Who Says You Have To Stay Inside For School Work?

Yesterday I took advantage of the sun and went outside for some art time. One can not let the creativity flow in a boring classroom ūüôā

The kids had a blast finger painting and using real flowers

on the playground as inspiration for their:

“Flower Gardens”

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Warning: For preschoolers it is best to get washable paints….less ruined clothes= less frustrated parents ūüėČ

Also please make sure it is non toxic…safety first when kiddos are in question.

3 Easy Steps For Playdough Making At Home

Another week (almost) down means another planning week for me inside the classroom and like most preschool teachers I want my children to learn with as much hands on as I can make happen;) What does this mean while doing my lesson plan? Well I research and research some more until my eyes cross over or I just cannot fathom researching anymore. During my research adventure today, I found a great playdough recipe on facebook and thought I would pass it along for anyone else either at home moms or busy preschool teachers that might need a good easy to do recipe……..

Enjoy;)

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Recipe:

How To Make The Best Playdough: Pour 2 cups of flour into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of salt. Mix in 2 tbsp Cream of Tartar. (You can find this in the spice section of just about any grocery store.) Add 2 tbsp of oil…you can use any oil, and as long as it‚Äôs a kitchen oil, your playdough will be non-toxic and safe for little ones to eat.

Pour in the boiling water. Be VERY careful because the dough will be HOT!

Mix all the ingredients together until the dough is formed. At this point the playdough is done unless you want to add food coloring…if you would like to add the food coloring for color then please read on…. A side note when adding the food coloring keep in mind that it can be messy so I would suggest wearing gloves for that part.

After the dough is cooled down separate the dough into equal parts and roll it up into balls. This will allow for more colors of playdough to be made instead of just one color for play. Now, push your finger into the middle of the playdough ball allowing your finger impression to make a little bowl for you to pour your gel food dye into. Knead the dough until the dye is thoroughly mixed. 

Teacher Tip:

Always make the playdough the night before so the color will set into the playdough mixture and also so dough can cool off without being rushed for activity time. And above all…Have fun with your little explorers:)

Spending a Fortune in Teaching Materials… Why???

In my life I have not always had a good stable income stream coming through my door, in fact most days were spent wondering how we would get bread or gas money. During those hard times I had to get creative for my kids because sadly preschool was not in the budget for my little family. At the time I had no idea that those struggles and “thinking outside of the box” would help me in my preschool career. Now being a preschool teacher money is still tight but no where near what it was 10 years ago, making my budget stretch now is a lot easier with some tips I picked up along the way…….

DO NOT SPEND A FORTUNE IN SCANDALOUS TEACHING AIDS!!!!

The above statement is my warning for all new preschool teachers or stay at home moms. The kids do not care how extravagant a lesson is, they only remember the lesson itself. So learn how your child(ren) learn best and incorporate anything around your house or the closest dollar store. This year my preschoolers learn best through movement so I use a lot of games to bring that connection between the activity and the child(ren). Here are my two favorite games and GUESS WHAT??? I only spent one dollar for them (which I will explain at the end of my examples).

Count the Sticker Game:

This game does not have the best name and really I do not rock when it comes to naming a game but they are pretty fun regardless of the name factor;) This week I used 8 stickers with small cards each displaying numbers 1-8. Note: the teacher will decide how many stickers to put down and what numbers to lay down as well then ask the child how many stickers there are and find the right number. I started with laying down 4 stickers and underneath the stickers put numbers 4,2,7 down, then I asked the child to count the stickers and find the number 4. If child has some problems finding the number I always point to the number and allow child to hand it to me. This also helps the child to not feel so stressed if they ever struggle with finding the correct number. Remember— you (as an adult) experience stress over new challenges and kids are no different….

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Roll That Dice Game:

This game’s objective is counting in groups and if you are talking about numbers 1-5 then this game is a must have on your lesson plan. Each child will take a turn rolling the dice, whatever side it ends up on the teacher will ask the child to count each dot, after child has counted each dot then the teacher will ask “How many dots are there?” and give the child time to reinforce the number to the pattern of dots they see.

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The only thing I purchased for these games was the dice that I purchased at the dollar store a few weeks ago, the white cards I had in my classroom (but if you need them they also can be purchased at the dollar store) and the stickers were donated by a parent sometime ago. Feel free to change the stickers to anything you have in your home.. at times I used cotton balls, spoons, and sometimes crayons. Also with crayons you can incorporate the colors in the same lesson. For preschoolers killing two birds with one stone is a great time saver…..meaning if I can do two lessons at once and have more time preparing for something else then it is a great day in my classroom.

