Monday, February 27, 2012

Jungle Safari

At the beginning of this month, the kids went on a jungle safari to explore what kinds of animals live in the jungle. Each explorer was give a jungle safari guide book that had a different picture of a jungle animal on each page.
Then I introduced them to the "jungle." (A bunch of connected pop-up tubes. This would work great for letter T because T is for tunnel)
Along the inside of the tunnel, I put small animals that matched the pictures in their safari book. There was a hippo, leopard, zebra, elephant, crocodile, and monkey. The kids crawled through the "jungle" carefully watching out for, but not touching the animals in there. After they went through a few times, we talked about what animals they saw and then they colored the animals in their guide book. 

To see how to make a folded book out of a single piece of paper without using tape or staples, check out our post on folded paper books here.

Monkey Bread

We had monkey bread for snack today and the kids asked me to share the recipe with their moms so they could make it at home. So, moms. . . this is for you. : )

Monkey Bread

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan.
  3. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  4. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

 I used the recipe from, but lessened the amount of caramel topping to make it a little less rich. It was a little heavy the last time I made it and I thought it was perfect this time!

King of the Jungle & Kites

K is for King of the Jungle! We used bulletin board borders to make these jungle themed crowns for letter K day! 
The kids colored and cut out the K shaped King then glued them onto the border. Then we stapled it together to make a crown. 

Feel free to use the lion picture for your King of the Jungle project.  

We made our homemade kites again this year and the kids had a lot of fun. To check out the step by step instructions, see our original kite post here

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

L is for . . .

 . . . listen. 
We listened to how different objects sound inside a plastic egg. We predicted whether it would make a loud or soft sound and then tested our prediction. We put the information we gathered onto a T chart. 

. . . lamb. 
Mary's lamb to be exact. We sang Mary Had a Little Lamb and then highlighted all the letter l's in the first two verses. 

. . . lovebug.
We made lovebugs to hold our Valentine's in. The original instructions can be found here. (This picture isn't the greatest, you really should check out the other post. : ) We also made the ladybug snacks mentioned in the same post.

. . . love. 
The kids matched heart halves for Valentine's Day. I laminated card stock hearts and then cut them in half using my silly scissors mentioned here. One side had upper and lowercase letters for them to match up. Then, they flipped it over and the back was blank. Then, they matched up the hearts based on the pattern of the cut that the scissors made.

Monday, February 13, 2012

J is for Jellybean

We created jellybean bar graphs for letter J week. 

Each child got a graph with the name of each jellybean color at the bottom and a cup of jellybeans. We colored one square for each jellybean above the appropriate color.

The first day, the kids and I did a graph as a class and we shared the jelly beans. The second day, the kids did their graphs individually. 

For the younger class, we all had the same number of each color so that I could help guide them through making the graph. And of course when it was all done we got to eat our math manipulatives!

J is for Jellyfish

 Here is an easy and fun jellyfish craft to make. The only tricky part about this is that you have to use acrylic paint instead of washable paint. When I figured this out, I debated whether I wanted to even do it or not. Non-washable paint with preschoolers, I don't know about that. As you can see I decided to do it anyway. We did the painting in small groups and I watched them very carefully so we didn't have any accidents. I loved how they turned out and it was fun to see the kids play with them when we were all done.

Hey, bonus points to anyone who can tell me what the long hanging things on the jellyfish are called.

Here's What You Need:
  • small, plastic fruit or applesauce cups
  • blue curling ribbon
  • blue rick-rack ribbon
  • clear tape & masking tape
  • yarn & needle
  • blue acrylic paint
  • sharp nail & hammer

Here's What You Do:
  1. Paint the plastic cups on the outside with the acrylic paint. (Washable doesn't work on the plastic surface.)
  2. While it is drying, work on the tentacles? (I don't know what they're called.) Measure around the inside of your cup and cut a piece of clear tape a little bigger than that length. Put the piece of tape sticky side up on your work surface. Hold the tape down with masking tape. Put your ribbons in a pattern along the tape. 
  3. (Now here is where you realize what a nut I am when it comes to making things just the way I want it. I actually used a straightening iron, you know the kind you use for your hair, to make the ribbons less curly.) 
  4.  Peel the masking tape off of the ends of the tape. Pick up the whole strip of tape and ribbon together. Tape the ribbons into the inside of your painted cup. You kind of have to bend it a little to work it around in a circle, but just make sure to really press down hard to stick the tape to the plastic.
  5. Use the nail and hammer to poke a hole in the top of the cup.
  6. Thread your needle with the yarn and poke it through the cup. Tie a knot on both ends to hang up your jellyfish. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

L is for Lion!

When studying the jungle, you can't leave out the king! We made lion faces this week and read an amazingly beautiful and fresh take on The Lion and the Mouse. We read the version by Jerry Pinkney. 
The art is amazing and the fun part about this book is that there are no words. We talked as a class about how using the pictures in a book can help us understand and know what's going on in the story. It's a important comprehension strategy for young readers. The first time we read the story, we read it silently and I had the kids make up what was happening in the story in their head. Then we read it again and talked about what was happening in the pictures.

After, we made our own lion faces complete with a crazy mane of hair. 
Here's What You Need:
  • Paper plate
  • Brown, white, orange, and black construction paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Crayons
Here's What You Do:
  1. Cut a lot of strips of the orange paper. Ours were 1 X 4.5 inches. 
  2. Cut out eyes using the white and black. Cut out a nose using the brown.
  3. Color the inside circle of the plate yellow.
  4. Color the outside circle of the plate orange.
  5. Glue on the face and draw a mouth and wiskers.
  6. Flip the plate upside down and glue the orange strips around the edge of the plate.
  7. Curl the orange strips with an open pair of scissors like you would curling ribbon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm Stuck in a Snow Globe!

 I have been wanting to try homemade snow globes since last year's winter theme. So, of course I had to sneak them in this year. The great thing about these is that you can really put anything you want into them. You could do pictures or make your own winter scene. Anything that is small enough to fit and is water resistant, is fair game.  I was actually thinking these might have made fun parent's gifts for Christmas. They were a huge hit with the parents and kids alike.

After doing the project with my big class and my little class, I have to say that this is definitely a small group kind of thing. They turned out adorable and I really loved them, but you use a hot glue gun and a laminator so there was a lot of adult work needed to get these bad boys done. 

We used mason jars to give it more of a clean look, but you could use old glass jars from food or other items. You are also supposed to use glycerin to help the "snow" fall more slowly.You can usually find it in the baking isle or the first aid isle in your grocery store. I'm not sure that it makes a huge difference, but we used it anyway.

We started by making paper dolls like the project we did last year found here. It would also be cute to just take pictures of the kids dressed up in winter gear. I wasn't able to do this because I only have little girls, so all our winter gear is purple and pink. I didn't think the boys would appreciate that too much. : ) Then  laminate the dolls. I used one of these super handy home laminators. I got it on an online black Friday sale and I love it! It is so handy to have and I use it all the time. It is made by Scotch and you can find it all over the place - Walmart, Target, Staples, etc.
You have to make sure that the seal on the pictures is completely tight (we learned that the hard way on the first day we made them). So, I actually sent this project through the laminator twice. After laminated, cut out your pictures. Leave a good margin of plastic around the edge to help keep the seal.

Then, use a hot glue to glue a layer of cotton balls on the top of the lid and glue the dolls down sandwiched between the cotton balls.

Fill your mason jar with water and add some glycerin and glitter. We used about a tablespoon of glycerin per jar. We just sprinkled glitter on the top of the water until there was a nice layer of it. Sorry, to be so vague. 

Then slowly submerge your dolls into the water. The cotton will soak up a lot of the water, so you will have to add more. It helps to do this part of the project over a towel because there is a good chance of over flowing. Make sure that nothing gets in between the seal on the lid and the jar. If you don't, the jar will leak. There you have it! 

If you wanted, you could spray paint the lid or add a cute ribbon to the bottom.

Here's What You Need:
  • mason jars or other glass jars
  • cotton balls
  • glitter
  • water
  • glycerin
  • paper dolls or toys to put into the globe
  • hot glue gun
Here's What You Do:
  1. Make your paper dolls, laminate them, and cut them out leaving a small edge of plastic to keep in the seal.
  2. Hot glue cotton balls and your paper dolls to the lid of the jar.
  3. Add water, glitter, and glycerin to the jar.
  4. Turn dolls upside down and lower them into the jar. (It helps to do this part over a towel or the sink.) Add more water if needed.
  5. Seal the lid and enjoy!
  6. If wanted, hot glue a ribbon around the lid.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tip of the Month: Communication

Here are a few ways that we can try to communicate better with our kids:
  1. When they are talking to us, ask them to use their big boy or big girl voices. I have even had to directly instruct my kids to lower their voice or I have had them repeat after me what grown up voices sound like. This can sometimes eliminate the whining and help them learn to communicate their needs in a constructively.
  2. Get on their level: When you are talking to each other, kneel or bend down and look them in the eye. 
  3. Turn off the extra “noise.” I find one of the best times to talk to my kids is when we are in the car. Turn off the radio, ignore the phone (you shouldn’t do that while driving anyway) or turn off the videos and talk instead. 
  4. 3 Good, 1 bad: After school, at dinner, or before bed time, ask your child to tell you 3 good things that happened today and if any bad things happened. Then share 3 things about your day.
  5. Create conversation “jar.” Put conversation starters in a jar or on a ring and keep it in your purse to use while in the car, waiting in line, at the dinner table or other down times. There are lots of ideas online.
  6. Eat dinner together. Studies have shown that kids who eat with their parents are healthier, happier and better students.