Monthly Archives: January 2018

Snowman Math!

This week is all things snowmen in our class! And our math focus is numeral recognition, so we’ve been playing some fun snowman games during our math station time to help us do just that!

The first one is a Roll & Cover game. These are always favorites with my kiddos! They have fun pictures on them, and my kiddos get to use dice! I’m pretty sure ANY pre-k teacher would agree that prekinders LOVE to use dice! I grabbed some dice and colored discs out of my math manipulatives, and we were all set!

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Can you tell that we’ve also been doing some serious work on patterns?? This friend was being VERY careful to select her discs in the right order! (If you look closely, you can tell she’s about to add another green one!)

Helpful Hint: If you have trouble with your kiddos keeping their dice contained when they roll, put your dice into small transparent containers. Have your kiddos shake the container, set it down, and look to see what it landed on. No more dice flying all over the room!!

We’ve also been playing a VERY simple board game to help with numeral recognition, counting, AND one-to-one correspondence. All you need for this one is some small objects to be the game pawns, the game board, and the snowman numeral cards. It’s really very simple. The kids draw a card, identify the numeral, and move their pawn that many spaces. I just pulled out some of my bear counters for this one!

Helpful Hint: I tell my kiddos that they either BOTH win or they BOTH lose because the goal of the game is for everyone to make it safely home! This takes the competitive element away, and avoids tears when one of your kiddos “loses.”

If you want these game for your own classroom, you can get them in my TPT store! Just click on the images below to grab your own set!

Snowman Roll and Cover Snip         Snowmen Board Game Snip

What are your favorite snowman math activities??

Happy teaching!!

The Teacher Bag

A good teacher bag is a necessity! I mean, let’s be honest. We all carry piles of stuff back and forth and back and forth. And I don’t know about you, but I really like to look cute when I’m carrying all that stuff back and forth!

For years I’ve carried a Vera Bradley bag, and it’s held up great! But… Vera Bradley is a little 2010 unless you’re a 6th grader. (And I am definitely NOT a 6th grader!) So, I decided it was time for a new one, and I stumbled on this adorable initial bag on Amazon!

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I love this bag! It’s big enough to hold all my stuff that I carry back and forth every day, it seems pretty durable, and it’s super cute! And what made it even better was that it was only $17 and Prime eligible!! I can’t wait to use it this week!

You can get one of your own on Amazon by clicking here! It’s made by Mud Pie, and they have lots of options other than S!

New Letter Writing and Beginning Sound Sheets!

Finding ways to get my kiddos practicing their beginning sound skills and letter writing in a way that is BOTH developmentally appropriate AND communicates to the parents the nature of the activity is always a challenge. I am NOT a worksheet person, so handwriting worksheets and beginning sounds worksheets are just a no-go for me.

The vast majority of the work we do on these skills is done via the play-based curriculum I use. We are constantly practicing letter writing during stations and centers and during out daily routines in ways that are authentic and meaningful. And, we are constantly working on beginning sounds all day long! But… the parents don’t get to see any of that!

In the past, I’ve given my kiddos plain paper and asked them to write a particular letter (We do NOT do letter of the week!) or to draw pictures that start with a particular sound. It’s a developmentally appropriate way to get that practice in, but when they take it home, there’s an immense chance that the parents won’t know what it is or what the goal was.

So… I created these sheets to use. There are still no handwriting lines or pictures to color (They are not worksheets!), and there is plenty of blank space for the kiddos to strut their stuff! Plus, there is one little sentence on each page that lets the parents know what we were working on! It’s the best of both worlds!

If you want to snag a set for yourself, hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers and get yours today!

Cover Snip

 

The Giant Leaf Pile

I just have to share this…

Winter is usually pretty nonexistent here in north Texas, but we’ve just had a pretty major cold snap that kept us indoors during recess time for almost two weeks! We finally got to go outside, and Mother Nature had created the most glorious leaf pile in the corner of our playground! My kiddos discovered it pretty quickly, and then the fun began! They were running and jumping, laughing and smiling, and shouting “CANNON BALL!!!” as they jumped!! They were tossing leaves up into the air and burying each other in the pile! It was SO much fun to watch them experience one of the pure joys of being a kid!

I think the best part for me was the spontaneity of the whole thing. I couldn’t have created that experience if I’d tried! I guess it just goes to show that sometimes the best parts of our day are the unplanned and kid-generated ones! I wish I didn’t have to cover up their faces so you could see how excited they were!

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Best Winter Books for Pre-K

Reading books to my pre-k kiddos is one of my favorite things to do! But, finding the right ones to read can be challenging! So… to help you out, here is a list of my top 10 favorite winter-themed books for pre-k!! You can grab your own copy of any of them by clicking on the book cover!

Snowy Day

Snowmen at Night

There Was a Cold Lady

Sneezy

Book Cover

The Jacket I Wear

Snowballs

Three Snow Bears

Bear Snores On

The Hat

 

Those are my favorites! What are your favorite winter-themed books???

Science Time! Mixing Colors

All week long we’ve been experimenting with mixing colors, and I want to share our two favorite activities! The first was mixing play dough to make new colors. I know, I know! You probably think I’m crazy for actually telling my kiddos to mix play dough together! But, before you completely write off this activity, just hear me out! I gave VERY clear instructions before we did this. They understood that the ONLY time it was OK to mix play dough was right then, at their tables, with the two balls of play dough I gave to them. And we have had ZERO problems with them trying to mix the colors during centers since we did this!

