Penguins, Polar Bears, Snow and Ice

Snowman

Winter has arrived at KT!

Even though it’s chilly outside, (and the snow has been hit or miss), we enjoyed all things “winter” in our classroom!

We brought the fun indoors!
We brought the fun indoors!

We did have a bit of snow, and were able to bring it…wait for it…INSIDE to our touch table! The table was crowded with preschoolers waiting to “paint the snow.” The watercolors worked really well, and students were able to blend colors and create some nice art in the snow!

Needs a bit more red...
Maybe a bit more purple… 🙂

 

We also asked families to save plastic jugs for a special winter project. They came back from the December break, and were greeted with this:

Complete with ice fishing hole!
Complete with ice fishing hole!

There is just something about snug, little places to play (think forts made out of sheets, and playing under dining room tables). Our preschoolers had a great time pretending to ice fish, looking over a good book, or even packing a picnic to have in our igloo 🙂

And we should have purchased stock in glue gun glue sticks…whew! It was ALOT of glue!

 

We also had fun with our sparkly, minty play dough. Perfect for little hands to roll our snowflakes, or build a snowman, without getting too cold 😉

Snowman

 

Speaking of snowmen, we read Snowmen at Night, and made our own melted snowmen. Our snowmen got caught up in all sorts of mischief, causing them to melt!!

Why did your snowman melt?Cover art

 

We finished our Winter unit, learning about polar bears, penguins, and narwhals (because we  Image result for heart  Elf).

There were penguins to swim, float, and rescue from the ice.

Brrrrrrrr!
Brrrrrrrr!

 

We learned about how polar bears keep warm and use their padded feet to walk on the ice.

We also made N is for Narwhal, to add to our Animal Alphabet Wall!

N is for Narwhal
” Bye Buddy! Hope you find your dad.”

We are leaving the cold behind and blasting off in to space next!

 

Keep Playing!

 

~Suzanne

 

Holiday Fun was had by all!

gingerbread-jpg

Happy Holidays!

 

Hard to believe the holidays are over and we are prepping for the New Year! This time of year always goes by way too fast…so many wonderful activities and events leading up to a much-needed break. School the day before Christmas Eve = seriously energetic and excited kiddos!

 

Our preschoolers had a VERY merry few weeks, leading up to Christmas!

We read 2 versions of the Gingerbread Man and talked about how the stories were alike and different.

Image result for gingerbread man book              Image result for gingerbread man book

We rolled, patted, and shaped gingerbread-scented play dough, and did some baking in  dramatic play.

Baking in the kitchen and sorting gingerbread men.
Baking in the kitchen and sorting gingerbread men.
We made sure to not let them run away!!
We made sure to not let them run away!!

 

We were little elves in Santa’s workshop, building and testing toys, as well as wrapping presents for our friends. The biggest hit was the Battat Take-A-Part Airplane. The kiddos loved the “real” power drill, and took turns putting the plane together and then taking it apart.

Building a plane
Building a plane!
santas-elves
Building planes, cars, and other toys!

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate on some days, and we were stuck inside. We read Who’ll Pull Santa’s Sleigh Tonight, and found out what would happen if the reindeer got sick. We decided it would be a good idea to prepare in case Santa needed us to pull his sleigh, and practiced some Reindeer Skills: Balancing on the Roof, Galloping around Trees, Dropping presents down the Chimney, and Hopping from Rooftop to Rooftop.

rooftop-balance
Balancing on the rooftop can be tricky!

 

We made special gifts for our families, using a small canvas, Q-tips, and paint.

Creating our special trees

 

We shared our own holiday traditions with each other and had a fun time with special yarn balls filled with treats, brought in by one of our families.

There was yarn EVERYWHERE!

 

We ended our unit with a Holiday performance for our grown-ups, (acting out an elf poem), and sang Christmas Lights (by Lori Berkner), learning sign language for “Sing” and “Tree.”

elf-poem

 

Looking forward to a wonderful new year!

Keep playing 🙂

 

~Suzanne

 

 

 

 

 

We are the DINOSAURS!

dino-table

 

Our parent helpers probably should have received a warning (or at the least, a complementary pair of ear plugs), before coming in during our Dinosaur unit! We definitely tested the volume limits in our classroom these past 2 weeks. We roared! We stomped! But to be fair, we also stopped to eat… a la Laurie Berkner’s We are the Dinosaurs.

Our KT preschoolers LOVED the dino unit! Not sure which they enjoyed more. Being Dinosaurs or Paleontologists!

We donned large feet and horns to stomp around like Triceratops…

Tricera's on the loose!
Tricera’s on the loose!

As Paleontologists, we studied dino bones and built large dino skeletons (paper towel and toilet paper tubes).

We also dug up bones VERY carefully using brushes, and magnifying glasses, in our sand-filled touch table.

We compared CARNIVORES and HERBIVORES, and even had the chance to create our very own pet dino.

Some of our pets liked meat, while others only ate feta cheese. Some pet dinos like to play with us, and others liked to sleep next to us. We all agreed our mom’s would not be happy about a pet dino though 🙂

Feathers, and pom poms, and crayons!
Feathers, yarn, pom poms, and crayons!

 

Our preschoolers also learned more about fossils, having fun with coffee fossil dough at the table, and making our own salt dough fossils with dinos and shells. The recipe for the Coffee Fossil Dough can be found here. It’s a step-by-step Youtube video, so you cannot mess it up 😉

Made with coffee grounds and cooled coffee!
Made with coffee grounds, cooled coffee, and a few other kitchen ingredients!

Moving on to Thanksgiving, Turkeys, and Native Americans next! We will welcome the quiet…..ha! Just kidding. This is preschool!

 

 

~Keep playing!

 

Suzanne

KT Playdough

Our Classroom

How do you tell it’s time for our friends to start school at KT? It MAY be that the classroom is clean, and shiny, and ready for exploring….but I know it’s time when the flour, salt, oil, and food coloring all get pulled out of the cabinet the night before, to make a new batch of KT PLAYDOUGH 🙂

We love playdough at KT, and have it out all year long. (Not the same playdough- that would be gross!)  😉

Depending on our current theme, we usually have a playdough to go with it! Sandy playdough for our beach unit, pumpkin spice playdough for fall, glittery white “snow” playdough for winter. There are a ton of fun recipes out there, so we are always changing it up. Our KT friends love coming in to see what new playdough is out, and the parents enjoy it too. Playing with playdough is very relaxing!

Why do we think playdough is so fabulous? Simply, playdough is wonderful for working those small hand and finger muscles, inviting imaginative play, and providing a fun way to practice letters and numbers. You get a lot of preschool skills, “bang for your buck!”

Although we are always trying new recipes, we start the year with the basic KT playdough. Here it is:

Ingredients

2 C of flour

1 C of salt

1 tsp cream of tartar

2 T vegetable oil

1 tsp food coloring

2 C water

Directions: Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, thoroughly blending. Place water, food coloring, and oil in saucepan and whisk to blend. Pour mixed dry ingredients into saucepan with wet ingredients and stir with a spoon. Cook over medium heat. Stir ingredients constantly, until dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from pan and cool on the counter. When cool to the touch, knead for a few minutes. Once completely cooled, have fun playing! Store in a zip lock bag. Playdough will keep for a few weeks.

Add some simple household items: small rolling pins, cookie cutters, buttons, straws, and a good time will be had by all!

Keep Playing 🙂

~Suzanne

The Simple Days of Summer!

Image result for sunshine

 

Happy Summer Everyone!

After the rush of June and all the end-of-the-school-year craziness it brings, I love the beginning of summer, where we have a few lazy days. My girls and I enjoy playing at the local playground, rediscovering our backyard, and curling up with some good books.

With our hectic, (and probably over-scheduled) school year, I celebrate this time. I also know quite a few parents who dread this time of transition, especially those with kiddos of preschool age. As with any change, some kids don’t take too kindly to it! Those with boundless energy need an outlet, (or several!!) and parents are often exhausted after a long, summer day with their nap-defying preschooler.

While summer fun can be had (for you AND your preschooler!) at local camps, those parents wishing to DIY have lots of options:

Check out your local Library as they have MANY free programs over the summer suitable for your preschooler. They also have a Summer Reading Program, designed for preschoolers, so YOU reading to them, counts!

Summer is a great time to explore State Parks with walks, swimming, and usually a playground or two. Pack a picnic lunch to extend your stay!

Rainy weather? No problem! Rain is a perfect excuse to check out a local Children’s Museum, or other kid-friendly Museum, or you could try bowling with your preschooler! (Also a great activity on those 90+ degree days).

And don’t forget the magic of your own backyard! A sprinkler or some gardening, can fill up a day with great summer fun!

As for technology, I tend to limit it over the summer. Parents looking to “reign it in” have several options. We use Technology Tickets at my house, and they work great! Each ticket is worth 30 minutes of screen time. You can decide how many tickets they get per week. You can print your own here.

 

Here’s to a wonderful summer! And don’t forget- whether you are wishing for it or not, September is right around the corner!

 

Keep Playing!  🙂

~Suzanne

 

 

 

Under the Big Top and Painted Ladies

 

Just Clowning Around
Just Clowning Around

 

 

As we finish up our school year, we end with our Circus Theme (my favorite!)

This is a super-fun way to end the year, focusing on gross motor skills, and all-around silliness!

In addition, because of a slight mix-up, we received our painted lady caterpillars a tad late, and we hoped and hoped they would become butterflies in time! End-of -the- school -year miracles DO happen, and we are happy to report all 6 butterflies are zipping around the butterfly house. We are excited to release them on the last day of school.

First, our butterflies….

 

All 6 caterpillars formed chrysalises
All 6 caterpillars formed chrysalises

We were ever-so-gentle studying these ladies, and our preschoolers learned a new big word: metamorphosis!

Then we waited and waited, until….

 

painted lady

Watching our painted ladies

They loved watching the butterflies drink using their proboscis. Better than Netflix 😉

 

On to the Circus…

The Circus came to KT and fun was had by all! We tested our strength lifting “heavy” barbells, worked on hand-eye coordination with a clown can knock-down, tested our balance on the “tightrope,” enjoyed some face painting, and used up some of our “it’s almost summer” excess energy!

Power lifter!Tightrope!Knock-downFace painting

 

Our fine motor skills also got put to the test using Wikki Stix during free choice time. If you have never played with them, they are fun and perfect for little hands! Get more info, and some great play ideas, here.

Unfortunately, sometimes, even the teachers start having too much fun, and forget to snap a picture of some of the cool creations we made….except this one:

Dino

We also practiced following multi-step directions, using multiple mediums (whew! We are getting SO big!)  for our clown face craft, similar to these:

 

Finally, we found some new great books to read and discuss, all about the Circus. Below are a few of our favorites.

Little Monkey Says Good NightPeter Spier's Circus! (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

 

It’s hard to believe this is the last week of school!

 

Even with school out for the summer, we will be busy re-organizing and cleaning the classroom, and sprucing up our Outdoor Classroom.

Check back often for new ideas for Summer Fun and be on the lookout for KT Rocks at a playground near you.  😉

 

Keep Playing!

~Suzanne

 

 

 

The benefits of the Outdoor Classroom

Our preschoolers enjoyed our farm theme, and we have moved on to Pond and Butterflies.

Katrina Trask has wonderful outdoor space, as well as proximity to Congress Park,  both of which gave us ample opportunity to get outside and explore our recent themes.

