Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas spirit....

I can smell it in the air. Christmas is upon us! Can you smell it too? The children at preschool surely can.. Here are a few things we have started doing in our classroom in anticipation of the big day!

A countdown to Christmas.. just a cardboard circle with wooden pegs.. We take a peg each day to see how many "sleeps" are left before Santa comes..

I made another batch of play dough and added red food colouring and cinnamon to make it a bit more festive. It also ads to the sensorial teachings in our classroom. I picked a few Christmas cake decorations to the try and voila! Kids loved it.. we have had so many variations of Christmas cakes since I introduced the activity to the shelves!

We started making Christmas decorations too.. cardboard and waving. Nice results! 

This year, we also made paper chain.. I had never done that with the children before but they were well able to do it and worked very hard to make their chain as long as possible. 

Of course, this is only the beginning. So stay tuned to see more...

Pass the bear, 12,3...

This month, we have talked about BEARS, BEARS, BEARS.
First, I integrated a bit of science in the curriculum and I made up a little book showing the children the different types of bears, their body parts, their habitat and what they eat. Circle times have never been as quiet as when we opened up this simple informative DIY book!! Kids were mesmerized and I was amazed at how spongy their little brains were: after just one day, they could remember the names of most bears pictured in the booklet.

The last page of the book pictures a teddy bear. It was a wonderful opportunity to compare real bears vs fantasy/fictional bears.

We then read Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. It's a wonderful tale teaching children about respecting other people's property and  having good manners. But it also gave us the chance to compare real bears with fictional bears. I asked the children to think what real bears could do: hunt, sniff, eat, run, fish, hibernate. They don't have houses, clothes or furniture. they have claws, fur and sharp teeth. What about the 3 bears? They can climb stairs, they can use spoons, chairs, they can talk. They act like real people but they are "pretend".
Each time I read the story, I ask the children to guess what was coming next in the story. By the end of the week, they were able to use the terms of "big/middle-sized/small" with ease. They were able to grade paper bears in their work copy from big to small, allowing us to cover part of our maths curriculum too.
Oh, and did I forget to say that we had a teddy bear picnic? So much fun!!  I asked the kids to bring their favourite bears to school on Friday. What a great selection! The kids really loved it! It was our first time doing it . it was so simple to organise and so popular. I never thought the children would have shown so much joy!
For maths, we also placed our bears from bigger to smaller...

And of course, as we had been learning about hibernation, we made beds for our teddys. Some of you might think it is a bit far stretched but it works well with children. As we studied real bears and pretend bears, the children were well able to explain that these beds were not the real habitat of big scary bears. It was just a bit of fun and imagination mixed to our nature studies... The children provided empty shoe box and decorated them. We then filled it in with shredded paper (I apologised for the mess it may have caused at home afterwards!! ooooppps!) and made little pillows out of socks and old fleecy jumpers. And let's not forget blankets!!

And to finish the day, we played a new game: "pass the teddy bear". The children sat in a circle and passed a stuffed bear around the circle when the music was playing. When it stopped, the child holding the bear went to sit in the middle and stayed there until he/she was replaced by another child once the music had stopped again. We also chanted "pass the bear, pass the bear, 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10".. Great little practice for counting..