DIY printable car track and crayola race car drawing

I have been exploring a little bit on a process where I create a printable page in Microsoft Word and then send it over to have it printed onto large blueprint type paper at our local office supply store called Staples…

Blueprint paper comes in many sizes and the black and white printing prices range $5.oo and below. This car mat was drawn as an 81/2 by 11 inch document but blown up on Staples’ largest blueprint paper to 36 x 48 inches. I created the document in Microsoft Word, saved it, then emailed it to my local store along with instruction to have it printed on 36 x 48 standard blueprint paper.  The enlarged car mat was ready for pick up from Staples the very next day…

This is the kind of thing that I could have laminated but for today, I wanted the children to be able to color and play on it…

The children started out by coloring the houses and many of the children decided to claim at least one house as their own. When I came by the table to take a look, I found that some of the children had written their name under their house. I asked them to tell me which house was theirs and I heard replies like, “I live in house number 12!” …

I set out crayons and cars for the children to use on the car mat and then we taped a few crayons to the cars for a new type and combination of drawing and driving…

The children colored and played on the car mat through out the morning…

I left the materials out most of the day for the children to come and go as they please…

Before long, one of the children decided to add a few road blocks on the car mat so he brought out a few wooden blocks to play with on the car mat…

After our morning of play, I simply rolled up the car mat and tucked it away for another day of play…

Click here for the Printable Car Mat.

 

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

This post is linked up to No Time for Flash Cards early learning Link and Learn!

and to…

Classified: Mom

By | April 22nd, 2012|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , , |24 Comments

DIY paper car mat

On my list of things to do is to make a set of felt car mats for the block center but I just haven’t had the time. Since I haven’t had the time to make a felt car mat, I decided we could improvise and make a paper car mat…

I placed a large sheet of butcher paper inside a large box and invited the children to come and help me make a car mat…

This was actually my own project but I was glad to see some of the children decide they wanted to join in…

Before long, we had roads, parking lots, parks, houses, trees, swings, and anything else the children decided our car mat needed….

And once the car mat was completed the children brought over cars to give it a try…

The car mat was then moved to the floor area over by the block center for even more play…

And somehow, a giraffe ended up in the middle of the road…

We have had this car mat for over two months now and sometimes I take the paper out so I can use the box but the kids always ask me to put it back into the box for more play…

I think this is probably one of the least expensive investments I have made in the block center and yet it is definitely the most popular item used in the block center…

So I will continue to put off the felt car mats for now and perhaps when the children get board with this mat, we will just color us another one!

By | March 23rd, 2012|Categories: Centers, DIY|Tags: , , , , , |6 Comments

Exploring what will float or sink in preschool

We have been exploring transportation and of course, boats were on the list. I didn’t have any toy boats but no worries – we discovered that there are other materials that can float across the water…

The children used Styrofoam trays for their “boats”. Our “river” was quite congested at times with all the boating traffic…

Before adding our Styrofoam boats, we talked about what might float and what might sink in the water. I set out some of our “math tokens” for the children to test in the water…

Oh and in case you are wondering what the white stuff is floating around in the water – that is “snow” that we had leftover in the tub from our snow globe sensory.  The kids didn’t want to wait for me to rinse all the snow out so we had snowy water….

We discovered that our plastic lids can float but our cars and the seashells sank to the bottom of the tub….

To help the cars float across the river, we discovered that the cars could be placed on top of our boats and they wouldn’t sink…

I’m glad I never stopped to pick up any toy boats because these Styrofoam trays actually made great boats and they were great for exploring what sinks and floats!

Fun and Simple!

Books on Amazon

 

By | January 11th, 2012|Categories: Science and Nature, Sensory Play|Tags: , , , |7 Comments

Playing on the tabletop train station in preschool

We have been exploring different types of transportation and today we threw in a little fun with trains. We started by reading “Freight Train” by Donald Crews.

This book is a very simply illustrated book of different colors and types of boxcars you will find on a freight train…

After reading the book, I set out foam rectangle shapes and we worked together to build our own freight train. We used the same colors found in the book as a way to reinforce color recognition and to retell the story. We had to go back through the book to remember which color came next…

After reading the book, the children were invited to come on over and check out the table top train station. At the train station, the children found foam shapes (the same ones used earlier), plastic lids (for wheels), and permanent markers….

As a group, we first took a few minutes to explore a little math. The children started by counting wheels and adding them to their boxcars on the train tracks…

Then the children were invited to decorate the foam box car shapes with the markers and play with the materials anyway they wish…

Some of the children stayed and explored the box car materials for quite some time.  Others chose to go off and play in other centers…

I have been saving lids all year long and decided this would be one good opportunity to play with them…

The train grew longer and longer throughout the morning and each box car had a unique design.  The children continued to add designs to the boxcars as they stopped by throughout the afternoon…

By the end of our time for play, we had a nice long freight train to admire…

When it was time to go, some of our students chose to take a boxcar or two home with them.  One of my little girls selected a foam rectangle from the table and as she went running out to the car she shouted, “Look mom! I made a train!”

