Monday, May 28, 2012

Alphabet puzzle with a twist!

We took our alphabet puzzle outside per recommendation by my husband who is an incredible preschool teacher.  He mentioned how their class takes the puzzle outside and hides the pieces for each other.  Now in my class this took a little organization.  We provided a denim bag with a strap for all of the letters.  We then gave it to a child and they picked a partner. While we stayed in and read a story, these two children got to be the hider of the letters and set up the puzzle as you see here.  We then bring out the class and let them know they get to find one letter at a time.  This helps get in more exercise time so they have to keep going back for their next letter.  This is an activity that they love.  They sit very quiet in order to be picked for the hiding job and they never seem to get bored of this.  They get to do it in the morning during our gross motor time when we try to do something more organized for our class.  We often do parachute play, trikes and cones, and other things that we do not take out when the other classes come out.  We have found that the letter hint is a favorite activity.  Thanks to my husband for making this puzzle (which we did not have any room for) gain new life.  What a great idea!  We would not have thought about taking it outside if he had not suggested it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Preschool Field Day Fun

For our last few days we of school we like to do things that allow the students to get out and enjoy their last few days together.  This year we help a small version of what other schools call "field day."  The only difference being we did not go to a field.  We went out and enjoyed as many of our favorite outdoor activities for the day on our playground.  We began with circle and headed out for some fun in the sun.  Top on the list was getting the cots cleaned up after a year of use.  This was by far the most popular part of the day.
They scrubbed hard and loved making bubbles.
These boys really took charge and ran the operation.  Here you can see one child step back checking the others' work to see if they were done or not!

We had all kinds of great things to do...

The parachute became a tent and lots of giggles and even a few kisses were shared!

I think they would still be under that parachute if we had not cleaned up for lunch.  This is the first time I had just left these out for them to play with without any assistance.  It was wonderful to watch them and even more fun to listen to all of the squeals and giggles.

The obstacle course was very popular.  There were hoola hoops and exercise mats with different things to try like skipping. 

The day was fun and everyone had a great time,  They all got to sit and make butterflies as they needed a rest.  The trike track was so popular it will be out again tomorrow!  The year has gone fast!  Last day!

Environmental Print Door

This last month of school we reviewed environmental print and decided to decorate our door with labels of foods that we eat and recognize.  We decided not to ask the parents to help the children bring in labels.  We talked at circle each day about the door and waited to see what children could go home and remember to bring in a label for the project on our door.  Each day the class was great at wanting to bring labels back from breakfast, but no one really brought any labels.  Then all of the sudden, labels poured in!  It was out of nowhere really!  This is the half finished door.  The students had fun looking at the letters and trying to read what the label said.  "J" and "I" are out of order but I hooked everything together so I could not really change it!  It was too late!  Even teachers make mistakes.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tattle phone time!

We have gotten to the end of the year and we have almost all 5 year old children now ready for kindergarten.  They are also ready to make sure that if something goes wrong, that they report it right away to their teachers!  First, I think it shows maturity when a child can come and tell me that they have found something not going right and then display to me that they know the rules of the room.  This goes a long way actually.  And then it goes too far!  We try all different ways to allow the child to handle their issues with friends in the room so that they are growing and learning how to handle things as they come.  When someone bumps you in line, you ask that child to stop, or you move and stand next to someone else.  This goes on all day.  Many things however, get reported by certain children over and over again.  At this time in the year it seems to be the thing to do, so we have put out a "TATTLE PHONE!"  The kids were so into hearing all about what this magic phone could do.  We began by telling them our principal had installed and answering button that connected to my desk phone.  We put it out with a note pad and some pens (which were very exciting to everyone), and the phone with the teacher's direct phone number.  So when they come to the tattle phone station, they get to write their name first (good fine motor and writing practice), and then dial my secret number (great number matching practice), and then the best part happens....they get to leave me a message!  It is so much fun for us to stand near by and hear all of our little classroom reporters leaving us messages about what is happening around the room.  It is truly one of the best ways to hear who knows the rules too!  Try it in your classroom.  It gives teachers and students hours of fun!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mini "pretend" Cakes-Recycling Project

My whole class displayed the cakes to dry while we went to lunch.
Alright, I have found the perfect recycling and re-purposing project for bottle lids and play dough that is about ready to be thrown away!  Here is is:  mini stacked layer cakes!  The was fun and easy and engaged all of the students that came to the table.  We gave out a cardboard base from a leftover packaging box, a muffin paper, and then they went to work.  We allowed the students to start off by choosing 3 lids that were all varying sizes and asked them to find the biggest lid for the bottom.  Then, they were off, adding all sorts of colors and lids they created these wonderful mini cakes above.  We got rid of lots of old play dough and did not have to throw it away.  Below you can see the added materials we used to create our cakes:old play dough, muffin papers, sequins, bottle lids from all types of bottles, and seed beads.  We gave each child a cardboard base to put the cake on.  This too was recycled from the cafeteria.  
finished cakes on cardboard base covered with a muffin paper
supplies used for the project

A Day Without Shoes

Recently we explored what it would be like if we did not have shoes.  I began by explaining that if we did not have shoes, we would have to step on things that may not feel so good on our feet.  Many of the students came up with ideas of what they thought would feel good and bad to step on.  I brought in some carpet squares, a tray of mulch, and a slice of a tree.  Each child had a chance to step on the samples and say what they thought about each.  It did not start out as I planned.  Each child stood on the wood and said, "good."  This went on for a while and about the fifth kid did this and I stopped the group.  They were missing the point and in a large group they were also quickly loosing focus.  We quickly lined up the class in about 40 degree weather and went for a walk to experience our own world without shoes.  As we walked we stepped on very cold pavement as we headed toward our playground.  As we got closer to the playground, I began to hear complaints.  They were complaining of the cold, the sharp pebbles and then the sharp mulch.  This was what I was hoping would have happened inside.  We walked in wet grass and then inside for a more meaningful discussion.
I found out that after our walk and  real first hand experience was needed to really drive home my point and try to explain that we should be grateful for the things that we have.  We graphed which surface we disliked the most.  The sharp mulch won by a land slide.
 Now one might argue that being in a low income school, this may not be the best thing to teach.  I think everyone got it though and it was a meaningful experience.  The students still ask me about it and these pictures hang in our room as a reminder of our day.  We kept our shoes off for as long as we could and in order to be safe, put them back on to go to the bathroom and to lunch.
We began doing this day without shoes because the Tom's shoe company was sponsoring this all around the country.  We thought it was a great way to raise awareness as they do by donating shoes each time someone buys theirs.  That is why you see a Tom's flag in the photos!  We did a little photo manipulation in this last photo.  The kids love how it looks blown up.  The app is on my iPad and is great for this.  It is called Moku Honga HD The Art of Japanese Wood-Block Printing.