Saturday, October 14, 2017

mouse paint: drawing mice


When we do guided drawing in the classroom, we first talk about breaking down the thing we wish to draw into manageable shapes. The children tell me how to draw it first.  I use this part of the lesson as a tool for guiding descriptive and prepositional language. Where do the eyes go? Is this the head? Does the nose go above or below the eyes? For Mouse Paint, we drew primary colored mice. We used crayola markers to draw the mice, then painted them in with liquid watercolors. Not every child chooses to join us when we do projects like this. While we encourage participation, we do not buckle down and force anyone to do it. Generally, a child who may be apprehensive about such a task in the beginning, will eventually show interest. When they are ready, we will sit down and invite another firend to help. They always turn out so cool, and the children are always so proud!

Friday, October 13, 2017

mouse paint: color mixing

A little clear hair gel and two primary splashes of liquid water color into a zip bag taped to a tabletop create a fun exploration as the children used the mice (tied to the table) to mix the paint.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

mouse paint

I found the template online from Kiz Club...I glued on beads for eyes, and little pink talis and ear parts....

Friday, October 6, 2017

make it, and they will play

The play dough has its ups and downs. It's always set up with a happy batch of dough and an assortment of items to engage with. When we make play dough in the classroom, with the children doing the measuring, scooping, and stirring, it's a sure bet they play dough table will get a lot of use!

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!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

and then we painted with cars...

Sometimes we set this up as an invitation to paint, sometimes we do it as a group. This time, we set it up as a group and used our primary colors to see if mixing would happen. We pulled all of the chairs away from the table and gave each kiddo a piece of paper that they began with and carried with them as they moved around the table to the next tray of paint. There is a lot of language when we do this as the children laugh and communicate what the cars are doing on their paper. I love our group projects, I feel they serve a position in our classroom community. That said, we do not always do large group projects like this. In the beginning of the year we do more of them to help guide the children in how to use the materials. Once the children begin to engage with the materials on their own, we step back and watch to see where we can next guide their creativity.

big blocks

I love when I discover towers like this in the block area. These lovely blocks are from Community Playthings and are worth every penny. They are strong and super sturdy and can be stoon on, slid down, stacked up, and not. Sometimes the nooks become houses for our dinosaurs, sometimes the children like to pass items to ech other through them. They can also be put together to create a large platform for the children to perform on. So many ways to be played with, the best is how open-ended they are.

Friday, September 22, 2017

I was asked 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 19, 2017

mixing paint...tinting things up

When it comes to paint, for most kiddos, the more there is, the happier they are. We like to use paper plates for color mixing as they are both inexpensive and sturdy enough to hold the massive globs of paint the kiddos add to them. Here, we've given a short lesson on tints...adding white to other colors...we've given the kiddos paint palettes with primary colors (there was a discussion as to which blue we should use) and white, and then they were let loose to mix it all up!

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...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

let them mix paint!

classroom tour 2017

As I mentioned before, every year we tweak our learning spaces based on what we have learned the previous year. I work in a shared room so have to plan and organized with my teaching partner. While we have very different aesthetics that make us happy, our respect and joy for each other has us working as a team in our classroo mand play yard design.
Last year we had the dramatic play set up in the center of the classroom. This year, my co-teacher picked up a loveseat so we had to rethnk where things woudl go and how best they would fit. This usally means we move the furniture around, a lot. Even after we figure out what we like, we may change it later in the year if the children do not seem to respond to the space as intended. This is the view from our art corner looking out to the rest of the room. To the left of the photo is our building area, with the dramatic play in the back corner. The reading area is both the sofa and behind it, with our group time spent on the rug in front of the sofa.

We picked up a grey cover for the loveseat to keep it on the fairly clean side because...preschoolers. For our group area, I had a vision of using the single Kallax shelves from Ikea as a bench and grounding point for the area. The bins holding building materials such as magnatiles, mobilos, and city blocks. The bulletin board is empty but will be filled weekly with work from the children. We have a large white board on the wall to the right of the area, and a felt board propped up on the shelf.

The large Kallax shelf divides the group area from the dramatic play area. The backside houses our play kitchen and new-to-us repurposed entertainment center. It gets dark back there so we added a lamp for light and a measure of hominess.  The last photo shows the view of the room from the group area. The blocks and building area is on the left. We will be adding photobooks of the children to the rim of the bulletine board once school begins. The back wall is where the art area is.
We carved out a small science and inquiry area near our back door, under a part of our window wall. The green mat is also an Ikea find and the children take it out and use it on the large gray rug in the group area.
This is the view from the far corner of our group area. I love the large windows in our room. Every year, we add items to a wish list and then we make purchases based on our budget. We don't get everything and I spend a lot of my own money on items for the room as I love making it a joyful place of learning. Every year it just gets better and better. I love how much it has changed since my first year and each year after. Click to see previous room tours...2014, 2015, 2016.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

a new school year, a newly organized play yard

Every year we tweak our indoor and outdoor spaces. The more we use them, the more we figure out how the children use each space. Last year we updated our sandbox and while it was super cool, we found the children needed a space to work. Enter the new mud kitchen shelf made by the mister!
For now we have the crates under it to store all the sandbox toys. I went through them and puleld out broken bits and items that the children generally do not gravitate to but I think there are still too many things. We'll see.
The planter boxes were made locally. We have rocks in one and potting sil in the other. I love how the  mirror opens up the space. The window box on the table will soon hold herbs and flowers. When it gets super hot we pippi up our space by cobbling together a shade using sheets and clothespins. I love the fort feel of it! It's really tricky trying to find other preschool play yards so I hope that by sharing, I will encourage others to do so as well. Enjoy!