Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memorial Day Pinwheels

I have fond memories of summer days playing with pinwheels when I was a child and I love that they are so easy for preschoolers to make and explore.  These are a perfect project for Memorial Day because they can be taken to a parade or celebration and they are easy to color coordinate.

Start by collecting the following supplies:

  • Scrapbook paper or colored copy paper (avoid construction paper and card stock because they are too heavy to turn in the wind)
  • Sturdy plastic straws
  • Metal brads
Next, determine what size you want your finished pinwheel to be.  If you are using 12"x12" or 8"x8" scrapbook paper, which is already square, you will not have to trim it down.  If you are using copy paper or 8.5"x11" scrapbook paper then you will have to cut the paper down to a perfect square.  

Once your paper is square, use a ruler to locate the center of the square and mark it with a pencil.  Make a hole here with a push pin or thumbtack.  Then use your ruler to draw lines from each corner of the paper into the center of the square, stopping roughly 2 inches from the middle (see diagram below).

Cut down each of the diagonal lines, and then fold every other corner into the center of the square. 

Overlap the corners in the middle and use a metal brad to attach all of the layers of the paper to your straw.  

Here are some close up photos so that you can see a little better:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Connecting your class with service members

Memorial Day is the perfect time to think about engaging your students in a service project that is directed toward helping service members and their families.  Something that is easy for preschoolers to do is to draw pictures or create thank you cards for servicemen and women who are currently deployed.

After your class has created their cards, letters, or drawings you can connect with the following organizations to make sure that our service members receive them:

This project can also be a wonderful family engagement opportunity.  Set up a station for parents and family members to write letters at drop off or pick up so that your students can share the experience with their entire family.  

You may also consider reaching out to your families to see if they have any relatives currently serving in the armed forces.  If these family members are deployed you can send your letters, cards, and pictures directly to them, and they may even send a letter back to your class.  If one of your families knows a veteran or a service member who lives locally, this person may agree to come visit your class and answer the students' questions. 

These are experiences that will give children a better understanding of the holiday and help them connect it to their own lives.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Children's Books for Memorial Day

Memorial Day is one of those holidays that can be really difficult to explain to young children.  We all look forward to the unofficial start of summer, but we also want to recognize the true intent of the day, which is to honor our servicemen and women who have made sacrifices for our freedom.  Books are my favorite way to introduce this particular day, here are a few that I have used: (all links are affiliates)

Memorial Day Surprise by Theresa Martin Golding

F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison and Barbara Duke

Rolling Thunder by Kate Messner

Do you have a favorite book for Memorial Day, or even a favorite patriotic book? Feel free to share a link in the comments!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Freebie - Graduation Song

Happy Friday! Can you believe we're halfway through May?! This spring has flown by!

Today's freebie is perfect for those of you who are still planning your graduation ceremony. This adorable Graduation song from Miss Campos is sung to the tune of "Let It Go" (you know, from Frozen) so your children will have no problem getting into it.  It was written for Kindergarten graduation so you may have to make some minor changes to the lyrics, but it includes a power point with the words so the children can see them as you practice and sing along.  If you've already had your graduation ceremony this'll definitely want to tuck this one away for next year!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

DIY Graduation Tassels

Tassels are easy to make and a wonderful keepsake for any type of graduation ceremony.  Check out this tutorial from Style Inked, her step by step instructions make it so easy that you're preschoolers could probably make their own!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tips for a Smooth Graduation Ceremony

No Preschool Graduation ceremony will every run completely smoothly - your performers are preschoolers, they're bound to do something unpredictable, and sometimes these unpredictable moments are the most endearing parts of the entire ceremony.  There are still some things that you can do to help your students prepare and ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. Here are a few tips that have worked for me in the past;

  • Keep it short - the shorter your ceremony is, the less opportunity for something to go wrong.  You want it to be meaningful without being boring, while your audience is probably happy to sit and listen, your students will only pay attention for so long. Try not to go longer than your typical circle time, this way you know that your children will be able to handle it. 
  • Practice, practice, practice - In order for the children to do what they need to do, they need to know the exact order of events, and practice them enough times that they don't have to think about them too much.  Ideally, you should practice at least once every day for the entire week leading up to the ceremony so that it all becomes muscle memory.  If at all possible at least a couple of your practice sessions should be in the same space that you will use for the ceremony, especially if it will not be in your classroom.  This way the children will have time to get used to a different space, and it won't throw them off when you do the real thing. 
  • Identify where each child will sit or stand - If you are going to have the children sit or stand in a specific order, use their photos to mark these spots and then have them stand on their own picture, or sit in the chair with their picture.  This will give the children a visual cue of where they need to be, and help them stay there. 
  • Use other visual cues whenever possible - If you plan on having the children walk or move anywhere, use masking tape to mark arrows on the floor showing them the way. If you want them to stop in a certain place so that their families can take a photo, put a stop sign on the floor right where they should stop. These will help the children remember what they are supposed to do, even when in front of a large crowd. 
  • Talk to them about who is coming - Explain that there will be a lot of people there to watch them graduate, but all of these people are coming because they are proud of them and excited to watch them get their diplomas.  Make sure that they know that these are all people who love them, which will help prepare them for the crowd while calming their nerves and fears of being in front of such a large group. 
Do you have any tips that have saved the day? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Graduation Decorations

I know that I've professed my love for my printable classroom decoration sets before, but this Graduation Decoration Set is hands-down my favorite.  It coordinates so well with all of the other graduation materials that I use, and the printables included pack a big punch.  This one set includes the following:

  •  "Congratulations" bunting - a perfect backdrop for your ceremony stage or photo area 
  • Hello banner - for making sure that family members can find the ceremony location easily 
  • Cupcake picks- which can also be used as stickers, or as seals for your diplomas
  • Treat Bag Toppers - make ziploc bags look super fancy
  • Name Plates - great for marking the children's seats or reserving tables for their families
Save yourself a little stress and a lot of effort, go download this set now!