Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Cyber Monday

It's become a tradition around here for me to share my TPT wishlist before each sale, today's the big sale day so here's what's on my list.  After you've seen what I'm buying make sure to head on over to Teachers Pay Teachers and pick up some great stuff for your classroom (don't forget to add code TPTCYBER)

I love everything that Cherry Workshop creates, which makes it incredibly difficult to pick just one item from this store, so I didn't.  My favorite winter/Christmas products from Cherry Workshop are; 
  • Patterned Christmas Ornaments: These would be perfect for matching, classifying, patterning, and sorting activities.
  • Christmas Borders and Frames: I can't tell you how many pieces of paper go home during the holidays - notes, letters, invitations, donation requests, holiday party information... I feel like I am constantly trying to make all of these pieces of paper look different and hopefully nice enough that parents will pay attention to all of them.  These frames would save me so much time!
  • Christmas Numbers Clip Art: I'm a sucker for clip art, but these would be really useful in the classroom.  I do everything that I can to make math and number work fun, and I don't know how a preschooler could resist work with fun numbers like these. 
  • Penguin Clipart: These are just really really cute, and I love that they are really more winter-themed than Christmas themed which means I can use them in my classroom for months, instead of just a couple of weeks. 

I love Jamie from Play to Learn Preschool, and I think she is a genius for dreaming up these Dramatic Play Sets.  They include all kinds of dramatic play printables like role play name tags, tickets, receipts, menus, and environmental printables like tags, labels, and decorations.  Essentially, it's everything that you need for a themed dramatic play center.  The bundle includes 6 different themed sets, and even for the regular price of $12 I still consider it a huge deal!

One of the stores that I've recently discovered is called Pink Oatmeal.  All of the products are created by a school-based physical therapist, she really gets how important it is for kids to move throughout the day and she has found tons of ways to make it fun.  This Christmas Brain Breaks set includes cards that tell you how to do yoga poses that are all Christmas themed like elf pose and reindeer pose.  My kiddos will love it!

This Christmas Play Dough Mat set is one of the best I've seen, simply because little ones won't be able to resist the graphics and opportunities for creative exploration.  Children can use play dough to create an outfit for Santa, feed the reindeer, and decorate a Christmas tree, great ideas from Teaching Preschoolers!

As is tradition, I'm also sharing the one item from my store that I would absolutely buy.  This time of year, my holiday decoration sets are invaluable because they save so much time! Each set includes a banner, cupcake picks (or stickers), a door decoration, treat bag toppers, name cards, and a class activity.  These make class parties so easy, I have one available for Christmas and for Winter so you can choose whichever one works best for your school's holiday party regulations. 

Thanks for stopping by to check out my wishlist, now go shopping and stop back to tell me what you bought!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Big sale news!

I hope that you haven't used all of your shopping energy already, because TPT is having a BIG sale.  Mark your calendars for Cyber Monday AND Tuesday - yep, two days of sales on awesome stuff for your classroom, it really is the most wonderful time of the year!

The month of December is chaotic, it just is, but I can help you with your lesson plans and holiday parties, which means less time spent planning! Check out my winter activities, they're all on sale for two days!

Don't forget to enter the code TPTCYBER for extra savings! Happy shopping!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Freebie - Black Friday DOUBLE Freebie!

Happy Black Friday! Thanksgiving is over and it is officially the Christmas season (in case you didn't know!).  I'm putting up my Christmas decorations today so I thought I'd share two cute Christmas Countdown freebies with you - and no worries, one of them include a "Winter Countdown" if you want to (or need to) be politically correct.

This Santa Countdown is awesome because it's interactive.  Each day your students can glue a cotton ball to Santa's beard until his beard is full and Christmas is here. What a super cute idea from Speech Sprouts!

These Countdown Posters couldn't be easier to use, there are four posters to chose from, you pick one, laminate it, and then use a dry erase marker to change the number each day.  These are from Always First with Sue Lynch.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, we're that much closer to winter break!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you are enjoying your day with family and friends - I know I'll be spending mine eating way too much!

Made on Tagxedo

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Preschoolers

If there is one thing that I've become really good at, it's recommending great gifts for little ones. This is the perfect time of year put my expertise to good use, and share my knowledge with you!  This guide is a list of things that any preschooler on your list (and their parents) will love.  You'll notice that there are a few brands I'm in love with, these are brands that I know are high quality because I've used them in classrooms, and I've seen them live through the crazy things that little ones like to do to them.

All of the links are Amazon affiliate links, but many of these items can also be purchase locally (Target and Ikea are my favorite places to shop for toys).

B. Pop-Arty Beads
Pop beads were one of my favorite toys when I was little, and some things never change. My students love beads, and these let kids get creative without having to worry about string.  The best thing about these is that they can be used over and over again to create endless patterns.  They are also great for improving fine motor skills.

Magna Tiles continue to make my gift list year after year simply because my students cannot get enough of them.  They would honestly play with these all day long if I let them, and to me, that means they're a great toy.

Melissa and Doug Role Play Costume Bundle
Dress up clothes are a really great gift.  I love the sets from Melissa and Doug because everything you need is included in one kit.  I also love that they offer so many occupational sets. THere's nothing wrong with dressing up like a princess, but sometimes it's fun to be a firefighter too.  Kids need possibilities!

Edushape Wood-Like Soft Blocks
I just got a set of these for my classroom and I absolutely love them.  They look like wood, but they are foam, which makes them easier to clean up, because they are not quite as heavy.  If my students want to build the "tallest tower ever" I don't worry about them falling onto anyone because I know that these won't hurt.

