Saturday, February 12, 2011


More Sea Life Resources

Since I live in South West Florida, a unit on sea life is particularly meaningful to my students and there are many opportunities to extend with real life experiences.

We have a field trip to Mote Marine Aquarium planned in March. I took my class on this particular field trip about 4 or 5 years ago. This year we are going to participate in the lesson about sea turtles and will actually get to make squid "popsicles" and then feed the turtles in the aquarium.

Of course, we also support this unit with many classroom experiences. I have found a few new resources to share:

Fern Goes for a Dive (free, animated read aloud story)

Fern Goes to Hawaii (free, animated read aloud story)

Mermaid Lullaby

Seashore Tap and Type

You can find other Sea life resources that I have gathered at this post, this post, this post and this post.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Literacy and Art and a Gentle Reminder

Have you ever had one of those days when the stars and planets are aligning to make sure you "get the message?"

I had one today.

My class is in the middle of a camping theme. They have been having a grand time playing in tents, singing around our "campfire," pretending to roast marshmallows, pretending to grill hamburgers, reading by lantern light, etc.....all of the play based experiences you would expect to find in a preschool classroom.

The shared reading book we have been reading this week is called "The Camping Scare" by Terri Dougherty. It's a simple book with great picture-to-text relationships and good illustrations that show many of our targeted vocabulary words.

In our art center today, we had out large sheets of black construction paper, the scrap bin, scissors, markers and glue. The children were encouraged to make a camping picture as an extension of our other play experiences and the literature we have been reading.

One child took his turn at the art center and began snipping very small pieces of the scraps. I looked at what he was doing and asked him what he was planning on making. He tells me he's making a tent. (This is clearly NOT a my is tiny pieces of paper. In my head, we were going to have a great creative experience where the children could cut out shapes of their choice to create figures of tents, etc and then use the markers for the finer details.) Well, I let him continue with his art project and he continued snipping the tiny pieces of paper. Good thing!

It turns out, he used those tiny pieces of blue paper to glue an outline of a tent, then collaged the brown ones to make logs for a fire, the orange ones for the flames and cut a large purple rectangle and used the markers to draw a "friend sleeping in a sleeping bag." It was fantastic!

Clearly, we (as teachers and parents) need to remember that children (even young children) are individuals with their own creativity, thoughts and ideas. I'm so glad that this particular child gave me an experience that serves as a gentle reminder that there are times that children need to have the space and freedom to communicate their thoughts and ideas in the way that they determine rather than with what we impose.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Play based writing

I have found a lovely, photo based blog entry on supporting writing skills through a play based curriculum.

Check it out. Jenny's preschool classroom writing experiences (indoors and outdoors) are fantastic!

Let the Children Play


Visiting Kindergarten: Social Story

It's the time of year when, in pre-k special needs classes, we begin to think about the process of transitioning children to kindergarten.

This year, there is a little girl in my class with an interesting combination of strengths and challenges.

She has a good cognitive skills and a good ability to learn vocabulary and concepts through incidental learning. She has a solid base of kindergarten pre-academic skills (she knows all of the letters of the alphabet upper and lowercase, she can count to 15, she can identify 11 colors and 6 common shapes. She knows many beginning consonant sounds, has an awareness of rhyming words, can read all of the names of the students in class and reads approximately 10 sight words.)

She gets overwhelmed with new experiences and has difficulty transitioning to new activities (especially if it is in a different location on campus). She still needs staff support for potty training. Her fine motor skills are significantly delayed and she still needs staff support for many tasks that include visual motor planning.

We have decided to try to specifically address an area of strength with an area that is a significant challenge for her while she is still in pre-k. She is going to start going to a shared reading and phonics lesson with a kindergarten class for approximately 20 minutes a day. Since she has good cognitive skills and she does not need any staff support in our pre-k large group circle time, we are going to try to balance this with the challenge of accepting a new experience. We are hoping that she will become familiar with the kindergarten building, the kindergarten classroom and the larger group of kindergarten students. We are also hoping that our pre-k staff can go with her for a short period of time and then fade away so that we increase her independence and comfort in the kindergarten classroom.

To help her prepare for this, we have drafted a simple social story (you can download a generic copy here.) about going to the kindergarten classroom. She has a copy at home that her family has read with her for the past week and there is a copy at school that classroom staff have been reading with her too. We have also started walking past the kindergarten room and having conversations about visiting kindergarten on Monday.

We're hoping by layering in the staff support and also building on her strengths, she will begin to feel comfortable and be able to learn new skills in the kindergarten class.