Friday, October 31, 2014

Spider Webs

This was a little project that I made up in my head in which the end product turned out great, but the process was more difficult than anticipated.

So........I'm always trying to think of projects for the littles to do that incorporate cutting skills.  I had some black paper plates on hand and came up with the idea of having them snip the rim of the plate, then wind yarn across it to form a "web".  I planned this project for a day that I had a sub, so I was not personally involved in doing the project with the littles.  Mrs. DeNier and Miss Moritz informed me that they were quite surprised at how much difficulty the littles had in figuring out how to wrap the yarn.  To structure it, we had cut a long piece of yarn and taped one end on the back.  Apparently, even with a lot of prompting and guidance, this proved to be very difficult.  However, it was reported that the littles were still happy and enjoyed doing the project.  And since the webs look awesome in our hallway, I'm calling it a success!!  They also loved picking out spider rings to hang on their webs.  (Except for one little who supposedly screamed bloody murder when she saw the spider.  There is no spider on her web for that very reason.  ha!)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Circle Paintings

To add a little pizzazz to our hallway bulletin board and work on learning our shapes, we did some circle paintings last week.  I meant to take a photo of how we set this project up at the art table, but forgot!  It's super-easy though.  We simply set out various colors of neon tempera paint with a toilet paper tube in each color.  We then had the littles stamp circles using the colors of their choice onto half sheets of black construction paper.  The end products turned out pretty awesome!! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Trail Game

I just wanted to share one more game that is on our math shelf this month.   This is the first trail game we've had out in the classroom.  While it's a very simple game, it requires a much higher level of complexity than our grid games such as the apple game. 

To play, each child selects a game pawn and places it on the START circle.  They take turns rolling the die (I made this using a foam cube and drawing dots with a Sharpie.  It only has 1, 2, & 3 dots, each draw on two faces of the die.) and moving their pawn that many places.  This is difficult for some because they tend to say "one" before they move, move too many places or skip several places.  Even though we modeled playing this at circle time, I have tried to station an adult next to the children when they play for the first time so they can be supported as they learn how to move their marker. 

A special element of "fun" that I added is that when they land on a ghost sticker, they get to take a ghost eraser from the little tub and keep it until the end of the game.  Of course this has resulted in children trying to "cheat" to land on the ghost, but it's still a fun element of surprise and keeps the game going.    The "winner" is the one who lands on FINISH first on an exact roll of the die.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin Graphing Game

This little game has been a HUGE hit in the classroom lately.  I found the printables for this game at 1+1+1=1.   They were part of a pumpkin printables pack which has lots of great materials.  I believe the original idea for this material was to print off the graphing sheet and have the child roll the die and graph each roll using a crayon or marker.  I decided to laminate a copy of the page and make it into a game for two children to play.

To introduce this game to the children, Mrs. DeNier and I modeled playing an entire game at circle time.  We took turns rolling the die, looking at the picture on top, finding the picture on the bottom of the graph, and placing a bat eraser in the correct box on the grid.  We continued until one of the pictures "won" or got 5 bats.  It was amazing how enthralled the littles were as we played this game.  They could not WAIT to see which picture made it to the top first! 

They have had great fun playing this game many, many times.  It has been interesting to see which children easily grasp the idea of graphing, knowing exactly where to place the eraser each time, and which children need more support to understand this concept.  There are so many spatial concepts and numeracy skills at play in mastering this very simple game.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Math Game

The littles have been having fun playing a little Halloween math game I created.  It is just like our apple game, but with jack-o-lantern and candy corn stickers and erasers.  The addition of two types of stickers and erasers adds another level of complexity to this simple game as they have to count AND match.

To play, two children each get a gameboard.  They take turns rolling the die.  They choose the correct amount of erasers to match the number they rolled and then place these on the gameboard.  The player who covers all their stickers first is the winner.  This is an excellent way for them to practice turn-taking, one-to-one correspondence, and counting skills.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Jack-o-Lantern Cutting Practice

I found some great pumpkin printables at 1+1+1=1.  I put out some jack-o-lantern cutting practice pages on the art shelf.  The littles have enjoyed cutting out their jack-o-lantern "puzzle" on the gray line and gluing it back together on a piece of construction paper.  This is great scissors practice and also gives them a lot of practice using their school tools such as a glue stick.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Art Project

I came up with this project to allow my littles to work on their scissors skills.  That is something that many of them need to work on.  They are more motivated to do this when there is a project involved.  So, I cut strips of green construction paper and had them snip into one long side to make grass.  Next, they used corks dipped into orange paint to make their pumpkins.  We let these dry overnight.  The next day, they used paintbrushes and green paint to add vines and stems to their pumpkins.  I was thrilled that so many of them wanted to try this project.  It's fun to see the individual variations of a "canned" art project.  So many skills can be incorporated into art!  I love it!!  Enjoy our gallery of pumpkin patches.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Treasures in the Sand Table

The littles have been enjoying several "treasures" in the sand table recently.  First off, we added some pinecones that we found several weeks ago on a nature walk.  Then, I added some colored plastic leaves and apples that I bought at Michael's craft store.  They are small and easily buried.  They LOVE to hide these and dig them up again.  Finally, this week I added some mini-pumpkins and gourds.  Pretty much total awesome-sauce to the littles!  They are playing at the sand table like CRAZY every day!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Little Snail Craft Project

On Thursday we made these adorable little snail crafts.   These were inspired by a couple of pins that I found on Pinterest, but when I tried to link to them I just got a photo not a blog post.  I did tweak the original ideas a bit to combine a few that I liked and also to work with the materials I had on hand.  For the bodies, we used little wood pieces that I THINK came from some canvases I bought a long time ago for an art project at home.  Anyway, they seemed about the right size.  We also used pipe cleaners, pony beads and googly eyes.  You can see our materials below.

First, the littles chose a wooden piece and colored it with a marker.  Then they took a pipe cleaner that had been cut in half and threaded pony beads onto it.  Using their hands together to do this required great concentration on the part of the littles.  Threading and bead-stringing is a fantastic way to improve fine motor skills. 

The pipe cleaner was then twisted into a snail shell shape.  The shell and eye stalks had to be attached using hot glue which, of course, was done by an adult.  Small pieces of pipe cleaner were used as eye stalks and a googly eye was attached to the end of them.  Uber-cute!!  We are super crazy about snails!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Handprint Apple Trees

We made handprint apple trees during our week of talking about food that comes from trees.  We had wondered if any of the littles would be really opposed to having their hands painted, but only one did not want to do this project. 

We painted their hands with green tempera paint and used 3-4 handprints for the "crown" of the tree.  Then we let them each paint a trunk with brown tempera paint.  After these dried overnight, we used corks and red tempera paint to add apples to the trees.  These turned out really cute!!  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Leaf Stringing

Today's post is about a simple little fine motor activity that I put together for the littles to go with our tree unit.  I have used this activity previously (a different one, but similar) in my Montessori classroom several years ago.

To make this activity, you will need a package of silk leaves (these can be found almost anywhere this time of year, even the dollar store), a ribbon with buttons attached to each end, and a container for storing the materials.  I found an adorable felt bucket with felt leaves on it at the Target Dollar Spot.

Sewing a button on each end of the ribbon prevents the leaves from slipping off and also helps provide something more sturdy to poke the ribbon through.  You will need to cut a small slit into each leaf.  The second photo shows this.

To do this activity, the littles simply string all the leaves on the ribbon.  It is a great activity for using their fine motor skills such as pincer grasp and working with both hands together.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More than just a box

So, I have to confess something:  I have a thing for cardboard boxes.  I have my youngest son to thank for this little affinity.   From a very young age, he has wanted to keep nearly every box that enters our home.  He always has great plans for the boxes and uses his imagination and creativity to make wonderful projects with them.  We have gone through many cardboard "treasures" over the years.  For more amazing cardboard inspiration, be sure to check out Caine's Arcade.  I discovered this over the summer and it is worth seeing.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Given this cardboard passion of mine, it should come as no surprise that I happily acquired a large cardboard box from our school custodian last week.  The conversation went something like this:

Ken:  (walking down the stairs as I was walking up)  Do you want this box?
Miss Moritz:  (hearing Ken) No.
Mrs. Lambert (that's me!):  YES!!!!!!  I totally want that box.  Give it to me right now.
Ken:  What are you going to do with it?
Me:  I don't know yet.  Something awesome.

Since we have been studying trees, I immediately decided that we needed to make a tree-house/tree fort with the box.  So, the next day I plopped that bad boy in the middle of our art table and let the littles go to town painting it with brown paint.  It was interesting how my morning and afternoon class approached this task quite differently.  My morning littles were excited about painting the box, but lost interest in it quickly.  My afternoon littles, on the other hand, were quite determined to cover the remaining "tan" areas of the box with the brown paint and worked the entire centers time on painting it.  I was happy to overhear one little say to another little, while painting, "We're having a great day, aren't we, Charlie?"  This innocent little comment reminded me of how much we all (bigs and littles alike) love to be swept up in a project.  It makes us feel important and vital.  It fuels our energy and our souls.

Miss Moritz (our resident artiste) generously decided to take the box home for the weekend after the littles painted the sides and top.  She put the finishing touches on the box and turned it into an amazing playspace that I'm sure the littles will enjoy very much over the next couple of weeks.

So, the next several photos illustrate the evolution of the box.  The littles had fun slapping brown paint all over it.  And the afternoon littles voted to determine what color the doors of the fort would be painted (purple!).  I used a box cutter to cut a little flap into the side where they can peek out.  This has upped the fun factor quite tremendously.  This little fort has been rocking from all the play action it has had!!