Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter Sensory Bin


-2 gallon bags full of white packing peanuts
-Play penguins
-Plastic silver snowflakes
-Little foam snowmen
-Blue and silver sparkly puff balls

I had visions of sweet winter play. Instead, for the past week I've been offered white french fries and snowflake potato chips from the daily "cookouts" they've been having at the new sensory bin. At least it speaks for their creativity, if nothing else. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cautious Awe

I love it when my students make up their own games or invent new things. Often though, it is something that most teachers would label "inappropriate." For instance, the time they used round blocks under long blocks to make their own skateboards. I was in awe of their ingenuity, but it wasn't particularly "safe," and we all know most people are a bit wrapped up in safety. 

So, the other day when these truck and towers were transformed into a rip-roaring bowling match, I couldn't help but be impressed. I was cautious though. I have mixed feelings about whether or not my classroom should be calm and peaceful or wild and crazy, and I could see this escalating and getting out of hand for an indoor activity.

But, until it does, they sure are having fun, and I'm not going to be the one to say "no" to that. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy 100's Day!

I don't know if it's developmentally appropriate or not, but we do celebrate the 100th day of school, and they do love it. 

Wow! 100 pieces of food! We counted ten of ten different things and then counted by tens to make sure we had enough. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Yard Sale Mentality

I find a lot at yard sales and thrift stores. Often, when people ask me where I got something my response is, "yard sale!" To which they inevitably respond, "I think I'm going to go to a yard sale."

I always cringe.

Not because I'm worried they'll get all the good stuff, but because their plan is to go to A yard sale... meaning ONE. My fear is they will get easily discouraged. Being a "yard sale teacher" is much more about having an open mind to recyclables and props and old things. It's about keeping a lot of pinterest & blog ideas in your head so that when you see old junk, you know just how to use it. It's also about stopping anytime you see a sale. It's about browsing the same thrift store again next month. It's about analyzing the side of the road as you drive.

Yard sales are almost never about finding what you are looking for, and they're USUALLY not even about finding anything at all. (A lot of yard sales are actually awful). BUT, if you are persistent with the yard sale "frame of mind" you will eventually start answering a lot of questions with, "Oh yeah, I just found that at a yard sale. Cool, huh?" 

These are some neat things I've been lucky enough to stumble on: 

Thrift Store: Things for themed
centers, like this pet carrier
Yard Sale: Household things-
like this lamp. 
Yard Sale: Table top manipulatives-
like these ball and stick builders. 
A neighbor: A baby crib turned
into my science center. 
Yard Sale: classroom things
like this easel  
Yard Sale: Marble Run

Side of the road: furniture like
this low bookshelf for display
Thrift Store: Papisan Chair
for reading
Yard Sale: Dresser I converted
to a dress-up station

                                                                              Side of the Road: Two child sized chairs!

***Disclaimer: In honor of fighting the teacher tendency to hoard, I have a policy that I need to have a plan for my junk before I acquire it. "In April when we study bugs, that puzzle will be perfect." Or...  "When my mom comes to volunteer we will use these wood blocks for painting."

Happenings in the Science Center

There is always something new in the science center!

January: ice experiments. This one compares ice on a heating pad to regular ice. Which one melts fasters? 

Right now: Farm animals. A matching game of animals, pictures cut out of magazines, and small plastic animals. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Give them what they want most!

I blog about my rotating themed center a lot. In school we call it the "Bonus Center." Since it changes all the time, it is the most obvious thing for me to write about. Of course, I try to change all of our centers a little here and there. That's how they stay interesting. I love the challenge of triggering interest in children when you realize they aren't playing in a certain area anymore, when, for some reason or another, the fun has just lost its edge. 

So the sandwich shop has been abandoned for a little while now. I have already have plans for this bonus center in a week or two, but I needed something in the interim. I had one of those "duh" moments when I was pondering how to find more space for more children to be able to participate in art. I realized that the bonus center can be anything it needs to be. It doesn't have to be a doctor's office or a restaurant, the whole nature of it is limitless. 

So, since so many of my little artists have been crestfallen lately to not get enough turns in the art center, I simply created another art space. It is not fancy, but it just has a couple of invitations for cutting and gluing. (a common passion among my students this month). 

Invitation to glue or stick various feathers, scraps, and buttons. 

Our mirror and crate table with some polar animal pictures for cutting and gluing. 

I put a few markers and crayons in the shelf cubbies, and that is all. 

My only fear was that nobody would want to go to the old art center... but they still did! 

Penguin Play

Since it's not very cold where we live, we like to talk about places that really are cold in the winter. The Antarctic is, of course, one of those places. 
With 23 students who are all interested in playing with this, I've been freezing a big block in a plastic container every day this week. I'll keep doing it for probably two more, until everybody has had all the fun they've wanted to have with ice blocks and penguins. 

A little blue food coloring in the ice and a bit of silver glitter makes the perfect penguin playground. 

Over in the science center we did some unphotographed experiments: "Does it slide on ice?" 
Penguin: Yes. 
Cotton Ball: No.
Felt Square: No.
Marble: Yes. 
Water Bead: Yes. 

I use the science standard "classify" for all it's worth.