Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Sensory Bin

Last year's spring themed sensory tub had lots of silk flowers & leaves, pinecones, and a variety of insects and butterflies. My daughter (then 22 months) loved to hide the insects under the leaves and then acting surprised when she found them. I thought it would be fun to remake the same bin this year to see the difference in the results. She did the same things but her language skills have progress so much it's amazing! I just love to see how she's growing but it is a bit bittersweet....sniff, sniff

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's the Weather?

We just kicked off our weather unit at preschool. Mother Nature has been gifting us with weather in the 70s which is unheard of in Vermont for this time of year. So it will be quiet on my blog while I savor these days, but I hope to post some of our weather activities once our temps go back to normal.

One find that I think others might like is this free printable "My Weather Wheel". I was looking for an easy way to make a movable weather wheel for every child, and this is really cute!

I also enjoyed this post that has links to a variety of weather printables & creating a Weather Busy Box

And our favorite weather song at preschool---

What's The Weather?
(sung to the tune of "Clementine")

What's the weather?
What's the weather?
What's the weather like today?
Tell us (child's name),
What's the weather?
What's the weather like today?
Is it sunny? [hold arms above head in a circle]
Is it cloudy? [cover eyes with hands]

Is it rainy out today?[flutter fingers downward]
Is it snowy?[wrap arms around body and shiver]
Is it windy? ["blow children over" with a swoop of your arms]

What's the weather like today?

Good-bye skiing,
hello picnics, and fishing, and bubbles, and gardening, and long walks in the woods...
The sunshine calls...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Early Literacy Course

I am excited to begin a course through the Stern Center for Language and Learning. The three credit undergraduate course is called, Building Blocks for Literacy. I thought I would blog about some of what I am learning and share my assignments & projects as a way of inspiring other ECE and bloggers who are working with young children!

Week one's focus is reviewing early literacy research. Our assignment before our first class meeting is to read three research articles and a chapter from our main text. Geeez...I know it's been almost 10 years since I finished my Master's but I am not used to this volume of reading. Hopefully our weekly assignments won't require this much reading ...or I might have to give up reading all my favorite blogs.

I case you're feeling bored I've listed what we're reading. I'd love Cliff notes for the second on the list if you're interested!

I'll be back in a day or two with a riveting essay about developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Until then...I've got to get back to reading!


Literacy for Young Children: A Guide for Early Childhood Educators (pp. xiii-20)

Gunn, B.K., Simmons, D.C., & Kameenui, E.J. (Date). Emergent Literacy: Synthesis of the Research.

Lonigan, C J. & Shanahan, T (Date). Executive Summary Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. National Institute for Literacy.

National Association for the Education of Young Children Position Statement. (2009. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


This was a fun little flyer that I made up for my son's "Camp Out" themed party a few years ago! The "Make Your Own S'Mores" buffet was the highlight of the party for many of our guests. YUM!

What kind of s’more are you?

Traditionalist – graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, Hershey’s chocolate

Chocoholic – chocolate graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, Hershey’s chocolate

Peanutbutteratarian - graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, Reese Cup, with or without an extra smear of peanutbutter

Cinnamonist – cinnamon graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, Hershey’s chocolate

Spring Peeper– roast a Peep until carmalized, then either eat alone or sandwich it between a graham cracker

Flufferist – why roast a marshmallow when you can just scoop it from a jar?

Naturalist- graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, honey

Minimalist – plain graham cracker

Nonconformist- dispite all the listed recommendations, you proudly come up with your own combination

Monday, March 5, 2012

Exploring our sense of Sight

Exploring our sense of Sight:
Here's a recap of the activities that I did with my preschool class and my own personal children at home. Thanks for stopping by! 

Outdoor Activity - Each child received their very own Binoculars. I made these ahead of time by using hot glue to attach two toilet paper tubes together.

Winter Scavenger Hunt using pictures of things we can find outside in our courtyard we used our sense of SIGHT to find: squirrel, bird, snow, ice, icicle, tree, fence

Eye Themed Snack - a fun little snack one of the parents came up with-- dehydrated apple ring with an apricot and raisin!

Art - Self Portraits using a 3 sided mirror

Guided Activity - "Secret Message Hearts" - ahead of time I cut out heart shapes and with a white crayon wrote each child's name onto them. Then they used water colors to reveal the hidden message. I had extra heart cut-outs and crayons available for them to design their own too!

Puzzles / Games - several different I Spy books & games available; Kaleidoscopes; Sunglasses, 3D glasses,  glasses with no lenses for pretend play, View-Master

Science Center: “Sight Station”- illuminated magnifying glass and I-Spy pictures; microscope with simple slides, Paint chip book to view various shades of color, unbreakable mirror, hand-held magnifying glasses.

I was planning on having the children make their own "red vision tubes" but somehow have run out of toilet paper and paper towel tubes. How can that be?!?  I made just one to share by covering a paper towel tube with red cellophane over one end.
Water Table - rainbow colors using several plastic containers filled with water & liquid water colors. What do we SEE when the colors mix together?

Sensory Table- an "I Spy" sensory bin for the kids to play with each other. "I see something yellow and small." I also added the bingo cards from an "I Spy ABC Bingo Game" and foam alphabet letters from a puzzle. I thought kids might like to LOOK for matching pairs or to sort by color!

