Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve!

Since my house is VERY quiet again this year and all my gifts are safely wrapped under the tree, I have nothing to do (okay, I could clean, but we all know I don't WANT too).  I have been busy catching up on one of my favorite blogs Dr. Jean.  I always love her wonderful ideas and links, but this one has to be my favorite.  Preschool Christmas Story  It isn't MY class, but after seeing it you will all probably understand why preschool teachers do what they do!

Mrs. Karen's Class!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Let's Talk About Christmas!

Our Class Christmas Tree

Christmas is a wonderful time of year for most people.  But if you are one of the lucky people who teach pre-school, you know it is more than just wonderful, it is truly magical!  My class has had almost a month of fun, fun and more fun.  Along the way we talked about the TRUE meaning of Christmas and the letters "J", "B" and "N".  "Hold on to your sleigh bells people, this is going to get crazy" . . . . 

We started our fun with the letter "J".  The entire week we jumped and jiggled our way to and from all our different activities.  And of course we sang "Jingle Bells" every chance we got.  Our fun "J" art was perfect.  The weather had just started to turn cold so we got out our jackets!
I loved watching the children as they each picked out their favorite colors.  Can you see the little buttons?  Our sweet director ordered us these wonderful buttons.  They came in all different colors and shapes.  It was a wonderful way to review our shapes and colors!

We worked on a fun sorting activity this week too.  I have a large, no make that HUGE supply of scrapbook paper.  I love to scrapbook and have a hard time throwing away any scrap of paper, no matter what the size.  Well this week we put all those scraps to good use.  Everyone picked out their favorite rectangle pieces paper and put them in order, starting with the smallest.  We ended up with a little star on top and a brown square at the bottom.  A perfect Christmas tree!

With this next art work we switched gears a little and started talking about patterns.  My class loves to look for patterns.  They all get so excited when they realize things have a pattern on them.  This next art project was perfect!  First, we cut out some wonderful little strips of red paper.
 Next we carefully glued the strips to our plain white candy cane.
The final results were AMAZING!

The little poem reads:
Look at a CANDY CANE, what do you see? 
Stripes that are RED like the BLOOD shed for me! 
WHITE for my Savior, Who's sinless and pure! 
"J" is for JESUS, My Lord that's for sure! 
Turn it around and a staff you will see --- 
Jesus, my SHEPHERD, Is coming for me!

This was the perfect art project for the letter "J", don't you agree?????

One of my favorite "J" words is Jello,

so of course we had to make some.  We headed down to the kitchen for a little cooking/science fun!  I knew that we wouldn't have enough time to make Jello the old fashion way, instead we did the speed-set method and it was so fun.  

Besides, who doesn't just love to eat Jello?!?
I have a Christmas ornament that my son made for me when he was little. I loved it so much that I do it every year with my class. We start with a little green circle cut from poster board. Everyone covers the circle with puzzle pieces.

I love doing this project because I always tell the children to "make sure the ugly side shows" (the ugly side is easier to paint!).  Everyone has so much fun!  Finally, all the circles are covered and we let it dry overnight.
After they dry we paint them a lovely Christmas green and add a few beads and ribbons. A perfect Christmas ornament!

The following week was by far "my favorite".  I love the letter "B", and I love Christmas - let the fun begin!  "B" week has always been my favorite because I love so many "B" words.  This year we added a few more "favorite" "B" words and now I love it even more!

Our "B" science experiment was a huge success.  We made The Bouncing Polymer Ball.  Here is how to do it.  

*    Label one cup 'Borax Solution' and the other cup 'Ball Mixture'.
*    Pour 2 tablespoons warm water and 1/2 teaspoon borax powder into the cup  labeled 'Borax Solution'. Stir the mixture to dissolve the borax. Add food coloring, if desired.
*   Pour 1 tablespoon of glue into the cup labeled 'Ball Mixture'. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the borax solution you just made and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Do not stir. Allow the ingredients to interact on their own for 10-15 seconds and then stir them together to fully mix. Once the mixture becomes impossible to stir, take it out of the cup and start molding the ball with your hands.
*   The ball will start out sticky and messy, but will solidify as you knead it.
*   Once the ball is less sticky, go ahead and bounce it!
*   You can store your plastic ball in a sealed ziploc bag when you are finished playing with it.
*   Don't eat the materials used to make the ball or the ball itself. Wash your work area, utensils, and hands when you have completed this activity. 

This is very fun BUT it is MUCH MORE FUN if you have all the ingredients measured out ahead of time.

 Some of our hands turned blue, but we didn't mind.  The results are so worth it!

Another one of our science experiments for the letter "B" was Baked Cotton Balls!  I had never tried it but it turned out to be SUPER fun and SUPER amazing.    OH, and one more thing - SUPER MESSY!

