Friday, December 3, 2010

Countdown till Christmas

We started our festive month off by making an advent countdown calendar in Santa's beard. I printed the numbers backwards in the beard. After the kids assembled it, I gave them 25 cotton balls and they were supposed to glue on ball on per day, starting with the largest number. Not only is it a very cute Santa to hang up and display, it also tells them exactly how many days are left until Christmas.

All of them turned out darling. This was such a fun little project that I even had my own kids make one.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pilgrim Rock and the Wampanoag...

One of the reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving is to show gratitude for the blessings and providence we have been fortunate enough to receive--not just personally, but as a family, community, and nation. We live in a land of opportunity and plenty. What it must have been like for the Pilgrims to finally reach shores where they could worship freely and own land to shelter, feed, and profit their families. Last week I had the wonderful experience of visiting Plymouth, Massachusetts and seeing the actual rock and location that our forefathers and foremothers landed near in the winter of 1620.
Over half of the 109 passengers on the Mayflower died that winter from starvation and disease. But none who survived chose to return to England or Holland. Opportunity and promise lied ahead in this new land and they set off to build their dreams. But they would not have survived and flourished if they had not been helped by the Indians that were native to the area....the Wampanoag.
Today we made an Wampanoag Indian toy. We used a towel, string and a pipe cleaner that was formed into the shape of a circle. The Indians would have used a stick or thin leg bone, a leather cording, and a widdled circle from wood. They were fashioned just like the ones we made in class today. They kids were so excited to play and it was a constant source of entertainment.

We made a booklet about some of the things that we are family, food, our five senses, our homes, friends, our bodies, and the beautiful earth.

I gave each of the kids a little rock to remind them that 1620 was a very important year in the formation of our country. It was the rock or foundation we recognize our liberties and hope for the future started. We give thanks for many things this season...and there truly are so many things to be thankful for. Amongst the things that come to my mind and heart this Thanksgiving are: Abby, Alayna, Ben, Blina, Cody, Cooper, Ethan, Lilly, Sini, Trevor, Trianna, and Zachary.

I look forward to seeing our modern-day Pilgrims at our Preschool Thanksgiving Feast on Tuesday. Parents please wear dark clothes, as you will be our "Pilgrims" and invited guests. Our Little Indians will be presiding at this feast in full head-dress and vests. Class starts at 9am and the feast starts at 10:45am. Hope you can come.

All Sorts of Turkeys!!

We continued the Turkey theme into Wednesday. The apple turkeys are cute, easy, and designed to be a fun table decoration for the holiday season. One of the turkeys didn't even leave the classroom. Oops. I take that back. It did leave the classroom...just in Sini's tummy. I had many questions about when they could eat them. So, I'm thinking that they aren't on your tables as a symbol of what a great preschool your little one goes to....but, I understand. Next year I'll use less tempting goods as the turkey's feathers.

(Building our Turkey Centerpieces, using an apple, toothpicks, Fruit Loops, marshmallows, raisins, candy pumpkins, candy corn, and Twizzlers). There's a rule about cereal...if it's broken, you have to eat it. What I got a little confused about was how could marshmallows be "broken"-since they disappeared faster than the cereal.

Today started something like this..."Preschoolers--today we are going to make more turkeys. What do you think about that?" Their faces told me everything!

Our Wednesday class is a group of 5 boys. So it's sometimes easier to wrangle fewer kids for some of the more complicated projects. Somewhere in the last 10 years of doing preschool, I came across this idea but never had the ambition or neurotic disposition to try it...until today. Melting crayons onto a hot griddle sounded like a lot of fun and required a few supplies that I had in the filters, extra crayons, a large counter griddle, and assorted construction paper. Really basic ingredients for an awesome little craft. So when I plugged the griddle in and explained to the boys that we had to be very careful so no one would burn their fingers...I was the only one stalling to get started.

[What?! You never thought to let your babies color on a hot griddle with their crayons? I thought every parent was doing that....] And to be perfectly honest, I never even thought to do this with my own kids---but the results turned out pretty cool and we didn't have any burnt fingers or even near misses--how about that!
We started by putting a piece of paper on the griddle and then the coffee filter. Then one at a time, the boys colored the filter with whatever colors they wanted. The heat from the griddle melted the crayons as they colored and it spread like oil paints. I've never seen this before and it was so cool!! We wanted colorful turkey feathers and the boys loved watching the colors melt.

If the boys had had their way, they would have made a whole flock of turkeys each. Even the papers used to protect the griddle turned out beautiful. They caught the residual color. I kept them and I'm going to put them in their books in the "art" section. So something to look forward to :)
And just when we thought we were "turkey-ied" out...there was one more surprise. Sucker Turkeys. That bird is so practical and easy to craft around!! Sucker Turkeys are my favorite treats to make in November! They are fool-proof, everyone loves them, and they are so darn cute!! For our Wednesday class...we were up to our eyes in turkeys. I hope your little turkeys enjoyed all the fun things that we worked on in preschool. I could have done a month dedicated to the national's not actually the national bird (the bald eagle is)--but it might as well this time of year.

My Thankful Turkeys

I don't know about you, but a week without preschool felt like a month! I don't understand how that happens, but we got into the swing of things quick because in just another week we are celebrating another wonderful event--Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is the conclusion of all the fun autumn activities we've been doing in October and November.

We started our gratitude project by making "Thankful Turkeys"--a simple flower pot that is decorated with colorful feathers, cute faces and a reminder that we need "feed" our turkey by using kind words and remembering to say "Thank You" or expressing gratitude for things in our lives.
We are "feeding" the turkeys little beans. I know that this is a favorite project for the kids because they are becoming aware of their conversations with others and remembering to be thoughtful with their compliments. I've heard from many parents that the kids are remembering to feed their turkeys--A Lot of beans....isn't that wonderful?
We started Letter J this week by decorating the J with jewel stickers and practicing how to write it. It looks like an upside candy cane or a line with a "swoop" sure pick up on the visual descriptions at this age!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


November. The weather and scenery is changing fast and I can't believe how time is flying. We've been learning about scarecrows and harvest in preschool this week. It's one of my favorite units. They are one of those agricultural "tools" that we forget about even though they have been around for over 3,000 years in most countries around the world. They are vital to keeping the birds from eating all the seed that produce life-sustaining foods for people need to live on.

So how do you build a scarecrow when you're in preschool? With an assortment of supplies, like below:

To begin our cute scarecrows, I used a "gingerbread man" pattern/shape cut out from yellowy paper. I recently hemmed a lot of jeans for my kids and saved the scraps for overalls. Each of the kids got to choose the color of pattern paper they wanted for their shirts. The "construction" of the scarecrow was a work of patience and stickiness. There was tons of glue...but hopefully than means that the yarn used as "straw" didn't come off in the car on the way home.

(not pictured: Zachary, Trianna, Ethan and Alayna)
Ours turned out very cute with the help of a few simple crafty things. I wasn't going to add the sticks, but Zachary reminded me that they were needed to stand up straight in the garden. (He's pretty sharp...and he made a similar crow with me last year in preschool ;)

Tomorrow we are starting letter I and learning about Corn/Maize. It's sure to be fun and colorful as well.