Wednesday, April 16, 2014

{FREE} Dolphin Dots Preschool Dot Pages!!

Do you love dolphins?  We do!  Today I'm sharing some fun {FREE} Dolphin Dot pages!

A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to go to Sea World in San Antonio, and dolphins have been popular here ever since!  Plus, I keep hearing about homeschoolers talking about Dolphin Week...

So, to celebrate how awesome dolphins are (and to practice number recognition and counting with my 3-year old!), I'm sharing this fabulous set of Dolphin Dot Printables {FREE}!! 

Your kiddos can fill in the dots with crayons, markers, special dot markers (affiliate link below), pom poms, coins, play dough, or anything else they choose!  You can use it as an activity with your preschooler, put the pieces in a tray, use it as a center, or let your child work on it while you fix dinner.  The possibilities are endless!

Placing on object on each dot does more than just reinforce numbers and counting.  It builds a concept of one-to-one correspondence, where your child recognizes that each dot is separate and distinct from the others.  This is a critical pre-reading, pre-writing, and early math skill!!

Amazon affiliate link:

I may share at any of these parties!

Rain Water Collection Preschool Earth Day Science Experiment

Earth Day is in just under a week, and I have the perfect preschool science experiment for you!  

Rain water has been collected for a variety of reasons for thousands of years!  Only in the last few decades in relatively affluent communities have we stopped relying on this free source of water.  This simple experiment will show your preschooler how much water is available every day...or at least every rain storm.  Even I was amazed by the sheer amount of water I saw gushing out our rain gutter!

To set up the experiment, use a permanent marker to maker 1-inch and 1/2 inch increments on two clear cups, like in the picture above.  Place one cup in the dirt in your yard (like the picture) and one cup under your rain gutter.  Leave them in place for a day and then come back and record how much rain fell.  For best results, do this experiment on a day when it is likely to rain! 

Our regular spot (in the picture) only caught about 1-1/2 inches of water.  But, the cup under the rain gutter was full in less than a minute!  We'll come back to this in a moment!  Use this {FREE} printable to record how much rain you collected.  Print a separate page for each collection site.

If your child really enjoys measuring rainfall, you may want to build a more precise rain gauge, like the one here.  AND, if you really want to be involved in a community of citizen scientists, you can join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network and report your measurements regularly!  Alternatively, you could just view daily precipitation reports from stations in your area here.  The National Weather Service also has a Precipitation Map here.  (Isn't the internet wonderful!)  

Now, what about that rain gutter that filled our cup up in less than a minute?  Did you know that you can set up a rain harvesting system to dump all the water off your roof into a rain barrel?  I had no idea, until recently.  Now I just want to run set it up!  Here are a few more details:

First, you should know that a 1,000 square foot roof can catch more than 600 gallons of water from a rainstorm that only accumulates 1" of water on the ground.  600 gallons!  It just blows me away to think that I could have had 600 gallons of water from this rainstorm last week!  Depending on the system, people have used their "harvested" rain water for landscaping, wildlife, fire-prevention, in-home use, and more.  

Many of the barrels have spouts at the bottom that you can just screw a hose into and use the water throughout your yard!  The barrels' price is a little steep, but it could easily pay for itself just by watering my yard in less than one summer! This is not a sponsored post...I am just all kinds of excited about this idea and really want to share it!  And, some cities (like Austin and San Diego) even have a rebate program to help pay for the collection barrels!

Here is an Amazon affiliate link to a rain water harvesting barrel.  You can learn more about them on Amazon, and if you happen to buy one after clicking on the link we do get a small commission.  And, of course, you never pay more for using the links! 

Would you like more Earth Day ideas?  Be sure to visit the lovely Kara at ALLterNATIVE Learning and check out the The Ultimate Earth Day Education Guide!

I may share at any of these parties!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letter "X" Preschool Activities

Today I have 2-1/2 hours worth of Letter "X" activities for your preschool day!!  We participate in a weekly letter-themed preschool co-op for my 3-year old son and just taught the "Letter X" Day.  Of course, I thought I'd share my brilliant lesson plan with you!

1.  Sensory Bin!

I use a giant sensory bin as a gathering activity.  With rice as a filler, I like to include construction trucks and little "x" cubes from my alphabet cubes.

2.  Circle Time

The kids are all looking forward to birthdays in the next two months, so we talked about turning four and birthdays.  Then we talked about the letter "X," practiced drawing it on a chalk board, used our arms and legs to make "x" shapes, and went on a "Letter X Hunt" with the alphabet cubes.  Can you see an "x?"  :)

We talked about bones, looked at a skeleton, and studied real x-rays!  Click here for more details.

