Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Have you heard of smilebox?

We have been searching for an easy way to share pictures with parents and we are in love with smilebox! It's an incredible website that lets you fill cute scrapbook, slide show, and photo album templates with your own photos and share them through email. Smilebox also lets you print your creations so we always print ours to have in the classroom as class books. Smilebox also has templates for newsletters, invitations, and stationary, and teachers can use it for FREE! It doesn't get better than that!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shadow puppets

Finding new materials to use on the light table is something that I always have a hard time with, but when I saw some gorgeous shadow puppets on pinterest I was psyched to try shadow puppets on the classroom. Some of my children have been talking about their own shadows, now that we have some spring sunshine, and I remember enjoying shadow play myself when I was very young.

If you search shadow puppets on pinterest you will find some very beautiful examples, but they were a bit too elaborate for my needs.

I made these by printing some clip art animal shapes and tracing them onto black card stock. Ours are glued onto wooden coffee stirrers left over from another class project, but Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, or plastic straws would work well too, I'm a big fan of using what you have!

Let's share, what have your made for your classroom recently?!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Uses for leftover plastic eggs

Here is a great idea for you after Easter clearance finds! We used our plastic eggs to make math matching game. Here are the super simple instructions: take two sets of plastic eggs, one large size and one mini size, match up the colors and place number stickers, matching numbers on matching colors.

This is an amazingly easy game that can be played in a number of different ways
1. Matching the large number eggs with the small number eggs, when you make a match you get to put the small egg inside the bigger one.
2. For your younger children just have them match the colors.
3. Add a smaller manipulative (ex:plastic beads) and have the children count the number of beads into the smaller eggs, then you can put the smaller egg inside the bigger egg.
4. Use them for visual addition- have the beads already inside of the eggs, the children can dump out the beads from 2 different eggs and count them all together.

How would you use these in your classroom?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A new alphabet activity

I'm not sure if you have ever used these, but I am in love with alphabet pasta! It is cheap, and super versatile. With our toddlers we would use it to explore textures, introducing it raw the first day so that they could feel the rough, bumpy, tiny little letters, and then cooking it for the second day to see how they reacted to the slimy, and sometimes sticky texture - it was mesmerizing.

Now that we have older children we have spent a lot of time focusing on letter recognition, and this was an obvious choice for a number of different activities. We did a letter hunt (can you find a B in the pile of letters?) We created a great printable for this, so that the children were able to keep track of all of the letters that they found.

I also did some brainstorming with random odds and ends from our donated art supplies, and we discovered a great new tool for the classroom - we made letter search tiles. We simply used Elmer's glue to stick the letter pasta (uncooked) to tile samples from the hardware store. Then we used tempera paint to make everything the same color (the metallic paint seemed to work the best). The children loved making these, and I can't wait to get them out for our writing shelf, then they can play "What letters can I find" whenever they want. They aren't available for the children yet because I'm thinking that I will add a quick layer of mod-podge on top just to be safe.

I apologize for the photo, it was taken on my phone, but you really are able to see all of the different letters!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Name Recognition and Large Motor...Together!

This was a new activity for our class and it was such a huge success that we did it every day this week, so I absolutely had to share it with you!

Each child got a balloon with their name written on one side, and their first initial on the other side. The children were told that they could do anything that they wanted with their balloon - they just had one rule to follow: They could not use someone else's balloon.

This meant that they had to recognize their name so that they were not accidentally taking someone else's balloon as they played.

The children threw their balloons, hit them like volleyballs, danced with them (we usually put music on when we did this), tossed them to each other, they played for half an hour or more each time, and not once did we have an argument about whose balloon was whose. The older children helped the younger ones, and they all managed to keep track of their own balloons.

Some notes about the activity:

- I made sure all of the balloons were the same color so there weren't arguments about color

- there were other "rules" (If you pop your balloon you don't get another one, the balloon doesn't go in your mouth, etc.) but we focused on the one major rule

- the children loved this activity because it was unstructured! we just let them move and play.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One of my favorite blogs

I am always looking for new printables for the classroom, and you probably know how difficult it can be to find high quality artwork for free - or maybe I'm just a cheap graphics snob. One of my very favorite teaching blog is actually written by two moms who spend a lot of time with their preschool age (and younger) children. These two wonderful ladies have created some amazing themed preschool packs that I faithfully print, cut out, laminate, and use in my classroom ALL THE TIME! You have got to check out Over the Big Moon and their Pre-K Packs, here's a photo of their autumn pack.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New games

After using all of my wonderful games and materials all last semester, they aren't looking so wonderful anymore. I know that if I feel this way about them, the kids must be too, so it's time to find some new things.

One of my favorite new finds is a game called POP!

The one pictured above is for sight words, but it is also available in a letter recognition/beginning sounds version. Each child draws a "kernel" when the choose their kernel they have to say what letter is on it - for more advanced children they have to give the sound that the letter makes. If they are correct then they get to keep their popcorn kernel, if they are wrong it goes back in the bucket. There are also a number of kernels that just say POP!, if a child draws one of these then all of their kernels go back in the bucket.

I've found the game on for $8.00, but rather than buying it I just made my own version - this way I could do a set of uppercase letters and a set of lowercase letters!

Please share some of your favorite new finds with me!