Writing Center - Valentine Card Making using Cookie Cutter Prints - pour a small amount of pink and red paints into pie tins. Offer a variety of heart cookie cutters. Show the kids how to dip the cookie cutter and press onto a paper. Remind them this is not finger painting, but encourage conversation "What do you SEE with your eyes after you press the cookie cutter down?" 

Closing Circle- pass around the red vision tube. What part of our body helps us to see? When we look through the tube why do we see red? Why do people wear glasses?

Read aloud: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?

Home Connection:  a fun at home activity that reinforces our "Sight" would be to print this Dora themed vision chart. It's like the test a doctor gives but instead of the letter E it's the Dora characters in varying sizes.

Books for the sense of sight:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin & Eric Carle
The Eye Book by Dr. Suess
Seeing by Sharon Gordon
I Spy Books
My Very First Book of Colors by Eric Carle (ties into our author study, matching color to an object uses the sense of SIGHT)
My Very First Book of Numbers by Eric Carle (ties into our author study, matching fruit to a number uses the sense of SIGHT & sort of TASTE)

Other on-line inspiration for teaching about the sense of sight:

Exploring Our Sense of Taste

We explored our sense of TASTE!

Outdoor - Begin our discussion about our sense of taste. What part of our body helps us taste? Explain that on our tongue we have taste buds. Talk about how different foods have different flavors - salty, sweet, sour, & bitter. Talk about how our tongue has different areas that taste these different flavors.

Since I teach in a nature based preschool, I always begin my lesson outdoors. Sometimes it is a stretch but asked the kids, "What are some things that we find outdoors that have flavors?" And even in the middle of winter in Vermont those kiddos had some good ideas!

Active Game: Play “Simon Says Flavor Game” If you like the flavor of -- jump up and down. If you don’t like the flavor cross your arms.
(No on gets out- it’s more just a survey of what kids think they like and dislike.)

Art - Pizza Pies - children paint a paper plate with red colored glue and then sprinkle on a variety of herbs and spices. This was the first time we made these and the garlic salt made the whole room smell like a pizza shop! YUM!

Math Activity: Apple Jacks Pattern Necklaces - Tape one end of a piece of yarn to the table and wrap the other end so it's easier to thread. Provide each child with a measured amount of cereal, which they can finish their necklace with or TASTE. I added a photocopy of a tongue about mid-way of their threading. The kids thought the tongues were really silly - next year I would like to draw on a picture to go with the flavor word!

Science Center: Tongue Mapping - I read about a family doing a tongue mapping activity and thought I would give it a go at preschool. Not all the kids got the idea that they were to touch a specific part of their tongue but they all enjoyed trying out a variety to flavors.  Each child got their own tray: salty= salt, sweet = sugar, sour = lemon, bitter = unsweetened cocoa. I planned on giving a fresh q-tip for each flavor but the kids just started dipping away! If I do this again, I would do it in small groups instead of all together!
This link has more info and printable to use with this activity -

Dramatic Play - kitchen set up with a large variety of foods!

Water Table - plastic foods to wash in water table along with a variety of spoons, cups, strainers, scoops, etc.

Sensory Table- beans, various cups, funnels, spoons, etc.

Writing Center - provide grocery store circulars and food magazines for kids to cut. Encourage them to glue pictures of foods that they like the taste of to a paper plate.

Closing Circle- “What is something you learned about TASTE today?” Pass around the Surprise Box with a fresh orange inside!

Books for the sense of taste:
(Need to find more flavor related books!)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Food Alphabet by David Drew

Other Taste Test Ideas for future lessons:

Taste bud Taste Test: salty - pretzels, sweet - honey, sour- lemon, bitter- unsweetened cocoa. Talk about which of the foods they like the best.

Tasting Party - have each child bring in a food to share. Serve small portions of each food. (The teacher could assign foods instead so a wider variety of foods would be sampled.) Suggest that families bring a food that is sweet, salty or sour such as fruits, vegetables, pickles, crackers, flavored cereal, etc. Children could sort them by taste or by texture (soft, chewy, crispy). Graph foods that the children liked the most.

"Bring two foods that look similar but taste very different (orange and lemon, sugar and salt, yogurt and sour cream, etc.) Put them in plates next to each other. Let your children use their 5 senses to try to determine which is which. Asked the children to describe how the substances smell, feel, look, sound (as you gently shake the plate) and finally taste." idea from

3 different clear liquids - sweet sugar water, salty salt water, and sour lemon juice!

Popcorn Varieties: Make three types of popcorn - one with brown sugar, one with salt, and one with lemon. The children taste each of the popcorn flavors and decide which their favorite is. Make a chart to show which is the favorite flavor.

If combining 5 Senses with an Eric Carle author study - read Pancake, Pancake and have a taste test of a variety of toppings.

On-line resources & ideas for teaching about TASTE:

The tongue mapping activity here -

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Maple Sugaring Printables

Last year was the Queen's first taste of Sugar on Snow! YUMMY!

I am preparing a fun unit on Maple Sugaring for my preschool classroom. I love the printables at the website below. Last year I displayed these at our booth at the St. Johnsbury World Maple Festival and I found that many adults were very interested in them!

I'll be back in couple of days to blog more about my ideas for teaching 3-5 year olds about maple sugaring but for now be sure to check out the printables at: