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Snow in the Classroom? What to Do?!

Spring break is only 3 weeks away, so wasn't I surprised to wake up and see a world of white outside my window!  

My daughter quickly got busy creating this!
Snow usually melts quickly here on the West Coast, so when you finally get some, you have to act fast!

We decided to give students the opportunity to play in the snow right in our classroom, as well.  
The smart little guy in the photo decided to wear his mittens! 

Here are a couple of their creations.  
Our Mr. Potato Head pieces came in handy, but if you didn't have those, you could also make snow creatures using buttons, popsicle sticks, and other items from around the classroom.

Here we set out a bin of snow with some paint and brushes.

And on the next day, we changed things up a bit and created a Sno Cone Shop.  
We laid out bowls and spoons, paint and brushes (to create the "flavours" on top of the snow), and sparkles to act as "sprinkles".  It was definitely a hit!
(Note: The towel in the photo is not too cute for a Sno Cone Shop, but it was good for absorbing spills.  Sometimes practicality trumps beauty! :))

Once school ended, it was a great time to enjoy the snow again outdoors.  Sledding anyone?

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The Child Inside... We all have one!

Every once in a while, we need to find a little bit of THIS spirit left inside us.  

Working with kids all day definitely helps draw it out!  

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Pete the Cat is Having a Sleepover!

You may not be a cat lover.
But I think every teacher and kid loves one particular feline - PETE the Cat, a hip, happenin' kitty featured in stories by Eric Litwin.
Pete. with his groovy attitude toward life and all its little mishaps is definitely a fan favourite in our classroom.  

And then there's the music/songs to accompany Pete's adventures.
So catchy!
After reading a story, even I can't help but hum the lyrics for a few hours afterward - "My buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons... "

Surely I am not the only one guilty of this? :)

We decided to follow up our Pete the Cat Unit last month with sending our Pete stuffy home with the kids for overnight visits. 
We pop him into a bag with a letter to the parents (including an explanation of the activity), and a journal sheet for the child to fill out to document the visit.
The journal sheet and letter to parents are available as part of my Pete the Cat Unit.

Since the children in our class are not writing yet, we ask the parents to scribe the children's account of Pete's visit for the journal entry.  Then the children draw a related picture in the box.    

The kids love having Pete come home for a visit and they also enjoy having their Journal sheet shared with their classmates when they come back to school with him. 

We teachers love extending the fun of our Pete the Cat Unit and encouraging the children to develop their storytelling skills.

Plus, I must admit, their stories are darn cute!  Pete seems to be having some pretty fun visits!


We add all of the stories to a Pete Goes for a Visit class book (held together with binder rings) that we keep in our book centre. 

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Hatching Chicks in the Classroom!

How can I tell spring is on the horizon?

Well, partly because I haven't had to scrape my car windshield all week!  (It's so much nicer to just hop into my car and go!)

But also because it is time for us to hatch chicks again in our classroom!

Of all the things we do at preschool, I think this event is probably one of the most memorable for the kids.  

To see a little fluffy creature emerge from an egg is pretty awesome!

Here's where the magic begins - in our incubator!  

We are now on day 3 - just 18 days to go!

We have a cool chart posted beside the incubator so that the kids can get a sense of how the chicks are developing inside the eggs.   

We also have a set of plastic eggs that show the stages.

We set out the egg that corresponds with each day.  
Below you can see the full set in the box.
We post the number of days left till hatching on our little bulletin board beside the incubator.
Our special helper changes the countdown image every day.
And then, we wait...

(I'll post again once we get closer to the BIG DAY!)

6 Awesome Games for your Preschool Valentine's Day Party

Day one of Valentine's parties is now behind us here at preschool.  Just one more Valentine's Day class party left! Phew!

Just kidding though.  I actually love Valentine's Day!  
I still have vivid memories of handing out valentines in elementary school...

...hanging up my little "mailbox" on my desk or in the post office area  
...running around the classroom with my bag of valentines and other goodies to deliver  
...the look of my Valentine's bag, can, envelope, or paper plate "mailbox" when it was filled to the top with colourful cards
...having a class party with treats and games...  