Click here for all the details about this fun x-ray craft!

5.  Outside Play & X Challenge

Outside play is a critical part of any child's morning!  The "X Challenge" is to use any material outside (sticks, rocks, leaves, etc.) to make the letter "x!"

6.  Snack

We had cheese and Chex Mix (Oooh, look!  Two x's in Chex Mix!)  The kids used their string cheese to make x's!

7.  Book:  Green Eggs & Ham

Reading is another critical part of any preschooler's morning!  This is a delightful book, and it uses words with "x" like "box" and "fox" many times!

The picture below is an affiliate link.  You never spend more by clicking through affiliate links, but the small commission we receive helps keep the lights on!  :)

Box Play:  What can you do with a box?  Use a big box (we have lots of diaper boxes) and pretend it is...anything!  An airplane, a bus, a boat, a giant snake.  Let your kiddos's imaginations go wild!  Go for a drive, a flight, or a tangle with a kangaroo!  What do you see in a box?

8.  Pin the Tail on the Fox

This was my daughter's rather brilliant idea, and I love how it turned out!  Click here for details!

9.  Play Dough Print Painting

We used this fun play dough print painting to make little x's and then print them on a paper.  Of course, everyone was so enthralled by the process, that we had loads of other play dough paint prints too!  Click here for the details!

10.  Free Play

The kids had about 10 minutes at the end of the morning to play with each other and explore the toys in our play room.  I also leave out crayons, markers, stamps, glue, scissors, and paper at our art station that they have free access to at this point as well.

Do you use a letter-themed preschool curriculum?  Have you ever been part of a preschool co-op?  I'd love to hear about it!

I may share at any of these parties!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pin the Tail on the Fox Preschool Game

When my daughter found out I was teaching the Letter "X" for a preschool co-op, she thought for a moment and asked, "Can we play 'Pin the Tail on the Fox?'"

Of course I said, "Yes!"

It was one of the many highlights of our Letter "X" Day!

To make a group game, I drew a freehand fox inspired by CollectiveCreation on a posterboard.  I wrote the word "FOX" by its back to encourage letter and sound recognition, and then cut the fox out.  I used the scrap poster paper to draw a tail.  I traced over the outline with a black marker and colored the fox in with crayons.  Ta da!  Awesome game!

To play with preschoolers, I placed an adult-sized fisherman's hat on each child, gave them a few spins (count out loud as you spin them...this is great number & motion integration!), and pointed them towards the door.  Some of them carefully kept their eyes closed, but many peeked through the bottom of the hat.  Peeking is gives young children confidence to play a game that can get intimidating!  Many of the kids sang their own theme music as they walked "blindfolded" toward the door.  The songs were all very similar (ding da ding ding...).

We also made lots of "x" sounds as we played.  I was careful to introduce only one "x" sound ("x" as in "fox," "box," or "x-ray").  Letters that make two sounds are often confusing to younger children and each sound should be introduced separately.

I am sharing Letter "X" activities all week!  Be sure to check back to get them all!!

I may share at any of these parties!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Play Dough Print Painting (letter x)

Play dough print painting is the perfect way to mix up your painting experience...and reinforce the letter "x!"  

It is hands-on, sensory, tactile, and manipulative!  
It squishes. folds, bends, and makes fascinating prints!

We first used it to make "x" prints on our Letter X day.  You could do this with any letter!  Simply form the letter with play dough, dip it in paint, then print it on your paper.  

TIP:  Squeeze only two primary colors into your children's paint trays.  We used yellow and blue.  The kids had yellow prints, blue prints, and green prints!  This is great for reinforcing colors and color mixing!

I have one little guy that likes to feel the prints with both his hands and feet!

After we made letter "x" prints, the kids used the play dough to make prints of anything they wanted.  We had all sorts of shapes and designs!

I am sharing Letter X activities all week!  Be sure the check back again and get them all!!

I may share at any of these parties!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Make X-Rays Craft With Preschoolers

This week I am sharing Letter "X" activities!  Today, I have a fun and child-friendly way to make an x-ray craft!

Before you get started, take a few minutes and look at some real x-rays or pictures of the bones in a human foot.  Point out how there is a set of bones for each of the five toes.

Then pull out black paper, white crayons, white q-tips, and glue.  Trace your children's feet with the white crayon and let them glue the q-tips in as their bones!

Some children (especially older ones) will be meticulous about getting the right number of toes represented.  Many younger ones will not.  This kiddo wanted as many bones as she could fit so her foot would be extra strong:

The gluing and pasting is excellent fine motor exercise and the x-rays and bones are a great introduction to a life-long study of their own bodies and how they work.  This is also a great time to mention that exercise and active play (like running and climbing) actually make their bones stronger! 

I will be sharing Letter "X" activities all week!  Be sure to check back for more ideas!!

I may share at any of these parties!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Real X-Rays With Preschoolers

Looking at real x-rays with preschoolers is a fun way to talk about the human body and engage young children in real world science!

I will be sharing Letter "X" preschool activities all week!  Be sure to join us!!

As part of our Letter "X" day, we looked at real x-rays with our preschoolers.  This is a fabulous way to jump into the science of the human body!  Here are a few discovery points for x-rays and preschoolers:

* Bones are inside our body!  Encourage your preschoolers to find hard bones on themselves.  (Elbows, arm bones, and leg bones were the first bones bones our kiddos pointed out.)

* Look at a picture in a book (or print one from the internet) showing a skeleton.  Most people have about 206 bones.  Each foot has 26 bones!  Can you find them in the picture?

* Bones re-grow constantly!  Ask your children if they have ever broken a bone?  It can take about two months for a bone to re-grow.

* X-rays machines work like cameras.  They send x-rays (instead of light) into your body.  The x-rays can pass right through tissue like skin, but most x-rays bounce off of hard things like bones.  In the picture above, you can see the bones and the foot around them.  The soft parts of the foot look like a cloud.

Looking at x-ray films requires light to shine onto the film.  You can hold the x-ray film up to the window, use a pre-made light box, or make your own simple light box.  (If you want to buy one, I have affiliate links at the bottom of this post.)

I prefer to use a simple home-made light box.  I have a string of white Christmas lights that I keep handy for when I need one.  Just place your string of lights inside a large transparent bucket (I use a big Sterilite container), snap the lid back on, and plug them in!  Ta da!  Instant light box!  Turn off surrounding lights for the best effect!

To use it with your x-rays, simply place the x-ray on top of the light box.

We had an x-ray of my daughter's foot because she broke some toes last summer.  If you don't have any x-rays, you can use pictures, buy an x-ray set (see affiliate link below), or make your own x-ray images like The Measured Mom.

I will be posting more Letter "X" activities during the next sure to check back and get them all!!

Below are Amazon affiliate links for x-rays and light boxes.  Buying after clicking on the link never costs you more money, but I do get a small commission for referring you.  Thank you for supporting our homeschooling family!!

I may share at any of these parties!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cotton Ball Sensory Bin Filler & Learning Ideas

I love sensory bins and am so excited to share this unusual and wonderful filler: cotton balls!!

Cotton balls are soft, fluffy, and can change shape when you squish or stretch them.  They can be stirred, flattened, and stacked!  Your children could spend all their time with just cotton balls...or you can expand it by adding a theme to the cotton balls.  

Try adding penguins for an antarctic theme!

Or hide jewels for a pirate theme!  Heavy objects like little rocks and coins will sink right through the cotton balls, becoming invisible until the cotton is moved!

You can add spiders for a spiders or bugs theme, crayons for a rainbows theme, flowers for a spring theme, or fish for an ocean theme.  The possibilities are endless! 

Or, you can always put a random mixture of objects in with it and see what your kiddos choose to do with them!

My favorite cotton ball sensory bin theme is Penguins, and I have loads of resources for you!  

You can print a {FREE} penguin mini book easy reader, learn penguin facts and make a fun penguin craft, and check out even more ideas on my Penguins Pinterest board:

This post is part of 40 Days of Sensory Bin Fillers at Little Bins for Little Hands, a collaborative effort to share 40 (yes, forty!) different fillers for sensory bins!  Hop over to the landing page for a fabulous discussion on sensory bins and to see all the different fillers!

Have you ever used cotton balls in a bin?  We would love to see your post!  Just link it up below!

I may share at any of these parties!
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Welcome! I'm so glad you're visiting! I am a public school teacher turned homeschooling mom who runs a small home daycare. I love to teach, create fun and exciting resources, and share the educational journey that we get to live!

This blog is full of ideas and resources for parents teaching preschoolers! One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to meet you all--be sure to say hi! You can always leave a comment or email me anytime at PreschoolPackets at gmail dot com!



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