Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Freebie - Monster Manners

Happy Friday! Halloween is getting close, are you ready for it?! This week I've shared some fun monster activities that can be used to celebrate Halloween, or anytime throughout the year.  today, I wanted to share a monster activity that I absolutely love.  This Monster Manners set is a great way to work on social emotional skills and help your students think about good choices and consequences.  Download your set from Growing Kinders, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Make a Monster - Collaborative Art Project

I am a huge fan of large group art projects - I love that each child can bring a different vision to the project.  I also love them for practical reasons, it's a lot easier to find space for one large project to dry than it is to find space for 20 small projects, and they use far fewer materials. 

One year I made a dragon with my class. I drew the outline on a large sheet of table paper, and they decorated it with bingo markers.  It was amazing to see the details that they included, and which parts of the dragon each child chose to work on.  I wish I could find a picture of it!

I think this would be an amazing project for making a giant monster.  It would really help the children take control of the fear related to monsters if they were able to create one themselves.  Monsters also have a number of different pieces and parts that smaller groups of children can work on to make the project a little more manageable.  If you have a group in charge of the body, another group in charge of the eyes, another group that makes the mouth, etc. then all of the children aren't attempting to work on the same piece at the same time. 

Once you've created the actual monster, don't forget to give him a personality.  The children can come up with:

  • The monster's name
  • It's favorite food
  • Where it lives
  • What kinds of things it likes to do
The children will be so excited to have ownership over such a large project!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Monster Bingo

Did you see the cute Monster Math Number Cards that I shared yesterday?! Well I made something else to go with them. 

I love bingo because it is super easy to teach even the youngest children how to play.  With picture bingo all the children have to do is match the picture card that you hold up to a picture on their bingo card.  This cute Monster Bingo set includes 5 different bingo cards and all of the picture cards that you will need in order to call the game. 

Your students can play this game independently as a center activity, or you can use it for a small group activity or a game at a Halloween party!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Monster Math

It's been a while but I've finally created something new and I can't wait to share it with you!!! This number set is perfect for Halloween because it features some friendly little monsters, but I love these graphics because they can also be used year-round. 

The Monster Math Number Card set includes 6 different types of number cards:

There are so many ways that you can use these cards, the possibilities are endless and every single student will feel successful.  Choose the matching cards that challenge your students or make up your own games to meet their needs.  I can't wait to use these, I hope that you love them as much as I do!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Books about monsters

Monsters are an interesting subject to explore with preschoolers because the children are fascinated by them, and they have so many different thoughts and opinions about the subject. They may be aware that monsters are not real, yet they are still terrified of them.  Some children may enjoy being scared, while others would rather not even think about it.  Monsters belong to the realm of make believe that preschoolers are still attempting to understand. 

Here are some of my favorite monster books for the classroom - these can be fun for the Halloween season as an alternative to ghosts and vampires. All links are affiliates.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Freebie - Art Center Labels

Happy Friday! Today's freebie goes along with all of the art projects that I shared this week.  These Art Center Labels are perfect for keeping your art area organized and making sure that children know where materials and supplies belong.  Go download these from Jessica Harris and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Messy Art for Preschool - Paper Mache

I'm not sure that I'm in majority, but I love love love messy art projects.  Yes, they are a pain to clean up, but they are such a fun experience for the children because they never get to do stuff like this at home, and it's always a new way to experience the materials that you're using.  As for the cleaning part, the children are usually just as excited to help me clean up as they are to actually do the activity.

How long has it been since you did some old fashioned paper mache?!

As a kid, I honestly hated paper mache, I've never liked getting my hands messy and I really don't like the texture of paper mache or the way it feels when it starts to dry on your hands.  Most kids love this gloppy mess, and if you use the paper mache to cover a baloon, it can be pretty amazing when you finally pop that balloon and the paper mache holds it's shape.

Basic paper mache is simply 1 part flour to 2 parts water.  Some people like to add a little glue for extra stickiness.  I love to use paper mache in the classroom because it teaches patience, it can feel like forever for it all to dry, but it's so worth it when it does!

Be prepared for a mess, I highly suggest placing a dropcloth or vinyl tablecloth under your workspace. It's also a good idea to have a large bucket of warm water for children to wash their hands in so that you don't clog up your sink drains!

