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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week in Review

I am so confused! What day is it? What shape am I on? Did I do that project yet? This weather has just sent me spinning. I even forgot my camera one day. I hear we are supposed to get more snow this week too. Will we ever be done?

I have a couple of cute things I've been wanting to show you, just been procrastinating, sorry. First one of our Pre-K teachers made the cutest snowman that I thought I would show you.

You will need:

two small paper plates
pipe cleaners
pom poms
tacky glue
items for decorating.

To make the snowman attach the two paper plates together to form the snowman's body. You may staple these together or glue them. The punch two holes in one paper plate, one about where each "ear" would be. One end of the pipe cleaner goes through one hole and gets folded over, to attach to the the plate. Bend the wire like a "headband", and put the other end through the opposite hole and fold the end over.

Now glue two pom poms over the whole to make it look like ear muffs. Finally, get all you decorations and add a face and...anything else you like. I thought they were cute.

Next, the 3yr. old class added the I Know My Colors page to the Me Book on Tuesday. For this page I make a color caterpillar. I have circles cut out from all the colors we do. The children name the colors then they get glued down to make a caterpillar.

I also had a new sensory material out too. I had gotten Kidfetti Play Pellets from Discount School Supply back when I did the order last July. I just had never gotten it out, today was the first day. They, of course, thought they were great. Children have so much fun with this type of material. We did have Kidfetti all around the room, but it's easy to sweep up.

That's a quick recap of some of our back log of items. There is still some more, but we'll get to that later. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we can get more than 1 day of school in this week.

Oh I forgot, our ice did form and we brought it in for them to play with. We were letting them pretend to play ice hockey, that's why you may see tongue depressors and small "pucks" in with the ice. Brrrr--cold.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest Post: Fun With Science

(photo courtesy of Microsoft Clipart)

Recently Lindsay sent me an article that sounds like it could be lots of fun with chidren. It is actually a lesson in the changing of matter--which I know sounds a bit technical. After reading it I thought with the right preparation and presentation preschoolers would probably love this. It involves making jello, and a corn starch mixture, and ice--always fun to play with these kinds of things.

Ice Cubes, Jell-O and Corn Starch

By Lindsey Wright

These days my teaching is usually confined to music, but every now and again I have the pleasure of being in charge of a kindergarten or preschool class. This is an activity I learned when I was in school myself, and have since used to entertain and delight several classes. To try it in your class, you'll need the following:

● 1 box (16 oz.) of cornstarch
● 1 box of Jell-O gelatin mix
● 2 mixing bowls
● 1 cookie sheet
● 1 glass pitcher
● 2 ice cube trays
● food coloring (optional)

The point of the activity is to teach the students about how matter can easily be changed, especially at different temperatures. Starting with just water, corn starch, and Jell-O mix, you end with solid ice cubes, semi-solid Jell-O, and a non-newtonian fluid (a mixture that is solid when pressure is applied, but liquifies under normal conditions). When I host this activity, I have a student pour the water from the pitcher into the ice tray. While the water is freezing, I mix up a batch of Jell-O, show the students that it's a liquid and leave it to set in the fridge, explaining what will happen. Once both are done, I show the students how the water has expanded and that it then floats in the same pitcher it came from. I also show them that the Jell-O has turned jiggly and explain that it's neither liquid nor solid; then serve ice water and Jell-O.

However, the most fun part for the students happens while the ice and Jell-O are in the fridge. Mixing the corn starch with 1 ½ cups of water creates the non-newtonian solution, and the children will have loads of fun experimenting with it. Ideally, each student should either have their own batch of solution to fiddle around with or get a turn manipulating the material. Adding food coloring (perhaps even different colors to multiple batches) can make the activity even more interesting.

The trick with this activity is timing. You can either set the finished products up ahead of time, or space the activity out through the course of a day. Both have their advantages, but if your students are more prone to distraction, it might be best to have the results ready for swifter gratification.

