Shape Detectives!

Can You Find The Triangle?

This is a fun and easy activity to do with children who are learning their shapes. You can use any shapes according to what your child is presently learning. This however is too sophisticated for toddlers and may be frustrating for some younger preschoolers too. I used it often as a after lunch , before outside time activity with my Pre-K class with great success!

  1. Gather your materials. All you need is some paper and markers. One color for the outline and one color for each shape.
  2. Draw a picture using obvious shapes. I made a house and a sun, but I have also made shape people, snow men, trains and cars- the sky is the limit. I wouldn’t make too many shapes on one sheet though, you want it to be a challenge but if you make it too hard the challenge turns into frustration and you miss the window for learning!
  3. Make a legend clearly stating that each shape has it’s own color.
  4. Explain it to your child/class by either helping them with the first shape or doing a big version of this at circle time on a dry erase board or large poster paper.
  5. Start finding the shapes and coloring them in!

* I would often tell my students that I wasn’t sure which shape was which and I needed help and then ask them to be my detectives! Also if you are doing this for a class, make one black line master and photocopy the rest, then simply make color dots on the legends.

P is for Penguin

Cut and Paste Penguin

***This is a preschool craft, my toddler helped me with it but I did 95% of this one, don’t be fooled by the picture he was taking the foot OFF! ***

  1. Gather your materials. For this crafts I used 3 foam sheets in white, black and orange, scissors, a pen and glue.
  2. Draw the outline of the penguin on the black foam sheet. I eyeballed it. Also you could easily used construction paper instead of the foam sheets.
  3. Cut the outline out.
  4. Using the black outline, trace it onto the while sheet, and then when cutting it out do so an inch INSIDE the line, so it’s it the same shape but smaller.
  5. Cut out small round eyes out of the left over black foam/paper.
  6. Draw a foot , double the foam so you have two layers and cut.
  7. Cut out a small triangle for the beak.
  8. Start gluing! ( can you tell he’s taking the feet off ? ) if you are doing this with little ones I would marker on the eyes and beak, because these small foam pieces are tempting to chew on and choke!
  9. If you are doing this with an older child , trace the outlines with a good marker and have them cut along it.

One final note to parents, when you are doing cut and paste crafts with your kids, try really hard not to “correct” them on where to glue the eyes, or feet etc… let them put them where they want. Crafts like these are fun but not very creative so let them put their own twist on the craft with a foot where the nose should be. It’s about the process NOT the product.

Song!


I’m a Little Penguin!

I’m a little penguin,
black and white,
short and wobbly ,
an adorable sight!
I can’t fly at all,
but I love to swim,
so I’ll waddle to the water,
and dive right in!

Books!

” The Emperor’s Egg” by Martin Jenkins is a good non fiction book written like a story about penguins and more specifically about how the father penguin cares for the egg. The illustrations in the book are wonderful and will likely appeal to younger children as well as the target 4-6 year olds audience that the text is geared towards. I have used this in a Pre K class and by the end of the year the children were ready and able to sit and pay attention to the whole book.


” Tacky the Penguin” by Helen Lester is such a cute and funny story, your kids will love it! Tacky is an odd bird but when hunters come to get some pretty penguins is funny odd ways of doing things turn off the hunters and saves Tacky and his perfectly not odd companions. This is a sweet look at being different and being happy as pie about being different!


” Little Penguin’s Tale” by Audrey Wood is a funny cautionary tale about a curious and wild penguin. When the tale almost ends in doom and gloom the narrator changes the end a little bit, so the readers and other little penguins aren’t too sad. Still the message is clear that you can’t ignore the rules without some consequences!

Video!

I am not one to promote movies and videos as educational but ” The March of The Penguins” is worth a look for older children. I popped it on and my son looked at it for a second, said ” Bebe” which is his word for penguin and got down to play with his drum. However older preschoolers and school age kids could really enjoy it. There are some sad parts but the narration is such that kids too young to understand death , will likely not catch it. Still if you haven’t seen it watch it before showing it to your kids.

Caterpillars Don’t Meow !

Classic Egg Carton Caterpillar
This is a classic craft but hopefully some of my tips will help you enjoy craft time a little more!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need an egg carton, some paint, a pipe cleaner, some sharp scissors, a paint brush and some markers.
  2. Start by painting the egg carton. My tip with this step is to leave the whole egg carton intact even though you will only need to use half of it. It makes it easier for little guys to paint, and you to hold or tape down for them.
  3. Add more colors of paint. My tip here is for parents to add the paint to the egg carton with really young preschoolers or toddlers. What I do is ask my son what color he wants, then put a small amount on and he brushes it.
  4. Let the paint dry.
  5. Cut the egg carton in two length wise .
  6. Poke 2 holes in the top of the first section.
  7. Thread your pipe cleaner through.
  8. Twist the ends however you want!
  9. Add some eyes and a mouth with markers if you have little guys, or use googley eyes with older ones.
Song!

