Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Freebie - Candy Corn Sorting

Happy Friday! I love all things fall, especially the food and that includes Halloween candy. My all time favorite is candy corn, I refuse to buy any at the store before October because I will eat it as soon as I buy it, so I try really really hard to only have it in the house for one month.

This cute Sort and Count Freebie is perfect for my candy corn addiction.  It requires a bag of the mixed variety. You know, the one with the regular candy corn, the big pumpkins, and the chocolate candy corn.  This is the perfect excuse for me to start buying it now! Even if you don't love candy corn as much as I do, I'm sure that this would be one math activity your students would get really excited about! Go down load it from Mrs. Thompson's Treasures and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall Fashion for Teachers

I'm not a fashion blogger by any means, but I enjoy sharing these posts every now and then.  Autumn is weird in Ohio, for example most of this week it was in the 80's and then yesterday it was 65 degrees.  It's hard enough to dress professionally when I know that there is a good chance I'm going to leave work with a new marker or food coloring stain on my clothes, throw in crazy temperature fluctuations and I really just want to stay in my pajamas!

There are a few things articles of clothing that I have been turning to regularly over the last few weeks - these are all comfortable, professional looking, and budget-friendly enough that I know they can be easily replaced if necessary, plus these are all brands that I trust to hold up well!

Cardigans are a life-saver. I can wear one until I get warm, and then lose it for the afternoon, I'm still wearing all of my summer tank tops, I just add a cardigan for the mornings. I love these Boyfriend Cardigans from Target.  They're longsleeve, lightweight, and easy on my wallet - and they come in 12 different colors. The navy blue is my current favorite.

Colored Denim is my new go-to work pant. Technically they aren't jeans so I can get away with wearing them to work, but they are just as comfortable as my favorite jeans. I'm looking forward to wearing these LC Lauren Conrad Colored Jeggings all winter long with my favorite boots, but right now I can roll up the bottoms for a cute cropped look that keeps me a little cooler.

Another of my favorites from the LC Lauren Conrad collection is this French Terry Blazer. It feels like a sweatshirt and looks like a million bucks! This one was a little more of a splurge so I've been saving it for days when I have events, PD, or meetings so it won't get ruined.

Sperrys are my favorite shoes for early fall, they are still cute with capris, but they cover more than the sandals I've been wearing all summer. I'm pretty sure that I've worn them at least four days this week.  When the weather gets cooler I'll switch to moccasins, and then to boots.

I just got a pair of these Pull On Dress Pants from Kohls. Oh my goodness, they're dressy yoga pants. They are legitimate dress pants that look great for work but they pull on and are stretchy just like yoga pants. I think they're the best thing I've ever purchased.

I'm also still wearing most of my dresses from this summer, with the addition of a cardigan.  I probably won't break into my cold weather clothes until November, at least with the way the temperatures have been around here so far!

What are you wearing this fall? I'd love to hear all about your favorite pieces!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Autumn Field Trip Ideas

My brain is stuck on all things autumn, so I'm going with it.  I'm a huge fan of field trips, I think they are an amazing way to make learning real-life and to expose children to places and concepts that they otherwise might not come into contact with. I also think that they are perfect for introducing children to all of the concepts that you've been exploring in the classroom.

I completely understand that not all programs are equipped to take field trips for a variety of reasons - I've worked in programs where this was certainly the case, so I've got a lot of tips for working around this creatively, those are at the bottom of the post.  First, let's get to the list of autumn field trip ideas:

The Pumpkin Patch
The Apple Orchard
A Local Farm - historical or modern
A Farmer's Market
A Local Park - to explore changing trees
A Nature Preserve
Living History Exhibits
A Cider Mill
Local Fall Festivals
A Corn Maze
A Grain Mill

All of these opportunities give children insight into different aspects of fall. Some of them may be easier to access in your community than others. The best part about each of these places is that they are all open to families, so if you cannot take a field trip you might consider scheduling an evening or weekend day for families to meet there together. Then the children can explore and the parents can see their children's learning first-hand.

