Rainbows and Pots of Gold in Preschool!

There is nothing like an upcoming holiday to get Preschoolers over the moon excited.  One of my favorite ones is St. Patrick’s Day.  Even if you don’t celebrate holidays at your school, or in your home, there are so many awesome themes that can be incorporated into a March curriculum.  The first round up I did was on Rainbows and Pots of Gold.  Enjoy!

One Artsy Momma’s fruit loop Rainbow

One Artsy Momma creates a super simple but really fun Fruit Loop Rainbow!  I’m sure kids would love snacking away as they create, but this is also a great way to practice sorting colors, following the order of the rainbow, and strengthening those fine motor skills.

Shamrock Necklace by Mamas Like Me

Still have fruit loops left over?  Try making these awesome personalized Shamrock Necklaces by Mamas Like Me.   Your children will definitely strengthen their fine motor skills as they work to string fruit loops on a necklace.  And what a fun necklace it is!

Q-tip painting with Make and Takes

I love this adorable and, relatively, mess free Q-tip rainbow painting!  Make and Take taped together q-tips and added paint for a simple way to create the rainbow.  You could use q-tips individually to, but this is a neat way to swipe just like a paintbrush.  And think of how mess free it can be compared to finger painting!

Pot of Gold from B-inspired Mama`

This is a great little Hand Print Pot of Gold from B-inspired Mama.  Definitely starts to get messy when you add in painting hands, but kids love to see their handprints turn into art work.  If you don’t have the foil wrappers it would be super easy to make the gold coins out of something else as well.

Pot of Gold from Babble

Here is another, less messy, take on a Pot of Gold from Babble.  Using pre-cut pieces of tissue paper is a super simple way to create the rainbow.  Children will again have the opportunity to sort by colors and follow the pattern of the rainbow.  Instant art!

St. Patrick’s Day Book Mark from Teaching my Friends!

This is such a simple but adorable bookmark!  Paint chips that you can find at any Hardware store are great for projects.  Children will also get to see the various shades of a color and how the all come from the same family.  You could use hole punches, stickers, stamps, or anything you want really to decorate.  And then a little rainbow ribbon flare at the top, ta-da!  Children would love creating book marks to use!

End of the Rainbow Twirler by Crafty Morning

There are so many things you can create from paper plates, and this one is great!  Crafty Morning painted a paper plate rainbow style first, and then cut it in a spiral.  Children can have a blast painting, and when it dries, you can help with the cutting.  It would look awesome hanging from the ceiling!

Streamer Rainbows by Happiness is Homemade

Another great project to hang from the ceiling or windows!  Happiness is Homemade uses half a paper plate, streamers and cotton balls.  Almost all of the materials you probably have hanging around the house!  It’s a simple project with a great end result!  Children of all ages will love the 3D effect and the moveable streamers.

The Importance of Reading to Infants and Toddlers

During the infant and toddler age a child’s brain is being wired.  We can directly effect their ability to think conceptually and manipulate language by reading to them, consistently and often.  Books allow opportunities for us to talk with, not at, children.  We can communicate verbally with words, and nonverbally with pictures.  Infants and Toddlers are at an age where they are learning to associate that pictures and words together tell a story.  We are helping children not only develop vocabulary, but identify words to describe and define actions, feelings, emotions and the world that surrounds them.

During the next few weeks I will be doing a series of posts on ways to incorporate books with young children.  Some of the highlights will be specific stories that are great with this age, particularly books that have rhythm, repetition and rhymes.  A description of why these books are so important at this age.  How we should use books with Infants and Toddlers, and how to involve children in the stories – for example when I described talking with children and not at them.  I will also talk about how to expand on stories by adding accompanying activities that are meaningful and age appropriate.  And finally I will end the series with how to create your own books and why this is important.

Today I want to talk about what some of the benefits to reading to young children are.  Language and books are connected, and as adults we often associate books with literacy.  So by introducing books to even the youngest children, we can enhance their cognition.  We are doing this by incorporating new vocabulary and introducing new concepts.  As we stated, children are starting to learn that words and pictures together tell a story.  The best stories to use with Infants and Toddlers contain some kind of predictability, repetition and rhymes.  This is similar to the need for songs, finger plays, poems and rhymes.  Children have a sense of accomplishment when they are able to master something.  Hearing stories that contain repetition and rhymes will give them that sense of mastery.  Being able to pause and let children fill in words or what comes next will not only involve them in the story and enhance their social experience, but it will also give them that satisfactory sense of having mastered something.

Some of my favorite books that involve predictability, rhymes and repetition for Infants and Toddlers are:

51XqfNJbuZL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See?  By Bill Martin Jr.

51Wkqzc4j8L._SY404_BO1,204,203,200_Jump, Frog, Jump by Robert Kaplan

61MvWm6VOEL._SY448_BO1,204,203,200_5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

And as they get a little older more for the Preschool age:

UnknownGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

51UBqnzGaNL._SX432_BO1,204,203,200_Silly Sally by Audrey Wood

511-N7b06hL._SY497_BO1,204,203,200_The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The best advice I can give you is:

  • Stock up on sturdy board books so that your infant or toddler can access them independently.
  • Look for books that offer rhymes, repetition or predictability so that as you read them your child can feel involved.
  • Talk to your child as you read.  Talk about the cover, talk about the author, talk about the pictures, ask them questions.  For example, “Can you find the dog?” “What color is the bird?” “How do you think the boy feels?”  By doing this you are creating those strong cognitive connections!
  • And read to them often!  Surround them by language and literacy.  

