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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hats Off to Rectangle

We finished up with rectangle today. Unfortunately, my brain was in some type of freeze zone or something and every time I tried to say rectangle I said triangle. Those poor little guys are probably more confused than when we started.

They did pretty well though. I had planned on doing some Play Doh rolling and making a great big rectangle on one of the tables. With our weather delay, we were unable to get to this activity. I hope to do some Play Doh rolling for circle next week.

When we began our shape discussion we started with our rectangle. We sang our song and "drew" the shape in the air. We followed by reviewing our other shapes, square and triangle, and "drawing" them in the air. We then took our laminated rectangles to match them to rectangles in the room.

Our page for our book today was a top hat. I was pointing out that snowmen sometimes wear top hats or Abe Lincoln, as his appearance in the room for President's day has arrived. But then, the light bulb came on when I said--"Sir Topam Hat from the Island of Sodor wears a top hat." They all knew what I was talking about. (The pictures in the middle of the hats are stickers).

For our shape page I already had the shapes cut out. If we had more time I would have allowed the children to cut the shapes out themselves, but I don't always have that luxury.

We have now finished three of the basic shapes. Next week, circle.

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Dressing for Winter

Today was our final winter discussion as we do Groundhog's Day, Valentine's Day, Dental Health, and President's Day in all of our eight classes in February. To top off that January flew by and today was short day because of a delayed opening.

This is one of the children's most fun days. We discuss the different types of clothing one wears in winter. I bring a bag of clothes in and we decide what we wear. Hat? Yes. Flip flops? NO! Boots? Yes. Bathing suit? NO!--you get the idea. Then Mrs. Nodolski gets all dressed to play in the snow. They think this is just a hoot. I have on my hat, scarf, mittens, snow pants, coat, and boots. I guess they don't think I actually own these items. Today, since it snowed yesterday, after I got dressed I told them I would see them later because I was going outside to play in the snow. They weren't quite sure where to go with that--they all looked at me in stunned silence. I told them I was kidding and well, it took a while to get them back

I also read, "The Jacket I Wear in the Snow," by Shirlely Neitzel, illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker, because it mentions lots of different items one would wear outside.

Our craft today was a person dressed to go outside. I had supplied the two main parts and the children added their options. I also decided since they were having trouble with ripping we would try that again.

For our craft we needed:

Person cutout
Snowsuit cutout
scrap paper

I gave each child a person shape I had previously cut out. Then I let them pick a snowsuit to put on the person, I also had these cut out. Next I gave them some scrap paper and asked them to rip some pieces to use for boots and gloves. We then added some cotton around the hood and some buttons. They're cute.

The story I read at the end of the day for fun was "Froggy Gets Dressed," by Jonathan London, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. They love Froggy,oh and of course it talks about underwear--the funniest word in the world to a preschooler. It was a fun day.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Radical Rectangle

Today we started our new shape, rectangle. I gave each child a laminated rectangle and we talked about what it looked like and things that are shaped like rectangles. I asked the children what other shape had four sides--they got it--square! I then asked them what made the square and rectangle different. These guys are good, they told me because a rectangle's sides are long and short.

Just to make sure we were all on the same page, I gave each child a square and we did some comparisons. We laid the square on top of the rectangle to notice the difference.

Here's our rectangle song: (To the tune of London Bridge)

Two sides long and two sides short
Two sides long
Two sides short
Two sides long and two sides short
I'm a rectangle.

We then traveled the room to look for rectangles. Thank goodness this is much easier to do with a rectangle than with the triangle.

We headed to the tables for cutting practice. I always have the children trace over their names before we begin--to help with name recognition. I started to notice during other times of the day that many of them can even write their names. Seven out of the 14 can now write their names by themselves--my genius'. I have done nothing more than have their names available to them. I think it's great though.

Finally we made our new page for our shape book. We cut out the rectangle--only down to about 2 that still have trouble--glued it to a piece of paper and added our song. All done for the day.

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The Mitten

I was able to get to our Mitten activities. Can someone please tell me where the month of January has gone? I don't know why, but I can't seem to fit everything is.

There are some more great mitten activities over at Storytime and More.

I based my mitten activities on the story "The Mitten," by Jan Brett. If you have never had a chance, you have to take at look at some of her books. I find all her stories marvelous with some of the most beautiful illustrations ever. I aslo read "The Mitten," by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Yaroslava. Mostly because the children love that this mitten "explodes" at the end of the book. I also like how the illustrations in the book slowly show the mitten ripping and getting holes in it as the animals push their way in. Both of these books are great stories and easy ones to have fun with.

I found a sheet with all the animals from Jan Brett's "Mitten" which I ran off and cut out the animals. The sheet was in "The Big Book of Monthly Ideas" from The Mailbox. I then gave each child a folded mitten that needed to be sewn together. Our mittens were a bit more colorful than the story's mitten. I had punched holes around the edge of the mitten and the children then had to sew them together. After the mittens were sewn I let the children decorate them with markers. The final step was to have the children put one of each animal inside their mitten.

At the end of the day we had a little "play". I had brought in two comforters to put together to use as our mitten. I then gave each child one of the animal cut outs and as we went through the story, the "animals" would climb into the mitten. At the end of the story, instead of just the bear giving a big sneeze, everyone sneezed and "popped" out of the mitten. It was great fun. The children loved this. I got, "this is cool Mrs. Nodolski," "let's do it again," "that was fun." We did it a couple of times and then it was time to go.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Shimmery Snowflakes

Our one Pre-K teacher made some beautiful snowflakes I would like to share with you.

