July 8, 2014

VBS Crafts: Clay Necklaces

Hello Friends!
Yesterday, the kids and I started a Wilderness Escape VBS program, and it was awesome!  I love watching my own children, as well as all the others, light up with joy as they listen to stories, sing songs and create crafts, all in praise of Jesus. 
Speaking of crafts, I am happy to be leading the Craft Room again this year!  Our first day's project was to create clay necklaces.  Considering how difficult it was for the kids to flatten out the clay, I was very happy with the creations they came up with!
Here is a heart with a cross, a star and an owl:
Aren't they cute?!
We talked about how the kids were molding and forming the clay into what they wanted it to be...just like how God is molding us into the kind of people he wants us to be.  When we go to church, VBS, pray and read the Bible (just for a few examples), God is molding us by placing his word on our hearts and in our minds.  One sweet girl said, "I totally get that!"  I think she pretty much made my day!!
 Supplies for Clay Necklaces
  • clay (any color; also consider using play dough for children younger than 3rd grade)
  • rolling pin
  • heart, star or other shaped cookie cutters
  • pony beads (assorted colors)
  • ribbon or twine
  • scissors
  • straw (to punch hole for ribbon)
  1. Warm clay or play dough in hands, then start molding and flattening it.  Use a rolling pin if you'd like.
  2. Decide what shape you want your necklace to be and either form it or cut it out using a shaped cookie cutter.
  3. Punch a hole toward the top of your necklace using the straw.  Be careful not to punch the hole too close to the edge.
  4. Add a splash of color, pretty pattern or a cool design with the pony beads.
  5. Allow to dry.  If using clay, check the package for the specific amount of time.  Play dough may take several days to fully dry out.
  6. When dry, add a length of ribbon or twine, and wear with pride!
See ya next time!

July 5, 2014

DIY Sidewalk Chalk Paint

...And we're back!
It's been a looooooooooooong time since I last posted, but I'm so glad to be back to blogging!  I've saved up lots of great ideas and will hopefully, *fingers crossed*, be able to share one of them with you daily.
Yesterday, between our town's Fourth of July parade and the late-evening fireworks, my kids seemed to be just wandering around, looking for something to get into do.  I had seen recipes for homemade sidewalk chalk around the web, but hadn't had a chance to whip some up.  So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity, especially on a bright and sunny day!
The surprising part was that it was so easy and simple to make.  Don't you love recipes like that?!  Two ingredients + food color = BAM!  You're done!  Homemade sidewalk chalk paint!
Sidewalk Chalk Paint
  • 2 T. corn starch
  • 4 T. water
  • food coloring
  • Mix corn starch and water together in a muffin tin. (You could also use small bowls or whatever you have on hand.)
  • Add food coloring to each "cup" in the muffin tin.
  • Mixing different food colors is also a great opportunity for a lesson in color mixing.  We mixed: red + yellow = orange and red + blue = purple.
*Keep in mind that for younger kids (babies, toddlers, preschoolers), this paint is technically edible.  I'm thinking that you'll probably get a pretty disgusted look if your little one tries it though!  Please make sure to always supervise your child with activities like this.

Sweet Pea (my 7 year old) went straight to work, planning and painting our sidewalk.  Since it was July 4th, she decided to paint fireworks.  She noticed right away that as she painted and the paint dried, it changed to a lighter shade.  She thought it was pretty cool to watch the paint change right before her eyes!

 Pretty cool, huh?
Shortly after, Tough Guy (my 13 year old) came out to paint a message to our neighbors:
Happy 4th of July!
Yes, even the middle schooler wanted to participate.  They loved this, and it was so quick, easy and cheap to throw together.  We used chunky paint brushes for most, but Sweet Pea wanted a thinner brush for some of her details.  Painting the sidewalk "canvas" is definitely a first for us, but I'm sure we'll be doing it again and again this summer!
The sidewalk chalk paint dries like regular sidewalk chalk, and will wash off with rain or water.  Give it a try - your kids will love it!
See ya tomorrow!

April 28, 2013

Spring Weather: Rainy

The last couple of weeks have been a little different in our class, because we've had assessments and parent-teacher conferences.  As we wrap those up this week, things will get back to normal.  Last Friday, we continued learning about spring weather with the topic of rain.  We've certainly had our fair share of that lately!
We read the books:
Notice on the book Rain by Robert Kalan, he actually uses the word rain over and over to illustrate rain falling down.  This technique is used throughout the book.  It's a pretty awesome way to illustrate and provide reinforced literacy!
We took a survey and found that all but one of our students likes rain.  I definitely thought it would go the other way!  Using a picture graph like this helps the children to visualize the number of kids who do like rain versus those who don't.

Our art project was a simple umbrella made of 1/2 cupcake liner and a J-shaped pipe cleaner.  (We've also used bendy straws for the umbrella handle.)  The kids glued cotton clouds to the top of their paper, and sprinkled on raindrops with blue markers.
For math, the children were given number cards 1-10, and they worked together in pairs to place the numbers in the correct order.  After completing 1-10, some groups moved on to 11-20, and one pair even made it to 21-30!
At the end of class, we had a fabulous parent reader come in, and she read:
Mud went perfectly with our rain theme, because most kids love to play in the mud after it rains!
Other activities of the day included:
- writing center: tracing and coloring clouds and rain, as well as writing practice on the white boards
- playdough and easel
- housekeeping and puzzles
- block center
- letter Yy review

April 19, 2013

Spring Weather: Cloudy

Have you had enough rain yet?!
In our community, there is quite a bit of flooding, so I think it's safe to say that we've gotten our fair share for the moment!  Maybe the weather is making up for the drought we had last year?
On Wednesday, our class learned about cloudy weather.  We read:
I adore Eric Carle books, and this one is no different!  His stories are always very cute, easy enough for young children to understand, and his illustrations are amazing.  In this story, Little Cloud changes his shape from a regular puffy cloud to lots of other things, including a bunny and a shark.
For our art project, we asked the kids to fingerpaint a cloud, and they got to decide what shape their cloud would be.  This kiddo decided his cloud changed into numbers.... 
....while this one changed into a smiley face!  Such clever little meteorologists!
Since I've been assessing kids for conferences, I didn't get a chance to snap many pictures.  Our other centers of the day included:
- sensory: cloud dough
- easel: crayons and markers
- highlighter tracing ABC's and numbers
- housekeeping and train set
We also had a parent reader at the end of the day, and she read:
The kids loved this story!  We don't get to read a lot of fairytales in our class, and stories like The Three Little Pigs often become favorites of the younger crew.  They are able to remember the repetitiveness of the storyline, so that they can retell it over and over.
Here are some other books about clouds that your child may enjoy:
Next up - rainy spring weather...and we sure do have experience with that!  See ya!

April 16, 2013

Spring Weather: Windy

Spring brings lots of different types of weather, and we will be studying about three kinds this week.  Monday was all about the wind.  In Circle, we read:
We talked about the way the illustrator showed things blowing in the wind in his pictures.
In Centers, we:
- started assessments for Spring conferences
- completed our letter Xx activity
- practiced tracing and writing our name
- dramatic play in housekeeping
- drove cars on playmat and built with blocks
We also did a fun and quick science experiment with the kids.  We made a chart with 6 different objects, then asked the kids to predict whether the wind (a fan) would blow the objects off the table.  If you look at the predictions and the results, you'll see that they got most of them right.  Our brilliant little scientists are sooooo smart!
Tomorrow we will study all about clouds, and Friday's class will be about rain.  See ya!

April 14, 2013

Jelly Beans

Friday's class was all about jelly beans!
We started the day in Circle by reading:
This old lady has swallowed some crazy things this year...including a whole turkey at Thanksgiving!  The kids love this series of books, and there seems to be one for every holiday of the year.
We graphed a small cup of jelly beans at the math center, and talked about "least" and "most".  The children also counted the total amount of jelly beans, then of course, got to munch on them!

We also played a jelly bean roll and cover game.  The kids rolled a die, then used a jelly bean to cover the same number on their board.  This template, as well as the graph, were found at Oopsey Daisy.
Our other centers included:
- a listen & do activity: color the jelly beans
- playdough / dot markers at the easel
- housekeeping / jelly bean puzzle
- train & big blocks
I have been anxious to show the children our new butterfly garden sensory tub, but up until Friday, we hadn't had time.  They were so excited!  When I showed it to them, I heard lots of "oooh" and "wow".  Score!  I love it when they are so interested in something, and they just can't wait to play with it.  We only had a few minutes per pair of kids to play, but we will definitely have more play time this week!
We will complete our letter Xx study on Monday, and we will also begin letter Yy.  Can you believe we're at the end of the alphabet and the school year?!  Pre-K graduation will be here before we know it!

April 11, 2013

More Bunnies and Carrots

Our class loves bunnies!  Who doesn't?!  They're so cute and fluffy, and there's a million activities you can do with this theme.  There's no way we could fit them all into one day!
On Monday, we read the first Knuffle Bunny book by Mo Willems.  I told the kids that we would finish the series by reading the next two books, which is exactly what we did on Wednesday.  They really got into these books!  I think they're great, because the stories are simple, and when you have all three books, the kids can make comparisons between them.  We read this one during Circle:
In the first book, Trixie is a toddler who loses Knuffle Bunny at the laundromat, and by the second book, she is in pre-k and her bunny gets mixed up with a classmate's bunny, that is *almost* exactly like Trixie's.
At the math center, the kids used foam bunnies to make AB patterns (blue, pink, blue, pink or pink, blue, pink, blue)...
...and they also matched mini carrots 1-12 onto the number line.  We have been focusing on number recognition, and the children are getting lots of good practice matching and being able to pick out the correct number that we ask them to find.

 For our art project, we created Knuffle Bunny in the washing machine!  (This is from the first story.)  It's hard to tell from the picture, but the plate that has the circle cut out has plastic wrap over it, to make it look like the window in the washer.  Knuffle Bunny took a bath and got all nice and squeaky clean!
Feed the Bunny was very popular yesterday!  We asked the kids to pick some carrots from the carrot patch to feed to the bunny.  They enjoyed petting and feeding the bunny, and re-planting the carrots in the patch.  We even had a giant carrot for the bunny to nibble on!
At the writing center, there were 3 carrot "eggs", each one containing a different word - bunny, carrot and hop.  The kids were asked to copy each word on a blank sheet of paper, and they did an outstanding job!  Do I expect them to be able to read these words, or to copy them correctly?  No.  This center was mainly a fun activity, designed to encourage the children to write and draw, which helps to strengthen their fine motor muscles.  They will need them when they go to big kid school!
Most of the kids painted carrots at the easel, and their paintings are amazing!  Please take a moment to check them out in the hallway.  This is just a sampling, and you can see that all four of these masterpieces are unique.  Keep in mind that this really is amazing, especially since they didn't have a sample to look at.  We just encouraged them to visualize a carrot in their heads, and this is what they came up with.  Fantastic!
At the end of class, we read:
In the third book, Trixie misplaces Knuffle Bunny on an airplane, and decides that she'll be ok without him.  This one is really heartwarming, and I always tear up a little at the end.  You should really check out this series at the library or bookstore.  You will love it as much as your kids!
Hop on over to Pigeon Presents! for more Knuffle Bunny activities, printables, puzzles and even a video!  Then check out Go Mo for an online Knuffle Bunny baggage claim game.  Have fun!