Thursday, January 31, 2013

DIY Light Box

I saw this post on the Teach Preschool website and thought "What a brilliant idea!"  I had never thought of a light table before.  Last summer I went on a hunt for a plastic tote with no ridges on top.  Boy that was a challenge.

Finally I found one at Joann Fabrics!  Check it out!

After more research on the light box, I decided to use silver plastic spray paint to reflect the light, and "frosted" clear plastic spray paint to 'diffuse' the light on the top as suggested in another post on Teach Preschool.

I found the lights for the inside at Target (but I couldn't find a link to to show you).  Here is a picture of what they look like here.  I put two of these in the light box and it is just the right amount.

For our first go around at playing with the light box, I placed water beads in the table with the light box.  I found Aqua-Gems at Joann's.  The kids loved it!  I even would sit and run my hands through the gems.  It is a great sensory experience!

In the coming weeks I'll add overhead shapes (for when you teach geometry to older kids on the overhead projector) and maybe I'll do small mirrors that will reflect the light.

Check out the pictures below for the water beads and light box in action!

F is for Fairy Tales

For the past two weeks we have studied fairy tales, specifically The Three Little Pigs and Jack and the Beanstalk.

In the past two years, I never covered fairy tales to this extent.  Wow!  I will be doing it again next year!  The children LOVED it!  Fairy tales have wonderful repetition in them, and allow for retelling the story.  I wasn't able to find many activities that were geared to my young preschoolers so I adapted ideas that I found on Pinterest to help us.  I hope you enjoy these "Make it work" fairy tale moments!

 I saw a picture of pig puppets that were similar to these.  If anyone knows where the source could be found,  let me know and I would appreciate it!

The three houses! Adapted the idea from here.  Straw is moss from Hobby Lobby, sticks are small popsicle sticks from Hobby Lobby, and the bricks are rectangle foam pieces.
Circle Time:

We read different versions of The Three Little Pigs and then compared and contrasted. 
We read the Disney version. and then listened to the record of it.

 This was the first time I did a compare and contrast for the kids like this.  I wasn't sure what to expect from them since they had never seen anything like this.  I was extremely pleased with what they remembered from both the stories!

We finished up the different versions with The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark.  They got a kick out of that story!

Story Retelling:

 With the 4/5 class I had them tell me the story as I typed what they said.  I gave a copy to the parents, and kept a copy for their portfolio.  I was looking for them to give me the main elements of the story, and some of the repetition that can be heard.

The following week we continued on with Jack and the Beanstalk.


Initial Idea: Jack and the Beanstalk
 Our project!  Each kid made themselves into a little person.  
They then started climbing the beanstalk!

Circle Time:
I gave them a packet of Magic Beans as they were heading home.  They thought it was pretty cool!

Dramatic Play:
 I have these spray painted beans for counters, but they pulled them out as magic beans.  It was not planned by me for them to do that!

King and Queen Day!

To finish the weeks off, we had a King and Queen Day!  K and Q were also the letters we studied.  We made crowns, made journal entries, and had a special surprise....Royal Treats and the movie Tangled!

 Making crowns.  We had leftover crowns from VBS this past summer.  We ordered them from

Royal Treats: Apple juice in fancy cups and fancy cookies.  We were thinking along the lines of tea and crumpets, but played it safe and did apple juice and cookies.

Whew!  We were busy these past two weeks!

Friday, January 18, 2013

W is for Winter

Despite the lack of snow, we had our winter theme this week.  There are so many great ideas out there, that it is hard to choose for a week!

This week, I really wanted to focus on teaching the children more about the science of freezing water and melting, but also combine with other fun theme ideas.

Here's what we did!

 Table Toys:

 I learned I need to find smaller tweezers for the kids with this one.  Found the post here.  I couldn't figure out the download so I created my own!
 Snowball counting: Use the tweezers to match snowballs (AKA puff balls that sparkle!) on the number.  Check it out!
Snowflake Matching's was even hard for me!  Found it here.

 SNOWFLAKE CRYSTALS!  The kids loved this!  We mixed hot water, borax, and a little food coloring, and ta-da!  Crystals!

 Finished product!
 We had the kids freeze water, and then we gave them warm water (with blue liquid water color), cold water (with yellow liquid water color) and salt.  A little science in mixing colors never hurts!
 They loved figuring out how to make the dropper worked.  They discovered how to make holes in their ice. They observed how colors are mixed.

Then cracks began to form in their ice, so I told them that ice was like a block building.  When it starts to get pulled apart...the building falls!

Teacher Time:

 Don't Break the Ice!  We practiced with letters to do a quick assessment to see what letters they knew.

We also played in shaving cream (like snow) to practice writing names, shapes, and letters.
 Snow globe project!  I adapted it from this blog.

Circle Time:
We used this poem in circle time to practice out math skills, as well as rhyming!  Find it here!  And yes...I put snowMAN instead of snowMEN.  My mistake!

Make it work!

Friday, January 11, 2013

D is for Dinosaur


Hear that?!  That's the sounds of kids pretending to be dinosaurs!  The students loved this week of dinosaurs.  They loved all the activities that I found from Pinterest and fellow blogs.  Here is what we did this week....


 Dinosaur patterns (from a Scholastic Magazine a year or so ago) and dinosaur figurine kit I found at Toys R Us.

 Buried dinosaurs in the sand!  I found a tube of mini plastic dinosaurs at Toys R Us and buried them in the sand.  I explained they were going to be archaeologists and uncover dinosaurs.  I didn't know where to find bones so this was the closest alternative!  I provided little brushes, tooth brushes, and squirt bottles.  The students fell in love with uncovering them!


 The 3/4 class made a Dinosaur book where they colored the dinosaurs according to the colors.
 The 4/5 class made a dinosaur rebus book where I used this to base our discussion of sight words on.  I got this from a cooperating teacher.  Not sure where she got it!
 I used Crayola air dry clay and a bunch of different noodle shapes, and the kids created fossils.  This boy's dinosaurs turned out great!

I found the dinosaur color book and example for the fossil from

Circle Time:
 Five Silly Dinosaurs Poem
Rhyme a Saurus!

I found both of these activities here.

Bringing it all together:

I love that I can use Pinterest and other blogs to bring together all these ideas.  When I first started teaching I was just using one resource...because that was all in knew!  I love "Making It Work" when I find different ideas.  I realize now I don't have to use it ALL.  I can pick and choose!  Next year, I'll try some other ideas!

And here's a nice way to end my week....I got this from a student today!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Projects

Advent by Candlelight is a night at our church for the ladies.  This year we focused on Mary and Joseph and hearing their stories.  Each year, I host a table where I have the chance to decorate with the theme, and provide a present for the ladies to remember the night.  Here are the projects I made for this special night.

Table Decorations
 I found a font online that provides the nativity silhouette.  I printed those off and slowly cut out the pictures.  I used Modge Podge to attach it to the Kraft Blocks I found at Michael's.  I filled the blocks with battery operated lights.

Ornament Present: 
 I found vintage Christmas sheet music on Pinterest.
 I took the idea of cutting up a wedding invitation (project found here)....
 And used it to create Christmas ornaments.
 Finished product!

Finished Table: