Feb 18, 2014

Ideas and Tips for Painting Activities with Young Children

Young children love paint and there are so many different ways they can explore the process of painting. The traditional way, of course, is to use a paintbrush, but it does not have to stop or begin there. Aside from using their own fingers and hands, this article is filled with various other ways for young children to experience painting and provides inexpensive alternatives to finding the material needed.

Painting Preparation

Before the painting begins, an area needs to be chosen where some mess can occur. If an easel is not being used, then a table should be covered with a tablecloth or newspapers. For toddlers, try using a highchair selected for art activities. Washable liquid tempera paint, found in most craft stores or big outlets, such as Staples, works best for painting with young children. Trays for holding the paint should be chosen and a cheap solution for this is to use clean Styrofoam grocery trays.

Prepare more than one piece of paper per child for quick replacing

Prepare more than one piece of paper per child for quick replacing and set up the clean up area before painting occurs. Children can wear smocks or a bigger sized old shirt worn backwards to keep paint off of their clothes. When all the set up is done, then painting catastrophes with the young children involved are less likely to occur.

Painting with Sponge Stamps

Sponges dipped into paint leave a fun bubbly texture on paper. Young children can use sponges in the store bought sizes, usually rectangle, or the sponges can be cut up into other shapes. It is a good idea to demonstrate to preschool and toddler ages how to stamp the paper with the sponge to produce the shape. One idea is to tell the children to kiss the paper or to jump like a frog. Many children will still want to create their own art pieces and experience the painting with their own process, which is just fine. This style of painting does not require a lot of paint in the tray. The sponge will absorb the paint quickly, but can be used many times over producing paint work on the paper.

Feb 17, 2014

Sharing Ideas in Early Childhood Education

"In the beginning, as we learn to be caregivers and teachers ,we borrow ideas from experts in the field. As we grow, we create and develop. To complete the circle, we share our ideas and experiences. Always, in the middle, the children are embraced by our circle of ideas."  


I truly believe in Early Childhood Education, in other professions, and life for that matter, we share ideas. Earlier in the profession, I am going to admit, that I was guilty of holding onto other another adjective in respects to ideas and that word, first and foremost, was ownership. Therefore, the opposite word would be to steal. I think back to a time about ten years ago...

I was offered the Head Preschool position in the 3 year old program. Over the year, I created a a full calendar of preschool planning curriculum, which I was excited to develop for the upcoming years as well. I had developed the theme files with templates, samples, pictures and so forth. Anyone who follows curriculum planning or who likes to be organized would appreciate the work involved. Then, at the end of the Preschool year I was promoted to the Supervisor position and transferred to the four year old program where I was expected to create a new curriculum. In the fall, as I watched the three year old preschool children walking out the door with "craft" projects that I had planned the year before, I could feel myself bubbling up inside. I was upset. I thought, those were my ideas and the other Preschool Teacher stole them from me. After feeling this way for some time, I had to ask myself the true question, "But are those ideas really yours? Where did you get the ideas?" And by asking myself the questions, I had to admit that although I chose them, I roamed the internet looking for them, they were not mine. I too borrowed original ideas. This, was also before Pinterest!

I look back and cannot believe I had that attitude for now, I am honored and touched if someone is using my idea, or an idea I saw or heard of.  I have produced many online workshops and one of the more repeated compliments I receive from the participants is thank you for all the great ideas. And, I think to  myself, well the thank yous should be spread out to all those I borrowed from, to all educators, and then thank yourself for liking the idea that you may very well use with the children.

               "I love when ideas bounce back and forth."

And I am still wanting to borrow ideas. I love when ideas bounce back and forth. Presently, I am working with women who have been in the field for a long time, and the ideas are bountiful! Quite often, I have my camera out, recording table set ups, or writing down songs. 

"Ideas roll from one person to the other, and in the end, the creation is for the eyes and ears of the children"

Feb 9, 2014

Preschool Indoor Beach Party for the Middle of Winter

During the long winter months, try planning an indoor beach day full of fun activities, games, songs, crafts and more all surrounding the beach theme. This beach day would work well within a preschool lesson plan on opposites, an ocean theme, as well as traveling and the world.

Staging an Indoor Beach Day In the Preschool Classroom

It is important for any preschool party to set the stage. For this theme fill the room with beach towels, beach umbrellas, sand buckets and shovels, beach chairs, sunglasses, seashells, pictures of the beach, palm trees painted onto paper, empty suntan lotion bottles, water bottles. Play music in the background that has waves or perhaps a steel band drum. Have bright color balloons and steamers up, such as yellow and orange to bring in the sunshine effect. If possible put the heat up in the preschool classroom to not only help with setting the scene, but to make a more comfortable temperature for beach attire. In a parent's newsletter, inform the parents to dress their children in beach clothes for the day.  

