Stringing the Stars

Foam stars are ready for stringing together on a piece of lacing. This tray activity can be used at a table, on a rug, or in a learning center. I recommend concentrating on patterns and keeping the lacing short enough that it cannot be tied around the neck.

 

Lacing Stars

I can spot a pattern already!

Lacing activities can reinforce classroom vocabulary and help define shapes and colors. Eye-hand coordination and the development of small muscles in the hand are enhanced while handling the lacing and the beads. Visual Perceptual Skills grow and help the students make sense out of what they are seeing. It is such a simple activity loaded with Fine Motor Skills that play an important role in preparing children to be self-sufficient, write legibly with a pencil, to dress, or to use a toothbrush. It takes years to develop these skills that adults take for granted. Another important aspect of lacing beads:  It is FUN!

Computer Mice

There is a different type of mouse in my classroom. Fortunately is does not need any special care . It is a trackball or marble mouse for the computer. I discovered these critters after looking for computer mice that would be easier for children to use. After trying several brands and sizes, Logitech seems to have the most reliable mouse for the money.

marble mouse

Stickers help remind my class which is the left and right click. Green is for go and orange for caution. I cannot tell them to never use the right click because some programs will tell them to right click.

My students can use right hand, left hand or both hands when maneuvering the mouse. There is no need for mouse pads or cleaning the bottom of the mouse. It is stationary. The children seem to adjust quickly to this different mouse. It is easier for small hands to handle and also takes the pressure off or the wrist and shoulder. This will help delay any carpal tunnel syndrome that is associated with the use of a traditional mouse over the years.

Some people shy away from track balls, because they say they are too hard to use or not precise enough, but after having elbow and shoulder pain at the end of a work day, I decided to give one a try at home. I didn’t find this to be the case with the marble mouse. It seemed a little awkward initially, but within a few days I was able to tasks at the same speed I could with a mouse.

Try one for a few weeks, you might be saving yourself some pain later!

Miss Coleen…

Monday morning and the students are calling me over to the Discovery Table. They are excited about the celery! Over the weekend it drank all the water and we inspected the mud. ROOTS! Look in the lower left hand corner of the picture. Sure enough, adding dirt helped the plant grow roots. Now it is time to add all our findings to our journals.

celery roots

Have a great week!

Space Sticky Board

The Sticky Board is in the classroom’s Library. This month’s theme is Space and I have added shapes to help students explore the theme. It would be expected to have stars, circles and crescents. I also added spaceships, astronauts and a sun shape. Students spend time together or alone playing with the Sticky Board. It is a place use imagination, act out stories, or try to represent things they know about our universe.

Space Sticky Board
The board itself is a recycled dry erase board that has become dull. I tape down a piece of contact paper, sticky side out, and it has a new use! Its sensory experience is quite different from the felt board or the magnetic board. Its stickiness makes it easier to have 3-D props. It is also a story starter for dictation. Students enjoy having pictures taken of their boards and adding them to their stories about Space.

Science from the Kitchen

Students often ask me, “Are you a scientist?”

“Well, yes I am,” I reply.  “And so are YOU!”

Science is everywhere.   A scientist is a scientific investigator, often thought to be skilled in natural science, but there are many fields to study!  You merely have to ask a question and search for an answer.   The process you go through will make you a scientist.

Watching plants grow facilitates the scientific method. Our question this week was, will celery regrow after the stalks are cut off. Some said no, throw it away.  Several children thought maybe it would and others were not willing to take a guess.  We placed the end of the celery stalk in a shallow bowl of water and each morning recorded the changes that were observed.

  • Day one: Not much change, but the top looked dry. The students wanted to take droppers and drop water on top of the celery.
  • Day two: There was a change, but it was hard to define. Someone remarked that the celery no longer looks flat on top and maybe it was green in color.
  • Day three: The center of the celery looked fuzzy.
  • Day four: There is a definite change! Tiny leaves are growing out of the center and some of the smaller stalks are getting taller.
  • Day five: The plant is growing! Examining the whole plant, the students were disappointed to find that the roots are not growing. WHY?

Celery Experiment
What will we do?  Should we add dirt?  Does it need more or less water? Why had it only grown ¼ of an inch yesterday and ½ of an inch today?  NOW the students are asking questions and ready to make predictions.  They are developing problem-solving skills while becoming comfortable with exploring the world around them.  They are learning how each person can be a scientist!

Theme for August: Space

Summer is winding down and the new school year is about to start. My classroom runs year round for children ages 2½ to 5. VPK students have already said their goodbyes and are busy getting ready for Kindergarten. That leaves a short time in August to tackle the final theme… The Final Frontier… Space! Each year I add to and subtract from this theme. There are many ways to approach Space. Planets, star gazing, astronauts, constellations, and rockets are a few of the subjects that seem to be of great interest to preschoolers.

The light table in my room has been transformed into a Planetarium. I covered a piece of tissue paper with contact paper (best done alone in a very quiet space). This made the tissue paper durable, but still translucent. It was well worth the struggle. After punching a few holes in the paper, I added some window clings that are space themed (planets, stars and rockets). The students arrange the objects on the table. This is a good activity for dictation. Interview the child working at the light table and ask why the pieces are arranged the way they are.

Space Light Table

Have fun!