Five graphing tips you can use with preschoolers

Graphing is a wonderful tool for promoting basic math concepts, vocabulary and mathematical thinking…

Before graphing…

Let the children explore the materials: the graphing process is more meaningful to children as they explore the materials they will be using for the graph ahead of time. Before graphing their ice cream, the children tasted three kinds of ice cream then they graphed their favorites. The children were able to recall their experience and then see their experiences translated into graph form.

After graphing…

Review the graph: The teacher invites the children to review the results of the graph by counting how many dots or names are under each type of ice cream.

Ask questions: The teacher then invites the children to explore the graph using questions such as; “Which ice cream did the class like the best?” or “Which ice cream got the most dots?” and “Which ice cream did the class like the least?” or “Which ice cream got the least amount of dots?”

Mix it up: There are many kinds of graphs you can introduce to your preschoolers from bar graphs, circle graphs, line graphs, and picture graphs.

Follow up: Follow up the graphing exercise with other activities, like making puffy ice cream, to reinforce concepts or vocabulary words that were used during the graphing experience.

 

 

Check out these simple ideas for graphing too…

A simple ice cream bar graph from The Adventures of Bear

Graphing with pattern blocks from Totally Tots

Graphing apples and balls from Preschool Daze

Sink or float graph from Not Just Cute

Do you like?” graphs from Excuse Me Mrs. C!

M&M graph from Funny Days with Mommy and Maddie

Clothespin graph from Mathwire

Apple graph from I Can Teach My Child!

Boy and Girl graph from Kindergarten Tales

Graphing oranges from Teach Preschool

Name graphs from Teach Preschool

Yummy-Yuck graph from Plan Your Preschool

Science in the preschool classroom from Teach Preschool

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By | March 26th, 2011|Categories: Graphs|Tags: , , , |10 Comments

Organizing your teacher bag for preschool

I think I have hundreds teacher bags laying around. I get them from all sorts of places but mostly from conferences I attend.

Several months ago, I shared how we organize our teaching materials for the week. My main purpose in using a teacher bag is to make transitions between activities go smoothly and to keep essential tools at my fingertips…

I use it to keep things handy like scissors, a permanent marker, glue, and a few other items that are a must have.  I always keep a favorite book stashed away in my teacher bag too…

I often keep a stuffed animal or puppet in the bag too when I need a little helper to get the children’s attention…

I also may keep pieces of an activity we are going to do in the bag so I can easily pull them out when I am ready to use them…

The thing about a teacher bag is that it can get disorganized pretty quick so I clean my bag out just about every day so I am not spending time in front of the children digging around in the bottom of my bag trying to find my stuff.

For me, a teacher bag isn’t a way to organize my lesson plan materials for the week, as I have suggested in my previous post.  It is instead a way to carry the things I need on a daily basis to keep the classroom day and transitions throughout the day running smoothly.

Check out this teacher bag!

By | February 26th, 2011|Categories: Teaching Tools and Resources|Tags: , |15 Comments

Exploring measuring tools in preschool

Part of learning how to use a measuring tool is to first be given the opportunity to explore the use of measuring tools through their play.

In one of our most recent activity boxes, the children found a set of measuring tools, a measuring chart, and some items and pictures to measure. The measuring box was set out on a table and I had the opportunity to observe some of the children who were exploring the tools…

The tape measure was the most popular item of all the measuring tools. This tape measure was easy for the children to use as it could be pulled out without snapping back unless the children pushed in on a button at the bottom and then it slid back slowly rather than snapping back quickly. It did take a little coaching to help the children understand how to push the button at the bottom of the tape measure…

After the children played for a bit with the measuring tools, I found an opportunity to show some of the children how to count the numbers on the tape measure so we would know how many inches we were measuring…

We talked about the word “inch” and we counted the numbers on the measuring tools. We also talked about which items measured longer and which items were shorter.

Also included in the activity box were a set of cards – they were simply a set of pictures printed from the internet onto paper then laminated. Each photo was of something the children could find in the classroom to measure…

One of the cards was a photo of a chair. It was interesting watching this little boy try to figure out how to measure the chair.

This little boy wasn’t sure which way to measure the chair so he asked me what I thought he should do. I suggested several paths to measure and he decided to go with measuring from the floor to the top of the chair…

With all of our activity boxes, we simply set them out for the children to explore. At times though, I find that a little guided instruction is also helpful. I don’t want to interfere with their natural curiosity but I want to expand their understanding as they play when the opportunity is offered up. By pointing out the numbers on the measuring tools and how each number is an inch – I saw more of the children stop and count during their play. I overheard the children use the word “inch” as well.

What I love about this and most of our activity boxes is how the play is purposeful play. The children love exploring the tools and they are learning as they explore. As the children play, I find opportunities to bring in new understanding and vocabulary without boring the children. I watch their play and wait to see when they are ready for added information to extend their play into a level of higher understanding. I am in no hurry to extend their understanding – I want the children to stay interested in what they are doing and pushing for something they are not interested in doing only makes them lose interest in the activity. So I let the children lead and look for teachable moments along the way.

