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Sunday, March 1, 2015

STEM and The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff meets STEM in the Pre-K classroom!
Our objective was to construct a bridge as a class using the children's engineering skills.

Before the lesson: I tore pages out of an old magazine, rolled them up and secured them with tape. That was our material that we would be building with for this lesson.
We began the lesson by posing the question: How could we construct a bridge (like the one in the story) using our building materials and what else would we need to meet our goal?

Our steps to building the bridge:

First, I had the children brainstorm and shout out ideas which I listed on a piece of paper.

Second, it was time to do some research. I had copies of many of the local bridges in our area as well famous bridges around the world. We also used an iPad to look up other bridges which we did not have pictures of.
Third, it was time to put our research into practice and sketch out a picture. We sketched one as a group where we took into account the children's favorite bridges and ideas. The children were encouraged to make their own sketches after and try out their bridge idea in the block area.
Fourth, we discussed what we would need to put the bridge together. The children decided on staples and tape. A few wanted to use glue but the other children reminded them of how long glue takes to dry so they consented to tape as well. I just love when they learn and problem solve with their peers.
Fifth, I had the children go to their learning centers and called the children over two at a time to work on the construction of the bridge. Every child in the class had a chance to help build the bridge.
Sixth, it was time to test out the final product by a story retelling with our puppets. I love to mix STEM with storytelling to make sure I'm reaching all of my young learners.
Extension activities: The children were encouraged to use the bridge for the rest of the week throughout the various learning centers in the classroom.
In the block center children were invited to add blocks, cars, and make their own bridges. In the library area children were invited to use puppets and conduct their own story retellings in small groups or independently. In the dramatic play center children used it to put themselves into the story and cross the bridge just like the goats. In the art center children were encouraged to draw a picture of the bridge. In the science center the children were invited to test the weight and durability of the bridge and in the math area children were invited to count how many pieces were needed to put our bridge together.

Trip trap, trip trap went the bridge...
happy learning! : )
Check out our Three Little Pigs meets STEM here or more Three Billy Goats Gruff activities here.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

More snowmen activities

Here in New England we were just hit with a huge snowstorm and more to come next week. As much as I am exhausted and tired of shoveling...I do love winter lessons with a snow theme.
Here are a few new snowmen activities that my class has been enjoying this winter!
Snowman bowling!
Do you want to build a snowman??? hehe How many times have you heard your students singing that song? At least a thousand times...a day! All kidding aside, the students in my class have loved building this no snow snowman. We made him as a class from tissue boxes and used white paper scraps and markers to decorate them. The children have enjoyed building him in various orders but what they really love is knocking him down. This was a great activity to add to our winter classroom (as we cannot get outside as often) and it brings in movement and exercise that the children can execute independently.

Open ended snowman easel paintings.
The children were invited to make their snowman/woman at the easel in any form they would like. As you can see above, some of the children chose to make a melted snowman, some a snow storm snow person and a few went the original route. They were then given a variety of embellishments from pipe cleaners to pom poms to finish them. The goal here is to let each child be truly creative and not to tell them how to make it. Process over product. Each one came out so unique just like the students in my class. 

Snowman number recognition practice.
For this activity the students worked one on one with the teacher. They first were asked to draw a card and identify the number. If they were unable I would have them find the number on the number line and count to it. Once the number was identified the children had to put a gem on the matching number on the snowman. After the students all had a turn one on one with the teacher this was a free choice activity for the week.

Name snowmen.
I have seen these all over pinterest in many different forms and wanted to try them out in my classroom. Any activity where they are writing their name is always a hit. After the children completed their name snowman they were given white paint and a q-tip to make the snow falling over their snowman.
Click here to see more of my snowmen ideas and activities.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another new school year (2014)

I absolutely love this time of year! The excitement in the air of the school, everyone putting up their new bulletin boards and tidying up their classrooms. The anxious but excited feeling of meeting all the new students and hoping that I can successfully meet all their needs. The craziness of the bus schedule and figuring out all the children's individual schedules from full day to half day to part time, etc. The eager and a bit anxious look on the children's faces on the first day reminds me of why I went into teaching in the first place. It's a super stressful time but it's also so rewarding. Plus, its a great excuse to go school shopping at my age! I just love back to school time!
hehehe just kidding... : )
I wanted to share with you a couple of my new back to school boards for the 2014 school year!
My welcome with all the children's names on the door to the classroom.
To ask for donations to the classroom.
Can you make our wish come true?
Take a star or maybe two?
We are asking for: Play dough, dry erase markers, googly eyes, baby wipes, seasonal stickers, Clorox wipes, clear packing tape, washable markers and a gift card to Riteaid to print pictures for the children's year books.

My birthday board!
 I am so pleased with how it came out! Complete with 3D candles made from scrapbook paper.


I was very excited to find this great display/storage idea for morning message and other charts on pinterest! I simply bought an L bracket at home depot for under $2 and attached our charts to a plastic hanger! Love it! So easy and makes great use of the limited wall space in my classroom.
I found this cute welcome poem on pinterest but couldn't find a source for it.
During the first few days of school I like to have the children come up with a few rules to help the classroom run smoothly through the year. The children then add their handprint as a way of signing and agreeing to the rules. It's a great tool to be able to refer to when a child is having a rough day remembering the rules.
Have a great school year everyone!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Seven on Saturday (Instruments)

Today I spent the morning with a few of my coworkers at the Steve Lyons Memorial, Rock out cookout at Winnekenni Castle! All of the proceeds go towards art and music education at Haverhill High School. We were there to not only promote our school but also to give back to an important cause in our community. Plus, we had lots of fun listening to the amazing talent from some awesome local bands and making instruments with the children who attended the event.  
This week's SoS will focus on my favorite recycled musical instruments for kids to create!!!
1. Paper plate tambourines! We made these today with the children that came to the fundraiser. We simply folded the paper plates, punched holes in the side, added macaroni to the inside and tied the sides shut with ribbon. We then had the children decorate them with markers, stickers and beads.
They had a ball shaking them along to the music and dancing around.