If you'd like some additional art ideas, check out my Classroom Recipe Book!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Messy Art for Preschool - Toothbrush Painting

I'm not sure that I'm in majority, but I love love love messy art projects.  Yes, they are a pain to clean up, but they are such a fun experience for the children because they never get to do stuff like this at home, and it's always a new way to experience the materials that you're using.  As for the cleaning part, the children are usually just as excited to help me clean up as they are to actually do the activity.

Toothbrush painting can be done in a variety of ways - the most simple being to brush the bristles along the paper like you would with a traditional paintbrush.  But we're talking about messy art, and that just isn't messy enough.  Next time you paint, consider toothbrush splatter painting.  Show the children how to run their thumbs along the bristles in order to fling the paint.  This will create interesting splatter designs on the paper and give your students a really fun way to explore the way the paint feels on their fingers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Messy Art for Preschool - Oil and Watercolors

I'm not sure that I'm in majority, but I love love love messy art projects.  Yes, they are a pain to clean up, but they are such a fun experience for the children because they never get to do stuff like this at home, and it's always a new way to experience the materials that you're using.  As for the cleaning part, the children are usually just as excited to help me clean up as they are to actually do the activity.

Today's messy project is an awesome idea from Babble Dabble Do, click here to read more about Oil and Watercolors!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Messy Art for Preschool - Rubber Band Snap Painting

I'm not sure that I'm in majority, but I love love love messy art projects.  Yes, they are a pain to clean up, but they are such a fun experience for the children because they never get to do stuff like this at home, and it's always a new way to experience the materials that you're using.  As for the cleaning part, the children are usually just as excited to help me clean up as they are to actually do the activity. 

Here is one of my all-time favorite messy art projects:

Rubber Band Snap Painting doesn't require a ton of materials. You'll need some sort of tray or shallow box to put your paper in, rubber bands, paint, and paper. It's also wise to have the children wear paint shirts or smocks, and you may want to consider covering anything nearby that you don't want to get paint on.

Place the paper on the tray, and then stretch the rubber bands across the tray.  Then add a few drops of paint.  When the children snap the rubber bands the paint will splatter  and create designs on the paper (and on your table, floor, chairs, and the children). 

My students absolutely loved this activity, but honestly if I were to do it again I would do it outside!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Freebie - Pumpkin Science

Happy Friday! Just in case I haven't shared enough autumn science ideas with you this week, here's another one.  This Pumpkin Science set includes printables to support your class' pumpkin exploration.  Go download your set from All Things Preschool, and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Autumn Science Experiments

Are you looking for some science experiments to help get your students excited about autumn?! I've rounded up a few that are guaranteed to get them asking questions and exploring new concepts.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Seasonal Sensory Materials

While I was working on yesterday's post I realized that I've posted sensory materials to explore for autumn, but I've never posted sensory materials for the other seasons.  I decided to put them all together in one great big list.  This will be easy to reference when you're planning sensory experiences.

I'll start with Autumn:

  1. Colored leaves
  2. Acorns
  3. Straw
  4. Soybeans
  5. Pumpkins
  6. Pumpkin Seeds
  7. Field Corn
  8. Corn Stalks
  9. Soybean Pods
  10. Mini Pumpkins
  11. Black Walnuts
  12. Osage Oranges
  13. Gourds
  14. Mums
  15. Apples
  16. Candy Corn
  17. Fake Spiderwebs
  18. Slime
  1. Ice
  2. Snow
  3. Cotton Balls
  4. Scarves, Hats, and Gloves
  5. Christmas Ornaments
  6. Tinsel
  7. Ribbon
  8. Gift Wrap
  9. Jingle Bells
  10. Pine Needles
  11. Cranberries
  12. Peppermints
  13. Pinecones
  14. Cinnamon
  15. Confetti and Streamers
  16. Marshmallows
  17. Candy Hearts
  1. Dirt
  2. Mud
  3. Grass Clippings
  4. Seeds
  5. Plants
  6. Flower Petals
  7. Water
  8. Plastic Eggs
  9. Easter Grass
  10. Birdseed
  11. Feathers
  12. Mulch
  13. Grass Seeds
  1. Sand
  2. Seashells
  3. Sunflowers
  4. Sunflower Seeds
  5. Lemons
  6. Limes
  7. Hawaiian Leis
  8. River Rocks
  9. Fresh Vegetables
  10. Sponges
  11. Aquarium Stones
  12. Sawdust or Pine Shavings
  13. Pieces of pool noodles
  14. Dried Peas

If you'd like a printable list, you can download a copy here.  Can you think of anything else to add to the list?!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Science center ideas for the whole year

When I'm visiting preschool classrooms, the science center is usually the one center that seems the most neglected.  There might be a toy microscope, a few dried up leaves, and some plastic bugs - those are all science staples.  I always loved coming up with new ideas for my science center, so I thought that I'd share just in case you find yourself in need of inspiration.

These are ideas that can be used year-round, and I hope that they will breathe new life into your science center!

  • A collection of seashells and starfish, books about the ocean, photos of ocean habitats, and plastic ocean animals.
  • Soil samples in clear jars, books about ants and worms, and an ant farm or worm garden.
  • Fabric samples of different textured materials - try to find two pieces of each fabric so the children can practice matching them by touch.
  • Magnet wands, a collection of refrigerator magnets, a couple of cookie sheets, and an assortment of objects that may or may not stick to your magnet wands.
  • Natural materials related to the current season - for ideas check out this post!
  • A variety of seeds, seed packets, books about gardening, and  plants planted in clear containers so that children can observe the roots.
  • Different shaped prisms, small mirrors, and flashlights.
  • A light table or light box with a variety of colored, translucent materials or transparencies.
  • Photos of different animal habitats and a variety of plastic animals that children can sort into the correct habitat, along with books about animal homes.
  • Magnifying glasses, bug collecting jars, and books about bugs.
  • Sensory bottles with objects or colors that fit your classroom themes.
  • Different size ramps and objects that may or may not roll down a ramp.
  • Random objects and bins so that children can sort recyclables and non-recyclables
Science experiments can be exciting ways to introduce children to scientific principles, but the science center offers opportunity for exploration at their own pace.  A child can return to this area over and over, and learn something new each time.  This is why it is one of my favorite spaces to plan for.  What are some of your favorite topics to explore in the science center?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Freebie - Leaf Matching

Happy Friday! Today's freebie is a fun way to practice colors while celebrating autumn.  This leaf scavenger hunt asks children to find leaves that match the leaf on the card, what a fun game for outdoor time! Download your copy from Edventures with Kids and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Autumn activities for preschool

Autumn is a great season to explore in the classroom because there are so many natural materials the you can bring into your environment.  This also means that it is really important to have other materials in your centers that are related to those natural materials.  Here are some of my favorite autumn centers;

Autumn vocabulary cards- These are great for reinforcing the new vocabulary words that students are learning.  This set includes the words acorn, apple, leaf, corn, leaves, pumpkin, tree, orchard, squirrel, and turkey and are wonderful for a writing center.

Acorn matching set - This set includes letter matching, number matching, and color matching, making it easy for children to understand what they are supposed to do with the pieces, even when they are included in different centers. 

Autumn alphabet book - Another great way to help build autumn related vocabulary.  This printable book includes a different autumn themed word for each letter of the alphabet.  These are a really fun way for children to explore autumn themes and alphabet sounds. 

Acorn books - Whether your students are telling you silly answers to write for them, or attempting to write their own factual answers, the opportunity to create their own books is a great way to motivate young writers.

Acorn counting set - This activity asks students to count the correct number of acorns onto each tree. It also includes a basket mat so that children can help their squirrel collect acorns and do simple addition when collecting acorns from more than one tree. 

While you're checking out all of these fun autumn printables, please take a minute to take a look at these fun classroom decorations for autumn too!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Autumn Dramatic Play Themes

I love autumn - pumpkins, sweaters, apple cider - it is my favorite season.  There are so many fun things to do in the fall, and those activities translate to wonderful dramatic play themes.  Here are some fun ideas to invigorate your dramatic play center.