You might also think about asking a representative from these organizations to visit your classroom, or even asking a family to go on a visit and bring back items and information to share with the class.

What kind of special learning experiences do you introduce to your children in the fall?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Autumn Cooking Projects

Autumn is a great time to explore cooking in the classroom because the season naturally lends itself to so many food-related experiences. I've rounded up a few of my favorites, along with some great ideas from other bloggers, to give you plenty of recipes to choose from!

Apple sauce
Making apple sauce is a great experience for preschoolers because they can be a part of the entire process.  Apples are soft enough that they can be easily cut with plastic knoves, and this recipe is made in the crockpot, so you can do it all in the classroom while they watch - and smell!

Mini Apple Pies
Play to Learn Preschool  has the best recipe for individual apple pies.  It's the best recipe because it's completely realistic - premade crusts, canned apples and 15 minute bake time make these entirely do-able!

Cranberry Cookies
Cranberries are fascinating to explore - they float in water for goodness sakes, but they aren't a food that most preschoolers have a lot of experience with.  Cranberry sauce is a popular choice, but not the most appetizing, which can make it difficult to get preschoolers excited about eating it.  I love these cranberry cookies because they pair the slightly tangy cranberry with the sweetnes of chocolate and sugar cookies, and because they use pre-made cookie dough, so there are literally only 3 ingredients.

Pumpkin Pudding
If you can't get to an oven during the day then this recipe is perfect.  This pumpkin pudding from Blessed Beyond a Doubt is simple and tastes great with a proven kid favorite - Nilla Wafers!

Pumpkin Pie
Bake a Bite has a great way to make mini pumpkin pies - in a muffin tin. preschoolers can cut their own crust and put it in the tin, and then add their own filling, so there is plenty for each child to do throughout the entire process.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Freebie - Fall Certificates

Happy Friday! Now that it's officially autumn I feel much better about posting all of these great fall products!

This freebie is a great way to recognize positive behaviors and encourage children to be helpers.  Go download these Autumn Certificates from Teacher's Big Helper, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

36 Autumn Themes for Preschool

I'm a Reggio teacher, but I love to throw some seasonal themes in my lesson plan too so that my students get to experience a variety of topics. The other day a teacher asked me for some new ideas for autumn themes because she was tired of the same old pumpkins and apples, I was able to think of a few! Here are 36 themes that are perfect for exploring in the fall:

If you prefer plain old text, here's the list:

Farmers market
School safety
Fire safety
Candy Corn
Glow in the dark
Community service/helping others
Autumn colors

Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)

I'm sure there are some that I missed, please add your ideas in the comments!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

More Autumn Decor

Yesterday I shared some cute ideas for making your classroom feel a little more homey during this autumn season, but if crafting isn't your thing then I have something for you too!

If you're looking for printable classroom decor, you've come to the right place. I love my autumn classroom decor set because:

  • It's printable and EASY to put together
  • You can keep it up for the entire season or just use it for a class party
  • It's something that you could print and then ask a parent volunteer to cut and put together
  • when you're done with it it can all go in a file folder to store for the next year. 
And it's super cute, of course

Take a minute to go check this out in my TPT store, and if you love it then you're in luck because I have them for every holiday and season!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Autumn decor for the classroom

My philosophy about the classroom environment is that the classroom should feel like home. We certainly spend an incredible amount of time there, and also, I like my students to be able to interact with the same kinds of things that they come into contact with at their own homes.  Since I routinely decorate my own home for different seasons, it feels natural to me to decorate the classroom seasonally too.

Over the years I've found that if I add a few seasonal pieces to my collection each year, it is more affordable. I also do a lot of DIYing to create decorative elements.  Oriental Trading has become my go-to source for easy autumn decor that really makes an impact (and that I don't mind of the children touch).  You can check out all of the great projects that I made for the classroom last year right here, but I've got a couple of new things to share with you today.

Both of these projects were completed using pre-cut burlap leaves, which made my life a million times easier!