To make them you will need:

white tissue paper
light blue construction paper
glue/water mix
snow glitter

She gave each child some tissue paper that they folded over and over, then she let them cut away. The only stipulation was to make sure that they didn't cut the fold entirely. The layers of tissue paper are pretty easy to cut. The snowflakes are really beautiful when they are done, the children did such a great job and made some beautiful creations.

The snowflakes were then glued down to the light blue construction paper for a backing. She then had a glue/water mixture that the children could paint over top of the snowflake. She added water to the glue so that they could paint it easier without tearing the tissue paper.

Finally she had gotten some "snow glitter" at our local craft store. It is not a coarse type glitter, it is more like a cellophane type glitter. The children sprinkled the glitter on their snowflakes. When they dried they were ready to decorate our room. They add quite a sparkle.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter "Suncatchers"

I found out yesterday it is really the simple things that can make my day. I found this project when I was going through my books and I thought it looked simple, easy, and different. I tried it out to see if it was worth sharing with you. Well, I really liked it, but my family didn't seem to find it such a big deal. I guess that's why I do so well with preschoolers--I have the mind of one.

This is another project I found in the "Month-to-Month Preschool Almanac," by Annie Stiefel. It didn't look like much to read, but it sounded easy.

The first part of this project is to go on a winter nature walk with your little one and see if you can find any bits of nature. I picked up a walnut shell, some cedar tree branches, some holly leaves, holly berries, some red berries from another kind of bush, and some evergreen branches.

Next you will need some aluminum pie pans and food coloring.

Have the children put some of their favorite nature hike findings in the pie tin then add some water . You may keep the water clear, or let them add some drops of food coloring for some extra splash.

To make my hanger I took a piece of yarn, tied it in a loop and placed it in the water so it would freeze in the water. Don't place it right at the top, because it will melt out faster. Try to plae it so the string is near the center. For their hanger they have you "tie loops of string to small crafts sticks. Place a stick in each pan with the string hanging over the edge." I wasn't quite sure how to accomplish that, so I did it the other way.

The next step is to freeze it. If it's cold outside, you can put them outside to freeze, or you can put them in the freezer. When they are all frozen, take them out of the pie pans and hang them from trees.

They really look NEAT! I know that may sound strange but I was surprised how great it looked outside in the sun. I thought it would be cool (Icouldn't think of a good word, my daughter gave me this one) if you could make a bunch of small ones, maybe from a muffin tin, and hang them in the trees.

It's also a great science project. You could hang one in the shade, and one in the sun. Have the children keep a chart, something like a tally sheet, to see which sun catcher will last the longest.

One thing that happened that I hadn't thought about was that the sun catcher started to slowly melt and then refreeze so there were icicles hanging from the bottom. I just loved it. I took pictures, but it kept spinning around so I'm not sure how clear they came out.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hibernating Bear

We continued our discussion of animals in the winter. We went on to discuss the different types of animals that hibernate; bears, skunks, snakes, frogs, groundhogs, etc. Why do these animals hibernate? When will they wake up? Our resident hibernating expert had all the answers for us. Thanks little guy!

So today we made a hibernating bear. This was the first year I have ever done this activity. It's a little messy, but hey that's more fun right?

For the project you will need:

styrofoam cup
tongue depressor
brown paper
sleeping bear cut-out

First I gave each child a styrofoam cup. I used a large cup because I thought the bear was too big for a regular sized cup. I'm pretty sure you can get away with a regular sized cup. I then gave the children some strips of brown paper and asked them to rip them into pieces to cover the outside of the cup, to make it like a cave. Their ripping skills are still emerging, they would rather pull apart--which doesn't work too well. We then covered the cups with tacky and the children put their ripped pieces of paper all over the cup.

Next all the children got a bear cut-out which I had ready for them. I also had cut brown yarn into pieces so we could give our bears fur. The children put the glue on the bears and covered the glue with the yarn.

Finally we took a large tongue depressor, to use to make our bear go in and out of the cave. I pushed the tongue depressor through the bottom of the cup, then took it out. We then glued our bear to one end of the tongue depressor. The other end went through the slit I made on the bottom of the cup. Then we could use the stick to put out bear in and out of the cave. I thought they turned out pretty neat.

We read the story "When Will it Be Spring," by Catherine Walters . This is a cute story of a baby bear and his mom hibernating for the winter and Alfie, the baby bear keeps waking mom up to ask it it is spring yet. I also love the book "Bear Snores On." by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. I have this one at home and read it alot, I love all the "Bear" books. Bear is sleeping in his cave and some other little animals come to take refuge in the cave. Do they wake bear?

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Totally Triangles

We finished up with our triangles today. I brought in some square cheese and then we cut it in half to make two triangles. I also gave each child a square--good review from last week--with a diagonal line drawn on it. I then allowed them to on the diagonal line to see what happened. They had two triangles "Hurray!" It's always the small things they love.

Our triangle page for our book was a kite. I gave the children two large triangles and three small triangles. We glued the big triangles in the shape of a kite, drew a string, and added three small triangles for the tail. The papers took a spin around the room too.

So we have two shapes down, two to go.

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