I gave them each two small balls of play dough. They got two pick the two colors from red, yellow, and blue. Then they started squeezing! I wish I had recorded their shrieks of joy and excitement when the new color started to appear! Even though I had shown them what would happen with each combination of colors before they did it on their own, They still couldn’t believe that their play dough did the same thing! And, they were even more excited when I gave each of them a small baggie to put their play dough into so they could take it home! I had to cover my sweet kiddos faces, but here are a couple pictures of them in action!

 

 

The other color mixing activity they absolutely loved was called Walking Water! We started by butting water into some clear cups and adding food coloring to color it red, yellow, or blue. We also put an empty cup between each pair of colors.

 

Just adding the food coloring and watching the water change was exciting enough! They kept saying, “Mrs. A! You’re magic!!” I probably could’ve stopped after that, and they would’ve been perfectly happy. But… We kept going!

Next, we added paper towel strips to the cups so that one end was in the colored water and one end was in the empty cup. They noticed right away that the colored water was already starting to move up each paper towel strip!

 

 

Once that was done, the experiment became a waiting game. After a few hours, you could start to see water in the empty middle cups. But, the best part was when we came back the next day! The middle cups now had green, orange, and purple water in them!

 

 

The kids were so excited about it that they didn’t want me to take the experiment away! So, I had to promise them I would take pictures of the cups and make a book about our experiment!

What are your favorite activities for color mixing???

Mittens, Mittens Everywhere!

January is the perfect time to start a mitten theme! My favorite way to do this is to center it around “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. If you’ve never shared this book with your kiddos, you are missing out! You can grab a copy here:

Book Cover

I like to read the same story multiple times over the course of a week. Here are some of my favorite things to do with this story:

  • Start with a picture walk. Go through the book one page at a time and simply encourage your kiddos to talk about what they see in the pictures. Introduce any new vocabulary during this time as well. Badger and mole are usually new and unfamiliar animals, so I always make sure I point those out before we read. I also love to point out the mitten-shaped windows on the sides of the pages during our picture walk! It gets the kiddos thinking about predicting, and they don’t even realize they’re doing it!
  • Read the story the first time through for pure enjoyment. This gets the kiddos familiar with the story and becomes the foundation for all the other readings.
  • Use pictures or word cards of the animals to get your kiddos involved in the reading. Let them hold the cards and come stand in front of the class as you get to each animal while you read. You can get my story word cards here!
  • Use pictures or word cards to retell the story after reading it several times. For this story, I like to do this in small groups as the story is long, and they get a little antsy waiting to get through all of the animals.
  • Read “The Hat” by Jan Brett and compare & contrast the two stories.

I also love to incorporate the characters in this book into our daily phonological awareness activities! Here are some of the ways I do that:

  • Name one of the animals and generate a list of rhyming words. If there aren’t any real words that rhyme, we come up with silly rhyming words!
  • Name one of the animals and generate a list of words that begin with the same sound.
  • Segment the names of the animals into onset and rime, and encourage your kiddos to blend the two parts together to name the animal. For example, you could say /f/ /ox/, and the kiddos would put those two parts together to say fox!
  • Clap, stomp, or jump the syllables in each character’s name. This book is great for introducing syllables or for kids who are struggling with syllables as all of the animals have only one or two syllables in their names. For a centers or small group option, check out my syllables game!

 

For a science and social studies connection, there lots of options as well!

  • Bring in sets of gloves and mittens to show your kiddos the difference. If you live somewhere that has cold weather this time of year, they probably have their own that they can get out to include in your exploration! Here in north Texas, it’s always hit or miss!
  • Bring in different types of gloves and mittens (gardening gloves, work gloves, latex gloves, etc.). Talk about the fact that the whole reason we use gloves and mittens is to protect our hands. Let you kiddos touch, fell, and try on the different types you bring in and talk about who would wear them and how they protect their hands.
  • Give your kiddos the chance to hold ice cubes in one hand that is wearing a mitten and in one hand that is not. Encourage them to describe how the ice feels in each hand and how the mitten is helping to protect their hand from the cold. You can extend this by using a timer to see how long it takes the ice to melt with and without a mitten.

 

Center activities with a mitten theme are always fun! Here are a few of them that I use!

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We work on our fine motor skills by sorting pom poms onto felt mittens using clothespins.

 

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We work on our counting skills by counting “snowballs” onto mitten counting mats. I love these white pom poms that look like snowballs!

 

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We work on counting and subitizing (being able to look at a small set and know how many there are without counting) with this mitten ten frame matching game.

 

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We work on patterning with this fun and colorful mitten patterns set!

 

And, we work on literacy in centers, too!

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We match lowercase letter tiles to mittens with uppercase letters. These letter tiles are especially fun because they stack on top of each other!

 

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We use word cards and magnetic letters to build the names of the animals in the story.

 

Rhyming

We match mittens with rhyming pictures.

 

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We match letters and pictures that start with each letter.

 

All of these center activities are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! Just click the image below!

Centers Cover

 

And, of course, we have tons of fun with our pocket chart using mitten-themed poems and rhymes!

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My kiddos love using this interactive chart! We have name & picture cards of all the kids on hand to put into the first line of the poem. And, we have word & picture cards for all of the animals in the pocket chart to put into the third line of the poem.

 

Another favorite is “Mitten Happy.” I love this series of poems so much that we have one for each month! They are really predictable and easy to learn because everything stays the same except for the object for that month. It doesn’t take long at all before the kids can read them on their own!

Mitten Happy

 

We also use “Five Little Mittens to work on our counting and subtraction skills! This one if fun to do as a poetry chart, big book, or pocket chart!

Five Little Mittens

 

All of these poems and rhymes are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! They also include a lot of different formats, so you can use them however they fit into your classroom and your curriculum! Just click the link below to get yours!

Poetry Pack Cover

 

What are some of your favorite mitten activities to do in your class???