but in my case, four or five craft sticks worked fine but then I got carried away and just added the whole bag. And the longer you leave the craft sticks in the water, the more vibrant the color will be. I left my craft sticks in the water all morning but these photos were taken within five minutes from the time I placed them in the water.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

When you are ready to use your DIY Liquid Water Color then take the craft sticks out and set them on a paper towel to dry. The craft sticks will still be useable after they dry out and still have color.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

I also found that there was so much dye in these craft sticks, that I was able to even make a whole second batch of liquid water color using the same craft sticks.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

And that is it! Your DIY Liquid Water Color is ready for exploration.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

What you need to know…

If you handle the wet colored craft sticks, your hands will turn colors. But the diluted color (liquid water color) doesn’t turn your hands color unless you make the color super duper strong. So just keep that in mind.

What is so cool…

The cool part of this whole thing is that you can do an entire lesson involving the colored craft sticks from counting, sorting, patterning, designing, crafting, and ending things up with this fabulous process. The second cool thing is that you probably have a set of these colored sticks up in a cabinet somewhere but if you don’t, then keep a set handy for one of those days when you just don’t have time or money to go out and buy the expensive liquid water color or you just want to add a quick little water color to your day then you can just grab a few colored craft sticks and you have all the color you need.

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

What you can do with DIY Liquid Water Color…

You can paint with it for starters. The paint will be a little more runny than a tempera paint but it great paint for wood, water color paper, and paper towels…

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

Definitely use liquid water color for adding color to your water play table, shave cream play, or other sensory play ideas. Then there is exploring color mixing. My grand children spent about an hour just mixing colors and dropping color on paper towels. My eldest grandson was determined to make the color black…

How to make the easiest DIY Liquid Watercolor ever!

If you follow me on Facebook, then you might like to see the video I have shared there as well or see below…

Links to Grow On!

DIY Magnetic Craft Sticks

Craft Stick Rainbow Puzzles

Lining Up Colored Craft Sticks

 

By | June 14th, 2016|Categories: Creative Art, DIY|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

DIY under game for preschoolers

No matter how we try it or what we use, my student’s love playing the very simple game that I refer to as “the under game!”

The Under Game by Teach Preschool

The under game is simple and there are many ways to play it but this is how my students play it. First we gather our cups. It doesn’t matter how many cups we use but we like to use between six and eight. Miss Abby painted our cups brown to represent “under the ground” for our continued study of vegetables that grow under the ground…

The Under Game by Teach Preschool

Next pick an object. We used a stuffed felt carrot as our chosen vegetable for our underground cups. We could have used a real carrot or even more than one carrot but we thought this carrot would be fun for today…

The Under Game by Teach Preschool

Our students make up their own rules for playing this game as they go along. Usually, one child closes his or her eyes while the other child hides the carrot under a cup…

The Under Game by Teach Preschool

Then the child opens his or her eyes and tries to guess where the carrot is hidden. Sometimes several children play at once which leads to a race to find the carrot…

The Under Game by Teach Preschool

Some of the children search under each cup as fast as he or she can to find the carrot as fast as possible. Other children are more thoughtful about it and try to guess which cup the carrot my actually be in before lifting up to find out. And other children peek during the hiding part of the game and know exactly where that carrot is hidden…

The Under Game by Teach Preschool

No matter how the children choose to play the game, they always enjoy it. It’s the kind of guessing game that has no winners or losers but it does lead to feeling like a winner once you find that carrot!

The Under Game by Teach Preschool

Links to Grow On

You Can’t Have Too Many Carrots by Teach Preschool

A Day of Exploring Carrots by Teach Preschool

A Simple Bean Bag Game for Preschoolers by Teach Preschool

By | April 15th, 2016|Categories: DIY, Games|Tags: , , |3 Comments

Rainstick in a bottle

Tis the season of lots of rain and with all that rain, we were inspired to make our own rainstick in a bottle…

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

Miss Lauren came up with this brilliant and simple idea for the children to make. She wanted the children to explore the weather with all their senses and the rainstick in a bottle invited the children to listen to the ‘rain’ and to look at the ‘rain’ as it flowed through their ‘clouds’.

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

I love the rainstick in a bottle because it includes time in sensory play, as well as invites creativity along with further discussion about the weather.

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

Miss Lauren saved up plastic bottles for the children to use. I think the bottles were Sparkling Water bottles but I am not for sure. To make the rainstick in a bottle, the children began by filling their bottles with cotton ball clouds. It is better to not pack the bottle full of cotton balls but to fill it lightly so that the rain can trickle down to the bottle of the bottle.

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

Once the children added their clouds, they were ready to add the rain. The children could use the funnel to add rain to their bottles or just use their hands and sprinkle the rain right over the rice tub.

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

Miss Lauren added colored rice for the rain. She placed the rice in a baggie with blue liquid watercolor then kneaded the bag till all the rice turned the desired color of blue. Then she spread the rice out on a tray and left it to dry overnight.

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

As you can see, not every child followed the order that I described above when making their rainsticks in a bottle but it didn’t really matter…

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

All that mattered was adding a little of both cotton and rice. We didn’t worry about amounts as the children could test it out to see if they liked the amounts they added to their bottle. If not, just pour some out and start again!

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

Once the bottle had the desired amount of clouds and rain, its time to put on the lid and watch the rain flow through the clouds as they turned the bottle slowly up then down…

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

Oh, and don’t forget to add your name!

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

The rainstick in a bottle center remained open through out the morning so the children would have plenty of time to create their rainstick…

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

This was an activity that the children enjoyed exploring and it was fun watching them enjoy the process!

Rainstick in a bottle by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Exploring Raindrops and Clouds by Teach Preschool

Rainy Day Drawing Cube on Preschool Spot!

For more great spring idea see Spring on Pinterest – click here!

By | March 16th, 2016|Categories: Discovery Bottles, DIY, Science and Nature|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

The rainbow center

With spring coming around the corner and all the crazy weather we have been having, it has naturally been a great opportunity to explore rainbows. Last week, we invited the children to explore the colors of the rainbow in our rainbow center…

The Rainbow Center by Teach Preschool

 

We have a bookshelf that always seemed to stump us as to what to do with it until we decided just to make it a “thematic center.” Each week we change the items on the center to reflect something the children are interested in or at other times, we build the shelf around a unit/theme we are talking about…

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

The rainbow center was fairly simple in set up. The biggest attraction were the colorful discovery bottles…

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

The discovery bottles are plastic Voss Bottles we purchased from Boxed.Com. Each bottle has it’s own ingredients inside but most of them contain colored water and glitter. Some of them also have baby oil and beads in them. Once the bottles are ready to go, we hot glue them closed…

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

The rainbow center also included a set of rainbow puppets for the children to play with and to perhaps invite a little more conversation about color…

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

This rainbow discovery bottle was a little different in that it didn’t shake up or move any but it did provide a beautiful look at the colors of a rainbow. This bottle was filled with hair gel from the Dollar Tree. You can see a complete tutorial on how to make this bottle over at Preschool Inspirations!

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

I would have liked to have added a few prisms and other rainbow gadgets but we will continue to build our collection of rainbow things for next time…

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

Every time we put together this center, it is always interesting to see what the children will do with the items we provide. Most of the items are homemade but sometimes, we go out and buy something simple and cool to add to the center too.

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

One thing to keep in mind is that we intentionally keep the center simple in design. In other words, we don’t overload the center with things as it makes it harder for the children to really explore and find things…

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

We used the clear plastic Voss Bottles as magnifiers for the children to roll across the rainbows laying flat on the shelf. The rainbows will turn over as you roll the bottle across…

The Rainbow Center by Teach Preschool

Our rainbow center worked out nicely for the week. It gave the children lots of opportunity to explore and talk about all the colors of the rainbow!

The rainbow center by Teach Preschool

 

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

How to Flip a Rainbow by Lemon Lime Adventures

DIY Rainbow Glasses by Kid’s Stuff World

Rainbow Slime by Teach Preschool

12 Rainbows to Create and Explore by Teach Preschool

To see more ideas for Rainbows on Pinterest – click here!

Tracing letters, numbers, and shapes on the flannel board

There are so many creative and fun ways to introduce tracing letters, shapes, and numbers around the classroom without ever setting out a worksheet. Where I can find alternative, hands-on ways for my students to practice skills, such as tracing, I get all excited and run with it…

Tracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

This idea may look very simple, and it is, but it has been one of the best tools for giving my students a little practice in tracing letters or shapes (we haven’t tried it with numbers yet) in my classroom…

Tracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

For shape tracing we use our large DIY flannel board so I can talk with the group about the shape. For tracing letters, we use our  small flannel board (we call them lap boards) for tracing…

Tracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

To prepare, I simply create my own dot-to-dot or dotted-lined letter by sticking small pieces of colored masking tape to my flannel board. I never leave the tape on longer than a few days so it doesn’t leave a sticky residue and I only use an easy-to-remove tape like masking or painters tape…

Tracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

This process lends itself to making upper or lowercase letters anytime you want. It is easy to switch up anytime too. I’ve been focusing more on the uppercase with this process since I have other processes that focus on lowercase around the classroom…

Tracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

We don’t spend a lengthy amount of time on this process. For us, it is a quick part of our morning routine that takes just a few minutes. While my weather person is drawing the weather, my students pass the board around the circle and trace it with a finger…

Tracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

The board can be left out during the day for more tracing and one could add a variety of tools for tracing like a pencil with no led, a straw, or other tool that a child can hold. So far, we just use our finger to give the children the idea of tracing a shape along with a little practice in the skills of tracing…

TTracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

I also invite the children to say the name of the letter or make the sound of the letter but still remain very casual about the process. The children talk with each other or with me as the tracing board makes its way around the circle…

Tracing on the Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

DIY Make Your Own Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

10 Fun Ways to Use a Flannel Board by Teach Preschool

Felt Fun Ideas on Pinterest!

Fall leaves at the light table

Before school began this year, I finally decided it was time to break down and buy me a new light table. I wanted a table that could stand alone, be large enough for several children to work on at one time, and have good lighting that worked well even during the day time in a classroom with lots of windows….

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

After checking around, I finally decided to purchase the light table by Whitney Brothers. So far, I couldn’t be happier! I purchased my light table off of Amazon and all I had to connect was the bottom legs to the light box. It was simple.  I have provided an Amazon link to the table I am using below for those who are interested in learning more…

We have used our light table for lots of different things so far this year and one of our most recent light table explorations was to take a close look at the signs of fall. One of those signs is the changing color of the leaves. Miss Abby collected leaves from around her neighborhood for this process as the leaves on my own property are still all green. But soon the leaves here will change color and we will continue our exploration of the signs of fall outdoors as well as indoors…

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

The “windows” that you see the leaves are in are my homemade exploration windows. To make your own exploration windows like ours you will need…

  1. Heavy cardboard (I cut up a white corrugated cardboard science board into small squares that I found at the Dollar Tree. One board makes about 20+ frames and the cardboard also makes great paint or glue canvases for art).
  2. Overhead projector film or some other type of heavy clear plastic that you can cut.
  3. Clear packing tape

I simply cut a frame from the cardboard, then taped a piece of the overhead projector film to the front of the frame and to the back of the frame.  I sealed the leaves in between the sheets of projector film and added tape all the way around the edges to keep the leaves from falling out the sides as the children pick up, turn, or move the observation windows around the table or the classroom…

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

The children can handle the observation windows easily and without worry of the windows easily coming apart or tearing. I love them and plan to make more as I have time with a variety of materials for the light table…

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

The DIY observation windows would also work well outdoors for looking at leaves in the sunlight…

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

On the light table, I set out the leaves, crayons, and thin paper for the children to trace or draw the leaves if they would like.  One child tried leaf rubbing with the crayon and did find a few vein lines pop up. Another decided the veins from the leaf on his rubbing looked like a treasure map and was off to now search for treasure…

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

The children came and went from the light table all through out the morning. They spent time observing, talking, drawing, coloring, and feeling the leaves.  We also had leaves set around the classroom that were not inside a window for the children to explore…

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

Fall is such an amazing time of year to explore nature through many different ways in the classroom. Light table exploration is just one example of the things we are and will be doing over the next few weeks. I am so glad that we have preschool in the fall. It is such an amazing time of the year!

Fall Leaves at the Light Table by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

By | October 2nd, 2014|Categories: DIY, Light Table|Tags: , , , , |8 Comments

DIY Lap boards for preschool

I was recently asked by lots of folks to talk a little bit more about what I call “Lap Boards.”  So for those of you who asked or would like to know more, here are a few details…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

Although I refer to my small boards as “Lap Boards,” I also change what I call them depending on what I am using them for. For example, sometimes I might call them a story board or sometimes a counting board. But essentially, no matter what I call them, they are simply small DIY felt boards…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

I call them lap boards most of the time because we often use them on the floor when working on a process as a large group. The lap board goes on the child’s lap or on the floor in front of each child so that the children can have a sturdy, independent space to place objects on and to work on…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

I like the lap boards for giving children a space to work on for several reasons but probably my top reason is that my DIY lap boards are a quiet space to work on and they are soft so most things we are working with don’t easily roll off the edges when the board get’s bumped or shifted around.

How to make a Lap Board

I always keep at least 11 lap boards in my classroom. Ten of them are for the children to use and one of them is for me to use when I am working with the children on a specific process. I store the lap boards on a top shelf in my classroom to pull down as needed…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

To make the lap boards you will need a set of small art paint canvases. My canvases are around 8″ x 10″ stretched canvas (stretched around a wood frame). I purchase my stretched canvases from places like Walmart or Michaels when I see them go on sale or being sold in a multi-pack for a good price…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

You will also need a supply of white (or whatever color you would choose) flannel to staple around each canvas.  I bought two yards of white flannel and had left-over after covering 12 canvases…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

To make the lap boards, you simply cut your flannel to fit firmly around the edges of each canvas and then stretch the flannel so that it sits nice and tight on across the front of the canvas. Then flip the canvas over and staple the edges of the flannel firmly to the board surrounding your canvas.  I use a staple gun to staple the flannel to my boards…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

If you have too much excess flannel on the inside edges of the back of the canvas, then trim away the excess flannel so that the edges are neat and tidy looking…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

Once the flannel is firmly covering and attached to your canvas, then you now have officially made a lap board…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

You can now use your lap boards during circle time to retell a story with felt pieces you have prepared. Instead of the teacher being the only one to tell a story or having to wait on each child to take a turn, the story board allows all the children to be involved in the story telling process together…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

You can use your lap board in a center for children to count, sort, compare, or explore a variety of materials in different ways. The material will not be so clanky in the classroom as they are on a soft surface rather than a hard table or tray…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

You can use your lap board at a table or on the floor for children to have an individual space to explore whatever type of process you have in mind…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

I have had six of my DIY lap boards for three years without a problem of them being ripped, broken, or ruined in some other way. But last year, I had them laying on the floor and the children stepped on them with muddy shoes which left nice little mud shoe prints on most of the boards that I couldn’t wash out. So this year, I added a few more boards to my collection of boards, took off the old felt off my older boards, and covered all 12 boards with new white felt so they all looked new again…

DIY Lap Boards by Teach Preschool

We introduced the lap boards to our students today for the first time this school year and will begin using them around the classroom as the year progresses. I hope I have answered all questions but if you have a comment or question for me, feel free to leave me a comment below!

Available on Amazon

By | September 5th, 2014|Categories: DIY, Flannel Board|Tags: , , , |10 Comments