Category Archives: Workbench

Ornamentation Station (Part Two)

Here’s a continuation of festive Christmas ornament ideas for preschoolers to make at the Ornamentation Station!  To see Part One, click here.

Beaded Hearts

This is an adorable little ornament that really turns out beautiful.  Also, beading is great for building fine motor control; plus the children get practice with patterning.  You start with pipe cleaners bent into a V shape.  The children then bead each side of the V.  Here we used green pony beads and red wooden beads (the wooden beads we cut off of a string of garland).

Once they have beaded up both sides, they can twist it secure and bend the end down to make a heart shape (they may need your help with this part).  We finished by using short pieces of pipe cleaner to make hooks.

Scratch-Off Paper Ornaments

These are simple ornaments that are easy for little hands to do.  We used scratch-off paper, the stuff that has rainbow colors underneath when you scratch off the black on the top.  We used our Ellison die cut machine again to make a variety of shapes the kids could choose from to make their ornaments.

Some kids will draw or make designs.  Others will just scratch the whole thing off, which might not be very artistic, but is great exercise for their little fingers!

Beaded Candy Canes

I will end with an easy-to-do classic – beaded candy canes using pony beads and pipe cleaners.  Again, it’s great for building fine motor strength and patterning skills.  Plus, its something the kids can do on their own.  And while we adults might find an idea like this a little tired or over-done, the kids have only been around a few years, so to them its brand-new!

I’m always looking for more great ideas!  If you have any ornaments you love to make with children, please leave a comment and share your ideas!  Thanks!

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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!

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!

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. 🙂

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!