Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday - Leaf Man

Mrs. Jump's Class
Hi everyone! It's Tuesday so I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's Class for Book Talk Tuesday.  Today I'm sharing one of my favorite fall books - luckily I have enough favorites to get me through every week of autumn - but today it's Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.


All of Lois' books are amazing, her illustrating style is unique and it really speaks to children, and encourages their own creativity.  This book in particular contains illustrations that are made out of leaves.  This story opens up children's imaginations to all of the possible places that leaves can fly on the wind.  There are a number of activities that would go along with this perfectly, it could easily be a catalyst to an entire week of explorations.

After reading this book your class could explore the playground or neighborhood for different kinds of leaves, making sure to pay attention to different shapes and colors.  You could also begin a science project to follow leaves that are blowing in the wind, or attempt to blow leaves using a hair dryer.  Children could flatten and dry leaves that the class has collected, and then use these to create their own illustrations.  Of course they would have to write (or dictate) stories about their illustrations when the pictures are finished. You could ask your students to bring in leaves from home so that your class can compare the leaves they have in their own yards, and then you could use the internet to attempt to label the leaves.  This would be a great mini project!

Some of the other books by Lois Ehlert that I love are:
Eating the Alphabet
Planting a Rainbow
Snowballs

The Big Book version of Leaf Man will be available in October!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Countdown to the NAEYC Conference

I am so excited about this year's NAEYC Conference.  I attended my first NAEYC conference in 2010 and fell in love with the whole experience.  I love the sessions, I love the expo hall, I love meeting teachers from all over the country, and I love love love traveling with my favorite teachers! This year is especially important for me because I get to present.  I love public speaking (I know, I'm weird), and giving teachers new ideas that makes their jobs easier is just about my favorite thing, so I am super pumped (I mentioned that I'm excited right).

I got my badge in the mail this weekend and now it feels real, this is really happening!



My presentation is all about tech resources that teachers can find online and use for free.  Some of these are for communicating with parents and families, some are ideal for using in the classroom with the children, and others are perfect for collaborating with other teachers and getting ideas.  If you will be in Dallas for the conference I'd love to meet you - I'll be presenting Saturday Morning! You can register and see the rest of the sessions at NAEYC.org.  Follow my blog to hear more about my prep for the conference, live blogs from the conference, and conference recaps.  I'll also be posting my full presentation for free download in my TPT store (once I get it done!).

I hope to see many of you in 36 days!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Freebie


Yay for Friday.  This weekend is all about fall for me, high school footbal tonight and a fall bonfire party for my 4H club on Sunday, not to mention the tiny little town down the road is having their annual fall festival and flea market this weekend, so it feels like fall is officially here.


This freebie would be a great addition to the crockpot applesauce recipe that I shared yesterday.  The Apple Five Senses set from Kindergarten Lifestyle includes a mini poster for each of the five senses with words to help children describe apples. It also includes a black and white full page poster for each of the senses that children can fill in themselves - or that you could fill in as a class.  This is a great way to help students pay attention to all of the characteristics and properties of an apple.  Download this awesome freebie here and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Making applesauce with preschoolers


I'm not sure when it was decided that autumn means an in-depth study of apples in every single early childhood classroom in the country, but I'm certainly not one to buck tradition. One of my favorite apple activities to do with my preschoolers is to make homemade applesauce. 

Children love this activity because they get to eat the end product, so it's a great way to sneak in a ton of other learning opportunities. First there's the understanding that the applesauce they eat in their lunch every day actually comes from an apple that grows on a tree. This helps them begin to comprehend economic concepts such as food supply and scientific ideas like the plant cycle.

I encourage my students to help cut the apples with plastic knives. They are usually so honored to be allowed to use a knife that they treat them with the utmost respect. This is also a great opportunity to talk about personal safety practices, while encourage fine motor skills.

Once the apples have been cut we put them in the crockpot, along with a few more ingredients, and let the waiting begin! Here is the recipe that I use.
Insert recipe
The kids love that they can smell the applesauce cooking, and when we finally get to eat it, the warm, chunky applesauce is a real treat! Here is a freebie for you too; this is a great little note to send home to parents about your class' applesauce experience, along with the recipe so they can make it themselves. If you have a class trip to the orchard scheduled for this fall, be sure to include this activity following your trip to tie it all together!

