Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Book Love: Explorers of the Wild

I'm a lover of all things mountains, and so this book spoke right to my nature-loving heart. It was also a great book to introduce a word that is so meaningful in my preschool classroom: EXPLORE.

Children are natural explorers, paying attention to the smallest details and learning through their senses as they discover the world. I used this book during the first week of school since we are spending a lot of time exploring the materials in the classroom and figuring out what we can do with them.

Read-Aloud Tip: I included some preschool exploring tools with this read-aloud, such as tweezers and magnifying glasses for the students to hold while we read the story. This was a fun way to introduce these tools, and give them a connection between the story and being explorers in our classroom.

Connecting Activity: I set up a table with some loose parts from nature for the students to explore (in addition to using the word explore all around the classroom as they discover other materials and activities :) )

Using open-ended activities like this one is the norm in my classroom, but I especially love the opportunity it gives me to observe them and their play at the beginning of the year. As a teacher, I'm exploring and making discoveries as well!



First Week of Preschool

We had a great first week of preschool! This first month of school is all about getting to know our classroom, our routines, and each other.

Dinosaurs at School
The first book we read was How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? I always change the words a little bit to make the story more meaningful for my students, and it is a fun read for getting us thinking about what it's like to be at school. We passed around these dinosaurs as we read the book together.

During these first few weeks of school, I try to find ways to introduce and spark interest in the materials we will be using around the classroom throughout the year. 
Here are some of the things we explored this week:

Kinetic Sand


Dot Marker Art



Sand and Water Play
One class created a car wash on the first day of school. 


Blocks



Playdough

Loose Parts

We also explored the letters in our name, and what it means to share and take turns at preschool- something we'll be practicing all year long!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Love: I'm a Dirty Dinosaur

I found this book at an Usborne Books & More party, and just loved that the illustrations use real mud. What fun inspiration for early childhood play and creativity! (There's another one called I'm a Hungry Dinosaur that uses frosting- also really fun)

I was excited to use it during our STEAM play session this summer. The rhyming text is engaging, and can inspire some movement to go along with the story as well.

Connecting Activity: It would be so fun to create your own muddy dinosaur art along with this book, but for this class we opted to explore mud and dinosaurs through sensory play. First we thought about how to make mud and filled up one side of our table with dirt and water.

Then we added the dinosaurs and started playing. I had a separate table set up with soapy water so the dinosaurs could get washed after.


Many dinosaurs went back and forth several times between the mud and the water table, and eventually the mud table turned into a muddy bath table as well. :)

Creative Kids Summer Class: Fairy Tales STEAM Play

Our last day of the STEAM play session was based around Fairy Tales. This was another fun theme that could easily be extended to multiple days of learning.

We focused mainly on two fairy tales, although we discussed other fairy tales, pretend stories and magic in general as well.

The Three Little Pigs
While I read the story of the three little pigs, I modeled creating different structures out of straws (I used drinking straws instead of actual straw, haha...), sticks, and Jenga bricks. We also tried blowing them down like the wolf in the story. :) 

Then during centers, the kids were invited to create their own. 



Rapunzel's Tower
Although we didn't read the story, I set out some cube blocks with the invitation to build the highest tower you could before it fell down. 

Paper Crowns
We used Kwix Sticks to decorate some playful crowns.

Fairy Dust Slime
We also added some fairy dust (...glitter) to create some magic slime.




Jack and the Beanstalk
The second story we focused on was Jack and the Beanstalk. We listened to the story outside, and then found some dirt to plant our own magic beans. Then we created a little castle in the clouds in the hope that our beanstalk will grow all the way up to the castle!


Creative Kids Summer Class: Dinosaurs STEAM Play

We fit a lot of fun activities into our day of STEAM play with dinosaurs, and I probably could have done a dinosaur theme for all three days of the session. There are a lot of great dinosaur STEM ideas out there!

Dinosaur Fossils
We used salt dough to make dinosaur fossils. The children played around making different prints first, and then picked the one they wanted for a permanent print. 



I cooked them at a low temperature for a few hours, and then the kids painted them the next day. 




Dinosaur Eggs
I made two different kinds of "dinosaur eggs" for the kids to excavate. 
These baking soda eggs were fun to watch fizz and bubble.




We also enjoyed trying to melt these ice eggs. 




Dinosaur Bones
A simple invitation to explore x-rays and dinosaur bones with q-tips and dinosaur heads. 


Dirty Dinosaur Play
We made some mud and let our dinosaurs get nice and dirty, then gave them a bath in the water table. This was inspired by a fun (new-to-me) book, I'm a Dirty Dinosaur.


Melting Colors Dinosaur Art
For this art process we used shavings from old crayons and melted them inside wax paper to create colorful dinosaur art. 





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