Category Archives: Animals

Zoo Phonics Montessori Inspired Sand Paper Letters

Preschool is in full swing and the children are learning Zoo Phonics along with all the other activities they are engaged in.  Zoo Phonics letters are reviewed during circle time and then related activities are offered at the language arts table during center time.

I’ve been doing  some research about different early childhood programs and  have found some wonderful activities to do with kids.  One of the activities provided in Montessori programs is sand paper tracing letters.  I’m not really sure the idea originated with Montessori since I remember making them in one of my elementary education methods classes many years ago.  However, they are a staple teaching resource in Montessori programs.

The Zoo Phonics program teaches children lower case letters and their sounds using auditory, kinesthetic, and visual means.  The sand paper letters adds another sensory input for the child to learn the letters.  Children trace the letters with their finger while saying the letter’s sound.  Some sites I read state that children who use this method of learning letters also tend to develop good handwriting.

I found several sites that sell the sand paper letters, but I wanted some that support our Zoo Phonics curriculum so decided to make them.  The letters were printed, cut, then glued to a wood rectangle with a glue stick.  A Super Gel Pen Adhesive was used to trace the letters.  Red and blue sand was then sprinkled over the super glue.  A layer of Mod Podge was applied over the wood tile to hold the sand in place.  Montessori usually uses red for consonants and blue for vowels, so I used similar colors.  Zoo Phonics teaches children that vowels are the hardest workers, so children will begin to recognize vowels by the blue color.   All of the supplies to make the letters were purchased at Michaels.

Montessori uses moveable letters in their classroom in addition to the sand paper letters.  Moveable letters are individual letters Children use  to create words.  I’m making 6 sets of the sand paper letters which will also serve to be a moveable alphabet.  

Little Pandas Preschool

An African Safari!

The dinosaur wheelbarrow playscape the children created a few weeks ago was transformed yesterday into an African safari!   The kids loved it!   This is a great activity to engage children in pretend play, practice social interactions and promote language development.  For more info about the importance of pretend play in your child’s life click on this link:  The Importance of Pretend Play |

Our Very Own Tide Pools!

Today we made our own tide pools!  Authentic Oregon beach sand was put into one of the pools and tropical aquarium gravel was put in the other.  A variety of real shells, coral, and plastic sea life were added to the pools for the kids to examine and play with.  The activity generated much conversation about the children’s real life beach experiences.  The tide pools are a great extension of our sand and water unit.

A Very Wet Day!

On Wednesday after music circle time the children listened to Alexander’s Outing written by Pamela Allen. Alexander’s family goes on a walk, but Alexander doesn’t watch where he’s going and falls down a hole. Several attempts are made to rescue him, but all fail. Finally a little boy spills his drink into the hole and everyone notices that Alexander floats up a bit. In the end everyone pours water into the hole and Alexander eventually floats to the top and hops out.After reading the story the preschoolers went outside to try the experiment for themselves. They put ducks into “holes” (plastic containers) and then poured water in and watched the ducks float to the top.

In the afternoon the children played with colored water and tried the duck experiment again.

Many toys and tools have been set out for the children to explore. At one point they decided the boat needed to be washed.

The misters felt good on a hot day! 

A soaker hose was wound through the shrubs above the walkway and play house. Kids tried catching the “rain” and enjoyed getting wet.

Rainforest Magic

The children and teachers just completed a month learning about tropical rain forests. They began the month making a mural that stretched across the gym wall and then also learned about the water cycle. The rest of the month was spent learning about the different animals that inhabit the rain forest. We watched videos of many animals and discovered some we hadn’t seen before including the capybara, the kinkajou, and the boto (pink river dolphin). The children also painted a beautiful picture of an okapi. The kids made butterflies, birds, flowers and snakes. Some of these can be seen in the rain forest created in the gym. The month ended with a week long rain stick project.

Yueying taught the children Chinese vocabulary that corresponded with the theme and a poem about a monkey.

Arctic Environments

This month the preschool children are learning all about arctic environments. Yueying is teaching the children a Chinese poem about penguins. They’ve also had a great time playing the penguin game and trying to prevent their penguins from falling off the iceberg. Last week the children watched videos about whales, polar bears and arctic foxes and then made their own whales.

Desert Animals

The children have learned about several desert animals this month. During the past week they made Jack Rabbit ears, bats and snakes. While working on these projects the children are practicing fine motor skills such as coloring, drawing, and learning to use scissors. After each project was completed they played in the gym and pretended to be the animal they had made.

Coyote & the Beautiful Dream

On Monday the children listened to The Beautiful Dream, a Navajo story about Coyote, Skunk and Porcupine. They found a piece of meat and were undecided about which of them should get to eat it. After one solution didn’t work Porcupine suggests they all take a nap and whoever had the most beautiful dream should get to eat the meat. Porcupine outsmarts them and eats the meat while the other two are sleeping. After listening to the story the children put on masks and pretended to be Coyote.


Desert Theme

The preschool class began learning about deserts yesterday. They read a pop-up book about many different desert creatures, looked at animals on the bulletin board and learned some new Chinese vocabulary. Today they painted a Saguaro Cactus with green paint mixed with salt. When the paint dries the cactuses should have a prickly texture. The cactuses will be hung in our classroom where other animals will join them.

Chinese Zoo Animals

Zoo Phonics is a new component of our curriculum this year and most of the posts have been about that or September’s dinosaur theme. The children are continuing to study Chinese as well. We decided to begin the year with zoo animals to compliment the Zoo Phonics curriculum. Yueying has done several activities with the children to teach them animal vocabulary. She has also worked on dinosaur vocabulary. Next month the children will focus on learning about their classroom and school.