Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hi everyone,
Thank you so much for your support over the past several years! Since I have closed my school, I will not be posting on Preschool Mommy anymore, but I'm starting a new blog Musings of an Imperfect Mom. It will contain more projects and useful information, as well as funny stories about my kids and just my general take on parenting. I hope you will enjoy my new blog, and continue to lend your support to my work.
Sincerely,
Courtney

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Fun - Bugs

Well, I'll admit, it's been a while. I have been running around like a crazy person this summer and haven't had much time to blog. Now that the summer is coming to a close, I wanted to write about some of the fun things we did this summer.

This summer, we learned all about nature beginning with one of my favorite subjects: BUGS!

We learned all about these creepy crawlies and what makes them tick. We practiced our drawing skills by drawing pictures of bugs, tried (unsuccessfully) to create an ant farm, and made our own awesome diagrams of the inner workings of an ant mound.

Prior to working on the diagram, I showed the children pictures of the inside of an ant mound and how the different chambers served various functions. I kept it pretty simple: Worker aunts are at the top of the nest bringing in food for the queen and rest of the colony. Just below the workers live the larvae. The queen is in a chamber in the center of the nest, and food storage is at the bottom.

Here is what we did...

Materials:

  • Peel and stick shelf liner paper
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons or markers
Activity:
I took various colored pieces of construction paper and pre-cut them into various sizes of ovals and tunnels. I taped the sticky paper up on the wall with the sticky side out, and organized the children into teams of two. Then, I invited them to stick the construction paper tunnels and ovals onto the paper connecting the tunnels and chambers (i.e. ovals) any way they wished. Finally, we drew in pictures of aunts, larvae, the queen, and food stores. I think they turned out great!







Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Space Bottles

To kick off our space and science theme, we made space bottles. It's sooo simple and so cute.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Mini (12 oz) soda bottles
  • Faceted colored beads of various sizes
  • Silver glitter
  • Blue food coloring (optional)
  • Corn syrup (this is what gives it the floating effect)

First, I removed the labels from the bottles, and used Goo Gone (the greatest invention for moms next to the magic eraser) to remove the sticky residue. Next, I filled them about halfway with water, and closed the top for the children to finish up the following day.

I placed out a few bowls of multi-colored beads, and allowed the children to place however many they wanted into the bottle. Next, I helped them pour the glitter in the bottle. I found that if I let them do the food coloring, they made it too dark so I asked them if they wanted one drop or two of food coloring and did it for them. Finally, I placed the corn syrup over the hole and they squeezed it into the bottle until it was full. They put the tops back on and shook the bottles like crazy to mix everything. After class, I hot glued the tops on because I felt it was too dangerous to do with the children around, especially with my 1970's glue gun.

I did help the children more with this project than I usually do. I'm a big proponent of process over product, and although I had the children do as much as possible, I did have to help a lot or they would not have turned out right. Like I said, normally I wouldn't care about it "turning out right" but this was less about artistic process, and more about the children making their sensory bottles that, I hope, they will be able to enjoy for a very long time.

Anyway, I think they turned out great, and it was a really fun way to kick off our space theme!

Grain and seed collage

Okay... so remember that comment about sharing my utter failures. Well here's one you can definitely sink your teeth into.

This project started out as your typical grain and seed collage. I put together a mixture of grans and bird seed I got at the store, and had the children spread glue on a paper plate any way they wanted. Then they sprinkled the seeds onto the plate, and dumped the excess off so the seeds stuck to the glue creating a design on the plate.

Here's the thing... this was cute, but kind of blah.

So I had this inspiration! I thought it would look really neat if the children painted their collages. The following class, I gave the children a mixture of glue and paint in red, blue, and yellow. Well, as is often the case, the children just didn't follow my idea of what they would do. They mixed the paints, and spread it on very thickly creating what I have dubbed... "Vomit on a plate."

