Category Archives: Preschool Concepts

Water Music!

owen bowls

What could be more fun than playing in water on a hot summer day? Making music AND playing in water! I came across a video at Child’s Play Music and just had to try this with our children. We’re only on day two, but the activity is so open ended that I’m sure it will be out for the rest of the summer!

ellie glasses 1

bella squirt bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We began by rounding up all the colored plastic items we use for our light unit and put those in water tubs with some utensils including chopsticks and wooden spoons to use as strikers. The colors in the bright morning sun were beautiful and attracted the kids to the table.

green cups

owen pouring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children began exploring sounds by pouring water from different heights to hear loud and soft sounds as well as fast and slow sounds. They also learned about high and low sounds. They experimented making sounds with containers both above and below water. Comparisons were also made with filled and empty containers. Differences between metal, plastic, and wood sounds were also discovered.

group playing cups

owen lids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metal objects including pan lids and several sizes of mixing bowls were added to the table this morning. The children loved the sounds from the mixing bowls!

izzy

owen blue spoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sure the children will make more discoveries about sound and water throughout the summer as we add other objects to the water center.

Little Pandas Preschool

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Learning Chinese Characters at Preschool

3 part cards izzy

The preschool class is learning to read and write Chinese characters.   We’re beginning with numbers and then will progress to other simple characters.  A variety of methods are being used to facilitate learning.

The Montessori 3 part card method is being use to introduce the characters. Children are shown a whole card with a picture and the Chinese character beneath the picture. The whole cards are placed on the table and then matched with the corresponding pictures and characters.

3 part cards elijah

 

 

 

 

 

The iPad is being used as a tactile method to facilitate writing. Our Chinese teacher shows children the correct order in which to write the characters. Children then practice writing and can do the activity as many times as they want since the sheet can be erased and reused. Children’s work can then be shared with parents through email.

ipad 4 marcus

ipad 4 chase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After completing the Montessori 3 part cards and the iPad exercises children are ready to write the characters on paper worksheets.

worksheet max

worksheet bella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Pandas Preschool

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

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

Magnetic Tiles at the Light Table

Bella’s Structure

Preschool has started, and I have so many ideas to share with the kids this year.  Our theme for the year is “All About Me and My World!”  This year’s big project will be an interactive iPad book created by the kids and teachers.  More will be posted about that in another post.  During September the kids are learning about themselves and their families.  Gao, Laoshi, our Chinese teacher has been using the wooden doll house and the panda family to give children vocabulary about their families and homes.  I wanted to take pictures of the doll house furniture for the iPad book, but found many of the pieces missing or broken.  So, I went to the store to get some new furniture.  Unfortunately the store only had plastic furniture.  However, the store had these magnetic tiles in clear colors that would be perfect for the light table.  I could’t resist them!

The tiles were introduced to the children Monday morning during center time.  They were a BIG hit, and the kids loved them!  It was amazing to watch the children explore and build with the tiles and to hear all the language being used to describe their constructions.  Children were building houses, towers, pizzas, and just putting pieces together like a puzzle.  One boy was creating birds and making them fly.  Not on the light table, but still he was using his imagination.

In addition to language skills the tiles have the potential to teach science and geometry concepts.  The kids were learning to build using trial and error and making hypothesis of what will and won’t work as they created.  There was also a lot of team work happening.  I may have to purchase some more tiles to create more elaborate structures.

Little Pandas Preschool

A Tiny Seed

The preschool class is beginning their spring science unit covering plants and bugs. On Monday the children watched The Tiny Seed, a Youtube movie based on Eric Carle’s book.

They were also very excited to watch some bean sprouts grow. These can also be seen on Youtube at Growing Beans HD Timelapse – YouTube

The science table was set up for the children to explore some very tiny seeds after watching the videos.

The children explored the seeds through touch and taste.

The children looked at the seeds under the microscope and noticed they could see more details when the seeds appeared to be larger.

A magnifying glass was also used to look at the seeds.

After exploring the seeds the children remembered that the seed in the book grew to be very large. They wanted to know what the poppy seeds would grow to be, so some research was done on the computer. It was also decided that we should plant some poppy seeds.

After the group activity was completed children chose to work in centers. The iPad center included the “Seed Cycle” activity to reinforce the concepts learned earlier.

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.

Zoo Phonics Bendaroos

The Bendaroos were added to our language arts center this week.  Zoo Phonics cards were printed and laminated.

Bendaroos are pieces of string or wire that are covered with a thick coat of colored wax.  This was the first time the children used them, so some kids were more interested in exploring the new media.

Other children chose one of the Zoo Phonics cards to work with.  They laid out the Bendaroos onto the cards to form the letter.  Currently the children are learning letters m, b, t, d, h, and p.

I found the Bendaroos at our local learning supply store.

Little Pandas Preschool

Unit Blocks

This school year we’re updating the blocks and related toys in our block center.  We’ve already added some more Brio trains and a Quadrilla marble run.  Last week a new set of unit blocks arrived.

It must have felt like Christmas to the kids.  They were very excited to open the boxes.

The kids spent the rest of the day building.

The older boys were very focused on their work and built some interesting and complex structures.

Even the youngest ones built some very significant structures.

The block center provides the children with many opportunities for group interaction and cooperative play.

Little Pandas Preschool