I am sure there are times when some of my parents take one look at the materials that come home and wonder what in the world their child is doing in preschool!  But my parents are awesome and always supportive – even when all that is brought home is one foam rectangle…

Thanks parents for all your support – and we really did make a train!

 

Available on Amazon

By | January 8th, 2012|Categories: Children's Books, Mathematics|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

Pretty pink and blue car painting in preschool

It is fascinating to me how combining a favorite toy with some paint, often reaches children who would otherwise dismiss coming to the painting center all together. Cars, for example, are great toys that children love to play with. Add a set of cars to paint and all of my students are suddenly interested in the painting process…

When I first set out the cars for painting, I only provided white paint.  In my mind, car tracks should either be white paint on black paper or black paint on white paper but then my students started asking me if they could have another color. My first reaction was to argue my point about why we should use white paint but then I realized that I was being silly. I mean really – who cares what color the tracks are?…

I have learned throughout this year that it is important to be an observer of the painting experience so I can evaluate what the children enjoy or what I need to change to make the process more engaging – right there on the spot!…

So per request, we added some color.  The girls wanted red paint and the boys requested blue and green. They had a choice from every color I had in the box including orange, green, and others but this is what we ended up with. Once the new colors were added to the white paint, many of my students spent up to 45 minutes painting with their cars…

There are days when some of my students don’t want to stop their play to sit down and paint.  This tells me that the painting activity is competing for their attention rather than capturing their attention…

Adding unique painting tools or more color or bigger paper or a number of other things can make the painting process more intriguing to young children. Adding cars kept the element of play involved in the painting process and didn’t leave the children feeling like they had to give up on their play in order to do something else.

But once we added color, car painting took on another dimension. Car painting now became about the process of color mixing.  The children explored the mixing of white paint with the other colors which resulted in beautiful pastel pink, blue, and green colors…

Links to grow on…

M is for Mud Painting by Crayon Freckles

Transportation Week in Preschool: Links shared by Teach Preschool on Delicious

PreK + K Sharing

Building trucks with simple materials in preschool

When our curriculum coordinator, Mrs. Fisher, showed me the items she had planned for this transportation activity box, she was worried that the children might not really like it. I love the unpredictability of children…

Mrs. Fisher put some cards with simple shaped trucks printed on each card in the activity box with some straws and lids…

The activity box stayed out all week long and all week long, I found children designing their trucks…

This little one loved the bendable end of the straws…

And this little girl decided to collect all the pink straws for her truck…

And adding the lids to the activity box was very clever indeed….

Some of the children decided to extend their designs beyond the truck and onto the table…

Preschoolers have a way of keeping us guessing at what they will enjoy and what they will ignore…

Preschoolers also keep us guessing on how they will ultimately use the materials we provide…

But the unpredictability keeps us on our toes – it keeps us observing and evaluating what children will find interesting, what they will do, and what they can do…

By | May 29th, 2011|Categories: Activity Boxes|Tags: , |8 Comments

Who is really teaching preschool?

Today, I happened by this class to see what was up and while there, I discovered the real teacher hard at work play.

This young teacher (a Pre-K student) was holding a set of cards that had been made for the transportation activity box. Each card had a different color of car on the front along with another set of cards with color words on them…

The “teacher” held up each color word card and asked her very attentive “student” to say the name of the color word on the card then spell the color word out loud…

The “teacher” and her “student” went through each card until every color word had been read aloud and spelled aloud…

After each color word was spelled out loud the “teacher” would then announce – okay let’s sing it! Both the “teacher” and the “student” would then break out and sing a little tune…

“G-R-E-E-N”

“G-R-E-E-N”

“G-R-E-E-N”

And then move on to the next color word…

Normally, I would say that perhaps this approach to teaching is a bit outdated or perhaps not developmentally appropriate and suggest an approach that is more play based or process oriented…

But who am I to interfere when the real professionals are at work play?

Cards and color words are from PreKinders!

Take a little car painting spin on this preschool highway

Add a little extra mileage onto car painting with this little transportation preschool activity…

We will be doing something like this is our school in a few weeks so you get a sneak preview! Gather up some black construction paper, white paint (or white chalk might work), scissors, and glue.

Invite the children to cut the black construction paper into squares and rectangles for the road. Then dab a little white paint down the center of each piece of the road. Give a minute to dry and then glue the road on a larger sheet of paper. Now get the cars ready to roll!

Dip a car into some paint and go for a drive on the road.. I started off with brown paint and then decided to throw in a few more colors.

I promise that I don’t normally drive like this!! But for me it was much more fun to drive off the road then to stay on it 🙂

By | September 11th, 2010|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: , , |6 Comments