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.
Today we did an easy project that depicts life cycle of the butterfly. Here’s what you need: Paper, glue, white rice, macaroni pasta, shell pasta (medium size), and bow tie pasta. What I did was cut the paper (I used green) into a large circle and divided the circle into quarters with a back permanent marker. I had a simple illustration showing how the butterfly starts as an egg, becomes a caterpillar, goes into a cocoon, and then comes out a butterfly (something we’ve already gone over and read many times).
From this the children glued one piece of white rice into the upper left quadrant, one macaroni pasta into the upper right quadrant, a shell pasta into the lower right quadrant, and lastly a bow tie pasta in the lower left quadrant. In each space the children also labeled the items with the words: egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and butterfly. I had the words written out and they just copied them. I know I could have used the word “pupa” instead of “caterpillar” and “chrysalis” instead of “cocoon” but I choose not to as the majority of the books we’ve read don’t use those words and I didn’t want to confuse the children!
They really enjoyed this project and many got a kick out of “reading” the words to me as they went over the process! After we were done I realized that perhaps the children could have colored a scene around each item to put them in a more natural setting. Or we could have glued the “egg” onto a leaf, the “caterpillar” on a small stick or leaf, the “cocoon” on a small twig, and the “butterfly” onto a fake flower. Oh well, the children enjoyed it anyway! They couldn’t wait to take them home so they could “read” them to their parents!
So this week we’re learning about orange. Yes, we are still in our farm theme – but it’s fall so I put this mini unit into the mix. This past weekend I made a batch of yellow and a batch of red playdough. As you’ve probably guessed, we are mixing the two together to get orange. I give each child a little ball of yellow and a little ball of red and just let them play – most mix the colors, a few choose not to. However, the color is coming out more of a red-orange then a true orange. I should have made a batch and a half of yellow and a half batch of red because as it stands now the red is overpowering the yellow. Oh well, I’ll have to mental-note that for next year.
Another activity we did was I put a squirt of yellow and a squirt of red paint into a small zip-lock sandwich baggie, sealed it, and gave one to each child to squish around. After a bunch of manipulation we discovered that the two colors mixed and made orange! Some children told me they already knew that would happen – but I could tell that for a lot of them it was a new discovery! I loved the looks on some of their faces when they saw the color changing!
One of the last activities we’ve done so far this week is painting with yellow and red. I put some red and yellow on a large piece of white construction paper and give them a paintbrush. Almost every child mixed their paints and painted until their entire paper was covered in orange! Then, when their painting was finished I put a strip of paper in the middle that read “Red + Yellow = Orange” – which made the kids excited because they had a “real” math problem on their paper! (We had talked about the “+” and “=” signs as a group beforehand when we did the paint in the baggies and I wrote it on the board)
So far, a good start to our week! 🙂
This week we are working on sequencing the life of an oak tree. This is kinda review for them as we have already talked about the life cycle of an apple tree last week. First I go over this paper with the class (and then again when they come to the table to do this activity) – I love that it uses photographs! Then, when they come to the table and we review the sequence, I give the child this paper and have them cut out the pictures. Then they glue the pictures to a piece of construction paper in the correct order. I have to thank Karen over at PreKinders for these awesome printables!
I am surprised how well my kids do cutting out these pictures! I know we’ve been snipping, cutting playdough, and doing a few other cutting activities – but in the back of my mind I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to cut out these pictures. Boy, was I surprised! I don’t expect them to cut exactly on the lines – that wouldn’t be realistic for a 4 year old – but many of them came really close! It always makes me happy when I get surprised by how much they have progressed! 🙂
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! 🙂
Today we worked more on our “I Like…” collages – they are turning out great! I’m also taking note on who needs more scissor practice and who is progressing at a better rate. Besides our collages, we did an activity today that the children were very thrilled about! I bought 2 stethoscopes (one for each teacher) and the children were able to listen to their heartbeat and their breathing! They were stoked about this! I loved watching their faces light up when they realized what they were hearing! I love these moments! Isn’t our job great? 🙂
We’ve been low this week – and (shock to me) it’s actually been going really, really well so far! The children have been very involved in their work (I call play time work time when I’m in class) this week – so the noise level has been brought down a couple notches (thank God!).
Today Ms. Bennet started our sink/float experiment. I first talked about it and demonstrated it to the class. I had a few different objects and we guessed if we thought they would sink or float then we tested our hypothesis to see if we were right! The children enjoyed this a lot! Then I had a small tub of water and some more objects on our science table for the children to experiment with during choice time. Due to the fact that I apparently “need” to send paperwork home, I found this sink/float paper (scroll down to the last page of the PDF file) for the children to record their findings on. Ms. Bennet sat at the table and helped them.
While I do this experiment every year, this is the first time I had the children record their findings. Instead of having them draw or write what objects were – I had small pictures of each item (I made from clip art) that they glued in each box. This seemed to work well – but it was a very slow process! I was surprised by how good they were at guessing what would happen to each object! We will definitely be doing this for the rest of the week! Or until everyone who wants a turn has had one – and it looked like they all wanted to try! 🙂
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!