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Classroom Ideas

Gingerbread People

Last week, we read several different stories about gingerbread people.  We read the Gingerbread Boy, Gingerbread Baby, Gingerbread Girl and Gingerbread Mouse.  It was nice to see how the children were able to compare and contrast the similarities and differences within the stories. The story the Gingerbread Mouse is nothing like the other three stories, yet some children were able to tell me that I picked the story to read because the mouse lived in a Gingerbread house while the other three books were about cookies…I was VERY impressed!

During the week, the children were given gingerbread cutouts to paint brown.

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Towards the end of the week, the children were given various materials and were instructed to decorate their gingerbread person anyway they chose.   2013-12-13_10-36-52_666

 

Each individual gingerbread person was its own masterpiece!

 

 

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2013-12-13_10-36-19_427Often we have parents, both current and prospective, make comments about “arts and crafts”. Many parents think we do art projects just because they are cute and fun.  These are true statements, but it’s important to know that there is a great deal of learning going on when doing an art project. Here is a list of some… Continue reading

Christmas Week Number 1

We are talking about Christmas tree’s, Gingerbread men (and babies and girls and mice), Christmas lights, and more!  We have just finished our first week of this theme and will be continuing it through Christmas Eve.  So what have we been doing?  Let’s see…

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We have been listening to different Christmas songs in the listening center.

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Making patterns out of Christmas erasers.

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Making Gingerbread Men.

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Learning that S is for Santa and C is for Cookie.

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Making different Christmas type pictures out of pattern blocks.

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Making Candy Canes.

2013-12-09_10-06-26_621And learning our names.

This is just a quick peek of what we have been doing.  I will be making additional blog posts to explain the different activities and why we are doing them.  The kids are having lots of fun, but there are also learning objectives behind what we do.  So please stay tuned!!!

 

 

A Time to be Thankful

happy thanksgiving

If you are into social media, you will see that everyone is posting what they are thankful for this month. It comes fairly easy for adults, but what about children? Do children, especially young children, know what it means to be thankful?  Probably not.  That’s why we need to teach them!

At this time of year in early childhood centers all over, classroom themes typically revolve around the fact that at the end of the month there is a holiday called Thanksgiving.  Some themes include harvest, turkey’s, foods and more.  Currently in our school, our toddlers are learning about different foods and our preschoolers are beginning to learn about being thankful.

So, how do you teach about being thankful to preschool aged children?  Well, first, don’t expect them to be thankful for things such as food to eat, clothes to wear, a house to live in, etc. We have heard little ones tell an array of things over the years from having a mommy/daddy that loves me to having a specific toy to play with.  It doesn’t matter what the children say that they are thankful for, what matters is that they are starting… Continue reading

Why we teach!

Yesterday was one of those days that makes you remember why you teach little children. It was also a day for the lesson plans to be set aside. The children were in charge of their play today and boy did they get creative. It started with a new piece of climbing equipment and went from there.

Our classroom became the firehouse and the children were firefighters and rescue personnel. We, the teachers , were the poor victims in need of rescue. Art smocks became fire coats and backpacks became air tanks. They used pool noodles as fire hoses and rest mats as their bunks.  They even took the play into the housekeeping area to serve meals for the firefighters.


It is so much fun to watch children use their imaginations and create their own play setting. As teachers we sometimes lose track of how important this type of play is to children. Their imagination needs to be encouraged as it develops so that they can grow into thinking individuals that can problem solve and think outside of the box.


So as teachers we need to look at the ordinary things we bring into the classroom and not only allow… Continue reading

Homemade Blocks

What kid doesn’t love blocks?  Blocks come in so many different shapes, sizes and weights.  Our classroom has all sorts of different blocks, but the ones that they seem to love the most are the ones the BIG blocks that they have to move their whole bodies to use.  I’m talking about these:

Don’t they look cool?  These are sooo easy to make and even better…CHEAP to make!  We all have boxes lying around or know someone who does.  All you need to start is a few boxes.  Get an arrangement of different sizes and shapes.  You don’t need to go buying boxes, but use what you have or will have (from online shopping, shoe boxes, paper ream boxes, etc.).  Regular items that you may have around the house that you can save the box after use would be cereal boxes, rice boxes, sweetener boxes, paperclip boxes, etc.  If it’s made of cardboard and can be closed on all sides, it’s fair game! You also don’t need a lot, you are going to build your collection of blocks over time.  The boxes don’t need to be overly… Continue reading

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Week

Last week, we wrote a post on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Math. Today, we are going to show you what else we did during  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom week.