Leaf clean up: Inspire children to help rake the yard with this fun dramatic play center. Consider adding some of the following materials to inspire play:

  • Rakes
  • Gardening gloves
  • Play leaves
  • Leaf bags

Apple orchard: Nothing says autumn quite like a trip to the orchard, it's easy to create your very own orchard with some of these materials:
  • Play apples (or real ones!)
  • Bushel baskets
  • Picnic blankets
  • Cider jugs

Pie Bakery: The best part of autumn is the baked goods! You cannot celebrate a fall holiday without pie, so gather up some of the following materials for your bakery:
  • Pie pans
  • Aprons
  • Spatulas
  • Pie filling cans
  • Felt pieces to use as pie crust

Bonfire: Crisp autumn nights are perfect for bonfires.  Children can create their own bonfire fun with some of these materials:
  • Small logs
  • Blankets
  • Camp chairs
  • Twigs for marshmallow roasting
  • Camping lanterns

Halloween party: Let the Halloween fun last even longer by setting up a Halloween party in your dramatic play center.  You only need a few things:
  • Random costumes
  • Trick or treat bags
  • Bowls of pretend candy

Football game: It's not autumn without some Friday night lights! Your students can create their own football fun with these materials:
  • Football Jerseys
  • Footballs
  • Pom Poms
  • Popcorn bags
  • Blankets

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Acorn Science

Acorns are great for autumn inquiries because they naturally lead to a variety of questions, such as;

  • Why do the acorns fall off the tree?
  • If we plant an acorn, will it grow? What would it grow into?
  • What is inside of an acorn?
  • Do any animals eat acorns besides squirrels?
These questions can lead to wonderful investigations about autumn, hibernation, and plant life. If you're looking for some additional science activities to do with acorns you can easily adapt year-round favorites to help your students understand acorns better.  You could:
  • See if acorns sink or float, and then explore the same question with other types of nuts
  • Talk about texture and see if you can find other natural items that have similar texture to acorns
  • See if acorn are magnetic, then see if there is anything on your playground that is magnetic
  • Make acorn rubbings with paper and crayons
  • Press acorns into clay to make impressions
  • Analyze the different parts of an acorn and make technical drawings
  • Use a balance scale to see if an acorn is heavier or lighter than common classroom items
Autumn is my favorite season because there are so many changes to observe, and so many natural materials that play an important role in the season.  Take advantage of what you have readily available to make learning meaningful for your students! If you're looking for more autumn ideas, check out these posts:

Monday, September 25, 2017

15 Things preschoolers can observe in the fall

Autumn gives us plenty of examples to explore changes in our world. Here are 15 different things that you can use to practice observation skills with preschoolers:

  1. Leaves changing colors
  2. Leaves falling off trees
  3. Leaves on other plants (Are they falling off too? Is it just trees that lose their leaves?)
  4. Trees that are not changing colors (Why do some trees change colors while others do not?)
  5. Bugs (What are they doing? Is this different from what they do at other times of the year?)
  6. Squirrels
  7. Other animals (What animals do you see? What are they doing?)
  8. The temperature
  9. Weather patterns
  10. The clothing you are all wearing (Is it different than what you wear during the summer?)
  11. Decorations on local homes and buildings
  12. Daily routines - are they different now than they were in the summer?
  13. Tracking the sunshine and your shadows
  14. Apples (Why are they different colors?)
  15. Squash (Characteristics of different types and what they look like inside)
These types of investigations are valuable because they give children the opportunity to explore what is happening in the world around them. Here are a few more ideas for autumn observations:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Freebie - Yarn Keepsake

Happy Friday! I swear that the farther away from summer we get, the longer the weeks feel.  Thankfully, it's Friday!

Today's freebie is the perfect ending to all of the yarn activities that I shared this week.  This cute keepsake poem is meant to be shared with a string that is as tall as the child at the beginning of the year, and another piece of string that is as tall as the child at the end of the year. Families will love this little momento and it's a great way to practice measurement. Download your copy from Kidpeople Classroom and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Activities to do with Yarn - Art

If there is one thing that is universal for every single preschool program it's that you never seem to have enough materials for all of the activities that you want to do with the children. Over the years I've gotten pretty good at creating fun experiences with very few supplies.  I thought it would be fun to focus on one simple supply and share a ton of easy activities that you can do to meet different learning domains. This week is going to be all about things you can do with yarn.

Yarn is a creative material - while it is generally intended to be used for knitting, crocheting, and weaving it is also a material that can be easily manipulated by children for exploring line, shape, color, and texture.  Here are some fun ideas for art projects using yarn: