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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Have a Digital Camera Field Trip in Preschool

Yesterday, I mentioned using your digital camera as an alternative to taking a field trip outside the classroom. Today, I had an opportunity to create a neighborhood field trip using my digital camera. I took the photos and I'm considering turning them into a book to put in our library. This would be the perfect addition to the unit on "Community" we do at the beginning of the school year. I've added some ideas and questions I might want to ask.

What is this sign? Can you see a number? What does it make you think of? 
Have you ever been to a 7-11? What was your reason for going? 

Have you been here before? Some friends go here when they are sick. 
Some friends go here when they need shots to keep them well. 
What can you tell me about your visit here? 

What do you think this place is for? Why? 

Do you remember passing one of these? What is it? 
What does the red and white striped pole remind you of? 

This is a place where people might sit and wait. 
What might they be waiting for? How do you know? 
What else could you do while you're waiting? 

I chose most of these familiar places because of the location of the center. Most of my students live near or in the area and would have been to or at least seen these places before. 

I look forward to hearing about your alternative to field trips. 
Your Friend, 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Preschool Alternatives to Field Trips

Its becoming more and more common that Child Care Centers are taking less field trips. For one, field trips require additional time, money and staffing. Second, field trips are a liability. One missing child, or a child left on the bus could be the end of a thriving center. Last, transportation is a big issue for small and large centers alike.

Don't let the fact that your facility cannot provide field trips stop you from finding field trip alternatives. Here's a few ideas to get the ball rolling.

Bring the field trip to you. 
I've had many field trips in my classroom over the years. People in your community are more than happy to stop by and share their passion with your class.
-The Zoo (ask what animals they may be able to bring)
-The Library
-The local supermarket
-The bakery (ask for a discount or coupons for your parents)
-The fire station (ask them to bring stickers and hats)
-The local police department (ask them to bring deputy stickers)
And many, many more!

Create the field trip in your classroom. 
Find props, recruit parents and friends to send items related to your field trip.
-If you're class is studying a specific culture: 
 Encourage your parents to bring in painting, pictures, mugs, or anything that represents that   
 particular unit of study.
-If you're studying a particular place:                                                                 
  What items can you find that are associated with the place? 
  For example, if you're studying the beach you might want to                                    
  bring in shells, a big umbrella, beach towels, swim suits, sunglasses, etc.

Take advantage of technology.
Make use of your dvd player, ipod, video camera, the internet, and digital camera.
-The dvd player
 The library has a great collection of dvd's about places, people and events especially for children.
-The Ipod
 Find music related materials of even stories about your field trip. 
-The Video Camera
  You go on the field trip and shoot video of the place you'd like to share. Enjoy it with your class. 
-The Internet
  There's a fantastic site called KidvisionVPK. The teacher Mrs. Peggy and her students go on 
  exciting field trips and invite you to come along. 
-The Digital Camera
  Take still photos of the place. Bring the photos to school and share them in circle time, 
  create a photo center or even use them to make a slide show. 

Keep in mind field trips are fun. They help children tie together the lessons you've been teaching. They provide valuable learning experiences and promote an expanded vocabulary.

Even if your school or childcare facility shy away from field trips. You can still provide some rewarding field trip alternatives right in your own classroom.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Preschool Painting With Celery

Welcome Back Friends from your Thanksgiving vacation. I hope you all had a fabulous holiday. I spent a few hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning preparing a big dinner for my family. One of my tasks was to dice the vegetables for the stuffing. When I got to the celery I notice what a beautiful flower it made inside once the stalks were removed. Of course I couldn't wait to see what it would look like covered in paint. This project is perfect for younger preschoolers whose fine motor skills aren't fully developed.

 This is how the celery looked when I cut the stalks off. Isn't that pretty? 

I put orange paint in the bottom of a plastic bowl, and dip the celery inside. 

Celery is usually inexpensive especially around the holidays. You could use the stalks for some yummy snacks dipped in Ranch dressing or make Ants On A Log. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Preschool Thanksgiving Hats and Head Pieces

It's almost Thanksgiving! In this unit we learned about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. 
We talked about the clothes they wear, the food they prepared and how they lived. 
We planned our own Thanksgiving  feast and enlisted the help of another teacher to pull it all off. 
We created some hats and headpieces to wear for our Thanksgiving feast. 
Here a some of our creations. 

The Native American girls used crayons and markers to decorate their head piece. 
They chose feathers to tape in place and finish the look. 
The boys did similar head pieces using more feathers. 

 The Pilgrim boys used black, white and yellow construction paper to make their hats. 
We measured the bands around their head. 
Then, the students glued the front of the hat to the band. 

The Pilgrim girl hat was a little more tricky and required more adult help. 
We used butcher paper to fold in place and added string to secure along the bottom. 

What a great addition to our Thanksgiving unit! 

Feel free to link your Thanksgiving ideas below.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Class Tepee

noun: tent of the American Indians, made usually from animal skins 
laid on a conical frame of long poles, having an 
opening at the top for ventilation and a flap door.

Last year one of my pretty handy dads built a tepee for our class. During our Thanksgiving unit we talked all about what it must have been like to live in a place with no running water, no bathrooms and no TV to watch. The tepee was considered a classroom center. 
The kids were allowed to take books and toys inside when was their turn.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Using Cereal Boxes in Preschool

A few days ago I noticed I had a some left over cereal boxes. I thought I'd share with you some ideas to incorporate cereal boxes in your class.

Try putting rice or beans inside and tape the box. Using them in your housekeeping area is always fun. They don't last very long but they can be replaced easily with a few good parent volunteers.

Here's some other ideas.
Environmental Print: Pre-Reading Skills
First, carefully cut the front, back and sides of the cereal boxes.
These are just fun to post on the walls and use as environmental print.
Or, have students match the fronts with the backs.

Cereal Box Puzzles
Next, try using the front of the box to make a puzzle.
Place your puzzle in the quiet area or dramatic play.

Book Marks
Then, trim the sides of the box to make book marks.
Why not punch a hole in the top and add yarn for a tassel?
These inexpensive book marks can be used in your library or reading center.

Books and Journals
Last, try creating books or journals.
Take the front and back of a box, use a hole puncher to punch holes in both. 
Use construction paper or writing paper for pages. Secure your book with yarn, string, etc.


Have any cool cereal box creations? Feel free to link your cereal box ideas below.

Would you like this cereal box link list to appear on your blog? 
Grab the "blog hop" code at the end of this post.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Preschool Native American Vests

It's always a great idea to get acquainted with the neighborhood grocery store. One of my favorite places is my local Winn Dixie Supermarket. I make regular visits and the manager is never surprised when I ask for classroom help. I went in and asked for brown grocery bags for each of my students to create indian vests for our Thanksgiving Feast. As usual, they were more than happy to help. 

Here's what we did. I carefully opened each bag from the top and along the side seam. I opened them up and laid them flat. Then, I turned the Winn-Dixie logo on the inside. 

I made a u-shape for the neck and openings for the arms. My assistant taped each shoulder strap, and wrote the child's name on the inside. We made little slits along the bottom to create a fringe look. 

 The children chose 2 different colors to make handprints on their vests. 

While some students created handprints others were busy with markers and crayons decorating. 

We decided to take some early photos of the finished product since I'd be too busy to remember the day of the feast. 

We're "thankful" for our local Winn-Dixie for supporting our class and Early Childhood Education. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Preschool ways to appreciate Veterans Day!

My 3rd grader woke up this morning and dressed in her Fourth of July flag t-shirt and blue jeans. I thoughtfully tied red, white and blue ribbons in her hair. She asked her sisters who they were thanking this Veterans Day. She told us she was thanking her school janitor who fought for our country. Veterans Day is not just reserved for school-age children, preschoolers can appreciate Veterans in their own small ways. 

Here's a few cute ideas to show your appreciation today. 

Create thank you pails. Allow the kids, teachers and administrators to write notes on strips of construction paper. Put the notes in the pail and tell your favorite veterans how much you appreciate them. 

Use stickers to decorate cards, posters and murals saying 
"Thank You" veterans!

Decorate your classroom for parents that are veterans. Prepare a special veteran cookie bag just for them. Remember to take pictures of the class and the child for a special keepsake.  

My class did this for the Fourth of July but it looks awesome for veterans. Use streamers to decorate your fence. Hang a sign that says "We appreciate You".

Here's a completed flag on our outside play area. 

We also used this same streamer for the Fourth of July, it's still appropriate to create a letter 
"T" for "Thanks". 

A Patriotic "Thank You" hat to wear home. 

Use red, white and blue craft items to create a unique collage gift. 

 Hope you encourage your preschoolers to say
Happy Veterans Day,

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Displaying Books for Preschoolers

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall."
                                                                                           — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

You may not throw the TV away, but there's no reason you shouldn't have a book display. One of the easiest ways to get your preschooler interested in books and reading is to create a display for books. This is an essential in any preschool classroom but takes a little effort  in your home or home day care.

  1. Find a some-what secluded area. 
  2. Gather as many different kinds of books as you can.
  3. Store them on a small shelf, shoe rack, or crate facing forward. 
    If you have to use a crate leave enough space so the fronts of the books are visible. 
  4. Provide books related to the season, theme or event in the child(ren)s life. 
  5. Change out books accordingly, leave the favorite books to be read again and again.

After I wrote this post one of my Anonymous readers suggested I check out book slings.
If you're feeling pretty crafty you should check out "book slings" too. They seem fairly easy, fun and you can customize them too.

Head over to Penny Carnival to get instructions on making a book sling.

I also found some great display ideas at

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Climbing in Preschool

In almost every preschool the monkey bars are a big hit. There is something so free-ing about climbing to the top and looking down on spectators. It's magical to monkey from one side all the way to the other side.

A few years ago, a students in the preschool where I worked at fell off the monkey bars and knocked out her front tooth. The teachers on the playground were beside themselves with worry. Thankfully, the parents were completely understanding, since she was the "tom boy" of the family. After she was all cleaned up and the space where her tooth had been finally stopped bleeding she was back on the  monkey bar again. Understandably, her teacher shrieked with fear and ordered her "down from there".  It was a long time after that before any kids were allowed to climb those monkey bars. Here are some "ups" and "downs" to consider when using or installing monkey bars that will make them and keep them a big hit.

The Downs

  • If children aren't properly supervised there is always an increased chance of injury
  • Callused hands; from holding the equipment so tightly 
  • Bruises; from bumping the equipment
  • Injuries to the mouth
  • Falling
  • Sprains
  • Broken bones

The Ups

  • Climbing is Fun
  • Exercise
  • It's a work-out they probably wouldn't get a home
  • Builds confidence
  • Can be solitary, parallel, associative or cooperative play
  • Provide opportunities to come up with new ways to use the same equipment
Here are some tips to keep you from going bananas
  • Always check the equipment for safety before you allow children to play on it
  • Always ensure there is enough ground covering under the play equipment
  • Always discuss your expectations on the play equipment
  • Stand close by and be ready to lend a hand
  • Encouragement from you improves their confidence and lessens the chance of injury
  • Limit the amount of children on the monkey bars at one time
  • Remind and model taking turns

Unfortunately, there's a chance there will still be accidents. You can do everything right and there's still bound to be some bumps and bruises along the way. The most important thing is you're informed, prepared and ready to take action. 

Here's to the "up" and "downs" of climbing in Preschool,