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!

Roll up piano keyboard for the music center

If you are like me, you would love to keep a piano in your classroom but with a limited amount of space, having a full piano or even a large keyboard isn’t always possible unless you have something as cool as this rollup piano or keyboard…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

I have had several folks ask me about my rollup piano so I thought I would just dedicate this post to it. This is called a Roll Up Piano. It is flexible and works pretty much like a regular piano keyboard…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

When not it use, we roll it up…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

And put away in the bag that came with it…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

And store it on our classroom shelf in the piano basket…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

We keep a set of headphones with the rollup piano for the children to use as well. Sometimes the children use the headphones and sometimes they don’t…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

The children set the rollup piano on the floor to play…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

At the table to play…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

and I’m sure they could even wrap it around a chair and play it but they haven’t figured that out yet!  The rollup piano has 100 different sounds it makes, a vibrate button, a sustain button, a drum beat button, and a volume knob…

 

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

It’s a pretty nifty and durable musical instrument to keep around in any classroom and all my students love it…

Roll up piano keyboard for your music center by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

By | May 2nd, 2014|Categories: Around the Classroom|Tags: , |0 Comments

15 Fabulous fingerplays and facts

Having a set of fingerplays in your toolbox of teaching skills is a must do for anyone working in an early childhood environment.

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Today, I am joining Pre-k Pages and Prekinders to bring you 15 fabulous fingerplays and facts. Each of us have chosen five to share so you will want to be sure to stop by Pre-K Pages and Prekinders to see the other ten!

Way up High in the Apple Tree

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Way up high in the apple tree,

Point up high

Five red apples looked at me.

Hold up five fingers

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Pretend to shake the tree with both hands

Down came an apple,

Wiggle fingers down from the air

Mmmm, it was good.

Rub tummy!

Repeat with four, three, two, and one apple “smiled at me.”

Fingerplay Fact #1: Fine Motor Skills

“Way up High in the Apple Tree” helps young children to focus on each finger and the movement of their hands and fingers as they act out each part of the fingerplay. The development of fine motor skills can be reinforced by introducing a broad range of fingerplays to your children but they won’t know that they are exercising those small muscles. Instead, they will be just enjoying the process of moving their hands and fingers along with you.

I Had a Little Red Balloon

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

I had a little red balloon

Pretend to hold a balloon in between your two hands.

And I blew, and I blew, and I blew.

Pretend to blow up the balloon.

And it grew, and it grew, and it grew.

Spread your two hands further and further apart.

I tossed it up in the air,

Pretend to toss the balloon up with your two hands.

And didn’t let it drop.

I bounced it on the ground,

Pretend to bounce the balloon on the ground with your two hands.

And it went “Pop!”

Clap your two hands together as you shout the word “Pop!”

Variation: Repeat only change the balloon (and your voice) to a great big or a teeny tiny balloon

Fingerplay Fact 2: Listening skills

As young children use their fingers and hands to represent or act out the words and actions in a fingerplay such a “I Had a Little Red Balloon,” they must listen to the story told within the fingerplay so they will know when it is time to blow up their balloon, when to make their balloon larger and larger, and when it is time to “Pop!”  Children learn to listen to one another and to the teacher as they focus on saying each phrase of the rhyme, acting it out together, and anticipating when they are supposed to clap their hands and say “Pop!”.

Five Little Popcorn Seeds

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Five little popcorn seeds sitting in a pot

Have the children squat down low 

One got hot and it went “Pop!”

Jump on the word “Pop!” 

Repeat with Four, three, two, one, and no more popcorn seeds sitting in the pot.

Variation: You may want to start with the number of children in your class rather than the number five.

