We had so much fun last week celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday!  For the past couple of years, I think it has been the favorite "holiday" around here!  This year I brought out some old favorites (like painting with our feet, and then reading the Foot Book) as well as some new activities, art projects, and fun foods.  The kids had fun using tissue paper scraps to fill in their Red fish & Blue fish,  and loved dipping cotton balls into colored water to make colorful Truffula tree-tops!
     In addition to the fun art projects, we enjoyed some great Dr. Seuss themed games and activities, too.  The kids did some impressive building and patterning with our new Cat In the Hat foam stacking blocks, sharpened their fine-motor skills with some Tuffula tree beading, and even got to Hop on Pop!
     Of course we can't celebrate Dr. Seuss without having some Green Eggs & Ham, but we also had fun with lots of other Dr. Seuss themed meals and snacks.  One of their favorites was the fish cracker graphing along with some Pink Ink Drink (also from One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish).  We had colorful Lorax pasta with broccoli and asparagus "trees" and a blue alfredo river, played with Brown Bar-ba-loot bears and built our own Truffula trees (from the Lorax) using pretzel sticks and mini colored marshmallows, and at the suggestion of one of the kids, we even had a birthday cake for Dr. Seuss!
     We enjoyed celebrating Dr. Seuss once again and are now looking forward to lots of rainbow fun in the next couple of weeks, building up to St. Patrick's Day!
     For the past few days, I have been gluing magnets to the back of just about anything I could think of.  :)  From craft sticks, to pom-poms, to pipe cleaners, we now have loads of new magnets!  Why?  We got a new giant magnet board (actually an oil drip pan from the automotive section at WalMart) that we have been having lots of fun with!
     Magnets are a great science material for kids to explore.   And they have just had so much fun doing it!  They have done lots of experimenting to figure out what magnets will and won't stick to...and were really excited when they discovered that some of the magnets will stick to other magnets!  :)
     And with the variety of magnet toys we have, there has been some great creativity, counting, cooperation, planning, and teamwork!
Preschool Valentine Heart Hop
     Our Valentine "Heart Hop" game turned out to be an even bigger hit than I could have predicted!  I have decided that I might just have to choose other shapes and ALWAYS have numbered shapes taped to my floor!  :)  I placed the hearts on the floor in the hallway that connects our toy room to the rest of the house, so every time the kids took that path, they were counting as they went!  We used them for various follow-the-directions type of games, but even before I led them in any of that, the kids were hopping, jumping, counting (forwards AND backwards), and even organizing and communicating their own games.  They also were able to reason that if this heart shows the number 7, and has 7 dots on it, then maybe that word there says "seven!" 

And, the hearts were a great way to get out some of that BIG energy that is always so abundant on holiday party days!
     We also had lots of fun with our themed breakfast and lunch, Valentine balloon play, painting, decorating Valentine treat bags (which led to a puppet-making session and puppet show!), and the highlight of course, passing out the Valentines they had brought for their friends.
     We worked together on a group project today that helped the kids review their numbers and gave a fun visual demonstration of each number's value.   First, the kids each took a turn or two getting their fingers painted and stamping them onto our easel paper until we had the numbers from one to ten.   

Next, we played a little game by using these great number sticker tags to label each set of finger prints.  And, ta-da! :)  We now have our very own numbers poster that was lots of fun to make!
     I'm back!  The new baby and I are, so far, adjusting well to merging our days with all the other kids... I'm glad to report that the first couple of days back have gone really well! 
     Today the kids made some festive trees using strips of green paper cut to varying lengths.  It was great practice using the pre-math skill of judging biggest to smallest, as they had to compare the rectangular strips to get them in the right order to make a tree shape.  They also had to use their visual-spacial and visual planning skills to lay the strips in a way that would allow them to fit the whole tree onto their paper.  Of course, for the younger ones we didn't worry so much about those things, and instead let them focus on the fine motor skills of  picking up the papers, applying glue, and placing them down to make a much more "abstract" tree!  :)  
     We then placed a foil star sticker at the top and used some Q-tips dipped in white paint to add some snowflakes!
    Most days I try to set out something in our environment that is new for the day and invites the kids to explore it as a self-led activity.  Today's invitation to play was a tub full of fuzzy craft pom-poms, some varying sized ice cube trays, and a jar of tweezers and clothespins.
    The kids really enjoyed this one and as you can see, as soon as it was discovered, they all gathered in close to check it out!  Right away they started doing what I had planned for them to do with these materials (which is not always the case!), and used the tweezers and clothespins to pinch the pom-poms and drop them into the compartments of the trays.
    The tools they were using are great for developing their fine motor skills, and they even worked in a bit of patterning, which is a pre-math skill, as well as pre-reading.  And the kids kept coming back to the tub to play some more throughout the day, so this will have to be a new one to add into our rotation!
Preschool Countdown to the Pumpkin Patch
    The kids are so excited for our upcoming fieldtrip to the pumpkin patch, that one of the first things they all say when they get here in the morning lately has been, "Are we going to the pumpkin patch today?!"  So to help us all get through the waiting a little bit easier, today we made a countdown chain so that we can always see how much longer we have to wait.  First, I made some strips of paper, each with a number of days written on it and the final one with the words, "Pumpkin Patch Day!"

    We then used these strips to make a paper chain, counting and identifying the numbers as we added each loop.  Then the kids used some fun fall stickers to decorate our chain.
Today there are 12 days until the pumpkin patch, and each morning we will pull off another loop of our chain to reveal the number inside telling us how many days are left until the big day!
    The kids enjoyed our Sticky Suncatcher so much last week, that we continued the activity this week, substituting in some patterning blocks.  I also used their interest in "Sticky" to focus on the letter "Ss" this week.  We have a growing list of words that begin with the letter S and have been having fun with our sticky window shapes, peeling stickers, and we might just have to mix up a batch of slime this week, too!

    Some of them really got into the pattern making, which is great since creating and recognizing visual patterns is such a vital pre-reading skill, as well as the math concepts it presents and the fine motor work it takes to get those shapes all lined up just right! :)
Kissing Hand cookies
     "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn has become a classic back-to-school story because of the sweet way it reminds kids (and parents,  too!) that their parents' love stays with them no matter where they go.  In anticipation of school starting for many of the kids next week, today we read the story and made these sweet Kissing Hand cookies for a snack to go along with it!

    We had fun taking turns to measure and add the ingredients, and then rolling out the dough and cutting out our handprint shapes.
    And hopefully, the sweet snack afterward will help us remember the story of "The Kissing Hand" as some of our group heads off to school!
    Jake made us some really fun new wooden block toys over the weekend that we added to our "loose parts" collection outside  this morning.  I am excited about adding more and more loose parts as I see the benefits they offer to the kids in the form of creativity, problem solving, and concrete experiences.  The kids got right to work building and balancing with the new blocks and they seem to be a big hit! :)