Monday, January 31, 2011

My Impenetrable Cereal Box Fort version 3.0

Construction is complete!  It was great fun to watch the children arrive today and see the finished fort.  Talk about wide eyed!  We also had enough boxes to build an archway that extends out from the fort (see that Reeses cereal box?) to the block shelf.  I am going to have to build the arch higher next year.  I only built it tall enough for the kids and I to go under-so DUCK!

Do you want to build one at home?  You know you do. We save just cereal boxes (we will compare and contrast them on Wednesday or Friday) but you could use any clean box. Need directions? The key is lots and lots of hot glue.  How many boxes???  282

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Land Before Time

Young children are fascinated with dinosaurs.  I'm fascinated with dinosaurs!  We spent the last week learning about dinosaurs. Here is an overview-
*We introduced and used vocabulary words-fossil, extinct (or the kids say 'stink'), herbivores, carnivores and paleontologist.
*We also learned to identify T-Rex, stegosaurus, triceratops and brachiosaurus.  It is rewarding to see the children transfer this knowledge to the block center (where there are dinosaurs) and the dramatic play center. 
*On Wednesday, we went into the fellowship hall to 'measure' dinosaurs.  I have yarn measured out the height and length of the four dinosaurs.  It is really mind boggling to visually see the length of a brachiosaurus (envision the entire length of the fellowship hall). 
*The dinosaurs stencils in the art center have turned one of our bulletin boards into a Jurassic Park. 
*Magnets and word cards w/dinosaur names are on the blue cabinet.
*Our sand tub has 'dinosaur bones' in it for digging up fossils.
*On Friday, we graphed our favorite dinosaur.  Graphing allows us to introduce and use words like zero, equal, greater, least, more and less.
*We also had the children recall information and dictate a 'report' on Friday.  This will be sent home Monday.  The word 'dinosaur' will be in be bold and underlined.  Add to your child's storybook.

Listed below are some websites with great photos, videos and additional information on dinosaurs.  Please note that these are not children's websites (Smithsonian,  American Museum of Natural History and Discovery Channel).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If You Build It...

Construction on the cereal box fort has started!  This is our third fort and might be the biggest yet. The kids helped unload cereal boxes from all of our storage spots today.  We had cereal boxes stored everywhere.  We counted the boxes on the bottom row (42) and then the children looked at all the cereal boxes and guessed how many cereal boxes we have. Have your family look at the photo and have everyone give their best estimate.  I'll post the total we when we finish construction.  We should have the fort completed by Friday. HINT-Last year we used over 270 boxes!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Owl Babies

Last week our MWF classes learned about owls.  This gave us an opportunity to use the word 'nocturnal' again.  We learned about nocturnal animals in October and so the children are very familiar with the word.  We read the book 'Owl Babies'  by Martin Waddell.  This is a wonderful story about three baby owls-Sara, Percy and Bill. If you don't have it, I would suggest it for your home library or pick it up the next time you visit the library. As I read this story,  I let the children say Bill's line which is "I want my mommy!" It is also available on YouTube.  Super cute video

Our owl craft had the children snipping the oval to create feathers for their owl baby.  It was fun to hear the children discuss which owl baby they were creating.  Ask your child which owl baby they created. 

We also had the children dictate what they learned about owls.  This will have the word owl in bold and a picture clue. Add the story to your child's story book.  The children are getting really good at recalling details and information they have learned.  Reading these stories at home not only helps your child with their emergent reading skills but reinforces the information they have learned. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Greatness or Fame?

I choose greatness...

Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.  
Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Soapy Snowmen

We are going to be having some fun with snowmen in our classroom during the next few weeks.  We have some projects planned but you might want to try this one at home.  When I finally get my Christmas decorations put away, I put out my snowmen decor.  The two snowmen in the photo I made with my boys AGES ago and they are still in great condition.  I think they are super cute.

This is an idea from Family Fun magazine.  For the complete instructions  Make sure you check out the comments.  Many crafters commented that the dough was really runny and needed more soap.  I honestly don't remember (I'm thinking it's been ten plus years since we made these).  We used a round toothpick that we painted orange for the nose.  The cloves make super eyes.  We used an old glove for the hat and cut one off the fingers.  I think it's a little nicer look than an egg carton. Our scarves are made out of material scraps. 

Since it is too cold to make snowmen outside, why not try to make some inside!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Mitten

If your child has come home this week telling you they have crawled into a mitten at school, they are telling the truth.  Well,  sort of...winter is a great time to read Jan Brett's book-'The Mitten.'  It has been a fun time in our TTh class. Check out last year's blog entry for lots of information and a link to Jan Brett's website.  You can act out the mitten story at home with your child.   Cover a table with a large blanket.  Not enough children to play? Have your child gather stuffed animals, dolls or other toys to play the animals.  Acting out the story is great for your child's imagination and retells the story again and again. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Look at Frosty Go!

Preschoolers love snow!  I loved making snowmen with my boys when they were little.  Creating a 'Snowman Box' can help make your time in the snow more fun with your child.  I did this with my boys because it seemed like when it snowed we were constantly running in and out looking for eyes, nose, hats and scarves for our snowmen. Someone usually ended up frustrated, exhausted and near tears (oh, that may have been me!)

*Find a box or storage tub for your snowman supplies.

*Next time you are at a craft store or supercenter buy some fake carrots. If you are really feeling creative buy an assortment of fake fruits or vegetables.  Strawberry eyes, grapes for a mouth.  Open your imagination.

*Toss in mismatched gloves, hats and scarves that are not worn anymore.  Have an old tablecloth, blanket or sheet?  Tear or cut long wide strips for a scarf. 

*Before you take clothes to the thrift store, keep some shirts, sweaters, old shoes, neckties and jewelry (be on the look out for  Mardi Gras beads.  Big and colorful!  The perfect accessory for the put together snowgirl!)

*Put in some sticks for the arms.

*Store the box in a spot that is easy to grab when it snows!  Make sure everything is dry when you pack it away.

You and your child can really get creative with your snowman. I am sure you can come up with many things to put in your snowman box.  Look for things in the garage-sports equipments, backpacks to add to your snowman. It's a long winter here in central Illinois so make the most of it and have fun.

Want to do more?  Have your child dictate/write a story about their snowman.  Type up and add to their storybook.

Looking for more winter fun? You can also create an ice sculpture.  For more information

Don't forget the hot chocolate when you are finished!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Big Blubber Experiment

This week has flown by so quickly!  I cannot believe it is Friday.  Good times and much was learned in our MWF classes this week.  Our focus was polar animals. We read books and created a polar bear craft but the highlight was today's experiment.  We asked the question-how do polar animals keep warm?  The children learned the word 'blubber'.  Have your child tell you about how polar animals keep warm.  For a complete how to-  The children also dictated what they learned about polar bears.  The story sheet will be in your child's backpack on Monday.  The word polar bear will be underlined and bold for easy reading by your child.  Have a great weekend and stay warm!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


This week our TTh class had fun learning about penguins.  Here are few of the concepts we learned-penguins are birds, they have feathers but don't fly, penguins lay eggs,penguins swim, they eat fish and penguins live at the South Pole.

Each child also created a penguin.  They did a really good job listening to teacher directions.  The penguin has many pieces and the children have to be really attentive to get it right. This craft is also an opportunity for us to discuss ovals.  For more information on why we do crafts click

We sang 'I'm A Little Penguin'  
(tune-I'm A Little Teapot, of course)

I'm a little penguin black and white.
I swim all day and waddle all night.
I follow my friends wherever they go
Over the rocks and into the snow!

The children also dictated what they learned about penguins.  These dictation activities reinforce what the children learned.  The story will be sent home.  You can help your child by saving the stories.  Place them in a three ring binder to read again and again. 

A great start to the new year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Dinosaur Dig

Young children love dinosaurs. Our dramatic play center has a dinosaur dig.  The children love this center.  The photo shows the items we use to create a 'dig'.  When the children's imagination is added much happens in this center!  

We use old cell phones, cameras and a computer keyboard in most of our dramatic play.  There are also maps in this center (I cut them down so they are easier for the children to handle), binoculars, vests, hats and an old flashlight (no batteries). 

The dinosaur bones I bought at Halloween time.  We also include dinosaur books in the center.  We often have books in the dramatic play area that relate to the theme.  We don't worry about bent pages.  We want the children to incorporate the books into their play.

You can create a great dress up box at home, too. Having a dress up box stimulates your child's imagination, increases their vocabulary and are just plain  ol' fun!