Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"T" is for Transition Tips!

Can you believe it!? The Teach Preschool Facebook page hit 20,000 followers yesterday!  In honor of this momentous occasion Deborah challenged us to come up with the ABC's of Teaching Preschool!  If you would like to see the full list of posts head on over to Teach Preschool.  I'm focusing on my one teeny, tiny letter..."T"...

ABC's of Teaching Preschoolers

...Yup..."T" is for Transition Tips!  When you are an early childhood teacher teaching within an elementary school, transitions can be a bit tricky sometimes!  Occasionally you get a few looks from those neat and tidy 3rd grade teachers who have their children in nice neat lines!   Sometimes they just look at you with pity in their eyes!   

I try to respect the environment we share with the elementary school, while keeping in mind that it is not appropriate to expect young children to stay completely quiet or in a perfect line (or circle...or bunch) while transitioning!  Generally, moving as an entire group is left for those "have to" times within the hallway.  Otherwise, we move one or two at a time if we MUST transition from one area to another in a semi-orderly way!  Here are some of the tips I follow most when we are transitioning, both within the classroom and when leaving the room.
  1. Use fun, easy to grab and cheap transition props!  A "magic star" is perfect for saying a quick "Bippity, Boppity, Boo...David may wash his hands too!"  As you say this you tap the magic star wand on the child's shoulder and that child may then go to the area you have named.  A bumblebee puppet works for "Hickety Pickety Bumblebee who can say their name for me." The child then says his/her name and transitions to the area you name.  When it's raining I pull out my ladybug umbrella and open it up.  Each child gets a turn to hold the umbrella while we sing "It's raining it's pouring, (David) was snoring, he went to bed, bumped his head and didn't get up until morning!"  After a child has a turn to hold the umbrella and we sing for the child, they go to wash their hands at the sink.
  2. Purposefully weave in some of those memorized skills, such as learning colors, shapes letters or numbers.  Example:  Put colors/letters/names or shapes on the floor near the door.  Ask a child to stand on a particular color, shape, letter or name.  (Have extras available to show a child if they do not yet recognize the item. This way they can MATCH the item rather than finding it.)  
  3. Use transition times for creative movement!  Use Popsicle sticks with an action picture on them.  Have each child pull a Popsicle stick out and then move to the next area in the action described.  Here are a few good ones:  "Crawl like a bug", "Fly like a bird", "Walk like an elephant", "Hop like a bunny".
  4. Use songs!  Here's a quick song to sing when you see a child helping to clean up: "I see Daniela, I see Daniela, picking up blocks, picking up blocks...thank you Daniela, thank you Daniela for picking up blocks...picking up blocks!" (sung to Where is Thumbkin)  Another trick I've found that works wonderfully for very young children who are reluctant to put toys away and transition to something else is to say and wave "Bye, Bye" to the toys :)   
  5. I always have jobs handy for children who have more difficulty transitioning: Carrying the outdoor backpack, hanging onto the clipboard or holding the key to the door can all keep a child busy enough and focused on the task enough to keep them from running off or managing to wander into a 4th grade classroom! :)  (Just keep a watchful eye on the key...wouldn't want to lose THAT!)
These are just a few of my favorite tips for transitions!  There are so many other ideas.  What are some of your favorite ideas?

 Teach Preschool Super Star

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Carpet Circles!

We may be the class that wears our carpet squares on our heads on a regular basis, but I'm determined to use this small piece of our day to help reinforce name and/or symbol recognition!  I found these round (very patriotic) placemats at the Dollar Store and scooped them up as carpet CIRCLES!  

So, because I've gone a bit crazy with the milk machine filter ideas lately, I also printed each child's name and symbol on a milk machine filter.  Now, to figure out how to ATTACH the two!

I decided to simply hand stitch these round milk filter circles directly to the round placemats (took me about 1/2 hour to do six carpet circles)!   I added a stitch in the middle of each circle to help keep it stable as the children sit on it!

I realize that these may be even more enticing for the children to wear as "hats," but, never mind, those name recognition skills will simply be absorbed better directly through the brain! :) 
(A follow up:  We have used these for 2 days now and the children haven't once put them on their heads! They also are holding up wonderfully!  And the best thing is that two children have pointed to their own name and said "mine"!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Power of Music!