Sensory Table with a Beach Theme

The sensory table is a great place to feature the beach and if possible, have both sand and water sensory activities.

Water: place blue food coloring into the water set up, seashells, plastic fish, glass beads, plastic boats, water wheel, sieves

Sand: seashells, buckets, shovels, container with lids, plastic crabs, small rocks, play coins

Beach Preschool Crafts

Beach Scene: A beach scene can be created by the preschoolers with broken shells, sand and cut out pictures or store bought foam pieces of such things as the sun, a shovel and bucket, sun umbrella and so on. Make sure to have a tray to catch all the sand that does not attract to the glue.

Sand in a bottle: Provide each child with a small empty bottle and different color sand, which can easily be made with sand and powder paint. Allow the children to make layers of sand inside and perhaps also some small shells to place in between the layers.

Ocean: Any ocean crafts will work well for a indoor beach theme. One suggestion is to create a fish template out of a paper plate, then provide shiny cellophane paper, tissue and/or wrapping paper cut into small pieces for gluing onto the fish to create colorful scales.


Preschool Games for a Beach Theme

These games are versions from classic preschool games:

•Lifeguard Where is Your Whistle?: a version of Doggy Doggy Where is Your Bone.
•Beach Sharades: provide children with ocean animals and/or activities that would occur at the beach.
•Bucket, Bucket, Shovel: this is a version of duck, duck, goose
•Whose under the Beach Blanket?
•Find the Seashell: creating a scavenger hunt to find the seashell or seashells.

Preschool Songs and Poem for Indoor Beach Party

To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

I love the beach, oh yes I do
I love the beach, how about you
Jumping in the water with sand in my toes
Lying on my towel, the sun on my nose
I love the beach, oh yes I do
I love the beach, how about you?

Another song that can be done with actions is to get five children to lie in the middle of the circle on a big beach towel:

Five on the towel, and the little one said,
Roll over, roll over
So they all rolled over, and one fell out...

For a fun ocean poem to tell on the Indoor Beach Party which works well on a felt board and is great for learning math concepts:

Five little sea creatures on the ocean floor.
The lobster walked away, and now there are four.
Four little sea creatures living in the sea.
The octopus crept away and now there are three.
Three little sea creatures wondering what to do.
Good-bye said the starfish and now there are two.
Two little sea creatures not having much fun.
Off swam the seahorse, now there is one.
One little hermit crab, sad and all alone.
Back came the seahorse, back came the starfish,
back came the octopus, back came the lobster.
Then they all went home.

Preschool Snacks 

Some great preschool snack ideas for a beach theme involve thinking about what we would all eat on a hot, sunny day. Some ideas are:

  • fruit popsicles
  • ice cream sandwiches
  • smoothies
  • watermelon
  • ice cream cones with frozen yogurt
  • lemonade
  • popcorn
  • fish crackers

An indoor beach party provides a fun day for preschoolers and will liven and warm up a winter month that depending on the location, can often hold some dreary and cold weather.

Online Early Childhood Workshops with Circle of Ideas 

Feb 8, 2014

Cloud Preschool Lesson Plan

Clouds are in our skies throughout the seasons and in different geographical locations. These puffy visions in the sky contain ever changing looks and their connections to weather make them a fun learning choice for a preschool lesson plan. Clouds can be discussed in a preschool curriculum for a long stretch of time or be apart of other themes such as weather and seasons. The following article suggests some cloud facts, songs, crafts, and preschool book suggestions for a cloud theme.

Introduce a Cloud Theme at Circle Time

To begin a theme about clouds; introduce the topic at circle time. You could ask preschool children some fun questions like:

•"Do you think we could walk on clouds?"
•"How do you think they get there?"
•"Are there different kinds of clouds?"
•"What colors have you seen when looking at clouds?"

The answers that come out of the children will be entertaining and knowledgeable. The answers can be the starting point for the learning process and will work well for a cloud display in the classroom for all to view. The following blogger shows how her class turned the entire room into a cloud display:

From Our Kindergarten Journey Blog

Cloud Facts for Children

•Clouds are made of many tiny droplets of water or ice crystals.
•There are three different kinds of clouds (the names are tricky, but pictures of the different clouds would help show the children): Stratus, Cirrus and Cumulus.
•Clouds bring us shade and help protect the earth from getting cold.
•Clouds are white because they reflect the light of the sun.
•They move with the wind

Stories for a Cloud Preschool Theme
 Little Cloud by Eric Carle, which also lends itself very well to a felt story.


