Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monday Journaling for Preschool

When talking about assessments, I mentioned that we do journaling every Monday. I start this as soon as they are old enough to hold and manipulate a crayon, without eating the majority of it.

We are now using this journaling page that I created, and have available FREE in my TPT store.
Preschool Journaling Page
As mentioned also in the writing post, I assess these using a couple of matrices that I keep handy.

This one from Heidi at Heidi's Songs...

And this Drawing Development in Children chart beautiful illustrated by Susan Donley.

To see how important it is to do this regularly, and the progression you can observe, here is the art work of Mr. G over the last 3 1/2 years.

 8/30/11 First Journal Page 16 months

3/19/12 First Journal Description - "It's a bicycle." 23 months

 9/4/12 Less scribbling and more intentional drawing. 
2 years 5 months

 3/18/13 Progression to Lines 3 years

 4/10/13 Progression to Intentional Circles 3 years

Note that progression from lines to circles for this child occurred within a few weeks. If we didn't journal every Monday, I would have missed that rapid leap.

 7/15/13 Adding Letters to Drawings 3 years 3 months

Notice that movement into letter formation happened within 3 months of intentional line and circle drawing. Drawing is a natural extension into writing.

12/2/13 Extensive journal entries begin at the same time as the first identifiable figure is drawn. 3 years 8 months.

"He went to his house and he was cold when he was walking. Then he arrived to his home. He was walking long ago."

1/13/14 Some times the simplest of drawings can have the most intense meanings. 3 years 9 months. 

"Me and Cora [his dog]. She is helping me with cleaning my room. She is licking me because she loves me."

 1/20/14 Progression of drawing from just figures to object representations. 3 years 9 months. 

"These are the stairs I am walking up. Mommy is gone. The dog is licking me on Christmas Eve. This is the stockings. Cora is kissing me with licking me and daddy let me carry her upstairs. I feel happy."

5/12/14 Adding in environmental components such as sky. 
4 years 1 month. 

"Me and Blake and one of our wheelbarrows and my daddy. I'm hugging daddy."

12/29/14 Combination of skills utilized for random drawing. Practicing. 4 years 8 months. The older they get, the more specific the detail and the more they add in life experiences their parents may wish would stay unrepresented.  

"Triangle, square, trapezoid and a BIG G. Two Ps and two Rs. A man with X shirts holding a beer cup with beer inside."


When I send the children off to kindergarten, I send their binders home. I love looking back over the years and remembering the excitement I experienced every time I noticed something new, moving, or amazing in their journaling. It's always a joy to hear their stories.
Tags: homeschooling, writing, fine motor, cognitive, development, developmentally appropriate, drawing, writing, journal, journaling, speech, language, literacy, reading, grammar, teaching, theme, unit, art, hand eye coordination, crossing the midline, kindergarten, prek, pre k, child care, daycare

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Activities and Crafts

Here are a few of the activities and crafts we did this Christmas season.


Using our bins from the block area, I made up the point value numbers, laminated them, and used packing tape to put them on the buckets. The first day worked counting by fives and multiples of fives for the bigs, and number recognition of 5 units for the littles. We changed it up on other days for 2's and 10's. 

Skills: Hand-eye coordination, taking turns, following directions, spatial awareness, number recognition, multiples, graphing, interpreting a graph, ordinal count


These are darling keepsakes. I used hotglue for the popsicle sticks. They chose their color and added the gems. I cut out their pictures and added them to a background of scrapbooking paper. The date is simply written on with a fine Sharpie. They used a brown marker to color in the popsicle piece for the truck if they wished.


More product than process, but it's really cute. Traced a handprint on folded brown construction paper and cut out. Bigs could do their own cutting. 

Cut two triangles from a sheet of brown construction paper by marking the long sides into thirds and using 2/3 of each side as the bottom of the reindeer. They folded over the top of the triangle, and added the eyes and nose. The bigs could have pom pom noses if they wanted. The big girls wanted to make Clarise, so of course that meant a BLACK nose and bow. The littles I let use the google eyes, but not the pom poms, simply because I know what works and doesn't with them. Pom poms would not work.

Big Miss H asked if she could make her reindeer into a mask. Huh. SURE! Miss A also thought that was a wonderful idea.


Yeah, it might be a stretch on the ornament piece, but they bought it. I just used a large heart cookie cutter to cut out the sandwiches for breakfast.


Thinned down frosting in squirt bottles, M&M's, sprinkles, and candies. Only the big kids got to do this. They had fun, but it was MESSSSSSYYYYYYY! Eating them was a whole 'nother problem. Most of it got thrown away. I do not recommend this activity for anything other than using them on a gingerbread house display.


One of those super simple, surprisingly amazing activities. The all LOVED this one. Just jingle bells in a container of water with a strong magnet wand to move them around. Note that the jingle bells were rusting pretty good after a few weeks in the water, but the use they got out of it was worth it.


Okay, so this was my first effort at pancake art, so give me a break. The kiddos loved them and thought I did a great job.

And of course, check out the posts on our Christmas Dramatic Play Area,

and our Christmas Sensory Bin from this year.

Tags: child care, daycare, kindergarten, preschool, pre-k, craft, activity, math, Christmas, holiday, season, theme, unit, homeschool, homeschooling, education

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Dramatic Play


Gifts were able to be wrapped and bagged with a large selection of boxes, bags, ribbons, tissue and bows.

The Santa hats made it official.

I wanted the children to have their own tree this year. We began to put up the big one, but they wouldn't be able to reach all of it, so we just put up the top half.

Just putting up the tree used several skills, such as color matching, logic/reasoning, spatial relations, sequencing, gross motor and fine motor.

Most of the ornaments didn't have hooks, so it was some excellent fine motor work getting the hooks on and the ornaments onto the tree.

The end result was darling. The children can decorate, un-decorate and re-decorate to their heart's content.

The fireplace is simply a shelving unit turned on it's side. On the back I put white butcher paper and stamped it with a kitchen sponge in red paint with a hint of black thrown in. I was going to have them help with this, but it became too messy.

I wanted to have an open space for the "fire" and use pool noodles for logs, but I just didn't have the time or resources to build something, and figured the "fire" would migrate anyway. So, ours is made from layers of construction paper.

The fire helped warm babies being fed.

The decorations came on and off SO many times.

It warmed little feet pretending to take naps in front of it.

And it was the perfect spot for drinking hot cocoa and eating snowball cookies for snack on pajama day!

Once Christmas and December were over, they BEGGED me to keep the fireplace and tree. So, we went with a winter theme instead, and added snow. 
Tags: Christmas, child care, daycare, preschool, pre-k, homeschool, homeschooling, children, kids, dramatic play, wrapping station, pretend, center, kindergarten

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Sensory Bin

I was told, and I quote, 
"This is the BEST sensory bin we have EVER had! It's SO pretty, too!"

It's also been one of the most played. I have to take it away, because they will play with it for HOURS. Seriously, if left down, it would be played with by someone one for the entire day.

What's included:

  • OLD apple cinnamon potpourri, so the oils have faded and the scent is just a hint of its original
  • Pine cones
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Jingle bells of multiple sizes and colors for sorting*
  • Plastic candy canes*
  • Red tinsel*
  • Green curled ribbon
  • Bell garland*
  • Ornament garland*
  • Styrofoam packing chunks
  • Fabric snowflakes*
  • Chunk of fake pine garland
  • Snowy pine tree minis*
*From the dollar store

I really wanted some real pine bough, but I could only find them for $25, so...NO.

Note that all of these children are around 3 or older. Several items would not be age appropriate for children who still put things in their mouths.

Of course the tinsel became a boa first off..

They've been playing with this for the last two weeks now, so it's showing it's wear today, but often all you see is the "pretty" pictures of sensory, not the activeness of the activity.

The fine motor work of making "snow" out of the Styrofoam was a lot of work and one of the better fine motor activities they have done. They are STILL working at it, two weeks later.

They love scooping and stacking the jingle bells, placing them in containers to jingle, and using the scoop for centrifugal jingly movement.

With the leavings from mass deconstruction, they decorate the mini trees for Christmas.

A LOT of sorting has been going on, and off course, play feeding me some jingle bell soup.

While we have our standard containers they play with, I love seeing how they improvise. The bells are mostly used as vessels that get filled then poured one into the other.

I was also served some jingle bell ice cream.

It may be a mess, but hey, that just shows how much brain building it's been accomplishing.

Sensory is WONDERFUL! 

Follow Connie -'s board Christmas Theme on Pinterest.