Jul 23, 2012

Online Workshops for Preschool Teachers

For preschool teachers, summer is a great time to renew your energy and thoughts. Why not take an online workshop with topics relevant to Early Childhood settings. In addition, the workshops provide certificates with marked hours (2 to 4 hours, depending on how many assignments are completed) which may be used for licensing requirements. The workshop outlines are below. Visit Circle of Ideas to enroll and for more information!

Ideas for Quiet Time Within Early Childhood Settings

Quiet time is an essential component within an early childhood program.The following workshop provides tactics to help with quiet time, for both the nappers and those children who do not sleep. In addition, taking this workshop will provide you ideas for creating a quiet corner for young children.

Bringing the Inside Out and the Outside In

Ideas for Including Nature in Early Childhood Curriculum
Whether a childcare facility is in the country or city location, nature can always be brought inside. At the same time, all quality early childhood curriculum include outside time to foster gross motor development and for overall well being of each child. Activities that are typically considered inside events can be brought outside to create more options and enjoyment for outdoor play. Take this ECE online workshop and be inspired to bring nature inside and indoor activities outside.

Beyond a Book: Different Ways to Tell Stories with Children

Children enjoy hearing a good story, but a book doesn't have to be the only way we relay a story. In this ECE online workshop, other ways to tell a story, including the participation and involvement of the children themselves, is discussed.

The Importance of Structure in Early Childhood Settings

Some children have difficulty with change. There are many reasons why. When children know how their day will unfold, it aids in their emotional stability and developmental growth. Take this ECE online workshop and be provided detailed suggestions on how to keep the structure in your childcare environment.

Teaching Young Children About Feelings

Feelings is an integral part of our everyday discussion and guidance with young children. This ECE online workshop provides a variety of activities for young children regarding the topic and learning process including ways for children to practice labelling their emotions and strategies for handling their feelings.

The Benefits of Sensory Play in Early Childhood Settings

Sensory play is a fun experience for children and provides opportunities for developing skills. The following ECE online workshop discusses the benefits of sensory play for young children and provides numerous ideas for how to set up a sensory table and other sensory activities.

The Importance of Organization and Visual Presentations

There are so many benefits to having an organized and visually appealing childhood environment. The following ECE online workshop delves into those benefits, tips for keeping organized, ways to label with images, and special consideration to those young children who may find busy walls and clutter discomforting.

Drama Play in Early Childhood Settings

An intrinsic development in children is symbolic, pretend and drama play. This ECE online workshop looks beyond the house corner, and provides variations for drama centers in early childhood environments as well as tips for planning and organizing drama play

Using Recycling Material in Early Childhood Settings

Today, more than ever, the three R's: recycling, reusing and reducing has become a mainstay for many households and workplaces. Using recycled items, whether from the recycling bins or other used material, within Early Childhood programs is cost efficient and good for the environment. The following ECE online workshop provides a variety of ideas for how to implement recycling into our early childhood settings in a safe and creative manner.

Circle Time Basics

Is this your first time running a circle? Do you wonder how to keep those children engaged? This ECE online workshop outlines some of the basics of circle time and well used methods to keep those children on the carpet and with you!

The Benefits of Music Within Early Childhood Settings

Singing and music is an integral component of creating quality programming for young children. Take this ECE online workshop to discover the numerous benefits of music within early childhood settings

The Importance of Multiculturalism in Early Childhood Programs

An early childhood curriculum should display multiculturalism on a daily basis to allow each child in care to feel included and honoured. The following ECE online workshop discusses the importance of multiculturalism and specific ways to include cultural differences in our program planning and early childhood settings.

