Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Shopping Cart and Stroller Anxiety

It took me a while to find the courage to add those two little red shopping carts into the classroom.  I was very nervous about it, and also nervous about bringing in the pretend strollers. 


I imagined myself with  just two shopping carts in the room, having to mediate conflict after conflict, settling turn-taking battles, dealing with crying children not getting turns, the noise of kids running with the shopping carts, the messes in every area of the room as kids collected massive quantities of toys and left them everywhere.  Why would I want that in my classroom?  It was like asking for chaos.  I reasoned with myself, they have those plastic ones outside, they don't need them inside, too.

But we were, after all, in our Grocery Theme.  I needed to at least give it a try.

Sometimes, being a teacher involves acknowledging the areas that hold us back from really being of service to the children.  It can be uncomfortable, but we walk through it.  And I was ready.  Ready to take on the carts.  I placed them quietly into the grocery store area of the classroom, and waited...

Well, I guess I had forgotten that, after all, I was not bringing these shopping carts into an ordinary group of kids.  This is a Beansprouts classroom, where children have learned how to wait for turns, and ask for turns, and negotiate order amongst themselves with light guidance.

To my surprise, the shopping carts became a harmonious tool for kids to play together, and have conversations, and discuss and plan their shopping adventures.  Adding the cashier's counter gave them yet another venue for practicing their social skills.

 R writing a receipt

It was amazing.

And to my surprise, the next day I was actually excited to bring in the strollers!

This morning I was happy to read this post at leaves, branches, trunks, and roots.  The dumping phenomenon is actually a universal (I have seen this over the years), as are many things about preschool behavior.  But the Beansprouts didn't dump, they "unloaded" their groceries onto other nearly empty shelves in the classroom.  They very willingly carted the groceries back to the grocery store at cleanup time. 

And now, our Grocery Theme is over and I'm not ready to take the shopping carts out of the room!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moon Festival and Sukkot decorations

Aaaaaaah...after a long week, we once again end on Friday.

I just started following Along the Way because I liked her Moon Festival ideas so much!

Today we made Moon Cakes, based on her post about it on Wednesday.

I got the ingredients ready and at circle time, we introduced the "process" of making moon cakes (our way).  We also talked about how exciting the Harvest Moon is because that's the day when things are ready in the garden (like beans!).

They turned out very yummy (and very sweet!).

I collected the toppings and the dough that we had mixed in the morning and refridgerated for an hour (they each got to squish their own balls of dough and save them in a bag).  At circle, I made an example moon cake.

I showed them how to roll the dough into a ball, poke a hole on top, fill it with jam, and brush it with egg yolk paint.  Simple!

They did a fantastic job of doing the whole process with almost no help (the fact that I could take pictures proves how autonomous they were).

The hardest part was waiting for the moon cakes to cool when they came out of the oven!  I loved the color...the cooked egg yolk glaze made it look more like traditional moon cakes.

But it was worth the wait!



We also talked about Sukkot and for this holiday we are (sort of) turning our our patio area into a Sukkah.  At circle time, we did a mini-board story about the people of Israel and their pilgrimage through the wilderness, building temporary houses all along the way, in which they would eat and sleep.  We decided that we would eat our morning snack outside in honor of Sukkot.  The children also helped to decorate the patio area by making paper chains (which they were quite good at!) and hanging them from the roof of the patio.  Sukkot is also a harvest festival of sorts, and we were happy to have so many special snacks today, like the moon cakes and our very healthful smoothies* in the afternoon.

Here are some photos of our paper chain productions:

Have a great weekend, everyone!


*Smoothie ingredients:
-sprouted grain cereal (for the vitamins and second food group)
-chia seeds (for the omega fatty acids)
and for seconds (they finished the whole pitcher of the first smoothies):
-a touch of agave nectar


 Just say no to cookie cutter art projects!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

String Painting

There's nothing like sitting in front of the computer in the morning with my first cup of coffee, going through my blog subscription list, and seeing an art project that I want to do that day.  Some days I just don't have a clue what to do, and today was one of those days.  So I appreciated opening my Google Reader this morning and seeing this project on Let the Children Play.

Materials needed:
Washable paint
Construction paper
Yarn pieces, cut 6-12 inches
Clothespins (one for each piece of yarn)
Shallow paint dish

I liked the original idea of using black paint, so I kept it simple and only used one color.  I have done this project before, but have never had any success because the kids tend not to want to stick their fingers into the paint dish to retrieve the paint-covered yarn.  Even I don't like doing that.  So I was very excited about using the idea of clothespins as yarn holders.  It allowed the kids to be more successful and complete their creative process, rather than be "done" because their fingers are dirty.

We also noticed immediately that the weight of the string made a difference.  The yarn really had to be saturated with paint in order to make contact with the paper and leave a print.

Some children waved the strings around and made strokes, some flopped it around the paper, and some flung it in the air before swatting the paper with it.  It was fun watching how each child interacted with the materials.

They all turned out very unique!

If you do this project with your child at home (highly recommended! Might want to do it outside, though), I suggest you try string painting, too!


Monday, September 20, 2010


Party season is here...we have the Halloween party in October, a Thanksgiving feast in November, and a Holiday party in December.

And what do we always have after parties?  A freezer full of extra ice!

Today, we needed some extra space in the freezer (Monday is grocery shopping day for the kids' lunches!).  We had a bag of ice that needed to go bye-bye (still not sure where it came from--party season isn't here yet!), so we thought we could put it in the sensory table when the kids woke up from their nap.

When it was time to unload the ice into something, I used the closest empty container I could find, and it came in the form of a large black tub from Home Depot laying around in the yard.  If you don't have some of these in your preschool, they are so versatile, sturdy, and cheap!  I think they are for mixing cement or something. 

I digress.  So the tub was on the ground and I thought I needed a way to distract the kids from just jumping into the icy bath.  So I suggested they get some shovels and haul the ice to the sandbox.  They jumped on that idea!  And the sound of shovels digging into the ice was a nice sensation!

They got really busy, and once I referred to them as "the ice carriers", they walked around bragging "we're the ice carriers" or "ice carriers coming!"  It was wonderful.

You can just see how focused they were on the task at hand.
Back and forth they went, carrying ice all the way across the yard.
It was a wonderful feeling to slosh the icy water around, too.  Not too cold, but cool enough on this warm afternoon!

They seemed surprised when I told them they could drop the ice anywhere because it would just melt and turn back into water.  Ak created a little pile on a sunny patch of cement.  It actually stayed frozen for a long time!
This activity lasted at least twenty or more minutes.  Just a small bag of ice turned into an amazing, engaging activity for the kids.


Upcoming posts:
  • Wrestling at Beansprouts
  • Stephanie's shopping cart and stroller issue

Friday, September 10, 2010

Washing Fruits and Veggies Activity

Yesterday, we took a walk to Cosentino's Market to buy some fruits and vegetables.  On the way back to school, the kids toted their purchased food in paper bags to save for lunchtime.  We had to talk about why we couldn't eat the fruits and veggies now, and that we would take them back to school to wash them before eating them to make sure they were clean.

Well, this led me to convert this creative idea from the Frugal Family Fun Blog into an activity that fit in with our Grocery Store theme and the fruit and veggies walk yesterday.

Materials needed:
Teacher scissors
Foam sheets
Washable markers
Small sponges
Water and containers, either individual or shared

I cut out fruits and veggie shapes from the foam sheets.  Then each child got a marker, fruit or veggie cut out, a sponge, and a small bowl of water.  I showed them how to make the vegetables "dirty" with the markers, and then wash them off with the sponges and bowls.

This was very exciting for them, and I think also they were just craving a sit down together activity.
Once they got started, they pretty much worked until their markers got too wet to work (once water gets on the tip, they don't color anymore, but even after warning the kids about this it was hard for them to keep the markers out of wet spots).

Those are some busy kids!  Once the water supply ran out (I was refilling their bowls from the large silver bowl) and the marker tips were spent, all but three went to find other things to do.

While others saw a project completed, they saw the potential of a big cleanup activity!  The table, at this point, was covered with water, as was most everything on the table (it's amazing we stayed dry!).
They used their sponges to wipe up the table and then we collected everything and went on our merry way.

Wow!  That was totally worth the time to cut out the shapes, and the obsolete markers, which will now be used for other activities (because I know there's still some usable color inside those things!)

Now go eat your veggies!


Wrestling is good for children.

Originally published Sept 2010 Many of our parents seemed shocked when they came to pick up their children from Beansprouts and found the...