Category Archives: Centers

December Activities

sensory tub

December has just begun and we’re all very busy!  The children have completed many activities already and there are so many more to do before Christmas vacation begins.

sensory group 2

 

 

 

 

 

The winter sensory tub (inspired by Teach Preschool) has been a big hit with all the children.  Even the adults can’t keep their hands out of it!  A tub was filled with plastic frosty snow.  Penguins and an iceberg from a game we have were added to the snow along with clear and blue acrylic ice cubes.  Some wood scoops and a couple wire Christmas ornaments were added.  The blue confetti snowflakes add some cool color to the tub.  We’ve had a couple incidents where the children have thrown the snow up to watch it fall, but who wouldn’t be tempted to do that?

pompom elijah 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children continue to learn Chinese with Gao Laoshi and are beginning to learn to count to 20.  A couple felt Christmas trees were attached to the wall and velcroed pom poms  were set out in a dish.  This activity helps children to practice counting as well as learn Chinese color vocabulary.

chinese writing elijah 1

 

 

 

 

 

Gao Laoshi has started introducing some simple Chinese characters to the children.  They’re beginning to write numbers.

counting marcus 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas shaped erasers have been set out at the math center for children to work on one-to-one correspondence.

popsicles max 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colored craft sticks were also set out at the math table.  Velcro dots were attached to the ends on both sides so that the children can build geometric shapes  with them.

stones group 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A basket of clear and different shades of blue stones have been set out at the light table for children to build with.

fingerpaint groupfingerpaint seneca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger painting on foil was a new experience for all the kids.  They enjoyed seeing the shiny foil through the paint.

Little Pandas Preschool

Advertisements

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

Preschoolers Create an iPad Book!

The preschool class is creating an iPad book which will be an ongoing project throughout the school year.   The book will include info from all the different topics the children will explore.

In September family pictures were added to the book.  Teachers ask children questions about the pictures in both English and Chinese.  These questions are typed onto the page and then the audio is recorded by the teachers.  Next the children’s recorded and type written responses are placed on the page.   The children can read the book during center time by touching the audio buttons.  It will also be shared with the group at circle time.

The iPad book can help children develop language skills as well as other concepts.      The audio buttons are placed next to the text, so the children will begin to understand that written words are related to spoken language.  They are also using the book to learn Chinese and I suspect the vocabulary retention rate will increase.

The possibilities for using the iPad book are endless!  This week pictures of the Halloween flannel board bats were added to the book.  The teachers and children then made recordings counting the bats in Chinese.   This helps to reinforce the concepts learned at circle time.  Pictures of classroom projects will be added to the book which will allow children to review previously learned material.  Children can also share important events in their lives such as birthdays, family vacations, and other events.

Another benefit the book offers is the one on one experience each child will receive while working with teachers.  This will allow the children to create closer bonds with teachers and at the same time may help teachers to understand where each child is developmentally and which skills may need extra practice.  It also has the potential of letting parents become more involved in their child’s classroom experience as they help their child choose pictures from home to share in the book.

We’re using Book Creator to write our book.  I’m sure as the year progresses we will find many creative ideas for our book.  I would love to see how other preschools are using the iPad in their classrooms.

Little Pandas Preschool

The iPad at Preschool

I purchased an iPad for the preschool class a few weeks ago, and we’re just beginning to explore how we will use it with our kids.  About 10 or 12 years ago we did have a computer in the preschool class, but at that time it was not as successful a tool as I had hoped it would be.  In the past few years we have again used computers in the preschool, but they’re always used with teacher supervision, so the children don’t really get a hands on experience with them.  I think the iPad will prove to be a more versatile tool for preschoolers than a computer is.

The greatest advantage of the iPad is the tactile experience it provides children who do most of their learning through sensory means.  The frustration with using a keyboard or mouse no longer exists permitting children to engage in meaningful learning.

Since we’ve only had the iPad for a few weeks we only have a small number of applications.  I’m am looking for good quality applications for the kids that teach preschool concepts, support our curriculum goals and teach Chinese.   A few of the applications we are using include Montessori CrosswordsTracing ABC, and Lingu Pingu which teaches Mandarin Chinese.  I did another search today and found some others that I’m going to let the kids try next week including some interactive books and a drawing pad.

