"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas, Preschool Style

It's that time of year again. Lots of excitement abounds as children get excited about the holiday season. I wanted to incorporate the holiday season into some areas of the classroom and have it be a learning process, as well. 

Our first undertaking was the magnetic marble painting. I had purchased white Chinet plates awhile back for this project. We used the Chinet plates, magnetic marbles, a magnet wand, two plastic spoons, and two colors of glittery paint. 

I chose a glittery blue paint and a glittery yellow paint intentionally. During the process the children practice color mixing of two primary colors to get a secondary color. 

The child "fishes" the magnetic marbles out of the glittery paint and plops them on the plate surface. The assisting adult holds the plate for the child as they place the magnet wand under the plate and watch the marbles as they move the wand. The marbles begin swirling and twirling around and the colors combine and blend into something new. 

The child is allowed to drop the marbles back in the cups and get more paint on them as many times as they like to create the desired look. The result is a beautiful shimmery green. We let these plates dry, then returned to work on them the next day. I failed to get a photo of the next part of the process, but will share what we did. We had other colors of glittery paint including red, purple, and more of the blue. We put each color in a small tealight container and encouraged the children to dip a pompom into the paint and dab color on their plate, as they liked. 

We have 21 kids in our class this year so it worked out perfectly to assemble the tree with 6 plates on the bottom then working upward with 5, 4, you get the idea. A tree trunk was cut out and the kids helped decorate it. We wanted to do a star so I thought maybe we could make one out of handprints. I had 5 little ones volunteer to have their hand traced. I attached them together and we decorated with glue and glitter. Tada! Instant star.

Now that the art display is done, we moved on to transforming the dramatic play area into "Christmas at Home". 

We placed holiday wrapped boxes under the tree.

Lots of decorations for the tree are available for the children
to choose from. Dress up clothes and dolls ready for use.

Our lovely stuffed bear is ready for the holiday season.

I created a fireplace with a mantel, we added
stockings hung on hooks, a festive wreath,
and some other festive touches.

Cookies for Santa are available to put out.

We placed hot chocolate containers in the cabinet along
with a teapot and some festive teacups.

Our friends were so excited to begin
decorating the tree and playing in the area.

We all need friends to help us hang those ornaments
on the high branches.

Who wouldn't love waking to a stocking
filled with goodies?

Even our little snowman helps deck the halls.

We also began working on making some reindeer. We traced each child's hands and one of their feet (with the shoe on). After they were cut out each child attached the hands (antlers) to the foot (face) and added eyes and a nose. I love how each reindeer is individual and unique!

What kind of fun holiday things have you and your little ones been up to? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Inspired by Nature

Children love nature and being outside. Most of the time the outdoors is fully accessible and open to exploration, but you can also incorporate nature into lots of experiences, both indoors and out. The following are some of the things we have tried at our preschool.  

Still life art inspired by some beautiful flowers
brought into class by a parent.
Collecting natural materials for creative expression. This provides
the opportunity to look at nature up close.

Smoosh painting with nature accents. This was inspired by my
friend, Jackie over at http://happyhooligans.ca/
Each child squirted fall paint colors on the posterboard. Wax paper
was placed on it and the child "smooshed" to their heart's content.
Once the paint had dried, each child chose the natural elements they
wanted to glue onto their masterpiece. 

Nature Frames: The group of children chose natural materials and then
worked together to arrange them in the frames. Definitely worth framing!

Still life art inspired by some harvest items

Sunflower Love: posters and books were accents for
these beautiful sunflower heads we had on display.

Flower Suncatchers: paper plates with the center cut out, contact paper
placed in the center, and fresh flowers placed in between. These
turned out beautifully. 

Natural materials are lovely in the block area: tree blocks, unit blocks,
and cardboard caves/mountains, along with forest animals.
Bird display in Science area: feathers, birdhouses, nests, and more...

Beans and peas ready for a Seed Collage

Pumpkin Exploration: cut open and placed in the sensory table
made it accessible for checking out the textures, colors, and more...

Puddle fun: rainboots and recess, it's a win/win.

Fall Collage: fall colored pasta, foam leaves, silk leaves, etc.

Harvest Item Sorting: a variety of harvest items and baskets

Coriander grinding: Mortar and pestles and whole coriander seeds.
A great fine motor activity and it smelled divine!

Nature Item Exploration: tree cookies, antlers, pinecones, leaves,
turtle shell, snakeskin, and more...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Farmers' Market Fun

After several weeks of enjoying the outdoor farmers' market and the cooler/wetter weather drawing near, we decided it was time for a change. The kiddos were still enjoying playing with the produce and baskets, so we thought we'd try an indoor farmers' market complete with all the produce and baskets, like before, but also adding scales, a cash register, signs, and more.

Incorporating measurement into the activity by adding some
scales and a small basket.

I took photos of the variety of items and we made signs to post
in the baskets.

By adding the signs, it created a sorting and classification activity
for the kids.

All ready for the arrival of the kids.

Loving the baskets some families donated to us.
They are perfect for the gathering of produce.

Busy making harvest selections and preparing to purchase them.

Adding up the cost of the goods for her friends.

Seeing just how much the corn weighs before purchasing.

It's been a very busy place!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fantastically Fun Fall Festivities

With the arrival of Fall comes the most wonderful time of year, in my opinion. The air begins cooling, the leaves begin turning, and all of the wonderful harvest colors abound. I also love all of the Fall and Harvest activities we begin doing with the kiddos. We've been busy and thought we'd share a few of the adventures we've been having with you.

Balance is key as my friends soon find out. Is it easier to balance
with the help of a friend or to do it by yourself? I think it depends
on the load they are carrying, but there was definitely lots of
problem solving and collaboration occurring.

We began setting up our outdoor farmers' market this week with straw bales, a wheelbarrow, wagons, baskets, and many types of harvest items including: Indian corn, pumpkins, apples, gourds, carrots with greens, radishes, potatoes, and more. Our goal isn't so much that they are pretending to buy the items, as it is the community effort that emerges as they transport the items from straw bale to wagon to wheelbarrow to basket and so on. 

Our Harvest of the Month cooking project was a yummy pumpkin parfait, which the kiddos all tried and most really enjoyed. The got to mix canned pumpkin and yogurt and top it off with rice Chex cereal. 

Then it was outside to check out the appearance of a new wagon they could take turns riding. I must say, I was so impressed with the negotiating and give and take that I saw taking place. They had to work out who would pull, who would push, and who would occupy the two rider seats. They would go in one configuration for awhile, then switch around, then give others their turn.

Our amazing Nana Teri brought all the supplies for the kiddos to make a scarecrow and they busied themselves wadding up newspaper to be the stuffing for our newest addition. 

It was a fine dance occurring as some worked on the scarecrow, some pushed the wheelbarrow, some pulled a wagon, some pushed/pulled/rode in the other wagon, and more. There were enough activities to keep all the children busy with Harvest items or other outside opportunities. 

Taking her haul to the market

More collaboration taking place before our eyes

Newspaper wadded and now to begin stuffing the shirt...

Shirt pretty much stuffed, then they
moved on to stuffing the pants...

and she's complete. What a friendly little lady
we have gracing our playground. Thanks, Nana Teri!

I had purchased some watercolor paper and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to use it. I chose a few of our donated Harvest items and placed them on a festive plate, pulled out the liquid watercolors and the special paper and we were set. We encouraged the kiddos to look carefully at the items before they began painting and then to paint "what they saw".

We're having so much fun and there will be many more adventures to come. Happy Fall, Y'all!!