Fingerplay Fact 3: Pre-Reading Skills

When you have a really short fingerplay where each line is repeated often, take the time to write the fingerplay out on large chart paper or a dry erase board. Having the fingerplay available to view in printed form will help the children begin to relate the printed words to the words they have now become familiar enough to say and act out.  A fingerplay such as “Five Little Popcorn Seeds” is perfect for creating predictable print since the only change in the rhyme is the number word. Having the words of a fun and well loved fingerplay available in printed form and adding a picture, where possible, to illustrate key words in the rhyme will help the children to view the printed words as something fun and familiar.

Hello Song

I Can Day - Day 2 062

Hello, hello,

Wave hand

Hello and how are you?

Point to the children

I’m fine, I’m fine,

Point to self

And I hope that you are too!

Point back to the children

Variation: Repeat with no sound just hand movements only

Fingerplay Fact 4: Creating Community

As young children participate together in singing, chanting, and acting out fingerplays, they feel a sense of happiness working and being together.  When using songs like the “Hello Song” the children feel a sense of belonging and as you look at the children while singing, they know that they are a valued member of their community.

Row Your Boat

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Invite each child to find a partner. Have the children face their partners in a sitting position and hold hands. Partners hold hands and move forward and backward together as you sing the song.

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream.

Variation: Sing the song slow and move slow then sing the song fast and move fast.

Fingerplay Fact 5: Large Motor Skills

As young children use their full bodies to act out the actions of a fingerplay, they are working to develop large motor skills such as balance and squatting or stretching.  Fingerplays and simple rhymes can add an element of active play into your circletime or anytime of the day which keeps little bodies moving and stretching while at the same time, building the ability to cognitively and physically control those large motor movements. As the children prepare to “pop” up at the end of “Five Little Popcorn Seeds,” mentioned above they must keep their balance and listen for that important cue that tells them it is time to “pop!” As the children work together to rock back and forth in “Row Your Boat” they must also work to keep their balance and coordinate their bodies to work together in a timely fashion.

Now be sure to head on over to Pre-K Pages and Prekinders 

to see the remaining ten fabulous fingerplays and facts

they have also prepared to share with you! 

Available on Amazon

Five fun ways to teach with tape

Since I shared with you how my students enjoy the exploration of tape in our classroom, I thought I would share with you how I like to use tape in the classroom. For me, tape is a valuable resource so I keep lots of tape on hand for teaching and for promoting play…

Five Fun Ways to Teach with Tape by Teach Preschool

1. On the light table 

I like to use tape on the light table as a way to promote a little different kind of creativity and play and to extend whatever unit we may be talking about. In the photo below, we had read the book The Foolish Tortoise (World of Eric Carle) by Richard Buckley and spent the day exploring turtles

Tape on the Light Table by Teach Preschool

2. On the floor

Creating tape lines on the floor is a simple way to promote balance, jumping, walking and other types of large motor play. For the photo below, we had read the book, The Line Up Book by Marisabina Russo and extended our discussion with all kinds of lines on the floor: straight, curvy, zigzag…

Tape lines on the floor by Teach Preschool

3. On the flannel board

One of my favorite uses of a flannel board is to turn it into a graph by adding a tape lines on the board. This lets me use all those felt pieces in a new way.. In the photo below, we were sorting and graphing feathers by color…

Taped graphs on a flannel board by Teach Preschool

4. On the magnet board

My DIY Magnet board comes in handy for all kinds of play and it serves as a great game table that I can quickly set up anywhere in the classroom and move out of the way as needed. For the photo below, we used the magnetic board for a pompom game…

Tape on the magnetic Board by Teach Preschool

5. On the art table

When our art table isn’t in use with a creative experience, I like to convert our art table into different types of games as well. In the photo below, we are using our art table to invite block sorting by shape and color...

Tape on the Art Table by Teach Preschool

These are just a few ways I like to use tape in the classroom to promote different types of learning opportunities. I am sure you like to use tape in other ways. Leave a comment and share your thoughts. I would love to expand on my use of tape in the classroom!

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Squeezable and colorful water play

Throughout our first week of school, we continued to explore the various tools we use in preschool. One of the tools that we use often in our classroom are these plastic condiment bottles…

We usually keep paint in our bottles (which we purchased from Walmart) but for today, we put colored water in the bottles and placed them on the window ledge next to our water table…

The goal of this process was to give the children an opportunity to explore and squeeze the bottles. As the school year progresses, we will set these bottles out filled with paint for the children to add their own paint to different painting projects or processes we try…

For today, we invited the children to squeeze the colored water into our water table tubs.  The children took the bottles off of the window ledge and boy, oh boy did the children love this process…

The children had to learn how to take the little cap off the end of their bottles and place the cap on a holder which is attached to the lid of the bottles.  It didn’t take long for the children to figure out how to open the bottles and squeeze that water right out!…

I will definitely set these out again for the water table this year but perhaps work on specific colors for color mixing. For today, I wanted the focus on just squeezing the bottles so we didn’t worry that the color turned a greenish color in the end.  The children definitely didn’t care either…

The play continued long after the water turned green.  The children spent time exploring different ways they can use the lids and bottles to squeeze water into the water table or even from bottle to bottle…

If you are thinking that this would be too much water for your classroom, then take this process outdoors!

I can’t wait to share squeezable water play with my students again…

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Here are other fun ideas for water play on Pinterest!

Setting up the preschool classroom is always a work in progress

There are so many details that go into a preschool classroom. It seems like the list of “to-dos” just gets longer once you get started…

My wonderful new assistant, Mrs. Courtney, and one of my very generous student grandparents, Mrs. T, has pitched in to help me get things ready for preschool and there was an enormous amount of work to do. In our outdoor classroom, we had to start by doing a little power washing and then we started setting up the floor mats and furniture…

In our indoor classroom, we made sure all the floors were cleaned then began the process of setting up the furniture in there too…

I like to start with the furniture so we can see how the space will be best used and since we have a pretty small amount of space to work with, we have to make every part of the classroom counts…

Once the main pieces of furniture are in place, then we can see what furniture needs to be moved a little bit this way or that way so we have good traffic flow and each center will work out well for the children…

Once all the furniture is all set, we can begin the process of bringing in baskets and adding the materials we want to keep on each shelf…

We spent a lot of time making decisions about what we wanted on each shelf and what we wanted in each basket. We often changed our mind along the way as we would think through which items would be better for the beginning of the school year versus which items we will wait and rotate onto the shelves throughout the school year…

In our indoor classroom we are starting the school year off with a block center, writing and art center, reading and puppet area, puzzle and math center, light table area, magnet center, easel, and circletime area…

In our outdoor classroom, we are starting with our water table, sand table, window easel, paint easel, discovery center, and two tables in the center of the room for additional activities we will bring into the classroom each day…

Not only do we have to make sure our classroom furniture and center supplies are all set up but we also have to think through our teacher supplies. We want to be sure everything is accessible and organized in each classroom…

And all the while, I keep stopping places to do a little shopping.  For our outdoor classroom, I found this wonderful shelf from Michaels to hold supplies for the children to use…

Next comes the process of hanging pictures, preparing bulletin boards, labeling things, and all those other finishing touches which I will share more on in my next post.

Available on Amazon

By | August 27th, 2012|Categories: Classroom Setup|Tags: , , , |8 Comments

The tools we write with in preschool

Writing skills are developed through a variety of tools in our preschool…

We often use our fingers to write with…

We use crayons to write with…

We use pencils to write with…

We write with chalk…

We use markers, paper, ink dot daubers, and ink stamps…

And more, which I will share throughout this school year but the main point I want to share today is that building an interest in writing and developing pre-writing skills can happen naturally as children are given a variety of tools and opportunities to explore the writing process…

First we want to strengthen fine motor skills and second, we want to make sure that we are keeping the writing process fun and inviting…

What tools for writing do you like to use? I am always on the look out for more fun ideas…

Links to grow on…

See more pre-writing activities from Creative Connections for Kids!

