Friday, November 29, 2013

Keeping Naptime a Quiet Time

This post was inspired by a newspaper clipping that I saw hanging in our school's parent library.

As any preschool teacher would agree, nap or rest time in the classroom is 1-2 hours of desperately needed quiet in the classroom. Not only is it so beneficial for young children to have that time to relax and decompress, it is also a wonderful time for the teacher to lesson plan, organize the classroom, or simply take a quiet and deep breath.

Some of my kids don't always sleep the whole time, or even at all, so I've had to be creative in keeping the room quiet so that the others can rest.

The kids bring books and stuffed animals from our class library to their little cots with them, so they have that to keep them occupied for a little bit of time. I've also developed these "treasure boxes" that the kids just go wild for when I put them out. I've used pencil boxes and an assortment of different toys and materials that have become like little games. I'm always changing the boxes, but here is what I have now just for some ideas.

  This puzzle is a little tough for them, so it keeps them pretty busy when they try to make it.

 I drew a town map and put in cars that I got from the dollar store.

 I found a few sets of magnetic letters at Walmart for pretty cheap. The kids love to put them together and try to sound out the crazy words they create.

 I wrote shape names and numbers on colored popsicle sticks. The kids have to try to put the shapes together. They use the drawn pictures to help out if they get stuck.

 They love this squishy, gooey and creepy crawlies.

 These flashcards are a favorite.

 I actually found this bunny game at Stop and Shop last year for $2. Can't beat it!

 Legos are always a beloved classic. I even find myself playing with them sometimes. 

 These were actually left in the class as a center toy, but that didn't really make sense to me, so I made is a treasure box.

 I found this lego-esque garden set in the clearance section of Walmart.

Good old fashioned playing cards. Don't underestimate simple stuff like this. The kids love to sort them, look at the numbers and letters on them.
I found these little puzzles at the dollar store. They came in a pack of 4 and have different numbers of pieces. anything with animals is always a hit with my kids.

If you have any ideas that you use in your classroom during nap time, please share them in the comments. I am always open to new ideas!

These treasure boxes are also great for partner and small group play! The children can take turns to choose which box they want to play with, and it is a mostly quiet and contained toy, which is great. They are also super easy to switch out and add new things too.

We Are Thankful!

Our theme for the week of Thanksgiving, our theme was "We Are Thankful".

We read this week: Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland
                               A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
                               Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

Our question of the week was "What is something that you are thankful for?"

For our theme of the week, we talked about all the things in our lives that we are thankful for. The kids wrote in their journal with what they answered the question of the week.

We made "Thankful Turkeys".

Our school has a feast the day before Thanksgiving. We colored turkeys and made hats to wear.
[There's me, modeling our hats. ;)]

The kids did a pumpkin maze and practiced the concept of alike and different. They also helped a turkey find his way through a maze and did a turkey dot to dot

We did a cut and past project to make a cornucopia. The kids sure did have a hard time saying that word!

We sang "Let's Be Thankful" to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle" which I found here.
"Let’s be thankful for this day,
For our friends and for our play.
Let’s be thankful; let’s be glad,
For the food and things we have.
Let’s give thanks for you and me,
For our home and family."

We did not talk about a letter, number or shape this week.We played the counting games "1,2,3" and "Pop!" The kids love those responsive classroom games.

Here's an update from our "planted" pumpkins! We planted them the week of Halloween, and we got a sprout!!
The pumpkins were staring to get soft, so I planted them under soil. I'm hoping that the soil on top will help them decompose without attracting bugs and smelling. Anyone out there have any tips about that?

Up next week: The letter Kk, number 8 and color blue. Our theme will be "Hanukkah: The Celebration of Lights".

Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Native Americans! (3-7)

Our theme for the third week of November, our theme was "Turkeys, Pilgrims and Native Americans".

We read this week: Red Fox and His Canoe by Nathaniel Benchley
                               The Thirsty Moose by David Orme
                               1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessey
                               Thanksgiving Cats by Jean Marzollo
                               The Very First Thanksgiving by Rhonda Gowler Greene

Our question of the week was "What one thing would you bring on the Mayflower with you?"

For our theme of the week, we discussed Pilgrim and Native American life. We focused on how they lived and what their homes and villages were like.  The kids had fun deciding
which life they would rather live.

We made strawberry juice using strawberries, water and a little bit of honey. The kids got to squish up the strawberries and watch as the juice developed. Everyone tried it, which I was super proud of, and about half of them wanted more!

The kids also worked on coloring their Thanksgiving placemats. Our director got them for all the kids from Oriental Trading. The kids loved them because they were like giant coloring pages.

We sang "Indians and Pilgrims" to the tune of "Row your boat" which I found here.
Beat, beat, beat the drum.
Beat it loud and clear.
Tell the Indians everywhere,
That hunting time is near.
Cut, cut, cut the logs,
Make them long and short,
To help the Pilgrims build a house
A warm and friendly fort.

One of our amazing teachers in the school brought in a special guest for the kids to see. They voted and decided that his name would be Giblet.

We did not talk about a letter, number or shape this week. In preparing for parent teacher conferences, we worked on portfolio assessments. We went over numbers 1-30, all the shapes, patterns and the alphabet, lowercase and capitals.

Each day we did an activity that focused on a letter, 3-7.  I got these activities from this book. The kids had to color three of each item in a group.
They did a number 4 color by number.

Colored 5 of each flavor of ice cream.
Color by number for 6.

They had to draw 7 apples on a tree. (I didn't get a picture. =[)

Our class had two birthdays this week! We love to celebrate in my class.

Here's an update from our "planted" pumpkins! We planted them the week of Halloween, and we got a sprout!!

Up next week: Number review week and "We Are Thankful".

The Harvest! (J, 7, Star)

Our theme for the second week of November was "The Harvest" and we focused on the letter Jj, the number 7 the star shape.

We read this week: The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons
                              From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
                              Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
                              Oliver Finds His Way by Phillis Root
                              Possum's Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter

Our question of the week was "What is one word to describe you?"This was such a TOUGH one! We got through it though and most of the answers are pretty accurate for my class this year.

For our theme of the week, we discussed as a whole group what a harvest is and the kinds of things that get harvested.

I drew pictures of the different stages of a pumpkin vine. After we read "From Seed to Pumpkin", I called small groups to come over and challenged them to put the cards in order from start to end. When the cards were put in the wrong order it was so great to hear them talk through what had to change and why.

I dyed some pumpkin seeds with vinegar and food coloring (my kitchen still faintly smells of vinegar =]) and challenged my kids to sort them onto the pumpkins that said the color. They then had to count how many of each color seed they had and write the number next to the pumpkin. We then tried to glue the seeds on, but they just popped off after the glue dried! So i had to use tape, not as pretty, but just as functional.

We painted with pine cones.

And had a great time outside "harvesting: leaves, sticks and acorns."

We talked a lot this week about the shape star, and we sang "Twinkle Twinkle."
"Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
how I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so bright,
like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
how I wonder what you are."

I drew stars, hearts, triangles and circles and asked the kids to color each shape it's own color. I was so impressed with how well they did!

When we worked on our number activities, we practiced writing the number and word for the number 7.

I made these worksheets that reinforces the one to one concept. The kids practice writing the number and have to color a square for each picture that they see. (I forgot to take a picture =[)

For our letter activities, we used our handwriting sheet for the letter Jj from this book,  and the sheet that helps work on letter recognition that I got from this book,  The students also wrote in their journals for the letter J.

We turned an J into an Jaguar! This book is great.

The kids jumped like jumping jelly beans to music. Super fun and a great way to get all that energy out.

Speaking of jelly beans, I gave the kids each 7 jellybeans (our number of the week) and they had to color the jelly beans on their paper the colors of the real ones they had. Love that one-to-one correspondence practice. The best part? They got to eat them after they colored them!
 I have a few kids with nut allergies, so i sent their jelly beans home with the nutritional information panel. Better safe than sorry!

The kids practiced their coloring and cutting skills to make this awesome booklet that tells all the different places that a jet flies. This is from this Mailbox book.

For our alphabet wall we made jets!

Here are the words we came up with this week!

Here's an update from our "planted" pumpkins! We planted them the week of Halloween, and we got a sprout!!

Up next week: Number review week and "Native Americans, Pilgrims and Turkeys".