Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring!

Spring is in the air, can you feel it?  I love this picture, though he had to reassess the control he had over his body and if it is appropriate or not during math time - I just happened to snap it at just the right time :)
We can sure feel it!  Today we continued our review of everything we've learned thus far in preschool and explored the idea of Spring!  We started by reading and coloring our book for the day, "Spring".
 While we were waiting for the rest of our friends to arrive everyone enjoyed talking about all the things we see in Spring and what color they were coloring those things.

 Then we headed downstairs to read a few books about Spring and learn a song called "Popcorn".  I used the opportunity to reread a few of our favorite books from our Fall and Winter themes to review the seasons we had already studied.  We read "Hibernation Station" and when we got to a book about Spring it was fun to watch as the light bulb went on in so many heads that the animals will be waking up and flying to their summers homes now.  Here's our little song:
video
We all loved this song and sang it over and over! 
 The song even naturally emerged at snack time, and how convenient is it that we were having popcorn for snack!  Such fun!

 Time to get dirty at Little Adventures Preschool!  I have a large garden in our backyard and we've already started some of our vegetable plants from seed.  Today the kids got to first have free explore with the dirt and then plant their own pumpkin seeds to take home.


 I transplanted one of our big tomato plants as we talked about the parts of the plant that will grow from the little seed now that the weather is warm enough and there is water and sunlight for plants to grow.



 We watered our plants with a spray bottle to avoid over watering (which happens with preschoolers a high percentage of the time)
 I continue to love how well positive phrasing works in our classroom.  Comments from me like, "I'm looking for someone who is sitting down with their hand raised that has some thinking to share with the group."  Works like a charm!
 Our review included math today where we were reviewing sorting objects by a single attribute.  The hardest attribute still continues to be size.  (We've worked on color, shape and size.)
 They love playing the game, "What doesn't belong?" with their friends.  They try and be so tricky!  I overheard some fantastic language today during this time.  Not only where kids responding to each other politely and discussing which object from a shape didn't belong, but they were ALSO talking about WHY it didn't belong - completely unprompted (though previously modeled) by me.  When kids can start explaining the WHY you can see into their thoughts and we've certainly done a lot of learning so far this year!
 There are a few activities that we do in preschool that are completely impossible to take a picture of, though perhaps I'll rig the camera some day to do it.  One of those activities is melody maps in music.  Today was the first day I'd introduced our Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star melody map and we built it together.  I had precut stars and the base of the chart.  Then as I glued stars on kids were able to point out which stars were higher or lower than other stars within the line (eventually that will lead to an understanding of the written form of higher and lower notes).  They were also able to identify that the big orange star came at the end of every line of music.  We also mastered the concept of the little yellow stars having one beat and the big orange ones having two beats (eventually that will lead to an understanding of quarter notes and whole notes, etc.)  I didn't get out the rhythm sticks today due to the extra energy in the room - see the first picture in this post for an explanation of all the energy - but we did clap to our melody map.  One clap for yellow, two claps for orange.  We also tried to sing along with the melody map though that makes clapping much harder.  We'll continue to work on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for a while until we're ready for a new song.
The other thing I didn't get a picture of was playing with the parachute.  We lifted it up high to show all the snow from the winter and then slowly the "snow" melted and then in the Spring it can rain hard or soft and with each descriptor we used the parachute in that manner.  We had a lot of fun today and I am completely impressed with the learning our little group has accomplished.  Awesome!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Review

This week is a letter review.  I tend to teach three letters and then review all the ones we've learned.  It has proven helpful in retaining the information about the letter sounds to aid in our reading skills.  For art today we made letter parties with the alphabet stamps.

 "T" had gotten down from the table and when I looked over he was proudly hanging up his art work on the refrigerator.  He was so proud!
 In math we've extended our attribute sorting to include *size *shape *color.  It's a little bit trickier when you have to consider that the common attribute could be any of these three, but we're starting to get the hang of it.
 Identifying that only one object in a particular set is the one that doesn't belong is difficult and we're often talking about how "these two go together" because of an attribute and continuing the conversation about what is alike and why.  It's all great conversation!
My camera was out of batteries today so I apologize for the lack of photos, but we had a blast finishing up our unit in music about "Music had a beat".  They really loved this unit and the opportunity to use the rhythm sticks.  Starting Wednesday we'll be introducing that music has a form and pattern with the use of melody maps.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday's Continuation of St. Patrick's Day

