Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm a teacher - even during Christmas Break!

Each year I am grateful for the weeklong break after Christmas, and as most teachers will tell you, it is nearly impossible to go for the entire week without working on school work in some way, shape, or form. This year I am taking full advantage of the brand new Cricut that my little sister got for Christmas and the two of us teachers have planned a full day of classroom crafts. Here is what I will be working on - I promise to post what I am able to finish! (all ideas are linked on my Pinterest Preschool Board)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Baking in the classroom

I love to bake with my kids. It involves so many different learning experiences - sharing, waiting your turn, measuring ingredients, chemical reactions, temperature, vocabulary, and it is something that makes everyone smile. We are fortunate enough to have a fully equipped kitchen at our center, and we often bake things in the oven, but for truly special days I like to keep the excitement in the classroom.

The last two weeks we have been baking up a storm to prepare for the holidays. One of our favorite recipes so far has been reindeer cookies. These are super easy to make - we used pre-packaged cookie dough (it is easy and it is already circle shaped), the only other ingredients are red m&ms for the reindeer noses, chocolate chips for eyes, and pretzels for the reindeer's antlers. The children were able to put the different pieces of the reindeer's face on before we baked the cookies, but the most exciting part was being able to watch them bake. I knew that I would not be able to get out of the classroom to run to the kitchen and check on the cookies, so I brought my toaster oven to school with me. It did take quite a bit longer to bake because we could only do 3 cookies at a time, and there were some safety precautions that we had to take (along with a great discussion of how to be safe around things that are hot), but the children were also able to watch the entire baking process. And then we ate the cookies for snack!

Another of our baking endeavours has been mini donuts, we made these for our Polar Express Pajama Party. On Black Friday I picked up a Mini Donut Maker for $10. It is the perfect tool for preschool because the mini donuts only take 2 minutes to cook - talk about instant gratification! The children loved that they were able to make their own treats for the party, and we were able to decorate the donuts and give some as gifts to our Director, Secretary, and Cook! Now I wish I had picked up some of the other great little machines (the same company also has a cake pop maker, cupcake maker, waffle maker, whoopie pie maker, and mini pie maker), maybe next year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Counting candy canes

Here's a great activity for number recognition and counting - my kids were actually arguing over who would get to do this activity next - that's a great teacher moment!
Use a tray with seperate compartments (ours is a veggie tray left over from a class party) and place a different number in each compertment. I taped the numbers down so that they wouldn't move, and so they would be removeable, therefore I can change them when my kids have these particular number down. Then give the children different objects to count into the numbered compartments - at halloween we used candy corn, today we used candy canes. The miniature wrapped candy canes are perfect because there are no sticky fingers and no temptation to eat them!
The kids loved this activity, and it's a great partner activity, especially for children of differing abilities.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cute Cards!

If you are anything like me, your classroom has probably become consumed with projects having to do with Christmas; gifts for parents, fun activities for the kiddos, cards, ornaments, decorations, you know the drill.

Typically we go all out on our parents gifts - handmade gift, handmade wrapping paper, and a card to go with it all. I'm always looking for new card ideas, because I have a tendency to make things more difficult than they need to be. This year I found a super easy idea that the children love: Thumbprint reindeer

Here is a picture of the ornament that I was inspired by:

And here is one of the finished cards:

I can't wait to share these with the parents, they are sure to become a great family keepsake!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Parent gifts for the holidays!

Every year I make it my personal goal to help the children create gifts that their parents will appreciate. I have a couple of requirements when I am looking for ideas; They must be attractive, hold up well so that they can be appreciated for years, be useful yet unique, and they should be related to what we have been working on as a class. For example, 2 years ago the children were engaged in a rock project, so we wanted to do something with rocks - we found small, decorative landscaping rocks, glued them to pendants and strung them on ribbons for a pretty necklace that mom would actually wear. Last the children were exploring coffee so we made felt coffee sleeves and spoons dipped in chocolate. This year looked to be a little bit more difficult, the children have been working with constuction materials and tools, and I found the best idea on Pinterest (we LOVE Pinterest!):

They are candle-holders made of washers (instructions here). I did make a few adjustments to make this project more realistic for the preschoolers. Here are our final products:

They turned out great and the kiddos can't wait to give them to their parents! The next step is wrapping them, which brings me to great idea of the day #2: We picked up a bunch of flat rate boxes from the post office to wrap them in. The boxes are free - you don't pay for them unless you ship something in them!

Please share your holiday gift ideas, We would love to hear about them!