Sunday, December 21, 2008

Some Early Language Building Activities

These activities are great for older Toddlers and young three year olds.

Five Green and Specckled Frogs

Sing the song and count the frogs. This is both a language and math activity.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Children can retell the story using matching cue cards. Great for sequencing, memorization, order, and practicing colors.

Sequencing Cards
What comes first, next, and last. Simple, fun sequencing cards.

Picture Matching
Using two packs of stickers and some leftover card stock matching games can be made in any theme. Horses are very popular in our classroom right now.

Farm Object Matching
2 sets of craft store animals -excellent for matching and vocabulary building

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quick and Easy Sensorial Activities

Textured fabric matching activity to be completed using a blindfold.
Smell matching activity using three pairs of identical salt and pepper shakers lined with construction paper and filled with cotton balls scented with essential oils.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Making a Countdown Tree

Here is a simple project to countdown the days to the new year (and/or the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas). Change the date by sliding the counting strip through the tree. I choose to leave my tree plain so as not to influence the children's creativity on how they decorate theirs.

Take a scrap of heavyweight paper (like construction paper or card stock) or a piece of scrap wall paper, fold in half and trace a half of tree onto the paper. Cut out the tree and fold in half in the other direction (top to bottom) and in the center make two small one inch cuts about a half inch apart.
Create a long strip of paper with 31 one inch squares and have the child write one number in each square counting from 1 to 31. I just cut three 1 x 11 inch inch strips from a scrap piece of card stock and taped them together.

Feed the strip through the slits cut in the tree and tape the strip into a circle. Set the correct date and start your countdown.
You can add a different decoration to the tree each day.

Build Your Own Child Size Work Tabe

When designing a space for children (classroom or home) it is important to offer a variety of work spaces and surfaces on which to work. I always incorporate
  • counters and tables to work on at a standing height
  • tables and chairs scaled to the child's size -- a chair size of 8" for toddlers, 10" for smaller preschoolers and 12" for taller preschoolers
  • mats for floor work -- fabric, bamboo, and vinyl in different sizes depending on the activity
  • low tables in a variety of heights and sizes

Here is a simple low table I made for our classroom. The table pictured is 24 inches square and 18 inches high. I have found that this is a great size for one or two preschoolers to work comfortably kneeling or sitting on the floor. It's actually quite simple to make. I made three in an afternoon!

For the table top I used a piece of scrap furniture grade plywood we had left in our barn. You could use any size scrap you may have available or purchase a piece of plywood at a home improvement center for under $10. You usually can find smaller pre-cut pieces of plywood at the end of the isle that has unfinished wood shelving and boards.

Tip: You can also purchase solid wood, pre-cut and shaped table tops in a variety of sizes (circle, oval, square, rectangle) at your home improvement center. The solid wood tops are a little more expensive $15-$30 but look beautiful when stained and finished.

I rounded the corners with a jig saw and sanded the top and edges with a finish sander. If you don't have a jig saw, you can just leave the corners square and sand them well.

The hardware for the legs and the legs themselves were purchased at a home improvement store. The leg hardware can be straight leg or angled leg and is under $2 per leg. The legs come in a variety of sizes, designs, and materials and cost between $2 and $10 each. All legs are fitted with a threaded end to fit into the leg hardware. I used an 18", colonial style, hardwood leg and angled leg hardware.

Just attach the hardware to the back of your table top and screw your leg into the hole.

I finished the table with a few light coats of polyurethane applied in a well ventilated area.
These tables are favorite work spaces for me as well as the children.

Quick and Easy Holiday Crafts

Last January I purchased a large bag of white, green and red pipe cleaners for pennies (found on the craft store discount rack). Casey, one of our teacher's at Namaste, discovered the bag when searching through our teacher's supply closet and came up with simple and fun holiday craft ideas.

Candy Cane Work
Simple directions: Twist a red and white pipe cleaner together and bend into a candy cane shape.
The children were so excited about this work they pretended they were working in a candy cane factory. They made so many candy canes they decided to open a candy cane store for parents and visitors to the school.
Pipe Cleaner Wreath
From a scrap of cardboard (we used cracker boxes) cut an O shaped piece of cardboard about 3 inched in diameter. We pre-cut these shapes for the children because cutting out the middle of the O's was a bit tricky.
Wrap green pipe cleaners around the cardboard O. Three or four should cover it.
Glue a red bow on the top.
Add a ribbon loop to hang the wreath as an ornament or glue a magnet on the back to stick it on something metal.