Monday, February 29, 2016

St. Patrick's Day activities for preschool

It's almost March, which can only mean one thing; it's time to start thinking about St. Patrick's Day! I'm not sure when this holiday became such a big thing, but I'm not complaining because the children love it, and I love the magic that it brings to the classroom.

I recently updated many of My St. Patrick's Day materials, so I wanted to take a quick moment and share them with you to help you with your own plans for the holiday!

 Leprechaun CountingUse these cute juggling leprechauns to help students practice counting and number recognition. Each leprechaun has a number on his leg, the children can count out that number of gold coins for the leprechaun to juggle. This set includes leprechauns numbered 1-20.

 St. Patrick's Day Numbers:  Use these numbers to practice one to one correspondence, counting practice, and numeral recognition. Students can match the ten frames to the corresponding numerals, or they can use counters or small erasers to count and cover the shamrocks on each number.

St. Patrick's Day Alphabet Book:  This book is a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day while encouraging literacy. Each letter corresponds with a Irish-themed vocabulary word which will help children practice letter sounds. Print one for each child, or a few for a center. You could also have children create their own St. Patrick’s themed alphabet to go along with each of the letters. 

Leprechaun Traps:  This pack includes 6 notes from a friendly leprechaun which encourage students to be creative in their attempts to catch him. There are detailed instructions for each card, so that teachers can easily prepare the materials to be left by the leprechaun. This set also contains four charts which ask students to make a prediction about their traps, and what the leprechaun will do the next day. This is a great activity to encourage creativity, critical thinking, and cause and effect, while exploring basic STEM principles. You can read more about this activity here.
St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Observations:  Give the youngest children the opportunity to practice making observations using real photos of shamrocks. This pack includes a number of questions to ask children as they study the included photos, as well as color gradient strips that children can use to practice matching the colors that they see in the photos, and cropped sections of the photos that children can match with larger photos. 

The pack also includes a list of suggestions for extending this learning experience through exploring your own outdoor space, and ideas for additional games that can be played using the included pieces, As well as a technical drawing activity that encourages students to create a technical drawing using an actual shamrock as a drawing guide.
St. Patrick's Day Memory:  Memory is a great game for all ages! Whether you use these cards with younger students as a simple matching exercise, with older students as a traditional memory game, to hide around the classroom for students to find the matches, or as a tool for partnering students, these cute shamrocks will help add some festivity to your St. Patrick’s day!

St. Patrick's Day Classroom Decorations:  This set includes everything that you need to host a classroom party - purchase the set once and use it every year! The decorations in this set includes a "Happy St. Patrick's Day" bunting, cupcake picks (or stickers), treat bag toppers, desk name tags, and a door decoration. This set also includes templates for a class Shamrock wreath, a craftivity that will allow all of your students to take part in preparing for the class party!

St. Patrick's Day is magical because of the thoughts of gold and leprechauns, but also because it celebrates the greenness that is spring, and the idea that winter is very nearly over.  That in itself is a reason to celebrate!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Freebie - Art Activities

Yay for Friday! Thank goodness, I am so ready for the weekend!

I have the best freebie for you today, This Art Lesson Plan book from Pink and Green Mama includes 20 different art activities for little ones. The ages range from preschool to second grade, so you may have to make some adaptations to make sure that the activities are completely appropriate for you preschoolers, but they look like tons of fun.  Hopefully this will help you in the lesson planning departments and spark some creativity in the classroom!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Great big list of things to paint on

If you're looking for a way to spark your students' interest in painting, consider giving them something a little unusual to paint on.  This is a great way to learn about new materials; children can explore absorption, experiment with using different amounts of water, and see how different brushes work on different backgrounds.  Painting on a specific kind of material can also encourage children to explore the texture and detail of the material because the paint will intensify these details.

Here is a great big list of things that you can paint on:

  1. Aluminum foil
  2. Waxed paper
  3. Saran wrap
  4. Press and Seal wrap
  5. Bubble wrap
  6. Canvas
  7. Velvet
  8. Leather
  9. Flannel
  10. Denim
  11. Terrycloth
  12. Burlap
  13. Paper towels
  14. Coffee filters
  15. Tissue paper
  16. Kleenex
  17. Gift wrap
  18. Ribbon
  19. Plastic grocery bags
  20. Paper grocery bags
  21. Tree bark
  22. Leaves
  23. Twigs or branches
  24. Natural woven place mats
  25. Glass or ceramic plates
  26. Paper plates
  27. Sandpaper
  28. Wood scraps
  29. Tree stumps
  30. Pine cones
  31. Seed pods
  32. Ornamental grasses
  33. Rocks
  34. Landscaping pavers
  35. Bricks
  36. The sidewalk
  37. Pillow cases
  38. Old sheets
  39. Flower pots
  40. Mirrors
  41. Old windows
  42. Window screens
  43. Book pages
  44. Newspaper
  45. Magazine pages
  46. Advertisements
  47. Old CDs
  48. Cork board
  49. Styrofoam
  50. Dried pasta
What are some others things that you've painted on? Tell me about them in the comments and then follow my Preschool Art pin board for more great ideas!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tips and tricks for keeping things neat while painting