Theme Days Are Fun

Children love theme days. What is essential within the planning is that our curriculum is still meeting the needs of the whole child: socially, emotionally, creatively, physically and cognitively. By meeting this goal, we hope to meet the needs of each child's growth and development, while allowing them to express their individuality and exploration. This ECE online workshop includes a detailed outline of a rainbow theme day

The Benefits of Felt: Creating Learning Material

Felt stories continue to be a common learning material within early childhood settings. Young children respond to the bright colors and simple shapes. Felt boards can be used for more than relaying stories. Take this ECE online workshop and discover some of the wonderful benefits of using felt boards for all young children and different ways to use felt pieces aside from storytelling, such as teaching concepts. At the same time, you will be provided basic instructions for making felts stories and templates.

Fostering Math Skills in Early Childhood Settings

The following ECE online workshop provides a variety of fun ideas for young children to learn math skills that can be incorporated into everyday play or in a more structured environment. When young children experience hands-on activities and have opportunities to ponder questions that introduce and teach mathematical awareness, it creates a foundation for further learning.

Jul 20, 2012

Flower Crafts

Making flowers in preschool, daycare or any early childhood environment is a fun spring activity. The following blog entry provides some ideas for flower crafts.

Daffodils: mini cupcake liners turn flower designs into cute daffodils. Prep the craft activity by cutting out a flower shape or fold a piece of yellow construction paper in half and draw half a flower for the children to cut out. A stem and leaf can be glued onto the flower with the cupcake liner placed in the middle to finish the craft.

From Musings of Me

    Flower Stamps: many craft stores have flower foam stamps for prints, but did you know that old thread spools make cute flower designs as well?                     
Hand print flowers
From Growing a Jeweled Rose
Handprint flowers: the children's hands become the main flower either with fingerpaint or construction paper. By having the children trace and cut their hands out by themselves, it becomes a great fine motor activity, building up the skills for cutting. The flower can be their individual hand, or many hands can be glued for the petals by gluing the palm part of the hand in the center of a paperplate and fingers outwards. The latter choice is a long project if the child is cutting each hand, and might work best with an adult's assistance.

    handprint tulips
    From DLTK

Coffee filters: when food coloring and water is dropped onto coffee filters with eye droppers, the filter absorbs the liquid and it turns into a tie-dye look. When the filter is all dry, then it can become a cute flower which can be glued onto paper or attached to a pipecleaner.

Coffee Filter Flower
From Crafts for Preschool Kids

Paperplate Daisy: a small paperplate with white large petals for the edge, make a cute daisy. The children can finish the flower with a big happy face in the middle.

Flower Collage: place flower pictures from used birthday cards, calendars, wrapping paper and so on, onto the table with a large piece of construction paper. Add some drawing tools, such as felt pens, and lots of glue and scissors. Provide strips of paper and other small pieces of paper with different textures and let the children create their own spring flower creations.

Still Life Painting: place real or fake flowers in a vase on a table. Provide children with pencils for tracing, and then paint or felts for filling in the color. You will be amazed at how many young children are able to create art in this manner. Each masterpiece is unique.It helps to present this art activity with a quick introduction beforehand, showing the children some paintings and discussing what still life means.

Open Ended Craft Table: encourage flower making by providing material conducive to making flowers and allow children the space and time to create their own flowers. Material to consider:

  • circle shapes
  • popsicle sticks
  • coffee filters
  • sticks
  • cupcake liners
  • paper doilies/liners
  • pom poms
  • single egg cartons
  • pipe cleaners
From Buggy and Buddy


    Egg carton flowers: individual foam eggs turn this craft project into a one day, simple activity. If using cardboard eggs, they can be painted beforehand. Both choices the egg cartons can be decorated, for instance, with jewels or sparkles and trimmed at the top in a zigzag manner. A pipecleaner becomes the stem by glueing it to the bottom of the egg carton, or by poking a small hole at the bottom and placing the pipecleaner through slightly and bending for attachment.

Flower Pots: sometimes it is the flower pot that is needed for an art craft. Perhaps, the children are making Mother Day Presents. Individual clay pots work well for children can paint them. Paper plates stapled together also work: one plate is cut in half and then stapled to a full plate. The children can decorate afterwards. Used glass bottles can be used for vases, and children can be provided with fun stickers or glass paint to decorate.