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Our favorite ways to glue in preschool

Gluing with Cotton Swabs

Cotton swabs make a quick and easy way of adding glue to art activities – when you are done, just throw the swabs away. The drawback is that if you use one swab too long, it gets kinds of stringy so you need to have plenty of fresh swabs around to replace the ooey gooey ones.

Give the glue bottle a little squeeze

Exercise fine motor skills by giving glue bottles a little squeeze. Using glue bottles takes practice but with a little practice, young children are able to develop the skills they need to use glue bottles effectively and efficiently – but they can only get better at if if you actually let them practice.

Brush on the glue

Paint brushes are fun to glue with but be sure to rinse them in hot water as soon as you are done or they get hard as a rock!

Butter tub lids make great glue holders.

Fill up a butter tub lid with glue and when you are done, just let the glue dry completely then bend back the lid and pop or peel the dried up remaining glue right out of the lid. Now you can use the lid again! Or you can put the glue inside the butter tub, poke a couple of holes in the lid and then slide the brushes down into the lid and close it all up.

This wont last forever but it keeps glue good for a few days or so.

Our most popular glue bottle and brush…

The most popular gluing tool our teachers like to use is the glue bottle and brush you can purchase from Discount School Supply.

The one drawback to this popular glue tool is when the glue builds up and dries out on the inside edges of the cap and the top of the container – it can be a bear to get the tops on and off the bottle. So one of our teachers came up with a solution!

Just put a little petroleum jelly on your finger…

Then wipe the petroleum jelly around the inside of the glue cap and the outside of the glue bottle…

This will keep the glue from sticking to the container. I would imagine this would work well for any kind of glue container. If you try this, let me know if it works for you!

We use these glue bottles all the time for all ages…

Not my glue of choice for preschoolers…

Want to know my least favorite type of glue? It is a glue stick! We use them all the time for cut and paste kinds of activities but when I see them used in the creative art room, I just cringe! I am not picking on any brand, I feel the same about any brand of glue stick and we do use all kinds of them but I find them to be expensive and they provide less opportunity for exploration, creativity, and even skill building compared to what good old fashioned white glue provides…

Just saying!

If you send a preschool teacher to buy a gallon of milk…

If you send a preschool teacher to buy a gallon of milk…

She will stop by the paint store on the way and ask the paint guy if it is okay to take a few color swatches. And if he says “Yes,” she will ask if it is okay to take two of each color…

Which will remind her of those really cool spoons that are now on sale…

Which makes her hungry for a milkshake but when she stops to pick one up, she notices this plain brown drink holder and asks for one of those instead…

And then she heads to the grocery store where she discovers wonderful colors of Kool-Aid she might use to make play dough…

Then she rushes to the register to check out and when the young man asks if she wants paper or plastic – she starts to visualize painting activities, puppets, vests – and asks for paper….

So she hurries home to add her new treasures to the growing collection of other things she might just use someday like…

Laundry lids and tissue roles…

Plastic lids…

And egg holders…

And now she realizes that it is time to start dinner but there is no room on her dining room table…

So she starts to straighten it all up…

When her husband comes in the room and asks her if she bought the gallon of milk….

She says,  “I will be right back!” and heads to the store for a gallon of milk!

And on the way…..

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Building connections to math, art, and more through children’s literature

When I am at a loss as to what to do in my preschool classroom, I always sit down and start thumbing through all my children’s books.

As I read through my collection of children’s books, my mind begins to swirl with all the ways each book can be extended throughout my curriculum content. I seek out ways I might be able to build connections from the book to creative art, math, science, music, and even to the items I set out in my classroom centers.

Let me give you an example….

The book titled, “In the Small, Small, Pond” by Denise Fleming may at first glance seem like a simple book with just a few words and  a whole lot of pictures. But as I explore this book with my students I discover wonderful opportunities for connecting the words and illustrations in the book to vocabulary, art, music, math, and more….

Pond Creatures

This book is filled with wonderful pond creatures that can be created by the children during art.

The problem will be narrowing down to what we actually have time for. I can envision making a pond filled with fish, turtles, and frogs just like those shown in the book. I will read the book more than once to the children and leave it out so we can go back to review and explore our ideas throughout the week.  See how our hands are in our pond just like the little boy in our book?

Sounds of Creatures

This book shares the wonderful sounds of each creature. We can explore the sounds of animals and creatures too through a listening game. I can record the sounds of animals then play the sounds for the children so they can try and guess what they hear.

Minnows

We can sort minnows by color and by size, create patterns, and count them!

Tadpoles

We can sing a song about One Green Frog and create puppets to hop like a frog too!

The possibilities are endless as we seek to expand literature into the classroom experience…. and then there are real world opportunities too! The next time you are having a mental block for ideas to do in the classroom, just sit down and go through a few good books and see what you can do to build on the ideas, illustrations, characters, and words of the book.

Building connections to math, art, and more through children’s literature

When I am at a loss as to what to do in my preschool classroom, I always sit down and start thumbing through all my children’s books.

