Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back to School!

Back to School!

We have done so much to get to know each other, feel comfortable with everything new and different, and establish a rhythm as a group.  Our theme for the beginning of September has been "All About Me," including family and friendship.  Here's some of the fun that I am happy to share :)


  • "My Name" theme - each child decorated his/her name, written in lowercase, with dots from a hole puncher.  This took a few days, and really helped with lowercase recognition and becoming familiar with how each name looks.  It took patience and fine motor control.
  • Alphabet Soup - We stirred up some "soup" and used spoons to carefully find and take out letters to make names!
  • Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom - Of course, a must read book for back to school!  We enjoyed the old, familiar story, and then made our own trees with letter stickers.


  • We focused on one-to-one correspondence and recognition of numbers 1-10.  We played games with dice, spinners, and cards, reading the number and putting that many dots on a poster board with paint dotters.  These games were fun, and also great practice going around the table and taking turns with something.  Together, each group filled pages and pages with paint dots, one turn at a time!
  • Family Glyphs- Our first graph of the year! The children followed the key and graphed their family members.  Parents job- figure out which house is yours!

  • Are any two fingerprints alike? We made our prints and studied them, and our friends', with our first science tool of the year-  magnifying glasses!
  • YOUR germs are YOURS, MY germs are MINE! One thing we really don't want to share.  We practiced hand washing techniques with a big bucket of water and some bottles of soap.  Good practice following directions to complete a multi-step process.
  • Mirror, Mirror, on the wall - Look who joined our class this Fall!  The kiddos made self portraits, looking in a mirror and describing themselves out loud to their small group friends, then drawing their reflection.  Such a cute final product to match a very good process.

Show and Tell - All About Me backpacks!  Everyone went home with a paper bag "backpack" to fill with any free choice item(s) as an introduction to Show and Tell.  What awesome speakers we have already!
This year is off to a great start.  Be ready for more awesome stuff to come :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Around the World 3: India to England


We have a few students from India, so this week I was more like a student and they were the teachers <3. It was memorable and I have saved things we made for future celebrations of India in my classroom. 

What did we/I learn about?

  • Diwali! An important holiday in India, which I really didn't know anything about before.  We read the story of Rama and Sita, which they immediately asked me to read again.  We also read a book for children about Diwali traditions, then made our own banner to decorate for it ourselves (ignoring, of course, we were in the wrong month.)  The kids even asked how we could make pretend oil lamps, so they were obviously into it. I'll have to plan something for that next time!
  • Henna hands - We learned what it was, looked at pictures of many designs, then the kids traced and cut out their hands to make their own henna designs.
  • National symbols - I love "floam challenges." We sit in a circle and everyone has their own handful of floam (or play dough) to make something that meets my challenge.  For India week, I challenged "Make a peacock" or "Make a lotus flower" etc. Tons of fun to meet a lot of our goals, encourage ingenuity and creativity, and tie it all back to India.


 The girls wouldn't leave the tea party table, and the boys couldn't get enough of building Big Ben and London in the block center. Success!
 Centers in England
  • Sensory meets Art:Painting with tea bags! Discussion of smell, feel, and appearance of this popular English beverage.
  • Dramatic Play: Pretend tea parties (dressed up fancy, of course)
  • Math: What time is it, Big Ben? Read and change clock hands atop a tower
  • Construction: Stonehenge, Big Ben, what else can you reconstruct?
Other Activities...
  • Palace Guard paper doll stick puppets :)
  • Shakespeare Friday!  We watched "Gnomeo and Juliet" for lots of fun.
Show and Tell - Can't thank parents enough for sharing family photos of trips to London, currency from England, and other awesome and fun things related to this country study.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Around the World 2: Egypt, Australia, Germany

Ancient Egypt, actually :)

  • Mummy Wrap! The kiddos worked in partner pairings to "mummify" friends with toilet paper.  It was a fun way to observe and challenge cooperation and persistence skills.
  • Egyptian collar necklaces- Many ways to make these with supplies you already have.  We used brown construction paper, dyed pasta noodles, and yarn.  Our neighbor classroom used paper plates, copper paint and plastic jewels. Everyone loved them.

  • Math/Science- We made 3D paper pyramids. Great (fun!) shape study and spatial reasoning
  • Writing - spelling names and words with hieroglyphic symbols. A big favorite!
  • Sensory - Teamwork to mold sand into great pyramids of Giza
  • Art - stencils of hieroglyph symbols were inexpensive and easy to find. Cool, simple way to make Egyptian inspired drawings.

