Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tin Foil Art

One of my personal goals this year was to put out more invitations - especially in the Art Center.  I am not an "Artsy" person myself, so this is a personal struggle for me.  I love that I have Pinterest to help me out, though, because I think otherwise I may be lost . . .  So this idea involved Tin Foil.  It also had some wonderful small motor practicing involved as well.  Learning how to cut and learning how to glue - two fundamentals of preschool! 
One thing that I am finding about the Art Center - and all invitations in general - is that the concept is not that hard and less time consuming than the traditional way of teaching.  I just needed to make the frames.  I cut the tinfoil a little bit smaller than the construction paper (of each child's individual choice) and then stapled them together. 

It was the children's job to come up with what they would put on the tinfoil.  The majority cut out shapes from other construction paper and then finished off their masterpieces with glitter.  A simple project, but boy did they look pretty!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stacking Cups and Bowls

We have lots of blocks in our house, but the children get bored of playing with the same blocks every day.  Learning how to build a tower is a very important part of learning.  It teachers math, science and of course, fine motor.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought of how much the kids would love this activity!  One day after school while I was making supper, I gave the kids all of our plastic bowls, plates and cups.  All I said was, "Here, what can you do with these?" and the first (and only) thing that they did was build.
My son (2) mostly just stacked his blocks in piles (sorting).

My daughter (4) made some really elaborate structures with her plates and cups.  She would get really high and my son would watch her with amazement.  This was a really fun activity and the kids have been begging me to let them do it again!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Counting Sticks

In the fall it's always fun to go on walks around your house and collect leaves, sticks, pincones and any other nature that you can.  You can make some beautiful artwork out of it.  We did this with our preschoolers again this year and they made some wonderful collages.  The children did not use all of their items for the collages, so there were some sticks left over.  I bought some paper cups from the Dollar Store and wrote the numerals 1-5 on each of the cups.  I put the extra sticks with the cups on the table and let the children figure out what to do.  Some of the children looked at the numeral and could recognize and count out the sticks.  Others would ask myself or their friends what the numeral was - and THEN count out the sticks.  And other would just put the sticks in the cups until it would fall over.  A little bit of physics/science learning to see just how much weight a cup can take before it topples over.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cheesy Vegetable Soup

Mmmm, this soup looked amazing!  Especially since Fall is here and everything.  I LOVE homemade soup, but I am not the greatest cook, so I was REALLY hoping that I could pull this recipe off.  I read the other comments from the blog to turn this meal into a slowcooker-friendly meal so that it would be easier to make when I got home from work with the kids.

Here are the ingredients that I used:
1 cup carrots
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped cauliflower
4 cups chicken broth
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
1tbsp flour
1tbsp cooking oil
2/3 cup milk
2 cups shredded marble cheese
Garlic Powder
Black Pepper
Step By Step:
1. Put the first 6 ingredients into the slow cooker.  Set it to 6-8 hours on low.
2. Because I needed more control over temperature when I got home, I poured the soup base into a large pot and placed it on the stove, bringing it to a boil.
3. Mix the flour and the oil together in a seperate bowl and once the soup base boils, add the rue and then turn down the heat and let the soup simmer until it starts to thicken.
4. Once the soup has thickened, add the milk, cheese and spices (you may want to switch up the spices that you use, I just put in a little of each and then tasted as I went).


Monday, November 12, 2012

Drinking Station

Water.  It's so important, yet not a lot of schools have water fountains in the classrooms - or even nearby!  If it were possible, all of our children would have water bottles that they could carry around with them throughout the day, but that's not possible because of spills (you KNOW they would open them) and sharing of the dreaded germs.
So this year, I wanted the children to be able to get the water themselves and feel that they could have some independence.  You know I love independence!
So we went to the Dollar Store and bought a simple tray, two jugs and we already had some small cups at the school.  Simple.  We refill the water jugs (only about 1/4 full) every morning and the kids can help themselves when they are thirsty.
Are there spills?  YEP!
Do the teachers clean it up?  NOPE!
Do the children learn to be independent in getting their own water AND cleaning up spills?  YOU BET!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Classroom Calendar

We have always had a classroom calendar in our preschool room, the traditional one that is in every single preschool, Kindergarten and Grade One classroom . . .
In our preschool there is very little plastic and plenty of kid made, nature found creations.  Our calendar shouldn't be any different.  This is where I found the original idea.  So one day during playtime, I got some of our little writers to help me make the new calendar.  I had two helpers and they wrote out all 31 numbers, 12 months and drew some pictures for some very special days that would happen throughout the months (music, field trips, art, swim days, etc.)  They were very proud of their creation, as was I!  They did such a great job helping fill our classroom space with their little hands.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Write a Letter

Learning how to print letters is not something that children WANT to learn by sitting at the table and doing worksheets.  Worksheets are NOT for preschoolers, toddlers or ANY age for that matter.  I don't like worksheets.
That being said, every once in a while my daughter wants to do her worksheets.  She has a workbook suitable to her age - not harder - and she does it by herself.  If she needs help reading instructions, I will help.  But I don't even go near the kitchen when she's doing them because I want it to be fun for her and I'm scared that if I sit there, looking over her shoulder she will no longer enjoy them.
But I did want to practice letter making with her because she would be starting Kindergarten (we did this activity back in the summer, now she's a full grown Kindergarten girl).  So we found some lined paper, a pencil and we sat down to write a letter.  She wanted to write to her grandparents.  She told me what she wanted to say and I read out the letters that she needed to make.  I did it this way instead of writing so that she would have to make the letters by memory, not by copying what mommy made on the other piece of paper.