As I read through my collection of children’s books, my mind begins to swirl with all the ways each book can be extended throughout my curriculum content. I seek out ways I might be able to build connections from the book to creative art, math, science, music, and even to the items I set out in my classroom centers.

Let me give you an example….

The book titled, “In the Small, Small, Pond” by Denise Fleming may at first glance seem like a simple book with just a few words and  a whole lot of pictures. But as I explore this book with my students I discover wonderful opportunities for connecting the words and illustrations in the book to vocabulary, art, music, math, and more….

Pond Creatures

This book is filled with wonderful pond creatures that can be created by the children during art.

The problem will be narrowing down to what we actually have time for. I can envision making a pond filled with fish, turtles, and frogs just like those shown in the book. I will read the book more than once to the children and leave it out so we can go back to review and explore our ideas throughout the week.  See how our hands are in our pond just like the little boy in our book?

Sounds of Creatures

This book shares the wonderful sounds of each creature. We can explore the sounds of animals and creatures too through a listening game. I can record the sounds of animals then play the sounds for the children so they can try and guess what they hear.

Minnows

We can sort minnows by color and by size, create patterns, and count them!

Tadpoles

We can sing a song about One Green Frog and create puppets to hop like a frog too!

The possibilities are endless as we seek to expand literature into the classroom experience…. and then there are real world opportunities too! The next time you are having a mental block for ideas to do in the classroom, just sit down and go through a few good books and see what you can do to build on the ideas, illustrations, characters, and words of the book.

My pre-k handwriting book

This little handwriting book is simple to put together and keep on hand to help children practice their handwriting skills.

The cover of the book is printed on the computer on heavy card stock.

Pieces of lined paper are placed in the center of the book and another sheet of heavy card stock is placed on the back. The pages are all then stapled together to create a book.

The primary purpose of the book in this classroom is for children to practice writing their name. The teacher usually creates a dotted version of the child’s name for the child to trace and then the child practices printing on his or her own.

The children also use the book to practice writing the letters of the alphabet.

They also practice writing numbers.

At times, the teacher will sometimes sit with the children for a little individualized help.

And at other times the children work on their own.

These books are saved throughout the school year and then sent home at the end of school year for parents to keep. The books are kept in the classroom and pulled out for use about once or twice a week.

See these name printing ideas here!

Learn about the Shared Writing Experience here!

Using the book cover to keep preschoolers engaged in storytime

Keeping a group of children engaged in story time can be challenging..

The next time you are preparing to read a story, try these ideas for getting children and keeping them involved in the reading process…

Repeated illustrations…

At times you will find that the illustration located on the front cover of a children’s picture book will be repeated again and look exactly the same or almost exactly the same on a page inside the book.

For example, on the cover of this book the little boy is dropping a seed…

  • Show the children the front cover and talk about the picture on the cover.

Front Cover

  • Make sure all the children get to take a good look so they can remember what the picture looks like.
  • Ask the children to tell you about what they see on the cover of the book.
  • Tell the children that as you read the book, they will see this exact same picture again on a new page and when they see that picture, to hold up their hands high to let you know.

Inside the book 2nd page!

A few pages later…

Looking for illustrated action

For this read-aloud attention getter, you will help the children identify the action that is taking place on the cover of the book. As you read the book aloud, invite the children to see if they can identify the same action somewhere inside the book.

For example, on the cover of this book the frog is chasing a butterfly.

The book cover

A few pages later, the frog is chasing another butterfly…

A page in the book

And once again, the children will notice that the frog is chasing another butterfly.

Another page in the book

On the cover of this book, Curious George is putting on a pair of boots…

The book cover

Invite the children to tell you what they think Curious George is up to on the cover of this book. Then invite the children to keep an eye out to see if Curious George does this action in the book…

A page in the book

Counting objects or identifying objects

For this read-aloud attention getter, you will help the children identify specific objects that are on the cover of the book. The children can name the objects and count the number of objects…

For example, on the cover of this book are five people chasing five objects…

 

The cover of the book

Ask the children to count the number of people and objects or to identify the name of each object on the book cover.  Then invite the children to keep an eye out for the same number of objects (or the exact same objects) to appear on a page of the book as you read the story.

A page in the book

Positional illustrations

For this read-aloud attention getter, you will encourage the children to identify where an object is located on the cover of the book. Then you will encourage the children to identify the object in that same location somewhere within the pages of the book.

For example…

On the cover of this book, the child is holding a book on top of his head…

The cover of the book

On a page in this book, the child is holding the book on top of his head again but what is different this time?

A page in the book

The objective

The objective is to use the illustrations on the cover to capture the attention of your preschoolers and keep them engaged in the story as you read aloud. For children who struggle sitting and listening, these kinds of ideas may help them stay more engaged throughout the story.

 

Please Note: The most important part of successfully reading aloud to children is to begin with selecting quality and age appropriate books as well as practicing good read-aloud skills which you can learn more about by clicking here!

Read this quick tip for reading aloud to preschoolers too!

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