Tonka Chuck and Friends Mini Trucks
If I put out all of the different cars that we have at school, my students would all choose these to play with.  I don't know if it's the great faces, the bright colors, or the fact that they are slightly soft, but these are by far my preschoolers' favorite cars.  They are a little expensive on Amazon, but I found our at Big Lots, so they don't have to break the bank.

Pigeon Pack 4 Book Set
If you want to make a preschooler giggle just read them a Pigeon book. Mo Willems speaks fluent preschooler, and my students think that these books are the funniest stories ever.

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set
This set has everything that your budding scientist could need.  It is a great way to encourage pretend play and basic scientific discovery.  My students love to look at everything in the magnifying glass (the kickstand is an awesome feature!), and the other tools - eye dropper and tweezers - are great for encouraging fine motor skills.

Melissa & Doug Pots and Pans Set
I love this set because it is so realistic.  They look just like a mini version of a high quality stainless steel set (they also look like they could take a beating and be just fine).  Any preschooler would love to help prepare dinner with these.

Crayola Creativity Tub
You can't go wrong with some great Crayola art supplies. Even kids who got new supplies at back to school time will be ready for more new supplies by Christmas.  New markers, crayons, and a great sketch pad are an easy gift that any kid will love.

Digital Camera
My students love to take pictures with my camera, and I think that it is a really great way for them to express their view of the world.  If I gave them a "kid camera" they would look at me like I was crazy, they would much rather use mine, so if you are considering getting a camera for your preschooler I would say get the cheap digital camera, it is probably a very similar price to the "kids camera" and your child is much more likely to use it if it looks like yours!

These are all perfect gifts for preschoolers, if you are looking for a gift for an infant or toddler, check out the Infant Toddler Gift Guide that I posted yesterday! If you have a teacher on your shopping list be sure to check out my Favorite Things: Preschool Teacher Edition!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Infants and Toddlers

If there is one thing that I've become really good at, it's recommending great gifts for little ones. This is the perfect time of year put my expertise to good use, and share my knowledge with you!  This guide is a list of things that any infant or toddler on your list (and their parents) will love.  You'll notice that there are a few brands I'm in love with, these are brands that I know are high quality because I've used them in classrooms, and I've seen them live through the crazy things that little ones like to do to them.

All of the links are Amazon affiliate links, but many of these items can also be purchase locally (Target and Ikea are my favorite places to shop for toys).

Hape Fantasia Blocks Train
I love Hape, Their toys are developmentally appropriate, beautiful, and made with sustainable materials.  Many of their toys can be used differently at various ages, which makes them toys that children will play with for many many years.  This set is a train, so children can make it "drive" across the floor, but it also includes blocks that can be mixed and matched to create a number of different "looks" for the train.  This is the perfect toy for building fine motor skills in young children (as they practice putting the blocks on the pegs), and visual discrimination in other children (ask them to find a block by describing the pattern on the block).  As with any toy, it does contain some small parts, so you'll want to make sure that you supervise young children who are using this toy.

B. Elemenosqueeze Blocks
My favorite thing about B. Toys are the materials and colors that they use. I really want to play with all of the toys right along with the kids.  These blocks are amazing because they are soft (so they can be thrown or dropped without worry), but they are sturdy enough to build with, so there is very little frustration associated with using them.

Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Chunky Puzzle
Melissa & Doug Chunky Puzzles are my all-time favorite gift for very young children.  These puzzles grow with little ones because the pieces are thick enough to play with on their own - so even though the child may not be able to do the puzzle, they can still play with the pieces.

Ikea 14-piece Soft Vegetables Set
The Ikea soft food sets are my favorite play food for all ages. I love that they are aesthetically pleasing, and they come with their own cute baskets, so they can be left out and still look tidy.  None of the pieces are small enough to be chocking hazards, and they hold up well in the washing machine.  There are a number of different sets available, including; vegetables, fruits, baked goods, and salmon.

BabyLit® Board Books
Board books are always a good choice, they are durable and easy for little ones to carry around.  THe Baby Lit series is so much fun.  The titles are classics, but the content is all developmentally appropriate, for example, A Christmas Carol is all about colors, the colors are introduced using classic Christmas illustrations.

HABA Toot-Toot Rattle Clutching Toy
HABA is another brand that delivers great quality every time. I love the resurgence of wooden toys, and they could not be more beautifully made.  This rattle is so cute, and it looks like fun too.  Infants are notoriously hard to buy for because they don't play with much, and they only need so many clothes, but this is a great little gift that will definitely get used.

aden + anais Organic Muslin Swaddle Blanket
aden+anais blankets are the best.  They can be pricey, but they are big enough for children to continue using as they grow.  Many of my preschoolers use the swaddle blankets that they loved as babies now for nap blankets.  These blankets are super soft, and they come in the best designs, I would have no problem leaving them all over the house!

B. Wheeee-ls
These are my favorite cars for little ones (I actually bought them for my nephew for Christmas this year, but don't tell!).  They are chunky, which makes them easy to hold onto, and they're soft.  They have bells in the wheels, so children can hear them as they play with them, which makes for a multi-sensory experience.

Hape Walk-A-Long Croc
Pull toys are great fun for little ones who've just started walking, and who could resist this cute crocodile?! Toys like this make practicing balance and coordination a lot of fun.

HABA Soft Doll
I have soft dolls and hard plastic dolls at school, and the children gravitate towards the soft dolls.  I love these HABA dolls, they are small enough for little ones to carry around easily.  Each doll has a fun outfit and different colors and lengths of hair.  HABA also offers boy dolls and clothing sets for the dolls.

Any one of these toys would make a great gift for the infants and toddlers on your list, they are all sure to be favorites for many years to come! Make sure to check back tomorrow for my preschool gift guide, and if you're looking for ideas for the teacher in your life, I have them here!