See the stages of writing from Educational Creativity!

See this insightful interview about helping children learn to write from from The Artful Parent!

 

 

By | September 8th, 2011|Categories: Language Arts|Tags: , , , |17 Comments

DIY: Make your own flannel board for preschool

 

I really needed a flannel board for preschool and I wanted more than one. I found some that were not really that expensive but I still like making my own things so I made my own thanks to the wonderful tutorial provided by Oopsie Daisy.

You can read her tutorial as well but the reason I am sharing how to make it too is because I have received quite a few questions about what a flannel board is. I just assumed that everyone knew what one was when I posted my last post on how to organize your flannel board stories

A flannel board (or sometimes called a felt board) is a board covered with flannel that you can use in a variety of ways. Flannel is soft and has fibers in it that catch or cling onto other soft materials – like felt or the red fibers from my carpet. I purchased one yard of flannel (which was more than I needed for one flannel board) from my local fabric store. Flannel comes in all colors and I chose white, light blue, light green, and black.

When choosing flannel, you want to choose a color that will make a nice background color for your flannel board.  Light green can seem like grass on the ground. Light blue can seem like the sky and both blue and green are soothing on the eyes and are nice neutral colors that don’t compete for attention with your felt pieces. I had already cut up my blue and green flannel by the time I realized I should have taken a photo of the flannel.

To make a flannel board, I bought several sizes of artist canvases. I purchased my large board at Micheals (it was on sale 50% off) and the rest of my smaller boards are from Big Lots.  This large one is for my circle time area but I also made a couple of small ones for the children to use at the table…

This was so easy to make that I can’t believe I have never tried to make my own before. Just lay your flannel out on the ground and then put your board on top of it with the back of the board facing up…

Trim the excess flannel away and staple the flannel around the edges of the back of the board. Stretch or pull the flannel tightly as you go so the flannel will have a nice, firm, tight, hold on the board and lay smoothly on top of the board…

I used a staple gun to staple the flannel to the board. This is the finished back side of the board once I had all the edges of the fabric stapled into place…

This is the front of my flannel board. I added these little felt bears to show you how well felt sticks to flannel. You can purchase felt and cut out your own shapes to use on the flannel board or there are flannel (felt) board sets available that you can purchase online or at school supply stores as well….

I will share a few ways you can use a flannel board in future posts but just as an overview, you can use flannel boards to tell stories, sequence your stories, count out shapes, visually review concepts, and more…

I set out flannel board with felt pieces for the children to play with on their own too. Here are two of my smaller boards, made the same way, that I will use this school year as table top flannel boards. Notice how the flannel on the board on the right is not as tightly pulled around the board as the one on the left….

While making my flannel boards, I had a little helper hanging out with me…

When the flannel boards were all done, Kai tried out the flannel board too!

For those of you who haven’t tried using a flannel board in your classroom, Kai and I have made this video to inspire you to give it a go…

 

By | August 6th, 2011|Categories: DIY, Flannel Board|Tags: , , , |24 Comments

DIY: A homemade sensory table and tinker table

Last week my husband got highly motivated and built me some new furniture for my outdoor classroom.

He built me a sensory table…

And what I call a tinker table…


And a stand-alone plexiglass window (which I will share more on tomorrow)…


The dimensions on the tinker table and the sensory table are the same. I am going to do my best to tell you how they were built but I am not familiar with carpentry terms so bear with me. If you have questions, I will ask my husband so he can help me answer them in the comments below…


Sensory and tinker table details…

  • The length and height of the tables are 2 ft tall x 4 ft wide
  • The dimensions of the table tops are 2×4 ft.
  • All the materials were purchased from Home Depot although my husband had the nails, tools, and some wood that he needed at home already.
  • The approximate total cost in building materials and paint was $60.oo (this is the total cost for all three pieces of furniture)
  • The biggest investment was in time and skill. It took me just as long to paint the tables as it did for my husband to build them. About 3 hours for building all three pieces and 3 hours or so for painting them (had to allow for drying time too).
The legs of the tables are prefab furniture legs from Home Depot but you could make them less extravegant with just a 2×4 like the. I ideas shown here….

 

 

My husband cut the legs shorter so that the table would not sit too high. He added wheels to the legs at one end of each table so I could roll the tables around the room as needed. However, the tables are made from a solid but light weight wood that I can easily lift when the baskets are empty…

 

 

For the holes in the tables, I chose to have three holes cut in my sensory table and one hole cut in my tinker table. The sizes of the holes were determined by the size of baskets I bought. I purchased my baskets from Big Lots. I purchased more baskets than I needed for the tables so I can easily switch around the items I keep in the tables and so I will have extras that fit properly in case one of them breaks or cracks…

 

 

These are 16 quart clear baskets with lids from Big Lots…

 

 

I like having the three spaces in the sensory table for children to play together in a cooperative manner or have their own space to play at times too. I like being able to add a variety of materials for mixing as well. I also like that I can simply close the table by putting the lids on each basket…

 

 

The tinker table can be used for sensory play as well but I also wanted to use it for keeping unusual items that the children can tinker with. I purposely left the table with one basket hole so the children can reach into the one basket, pull out the items, and spread them on the table to explore…

 

 

After my husband finished the tables, I went to work sanding and painting them.  There was very little sanding necessary but some touch up around the edges and corners was in order…

 

 

I chose blue for the sensory table and red with a white top for the tinker table…

 

 

Now that the tables are all complete, I have been collecting items to use in the tables throughout the school year. I will share more about these as we go along. In the meantime – I am very proud of these tables and excited to put them to good use!

 

By | July 21st, 2011|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , , |42 Comments

Sorting it all out in preschool

We have been doing some serious color sorting this past week and as you know, serious play leads to serious learning…

To review colors, we put together color sorting trays. This tray was a box used to hold crayons by the bulk and it made a perfect sorting tray. We simply added laminated color cards in the bottom of each section that can be removed in case we want to do a different kind of sorting later on…

This two year old had definitely mastered the concept of sorting colors…

Because we had quite a few classes that were sorting colors this week, we had to come up with other sorting trays as well like these color sorting baskets…

Again, we simply put a laminated color card in the bottom of each strawberry basket which worked quite well…

We also used cereal bowls with a color card in the bottom of each bowl for sorting…

With the bowls set up like shown above – it kind of looks to me like a rainbow!

The fun part of this activity was hunting down objects for sorting that went with each color. We wanted to provide a basket of objects to add to our activity box but a teacher could just have the children search the room on their own to find objects that would go with each color…

The tables were definitely full of color this past week…

The teachers said their favorite color sorter out of all the ones we tried this week was the empty crayola box.  Oh yeah, and see how the colored paper comes out of the box? This young man is now putting them back inside the box in the order he prefers…

We all like to play in our own way…

Here are a few more sorting activities and sorting trays to check out…

Sorting by Color from L is for Learning (plastic bowls)

We’re Going on a Color Hunt from The Imagination Tree (buckets)

Color Sorting Tray by Family Fun Notebook (wooden tray)

Let’s Sort by Let’s Explore  (egg carton)

Color Sorting by Scott School  (egg carton)

Utensil Sort by The Amazing Mess (Utensil tray)

Plastic Bottle Cap Sorting by Pocket Full of Posies (Plastic containers with lids)

Car Sorting by Along the Way (Colors of card stock on a table)

Eggsellent Egg Trays by Our Worldwide Classroom (large egg cartons)

Seed Sorting by PreKinders (small bowls and paper)

Sorting Buttons by Little Family Fun (compartment tray)

By | April 4th, 2011|Categories: Activity Boxes|Tags: , , |10 Comments