I figured it wouldn't be a very good idea to post an image of them for the sake of anyone who is unfortunate enough to be eating as they read this. ;)

In closing... don't try this one at home kids.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cheerios Bird Feeder

The idea here is that you are making simple bird feeders, while working on the children's fine motor skills by having them thread Cheerios onto yarn. This sounds simple, but like everything involving children... it is not as simple as it seems. :)

Here's what you'll need:

  • Colorful yarn
  • Cheerios
  • Small bells
  • Glue
The important part is the preparation. You will need to cut the thread to the length you want, and tie the bell onto one end. The bells provide a stopper for the Cheerios, and are supposed to jingle if a bird picks at the string. Here's where it gets tricky. Most yarn is just too soft and thick for little fingers to thread a Cheerio onto. Either you will need to be careful to buy stiff thread or maybe twine, or you can do what I did. I applied school glue to the ends of the strings - rubbing it in with my fingers - then hung the strings up to dry. Once the glue was dry the ends of the strings were hard enough to act as needles for the children to thread the Cheerios onto. Also, you have to make sure you are using "real" Cheerios. The cheap generic brands tend not to have regular sized holes which can create frustration for the children.

Once you have everything prepared, the actual activity is super easy. I took the kids outside so I could leave it to the squirrels and birds to clean up any mess. I placed bowls of Cheerios in the center of the tables, and let them thread as many as they wanted onto the string. Once finished, we hung them on a tree outside our classroom window so we could see if any birds ate from our feeders.
I don't think the birds have figured out that these are food yet..
If nothing else, it looks really pretty. ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Animal Books

This is a project to help improve the children's motor skills (cutting , folding , gluing, and stapling), but even more so, it is meant as a literacy activity. Through this project the children created their own books with pictures, and told stories to accompany the images. This is a tall order for three year olds, but the children proved once again that they are capable of doing amazing things with just a little bit of scaffolding.

My kids are still in the early stages of representational drawing, and I really wanted to work on their cutting skills, so I made this animal sheet. It has a number of animals for them to choose from, they just have to follow the lines with the scissors to cut them out. I made it this way because they have a tendency to snip around the edge of the page, and I wanted them to start cutting through the paper.

Click here to download the animal cutting sheet

All of the images were downloaded for free online.*


Next, I helped the children fold two pices of paper and staple them on the fold to create a book. They pasted the cut-out images, one to each page, in the book. I placed wax paper between the pages to keep them from sticking together. Once the glue was dried, the children could color the images.

Finally, I asked the children to name their books and tell me stories based on the pictures that were inside. I was very impressed with their stories, and wrote them on the inside of their books. Here is an example of one of the the books.

The child wrote:
Cow is moo.
Duck is quacking,
and dog is ruffing.
And the elephant is swinging his trunk,
and the seal is going in the water.



There is another story one of the children wrote:
My giraffe reaches out his neck and get leaves,
and my seal swims.
My snake does climb to trees and he goes like this on the ground (acted out :) )
Doggie licks and we pet him.
My turtle's my friend too.

I had another one who sang all of Old Mac Donald, and another who named her snake lion and her gorilla princess, and said they liked to play games on the computer. :)

All of them were original and soo cute. This activity is definitely a keeper.

One caveat....
I gave myself 2 days for this project, but it took much longer. I still haven't gotten all of the children to dictate stories to go along with their books, but most have. I would reccomend that you give youself a couple weeks to work on this while doing smaller daily activies.

*Web sites

Monday, January 31, 2011

Hibernation Day

This is just a bit of a spin off of pajama day.


It was really simple. I set up a couple tents, some stuffed animals, and some pillows; and the kids came to school dressed in their PJ's, with their favorite stuffed animal, and maybe a pillow or blanket.





We talked a lot, and read a ton of books, about hibernation. My favorite is Bear Snores On. I love books that rhyme, and that one is masterfully done. We also read: Time to Sleep; Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep, and we looked at books like Animals that Hibernate and Animals in Winter.




We also watched a live video of hibernating bears online. The video was from the North American Bear Center. It wasn't exactly a thrill a minute (it's a pretty dark picture), but when you did get a glimpse of the bears it was neat, and I think it help to solidify the idea of bears hibernating.





Unfortunately my T/TH class got the raw end of the deal on this. The bears hardly budged the entire class. All they could see was a big brown mass. The MWF class got a number of great views of the bears though so I think the other guys were just unlucky. I'll try to put it on for them again sometime.




Anyway, It was a lot of fun. I will definitely do it again next year. :)