Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Happy New Year!

As often happens during the holiday season, I got pretty caught up in everything going on and behind in blogging, so we are starting fresh with the new year!

A New Year
The concept of time, months, years, etc. is still pretty abstract for preschool aged children, but we did spend a little bit of time thinking about the new year in our own way. We explored some calendars, thought about the different things that happen during the different months of the year (birthdays, holidays, seasonal weather, etc.), and how the months happen in the same order and cycle through every year.

This month our main focus will be on the season of winter. There are so many things to explore in each season, that every year looks a little different depending on what is actually happening in our area and what the students are interested in. This year we haven't had much snow yet, so we began by thinking about the colder temperatures.

We used water beads to explore changes that happen when something freezes.  
 After spending some time with our regular water beads, we put some of them in the freezer. The beads looked and felt quite differently after they froze, and the kids came up with a lot of good observations and questions as they explored like, why do the beads stick together when they are frozen? Why do they feel harder? This was a great introduction into different states of matter.

Hot Chocolate Math
As we've talked about the things we can do to stay warm in the winter, one favorite is hot chocolate. This is a simple math game that we play to practice one-to-one correspondence and counting those tricky teen numbers. 

Waiting for Snow
We read a book about some animals who try all sorts of silly things to get it to snow, but in the end they just have to wait for snow to come when it does. It seemed a fitting book for this year, and we'll just keep playing with our own kinds of "snow" until we get some to explore outside. 

One class became very interested in creating snow with paper punches.

We made a snowy world on the light table.

And we've been doing different kinds of winter inspired art, like this snowy spin art project.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's Inside Our Bodies?

Last week we began to think about how we take care of ourselves and our bodies, and so we started off with the question: what is inside our bodies?
I made this felt set that included some of the basic parts of our bodies for the kids to explore and interact with.

A couple kids also "tried on" the pieces so we could get an idea of where the pieces fit inside of us.

Here are some of the other ways we explored bodies:

Can you build a body out of playdough?

This student made a brain. :) 

Body Art with Q-tip bones and Yarn muscles

"Bones and Muscles" Name Building

Wash Your Hands!
We also talked about germs, and ways to protect our body from germs- like washing your hands.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Colored Ghosts

My aunts used to tell me this little story when I was young, about ghosts that changed colors when they eat something colorful. They had little puppets or something to go along with the story, and I just loved it. Honestly, I had forgotten about it for years as a teacher, and for some reason it came to my mind this year when I started planning some ghost activities. So I decided to bring it back and try it out with my preschool kids. I may not have remembered it exactly right, but it was fun to share something that I had loved as a kid. Maybe you remember hearing this story, too?

I made little stick puppets for the ghosts, and selected 6 food items from my play food collection that coordinated with the story. During the story, each student held one piece of food and held their matching colored ghost after they changed.

Anyway, the basic story goes like this....

Once there was a family of ghosts that lived in a house full of human food. Their Mama taught them that because they were ghosts, they could only eat food that was the color white, otherwise they would get sick. So one day they ran out of white food, and the Mama ghost was getting ready to go to the store to get them some more white food. She warned them not to eat any of the other human food while she was gone, and, like all good ghost children, they promised they wouldn't. But as time went by they grew more and more hungry, and also a little curious, and one by one forgot their promise.

The first ghost saw a basket of yellow food on the counter (and at this point, one of the students holding a piece of food shouted out- bananas! That's my ghost!) and said "Boo!" to scare the peel off the banana, and ate it all up. Then her tummy started to hurt and something strange started to happen...she turned yellow! (Then I hand the yellow ghost to the student holding the banana)

All the ghosts move through different foods, trying just a bite here or eating it all up, until they are all different colors. One even eats some chocolate chips, and becomes brown and spotted. When the Mama Ghost gets home, they all complain of their new colors and sick tummies, and she gives them some white food to change them all back. (Here, I had the kids help me brainstorm some food they could eat- milk, cauliflower, ice cream, etc.)

After the story, I set the ghosts out at a table with a tray of play food as an invitation for story retelling and color sorting.

We also explored ghosts and colors in this sensory bin full of packing peanuts and colored water. Not only did the ghosts change color in this bin, but they started to shrivel up and disintegrate from the liquid, which led to some interesting science inquiry.

The ghosts and some matching foods have been available since then, and it's been fun to watch the students continue to interact with the story.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Love: Walter's Wonderful Web

I saw this book in a Scholastic magazine this fall, but decided not to buy it. And then when we started studying spiders, I thought of it again and found it at the library. I was so glad I did, because it was such a great book both for thinking about spider webs, but for other concepts such a shapes and perseverance. It's definitely a new favorite for me!

Read-Aloud Tip: Walter makes many different kinds of shapes for his web. You could have web outlines prepared before reading (even just on the whiteboard), and the kids could take turns making lines inside the shape along with the story.

Connecting Activities: Some of my favorite spider activities worked so well with this book. We created transient art spiders (that looked similar to Walter) using foam pieces, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. This activity can lead to some great counting practice as well.

We also did marble rolling art to create some unique and colorful webs like Walter.

Finally, we tried to create a large class web using a roll of yarn. We used it to work together to lift up our large spider friend, as well as try to "catch" other classmates in the web.

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