Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Teaching Patriotism

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays, I love spending time with my family and making time to just enjoy summer. I think this is probably true for most people, but there is more to this holiday than barbecues and fireworks, it's about pride and love for our country - Patriotism.  There is something about the 4th of July that makes us all feel united in celebrating together, no matter what state we are from, what age we are, or what we look like. 

There are many many ways to teach patriotism to young children, and celebrating the 4th of July is a great reason to talk about what it means to be patriotic with your own children, and your students.  Here are some tips and ideas for teaching patriotism;
  • Notice flags - in your neighborhood, on television, and at the store.  Then take time to talk about all of these flags, why do people fly them in their yards and wear them on their clothes.
  • Say the Pledge of Allegiance - practice the pledge together and then talk about why we say a pledge, what does it mean? This Pledge of Allegiance Printable is adorable!
  • Fly a flag at your home - If you have a flag pole talk about the rules associated with flying the flag (it shouldn't be flown during rain showers unless it is illuminated, etc. - this website lists all flag etiquette rules), if you do not have a flag pole brainstorm a creative way to display the flag at your home, such as a door or wall hanging, or a paper version for the refrigerator.  This pinboard has a ton of great ideas for patriotic crafts!
  • Volunteer - does your community display flags or special banners for the 4th? volunteer to help place or hang them, it will be fun for the entire family. 
  • Make a patriotic playlist - Music has a way of making me feel patriotic, one of my favorite things to do on the 4th is to listen to our local country station, they play patriotic songs all day long.  You can make your own playlist for the day, add your favorite version of the star spangled banner and check out this list for more inspiration.
All of these activities make patriotism (and the 4th of July) a lot of fun, you might even start some new traditions!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Quick and easy 4th of July activities

Where did June go?! The 4th of July is approaching just a little too quickly, and I know I'm not as ready for the holiday as I'd like to be, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite ideas from last year to help us all prepare for upcoming patriotic parties and picnics!

Check out this post from last year, it's full of game, snacks, and crafts that are perfect for celebrating Independence day with little ones!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Freebie - Summer Graphics

Happy Friday! It's been a week, let me tell you - but I'm off on another camping trip this weekend and looking forward to relaxing a little!

I have two freebies for you today, I figured since I'm sharing graphics I'd give you papers and clip art so you can make something fun!

This beachy clip art set is from Graphics from the Pond. I love the sketchy look, and it comes with background scenes.  This would be great for learning activities or summer scrapbook pages!

The summer paper set is from Teaching Super Power.  The bright colors are perfect with the clip art set, and make me wish summer would stick around a little longer.

Enjoy your last weekend in June and have a little fun with these graphics!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Language and Comprehension activities for Preschool

It's Wednesday, and here at Preschool Ponderings, that means time to focus on the standards.  Every Wednesday I choose an Early Learning Standard and share a number of activities that can be aligned with that particular standard.  Remember, 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: Language and Literacy
Strand: Listening and Speaking
Topic: Receptive Language and Comprehension

This standard is all about listening and understanding, for preschoolers it focuses on understanding complex sentences, asking the meaning of unfamiliar words, and following two-step directions.  Here are some great activities for practicing this standard; 

This drawing game requires kids to listen and follow directions

Practice listening and comprehension with animal sounds

Great information about auditory processing and a game to try

You probably work on listening skills every single day, with these activities you can put them on your lesson plan!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Water play with preschoolers

Most of the preschoolers that I know would be happy to play in the water all day, every day.  If this is true for your students, then you are probably looking for ways to keep water play fun and exciting.  If you do water play every day, you might try implementing a schedule with a different kind of water play each day - like this;
  • Monday - Wading pools
  • Tuesday - Water balloons
  • Wednesday - Sprinklers
  • Thursday - Ice play
  • Friday - Squirt guns
Doing something different each day gives children something to look forward too and breaks up the monotony.  It also gives you some guidance when planning the experiences that you want to introduce for each type of water play.  Here are some fun ideas for each of these types of water play (it's a long list, so get comfortable!);

Wading pools

Add shells to your wading pool for some beachy fun

Fill your pool with cut up pool noodles to encourage building and shape exploration

Give your wading pool a theme

Water Balloons


Build a PVC sprinkler that children can run through

Make an easy sprinkler out of a pool noodle

Put together a "tinker sprinkler" set - children can move the pipes and connectors to make the water move in different directions.

Ice Play

Squirt Guns

There are a ton of great water play activities here, I hope they keep you busy all summer long!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Water play with infants and toddlers

As the temperature heats up water play becomes more and more tempting.  There are definitely safe ways to introduce water play for infants and toddlers that are tons of fun.  As long as children are supervised when playing with water these activities are a great way to cool off and have a lot of fun!

One great way to introduce water play is with sponges and small bowls of water.  These are great for outdoor play because little ones can soak their sponges and then squeeze them right onto themselves.  This is a great way to explore cause and effect.  Here are some other great ideas for using sponges;

Sponge Balls
Sponges and Soap Suds
Sponge Necklaces

Splashing is a favorite activity for infants and toddlers.  You can create perfect splashing opportunities using shallow trays (or cookie sheets) full of water.  Child can use their hands, or other utensils like spatulas and flyswatters to see how far they can get the water to splash.

Little ones also love to dump and pour water, fill up small plastic containers with water and let the kiddos get wet!

This last idea is one that I am dreaming of trying (just because I think it looks like tons of fun, I would probably use it more than the kids).  Have you seen these water blobs?  Leisha over at Homemade Toast has a super easy tutorial for making one that looks like a ton of fun.  Can you imagine the little ones crawling all over this thing?

