Friday, January 31, 2014

My 24+ Hours Preschool Day

On January 28, 2014 something very strange happened in Central Alabama - WE UNEXPECTEDLY HAD SNOW.  Soon the fallen snow turned to ICE and a lot of it.  According to all the newscast our area was just going to get a "dusting".  FUN!  But around 10:00 a.m. heavy snow started to fall.  By 11:00 a.m. the ground was covered and the streets were icing over.  Schools were starting to close but it was too late.  Cars and buses were having trouble driving on the ice.  Parents were desperately trying to get to their children.  Then it happened . . . roads became impassable.  Our little school is located in a large church on top of a very steep mountain.  And then  things started to get strange.  The road in front of our school became a ski slope, cars begin  to slip and slide into each other or into a ditch.  Now reality is setting in, we may be here for the night . . . with our students!   AHHHHH!!!!  Our director, Mrs. Turner, suddenly went into "disaster" mode.  The Department Homeland Security could not have handled it any better.  Her motto was, "do whatever you have to do to keep everyone happy" and we did.   We watched a movie, ate a snack, played games, ate another snack, sang songs and then we realized it was only 4:00 p.m.  Parents were calling telling us they were trying to get to us, others made it to our school but could not leave.  Soon we were told that the lovely church ladies were making us dinner!!  YEA MORE FOOD!  We all formed the "largest preschool line in the world" (yes, that is what we called it) and headed up to the church fellowship hall for a wonderful spaghetti supper.  YUM!  After dinner we played more games, ate more snacks and tried to get everyone to sleep.  Lucky for us, we had the greatest group of students EVER!  By about 10:00 p.m. everyone was sound asleep, except for the teachers.  If you really want to know your co-workers, unexpectedly spend the night with them.  By morning some teachers had gotten a couple of hours sleep.  Me?  Nope!  I sat around playing with an I-Pad and pretending to be a security officer.  Soon it was daylight (although since we do not have windows we just looked at the clock) and the students were starting to wake up.  An amazing group of men from the church cooked up a wonderful pancake breakfast!  DOUBLE YUM!  For the next 4 hours we continued to entertain all the children as they were slowly picked up by their parents.  We painted, we ran, we ate a snack, we played indoor basketball and of course we did a fun science experiment.  I was lucky, around 11:00 a.m. a four-wheel drive vehicle was headed to my neighborhood and I hitched a ride.  I am told that everyone else was home by mid-afternoon. 

All-in-all it wasn't too bad, but I'm really way too old to be staying up all night.  So, here are a few things that I have learned (in no particular order) from "The Great Southern Snowy School Sleep-over of 2014".
- I understand the song Find Out Who Your Friends Are SO MUCH better now!
- Deodorant and toothpaste are one of life's biggest necessities.
- I really do like to sleep.
- There are some people who can go without sleep and still look very nice.  I however, am not one of them.
- Parents will do ANYTHING to get to their children.
- There are some parents who have raised AMAZING children.  Lucky for me, they were the ones stranded at school with me!
- I miss my husband and sweet dogs when I am not with them.  Yes, even after other 30 years together, I still WANT to be with my hubby.
- I cry when I am tired too.
- There are good people in this world.  I am so grateful to those wonderful men who came to our school and took people home.
- Speaking of men, I need to talk to some of my Moms.  They NEED to know how wonderful and helpful their husbands are.
- Southern people DO need a lot of advance warning when it comes to snow.
- I will no longer complain when schools are cancelled, delayed or dismissed early because of weather.  Caution is a good thing.
- A change of clothes at school should be required for teachers too.
Goldfish are really good when you are hungry.
- People are generally very nice and appreciative.
-  I need to keep more "ready-to-eat" food in my freezer.
-  If you have to be stranded in the ice/snow, a church is a GREAT place.
-  Multiple bathrooms are a good thing with a large group of people.
-  Children are tougher than adults.
-  I am not as young as I use to be.
-  I do not like the taste of coffee.
AND finally, after months of praying and thinking about retirement, I have come to the conclusion that I'm not ready to leave the wonderful people I work with and for and of course, I'm not ready to leave the students.

Thanks for checking on us!  Next week starts our big unit on "Valentine's Day".  I'm not sure if I can make it as exciting as the last few days, but I'm sure going to try!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Out of This World Fun

WOW!  I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again!), I love this unit!  Each and every day I am blown away by what my class can do!  At the beginning of our unit on the Solar System, I assign each child a planet name.  As we go through our week, I call them by their planet name and tell them something special about themselves.  By the end of the week the children not only can tell me about THEIR planet, but also about all the others.  WOW!  Make it fun and they WILL learn!

We started our unit on the solar system by talking about the center of our universe, the sun.  One of our favorite activities is "squishy" painting.  First, I cut circles out of poster board (you can use cereal boxes too).  Each child squirts on the different paints.  We used red, orange, yellow, gold and bronze.  Next comes the fun part . . . we cover the paint filled circle with clear plastic wrap (WARNING:  If you use CHEAP plastic wrap you will want to use two pieces, trust me!) and then we SQUISH!  The results are beautiful.  I have a large piece of black construction paper with a blob of glue waiting and I carefully place the very wet "sun" onto it.  This is where I end up getting messy but the children are still clean.  The children add the sun rays and the results are truly amazing!

We had to have a snack that was "out of this world" so we headed to the kitchen to whip up some fun solar system cookies. 
It was easy, but fun!  We mixed up some yellow icing and added it to a small cookie to make our sun.  Then we added our nine planets (YES, I said nine!  We decided not to leave the dwarf planet, Pluto out of the fun!).  Yummy and fun!

I really love this next art project!  I call it our name rockets.  Each child picks out colorful squares and writes one letter of their name in each square.  This is a wonderful activity to practice our writing and math skills.  I love the end result, especially the "fire" and little stars!

During our Winter Week, I took some pictures of the students to make our special snow people.  I just had two copies printed off so we could all become astronauts!

Sorry, for the big ugly square, but I have to protect the identity of my sweet students.  The moon was made with sand paper rubbings.  I love that my sweet little "S" had to make her flag correctly!

Since our letter this week was "J" we decided that we needed to fly to Jupiter!  And fly we did.  We spent all day Wednesday talking about our largest planet and making a rocket ship out of different shapes to take us there.

I especially love this Jupiter. 
Can you see the big red spot?
My surprise for the week came in the form of sweet "S" yelling from across the room.  I hurdled two children and chair to see that she had written her name with the magnetic letters!

Her planet name of course!
No fun Solar System Week would be complete without moon rocks.  On Thursday we turned "regular, old earth rocks" in fabulous moon rocks.
All you need are some good sized rocks, gray paint and scrap pieces of black tissue paper.  Instant moon rocks!  Be prepared, these take several days to dry.
Ahhhhhh . . . Friday is always the most fun day of our week and I did not want to disappoint anyone.  We started by mixing flour and white paint. 
You can see everyone got to measure and mix up their own!
Next, we added just a squirt of black paint and kept mixing!
Besides having flour everywhere, it wasn't too messy.  But then . . . . . 
we dumped our mixture onto a large circle cut from cereal boxes and moved it all around.  SUPER messy but SUPER fun!  While the children were washing their hands (PLEASE be careful of your sink if and when you do this.  This can clog up a sink.), I glued their moon down to a piece of black construction paper.  Then the children added stars made from silver and gold glitter paint.

Here is a closer view of our moon.
I was so amazed with my class this week and wanted to end with something really special.  The first thing we did was head to kitchen to make some "moon sand".  My recipe is very simple, sand and cornstarch.  I know some of you may want to know the exact ratio but sorry, I just dump it in.  The children didn't care, it was fun.
A little note about the sand.  When I bought the sand, it was wet.  No problem I thought, it will dry.  But, here in Alabama we have had multiple days below the freezing mark.  So if you buy wet sand PLEASE don't leave it in your car for several days . . . it will freeze!  Oh well, good thing we have microwaves!!!
Hang on, I'm not done.  We talked all week about gravity and to help the children understand it a little better, we ate a little treat just like the astronauts do . . .
applesauce from a bag with a straw!
FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!!
Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you check on us again because next week we will be talking about DINOSAURS!!!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Week Part 2

We were having so much fun during our wonderful winter week that we decided to extend it for a few more days.  I had a big surprise for everyone on Monday morning . . . . snow bowling!!!  During Christmas I had emailed everyone I knew and asked them to save me their gift boxes.  You know those flimsy little white boxes???  They made perfect bowling pins!  Everyone had a great time trying to knock down our "snow pins" and we even had a few strikes!!
Our art project on Monday was very special!  We turned ourselves into snow people.  Lucky for me my local Walgreens had a sale on their photo developing and believe you me, I took advantage of it! 

Aren't these the cutest things you have EVER seen???  Of course the snow was made with our fingers.  Boy, the Moms loved these!
I had another fun surprise on Tuesday!  I gathered all the scrap pieces of white construction paper I could find and wrote our numbers, colors and shapes on them.  Next, I wadded them up and put them in a big tub.

Everyone got to pick out a "snowball" and read what was written on it.  Next, (here comes the fun part!) you got to "throw" the "snowball" into the . . . .
snowman's belly!
We could have played this game for hours!  It was such a big success that we left him in our room and everyone played the game by themselves!  Now, that was a fun game!
It has been very cold here but remember, our school is in the "DEEP" south, so snow is something we hardly ever see.  But that didn't stop us from making more snowballs!  A little baking soda and water and suddenly . . . .


we even made a snowman!

