Thursday, February 11, 2016

Up-cycled Valentine Chocolates Boxes

 Every Valentines Day I get several boxes of assorted chocolates from my kids. (What teacher don't like chocolate?!!) With a little disassembling and of course eating all the candy you have great stencils made of sturdy cardboard.  Some of these I have had for at least 5 or 6 years and each year I add a few more. The kids are always wanting me to draw hearts for them, especially this time of the year. This is such a great way for them to do it by themselves.  

Last week we made Valentines to take on our field trip to the post office and mail to our families. We traced half of the stencil heart on the folded edge of a piece of paper and then the kids cut the curved line.  It is much easier for the kids to cut them out this way and keeps the two sides of the hearts equal. With this new skill learned, we now have dozens and dozens of hearts around the room of all shapes and sizes. (:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

 More Valentine Fun...
 We started out this week talking about Valentines Day like thousands of other PreK classrooms I'm sure. This was a great math activity that the kids really enjoyed. I think the key to any PreK activity is finding something they like to do, like painting and make it a learning activity. We are really working on one-to-one correspondence and counting to 20 so that was my main purpose with this activity. 

 Heart Shaped Cookie Cutters, Different Sizes 
 Paint ( I used Red, Purple and Pink)
 Paper Plates for Paint
 Large Construction Paper
 Marker to write names
 Wet Wipes to clean up

I simply wrote "20 hearts" on their paper and let the children write their own names. Though many of them are still working on getting their names just right I think it is important to get them in the habit of writing their own names on their work. At this point I recognize all of their signatures. (:

I used 6 cookie cutters, 2 small, 2 medium and 2 large (another concept we talked about) and gave them the instructions to make and count 20 hearts. I let them choose the combination of colors and cutters they wanted to use and had them count out loud as they made each one. I listened and guided them if and when they got stuck on a number but for the most part this activity went rather smoothly. I have only 2 or 3 kiddos that can count to 20 without help and another 12 or so that count anywhere from 13 to 19. The other 5 can usually get to 10 by themselves when counting rote but if I give them an activity they have to concentrate on while counting it throws in a whole new dimension. So there were a couple I needed to count with the during the whole process.

The great thing about an activity like this, is that it forces them to slow down and count. Unlike moving your finger down a row of teddy bears and counting heads (where kids tend to go a little to fast and skip a few bears along the way) this activity requires several steps for each number. This slows the pace a bit and gives them time to think about each number as they decide where to put the next heart on the paper.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Valentine's PreK Style

As Valentine's Day gets closer I wanted to share some of my favorite games that I have created from extra Valentines I had laying around.

I have a habit of hitting the local dollar stores after holidays. When I find boxes of Valentines for 25 cents each, I have to get creative! (: 

Matching and sorting games are probably the easiest games to create from Valentines. Most boxes have 3 or 4 cards of the same design, so in one box of 24 cards you have anywhere from 8 to 12 matching pairs.

I choose to laminate my cards so they will last for a few years. I also put them all in a handy pencil box to keep them together. 

We look for matching Valentine cards and we sort them by theme, such as Sponge Bob, Toy Story or Barbie. After we sort them we count how many we have in each pile and compare which ones we have the most or least of. There are so many great uses from these colorful cards. Sometimes the kids just like to sort through them and pick out their favorites. I hear a lot of great conversations as the they start looking through them.

For those kids that have a hard time sitting down for your matching games try adding matching cards to large cubes or dice. The kiddos love rolling them to see if they can get a match. 
These cubes were given to me many years ago by a fellow teacher. I love them because I can slide new things we are working on into the slots and use them over and over each year. You could also create something similar using small cardboard boxes.

Ask parents to save you their child's unused Valentines. I bet each child in your room has 6 or 8 Valentine's left in the box when they are done filling them out for their classmates.

Add blank ones to your writing center along with a class list and a word wall with Mom, Dad and Grandpa on them.  They will enjoy writing their names on them and giving them to their friends, teachers and the school secretary or taking them home to their parents and siblings.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Block Play, PreK Style

I have a very creative group of children this year and would love to share some great pictures from the past few weeks. 

We have a rather large area for block play which I think is really important. I love that they can spread out and build without the confinements of a small space. Four children are allowed in this center at one time. Sometimes they work together to build and play. Sometimes they work alone. The two little girls who built this structure started out working separately, one with the cardboard blocks and one with the cups. As their structures got bigger they decided to merge them together and the result is this awesome castle!

