Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Freebie - The day after Halloween

Happy Friday and Happy Halloween! Isn't it wonderful when Halloween falls on a Friday (or even better, on a Saturday)?! It is so nice to know that you won't have to attempt to manage all of your kiddos on the day after Halloween, when they've all been up too late and are coming down of a sugar and adrenaline rush.  The freebie that I found for you today is the perfect activity for the day after Halloween.  

Mandy Neal's The Day After Halloween worksheet is a lifesaver.  It asks all of the questions that your students really want to answer on the day after Halloween.  Mandy suggests this as a partner activity, but I think it could be modified to be a great preschool circle time activity.  Take a minute to check out Mandy's Store, Teaching with Simplicity, and download this great freebie!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Halloween Costume

I'm really picky about costumes, I don't usually dress up for Halloween unless I can think of a costume that includes my regular clothes.  I love Halloween, I just have a really hard time making myself look silly on purpose - I know, I really need to loosen up.

I have a few (ok, a lot) of criteria when it comes to choosing a costume for school;
1. I have to feel comfortable wearing it at school (still slightly professional, appropriate, etc.)
2. I want others to know right away what I am, questions just make things awkward
3. I hate wearing hats, headbands, or headpieces of any kind
4. I am not putting make up on my face (other than the make up I wear every day)
5. I don't really do scary, in general I lean toward cute
6. If it's a full body suit (or furry), you can just forget it

I don't even think those are all my rules, but you get the idea.  This year I think I finally found the costume that I will wear for the rest of forever.  Ta-da:

Excuse my really bad cell phone photo, it was the best I could do.  I'm a candy corn! I love this outfit, I feel like I'm fully clothed, I still feel like the teacher, and it was super cheap and easy to make.  What are you going to be for Halloween? Do you wear costumes at school? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Let's Celebrate

I know it's Wednesday, and usually Wednesday is "Focus on the Standards" day, but today is special so we're going to do something a little different.  Today we're celebrating because this is my 200th post!!!!

Wow, 200 posts.  It's amazing to me that I've actually written about that many different things, but what is even more amazing is that people actually read what I've written.  So to thank all of you for reading and being so supportive I have some thing for you.

Because I am so thankful, I thought I would stick with that theme, and create something that you could also use for Thanksgiving.  Click this link to download some Thanksgiving graphics (please use them any way you wish, just be sure to link back to my blog!).  I don't consider myself a graphic artist by any means, but it's something that I like to play with every now and then. I hope that you enjoy them and are able to use them to create some great materials for your classroom (or your family celebration)!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday - Room on the Broom

It's time for one last Halloween book on Book Talk Tuesday! I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's class, and today I'm sharing Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson.

This book is super cute, and a great example of rhyme.  The witch keeps losing parts of her outfit, and every time she stops flying to find an accessory she picks up another animal passenger.  Your students will giggle when you get near the end, as you see just how many friends she can fit on the broom.  

I'm sure there's a great science/math weight and measurement activity that could go with this... give me a week or two and maybe I'll crank something out! Stop over at Mrs. Jump's class to see the rest of the great books that are linked up today!

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Halloween Candy Activity

My school did a local Halloween parade yesterday (so fun!) and I swiped some left over candy (can you believe we had left over candy?!) so that I could show you this fun activity. Of course, the more time I spent thinking about the activity, the more ideas I had, and then it became a printable, so you get a freebie too!

The idea is really simple, but it uses candy, so I guarantee your students will want to participate! Just gather a good variety of candy, and use the charts that I've made to help your students figure out which letters they can find on the candy wrappers.  You can write the names of the candy on the cart, or your students can do it themselves.  This activity is the best because you can really tailor it to the needs of your students. You could do it as a large group activity, passing out different candies to each child, and then asking them to tell you the letters that they see.  I've also included strips that allow you to put the name of just one candy on the chart, and your students can fill out the rest of the chart, completing one at a time.  This would be perfect for my students because they would be completely overwhelmed by all of the boxes on the larger chart.  Does all of that make sense, my brain is feeling a bit mushy at the moment :) anyway here, you can check it out for yourself.  Click this link to download your copy!

This activity is also great for the week after Halloween. I really like to keep my Halloween activities out for a few days, even after the holiday is over because my students get so excited for Halloween, they need a little time to say goodbye to it before we move on and start thinking about Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the freebie and let me know what you think in the comments!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday freebie - Glue Ghosts

Happy Friday! Today's freebie comes with an activity, so first - here's the freebie:

This ghost clipart set is from Teaching in the Tongas, and they could be used for so many things; activities for your classroom, Halloween party invitations, or on classroom treat bags, just to give you a few ideas.  But the activity that I'm sharing today was one of my favorites when I was little, and my students absolutely love it too.

Have you ever made glue ghosts? It is so simple! Print one of these cute ghosts and place it under a sheet of waxed paper, then children can squeeze white glue over the top of the ghost shape (tracing the outline and filling it in completely).  When the ghost is dry you can peel it off the waxed paper.  Here is a picture of a glue ghost necklace from Martha Stewart Living:

If you want your students to get a little more artistic, simply put down a sheet of waxed paper without the clip art ghosts underneath, then children can create their own ghosts.  When I did this with my students last year they asked to do it over, and over, and over. We must've made ghosts for three days! It's a great fine motor activity, and it takes a lot of concentration to make sure the glue is going where they want it to.  Have fun trying this out with your students and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Super simple Halloween treat bags

This year my students are going to get to participate in trick or treating sponsored by our local businesses.  We've never done this before, so I'm trying to think of all of the different variables and factors that we might need to plan for.  One of the things that I'm glad I remembered was that we need treat bags for all of their goodies.

I've been searching stores for Halloween treat bags with handles, but apparently they don't exist.  We could always use grocery bags, but you know me, I've got to add my little bit of cute to everything. So what do I do when I can't find what I want, make it myself of course.

I used this pattern (awesome tutorial!) from The Elli Blog, and ended up with these little Halloween treat bags.  I can't promise that they'll hold up to the damage that my kiddos can do, but hopefully they'll make it through a couple of hours!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Preschool Activities that meet Social Emotional Activities

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for some activities aligned to a specific standard.  This is the eighth week of this feature, and can you believe it, this is the last of the Social Emotional Standards. We've made it all the way through an entire domain.  But, if you need more ideas, don't worry, I'm always adding to my Social Emotional Pinboard!  (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: Relationships
Topic: Empathy

Empathy.  That can be a pretty heavy concept for a preschooler.  Many preschoolers are still in a very egotistical stage - which is developmentally appropriate for young ones - but it can make teaching empathy extremely difficult because they just can't wrap their brains around the concept.  Here are some ideas for encouraging empathy in your classroom; 

Walking in their shoes from The Corner on Character

Toilet roll empathy dolls from The Craft Train

Teaching Empathy through Volunteerism from Kid World Citizen

Participate in the Magic Wand Project - from Kindness Girl

Empathy and Emotion Sorting from Erin Holleran

I love all of these ideas, please share any that you would like to add in the comments!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday - The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

I just realized that I only have two more Tuesdays before Halloween, which means I only get to choose two more Halloween books to share with you - how am I supposed to do that?!  Ok, I guess it's like triage, so today's pick is one that I read multiple times in the weeks before Halloween.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever (by Steven Kroll) is an older book, and it's kind of long for preschoolers, but for some reason my students request it over and over.  It's a sweet story about two mice who have been trying to grow the biggest pumpkin for the annual pumpkin festival, but each mouse thinks they are working alone (one takes care of the pumpkin during the day, and the other takes care of it at night).  The children love the way that the mice sneak around, and always seem to miss each other.

Eventually the mice realize that they've had help, and they decide to work together and share the pumpkin (gotta love a story about working together and sharing!).  This book has such a great moral that I can't say no when my students beg me to read it.  The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is a Halloween staple in my classroom, I promise it will be a celebrated addition to yours!

I'm linking up this post with Mrs. Jump's Class, make sure to stop over there and check out some other great books!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Teaching preschoolers about germs

It's that time of year, cold and flue season has arrived.  This is one season that I'd prefer we just skip (and I don't think I'm the only one who feels that way).  I clean like a crazy person, Clorox wipes are my favorite thing, but there a few things that my little friends can do to help, like wash their hands for goodness sakes! I can't stand at the sink all day long and make sure they use soap and scrub, so I needed an activity that would really make an impression on them, so that they want to wash correctly every single time.

I looked for ideas on Pinterest, and found a great product that you put on your hands and then shake hands, and touch things in the classroom, then you use a black light to see where all of the product has been left.  I think it's awesome that someone has come up with a product like this, and it's a great teaching tool, but I can't buy every awesome product, plus the black light doesn't really work in my classroom because there is too much natural light.  I also saw a similar activity that used powdered tempera paint, but I wasn't willing to get tempera all over everything.  Then it hit me, glitter!

Glitter gets everywhere, everyone knows this, and each little piece of glitter is so small that the children would really be able to imagine that they were germs.  The idea behind this activity is really simple, you put a small amount of glitter on your hands and rub it around (if your hands are clammy it will stick, otherwise you may need to use a little lotion or hand sanitizer), then you shake hands with one of the children, and they shake hands with someone else, or touch something in the classroom.  This activity is a great visual example of how germs travel, and how they end up places that we don't mean for them to.  This activity could also be done with a different color of glitter for each child, so that the students can see where "their germs" ended up throughout the day.

When you are done, this transitions into a great hand washing lesson, because anyone who has used glitter before can tell you that it isn't easy to get off, so your students will really have to scrub! Here are a few other tips for glitter germs from Little Miss Kindergarten, and some other great Germ-related activities from Kids Activities Blog!

Photo from Amazon - get your glitter here

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Amazing Celebration!

My friend Jamie from Play to Learn Preschool is celebrating her Teachers Pay Teachers Anniversary in a huge way! She's put together a giant bundle full of resources (30 resources to be exact) from some awesome TPT sellers.  The bundle is only going to be available this week, and every single cent that Jamie makes is going to be donated to charity. Take a minute to check out all of the great products in this bundle, along with the charities that will benefit, and then head over to download Jamie's Pay it Forward Bundle!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Freebie - Halloween Safety Book

Happy Friday! I am so excited about today's freebie that I want to shout it from the rooftops - I am going to personally share this activity book with every single student, teacher, and parent that I know because the information is important, and the delivery is oh so developmentally appropriate.

Today's freebie is a Halloween Safety booklet from Miss Kindergarten Love (LOVE HER!).  The booklet includes great reminders for students and parents, such as making sure to check candy before it gets eaten, use a flashlight or reflective tape so that you can be seen, think about using makeup instead of wearing a mask so that you are able to see better.  The book is also interactive, asking children to complete a specific activity on each page, which helps to ensure that children retain the information because they connect the ideas with the activity they completed in a meaningful way.

Please please please go download this freebie, and spread the word because it is an incredible idea, and a fun way to remind children to be safe - this is absolutely going to be a part of my classroom Halloween party.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Decorations for the Classroom

I love to change up my decorations at home to go with the seasons, but I've never really done it at school, mostly because I can't afford to buy decorations for home and school - and because I don't have a place to store those decorations.  BUT that's all about to change.

I really wanted to do something cute for Halloween, so I created a super cute set of matching classroom decorations - bunting for the wall, cupcake toppers (or stickers), treat bag toppers, name tags, a door decoration, and instructions for a class Halloween wreath.  Not only will my classroom look cute, but for the first time ever, I won't be scrambling to find cute bits and pieces for my class party.

My favorite thing about this set is that it can all be easily stored in a file folder or a ziploc bag, plus, it's a digital file too - so I can always print pieces again.  It is a lot of cutting, but if you have a parent volunteer to help you then it's the perfect job for them (you'll have control over the party decorations and your volunteers will feel like they get to help - the best of both worlds!).  

