Sunday, January 29, 2012

Circus Week!

I have to be perfectly honest, I wasn't really looking forward to our "Circus" unit this past week.  It is not that I don't like the circus, it is mainly because we had just finished up one of the most amazing units, "The Solar System".  I was really afraid that our class might be a little bored but I think we manage to enjoy our discussions about the circus after all.  We started our unit by talking about the wonderful circus clowns out of shapes.  We all had a good time "screaming" out the different shapes we found.  Hey, the circus is noisy so we were noisy this week too! :)

I love elephants and the circus always seems to highlight the big mammal.  Several of my students had been to the circus this past week and they all were talking about the elephants, so we decided to make our own circus elephant.
Isn't he adorable?!?!?!  Our circus elephants were a hit during circle time.  Instead of using "your finger" to count the numbers, pick out the shapes, etc., we used our elephant's trunk!

We also enjoyed our "Circus Day" on Friday.  Our art project was one that I'm not very sure worked out.  We started with the child's hand print and three or four fingerprints (if you are 3 years old, you get 3 fingerprints, etc.).
After it dried we added the rest of the details

Instant clown, holding some balloons!

On Circus Day, the children were invited to come to school dressed as a clown.  It was great!  It still surprises me how many children don't enjoy "dressing up".  About half of my class actually came dressed as a clown but that didn't stop anyone from participating in our circus games.  Of course we had our "tight rope", which was a masking tape stuck to the floor in a giant square.  
The tight rope is behind the balance beams.

The "high wire" was two balance beams 

and of course there were the jugglers.  
Juggling is not easy so I found these cute little popcorn holders at the dollar store (2 for a $1.00!)  for us to use.  Instead of trying to juggle 3 balls, we used giant pom-poms and threw them in the air and tried to catch them in the popcorn containers.  FUN!  And, the popcorn buckets will be used again and again in my classroom.  I think they will be a great storage container for some of my games.

Our science experiment for the week was a lot of fun.  Have you ever seen those "circus peanuts" at the store? 

Well, let me tell you . . . they make a great science experiment by just putting them in the microwave!  Putting things in hot/cold water or in the microwave is one of our favorite things to do.  I found this post ages ago Science of Candy and it explains what happens to the marshmallows.  I know most people would think a 3 or 4 year old would understand words like, "molecules", but they do.  We make our predictions then watch what happens.

Those things really get big!  On the left is our circus peanuts in hot water.  It was a wonderful day!

Now that we have finished up our Circus Unit, we will spend next week talking exploring our unit of "Health".  It should be a lot of fun.  I hope you come back and visit us again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Fine Motor Skill Activity

I added a new fine motor skill activity to my classroom this week.  It has been a HUGE hit with the class.  Again, this is something that cost me NO MONEY!  I'm sure you can tell by the picture, you need a paper plate (or bowl), a plastic spoon, old water bottle and some marbles.  The object of the game is to spoon the marbles into the bottle WITHOUT using your hands.
You can use a larger mouthed bottled and put the marbles in a bowl to make it easier for the younger children.  My class LOVES this and they are really getting to be very good at it too!  I hope you try this and if you do, leave me a comment or a link to you blog please.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quick Note

I just wanted everyone to know that I have had a lot of requests for my "Quiet Spray" label.  I have e-mail a copy to everyone who requested it.  If you have NOT received it, please look in the SPAM folder in your in-box.  Here is the little .jpg I use.  Everyone is welcome to use it.  THANKS!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let's Fly to the Moon (or Jupiter?)!

I know I say it all the time but . . . "I LOVE THIS UNIT"!  This is truly one of my favorites.  It still amazes me to see how much my little sponges can absorb.  The sky was the limit (literally) this week as we discussed our solar system.  We started out the week with a big surprise - a rocket ship in our classroom!
Our square snowman got a weekend makeover!  Everyone loved pretending where the next rocket would go.  Since we quickly learned that the sun is the center of our universe, we started off our week by doing a wonderful art project of the sun!  This is one of my personal favorites because even though everyone uses exactly the same material, the final results are all different.  We started with a BIG round circle and added our paint.  Next, we covered it with clear plastic wrap -

Here comes the fun part . . . next we squish it!