You often see non- traditional items in my block center such as cardboard tubes, newspaper and tape; playing cards, cardboard boxes and these great cups. As part of adding STEAM activities in the classroom, I love to give kids "lose parts" to create with. It's hard to be exceptionally creative with unit blocks that are basically one of about 10 shapes and all about the same size. So I love the variety of adding every day items that they may have in their homes.

Look at the wonderful organic shapes created in this picture! And do you see the pattern of the clear and silver cups in the picture on the right? The cups are a couple of different sizes and several colors. Some of my kiddos like to build with just one or two colors others don't really care what color they use. The best part of building with plastic cups... cups are cheap! Parents can donate them! and they stack nice and neat and don't take up a lot of storage room!! I added these cups after Thanksgiving and have had to throw away only 7 or 8 cups. The usual reason is someone tries to step over them and accidentally steps on one. 

I also don't tell the children HOW to play with anything I add to the center. Often what I envision for materials is no where near what the kids come up with!

Disregard the blurry child in the middle of the next picture (It's hard to crop out something in the middle of a picture) but look at the great structure these 2 little boys created. The long brown pieces of wood are from a mini blind that I shortened up. I had like 15 pieces that I removed from the blind and you know I had to save them and add them to my block center! lol They make great roads and bridges. 
I obviously give my kids the time they need to build. I try to warn them if clean up time is getting close so they can complete their creations. 

They also come and get me when they are finished building so I can take a picture. I try to make a big deal out of their work, by asking them questions and taking pictures. It's sometimes hard to teach preschoolers to respect each others work. I think taking pictures, and being genuinely interested in what they have done not only teaches the creators to be proud of their work but helps with the respect of the other kids. It's a proud teacher moment when the kiddos are proud of not only their own work but that of their peers. When a child comes running over to tell me I have to come see what another child has just made, makes it all worth while.  

Reading with Ringling

Free Circus Tickets!!

I found an article in the my local newspaper last week that I shared with my kids and their families and I thought you may like it too!

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Circus has created a reading program that partners with your local public library.

Visit for more information and a complete list of the libraries they are working with.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Valentine Exchange PreK Style

Valentine Exchange
PreK Style 
     I have searched for the past week for a Valentine Exchange similar to the Gingerbread Exchange that works for my classroom. I have found a few that were for elementary age children or that limited the number of Valentine's you can receive to 12 or even less. I also found one that the entire class sent their Valentines to another class. But I really like the idea of sending our Valentines to classrooms all across the country. We love getting mail, and reading about other PreK classrooms.
      This is my first year organizing a Valentine Exchange so bare with me and we can work out any kinks together over the next couple of weeks. First let me tell you what you need to do to sign up and a few guidelines to follow after that. 

CLOSED FOR 2016!!  CLOSED FOR 2016!!  CLOSED FOR 2016!!  CLOSED FOR 2016!!
      Send me an email at
                     (if this link does not work, please cut and paste) 
      Subject Line: Valentine Exchange
      Include your name & address:  Cupid Child Development Center
                                                        Attn: Mrs. Heart's PreK Class
                                                        123 Candy Lane
                                                        Loveland, NC 12345

     Also Let me know how many schools you would like to exchange Valentines with. If you do not give me a number I will default to 15.
     I will try my best to send you a list of names and addresses from a variety of states around the U.S. This will depend on how many schools I have to sign up and where they are. I will only accept schools within the United States at this time, due to postage costs and the time it takes to send mail outside of the country. If I have enough interest from international schools this may change for next year.
    I will send you a list of names and address by Friday, February 5th, 2016. 

    Prepare your Valentine's as you would like, using stickers, stamps, lace, markers, etc. Be creative!! Please include a brief note about your classroom and the community that your school is in.  Also include a picture of your class if at all possible.

  Please mail your Valentine's by Tuesday, February 9th, 2016.  I would think first class mail could be delivered about anywhere in the country in 3 or 4 days.
  Please  share this blog with your friends through facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc. so we can successfully implement the Valentine Exchange. Let me know if I have missed anything... I am so excited to get this going!! Thank You all!!

2016 PreK Style

 I have logged back on my blog for many reasons, most of which I will share with you in the days, weeks and months to come. I have missed sharing my thoughts  & ideas, the great accomplishments and creativity of my kiddos and links to resources to help us all on our journey. A big thank you to each of you who continue to message me to return, sometimes I need the push!  I am encouraged by the over 14,000 views of my blog and over 2000 pins of my original PreK, My Style Pinterest posts. Again, thank you all!!