Sunday, October 26, 2014

Monster-iffic Fun!

   It has been a little quiet here because Fall assessments are underway, and thankfully almost done!! It really is tedious and time consuming, even though it does provide me with a general snap shot of where my munchkins are. However, by my own observations and working with them in small  groups, these assessments are only reinforcing where I believe each child is in terms of their own development and skill level.
   Anyhow, that has taken over classroom time and fundraiser & school events at my own munchkin's school has kept me busy for the past week or so. But now,hopefully as the month winds down, things will get back on track... only to get all shook up again when the holiday season hits!
   Last week, we did some fun Monster activities after reading fun books like Where the Wild Things Are and Go Away, Big Green Monster! Little munchkins always love Go Away, Big Green Monster... It is one of my favorites too!

    They created their very own monster, and some of them looked pretty scary and creepy, while others looked funny and cute! They each glued a sentence onto their paper and we added the color word of their monster.
    I added some fun little props (googly eyes, straws, beads and ghost & pumpkin cookie cutters) into the playdoh area so that they could get creative and make their own playdoh monsters. This was such a fun activity for them. We had the activity during our learning center time and when it was time to switch, many of them were too involved with making their monster, they gave some resistance in having to leave the table! 
Check out some of the awesome creations:
    I really enjoyed watching their creativity come through and the smiles on their faces as they were doing this... it makes me smile when I see how much they enjoy the activities that I put together for them.
    We also worked on print concepts, as the munchkins learned how to track words in a sentence. I created sentence cards with the predictable text in Go Away Big Green Monster. And they put a smile on my face at dismissal time, when some of them proudly showed their mom that they could "read" the monster sentences!!
This is only the start to all the Halloween themed fun we plan to have... and I say "plan" because my time in the classroom in limited until the Fall assessments are all completed and so, anything goes... !

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!