Wednesday, September 27, 2017

ikea goodness

I picked these little cups up at IKEA about five years ago. They are very inexpensive and can be used in a bunch of different ways. One year, we reserved them for our water cups. They are super small but I had a bunch of kiddos that just refused to drink water...until we brought down our special cups...then everyone had to take a turn or two, or three...After a few years, the cups have made their way to our outside area, They are used to create milkshakes, cupcakes, tea, and more. They are filled with sand, water beads, water, soap suds, leaves, you name it. I need ot make my way to Ikea again for another set or two. We love them!

Friday, September 22, 2017

I was asket to guard them...

At the beginning of the school year, the children latch onto the stilts as objects for keeping. They gather them up in pairs or more and create their own games and variations of play with them. At some point in the middle of the year, they progress to balancing and standing on them, and by the end of the year, they are walking on them. I love the time of year when they place such a high level of importance to the stilts that they need guardng.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

decorating the castle....

When we really wanted the giant Outlast blocks from Community Playthings, but did not have the budget for them, we bought crates instead. Crates are great for building a block happy community. They are lightweight and stackable and provide a multitude of opprtunities for the children to come together with their imaginations and problem solving skills. Yay crates!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

being sneaky...

Sometimes our play yard toys get super ickified....the easiest way for them to get less ickified is to add soap to the water table...we like to use either Dawn or Mrs. Meyers....the kiddos just like the suds...

Friday, May 26, 2017

time for lunch

A dolphin, a striped momkey, and a kimochi, all ready to be fed....this could get interesting...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

we love snails in the classroom


It's getting harder and harder to find snails to bring to the classroom but when we find them, oh boy, do we enjoy them! We create a snail habitat by placing dirt, rocks, and small pots or cups onto a tray or shallow bin for the snails to enjoy. We have a squirtbottle nearby to keep them damp and I encourage gentle hands and wonder when we have the snails in the room. The cool part is that snails can be popped into a ziplock bag or container with lettuce or cabbe leaves and stored in the fridge. We do this for the week then liberate them to our small play yard. One year, after such a liberation, we found dozens of itty bitty baby snails in our garden. It was really cool! Anotehr year, we found a snail, weeks later, had moved into our nursery rhyme book and ate it's way through a few pages! The children were DELIGHTED when my teacing partner pulled out the book to read only to discover a wayward snail inside!

Friday, April 28, 2017

playing a symmetry game

We do the symmetry game at group time in the spring (my mother used to do this with me when I was really young, yay memories!) Many of my three year olds are now four and are beginning to grasp larger concepts. We talk about the wings of a butterfly when we introduce symmetry aka bilateral symmetry. I will draw a butterfly on the chalkboard as guided by the children narrating my process as I do so. Then I place an object on one side and invite a child to match it on the other side. Once everyone gets a turn, we place more chalkboards on the carpet for the children to play it together. It's totally cool if they do not get it, they will someday. What this does is give us teachers a chance to assess the children without assessing them. Sometimes, there will be a child so into the game that it carries off into their play for the week. They discover other items with smmetry and we guide them through their learning based o nwhere their interests are.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

all for me

She made me a play dough bouquet of goodness....all the flowers she could find, straws (the bendy kind...she pointed out to me), honeycombed fruit picks, glitter, cookie presses, and play dough...of course.

Friday, January 27, 2017

wayne thiebaud inspired ice cream cones

I've been doing these since my early bookstore days and they always come out so happy! This year, the children drew their own ice cream cones onto cardboard (box flaps work great for this). I had a parent cut these out as cardboard is super tricky to cut. Don't worry though, we give the kiddos plenty of opportunities to use scissors in the classroom. 

The first step in the process is for the kiddos to paint the cone part of their ice cream cone. This time around we used a tan acrylic paint but next year, the kiddos will be mixing up their own brown tint. After they paint their cone (or entire piece), they use a piece of cardboard to stamp criss-cross hatch marks to emulate a waffle cone. The idea behind this is two-fold. I'm assessing their development and listening skills. I do not police how they approach this part of the project. Some will make criss-cross marks, some with make lines, while others will dip and drag the carboard across the surface. It's all good.

Once their cone is finished, it's time to paint the ice cream part. We work a lot on the concept of tints and pastels in the classroom so the children will have had a discussion on their favorite flavors of ice cream and what colors they are. We will also get silly and make up flavors. They will select a color and squeeze the paint into a small container (I love my thrifted melmac bowls here) along with white paint, shaving cream, and then glue. They do al lthe squeezing here. Next, they get a spoon to mix it all up and spread it atop the ice cream part of their art. It's tricky but they love the fluffiness of the paint.
Once their ice cream is on their cone, they get to add sprinkles. For the sprinkles, we have an assortment of scrap paper, beads, glitter, and other bits of fun. Some kiddos can get very heavy handed with the sprinkles, so if you are on a tight budget, have a parent demolish a magazine with a pair of scissors. There is a lot of color to be had this way.
What do you think? I love them so! Lookie all those sprinkles on the left there! Wheeeee! 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

painting on a canvas

In the classroom, we give the children their own canvas for their birthday to create a classroom painitng. These are displayed in the classroom until the end of the year and are a classroom collaboration. One way to control the painting without controlling it is to designate tools for specific colors. The birthday kiddo picks the paleete and does the basework. The next kiddo picks a color and a tool and adds to it, and so on. Once a tool is used, we remove it from the mix. We've usd paintbrushes of all sizes, rollers, tubes, bowls, q-tips, sponges, spray bottles and more. The end results are really fun and colorful without being muddy. Now, mind you, outside of the birthday canvas, the children have access to all the colors and materials they wish to use so there are plenty of painting opportunies that are truly process oriented. I have had children grab an ENORMOUS sheet of paper only to add three tiny brushstrokes in one corner, others will begin by painting an awesome picture of stripes and dots only to paint all over it with all the colors until it's a big brown mess. It's cool, it's their art and they love it. I love it too!