Monday, 27 February 2012

Round and Round the Garden

"Round and round the garden like a teddy bear. One step, two step, tickle you under there."

We have been practicing this rhyme all week for poetry and we are now experts at reading it and tickling each other at the end. Click here for a printable version.

We have also made teddy bear faces using circles and buttons.

 Teddy Bear Art and Craft
Teddy Bear Collage

You need:
One large circle
Two small circles
One medium circle cut from sightly different paper
One tiny circle cut from black paper
Two buttons
One piece of stiff paper

I cut out the circles for my class, but this would also be a good opportunity to practice cutting with scissors.

Glue the large circle onto your stiff paper, then glue on the small circles slightly under the larger one for the teddy bear's ears.

 Glue on the medium sized circle for the snout. Then glue the tiny circle on the snout for the nose.

Draw a mouth on with marker pen.

Choose two two similar sized and coloured buttons for the teddy bear's eyes.....

 ...... and glue them on.

All of our teddy bears look slightly different, just like us!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Our Reading Wheel

At school reading is a huge part of our day and different teachers have different ways of organising their reading programs. I use a 'reading wheel' to display my reading groups and reading activities.

My reading wheel is made out of laminated card and a split pin. The split pin allows the wheel to rotate around. On one side of the wheel I have four colours for four reading groups, the other has three colours for three reading groups, the side I use depends on the amount of children and the spread of reading ages in my class. Although you can't see it on the photo I just write on straight on to the wheel the names of the children in that particular group in permanent marker. That way their names can be easily removed with whiteboard cleaner.

As the wheel spins each group can easily see which activity they should be completing. I have taken photos of all of my reading activities and use these to make a laminated label. These labels are stuck to the reading wheel with blu-tack. As I make or buy a new reading activity I take a photo and make up a label to laminate. Before each reading session I change the labels so the children experience a variety of reading activities each week. My reading activities include lots of reading practice, alphabet and phonic activities, sight word activities, sentence building games, and social games using our play equipment like mobilo, duplo, or playing in the home corner.

As I finish reading with a group I ring a small hand bell and the children like to take turns rotating the wheel around. They know which activity they need to move to next by simply looking at the wheel. This encourages more independence and after a while of following the same routine, some children are able to predict which activity they will be at next.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Teddy Bears' Picnic

Picnic time for teddy bears. 
We had a fantastic teddy bears' picnic for Discovery this week. Our Mountaineers brought in their favourite teddy or soft toy to share their Discovery session with. 

Our 'Teddy Bears' Picnic' themed activities included:

Decorating teddy bear cookies. A plain round biscuit covered in chocolate icing, two milk chocolate buttons for ears, a white chocolate button for a snout, and teddy bear faces drawn on with gel icing pens.

Using a knife is always a great practical life skill to practice. When possible we try to include cutting and spreading practice with knives.

 This biscuit was quickly gobbled up on the picnic blankets we set out.

Looking after their teddy in the Teddy Bear Hospital. We set up toy cots with blankets for any sick teddies, sticky plasters for those teddies in need (lots of teddies felt better once they had a plaster on), and we cut up material so the children could wrap bandages around their teddies. I used Sparklebox to download Prescription Sheets for the teddy bear patients. We love role-play for Discovery, and this particular role-play opportunity was so popular some children had to line up at the Teddy Bear Hospital door waiting for someone to leave before they could enter.

Making comfortable beds out of boxes and pieces of material so their teddy could rest after their busy morning at school.

Counting with teddy bears from Sparklebox, sorting colours, and matching up lowercase and capital letters on teddies, also from Sparklebox.

Making rubbings with teddy bear shapes cut out of textured paper and card.

Cutting and stapling teddy bear ears to a strip of paper to make a teddy bear headband.

We were also able to use the interactive whiteboards to complete some bear themed activities. I was really pleased to see children taking turns and waiting patiently to have a turn on the whiteboard.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Transition to School

Starting school is a very important and exciting part of turning five. Transitioning to school with school visits supports your child to become familiar with all of the new things happening at school. We call our visitors in our transition to school program 'Mountaineers'. Each Wednesday our Mountaineers visit for a Discovery session, click on the 'Mountaineers' or 'Discovery' label in the Labels Cloud to find out more about what we do for Discovery.

You can use your school visits to help your child become more familiar with:
  • The routine of the school day.
  • Layout of the school and classrooms.
  • Their teacher and classmates.
  • Expectations of them at school.
  • Where to put their belongings.
  • What happens at morning tea and lunch time.
  • What to do when the bell rings.

Transition to school will allow you as a parent to become more familiar with:
  • Your child's teacher.
  • School and office procedures.
  • Establishing routines and reinforcing these at home.
  • Ways to communicate with the school.
  • How homework works.
  • Vocabulary of the school day.

(Thanks to Special Education Services for these thoughts.)

Why I love transition to school visits:
  • I want to know how to say your child's name correctly so I can greet them.
  • I like to develop an understanding of your child's temperament and attitude to learning.
  • I love getting to know your child's likes and dislikes, and finding out about their lives outside school.
  • I want to find out how to calm your child if they are upset or need comforting.

Think about:
  • How many visits you want to have, at my school you can have up to 10 visits before starting school, with the last few visits lasting longer. But each school is different.
  • Visiting the classroom before or after school (this is always easier with elder siblings already at school).
  • Visiting the playground outside school hours or even walking past the school together to familiarise your child with their school.
  • Taking photos of your child's visit, capturing their classmates, classroom, and teacher (check with the teacher first if this is okay). You can use these photos to share with other family members.
  • Role playing school at home.
  • Making play-dates with children that your child may know at school.
  • Making sure your child can open any packets and containers in their lunch box.
  • Sending your child with a change of clothes and everything else they may need (school bag, lunch box, stationery). 
Check out my 'Starting School' page for more ideas.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Bubbles - Pop, Pop, Pop

We blew hundreds thousands of bubbles this morning.

Blowing bubbles is a great way to practice hand-eye coordination, help improve oral motor skills to get our mouths ready for forming letter sounds and words, encourage deep breathing and relaxation, strengthen eye muscles, and is great inspiration for our writing.

We have been learning to write a recount (a story about something that has happened to us) and blowing bubbles together gives the children a common idea about what they can write about. When children first begin learning to write one of the important things they need to do is remember what they are writing about. In my class we call this 'keeping the story in our heads'. A shared experience can make this a lot easier (we still love free choice writing too - where we choose what to write about).

After we blew our bubbles we talked about how we felt, what happened to the bubbles, and how the bubbles looked and felt. This gave the children some ideas and words that they could use in their own writing.

Here are some of our recounts:
  •  I was running and blowing my bubbles.
  •  I was blowing bubbles. They popped on the grass.
  •  I blew my bubbles to Brazil.
  •  I blew my bubbles over the roof.
  •  A bubble popped on my head. 

I use this recipe to make my own bubble mixture:
4 cups of water
1 cup of dishwashing detergent
60mL of glycerin

Pour it into a bottle and leave it for a few days before you use it.
I got my glycerin from a local chemist (it's also called Glycerol).

We have also been reading a book together about bubbles, called 'Bubbles' (one of my favourite shared reading books for beginning readers and illustrated by very talented and well known New Zealand artist and illustrator Fraser Williamson) and a poem about bubbles too.

We made bubble paintings with bubble mixture, dye, and straws. 

 Just fill a container with bubble mixture and enough dye to get a bright print on the paper.

Use a straw to blow bubbles in the mixture.

Press a piece of paper on the top of the bubbles.

I cut our bubble art into circles to staple on to the wall.

Our bubble art and stories look great displayed in the classroom.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Check out the amazing robot creations we made during our Mountaineers Discovery session.




Monday, 13 February 2012

Yum, Watermelon

 Check out our watermelon art. We practiced our cutting and gluing skills and made these watermelon to celebrate Summer. Thanks to this site for the idea.

 We cut strips of pink and green paper to practice our cutting skills.

Then we glued our squares of paper on to a paper plate.

Before we made our slices of watermelon, we practiced reading this poem about watermelon, and one morning I brought in a watermelon that we cut up together and explored its delicious sweet taste. We also wrote stories trying to persuade the children in the room next door to taste a piece of crunchy watermelon.

Here are some of our reasons:
  • Watermelon is healthy for you.
  • Watermelon is yummy.
  • Watermelon is like juice.
  • Watermelon is healthy.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Valentine's Day

For Mountaineers we have been busy discovering all about Valentine's Day and how to tell people that we love them. 
Our Mountaineers Discovery sessions are a great way to welcome new pre-school visitors to school and provide them with a chance to explore all the exciting things and places we have at school. Our 4 year old visitors can have up to 10 visits before they start school, so by the time the big day arrives they are familiar with their new classroom, teacher, and classmates.

Here are some of the Valentine's themed activities we discovered:

We love reading and want everyone to know it so we made heart bookmarks using collage and foam paper. Thanks to this website for the idea.

We made heart shaped marble paintings.

We made hanging heart sun-catchers out of paper towels and dye to give to someone special. You can see the hole where I will tie the ribbon.

We made beaded bracelets to give to someone we love with heart shaped beads and pipe-cleaners.

We used pink play-dough to make love hearts and models of people we love.

Plus - we had a great time using the toys hired from the Toy Library. Over the session I saw several groups of children having a great time hitting the ball with the mallet. This was a great activity that allowed children to attempt a new game using equipment and techniques they may have not attempted before.