Friday, June 29, 2012

International Mud Day Celebration

In celebration of International Mud Day, we got messy!

The construction pit was transformed with a little help from the hose. It went from this...

 To THIS...


We also played on our water pillow.

There was a lot of hopping,


rolling, and laying. 

A wonderful sensory morning on a hot summer day.

To make the water pillow: 
  • Double over heavy duty plastic sheeting to twice the finished size you want 
  • Fold in half to finished size
  • Fold over edges twice and duct tape [use heavy duty tape] down as you go 
  • Leave one corner open for filling
  • Check seal of tape, securing firmly all the way around
  • Add a second tape layer, overlapping first by at least 1/2 inch, as needed
  • Place about 6 drops of green and 6 drops of blue food coloring into the hole
  • Fill  to desired depth, 1-2 inches
  • Double fold opening and seal with tape
Tags: water, play, sensory, mud, international mud day, june 29, outdoor, pillow, mattress, plastic, sheeting, childcare, child, care, daycare, preschool, fun

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Patriotic Preschool Hats

These 4th of July hats are always a huge hit. They are also great for Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, Flag Day, President's Day, or made in yellow, purple and green for Mardi Gras. 

For older preschoolers, fold sheets of construction paper length-wise into 1 inch strips to create cutting lines. There are a LOT of strips to be cut, so I usually only have them do one sheet of cutting. For younger children, I try to do a few strips with teacher-assist scissors. The rest of the strips, I use my paper cutter. It will take 6 strips of each color, with an extra one for every year of age over 2. 

The large stars are used to cover the seam at the center of the headband. Older children can be provided with a template to trace and cut out. Younger ones will need teacher assistance with this.

The band is two 2-inch strips cut length-wise from the child's choice of red, white or blue construction paper. We glue the seam to keep it flat, but I also staple to ensure it doesn't fall apart with repeated use. Older children with especially large heads may need an additional filler piece inserted into the band. The two 11 inch long strips can be joined to make a headband up to 21 inches long. Two year old have about a 19 inch head circumference and it goes up by about an inch a year. 

The band is turned over and placed in front of the child. 

They then create the ABC pattern of red, white and blue. Once completed, and correct, I move the strips just above the top of the band, have the child glue all over the band, especially the edges, and then begin placing the strips down onto the headband.

Once the strips are secured, we turn it over. I ask the child to glue one star on top the stapled center seam. Then, they are free to place the other two stars where they want. 

I give them a strip of silver, red and blue star stickers and let them  at it. We count the number of stars of each color each child chose and graph them. 

When complete, I measure the band to fit the child's head and staple. I then use scissors to strip curl the red white and blue strips to create a firecracker effect. 

We will use these for many activities this week, not the least of which is acting like little firecrackers.


Math: patterning ABC, counting, 1-1 correspondence, left/right, logic/reasoning, shapes of star and rectangle
Art: creative expression, color recognition
Fine Motor: cut, paste, trace, scissors, placing, releasing stickers
Social: history, celebrations, traditions, following directions
Tags: 4th of July, craft, art, headband, hat, red, white, blue, star, stars and stripes, flag, patriotic, patriot, 4th, july, fourth, construction paper, glue, cut, paste, preschool, elementary, child, history, celebration, Independence Day, independence, parade, costume

Monday, June 25, 2012

4th of July Fuse & Pony Beads Necklace

 This cute 4th of July necklace was a huge hit when we did it. It is a great craft for preschoolers and early elementary children, really working those fine motor skills. 

We also discussed what the colors have come to mean, even though they had no meaning when originally used and the significance is really noted for the country's seal. 

"The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."

"The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun."

We did this pattern using a basic fuse bead grid.

After fusing the beads together [iron with a piece of parchment paper over the bead piece], the children picked out their red, white or blue yarn for their necklaces. With a large-eyed needle, we threaded the yarn down through middle hole of one of the top corner fuse beads and back up again on the opposite side. 

The children then were shown the red-white-blue red-white-blue pattern and asked to copy it onto each side of their necklaces with pony beads. This took some thinking, and a couple of tries, because they had to thread them on in the opposite order. We discussed SYMMETRY. When done, we tied them in the back, ensuring they were long enough to easily slip on and off. The parents said the children wore them to every 4th of July celebration.

Should have had him turn his around prior to pic! Oh well...
Math: Patterning, symmetry, logic/reasoning
Fine Motor: Fuse bead placement, threading yarn, threading pony beads
Social Studies: Flag, colors and meanings of the flag.
Tags: 4th of July, craft, preschool, children's, Independence Day, necklace, fuse bead, pony bead, 4th, July, President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, United States, Stars and Stripes

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pocket Folders for File Folder Games

File Folder Games are supposed to be in file folders. Right? Uh, no. Every file folder game has manipulatives that go with it. You place them in a baggie and stuff them in the middle of the file folder to store them. Right. Except my children have to move the file folder back and forth from the table, and the manipulatives seem to always fall out and get mangled. Most of my file folder games also have multiple games to be played on them, which means multiple baggies to fall and get mangled. SO...I started using pocket folders instead.

I get them at the back-to-school sales for anywhere from .10 to .01 depending on the store. So sometimes they are even more economical than using file folders. If you are used to doing file folder games, then this is pretty much review.
I laminate all my games pieces. 
The first thing I do is turn the folder inside out. Just like file folders, they are pretty cheap, so sometimes they have to be manhandled into submission.

Then I use spray adhesive on the back of my first game board. I like the Craft Bond because it's repositionable for a while. Which I sometimes need. Spray outside or in the garage with cardboard underneath your item. This stuff is horrible to try to get off, puts sticky all around and kinda smells. It just takes a VERY light coat. 

I center the game board upside down inside the folder and stick it back against the fold as snuggly as possible, then put the top down slowly, smoothing from the fold edge as I go to keep it neat inside.

 It ends up like this...

Then I spray the second board and center it on top of the first one, lift the back, snug it up against the fold again, and close the back over slowly, pressing it down from the fold.

 To look like this. 

To dress up the front and back, I add coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper. You don't have to. Since it looks like I will be teaching up to my death bed, it is worth the extra effort to me, as they will be in use for many years. 

Cut the scrapbook paper to size, spray the back and adhere. You can leave the sides a little long and trim later if you aren't good at getting a precise fit. But remember, the spray adhesive IS repositionable for a little bit.

If you don't use a background paper, it will look like this.

This Ants at the Picnic has 7 games, and 3 are also in Spanish, which makes 10 games total, so each set I place in a snack size baggie, use my label maker to identify, and while they will fit just fine down in the pocket, I like to stand them up so I can easily pick out which game I want a particular child to play, depending on the skill set I want them to be working on. The labels are placed on the INSIDE of the seal so that they won't get peeled off easily by normal use and wear.

I can put the Spanish manipulatives on the back pocket, or have easy ones in the front pocket and the more advanced ones in the back pocket. It's nice to be able to sort them out like that. 

No more lost or mangled manipulatives! WOO HOO!

New to file folder games? Check out my post on making them!

Tags: teacher, preschool, kindergarten, daycare, childcare, chi

Not looking to make your own? I have several available in my TPT store.
Tags: child care, daycare, homeschooling, preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, file folder, file folder game, preschool file folder games, tutorial, math, language, shapes, colors, alphabet, numbers, counting, reading, centers, center work, teaching

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Language Acquisition

The goal is to raise children who have a good vocabulary, proper/precise enunciation, varied pitch and tone, proper sentence structure, and an ability to converse in a socially acceptable manner.

First off, each child is VERY different, and language acquisition occurs in it's own time, at it's own pace. However, there are things that can be done to encourage and enable a child in this very important skill.

Secondly, children focus on either language or motor skills at any given time, never both. If a baby is learning to roll over, they coo less. Once that is mastered, they will be more interactive verbally. A child learning to walk, may stop using any words and again become less vocal. Even as they get older, a toddler focusing on running or kicking a ball may suddenly have a momentary lapse in verbal skills. This is normal and to be expected.

Research shows that the amount of verbal interaction an infant/toddler has with his/her MOTHER, is the deciding factor in how quickly and easily the child will acquire language skills. It is assumed that this connection is created inutero. No matter how much any other caregiver verbally interacts with a child, it is the MOTHER's interactions that take precedence and make the greatest impact and advancement. So PLEASE, mothers, talk incessantly to your child, using as much eye contact as possible, but even random babbling about what you see, hear or think will make a huge difference in your child's language skills. 

The tongue is the last muscle in the mouth to fully develop. Sucking, eating food (moving food to the back of the mouth), cooing and talking all help to develop this essential tool for speech. A child who constantly has a pacifier or thumb in her mouth, creates a passive mouth and may not be talking as much as she would without one. One thing I do to assist with increasing this muscle control, is to insist that children say YES, which is a whole mouth movement with a sharp consonant, rather than letting them get by with YEAH, which is a mushy, passive mouth word that does not help to increase the muscle formation. While it may sound like a small thing, children say YES many times a day. Every time they do, they are increasing their ability to speak distinctly.

Infants learn conversational conventions with their first coos to which you respond. The baby says maamaamaa, she stops, and you say maamaamaa, then stop and look at her, waiting for a response. Conversation is a give and take, and infants pick up on the expectation of that interaction very early. Repeat back as much as possible, as accurately as possible, the sounds your baby/toddler makes in a conversational manner. This will increase their interest and ability in language and is the necessary precursor to teaching the key element of mimicking. 

When speaking to your child, try, as much as possible, to be on eye level with him. When you stick your tongue out at a newborn, he will stick his out at you. Babies are innately programmed to mimick facial expressions and mouth movements. When you speak to your little one, exaggerate your mouth movements and speak distinctly, making the same sound and movement, over and over again. Hopefully until the child repeats the sound. A child that repeats sounds and words consistently will gain language skills at a higher level and far more quickly than a child that doesn't. With an older child that is having difficulty with specific words or sounds, you can assist in the same way; exaggerated mouth movements and enunciation, and having the child repeat after you several times, giving praise for efforts. One of the words we are working on with my 2s is pretzel. One says predel. So I get down on her level, ask her to watch my mouth, and very distinctly say PRRRREEEETZZZZ and have her repeat that, and then EL having her repeat that. Since she already has the second syllable down, I spend more time on the TZ sound she is having trouble forming. 

If a child does not have the words, you give them, providing a pause for them to chime in with a mimicking. "Milk?... Milk?... Milk, please?... Thank you!" Try to say the key word at least three times. I do this also with older children when they make a grammatical mistake, rather than pointing out the error to the child. They learn better and understand better by providing modeling in context. 

Child: "He want to go." 

   Me: "He wantSSS to go? You think Charlie wantSSS to go? 
           He wantSSS to go where?" 

Children who are read to daily have a much larger vocabulary. There are simply too few words that the normal human being utilizes in every day life. Children hear their parents' word choices from birth, so they have those down pretty quick. Reading books expands vocabulary, especially if new books are regularly introduced. 

Lastly, children learn language from hearing it. Keep in mind the manner you wish your child to eventually speak, and model that language. Please, thank you, you're welcome, may I, are appropriate from day one. 
Tags: language, speech, speak, teach, baby, infant, toddler, preschool, childcare, daycare, teaching, acquisition

We've Gone Buggy

The children were pretty surprised when they arrived and found this in the middle of the table. The terrarium hadn't been out in over a year. 

I purchased a dozen crickets from the pet store last night for instant gratification. We'll be collecting additional specimens this week. Unfortunately for bug collecting, it's raining today.

The terrarium has a dish of water with a sponge in the center for the insects to use for drinking and some rabbit feed in the corner. We'll be adding a few veggie scraps. 

We did grab a roly poly to observe and compare working the concept of insects are bugs but not all bugs are insects and why.

Science  scientific investigation, habitat, food cycles, magnification, insect anatomy
Math  counting insects and legs
Language observations, vocabulary
Social  helping each other find the insects, observations
Tags: cricket, science, observation, magnification, preschool, pre-k, prek, kindergarten, insect, insects, bug, bugs, curriculum, theme, unit

Monday, June 18, 2012

Who Lives in Your Garden? Poetry Printable

As we move out of our GARDEN unit and into INSECTS, I find this poem to be a wonderfully appropriate transition piece. It's my favorite Insect Theme poem.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day Craft and Printable

For our Father's Day craft, I asked the parents to bring in one of the Daddy's shoes. I suggested that a WASHABLE shoe would be best. I didn't want to ruin anyone's Italian leather dress loafers.

This worked this year, because I currently have all 2-parent households. In the past, when I have had absent parents or parents only occasionally involved with their children, we made less of a deal of Mother's or Father's Day. Sometimes we just skip it if the situation may be upsetting to any child. 

But this year was different. These children also have some WONDERFUL dads, so we couldn't NOT celebrate them.

The children picked the color of paint for both the shoe print and their own footprint. These two just chose the same colors, but for opposite elements.

The children thought it was pretty cool to paint on Daddy's shoe!
Hopefully this won't set a precedent at home...

They also thought it was pretty cool to paint their feet!
"HEY! That TICKLES!" - G age 2

Then they glued on the poem.

We added their name and the date to the upper right corner. 
I helped as needed according to age/skill with this 
product art piece.

They turned out pretty AWESOME!
Just like our dads!

I chose to use construction paper for the base, because, frankly, these dads have some pretty big feet and they wouldn't fit on my regular size card stock. Next time I will probably get legal-size or at least larger card stock or cut down some poster board. If I use legal size card stock, I would probably run it through the printer for the poem first and add the year to it. I'd still have them write their names. 

The poem page is available to PRINT.

Here's a site for additional Father's Day Poems.

The inspiration for this craft came from THIS PINTEREST PIN, which unfortunately didn't have an attached link.
Tags: father's day, father, daddy, poem, craft, card, art, footstep, walk, slower, paint, footprint, shoe print, dad, childcare, daycare, preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, child, kid, printable, free

Flag Day w/printables

Today, June 14th, is FLAG DAY, here in the United States and you can get my FREE flag printables HERE.4 pages, United States flag, same with color words, a flag blank for children to make their own flag design and a Ff is for Flag printing worksheet.  

We are reading,

reciting the Pledge of Allegiance,

and discussing some of the rules of the flag, meaning of the flag elements and reasons behind flags in general.

Tags: 4th of July printable, printable, flag, flag day, fourth of july, 4th of July, united states, U.S., US, stars, stripes, childcare, daycare, preschool, pre-k, prek, kindergarten, America, North America, history, homeschool, 4th of July, craft, art, memorial day, labor day, verteran's day, writing, coloring, page, child, care, preschool, pre-k, kindergarten,