I honestly have no problem with a little bit of a mess, and I think it's inevitable when you're painting with preschoolers. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't use strategies to make cleaning up easier.  Here are some great tricks for prepping your painting space so that clean up is a breeze.

  • Store your paint in disposable containers with lids like baby food containers. If you need to clean up before the kids are finished you can just snap the lids on the paints, and then once they are done you can toss the containers.  This is also a great way to make sure that you aren't wasting paint. 
  • Cover tables with shower curtains, or with Glad Press and Seal wrap.  When painting is over you can clean up the table mess easily - and without scrubbing anything! Dollar store shower curtains can be used a couple of times before you'll need a new one. 
  • Have children paint on cookie sheets or milk trays so that wet pictures can dry on the trays.  This will eliminate the possibility of messes made while transferring pictures from the table to the drying rack. 
  • Keep your cleaning solution close.  When the paint does end up somewhere it shouldn't you'll have the best luck getting it out if you treat it fast.  Keep whatever cleaner you use close by so that you can treat potential stains immediately. 
  • Talk about expectations before you get started.  Are you finger painting or using brushes? Where do brushes go when you're done painting? do the children need to wear a smock? Where do paintings go when they are done? Answering all of these questions before you start painting will prevent misunderstandings that can cause messes.
  • Designate an art space.  Try to do your art projects in the same space every time, this will help confine messes to this space.  Chose an area of the classroom that has tile floor, or that is close to the sink and set this space up so that your art and cleaning supplies are always close at hand.  

What other tips and tricks do you have for keeping painting projects clean and manageable? Share your favorites in the comments!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Products for painting activities

I'm going to share some fun painting ideas this week, but before we get to those I wanted to share a few of my favorite paint-related products.  These are all my personal favorite paints, supplies, and clean up helpers! This post includes Amazon affiliate links.

When it comes to watercolors, Crayola is hands down the best brand.  The colors are bright and the packaging is easy for little ones to use independently. Crayola 8 Count Watercolors Are my favorite because half the fun of watercolors is mixing new colors, but they also have an 16 count set.  I am personally not a fan of liquid watercolor simply because they are so concentrated that they tend to stain, and since you do have to mix the colors with water there is a lot more potential for spilling.

As far as tempera paint goes, Colorations Washable Tempera is my favorite. It's available in gallon jugs or smaller containers. I completely understand the economic and storage reasons for buying the gallon jugs, but as a teacher I hated these huge jugs.  The pumps were always clogged and when you try to pour them out they make a splashy mess, so I'm partial to the smaller containers.  These are super washable (although the purple is a bit hard to get off) and they don't ruin clothes.  The colors are bright and the paint is thick without being heavy.

Next up, brushes.  Please, please, please invest in nice brushes.  The little ones that come with watercolor sets are crummy, and the children think so too! Kiddos will stick with painting projects longer when they have a nicer brush that actually holds a fair amount of paint.  My other recommendation for brushes is to buy them in bulk because they don't last forever.  No one wants to use an old brush that doesn't move because it's got so much dried up paint caked in the bristles.  Sometimes it's best to just throw them away - which completely goes against our nature to save and reuse everything! Here are some of my favorite brushes:

These Camel Hair Paint Brushes are the best for watercolor and small projects.  The bristles are soft and the brushes are sturdy, plus this set includes assorted sizes. 

These Chubby Paint Brushes are a kid favorite.  When I put out an assortment of brushes, these are the ones that they fight over.  The short, thick handles make them easy to control and they are thick enough for larger projects and heavier paints. 

Another kid favorite are these Foam Brushes.  They are perfect for exploring texture and adding interest to an otherwise ordinary picture, but they are also a ton of fun.  They can be a little messy, but mostly because the children get so excited to use them.  You could also make your own using kitchen sponges. 

I have yet to find a kid's paint smock that I like. The ones that are available aren't great at covering clothing, ans they don't fit very well.  In all honesty, what's worked the best for me has been old t-shirts that are just a bit big for the children in my class.  The sleeves are usually long enough to cover the children's rolled up sleeves, the t-shirt is long enough to cover a good portion of their pants, and they cover both the front and back of the the child's nice shirt.  If you're worried about the paint soaking through the t-shirt you can always have the children take off their shirts that they wore to school and put on their paint t-shirts over bare skin, since they cover everything anyway.  These are also so much easier to store and wash than a smock, just throw them in the wash!

What products do you love for painting? Check back tomorrow to see my hints for keeping your space clean when the kiddos are painting!

Monday, February 22, 2016

New Math Centers!

You know when you're really excited about something and you just can't wait to share?! That's me right now! I bought this adorable coffee cup clipart months ago, but it was kind of just sitting there on my computer collecting dust because I couldn't figure out what to do with it.  Then it hit me - math centers of course.

I am so in love with how these turned out and I just had to share them with you! There are three centers; colors, numbers, and shapes.

The color set is simple color matching, but also includes the color words so that you can encourage vocabulary word recognition. It includes the colors pink, red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, navy, purple, tan, brown, and black.

The number set includes numerals, number words, and dot for counting. The cuffs for this set are also color coded, so children can be successful by matching the numerals to the dots, or by matching the colors. It includes the numbers 1-12. 

The shapes are also color coded, and each cup has the shape's written name.  This set includes the shapes circle, heart, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, star, pentagon, hexagon, diamond, octagon, and trapezoid.

I cannot wait to use these, and I know my kiddos will love them too.  You can get your set here!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Freebie - Dental Hygiene

Happy Friday! I hope you had a wonderful week, and hopefully you're looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend.

I've been talking about health and hygiene all week, and this dental hygiene chart from Mad Science Fox is the perfect family engagement piece for your hygiene unit.  Send this home so that families can track their dental health practices together.

Download this freebie and add it to your files!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Children's books about hygiene

There is literally a children's book for everything, but it's a bit difficult that find books that talk about hygiene and do it well.  The point of reading a book about a specific topic is to encourage discussion and make the children think about the topic, many of the hygiene books are just a little too direct for my comfort, and they don't lead the conversation in the direction that I want it to go.  With that said, I thought I should share the books that I do like so that you don't have to read the duds! All links are affiliates.

What are some of your favorite books that deal with hygiene topics?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Talking about hygiene

I am a huge fan of any opportunity to have conversations with my kiddos.  These conversations help me learn so much - they give me a better understanding of what the children know, and which areas I need to explain better.  They also give me one on one time with my kiddos, and a chance to learn a little about their lives.

I created these little tags to help get my kiddos talking about hygiene habits, and to see what's going on in their lives.  I'm going to use them for a bulletin board, after I sit down with each child I'll write their answers on the tag, then their parents can read what the children said about each topic.  These would also be great to assess understanding at the end of a unit, as well as for assessment evidence in their portfolios.

I made them a freebie, just for you, so download your copy here and feel free to share photos of how you used them by tagging me on Instagram @erinnholleran!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Fighting germs in preschool

Ugh! It's that time of year again, you're probably wiping every surface in the classroom with Clorox in an attempt to get rid of all of those germs.  It feels like a losing battle, they're everywhere! I certainly don't have a miracle solution, but I do have something that can help turn the children into your teammates in this particular war.

I noticed a couple of years ago that at this point in the year, all of those hand washing rules I stressed so much at the beginning of the school year start to get a little relaxed, and since this is exactly the time of year when I need the children to follow them the most, I created some visual aids to use as reminders.  I have a set for hand washing in general and a set for hand washing after blowing your nose.

Each set includes sequencing cards, which fit into a pocket chart.  They also have numbered sequencing cards which can be posted by the sink, or made into a ring book and hung where children can reach them easily.  You can use them for memory and sequencing activities in addition to posting them in the classroom.

I also made a set of writing prompts and discussion questions so that you can use this as an entire unit.  It's a great way to remind children what they can be doing to help fight germs.

You can download the entire set here!

If you're looking for additional ideas for a germs unit, then check out this post!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Freebie - Valentine Teacher Gift

Happy Friday! I hope that you all survived your Valentine celebrations! Today's freebie is perfect if your still looking for an easy, last minute gift for a favorite teacher:

You can download these adorable tags from eighteen25 and simply put them with a bag of candy - perfect teacher gift! 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and spend tons of time sharing the love with your favorite people!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine Movement Games

Party days are chaos.  Instead of fighting it, just embrace it, and incorporate some of these fun Valentine-themed movement games:

Use these games to channel the sugar rush into something educational that will help burn off some steam!