Wednesday, October 30, 2013

O is for octopus fine motor skills craft

I love when I find simple activities I can do with my class that kill two birds with one stone...or in this case three birds with one stone.

We just started learning about patterns this week in math, so I've been trying to think of some fun patterning activities to do with my kids.  I was straightening up my classroom this afternoon when it occurred to me that since we're also learning about the letter O this week, we could use pipe cleaners twisted into the shape of an octopus and put beads on them to practice making patterns.  The O shape in the octopuses head is a good visual reminder that octopus begins with O.  The patterns on the tentacles can easily be differentiated to allow students who have mastered A-B patterns to move on to more challenging patterns.  I asked the students to make their patterns 10 beads long so they could practice counting with one to one correspondence.  On top of that, putting the beads on the pipe cleaners is great fine motor skills practice, which is ALWAYS needed in pre-k.  Viola! Math, Literacy, and fine motor skills practice all in one.

To make it just take four pipe cleaners bend them in half and create a small circle at the top by looping the pipe cleaners around your thumb and twisting the pipe cleaners around.  Spread out the tentacles, glue on googly eyes and then put beads onto the tentacles.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Synonyms with Fancy Nancy

I have been getting a lot of re-pins from this picture I put up on Pinterest a couple of years ago:

When I taught first grade we did a lot work with synonyms and antonyms.  I wanted to encourage the students to use more interesting vocabulary in their writing.  We read a few Fancy Nancy books and discussed how Nancy was able to use fancier versions of ordinary, over-used words.  I made this poster and as students discovered words that were synonyms for these words, they could write the synonym on a popsicle stick and put it in the pocket.  I hung the poster low enough that students could reach it.  I was pleasantly surprised how much they used the popsicle sticks during writer's workshop, going through the pockets until they found a word that would make their writing sound more interesting. 

Here's a copy of the heading paper and the words from the poster.  Just cut and attach the words to sticky backed library pockets.  Have fun with it!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


We use play dough A LOT in pre-k.  Not only is it fun, but it's a great way for students to strengthen the muscles in their hands and practice letter and number formation.  I have a play dough recipe that I love, it has a great consistency and it lasts a really long time.

Have fun making it!

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter or vinegar
  • Food coloring

Turn your burner on medium/low, add all ingredients and stir. It will be a little lumpy. That’s okay- you can work them out later.  Take it out of the pan to cool.  Once it’s cooled, knead the play-dough for a minute or two to get out any lumps and to get it to a better consistency.  Keep in a Ziploc bag or air tight container for storage.

Here's a link to a letter we sent out to parents so that they can make play dough at home too. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins!

I'm slightly jealous of the lovely fall weather that everyone back home keeps talking about, so on Sunday I made my favorite Pinterest find ever- pumpkin pull apart bread for a meeting with the early childhood teachers.

Then on Monday I had my After school activities baking club, so we made pumpkin pancakes.  I have 7 first and second grade girls, who all insisted that they hated vegetables, especially pumpkin.  Turns out they changed their tune and loved the pancakes after all! This isn't the most appealing picture, but they were good.

Here's the recipe we used:

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • ·        1 1/4 cups flour
  • ·        2 tablespoons sugar
  • ·        2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ·        1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt
  • ·        1 cup milk
  • ·        6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
  • ·        2 tablespoons melted butter
  • ·        1 egg
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg. Fold mixture into dry ingredients.  Spray or grease a skillet and heat over medium heat: pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. Serve with butter and syrup. 

Lastly, I put out my Halloween decorations today.  Real pumpkins are exorbitantly expensive here, so we use clay ones instead.  

It may not feel like fall here, but clay pumpkins in the desert and pumpkin flavored food is close enough :)