Click to download!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Preschool Activities that meet Social Emotional Standards

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for some activities aligned to a specific standard.  This is the fourth week of this feature, and we're still on social emotional standards. (The Standards that I use every day, and am most comfortable with are Ohio's Early Learning Development Standards - you can review them here, however I've found that even if your State's standards differ, many of these activities can still be aligned similarly). Here we go!

Domain: Social Emotional Development
Strand: Self
Topic: Sense of Competence

This is one of those standards that can be difficult to plan activities for, because you can absolutely take steps to foster competence in your students, but often this happens organically during other planned activities. One way to approach this standard is to use it to focus on self help skills. These skills help children feel independent, and mastering them encourages students to attempt other, more challenging tasks on their own. Here are some great ideas for working on self help skills in the classroom:

Easy DIY Dressing Boards from Stir the Wonder

Button Board from Rockabye Butterfly

Water Pouring from Montessori Training

Buttoning Chain from Tips from a Typical Mom

All of these ideas can be made easily and included on a lesson plan.  Another great idea would be to create a closet in your dramatic play area so children can practice putting on shoes, zipping up jackets, and buttoning shirts.  You could also set up a dish washing station in your sensory table or put out a basket full of towels and blankets that children can practice folding.  These are all simple things that will help children strengthen their sense of competence. 



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book talk Tuesday - We're Going on a Leaf Hunt


Today I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's Class for Book talk Tuesday. Every year, this book finds a permanent place on my classroom bookshelf for the entire autumn season. My students love Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger.  

This book is perfect for preschoolers because it takes a story that they are already familiar with, and gives it an autumn twist. They are easily able to retell the story to themselves or each other after hearing me read it a few times. The pictures are also colorful, attractive and very descriptive. Books like this give young readers confidence in their beginning skills, making reading fun. 


I also love that it names specific trees, and the illustrations include the features of each of those trees, but the best thing about this book is that it is from Scholastic, and is currently featured in their September flier, so you can get a copy for your class for free with book order points!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Reggio Inspired Word Wall

I use vocabulary lists with my class all the time. They are a great way to keep track of the new words we have learned, and they help keep parents informed too. When I saw this word wall in one of our preschool classrooms I had to share the idea with you. It's a word wall with a Reggio twist - the kids helped the teacher decide which project- related vocabulary words to put on their wall, she wrote them, and then the children wrote them too. I think this is an awesome way to incorporate a traditional word wall, and make it effective and relevant for the children.


I'd love to know how you make vocabulary words visual and relevant in your classroom, please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Freebie


It has certainly felt like fall around here this week (of course it's supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow so...).  I'm beginning to see pumpkins on front steps, mums in flower pots, and all kinds of pumpkin flavored treats everywhere.  In honor of all that is fall, I wanted to share this freebie with you!


All of these adorable board game mats are from Jenny Bolay.  They are designed to be versatile, but the first idea that comes to my mind is that they would be perfect for dice games.  My students are just getting to the point where they are able to work together and take turns, so these short little game mats would be perfect for them! Download them here and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Autumn Play Dough Recipe (Version 2)

On Tuesday I shared my recipe for Apple Pie Play Dough. Today I've got one for Pumpkin Pie Play Dough - it's very, very, very similar.


This recipe is so easy, just mix the following ingredients in a large saucepan:
2 cups of flour
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tarter
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
food coloring (I used Wilton gel food coloring in copper, but you can use red and yellow liquid food coloring too)

stir over medium heat until the dough forms a uniform ball (it should look dry).  Place the play dough on the counter top and let it cool until you can touch it.  Knead it for a few minutes, and let it cool before putting it in an airtight container for storage.  

This recipe can also be made in an electric skillet if you want to do it in the classroom.  