Good Luck and happy flower making!

More Resources

Flower Pinterest Board

Playdough Ideas

Playdough is a wonderful physical and creative activity for young children that fosters a variety of developments and skills in children. Playdough can easily be made in the kitchen. Most recipes include instructions to  make playdough over the stove. An alternative choice is to use boiling water from the kettle. When making the playdough, it is a good idea to stir the ingredients quickly and knead right away to create the desired consistency. Ingredients can be added after if the playdough is too dry or too wet. The playdough mix should be kept in a plastic bag or closed container when it is not being used and depending on the air quality of a room, and the amount of hands that play with the dough, it should last for a least a week or longer.
This website is an awesome resource for playdough recipes: www.playdoughrecipe.com

 Following are some variations and suggested items to put out with playdough in addition to the classic rolling pin and cookie cutters:

  • koolaid package inside the playdough recipe will make it smell fruity and provides color
  • a touch of tempera paint or food coloring while making the recipe
  • sparkles inside the playdough
  • vanilla or other spices
  • place buttons out with the playdough
  • candles along with baking sheet or cupcake liners
  • little plastic animals
  • plastic utensils
  • container lids that have a raised image for making prints
  • ice cube trays
  • craft sticks, popsicle sticks
  • googly eyes

20 Ways to Set Up a Sensory Table


(Always add lots of scoops and containers, or whatever seems appropriate with the suggested material.)

1. Water with washable dolls for bathing, add in empty shampoo bottles, and cloths

2. Scissors and a variety of paper to cut

3. Goop: water, food coloring and cornstarch (make sure there is water and soap nearby for cleaning up)

4. In the fall, add leaves, both real and paper/plastic and different nuts, such as chestnuts, and pinecones with rakes and containers for sorting (ie; cupcake containers)

5. Freeze water with food coloring in different sized containers and place in sensory table. Try placing different toys inside the water before freezing, or fill up a rubber glove with water and freeze

6. Die rice different colors for a rainbow effect: place rice in ziplock bags with a touch of rubbing alcohol and food coloring, shake and let dry on a cookie sheet

7. Little birthday bags, tissue paper, minature boxes and bows for wrapping

8. For the water table, add food coloring to the water, place tinfoil on the base and a variety of pebbles, add plastic fish and boats

9. In the winter, put snow in the table

10. Place in table a big bowl of soapy water, and small jars filled with water and a few drops of food coloring and eye droppers to use

11. In the sand, place little plastic animals, such as turtles or lizards, and yogurt containers upside down with cut out holes for the animals to peek their heads out of, then add some wood and plastic leaves

12. Place glass beads all throughout the sand and scoops that will release the sand through, then add some little bags with zippers to hold the discovered jewels

13. Find different colored straws and place in table with scissors

14. During springtime, fill the table up with easter grass, plastic easter eggs and little bunnies, ducks, chickens, etc.

15.Water, soap, dishrack, dishes and cloths

16. Add farm animals, a barn and some dishes that hold water or oatmeal for them to be fed.

17. Potted soil, pots, rakes, empty packaged seeds, plastic flowers

18. Add magnets and a variety of items to attract and those things that will not, such as paperclips versus wood.

19. At Halloween, fill the table up with black beans and orange dyed rice, then add plastic spiders and bats

20. Mix a variety of dried beans together for a sensory mix that can be used again and again

Further Resources: Pinterest Sensory Board        

Online Workshops in Early Childhood Education with Circle of Ideas                              

Tips for Field Trips with Young Children

Field trips outside of preschool and daycare environments are a crucial component of offering quality programming. The trips involve proper planning and organization. Here are some suggestions for making a field trip safe and successful, followed by some field trips ideas.

Setting Dates and Location:  it is important to make sure the establishment where the field trip is planned has set dates with the commitment made weeks before the actual event. For some popular locations, such as a Fire Station,  it doesn't hurt to call months before the field trip outing. Then, a day before the field trip, call to reconfirm your visit. I have experienced arriving to places with children in tow and the employees being surprised by our arrival, and have learnt to always call and reconfirm! In addition, consider visiting the location to make sure it is safe for young children.

Parent Permission Forms: Provide informational sheets to parents about the upcoming field trip, at least two weeks prior to the event, along with permission forms for the families to sign. If money is required from the families for this field trip, then start collecting and recording well ahead of the field trip date.

Parent Volunteers: Place a sign up sheet a week ahead for helpers. On the field trip day, make special buttons for those parent helpers to wear, particularly  if many parents are joining in the field trip. This way, the teacher knows who to call upon for help. My suggestion is don't be shy about delegating parents on ways you need help, for instance, clearly ask a parent, "will you please hold this door open and then return to the line up". It's all about safety first, and parents will understand. At the end of the field trip try to individually thank each parent for their help. Often, these parent helpers will be repeated helpers throughout the preschool year, or daycare time period and they deserve recognition for their efforts.

Field trip Backpack: Prepare a field trip outing backpack for your classroom, filled with first aid, a spare set of clothes, a cell phone, kleenex, pen and paper, coins, plastic bags, and bottled water. Try and anticipate what you might need and prepare for those unexpected events. MAKE SURE THE EMERGENCY CARDS ARE UP TO DATE.

Group Identification: Bright colored tshirts with the daycare/preschool  logo and name on it is a great way to identify the children in a crowded place, particularly when the field trip is a busy place, such as the Aquarium.
Walking route: Before leaving for a field trip, if applicable, plan out the walking route.  Try and choose streets with traffic lights for crossing traffic, and consider where toilet emergencies could occur if necessary.

Setting up the Partners and Groups: Before leaving, place each adult with a small group of children that they will be responsible for when arriving at the field trip destination. In addition, carefully choose appropriate partners and their placement in the line up. Set up the children for success and safety. So, for instance, place an older child with a younger child, and separate children who like to get silly together or are very chatty with one another. Place an adult with any children who need extra help or guidance. In addition, spread out parent helpers, and always have one staff in the front and back.

Before leaving Checklist
  1. Make sure all the children have gone to the washroom
  2. Each child is wearing the field trip identification clothing: (ie: tshirt, cap) 
  3. Talk to the children at a group circle about field trip safety: how to safely walk, being courteous of other people by lowering our voices, etc.
  4. Make sure the children's emergency cards are with you in the backpack before leaving.
  5. Place a note on the door with the walking route if applicable and the anticipated time of return for any late arrivals. Alternatively, arrange with other programs, to have children who arrive late to spend time there until your return.
  6. Create the partners and line up arrrangement
  7. Head count
  8. Have Fun

DON'T FORGET TO COUNT CONSTANTLY WHEN YOU ARE OUT! This is the best way to assure you have all your children.

Field Trip Destinations

Overall, the questions to ask when choosing a field trip destination is will the location be developmentally appropriate and will the trip be educationally appropriate. Furthermore, will the children be able to follow the safety guidelines for this field trip location. Places to consider for field trips with preschool aged children:  

  1. Library
  2. Restaurants
  3. Pet Stores
  4. Post Office
  5. Farms
  6. Special Community Walks
  7. Riding a Bus
  8. Fire hall
  9. Police Station
  10. Nature Walks
  11. Senior Citizen Homes
  12. Grocery Stores
  13. Garden Shops
  14. Bus or Train Stations
  15. Storytimes/ Drop In Events
  16. Farmer's Markets
  17. Factories
  18. Water Parks
  19. Art Galleries
  20. Science Centers

Show and Tell

Show and tell in preschool can occur throughout the school year or during a shorter period of time and usually involves one or two children at a time. Show and tell works best with older preschool ages, such as older threes and four year olds. The benefits of show and tell for young children are plentiful and with some organization on the preschool teachers end, show and tell can run fairly smoothly. This article provides some ideas for how to run a show and tell within a preschool curriculum and its benefits.

The Benefits of Show and Tell in Preschool

Although, at times, it seems hard to decipher the benefits of show and tell with young children, indeed this active involvement of the speaker and the listeners fosters a great deal of developments within each child:

•Learning How to Ask Questions and Answer: many preschool children do not understand the difference between a statement and a question, and so going through the process helps teach this concept.

•Speech Development: for the speaker, show and tell provides an opportunity to use descriptive language, concept thinking, story telling and so forth. Overall, it helps develop effective communication.

•Emotional Development: giving children time to share a part of their home life, their interests, with the group creates an environment of caring and fosters their emotional selves.

•Respectful Listening: show and tell can create structure for preschool children to learn how to be respectful when someone is talking and to use proper manners

•Children Take the Lead: the act of show and tell, from choosing the item, to talking about it in front of peers, to showing it to everyone, provides children the chance to be in charge, and have their choices and voice honoured. This is especially true for the more shy children in the group.

What Items to Bring for Show and Tell

Many preschools and primary classes in elementary school, choose a theme for show and tell. Toys are often not permitted for show and tell as it can create challenges for sharing afterwards, and a sense of “look what I have and what you don’t”. Some theme suggestions are:

1.something used in the house
2.a photo that holds a story or experience that can be shared
3.something made

Preparing for Show and Tell

There are three important ways to prepare for show and tell as a preschool teacher by making enough time to include all children, informing the parents about how it will occur, and making a visual cue that will be sent home as a reminder.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of show and tell within a preschool curriculum is to inform the families beforehand. Send out a special letter or include in a monthly newsletter an explanation about how show and tell will be run. Provide parents with the what to bring guidelines regarding the chosen theme, the amount of items that are allowed (i.e.: no more than two), the size of items and a reminder about the importance of letting the child make the choice. Structure and guidelines that are clearly stated will help with the running of a show and tell. Many parents will say yes to their child’s request of a toy or bringing ten items to show, for example, in attempt to get out the door. Stating the importance of the process of show and tell versus the product is a good addition to the parent information note.

Decide beforehand how many children will show their special item in a day, making sure that you have provided enough time to allow everyone in the classroom to have a chance. Often, show and tell is forgotten or a child is sick, and so enough leeway time should be allocated in the curriculum. Create a clear chart for marking down who has had a turn and who has not to avoid confusion.

Clearly provide children who are having the next show and tell turn a visual cue to send home. One suggestion for a visual reminder is to clip onto backpacks bags that are labelled with large lettering, “its My Show and Tell Turn” or have a selected Show and Tell Mascot with the same label clipped onto the child’s backpack.

Preschool Teacher Tips for Running Show and Tell

Show and tell will bring out the different personalities of each child from the child who has been planning all week, and would love to act, lead and take over the entire circle if given the opportunity versus the child who is petrified and has been anxious all morning knowing he/she would have to speak loud enough for the rest to hear. Following the same steps with each child consistently will quickly illustrate to the children what to expect and the guidelines for this particular classroom activity. The following steps works well:

1.Child stands in front of the group who are sitting in a circle.
2.Child shows the item and talks about it, teacher guides gently if needed.
3.Child can show the item to each child, if he/she wishes by walking around the circle.
4.Child chooses two people for questions, then answers.
5.Everyone claps and the teacher says thank you for sharing.

Another tip is to model how to ask questions, and how to listen to the group at the very beginning of show and tell. This can be done with the help of another teacher or a parent helper. Puppets can also be used to demonstrate. Teaching children beforehand what questions are will also aid in the smooth process of show and tell. A final tip is many parents wish to record their child doing show and tell. Sometimes, the presence of the parent can bring comfort to a child and other times it can make them feel nervous. One way to solve this dilemma is for the teacher to take a photo or record on video the child to give to the parents afterwards as a special gift.

Show and tell is a steadfast part of early school time experiences and it holds all the same benefits no matter when or how it is done.