Category Archives: Dramatic Play

Having a Blast with Birthdays

Literacy

One of our favorite things to do when the kids are learning about the letter B is talk about birthdays!  One story we really like is “The Secret Birthday Message” by Eric Carle.  In the story, the little boy has to follow the secret birthday message on a kind of scavenger hunt to find his birthday surprise!  As some added fun, we print copies of the message and hide pictures of the book around the room.  The children then get to follow the clues to find the surprise, just like the boy in the story!

Dramatic Play

In our dramatic play area, we set up a birthday party with pretend birthday cakes, party hats, paper party plates and cups, and balloons.  The kids love taking turn pretending it is their birthday and having a party!

Art

This year, I wanted to try something different at the art table for birthdays.  What I came up with were these fun three-dimensional birthday cakes.

They are made from upside down paper bowls.  To make the frosting, I mixed one part glue with one part shaving cream and then added a few drops of liquid watercolor.  This concoction dries thick and foamy, and really looks a lot like real frosting!  After spreading on the “frosting,” the kids decorated the cakes with foam shapes, candy sprinkles, and cut-up pieces of straws as candles.  Of course, you could use any collage materials you have on hand to decorate the cakes.  The kids really got into making these.  I almost felt like I was watching Cake Boss there for a while!

Simple Christmas Ideas for All Around the Classroom

Today I’d like to share with you some festive things my preschool does to make Christmas a special time in the classroom as well as help teach the real meaning of Christmas.  Again, most of the credit here goes to my wonderful director who had been implementing these great ideas for years.  

Workbench

During Christmas, our workbench turns into “Ornamentation Station,” where the children can make Christmas ornaments to their heart’s content.  The Ornamentation Station is so much fun that I wrote two separate posts about it.  You can find them here- Ornamentation Station (Part One) and Ornamentation Station (Part Two).

Dramatic Play

The most important place in our classroom during the Christmas season is our manger where we keep our baby Jesus doll (a special doll we only bring out during Christmas).  The children are invited to sit in the rocking chair and rock baby Jesus and take care of him.  On the ceiling above the Baby Jesus, we hang a star to remind the children of the star that led the Magi to the newborn king and to mark it as a special place in the classroom.  This is one hands-on way we love to use to teach the kids about what Christmas is really all about.  Plus, there is nothing more precious than to see a child rocking the baby Jesus to sleep!

Our Christmas tree is another way we make our classroom festive for the children.  We set it up with the kids, and the kids get to decorate it with shatter-proof ornaments, ornaments they make at the “Ornamentation Station“, plus mittens they bring in to help needy families.  At home, kids don’t always get to decorate the Christmas tree however they want, so this is a great opportunity for them to decorate and re-decorate however they like!

Literacy and Writing Table

The writing table is one of our favorite areas of the classroom, especially at Christmas time.  The following idea is a hit with the kids year after year.  Plus, it’s a great use for old Christmas cards!  Simply take the front off of the Christmas cards, then give the children scissors, glue, stamps, and construction paper cards.  We also provided Christmas-themed word cards.  The children are free to cut out the pictures, glue them to their cards, stamp, write, and create their very own cards!

In addition to "Merry Christmas," we provided words such as "mom," "dad," "grandma," "grandpa," and "Santa."

This next idea is a new one, and it turned out to be so much fun!  I found these great alphabet Christmas tree printables at prekinders.com (Go here for these and other Christmas printables).  We gave the children transparent magnetic bingo chips to cover the letters following the color key at the top of the page.  Then, once they had decorated the whole tree, they could use the magnet wand to clear the Christmas tree!  They had so much fun doing this!  Of course if you don’t have the magnetic chips, you could use any sort of bingo chips or small circles to play.

Water Table

One thing that is fun to put in the water table for Christmas is a miniature Christmas tree with tiny ornaments, beads, and garland.  It is fun for the kids to put decorations on the small tree; plus it’s good for building their fine motor control!

Please leave your comments and share any other great Christmas ideas you use in your classroom!

Soup’s On!

Here is an activity we did during healthy foods week.  It was a simple, last-minute idea that turned out to be a huge success!

I was not sure what to put in the water table, and finally decided to let the kids make pretend soup!

Our set-up looked like this:

I put out whisks, ladles, spoons, measuring cups, pitchers, salt and pepper shakers and large pots.  I filled the pitchers with water.  I also gave them some pasta noodles, beans, oregano, and corn starch (for coloring).

Then, I let them go at it!  The kids loved making soup!  I think they especially like using real utensils and ingredients.

At first I thought I may have put out too many utensils, but I turned out to be wrong!  We had about nine kids around the table for most of playtime!  I saw a lot of teamwork, social interaction, and conflict resolution go on around the water table that day.  Not to mention the kids had a blast!  Just goes to show, sometimes the last-minute ideas are the best ones of all!

Have you had any last-minute successes in the classroom?  I’d love to hear about them!

Simple Halloween Ideas for All Over The Classroom

Here are some simple but fun things we have been doing in the classroom for Halloween.  Some of these activities are so simple, you could implement them in the next few days.  For others, however, it might be too late for them this year.  But please feel free to tuck these ideas away for next year!

Dramatic Play

The week before Halloween, we like to prepare the children for the holiday with some role-playing opportunities.  For some of the youngest students, this is their first real experience with Halloween (or at least the first they can remember).  These are some of the things we do to help the kids become comfortable with the customs of Halloween (as well as just have a good time)!

In addition to our regular dress-up clothes, we provide a variety of Halloween costumes the children can try on. Tip: Pick them up on sale after Halloween or at garage sales over the summer!

We also provide some trick-or-treat bags and some pretend candy (laminated candy wrappers). When the children role-play it helps them get the hang of the process (ie. say "trick or treat," say "thank you," etc) so it's not so foreign to them when they do it for real. Plus, the kids really enjoyed doing this!

Workbench

Many of the students (especially the boys) really benefit from having fresh and interesting things to do at the workbench.  This is what we did at the workbench to celebrate Fall.

Toy hammers and plastic nails (or golf tees) make for a great seasonal activity at the workbench!

Water Table

Our water table is seldom ever filled with only water.  Here are some of the things we did for Halloween.

This is one of my all-time favorite activities! We call this "Mr. Pumpkin Head"! Just poke three holes down the middle of a pie pumpkin (one each for eyes, nose, mouth) and two on each side for ears and arms (although you can see here, we only did arms). For the tiny gourd pumpkins, you just need two down the middle. Then add Mr. Potato Head pieces (or mini Potato Head pieces for the small gourds) and let the children create! So much fun!

Our 3 year-olds love to snip, and really benefit from the practice. So, we filled the table with orange and black scrap paper.

Then the children cut or tore the paper.

Writing Table

The writing table is at the center of our classroom, and for good reason!  It is one of the most important areas of our room.  We like to fill it with interesting free-choice activities that will get the children excited about writing!  These are a few things we have done for the Halloween season.  For the idea below, we give our thanks to Dr.Jean!

We made these books out of left-over (un-used) napkins and scrap paper. Add some seasonal writing utensils and the kids just can't help wanting to come over and draw pictures or write words in them! We provided meaningful Halloween-themed word cards for those children who enjoy copying words.

Boys dressed as superheros, writing in pumpkin books! Awesome.

One girl's inventive spelling and illustrations in her napkin book! Love it!

At the writing table, we put out all kinds of pumpkin and leaf shapes and writing/coloring utensils for the children to explore. Anything that gets the younger kids to make marks on a paper and improve their fine motor skills is a good thing!