Cloud Preschool Crafts

1) Decorating Cloud Shape

One idea is to cut out basic shapes of clouds, and allow the children to glue cotton balls onto the cloud. Illustrate to the children how to pull the cotton ball apart to make different textures. These clouds can then be glued onto blue construction paper. This art project can be expanded by having items on the ground, such as trees and houses and the sun in the sky. Or, you could find a question to ask the children about clouds and write the children's answers onto their cloud picture such as, "I think clouds feel like....?"

                                             I think clouds feel like....

2) Children Creating Their Own Cloud

Another idea is to allow children to create their own cloud shapes. This activity works very well with older preschool children who have mastered their fine motor skills with scissors and drawing. Before the craft activity, the children could go outside to look at how clouds in the sky can look like different things with a little imagination. Ask the children, "what do the clouds look like?" Then the children can draw onto a white paper what they saw. Finally, they can cut out their shapes and glue onto paper.

3) Painting with Black and White

Another craft idea for a cloud preschool lesson plan is to make rainy clouds. The children can paint grey  clouds and then use their fingerprints for rain, or fingerpaint creations can be cut into clouds.

Black and white make gray for a cloudy day in preschool from Teach Preschool
From teachpreschool.Org

4. Cloud Mobiles

Using old CDs, children can decorate their shape to create a cloud mobile
weather mobiles using CDs
From crafts.preschoolrock.com

Preschool Song/Poem about Clouds

This simple poem about clouds can be used with felts or foam shapes of clouds or turned into a song with a simple melody:

I am a cloud in the sky,
Floating past you, way up high.
I am a cloud, in the sky
Watch me change before your eyes.

This following song is to the tune of London Bridge and lyrics can be replaced very easily with this tune:

Clouds are drifting in the sky, in the sky, in the sky
Clouds are drifting in the sky, oh how quickly.
Clouds are turning orange and pink, orange and pink, orange and pink
Clouds are turning orange and pink, what a sunset!
Clouds are low down in the sky, in the sky, in the sky
Cloud are low down in the sky, we have some fog.
Clouds are turning dark and grey, dark and grey, dark and grey
Clouds are turning dark and grey, here comes a storm.

Further Reading Suggestions

Online Early Childhood Workshops with Circle of Ideas 

Cars Preschool Theme

With the popularity of Disney's Cars the Movie and Lightening McQueen, cars is a good theme for a preschool curriculum. The topic can be included within a transportation preschool lesson plan or as part of a safety unit. The following article provides ideas for car crafts, songs and activities appropriate for any early childhood environment.


Car Preschool Crafts

There are many crafts that can follow a car theme. The following suggestions are appropriate for toddlers as well.

1.Car Painting: allow young children to paint with cars by placing some spoonfuls of tempera paint onto large pieces of paper and provide small cars and trucks to drive. It is a good idea to choose cars or trucks that have treads on the wheel for they will make more visible tire tracks. Alternatively, the cars can be sitting in a tray of paint.

2.License Plate Rubbings: find old license plates for cars. Each child can create a crayon rubbing of the plate by placing a tracing paper over top and then using the side edge of crayons to create the image.

3.Collective Mural: on a bulletin board, the preschool teacher will place a large picture of a road. The children can cut out car pictures from magazines and then paste them onto the road to help make a classroom mural. This class project also works well for a transportation theme.

4.Shapes: provide children with different shapes, such as rectangles, squares, circles and small triangles and allow them to create cars out of the shapes. This art activity works well with a class demonstration and visual cue for the children to follow.

Car Preschool Songs

Overall, transportation songs can be included into a car preschool lesson plan. The following song is more specific to a car theme.

Twinkle twinkle little star
My daddy drives a motor car
Push a button, and pull the choke
Off he goes with a puff of smoke
Twinkle twinkle little star
My daddy drives a motor car.

Another important lesson to include into a car theme for a preschool class is to discuss safety, and the lights which are used to direct traffic. This following song will correlate well with a game of Go, Go, Stop.

