Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Freebie - Color Words

Happy Friday! I love typing those words, because I love it when Friday finally gets here, and because I love sharing freebies with you!

Since this week has been all about crayons, I thought I would share one of my favorite freebies that you can use your crayons with.  These color word practice sheets are easy for little ones to complete independently, and they promote color recognition and color word practice.  Go download your set and enjoy using them with your class!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Melted Crayon Activities

Melting crayons is pretty trendy right now, and while it can be a little messy for the classroom, there are still some really amazing activities that you can do with melted crayons.  PLUS, these activities are a great way to explore liquids, solids, color mixing, and temperature concepts.  Here are some perfect ideas for melted crayon activities;

Make your own crayons! Children are always more likely to use something that they made themselves, and it's a well known fact that no child wants to use a broken crayon.  Melting all of your broken crayons into new crayons is the perfect way to get rid of those broken crayons and create something that the children will be excited about.  Another benefit - unwrapping all of those broken crayons is a great fine motor activity!

I know that Easter isn't for a couple of months, but this activity is perfect for melted crayons because the crayons melt from the heat of the hard boiled egg.  There is no danger of crayon-related burns, and the eggs turn out beautifully!

I remember making these when I was little.  This project is ideal because little ones can be part of the entire process, from shaving the crayons to choosing where the want to place their shavings.  The teach can handle the iron, to minimize any risk, and then the final product can be cut into all kinds of shapes depending on the theme you're currently working on.  

Sun Melted Crayons

If you want to do melted crayon art but you'd rather not introduce a heat source into the classroom then turn your art project into a science experiment.  See how long it will take to soften the crayons in the sun, and then draw on something smooth like a cookie sheet or a ceramic plate.  

Do you have any other melted crayon ideas that are safe and appropriate for preschoolers? Feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Crayon Art for Preschool

I think that crayons are one of those art supplies that we take for granted.  They are always available, so we don't necessarily use them to their fullest.  There are SO MANY different things that you can do with crayons, so here are some great drawing activities for little ones to explore:

Use multiple crayons at one time

Tomorrow I'm sharing activities to try with melted crayons, so be sure to check back for more ideas!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fun Crayon Products

While I fully understand that preschool budgets can be tight, sometimes it's fun to splurge (or window shop).  Since this week is all about crayons I thought I'd share some fun crayon products for you all to drool over.  All links are affiliates, but I really love these items and I may have already purchased a few for myself!

Twistables Fun Effect Crayons Some are metallic, some are neon, some are multi-colored!

Crayola Triangular Crayons 8ct Yes, they promote proper grip, but let's be honest - the best thing about these is that they won't roll off the table!

Color Appeel Crayon How fun are these?! Not only are they really cute, but when the crayon starts to wear down, there's a string at the top that you pull to peel away the wrapping. 

Crayola Egg Shaped Crayons These are designed specifically to be easy to hold, they're perfect for older infants and young toddlers. 

Dry Erase Crayons, 8 count (98-5200) I didn't even know that this was a thing! I'm thinking they probably wouldn't wipe off as easily as markers, so not only would they be great for writing with, but wiping them off would take some fine motor muscles!

Bathtub Crayons How much fun would these be at the water table - or for summertime water play?!

Finger Crayons I think the kiddos would get a kick out of these!

Crayola Crayon Carver I actually saw this in the store the other day and had to do a double take.  This would be perfect for personalized party favors, making holiday gifts, or just marking names or initials on each child's crayons. 

Multicultural Crayons Every classroom needs these.

Crayola Meltdown Crayons These are made specifically to be used for projects where you have to melt the crayons, so your project will turn out every time.

Have you seen any other fun crayon products lately? I'd love to keep adding to my collection!

*This post was not sponsored by Crayola.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Crayon Storage

I'm starting something new for my little blog; the last week of each month I'm going to focus on a different art supply, and how you can use that supply with your kiddos. This week will be all about crayons, which seems really simple, but I have a promise I have a lot to say about crayons!

First and foremost, it's important to recognize that you don't have to use a specific type of crayon when you're working with little ones.  While it may be easier for your youngest students, or those with fine motor delays, to hold on to chubby crayons we also want to make sure that we are introducing regular sized crayons.  They provide a challenge, and are a similar circumference to most regular pencil that children will use when they do move to kindergarten.

Now that we've gotten that conversation out of the way, I wanted to share some different ways that you could store all of your crayons.  Here are some options for keeping them organized in your supply closets, and for making sure that children can access them easily when they're out on the shelf;

This one from Sugar Bee Crafts is one of the most popular on pinterest right now.  Its cute, it's recycled (yay for cheap!), and the color coding helps children easily find the crayon that they want while practicing color matching and sorting.  I also love that you could easily pick up the entire unit and put it in the middle of the table so that children can work together.  Here is a another great color coded option from Play Based Classroom

This one would be super easy for little ones to use properly, and you could probably scavenge your classroom to find all of the materials that you would need to make it.

Here's an idea that will help if you keep your crayons in a closet or in personal supply boxes:

Crayons will fit in a travel soap container! Thanks for the idea Mrs. King's Music Room.

Here are some other easy storage ideas:

  • Put out three or four plastic cups (a heavier plastic works best so that they aren't constantly falling over) and empty one box of crayons into each cup.  This way children can take the entire cup when they want to color and there will still be crayons left for others. 
  • use an over the door storage option (the kind that has pockets for shoes) and fill the pockets with boxes of crayons, markers, and colored pencils.  This makes it easy to see when you are running low on a specific supply. 
  • Use canning jars (or empty peanut butter jars if you'd rather have plastic) to store items in the closet, when you're ready to put them out on the shelf all you have to do is take the lid off. 
Do you have any tips or tricks for storing crayons? Share them in the comments!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Freebie - Weather I Spy

Happy Friday! This week kind of got away from me, there was just a little too much going on! I haven't posted as much this week, but I have been working on big things with some of my favorite products.  Tons of them are getting updates, so If you've purchased any from my TPT store make sure you take a minute to see if any of your purchases have updates!

Today's freebie is an activity that I could see myself sitting down to enjoy with the kiddos, its a Weather I Spy Counting set from Life Over C's.  There are so many different ways that you could use this fun, easy activity.  Children get to match objects, count and record how many of each object, and use new vocabulary words.  The fun pictures will attract your kiddos and keep their interest! Download your copy and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teachers Pay Teachers SALE!

Yup, you read that right, TPT is having a sale! It's happening today and tomorrow and it's the perfect time to stock up on everything that you'll need for the rest of the school year, so start planning ahead and get your shopping done now!

It's a tradition here at Preschool Ponderings for me to share my own wish list when there's a sale, so take a few minutes to see what I've got my eye on, and then go pick out some fun stuff of your own.  Remember to use the code START16 for extra savings.  

Here's my wish list:

This adorable Sharing is Caring poster set from Susan Luengen is a great way to start social emotional conversations with young children.  You could place the posters around the classroom, or use them during circle time to encourage discussion.  

An entire year of sensory bin activities in one product? Yes please! This sensory bin scavenger hunt bundle looks ah-mazing (and since it's from KTeacher Tiff, I know that it is actually awesome).  I don't know about you, but the sensory bin is one of those activities that causes me the most stress, so the opportunity to have someone else tell me exactly what to put in there is a beautiful thing!

I just discovered The Kiboomers, and I wish it hadn't taken me so long! They're albums include all of the preschool songs that I used to search the internet for (you know, all of the silly number songs and finger plays that go with every single holiday).  Plus, I don't actually have to sing them, the children can learn them from the included audio files.  Hallelujah! This Valentine's Day album is perfect for the upcoming holiday, and is sure to be one that I'll use for years to come. 

Those are the major buys on my wish list, but there are also some things in my store that are sure to make your life easier, for example; 

My Valentine's Day activity bundle includes enough activities for all of your centers leading up to Valentine's day.  Let me do the planning so that you have time to figure out that party!

All kinds of graduation goodies.  If you start planning now, the actual event won't be nearly as stressful, and you'll be able to really celebrate your kiddos' accomplishments.

My St. Patrick's day bundle is the most popular of all of my holiday bundles.  Little ones love St. Patrick's day, it gives them the opportunity to believe in magic and mischief.  You can use that to your advantage, and have a little fun while you explore all kinds of math and literacy activities.

What's on your wishlist?

Monday, January 18, 2016

3 Things that have changed the way I teach preschool

After teaching toddlers and preschoolers for nearly 10 years, I finally took the time to put all of the things I had learned into 3 different products.  These products incorporate all that I have learned from great mentors, as well as lessons that I had to learn myself.  Teaching is a journey, and all of us who've experienced it have something to share.  That's why it was so important for me to share my insights with all of you.

Here are the three products that have given my teaching purpose and direction:

Preschool Portfolio Pack:

I've used similar portfolios and checklists for years, but they've never been designed to work together.  The portfolio and the checklist that are included in my Preschool Portfolio Pack are both aligned to early learning development standards.  The portfolio should be used to collect data and evidence that will help you complete the checklist.  Both can follow the child over a number of years, to show growth and progress, as well as areas that need improvement.  The best thing about this portfolio pack is that the portfolio and the checklist can be completed and saved entirely on the computer, meaning that you don't have to store portfolios and keep track of checklists and files.  If you choose, you can keep them on a service like Google Drive or Dropbox, and then share them with parents digitally, so that they can review them whenever it is convenient.  This portfolio has been so helpful that I also created an Infant/Toddler version.

Inspire Curriculum:

When I first started teaching I worked at a Reggio inspired school.  I didn't know the Reggio philosophy, and I read a lot of books about it.  I learned a lot, but my biggest struggle was incorporating all of the best things from the Reggio philosophy, while still creating standards based lesson plans and following licensing and accreditation rules.  Not to mention continuing to meet parent's expectations about academics and kindergarten prep, while encouraging children to learn through exploration and follow their own interests.

The Inspire Curriculum includes all of the methods that I developed while exploring ways to mesh the Reggio Philosophy with American early learning expectations.  It's a framework for using children's interests to encourage not only creativity and exploration, but also language and literacy development, math and science concepts, and social emotional skills.  It includes the main principles of the Reggio Philosophy, observation, reflection, and documentation, as well as the early learning standards that guide preschool education in the US.

Encouraging Curiosity:

If the Inspire Curriculum is the framework for using the Reggio Philosophy in a standards-based classroom, then Encouraging Curiosity is the in-depth, highly detailed, how-to.  I wrote this book with my former co-teacher, the one person who was there with me for this entire journey.  We share examples from our own classrooms, stories of attempts and investigations that didn't go as planned (and what we learned from them), and solutions for common struggles.  For me, this book has been a reminder to persevere, to not be afraid to try new things, and to follow the children's lead whenever possible.  It was written for teachers, by teachers, which is what makes it so valuable!

What products have changed the way you teach? Feel free to share links in the comments!