Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Impenetrable Cereal Box Fort version 5.0

Cereal Box Fort Version 5.0

Cereal Box Fort Version 5. 0
I promised the children the world's largest cereal box fort and I think we delivered!  There are 330 cereal boxes glued together to create two rooms that includes a window.  This is the second year the library and writing center are inside the fort.  The difference?  There is a wall separating the two centers with a window between the two rooms.  We have two doors which is a first.  I was so excited about the completed fort I forgot to measure....let's just say from a preschooler's point of view that it is BIG!

Looking into the Library

Looking into the Writing center

Today our MWF classes looked at the cereal boxes to compare and contrast them.  How are the boxes the same?  They all had cereal, are made of cardboard, are rectangles, are empty, have numbers, colors and letters.  How are the boxes different?  They had different cereal, colors, some have people on the box, some have animals, some boxes are big/little, some have BoxTops (yes, they noticed which I thought was hilarious) and some have BoxTops cut out.  See if your child can tell you how the boxes are the same and different! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Five Little Monkeys Jumpin' on the Bed

A bed but no monkeys!

Our annual Pajama Party is this week and there is a lot going on in our classroom.  We have a new bulletin board for our MWF classes.  The 'headboard' of the bed is scrapbooking paper with a wood grain.  I folded the paper in half and a few cuts later had two bed posts and  then filled in the center with larger pieces.  The 'blanket' is an old sheet that I cut to loosely fit the bulletin board.  You also could use lightweight baby blankets or large material scraps. 

I was unable to find a suitable monkey stencil for the children to trace and cut so ended up creating my own.
We already have several monkeys jumping on the bed.  I imagine we will have more than five by the time the children are finished!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mini Marshmallow Math

Here's a winter boredom buster to try at home....mugs, mini-marshmallows and dice.  Younger children can count with one or two dice.  Older children can multiply diceCount out marshmallows and add to mug.  Make some mugs of hot cocoa and have fun counting with your child!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Building Supplies

We have cereal boxes everywhere!  We had cereal boxes stored in  the closets, on shelves and every nook and cranny we could find in our classroom.  The MWF classes helped move all the boxes to the 'construction site'.  On Thursday afternoon, I created the base of the fort.  On Friday, the MWF classes helped with two of the walls but we have a lot more work ahead of us this week.  The children also estimated the number of boxes (this is something you could do at home, too).  

We built our first fort in 2009 but I did not record the number of boxes we used.  In 2010,  we used 270 boxes

In 2011, we used 282

Last year, we used 215

My Impenetrable Cereal Box Fort Version 5.0?   I will let you know later this week.  Hint-we have already glued 188 boxes together, have more walls to build and lots of boxes left! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chocolate Scented Valentine Playdough

Chocolate Scented Valentine Playdough

This is a recipe for an adult to cook and children to play with...
It smells so so good!
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 c. salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar  
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 c. boiling water

Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix.  Add vegetable oil and boiling water and mixBe careful because the dough will be warm and hot in spots...knead until all ingredients are mixed.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Change the World

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

My parents were great people.  My mom was a 4-H leader, my dad a Boy Scout leader and they served their church and community in a variety of ways throughout their life.  Their commitment to community service was an excellent role model for my siblings and I.  

You can't change the world but you can change your corner of it.
We can change the world if each of us commits to working on our corner of it.  Some us have bigger corners than others.  National leaders, TV/movie celebrities and sports figures have pretty big corners.  Fame and money have nothing to do with your corner or my corner.

My corner is about time and commitment to local service organizations.  My corner is about early childhood education, children and the elderly.  Your corner is a personal choice.  Make your choice and begin working on your corner.

Change in our community can be as simple as donating food to the food pantry bins or the SnackPac Project that provides food for children in need over the weekend (bins are located in the front foyer).  We are currently collecting new pajamas for the children and elderly of our community.  Small acts of kindness can have a big impact on a person.

Last month, Ann Curry of NBC news, responded to the Sandy Hook tragedy by asking readers/viewers to commit acts of kindness...   Let us remember to continue on with our kindness.

Go out and be kind.  Go out and change the world!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Knightly News

The Chicago Opera Playhouse  will be performing the 'Knightly News' on Saturday, January 26th at 2 p.m.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Snowmen at Night

Our TTh class is having fun with snowmen this week.  We read the book 'Snowmen at Night' by Carolyn Buehner. 

We also made snowmen.  You can't tell from the photo but the key to these cute little snowmen is the paper.  It is textured wallpaper I found at a garage sale.  Super cute!
Student Work

Student Work

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Snowmen and Dinosaurs---Our Winter Bulletin Boards

Winter Garden-Before

 Our winter bulletin boards are providing a lot of creativity and scissor practice for our MWF classes!
Winter Garden-A work in progress!

Dinosaur Board-A work in progress!
The children trace, color and then cut.  We provide cardboard stencils in the art center. We also ask them to identify their dinosaur (T-rex, stegosaurus, etc.)  No stencils at home or in your classroom? You can create a basic snowman shape easy enough.  For dinosaurs, search 'dinosaur outlines' under images to get started. The stencils in our art center were traced and cut out many years ago.  They were created from recycled gift boxesYou can also use cereal boxes or any medium weight cardboard. 

When the student is finished, they make a tally mark and get to press the easy button.  We often see students standing and counting and comparing class tally marks.  When we are finished, we will count and compare the numbers
Need more ideas for your bulletin boards?  Search the "Bulletin Board" label on our blog!

Monday, January 14, 2013

What to Read This Winter?

Check these titles out at 
your local bookstore or library!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Is on the Shelves?

We have had a really busy start to the new year!  We have a lot of fun activities on the shelves for letter and number recognition and counting.  Ask your child if they have played any of these games.  We also have a lot of dinosaurs in our room!
Snowman Counting Game---

Melt!  is our winter ABC game---

Our little paleontologists are making dramatic discoveries in the dinosaur dig---

Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter Boredom Busters

Soapy Snowmen
Here are a  few ideas to help keep your little ones busy this winter...

Practice writing letters and numbers in a cookie sheet covered with pudding or dry hot chocolate mix.  It might be a good idea to cover your child, too.  Older children can practice spelling words.

Easy ice sculptures for your deck and yard :-)

These soapy snowmen are super cute!!!

Make a batch of cinnamon dough and cut into heart shapes.  String on ribbon and add red beads for an early Valentine craft.

Playdough ideas---

The egg experiment is easy and has a definite WOW factor---

Green Goo, Slime...whatever you call it, call it FUN!

Green Goo

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Land Down Under

Our MWF classes have had a very busy week learning about Australia.  We have received many postcards from Australia so the children were familiar with the location on the globe/map.  We learned Australia is an island, it is called 'The Land Down Under',  introduced the concept of the equator, learned about some Australian animals and much more.
We received this Aboriginal art when we started our world wide adventure.  It was the inspiration for this art project for our Australia unit.  I never know if a new project will be a success or failure.  This art project was time consuming but the pieces the children created are beautiful!

We looked at the original art (we had two pieces) and the children could see all the little dots that made the picture.  I worked with the children in small groups of four during center time.   Each child started with an 8 x 10 piece of tag board with an outline of a kangaroo.
Paint was placed in egg cartons (we love egg cartons. Easy clean up to the trash!)  The dots were made with pencil ends.  The first day I learned the pencils were too long for the kids to manipulate easily so I broke them all in half and filed the ends smooth.  Much better!
The first day each child painted the inside of the kangaroo and we let dry. This went pretty quickly.
Step 1
Step 1
The next class we painted dots from the tail to the edge of the paper, the foot to the edge of paper and the nose and back of the kangaroo to the edge of the paper.  The children really listened and did a great job.  Next, each child chose a different color to place dots around the edge. We let these dry.
Step 2

Step 2

Step 2

Step 2

Step 2

The final step was filling in all the empty spaces with more dots.  Each child chose a color they had not used and did one set of dots.  Then they chose a second color and filled in the empty spaces.  This was the most time consuming step.  I was amazed at the concentration some of the children put into these pieces.
Student Work
Student Work

Student Work

Student Work

Want to do more?  I did a quick search and did not find any kid friendly Aboriginal art websites but you and your child can look at some of the images found.  I searched Aboriginal art and was able to see some pretty amazing pieces.   Students will bring their art home on Monday.