Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas time!

My favorite time of the year! Busy as usual in our classroom but enjoying the memories around this time of year. We have done SO much already to decorate our classroom to get ready for Christmas!

I start off the month teaching the children that Christmas day we celebrate the birth of baby JESUS! Some look a little confused, "Well what about Santa?" I even get from a few. :) After a few stories, lessons about Jesus, and learning the words to Happy Birthday Baby Jesus, it all seems to click with them.  After my little ones had a better understanding of why we celebrate Christmas we made baby Jesus sleeping in the manager (inspired by this post). During story time that day I read, Christmas in the Manger, great little book that teaches them about the birth of Jesus.

 The day before we made this craft I had the children paint a star cutout using yellow tempera paint and a sponge. The next day the children glued on Jesus' face, the blanket (I cut rectangles out of white felt), and raffia for the manger. For a little extra fun we put drops of glue and added gold glitter for the stars! Love this craft as it represents the true meaning of Christmas. I sent home a pipe cleaner with each child in case the parents wanted to hang the star on their Christmas tree!

My son also made a baby Jesus craft. His teacher taught him about the meaning of the candy cane and how it signifies the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. One of my absolute favorite crafts he has made.
My son also made this baby Jesus ornament last year, which is my favorite ornament on our Christmas tree.

 For a special Christmas gift for the families we make angels using their hands and feet! I paint their hands and once it dries I take off their little shoes and socks and pain their feet. I love watching the children's face when I start to paint their feet. Too cute!!  Once everything dries I add their smiling face, laminate the angels, and add a halo (silver pipe cleaner).

Here is an angel my daughter made this year with her class. They painted a coffee filter with silver glitter paint to create the wings, added a body painted in gold, drew on a face and glued on hair! 

We made reindeer for the hallway bulletin board this month. I found this idea from A Cupcake for the Teacher, what an amazing blog!! Definitely worth checking it out! 

I traced each child's left and right hand to make the reindeer's antlers. The children added two eyes, and a bright red nose, that we dipped in red glitter!    I used my Cricut machine to cut out the letters and covered the words MERRY & BRIGHT in fine green glitter. I doubled up the bulletin board border to make everything blend together. 

My classroom bulletin board was a took several days to complete but I am so happy with the finished product! 

For the Christmas tree I had the children sponge paint the tree green, then add glitter on the star and brown construction paper to the bottom. I will be putting these in their notebooks once I take everything down.

 This was a fun craft- I had the children tear green paper (love to incorporate fine motor development whenever possible) and glue it onto white paper. Once they were done I gave them a pompom and some red paint and let them add some red "berries" to their collage. 
 Last craft the for board was the glitter stars. The children got a plate with green paint and two different star cookie cutters (both had handles making it easier for them to pick up). Once they children stamped a few stars of each size on their paper they got to sprinkle green glitter on top of the paint. Such a simple craft but it looks amazing when its finished. 

This was my hallway bulletin board from last year.  The children each made a present and on the inside each was a picture of the child.
 My daughter made a present this year, similar to the one's on the bulletin board. I love how cute hers turned out! Inside of her present was her "Christmas wish list".

Christmas of course is not complete without Santa and his reindeer! My class made the reindeer for the bulletin board so turned Santa into a Christmas countdown. My daughter made a countdown too!

These are the reindeer my own two children have made in the past two years! I love that I can hang them next to each other for everyone to see. 
Of course, Santa needs his little helpers, the elves! My little ones made elf shoes, I found the original idea from Musing of Me. I love this craft because it helps them learn simple AB patterns. The children will be learning a lot more about sequencing next year so I like to introduce them to it now so they are familiar with it. I show them a template I made that has the red/green pattern on it so they understand the project before we begin. After I talk about how the pattern goes they start to glue the stripes onto the white paper. They children all did an excellent job with this craft. Of course, their favorite part was picking out the sparkly pom poms to glue onto the shoes.

My daughter also made an elf in her classroom! Her face is priceless, isn't it! I'm pretty sure her teacher got the idea from Pinterest. I'd personally be lost without my pins, obviously :)

 We also made handprint wreaths. I painted each child's hand several times until I formed a wreath on 12X12 card stock paper. Once the handprints dried I had the children glue on red circles in groups of three. I hot glued a ribbon and little Christmas saying on the bottom to finish them off. Parents LOVED these! 
 For my students who have sensory issues, which I have quite a few, I traced their hands on green construction paper instead of using paint. I glued the hand cut outs together to create the wreath them they finished the rest.
 I made this wreath last year. I used Mod Podge to try to make the craft last longer, but I didn't love how it made the paper wrinkle. The children also used their thumbs dipped in red paint to create the berries which I also wasn't crazy about. So this year I changed it up quite a bit.

Here are a few other fun crafts made this year by my little ones. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Indians and Pilgrims

Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without our thankful Pilgrims!  Each of the pilgrims are holding a picture of my little one's families. At their age simplifying the concept of what being thankful means meant it needed to be associated with something they already comprehend, so FAMILY was perfect. 

I asked the parents a week before this craft to bring in a 4x6 photo of their family to use. The children made either a boy or girl pilgrim all wearing black pilgrim hats. I have seen several of these pilgrim crafts on Pinterest, but these little pilgrims are the ones I got inspired by. 

After each child was finished making their pilgrim I had them glue their family picture underneath the sentence "I am thankful for my family" as we talked more about what it meant to be thankful.

Overall, I was so happy with how this craft came out. The children were really receptive with what being thankful means to them and the importance of family. 

To finish up our day I read, One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims. I love how at the end of this book it shows the pilgrims and Indians praying before they ate, just as we do in my classroom everyday, this was exciting for my little ones to see.

My son made this Indian puppet (using a popsicle stick)in class last week while learning about the first Thanksgiving. 

 ..and finally, these adorable Indian and Pilgrim puppets were made by my daughter last week. Too cute, i know!! 
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving placemats

Before our Thanksgiving break my little ones will be having their very own Thanksgiving feast right here in the classroom! We will be serving turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, corn bread! We have been very busy preparing for our party by making turkey headband hats and hand print turkey place mats!

 I've seen so many variations of the turkey headband in the past two years here at my preschool and of course online, that I just incorporated my favorite aspects of the turkey headbands into one pretty cute little turkey if you ask me ;) Since my children are so little I was able to use a 12x18 piece of brown construction paper cut lengthways.   

We also have been hard at work making place mats for the party. I have loved this turkey craft since I first saw it right after Thanksgiving last year on Pinterest, and couldn't wait to do something with it. I started out by painting each child's right hand red, yellow and green, then their left hand brown and orange. The hands formed a half of circle around the paper. As you can see it can be tricky to get the hands perfectly centered, so I discovered that if you start with the middle handprint and work outwards it makes it easier to center it.  Once the paint dried I cut around the outside of the paper to give it a border using decorative scissors.

While the hand prints were drying I had the children make little turkeys that we would then glue in the middle of the handprints.
 Here are the finished place mats. I LOVE how they turned out. Some handprints were done on white construction paper (one of my classes) and some were done on beige paper (my other class). I personally think the beige paper gives it more of a fall themed feel, which I like very much. I personalized each by adding their names, year and HAPPY THANKSGIVING on the bottom.

 This is a placemat my son made last year and I am sure my daughter will be making this year (same teacher for both of my kids), so I can wait to set the table for them this year with their adorable placemats! I LOVE how his teacher personalized it by adding his name in the front underneath the poem and pictures of all the things he was thankful for on the back.

Community helper of the month; Police Officer

Today we talked about how police officers are our friends and help keep us safe. We discussed all the different things that police officers do like keep us safe, help us if we get lost, look for clues to solve problems and even get to arrest bad guys! 

After our talk the children made police cars, which everyone had so much fun with! I found this patrol car on Pinterest. Great craft for my little ones.

I had the children come up to the table and paint half a plate, that I previously cut in the shape of a car, using royal blue paint and a loofah. I was going to let them use a paint brush but I wanted the plate to be dry enough to finish the craft and send home same day.  I used my Fiskars 1 1/2" circle punch and black card stock paper to cut out the wheels for the police car and my Cricut machine to cut out the stars (1 3/4"). I swear by that machine, it has literally saved me hours of work. Overall not a lot of prep work and the finish craft is SO CUTE!

During story time I read to the children, Keeping You Safe: A Book About Police Officers. Great book and love the illustrations.

(update: 11/24/2013, 3:43pm) My little ones had visits from police officers in their classrooms towards the end of last week and got to bring home such great "goodie bags" from the officers. We played dress up and worked together to solve problems and save the day! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Turkey tracks and more

We made turkey tracks this week! I took three bendy straws and used two small rubber bands to keep them in place. 

 The children dipped the straws in brown paint and pushed the straws onto construction paper. I noticed that the more paint that was on the straws the better the "turkey tracks" came out.
 Here come our turkeys! Gobble gobble :)

Since the color of the month is brown, we made corduroy bear out of BROWN paper bags. :) I had the children glue corduroy's green overalls on and try to find two of the same matching buttons to glue on. They also added little ears, arms, and eyes to finish him all. After I read Corduroy's Thanksgiving during snack time I let the children hold the puppets and interact with each other.

Focusing more on the shape of the month (square), I had the children stamp squares using a wooden block that I covered in yarn (found idea on Pinterest). I gave them an orange and yellow stamp pad and let them stamp away!

Last year I used paint instead of ink and I wasn't crazy about how it turned out. When the children dipped the block in the paint it seemed to be too much and caused the block to slide around the paper. It was hard to make out the finish result so we changed it up a bit this year. 

My son made this adorable turkey in his class last week. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw what he loved most about Thanksgiving. He is truly a replica of my husband, and I love it.

My little girl made a crow out of a toilet paper roll. This little guys hat was made by gluing a square piece of felt onto a cut egg carton to create that shape, so smart!!

She also made this clay pot turkey. She painted the pot brown and the following day glued the feathers and face on. I can't wait to find something to fill it with for Thanksgiving.