Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Hand Print Tree

Our first group project in the new art studio!

It was SO nice to be able to leave it to dry! 
Before, I would be trying to locate a large enough, safe, area and then trying to move it there without demolishing all their hard work!

First, we worked on painting within the lines I casually sketched out. For these children, 2 1/2-3, that's something we are working on right now...staying in and on lines.

Next they each chose a color to paint. By doing it this way, each child can easily identify their own handprints, and the colors didn't get mixed and turn all to brown. I was actually surprised that they made such distinct handprints and didn't go nuts and just smear all over it. G swtiched to brown and H switched to orange at the end. My little sensory fusser A did a great job with green, but was done with it pretty quick.

On my trek to Michaels this weekend, I found the frisbees 1/2 off, .50@, so I bought 6. I just hadn't taken them outside yet and they were lying around. I needed something relatively small with sides, but large enough for their hands, that the children could use as paint palettes. I saw these, and thought, "Ah, ha!" [Seriously. I thought that.]

They worked out perfectly. These frisbees will be staying in the art studio and I'll have to make another trek to Micheals THIS weekend, too!


Tried to get the labels off. Not happening easily. I'll have to get out the peanut butter and let them set a day or so. I like using PB to get off stickers for anything the children will use. It doesn't leave any chemical residue or possibly mess up the plastic in any way. 

 The end result is a wonderful composition that we can leave up for the season.

Tags: mural, group, team, hand, print, painting, finger, finger painting, hand print painting, leaves, fall, autumn, tree, red, orange, green, yellow, red, brown, art, craft, daycare, child, childcare, care, preschool, theme unit

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pumpkin Puffs

[For a quick cookie!]

The kiddos go nuts for these yummy pumpkin cookies. Start to finish 15 minutes for 36 cookies. 

1 box spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin puree

mix together
drop by teaspoon full onto 
cookie sheet coated with cooking spray
bake 350 degrees [preheated] for 10 minutes

I didn't this time, but it's a great snack for the children to help make with mixing and scooping out onto the cookie sheets.Tags: snack, easy, quick, child, childcare, care, daycare, preschool, kids, kid, kids, cookie, cake, cake mix, pumpkin, fall, autumn, baking, drop, 

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough

Made up a batch of this YUMMMMY smelling play dough this afternoon. Miss H helped determine how much spice was needed for it to smell JUST RIGHT. Her momma had a a good sniff as well. I think this will be a huge hit tomorrow!

My usual recipe, plus some spices and coloring...

2 1/2 C flour
1/2 C salt
1 t cream of tartar
1 T cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice

2 C boiling water
3 T canola oil
15 drops yellow food coloring
5 drops red food coloring

Combine wet and dry. Kneed a few time to get to elastic consistency. Add flour as needed if too wet. 

They like the smell.

They like the feel.

Even the big kid couldn't keep his hands off of it! 
Tags: pumpkin, pie, play, doh, dough, art, sensory, fall, autumn, kids, child, childcare, daycare, preschool, care, fine motor, cinnamon, kids, spice, playdoh, theme, unit 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn / Fall Sensory Bin with Learning Activities

Our new fall sensory bin may look rather unassuming, but it is CHOCK FULL of learning opportunities and a sensory explosion!

The tools are not in there. Once they are, the bin really has very little extra room. We had to remove the Indian corn when it wasn't being used.

(2) 42 oz/1.19 kg Large containers of old fashioned oats
(1) .75 oz/21 g container of Pumpkin Pie Spice
*I bought a third container of oats, but 2 was sufficient to fill it nicely.

12 Pinecones [found, but they do have in floral at Dollar Store]
12 Each red, yellow, green silk leaves [Dollar Store]
12 Small mixed colored pumpkins [Dollar Store]
12 Each red, yellow, green multi-sized pom poms as apples
(1) Mini straw bale [craft store]
(3) Ears of Indian Corn [grocery store]
(3) Toilet paper tubes [from NEW rolls]
(3) Autmn/fall 4" pom poms as apple trees [yarn from WalMart]

*I purposefully didn't use any real pumpkins or apples due to wanting to re-use the filler at a later date. So, nothing organic that could drop bits if played with roughly. They have those for other areas and other activities. They also must wash their hands well prior to playing in it.

Mini scoops [formula measuring cups]
Large tweezers
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Various small containers
Various misc. items to scoop with or into.

Here are the regular tools in their tool box. Additionally, they are open to bringing anything they want from other play areas, such as funnels, play dishes, figures, cars, etc. I try to keep the manipulatives fairly small, so no great big measuring cups, since the goal is fine motor and sensory, not massive dumping with immediate results as we have in our outside sensory areas.

As with all my sensory bins, this one is set up to work specific preschool/kindergarten skills.

COLOR MATCHING/SORTING. Leaves, pumpkins, and pom poms can all be sorted and grouped by color into the colored bowls, as the girls were doing here, out on the table, or within the bin. Or, individual items can be sorted out by color. 

SIZING. The pinecones and pom poms can all be sorted by small, medium and large. The pom poms can be advanced to 2-characteristic sorting by color and by size.

They can also sort the pom poms by color or size ONTO the apple trees, adding in an additional element.

COUNTING. Works on 1-12 and the concept of a dozen, the children can count out the 8 different elements that have 12 items within the bin.

1-1 CORRESPONDENCE. The children can match pom poms to leaves, pinecones to pumpkins, apple trees to ears of corn, etc.

DIRECTIONAL. "Look, I put a pumpkin on top of the straw bale!" was one of the first things I heard. Apples ON the tree. Items IN the containers. Leaves UNDER the pinecones. Pom poms going THROUGH the TP tubes. 

SENSORY. BUMPY, SOFT and SMOOTH were said about the corn kernels. CRINKLY was said about the corn husk. ROUGH and SCRATCHY were said about the straw bale. YUMMY was said about the oats and spice mix. That was within the first 5 minutes of play.

SHAPES. Sphere, cylinder, circle, cone, square, rectangle, cube, rectangular prism, 

FINE MOTOR. Filling, scooping, stacking, placing, moving manipulatives. Writing into the oats. 

GROSS MOTOR. It's a large bin. The children have to use quite a bit of gross motor work to reach everything they want to and move items from one end to another.

Filling the pumpkin pie spice jar that was emptied into the oats.
They ask to play in the sensory bins every day! 

Keep in mind that if you don't want to spend much money, even having one sensory bin for each season is a great place to start. Seasonal ones can be used for the 3 months with just changing out a few items here and there. Purchase items on clearance for the season just past for next year. 
Tags: autumn, fall, season, seasonal, sensory, bin, sensory bin, kids, child, childcare, math, science, shapes, counting, oats, apple, pumpkin, leaves, leaf, pinecone, straw, tools, how to, fine motor, gross motor, care, daycare, preschool, kids, theme, unit

Making Pom Poms

I made these Autumn/Fall poms specifically to act as apple trees in the sensory bin. They are four inches across, i.e. tied at 2 inches, and not excessively full so that the green, yellow and red "apples" could easily be snuggled within them. The pom poms stick very well to the yarn and hold on with no problem. They also sit on the toilet paper tubes easily.

This bin is usually used by 3-4 children at a time, so I made 4. I wrap around the back of one of my bar stools. It's 16 inches across, which will give me (4) 4 inch poms. The yarn slips easily off these chair backs for tying and cutting. After cutting, I just give them a little hair cut to even everything up. I save the bits of yarn for another sensory bin filler.

They turned out really cute and the children really liked playing with them.

Tags: pom pom, pom, autumn, fall, big, large, yarn, sensory, childcare, child, care, kid, daycare, preschool

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Autumn Trees from Paper Bags

Preschool time in October for us includes a lot of crafts. One of these is making autumn trees from lunch sacks.
  • Trace and cut a square from a cereal box
  • Trace and cut a square from green construction paper and glue onto cardboard piece, aligning them
  • Cut a square from orange construction paper and then cut the corners off to create an octagon
  • Using black marker, draw a face onto the octagon
  • Cut a rectangle from orange or green construction paper no longer than bottom edge of the pumpkin octagon, fold in half long ways and glue one end to green board in middle front and one edge to the pumpkin to make stand up
  • Twist the lower 1/3 of a brown lunch sack and glue the bottom to a corner of the green board
  • Snip with scissors the top of the sack 
  • Tear off pieces of autumn colored tissue paper, wad up and glue randomly to the upper 1/3 of the lunch sack 

Art: creative expression, cut, paste, 3D sculpture, mixed media, composition, color
Fine Motor: tracing, cutting with scissors, cutting a line, gluing, twisting bag, writing faces
Social: following directions, facial expressions
Math: logic/reasoning, shapes, geometry, directional placement, fractions 

We had 6 pumpkins/gourds out. 
  • 2 were regular and orange (in picture), 
  • 2 were orange with a lot of warts/nubbies on them, and 
  • 2 were white with one nubby and one not 
All were of different sizes, but with a distinct difference between the 3 larger and 3 smaller (one of each kind). The children could group by smooth, nubby, color, size or graduate sizes. 