These two recipes are great to have in your back pocket - you can use them for sensory activities (exploring scents and spices), but they are also wonderful for dramatic play (put them out with tin pie pans and spatulas), and for use with play dough mats for math and language activities.  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Preschool Activities that Meet Social Emotional Standards

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for some activities aligned to a specific standard.  This is the Third week of this feature, and we're still on social emotional standards. (The Standards that I use every day, and am most comfortable with are Ohio's Early Learning Development Standards - you can review them here, however I've found that even if your State's standards differ, many of these activities can still be aligned similarly). Here we go!

Domain: Social Emotional Development
Strand: Self
Topic: Self-Regulation

Ahhh Self-Regulation.  Teaching a class full of preschoolers to regulate and manage their feelings and impulses, trying to get little ones to think about the consequences of their actions and behaviors.  Do we really need to put this on the lesson plan? Don't we do this all day long, every single day of forever? That's probably why this is a hard standard to plan activities for, we do it so often, and so naturally, that when we have to sit down and actually think about it, it has the tendency to stump us.  I mean really, most of the adults I know can't regulate their impulses (I know I have trouble, especially when their are baked goods involved), so how do we teach three and four year olds to do it?

Here are a few activities that might help:

Create a "Calm Down Space" from Prek and K sharing 

Use a stuffed turtle (like Tucker) to remind kids to "tuck" in to themselves as they calm down.  From 2 Care 2 Teach 4 Kids

Yoga helps children regulate their bodies while still maintaining a level of physical activity. From Creekside Learning

Talk about what causes feelings with a "Jar full of Feelings" From Mosswood Connections

Visual cues for dealing with emotions from Erin Holleran

 Have students help you make a class set of "Cool Down Cubes." From Crafty Counselor Chick

Hopefully these ideas will be great additions to your emotional-regulation arsenal! I would love to hear any other suggestions, leave them in the comments!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Autumn Scented Play Dough (Version 1)

I love to make home-made play dough.  I love the colors of store bought play dough, but 1 can just isn't enough for the entire class, and it drives me nuts when the colors get mixed (I may be a bit OCD), my recipe makes a big batch, so everyone can use it at the same time.

In the fall I always make scented play dough because I love fall scents.  The recipe that I want to share with you today is for Apple Pie Play Dough (check back on Thursday for my Pumpkin Pie Play Dough Recipe!).  I love this recipe because it doesn't use a ton of salt or oil, which makes the play dough much more soft and less greasy.


This recipe is so easy, just mix the following ingredients in a large saucepan:
2 cups of flour
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tarter
1 tablespoon apple pie spice
food coloring (I used Wilton gel food coloring in burgundy, but you can use red liquid food coloring too)

stir over medium heat until the dough forms a uniform ball (it should look dry).  Place the play dough on the counter top and let it cool until you can touch it.  Knead it for a few minutes, and let it cool before putting it in an airtight container for storage.  

This recipe can also be made in an electric skillet if you want to do it in the classroom.  


For more great preschool recipes check out my classroom recipes pin board and stop back here on Thursday for my Pumpkin Pie Play Dough recipe. 


Monday, September 15, 2014

Autumn Bucket List

Here's my list of all the things that I want to do this fall:


What's on your list?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Freebie - Football Season


I'm not a huge sports fan, but there is something about football season that I just cannot resist.  I love the atmosphere of a football game, I love having the game on the television while I'm baking, and I love getting all decked out in my scarlet and gray on game day (Go Buckeyes!).  Today's Friday freebie is perfect for your classroom during football season. 

These football themed ten frames are from I is for Inspire (be sure to check out Jacqueline's store, she has a ton of great preschool stuff!).  I love this set because there is more to it than just the ten frames, she includes color word practice and writing opportunities for a comprehensive activity the encourages the practice of a number of different skills. 


Use the links above to download this great set, I'm off to make some chili, because nothing says fall like football and chili!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Preschool Activities for Autumn


The weather around here lately has been screaming AUTUMN and I am loving it! Fall is my favorite time of the year (we've had this discussion before - boots, sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, need I say more?!), and to celebrate, I wanted to share what's in my Autumn activity bundle.  Be sure to read all of the way through, I added a blog exclusive freebie for you too!