What could be more fun?!

Why, perhaps a preschool Valentine's Day party.
Today there was lots of fun to be had for preschoolers, too!  
Here's what we did: 

At one station, the children tried their hand at Heart Bowling.   

Below is a close-up of one of the pins so that you can better see the felt "heart topper."

 Another popular game was "Balloon Tennis."

 Here is how the "raquet" looks from the back.  
The amount of tape added may seem like overkill, but you actually need that much to hold the paint stick firmly in place. 

And here is a photo of our lively Heart Catcher game. 
For this game, one player drags the heart around on the table while another holds the handle on the milk jug and tries to catch the heart underneath it.
(The bottom of the milk jug has been cut off with a pair of scissors.)

Then we had a card making station with some images from my Valentine's Day Messages pack.  

And a heart toss station.  
Some board game stations - This is my Valentine's Day Roll and Cover Game.

For the treats, we had a cookie decorating table.  

And as for the valentines...well, we kept things easy this year.
There have been some hectic set-ups in this department in the past!.
This year we got smart and kept it really easy.

We set up a Post office area near the entrance to the preschool. 
 As parents arrived, they delivered valentines into the bags with their son or daughter.  The valentines were addressed, to"My Friend" instead of with specific names.

Then the valentine bags were left untouched until the end of class when the children picked them up to take home and enjoy.    

Simple, fun, easy!  
Hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day celebration.

And I hope you all get (or create) a special something for yourself on Valentine's Day, too!

Show the Love! Valentine's Day Cards for Parents

This year our class is making a "wearable valentine" to give to parents.  I saw a version of this idea on Crayons and Whimsy and thought it would be a great one to try with our preschoolers.

Here is a sample of one of the nearly finished valentines.   It just needs the string attached so that it can be worn around the child's neck.

Here is a close-up of the poem.  

It will be so cute to have all of the children wearing their valentine (and also BEING the valentine) when the parents come to pick them up on Valentine's Day.  

Here is how we made them:

Place some marbles in a container of paint.  We chose to use white paint.  (This tray of paint needs refilling, but you get the idea! :))

Lay the paper heart (which should be big enough to cover the children's chest and tummy) in a box or plastic bin.  

The children hold the bin and tip it around to make the marbles roll across the heart creating painting lines.  

Provide a copy of the poem to glue onto the heart, as well as various other decorations (sparkles, hearts, stickers),  We also gave the kids a heart shaped sponge to create heart prints around the edges.  

Let the valentines dry and then tape a piece of string or ribbon to the back so that the valentine can be worn around the child's neck.  

A wearable valentine!  I think the parents will love it and it was lots of fun to make!

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How Can You Encourage Preschoolers to be Empathetic?

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I thought it was a good time to do a little lesson on

 I broached the topic by introducing the concept of the Wrinkled Heart.

We begin by talking about how the things we do or say can make people's hearts feel happy or sad.  

Then we brainstorm specific things that could make a heart feel sad or "wrinkled." 

For every idea the children give me, I make a fold in a large paper heart.  Once the heart is filled with folds, I open it up again and we take a look at it.  

We discuss how wrinkled it is now that its feelings have been hurt so many times.   

The students are then asked to say, "Sorry" to the heart like we do when we have hurt a friend's feelings.  

After saying "sorry," we take another look at the heart.  I ask the children if the heart looks any different now that we have said "sorry" to it.  Is it smooth and new looking again?  

No.  Everyone will agree that it is still wrinkled.  

I tell the children that although a wrinkled heart may forgive us, it will not be as new and smooth as before.  We must try our best not to wrinkle it in the first place, and instead do things that will make it happy.    

Here are some of the children's ideas for how to make someone's heart feel happy.
My co-teacher and I follow up this lesson by letting the children know that we will be writing down all of the instances of caring that we see in the classroom this month.  

Here are two of the hearts that we filled out today.  
(Both related to kindness at snack time :))

We displaying our collection of "good deed hearts" on our wall along with our wrinkled and happy hearts.

Here is a close-up of the wrinkled heart lesson that is posted on our wall for parents to read.
We hope to have our wall filled with "good deed" hearts by the end of the month!

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