You should first determine how you would like to carry it out: whether to include the students in the creation process, or get everything ready ahead of time. If you're going to do things yourself, you shouldn't have much trouble, all the mixing is very straightforward and you only need a couple minutes for each. You will want to start the Jell-O and ice well ahead of time if you want to reveal the results of the experiment immediately (accomplishing the lesson this way should work somewhat like a cooking show: mix the substance in front of the students, then produce the finished product while explaining how it changed). However, you won't need to do this if you want to reveal the finished products later in the day, but since the student's aren't as involved they may lose some of their enthusiasm in the meantime.

If you think your students are disciplined enough, then have them help conduct the experiment. In this case, you may want to stretch the activity across enough time for the Jell-O and ice to form so the children can see the difference for themselves. They'll feel more accomplished knowing that they've made something than they would if their contribution were redundant to the final product. Have them fill ice trays and mix the Jell-O first, then the cornstarch solution. This way the substances that take time to reach their solid and semi-solid state will do so while the students are occupied. You can even be a bit sneaky using the cooking show technique to produce the end results early (when the kids are done playing with the cornstarch paste) so that the activity can come to fruition in a more timely manner.

(A word of caution: It is important that you throw the corn starch solution away in the trash. If you attempt to dispose of it in the sink, it will clog beyond the ability of any plunger.)

This activity is a fun way for young students to learn about states of matter and to see the weirdness that basic chemistry can create. Like most potentially messy projects, it can be a lot of fun or it can be a complete disaster. Be sure to never let the corn starch leave your sight and be ready with paper towels for any sudden spills. If all goes well, your students will learn something, have a lot of fun and end up with a tasty snack.

Lindsey Wright is a music tutor, computer repair consultant, and substitute teacher in Washington State.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Traces of Triangle

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind for us at school. The weather had quite a play in our week and I got a bit off track. It was triangle week for us and I had planned some triangle creations with cut out triangles, but Tuesday we only had 7 children because of the weather. Then I thought I would reintroduce the triangle the next day(Thursday) and do our triangle creations on Thursday. Did you catch that? I actually gave last week two Thursdays. As we were finishing up class on the real Thursday I thought, "Hey we're done for the week." I'll have to get the triangles out another day.

We did get the two pages of our book done though. We cut the triangle out the first day, I'm so proud at how well they are doing with their cutting. There are only a couple that don't quite have the hold yet.

The next day was our picture day. I used triangles to make a kite. I know it's a bit early, no one flies kites in the snow, but they enjoy it. (I also like to show them how when you put the two triangles together you can make a square or a diamond.)

We also scoured the room for triangles--no too many there. We travel on next week to the world of rectangles. I'm sure we'll be able to find plenty of rectangles in the room. I may have to start pretty early.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Post: Popcorn Stories for Kids

Have you ever heard of Popcorn Stories? I have to say that this is totally new to me. I received this guest post article and I thought it sound like such a fun idea. I can picture creating these stories with my children at school. One can just picture the giggles and laughs as they learn to create wonderful tales together. I have to thank Alisa for such a fun idea.

Popcorn Stories for Kids!

An exercise that I've had great luck doing with children is called “Popcorn Story," which is based on the exquisite corpse method of writing first popularized by the Surrealists in the early 1900s. Of course, a name-change is in order for teaching it to kids, but the process is still the same: the group collaborates on creating or telling a story one sentence at a time. The first person writes a sentence. The second person writes a sentence to follow that sentence, and then the process continues until the entire class has participated.

The exercise is wonderful for children because it taps into their unhindered urge towards creativity, while also requiring them to work their critical thinking skills. They must both follow along with the story as it develops and plan out their own contribution to the story. Because the story constantly changes, they must actively adjust their contribution to fit into the scheme of the story so that by the time it comes to them, they are ready to take part.

But how could you apply this to preschool-aged children?

Well, this exercise can be modified according to the class size, the time you'd like to devote to the exercise, and to the abilities of your young students. For example, instead of passing around a piece of paper on which each student adds his or her sentence, which would take quite a long time for preschoolers to accomplish, you could instead serve as the note-taker and write down each student's sentence and reread the story aloud for the next student. Furthermore, you could get rid of the text altogether and use images to tell a story. Additionally, you can choose to limit the students' abilities to see earlier versions of the story, which could create a whacky collage of funny and creative images and language that your students can play with. You can turn the story into a class book to send back to parents, an audio recording with instruments and so on, or a video. Essentially, the main point of the exercise is that your students collaborate on a learning project that both develops their creative spirit and helps them learn critical thinking skills.