I hope this helps others who struggle with the everyday challenge of no money for teaching aids. Have a wonderful day and thanks for stopping by my preschool blog;)

Do You Have The Alphabet Blues???

Does teaching the alphabet got you suffering from alphabet blues? You thought it would be easier to teach letters/sounds to preschoolers. This was one problem I had early on when I first began to teach preschool. I quickly realized that most children learn better through repetition and movements, so after opening up my own preschool I started researching the teaching options I now had available to me. I debated whether to have alphabet flashcards or to hang them in my classroom. Sticking to my thought of movement when hunting for the teaching aids I needed; I quickly found a wonderful website called www.prekinders.com and fell in love with their alphabet flashcards. Not only were they realistic but also had easy movements (that could be used in a circle time) to go along with them.

Letter with pic card example of picture with sound:action

Flashcard Warning: There was a lot of cutting and pasting that went along with this activity……..

I cut out each alphabet card and action then glued them to card stock (which is very sturdy in case you do not have access to a laminating machine) then I laminated each card for extra durability. At circle time I presented first the alphabet letter and picture then I showed the action of that letter. The kids loved the movement which in turn caused them to pay attention for the next card. (you can find these free printables at http://www.prekinders.com/teaching-the-alphabet-part-1/ courtesy of prekinders.com)

*****Help My Child Does Not Get That Each Letter Has A Sound*****

If the above statement is what you have begun to notice then it is ok and most children have this problem, I will tell you how to start linking the alphabet letter to their proper sound. This also helps when you introduce reading to the child because it will be easier for them to grasp sounding out the word. I teach letter sounds right along with the alphabet to incorporate this mindset early on in the beginning of my school year. As I mentioned before, preschool children learn better with movements, so games is an extremely good way for each child to participate and move around without causing disruption in your circle time. I found some BINGO camping flashcards that had the word for each picture on them. A great tool to use when linking letter to sound!!! I also wrote what the first letter of each picture started with on paper and cut them into small squares. I ask the children to look at the first picture on the paper. I tell them that the picture is a mushroom, what does the letter m say. Some kids will say “mmmm” but if no reply I tell them that “m says mmmmm” showing them how my lips look while saying the sound. Then I ask them to find the letter m on the little squares of paper I have given them. Some will ask what m looks like, this is where those wonderful words come in handy on those bingo papers, so I ask them to look at the mushroom and I point to the m. I love those bingo cards;)

bingo card letters with sounds

Unfortunately I do not remember where I printed these off but found the same ones at www.nwf.org also free to print off. Here is the quick link to the BINGO cards http://www.nwf.org/kids/family-fun/outdoor-activities/camping-bingo.aspx

Also if you are looking for some more free printables check out¬†http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/56045/free-printable-flashcards¬†they have 12 sets of different flashcard¬†printables that I fell in love with…..

I hope this has helped anyone struggling with the alphabet blues:) If you have a wonderful circle time method or game please let me know by commenting below.

No Money for Preschool/Daycare Centers……..

As a preschool teacher/ owner I do not have a lot of extra money to play around with every 2 months when my kids grow weary of a center. So what do I do? I look around the house for odds and ends that I can blend into a fun play area for my preschool kiddos.

IMG_0649 2 IMG_0650 2¬†This center cost me 4 dollars ūüėČ I had some stuffed animals laying around and found some pics from the web. I bought two doctor sets and two baskets from the dollar tree to add some realism in the children’s play. Every kid loves to play doctor.

IMG_0943 2¬†For the sensory table I used some stickers and clothespins I had in my class and spent a dollar at the dollar tree for the coin wrappers to encourage the kids to look at everyday objects for shape fitting… (ex.) circle stickers of small or medium size can fit into coin wrapper. Simple but effective sensory area for small kiddos.

IMG_0033¬†This area was made with a little help from my older daughter. She was growing out of some clothes so instead of donating them I borrowed them for a laundry center. Had some extra clothespins and string in my classroom for a laundry line and presto….laundry center;) This helps the kids with sorting clothes by what kind of clothing, size, and color. Also helps with fine motor because they are working to hang them on the line with the clothespins.

I hope this helps others to not only find things for achieving the center goals but also does not cost a fortune to setup.

Science for Preschool (yikes) ?????