So, I thought I'd share with you an example of the power of music for children who are non-verbal or with very limited language/communication (And, of course, music is wonderful for everyone else as well! :) 

I was working with a little guy on stringing large beads on tubing the other day.  I often make up simple songs describing what he is doing since it helps him stay focused and reminds him of how to do something.  However, I have been fading out some of the songs for small group time at this point to see if he is able to continue the task on his own.

Well, apparently, HE was not quite ready for this!  He began singing a song I made up and sing to help the children wait for their friends to get up from nap and get ready to get on the bus and go home. 

He sang..."Jeremiah, please get up, please get up, please get up.  Jeremiah, please get up, it's time to go on the bus."  (Usually when I sing it I leave off the word "bus" and the kids say it.)

Well, I laughed and told him that the song didn't really work since Jeremiah was already up and it wasn't time to go to the bus yet.  He stopped singing for a minute then started again with the same song:  "Jeremiah, please get up, please get up, please get up.  Jeremiah, please get up, it's time stringing beads!"

Now, of course, his friend was already up, so this part still didn't work, but he had replaced the original words to MATCH WHAT HE WAS DOING!!!!  (can you tell I was excited about this!?)

I had to keep myself from laughing as he sang this another three times since it was SO darn cute...AND smart! 

And to think, this little guy started in my room just over a year ago and was non-verbal!  He receives music therapy once a week and we do non-stop music in my classroom!  Another awesome anecdotal note I thought I'd share with you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Glue "Puddles!"

The children thoroughly enjoyed exploring colored glue today!  Because many of my children have not yet had the chance to explore glue, I basically just offered them index cards (thicker and will hold up to the massive amounts of glue the children want to use), colored glue and foam shapes and letters to stick on the glue.
I also provided old paintbrushes for the children to brush the paint on the index cards if they preferred.  The small cups that were holding the foam shapes and letters suddenly were overturned by one little guy since he simply needed MORE space to make glue "puddles!" 

And for some of the kids, the foam shapes were simply discarded on the table and never touched at all!  The real excitement was over squeezing endless amounts of colored glue!

And at some point I realized that we had gone from making glue puddles in the cups to exploring color mixing in the cups!

One little guy took a few brief breaks from squeezing glue to shake and rub his arm and complain that it hurt!!  You know you are squeezing a lot of glue when your arm hurts!

Of course, we had some who felt that covering every inch of the index cards with letters was the way to go.  So, those discarded letters on the table were used up after all!

We actually pushed back our rest time by 15 minutes today because there was NO WAY I was going to stop the kids when they were so involved and focused on this activity!

Believe it or not, we do actually have colored glue left in the bottles!  We also covered the glue puddles in the cups and are hoping they will still work tomorrow.  So, I've promised that the colored glue will be out again tomorrow!  After that, I'm pretty sure I will need to make some more!  At the rate the kids are using the glue, we have about one more day left!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boardmaker Pictures on the Flannelboard?!

I just knew I would have more ideas to go along with those flannelboard activities made from the milk machine filters!  Now that I know the filters can go right through the printer; I keep thinking of other things I could do with them!  (and, yes, it's driving me crazy) 

Well, wouldn't you know it; I needed to print some Boardmaker pictures for the week.  I wanted pictures to go along with exploring colored glue.  Of course I asked the logical question when obsessing over creating new things:  why not put the pictures on the milk machine filters?! 

While we are exploring the colored glue in class, I will attach two color cards and the glue picture to the flannelboard (or my flannelboard apron- can't decide yet) and the children will pull off the picture of the color they want to use!

One thing to keep in mind:  the colors aren't as vibrant as if they were printed on paper.  If you have a child with low vision, I would probably print these on paper rather than the milk machine filters. 

Of course, we are still using Boardmaker pictures along with our activity.  We aren't really adding anything new to this or changing the activity in any way.  But, I'm pretty sure the children will think it's great fun to chose a color on the flannelboard and pull it off rather than using paper pictures placed in front of them on the table! 

Besides, I have approximately 210 more milk machine filters to use...oh, make that 205.  I used a whole 5 milk filters for the Boardmaker pictures!  Hmmm...what to come up with next?!

This post is linked to Teach Preschool's Every day Flannelboard Play Link!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Story Circles for the Flannelboard

Oh my goodness!  I am so happy I happened upon a discussion on the Teach Preschool Facebook page yesterday!  Kimberly K. mentioned using milk filters for flannelboard pieces.  I assumed she had had to go through the process of hand drawing and coloring the pictures onto the milk filters as I described HERE.

Oh, but NOOOO, she simply cuts the large circles to paper size and puts them right through her printer!!!!  I was intrigued!  I ran up to Farm and Fleet (I live about 5 min. away) and proceeded to look for the large milk filters.

After asking several people and searching several isles, I realized that they only sold the smaller circles (6 1/2 inch) and had discontinued selling the larger circles.  UGH...I decided for $3.00 I would go ahead and buy the smaller circles and see what I could do with them.  (NOTE: They discontinued them at the store by MY house, but they do still sell them on-line HERE and at many of the other Farm and Fleet stores.)

After experimenting, I realized I could put a small loop of tape on the back of one of the milk filter circles and attach it to a piece of printer paper.  The milk filter slid right through and the picture printed to the filter itself!  Who came UP with this idea!? 

I proceeded to make pieces for Old McDonald Had a Farm by printing out clip art animals and a barn!  (I found that many of the on-line flannelboard pieces come as groups of 2 or 3 images...which wouldn't work with the small filters.  Clip art worked better because I could adjust the size and print one image at a time.  They still end up large enough for use on a flannelboard.  You just need to print one at a time.) 

Then I hit on an interesting way to create sequencing circles for children to sequence the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I found pictures for the story, copied these into a word document and wrote the story below each picture.  Basically creating a sort of circular book for the flannelboard.  I was excited to see that the picture goes a bit off the circular filter making it look like it is in some type of frame!

The children can listen to the story and follow along.  Then after repeated readings they can sequence the events in the story with the pictures on their own during center time.  Usually flannelboard pieces are simply made of pictures.  My hope is that the children will notice the print and pretend to "read" the story that they know well as they are sequencing the pictures.

Just another way to encourage those pre-reading skills!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Outdoor Classroom Observations

I was able to observe something quite interesting the other day as we made our way out to our outdoor classroom.  Another class was already outside but had forgotten their key to the sheds. 

The guest teacher for that room met me at the gate with a look of desperation on her face!  "We forgot our key!  Do you have yours?"  As I pulled it out and handed it to her, I noticed the children.

I saw many of the children running in circles up and down the playground equipment... up the steps, down the slide, up the steps again and down the slide!  There were a few more, running in circles around the trike path...around and around in circles! 

Oh yes, THIS was how our outdoor time USED to be!  I had somehow forgotten!  It was actually quite good to be reminded of the purpose behind our slow transformation to MORE exploration, MANY more loose materials and simply more to focus on ... and more to do!

We managed to pull everything out quickly and get it set up.  The children settled down and got to work.  Four or five ran to the sand pit and began making "birthday cakes" with sand in bowls and buckets.  Several helped carry the musical instruments to their spot under the tree.  At least five decided to use the scarves and streamers as "feathers" and the flooring in a "house". 

A few others grabbed helmets and bikes and began riding.  One began building with tree cookies and blocks.  One pulled all the tubes out and slid them under the shelf and through the other side.  A few took loose parts of tubes, tree cookies and scarves to the top of the play equipment as their "house".  Several developed a game of tossing the bean bags over a tunnel and having a friend catch the bean bag on the other side.

Several boys began a game of "monster" and attempted to scare their friends as they peeked at them under the wall of the sand pit magnet board.  Several children explored musical instruments under the tree.  One child grabbed the basket of books to take under the tree.  Two or three children put the tubes on the magnet board and explored scooping sand into the tubes and creating longer and longer tubes with multiple pieces. 

EVERYONE was quickly busy!  Only minutes before they had been running in circles!  Keep in mind, many of these children are new to our program as well!  We really have done very little in way of an introduction to the loose materials outside.  Of course, the adults sit and work with the children when the children are interested in this interaction.   But, the children are  always exploring the materials and experimenting with these materials in their own way. 

Ahhh....much better than running in circles!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Colored Glue Spin Art!

Every once in a while there are those great accidental combinations in our world; peanut butter and chocolate comes to mind!  In my world colored glue and spin art came together; and boy was it a combination!  (If you keep reading, and you've heard of this before, please let me know!  I have never heard of this combination...and I was pretty excited!)

After I wrote about record player art with markers, several people suggested spin art on the record player.  I just couldn't figure out a way to keep the paint contained!  Silly me!  There's no need to cut out the bottom of a bowl or bucket, just create a large cone to go INSIDE the bowl...or a flat piece of paper for the bottom of a bucket.  The record player will turn the entire bowl or bucket as long as it is attached somehow to the turntable!  (Obviously, the only difference with the two is that the glue will drip to the center of the cone!)

So I began experimenting!  I started a hole with an Exacto knife in the bottom of a dollar store bowl.  I then used a screwdriver to make the hole large enough to fit over the record player spindle.  I cut several circles out of white paper and cut a slit from the edge of one side of the paper to the middle.  I rolled the paper to create a large cone and taped it shut.  I then taped the paper to the inside of the bowl. (As we go, I also may attach a strip of Velcro to the bottom of the bowl and the turntable to keep the children from pulling the bowl off the turntable)
The bowl with a hole in the bottom to attach it to the record player.
Now was the time to experiment with paint.  But...wait; I had just made four bottles of colored glue with tempera paint and glue!  Hmmmm....I couldn't figure out any real reason why we COULDN'T use colored glue.  In fact, it may be an even more interesting experiment as it dries, as the glue will dry in bumps and textured lines on the paper!

So, I began squeezing various colors in the bowl.  It was a wonderful experiment....and I am POSITIVE the children will enjoy this tomorrow!  I think they'll also enjoy the textured finished product as it dries!  I'm not so sure it will go down in history as a combination as incredible as peanut butter and chocolate.  But in my room, it ranks right up there with the best of them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Quick Tip for Chairs!

It never fails, every year I end up with a classroom filled with children who are very small for their well as children who are very tall!  This makes ensuring that all the children are able to put their feet flat on the floor while sitting at the table nearly impossible!   

I've tried lowering the table...but, of course, we end up with tall children scrunched in their chairs!  I've tried smaller chairs...but, of course, that only works if you lower the table!  I've put a large hollow wooden block in front of the chair for the smaller children to rest their feet.  This became a hazard though as I had children who would kick the block out from under them and then the block became more of a distraction than anything else!

So, after finding THIS on the Internet, I found a box that was the right size, cut holes for each of the front chair legs, put several smaller boxes inside the box to keep the box from collapsing as a child kicked and stomped on it and taped the opening up!  The chair can be lifted right out of the openings if the box needs to be moved to another chair.  (Yes, I know this box looks pretty beat up!  We've been using it for a while and the little guy who uses it is quite hard on it...but it still works!)

At first I was a bit worried that the child would have difficulty getting up from the table.  But, never fear, this little guy just climbs right out onto the box and hops down!  And, with the chair actually inside the box, we don't have the distraction of a block ending up halfway across the classroom!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Flower Power: Sorting Task Box!

I found some flower shaped pool noodles at a local grocery store.  I have seen so many fun activities using pool noodles around the Internet, that I just wasn't going to have the children in my classroom miss out! 

The addition of the flower shape, however, adds a whole new dimension!  We've already done flower pool noodle prints.  I also decided to add them to a task box!  I found some wonderful trays at the dollar store.  I will be working to help the children understand that if a task box has no cup in the top, then a tray will be used. 

I cut the pool noodles into about 1 inch sections.  I then cut dowels to fit through holes I made in the lid of the task box.  The dowels simply rest on the bottom of the box inside.  The child gets the flower sorting task box and a tray.  He/she then takes out all the flower shapes and places them on the tray.  The rods are taken out of the box and slid into the holes in the top of the box.  The child can then work on sorting the flowers by color.