The kids enjoyed a variety of art activities.  We learned that the simplest of art projects were the most liked!

For the above activity, we put out brown and green paint and told the children to make a coconut tree from the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  We love to see the variability in the abilities of the different ages.  This next activity we clipped paper to both sides of the easel and left strips of dot stickers in the tray.  We gave the children no directions, just that they could put as many stickers on the paper wherever they would like.

Notice the stickers in the corner in the picture on the right?  The little boy who made who placed those stickers said they were his Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees.

During circle, we explored a real coconut and charted what we saw, what it felt like, sounded like and smelt like.  After we played a modification of the… Continue reading

Sensory Paint Bags

This is such a simple activity that takes all of 10 minutes to make and the kids will just love!  All you do is take some ziplock bags, put a little paint inside and use duck tape on the top.  Give the kids a Q-tip and let them draw, write letters, numbers, shapes, let their imaginations go wild.

This is a great wait to target writing skills without using paper and pencils.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Math

We had a fun week with the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom theme this week.  The kids learned a lot about the alphabet and coconuts.  Here are some of the math activities we did this week:

We played a game that we made with templates from the Making Learning Fun website.  The directions had ‘boom’ cards which, when drawn, the child lost a turn.  We took these out as they were already waiting long enough for a turn.

We simply printed out the number cards in color and laminated and printed out one number tree for each child.

We started with a nice neat pile with the numbers upside down, but they didn’t stay that way long.  Each child had a turn  picking a number, they told us what it was than used a bingo dauber to mark it on their tree.  You can see my notes in the above picture-we also used this as an assessment and noted which children could label which numbers, who could match numbers, etc.

The kids seemed to really enjoy this game and we were quite surprised how long they played it for.  We will… Continue reading

Math Without Worksheets

We are teachers who believe there is no need to use worksheets to learn until about first grade.  Here is a great article on this very topic.  Young children need fun, hands on activities to learn, and that is what we do here at Bright Starts.  It saddens us that so many teachers think their job is to spend hours sifting through books and standing at the copy machine while they could be making fun learning experiences that can be used over and over again. Sure, it takes time to make some of these activities, but many can be used repeatedly over years.  Here are some examples:

Shapes

  • Have children lay down in different shapes like circle, square and triangle-also targets motor planning and problem solving
  • Use Bendaroos to make shapes instead of having children draw them-also targets fine motor skills
  • Laminate shape printouts and use as playdoh mats-also sensory play

  • Shape puzzles-also targets fine motor skills and problem solving

Colors

  • Paint, let kids mix colors together to make new colors-also targets cause and effect, sensory and science skills
  • Play matching games such as matching the paintbrush to the… Continue reading

Dr. Suess Week…Day 1

It’s Dr. Seuss week so this week is filled with fun and imagination.  The books we plan on reading this week are The Cat in the Hat, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham and The Foot Book.  So far, the kids are having a great time listening for all the rhyming words in these great stories.  The kids have had so much fun with the activities we have been doing that we haven’t had time to finish all that we planned.  We anticipated this though and made Friday our Dr. Seuss’s brithday party day with all the leftover activities from the week.

Back to Monday…

We had a great time during centers:

One center had Dr. Seuss hat patterning. 

We set out laminated red hats and laminated strips of paper.  Some kids were thrown off by the fact there were other colors besides just red and white while others used all the colors in their patterns.

For literacy, we worked on the letter “C”.  We turned this into a literacy/fine motor activity as the children cut red strips of paper and glued them onto… Continue reading

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