Children learn to write letters with Tracing ABC.

Tracing ABC allows the teachers to set the pages to either lower or upper case letters. Our children are learning lower case letters which compliments the Zoo Phonics program.

It is also interesting to see how the children are using the iPad in the classroom.  One of my major concerns was that the kids would choose only to use the iPad and not choose to work at other learning centers.  When the iPad was originally introduced all the children wanted to gather around it.  Each morning after music circle time a teacher shows the children all of the centers and any new activities that have been set up.  The children are then given the opportunity to choose which center they want to work at.  This week I noticed that the iPad was not the first choice of most of the kids.  Other learning experiences were still appealing to them.

This is the opening screen of Lingu Pingu.

This is the opening screen of Lingu Pingu. From here children choose which page they want to play at.

Lingu Pingu's kitchen vocabulary page.

Since we only have one iPad in the classroom I was interested in how children would take turns.  A kitchen timer was introduced in the iPad center to help regulate turn taking.  As children want a turn with the iPad their names are written on the blackboard.  At this point each child gets 10 minutes and when the timer rings the next child gets his turn.  This has worked beautifully.  The children are free to engage in other learning centers knowing they will get their turn.  All of the children have been successful at leaving the iPad when their turn is complete.

I spent several months thinking about how the iPad would be used in our classroom including how preschoolers could safely handle it.  My first inclination was to find a way to lock the iPad down at a table specifically for its use.  However doing that would take away part of the experience the iPad can provide due to its mobility.  I found a Big Grips case that is designed for preschoolers.  It has worked really well and enables the children to use the iPad anywhere in our classroom.  The iPad can be placed vertically or horizontally in its stand or used without the stand.  

The Big Grips case and stand.

Overall I’m pleased with our iPad experience so far.  It is only used during morning center time, so children are still engaged in other activities throughout the day.  Teachers have the freedom to use it at anytime with the group as it supports other learning experiences.

During my research over the past few months I came across this link and Youtube video.      Weblogg-ed » Kids and the iPad      I have several ideas I want to try with the kids and I’m sure over time we will think of more creative uses for our iPad.

A Morning at Preschool Post #2

As promised here is post number two of a typical morning at preschool.  The kids chose to work at the math and science centers.  Y. is sorting bears by size and color.

It’s interesting to watch the different learning styles.  V. has to try every activity. He spent much time thinking about and sorting the Cuisenaire rods by height and then moved on to the other math center activities.

Here V.  and Y. are matching the cardstock shapes with the shapes in the book.  As Gloria rotates through the centers she gave the children Chinese shape vocabulary.

Unifix Cubes have also been in the math center for the kids to explore.  The children are given a couple weeks to play with items put in the different centers. After they’ve had time to explore the materials related activities will be added that require the children to work on specific skills.  One of the skills children will develop with Unifix Cubes is color pattern recognition.

Z. is a great thinker and watches very intently everything that happens in the classroom.  Here he is working at the science table and looking at a bug under the microscope.

Z. and Y. continue to work with measuring tools.

The teachers haven’t introduced the measuring tapes to the children yet, but they’ve been sitting in the science center since the beginning of September.  I was really curious to see what the kids would do with them and was very pleased to see the results! Z.  has had a lot of practice using rulers and yardsticks and was able to apply that knowledge using the tape measure.

Y. and V.  followed Z.’s lead and began working with the tape measures.

After morning preschool the children have free play, lunch, block play, story time and nap or rest.   The nap is followed by free play or theme activities.  

All of these wonderful discoveries from the previous post and this one happened in same morning!  Our kids are very busy and just absorbing so much knowledge while they play.

Little Pandas Preschool

A Morning at Preschool Post #1

Our new school year is well underway and the kids as well as the teachers are having fun doing all the activities.   A typical day begins with free play while the kids wait for their friends to arrive. At 9:00 they participate in circle time which includes music and Chinese activities.  After circle time the children may choose to work at a variety of centers the teachers have prepared for them. Each center has three to six activities to choose from.

On this morning most of the children opted to work at the language arts center.   V. is working on a Zoo Phonics activity where he is filling in the “b” outline with playdough.

Next V. chose to practice writing “b” with Crayola window markers on a plexiglass sign holder.  The boat worksheet is inserted inside the sign holder.  This year the Zoo Phonics curriculum is being integrated with our science themes. We’ve been working on measurement and exploring balls, so the children have been learning all about the letters b and m with Bubba Bear and Missy Mouse.

These gel bags were featured in the toddler activities post a couple days ago.  The gel bags are fun for all ages and help children to develop the fine motor skills needed to learn handwriting.  

The teachers rotate through the centers and help the children as needed.  With the exception of the Zoo Phonics activities Gloria encourages the children to learn Chinese vocabulary while completing tasks.

Children love sensory activities.  A. is playing with the rubber bands that were set out as part of our movement and motion unit. The teachers started several rubber band balls for the children to add to.  As the balls grow bigger the children will play with them and compare them with the other balls they’ve explored.  As we move farther along in our movement study the children may also discover other attributes of the rubber bands.

Sand is the absolute ultimate sensory activity!  The children can’t get enough of it.  The sand table helps children to develop many skills including math, language, and social interactions.  Currently the sand table is equipped with many measuring utensils to compliment our measurement unit.  Through their play the children are learning about volume and comparing the different units of measurement.

In the past we’ve always used authentic Oregon beach sand in the sensory table, but I discovered colored sand over the summer.   I love color and can’t wait to try out the purple sand.  Although I’m sure if the kids choose the color we might have to buy pink!

The children are very busy at preschool and this is only part of what was accomplished on this particular morning.  The next post will include the rest of the morning’s activities.

Little Pandas Preschool

Autumn Moon Festival

The children are celebrating Autumn Moon Festival at preschool this week! Yesterday began with Gloria telling the Chinese story about Chang er, the Moon Lady, and the Jade Rabbit.  

After circle time the kids made lanterns to hang in the gym and the toddler classrooms.  

During free time the children chose from a variety of centers to work at including the language arts center.  The language arts center offers six activities to promote language development.  Today pictures depicting the Autumn Moon Festival were available for the children to color.  The pictures are inserted into plexiglass sign holders and then the children color them with washable Crayola window markers.  Children colored pictures of the Moon Lady, the Jade Rabbit, and moon cakes.

The children feasted on moon cakes at afternoon snack.  After snack they had a fabulous time dancing with kite spinners to music.  

Be sure to take your kids outside to look at the moon and see if they can find the Moon Lady and the Jade Rabbit!

Little Pandas Preschool

Our New Chinese Teacher

Yiwen, our temporary Chinese teacher, is going back to school, so Gloria has joined our staff permanently.  Gloria is absolutely fabulous!  I had the opportunity to work with her twice this week, and she is amazing.  She is wonderful with the kids and interacts playfully with them keeping them engaged in her lessons.  Our goal is to provide as close to an immersion environment as is possible for the children.  To make this goal attainable Gloria speaks primarily to the children in Chinese throughout their daily activities.  

After everyone arrives we begin our day with music circle time and sing both Chinese and English songs.  During circle time Gloria taught the children transportation vocabulary with flannelboard figures.  After circle time we showed the children all the centers in our classroom and the activities in each.  The children then chose the centers they wanted to work in.  Gloria rotated through the centers working with each individual child reinforcing the concept being worked on as well as introducing Chinese vocabulary.  Today the children chose to work at the math, science, language arts, sensory, and art centers.

This week the children are learning about measurement.  The children took out the yardsticks to measure the classroom carpet.   They also wanted to explore with the rulers that are set out at the science table.  After laying out the yardsticks and rulers Gloria counted them with the children.   Next Gloria extended the activity by having the children jump across the yardsticks and pretend to be rabbits, kangaroos, and frogs.  All of this was done in Chinese!

Little Pandas Preschool