Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Helpful things we have in our classroom!

I found a perfect condition bulletin board at the local thrift store for $3. Then I covered it with a bunch of scrapbook paper from my "collection" and used a staple gun to secure ribbon on it. The kids have enjoyed being able to hand up their work. This hangs from the closet handles and is just right at their eye I can easily put it away when school isn't in session since my DH prefers to use the family room for something other than school!

I found this over the door storage container at Walmart for $6 in their college stuff. It has sooo many pockets etc. and I can put everything for my two week units in it so that I don't have to search for everything.

Stair Trays are my answer for what to do with everyone's stuff while working. Since we are in the basement this was the perfect solution. Once they are done with a paper they just drop in the box. On our way up to get ready to go home they carry their stair tray with them and can easily load their back packs or hand their super good work to mom!

Other fun activites this unit!

These are some forest animal stamps from my collection (I think Close to My Heart...maybe thanks to Sharon??) with a stamp pad and small clipboard and paper to make it easy. This sits on the shelf NEXT to a container of can only imagine why!

Pencil sharpening has also been a huge hit! This box started out with 15 pencils in it. Great job cuties!

No camping experience would be complete without going fishing! This collection of fish came from my MIL years ago that I have laminated and put magnets AND paper clips on. The fishing pole came from a puzzle that we have.

Mirror Washing

The kids LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this activity! They use the dry erase marker to write on the mirror, spray some water on it (this is an old, cleaned out peppermint oil bottle so it smells soooo good!) and then use the special cloth to clean it. This is one that they all do each day and I foresee it returning again in the very near future ;0!

Lacing beads in a fun basket....oops! I didn't check to see if it had been cleaned up correctly...see the red bead in the lace basket???


My personal favorite is the little jar with the quark in the top. Each of the items has a little surprise inside that the cutie must get out and then put back in when ready to finish up. The other part of the fun to this is the fact that they must put the largest items in first!

Language shelves in the Forest of North America

Language shelves are a constant work in progress, trying to find things that will increase the little ones love of letters but hold their attention as well.

Some of the standard things include: sand for writing in, mini chalk board, and a variety of puzzles, find the letters, and letter tracers etc.

The ever popular letter bags and letter books. These are made from simple felt with fabric puffy paint on the front. The letter books have pictures of words that start with that sound.

Find the Letter R activity has been MY favorite this week!
I found this amazing collection of animal cards at the local thrift store for $ had never been opened! You can only imagine my joy as I went through all 400+ animals.

This game is played by using our "eyeballs" to search the animal name section of the cards to see if they can find an upper or lower case letter R.

This will be a must have on the shelves all year (after all, I do have 400 cards!).

We are using the "In the Forest" emergent reader found at Kidsparkz. We have circled all of the letter Aa's and Rr's and the kiddos are loving "reading" the book to me! While this is purely memorization, they are all recognizing a lot of letters and using their finger to follow the rhythm of the story. They especially enjoyed reading it in the tent in sleeping bags.

Handwritng Shelves

Our handwriting shelves will stay very much the same for the year. Each little one's picture has a magnet on it to go in front of their tray (yep, they are old cardboard boxes that come from canned goods! very environmental friendly AND cheap!). In each "handwriting box" there are the letter writing books and journals. I also have name writing activities in a single tray, dry erase boards, and clip boards (which are a must IMO for helping little one's learn to write well!)

The Red Letter Handwriting worksheets inside I made at this free site. I made 3 sheets for each week. The first has the letter upper and lower case that are traced the whole time, the next day rotates between tracing, and trying on their own. The third is all on their own with starting dots at the top of the line. (Save your cutie pie the tears when learning to write their letters by always giving them a starting dot and then teach them the language of writing!).

What writing they don't finish, they take home on Thursday to bring back on Monday.

RED LETTER ORDER: r a m f b i t g

The journals are used often in our classroom and I keep a giant binder clip inside so that they don't "write" in their entire book the first day!

NAME WRITING doesn't look all that cool I know, but having it in one tray makes it much easier for me!

I will rotate the variety of handwriting games we play. Currently they are loving it when I have them lay out their milk cap names and then I "steal" a letter and they have to guess which one was taken!

Snacks in the Forest of North America

No experience in the forest of North America would be complete without yummy bear claws! Thanks Brigette for these!

We also made oven smore's one day...boy did they get messy!

The kids really liked making their own trail mix!

Math Shelves for Camp Friend School In North America


We have used this super cute Roll a graph game from 2teachingmommies for our "Morning Minute"....the kids have been caught playing it together too! They love grabbing the magnet disks after wards with the wand....I found this at a local teaching supply store but have seen it online also.

Milk top counters:
Simple to make, fun to use!

No campground would be complete without marshmallows! The little ones tong them onto this fun counting sheet from Confessions of a Homeschooler (it is called the number sticker sheets).

This fun dot to dot came from Kidsparkz.

This cute squirrel math game has been a huge hit! The kids lay out each squirrel, roll the dice, then feed the squirrel the correct number of nuts (found at the local Dollar Tree store last year). The printable squirrels came from Prekinders.

Geography Shelves: In the Forest of North America

NOTE TO ALL READERS: I am a mommy NOT a photographer! :)

The little ones having been LOVING our new continent map! We use it to sing our continent song each day as we point to the continent. For those who are interested, I wouldn't make this map any larger. It is just the right size for all of our friends to sit around, but not overwhelm them if they do it alone. After singing our song, our "map helper" gets to put the camper and the continent name on the map. Then all of the friends get to name the animal and place it on the map by saying: "the bear lives on the continent of North America."

I purchased all of the Safari Ltd. animals toobs for each of the continents so that they would all be the same size. I then used fabric puffy paint on the underside of the animal with the matching continent color for easy identification.

The continent of North America shelves include a variety of super fun things! Our Montessori globe is super fun and the kids love it! They think they are sooo tricky when they spin it!

They are loving this sensory tray with all kinds of things that you would find in the forest including a snail shell, pine cone, rocks, acorns, feathers, a little bird, and some unusual dried berries. It was so cute on the shelf I was happy to just have it there, but then when they started using it, I was thrilled!

We have been reading the book In the Woods by Ermanno Cristini. It is lovely book that only has wonderful illustrations. I have it on a small easel to display it well.

These awesome 3 part cards come from The Montessori Print Shop which I have fallen in love with. All of their things are beautiful, inexpensive and save ME a lot of time!

This is a super fun forest animal matching game and the pictures are wonderful.

Camp Friend School: In the Forest of North America

Welcome to our first 2 weeks of Camp Friend School! Our first official day our little ones were met at the door with their names and a fun little camping scene! Once inside the classroom the were ecstatic to find a tent and sleeping bags instead of carpet squares! So much fun!

For our first unit, we are studying the animals found on the continent of North America along with a super fun camping theme! The kiddos have loved every moment of this unit!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Super Snack Fun

For snacks this upcoming preschool year, I would love it if we would follow a basic outline of:

Day 1: Theme Snack
Day 2: Alphabet letter Snack
Day 3: True Montessori/practical life snack help you get a better idea of what I mean here is what I will be doing for week 1.

Theme: Camp Friend School in the woods of North America (letter r).

Day 1: Friend School Trail Mix....they will mix 1/8 cup of each of the following:
dry cereal, pretzels, gummy bears (bears in the woods, right ;)), marshmellows and put it in a fun baggie themselves
(side note: we will eat this in our tent while reading a book!)

Day 2: Raisins face racoons (they will frost a sugar cookie with gray frosting and then use the raisins and a black icing tube to decorate..I will have an example!)..a little work but will be fun with the forest theme.

Day 3: Cut off tops of strawberries with pairing knife themselves, dip in yogurt that they spoon into the bowl.

They of course will always pour their own drink and clean up the mess!

Great sites for snack ideas:
Mother Hubbards has an entire cook book letter by letter that is free!
Mama Jenn has some very creative snack ideas (love the rainbow cakes!)
My Montessori Journey offers a variety of Montessori "work" ideas
Muffin Tin Mom has super awesome pictures and ideas for muffin tin meals/ it!

Of course there are tons of others, I think the key is to think outside of the goldfish and graham cracker box!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I am glad that I live in this BEAUTIFUL world....theme for 2011-2012 school year

How happy I am to get to work on a theme that has purpose and meaning. I have shared with you the big picture, but the nitty gritty details and pouring out of my head. This has been the catalyst for such an amazing idea for our school year, not to mention a whole lot of prayer. I made an over head projector transparency of the world at Office Depot for $.60 and plan on using the overhead projector at the church to blow it up on and trace it on the coordinating colors for felt. If any of you feel like joining me one night at the church, don't be afraid to jump up and down!

Our first 2 week theme will be: Camp Friend School as we study North America. I purchased these North American animals today and can't wait to use them. I am going to put puffy fabric paint dots on the bottoms of the animals to match the Continent colors so that the little one's will know what container they go in.
A reminder of the song we will be using each morning while we point to each continent on the map in front of them:

The tune is "Freres Jacque."

North America, South America,

Europe, Asia, Africa; Europe, Asia, Africa,

Australia, Australia,

Antarctica, Antarctica.

I will link to all of the fun activties as I empty my head over the next few days. I am also going to create a bi-weekly check list for each theme that we can go through when mom's come to hang out so that we can ensure each little one is "mastering" the shelf work.

Welcome to Friend School!

Over the next several days I will be posting all of the ideas for our curriculum for the upcoming year! I can hardly wait to empty my brain in one place, instead of a thousand emails! How EXCITING for us ladies....we are taking it to the web!