The Little Caterpillar
( to the tune of The Itsy Bitsy Spider)

The little caterpillar snuggled on a leaf,
Spun a little chrysalis and then fell asleep,
While she was sleeping she dreamed that she could fly,
When she woke up she was a butterfly!

*Sorry no video today, I am sick and I sounded worse than usual, and I don’t want to frighten your kids! I will try to upload one soon!

Books!

” Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar” by Helen Brawley is one of my son’s favorite books right now, due to the fact that there are shiny and shimmery pictures throughout! The story though leaves something to be desired, as the message seems to be that being plain is bad and the only fix for poor Percival is when he turns into a beautiful butterfly! When reading this to my class I would often interject with Questions to my students about what they thought was cool about Percival, and that combated the undesirable message that you have to be beautiful to be worthy.

” The Crunching Munching Caterpillar” by Sheridan Cain is another story about a caterpillar who is not happy about his lot in life. There is a fair bit of language that some parents would object to. This caterpillar is often reminded that he is too fat to fly- so that poses a few challenges to parents like myself who are trying to instill healthy body images as well as using respectful words with others in our children. I have dealt with this book in two ways, first by saying that the caterpillar is getting fat but it’s a good thing because he will be sleeping for a long time in his chrysalis and needs that fat to live. Also I have simply replaced fat with big, a word that is much less ugly to many people’s ears.


” The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle is the standard that neither of the previous books come close to meeting. This is a classic and a personal favorite of mine from Kindergarten! This book helps to teach days of the week, counting and even has a great message about healthy eating! While this book states that the caterpillar gets big and fat, it’s said as a statement not a judgement which is much more appropriate in my opinion. If you don’t have this book you need it!

B is for Bird !

Recycled Bird Feeder!

Some times nature needs a little bribe to come close, here is how to make that bribe!
  1. Gather your materials. You will need an empty Milk Carton, a bamboo skewer, dowel or chopstick , scissors, ribbon and birdseed. You can also paint the feeder with non toxic paint, but if you live in a wet climate like myself I would and did skip this step!
  2. Cut an opening in the milk carton. You will want it to start about an inch from the bottom.
  3. When that is done poke a hole under that for the dowel/chopstick and one on the opposite side of the carton.
  4. Poke the dowel through.
  5. Poke a hole in the top of the carton for the ribbon that will be used to hang the feeder. Thread the ribbon through and knot it, you can use twine or string too, I am just using what I had available.
  6. Fill with bird seed.
  7. Hang it outside and wait for the birds… I am still waiting but I am hoping we see some soon!

Feather Painting !

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint, a few feathers, a small plate and some paper .
  1. Spread a little paint on the plate.
  2. Dip your feather in and start painting. Toddlers are quick to discover how the feather with paint on it tastes!
  3. Add more colors of paint , and you will probably have to get a new feather after painting a while, they aren’t very sturdy!

Thrift Store Finds!

Three great books for $1.25 !

I love getting new books, and garage sales and thrift stores are great places to find books for next to nothing. Ebay can be a good source too but unless you are buying a big lot, or looking for a specific book I haven’t found it very cost effective.

” Eight Silly Monkeys” by Steve Hascamp uses the familiar children’s song as the story and has cut outs and small plastic monkey faces that count down with you. Books like this are great for toddlers, they like touching the raised faces, and they will absorb the large numbers and counting. Also the cute pictures of the hurt monkeys will probably get a few ” uh oh- no no no!” from toddlers who like to point out things they ( or monkeys) shouldn’t do!


” I Love You Stinky Face” by Lisa McCourt is a really cute book perfect for bedtime reading . The story follows a little boys questioning his mom if she would love him if he were a whole list of scary horrible monsters! Of course her answer is always yes but the author write in a way that isn’t saccharine and really captures a mom’s love for her son! The illustrations by Cyd Moore complete the dream like story , this book is definitely worth a look!


” How to Make an Apple Pie and see the world” by Marjorie Priceman cost be a total of 15 cents! It is worth so much more than that. This book is a gem! Perfect for older preschoolers who are getting a sense of the world beyond their own home and city, this book takes you on a ride around the world! You follow the little girl to Italy, France , Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and back to Vermont! As soon as I read this my mind was racing with classroom activities ! I will be posting some soon. I LOVE this book, I just wish I had read it when I was still teaching it would have been so much fun to teach geography with!