Preschoolers need science just as much as older children do. At least once a month I try to give my preschoolers a way to watch something and ask questions such as why is that happening or what happens when I mix things together? These activities really helps preschoolers learn new concepts and start to develop the want of exploration. Now many people will try to make these tasks harder than they need to be….. breathe, relax and stay focused on what you really want them to learn from the activity.

I will be sharing three noncomplicated science activities that I have done with my preschoolers, they were very easy and many of my preschoolers asked the questions that started with why, what, or how. I just let them do the activities, ask the questions, and we talked about what was taking place. Very easy and by the end you can pat your back and walk away feeling like a #1 preschool teacher;)

 

First Activity– Washing/ Polishing Rocks

I found some very dirty rocks in my backyard. Gave the children some towels and bowls of water. The children began dumping the rocks in the water and watching them for a second before using the towel to polish them dry. While this was going on I received questions like why does my scrubbing help the rock shine? Or does the water help the rock stay clean after I dry it? This activity was very enjoyable for all involved…..

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Second Activity– Exploding Color w/ Milk

Supplies for this is a few small bowls of milk, dish liquid soap (Dawn), food coloring, and cotton swabs. I put the bowl of milk in front of each students then gave them each a turn to squeeze a few drops of food coloring in the milk. Then I gave them each a cotton swab that I had dipped into the dish liquid. The chemical reaction made the food coloring look like a firework in the milk. It was a neat reaction to watch plus the kids just looked mesmerized by what took place. The one question I got over and over was how did the milk do that? This was a kids choice activity to do over again;)

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Third Activity– Water transfer using paper towel

Supplies needed for this is two cups, paper towel, water in one cup, and food coloring. This experiment takes a long time to produce results. For many preschoolers they do not want to wait and see they want “do it and see” so I suggest that you put it together as a class then put the experiment out of the way but in view so the kids could go back and forth checking on it. We talked about what will happen while setting it up which gave the kids time to ask their how and why questions. In the end this experiment was not only enjoyed by the kids but they took their parents (at pickup) to show them this “totally awesome” (in their words) experiment. This gave the parents the opportunity to ask the children the why and how questions which allowed the kids to play teacher and explain to the parents what was taking place. Loved this activity because of the parent involvement;)

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Rockin the Rain

These past few weeks my little preschool class has been talking about all sorts of weather changes and outdoor things (such as rocks and bugs). Both of these topics has spurred a little creativity in trying to teach the kiddos about boring cloud formations and how rocks are formed. As one may have figured out (if you spend anytime with kids) these topics bring on more groans and eye rolling than anything else. So it was up to me to bring on the science experiments…..but what to do?????

For the rain clouds I came up with an idea to show the kids how the rain might look like if we could bottle a cloud. I got small glass cups with wide tops and filled them halfway with water. Then I put shaving cream on the top of the water and lastly several drops of blue food coloring. It took a few minutes for the bigger cloud (aka big drop of shaving cream) to look like a productive rain storm but eventually it worked like a charm. Also as the kids were waiting for the big finish on this experiment they had blue paper, small cups of water, and a straw which was used for making raindrops on the paper. They loved making big drops and waving the straw around the paper to look like streaks. 

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Please note that if you use a small drop of shaving cream then don’t over do the blue food coloring. As you can see that was what I did and the small cup looks more like a wash out than a nice rainstorm.¬†

 

For the rock week I stumbled across a website about making your own rocks… (http://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/books-about-rocks-for-young-kids.html)¬†

Because I am less of “following directions” and more of a “let me do it” kind of teacher I did my own size estimations which still turned out pretty good. I gave each child a small cup with 4 pebbles and two spoonfuls of sand (I used sandbox sand which worked really well). First step was to put the 4 pebbles in the bottom of the cup and pour glue over all the pebbles. It was better to completely cover the pebbles so the bottom of the rock looked firm. Then the children put the sand on top of the pebbles/ glue and then I poured a second helping of glue on top of the sand. Again making sure to cover the whole thing of sand. I put the cups in a sunny place for two days then I cut off the cup and placed them on paper to dry the rest of the way. It will take about a week for this to be finished but the kiddos loved checking the progress of their rocks everyday.When they completely dry out I will cut the glue edges off and let them take their rock creations home. Also while we were doing this activity I had the kids listen to a song about different types of rocks. It was a very neat way to try and introduce how the rocks were formed… eerrrr minus the glue of course:)ImageImage

 

 

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