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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

What are Infants and Toddlers learning through books?

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” – Emilie Buchwald

When books are introduced at the infant age it is not with the expectation that children will sit still to read them, but more with the purpose of introducing literacy and creating a “normalcy” to having books available.  Why do we have books for young children if they aren’t able to use them “appropriately” yet?

Books are used for a number of reasons.  Obviously the most important being literacy and language.  Books are a great resource for teaching vocabulary and language concepts, which in turn helps to promote cognition.  Before babies are even able to talk, they are benefiting from hearing you read and are internalizing the words that you are using.  As they get older they will start to learn that the words and pictures together are telling a story.

Books can be used as a great sensory tool, particularly for Infants and Toddlers.  Babies and young children like to touch and taste, so books with textures, sounds, moveable and pop up pieces can all incorporate meaningful sensory experiences.  Older Infants and Toddlers are developing motor control, which can also be incorporated as they learn to manipulate different pieces of various books.  Sometimes just being able to pick up the book and pretend to turn the pages is satisfying enough! Squishy, colorful and fabric books will particularly enhance sensory experience for young children.

Books can help support emotional development in children.  As I talked about in a previous post, children have a sense of accomplishment when they master something.  Books with repetition are one of the best way for children to master a story, and gain that sense of accomplishment.  This can strengthen their sense of self and build positive esteem, snowballing into that positive emotional development.  Books are also a great way to incorporate conversations about emotions.  For example by using the book “When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry…” by Molly Bang.  Conversation starters are almost built in!  “Why is Sophie feeling angry?” “What do you do when you’re feeling angry?”

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Another added benefit to reading with young children is the social aspect.  If you are reading individually to your child you are teaching them that they are important and you want to spend your time with them.  That individual attention can be invaluable.  In a group setting, reading stories with a small or large group can still give that individual attention and feeling of importance to children.  Sometimes children might look at books together, or sit near each other and look at different books.  Again, this gives that social interaction and shared experience around a love of reading.

When children observe adults reading for fun, they internalize that reading is fun, important and beneficial.  It is impossible to read too much to a child.  Remember to have appropriate books located in accessible and various locations.  The more you read, the more you will start to see your child gravitate towards books, even when you aren’t initiating the story time!

We cannot expect Infants and Toddlers to sit for a story like Preschoolers, so what exactly do we expect for them to do with books?  Tune in later this week for my explanation!

Candy Cane Science and Sensory in the Classroom

During this time of year, as early educators, we struggle with how to incorporate the Holidays that are so important to our students, while still managing to be inclusive, unbiased, and religious free.  Often times we feel as though we cannot “celebrate” anything in the classroom, or we need to touch on every possible holiday to be considered inclusive.  And yet so many of these holidays are religious in nature, but we certainly can’t teach that at school.  It can be such a headache!
My advice is always to be inclusive of all family traditions.  Sometimes this might mean polling your families to see what their traditions are at home.  Invite family members in to share  a special story or special activity that is important to their family.  If a child brings a book from home, read it!  Your families will feel included, and your students will feel pride and ownership over their family traditions.  With young children who are just so excited about this time of year, it can almost be more harmful to “ignore” their excitement.  It is perfectly ok to incorporate their excitement into classroom lessons, particularly when they initiate their thoughts.
There are still tons of activities that you can bring into the classroom that don’t have any ties to particular holidays.  One of my favorites are candy canes!  The possibilities are literally endless…be sure to stock up on peppermint extract and red food coloring!
Today I am showcasing some of my favorite Science and Sensory activities with a Candy Cane theme.  Enjoy!
1.  Candy Cane Science from A Jeweled Rose:
Growing a Jeweled Rose has this awesome Candy Cane Science Experiment.  All kids love baking soda and vinegar, but she gives it a Candy Cane Twist!  By adding red food coloring and peppermint extract to the vinegar, there is a delicious peppermint smell and a lovely red hue!  The children will be delighted to see the bubbles erupt as they drop vinegar onto the baking soda.

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Candy Cane Science from A Jeweled Rose

2.  Candy Cane Sensory Bin from Fun-A-Day
Fun-A-Day created this easy, but totally fun Sensory Bin!  She used red colored corn kernels, white Navy Beans, and peppermint extract.  And then she added extra tools, like cupcake liners, measuring cups and scoops.  Adding the colors and scent bring these fun sensory beans to a whole new level!  I can just imagine the children making their pretend cupcakes, entertainment for hours!

Beautiful-candy-cane-Christmas-activity-for-kids-to-try-this-DecemberCandy Cane Sensory Bin from Fun-A-Day

3. Candy Cane Science from Teach Preschool
Over at Teach Preschool they presented their preschoolers with the Question “What will happen to the Candy Cane if we let it sit in warm water?”  And then the used the power of observation to see what would happen!  Such a simple idea, but visual learning is the best kind for children at this age!

Candy-Cane-ScienceCandy Cane Science from Teach Preschool

4. Candy Cane Goo (oobleck) from Science Sparks
Every child needs to experiment with Oobleck at least once!  Why not make it a Candy Cane version?  Science Sparks takes the regular oobleck recipe and adds red food coloring and peppermint extract to add extra sensory elements to this already fascinating concoction.  Children will be entertained, amazed, and curious as to why this goo can be a solid one minute and a liquid the next.  And it only takes 2 ingredients (in addition to the red food coloring and peppermint extract).

DSC_0168-1024x682Candy Cane Goo (oobleck) from Science Sparks

5.  Candy Cane Paint by Bath Activities for Kids
Sensory play doesn’t always have to be messy, but it sure is great sometimes!  This “paint” recipes is sure to be a messy and fun time for children of all ages.  Obviously you won’t be using the bath at school, but you could still do finger painting, or paint brushing on large paper.  This recipe calls for shaving cream, peppermint extract and red food coloring.  If you decide to paint on paper, if you add a little bit of liquid glue it will dry just like puffy paint.  Kids of all ages would love this, and it will smell great!

Candy cane paintCandy Cane Paint by Bath Activities for Kids

Healthy Treats for Kids – Thanksgiving Theme

At our school we have completely turned the corned with special snacks that are allowed for Birthday Celebrations and class parties.  We now only encourage healthy options, and are starting to cut back on homemade treats as well.  Even when parents provide a list of ingredients, we can’t be certain that their kitchen is a “Peanut Free” kitchen.  If they used the same cutting board that they used to make a PB&J sandwich on earlier, disaster could strike.  Allergies are a huge thing to be aware of these days, and the risks are just too high.   But I often times miss the days of homemade cupcakes and ice cream parties.
With the holidays coming up many families still want to do something special for their child’s class.  Even though we offer suggestions like donating a book in the child’s name, or sending in party paper goods so that the children can have their normal snacks and lunch on special plates, there are always a host of parents who demand food treats.  Coming up with healthy options to offer seems to have been our most successful approach.  Below are some of the best ones I’ve found for Thanksgiving.  Enjoy!

What a perfect Holiday Snack Idea!

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That’s What “Che” Said has these adorable Turkey Snack Bags.  Kids would get a kick out of getting these!  You could fill them with a number of different healthy treats, like whole wheat cheerios or chex, raisins, craisins or other dried fruits.  I can already picture their sweet faces when they receive something fun like this!

What a special festive snack!

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The Foodies featured this adorable turkey muffin.  I mentioned that we don’t always allow home-made treats because of the risk with allergies, but this would be a great cooking project our classes.  Parents could provide the muffin ingredients, or a mix, and the apple slices.  Children would have a great time helping their teachers measure, mix and stir.  Snacks are even more enjoyable when children help accomplish them.

How fun would this lunch be?

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Bliss Tree features a number of great Thanksgiving Snack ideas for kids, but this one was one of my favorites.  It is more of a lunch option, but would be such a great surprise to slip into your child’s lunch box.  Who doesn’t love to play with food?!  Simple quesadilla, apple slices and a carrot for the middle.  This is a great lunch idea, and incorporates many healthy elements.

Turkey!

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We do Peppers with Ranch Dressing on a regular snack basis, but theres no reason not to dress them up!  How hilariously cute is this little turkey!  This was featured over on CBC Parents.

Fruit cup, hold the ice cream 🙂

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And one more just because.  Not really a Thanksgiving treat, but this is a great snack to send from home for a birthday or special occasion.  We often times do recommend fresh fruit with whipping cream, but adding them to an ice-cream cone is a sure way to have some very excited little ones!  Why didn’t I think of that!

What are some healthy alternatives that you use to help make snack time special?

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!

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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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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?