And we could not forget to play musical chairs to "Walk Like an Egyptian" :)
Down Under, learning about animals native to Australia, aboriginal inventions, and modern sights!
  • Art- use pencil erasers and paint to create Aboriginal dot artwork
  • Math- "Kangaroo Math"- solve the kangaroo's addition equation with manipulatives, then give him the boomerang with the correct answer.
  • Construction - Use various materials to build the Sydney Opera House
  • Science- Make "didgeridoos" from various materials shaped into a tube, and see what different kinds of sounds we could make.
  • Over in Australia! We read this as an introduction during our "airplane ride," then got off the plane to make a class mural and turn our room into Australia together. We used a big piece of butcher paper spread out on the floor and each child drew an animal in the right place (tree, water, field, underground) in Australia.
  • Boomerangs! An awesome invention for them to enjoy. We had "real" boomerangs (child safe boomerang toys purchased at a low price online) and learned about the invention.  Then cut out and designed our own.
Other books we liked
Adventures of Riley, Outback Odyssey by Amanda Lumry
A Wombat's World by Caroline Arnold
Adventures of a Little Wombat by Charles Fuge
Thirteen Buildings Children Should Know by Annette Roeder
Germany -
Castles and Grimm Brothers fairy tales!

The kiddos loved making their own castle towers to decorate the room.  They split into teams, were given supplies to share, a few suggestions, and then freedom to create their own, cooperative design!
Other Activities

  • Royal Family Portrait - Fold paper and make a castle that opens to reveal the royal family! I drew and copied the template for them to figure out where/how to fold up to make the castle open.  They colored the castle and of course drew their own families inside.

  • Castle Team Build Competition- We divided into several small group teams, and they cooperatively built a castle with given materials at each station in 5 minutes.  They rotated to new materials until each station was completed. A "winner" was chosen each round to get stickers.  We used different types of blocks (large and small,) magnets, dominos, and floam as building stations.  Fun!!
  • Math/science/construction- Build a castle with a certain number of each different shape geometric block.
  • Dramatic Play- Select a popular Grimm fairy tale to reenact roles (popular choices being, of course, "Rapunzel" and "The Frog Prince," but we also had some really like "The Elves and the Shoemaker.")
  • Literature - sequence picture cards from fairy tales we have read.  create and/or tell fairy tale stories with felt board fairy tale sets, picture cards, puppets.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Around the World" Theme Begins

Theme: Around the World
Need I explain why an "Around the World" unit is awesome?  We are going -in our imaginations- to nine countries around the world, enjoying them each and learning a ton.  The children have learned about cultures and nature around the world, as well as developing their self concept by comparison and acceptance of differences. 

 Airplane Rides in the Classroom

 We begin every new adventure with a pretend airplane ride in the corner of our classroom, set up to look like an airport.  It didn't take much, just a large world map, signs with pictures marking different sections of an airport, and some airport worker badges added to dress up.  There is also a section to display a flag and pictures of the country we were currently focusing on.

 To begin our travels to each destination, we set up chairs in rows, act out a dramatic takeoff and landing, and enjoy books about our destination during our "flight time." 

 Before boarding the airplane, each child writes their name on a ticket, to be presented to me and a "flight attendant"- a great reward job for a special kiddo- as we boarded.  This was an easy way to practice and observe full name writing and handwriting skills, and also get their imaginations ready!

Travel Introduction Craft

 We also had fun with clothespin airplanes in the beginning.  Easy, inexpensive, fun!

Here we go....

Rainforest, here we come!

  The BEST book to have is The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. It teaches about animals native to Brazil, conservation of the rainforest, and respect for all living creatures.  The story can bring tears to your eyes when you see the kids understand the message.


Their favorite animal from the book was a sloth.  We read additional books about sloths, and then a really fun "game." They chose to be either a two toed or three toed sloth, and we used manipulatives to measure out 6inch construction paper claws (that's what sloths have!) and wore them.  They loved it and understood why a sloth wouldn't be able to crawl well- and, of course, what 6 inches is.

We also studied this unit at the time of the World Cup in Brazil, and put some emphasis on the love of the sport in South America.  We played a soccer match against another class, and made a soccer ball craft to reinforce the shape of a pentagon.

+ Brazil Theme Show and Tell was a hit! We had lots of jungle animal stuffed animals to share :)
  • Science- observe Venus fly traps to learn about carnivorous plants in the Rainforest. A great book is Hungry Plants by Mary Batten
  • Sensory- Taste different foods that come from the rainforest (chocolate, mango, banana, etc)
  • Dramatic Play- Rubber snakes swimming through the Amazon river and crawling through the jungle
  • Literature- Tell rainforest stories with themed felt board pieces
  • Construction/math/science: build snakes with geometric blocks to have patterned tails
We loved our study of food and art.
Art Activities
  • Crawl under a table with a butcher paper covering underneath to paint upside down, gaining perspective on Michelangelo creating the ceiling
  • Create a copy of Michelangelo's cherubs from the Sistine Chapel.  Their drawings were so sweet, I highly regret not taking pictures before sending them home.
  • Describe a famous painting in your own words. Very cute answers as their little minds saw different things happening in scenes familiar to us, but new to them. 

Food Centers
  • Writing: Writing sight words in pizza sauce on a trey
  • Art table: Pasta noodle collages
  • Manipulatives: Pizza Math- Roll dice and add felt pizza toppings until "pizza" is full
  • Dramatic Play: Work an Italian ice cream store and buy/sell ice cream with friends. We used floam in cups for ice cream.
  • Sensory: yarn spaghetti and rubber ball meatballs.
And Italian Themed Show and Tell was easy as spaghetti!

So much busy fun ahead! More soon :)