Tops or bottoms: which part of the vegetable plant do we eat?

posted in: Cognitive, Literacy, Science | 0

Spring is here!

During our unit on life cycles, Susan helped the kids make a wonderful connection to a book by asking questions and drawing a picture.

First, read the book: “Tops and Bottoms” by Janet Stevens.  Its about a lazy bear and a busy rabbit who trades half of every crop with the bear.  The bear gets to pick if he wants the “tops or bottoms” of each crop, and the rabbit sneakily choses the plants that will give him the best results.

After reading Susan asked the kids to name some of the vegetables that were shared in the book.  She drew a line to represent the soil level, and would then draw the vegetables as they named them.  We would then ask the children which part of the plant we eat.  It was fun to see them start to understand that sometimes we eat the roots, sometimes the stem, and sometimes the leaves or tops of the vegetable plants.

Question of the day variation with rhyming

posted in: Cognitive, Literacy | 0

It’s fun to change things up in the regular routine at times-especially when it helps you teach an important skill or lesson!  Instead of doing a regular “yes,no” question, we drew pictures of random objects on the whiteboard.  We then had each child come up and erase a picture that rhymed with a word that we gave them.  Great literacy practice, as well as cognitive skills.  Most of the kids had to say the picture name with the word given to figure out if it rhymed.  So they tested out each word until they found the right one!

STEM fun in preschool!

posted in: Cognitive, Science | 0

March is often a month schools celebrate reading-espescially since Dr. Suess has his birthday in March!  We have been enjoying some Dr. Suess books in our class, and as part of that, Susan put the children in groups of 2 or 3, gave them a couple sizes of cups and paper, and gave them the instruction of making a “Cat in the Hat” hat.  We encouraged them to work together to see how tall they could make the hat.  It was very fun to see them work at trying to figure out how to do this.  Soon, one student figured out that placing the paper on the big cup made it possible to place a smaller cup on top.  Great cognitive practice, and a wonderful STEM activity!


Community Map made by Preschoolers

posted in: Art/Creative, Cognitive, Science | 0

What made this map so fun for the preschoolers is that they decided exactly how to design it!  Using a large piece of paper-big enough for all the kids to draw on, the teacher takes a marker in hand, and starts at the bottom middle.  “We are making the roads” she says, “Which direction do you want the road to go?”  If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see how the kids really started to have some fun with it!  Up and down, right and left, zigzag, straight, and even traffic circles were asked for!  Once the roads were all connected, the children got to draw all the other features of a community, including people, buildings, plants, vehicles, and even a big fire for the firefighters to put out!

Different size brushes

It doesn’t matter what the kids paint.  For this example, the kids painted anything they wanted that had to do with snow.  What does matter is that you only use one color of paint (less distraction because the paint color is not what you want the kids to be thinking of), and that you offer the kids two brushes: one big, and one little.  This was to help with cognitive development.  I made a point of telling the children that they had two brushes, and that before they painted whatever they had in mind, they should think about what size brush would be the best to use.  To make sure they understood, I prompted them to think of a snowflake: what size brush would work best to paint it?  And then a snowman: which size brush would you like to use?  I didn’t give them the answers, I simply wanted to get their minds thinking about their prior experiences with brushes, and what might work best, BEFORE they actually started painting.   It was fun to watch them think, and then work!

Pom-pom math and more!

Making up stories is always a favorite with children!  I have done this many times, and had great success!  I especially like stories of pretend adventures in the jungle as we walk from place to place.  Today, Susan, the head teacher, made up a fun story during our math lesson.  Instead of just counting out pom poms and sorting them, she told a story of friends joining other friends in the play ground. Some playing in the sandbox, some at the swings, and a group on bikes.  It wasn’t always easy for the kids to keep the piles separate or combine here and there.  But it was great cognitive exercise.  Once she knew we had the right number of friends(pom-poms) in our piles (today that was 17), she had them “line up” the friends to go get ice cream!  We counted them to make sure none were left behind.  After ice cream, she had them divide the friends into two teams to play soccer.  In order to do that, they had to pair up the friends to make sure there was an even number.  When the kids discovered that it wasn’t even, one child had the great idea of making the last friend the “coach”!  This fit well into our unit, which at this time is community helpers!

So, as you can see, making up a story along with a math lesson not only makes it more entertaining for the kids; it also holds their attention longer, and it gives opportunitiy to include other aspects of learning.  Such as our community helper unit, and the social learning of including others.

Colors of Nature

One of my favorite things to do with children is to point out the colors all around them in nature.  A flower is rarely just one color.  A tree trunk is not just brown.  And my favorite are clouds – I love color in the clouds!

For this idea, go on a walk together outside.  Pick a flower or leaf.  (You could even do a rock, if you are studying them).  Bring it into class and have the children paint or color a flower on their own, or trace a template for them to color.  Make sure they add in all the colors to their drawing. Preschoolers often need encouragement to use more than one color.  This will help them see why.  You can use an activity like this for many different units of learning.  Add science facts if you like.

Pumpkin or Apple?

posted in: Art/Creative, Cognitive, Science | 0

I’m learning to love Venn Diagrams.  With the fall very much underway, we have done a lot of science and other activities related to apples and pumpkins.  We checked out the inside, the outside, and everything inbetween!  After carving a jack-o-lantern and doing some painting with apple cutouts, we made a venn diagram as a class.  What things about apples and pumpkins are the same?  Which are different?  This final activity of making a venn diagram helped tie all our learning together, and made the kids really think.

Geo Board Fun!

posted in: Cognitive, Math | 0

This is where Math and Creative-Thinking really come into play!  The children started with one rubber band streched into a line shape.  But when they were given the freedom to move that line around to make other shapes, their enjoyment streched and grew right a long with it!  I was surprised to see how much they got into it.  We did this activity as a group, but also left out a few on a table as part of a “center” during play time.

A Geoboard like this can be found in online stores, like amazon, or at educational specialty stores.  Really, any kind of peg board would work!


Starting with a book!

posted in: Art/Creative, Cognitive, Literacy | 0

The teacher I currently work with did an excellent lesson that included literacy skills, cognitive skills, and creative skills all in one.  First, read “The Mitten “by Jan Brett.  The next day read it again, but this time look for clues in the side bar pictures as to what will happen next. The following day read a different version of the story.   (We did one by Alvin Tresselt).  Compare and contrast the two stories using a Ven Diagram.  Finally, let the kids draw any 5 animals they want in their own mitten! So cute, the kids loved it, and it looks nice displayed on our wall!