For both the wreath and the accent block I hot glued the burlap leaves to felt, and then cut around the leaf, leaving a bit of the felt showing. This helped make the leaves stiffer, and made each color stand out. I have a ton of little burlap leaves left, so I'm thinking a garland or banner is going to be my next project!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Freebie - Leaf Charts

Happy Friday! I shared a bunch of great leaf activities with you this week, and I wanted to share a leaf freebie to go along with them, but I couldn't find one that I liked.

So I made a new one! This brand new leaf documentation set includes three charts that you can use to record and document all of the work that the children do relating to leaves. There's a page for recording new vocabulary words, a KWL chart, and a page for writing down conversations that you have with the children about leaves.  Download them and print as many as you'd like!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Easy Fall Science Center

Fall is the perfect time of year to explore science - there are so many changes happening! It's also really easy to find natural materials to use in the classroom (check out this list and this list for ideas), but sometimes I struggle with how to contain all of those natural materials.  No more worries, I've found the perfect solution:

How awesome are these leaf-shaped containers from Oriental Trading (of course) ?!

I filled mine with tree bark, grass, pebbles, twigs, some small red leaves, and one larger green leaf. The best thing about this set is that it includes 24 containers, so your students could help you find all kinds of treasures to keep in them! Make sure to check out all of Oriental Trading's Halloween collection for more great ideas!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Leaf Activities

When I saw these giant leaf cut outs from Oriental Trading, I had to have them. I didn't really have a plan for them, but I was pretty sure I'd figure something out. 

Let me just say, I was really impressed with what I received - the images are great quality and the set included 48 leaf cut outs, so I had a ton of leaves to work with. 

While I was trying to figure out the best thing to do with all of them I came up with a long list of ideas, so I decided that instead of sharing just one or two, I'd give you the whole list.  

First I did a little research to figure out exactly what kind of leaves these were (thank you What Tree Is It?). I wrote the tree names on each of the leaves with a white paint marker.  I would love to take these outside and go on a leaf scavenger hunt to see which of these trees we can find in our neighborhood. 

This is a great way to help my students learn to pay attention to the world around them while learning about the different kinds of trees in our area. 

With this next set, I wrote a different number on each leaf.  I'm planning on using them for sequencing and large motor games outside - things like having the children jump on them and hop as many times as listed on their leaf, or playing relay races to put them in the correct numerical order.

I'll also use them for counting practice - like this:

They would be perfect for hiding around the playground and asking the children to find all of them, or even to write all of the children's names on them and hanging them from the ceiling in the classroom.  

The leaf images are printed on a thin cardboard, so I'll definitely laminate them before taking them outside, but other than that they're perfect for all kinds of fun activities - what would you use them for?

If you're looking for great ideas for your classroom, make sure to check out Oriental Trading's Halloween collection!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Easy Leaf Art

If you've been reading this blog for a while you know how hard I try to come up with art ideas that families will not only want to display, but will also keep for years to come.  I found the perfect one for this fall with the help of Oriental Trading!

This project could not be easier, your students will love it, and so will their families. I got the white ceramic ornaments from Oriental Trading's Halloween collection.  The "dipped" look is pretty popular, so that's what I was going for. I put a little acrylic paint in the bottom of a plastic cup and added a little water so that there was enough to dip the leaf in.

I let them dry on a sheet of waked paper and voila! Easy and very trendy.

I may even have to make a few for myself!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Everything autumn

The fall bug has bitten me hard! I put out all of my autumn decor this weekend and I have been savoring my fair share of pumpkin spice lattes. If you're anything like me you've already started thinking about incorporating everything fall into the classroom, so I thought I'd round up some of my favorite autumn activity posts to share with you. Happy planning!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Freebie - Math Center Labels

Happy Friday! Don't you love four-day weeks?!

Earlier this week I shared a new freebie for the math center, and today I have another one.  These Math Manipulative Labels will make your life easier and save you tons of time. Download them and start organizing because nothing is more fun than labeling stuff (I'm not joking). Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

New Stuff!