What are your favorite water play ideas? Check back tomorrow to see some great ideas for preschoolers and older kids!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Freebie - Ice cream writing

Happy Friday! It may be summer, but Fridays are still just as exciting.  There's something about knowing that the weekend is almost here that makes me feel great!

This week has been all about ice cream.  I shared Ice Cream Dramatic Play Ideas, gave you a new Ice Cream Recipe to try in the classroom, and shared my re-vamped Ice Cream Activities.  Now I have a cute ice cream freebie for you too.

This ice cream writing activity is from One Step Closer Teaching. It will help your students organize their summer plans, and give you a great writing project to share on an end of the year bulletin board.  Download your copy and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ice Cream Activities for Preschool

Have you ever explored ice cream in the classroom? It's an irresistible topic, and a great way to engage children in activities that include a ton of academic topics.  Here are some of my favorite ice cream activities to use with preschoolers; 

Ice Cream centers: This set includes 5 activities that are sure to keep your students busy (and probably giggling).  Children can create their own ice cream flavor and write about the ingredients, answer questions about ice cream, graph their favorite flavors, and complete an ice cream glyph.  It also includes a dice game where students get to roll the dice and collect cards to "build" an ice cream cone.  

Ice Cream Patterning: How cute is this patterning set?! It includes ice cream cones and sundae bowls where children can practice ab and aab patterns.  It also comes with empty bowls, cones, and plenty of ice cream scoops so children can complete patterns or create their own. 

Ice Cream Letter Match: I'm convinced that there is no better way to practice letter recognition than to use ice cream!  This activity asks children to match capital letter cones with lower case letter scoops, AND for a little extra, see if your students can match the cursive letter cherries too.

Count the scoops: This has been one of my favorite summer counting activities for years, and the idea is so simple.  The number on the cone corresponds with the number of scoops each cone gets.  The scoops are color coded to help student be successful - there is only one brown scoop, two light pink scoops, etc.

Ice Cream Vocabulary Cards: These vocabulary cards are my favorite way to introduce children to new ice cream flavors (we might even sample them!), and also to encourage writing practice.

These activities are sure to keep your students busy all week, but if you're looking for more great ideas, check out my other ice cream - related posts;
Making Ice Cream in the Classroom
Ice Cream Dramatic Play

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Exploring life science in preschool

It's Wednesday, and here at Preschool Ponderings, that means time to focus on the standards.  Every Wednesday I choose an Early Learning Standard and share a number of activities that can be aligned with that particular standard.  Remember, 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: Science
Strand: Life Science
Topic: Explorations of Living Things

This standard covers all concepts relating to plants and animals (I know, that's pretty broad).  This includes; animals and their habitats, insects, plants, plant and animal life cycles, the human body and bodily functions, and ecosystems.  Here are just a few ideas for meeting this standard - for more ideas be sure to follow my Preschool Science pin board. 

Observe tadpoles as you explore the life cycle of a frog

Put together a Sea Monkey ecosystem

Grow Morning Glories and explore the life cycle of a plant

The best way to meet this standard is to get outside and see what is happening.  How many living things can you find in your school's yard? How do you know that these things are living? How do all of these living things work together? These questions are important for children to be able to answer when exploring this standard. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Making Ice Cream in the Classroom

I've always been a fan of homemade ice cream, and last summer I shared my favorite recipe - coffee can ice cream, which I love to make with my students because they get to be a huge part of the process, and because it doesn't require access to a freezer.  I've been experimenting with a new ice cream recipe that would be perfect for the classroom and I wanted to share it with you!

This recipe only requires two ingredients (yay!) but you can add your favorite flavorings and toppings for something a little special.  It also needs time to set up in the freezer, so this is the perfect treat to make in the morning and enjoy in the afternoon (or the next day).  You'll need 2 cups of heavy cream and a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.

Use a stand mixer to whip the heavy cream, you want it to be light and fluffy just like whipped cream.  Set the whipped cream aside and open your can of sweetened condensed milk.  Pour it into a large bowl and add any fun candy or fruit pieces (mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, strawberries, be creative).  Now fold in the whipped cream so that it is mixed well, but still fluffy.

Scoop the entire mixture into a freezer safe container and let the ice cream harden in the freezer.  It doesn't make an extremely large amount, so you may want to double the recipe depending on the size of your class.

This is going to be my go-to recipe for home too, you can't go wrong with two ingredients!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ice Cream Dramatic Play

Last week was all about camping, and this week is Ice Cream! If I could only pick two dramatic play centers to set up all summer long they would be a camping trip and an ice cream parlor.  A camping trip is a great adventure, and an ice cream parlor is a dream come true!

I've rounded up some great ideas for your classroom ice cream parlor;

Maureen over at Spell Out Loud shares her ideas for ice cream scented play dough, and a super cute printable menu.

Lindsey from So Easy Being Green shows you how to make an ice cream parlor out of a cardboard box.

Sue over at One Time Through shares her ideas for pretend ice cream toppings - colored rice sprinkles and pom pom cherries, how cute!

Bernadette, from Rhythm of the Home gives instructions for creating fabric money for dramatic play. This would last so much longer than paper money!

If large props are your thing, Taming the Goblin has great ideas for building your own ice cream truck. 

And if you're still looking for some easy decor, check out my Ice Cream Classroom decorations!

I would love to know what you've used for an ice cream themed dramatic play space, please share your great ideas in the comments!