Category Archives: Preschool

Bunches of Bulletin Boards

We are always looking for fun, new bulletin board ideas.  I thought I would share some of the bulletin boards we have had here at preschool over the years, in case you are looking for some new ideas, too!

Birthday Boards

These next two were made by a very talented co-worker of mine who actually quilted these bulletin boards!  So cool!

Welcome to School Boards

This one was our seasons tree. We left it up all school year but changed the decorations with children’s artwork to go with the seasons. I’m missing a picture of the spring one. It had flowers on it.

Fall and Thanksgiving

This picture was taken before I put the title on the board. It read “OWL Always Be Thankful.”

This one was an interactive board. Each of the turkey’s feathers were made out of a different material for the children to touch and explore.

Winter

Snow globe- “There’s SNOW Place Like Preschool”

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Happy About Angry Birds

It’s been a number of months since I’ve blogged.  My husband and I were busy buying a house -a beautiful 120 year old Victorian style farmhouse that’s everything I’ve ever wanted (might have to start a blog about it)- and the last semester at preschool got crazy busy for its own reasons, so blogging kind of fell by the wayside for me for a while.

The preschool is closed during the summer, and I keep myself busy nannying for my niece and nephews (ages 6, 10, and 13) so you will see some of the fun activities they’ve been doing show up here on this blog as well.

Many of the preschoolers -as well as my nephew- have been obsessed with Angry Birds lately.  It’s a pretty good, simple game, too, as far as video games go.  There is a lot of physics going on with figuring out the projectiles and the speed and everything.  Plus there’s sling shots and destroying/knocking things down- of course kids love it!

So, how much more fun and educational would it be if kids could play Angry Birds in real life?  Wouldn’t it be great if they could have a favorite game and hands-on science all rolled into one?  That was our thought when we started brainstorming at preschool how we could make this happen.  We were so excited when our plans finally came to fruition.

Here’s what we did:

Our wonderful preschool director sewed little Angry Bird bean bags in three different styles and weights- red birds being the lightest, yellow birds being a  medium weight, and black bomb birds being the heaviest.

We used exercise bands for the sling shots.  We found them on sale in the Target dollar section (yes, less than a dollar each).  We tied on a little piece of cardboard to nest the birds in and wrapped the ends of the band around the legs of an upside-down chair. Voila, slingshot!

We used foam blocks to build structures and taped pictures of piggies to small stacks of Legos.

The kids spent a lot of time building structures, placing pigs, and taking turns trying to knock them down by slinging birds at them.  This was so much fun.  One of my classes in particular really enjoyed this.   One boy even asked me if we could shut off a bank of lights so they could play Angry Birds Space!

    

Last fall, I saw a wonderful backyard Angry Birds game from Simply Styled Home on Pinterest.  I’ve been waiting all year to make it happen.  Now, with our new house, we had the perfect opportunity since we now have our own backyard and plenty of moving boxes to build with!

I bought some balls and drew Angry Birds faces on them with Sharpie markers.  I didn’t make the fancy sling shot like the one at Simply Styled Home, but instead bought a three-person water balloon sling shot (once again) from the Target dollar section.

Yes, those are adults on lawn chairs holding the ends of the slingshot!

We built with boxes, and we tried to use balloons as pigs, but we had trouble getting them to inflate or stay inflated.  But it was still fun knocking down boxes!  Great times!

  

 

Ornamentation Station! (Part One)

During Christmastime, our workbench transforms into “Ornamentation Station,” a festive place where little elves can create all kinds of adorable Christmas Tree ornaments!

Usually the ornaments are something very simple that the kids can create independently.

The following are a few examples of ornaments the kids could make at the Ornamentation Station.

Cinnamon Gingerbread Men

The gingerbread men were made by using sandpaper and our Ellison die cut machine, but they could easily be made by cutting the sandpaper into gingerbread man shapes using scissors.  We put cinnamon sticks at the table as well as stick-on buttons or other decorations.  The children simply rub the cinnamon stick on the sandpaper gingerbread men to make it smell wonderful, then decorate it however they would like.

Paper Balls

 

This one required a little bit more assistance from the teacher, but was great for some of the older kids as it promotes fine motor control, following step-by-step directions and patterning.

At this point I have to admit that I got this idea from Martha.  Yes, I saw this Martha Stewart ornament on Pinterest and loved it!  The idea is simple.  I provided the children with paper strips with holes punched at each end, as well as some brass fastener brads.  First, they decorated the paper strips using markers (if they wished).  Then, they secured their series of  paper strips with the brads on each end of the strip (they needed the most help with closing the brads).  Then they fanned out the paper to make it into a ball.  I helped them tie a length of yarn to it so they could hang it from the tree!

Stay tuned for even more Ornamentation Station ideas!

Giving Thanks for Literacy: A Thanksgiving Reading and Writing Activity

Turkey Tracks Word Hunt

We love to do “hunt around the room” activities with the kids.  It’s a great way to get the children excited about writing, reading and learning.  Whenever we do a hunt like this as a free choice activity, a majority of the students usually choose to do it, often multiple times!  In fact, when we did this turkey word hunt, we ran out of papers (even though we printed one for each student) and had to run and print off some more.

Turkey with Sight Word.

For this particular activity, we used the simple sight words the children have been learning from our word wall.  We chose to use the sight words because the children are just starting to become familiar with them and are getting excited about them!  Of course, you could use anything you would like with a hunt- letters, shapes, whatever your children are learning about.

The way we did this hunt was we hid numbered turkeys with the sight words in different places around the room (this cute turkey-with-a-pencil clip art thanks to DJ Inkers) .  Then we had papers numbered 1-10 attached to clipboards (we love clipboards) at the writing table.  All the children had to do was grab a clipboard and a marker, find the sight words and write them on the paper!

This is a great way to encourage the students to write, especially the boys who often don’t like to sit down at the table to do a writing activity.  It sparks the children’s sense of adventure as they love searching around the room.  We also often see teamwork in action as friends help each other find the words!

As a further encouragement, I offered the students a sticker if they found and wrote words, and another if they could read some of them to me!  This encouraged not only copying of the words, but recognition of them as well.

One boy's completed paper. When he was done, he immediately did another one!

Dancing Oobleck!

Here’s the post I promised you (and one I’ve been very excited about writing!):  Dancing Oobleck!

Right about now you may be asking yourself “What is oobleck?”  Oobleck is a Non-Newtonian Fluid.  Which basically means it is a substance that can be both a solid and a liquid at the same time.

In preschool terms it is that cool stuff you can make with cornstarch and water that you can form into a ball when you press on it, but drips through you fingers when you let go.

How To Make Oobleck:

The day before we did this experiment, we had made dough in the water table using flour and water, which made for great predictions when I pulled out another white powder (cornstarch) and asked the children to guess what would happen when I mixed it with water.

After the children made their predictions, I went ahead and mixed the solution.  My method is usually to mix until it is the right consistency, but if you prefer to measure, it is about one part water to two parts cornstarch.  Once I had it mixed up, the children realized it did not make dough.  In the bowl, it displayed liquid qualities.

The words solid and liquid have become part of the children’s vocabulary from exposure to these words through other science activities.  So, I asked the children if I had made a solid or a liquid.  They said liquid.  Then I asked them what they thought would happen if I slapped the oobleck with my hand.  Expecting it to act like a liquid, they guessed it would splash all over them, and braced themselves as I went to hit it!

With pressure, it is a solid.

When there is no pressure, it is a liquid.

But my hand hit the oobleck as if it were a rock.  We then had a discussion on how this acts as both a solid and a liquid.  When pressure is applied, it acts as a solid, but when the pressure is released, it acts as a liquid.  We also let a toy sink into the bowl of oobleck and saw how it acts like quicksand.  The toy got stuck and was very hard to pull out!