When the child has completed the sorting activity, the flowers are taken off and placed back into the box.  The child then removes the rods and places these in the box as well.  This is a simple activity the child can complete with minimal assistance!  Of course, you could also make a task box for sorting shapes by using flower shaped pool noodle slices and round pool noodle slices!  For more pool noodle ideas, check out the ideas on this Play Time Link Up!
**This post is linked to Rainbows within Reach Making Math Meaningful Blog Hop!

photo of: Making Math Meaningful Round Up with Rainbows Within Reach

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hanging File Folder Organization

I meant to share this creation with you LAST week...but, as you might have been able to tell by my last post, the week just kind of got away from me! 
Last weekend I saw THESE very cute file organizers.  Then when I went to visit my mom (who happens to be a retired teacher...and who tends to donate supply items to ME), she gave me a whole box of colored plastic files folders (these are the ones that open to form a sort of flat- squared off bottom to hold more papers). 

I knew exactly what I was going to do with them...make hanging file folder organizers!  (I actually created these within a few hours of receiving them!)

Now, my version is clearly NOT as cute as the original!  But they are extremely functional!  
  1. I inserted the file folders into each other (so when you are using them, you are actually just inserting the paperwork into the front of the file folder (the next file up becomes the back).  But because these have the squared off bottom, there is plenty of room!).  
  2. I then punched 2 holes at the top of the entire thing and strung a ribbon loop through the top.  (It is a bit difficult to punch the holes, especially when trying to go through 2 layers.  But it's not impossible.) 
  3. In order to attach each file folder to the next one, I punched holes in each file folder at the top and hooked them to the next file folder with a brass paper fastener.    I have had these hung for a week with no problem with this system! Initially, I wasn't sure if this would be strong enough to hold the weight of multiple file folders and packets of paper!  But, it seems to work just fine! 

These hanging files are labeled with each child's name and hold each of their small group (IEP goal work)- activity schedules as well as rubrics and tracking sheets. We also have a folder in each to hold the previous tracking sheets.

I LOVE how organized this has become.  I love how simple and quick it is to find exactly what we need!  This has been a great way to keep everything in one spot and help teacher associates find everything they will need to track the work they do with a child! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


HELP....I'm drowning in work.... :) ... that's what I get for a month off!  I'll be back soon when I can grow a few more arms and hands to take photos to accompany blog posts... and when I can juggle everything again!  :) 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Happened Here?!

So, what makes it go so wrong sometimes...while other times, the children are perfectly happy switching things up a bit?  Really...if I knew the answer to this, I'm pretty sure I would be a very rich person!
I'm getting bits and pieces of what last month was like in my classroom (while I was on break and a guest teacher was in my room).  Yep, you guessed it!  Apparently, the children decided a bit of a mini- revolution was in order!

I can just imagine the thoughts going through their heads:  "What!?  That's NOT the voice you use while reading that book!".... "How DARE you think you're going to hold MY hand while I go to the sink...I am PERFECTLY capable of doing this myself!"... "Oh, no, we ALWAYS sit about 2 inches in front of our teacher while she's reading us a book"... "What?! We can't today?!"

All of this, and, of course, the guest teacher is a wonderful person!  She has been in my classroom before (of course, not for a full month).  I have talked to her several times.  We share many of the same philosophies.   She has experience and enjoys being a guest teacher.   Sometimes, you just can't win!

It was all just a bit too much for them, I think!  First, a guest teacher in the room.  Then, a new teacher associate.  And, to top it off, ANOTHER new teacher associate in the middle of the month!  Yep, I think I would have started a mini-revolution as well!

I'm pretty sure the children do not feel sorry for any of this.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the impression that may have been made was "act really really horrible to the guest teacher and your teacher will return".  Oh, good grief...we may have some more work to do on being "flexible" thinkers and being willing to "go with the flow"! 

Then again, in a small way, I'm happy they felt powerful enough to stand up for themselves and insist that this wasn't OK with them!  I just wish they hadn't made it quite so difficult on the poor guest teacher.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Record Player Art

Several children became slightly hypnotized by our "Record Player Art" today!  This was obviously an unintended side effect of the fun of coloring on a spinning paper plate!