I just finished putting together two new resources for the classroom and I LOVE them! I've been working on these for a while and I am so excited to share them with you because they are going to add value to your classroom centers!

One thing that I've always struggled with are the wanderers - those children who have a really hard time choosing an activity, so they just kind of wander around. I also have a hard time helping children who don't understand how to play all by themselves, you know, the kids who need to be told what to do and when to do it.  I designed these specifically to help with these two types of children.

I've created Challenge Books for each classroom center. Each page of each book is a new challenge for children to try. All of these are very simple activities that children can do with a minimal assistance, so they can try them independently.  You can put all of the pages together on a binder ring so that they can hang right in the center. This will let you take them off the ring to give to the child so that they can focus on one challenge at a time.

This all makes perfect sense in my head, so I hope that I'm explaining it well! Here are some pictures so that you can see for yourself:

If you think that these look interesting, make sure to check out the freebie - you can download the Math Center Challenge Book and try it out in your classroom for free!

I'd love to know what you think! Try these out in your room and let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Slow Down Fall!

Fall is here! It might still be 90 degrees outside, but if you've taken a minute to read a blog, browse pinterest, or visit a store over the weekend, you've definitely seen the signs; Halloween decorations, apple recipes, and sweater outfits are out in full force.

This time of year can be especially confusing for little ones - there are simply too many transitions. Back to school, different clothes, new routines, new teachers, then you throw in shorter days, busy weekends, festivals, and holidays. That's a lot for a little one to deal with!

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE fall (seriously, you should see my personal collection of pumpkin scented candles) but we can really help our students if we ease into it a little bit. I definitely used to be the teacher who spent all of September exploring apples, and all of October investigating pumpkins - there are certainly enough apple and pumpkin themed activities out there to fill two whole months. Right now I'm advocating for chilling just a bit on the fall stuff and really taking this month of September to focus on classroom procedures.

Use this time, when the children are still excited about the new-ness of school, to focus on your routine, build your classroom community, and spend quality time getting to know your little ones. There will be plenty of time for apples and pumpkins (you'll still have all of October AND November). This time to build relationships and show those children that you value their thoughts, ideas and opinions is priceless!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Freebie - Printable Paint Chips

Happy Friday! I went way back today to pull out a freebie that I haven't featured in a very long time. This Printable Paint Chips set includes 33 different paint chips that you can print right from your computer - yes, I know that it's probably more cost effective to go pick up the free paint chips from the store than it is to print your own BUT every time that I needed paint chips I didn't have time to run to the store - I needed them now! So I made some that I could print in a pinch. The possibilities are endless with these, you could match color families, sequence them from lightest to darkest, or use them for a cute project. Make sure to download your set and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Teaching Children to Use Loose Parts

When you incorporate loose parts into your classroom for the first time, there is bound to be a learning curve. You'll have to teach the children appropriate ways to use the Marian's, and model how to be creative with them. Many of your children may not be familiar with open-ended materials like these and they may not choose to use them simply because they aren't sure how.
Here are some tips for teaching children to use these types of materials;
  • Incorporate them slowly - start with one or two different types of loose parts that you use for planned activities, then leave these in the classroom for children to explore. If you introduce them during planned small group activities the children will have the opportunity to interact with them while you are nearby for supervision and assistance.
  • Model the different possibilities - modeling what to do with loose parts can be tricky because you don't want to tell the children how to use them or what to do with them in a way that limits the potential. As you model you'll want to talk about all of the different things they can be used for and encourage the children to help you brainstorm so that they can share their thoughts too.
  • Set clear expectations - there will always be certain rules that you want the children (keep them out of your mouth, handle them gently, put them back where they belong when you are finished with them, etc.) demonstrate these expectations early and often.
  • Get excited about them - express interest when you see the children using them and call attention to what they create with them. Encourage them to share their work with each other. These actions will help the children be more enthusiastic about using the loose parts and more curious about what their friends are doing with them.
Check out the rest of this week's posts on loose parts: