Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading, Math and Science Activities for an About Me Theme

Here are some more ideas for an about me theme.

For infants, have plenty of mirrors around so the children can study their faces and facial expressions. Infants and toddlers can try mimicking facial expressions while looking in the mirror. Mirrors are good for older children too. For preschoolers, they can try to draw what they see in the mirror.

For infants and toddlers, look at photos of the child and family members. See if they can pick out who’s who and talk about what they see in the picture. It can be a good labeling activity for infants and toddlers.
Preschoolers enjoy looking at photos too. You can take photos of them throughout the day doing normal things like playing, eating, getting ready to go outside etc. Make a picture schedule that you can add to and change. This can also be good for toddlers or any child getting used to a new routine.

For preschoolers, make a photo matching game.
Have two photos of each child in the class and have the kids try to match them up. To make it more challenging, you can do a memory game with it were all the photos are face down on the table and the kids have to remember where the photos are in order to match them up.

Look at fingerprints.
Fingerprint each child. Have the children look through magnifying glasses so that they can see the differences between fingerprints. You can talk about how everyone’s fingerprint is unique.

You can do a measuring activity. Have the children measure how tall they are against a piece of string. Cut the string to their height and then tape them to a large piece of paper. The children can see how tall they are and will be able to compare it to their friends.

For literacy, you can find or make picture books that have different people and faces for infants to look at. You can read books that go along with the theme to children of any age. There are a lot of books to choose from. I like It's Not Easy Being a Bunny. It’s a cute book and it’s about how Bunny tries being something he’s not, but in the end, he finds out that he likes being himself after all.

For preschoolers, you can have them draw pictures and decorate pages with things about themselves. They can use handprints, family photos, pictures of their favorite foods and things to do, pieces of paper or stickers that show their favorite colors etc. If they can write, they can write a sentence or two about each page or they can tell you what to write for them. You can keep these books on hand so the children can look at them later to learn about each other and enjoy their creations.

Art Activities for An About Me Theme

Reflection Paintings


Plastic Spoons
Aluminum foil
Food Coloring
Corn Syrup


Allow the children to paint on aluminum foil with a mixture of food coloring and corn syrup. When they are done, they’ll have shiny paintings and will be able to see a reflection of themselves.

My Placemat


Construction Paper
Picture of Child


Give each child a piece of paper. Let the children either paint or trace their handprint on the paper.
They can also decorate the paper any way that they want. Finally put their picture
And name somewhere on the page and laminate it. Use the placemats during meals or let the child use it how they’d like.

Photo Collage


Construction paper,
Photos of the child and his or her family,
And anything else the child would like to decorate their picture with.


Let the child glue pictures onto the paper. They can also decorate the empty parts of the paper how they wish. While working on the project, you can talk about when the photos were taken, family members in the photos etc.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you to Tonya from, Room to Grow: Making Early Childhood Count! for the versatile blogger award.

This is going to be hard to do but I have to come up with seven things about myself to share.

1. I don’t have kids, but I have two spoiled ragdoll cats named, Diamond and Mellow.
2. I lived in the same house from when I was born until I was 21.
3. My dream job would be a seal trainer or working with polar bears.
4. I collect unicorns of all types whether it be glass, plush, etc. I have unicorn everything.
5. The food that I really can’t stand is raw tomatoes, but I’ll eat pizza sauce or catsup. People argue with me about this, but they do taste very different!
6. I’m only about five ft tall.
7. I love making pottery and made lots of creations throughout high school. Some day, I’ll get back to it again. />

Now, I have to pass this award along to fifteen blogs that I've recently discovered.
here are the blogs in no particular order. These blogs have great activity suggestions and are fun to follow. I can tell that these people enjoy being either moms, early childhood educators or both. There are lots of great blogs out there.

Room to Grow: Making Early Childhood Count!

Crunchy and Green
The Activity Mom
Chasing Chereos
Counting Coconuts
Let's Promote Play
Learning Is Child's Play
Teach preschool
The Picky Apple
Parenting Ideas that Fly
Childhood 101
We Know Babies
Irresistible Ideas for play based learning
Teaching Tiny tots
What Do You Do All Day

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nature Sounds Listening Activity

I’ve made another listening activity using nature sounds. I hope you enjoy them.

Track List:

1. Beach
2. Rain
3. Windy
4. Waterfall
5. Swamp
6. Rain with Thunder
7. Rainforest
8. Lava
9. Avalanch
10.Footsteps in crunchy leaves
11. Pond
12. Ice cracking
13. Hot spring
14. Babbling Stream
Click here to download the files.

Listening Activity for Jobs Theme

Here’s a listening activity for a jobs theme. If you have anymore job ideas for me to add that I can find sounds for, let me know.

The track list:

1. Farm
2. Police
3. Construction
4. Grocery store
5. Fishing boat
6. Mechanic
7. Office
8. Salon
9. Restaurant
10. Hospital

Click here to download the files.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Team Work and Musical Chairs

A few months ago, I took an online class about games for toddlers and preschoolers.
One thing that they’ve suggested that I haven’t had a chance to try is a different
version of musical chairs. They pointed out that toddlers and preschoolers do better
with games that are based on cooperation instead of competition. I thought this version
of musical chairs could be a good activity to do within the first few weeks of having
a new class to practice team work.

What you do is run the game like musical chairs using a chair or a mat for each kid.
When the music stops, you take one chair or mat away and let all the kids continue
to play.
By the end, you should have one left and all the kids have to find a way to be touching the chair somehow.

That way, no one feels bad about losing or geting bored
because they have to sit out while waiting for the game to end. When I was a kid, I hated musical chairs for both of those reasons. Now that I’m a teacher, I have to hear someone bragging to the rest of the class about how they are the winner and the rest of them are losers for ten minutes. It happens no matter how many times we tell them it’s just a game, no one in the class is a loser, we can always play again another time etc. This version solves most if not all of those problems. If anyone tries this, let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Play-dough Guessing Game

Today, a few of the kids and I were playing with play-dough. We had out cookie cutters, rolling pins, a fake plastic knife and little plates. We started out making cupcakes. Once we got bored with that, I started making stars which kept getting smashed and ripped apart by a little girl I’ll call Kay. Every time I’d make a star, she’d ask if she could have it but then would destroy it. This quickly became a game and it was fun!
She’s one of the youngest in my group so I decided to test her on her shapes. First, I made a triangle which she guessed correctly. Then I made an oval which she thought was a circle. I told her it was close, but told her that it was an oval. It was a new word for her so she repeated it a couple of times. Then I made a square, but didn’t have a cookie cutter for that shape so it kept coming out crooked. I asked her if she knew what it was, but she wasn’t sure. I didn’t blame her for that one, but I told her I was trying to make a square and she repeated the word, “square?” I said, “Yes, it’s a square, but it was a little messed up.” After making some more stars and attempting to make a door out of a cookie cutter that she had picked out, we got back to shapes. I tested her on the oval again, but this time she had decided that it was a cake. I didn’t correct her this time because it could’ve been a cake or anything she wanted. Kay is one of those little girls who has a mind of her own and I like to encourage that.

The cookie cutter play-dough activity can also be good with letters and numbers if you have those cookie cutters. You make the letter cutout and then they can guess what it is. If they are helping you, it’s even better. If you don’t have the cookie cutters, just role the play-dough out into snake shapes and then make the letters and numbers from that. You don’t have to have an activity in mind with play-dough though. The best part of play-dough is that they can use their imagination and create anything.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guessing Smells Activity

I did a fun activity with the kids where they had to guess what smell was in each bucket. I bought these small buckets that close from the dollar store. The night before we did the activity, I soaked cotton balls in whatever I wanted them to smell like. It was a little hard to find at least twelve different smells that they could actually guess, but I found enough things. To make it easier and less messy, I had muffin tins that I’d put the cotton balls and the liquids or powders in so they could absorb the smell. With the powders, I added a tiny bit of water to the cotton balls so the powders would stick. After a few minutes of soaking, I put the cotton balls in their buckets and closed them up.


The set up.

For the smells, I used vanilla extract, obviously for vanilla. I used coco powder for chocolate. I wanted a strawberry scent, but I didn’t have strawberries to squeeze the juice out of so I used Strawberries and Cream Vo5 shampoo. This worked well and that scent was the favorite for most of the kids. I used cinnamon. I had a spice that has a barbecue scent so I tried that. That one was a little harder for the kids to guess, but they got it. I wanted other fruit smells, but didn’t have any fresh fruit so I used several sprays. One was orange scented and the other smelled liked freshly baked cookies. They are grooming sprays that we use for our pets so they are safe, but these kids are old enough to know not to put these things in their mouths. I used apple scented body wash, bubblegum hand soap, maple syrup, mango iced tea mix and coffee. If there were more smells, I can’t remember them.

The kids really liked this activity. They had fun guessing and smelling the buckets over and over. Another thing you could add to this is to have cards with pictures that match with the smells in the buckets. They’d be using sight and smell which would be good for a five senses theme. I’d like to try this activity again with different smells so if anyone has any good suggestions, that’d be great.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Matching Fun with Egg Cartons

This is a little game I came up with around Easter, but this can be good all year round. You can use it for Easter, food, farming or any other theme you can relate to eggs. Even if you aren’t doing anything with eggs, it’s useful for color recognition for toddlers and even some preschoolers who aren’t sure of their colors. I only had one package of the plastic Easter eggs for this activity, but you can buy other packages that may have more colors. I took the eggs apart, put one set of halves in the carton and left the rest out so the kids could put the same colored halves together. This of course makes the whole dozen eggs. For a better color variety, you could buy different colored large marbles or balls and color or paint the cups of the carton. That way you wouldn’t have to use the same color twice.

For preschoolers, you can write numbers 1 through 12 on the eggs and then write the numbers 1 through 12 on the egg carton for practice with number recognition. The preschoolers I’ve worked with have had to do this several times before they could do it on their own. The first couple of times were spent just looking at the numbers and then they understood that the numbers matched on the carton. This works well with doing a variety of other sorting and matching activities so the concept of numbers and counting sink in.

Ocean Theme Lesson Plan

Ocean Theme Lesson Plan

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
By the Seashore : A Natural Trail Book (A Touch and Feel Adventure)
Islands of Ice: The Story of a Harp Seal
Ocean theme word wall with pictures of sea creatures labeled.

Music and movement: Ocean finger plays:
Five Little Sea Creatures

Five little sea creatures
On the ocean floor;
The lobster walked away
Now there are four.
Four little sea creatures
Living in the sea;
The octopus crept away
Now there are three.
Three little sea creatures
Wondering what to do;
"Good-bye," said the starfish
Now there are two.
Two little sea creatures
Not having much fun;
Off swam the sea horse
Now there is one.
One little hermit crab
Sad and all alone,
Back came the starfish,
Back came the sea horse,
Back came the octopus,
Back came the lobster,
Then all five went home.

Five Cranky Crabs

Five cranky crabs were digging on the shore.
One swam into a net and then there were four.
Four cranky crabs were floating in the sea.
One got tangled up in seaweed then there were three.
Three Cranky crabs were wondering what to do.
One dug a deep, deep hole. Then there were two.
Two cranky crabs were warming in the sun.
One got scooped up in a cup. Then there was one.
One cranky crab was smarter than his friends.
He hid between the jagged rocks.
That's how the story ends.

Shell sorting,
Pouring water or sand in the sensory table,
Seashell Match Up
Sensory tub with sand and water: have kids dig for shells.
Water and fish in the sensory table with nets to catch the fish.


Ocean Bottle
Plastic bottle,
blue food coloring,
plastic fish
and some hot glue.

1. Clean out an empty plastic pop bottle.
2. Add water, blue food coloring, glitter, and maybe a few pebbles. Also, you can add sand, shells, or plastic fish.
3. Seal the bottle closed using a little hot glue and allow to completely dry before the children can play with it.

Note: Have the children tip or role the bottle to see what happens.

Discussion: What happens when you role or tip the bottle?
What happens in the actual ocean?
What kind of creatures live in the ocean?
How do those creatures get their food?
What do we get from the ocean?

Listen to sounds of different fish, sea birds and the ocean atmosphere.
Make a guessing game out of different sea sounds.
Take a trip to the beach.

Fine motor:
Make shell or starfish imprints in play dough.

Sea shell rubbings with crayons.

Sand art in beach buckets that cover like the ones below.
Take small cups of sand and add food coloring.
Mix well.
Have the kids scoop the sand from the cups to the buckets in layers so they can create a cute beach bucket while practicing their pouring and scooping skills.

I found these at the dollar store
They came in packs of three and they had bubblegum inside.

Pasta Shell Painting
Use large pasta shells and paint.
Let the kids paint them any way they want and you can discuss how no two shells are alike.

Dramatic play:

Turn the space under a card table into an ocean hideout for your child.
1. First, hang some blue crepe paper streamers or twisty ribbon all around the table so that it hangs down to the floor.
2. Next, place some pillow "rocks" inside for your sea creatures.
3. Provide your child with some plastic or stuffed sea animals to place in the den.
4. Decorate with pictures of the sea and place books about the sea inside.
You can add plush animals like the ones below to any ocean themed dramatic play area or put them on display.


Mostly crustations

Cloun fish, Stingray and another striped fish

Poralia, Rhizotome and moon jellyfish!

Mother and baby dolphin, Octopus, Sealion, large and small seals and a whale.

 Shark and a seahorse.

Finally, a walrus.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Squishy Bags For Sensory Play

I’ve worked with some kids who don’t like to paint, touch anything wet or get their hands dirty so I decided to make squish bags. This way they could feel the squishy texture without getting dirty. I took the larger ziplock bags with the actual sliding zipper that seals the bag. Then in a cup, I mixed flour, water and food coloring. Three bags used about one small box of flour. I can’t remember how much water I used in each. You probably want to start with a quarter to half a cup and see how thick the mixture is. If you want it thicker, just add more flour. Mix with the amount of food coloring you want. I used blue, yellow and made pink for a third bag. After sealing the first bag, I put another bag over it in case the first bag popped. After closing both bags, I reinforced it with packing tape.

The kids enjoyed playing with the bags. Even the kids who didn’t like to touch squishy things liked them. They made hand prints, trails, wrote out letters and numbers with their fingers and made creative designs. Another good thing was that once they were done with their design, they could shake up the bag and it was like a blank drawing board. You could do this with other things like pudding, shaving cream, marshmallows or any other thing that can be squished. Another teacher did the activity with pudding and the kids enjoyed that, but one of the bags popped and it made a huge mess. Doubling the bags works well though. Only use it for a day or two because the mixture starts to smell bad on about the third day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sink or Float

I wanted to get the kids more involved in science activities so I decided on an activity to see if things would sink or float. I used a small round container so we could use one object at a time. It was easier for the kids to really observe what would happen that way. Of course, everyone wanted to be the one putting the materials in the container so it was a struggle to convince 12 kids to each take one turn.

I used things like a plastic Easter egg, paper towel, rock, piece of straw, a coin, a paper clip, cotton ball, a piece of tin foil etc. Each child predicted whether the object would sink or float and then we’d put the object in the container. It turned out that most of the kids guessed right. These kids are mostly two and three-years-old, but with older kids you could actually make a graph of their predictions so they could look back and see if what they thought in the beginning was right.

One kid told me that rocks sink because they are heavy. Another kid told me that Easter eggs float because they are light. They learned about absorption. When the cotton ball was light and hadn’t absorbed any water yet, it would float. Once it was filled with water, it was heavy and sank to the bottom. The same thing went for the paper towel. They thought it was cool because it had changed and didn’t go as predicted. Unfortunately, we only had about ten minutes to finish this activity, but they wanted to keep putting the different objects back into the water. This is a simple activity that kids really enjoy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sounds From the Home

This listening activity uses sounds that anyone can find in or around their home. I hope everyone enjoys them and that they aren't too hard for the kids. I tried coming up with sounds for a community theme such as the grocery store, pet store, post office, bank etc. I didn't find good clear sounds and I thought the kids would have a hard time telling the difference between some of the places. maybe I'll combine some of those sounds with a jobs theme. I still have a few other ideas for sound activities. I will be posting other types of activities as well during the upcoming week.

Download the files here!

Track Listing

1. Doorbell
2. Phone ringing
3. Pouring Drink
4. Keys Jingling
5. Toilet Flush
6. Computer
7. Clock
8. Lawn Mower
9. Page turning in a book
10. Bouncing ball
11. Filling Sink
12. Fridge
13. Fan
14. Baby's rattle,
15. Writing with pencil
16. Kids in Pool
17. Ice Cube in Glass.
18. Mailbox
19. Hair Dryer
20. Popcorn Popping in Microwave

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Transportation Listening Activity

Here is the listening activity for transportation that I had a request for. I did the same thing with this project. The only differences are that there are less files and that they are all in mp3 format. I made this up today so I’ve never tried it with this theme. I hope you enjoy it.
Download the transportation activity here

Track Listing
1. Train
2. Car Horn
3. Motorcycle
4. Police
5. Truck.
6. Helicopter
7. Fire Truck
8. Bus
9. Boat
10. Traffic
11. Jet
12. Submarine

Thank you, Deborah (Teach Preschool) for the idea.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homemade Mailbox for Post Office Theme

During our post office theme week, I made a large mailbox that we could use for dramatic play. It was big enough for the kids to mail most sizes of paper, magazines and even larger envelopes. The center where I work put it in storage for now so I can’t get a picture of it, but I’ll explain how I made it the best I can. I took a medium to large sized shipping box and taped up all the edges so none of the flaps were open. Then I cut a long slot in the front that was made for the envelopes. In the back, I cut out a square flap door that left a space large enough for the kids to put their hands in the box and pull out whatever was in there. It was big enough for adults to do this too so the opening was pretty large. When closed, the door would almost be flush with the rest of the box. I kept it closed with three strips of Velcro that I found in the craft section. I put the strips right next to each other and added extra tape to the sticky part on the back to reinforce it because I knew it’d be pulled open over and over. I added another small part of a Velcro strip to make a handle that could be pulled.

I completely covered the outside of the box with white shelf paper found in the home section. My idea was to let the kids decorate the mailbox however they wanted plus cover up all the taped areas. I thought it would be fun for the kids to decide how their mailbox looked. It didn’t work out that way because the place where I work chose to use it for the hallway display for the theme. Then they combined post office with Valentines and they taped hearts on to it.

Finally, the next time post office theme came around, the hearts were removed and it was used the way I intended. The class enjoyed pretending to send cards, letters, and magazines and of course bills back and forth.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Home Made Ocean

I used this for a display during ocean week. I can’t remember where the jar came from, but it is plastic and is mostly square as you can see in the picture. I used colored rocks that you find in the craft section for the bottom. I found plastic plants in the aquarium section to represent sea plants. I included some sea shells and different kinds of rubber fish that I found at the dollar store. Then there’s the water which I made blue with food coloring and I added some glitter. The background is a plastic poster with scenery which I also found in the aquarium section. I taped it to the inside of the jar and it stuck pretty well. The children enjoyed it and would stop to look at it every time they passed the display table. Since this was something they couldn’t touch, I also brought in those animals that you put in water and watch them grow. Each morning, we’d look to see how much the snail and starfish grew. The kids learned that things don’t grow immediately. It takes time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Animal Sounds Listening Activity

This is a listening activity I did with the kids on animal sounds. I chose 20 random animal sounds. Some sounds that the kids would know for sure and then others that they might not know right away. The kids had fun with it and some of them knew the sounds that are less common. You can add more sounds of your own to this depending on the age and attention span of your kids. I copied the sounds to a CD and had them listen to them that way, but you can use an Ipod or another type of media player if that’s easier. The files are mp3 and wav so you’d have to convert them to audio format to use them in a regular CD player. I’ve also included the track list and a 3 second long silent wav file in case you want to add it to the beginning of any new sounds you choose to add. I added the three second silent pause to each sound so the kids could get ready before hearing each one. If you work with kids, you know how long it can take to get them back on track especially when they are doing something new. They get lost in the excitement. If you need assistance with fixing any sound files, let me know and I’ll help if I can. I used the basic sound recorder program that comes with windows. Then I used a simple mp3 encoder to save them in mp3 format. If anyone decides to use this with their own kids or kids they work with, let me know how it goes. The following is the track list.
Click here to download the files.
  • 1. Chickadee
  • 2. Dog
  • 3. Horse
  • 4. Cat
  • 5. Duck
  • 6. Rooster
  • 7. Pig
  • 8. Bull
  • 9. Polar Bear
  • 10. Tiger
  • 11. Penguin
  • 12. Seal
  • 13. Baby Penguin
  • 14. Hippo
  • 15. Elephant
  • 16. Frog
  • 17. Snake
  • 18. Guinea pig
  • 19. Dolphin
  • 20. Whale

Recipe for Goop

Recipe for Goop

I found this online somewhere. It seems to be a popular recipe, but I found it listed as silly putty, but it comes out more like goop or gack. I tried this a while ago with the kids and it worked great after drying out for a day. They could mold it however they wanted. They could make a ball that would actually bounce. I was looking for the rubbery texture of silly putty, but this worked out well and they enjoyed it. It lasts for about a week or even longer if refrigerated.

2 parts Elmer's Glue
1 Part Liquid Starch
Optional: Food Coloring.

Pour starch slowly over the glue and mix.
If it is too sticky you can add more starch.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
It may need to dry out a bit before you can use it.
Store in an air tight container or plastic bag.
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