I’ve been reading a lot lately about how great water beads are for the sensory and light tables and how much kids love them! So, I wanted to give them a try in my classroom. They sure looked awesome on all the blogs I saw them on and I knew my kids would love them! So, after reading that people were able to find them at the Dollar Tree (what teacher doesn’t love the dollar store?) I went to find some!
I was a little bummed that all my store had was clear water beads. But I bought them just the same (6 jars to be exact, all they had left). To add some color I found some plastic jewels in the craft section in various sizes and colors…I bought a pack of each color. So, today my kids got to play with the water beads for the first time!
I don’t have a sensory table, so I use an under the bed storage container, big enough for 2 kids to comfortably play together at a time. I would have loved to put the container on the light table, but I don’t have one of those either, so we made due. I put in some scoops and bowls and let them explore.
It was love at first touch! Haha! They love just running their hands through them and exploring the texture. Then they start to scoop and and pick them up, and drop them watching them bounce off one another. Then some kids start to sort the plastic jewels (their “treasures”). So much going on in one simple activity.
Other kids gather around the table to watch and wait their turn. They are very patient. They stand quietly. The children talk about how it feels and what they observe. They point out the sizes and colors of the jewels (and some even point out the different shades of the color families). Some notice how the beads are so clear they can see their fingers through them. And the jewels. They call them marbles or bubbles. They laugh. They tell me they like them. And I watch. I ask questions. I make sure water beads don’t get popped or eaten. But mostly I just enjoy their reactions to this new sensory world.
We did quite a few math activities for valentine’s day! We sorted by color, graphed, estimated, and practiced our 1:1 correspondence! As you can imagine, this has kept us busy over the past couple of weeks! I like to do these activites with just 2 or 3 children at a time, and with 20 kids in my class – it takes awhile! 🙂
To do all of these activities, I used conversation hearts. First I made sorting mats for the kids to use. I cut out small hearts (in the colors of the candy hearts) and glued them to read paper. Then I laminated them (so I can use them year after year). They turned out great and other teachers have borrowed them since! To do the sorting I gave each child a sorting mat and about 20 candy hearts. I asked them to sort the hearts by colors (pink on pink, orange on orange, and so on). Everyone was able to do this without any problems! YAY! I was very excited!
Next, we used this graph (scroll down to page 7) to graph the heart candy we had just sorted. I had already colored the words at the bottom to show what color went in each column. Then I had the children place the candy hearts in their correct column and count how many of each color they had. Then as they took the candy pieces off, they colored the boxes the same color of the candy (we used blue for white because a white crayon wouldn’t show up). I realized afterward they could have just glued the hearts to the graph – and it would have had the same effect! Also, after we had just about finished with this activity, Karen over at PreKinders came out with her own version of this project.
For the estimation we used this paper and I had the children make a guess then I helped them write their guess on the line. Afterward they glue on candy hearts and together we counted them and I once again helped them write the number on the line. Many children enjoyed this “game” and wanted to “play” again! Since they liked the estimation so much I let them guess out many hearts they could hold in one handful, then we counted those to see how close they were! We wrote their guesses and the actual amount on a laminated poster board and hung it one the wall for everyone to see! They really enjoyed this – after all, what kids doesn’t like to grab handfuls of candy? 🙂
The last activity we did was play a Valentine’s Grid Game where the children roll a dice, count how many dots are on the dice, then place that many markers on their game board. The game is played until all the spots are full! This is not our first grid game and the children always love to play them!
Well – I’m back! After a ton of computer issues over the past week – I’m finally back online and back on my blog! This week we started our unit on Farms. At the start of our farm unit I always like to do a couple days on apples – because they are being harvested this time of year and because most children are familiar with the fruit.
I teach all the different parts of the apple: the skin, the core, the seeds, the flesh, and the stem. We cut them open and look at the different parts. We smell apples. We touch them. We taste them. I buy red, yellow, and green apples and we compare their tastes, smells, textures, and appearances. When we’re done, we graph which apple we liked the best and then compare those results. We count which color had the most people like it and which color had the least.
We sing songs about apples. We read books about how apples grow and about orchards. We sequence the life of an apple tree – from seed, to full-grown tree. And we make apple prints with red, yellow, and green paint to match the color of our apples. I don’t usually do art with food – it makes me feel guilty because I feel it’s a waste – but every so often I make an exception.
Apple days in my class are always fun for everyone – and it’s a good way to lead in our farm unit! 🙂
We did a formal cutting exercise today. I cut 4″ by 1″ strips of construction paper in all different colors. I drew black lines on each strip with a sharpie. Some strips had 2 lines, some had 3 lines, and others had 4 lines. I laid them on a tray in the middle of table. In front of each chair I put a pie pan and a pair of scissors. Then I invited the children over to cut up the strips. Some cut on the lines – others didn’t. That was fine by me. I helped them hold the scissors correctly and praised their efforts – I was happy to see how hard they were trying! I didn’t realize what a big hit this activity would be with my class! I actually ran out of paper before everyone had had a turn! I’ll have to prep more and do this again!
After we cut all the paper up – I turned this into a sorting activity. I had some strawberry baskets with cut up paper in them left over from last year. I had the children sort today’s paper pieces by color into these baskets. They also really enjoyed doing this. I told them that we will be doing art with these little pieces of paper – and they loved the idea of helping me get ready for an art project by actually cutting and sorting the paper for me! They were happy and engaged – just what I like to see! 🙂
Well, I’ve been sick for a few days now…to be honest, I’ve been waiting for it to hit – and it finally did on Friday! For some reason I always manage to get sick within the first month of school – and it was no different this year! I think this is the worst cold I’ve had in months! I don’t remember feeling so bad in a long time! But today there was some semblance of normalcy back in my life and I didn’t feel like death warmed over all day – so that was good.
