Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Falling in Love with Fall!

   I must admit that ever since we moved from Chicago to the suburbs of Buffalo, I have fallen in love with Fall... I had never really seen the beauty of Fall until we moved here. With tree lined streets and a huge backyard, the scenery is gorgeous. Fall has since become my favorite season, hands down!
   And I have come to look forward to planning and making Fall themed activities for my little munchkins. A few weeks ago, I stopped at Michaels and caught a great sale (and had a 25% off entire purchase coupon)! I picked up two of these fun craft foam party trays.  Once I walked out of the store, the ideas started coming!
    I feel like I haven't posted much about what my little munchkin has been working on these past few weeks. She is determined to master her sight words so that she can start reading and writing! Those are her two biggest interest areas right now. 
I made two different Sight Word Activities for her to review and practice writing & spelling sight words.
Read & Write the Sight Word
Spell the Sight Word:
And of course, I found ways to use these in the classroom, as the preschool munchkins are currently learning how to Make Sets and how to Match Number to Set:
 And I used this exact setup to teach the concepts of More and Less:
    There are so many other ways that I plan to use these throughout the month for math activities, such as making patterns and graphing and counting.
    The kids love to use them, they save on having to print anything and they can be used over and over, for so many fun kinds of learning activities!
    AND if you are reading this blog post, I have a little secret: Tonight I am hosting a Fall Giveaway and will be giving away my Fall Literacy Pack:
(Here are samples of what is included)
    There will be 2 lucky winners on my Teaching Munchkins Facebook Page... I will pick a winner tomorrow afternoon! So if you are not a fan, head over there now and become one... I will be posting within the hour!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tons of Math Fun With Apples... and a little Freebie!

   We have been knee deep in our Apple Unit! My preschool munchkins have enjoyed the science behind apples-as we have learned alot about apples and have investigated the inside of an apple.
   We added in some math fun for our Apple Study. We read the book, Ten Apples Up On Top, by Dr. Seuss, and each child worked on their fine motor skills to stack as many "apples" as they could before they all came tumbling down. I used small foam blocks in the colors of red, yellow and green and also added little apple stickers, just for the fun of it.
They were all so very focused on stacking as many "apples" as they could.
    I think the most that any child stacked was twelve... and they all kept on trying to get their stack to be higher! It was good, competitive fun!
   Patterning is another fun activity that we did with Apples. We used the same "apple" blocks over the course of a few days, to practice making AB patterns.
   As an assessment type of activity to gauge their grasp on AB patterns, the munchkins created an Apple Pattern Crown. They created and glued an AB pattern, using two colors.
 Then we measured their little heads and made a cool crown!
    We also worked on our counting and number identification. I created these fun little Apple Count & Clip Cards (and picked up another set from Preschool Printables) and added some clothespins in our Math Center. Grab a FREE copy of my set here or in my TPT store!
    I have to say, the plastic clothespins I had were horrible! The kids kept managing to break them apart! I am definitely getting wooden clothespins for any future Count & Clip activities.
    And for a more tasty, hands on Apple math activity, we made an Apple Pizza! Talk about YUM! I have never made it before, but I knew it was easy to make. Turns out, it tastes alot like apple pie and/or apple crisp! Absolutely delicious!!
Here is the recipe:
Pie Crust: 2 cups of flour
                  1 tsp. salt
                  2/3 cup shortening
                  5-7 tsp COLD water
Prepare pie crist above OR use refrigerated pie crust. (We opted for the refrigerated pie crust!)
Place dough onto a greased pizza pan. Spread to the edges.
Slice 7-8 apples into thin slices. 
In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp. of cinnamon. Toss apple slices in and mix.
Layer the dough with the apple slices.
Topping: 1/4 cup flour
                1/2 cup sugar
                1/2 cup softened butter
Mix ingredients until it is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of apple slices.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

   The munchkins helped us in each step of the process: slicing, measuring, mixing, etc.
   Each child came to the table to slice up a piece of an apple... (Great fine motor work!) 
Some were obviously more skilled than others, but they caught on after they tried cutting a few slices.
The children helped to mix the butter, sugar and flour for the topping and helped us soften up the butter.
They mixed the apples pieces into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
We laid the apple slices on top of the dough.
And added the crumbly topping.
We popped it in the oven and in 20 minutes:
 Delicious APPLE PIZZA!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Investigating Apples...and some Apple Pie Playdoh Fun!

   Happy First Day of Fall!
   One of my very favorite fall themes to do every year with munchkins is APPLES! I remember the first few years that I was teaching, I had a gazillion apple ideas and I wanted to do them all! That still holds true today, as I am trying to squeeze in lots of apple learning fun!
   After reading a few non-fiction books about apples, my munchkins dictated a few facts about apples. I added a little apple shape at the beginning of each sentence, to help them learn how to track print. I chose a few children each day to "read" the sentence and track the words with my pointer. Some kids have simply repeated after me and track the print as they say it, while others have already memorized parts of the sentences and can "read" and track the print.
    I created an Apple diagram to display and teach the parts of an apple. We dissected an apple, identified the parts and then the munchkins investigated the apple halves in our Science Center and drew their own diagram of the inside of an apple.
   We have  also been having TONS of fun playing with our Apple Pie Play Doh! 
   I LOVE to make my own playdoh and I follow this exact recipe, for playdoh that comes out perfect everytime! (And for this particular batch, I added red food coloring and apple pie spice.):

1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
1 Tablespoon Cream of Tartar
1 Cup Water
(Add food coloring & scents, as desired)
*Mix all these ingredients together in a pan and put under medium heat, stirring every few minutes, Once its consistency changes from being liquidy to a semi-solid state, lower the heat and stir a few more times. Once it reaches a soft consistency, remove it from heat and place it on a cutting board to cool for a minute or two and then knead it.
Kids love it!!
    The munchkins have been working alot on fine motor skills lately, to strengthen those little muscles in their hands and fingers. Here, they rolled the playdoh into little "worms" and then used craft scissors to cut up the "worm" into tiny pieces.
I threw in some apple cookie cutters the next day.
 They did some more rolling work with these awesome (and free) Number Mats
    This batch of Apple Pie playdoh smells so delicious, I am not surprised at all that the munchkins pull it out every single chance they get! Any activity with this Apple Playdoh is a fun, sensory fine motor activity!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fun with Shapes...and a FREEBIE for you!

   Looks like I am becoming a Friday night blogger! While most teachers step away from anything related to the classroom on a Friday night, I just keep on going, as if Friday is just another day during the work week! But that's me... PreK on my mind 24/7 !
   Anyhow, we are just getting into the swing of things now. The munchkins have the routine down for the most part. (I just hate that I might have to switch it up a little in October due to good ole' testing stuff.)  The crying is over and done with, they are learning each other's names, playing well together and overall, adjusting very well to the preschool environment.
    It did not take long for the munchkins to follow along when I introduced learning centers this week. I am always prepared to have some kids who will have trouble with the transition and I was well prepared for it. But to my surprise, there weren't too many issues with it. I did get a few, "When can I play outside?" and "I wanna sing another song"  the first day I introduced the routine of Learning Center Time.
    It usually takes awhile to get little ones used to this part of the classroom routine simply because they are just not made to sit still for very long at this age! So I make sure we get some Music & Movement activity in right before we switch to Learning Center Time, and then some other type of Gross Motor activity afterwards too. This group loves to sing and dance, so I have to keep up with them! My Learning Center time has usually ranged from 30-40 minutes, depending on the activity and interest. I always make sure that my learning center activities, which are usually 3-4 different activities, are short (no longer than 10-12 minutes), fun and engaging so that the munchkins really want to participate. And this group of munchkins is turning out to be very eager to learn and play...and that makes this teacher very happy!
   This week, we wrapped up our Shape unit and began our Apple unit. I grabbed these very cute Shape Poems from Miss Kindergarten. They are short and catchy little poems that help kids remember the characteristics of each shape.
And I created a set of Shape Friends to go along with the poems. There are some great shape craftivities out there, but I am not ready to let the kids take on a lengthy craft project just yet! 
The poems and friends were a fun way to learn about shapes! 
As a special treat, you can download the templates for these cute little shape friends.
 CLICK HERE to grab your free copy!
(Just simple copy onto colored paper or just use the templates to trace onto colored paper)

    Our Math Center had a few fun activities throughout the week to help the kids learn shapes.
These great shape tracing sheets came from Teaching with Nancy's Bushel of Shapes packet.
Our Big Button Number Fun Game from Melissa & Doug and our Shape Sorting Game from Lakeshore. (not pictured) have been huge hits in the Math Center as well.
And the munchkins used their imagination to create different pictures with shapes.
Such creative artists I have, huh?
I think they have a good grasp on basic shapes now, so next up: 3D Shapes.
We will be getting to that very soon!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Learning Colors with Pete the Cat and ROY G. BIV!

    I am ending this week sick... blah!!  But that doesn't take away from the fact that we had a pretty awesome week!
   My trusty pal, Pete the Cat, has been a huge hit in my classroom and he helped me to review colors with the munchkins. We must have read (and listened to the cd) of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes about 11 times this week... no joke! But, in the words of Pete, "It's all good!"
We created a graph of our favorite colors!
    Most of my munchkins can identify all of their colors, so I put added some ROY G. BIV fun, so they can learn the orders of the colors of the rainbow! I made my own shortened form of this cute Rainbow Hair poem from Welcome to Room 36!
    I was brave and brought out the scissors and glue sticks, which probably wasn't the best idea. This project took more time than I thought it would because they were very engaged and focused on cutting and gluing!  (And now I know who needs extra help.)
And they came out so very cute, don't you think?

Well, now back under the covers with a cup of tea and a book!