2. Plastic Egg Maracas from Made. A great way to use those left over eggs from Easter in a productive way.
3. Rainsticks! Made from paper towel tubes and toothpicks. Super easy and they sound just like the real thing. Click here for step by step instructions on how to make them.

4. Drinking straw Pan Flute from Krieger Science. I mean really, how cute and easy is this?
5. Paper plate hand held drums! We made these during Chinese New Year in my classroom. We stapled the paper plates together, attached them to a large popsicle stick and added the beads to the string to make the noise as you twirl them back and forth in your hands. Lots of musical fun and a multicultural lesson as well.
6. Cereal box Guitar from Red Ted Art. I have also seen these made from tissue boxes in the past for smaller hands.
7. DIY! One of my favorite things to do during classical music appreciation week in my classroom is to put out a whole bunch of recycled materials and see what the children come up with on their own for instruments! 
This is always a hit with the students and their creativity never ceases to amaze me! : ) 
"Education isn't just about feeding the brain. Art and music feed the heart and soul." -Julie Garwood

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Introducing Children to Herbs

Introducing young children to herbs!
 I decided to bring some herbs from my garden into the classroom for the children to explore.
I selected a sprig of rosemary, mint, lemon balm and chive. I put each one into a brown paper bag and made sure to rub the leaves along the outside so the smell was strong and apparent.

To start the introduction, I first wanted the children to use their sense of smell to explore the herbs. I invited each child over to smell each of the bags and tell me what they thought it smelled like.
Their predictions varied greatly on the rosemary and mint but many thought the lemon balm smelled like jelly beans or candy. While many predicted the chive to smell like pizza or pepperoni. I told the children these were wonderful predictions because each of these scents belonged to an herb which can be used to flavor food. We then went on to discuss that there are many different types of herbs and that some are used not only in food, but for medicine, toothpaste, cleaning supplies, and many other things. 

I then showed the children what each one looked like and some of the foods that they are often paired with. The children were all given a chance to explore them independently in our discovery center. The children were invited to touch, smell and get a closer look at the herbs. They were also encouraged to sketch the herbs and match them to their corresponding picture.

 Numerous studies have shown the best way to teach children to respect nature is to let them play and explore it as a child. It is my hope that by introducing the children to herbs and teaching them the importance of nature that they will want to take better care of their environment now and in the future. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Seven on Saturday (Rocks)

While I was on vacation my amazingly creative co-teacher spent the week rocking out! ; ) 
This SoS features my co-teacher and good friend Sonia's best rock study activities for preschool! 

1. Sorting rocks by their attributes. Smooth vs. rough. A great way to get those little ones looking at details and using descriptive language.

2. Counting rocks activity. The children were encouraged to show how many small rocks were represented by the numeral on the larger rock.

3. Famous rock formation paintings at the easel. A great way to spark conversations about history and geography.

4. Painting with rocks. A fabulous process art project and sensory experience all in one.

5. Adding rocks into the block building area. Looking for a fine motor and balance challenge for your little ones? You have got to try this out. The children were encouraged to take their time and think creatively to carry out their plans all while improving their hand eye coordination.

6. What do we know about rocks? Where do rocks come from? It is always important to find out what the children already know about a subject and what they might be confused about. This way you can address any misconceptions at the start before they become imprinted in the child's mind for the future. As you can see, the children had lots of interesting ideas about rocks.

7. My personal favorite! Painted rock tic tac toe! The children were invited to use the rocks in a fun and engaging way where they could interact with others and practice some much needed social skills.

Click here to see how we use rocks to tell stories in our classroom.
Happy learning to all! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Story Stones

I have seen so many different types of painted stones online for all sorts of educational purposes. I decided that since I most certainly am not a painter but, I really wanted a set for my classroom that I would have to come up with an alternative that even I could make. My solution... modge podge to the rescue! I cut out some interesting pictures that I found in a magazine and simply stuck them on with modge podge then let them dry and ta da!

My own set of story stones!
Here is how I use story stones in the pre-k classroom.

I call the children over one at a time for this activity. I have each child choose six stones from the box. I then encourage each child to tell me a story using the stones as inspiration. Each stone has to be used in the story in some way. This way I am guaranteed more than a one sentence story which can sometimes happen. It's funny, children can tell stories all day long but as soon as you ask them to tell you one and put them on the spot they freeze up. So these stones help to give them topics to come up with and interesting situations for the characters and objects to get into. I write down their stories while they are telling their tale and read them back to them when they are finished. I then ask the children to illustrate their story. After each of the children have finished I have them share their stories with their classmates. 

The children love this activity! Many of them wanted to write story after story which I just love! It was amazing how creative their stories really were. Aside from the children having to use language skills to tell the story and fine motor skills to draw the story. They also are engaging in a great sensory experience while they interact with the stones. I think the next set, I will have to make with seashells or maybe wooden pieces...the possibilities are endless and it's a great way to bring natural materials into the classroom in an engaging way.

Happy story telling to all!