Friday, November 4, 2011

Monster Throw!

Last week during our planning meeting, the kids said they wanted to throw monsters in the trash. So we closed our block shelf and made our carpet area into a monster throwing mania. The kids had a blast. I mixed monster bodies (pom poms) and monster eyes (wiggly eyes) together. Then, I made a line for the kids to stand behind using masking tape. Let the monster throw begin! A very simple activity that took almost no time to prepare! :)

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monster Slime!

Our class has had a ton of fun this week learning through monsters. Yesterday, we made monster slime. I had never made slime before. I knew the kids would love it, but I was surprised to find out addicted to it I was! I played with the slime as much as the kids did. It is slimier than play-dough and stretchier then gooey gunk. By far MY favorite and I'm sure my would agree with me. 

I found this recipe on It's a great website for science ideas. I'm already planning on using other experiments from there.

2 Cups Glue (4 reg. Sized Elmer Glue Bottles)
2 Cups Water
Mix and add food coloring if desired
2 Cups Liquid Starch

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Block Center Solutions - Height Limit

With 10 boys in my class, the block center is never empty. We've recently run into problems with buildings being built too high. I strongly support exploration and creativity and try not to impose too many rules on the children's play, but tall buildings were becoming a safety issue. When tall buildings get knocked over, they hit other friends on the head, slam into the wall, knock over other friends buildings, etc. So we imposed a height limit. 

First, we talked about why tall towers aren't safe. Then, we decided how tall our buildings should be. I worked with the kids to make our height limit ruler. It has worked out great! The kids love to build their towers then grab the height limit to measure it. Great way to introduce measurement and keep our block center safe! :)

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

M&M Graphing

What better way to get kids engaged than bringing out the candy! After all, who wouldn't be fascinated by all the colors and the addicting smell of chocolate. This is a great activity that touches on multiple math concepts. All these steps don't have to be done at one time. If your kiddos have a hard time sitting still, I would recommend splitting the steps across a couple days.

Before starting the activity, take about 50 M&Ms out of the bag. Make sure not to have too many of one color. You want them to fit on your graph.

Begin by counting how many M&M's you have. I transfer the M&M's from one cup to another and emphasize moving only one M&M at a time.

I had a cup for each M&M color. We sorted the M&M by color.

Graph your sorted M&M's. Some vocabulary words to use/explain: graph, column, row, title, more, less, same.

I did this activity during large group, but it can be easily used in a small group. Also, once the kids are familiar with graphs, they can make their own graph for their portfolio.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Find The Worm Game

This week we used apples for a math game called "Find the Worm". This game teaches counting and number recognition, and exposes the children to the concept of more and less. (This is not a concept I expect the children to learn, just something I feel they should be exposed to for success in math later in their education.) 

Setting Up the Game

First you need a worm, ten apples with the numbers 1-10 written on them, a more arrow and a less arrow.

Set them up on a white board, easel, felt board, etc., like in the picture below.

I chose to use this as a large group game. But it would also work great in a small group setting or in a math center. 

Playing the Game

First, explain that the worm likes to hide in the apples and they need to find the worm and stop him from eating the apples. Then, have the students close their eyes and hide the worm behind one of the apples. Have the students open their eyes. Next, we counted the apples 1-10 while we thought about where the worm might be hiding. Then I called students up one at a time to look under an apple for the worm. I would say what number the student chose to reinforce number recognition. If the worm was not under the apple, I would give the students a hint. The worm is under an apple more/less than the number they guessed. To visually expose the concept of more/less, I would move arrows underneath the apples as they guessed. For example, if the worm is under the 6 and they guessed 7. I would say, "The worm is under an apple less than 7." Then I would put the less arrow under the 7.

For the students who didn't understand that they needed to choose an apple between the arrows, I would use my hands to make a wall up from the more and less arrow and tell them to choose an apple between my hands. My 4 year olds seemed to get it pretty quickly, while my 3 year olds didn't seem to catch on. Though all the students loved the game and kept begging to play more. We ended up playing over 10 rounds throughout the day!

Eventually, a student would find the worm and we would all cheer!

This game can be adapted for many different themes. My TA suggested using trick-or-treat bags and hiding candy. 

Happy Teaching! :)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Apple Tree

We are FINALLY to our apples week! I've been looking forward to this week since the beginning of the school year. It's the beginning of a great season! Today we read a book about apple picking and then picked our own apples. (unfortunately not from a real apple tree . . . )

We read Apple Picking Day.

Then we went on a "hunt" for our apple tree.

We found it hanging in our courtyard.

The kids took turns picking an apple.

The back of the apple had directions for the kids to follow.

The kids followed the directions on the apple.

I think I enjoyed this game as much as the kids did. Tomorrow we are making applesauce. Yum Yum!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Oil Spills and Car Washes

One of the many reasons I love early childhood and our curriculum is how flexible and child guided it is. Activities/Lessons never seem to go as I planned. I start them out a certain way and many times, the children take them in another direction. Most of the time the activity/lesson ends up being 10x more fun and beneficial then I'd planned.

Activity Planned - Painting with Cars

I covered the table with paper, then set out black paint (the kids corrected me when I called it black paint, it's "oil") and gave the kids cars. The kids thought painting with cars and oil was the coolest thing ever. The activity entertained them for a good 40 minutes. Slowly, the children's interest started dwindling and participation dropped from about 12 to 2. But those 2 were happy to keep going. 

Guided by Child

While painting one of the kids noticed how oily the cars were and commented. "Ms. K, we need a car wash." I thought, a car wash . . . hmmm. . . a car wash. Yeah that would be cool . . . How would we do that . . . We should do that sometime . . . Why not now? . . . *Look at clock* . . . Yeah let's do that now. . . 

Awesome Result - Car Wash

So, I grabbed the 6 pans we normally use for our magnetic letters. Filled them with water, added some dish soap, gave each kid a Q-tip, and the car wash began. This was some of the most creative and engaging play I've seen from my kids this year. Two Thumbs up for learning through play!

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Early Childhood Scribbles

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Developing a Successful Writer

This summer I read Literacy Beginnings, as part of a blog party hosted by pre-kpages. It's one of the best teaching books I have ever read! I learned so much about how to encourage and inspire developing readers and writers in these early years. I am implementing many different strategies for teaching writing. Recently, we did a week long theme on the pigeon books by Mo Willems. During the week, we began writing our own pigeon book titled The Pigeon Finds a Skittle.

Today while going through A's work, I saw how much these writing strategies were developing her skills as a writer and an illustrator. Below are three examples of her work ranging from middle of August to middle of September.

"It's my mommy."
August 17, 2011

"Mommy and me."
September 6, 2011

"It's my mommy. This is her ears. And her cheeks! She's going to go eat."
September 21, 2001

It amazes me how much her writing and illustrating has changed in five short weeks. As a teacher, it's a great feeling when you can see the learning taking place in your classroom in such an obvious clear way. Check back soon to read about our Writer Talks.

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Early Childhood Scribbles

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Writing Our Own Pigeon Story

During our week learning about Mo Willems and his pigeon books, I mention writing our own pigeon story to my students. They went crazy about the idea. We've only completed the cover and first page, but I have never seen my kids so excited about writing. I feel it is very important to teach kids how to express their own ideas in a story that is all their own. The pigeon books have made this task very engaging and exciting for my class. 

To begin, we decided if we wanted to write a "Don't Let the Pigeon . . . " book or a "The Pigeon Finds . . . " book. The children decided they wanted to write a book about the pigeon finding something. So we explored the book The Pigeon finds a Hot Dog. We focused on the cover. 

What is on the cover?
1. The Title The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog
2. A Picture
3. The Author and Illustrator's name

We followed these "guidelines" to make our own cover.

The cover of our book was very teacher directed. I asked the children what they wanted the pigeon to find. It was almost unanimous. The pigeon would find a skittle. (We use skittles as rewards in our class, so obviously it was the logical thing for the pigeon to find.)

After writing the title and drawing the pigeon with a skittle, we talked about who would write the words and draw the picture in our book. I told the children that our book would be very special because EVERYONE in our class would get to help write the words and draw the picture. So we included everyone's name in the author/illustrator list.

The next day we started the first page of our book. I also started sharing the crayon and letting the children participate in writing and drawing the story. 
I asked the children what the pigeon would say when he found the skittle. We discussed a few options and we decided on the words to the left. I had three different students write the "s's" on skittle. I also guided the children in drawing the pigeon and skittle. I would have one child come draw the eye, the next would draw the head, then the neck, etc. 

We've only finished the cover and first page. I'm excited for writing time this week. I want to know what the pigeon will do next!!!

To find more ideas for the pigeon books, check out my website!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mo Willems

My absolute favorite author is Mo Willems. I love how engaging and hilarious his books are. He makes it so easy to get my students excited and eager to read and write! 
Because my students (and I) love the pigeon books so much, I decided to spend a whole week focused on the books. I'm excited about updating my website and adding all our Mo Willems activities. 

Today, we visited Mo's website at and my students absolutely went crazy. (Just like the pigeon!) We learned about Mo, watched videos, learned more about our favorite characters, and played games. During one of the videos, Mo said he wanted people to read his books so they would be inspired to write their own books that he could read. Our class talked about what this meant and how exciting it would be to have Mo read one of our books. We used interactive writing to start our own pigeon book titled The Pigeon Finds a Skittle

Tomorrow we will be reading The Pigeon Wants a Puppy and making puppychow. (Using sunbutter because we are a peanut free facility) We will also be playing the pigeon matching game I got at Border's for 50% off. For more ideas for a Mo Willems theme, check my website in a few days. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I've wanted a fish tank for a long time. I really wanted to get one last year, but being my first year teaching there were to many other things on my mind. But this year,  my fish tank was at the top of my Back to School list. I love watching my fish and the kids do too. It has a very calming effect. I was excited to plan a fish themed week. 

We are naming our fish and snail this week. 
We named our yellow guppy Cookie.
We named our blonde guppy Optimus.
We will name our other two fish and snail later this week.

Fish Tank in a Bag
I bought hair gel from the dollar store. (2 big bottles were enough for 18 kids.) I had the kids count how many letters were in their name and then together we counted out that many fish. I wrote the letters of their name on the fish. The kids dropped their fish into the bag and then squeezed in the gel. Then we added food coloring. I sealed the bag with some packing tape for added "security". The kids loved squishing the bags (they smelled really good) and making the fish "swim". An added challenge for older kids is trying to make their fish line up to spell their name. 

Fish Pictures
I love kid driven art! First, I had the kids draw a fish tank using a black crayon. (Washable markers will smear when painted over.) Then, I set out lots of colorful paints and let the kids paint their pictures. The results were very colorful and creative! 

More fish ideas coming soon!
For more teaching tips & ideas check out my website at

Saturday, August 27, 2011

All About Me

School is back in session! During the summer I took part in a blog party over at We read Literacy Beginnings by Pinnell and Fountas. It was great to read what other teachers thought about the book and hear all their ideas. All this information filled my head with wonderful ideas and activities I just had to try! All these new ideas along with hours of planning made for a very smooth and exciting start of the school year. 

The first week and a half of the school year I did a Welcome to School theme. This past week our theme was All About Me. My favorite part of this week was our class hand picture and self-portraits. 

Class Hand Picture

We read the book The Shades of People. The last page of the book is a picture similar to this. The kids were very excited about taking a picture just like the one in the book. The next day we read The Colors of Us. This book uses "food" words to describe the color of people. After reading the book, the kids told me what shades they saw in our classroom. I combined their own words along with our class hand picture to make the picture on the left. I printed an 8x10 to display in our classroom. 


The self-portraits turned out really well. I love how kid driven the art it. For details on how to make self-portraits like this in your classroom or get more ideas for an All About Me theme, check out my website under the All About Me tab.

Next Week: Fish Theme

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Website

I'm very excited to announce that I just started a website!! It originated as a way organize all my teaching activities, lesson plans, and and all the great ideas I find all over the internet. I hope it will become a resource other teachers can use. My goal is to keep it very simple and organized. If you have any suggestions on how to make it better please leave a comment. THANKS!  Check it out at It is still in it's early stages. I'm looking forward to adding to it throughout the school year! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Study - Chapter 8 Ideas

I'm so excited I stumbled upon this book study! The book is Literacy Beginnings and is a must have for all Pre-K teachers. I started reading some of the posts and knew I had to have this book. It is helping me fight off my summer boredom and getting my creative juices flowing for the next school year.

Blending Song
To the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"
If you think you know this word shout it out
If you think you know this word shout it out
If you think you know this word then tell me what you heard
If you think you know this word shout it out

My students loved singing this song last year and guessing the word at the end.

Mystery Games
The book had many great game/activity ideas using a mystery theme. Get the kids excited by letting them know they are detectives and need to use clues to solve a puzzle. You can even give the kids a few flashlights and turning off the lights. Step it up by providing the kids with detective glasses. We got ours from the local theater. When they recycle the 3-D glasses they pop out the lenses but then throw away the frames.

Mouse Builds Words
This is a great book I got last year from scholastic. In the book they replace the first letter of a word and replace it with another. For each pair of words there is an action word such as blew or pushed. I write the first word on the board (cup) then the children do the action to take away the "c"(blew). Then I write in the new first letter ( pup). Together we figure out the new word mouse made.

Pre-K Pages

Monday, February 28, 2011

Names for Bear

Over the next three weeks, we will be doing a unit on bears. To kick off the unit, I introduced our class bear. During group time, I let every child suggest a name for bear. Then I chose my 4 favorites. (sorry, but Hannah Montana, Michael Jackson, and Phineas and Ferb DID NOT make the cut!) I made a graph on the board and wrote in the 4 choices. The kids came up one at a time and marked their vote. After everyone had voted, we counted the tallies together. Our bears name is Ella.

Every night during our unit, Ella will go home with a different child, along with her journal. Each child and their parents can write about all the things they did with Ella. Before we sent Ella home, I had a few of the kids decorate her. They used construction paper to cut out a pair of pants, a shirt, and a bow for the bears hair. I had the bear laminated, an off Ella went to spend the night with one of our friends. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tiger Stripes - Patterns

In our classroom, we work on patterns everyday during calendar time. This activity was a great way to measure individual progress and have a great artifact for each child's portfolio.

Missouri Early Learning Standards:
- Recognizes patterns
- Duplicates and extends patterns

- pre-cut black and orange strips
- glue stick
- white paper
-pre-made example

- Show the child your paper and explain how you followed the pattern black, orange, black, orange, black, orange. Just like a tiger.
- Give the child their supplies to make this activity.
- Because I used this activity to measure the child's ability and to keep for their portfolio, I used minimal teacher guidance. Below are a few of the results from my classroom.

left: child age 3

right: child age 5

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Drawing the Music

We just completed a two week unit on music. The second week of our unit focused on the orchestra. We exposed the children to vocabulary such as; tempo, conductor, and composer. During our morning meetings, we read the book Meet the Orchestra written by Ann Hayes. This book was a great resource. I read the first half of the book one day and the second half the next. After we had finished the book, we reviewed the different types of instruments; strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Then I had the children close their eyes and we listened to a song by the Philharmonic Orchestra.

After our morning meeting, I pulled four children at a time into our studio. We talked about tempo and sound. Then I played Beethoven music and had the children draw what they heard. Here are some of the pictures the children drew with their comments about the pictures.

Top Far Left: "The purple melt into the brown. I heard the sound."

Top Left: "The music made me go fast and slow and medium and tempo. I drew tempo went slow or higher. I went fast when the music made me do it.

Bottom Far Left: "Drew different sounds. I changed it to this color then this color."

Bottom Left: "I wanted to go fast and I drew slowly then I drawed a little faster. I heard the music."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Candy Heart Count

This is a great way to use all those candy hearts from Valentine's day. This activity is a great one to save and put in the child's portfolio.

- candy heart count paper
- 15 candy hearts per child
- pen
- highlighter

First, I had the child place a candy heart on every one of the hearts on the paper. Then I asked the child to count all of the pink candies. Then we counted together to check and see if the child was right. The child wrote the number under the pink column. I wrote the number in highlighter for the children who are still learning to write their numbers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Fun

I'm sure many teachers dread the Valentine's Day craziness, but Valentine's Day has long been my favorite day of the school year. Something about all the red and pink, hearts, friendship, and love. I think it's great that there is a day to stop and be reminded to cherish all the special relationships in my life. Today provided many meaningful conversations about friendship and the joy of sharing. Below are a few of the activities we did today.

The first part of our day was spent in "The Post
Office." Each child was given a turn to play mailman and pass out their Valentine's. This activity teaches friends name's, sorting, letter recognition, and sharing. The display
cases at the front of our class, worked out perfectly for setting out the mailboxes.

Next, the children played Pin the Heart on the Elephant. The kids thought this game was hilarious. I had them sit on the back edge of the carpet in two rows. Then I sent one to sit at the table with my TA to write their name. After they wrote their names, they came over to get a blindfold and get spun. I spun them, and spun them, and spun them. The kids laughed and laughed. Then they tried to pin their heart on the elephant. This game covered literacy, fine motor, large motor, good sportsmanship, turn taking, and following rules.

We also provided the children with a craft. The easiest/fastest way to prepare the materials, is to die-cut hearts and then cut out the extra on each heart. Draw two lines on each "half" of the heart. These are the lines the children will cut. Then, help the children weave the pieces together. This activity covered following directions, fine motor, scissor skills, patterns, and

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Math with Hearts and Dots

Small Group Time - In my classroom, small group time is known as star teacher time. Sometimes I work with students one on one, and other times I work with them in groups of 2-4. When I finish working with a group I let them choose a star sticker. The sticker works as great motivation for effort.

Goals: Number Recognition, Counting, One-to-One Correspondence

  • 10 Hearts numbered 1-9, and a star
  • Dots
  • Bell
The child reads the number on the heart. Then they place that many dots on the heart. When the child is finished he/she hits the star. If they are correct the teacher rings the bell. If they are not correct. The teacher and child work together to get the right amount.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Faith of a Child

Today, I sat down at the table to eat lunch with my students. The girl across from me put her elbows on the table and clasped her hands together. Then, she tilted her head down on her hands. She said, "Thank you Lord for this food, in Jesus Name Amen." It was short and to the point but it filled my heart with joy. The Bible talks about having the faith of a child, but today I witnessed the boldness of a child. A child who knew no different. In her mind, when you sit down to eat, you pray and give God thanks. She didn't think about what people would think of her. She wasn't insecure about saying the wrong words. I doubt it ever crossed her mind that "you shouldn't pray in school." I don't even know if she thought about just praying to herself in her head. As an adult, I saw it as a bold move. But in her mind, she didn't think twice about it. Today I was blessed by seeing Christ in one of my students. I pray she never looses that innocent faith. If she's teased I pray she'll stand strong and continue to display the boldness she showed today. I pray that I can learn from her 5 year old faith. I pray that God will continue to use her as an encouragement to me. Whoever knew that something as simple as a child's prayer would affect me so much?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Things Kids Say . . .

Kids really do say the funniest things. One of the things I love about working with this age group is their simple understanding of the world. How so many things make sense to them even though it doesn't actually make sense at all. Looking back, I wish I had started this blog back in September when I started teaching. That way I would have these funny sayings and special moments written down. Unfortunately, with time, the best and funniest moments are often forgotten. Sometimes it's easy to forget to enjoy the simple times in life when their are so many "more important" things taking up our time. I'm glad I now have a place to reflect on the daily events in my class. But anyway back to the funny stuff.

This is my desk. I have a picture of my fiance, Charlie, and me on my desk. This picture has sparked many hilarious conversations and quotes. At the beginning of the year I was often asked,

"Ms. Kristen who is that in the picture?"

to which I would reply,

"That's Charlie, my fiance."

Eventually the other students started answering for me . . .

"That's her beyonce!" - student KR

It was way to funny to correct her. So she still pronounces it beyonce. It makes me laugh every time. Does it make me a bad teacher letting her pronounce it wrong? And teach every one esle how to pronounce it wrong? Nah. They'll figure out how to pronounce it eventually . . . right?

A few weeks later I had a conversation about Charlie with two of my other students.

"Why he won't let you go?" - student KW
"KW sometimes in pictures, people put their arms around each other and smile for the camera." - Ms. K
"Well I don't like him." - student KW
"But KW you haven't even met him." -Ms. K
"But he ugly. I don't like him."- student KW

at this point another student chimed in,

"He tight. I like him!" -student KE
"He ain't tight!" - student KW
"Yeah he is. He tight!" - student KE

We eat lunch with the students. It's part of licencing. I love eating with them because it is a great opportunity to talk to them and get to know them better. Many of these students never sit down at a table to eat at home. This gives us the opportunity to model things like using utensils(you'd be surprised), using our napkin, what's appropriate at the table and what isn't.

On Monday, I had this conversation with one of my students. I was encouraging her to drink her milk. One of the other students said its good for your bones. She replied,

"My bones are broken." - student BR
"Your bones are broken?" - Ms. K
"Yeah all my bones are broken." - student BR

A few minutes later the same student said,

"Ms. Kristen, I stop eating every time my heart beats." -student BR

Friday, February 4, 2011


Here is a look into my classroom. These pictures were taken in September. The room has been rearranged a few times since then. There are also way more toys! I have 18 children in my class and a teacher's aid.

This year has had its challenges, including a high turn over. Unfortunately, about 7 of our friends have left since the beginning of the year. We are excited that new friends have come into our class in the last few weeks.

Recently we changed part of our room into a beauty/barber shop. The children have had a blast playing in this new area. We put an old keyboard and an old phone on a small desk for the children to use to take reservations.