We measured their height, weight and circumference and charted this on the white board, along with the same measurements of the children. We used a measuring tape, yard stick, ruler, pound scale and ounce scale to measure and the children had to debate which tool would be best and jointly decide on which one was best to use. H wouldn't quite fit on the ounce scale we found out.

Fine Motor: measuring one another
Social: following directions, cooperation
Math: graphing, measuring, logic/reasoning, units of measurement, measurement vocabulary, 

Tags: October, fall, autumn, pumpkins, trees, preschool, craft, cut, paste, glue, theme, unit, art, sculpture, daycare, preschool, child, care, childcare, halloween, pumpkin, tree, leaves, paper sack, kid, kids, theme, uniit

Apples Theme - Fun Stuff


Curious George Apple Picking       
Crispy’s Apple Stand
The Juice Moose Arcade
Painting Johnny Appleseed
The Juice Moose Arcade
Kai-lan's Super Apple Surprise


The Apple Star
Take an apple round and red.
Don't slice down
Slice through instead.
Right inside it you will see
A star as pretty as can be!

Special Star
Take an apple round and red.
Don't slice down, slice through instead.
Look inside it and you'll see,
A special star for you and me!

Apple Poem
A is for Apple,
Round and Sweet,
Red Red Apple,
So good to eat.

Thank You Johnny Appleseed
Thank you Johnny Appleseed.
We owe you quite a lot,
For the apples that you planted
With a Bible and a cooking pot.
Your seeds were planted far and wide.
You gave a helping hand.
A friendly word you had for all,
Across our frontier land.
Thank you Johnny Appleseed.
We owe you quite a lot.
The lovely trees and apples,
And the lessons that you taught.


Five Red Apples
Five red apples hanging in a tree (Hold up five fingers)
The juiciest apples you ever did see.
The wind came by and gave an angry frown (Fingers flutter down)
And one little apple came tumbling down (One finger falls)
Four red apples, hanging in a tree, etc.

(Can also use 5 apples or finger puppets to demonstrate with)

All Around The Apple Tree (Mulberry Bush)
Here we go round the apple tree, the apple tree, the apple tree
Here we go around the apple tree
On a frosty morning.
This is the way we climb the ladder
-pick the apples
-wash the apples
-peel the apples
-cook the apples

Ten Red Apples
(Both hands high) Ten red apples grow on a tree
(Dangle one hand and then the other) Five for you and five for me.
(Shake body) Let us shake the tree just so
(Hands fall) And ten red apples will fall below
(Count ea. finger) 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

Here Is An Apple
(make circle with thumb and pointer) Here is an apple
(make circle with other thumb and pointer) and here is an apple
(Make circle with arms) and a great big apple I see
Now let's count the apples we've made
(repeat above actions) 1 - 2 - 3 !

Apples Are Falling (Are You Sleeping?)
Apples are falling, apples are falling
From the tree, from the tree.
Pick up all the apples, pick up all the apples,
One. two, three; one, two,. three.
(Use appropriate motions for actions)

Have You Ever Seen An Apple? (Have You Ever Seen A Lassie?)
Have you ever seen an apple,
an apple, an apple.
Have you ever seen an apple
that grows on a tree?
A red one, a yellow one,
a green one, a golden one.
Have you ever seen an apple
that grows on a tree?

Apples, Apples (Twinkle, Twinkle)
Apples juicy, apples round,
On the tree or on the ground.
Apples yellow, apples red,
Apple pie and juice and bread!
Apples crunchy, apples sweet,
Apples are so good to eat!

I'm a Little Apple (I'm a Little Teapot)
I'm a little apple, short and round,
I make a munchy, crunchy sound,
If you bite into me you will see -
I'm delicious as can be!

Apple Tree (Twinkle, Twinkle)
Way up high in the apple tree (stretch arm up high)
Two red apples smiled at me (hold up 2 fingers)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (make a shaking motion)
Down came the apples, (make a downward motion)
Mmmm--were they good! (smile and rub stomach)

Apples For (10 Little Indians)
One little, two little, three little apples
Four little, five little, six little apples
Seven little, eight little, nine little apples
All for an apple pie (sauce, some bread, cider, etc.)


Apple Relay
Have children try to balance an apple on a plate (shallow bowl for younger children) from one end to the other and place it in a crate/basket.

Rotten Apple
Discuss how apples rot. Play like "Hot Potato" but let it end with the last person being left with a rotten apple and they have to go off and plant the seeds.


Apple Dissection 
Provide apples, plastic butter knives, magnifying glasses, etc. after reviewing the parts of an apple. Can have each child do an apple, count the seeds, and graph the results. Then use the seeds for an art project.

Taste Test 
Provide different types of apples for children to taste and choose their favorite. To be graphed.

Taste Test 
Provide different types of apple foods for children to taste and decide if they like or don't like. To be graphed. Apples, apple cider, apple vineger, apple sauce, apple bread, apple pie, apple baby food, etc.

Apple Changes 
Place an apple in a plastic bag and let rot, checking the progress regularly with the children. Place another to dry in a warm dry place (may have to use a low heat oven or food dehydrator) to show the difference. 


Sensory tubs are appropriate for children over 3 years old due to small pieces being the main sensory components. Ideas for this theme include:
  • Large pom poms, red/yellow/green
  • Plastic apples, others of different sizes and textures
  • Tongs to sort apples
  • Silk leaves
  • Small rake for leaves
  • Red/yellow/green containers for sorting
  • Animal figures that might eat apples
  • Mini pie tins and tan felt pieces for crusts
Additional items can be added to continue into a fall theme
  • Acorns
  • Pinecones
  • Colored leaves
  • Play pumpkins
  • Halloween related items

Pretend play as apple farmers, Johnny Appleseed, cooking with apples, restaurant that serves apple items or animals that eat apples.
  • Farmer clothes such as hats and overalls
  • Crates, baskets or bushel baskets
  • Play apples
  • Metal pot large enough to wear as hat like Johnny Appleseed
  • Apple food menus
Check out my other APPLE theme posts...Apple Theme with FREEBIES, and Arm Print Apple Trees craft.
tags: apple, theme, unit, songs, fingerplays, poetry, rhymes, childcare, child, care, daycare, preschool, fall, autumn, season, circle, time, movement

Apples Theme with FREEBIES

As I checked the pears hanging heavy on our trees this morning for ripeness, and the children were running around with their jackets on, it really hit me that fall is upon us!

$1 for set

Since my apples file folder games (above) have been selling so well, I went ahead and compiled the rest of my Apples Printables for Preschool (sampling below) and put it up on TPT today. 
$4.25  This 67 page packet includes 52 pages of printables including: addition/subtraction counting mat with manipulatives, calendar/number line cards, 6 board bingo with calling cards that can be used for patterning or games, Pick a Dozen Apples game, mini book working 1-10/number words/colors/color words, Build an Apple Tree dice game, apple dot-to-dots: number/lower case/upper case, 2 graphs for apple foods and drinks, lacing, spiral maze, 2 apple rulers, patterning file folder game or card strips, apple craft pattern with 2 stem options, Parts of an Apple poster, 2 pre-writing worksheets, 2 tangram boards, 2 word and 1 number puzzles, shadow matching, sizing, word build, word search, word wall, sentence wall, fuse bead craft pattern, bookmarks, abc worksheet. Additional pages include instructions/ suggestions and teaching resources.

Free previews are available for you to check out before you buy, and I always guarantee your satisfaction. Remember that all the graphics are created by me, so everything is fully customizable.

As always, I have a freebie thrown out there on TPT. This time it is the pre-writing apple tree worksheet.

However, for my loyal blog followers, I add the following poster:

It will show up on Scribd as a PRIVATE DOCUMENT, but you can print it out with no issue. I'm giving you permission via linking through here. However, if you do have any issues, please let me know ASAP! Thanks. 

This is only available for printing and only free through this link. 

Here are some of the books I recommend for this theme.  

I'm really looking forward to getting started on this theme with this new batch of kiddos. It's a wonderful one for these younger preschoolers. 

Check out my post on all the teaching resources I use with this theme, songs, fingerplays, etc. and our cute arm print painting apple tree craft.
tags: apple, theme, unit, preschool, daycare, childcare, child, care, fall, autumn, season, printable, worksheet, free, writing, spelling, language, fine, motor, poster, counting, alphabet, letters, numbers, games, file, folder, craft, kid, kids

Arm Print Apple Trees

"The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day." - Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess

SO...we had time to do this classic! 

  • Have child sign and date their paper (easier to do first)
  • Mix brown paint (if you don't have it, I don't):                                                                                 1/3 yellow to 2/3 red to dab of blue
  • Palate green paint and red paint
  • Have child paint their forearm brown and hand green

  • Stamp onto appropriate sized paper
  • Have child paint their other hand green and stamp in the white parts to fill in
  • Have child do finger print stamps of red and/or yellow for apples

Art: creative expression, painting
Social: following directions

Science: apples grow on trees
Math: counting apples on the tree, measuring arm length

Check out the other apple theme posts...Apples Theme - Fun Stuff with songs, fingerplays, etc. and Apples Theme with FREEBIES: a pre-writing worksheet and apple anatomy poster to print.
tags: arm, apple, painting, craft, art, stamp, stamping, child, tree, finger, daycare, child, care, childcare, preschool, kindergarten, kid, kids

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Knowledge, It's In a Child's Eyes

In teaching young children for so many years, I have learned in order to be an effective teacher, you have to look them in the eyes. In their eyes, you can easily see what is in their mind and in their heart. 

When I give an instruction or lesson, I look for three levels in their understanding.

Blank Stare/Confusion
Either of these indicates that the child is: 

  • developmentally incapable of the action requested
  • needs clarification or a visual representation
  • is tired and unable to focus
Understanding and Acceptance
These two together indicate that the child is:

  • developmentally on task
  • is compliant with the request or comfortable with the skill requested
  • does not find the task particularly challenging, insightful or entertaining
  • is alert, focused, and content

Understanding and Calculation
These two together indicate the the child is:

  • developmentally at or above the task
  • finds the task challenging or stimulating in some manner
  • has had their interest or ire piqued to some degree
  • is rapidly mentally calculating all aspects of the task
  • is weighing the advantages and disadvantages of compliance if it is a request or command
  • is comparing and contrasting the task to others of a similar nature they have previously encountered
  • is assimilating the current information into a broader context
While understanding and acceptance are the most easy situations, those are NOT TEACHING MOMENTS. 

If a child is just so-so about a task, showing understanding and acceptance, then there is no challenge to the child. It's busy work. Babysitting.

If a child has little to no understanding of a task, then that reflects on the teacher's ability to properly present information according to individual needs and properly evaluate skill sets. 

Or, the skill being presented is at the outermost reaches of the child's current ability. Such as with counting, the child may count as far as they have down pat, but when you ask them for the next number, they get blank and confused. That is an indication simply of a current limit to teach beyond. They are not physically or mentally developmentally incapable of the task, but learning-wise developmentally incapable.

However, when presented often enough with that next number, they will get to the understanding and calculation phase. They will be able to put the new number into context, assimilate it into their counting repertoire and continue on. 

I feel that this is one of the key elements missing in today's educational environment. Teachers speak with their backs to the class writing on white boards, send students off to do "centers" on their own, and spend far too much time doing whole-class instruction. 

There is too much Understanding and Compliance expected from children and frustration or irritation on the part of teachers when presented with confusion, calculation and challenge. 

However, when you see these in a child's eyes, you KNOW that you are a TEACHER, and that it's time to get busy.

The other area I look for in their eyes, is their heart. I child can't learn if they can't focus, and it takes a confident and content child to focus on learning. Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Ashamed and/or Fearful
This tells me the child:
  • feels as if they SHOULD know how to do something they DO NOT
  • is berated somewhere, somehow for perceived deficiency
  • has low self-esteem and needs successes
  • the child has had a developmental paradigm shift and their world just got bigger and a little scary
  • is experiencing separation anxiety
Confident and Content
This tells me the child:
  • is good with life, good with what they are doing  and has few to no issues and is ready for anything and everything
Confident and Not Content
  • the child is bored
  • the child has some emotional issue going on
  • the child has some physical issue going on - tired, hungry, hurting, etc.
  • has changes at home in routine of some kind
  • is needing attention in some way from some one
Many times it is the confident and content children who act out and let their needs be known. They are the children with enough self-esteem and confidence in the world that they believe that if their needs are known, they will be fulfilled. It is the others, the ashamed, fearful and the confident but not content that often bottle things up inside. 

It is through their eyes that you can find these needs, these needs that keep them from learning, keep them from their potential. Unless a need is identified, it can not be met. Until it is met, it is a detriment to a child's well-being, either emotionally or physically, and their learning ability.

Lives are so busy these days. Teachers are overwhelmed with too many students and parents are often just treading water trying to keep afloat with all they need to get done. Children are commended for "good" behavior and compliance. But good and compliant doesn't create the next innovators, the next challengers, the next generation of entrepreneurs, the greatest of our society. It doesn't create passionate people with a true love of what they do. 

Get on the child's level, look them in the eyes, look into their heart and mind, and respond accordingly. They are a whole person, not a reflection of the adult they will become. They deserve our respect and consideration for who they are, how they feel, their wants, needs, and desires. It is our responsibility to inspire, encourage, and challenge children to learn. Not babysit them. 
Tags: parenting, teaching, childcare, child, care, daycare, preschool, pre-k, maslow's hierarchy of needs, maslow, children, toddler, instruction, curriculum, education, educational, reform, elementary, classroom