As the teacher, you'll want to decide how you will manage the exercise. What will you edit in the story? Will you censor unwanted items that could be offensive? Will you allow the class to revise the story? How will you determine the order in which the students participate? How much will you guide the students in the making of the story? Perhaps it will work best if you can link it to a theme of the class? In any case, it will take some trial and error, certainly, but eventually you'll find what works best for you class and what doesn't.

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

What a Square

We started our shape book last week with the square. For our shape books, the first page of the week is the children cutting the shape out and putting it on the page with the song to help them remember the name of the shape.

The second page is usually taking the shape of the week to design an object. For example out square page is using four squares to create a quilt for the teddy bear.

I also try to have something out so that they can just play with and have the squares all around them. This year I am going to make a shape wall collage. Each week I will have the shape out and a large piece of paper so that the children can add the shapes and when finished they can hang it on the wall. I have to say after they finished their square collage they were quite please with themselves. They thought it was a beautiful picture.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Jungle Jungle File Folder Printables

I received an email from the creator of the site File Folder Heaven. Here is a quick note from her site:

"File Folder Heaven was created by a Special Education teacher, for teachers, parents and all people working with, preschoolers, early elementary students and students with Autism and other disabilities. File Folder Heaven offers a wide variety of printable file folder games, printable books, preschool activities and Autism tasks that provide children with hands-on opportunities to practice basic reading, math, science and social studies skills."

She is recently expanding into the preschool area and would like to extend the opportunity to download a free printable unit called "Jungle Jungle." The unit includes; 1 Make-a-Match book, 12 file folder games, and 3 activity mats.

Here is the link to download your Jungle Jungle File folder printables:


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Monday, January 17, 2011

Quick Reminder

I just wanted to send a quick note out to some of our newer families. If you are thinking about preschool next year for your little one, you might want to check registration dates of your local facilities.

Our school has opened registration for church and present members starting this week. Our public registration opens on February 1, and classes fill very quickly.

Every year in May I get calls from parents looking for a class. When I tell them we are full they express that they didn't realize you had to start looking so early.

If you are looking for a preschool this year, here is an an article I wrote about things you might want to look for. There is also a great book out that could help too, "How to Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child."

Happy Hunting.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Snow is Falling All Around"

If your area is anything like ours, you probably got some snow this week, if not, oh well. I will say that all this snow has helped our winter conversations immensely. This week was all about snow and the Good Lord was kind enough to send some our way. (He can stop now.)

We made snowman this week--what one activity for the whole week? Yes, our snowman takes a couple of days. We first painted the snowman using Ivory Snow paint. You take two cups of Ivory Snow powdered laundry detergent with 1/2 cup of water. Mix it together well and you have a wonderful smelling textured paint. On Tuesday we mixed the paint together then painted our snowmen.

These snowpeople--as some insisted they were girls--then had to dry and today was "dressing" day. This is the day I raid the closet for all kinds of goodies that the children can use to decorate their snowmen. Today we had wiggle eyes, fabric, pom poms, beads, paper, and shapes. There's more in the closet, but I ran out of room.

I then give each child some tacky glue, as this glue holds the three dimensional art media much better. It is then up to the children to add as much or as little as they would like to their snowpeople. I will say some added mostly glue to their snowpeople, but they didn't mind.

Did the snowmen go home? Well, not quite yet. They were still pretty wet--only with glue this time, so they will spend the weekend at school and go home on Tuesday.

To help immerse ourselves in the wonders of winter we went outside on Tuesday and experienced the cold, snow in our hands, and ice. There was a great strip of ice in the parking lot so Mrs. T and I helped each child with a quick bit of ice skating. Lots of smiles there.

We also wanted to see how to make ice ourselves so we put some water outside on Tuesday so it would be ice today. Unfortunately, with all the snow it was more a big wet snowball then ice. We put the container back outside today to see if it will turn to ice by Tuesday.

Finally we brought some snow inside for the children to play with. I'm always amazed how they don't mind sticking their bare hands in the snow. Mrs. T had the wonderful idea of adding toys to the snow and all kinds of fun ensued.

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