Sunday, May 24, 2015

busy busy busy

These days, the kiddos get busy as soon as they're in the classroom! I've been so busy talking to them about their work, helping them work through ideas, and setting out supplies they ask for that I never get to photograph the centers I set up. Here are a few from the past few weeks:
painting rocks with water
meadow play on the building table
small rocks and golf tees at the play dough table
butterfly matching game
symmetry play with our magnetic butterflies
tray of bells
snails and baby snails!
scissors work and parsley
fine motor meadow
sound blocks on the block shelf
frames on the block shelf
play aphids on the block shelf
wood butterflies and cedar rings on the block shelf

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ladybug invasion

The ladybugs in the classroom danced, twirled, built, painted, and played today. It has been an immense delight to see. Sigh. Our school year is almost over and I have months and months of classroom fun to write about. This is going to be a busy summer!

Friday, April 24, 2015

circle time shelf part 2

The top of our shelf. The boombox bit the dust a month or so ago but we keep it there as a space saver for the new soon-to-be box. Crossing fingers we get one before the year ends.  We feature the book of the week on the book-stand at the right.  The children know that whichever book is there we will most definitely be reading that week.
We use Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose book in the classroom but I brought this one in as well as it is the one I grew up with (alongside this one). This little succulent garden is a smidge tired. I blame Home Depot and their wee collections that are GLUED in place. There are small rocks on top of the soil and the rocks are glued together making it ridiculously hard to separate and re-pot.
I'm working on teaching the kiddos about feelings and empathy. These wee kimochis are popular with the kiddos though they see every face as being either happy, sad, or angry. Even so they love them and we use them a lot.
My impromptu texture basket using what we had on hand. I want to make little texture pillows for next year. We'll see. Inside you will find things that are bumpy, coarse, fuzzy, smooth, soft and ridged. I also have a mystery bag that I use. The children pull out an object and we decide as a group who has a soft object, hard object, etc. We talk about using descriptive words and the children gain new vocabulary. It's pretty cool.
The whole pretty shelf. Next year we will be scootching it a bit to the left or maybe a lot and using some other shelf that is a little lower so as not to block our circle-time board.
Here's the view of our circle-time area from where the kiddos sit. You can see the mystery bag on top of the sharing chair which was intended to be the teacher's chair but we tend to plop ourselves down on the floor with the kiddos. The children place their sharing items on top and they know that anything on the chair is for eyes only until after sharing. Inside the ottoman you will find our bean bags which I had to hide because the kiddos like to throw them everywhere. When they get crazy with throwing I ask if they need to play the bean bag game then the top comes off, the bean bags are parceled out and they try throwing the bags into the chair. Sometimes they tell me they want to play it and we set it all up with tape on the floor and everything. I need to make new rainbow bean bags for next year as the bags we have are not able to be equally divided and the threes are very particular about that.

Group art created by both classes is put on this board along with our Nursery Rhyme of the week. The shelf to the right there is a puzzle shelf (I found this at the Goodwill outlet for $2!) On top of the shelf is this sweet little game that the children love. Leaning against the shelf is our song notebook, a cookie sheet for magnet play and drawing on, and a felt board for felt stories.
The children memorize a Nursery Rhyme each week and take turns reciting it in front of their friends. We learned this rhyme in sign language thanks to a lovely parent. I put the paint chips there to review our colors in rainbow order and sign language. We also practice putting them into a color wheel shape, and separating them into warm and cool colors (though the children really love making train tracks with them). Behind the purple you will see a few Spot It! cards. I gave my game away but had a sample pack that we use during math and/or discovery time.

That's it for our circle time area, I hope you had fun touring it with me!

Monday, April 20, 2015

8 things on our circle time shelf

1. texture basket: we're beginning our unit on "the senses". this week is touch.
2. pantone color cards: the kiddos love these and we practice our sign language colors.
3. rainbow paint chips: 1 for each color of the rainbow. the kiddos take turns arranging in rainbow order. sometimes i place them out silently using only sign language.
4. rain stick discovery bottle: for our five senses...sound/hearing, also weather talk.
5. music and stories: our boombox is currently broken but the kiddos often loaded their own choices.
6. rice shakers: use during music time and discovery time.
7. feelings flash cards: we review emotions and empathy, plus the kiddos love looking at them. on top of the shelf is a basket of kimochis that the kiddos can match to.
8. cloud pillows: for squishing, hiding, and/or arranging in rainbow order. also for reviewing weather concepts.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

make a butterfly matching game


For this super easy matching game you will need to plan ahead to source out your wood discs. I've purchased discs from Amazon, Michael's, and etsy in the past. Stickers were found at a local craft store but you can find them here (I should probably sign up for an affiliate dealio). 
Decide on how many pairs you want to make (I did 12 as I only had 24 discs) and get to sticking. Make sure you have 2 of each image.
That's it! I have found that stickers stick best to wood base as is. They stick a little less when the disc has been painted. You can also go over the disc with a coat of mod podge but so far these have stuck and the children know they are not to get wet.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

we call it the fine motor easel

Sometimes it is the sticky easel and others...the fine motor. For our week of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, I put out a basket (one of those wicker paper plate holder dealios found at the thrift for pennies) of leaves scavenged from my garden and a handful of clothespins. The next day, the kiddos brought in more leaves. I never spied anyone clipping the leaves to the pins but every time I glanced over, another leaf was added to the mix. I love when that happens.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

9 butterfly centers for home or classroom

Happy Spring! We're about to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar in our classroom so I was reviewing what we did last year as I worked on next week's lesson plan. I was super happy with what we did last year so thought I would give all y'all a reminder in case you need a little inspiration! Happy planing!

*beaded caterpillars: you can set this up photos of caterpillars, beads, and pipecleaners or you can challenge your kiddos to create a caterpillar pattern!

*butterfly memory/matching game: i just finished making a pretty butterfly matching game but last year we used this one which came from a helpful blogger. you can make your own game or find one online like this or this.

*dot marker butterflies: this set-up can be enjoyed any number of ways depending on where your kiddo is developmentally. dot markers are a plus but you can use paint and sponges, crayons, or watercolors.

*butterfly magnet play: i made this last year and have no in progress photos for a diy post. i purchased butterfly stickers from Michael's, i think they came from the Martha Stewart line, and added magnet tape to the back. I then painted up some green paper a la Eric Carle and adhered it to a metal pizza pan for a happy little bit of magnet play.

*stacked wooden caterpillars: i blogged about this one last year and the children had a lot of fun making their own caterpillars. they were quite proud.

*magnetic chalkboard butterfly: another favorite from last year. maybe this year we will utilize the felt backs or maybe I'll find some neon chalk!

*The Very Hungry Caterpillar button snake: I did not make this but there are a few diys out there like this or you can find one on etsy like this.

*bubble wrap butterflies: this project works best on a wall or easel and can be used many times over before discarding. wipe down the painty goodness with a sponge or damp cloth and the next kiddo is good to go!

*chalkboard butterfly: i did not make this at all but lucked out when i found it last year at Michael's. i'm not sure if they have them this year or not. check out your local craft store or amazon (this one might work).