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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sweet Simplicity

The last few months have been filled with one cute project after another, one busy day leading to another. This week we took a much needed break from fantastic projects and crammed days to sweet simplicity. There was no elaborate lesson plan, no extra centers, no last minute runs to the store, just me and my kiddos enjoying each other. How’d I fill the time? I didn’t, it sorta took care of itself. On Monday, we were able to splash with the water spicket outside. On Tuesday, we sat on our steps and ate ice-cream. On Wednesday, we ventured into the deserted area of our school and practiced balancing. Today, I didn’t even read the story at circle time, I put on a cd and the narrator read it for me. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not exactly sure, but I hope it’s as sweet as the beginning of the week.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Preschool Teachers and The Dollar Store

On any given day I can travel to the dollar store and pick up some great finds for my classroom. There's also dollar isles or sections in your most popular stores. When you're a new preschool teacher it can be difficult to know just what that great find is. I consulted with some of Facebook's finest in the business and heres what they had to say.

Arts and Crafts
Ash Trays (to hold paint brushes and paint)
ABC Chart
Cotton balls
Paper plates
Berry Baskets
Bottle caps
Card board
Craft Sticks
Foil Paper
Glue Sticks
Googly Eyes
Lunch Bags
Number Chart
Tissue paper
Toilet Paper rolls (check your state rules and regulations, Florida is NOT allowed to use toilet tissue rolls but can use paper towel rolls)
Table Cloth
Toothbrushes (to paint with)
Pipe Bleaners
Plastic Utensils
Scrap Paper
Shaving Cream
Velcro (to put up center signs)

Cereal Boxes (to add some color and dimension to buildings)

Nail Polish Remover (for removing permanent marker, it's not so permanent any more)
Toothbrushes (to clean with)

3M Command Strips

Egg Cartons (to store plastic eggs)
Beaded Necklaces

Beans (counting, grouping, creating patterns)
Yarn (making pom-poms)

Butterfly Net
Flower Pots
Play Bugs
Magnifying Glass

Corn Meal
Easter Grass

Butter containers with lids
Egg Cartons (for small, individual paint projects)

Don't forget to check your local stores after each holiday to score some great dollar finds.

Thank you to all my contributors.

Shara Lawrence-Weiss, Ayn Colsh, Laura Thacker Major, Karen Nemeth, Emilie Leadley Gillick, Kara Chancellor, Monica Ratcliffe Munoz, Tammy Owens,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Milk Crate Cubbies

The Center I work at is a new facility. The resources are limited and the budget is tight. I do consider myself quite thrifty and pretty resourceful when I have to be. The cubbies that were purchased for my classroom simply did not fit all of my kids belongings. I decided to make my own and you can too. Here's how...

Ask your local grocery store to donate crates to your classroom for your project. Apparently, you're not allowed to wander behind the grocery store and stock up on them. I figured this out when my husband and I looked up into the security camera behind our local Publix Supermarket...hee, hee. We kindly stacked them back neatly and high tailed it outta there. Can you imagine the morning newspaper, "Preschool Teacher caught on camera stealing crates for her class!" We decided the proper thing to do was ask.

You'll need:
crates and zip wire (can be purchased at your local hardware store)
spray paint (optional)

Place the one crate on top of the other. Use the zip ties to secure them tightly. Add additional crates as needed. Here's how it looked with 6 crates.

Then I added three additional ones.

There is a safe spray paint made especially for plastic if you want to change the color. I chose red crates so I wouldn't have to paint.

Ideas you might want to consider:
*Place a picture of the child on the back side of the crate.
*Choose other colors. I did see blue, green and black crates too.

Go Ahead, Make it yourself,

Feeling pretty motivated? See here how to make your own clothes rack for your class.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Power of Play doh

Squeeze it, push it, knead it, pound it, cut it, rub it, roll it, smell it, share it...oooh play doh. It could be store bought, homemade, scented or not; the benefits of play doh I couldn't do with out.

I can still remember what it was like playing with playdoh as a small child. I wasn't partial to the smell, and found out that it didn't taste so good either. But the smooth, creamy, squishy feel of it makes me love it again, and again.

Here are some of the benefits of play doh:
Provides visual and sensory stimulation
Promotes creativity
Quick Clean up activity
Comes in many colors
Can be scented

When play-doh is a life saver
During transition times (while sending each child potty)
In your Sensory Table
At your Art Center
While you're cleaning
Preparing for dismissal

Extend your playdoh play with these fun ideas
add texture to your playdoh..try rice, oatmeal, or coffee grounds
add fragrance...try adding vanilla extract, lemon extract, or a package of kool-aid
add color...allow the kids to mix the colors, or add glitter
add a surprise...after making playdoh form several balls, stick your finger in the ball and add a couple of drops of food coloring, reshape the ball. When the kids begin to squeeze and knead it...SURPRISE!
add knives, spoons, dishes, and cookie cutters

More on Play doh

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Planning for the " Week of the Young Child"

The Week of the Young Child was established in 1971 by NAEYC, the world's largest early childhood association. The week is designed as an opportunity for Educators, Programs, Parents, Organizations and Communities to promote awareness and focus on the needs of young children and the families they serve.

Early Childhood Educators are wondering what they should be doing in their classroom. Since the week is more about how to get communities, law makers and politicians involved, It’s difficult to build a lesson plan around the Week of the Young Child.

Here are a few activities you might want to consider when planning for next week.

Activities For Your Students:
Discuss with your children how important they are and tell them you'll be celebrating them all week.
Talk to them about what makes them unique. You may want to pull some ideas from
your “All about me” unit.

Have the children put handprints on butcher paper. Paint/Write the words, “Week of the Young Child” and display outside your school or Child Care Center.

Roll out red paper for your students to make a grand entrance into class.

Have a pretend dinner party, gather extra dress up clothes so everyone is dressed for the occasion. Pretend to serve each child.

Make crowns for the boys, and sashes for the girls.

Trace the body of each student on butcher paper, allow them to decorate their bodies, then display them.

Give your children a “Children are important” party at the end of the week. Invite your parents.

Collect art work from you students throughout the week, and conduct an Art Gallery on Friday displaying each child's art on a black background.

For Your Community:
Ask your students what makes them special. Give them hints to what makes them special in your eyes. Write what they say on a piece of paper along with their handprints. Mail all of your letters to your local law-makers.

Plan a parade. Invite the local news station, radio stations, and email your city representatives. Use butcher paper and poster board to make signs. Have your children help design, plan, and color/paint the signs. Give each child a poster or an instrument to play. Parade around your parking lot and wave to friends, family, and representatives.

Ideas for signs:
I matter!
I am the future!
I love learning!

Send a letter home to parents asking them to email their local city commissioner some basic facts about their child. Then thank them for supporting Early Childhood Education.

For Example: My daughter is Jada, her favorite color is red. Her teacher says she plays in the Block Center everyday. I appreciate you keeping Jada in mind when decisions are made concerning Early Childhood Education.

Johanna Lee

For the Teacher:
Write to your local representatives and tell them what your job entails. Describe in detail the rewards of being an Early Childhood Educator.

Join or start a Preschool PTA

Keep up with Early Childhood News and Studies.

Support Early Childhood conferences and workshops by spreading the word and attending.

Invite your local representatives to you school, blog, or website.

In my classroom there is a plaque that was given to me years ago. It reads, “A hundred years from will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

Visit NAEYC for more information on the Week of the Young Child.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Making Tracks (Footprints)

I had fun with our unit on forest animals. We talked about animal tracks and how we could tell where the animal went by following it’s tracks. Later that morning, we make our own tracks and posted them on our wall. It was a bit tricky but worth our efforts.

Here’s what you need to make your own tracks.
You”ll need:
poster board or butcher paper
shallow container with soapy water

I laid newspaper on the floor where we would be working. I placed a piece of poster board (you may use butcher paper) on the newspaper with their name already printed on top of the sheet. I sat the kids in one chair and used the sponge to dab paint on the bottom of their feet.

I then held their hand while they walked across the poster board to the shallow pan of soapy water.

There they used a sponge to clean the paint off their feet. I listened for new vocabulary words from each child. I heard the words tickles, cold, beautiful, paint, sponge, toes, slippery, wet, and newspaper.

I didn't post my list of vocabulary words but that would have been even better to display with their tracks. The follow up activity during Circle Time was the "Going On A Bear Hunt" song by Greg and Steve.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Basket Bunnies

Just when I thought I couldn't take another Easter project I'd forgotten to post this one. I was sure you'd appreciate it. I ran across a photo of these cute baskets about 4 years ago. I've been creating these little masterpieces each year with great success. I've looked all over the internet for the site where I originally found this craft and I'm not positive but I think it this one

I ask the kids to choose the color of the whiskers (pipe cleaners) and the color of the nose (pom, poms) and I secure them on with hot glue. Once I'm finished I usually hand it over to them and allow them to use Elmers glue to put the cotton balls on the ears, and construction paper or googly eyes where the bunnies eyes should go. This year I got fancy and added bows for the girl bunnies. A couple of days after I took the picture we began stuffing our basket with grass, then eggs from our hunt and gifts from their teacher during nap on Friday. The Easter Bunny has never passed on these baskets!

Things to consider:

  • If you have a class ask parents to save milk jugs a few weeks in advance to have enough.

  • Never, Ever allow the children to use the hot glue gun, it is unpredictable!

  • The original post I learned this from had the entire bunny covered with cotton balls, this may be done
    over several days, but I have found my attention span just isn't that long and neither is my students.

  • I've done this project using the yellow milk jugs and it's even cuter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

These hats are “eggs”ellent!

I was about to make bunny ears today. Unfortunately, I ran out of hard-stock paper. I was afraid regular construction paper would leave flimsy-floppy bunny ears. I made “eggs”ellent hats instead . Here’s what I used:

Construction Paper
Hot Glue Gun
Hot Glue
Glue Sticks
Egg Pattern
Flower Pattern (optional)
Butterfly pattern (optional)

First, make a band the size of each child’s head with construction paper.

Next, use hot glue to secure Easter grass all around the band.

Then, allow the children to decorate eggs, flowers, and butterflies.

Last, the child should use the glue stick to secure the eggs, flowers, and butterflies to the band.

Note: You could use green construction paper and omit the Easter grass.

To extend the project:

Science: Discover eggs; Compare cooked and uncooked eggs