OK- honestly, I really did have a little guy who wanted to do this the ENTIRE half hour!  Of course, this was fine, but by the time he was finished he was almost in a trance!

We simply took a paper plate, popped it through the middle, turned on the record player and colored on the paper plate as it turned around!  

We made many beautiful and colorful designs as we talked about turning the record player "on" and "off", talked about the "bumpy" edges of the plate, the colors we used and talked about making lots and lots of "circles"!  The children worked together in groups of two and did a great job of negotiating areas to color on the paper plate!  We now have a board filled with beautiful record player art! 

I did, however, jokingly say that these children may now always think that record players were made for coloring (since they probably haven't seen one actually playing a record)!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Greatest Anecdotal Note of the Day"

Wow!  Today, a little guy in my room simply blew me away!  I decided during small group time to casually introduce a few letters with the wood pieces from Handwriting without Tears to him. 

I wasn't really expecting him to show much interest.  I figured we'd just explore the wood pieces, introduce the letter E and then make a few shapes with the wood pieces. 

Well, he did seem interested and engaged and said "my name".  Now, his name doesn't start with an "E", but I was encouraged by the fact that he associated the letter making with letters in general and his name!

He then, spontaneously, turned around and pointed to the labels on the shelf behind him and said "letter E"..."letter E", to each word. 

Well, I just about fell over the first time; since he actually HAD pointed to a letter E!  I think that was probably random since after that he was clearly pointing to the words. 

How impressive is that though!  He knew that all of those words had letters in them...just like the letter E is a letter!  And he generalized this knowledge and could verbalize that these were letters!

So, I introduced some paper and showed him how I wrote the letter J (which is the first letter of his name) with a highlighter.  I handed him a crayon and with some help he traced over the letter.  He was ecstatic!!  He kept saying "my name", "my name"!   We repeated this several times.  Each time he was more excited than the first!

I think we have another pre-writer on our hands!  Definitely going under:  "Greatest anecdotal note of the day!" :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reconnecting with Some Old Friends!

Oh- Yesterday was GREAT...even with it being the first day back!  Coming back after a month off felt a bit like seeing some great old friends again!  After the initial hugs and smiles, everyone fell back into their routine!  (Yes, even I did!)

We "went on a bear hunt" yesterday; to the great delight of the children!  We painted with cotton balls.  We sang "Tap, Tap, Tap".  We smiled, gave hugs, read books together, painted at the easel, explored musical instruments while outside, talked about the things we saw around us, built with blocks, fed the baby dolls, played with wonder I came home tired! 

Shhh....don't let the kids know....I've got some bubblewrap fingerpainting for them to do today!  Oh, I can barely wait! how many other adults get to fingerpaint on bubble wrap... :)  BUBBLE WRAP!!! (I may be just a bit more excited than the kids...oh, probably not!) 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Out of Sorts...

Ugh...I HATE that feeling of being completely out of sorts the first few days I'm back from a break!  Now, it wouldn't be that big of a deal if the children had this time off as well!  At least I'd feel like we were all starting on the same "out of sorts" footing!
But, in our district, the preschool teachers have one month off during the summer months...while the children are still at school with a guest teacher!  Of course, it's not easy for the children to transition to a guest teacher, then transition back to me being in the classroom!  Everyone does things a bit differently.  No matter how good the guest teacher is, it is still a big transition for everyone!

Of course, today I also feel like I'm headed into a completely new room; since today is the first day I get to work with either of my two new teacher associates!  

I'm also pretty sure a few of the little guys in the classroom are seriously going to make me PAY for taking a whole month off!  I stopped in Friday to drop some stuff off and one of my little guys was definitely ready to grow Velcro and attach himself to me!  (Of course, the first day back, not a big deal...but if it lasts for too long, I may have a few of the other children a bit upset!)

It's definitely going to take a bit before we all settle into the routine!  Here's to hoping we all enjoy some nice relaxing summer fun for the next few weeks while we work back into the routine!  OK, reality check!  That's probably NOT going to happen! 

I don't care what time it is..."Where did my Dt. Pepsi go...I'm gonna' need more caffeine than this to keep me going!" 

Grab the "How Long is this Hall" Button!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Total Pageviews

Popular Posts