This week we are learning about pumpkins in class. We are tying this into learning about Halloween which happens at night, ok it’s a stretch, but worth it!
We are reading stories about the life cycle of a pumpkin. Many of the children pointed out that both apples and pumpkins grow from a flower. They also mentioned that both have a stem and blossom end. I was please to see them make these real world connections independently.
We did a read the work activity with Halloween words. The children travel around the room with a recording sheet and find pictures on the wall. The pictures have the word written on them, the recording sheet has the same word in boxes. The children have to match the words and then illustrate to show the word.
For math we did a roll and cover. To do this activity the children had a sheet with pumpkins on it. The pumpkins had the numbers 1-6. They rolled a die and used a cube to cover the number on the sheet. This works on number recognition as well as number sense. Teaching children to recognize dot configurations for number is beneficial for moving forward in math as well.
We also created two class books this week. One was I am Jack O’___________. The children had to choose an attribute and color their pumpkin based on this attribute. We had everything from Jack O’Scary to Jack O’Pink and Jack O’Excited. The second book is based on the song/book Mary Wore Her Red Dress. We created a book ________ wore his/her Halloween costume all night long. The children had to write their name and then draw an illustration of themselves in their Halloween costumes.
I love creating class books that I can then send home for the parents to see. This is a great way to show progress and learning.
On Friday, we are having our Trunk or Treat and Halloween party. The children are excited for this fun day.
Each day one child in my class brings in snack for all of the students. About a week and a half ago one of the children brought in bananas. We had two leftover. The bananas then sat on the counter. So I decided we needed to bake banana something.
I have little guy in my class who is allergic to eggs. He can not touch eggs in any form. I didn’t want to bake something that would be harmful to him so in my searching I found a recipe for no egg banana muffins. Ok well they were originally banana chocolate chip muffins, but I left out the chocolate.
We made these today in class. Most of the children who tried one enjoyed it. These tasted a lot like banana bread. It did seem like a lot of butter when they were cooking, but it might be because I mixed this all with spoons (well a group of 4 year olds did anyway). So the butter may not have been mixed in enough. I would try it again with the same measurements, but whip the butter with my mixer instead of a spoon.
Banana Muffins (no egg)
- 1/2 c. room temp butter
- 3 mashed bananas
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 c. flour
- Preheat oven to 350
- Cream together butter and sugar
- mix in bananas and vanilla
- add dry ingredients
- stir until just blended
- bake in lined or sprayed muffin cups for 20 min
- makes 12-15 muffins
As I stated in my post about October the other day, we are learning about the night sky in my preK class. This week we are discussing the topic of camping. I figured that since we had just set up the tent and it is the main focus of the room this week we’d roll with that topic.
Some of the learning opportunities we have with camping:
We are doing a read the room activity. Each child gets a clipboard, crayon box and pencil. Around the room I posted pictures of camping items with the word listed below the picture. These same words are listed on their recording sheet. The children need to match the word on the wall to the one on their sheet and then draw a picture to show what the word says. This is an activity we will do a lot this year. The words I used this time were: tent, campfire, lantern, sleeping bag, s’mores, grill. So far the children are doing a great job with this learning activity. (I will be tweaking this a bit and then posting it in my TPT store)
The second activity we are working on is using pattern blocks to re-create camping pictures. I printed out camping pictures and the children then take a box with pattern blocks and create their own replica of the camping item. Pictures include: tent, camper, lantern, marshmallow, star, moon, campfire, sleeping bag and cooler. Today one little girl spent quite a bit of time there and completed all 9 pictures (they only have to do 2). It is really cool to see how they interpret creating the illustrations with the blocks.
Today we used our imaginations and our 5 senses to go camping. We created a list of items you will see, hear, taste, touch and smell while camping. Other than a few children wanting to make pasta and one who continued to insist she would see a tiger, they did a great job.
Later this week we will complete a STEM project. This time the children will be given an index card, pipe cleaners, tooth picks, marshmallows, and tape. They will be allowed to use scissors and other scrap papers from the scrap bin. Each child will have the same supplies. They will work independently on this STEM project. I will spread the children around the room so that they can use their own creative juices. This one should be fun.
Today was the last school day in September! It was our 16th day of school. Some days it feels like it has been a lot longer and other times I feel like I just started.
My aide and I stayed after school to get the classroom set up for our new month. Each month I pick a new theme for the month and base all our learning on that topic. September’s theme was changes. October’s theme is “the night sky’. We will learn about camping, stars/planets, day/night and nocturnal animals. (and pumpkins and Halloween).
I changed our dramatic play area from housekeeping to a camping scene. It will be fun to see how creative the children get playing there. They will work this week to create a mural of the woods at night to be the background for the area. We have a tent that we set up. Then I created a fire pit using a platter, rocks, paper towel tubes and tissue paper. We sorted through the foods and found hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and other camping foods. We created marshmallows to roast and make into “s’mores”. There is also a toy grill and cooking gear.
We are going to have bubble water in the sensory table. They will make mazes in the blocks area and you will now find all sorts of pumpkin, space, night and Halloween books around the room.
We finished switching the bulletin board to “Welcome to Our Patch”. Each child marble painted with red, yellow and orange. We then transformed those pages into pumpkins. They were then given either yellow or black paper and told to create the face of the pumpkin. These turned out too cute.
Our classroom door decoration was changed as well, but it’s not quite finished. This time we traced and cut out the children’s arms/hands. The children then wrote their name on the arm and decorated the hand however they wished. I cut out a bunch of stars and the children got to decorate it with glue so we could glitter the stars. The hands are towards the bottom of the door, and the stars towards the top. It says “Reach for the stars”
Yesterday, I wrote about teaching and the fact that we were learning about apples. Notice you did not see anything about apple painting in my lessons. When I was in grad school, I began looking at some of the projects that teachers typically do in class with foods. I decided that I needed to rethink this way of thinking. I cut way back on the items like this I did in class.
My first job in Orlando, I taught in a very low income area. All the children were on free or reduced lunch. Many struggled to put food on the table, or had to choose between buying food or paying the bills. I looked at the fact that I was feeding my students breakfast, lunch, and one (sometimes two) snacks.
This got me thinking… how can I waste food when they struggle to have enough food to eat. How could I used beans as a math tool or an art project, when beans were the protein staple in their home?
So I will use food from time to time in science experiments, but I never use food for art, in the sensory table or for a manipulative in any way.
Food is food. Food is precious to so many children and their families, I can not show children that in school food is a toy, an art medium or other things that then get thrown away.
This is why you will never see my students apple paint.
Can you believe that this is the last Monday in September? And, the first Monday in fall? This week in school we are finishing up our unit on changes. We are looking at the changing seasons and learning about apples.
We created a chart with things that occur during the four seasons. Then, as one of their “must do” centers the children are illustrating their own chart of the seasons. I was impressed with the details they were able to tell me about the four seasons. Summer was the one they had the hardest time listing different things other than it is hot.
We will read other stories about the season of fall and talk more about the changes we can observe based on the seasonal changes.
Today we started a STEM project. Did you ever wonder what is the best way to prevent apples from browning? We cut up an apple into 8 slices. We left two as the control slices. Then, we dipped 2 slices in water, 2 in vinegar and 2 in Sprite. We left them to sit about 5 min and then put them onto a plate. We will observe the changes over the week.
On Tuesday, we will taste test apples to see which apple color we like best (red, yellow or green). We will also begin our graph on how we like to eat apples (whole apple, apple juice, apple pie, applesauce or apple slices)
On Wednesday, it is Johnny Appleseed day. We will learn about Johnny Appleseed and make applesauce. I think I’ll bring in my instapot to speed up the process a bit since I only have the children from 9:15-12:15, I usually do this in my crock pot.
On Thursday, I will tell the story about the star inside the apple. We will also learn about the parts of the apple and how it grows.
We are also working on writing out names, recognizing numerals, one-to-one correspondence to 5 and ordering numerals.
I can’t believe that we are moving onto our next month and our next theme on Monday. Life moves fast
This week we are learning about color mixing in school. We are doing a walking water color experiment and colored ice cubes mix. The children will color on coffee filters with markers and then wet the filters to let the colors bleed together. We are also doing rainbow writing with their names and sorting pom poms by color.
Water walk color experiment: You fill cups with water (I used 9 cups) set the cups in sets of three. Put color into the outside cups and leave the middle cup with just water. Then put paper towel “bridges” between the cups. The water will begin to wick up from the colored water cup into the plain water cup. Then the two colors will mix together. This took a LOT more food coloring than I expected. I ended up having to put food coloring right at the top of the “bridge” to get it to mix. But in the end, it worked and the children got to see yellow and blue make green, red and blue make purple, and red and yellow make orange.
Colored ice melt: Fill and ice cube tray with water. Add a few drops of food coloring to the sections to color the ice red, blue and yellow. Once frozen, you can put the ice into clear cups and then let the ice melt together. As it melts you should see the colors begin to mix. When we do this I will also add a cup that has red, yellow and blue so they can see it mix together into brown.
Coffee filter color mixing. This is a process based art activity. The children draw on coffee filters with markers. Then you have them use pippets to drop water onto the filter a few drops at a time. The marker colors will then begin to bleed and blend. Often times you will also see the colors separate. This is really cool when the black starts to separate into other colors.
Rainbow writing is a great way to help children master writing words. You write a word in one color, pencil or black works best. Then you have the children choose 3 or more crayons. The children have to write on top of the word you wrote with each of the three crayons, layering each on top of the last color. The more you write it the more colorful it becomes, and writing in layers of crayon helps build up the “feel” of the paper. (I often had my first graders use this method to practice spelling words)
Our poem this week is very simple and the children are already mastering it. I wrote it out on chart paper writing each line in the color word at the beginning. I then added quick illustrations to help them remember the last word. The children then had to illustrate their copy of the poem for their poetry journal.
Orange is a carrot.
Yellow is a pear.
Green is the grass.
Brown is a bear.
Purple is a plum.
Blue is the sky.
Black is a witch’s hat.
Red is cherry pie.
Each month I will pick a different over all theme for the month. Then each week we will look at a different aspect within that theme.
For the month of September, our first month of school, I choose the theme of changes. Oh and let me tell you we are having some major changes. Some of my students have never been in any type of school setting before. Others have, but it was not very structured and they were pretty much allowed to do what they wanted to do. That won’t work for me. While I know this is Pre-K and they need time to play, I’m pretty much known for developing a great structure and routine to my classroom day. We will get there!
For this first week, we are focusing on our names. I expected this to be a quick fun week knowing that I’d need to work on switching some children from writing their names all in capital letters over to writing their names with just one capital and the rest lowercase. I was shocked to see how many of my students did not even recognize their name in print, nevermind be able to write it. A few the struggle was the fact that they knew how to read their nickname, but I didn’t know that they were called by a nickname when I labeled everything in the classroom. Oh well, they will at least learn to read their given name.
Our poem this week is called Everybody Has a Name. We are working on learning this poem using echo reading. Having worked with K students so long and never having to actually teach this skill, I was surprised at how many children did not know how to just repeat what I said. It is getting better, but I still have some looking at me like I just read the line in a foreign language. Again… it’s week 1 and I know thing will get better as the year progresses.
Our 3 must do stations this were were covering their name with colored squares (these are being hung in the classroom), drawing a self portrait for our class-book, and illustrating the poem. Each week we will take a children’s book and rework it into a class book. This time around we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. We are rewriting it as Friend, Friend Who Do You See?.
Everybody Has a Name
By Jean Warren
Everybody has a name
Some are different
Some the same
Some are short
Some are long
All are right
None are wrong
My name is___________
It’s special to me
It’s exactly who
I want to be
Today was the day! It was the day when my K-Prep kiddos got the opportunity to see our classroom for the first time. It was also the opportunity for their parents to come in and see where they will be learning and playing.
I had to give the school’s Orientation power point, which meant I was speed talking. I’m also not used to having the children in the room when I have to give these types of presentations to the parents. This meant my voice had to get louder and louder to talk over the children who were working on a quick project in the back of the room.
Oh well… it is done. Onto tomorrow our first day of class. I should have 17 of my 19 students tomorrow, but 3 did not show up today and at least one parent told me they will be on vacation next week, of course I totally forgot who that was 3 minutes after they told me. Information overload!
As promised, here are a few pictures of my classroom.
This has been a great summer for us. Hershey, trains, mountain biking and lots more. But that time of year has come: back to school.
Today is the boys’ first day of school. They were up and ready to go. While there may have been a bit of nervous energy, they were excited to get back to it. Both boys enjoy school. They enjoy learning and exploring knowledge. Blake thrives off the routine of the school year. Colby was psyched to go see his friends and find new ones too.
It’s hard to believe that Blake is starting 6th grade. Sixth grade is such a huge transformation grade. This is the time where kids go from being kids to being a younger version of their adult self. Yes, I know they still aren’t even teens, but trust me this is the year that so much growing and maturing in personality and maturity happens.
Colby is starting 5th grade. While the change isn’t as dramatic from 4th to 5th there is still a change.
This will be Blake’s last year at the school he is in now. He will have 4 teachers instead of 2. This is the school’s way of getting them ready for middle school. Next year the boys will be in two different schools, they haven’t had that since Blake was in K and Colby in preK.
I can only hope that they learn, grown and mature. That they take on challenges. That they push themselves to expand their knowledge base and learn. I want them to make mistakes, failure is a good thing… it is the means to growth. I want them to hold their heads up high and know that they’ve got this…. no matter what this is!