Last January I made this activity to use at home with my little boy. I meant to put it out in the classroom last year but didn't remember to bring it to school with me. So..........I set it up for my classroom this year. Perhaps I am being lazy, but I am going to link to the post I already wrote about this on my personal blog, A Day of Wonders. If you click through to that link you will see all the components of this work and where to print off the various cards. The snowman letter cards are from Kidssoup which is a subscription only site. However, I think you could also find something similar in the Letter S activities that are free to print from my new favorite blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler. If you go to her "My Printables" section you will be able to find the "Letter S" printables which I believe contain snowman alphabet cards.
The photo shown below was taken in my Montessori classroom just last week. This activity has been popular for two children to work on together. It has been fun to hear little snippets of the "alphabet" song being sung as the children figure out which letter goes next. They first lay out the alphabet cards in ABC order. Then they match the wooden alphabet letters (handmade by my dad) to the cards. Finally, they match the picture cards to the letters. They have a big sense of accomplishment after completing this BIG work.
I have added some "snow" themed pre-writing cards to my language shelf. I just recently discovered the blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler. It is delightful. There are so many printables that are free for personal use. For the snowman cards, click on THIS LINK. You will be directed to a page with MANY snowman printables. You'll have to scroll down to find these. While you are there you are very likely to find a lot more you will want to print.
I printed these on white cardstock, laminated them and cut them apart. I thought about putting them together on a ring, but that doesn't allow them to lay flat for writing so I decided to just stack them in a little plastic basket. I added a dry-erase marker and a small piece of felt for erasing.
To do this activity the child would simply select a card, trace the dotted lines with the marker, then erase with the felt. In addition to the obvious benefit of developing eye-hand and visual-motor coordination through the tracing, I like that the act of erasing with the piece of felt will also help to strengthen those little finger muscles.
Last week I put out a rocket project that was VERY popular in the classroom. To set up this project, I found a rocket printable from Making Learning Fun. I copied a bunch of the rockets on white cardstock and placed them into a small tray. To the large work tray I also added a bowl of straws cut into about 2-inch lengths, scissors, red and blue markers, and a pencil. You can see the whole set-up below.
To do this activity the child first colors the rocket using the markers. I pointed out that the rocket is a United States rocket and reminded the children that our country's colors are red, white, and blue. Therefore, we will use those colors for our rocket. After coloring the next step is to cut out the rocket. Since there are so many black lines this can be visually challenging for young children as they don't always know which line to cut on. A modification you can do in this situation is to take another marker in a different color and outline the rocket. That way the child can easily see where to cut. After cutting, they use the pencil to write their name on the back. Then they bring a straw and the rocket to a teacher.
The teacher uses tape to attach the straw to the back of the rocket as shown below. The top end of the straw must be squished flat and taped down so air cannot escape from that end.
Once this part is complete the child is given a coffee stirrer cut in half. This is placed into the open end of the straw as shown here. We instructed the children to hold the black "straw" and blow through the end. This propels the rocket into the air (briefly) much to the joy and excitement of the child who has just launched their rocket. One tip is to not jam the coffee stirrer too far into the other straw. This can prevent "take-off" from occurring and can be discouraging to your little astronaut.
Here is a completed rocket.
This week I put out a watercolor planet art project to go along with our study of the solar system. Below you can see how I set it up on a table. Clockwise from top right: a basket of watercolor paper cut into circles, a sponge, vinyl placemat, watercolor paints, jar for water, jar with pencil.
To do this project the child takes a paper "planet" and writes their name on the back. Then they take the water jar to the sink and fill it with water to the yellow line. Next, they use the watercolors to paint their planet. Once finished the planet is placed on the drying rack (just to the right of this photo) and the child dumps their dirty water into the sink. The final step is to wipe the table and placemat dry to prepare it for the next painter. Once the planets are dry, they are glued onto a sheet of black construction paper. I LOVE how these are turning out. The watercolor paper is perfect for preserving the beautiful, vivid colors of the paint.
And they stand out so much on the stark black backgrounds.
Another new and popular activity on my art shelf last week was snowflake punching. I spontaneously pulled this together after seeing a snowflake punch in a cardboard box on the floor of my office when I was putting my purse away. My cousin had lent me a bunch of punches this fall and they have been sitting in the same spot by my desk for months. For some reason my eyes landed on a snowflake punch with a lever and I had a lightbulb moment. I quickly put together this work which the children have really enjoyed. Luckily, I have a bunch of leftover pieces of construction paper that are about 3 X 6 inches. This is the size of what is left after I cut 6 inch square pieces to trace shapes for pin-punching. I always save them and now I guess I know why!