Okay, now here comes the fun part . . . . everyone took turns dropping their snowballs (or snowman) into a big bowl of vinegar!

Sizzling Snowballs!!
I am always looking for fun ways to help us review our shapes so during the winter months I made us some cute little "shape penguins"!  The children have had a lot of fun playing with them.  The star penguin is their favorite.

We read the book, Snowballs by Lois Ehlert and my class loved it.  It is a wonderful book about making a snowman from found objects.  Well, we had to make our very own snowmen/women from some things we found.  Aren't they wonderful?!?!?!
This snowlady has a bowtie pasta for a hair bow!

This snowman has a leaf for a hat!

Each child carefully picked out all the parts of their snowman/snowlady.  Just a note, we did not use our regular school glue, we used some Aleene's Tacky Glue that was left over from Christmas.  We had a great time!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside!

The great state of Alabama, as well as most of the country, has been COLD lately!  School started back for us on Tuesday!  But, due to the extreme cold, our school, like so many others, started an hour later.  This was NOT, repeat NOT a good way to welcome the students back from Christmas break.  Now, I know my students do not know how to tell time, but their little internal clocks were all off.  It took most of Tuesday to get things "normal" in my classroom.  It was fun listening to everyone tell me what they received for Christmas.  We giggled and laughed most of the day and listened to some "regular" music (that's what "T" called it since I didn't have Christmas music playing).  Our first fun art project for 2014 will be kept for our upcoming art show. 

We started by letting the children cut some white construction paper for our snow.  Next, we glued our snow onto a piece of blue construction paper and added our hand/arm print for the tree and our palm prints for our little snowman/girl.  It took just a few minutes for that the dry and then comes the FUN part, we added the snow.  Earlier that morning, I found an old tube from a roll of plastic wrap and covered it with hot glue.

  We rolled the tube in white paint and then rolled it onto our paper.

After everything dried, we mounted it to a large piece of black construction paper and added window panes!  A WONDERFUL Winter Window!

Tuesday was bitter cold down here in Alabama and since we aren't accustom to this kind of temperature we forced to stay inside for our recess time.  YUCK!  Well, not really!  I saw on one of my favorite sites Teach Preschool where the children were weaving through a rainbow.  I loved it of course (because I love everything on this website!) and wanted to try it.  Here is my version, we call it "Sneaking Through a Snowstorm"! 

WOW!  It was fun!!!!!
No fun winter themed week would be complete without talking about PENGUINS!!!!  I must say, our penguins are very cute.  His/her fat little belly was made white by sticking different white objects to contact paper.

Our Thursday was spent talking about polar bears!  Of course we read Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear by one of our favorite authors, Eric Carle.  Our polar bear craft was taken right off of PINTEREST .  It was very simple but oh so much fun.  We really gave our fine motor skills a workout.

Since we were talking about polar bears, we had to play a polar bear game, right???  Meet "Pete, the Polar Bear" . . . .

He was made from a vacuum cleaner box (don't worry, I didn't get a vacuum for Christmas! LOL).  I covered him in white butcher paper, added ears, eyes, a nose and cut a hole for his mouth.  We talked about how polar bears like to eat fish, so I made us some little fish to feed him.


All the little fish were turned upside down on the floor.  They looked like they were swimming.  Each child picked out a fish and told us what written on it.  If you got it right, you got to feed the fish to the polar bear.  SUPER FUN!!!!!  I think we could have done this for an hour!

Our "Fabulous Fun Friday" was one of my favorites.  We started the day painting with ice!  On Wednesday, we all went to the kitchen to make ice paint.  Everyone stirred up little cups of paint and water.  We covered them with foil and stuck a popsicle stick in it.  On Friday, they were ready, no instructions were needed.
This one was fun because it had yellow and red paint in it.
The child who mixed it together didn't mix it thoroughly,
so we got to see the yellow and red paint.

This green ice paint was made with glitter paint!


They were ALL amazing!
As soon as we were finished painting we headed to make a snowman.  Now, by the time Friday came around, the temperature in Alabama was back into the 50's (ahhhhh . . . . winter in the south!), so we made our traditional "southern" snowman.  First, we had to make snowballs, and lots of them.
As you can see, we use newspapers!  We stuffed three large white garbage bags with old newspapers to make "Frosty"!

Hopefully, he will stay in my classroom for a few days.

No "Fabulous Fun Friday" would be complete without a little "cooking" time!  This Friday we made a snowman cookie. 

Everyone loved him!  We used one white powdered sugar donut (we cut it half),

added M&M eyes and a candy corn nose!  MMMMMM. . . . it was so good!
Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you come back next week, we will continue our unit on "Winter"!