Getting outside is so important for our preschoolers, and really… everyone!

Studies show that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.

Spending time outside assists with not only gross motor skill development, but also language, social, and cognitive skill development, as well.

Although time outside is built in to every school day, here’s how we added in some extra time over the past few weeks:

 

We made some Muddy Pigs outside one day, using brown paint and some small sponges. BONUS: Being outside meant there was no worry about the mess! 😉

Getting ready to toss some "mud!" Great hand-eye coordination practice!
Getting ready to toss some “mud!” Great hand-eye coordination practice, too!
In need of a bath!
A pig in need of a bath!

We also have fun hoeing, and driving tractors across the “field” in our sandbox area.

Working on the "Farm"
Working on the “Farm”

 

One day last week we took a field trip to Congress Park, with a scavenger hunt checklist, to view the ducks, pond, and insects up close. It was a beautiful morning!

IMG_5211
We found some ducks, and marked them off our list!

Watching the ducks

 

As the weather continues to warm up, we will be using our “Outdoor Classroom” more and more. 🙂

 

Keep Playing!

 

~Suzanne

Wild Weather and Earth Day

 

Earth Day!
 Happy Earth Day!

The joys of Spring! Flowers…Birds… Winter Coats and Hats!?  Yup! This weather has been a bit out-of-whack. Hopefully everyone is still enjoying Spring break!

We just completed our Spring unit at school- weather, seeds, and Earth Day! Whew!

First, the crazy weather…

We started by reading The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins, which our preschoolers thought was pretty funny. It’s also a great book for making predictions using the illustrations.

 

Then we made our own wild weather. Before mixing black and white paint, we predicted what color we would make. We made some very gray and stormy clouds.

Now for the fun part. We added a few drops of blue paint and our preschoolers practiced their oral motor skills by blowing the rain down with a straw. They loved it!

Stormy Day!
Stormy Day!

 

We read The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss and “planted” our own carrots! We talked about different fruits and vegetables and how some grow up and some grow down.

 

The dirt was their favorite part
The dirt was their favorite part! (They rolled brown paint over cabinet liner)

 

After reading I’m a Seed, we planted our own marigold seeds in class using a Pot Maker.  (We purchased this using our class credit from a For Small Hands order in the Fall. It’s great!) You can find it here.

Seedling Pot Maker

 

 

Finally, we celebrated Earth Day with a seriously-fun Recycled Band! Our preschoolers brought in recycling items from home. We then added a few things- rubber bands to make guitars or beans to make maracas, and loud, green, fun was had by all! 🙂

 

“Moo-ving” on to Farm and Baby Animals after break. Can’t wait!

 

Keep Playing!

 

~Suzanne

 

 

 

Pets and Vets and Bears, Oh My!

We wrapped up our unit on pets and other wild animals and it was a definite favorite. We had quite the menagerie at circle time every day!

For dramatic play, we had our own Veterinary Hospital and also a Pet Store.

Our office had a waiting room, x-ray machine, and LOTS of bandages for our animal friends!

A huge thank you to Saratoga Veterinary Hospital for loaning us some amazing X-rays and light box. We we able to view X-rays of broken bones, a pregnant dog, and even a dog who ate some small, metal, springs. We had LOTS to chat about!

Open for business
The KT Pet Store is open for business!

Our Pet Store was hoppin’ and we did not just sell your typical dogs, cats, bunnies. Oh no! We also sold slightly more exotic pets, like snakes (the soft, fuzzy kind) and crabs, and birds!

We found the staff to be quite young (only 3!) but very knowledgeable and they gave us great suggestions on how to take care of our new pet.

Like: “You should keep your snake in a cage when you drive in the car”  OR

“Give your cat lots of toys”

Since the pet store had such a selection, the customers could be very picky. Often they asked for a brown cat, or a white rabbit. Or sometimes, they would ask for 3 dogs. It’s a good thing the staff knew their colors and numbers! 🙂

 

Roll the die to see how many bones to give your dog!
Roll the die to see how many bones to give your dog!