Once the letter was written there was even more learning!  She learned where to put the stamp and the address of both of the people on the envelope.  Then she folded up her letter and we walked down to the mailbox.  About three days later when checking for mail she was amazed to get back a letter from her grandparents!  It was wonderful to see her eyes light up!  "It's for me!"

Monday, November 05, 2012

Name Cards

We have a Light Center in our room and it is used for many things.  There are blocks that are meant specifically for the Light Table, but it is also located right beside our writing center and the kids often take paper and pencils to the light table so that they can trace.

We have always made name cards, but this year we tried something a little bit different.  I had found a few ideas on Pinterest about name cards.  When I went back to the link, they again just went to the home page and I don't have time to look.  Here is the one link that I DID find.

There were three different pins that I loved for different reasons:
1. They were smaller than our original ones.
2. They have the children's pictures on them so the children know which name is theirs.
3. An awesome way to store them.

What do you need?
Index Cards (I used blank ones, no lines)
Individual Pictures of the children
Photo Album (Dollar Store!)

On each card we put the child's name, their picture and their symbol.  In our classroom, each child has a symbol.  This symbol helps them to learn how to recognize their name.  Every time our three year olds see their symbol, they know that THAT piece of artwork is theirs.  Or THAT's their locker.  We label everything with their symbols.  By the end of the child's time with us - when they are four or five - they now recognize the letters that ALWAYS come before their symbol as their name.  It is a great learning tool and it also helps the children to recognize their friends names as well.

Because of privacy, I didn't want to share any of our name cards, but here is a pretend one for you to take a look at . . .

Once the cards are finished, we put them in the laminater and then popped them into the photo albums.  Voila!

Friday, November 02, 2012

40 Bags in 40 Days - How's It Going?

1 & 2. Storage Room - After a while, our storage room looks a mess because we go in, move stuff to get what we need and don't put things back.  So very successful!
3. Utensil Drawer - I threw out quite a few things (do we really need 6 nut crackers??)
4. Junk Drawer in Kitchen - Not much got thrown out but I organized the pens and markers (my daughter helped by making sure they worked!)
5. Junk Baskets in Kitchen - We have two junk baskets in our kitchen (to keep junk off of the counters) and they usually have fast turnaround, but my job was to go through and get rid of the stuff that had been forgotten about.
6. Kids Craft Cupboard - Again, didn't throw out TOO much (just some finished colouring books and old stickers/paper) but it is organized again so that things don't fall out when you open the cupboard!
7 & 8. Pantry(s) - I think I threw one thing away?  Not a lot to do here, we have pretty fast turnaround.
9. Under Kitchen Sink
10. Fridge - Again, not much here.  Fast turnaround.  We threw out anything that HAD expired (maybe one thing) and combined anything that we had doubles of.
11. Kids Snack Cupboard - This was more about the spice cupboard.  Combine and throw away expired.  Success!
12. Cereal and Cooking Supply Cupboard - I guess I'm more organized than I think, nothing here!
13. Master Closet (My Clothes) - I had two different piles from my closet.  Clothes that were one or two size too big, and the others were 3 or more sizes too big.  I kept the first pile (I hope I don't gain the weight back, but just in case) and I donated/garbaged the other pile.
14. Master Closet (Husband's Clothes) - This is his job.  I can't clean out his clothes.  If it were up to me, there would be a LOT more that would go . . .
15. Desk Drawers and Baskets - I found an Air Wick that we haven't used (got it for free when we used a coupon) so now my bathroom smells nice!
16. Dresser Drawers (master bedroom and kids)Got rid of the kids summer clothes, got rid of the clothes that don't fit me and added it to the garbage bag.
17. Nighstands (master bedroom and kids)
18. TV Stand Drawers and Cupboards
19. DVD/Game Cupboard
20. Kids Closets
21. Master Closet Shelves - I found some great pictures of our grandparents!  Now I just have to get them out of the box and into some better frames so we can add them to the walls.
22. Jewlery Boxes
23. Bathroom Cupboards
24. Kids Toys
25. Linen Closet
26. 9 Drawer Cube in Hallway
27. Kids Books
28. Mommy's Craft Box
29. Bath Toys
30. Candy Bowl - Well, I DID go through the bowl . . . . . . and then Halloween happened!
31. Bathroom Vanity
32. Laundry Room Storage
33. Vehicles
34. Cookbook Stand
35. Entryway Closet
36. Dresser, Bench and Stairwell Baskets (Entryway)
37. Tupperware Drawer
38. Kids Artwork - This was a long time coming!  The kids LOVE seeing their artwork hanging but it does get cluttered.  I take pictures of the artwork that is the most meangingful so that I can put it in scrapbooks later on.
39. Mommy's Bookshelf
40. Keepsake Box