Thursday, December 31, 2015

One word resolution

For the last few years I've been practicing what I call a one word resolution.  The idea is that you select one word that sums up what you want to work towards for the year (here's my word from last year).  This year, my resolution is simply to care.

This sounds really easy right? You might be thinking that that's not really a resolution.  It's true, I think of myself as a naturally empathetic person, but this is about more than just being caring.  

When I say that I'm going to care, it covers so many parts of my life.  Professionally, I want to make sure that I care for the teacher I work with.  I want to be a shoulder to lean on, and really build relationships with them.  I have always loved supporting other teachers, so I am going to use my time a little more wisely and really extend all of myself and my resources to help them out.  Personally, I need to take some time to take care of myself and my relationships.  I work, a lot.  I feel guilty if I'm not working, and this is something that I've been battling this past year.  It's good to take a break, do something fun for myself, and spend time, quality time with the people that mean the most top me.  I'm going to care a little more about this next year.  

I could go on, but I'm sure you're not super interested in all of the ways that I'm going to take better care of my home, and work out more, blah, blah, blah.  However, I am interested in your resolutions, what is your word for 2016?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Explaining units of time to a preschooler

When we think about time as far as preschool standards are considered, we generally want to make sure that children can sequence daily events (i.e. breakfast comes first, then lunch, then dinner) and understand their own personal histories ("I'm four years old, but my birthday is tomorrow and then I'll be five").  Because preschoolers don't have a grat understanding of specific time concepts, explaining the idea of a new year can be really difficult.  In the past I just kind of blew over it, not wanting to confuse them, but it felt wrong not to use a common holiday as a teachable moment, so last year I created this What is a Year? set to help give my kiddos a visual understanding of different units of time and how they all fit together.

This entire set is really meant to focus on the vocabulary of different units of time.  I want my children to know what a month, day, year, minute, etc. are and be able to use the words correctly.  I also want them to understand that there are different words for different lengths of time.  The set includes vocabulary cards, fill in the blank cards (which you could use as a wipe off or a worksheet), a ring book, and a jumbo dice for dice games.  The activities give children the opportunity to practice each of the words in multiple ways, so that they can build understanding through variety and repetition.

You can get your set here, and while you're at it, here are some other great New Year products that I've created, and some fun preschool activities for a New Year's party.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's Activities for Preschoolers

I always love to share New year's activities, for a couple of reasons.  First, the Christmas let-down is a real thing, kiddos are bummed about the fact that they've looked forward to that big day and now it's over.  Planning special activities for New Year's Eve or New Year's day is a great way to help them look forward to something else, and realize that just because Christmas is over the fun doesn't have to end.  Second, the idea of a new year is a really abstract concept, celebrating the begining of the new year can help children attach a very real memory to what could otherwise be a vague idea.  Third, coming back to school after break is rough, so spending some time celebrating, or reflecting on family celebrations can make it just a little more fun.

Here are a few awesome ideas for starting the New Year off with a bang:

Bubble that little ones won' be able to get enough of - from Little Bins for Little Hands

Easy resolutions that preschoolers can understand - from Mrs. Lee's Kinder Kids

Make your own crystal ball for the countdown - from JDaniel4's Mom

DIY Noisemakers for midnight - from Learning Creating Living

Easy recyclable confetti poppers (these look like sooooo much fun!) - from the Tip Toe Fairy

These activities would be perfect for your kid-friendly New Year's Eve party, or for the first few days back to school.  DO you have any favorite New Year activities? Share them in the comments!

Monday, December 28, 2015

5 most popular posts of 2015

It's time to look back and the past year and think about all we've done, and what we would like to accomplish next year.  I thought I'd take a minute to share the 5 most popular posts of 2015 here at Preschool Ponderings to give you a little inspiration:

Get to know me better in September Currently

Learn how to make covers for your pinboards in A Pinterest Tip for Teachers

Start planning with my First week of Preschool Lesson Plans

I always think it's interesting to look back and see which posts you all liked the most, I can't wait to see which ones are popular next year, I've got some great ideas up my sleeve!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Break to do list

I'm officially on vacation! I haven't gotten to say those words in a very long time, and it feels great! I've got a lot to get done - aside from the usual holiday celebrating, here's what my break to-do list looks like;

There it is, I'm putting that list up so you can hold me accountable, so I don't spend my entire vacation sleeping in and shopping at Target! What's on your to-do list?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A little Christmas Magic

Whether you're already on break, or spending a couple more days in the classroom, here are some quotes from one of my favorite holiday movies to help get you in the mood to share the magic of the Christmas season.
From Jalipeno

Watching the Polar Express always makes me feel like a little kid, and it gives me perspective - we can believe whatever we want! That is truly the magic of the season.  What are your favorite Holiday movie quotes?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Reindeer food

I love to share the magic of the Christmas season, so whether I'm doing it with the children in my class, or all the kiddos in my personal life, reindeer food is always at the top of my holiday tradition list.  I made this cute little label so that you can dress up your bags.  Once you've got the bags ready, the reindeer food is the easy part.  Put out a few bowls of oats, Christmas sprinkles, colored sugar, or birdseed and let the children make their own magical mixtures!

