Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Activities for Preschoolers

In addition to our Turkey Paperbag Handprint Sitting  or Puppets craft and our Turkey Handprint Poem craft, we did a lot of other things during our Thanksgiving unit.

The main learning goals were to know something about:
  • Pilgrims
  • Mayflower
  • Plymouth
  • Native Americans importance to survival
  • Squanto and his history
  • 3 sisters planting
  • Reasons for feast
But we also just want to have fun!


We have played our Thanksgiving Feast BINGO game.

We played Where's The Turkey Hiding?

"Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey 
where are you hiding?
Come out, come out
to be dinner for Thanksgiving!"

I hid the turkey, they looked for the turkey. When they couldn't find him, which I tried to ensure, I gave them clues...
  • KITCHEN - Turkey was hungry so he went for a snack...
  • BEDDING - Turkey was cold and needing something to keep him warm...
  • WRITING - Turkey wanted to write a letter to tell everyone not to eat turkey on Thanksgiving...
  • BLOCKS - Turkey wanted to build a hideout...
  • PILLOWS - Turkey wanted a soft place to rest...
  • DRESS UP - Turkey is looking for a disguise...
  • STUFFIES - Turkey is trying to blend into the crowd...
  • LIBRARY - Turkey is reading up on the best hiding spots...

We read many Thanksgiving stories.

We watched some good Thanksgiving Videos. Unfortunately, the best ones on Squanto and the Pilgrims were on Scholastic, and they just shut it down with password protection...

One went with the story of the Pilgrim's voyage that I got from Kidssoup a few years ago.

The other I found through Youtube from Shelby Barone.

Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey, what do you see?
I see a [black] feather behind me!
[Black] feather, [black] feather, what do you see?
I see an [orange] feather sitting beside me.
[Orange] feather, [orange] feather what do you see?...
...[White] feather, [white] feather what do you see?
I see a colorful turkey all around me.

I did it first, then gave the feathers to the children to put up as the color was said, mixing it up from the prior round. Then we reviewed the colors with the toddlers and then again in Spanish with the preschoolers. I'm making color word labels. We had some, but I have no idea which curriculum unit they are buried in and filed. I also need to find gray felt for the last color needed. Didn't have any.


I came across this blank [most of them are not!] turkey printable for FREE on TPT that I LOVE. I put in some of our kindergarten level sightwords and made a find and color page for the preschoolers. You could also do colors, numbers, letters, addition facts, etc. or make a dice roll game where the children color in the number of circles they roll [which it was intended for]. Very versatile.

I would say the word and see who could find it, then sound out the word, then show the word card as necessary.

This classic poem is available from DLTK and makes a great finger play, gross motor play, or flannel board.

This minibook from DLTK is one we usually make. It is an excellent preschool-level reader. The words are simple: I like corn. I like pie...With large, easily colored graphics if you print the black and white version.

printable children's book

Thanksgiving is always a fun unit and there are so many excellent resources and crafts out there. For more ideas, you may want to check out my Thanksgiving Pinterest board.

Tags: Thanksgiving, holiday, preschool, kindergarten, childcare, child, care, daycare, theme, unit, holiday, craft, activity, activities, learning, educational, math, 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Turkey Handprint Cards with free poetry printable


The 1/4 page poem is available for FREE at my TPT store.

My son made this one below in kindergarten years ago. As you can see, his turkey didn't fit well upon the card. The teacher used it as a cut and paste opportunity as well.

For my preschoolers, I really wanted just the handprint for posterity's sake. So that's how we do it.


If I have school-age children here during the holiday, with hands larger than a 1/4 sheet of construction paper, then we do it as a collage rather than a card.


1 sheet construction paper, choice of color
1/4 sheet of white construction paper 
1/4 sheet poem

  • Determine if the child's hand will fit upon the 1/4 sheet of white construction paper, if not, use a whole sheet and cut to size after the turkey is finished.
  • Paint the child's hand, or have them paint it if old enough. Brown on the palm and thumb, child's choice of 4 colors on the fingers, they choose which finger gets which color.
  • Place child's hand carefully on the white paper so the paints do not smear.
  • Press down firmly.
  • Fill in as necessary with paint on any patchy/missed spots, maintaining the handprint lines.
  • Let dry.
  • Have child add orange beak and feet, black eye and red wattle with crayon or marker
  • If necessary, cut to size.
  • Have child add glue or glue stick to perimeter on back of handprint and poem.
  • Help child to position them centered on the colored paper or card. 
  • Add name and year to back.
  • Optional - embellish with Thanksgiving Day stickers, not over the white paper elements
  • For the card, if it is to a particular parent, grandparent, etc., help the child to write it on the front.

Tags: grandparent, parent, family, Thanksgiving, Day, card, craft, art, handprint, poem, poetry, preschool, children, child's, kid's, turkey, paint, printable, free, freebie,  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thanksgiving Paper Bag Puppet or Sitting Turkey

Surprisingly, I didn't have anything like this on my Thanksgiving Pinterest board! [I do now!] So, I just Googled "paper bag turkey puppet" to get an idea of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to offer them a choice of puppet or sitting turkey, and ended up using the same craft for both, which I didn't intend. 

Since there were so many ideas, I really can't say that any particular one is what we followed, probably this one from Ramblings of a Crazy Woman is the closest. 

I provided a triangle template for the preschoolers to trace and cut out the beak first. Then I provided two different sized lids for them to do the white and black for the eyes. 

They traced their hands, and I cut them out through the five sheets of construction paper for the tail feathers, and again for the feet. Probably a 5-6 year old could do that themself, but these preschoolers are just now working circles and not able to do the intricate cuts necessary for the hands. 

They chose whether they wanted a puppet or a sitting turkey. The little ones just did the puppet, because I knew they were going to tear them up pretty quickly anyway. 

For the sitting ones, I folded up the bottom of the sack to create a fold line and made a box at the bottom. The children wadded up two sheets of newspaper and stuffed their turkeys, then I stapled the sides for stability and taped the seam. 

At the end, the preschoolers used the scraps from the red to free form their wattles. 

When doing the black on the eyes, I told them that they could place them center, left, right, up or down, but they had to do both eyes the same. I didn't want to make this TOO much a product versus process piece, so I didn't instruct them further than that on placements.

I found it interesting that the toddlers were more concerned with symmetry and placement than the preschoolers.

It's a good opportunity to practice skip counting by 5's, which we will be doing. Crafting with toddlers in the mix doesn't lend itself well to extended teaching in the moment.
Tags: handprint, craft, preschool, pre-k, turkey, Thanksgiving, activity, art, hand, print, shapes, shape, paper, bag, brown, cutting, scissors, tracing, math, skip counting, counting by 5's, 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Babysitting vs. Teaching - How to Get Parents to Understand

One of the big hurdles for home child care providers, and even centers, is getting parents to understand the value of the service. 

Babysitters come to your home, eat your food, watch your TV, make sure the children are fed, changed, possibly bathed and put to bed. They are usually young, inexperienced, untrained, relatively reliable [you hope], and often let the children play while they are on their phones. A good one will engage with the children for at least a short period of time. Basically, they are a presence to ensure the safety of the child. Their average pay is over $10 per hour for one child nation wide. 
[Great infographic at link.]

Is your tech-savvy babysitter a danger to your child? - She Knows Parenting

Preschool teachers, who have up to 20 children in a class, get paid an average of $20,000, which averages out to gross earnings of $.50 per child per hour. Child care workers get slightly less than that, making an average of $19,300. [Assuming a 40 hour work week, many get paid less and are hired as less than full-time.]
[20,000 dollars /20 children / 2000 hour year = .50] 

Children are at a place of business where they use THEIR resources, color on their walls, wipe snot on their furniture, eat NUTRITIOUS food they provide, and are in a safe & sanitary environment created through effort and money. 

Teachers engage throughout the day with the children, handle their emotional meltdowns, teach them manners and socialization, educate them on activities and the use of materials. They are educated/trained in child development, safe sleep practices, CPR, first aid, and curriculum, or should be, at minimum. 

They are, or SHOULD BE, professionals who can handle themselves and a group of children with a far greater level of patience and understanding than the average person. 

So the question is:

"How does a provider or center distinguish that they are TEACHERS versus babysitters?" 

I believe a professional attitude and environment goes a long way to encourage the distinction. Beyond that, here are my best suggestions, I would love to hear what others would add. 

- Have set curriculum with assessments, observations, outcome goals, etc. Curriculum doesn't have to be set in stone or academically challenging. Even through free play, directed play, or teacher-engaged play, there are SO MANY skills that grow and mature and scaffold to a higher level or other skill set. Creating the environment in which that growth is encouraged and allowed to occur, is the realm of a teacher.

- Identify by program - Reggio, Montessori, Creative Curriculum, Waldorf, etc. Know your facility, its philosophy and where that philosophy originates.

- Identify staff teachers, lead teachers, etc., even if you are in a home or group home environment.

- Have professional policies and practices that are good, solid and clear for payments, parental expectations, procedures and human resources.

- Educate the staff. Pay for teachers to exceed continuing education requirements, promote your educated staff in advertisements and parent correspondence.

- Name the facility to reflect your direction. Have it be a learning center, academy, preschool, etc. rather than a daycare, childcare or center. While the curriculum and teachers may be highly professional, it is unfortunate that daycare, childcare and center all are VIEWED as less than professional and academic.  

- Start as you intend to continue. When first interviewing with parents, stress that education and learning, in a developmentally appropriate way, is the goal of the entire facility, no matter what age is represented. Every staff member should be able to adequately relay that philosophy and the methods used.

- Don't have curriculum just for show. I've observed in some high-end centers that I never saw staff look at or conduct any of the promoted curriculum, or even follow the posted schedule. Often the activities they DID engage in were NOT developmentally appropriate.

- Post curriculum. Even if your curriculum is dynamic, child-initiated, etc. you can post a white board and write down activities throughout the day with learning skills noted, or provide a daily or weekly email with highlights.

- Document learning experiences through video and pictures with the skills represented highlighted for the parents. Even if it is just random play, you can find logic/reasoning, social, language, etc. skills in use and development.

- Know the children, discuss with the parents their strengths and weaknesses and the direction you see them going and why. 

- Allow parents to see the environment. Label centers and activities with the skills they reinforce. 

- Communicate with parents! Have a newsletter, website, blog or FB page where parents can see learning in action across the facility, by teachers, administrators and children. If concerned about privacy and confidentiality, webpages can usually be password protected and FB groups can be closed to only those you allow.

- Encourage parental involvement. Working on colors, numbers, letter of the month/week, etc.? Give parents a take-home sheet listing fun activities for reinforcement at home and in the environment. It gives the children an opportunity to show growth. 

If you want to be viewed as teachers and not babysitters, then it truly begins with believing the difference YOURSELF and living up to that expectation.

We teach others how to treat us.
Respect is earned.
Tags: babysitting, versus, teacher, teachers, child, care, daycare, childcare, center, professional, professionalism, toddler, infant, preschool, parent, parents, pre-k, parenting, quality,