Simple and fun alphabet review in preschool

All through the school year, we spend time exploring letters of the alphabet through different kinds of fun, hands-on, and interesting ideas. The goal is to keep the process of exploring letters and letter sound fun, meaningful, and simple.  This week we had fun with this simple alphabet review using the book titled, “the alphabet tree” by Leo Lionni.

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

I would say that this book is an excellent choice for children who are prekindergarten or kindergarten age but I have a mixed age group of children ages three and above. To make the book fun for my mixed age group, I simply modified the reading of the end of the book and it worked out nicely…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

The book begins with leaves growing on trees and letters attaching themselves to the leaves.  Soon, the wind blows all the leaves off the trees and the letters begin to scatter about. The letters soon learn that they are stronger when they work together to make words or even sentences (which is where I did some simplifying in my reading of the book) and can stand up to even a strong gust of wind…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

It has been incredibly windy here where we live and all the leaves have been falling off the trees in bulk. My students have loved spending as much time as possible outdoors exploring all the leaves and watching the wind blow them off of the trees. This book went along nicely with all of our time outdoors exploring leaves and wind and added a fun way to explore letters too…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

After reading “the alphabet tree” we took a few minutes to retell the story with the use of my quickly drawn alphabet tree on a dry erase board….

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

Just as the letters in our book attached themselves to a leaf, I had letters come along and attach themselves to my tree too. As I added letters, the children shouted out the name of each letter…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

And then along came small gusts of wind that blew the letters off of our tree just like in the book…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

Each of the children took a turn choosing a letter to blow off of our tree and as they blew the letter, I would say the name of the letter they chose and wipe it off the board – “Oh No, The letter ____ blew away!”…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

After the children took a turn being the wind, they were off to make their own alphabet trees using crayons, paper, and ink pads with alphabet ink stamps…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

Because I had drawn a simple alphabet tree as part of our story telling time, the children understood easily how to make their own version of a simple alphabet tree…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

The children drew branches and leaves….

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

Then began stamping on letters to create their alphabet trees…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

We set out both upper and lowercase letter ink stamps for the children to explore…

Simple and Fun Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

A super simple and fun way to review the alphabet and a great way to extend our outdoor experiences with wind and leaves into the storytelling and creative process of creating our very own alphabet trees…

Fun and Simple Alphabet Review by Teach Preschool

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By | November 14th, 2014|Categories: Children's Books|Tags: , , , , |4 Comments

Exploring letters with leaves

This simple yet lovely idea is from Linda over at Rain or Shine Mamma. The emphasis of Laura’s blog is on learning, creating, and playing in nature. I am thrilled to share her beautiful photographs and this fun idea with you today…

Exploring Letters with Leaves

by Linda of Rain or Shine Mamma

Nature is a wonderful place for learning and this time of the year I like to take advantage of the abundance of leaves that can be found on the ground. My youngest daughter (who is 3) is chomping on the bit to learn the alphabet like her big sister, and since we love spending time outdoors I came up with this simple letter recognition activity using leaves.

Exploring letters with leaves!

Materials:

  • Tote bag for collecting leaves
  • 20-30 leaves
  • Marker

Exploring letters with leaves

How to do it:

  • Find a natural area with trees and start collecting your leaves. Encourage your child to find a variety of species, colors and textures. Learning in nature is typically multidisciplinary, and I always take the opportunity to talk about the color, shape and texture of the leaves. You can also discuss which leaves are OK to pick – do you get them off the trees or only pick the ones that have already fallen on the ground?
  • Use a marker to write letters on the leaves. If your child is just starting out with letter recognition, don’t include the whole alphabet. Choose four or five random letters and repeat them until all the leaves have been used. A logical place to start would be the letters in your child’s name, since those are usually the first ones he or she will begin to recognize.
  • When you’re done writing, put the leaves back in the tote bag and let your child draw a leaf out of the bag, eyes closed. Then have him or her identify the letter on the leaf. My daughter loved the element of surprise, and her hand kept going back in the bag for more!

Exploring Letters with Leaves

Variations for the more advanced learner: Children who are getting interested in writing may want to help print the letters on the leaves, at least my daughter did. Another way to challenge a more advanced learner is to have them put together their name using the leaves along with both upper and lowercase letters.

Enjoy!

Linda McGurk is a U.S. writer and photographer who believes that the best childhood memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching frogs and climbing trees. She blogs about forest schooling and restoring the connection between children and nature at Rain or Shine Mamma, and hopes to inspire parents and educators to get outside with their children every day, regardless of the weather.

-Rain or Shine Mamma on Facebook

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By | October 17th, 2014|Categories: Science and Nature|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

Fun with Fall Leaves!

Allow me to introduce one of my amazing teachers to you – Miss Abby! I have asked Miss Abby to begin sharing some of her own perspectives on my blog for a couple of reasons…

  1.  It will definitely help me to keep blogging more regularly to have her help and
  2. I think others will enjoy seeing Abby’s perspective on teaching young children.

I am an old veteran teacher and Abby is a fresh new young teacher with lots of ideas and energy. This is Abby’s second year to work in my program as a teacher and I can’t tell you how amazing she (and all my staff) are both in and out of the classroom.  I will let Abby share more about herself as she has the time but for today, I have asked Abby to choose something we have recently done in the classroom that she would like to share her thoughts on.  I am encouraging Abby to reflect on her own observations and ideas in the process of blogging with me and hope you will enjoy reading and connecting to the different perspectives we each share as we go along this school year….

Fun with Fall Leaves by Miss Abby

We are very fortunate to have a gorgeous wooded area conveniently located right in our own backyard here at our school. Along with each tree in these woods comes probably a few hundred leaves per branch, and these leaves are finally changing into some seriously vivid colors with fall moving in. Today with our preschool class, we went outdoors to explore the different colors that the leaves change into as this season progresses, observing different greens, yellows, oranges, and even browns!

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

To further discuss these changes, I gave the children a chance to take a look at the shapes of the different types of leaves found in our yard, and they also got to put some color back on the dried out, brown leaves. After explaining the process of the activity, the children then had the opportunity to go about adding their fall colors and working with the leaves in their own way.

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

Some enjoyed mixing the colors…

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

Some simply gave new, colorful life to the crunchy, brown leaves.

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

We even took some time to cut the leaves up! And of course we had to see what else scissors could cut (example A: the box)…

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

While I think the children enjoyed getting to explore the leaves via things like paint, tape and scissors, and even a little leaf sensory play at the light table (leaves in a gel bag) – in retrospect I know now that I could have spent more time discussing the different details of the leaves with these guys during our circle time.

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

I think it’s really important to build that personal connection during circle time with the tools they’ll be using later, so that the children have more of an interest in the activities they’ll be doing. I think in this case, things still went very well and the children enjoyed the different processes as they explored the leaves but for future reference I will definitely spend more time creating dialogue that really connects the children to what they will be seeing and doing around the classroom that day.

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

There was definitely a lot of thought that the children put into their fall leaf creations, and the results were beautiful!

Fall Leaves by Teach Preschool

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By | October 15th, 2014|Categories: Children's Books|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

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

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

Learning with leaves

We began today’s study of leaves by reading the wonderful book titled, “Leaves” by David Ezra Stien. “Leaves” is a book about a little bear experiencing his very first season of fall…

Leaves and our table of leaves

When the first leaf falls from the tree, little bear feels sad and tries to put the leaf and all the others back on the tree but it just isn’t the same. The book touches on all four seasons while little bear sleeps and wakes up to all the leaves once again back on the trees…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

After reading our story, my students went outdoors for a nature walk to collect our own set of leaves and then we brought them back inside and spread them out on our table to see what we could learning we could do with our leaves…

Learning with Leaves by Teach Preschool

I had my table prepared ahead of time to invite the children to do some simple sorting of their leaves by making a chart on the table with tape. But first, we had to take a look at the leaves and then decide how we might sort them best. All the leaves were spread out on a second table so the children could select a few they liked best…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

Then the children brought their selected leaves over to the chart table and began to sort them into different categories…

Learning with Leaves by Teach Preschool

The natural tendency was for my students to sort the leaves by color but not every leaf fit nice and neatly into a specific color so my students had to think a bit about what other similarities they saw between the leaves…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

One of my students noticed that many of the leaves were long and skinny, so the children now had a choice to either place a long and skinny leaf in the red pile or in the long and skinny pile…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

Soon all the leaves were sorted by either color or shape or size but we had lots of leaves still left over to explore so what did we do with them?…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

We added some scissors and made leaf confetti. The children could cut the leaves into tiny pieces or tear the leaves into tiny pieces. Most of the children preferred cutting the leaves…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

The children cut the leaves up and soon we had lots of tiny pieces of leaves…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

Those who wished to use the leaf confetti to make a paper tree were invited to do so. Some of the children gave it a try and others preferred just to continue cutting up the leaves…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

And  one last exploration was pulled out of all those leaves for the morning. One of my students noticed that if he cut a leaf in half, he could put it back together just like a puzzle. So while the children cut and glued confetti leaves, I prepared a few more leaf puzzles on our chart table…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

And when the children saw them, they quickly put the leaves all back together again…

A Table of Leaves by Teach Preschool

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Sink or Float: an exploration with nature

Water is such a wonderful resource in the preschool classroom as it can be used for all types of play, exploration, and learning. One of our most recent water activities was to gather up some items from nature then answer the question “Does it sink or float?”

Sink or Float with Nature by Teach Preschool

The children started out by reviewing a short checklist of nature items I put together based on the kinds of items I knew were available around our school grounds…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Then each child took their checklist outside to find and gather each of the items on their checklist…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

As the children found each item, they brought the items inside and set them by their name until they had every item on the list sitting on the table…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Now we were ready to begin our exploration with sink or float. The children chose the first item on their list which was a piece of bark and made a guess as to whether the bark would sink or float. Once the guesses were all in, the children dropped their bark in the water to check their guesses and make any other observations they found interesting…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

The bark was then removed from the water and we repeated the process for each item on our check list which included sticks…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Leaves…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

Rocks…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

And flowers…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

This bright group of students were able to guess quickly which nature items might sink or float but some of our items tricked us a bit since it had rained the night before. The bark was particularly tricky because although some of the pieces of bark floated, some of them sank depending on how wet they were. We also took a few minutes to watch our leaves float across the water by blowing on them…

Sink or Float: An exploration with nature by Teach Preschool

A terrific study on the concept of floating vs. sinking!  If you would like a copy of our checklist – just click here for the PDF!

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Exploring what will sink or float in preschool by Teach Preschool

Balloons and Water by Teach Preschool

Sink or Float Bottle by Chasing Cheerios

F is for Float by Brilliant Beginnings

By | May 18th, 2013|Categories: Science and Nature|Tags: , , , |7 Comments

All four seasons at the sticky table

We have been experiencing what seems like all four seasons in one month! The weather has gone from a few warm sunny days to a few days with with blizzard like conditions to days with lots of rain or very strong winds.  With all this crazy weather, it has been a good time of year to explore the weather of all four seasons…

All Four Seasons at the Sticky Table by Teach Preschool

To get us thinking about the four seasons, we read “My Favorite Time of Year” by Susan Pearson.  I have had this book a very long time and although this book does a nice job illustrating all four seasons, it is a little on the long side as far as the story goes – so we did a little reading and picture surfing through the book…

Four seasons at the sticky table by Teach Preschool

After reading our book, we extended our study of the four seasons in several of our centers and one of the centers was our four seasons sticky table…

All four seasons at the sticky table by Teach Preschool

To create the sticky table, just add clear contact paper (sticky side up) to the top of a table or large tray. I used clear packing tape to hold the sticky paper in place…

All four seasons at the sticky table by Teach Preschool

For this sticky table, we set out foam squares and foam trees for the children to create all four seasons.  Our colors were divided into cups as follows…

  • Red/Yellow/Orange for fall
  • White for winter
  • Pink/Purple for spring
  • Green for summer

Of course, the center was left open ended so the children could choose how they preferred to use or combine the colors…

All four seasons at the sticky table by Teach Preschool

The foam shapes are easily removed from the sticky table so each child could put their shapes away when done, start over, or change up their designs…

Four Seasons at the Sticky Table by Teach Preschool

Lots of ways to explore the sticky table…

All four seasons at the sticky table by Teach Preschool

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By | March 20th, 2013|Categories: Four Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments

Goin on a turkey hunt

We have been reading a variety of books about Thanksgiving and in many of our books, the authors show the historical story of how the Pilgrims sailed across the ocean and came to a new land only to find that they didn’t know how to survive in this new land.  What the children have found most interesting in these books are the Indians who made their own bows and arrows and taught the Pilgrims how to hunt for food.  Building on the children’s interest we made our own bows and arrows and then went on a turkey hunt…

We had to brainstorm what we would need to make our bows and arrows and the children easily decided that we could make them from sticks – so off they went to gather sticks.  The children had to find sticks that were long and perhaps had a bit of a curve or arch for their bows and then shorter sticks for their arrows.  This meant we had to do lots of searching, comparing, and collecting of sticks for our hunt…

We also needed turkeys to hunt.  Each child threw together a paper bag turkey but we noticed that we had flat turkeys and no hunter wants to eat a flat turkey…

The children took their paper bag turkeys outside to fill them up with leaves. While we were stuffing our turkeys with leaves, one of my students asked me, “Mrs. Stewart, Do turkeys eat leaves?”  What a great question!…

Once our turkeys were stuffed and the ends were tied off, the children went back outside and hid their turkeys…

And finally we went back to making our bows and arrows…

The children wrapped their bows with a special kind of tape (which I will share more about soon) while Mrs. Courtney and I tied a large rubber band on the ends of each bow to make the string of the bow…

Here is a look at a few of our completed bows…

Now that we had our bows ready to go, the children went outside to gather more sticks for their arrows and hunt for their turkeys….

I was a little worried that we might have kids accidentally shooting each other with their arrows but I didn’t have to worry because we spent most of our time just trying to figure out how to hold the bow and the arrow in the right position in order to get the bow to spring up into the air.  This was quite challenging and most of the children did not have the coordination to get an arrow to shoot anywhere at all.  The entire turkey hunt preparation and adventure was lots of fun for the children and the children loved the adventure of it all and so did I!

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By | November 19th, 2012|Categories: Holiday Ideas, Thanksgiving|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

Feeling the texture of fall

We have been exploring fall with an emphasis on the changing colors of leaves around our preschool but this time, we used our hands to explore the leaves and not just our eyes…

Each child chose a leaf from our collection of leaves on the table and set it on a square of cardboard (I cut up the cardboard squares from an old box). The children used their hands to determine which side of the leaf had veins that you could feel the best (usually the back of the leaf) and placed that side of the leaf facing up…

Then the children placed a sheet of foil over their leaf…

At this point, I want to tell you that it would be better if you have the children go ahead and wrap their foil all the way around their cardboard so the foil doesn’t slide around as the children rub their hands on the foil.  Some of my students wrapped their foil all the way around the cardboard and some didn’t – but in the future, I would have them all wrap the foil first.  Once the foil was on top of the leaves with the edges wrapped around the back of the cardboard, then it is time to rub the foil or smooth out the foil over the leaf until the veins of the leaf can be seen…

The children did a wonderful job rubbing the foil so the imprint of the leaves would show. For some of the children, we started over and wrapped their foil around their cardboard squares so the foil and the leaf would not slide around as the children rubbed over the leaf. It was hard to get a photo of the leaf imprints in the foil but the children were very interested in this entire process and loved it when their leaf veins begin to appear…

This activity was a part of a five senses unit we are also doing so our focus for this process was more on touch and feeling with our hands than on what we could see but we were able to see the imprint of our leaves as well…

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By | October 19th, 2012|Categories: Science and Nature|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments

More than just a leaf!

The children’s book “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert takes a fun look at how leaves combined with other items from nature can take on the features of different animals or even people…

After our walk and leaf sorting, which I shared in my previous post, my students selected a leaf to make into something different as well…

The leaf man picture above is my version of a leaf girl at a party.  Before the children went off to create their own leaf pictures, I sat with them and showed how to use the materials to turn a leaf into something else.  We always have lots of blank paper and coloring or drawing tools available for the children to draw or write or color anyway they wish but for a process like this, I wanted to model out loud the thinking and share the goal of this process.  As I drew I said things like, “I think my leaf is going to go to a birthday party!”  and “Oh, I want my leaf to wear a tutu to the party.”  and “Should my leaf wear a hat?”   As I draw, the children help me make decisions about my leaf and observe the process then head off to interpret this process in their own way…

First they selected a leaf to glue to their piece of construction paper.  I encouraged the children to use lots of glue so we would be sure those leaves would stay stuck on that paper.  Then the children used Crayola Twistable Slick Stixs to complete their leaf designs or creatures…

We had lots of birthday party leaves because we happened to have had a birthday boy in the classroom on this particular day…

I have to tell you that using Crayola Twistable Slick Stix to color is the best coloring tool for leaves and other hard to color on objects or hard to see type canvases.  No, I am not getting paid or freebies to tell you this. I just want you to know that we love them and my class will spend far more time coloring or designing with the slick stix than anything else – oh, and they last a pretty long while and are not messy on the hands!

So let me leave you with a little gallery of a few more of our leaf creatures or designs. I think they all turned out simply beautiful!

 

 

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By | October 18th, 2012|Categories: Children's Books|Tags: , , , |1 Comment