The Autumn Math and Literacy Activity Bundle includes the following activities (all are also available separately):


My Autumn Vocabulary Cards and Spelling Practice set includes the words  acorn, apple, leaf, corn, leaves, pumpkin, tree, orchard, squirrel, and turkey.



I usually include a letter match, but the Acorn Matching Set also lends itself to numbers and colors as well. Students have to match the acorn tops to the corresponding bottom.


I am in love with the Autumn Alphabet Book! There is an autumn word for every letter of the alphabet.  I'm working on adding one of these to all of my seasonal bundles.  


This bundle has two vocab sets (because I love autumn, duh!) The leaf set is smaller, and a great introduction to my vocabulary card sets.  


These Autumn Acorn Books are great for young children of any age.  Whether your students are telling you silly answers to write for them, or attempting to write their own factual answers, the opportunity to create their own books is a great way to motivate young writers. 



The Acorn Counting set asks students to count the correct number of acorns onto each tree.  It also includes a basket mat so that children can help their squirrel collect acorns and do simple addition when collecting acorns from more than one tree. 

I hope that you enjoy these activities, I know there are more than enough apple and pumpkin options available, so I tried my best to give you another option.  Let me know how you use them and what your students think!

Oh, and here it is - an autumn blog freebie! This is a leaf patterning set with a twist, the patterns are made on the tree branches, so it takes a little more concentration.  Children can also complete the patterns at the bottom of each page. Use this link to download a printable version. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Activities that meet social emotional standards


It's Wednesday, which means it's time for some activities aligned to a specific standard.  This is the second week of this feature, and we're still on social emotional standards. (The Standards that I use every day, and am most comfortable with are Ohio's Early Learning Development Standards - you can review them here, however I've found that even if your State's standards differ, many of these activities can still be aligned similarly).

Domain: Social Emotional Development
Strand: Self
Topic: Self-Concept

Celebrating and recognizing what makes us all different and unique is something that we feel compelled to do at certain times throughout the year, especially near holidays that promote cultural diversity.  For the youngest preschoolers, we should really do these kinds of activities more often, throughout the year.  These don't have to be heady discussions, they can be much simpler, like these activities:

Differences books from Things to Share and Remember

Characteristics book from Linda Martin on Pinterest

From Bright Horizons (The children mixed paint colors to create the right skin tones!)

From Sparklebox (These are meant for using playdough to make different emotions, but just adding the facial features is practicing self-concept by recognizing which features are required)

All About Me Glyph from Bright Concepts for Teachers

Please share some of your favorite activities for teaching self-concept and physical characteristics!





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Change is a good thing

From Spokenly

It took me a long time to feel this way, but after a year and a half of living my life in chaos and trying to be positive and see the silver lining ALL THE TIME, I think I actually get it.

I've been a little down for the last couple of weeks, you see, this is the first year that I haven't actually had my own class to welcome back to school.  While I know that I'm doing exactly what I'm really meant to be doing, and I love that I get to spend so much time working on projects that I'm really passionate about, It does make it a little harder to listen to all of my teacher friends talk about their new classes.

I thought the best thing I could do to make myself feel a little better about this new journey I'm on was to throw myself into a project that I could be really proud of.  So today I am so excited because today I get to share it with you!

Ta-da! Here's my new website! I'm going to share a few screenshots, but be sure to head over and check it out yourself at www.preschoolponderings.com.

The home page :)



Just a little about me (that is one of my favorite photos of myself, and let's be honest, there aren't a ton of photos of myself I love)


A showcase of some of my best sellers!


Links to all of my blog freebies - this way you don't have to sift through old blog posts to find the freebies.  I'm working on linking all of my Friday Freebies too.  


The contact page - an easy way to get a hold of me.  Plus, you can sign up for my monthly newsletter!


And the blog feed.  My newest posts will be available right on the website, and you'll always be able to click the link at the top of the page to go directly to the blog and access all of my old posts.  

This project was definitely the therapy that I needed.  It definitely reminded me that I have a lot of really wonderful things going on right now, and it motivated me to work on some of the other projects on my list!

[I used wix to build my site and host the domain.  All of the graphics on the site are from Erin Bradley Designs and Ashley Hughes.  The background is from the Cutest Blog on the Block.]