Everyone of course has their own technique.  Some are gentle while others literally beat the daylights out of it.  Either way, the results are amazing!  We quickly plopped the wet sun onto a LARGE piece of black construction paper and added the sun rays.  OH MY!

At this point I realized these were something special!

One of my favorite things to do during "Solar System" week is to assign each child a planet name.  This year I have 10 children in my classroom, so everyone got a planet name and we even had earth's moon!  The entire week we called everyone by their planet name.  I added new facts each day and by the end of the week my entire class could not only locate their planet on the diagram, but most could locate and name the entire solar system!

Since the big rocket was staring at us all week, we decided to "fly to the moon!".  I found this amazing astronaut over at Crayola and I knew he/she would be perfect.  I tweaked him just a little by cutting him out, adding details to the flag and removing his face (we will add ours later!).  Then we started painting!
I was amazed at how insistent my class was about painting the American flag "the right way".  Everyone wanted the little square to be blue and it had to have stripes on it!  Needless to say, I was proud!  I told everyone that they could do any planet they wanted.  I guess they really WERE listening in circle time because each and everyone of them knew that men had already been to the moon, so off the moon we went.  We made our moon by doing a good old fashion sand paper rubbing.
Finally, it was time to put it all together.  We added our rocket ship (with hand print flames), some stars and WOW!

I hope the parents loved it as much as I did!

Our Fabulous Fun Friday was SO EXCITING!  First, we are lucky enough to have an amazing Dad who is a landscaper.  I put out an S.O.S. for some rocks and he came through BIG time.  They were perfect for our moon rocks!  Everyone used silver paint to stick on some black and white tissue paper.  
After they dried we added a little silver glitter glue and . . . . 

instant moon rocks!  SWEET!

To me the most exciting part of the week happened when we headed to the kitchen on Friday.  First we made a rocket cookie for our snack.

Next, we made our very own "moon sand"!  The recipe is very simple -
                 4 cups of sand
                 2 cups of corn starch
                 1 cup of water
                 Mix together and have fun!  

Before we knew it we had been in our kitchen area for over an hour!  We even sent everyone home with their very own bag of "moon sand".  

Our "Solar System" week was only four days because of the "Martin Luther King" holiday on Monday.  We voted and decided that we needed ONE MORE DAY, so on Monday of the following week we savored the last sweet day of our solar system with the most amazing project, a name rocket.  First everyone wrote the letters of their names on little squares of paper.  Next, we lined them up in the shape of a rocket, added some stars and more flames AND  . . . . . .

another WOW project!  And, before you ask, YES! the children wrote their names BY THEMSELVES!   I AM SO PROUD!

It was great week.  I hope you visit us again.  Next week we will be talking about the circus!

I'm sharing this at - 
PreK + K Sharing

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

I wanted to have something extra special for "S" week.  I had read and seen a "sticky table" over at Teach Preschool and ever since I've been dying to try it.  My classroom is small and is also used for Sunday School on the weekends so most of classroom activities have to be stored out of site at the end of each week.  Instead of using a table, I made a sticky box!  OH MY GOODNESS, we loved it!
I hope you can see the large box over on the right.  I filled it with all different kinds of objects (Note: the drinking straws were fun but a bad idea.  Yes, they kept being put in our mouths!)  I just used an old cardboard box destined for the garbage and some very ugly contact paper.  I sprayed the box with a spray adhesive and placed the contact paper, ugly side down, to the box.  I used good 'ole duct tape to secure the paper and carefully peeled the paper off.  The duct tape proof interesting because the children kept trying to stick things to it and seemed to enjoy figuring out that the entire box was not sticky.  Another wonderful moment came when they discovered they could remove the items and then replace them in another spot.  Seriously, this was an amazing activity!  

Well, by now I hope you have seen our wonderful class snowmen!  Here is our garbage bag snowman with his very own University of Alabama Crimson Tide #14 National Championship jersey!  Lucky for me, we were also talking about the number 14! 

Since it was "S" week and I was given some wonderful BIG boxes we also made "Sammy, the Square Snowman"!
Right beside Sammy is our "world's largest snowball". As soon as we read the book, The Biggest Snowball EVER by John Rogan, we all started talking about building one ourselves.  It took quite a bit of teamwork, but it was well worth it.  Our snowball may have started out small but in the end it was over two feet tall and for the state of Alabama, that is one large snowball!

We read another wonderful book entitled Snow Dance by Lezlie Evans.  As a matter of fact, I do believe this was everyone favorite book of the week.  I know I was asked to "re-read" it at least 4 times!  We decided that since we do live in Alabama and snow is rarely ever seen, a snow dance probably wouldn't work.  Instead we made our famous "dancing" snowman. 


We call them "dancing snowmen" because the two paper plates are tied together with ribbon and when you hold them up they wiggle and look like they are dancing.  

Another great art activity we did this week was our collage penguin.  We spent the day waddling like penguins and talking about how they cannot fly even though they have wings.  The white belly of the penguins are filled with a variety of different white objects.  Each and every one of our collage penguins seem to take on the personality of the maker.  

Look at this one!  My sweet little "W" was hungry,
so he put some food in his penguin's mouth!

Each month I save one piece of special artwork for our end-of-the-year art show.  This month I kept our hand print snowman.  Each child used the palm of their hand to form a snowman.  Once he dries, we use a variety to hats and buttons to make each on unique.  We used our fingers to add snow all around.

We also used an old make-up brush to brush on more snow at the bottom.
I will add a mat and laminate these special little guys and girls for our our art show!

Our Fabulous Fun Friday arrived way too quickly this week.  We were having so much fun I didn't want anyone to be disappointed.  I think I delivered!  We started our by with something different - sand art!  Everyone covered a black sheet of construction paper with glue.  NO INSTRUCTIONS, just go!
Some used a little.

Some used a LOT!
Next we sprinkled on some sand. 

Finally, we added some paint.  Any color or colors you wanted!

This was extremely messy but a lot of fun! (EDITED 1/19/11 to add photo)  Here is a sample of the final artwork all nice and dry.

Of course snack time on Friday had to be special too!  Our wonderful new assistant director brought in her shaved ice machine for us to use.  
This thing was so much fun.  We all got to have a little shaved ice with our pretzels! 
 Thanks Mrs. Melissa!

Our science experiment for the week was very SPECIAL!  My sweet friend and fellow teacher, Mrs. Christi and I had filled the school's freezers and our home freezers with bowls of water.  We gave the children the large hunks of ice and a cup of rock salt.  Everyone sprinkled the rock salt on the ice and watched.  
As you may know if you live in the northern part of the United States, the rock salt quickly started to eat away at the ice.  We were all amazed.  BUT, we weren't finished (of course not)!  Next, we added some color.
Everyone picked several colors of paint (we used our regular school paint mixed with water) and squeezed on the color.  
The results were spectacular!

Even though they were special we waited about an hour and came back to find . . . .

Needless to say, we were all Surprised!

We ended our very special Snow Week by doing a little "snowman bowling".  Now, I do not have one of those fancy "I-Phones" or "Droids", but as soon as I said we were going to go "snowman bowling" half of my class said they play that game on their parent's phones or I-Pads.  REALLY!?!?!  We didn't use an "I-Phone" but we did use some old Christmas boxes turned into bowling pins.
Let the fun begin!

Our snow week sadly came to an end.  But it was super fun! 

I hope you come back and visit with us again.  Next week we will be talking about solar system.  I can't wait to show you what we will be doing with those big boxes next week!