This morning we did some goldfish cracker sorting to go along with our ocean theme. We sorted them by color, and then colored in a graph to record how many of each color we had. Then we talked about what color they had the most of and what color they had the least of. I got through about half the class today and they all did really well! Afterward I let them eat their crackers – and this was of course their favorite part!
Well, this is it for my little update – maybe a longer post will come when I feel a little better (and less tired)! For those of you who are back at school – good luck with your new classes – and have fun! 🙂
If you read my post from yesterday, you know how frustrated I was with my classes behavior. This morning at circle time I had a talk with them about how they are big boys and girls and it’s their job to follow the rules and listen at school. Then, instead of us (the teachers) going over the rules – I had them take turns telling me the rules. I don’t know if it was the talk or the fact that we had 5 less kids today – but finally – after days of frustration – we had an almost great day! YAY! I am so happy! 🙂
Today we did a math/science activity that the children were really excited about. We talked about how big things are and how we measure using a ruler or measuring tape. Then we talked about how we could use other items to measure with – like hands, feet, blocks, or in our case, unifix cubes! I have a bunch of plastic ocean animals and I took out a few and asked the children to guess how many cubes long we thought the animal was. After I took a few guesses, Ms. Bennet showed the children how to snap the cubes together until we had a line of cubes as long as the animal. Then we counted the cubes and compared our guesses with the actual amount.
Then I laid out our container of unifix cubes, 4 plastic ocean animals, a couple pencils, and an ocean animal measuring paper I made to record their data. I showed the children how to use the paper to record their data and told them that only two children at a time could work because it was a small table. I also put out a sentence strip with numbers written on it to help them out with writing their numbers. I made sure I sat very near the table to help any children that didn’t feel like they were ready to tackle this on their own (there were quite a few – but I expected that)!
In the end the children really enjoyed working on this activity and I told them that they did the kind of work a real scientist would do! They were excited to take home their papers and show their parents how they wrote numbers (most for the very first time)! And I was excited to see them so excited about learning! We will keep this activity out until everyone who wants to has had a turn!
What teacher does just love a dollar store?! I have found such great finds in our local Dollar Tree – from art supplies to toys to storage baskets! I also find a lot of my playhouse clothes and great books in local thrift stores and Goodwill’s – great items and low prices! I would love to hear if any of you out there have found great items at a dollar or thrift store and how you use them! Sometimes I find great items but don’t buy them because I can’t quite figure out what I would use them for. Either that or I leave them because I don’t have any place to store them when they aren’t in my classroom! I have officially run out of storage in my home and classroom! 😦
My most recent find was a ladybug and worm that start out small but grow when you put them in water. So, I put them in clear plastic containers so we could observe how they change. The children are getting a kick out of watching them grow! The good thing is the package says if you take them out again they will shrink back to their original size and then they can be reused – this is great to hear because now for an investment of $2 I can use these year after year until they stop working! Awesome!
Next week I think we’ll walk around the grounds of our building (lets hope Ms. Lezze-Faire says yes) in search of insects to observe…I’m sure the children will get a kick out of that! Not quite as cool a walk around the neighborhood would be but at this point I’ll take what can get! The children have been drawing bugs in their journals lately…lots of ladybugs and butterflies. They even draw the very hungry caterpillar – a green body with a red head – very cool!
I’ve put plastic bugs in the oatmeal table and I die-cut leaves and wrote numbers on them and we’ve used them as counting mats with our bug counters. I’ve also added large bug stuffed animals that I found around the school to our Jungle (read: playhouse area). Furthermore, I’ve been reading books about insects and stories that have insects as the main character. All I need to do is find an art project for next week and I’ll be set….so I’m off to search the web for something good!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today I tried to get to work early today – but it didn’t work out in the end! Which made me very stressed! But somehow – everything got done. When I got to class I put a little pot of gold filled with plastic gold coins in the Jungle (read: the playhouse) with a note from the leprechaun. I had found glittery plastic shamrocks (1 for each child) on sale and I sprinkled them around on the floor. Then, using double stick tape, I taped down little leprechaun footprints. One set leading to the pot of gold and another leading to our circle time area rug where I had laid some things out. If I’d had more time, I would have put footprints leading all over the room.
Ms. Bennet showed up at this point and together we rearranged the toys on each shelf, spilled some toys out of their containers, took out all the green toys and laid them around the room to make it look like they had been played with, and got out some paper and green crayons to make it look like someone was making green drawings. To top it all off I took our foam shamrocks (which we have been using to pattern and sort by color and size) and sprinkled them all over the tables and floor! It looked great! Then I had 2 mini leprechaun hats that I put in strategic areas around the room.
The scene was set. When I led our class into the room – they immediately noticed the changes! We asked them who could have done this to our room – and they knew – it was those pesky leprechauns! So I told them to see what they found as they looked around the room! They were running looking for things – seeing what the leprechauns had gotten out – they loved the pot of gold! They loved the glittery shamrocks! They cleaned up the room – all the while complaining about “Why couldn’t the leprechauns clean up?” They had a great time!
Later that morning we played a shamrock number game. I had 20 paper shamrocks (numbered 1 – 20) laid out on the floor in a circle (number side down). I played some Irish music and they walked around the shamrocks. When the music stopped they had to pick up the shamrock closest to them and we went around the circle with each child saying their number. Then we placed them back on the floor (number down) and played again. When we had done this quite a few times, we helped the children make a number line with all the numbers, counted them, and then called on children to go point to certain numbers. All in all, a great day! And each child got to take home 2 gold coins and 1 glittery green shamrock! And a sparkly shamrock headband we all made today! Good times!