To the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" –

Twinkle, twinkle traffic light
On the corner shining bright
Red means stop, and green means go
Yellow means go very slow
Twinkle twinkle traffic light
On the corner shining bright

Children Activities for a Car Theme

Car Matching: this matching game can be made out of felt material for the flannel board or other material. The matching activity promotes color recognition. On a flannel board, the teacher will place different color garages. Alternatively, the garages could hold numbers or shapes. Each child in the circle will be provided a matching car with the same color and/or design. The children will be asked to bring their car to the board to place their felt piece into the appropriate garage.

Cars on Trays: instead of cars in the sandbox, which is thoroughly enjoyed by young children, try placing cornmeal on a tray with a few cars. This activity can be a singular station in the classroom.

Spelling Car: on clean juice lids, stick letters on one side and then turn upside down onto a table. For this activity, a child will use a magnet wand to lift the lids to try and make the word car. The process helps with letter skills.

Threading a Car: provide children with a car shape made out of a thick piece of paper with holes punched out around the edge of the shape. The shape will hold a string with a knot at the end through one hole, to allow a child to thread the string through the other holes. This activity is wonderful for fine motor development in young children.

Online Early Childhood Workshops with Circle of Ideas 

Turtle Preschool Theme

Turtles are fun animals to feature for a theme day in a preschool curriculum and could be included into a variety of preschool lesson plans, such as a pet theme, or a reptile lesson plan. The following article provides some facts, preschool songs, crafts and books for a turtle theme day within an early childhood setting.

Introducing Turtles with Children

Begin a theme on turtles at circle time by asking the children what they know about turtles. Record their answers and use them as a starting base for the learning process. Some facts to share with a preschool classroom about turtles:

 •one of the oldest living animals on earth, they existed over 200 million years ago
•some turtles can live for a very long time, to 100 years old and older
•many different sizes and live everywhere on earth except the Antarctica where it is too cold
•live in many different settings from land and water, to forests and grasslands
•many land turtles are called tortoises.
•they are reptiles
•their shell protects them from predators
•there are over 250 species
•some are endangered and need protecting
•some turtles can be kept as pets, and they need to be taken care of properly
•they can be carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores depending on what kind of turtle

Preschool Song and Poem about Turtles

This action song has fun hand motions to go along with the lyrics and is very popular within many early childhood environments, including swimming lessons. If you do not know the tune, there are many YouTube videos available:

I have a little turtle, his name is Tiny Tim
I put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water, he ate up all the soap
And now my little turtle has a bubble in his throat.

This finger play is a popular preschool poem about turtles:

There was a little turtle (make a small circle with your hands)
He lived in a box, (make a box with both hands)
He swam in a puddle, (wiggle hands)
He climbed on the rocks. (climb fingers of one hand up over the other)
He snapped at a mosquito, (clap hands)
He snapped at a flea, (clap hands)
He snapped at a minnow, (clap hands)
He snapped at me. (point to yourself)
He caught the mosquito, (mimic catching a bug)
He caught the flea (same action)
He caught the minnow, (same action)
But he didn't catch me! (point to yourself)

Turtle Preschool Craft

A developmentally appropriate craft for preschool is to use a paper plate for the turtle's body. The preschoolers can then tear up paper to cover the shell. This process is great for fine motor development. Prepare a head, tail and feet for the children to finish their turtle.

A single egg carton can be used for the turtle's body. In addition to make a flat turtle, the young children can put together the turtle with as an old CD covered in felt or craft foam cut in a circle for the main body.

Felt Board Poem about Turtles

The following poem works well as felt pieces on a flannel board:

One turtle with nothing to do
Called for his friend, then there were two.
Two turtles strolling by a tree
Saw their buddy, now there are three.
Three turtles, a log as their floor
Made room for a pal, now there are four.
Four turtles warming in the sun
Saw a fifth friend, and said, "what fun!"

Children's Books about Turtles

Many preschool children are familiar with turtles based on the many books, and television shows about Franklin and his friends. Here are a few more suggested books:

•One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies (Candlewick, 2005)
•Turtle in the Sea by Jim Arnosky (GP Putnam and Sons, 2002)
•Turtle Splash by Cathryn Falwell (Greenwillow, 2002)
Of course, don't forget about the classic tale of Tortoise and the Hare.

Other Preschool Areas for a Turtle Theme

There are still some more ways to add turtles into a theme day within a preschool curriculum, such as placing plastic turtles into a sensory table with sand and barks of wood, taking a field trip to a local pet store that have turtles and playing a game of Turtle Turtle Hare, a rendition of the classic Duck, Duck Goose. Children could wear green or brown on this theme day and be invited to bring any turtles they have at their home.

Online Early Childhood Workshops with Circle of Ideas