Saturday, December 3, 2011

Senses of the Season

Each year our Gingerbread Man unit of study is a big hit!  It is a perfect opportunity to explore the five senses.  Next week I will be using a couple of new activities I've created.
On Monday, when I introduce the 5 Senses, we will be singing the following song and doing related activities.
"Senses of the Season" (sung to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree) 

"Oh gingerbread, oh gingerbread
Tell me something you see.
Oh gingerbread, oh gingerbread
Tell me something you hear.
Oh gingerbread, oh gingerbread
Tell me something you feel.
Oh gingerbread, oh gingerbread
Tell me something you  taste.
Oh gingerbread, oh gingerbread
Tell me something you smell."

As we sing the song, children will call out items that fit into each category.  There will be pictures available for them to use for a visual prompt ase we sing the song.

Christmas Greetings

I have recently created some new Christmas greetings for you to use in your classroom to help with "making connections".  One of my classroom jobs is a "greeter".  Each day, the children are greeted by me when they arrive.  They are also greeted by another child at circle time.  They love trying out new greetings!  Check these out!

Santa Greeting:  Hook arms together at the elbow with your partner (like they do at weddings when they feed cake to each other).  Bringing your arm up to your face as if stroking Santa's beard, look at your partner and say "ho, ho, ho!"

Gingerbread Man Greeting:  Each partner runs in a small circle while saying:  "run run just as fast as you can".  After one rotation, stop facing your partner and grasping them on the arms say:  "I caught you little gingerbread friend."

Christmas Candle:
The child is the candle, so they stick up one finger.  The adult is the "lighter" and they "light" the candle while making a clicking sound.  Then they say "you light up my life" and then the child blows out the candle.

Twinkling Star:
Adult and child touch fingers together on both hands while holding them up in the air.  Then they wiggle their fingers like "twinkling" as they say "twinkle twinkle little star".

Christmas Present:
Holding hands with the child, the adult acts as if opening a present.  As if untying the bow they look at the child and say "Surprise!  I love you!"

Christmas Tree Greeting:
Adult and child both put hands over head like the point on the top of the tree. Next, they lean over and touch "tips" and say "Oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches."

Candy Cane Greeting:
Both the adult and child stick out arm like the stick of the candy cane and then make a hook by curving hand and wrist.  "Slide" down the arm of the other person then get hooked at the bottom by the hand and say "what's up sweet stuff?"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Planting a Pumpkin

This is a very relaxing and gentle way to connect with someone you love.  This is great just before bedtime or during quiet times of day.  The original idea of "Planting a Flower" came from Mary Jo Huff at a recent early childhood conference.  My daughter and my students love it so much that I wanted to create a seasonal version to use since we are currently headed into the colder months here in Indiana.  So I adapted the original activity to make it "Planting a Pumpkin".  Here is how you do it:
1. Find a partner to play with you.
2. Turn so that you are facing your child's back.
3. Start in the lower lumbar portion of your child's back near the waist line.
4. Right on the spine you will use your index finger to pretend to dig a hole in the dirt.
5. Next you will gently dot the same spot as you put a "seed" in the hole.
6. Once you've planted the seed you need to cover it up with dirt by using a sweeping motion as if to push dirt over the hole to keep the seeds safe.
7. Pat it down so the dirt stays in place by gently patting your child's lower back in the same spot.
8. Now you move up to their shoulders and gently rub in a circular motion with open hands as the "sun" shines on their shoulders to help the pumpkin seed grow.
9.  Next comes the "rain" in the form of your fingers wiggling and moving down their back from top to bottom.
10.  Now it begins to "thunder" as your hands gently pat the child on the back in a thundering pattern.
11.  The "lightening" moves down their back as you use the side of your hand to "slice" it down the back as lightening would across the sky.
12. As the storm passes and the sun begins to shine again a "sprout" begins to grow from the seed that was planted.  Use your finger to draw a pumpkin vine that loops around the child's back.
13.  Of course the vine also has large leaves that are drawn on the child's back with your finger.
14.  Finally, you draw a large round pumpkin on your child's back, "pick the pumpkin" by giving your child a big hug or even carrying them off to their bed so they can go to sleep.
***As you do the above activity be sure to talk your child through it and describe what you are doing***
Have fun! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Crayons

My daughter wanted to do a fall craft today.  We looked on Pinterest for a fun activity.  The idea we found was for using old crayon pieces and melting them into heart shapes for Valentine's Day.  Since it is almost Halloween we decided to make ours into pumpkins. 
We chose to use mostly orange, yellow, green, brown, and red crayons.  We found that the older the crayons, the easier the paper wrapper came off.  We peeled as many as we needed and then broke them up into small pieces and placed them in the mini muffin tins.  The original idea suggested that you use a butcher knife and cutting board to make the pieces, but I wanted my daughter to do as much as she could to help and breaking them worked just fine.

You bake them in the oven for 15 minutes at 230 degrees.  I sat them in an old cookie sheet to make transferring them more smooth.  This is what they look like when they come out of the oven.  Try not to disturb them until they cool so that the colors don't mix.

Next, we popped them out of the muffin tins.  This was no easy task and I am sure there is a trick to it.  I will have to do  a little more research to see how to get them out with more ease.  They didn't take long to cool, maybe 15 minutes tops!

We used scrap paper to cut out stems and leaves.  The original idea we had was to use wiggle eyes and black paper to make them into jack-o-lanterns, but after peeling all the crayons my daughter was just about crafted out, so I wanted to keep it simple from there on out.  We used Elmer's Glue, but noticed that some of the stems and leaves popped off when we transferred them to another container.  If we do it again, we may try glue dots.
Here is our little pumpkin patch.  We noticed that some of the ones with more red in them looked like apples.  You could make apples by using more reds and pinks.  My daughter plans to take these to school next week to give away to her classmates.  Enjoy!

Showing Appreciation

Last week was Pastor Appreciation Sunday at our church.  I have been working with the children's Sunday School class this month on making a gift for our pastors to help show our appreciation for all they do. 

We made fall wreaths for each of them.  The children and adults traced their hands on colorful scrapbooking paper.  We cut out the hands and used markers to write the word "thank you" in many different languages on each hand.  We got the list of foreign languages off the internet.  The children had a great time learning to say thank you in so many different languages.  This was a fun activity that involved many different age groups!  We then took a piece of brown bulletin board paper and twisted it like a vine and made the base for the wreath out of that.  The hands were glued on and an beautiful wired ribbon was added.  Before giving the gifts, we added a tag that said, "No matter how you say it, we're thankful for you!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Greetings

Each day in our classroom as a part of our "Brain Smart Start" we share greetings.  Greetings offer a great opportunity for students to connect with one another and for teachers to connect with students in a fun and playful situation.  One of my students is the greeter each week and giving greetings is a part of our circle time routine in preschool.  Since it is now fall I recently added a few new greetings that I made up.  These have been a real hit! 

The Bushy Tail:  Two children simply turn around back to back and "shake their bushy tails" like a squirrel.  This is definately a class favorite and is sure to produce lots of fun and giggles!

The Rake: The greeter comes around to the back of their friend and gives them a gentle back scratch.  They love this one as well!

The Pumpkin Bump:   The two children stand side by side and gently bump hips with one another.  As an extension they could put their arms around one another for an added bit of connection.

The Spider:  This is simply when the greeter "crawls" their fingers up the arm of the recipiant in a ticklish manner like a spider would do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

One of my favorite fall stories is Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  This imaginative story leads into so many fun activities for preschoolers!  The first day we read the story and spent some time exploring fresh and dried leaves.  We looked at the colors, shapes, and details of the leaves.  We listended to the dry leaves and imagined what pictures we could make with various leaves.
 It happened to be a beautiful fall day on Monday and the leaves covered the ground outside.  We took the children out and let them play in the leaves.  Before long they were working together to pile the leaves up so they could jump in them!  They had a ball playing in the leaves and finding other signs of fall!

1, 2, 3 Jump!

This little girl found a whole pocketfull of pine cones under a nearby tree!  She also noticed the sap coming out of the tree trunk and learned about it's sticky qualities as she explored!

One of our art activities this week is "leaf blowing".  I brought in a hair dryer and the kids helped me crumple up dried leaves.  We painted glue over a piece of paper and then dropped dried leaf pieces on top.  The best part was turning on the "wind" hair dryer and blowing the leaves all over the wet glue!  They loved being able to control the wind!

Where the Wind Blows...

As a part of our study of Fall and reading the story Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert we practiced different kinds of blowing.  On "Tickle Tuesdays" we practice various oral motor skills in our classroom.  Today we pretended to be the wind like in our story and we blew feathers, bubbles, and leaves. 

Blowing feathers up in the air to see how they float and what happend when the "wind" blows


We crawled around on the floor and blew the feathers as we went.  The kids had fun experimenting with different positions and exercising their large motor skills as they went along!

Developing Awareness

We have a friend in our morning class who is blind.  Our Consultant for children with visual impairments stopped by today to help us learn more about what it would be like to be blind.  The children volunteered to wear blindfolds and discover how their other senses were enhanced while their eyes were covered.  We played a few games with a noisy ball, mobility, and what it is like to "look" with your hands.  The children really enjoyed the activity!  They are such a caring and sensitive group!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dinosaurs Galore

Reinforcing the Safekeeper Agreement:Last week we enjoyed many explorations with dinosaurs and fossils in our preschool classroom.  The children really enjoyed the book How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?.  I found inspiration in this book that helped us reinforce the agreements we have made as a School Family to help keep everyone safe.  Since the brain likes contrast, we had the children model for pictures of both positive and negative classroom behaviors.  The resulting class book asked the question "How do Preschoolers Go to School?"  At the beginning of the book there were pictures of such things as:
-children running in the classroom
-children fighting over toys
-children screaming and acting silly at the table
-children turned around facing the wall during a group activitiy
So the book went something like this...How do Preschoolers go to School?  Do they run through the room and crash into things?  Do they turn around and look at the wall and not listen to Ms. Jenny at all?  The pattern continued untill we answered the question with a resounding NO!  Then we used the positive models to show how preschoolers really go to school.  This portion of the book showed pictures that modeled listening ears, looking eyes, walking feet, kind words and quiet voices, and helpful hands. 
When we published the book and read it to the class, they wanted to read it over and over.  Each child was allowed to take the book home for one night and then it will be added to our classroom collection.  They love seeing pictures of themselves and this is such a positive fun way to reinforce positive behavior! 

Start of Preschool

Introducing our School Family:Our School Family is called the Shining Stars.  We have a School Family song that goes like this: (sung to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
We are the Stars we sparkle and shine,
When we're together, we're feeling fine.
We want our brains to work to the max,
So smile, take a deep breath and relax.
Eyes and ears and hands and feet
Use kind words now take a seat.

At the beginning of the school year we read a book called: We're All the Same, We're All Different.  We took pictures of each child and talked about how we are the same and how we are different and what makes each child special.  Those photos were put in a School Family book in addition to our song and published for each child to have an opportunity to take home and share with their family.  The book was then added to our class library.

Each family completed an "all about me poster" to share at school.  It was so fun to see the children make connections with one another based on their common interests.  It really helped us get to know one another.  Each teacher participated in the activity as well.