I used a divided holder to contain the various colors of paper, a small basket with little ziploc baggies (in the jewelry section of Hobby Lobby), and a basket to hold the punch. Later on I added a small pair of tongs to use when the snowflake gets stuck in the punch. Those are not shown in the photo.
At line time I demonstrated this activity to the entire group, pointing out how to insert the paper and how to use two hands to punch the snowflake. One hand goes on top of the snowflake and one pushes on the lever. I also told the children that they may need to stand up to get a stronger push on the lever. This suggestion has helped all children be successful with this activity. Below is a photo of my youngest son doing this activity. Please note that his hand are not in the "proper" position in this photo. He was trying this out before school and before Miss Laura had given him (and his classmates) a lesson. :-)
After the child has punched out their snowflakes (they may use one or two pieces of paper) they place them into a ziploc baggie to take home. They may either keep the remaining paper (which many want to do) or throw it in the trash.
I pulled out one of my favorite art projects from last winter this week. I couldn't figure out how to re-post it, but if you CLICK HERE you can read my original post which shows how I set up this activity on my art shelf. I love this project because it provides children with many opportunities to develop their fine motor skills and results in a finished product of which they can be very proud. Tearing the white paper lengthwise is sometimes hard for preschoolers but it is great for developing finger strength. If they become frustrated I reassure them that everyone's project will be different and it doesn't matter if the paper doesn't tear perfectly into two strips. When they tear off the smaller pieces for snowflakes they are continuing to strengthen and refine their fine motor skills. Even the act of placing those little pieces onto the dots of glue takes concentration and motor control. I also love that every finished project has all the individuality of the artist as they each add their own little crayoned scene. Below is a photo of one of this week's creations. You can see more from last year in the post I linked to above.
For the past week or so we have been singing a new song during line time called, "The Family of the Sun." When I was previously teaching in a Montessori classroom about 10 years ago I used this song to teach about the planets in our solar system. Since Pluto was "demoted" since then, I had to find some different lyrics for the song. Luckily, I found some adapted lyrics here.
I have a set of laminated planets that are from a TREND bulletin board set I purchased years ago. They are actual NASA photos of the planets. Below is a picture of the set I have.......image courtesy of Amazon.
When we sing the song during group time I pass out a planet to each of 9 children (Pluto is still included in the song, although its status as a "dwarf planet" is acknowledged) and have them stand in a line in sequence. When we sing about each planet the child holding the planet steps forward and holds up their planet. With 20 children per session we sing the song two times so everyone has a turn. If we need to, one child is the sun and wears the sun necklace from our Earth, Moon and Sun song.
Hello! I'm just popping in over here to let everyone know that Shannon from Letter, Numbers & Books Oh My! has interviewed me about my Random Acts of Reading project. CLICK HERE to read the interview. Since this blog has OODLES more subscribers and readers than my other blogs I wanted to promote the project over here. If you would like to be involved you can read THIS POST or THIS POST to find out more details. My goal is to collectively give 2,010 books in 2010. I have personally pledged to give 100 this year. Obviously that means I'll need many more people helping out. So far it's been a really fun and rewarding project for me and my family. I hope you'll consider joining in. THANKS!
PS: Coming soon............more posts about our solar system unit in the classroom.
Before our Christmas break, I introduced a song to my students to help them understand the relationship between the earth, moon and sun. I made up some picture necklaces and we are using these during our line time to sing the song and act it out. Three children at a time get up and each wears a necklace. We repeat the song until all children have had a turn to act out a part. With 20 students per session this means seven repetitions of the song. Luckily it's a short song!
Below you can see the three necklaces. If you would like to make your own you can download the Word document here.
"The earth turns around, the earth turns around. Once a day, every day, the earth turns around."
During this verse the child wearing the "Earth" necklace spins around in a circle. I have explained to the children that this rotation of the earth is what causes our day and nighttime and have demonstrated that using the globe.
The second verse is:
"The moon goes 'round the earth, the moon goes 'round the earth. Once a month, every month, the moon goes round the earth."
During this verse the child wearing the moon necklace walks around the child wearing the earth necklace. I have told the children that the moon does not make its own light, but reflects the light of the sun which is why it looks lit up.
The third verse is:
"The earth goes 'round the sun, the earth goes 'round the sun. Once a year, every year, the earth goes 'round the sun."
During this verse the child wearing the earth necklace walks around the child wearing the sun necklace. Of course Montessori children have a great frame of reference for this verse since we act it out during our birthday celebration.