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

Advertisements

Caterpillars & Butterflies

The preschool class has been studying the butterfly life cycle.  This photo is one of the ten butterflies that we watched grow from a caterpillar and emerge as a butterfly.

Larvae were ordered from Carolina Biological Supply.

The children were fascinated with the caterpillars and checked them daily for growth.  They also read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Insect specimens inside acrylic blocks showing the butterfly life cycle were set out at the science table for children to explore.

Gao, Laoshi has been teaching the children Chinese vocabulary related to butterflies.

After the butterflies emerged they were released from the habitat.

While I was on vacation I visited the Smithsonian’s Butterfly exhibit.  These are a few of the pictures I took to share with the children.

Little Pandas Preschool

Styrofoam Root Observation Box

The preschoolers have been learning about seeds and plants.  Last week they sprouted some bean seeds with wet paper towels inserted into sandwich bags.  This week they planted carrot and radish seeds in a styrofoam cooler made into an observation box.

I cut window openings on both sides of the cooler and then used duct tape to secure the 10″ x 6″ plexi glass windows to the inside of the cooler.  Our local hardware store was able to cut the plexi glass from scrap they had on hand.

A meat thermometer was used to poke holes in the bottom of the cooler.

The children lined the bottom of the cooler with pea gravel and then filled it with potting soil.

Carrot seeds were planted on one side of the cooler and radishes on the other side.

The seeds were covered with a layer of top soil and then watered.

The children will observe their carrot and radish garden each day and then get to eat the produce that results.

Little Pandas Preschool

Sorting Seeds

This week the preschoolers have been studying seeds in more depth.

Transparencies with pictures of corn, pea, watermelon and pumpkin seeds were set out on the light table.   Boxes containing the same seeds were available for the children to match with the pictures.  Pictures of each plant were taped to the top of the boxes.

The microscope was used to further examine and compare the seeds.

Preschoolers are heavily dependent on their senses for learning, so the seed activity was extended through fingerprinting.  Sesame seeds were added to the paint.

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

Look at all those Bones!

The preschoolers are still studying the human body and are currently learning all about their bones.

The children were very interested in the x-rays at the light table and could name many of the bones.

The next day the x-rays were set out on the floor where the children worked together to assemble the skeleton.

The kids did a great job putting the puzzle together and were very proud of their work!

Little Pandas Preschool

Mosaic Art at Preschool

The preschool class has been working on a mosaic art unit during the last month.  At the beginning of the unit children watched a slide show of mosaic art examples and discussed the different pictures and medium used to create the artwork.  Several activities were planned to enable the children to eventually create a nice mosaic picture.

The first project was open ended and permitted the children the freedom to create a mosaic without any constraints.  The children could play with the triangles, choose any colors they wanted and glue them onto the black construction paper in any design they preferred.

An ongoing mosaic activity has been set up at the light table for the duration of the unit.  Several overhead projection transparency sheets were printed with pictures for the children to fill in with different colors of overhead projector circles.  The circles are stored in clear plastic paint buckets.  Children could also view transparencies of real mosaic art pieces.

The children were given sheets printed with simple geometric shapes and directed to glue a different color paper in each section.  The kids were very successful with this.

This week each child chose a picture that will be used in their final project.  They are practicing glueing different colors of paper in each section.  Next week they will begin making their mosaic picture with buttons on canvass.

Little Pandas Preschool

Pumping Balloon Heart Experiment

The preschool class continues to learn about the human body and recently did a heart experiment.  The children poured red water into a balloon, inserted a straw into the opening and then taped it closed.

After filling the balloon with water the children could “pump” the balloon to see how blood flows through veins.

After completing the experiment the children and teachers talked about how important it is to have a healthy heart.

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.

Preschoolers Learn about the Human Body

Our preschool class is moving on to a new science topic and will be learning all about the human body. 

Teachers traced each child’s body.

The children cut out their bodies and then attached them to the mirror in the gym.

This week the children are learning about the circulatory system.  After watching a video of a model heart pumping on the classroom’s ipad they they colored a heart diagram.

The hearts were cut out and glued to the children’s paper bodies.   More heart experiments are planned for this week.  

Over the next two to three months the children will have many opportunities to learn about individual organs as well as the skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems.  The preschoolers will explore the 5 senses, and then we’ll end the unit learning how to stay healthy.  Some of the staying healthy topics include germs, nutrition, and exercise.

Little Pandas Preschool