Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Eensy Weensy Spider - Teacher Lisa

All of the children at Small Friends are getting excited about Halloween! During the second week in October  Teacher Jennifer and I embraced that anticipation with spider explorations in our Younger Class. I think it's safe to say that all of us were "caught up" in the fun!

On Tuesday when the children arrived, they found several new activities in the classroom. There was a spider web with hanging strands for insect-wrapping.

The water tub had a water spout for spiders to climb up and cups and cauldrons for washing them out. On Thursday we added spiders inside of ice cubes. Children sprinkled salt and sprayed water to liberate them.




The light table was covered with a web containing real insects for the children to observe along with  the toy spiders for playing with.

The play dough/self-help table had "spidery" items along with the items that are always available. (In the 3rd photo you can see that the ever-popular dinosaurs came out to play with the spiders). The pony bead/spider bracelets provided a little variety at a station typically filled with glue and collage work.

There were a variety of spiders with clothespin legs for children to add according to matching attributes (shapes, colors, numbers, etc.)

Our parent-led activities for the week included a spider ring counting game and spider/pumpkin patterning. Part of the spider ring station included a "Do You Like Spiders?" graph activity.


Our other parent-led projects were painting spider webs over tape to create pieces with positive/negative space, and building/baking spider biscuits.

Of course there were many spider stories and songs to sing. Here the children are acting out the song, "There's a Spider on the Floor" as spiders crawl up their bodies.
Even though there were spiders everywhere during our week of creepy-crawly fun, there were lots of other things going on as well. The children had fun repeating some of the apple activities from the previous week.

They are always welcome to pull out their familiar favorites and we are beginning to notice more cooperative play taking place, which is great to see!

As I write this blog, most of the spiders in the classroom have been replaced with monsters and pumpkins, but we still have a few not-so-eensy-weensy friends hanging around in our hallway...


Monday, October 20, 2014

Learning Math Through Play in the Classroom - Teacher Marah

We provide many ways to learn the concepts of math activities with parents and sometimes at different centers when we see something a child has created.

We provide opportunities for patterning.  This friend is making a pattern with black and white rocks. The parent makes a pattern and then the child matches it. The child then makes his own pattern. We track how long and how complicated a pattern each child is successful with. 

We also play games of different kinds. These friends are playing the lady bug game. With this game they are comparing the colors of the two dice they roll and then moving the correct color of lady bugs. They also learn taking turns. We did a graph of which color lady bug won the most games. Then at group time we counted up to see which color won the most games and contrasted that with which color won the least games.

We read the book Who Sank the Boat. We were all surprised to learn that it was the mouse, which was the smallest animal to get on. The next day, we had several different sizes of "boats" and the children counted out teddy bear counters and saw how many counters it took to sink each boat. This is good practice counting. Some took only a few, but the biggest one took over 20! In the older class, the children also "guessed" how many counters it would take to sink the boat and then got to test their guess to see  if they were right or close to the number.

In both classes we did apple tasting. We got to taste 4 different kinds of apples. We then chose our favorite one. We made a graph and each child put a dot on their favorite. At group time, we tallied each column and saw that the red apples won each day! We also contrasted and saw which one we didn't like the best. We also counted and realized there were a couple of "ties". In the older class the red delicious apple was the one we used to make apple sauce the next day at school!

We have many other opportunities to "practice math" at different areas around the classroom.

We often have beads and strings for the children to make necklaces. We have a rule that you have to have at least 10 beads for it to be a necklace, so we count to make sure. There are also times that children fill the whole string and we try to count all of the beads. Children also notice and delineate between which ones can have fewer beads and are "shorter" or have more and are "longer". We take any opportunities to count when we see things going on in the classroom.

We also find fun ways to do math at the play dough table! I asked this friend what he was doing. He told me he was going to make all of these balls and then he was going to cut them all in half. I said, "Wow, how many do you have so far?" We proceeded to count them. We also counted when they were all cut in half.

It is also so fun when some children are doing something and then many of the children come and join in or observe what is going on. These two friends had a "snake" of play dough on the table. They were continuing to make it longer. I asked them how long they thought it was. They both told me different numbers. I asked if we should get the yard stick out. "YES!" they both said. We started with a little over 3 feet. They got so excited, they kept making it longer and longer until it doubled back all of the way down the table. They would have me measure. We went to 7 feet and kept going. They were both so excited, they didn't even know they were experiencing a fun math time. Many of the children ended up watching as they kept adding and I kept measuring. We all were really excited to see 17 feet of play dough on the table!

Math is everywhere in the classroom. It's pretty fun to encourage all of the counting, measuring, graphing, contrasting and patterning going on in our room on any one day at preschool.

Monday, October 13, 2014

All About Sunflowers - Teacher Elaine

Sunflower activities are a wonderful way to inspire preschoolers to appreciate the beauty and cycles of nature.  The younger class plants sunflower seeds in our garden at the end of their first year.  When they begin their older school year, we have the children take walks to revisit the sunflowers that they planted in the spring.
At our science area, we spent some time taking sunflowers apart and using magnifying glasses to observe their petals, seeds, stems and leaves.  We learned about the function of different parts of a flower and demonstrated how the roots and stem take in water from the soil by putting a yellow sunflower in a vase of red colored water.  We were amazed by how quickly the flower turned red!  This is an easy experiment with dramatic results.  The children also practiced their fine motor skills by using tweezers to pull the seeds out of a giant sunflower head.


After some exploration, the children sketched an observational ink drawing of a sunflower and painted over it with watercolors.  Each drawing was very detailed and unique!  The class then had the opportunity to construct and paint a 3-dimentional sunflower sculpture with sculpey clay.


A counting sunflower game gave the children time to practice one on one correspondence along with some beginning addition, subtraction and counting skills.

Other fun activities included peas and sunflower scooping in the seed table and more 3D sunflower construction at the play dough table.

These are just some fun examples of how you can give children opportunities to appreciate the beauty of nature and learn about the world around them.