 Sorry, this is the only picture I have.  
I really meant it when I said messy!

While we waited on our cotton balls to come out of the oven, we played around with blowing bubbles.  But, not the normal way, oh no, we did it the Mrs. Karen way!  WOW!
We used square containers . . .
We used a circle container . . .

There was even a rectangle container  . . . 

Now, that was FUN!

Since we always make our own wrapping paper to wrap up our parent gifts, I decided why not incorporate the letter "B" into our activity.  We used some blue balloons and WOW!
Some started off with the green paint . . . .

Others used the red paint . . . .
Then we swapped . . . 

NICE!  But we weren't finished . . . . next, we dipped a baseball into some gold paint, put it in a box and bounced it around.  

The end results were beautiful!

After we wrapped up our presents 

we added this little note so that our parents would know how we made our paper.

Now that I have shown you our wrapping paper, let me show you our present to our parents.  First, the boys dressed up like shepherds and the girls dressed up like angels.  We took their pictures by the big Nativity scene in one of the upper hallways.

Everyone painted their own Nativity frame and added a star.  
AHHHHH . . . the perfect Christmas ornament!

One of our four-year old classes made real apple sauce cinnamon ornaments.  The entire hall smelled so good.  I've done gingerbread men/ladies with my class before but I wanted to do something different this year - I think I nailed it!  First we painted our gingerbread man/lady with plain brown paint (yawn!).  Next we sprinkled on some real cinnamon!  We mixed up our very own puffy paint icing . . . 
I put the homemade puffy paint into some old dishwashing detergent bottles and everyone got to squeeze on a face, some buttons and cute little icing . . . 

He/She was very fragile, CUTE, but fragile!

I have a small confession to make, "I am addicted to Pinterest!"  I have gotten some amazing ideas off there and here is one of my favorites - 
I must give TOTAL credit for this to Simply Cindy.  I change it around a little but I can't even start to tell you the wonderful comments I received.  Besides being absolutely BEAUTIFUL, it was also a great fine motor skill activity for us.  Of course it all started with the child's handprint.  I added the star with some glitter paint and everyone filled it in with sequins!
Now of course we need some sand for the camels to ride on.  (I'm not sure if you can see, but the children are painting with some old make-up sponges that I found.)
 Here comes the real sand!  I put it in an old cinnamon bottle and . . . .
WOW, let's look at it again!

Personally, I think I saved our last activity for the very end.  Each month we save one piece of artwork to be highlighted at our end of the year art show.  This year I wanted something different.  We started with some painters tape that I taped down in somewhat of a Christmas tree shape.
Everyone painted the entire sheet red and green. 

Next, we used different sized circle objects dipped in gold paint.   
(This child is using an old plastic communion cup!)
The end results are completely amazing . . . 
Some of the paper tore when I removed the painter's tape, but after it dried completely and we laminated them, no one can tell!

We ended up by having a wonderful Christmas party on Wednesday and our big Christmas concert on Thursday.  This is one VERY tired teacher signing off.  See you in 2012!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time to Put on My Big Girl Panties and Deal with IT!

So it has been so long since I have posted.  There is really no excuse EXCEPT for the fact that I have been feeling sorry for myself.  You see, I posted a very simple Thanksgiving project to a website. It was so cute and very, very simple.  It was just a little Pilgrim and an Indian.  The comments were . . . .well, ummmmm . . . oh heck, they were just plain nasty!  First, it seems that I offended some people by "stereo-typing" the Indian.  Then came the lovely BLAST about how our project was nothing but "cookie cutter art".  I will admit that I did cut out the pieces and the children glued every thing down.  They also picked the beads and feathers from a large selection, making sure to pick out "their favorite colors".  It was simple, not the usual "detailed" work that we normal do.  BUT, it was a very nice way to end our VERY BUSY week before Thanksgiving.  AND it gave each and every child a wonderful sense of accomplish.  Well, here it is, you be the judge!

Now that I've got that off my chest, here is a few of the other activities that enjoyed before our Thanksgiving holiday.  We used our handprints to make some Incredible Indians - 
We also used our shapes to make the most wonderful turkey -
Can you see the different shapes?

Our class also was lucky enough to borrow a teepee from one of our families.  It was SO MUCH FUN to use as our very special reading nook.  We even used it as a background in our Indian pictures.  

All in all our Thanksgiving activities were pretty wonderful.  Be prepared . . . here comes our Christmas fun!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

I just could not wait another second!  I had to post our art project from today!  We talked ALL day about the upcoming Veteran's Day holiday and since we have several children who have Dads/Granddads who are veterans, I had to do something special.  I think we nailed it!  
(Yep, this is for you POPS!)