So, honestly?  I was behind.  But having kids help with a baking project is a great learning experience for the kids and I should have planned it this way from the beginning, but I didn't so I'll admit I was behind.  But we made good cake!
Friday morning our favorite 4 year old twins came over for fortifying Friday (an optional 3rd day of preschool) and we started with making our cake for a big lunch we were going to have right after class.
 We even made the cake batter green in honor of our theme: St. Patrick's Day.  Yes, "C" and "EMan" are in their pajamas while the twins are all fancy. Did I mention I was behind this morning?  Life seems to go by at the speed of light around here.
 Next, everyone worked together to put the few pieces of outdoors kid furniture in the "kid zone" for our picnic.  We have 3/4 of our backyard as vegetable garden and the remaining 1/4 is the "kid zone" with grass and a sandbox for free play.  As we start learning more about spring and planting vegetables and such you'll most likely see more of our garden featured here.  We'll certainly be using it to learn through summer camp!
 As usual: snack for Fridays is always green smoothies - so convenient for a day themed for St. Patrick's Day.

 This picture is really hard to tell, but "I" has a flashlight that we were using for our literacy review.  I did an individual assessment on each of the kids to reassess the need for Friday and we're doing so awesome that we're ready to move on!  Go girls!  We practiced all our letter sounds (that we have learned) as well as blending sounds to read words. 
 Before we knew it our friends were all arriving for our St. Patrick's lunch.
 We ate some great food and the kids took apart the scarecrow to make "soup" with the straw in the sandbox.  They got really messy, but had a lot of fun!
 Our cake turned out cute as well :)  And everyone liked it.
 Did I mention we had great food?  Look at how cute these little pizzas are that one of our awesome mom friends made.  They tasted super delicious as well.  (I'll admit I ate at least 6)
 EMan was all sorts of dirty by the end of lunch!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day one and all!  We started our day by reading a wonderfully informative book about St. Patrick's Day and making a list of all the things that people do, remember, and symbols of St. Patrick's Day.
 Then we got to work making some green decorations for our preschool and for our own houses.


 We made these shamrock hand print crafts from Oriental trading that turned out super cute.  I enjoy doing more "keepsake" type items every once in a while and hope that they get saved at home.
 We also had some free explore with the finger paints as well.
 "R" was quite shocked that his hands were all green.  "What on earth could have happened?"  I think this is a great picture :)
 We made some headbands out of crepe paper to symbolize the green trees that are burned at the beginning of the year and then spread among the fields to produce a healthy soil for new plants.
 Then we headed outside to get our own Shillelaghs (tree branches) to decorate with ribbon (or yarn) just like in our book.

 Once we headed back in to work on our music skill "Music has a beat" we had way too much energy to sit down - so we marched around the room instead.
 It was a follow the leader of sorts and everyone is catching on to when we hit our sticks together.  We're working on a song called "I'm Jumping" that has defined sections of fast and slow beats and it has been a blast teaching them to tap their sticks to the beat of that song.  I hope to use it for our preschool program in May.

Monday, March 12, 2012

E is for Elephant

Today was a lot of fun as we explored the letter E.  E the elephant exercises in our Amazing Action Alphabet, so we started the day by watching some videos about trained elephants and strong men at the circus.  The kids were completely enthralled with the videos and were excited to move on to reading our "E Book" about all the tricks an elephant can do.  Next we used balloons and drinking straws to make our own "weights".  Since we've been talking about heavy versus light lately in our math curriculum of comparisons they had a great time pretending their weights were super heavy.


 Our activity today for art included an A-B-C dot-to-dot.  We have been learning the alphabet in non-alphabetic order and I realized today that we need to do some more fun sequencing games with the letters of the alphabet.  Some of the kids caught on once we were singing very slowly and others had a hard time following the directions.  It was a great activity to see where we were at with both alphabetizing and following directions.

 We also made elephant stick puppets for art.
 With our elephant stick puppets we played some musical chairs, or rather our version of it.  We don't actually take chairs away but they love racing to a seat!
 I introduced the vocabulary word "alike" today.  We continued our sorting of objects according to a single attribute and identifying what doesn't match and why.
 Yet another realization for myself: you can't ask 3 and 4 year olds to draw an "X" on the one that doesn't match if you haven't taught them what "X" is.  We're still a few weeks away from learning that one - oops! :)
 As we worked on identifying things that are "alike" we also started delving into the attribute of color.  This was a little bit trickier until we colored all the objects in.
 This class has learned a lot this year and I love how they are so actively participating and raising their hands when they have done their thinking in their heads.  We've been working on the concept of think about something in your head and when you've done some good thinking and would like to share raise your hand.  They are starting to get it know which is great to give everyone enough time to think about the problem they are faced with.