After finishing my Halloween set I knew I didn't want to leave anyone out - so I created an autumn decoration set (for those who don't do holidays at school), and then I did a set for Thanksgiving too.  No worries, there will be more Classroom Decoration Sets to come! You can download these three from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Wednesday, October 15, 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 seventh 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). I've rounded up some great ideas today!
Domain: Social Emotional Development
Strand: Relationships
Topic: Peer Interactions and Relationships

Peer interactions involve so much more than just playing together.  Children learn cooperative behaviors, negotiation skills, teamwork, and conflict resolution through repeated interaction and by watching others' interactions.  Here are some activities that encourage these skills:

This partner game is meant for Christmas, but could easily be adapted for any season - from Chicfluff

Lego Listening Game from Stories and Children

A ton of cooperative games from Moments A Day

Use teamwork to build something - this idea is from Joyful Learning in KC

Make a cooperative art project, like this one from Strong Start

Hopefully these ideas will give you a great start - in preschool almost any activity can involve peer interaction!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday

I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's Class for Book Talk Tuesday.  I love Halloween books, but my favorites are all pretty well known - The Little Old Lady Who Was not Afraid of Anything, It's Pumpkin Time, and Room on the Broom are all great books, but I really want to share new books with you.

Spooky is a board book from Roger Priddy, and while you may not recognize his name, his books are staples in infant, toddler, and preschool classrooms. Spooky is a touch and feel picture book that includes both simple illustrations and lifelike photographs.  It is a great way to introduce very young children to Halloween, and all of the words and images associated with it.

I love this book so much that I bought it for my nephew's first Halloween last year - and any teacher knows that the mark of a good book is that you'll buy it for your classroom AND your family members!

Make sure to stop over at Mrs. Jump's Class and check out some other great book suggestions!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Holiday Shopping on a Teacher's Budget

I accomplished a major task this weekend - I finished all of my Christmas shopping (I know, yes, it's October).  I love getting it all out of the way early because then I get to enjoy the holidays and do fun stuff like baking and watching holiday movies without worrying about when I'm going to pick up those last couple of gifts.

I usually have to spread out the gift-buying, waiting for my next pay check to pick up the rest of the presents on my list, but I tried something new this year and it worked so well that I had to share - I'll definitely be doing this again! The idea is simple - you put aside a little money each week, and by the end of the year you should have more than enough to complete your holiday shopping.

For this particular savings plan, the amount that you put away increases gradually each week, the first week you save one dollar.  The second week you add $2, and the third week $3, until the last week of the year when you add $52 and your total savings is $1,378.00.  That's a pretty incredible number! I originally saw this idea on The College Prepster with a great printable check sheet to help keep track of your savings.  I used that checklist this year, but I've designed my own for next year, and I'm going to share it with you so that you can start planning now!

You can download my savings tracker here.  There are a couple of things that worked for me this year that might help you out.  For starters, I put all of my savings in a jar dedicated just for this purpose.  This helped me to be really disciplined about not taking any money out before I needed it.  I was able to do all of my Christmas shopping in one weekend because for the first time in my life I actually had enough money.  Even though I'm done shopping, I'm still going to keep adding to the jar for the rest of the year - Maybe I'll be able to do something fun for myself with it!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Freebie - Tech Ebook

It's Friday! The freebie that I'm sharing with you today is one that I'm really excited about, mostly because I've put a ton of hours into it.  I created this Tech Resources E-book for my upcoming NAEYC Conference Presentation, and I want to share it with the entire world.  This book is full of clickable links and icons that will lead you to websites that I promise will make your job easier.  There are sites where you can create a class blog, share info and photos with families, and collaborate with other teachers. I've also included links to my favorite blogs, Pinterest boards, and websites for creating amazing displays and documentation.  

Even if you can't attend the conference, you can still share this freebie with all of your colleagues. There is sure to be something in it that will help you get your planning and parent communication done easier! Download it here!

Download the Tech E-book (for free!) from my TPT Store to access links to all of these sites and start exploring!