The white rectangle is actually a picture of the child holding the U.S. flag!

Up close view!

Making him was so much fun!  We used a sponge and "bounced" the paint on!

It was a little messy (okay it was ALOT messy!) but WOW it was fun.

The most important part of today was the lesson.  I hope everyone got the message, "be grateful!".

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

"M" Week and Home & Family

With Halloween over, we hit the road running on Tuesday as we started talking about our Homes and Family!  Nothing says family like talking about our Moms and talk we did!  I love hearing everyone talk about what makes their Moms special.  It seems I have a lot of Moms who are really good cooks!  We also did a wonderful art project - a house made completely with triangles and squares!!
I wish everyone could hear the children as the recognize the shapes.  My favorite comment was from "H" when he told me the grass was NOT a triangle or a square, it was a rectangle!  I loved it!  Look closely at the grass, the children cut it themselves!  I love working on our fine motor skills!

We spent most of Wednesday talking about the letter "M".  It turned out to be one of the most fun letters!  I found some magnets and little marbles with tiny metal balls inside!  I knew we just HAD to paint with them.   We dropped the marbles into the paint and held the magnet UNDER the plastic tray . . . . 

We wiggled the magnet and the little marbles magically followed along!  

The final results were truly magnificent - a multi-colored "M"! 

The rest of the day was devoted to those lovely magnets!  We tried all day to see what they would stick too!

It was a GREAT DAY!

Thursday was spent talking once again about our wonderful families.  Everyone loved taking turns and telling us who was in their family!  I loved when out of the blue "W" asked ME who was in MY family?  As soon as I finished listing everyone they all started giggling because they already knew about my son, the police officer!
We painted the most wonderful family tree on Thursday.  I didn't really want to JUST PAINT it, I wanted something different.  I found some old make-up brushes and they were a big hit!  
I think the children did an amazing job on their trees.

After they dried we added the names of everyone in our families!  Now that is a family tree to be proud of!

Friday was FINALLY here!  I love Fridays!  We really have a lot of fun on Fridays and I was determined NOT to disappoint anyone this week!  As soon as everyone came in the door my sweet friend and fellow teacher, Mrs. Christi traced their foot onto some brown construction paper.  It was really easy and quick for us to cut them out.  Next the children added some eyes, his nostrils and last but not least his hand print antlers!  What a Marvelous Moose!
Of course we had to read the wonderful book, If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff.  Ms Numeroff writes the most wonderful books.  I love them all!  

One of my student's Dad gave me some LARGE clear plastic tubes that had caps on one end.  The best part was that they unscrewed so I could put stuff in them.  I've had them for a few weeks but I really couldn't decide what to do with them.  Ahhhhhhhhhh. . . . then it hit me!

Look closely at what we put inside - 

Rice, metal marbles, metal clips, gem clips, puzzle pieces, etc.  When put together with our magnets, these long tubes made the most wonderful way to work on our fine motor skills.  I truly believe some of the children would have played with them all day long.  It didn't take long for the boys to realize that the only way the inside pieces would stick to the magnets was to ggggoooooo  vvveerrrryyyy ssssllllllloooooowwwww.  AHHHHH . . .an instant calming effect!  SUCCESS!

But I really couldn't let that calm go on TOO long, now could I????  NOPE!  We headed down to the kitchen for a little (and I do mean little) science experiment.  You know, you stick the marshmallows in the microwave and the blow up!  Okay, that was fun, BUT not fun enough so next I dumped several bags of mini marshmallows on the table and a couple of boxes of toothpicks.  Everyone looked at me and finally "C" said, "what do we do now?".  My response, "what do you want to do?".  OH MY, the most amazing thing happened. . . .
  Instant Art!

Again, several of the children were amazed at their structures.  I truly believe the children were proud of their work.  I could actually see their confidence strengthening!  It was a magical!

We had a few minutes before our playground time and what better way to wait for everyone to put on their jackets then to hold the first annual Marble Run of 2011!  I found some old plain hard cardboard tubes in a supply closet.  Now these look like giant toilet tissue rolls, no caps on them, the perfect thing to see how far a marble could race down the hall!  Everyone got a turn to let the marble fly!

Man, some of those marbles could soar all the way down the hall!
Okay, that was fun, but I had one more surprise . . . . 

As soon as we came in from the playground and everyone finished lunch we headed back to the kitchen for one more marble run!  This time we connect several hard plastic tubes together (again, I raided a seldom used supply closet) and well you can see for yourself . . . 

It was a hit!  We let the marbles fly back and forth.  It was a great way to end our day!  

Throughout our week I took pictures of each child holding our U.S. flag.  I have a very special activity planned for this Thursday in honor of Veteran's Day.  I hope you will stop back by and see what we will be doing.