Speaking of numbers, we added (ha! get it!) more math skills with our Dog Game.

 

Everyone loves the watering hole!

Our sensory table was a bit WILD! We had lions, giraffes, elephants and rhinos. Our preschoolers enjoyed finding matches and comparing sizes. They also had practice scooping the beans and “feeding” the wild animals. We also talked about the differences between pets and wild animals.

We made some really cute projects this unit- too many to share them all, but here were my 2 favorite:

Our own little Norman's to take home
Our own little Normans to take home

We read Not Norman by Kelly Bennett, about a boy who gets a fish for his birthday and wants a “more exciting” pet. Such a sweet book!

 

Ready to feed the birds...or the squirrels!
Ready to feed the birds…or the squirrels!

We also made bird seed cakes to feed our feathered friends on our playground.

The recipe is here.  Our preschoolers loved hanging them up outside on our tree and waiting for the feast to begin!

 

We are moving into our Spring unit next (ironic, given the snow!) and will be learning about flowers, spring weather, and celebrating Earth Day! A fun-but-dirty sensory bin, blowing art, and a recycle band will be coming your way soon….   🙂

Keep Playing!

 

Suzanne

 

 

“At this rate, my child will never learn how to (fill in the blank)”

 

 

Image result for pink running sneakers laces

 

Ah, yes. The great paradox of parenthood.We want our kiddos to stay little forever, but could they grow up already?!

 

My almost-6-year-old learned how to tie shoelaces this weekend. She actually figured it out while we were in the store, buying her a pair of new pink sneaks. I showed her a few times, and she sat there and practiced, and almost had it. When we arrived home, she immediately put them on, and practiced some more. She did it. ALL BY HERSELF! I was feeling super proud (though admittedly, did not really do anything) and she felt like a rock star.

Compare that to my older daughter, who I was convinced “should know” how to tie her shoes before entering Kindergarten. (Don’t ask me where I got this from- no idea!) Oh, the tears and the struggle. OVER SHOELACES!  And for what?! There are MANY fabulous Velcro-tab options out there! Le Sigh….

I turned this comparison over and over in my head. I had my AHA! moment.

How many times as parents do we “push” our kids, because we “think” they should be able to do something. Or worse, because another child can do it? Honestly, probably too often.  And this is not a post on developmental delays- that a whole different ballgame (and blog post!) This is just those life events, that as parents, we sometimes want to hurry up a bit.

 

Think:

Sleeping through the night?

Potty training?

Learning to read?

Maybe riding a bike?

And yes, even tying shoes!

 

And while my example is a tad extreme (maybe she’s been secretly practicing with her older sister’s shoes- who knows!), it shows how awesome achieving a milestone can be, as opposed to the latter – tears and frustration.

Looking back, I would definitely choose a scenario where my child felt successful and confident. Who wouldn’t?

One of the biggest challenges for parents of preschoolers can be potty training. The stakes are just so much higher.

“Oh, you cannot tie your shoes, let me help you.”

Versus:

“Oh, you peed all over your car seat, your toys, and your brother. Let’s go find a laundromat” (True story- but not mine)

Please don’t think you are alone in this struggle. Have you see the number of books about potty training out there? If there was one magic answer, there would not be a booming book industry devoted to it!

Bottom Line: Every child develops at his/her own pace. Just because your child turned 3, it does not mean they are ready. They might be. But they might not, and…wait for it… that’s okay!

Or perhaps you have a child who is already dry all day AND night at the age of 2?  Some kids potty train themselves-  just to keep us guessing!

 

So, hang in there! Whatever milestone you are struggling with, have faith and patience. Your child will shine, when they are ready. (Just never stray too far from the laundromat.)     🙂

 

Keep Playing!

~Suzanne