Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Elephants and Jello

Our theme this week is The Zoo. Believe it or not, in all the years I've been teaching I've never done a zoo theme. I usually teach animals by habitat or class. But I like the zoo theme because I can teach about my favorite animals from all around the world! Today's animal was the elephant. I saw some melted crayon art on Pinterest, where they had a silhouette of an elephant and the melted crayon was water spraying from the elephant's trunk. I knew melting crayons would be hard to do in my classroom, so I decided to use blue kool-aid. I've always loved my previous kool-aid art projects, so I was looking forward to this one. But my grocery store was all out of blue kool-aid, so I picked up a box of blue jello instead. It worked just as well! I set the elephant silhouette (using this as my template) on the paper so the kids could get an idea of where to put the jello powder. They started by sprinkling a little bit by the trunk and then went up from there.
Then I took the elephant off before the kids sprayed their paper with water.
When the paper was dry, I glued on the elephants. So simple!

I invited another class to do this as well since I had so much jello. I love how they turned out!

I displayed some on my door:
They are a bit sticky, but not too bad.
And now for a bit of sad news. I mentioned in my last post that my boss sold our center. Well, the people who bought it are changing it to a different child care and I decided not to take a teaching position with them. I will be spending the summer with my daughter and perhaps another child from the neighborhood. I'll still be doing crafts, of course, but they will be for toddlers, not Pre-k. Although, I do have a bunch of projects from past years that I never got around to blogging about so I might sprinkle those in as well. I hope you still tune in to see what we do!

Fun Fact: When stretched out, an African elephant's ears are the shape of Africa.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Handprint Flower Garden

I have a very special display to share with you this evening. When I first had the idea it was just going to be another bulletin board or door display, but it's turned into so much more. I started out by having the kids in my class make handprint flowers on a huge sheet of white paper.
Yes, I only had three kids that day. I have an extremely small class right now. So I decided to get the handprints of the 3-year-olds across the hall from me. I also painted in some grass at the bottom.
Then I thought I might as well get the handprints of the kids from other classes, too. So the 2-year-olds added theirs, and then the 5-year-olds.
In the picture above, some of the stems hadn't been painted in yet. All the kids made their own stems except for the 2-year-olds, which were painted by one of my 4-year-olds or me. And the kids had to get a little creative with their stems because they had to avoid painting over someone's handprint! I wish I could have gotten prints from the infants and toddlers, but it would have been too tricky. If I had thought of it before I started, I would've done their prints first and made the white paper much bigger. But I still love how it turned out. I titled the display, "Love Grows Here" and hung it at the end of a long hallway.
I wrote each child's name next to their handprint using a marker of the same color so it kind of blended in.
I even got my daughter's handprint. She moved up to the 2-year-old room about a month ago and hers is the smallest flower. It's so cute!
Now, the reason why this display is extra special is because our center is going to be changing ownership in a couple weeks. The current owner cried when she saw this in the hallway. It reminds everyone that we are still a family, no matter what. Even if we all end up going our separate ways. Our center is filled with love.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Egg Carton Forest Creatures

I saw these adorable animal finger puppets made from egg cartons in the April issue of Family Fun. I knew immediately I wanted to make these with my class. They turned out so cute!
We used the egg cups at the ends of each carton because they made the best faces. I let the kids pick which animal they wanted to make and what colors they wanted their animal to be. First they painted the whole thing one color.

If another color was needed, we waited for the first color to dry completely, then painted the second color. I outlined where the paint needed to go, then the kids filled it in. I cut ears from construction paper that matched the paint they used. We attached them to the back of the rim using mini glue dots.
We put some Elmer's glue into each egg cup and dropped in a wiggle eye, and glued a pom pom on the nose. The kids made a deer,
a raccoon,
a skunk,
and a fox.
I wanted to make an owl, so first I painted it,
then added a paper beak.
I used big wiggle eyes and added feather tufts.
To use it as a puppet, the kids could stick their index finger into the nose part and hold onto it with their thumb and middle finger.

SO CUTE! It works best with animals that have eyes in front instead of on the side of the face. When I first saw these puppets in the magazine, I had planned on making bunnies this way for Easter, but after looking at an egg carton I knew it wouldn't work. So I did it as part of my Earth Day theme, by upcycling egg cartons!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rockin' Robins

Tweet, tweet, tweet...

We studied birds last week and the kids noticed we have a bunch of robins that hang around our playground. So although robins weren't on my lesson plan originally, I had to add them in. And of course I couldn't resist doing a robin craft. I painted the kids' feet brown and made prints. When they were dry, I cut them out leaving a big "belly" on the inside of the foot. The kids painted glue on this belly and applied crumpled-up orange tissue paper squares to it.
Then they added yellow beaks and brown feet. I decided to make these birds rock stars, so I drew in sunglasses.
I printed out some guitars and microphones for the kids to color and hung them up with the birds. I also made some musical notes.
I had planned on putting the guitars on the birds to make it look like they were playing, but it wasn't working so I just hung them up next to the birds. The microphones were a nice touch, though.
And you can't help but get the song stuck in your head every time you see my door.
Tweet, tweedle-lee-dee!

Fun Fact: Robins are known for their running and stopping behavior.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pretty Peacocks

I've done peacock crafts in the past (here and here) and loved them, but I wanted to try something different this year. If you remember my turkey craft from tissue boxes, I said I was saving the blue boxes for peacocks. I loved the design.
For this craft I cut really long rounded feathers, which means I didn't get as many feathers from each box as I had hoped. So I also cut some feathers from construction paper. First the kids glued the feathers onto a semi-circle.
Then they dipped their thumb in glue and made prints on the feathers. I received some teal glitter from and sprinkled it on the glue prints. It was the perfect finishing touch.
The body of the peacock was made the same as the other crafts.
Blue cocktail toothpicks were added to the head for the crest and the body was glued onto the feathers.

The kids didn't fill out their peacocks the way I did, so I probably would have had enough tissue box feathers, but I like the mixture anyway.

Fun Fact: The train of a peacock can be up to six feet long!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Angry Tornadoes

We had a state-wide tornado drill today so I thought it would be a good idea to share a tornado craft my class made last week.
Way back in February when I was looking for ideas for a Valentine's Day display, I found the perfect one at Life in First Grade. I ended up using her idea for my display, but I also liked the tornado craft her kids did. I changed it up a bit when my kids made them for our weather unit. On their paper I squirted a little bit of black paint and a little bit of white paint and they mixed it together with their fingers.
Once it became a gray color, they continued swirling it around, but also dragged the paint down.

If needed, they'd go back up and drag some more paint down, all the while swirling their fingers.
They also made two arms that extended out from the sides. When it was dry, they glued on wiggle eyes and black fists (heart-shaped pieces cut from black paper). Then they used a Sharpie to draw in angry eyebrows and a mouth.

Some looked mean, some looked funny,
but they all looked cute!