Download your labels here and have a magical Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Freebie - Random Acts of Kindness

Happy almost Christmas Friday! Yesterday I shared a list of 10 ideas for community service activities that kids can be a part of before Christmas.  Today's freebie is a great companion.  

This Random Acts of Kindness set from Kreative in Kinder has 20 additional ideas for showing that you care.  Do these with your kiddos, or let them pick their own and surprise you!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sharing the spirit of the season with young children

The holiday season is a time for celebrating our blessings, but it is also important to spend some time giving to others.  As teachers and parents, it is also our job to help children learn the joy of giving.  Here are a few easy ways that you can serve the community with your children before Christmas;

  1. Clean out the closet - donate toys and clothes to Goodwill, or see if a local charity is collecting coats for the winter. 
  2. Pick out a toy to donate to Toys for Tots.
  3. Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen.
  4. Do something nice for your neighbors - bake cookies to leave on their doorstep or offer to shovel the sidewalk.
  5. Make cards for residents at a local nursing home.
  6. Shop for a gift card to donate to a domestic violence shelter.
  7. Collect canned goods for a local food bank.
  8. Bake Christmas cookies for your local police department or fire fighters.
  9. Put together travel-size toiletry kits for a homeless shelter.
  10. Purchase pet food and toys for a local animal shelter.
Choose a cause that your child has expressed interest in and help them show their support.  Ask them for their ideas and make sure to include them in any shopping, baking, or delivering!

A great holiday season is one that we share with others.  These are all great ideas for helping children show that they care about the people (and animals) in their community. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Preschool activities for Christmas

I am all for helping out other teachers, we need to stick together, especially at this point in the year.  Right now, it's extra difficult to keep the kiddos' attention, and I fully believe that the best way to handle the holiday season is to embrace it fully.  Christmas is all they want to talk about, so why not use that theme to sneak in some learning.

I thought I'd share all of my holiday freebies, along with the other great holiday resources from my store to give you all kinds of holiday activities to choose from right in one place.  There are a lot, so be sure to scroll ALL THE WAY down!

Wish Bells (FREEBIE)

That's 13 great resources to help keep your kiddos busy and engaged in learning during these weeks before Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Almost there!

I don't know about you, but I am struggling to stay motivated! The closer that we get to Christmas, the less I want to do any actually work.  I'd be completely content to bake cookies and watch Christmas movies right about now, but I've got 8 more actual work days to get through, so I figured I'd share some holiday motivation with all of you, just in case you need it too!

Here are a few quotes that are keeping me going while giving me perspective and helping my sense of humor!

The best thing about being so close to break is that every day gets us one day closer, what's getting you through?!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

My Favorite Holiday Things

I love posts that let me get a little personal and share some of myself with all of you, so I was exstatic to see this fun holiday linky from Southern Fried Teaching.  Here are some of my favorite holiday traditions:

  1. I love pop Christmas music, my favorites are Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by NSYNC, Mariah's All I want for Christmas is You, My Only Wish This Year by Britney Spears, and Cold December Night by Michael Buble. 
  2. I'm a huge fan of seasonal coffee, I cannot get enough Starbucks during the month of December! 
  3. I always watch a Muppet Christmas Carol while I'm frosting sugar cookies.  I still have the old VHS copy that I grew up watching so I have to drag out the VCR every year just so I can watch this movie.  I also put out all of my Christmas decorations on Black Friday, I work all by myself and spend the entire day transforming my house while I watch Hallmark Christmas movies. 
  4. When I was little we had a giant collection of Christmas stories that were all bound together in one book, the pages all had gold edges, and every night we would read one story together , making sure that we read all of them by the time Christmas eve came.  The book must've gotten misplaced once we got older, because I wanted to share the tradition with my class and we couldn't find it anywhere.  I finally found a copy on Amazon last year!
  5. Baking for people is how I show that I care, I make a huge batch off cookies and take a plate with me everywhere I go so I can share the love. 
  6. My favorite memories all revolve around decorating, I think because it ushers in the season.  Even though my sister and I are grown and have homes of our own we still spend a day at my parent's house decorating just like we used to do when we were little.  
  7. One year my sister and I both got a bean bag chair from Santa.  They took up so much space under the tree that it looked like we had tons of presents - they were all spilling out because there wasn't enough room for them under the tree.  We spent most of our holiday break watching movies from those bean bag chairs.  When I was 15 I also got my first cell phone for Christmas, I think that was the gift that I was most excited about, it was the first thing that I really really really wanted for Christmas.  
  8. We always used to make reindeer out of candy canes, I think it was the popular Christmas craft of the decade, because we did them at every club meeting, and in probably five different grades.  They were so easy too, you just took two candy canes and wrapped the bottoms in brown year, then you used pipe cleaners to make antlers and glued on google eyes and a red pom pom nose. I think my mom still has a collection of them with our Christmas ornaments. 
  9. My favorite holiday movie is the Polar Express.  It wasn't out when I was little, but I remember seeing it in the theater when it came out and I love the message.  I share it with my class every year because I want my kiddos to believe in magic for as long as possible!
  10. I love to shop for gifts in the little boutiques in my hometown.  They always have the most unique things, from cute tableware to handmade wall art, to ethically sourced textiles.  I can always find something special for everyone on my shopping list, and the small businesses have the best customer service!
  11. I think I've really only asked for one thing this year, I want a high quality set of wireless bluetooth speakers.  
  12. My favorite product in my TPT store is my Seasonal Classroom Decorations Bundle.  This is the one set that I would say has saved me so much time and made life a little bit easier.  I love holidays and decorating for holidays, but it usually takes up so much of my time, now I can print decorations and they all store flat in a file folder.  
Stop over at Southern Fried Teaching to see what some other great teacher bloggers have to say about their favorite holiday traditions!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Freebie - Christmas Kindness

Happy Friday! Every Friday brings us just a little closer to Christmas, just two more weeks, can you believe it?! This freebie is perfect for getting your class into the holiday spirit!

This freebie from Whimsy Workshop Teaching includes an adorable santa that has twelve acts of kindness written on his beard.  Each day trim off an act of kindness to complete as you count down to Christmas.  There is also a blank version included so that you can write your own acts of kindness if you want.  What a great way to teach your students what the season is really about! You still have time to start this, you may have to double up a couple days, depending on on many days of school you have left, but double the kindness is a good thing!

Enjoy your weekend, I hope it's festive!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Apparel for School

Do you wear holiday clothing to school? I generally try to keep at least one Christmas shirt on hand just to wear on party day.  The last few years we've had a holiday pj party, so I've been able to use my Christmas pajama, but this year I have multiple holiday events and my old Christmas tee doesn't fit anymore.  One of my coworkers had on the cutest holiday sweatshirt last week, and I loved the idea of a Christmas sweatshirt.  It can be festive without being too dressy.  I'm not an ugly sweater kind of person, I try to avoid looking ridiculous or calling attention to myself in any way, so I've been searching for the perfect Christmas sweatshirt all week.  I finally found it, and now I have to share so we can all be holiday twinkies.

I just ordered this sweatshirt (in red) from She Squats Clothing on Etsy.  It could not be more perfect.  It's cute enough that I will willingly wear it multiple times over the next couple of weeks - work holiday party, Christmas eve or Christmas day, and our holiday trip to the cabin - it also says nothing about Christmas, so I feel completely comfortable wearing it to work!

If you follow shesquatsclothing on instagram you can get coupon codes too! They also have some other really cute styles in their Etsy shop with quotes from popular holiday movies, be sure to check them out!

*This post was not sponsored, I just really love this top!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

20 Uses for seasonal ice cube molds

I bought these molds last year on after-Christmas clearance and forgot all about them until I pulled out my Christmas decorations, so now I'm brainstorming a list of different activities that I can do with them.  I'm hoping to do a week with the gingerbread molds and a week with the Christmas tree molds.  Here are the lists I've come up with so far (Amazon links are affiliates):

Sort colored buttons into the spaces
Sort Gingerbread Marshmallows
Use them to make cinnamon dough ornaments
Play with Gingerbread play dough
Make Cream Cheese Mints for the holidays
Use letter beads to spell 3-letter words in each space
Practice using eye droppers
Do a fizzing science experiment
Explore gingerbread spices with scented rice

Use tweezers and pom poms to decorate the trees
Make Christmas tree crayons
Practice color matching with mini ornaments
Make ice cubes for Christmas party punch
Count Pony Beads into the spaces
Use them in a split pea sensory table
Make Christmas tree sun catchers
Do a Christmas tree ice experiment
Sort mini jingle bells by color
Explore pine with pine-scented play dough

Do you have any ideas to add to my list? I'd love to hear all about them!