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Monday, May 23, 2011


Teaching kids about money can be a little challenging. When you give them a penny, a nickel and a dime and say how much do you have, chances are, you will get an answer of 3. But keeping this in mind and the fact that children learn best by doing what they are interested in, we can find creative ways of teaching about money. One of the best ways I have found to teach about money is to have the children create their own shop, restaurant, or some other type of business to give them practical experience with how money is actually used in everyday life. Children love to imitate what they see mommy or daddy do.
First of all, allow the children to choose what kind of business they want to open and help them gather the materials they will need. Prepare an area that can stay set up for a few days (or weeks if that is how long it holds the childrens' interests). Make sure to use props that will create a feeling of reality. Let the children make signs and tags for items with the price on them. Also, you can have them make nametags for different jobs within the store/restaurant. This will also incorporate literacy skills and recognizing numbers. Get a cash register and fill it with play money. Make sure each child has some play money to buy what they want and have them alternate between being cashier and customers. Allow the children to act out their jobs how they want to, but make sure you facilitate their learning by showing them how to count money and telling them how much each coin or bill is worth and demonstrating how a transaction takes place. This is a really fun activity for the kids and they may take in their own direction that you wouldn't have thought of. Just go with it and find any opportunity you can to extend their learning!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mystery Box

This is a very simple idea. It's called the mystery box. You can see a photo of ours below, although it can be a simple as a cardboard box with a hole cut in it. It is excellent to use as a starter for circle time. You can place an object inside relating to your topic and have the children try to guess what it is. There are so many ways you can incorporate this in your classroom. Another example is put cut-out foam letters inside and for small group, have the child try to guess what letter they pick up. Then you can have them match their letter to an object that begins with that sound. Whatever you do with it, the children will get excited because of the element of mystery surrounding it. The want to know what's in it so bad, they will try to pull it out, get just a little peek, or look around the back if yours is clear on the back like mine!

For an extension, after you have done it a few times with the kids so they have the hang of it, have one child choose an item to put in and allow the other children to guess. Try things with different textures, so they will have to think about it. You could even put 2 different things in and describe one to see if they can pull out the correct one. Allow them to shake the box so they can see what it sounds to help them if they can't guess at first.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

E-mail Penpals

My class recently began writing to my sister's preschool class in Germany. She had recommended a book which I read to my class and they were interested about her and her class, so we took a photo of ourselves and e-mailed it along with some questions the children wanted to know to her. If I had this to redo, I would have begun this at the beginning of the year so that the children would have had more time to interact, but alas, it is our last week of school. I plan to start much earlier next year. Some things that you can incorporate with this activity is finding where your penpal lives on a map, taking pictures of some of your artwork and sending, or actually sending something to each other through snail mail. Since my penpal was my sister, I am not really sure how to find a class to write to, but my suggestion would be just go online and find a teacher who teaches the same or similar age group and ask if they would be interested. Facebook maybe or search blogs. Allow the kids to come up with things they want to know or something they are interested in to ask. Some examples of questions you can ask if your children are having a hard time getting started are "What does your classroom/school look like?" "What are some things you do everyday at school?" "Do you have a class pet and can we see a photo?" Get them excited so they will anticipate the next letter. Have fun!

ADDITION! 5/17/11

I just wanted to add that it would be a good idea to put all the printed letters from your pen pal and copies of the letters you sent along with photos in a binder in chronological order so that the children can go back to it throughout the year on their own. They may have you read it to them or just want to look at the photos to get ideas of other questions they want to ask. Also, a great idea to do with your globe is pictured below except we would use small dot stickers instead of push pins to show different places you talk about in class including where your pen pal lives. This is a great geography activity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Listening Activity

This activity is good not only to teach listening and comprehension of language, but also to gauge their ability to follow through with detailed, multi-step directions. Give each child a piece of paper and some crayons or markers. Describe an object that you have drawn on your own paper. Be very detailed using describing words such as color, shape, size, and various parts of the object. It can be an animal if you are studying animals or whatever fits with your theme. Give the children plenty of time to complete their work and then show them your drawing and see how close they came. An extension you can do is allow a child to describe a drawing of their own and see if the others can draw it. Also if its an object that you can actually bring into the classroom or observe outside, let the children see it or a similar object and give them a chance to describe it. Encourage them to use words that they may not use on a regular basis. For the older children, have them write some of the words they come up with.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Last Minute Mother's Day Gift

So... if you are like me, you are completely bogged down with getting everything done for the end of the year. With only 2 weeks left of school, it seems impossible to get everything done in the limited amount of time we have. I decided to do a quick craft with the kids for Mother's Day, a refrigerator magnet. I bought some craft foam sheets from the dollar store and cut out small flowers about 3 inches across. Then I had the kids spread some glitter glue on it with a paintbrush, layer 2 of the flowers together and put a foam circle in the middle.

Then we glued a magnet to the back.

It is quick and simple for kids to make, but cute. I also found a short poem online:

My Mother, my friend so dear
throughout my life you're always near.
A tender smile to guide my way
You're the sunshine to light my day.

I printed the poem out on a card for the kids to decorate. You can use flower stickers or other bright colorful stickers to spruce it up a little.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sad News About Eagle Cam

I am sad to say that I checked on the bald eagle nesting webcam that I blogged about last month and found out that the mother eagle was killed by an airplane. The eaglets have been moved and there is still a webcam on them. I was so bummed to hear about it because I had been following them closely for a while and was so excited for the day they would learn to fly and leave the nest. Click below for more information. RIP mommy eagle 2011 :(

Eagle Cam 2011

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

This week we are continuing our study of animals. We are focusing on the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr./Eric Carle.

The first thing we did was read the book and put up the animals on the felt board. My class is really into the felt board right now as the librarian has been coming and doing felt board stories once a month. They like to use the pieces to retell the story or make up their own story to act out.

Here is the website that I printed my felt board pieces from because they are just the right size for the felt board, but if you want larger images, you can also use this site.

After we read the book, I used the felt board animals to ask the children questions about animals such as: How many legs does the horse have?, Are there really purple cats?, How many of the animals have tails?, etc. This can lead to the kids coming up with questions of their own and if they can't figure out the answers, this is a great opportunity to say, LET'S GOOGLE IT! Never be afraid to say you don't know the answer in front of the kids even if you do know the answer. It is always more beneficial to take advantage of a teachable moment and let the kids figure out how to find the answer on their own!

The next step in our plan is to make a class book imitating the format of Brown Bear, Brown Bear by using the children's photos and having them write their own name. So it would go something like this: Sam, Sam who do you see? I see Lisa looking at me, etc. We will laminate the book and place it in the library area of the classroom for children to look at and tell the story on their own.