Then we moved on to the best part:  making the oobleck dance!

How To Make Oobleck Dance:

Oobleck “comes to life”  making little mounds and worm-like forms that move up and wiggle around when it is set on a speaker cone with a tone of a certain frequency. I had seen this on YouTube before and had been wanting to make it happen for a good, long time.  So I was very excited when I finally decided to try it with the preschoolers.  It took a lot of prep time and figuring out before I could do it with the kids.  I had so much fun being the scientist at home, tweaking and  experimenting until I figured out how to make it work!

I happened to have an old stereo lying around, which worked perfect for this experiment.  I popped the plastic cover off the front of the speaker to reveal the speaker cone on the inside.  On this speaker, the cover would pop right back on, so it would be possible to do this experiment without ruining the stereo.  It can, however, be quite messy, so I would recommend using a stereo you can devote only to oobleck dancing if you can.  The experiment can also be done using a subwoofer, but we had better luck with the speaker.

The hardest part was figuring out what frequency I needed to make the oobleck dance and how to get the tone from my computer to play through the speaker (I even tried rigging a set of headphone speakers to connect the speaker directly to my laptop.  It didn’t work.)  After a bit of researching, I found out the oobleck moves the best with lower frequencies, around 20 hertz or so.  I also found a tone I could download, burn to a disk, and play through the stereo.

I later found out the tone I burned to a disk was actually a wave; it moved up and down in frequency.  As you can see in the video, the oobleck dances better at certain points in the sound than it does in others.  I think the oobleck will dance better with a steady, static tone at the right frequency.  That is what I will do next time I do this with the children.  You can find free tone downloads here.

I set the speaker on its side and covered the speaker cone with plastic wrap.  Then we were set to go!  I told the students one of the best things about oobleck is that it loves to dance; but it has a funny taste in music!  I poured some of the oobleck onto the plastic-wrap-covered speaker cone, turned on the tone, turned the volume up, and watched the oobleck take on a life of its own!  This gave us a great opportunity to talk about sound waves and vibrations.

We noticed the oobleck moved best when the plastic wrap was tight, so I held it extra tight with my hands.  It was so much fun listening to the kid’s reactions as the oobleck formed little finger-like shapes and moved around on its own!  We also added some liquid watercolor to the oobleck and watched as the dancing oobleck mixed the colors together.  Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of this.

Squeezing oobleck to make it solid.

After the lesson, I put the oobleck in the water table to let the kids play with and explore.  I also put a few small toys in with it, so they could see how easily toys can get stuck inside.  Many of the children really enjoyed getting their hands in the messy  oobleck (while some preferred to use spoons to play with it), and I heard a lot of great science vocabulary coming out of their mouths as they played!

Letting oobleck drip through fingers as a liquid.

A few kids even asked for a re-play of the dancing oobleck during playtime.  That is when we shot the video.  By this point, the oobleck had dried out a bit, so the reaction here is not as good, but still really neat!

For more oobleck fun, check out these videos:

Running across a pool of oobleck

Kids playing in a pool of oobleck

Maybe some day we will fill a pool with oobleck!  But for now, I am happy with our oobleck dancing success!

Note:  Do not wash oobleck down the drain!  It will settle and clog the pipes.  When you are done, just scoop it up and plop it in the garbage!

Thanks for reading!  Please leave any comments on your thoughts or experiences with oobleck!

Soap at the Workbench

I was going to write about “Dancing Oobleck” today, but alas, time and illness are not permitting me to write such an in-depth blog entry right now.  I guess this will just give you something to look forward to next week!

Instead, I will tell you about a little thing we tried at the workbench.  I got the idea from another blog here at WordPress, The Giggle Patch.  We simply gave the children a few bars of soap, some screwdrivers and some screws at the workbench.  The children enjoyed getting to use real tools, and the soap is something nice and soft that they can easily screw the screws into.

This was a good activity for fine motor development and will help transition into more complex workbench activities later on in the school year.  Also, it smells good. 🙂