Happy Reading!

Affiliate links included, all opinions and endorsements are my own.

Science Exploration – Pinecone Round Up

Fall is definitely upon us, whether we are ready or not.  As we were out walking the dog today I came across the biggest perfect pinecone.  Immediately I knew I had to save it and bring it to school for the Preschool classroom’s science area.  I can already see the kids with magnifying glasses in hand ready to explore.  But first, I need to find out how to remove the sap, my hands were covered!
This prompted me to search around a little for some activities we would be able to do with the preschoolers surrounding pinecones.  I know that as we delve farther into fall they will be all over the place, we can take them for walks and gather pinecones galore.  But what will we do with them?  Here is a round up of some of the activities I found that I know we will be trying.
First I hopped over to Preschool Powol Packets and checked out their article on Pinecone Experiments and Exploration.  They gathered pinecones, and other materials on a walk, and then thought of questions such as:  Will they float?  Can you close a pinecone that is open?  Will the size change?  They put them into a bowl of water to see if they could answer their questions.  What a simple way to introduce cause and effect for children!

pinecone experiment 2
Pinecone Exploration and Experiments over at Preschool Powol Packets
Next I visited Science Sparks and checked out their pinecone weather station.  After a little research they found that when it is dry pinecones open up, and when it’s going to rain they close down.  So they placed four pinecones on a visible window sill outside as a weather station.  I think that this is an awesome visual and hands on activity for children.  I know our friends would eat this up, they would be checking out the window every day!  Can’t wait to give this one a try as well.


Pinecone Weather Station from Science Sparks

Up next was Lemon Lime Adventures and their article on Why do Pinecones open up?  Their experiment used three different scenarios.  Adding a pinecone to Cold Water, Warm Water, and just air.  Once again this is an awesome visual for children to really see what is happening.  They can make predictions about what they think will happen, and then check back later to see if they were right.  Usually making hypothesis and predictions like this will lead to more questions and experimentation.  What a great way to get the learning wheels turning!

Why do Pinecones Open? By Lemon Lime Adventures

And finally I visited Teach Preschool, one of my favorite blogs to check out their Pine Needles in a Bottle.  I think that this will make an excellent addition to our sensory bottle collection.  How easy is this?  They literally added pine needs, glitter, and water to an empty water bottle.  That’s it!  But the effect is unreal!  I love how she incorporated different sizes and shapes of water bottles to see how it changed the perspectives.  The curves of the water bottle naturally magnify the pine needles.  So simple, all free materials, this is definitely happening!

Pine Needle Sensory Bottles from Teach Preschool

I think I found a pretty good round up of science activities.  The best part is that they all include little to no prep time or materials.  These will be excellent follow up activities to a nature walk outside, where we can observe the changes in our environment and gather supplies.
What other science activities do you like to incorporate with your young curious minds?

A new kind of play dough

As I’ve said before in other posts I work in Early Childhood.  A great way for children to learn is through the different use of their senses, so we are constantly looking for new sensory activities to try.  I saw a recipe for a new type of play dough with only two ingredients, how hard could it be?  So I decided to give it a try with my pre-kindergarteners.  I can honestly say that this is one of the absolute best home-made play dough recipes I have found.  It is incredibly soft, easy, and mess free.

Two simple ingredients, hair conditioner and corn starch.  How easy is that!  And the best part is that it turns out the best with the cheap $1 conditioner, and smells amazing!
Two basic ingredients for a simple play dough

For the most part I don’t use real measurements, it ends up being the whole bottle of conditioner and the whole box of corn starch.  This is a great opportunity to let the kids help out and practice using measurement tools like measuring cups.

Added math lesson, measuring cups!
Turn it into science!  What happens when you mix a dry powered with a wet liquid?

So, dump them all together…and mix!

Kids will love getting their hands dirty!

This is another great sensory lesson for kids.  How does it feel as you are mixing it together?  What happens when you mix a dry solid with wet conditioner?  What are some words you can use to describe what you feel?  How about what you smell?
The end result is the silky soft play dough.  You can mold it, roll it, and shape it.  It has the added benefit of being incredibly hydrating for you hands, and smells great!  Here are some pictures of what we were able to do:

Cutting the play dough
Feel how soft it is!
We like to roll it out nice and smooth
You can easily shape and mold it
All kinds of different shapes, we can use cookie cutters and play dough tools

As you can see it is very smooth and easy to shape.  For the most part it is pretty mess free, no more mess than normal play dough would create.  If you are looking for a fun, cheap and easy sensory activity I would strongly encourage you to give this conditioner play dough a try.  You won’t be sorry!  I love how much control the kids can take when following this basic recipe, and they are entertained for hours with the end result.  Two thumbs up!

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