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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Decorated Doll House

My kiddos absolute favorite toy to play with during the month of December is our doll house.  I put out a box of decorations (a little tree, wreaths, garland, plastic candy canes and so on) that I buy at Target after Christmas (or at the Dollar Store) and ticky tac and let them go wild.  Both the boys and girls LOVE decorating and redecorating the house.  I also give them little gingerbread ornaments and the gingerbread boy and girl finger puppets that I made. What fun it is to watch the creative adventures of the gingerbread family.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Personalized Christmas Balls

Each year the teachers at our preschool make an ornament or small present for each of the children. We have made a LOT of adorable snowmen.  The criteria for choosing the ornament is that it has to be non-religious, it can't be very expensive and we have to be able to produce 100 of them in a couple hours (there are 9 teachers working). The idea for this year's ornament came from our director Joanne (who is the source for many of the ideas I share on this blog).  It was really simple and the ornaments came out beautifully.  We simply put a picture of each child into a plastic ornament.  The photo above really doesn't do the project justice.

First we traced around a plastic template and cut out the picture.  It is important that you leave a tab on the top.

We then put the date on the back of the photo with a sticker.  You could also glue pretty scrapbook paper on the back.

Next we wrapped the photo around a pencil...

and then slid the rolled picture into the top of the ball.

Once the roll is inside, we used the pencil to flatten the picture back out.
Adorable!  We tried adding a little bit of "snow" or glitter but it stuck to the sides of the ball and photo and took away from the whole effect.

I'm planning to make more for friends and relatives with new babies.

Friday, November 16, 2012

We Are Thankful

This is an idea I saw on last year on the Let's Explore Blog.  I love how they turned out,  I began by reading Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes.

After we generated a list of things we were thankful for, I spoke with each child individually during free play . Each child told me what they were thankful for.  Some could rattle off eight or more things without taking a breath.  Others needed prompting to think of more than 2 or 3 things. If they needed prompting, I asked about their favorite toy, or food or activity. I then asked the child to tell me which item(s) they were most thankful for.  I then typed up all of the poems and printed them onto watercolor paper that I had cut down to 8 1/2" x 11".  

Next I traced a large leaf pattern onto contact paper. I cut the contact paper and placed it over the words.  We then used liquid water colors to paint around (and over) the leaf.  When the paintings dried I pulled off the contact paper. 

Last year, many parents told me how special this project was to them.  It really captured what was important to their child at this moment in time.  

Unfortunately, the project did not go nearly as smoothly this year.  I used Discount School Supplies' "contact type" paper and when I went to pull it off, it took the letters too.  I ended up having to leave the plastic over the poem.  They still look good... sort of like a window, but next year I will use real Contact paper.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Fun Update

The campaign buttons my assistant and I will wear tomorrow.
         Today I told my class that they were going to chose one of the toys that would be in our classroom for the next month.  My assistant campaigned for Lego.  She explained that a vote for Lego meant that they would also get some new Lego.  I campaigned for the Sand Table and asked the constituents what they would want to dig for in the sandbox.  Suggestions included dogs and cats and jewels.  I promised that if they picked the Sand Table it would have toy dogs and cats and jewels (not sure I'll be able to keep that campaign promise because I only found little dogs and jewels among our toy and craft collections:).

During free play, many of the children chose to make posters and buttons for their preferred toy. There were also chants of  "Lego, Lego, Lego" and "Sand Table, Sand Table." The kids  are really excited about the election!

A Lego supporter (as evidenced by her giant sticker).
A Sand Box supporter.
Busy Making Campaign Posters.
Vote Lego!

After voting, each child will get an "I Voted" sticker.
Our Voting Booth is all ready for election day.

Early polling seems to suggest that we are going to have Lego in our class next month :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Fun

I've been trying to think of an appropriate way to celebrate Tuesday.  We have talked about the election  and my kiddos know that there is an election for president, who the candidates are and who their parents are voting for.  I didn't ask for the last information but boy were they excited to share:)  I plan to read Duck for President but I also want my little ones to experience voting.

Actually, we regularly vote for what song we will sing.  I usually have the kids in favor of one song sit and those in favor of the other stand and then we count and compare the numbers.  The value of a secret ballot is really evident as the kids always change their vote (so they are voting like their friends or for the "winning" song :). Dr. Jean has cute ideas for voting on her blog but because of the setup of our day (we play outside, then come in and have our circle time and then snack and then free play and time for projects) we don't have time to do a secret ballot to pick our story, song or snack as she suggests.

Today I had the brilliant idea that we should vote on whether we have the lego table and legos in our room or the sand table.  Tomorrow I will explain that the children will pick which toy will be in our room for the next month.  Then  my assistant and I will each vigorously campaign for one day for our preferred toy.    We will discuss the benefits of each toy and they will be able to ask us questions.  I am going to encourage the kids to make campaign posters and buttons (stickers).


Tuesday, we will have our election.  I made up simple secret ballots with photos of each of the toys.  After each child has come up to the voting booth (a box), and had their name checked off, they will fill out their ballot (mark it with an x) and get a sticker that says "I VOTED!"  We will then count the votes  to see which toy the majority has picked.

 I hope my candidate (the sandbox) wins!