Monday, December 12, 2011

The True Meaning of Christmas

Christmas is rich with all the gold, silver, reds, blues and green colors that surround our room. We are talking about, exploring and using all of our senses to experience the sights, sounds, textures and smells of Christmas. 

For this post, I am going to let you know what we are doing in my classroom to help my children understand the true meaning of Christmas and to get the feel of how it felt on the first Christmas morning.

We read the Christmas story from the Bible and other children's books to help them understand that first Christmas morning.
Mary was going to have baby Jesus very soon, so she must have been tired and uncomfortable riding on the back of a donkey or walking. I invited a mom, who is pregnant and due very soon, to come talk about how she feels and if she would like to travel a long way on the back of a donkey. The children had many questions for her.  

We talked about how there was no hotel for them to stay at so they had to stay in a stable where the animals lived. I brought in hay and animal feed so they could experience the smell of the stable.

We talked about the shepherds and how they travel a long way outside of Bethlehem to see baby Jesus and the glorious angels. We dressed as Joseph, Mary, shepherds and angels for dramatic play.

We also put out lots of items that help us celebrate the Christmas holiday. We put colored bows in the sensory table for matching. We added wrapping paper, scissors and tape to wrap packages. We made candy canes with red and white pony beads and white pipe cleaners. This was great for sorting, making a pattern and developing small motor skills. I put angel shapes in the free art area and let them decorate them however they wanted. This was one of the most popular art activities. We had a host of angels throughout our room. Our angels were beautifully adorned with gold and silver paint, opal, red and silver glitter.

The children enjoyed all this, unstructured time for exploring the many things of Christmas. We don’t talk a lot about Santa Clause unless the children bring it up. We try to focus more on the caring and sharing of this blessed holiday.

Enjoy your Christmas time in the classroom.

God bless.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Giving With a Cheerful Heart

Jacob made Joseph a special robe with long sleeves. 
Genesis 37:3
With Thanksgiving coming up in November we started our giving with a cheerful heart theme.  We started by telling the story of Joseph's coat of many colors. Joseph’s coat was a gift from his father, because he loved him very much.

At circle time we talked about what kind of gifts we have received and which ones were our favorites. This was very easy for my kids because they all receive gift throughout the year. When I asked what kind of gifts they have given to people they love, this was harder for them to come up with an answer. 

My goal for this theme is to help them understand that we give as well as receive and we give with a cheerful heart. I asked for them to bring in two of their favorite toys. I asked if they were to give away one of their favorite toys, which would it be. Several of my children were ok with giving away one of their toys to another child who does not have a toy, but most did not want to give one of their toys away. 

We talked about how God wants us to give to others and that we need do so with a cheerful heart. This means helping others with our time, money and even our toys.

We took brown grocery bags and cut them into the shape of a vest. I gave the children glue, brushes and pieces of colored tissue paper to put on their vest. They also could use dot markers and regular markers to decorate as they wished.

When our vests were complete and dry, we drew names out of a bag and the vest they made was given to another classmate. I reminded them that we often don't know the person we are helping but we give with a cheerful heart.
We all loved doing this activity, the girls more than the boys, but we all had a good time and a good lesson on the act of giving. We will wear our vests for the Thanksgiving feast.

Hope you enjoy doing this lesson with your class as much as we did.
Have a blessed day.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Winter in July

“God Helps Us Weather the Storm”

We are continuing our Vacation Bible School theme, of “God Helps Us Weather the Storm”, and this week it is, “Winter in July.”

It is very hot this time of year all across the country, so we wanted to help cool us and our kids off, even if just for a little while.

We set all of our centers up with snow, ice and cold air for play and art. During our circle time we talked about how snow and cold make a difference in our lives. We asked how many have played in snow or gone ice skating? Many of our kids have done both and they talked about their experiences of playing in the snow and ice. We looked at a lot of pictures of children and how they were dressed for playing in the winter weather.

We talked about how to be safe in winter weather and what can be scary about snow and ice. My children gave answers like heavy snow coming down, hail hitting the car, and snow being too cold for their hands and faces.

Just like any weather we experience, we always have to be prepared and pray that God helps us weather the storms. We talked about how we can ask God to help and be with us through all the stormy times in our lives.

Our children went to all the different centers. They played in Insta-Snow® (SNO) in the sensory table. We put winter clothes in the dress-up center, kool-aid and ice cubes painting in the art center. We made rainsticks with white packing peanuts and cardboard tubes. They had a great time making snowflakes with coffee filters and Colorations® Liquid Watercolor. We ice skated to music with paper plates on their feet on the blue carpet.

This was the last lesson in our Vacation Bible School, but I thought they had the most fun exploring all the winter activities that we did. We helped these young children understand that God will help us weather all that happens in their lives, all they need to do is ask.

Hope you enjoy doing these activities with your young children.

Have a blessed week.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Summertime Means Vacation Bible School, Part 2

Rain, rain, don’t go away.

For our Vacation Bible School, we are continuing our “God helps us weather the storm” theme. This week we were exploring how rain is involved in our lives.

Arizona only get about 7.5 inches of rain each year. Over ¾ of our rain comes during the summertime, which is known as the Monsoon season. We can get very heavy rains in just 30 to 60 minutes and is accompanied by loud and often scary thunder and lightning.

I asked my children what they liked about the summer rains. Many said they like to go outside and play in it. Some of the children like to play in the puddles after the rain had stopped. I asked them what they did not like about the rain and almost everyone said the thunder and lightning. It was too loud and scary.

During our music and movement time we used drums and noise makers to create the noise that thunder makes. This activity was designed to help them understand that it is just noise and we don’t have to be afraid. We also talked about that during thunderstorms we can lose the power to our houses, so we need to be prepared. We handed out flashlights and played flashlight tag. We let them take the flashlight home to keep in their rooms.

For our art activity we made rain pictures. Using Colorations® Liquid Watercolor the children put paint on their construction paper with spray bottles. They had the choice of colors to use. After their paintings had dried we took them outside and used eye droppers to drop water on the pictures to simulate rain. The watercolor ran and blended with the other colors.

Our rain pictures turned out great. We laminated them and sent their pictures home to remind them that God provides rain for us, plants, and animals, and that we need these summer rains to help everything in Arizona grow and stay healthy.

We talked about being safe during these thunderstorms. We talked about asking God to be with us and to help us not to be afraid and to "Weather the Storm."

You may have different summer weather where you live, so have fun with all you weather activities.

Have a blessed day,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summertime Means Vacation Bible School!

God helps us weather the storm.

I think I can remember almost every Vacation Bible School that I have helped plan, gather material for and teach. These are great times for me, our kids and the Sunday school staff.
I wanted to do something relevant for our children, so we decided on a theme focused around how weather affects them every day. Weather is a perfect example of how we are at the mercy of the sun, rain, wind and even hail.

Our first lesson was on wind. We talked about different Bible stories that had to do with wind. We talked about our own stories about wind. Here in Arizona, we get some very bad wind storms during the summer. These winds kick up the dust in the desert and cause dust storms. These storms can be big and deadly. What do we do when the wind becomes very strong? We stay inside with mom and dad and we pray that God will help us to weather the storm.

We decided to make windsocks that we could hang outside to tell us when the wind was beginning to blow.

We used the largest coffee filters (BIGTEX) that we could find. We used Colorations® Liquid Watercolor and dyed them in rainbow colors, using brushes. While they were still damp, we used the Colorations® Metallic Washable Stamp Pads (METSTAMP) and the Easy-Grip Inspirational Stampers (EGISTAMP) to decorate our windsocks.

It took about 20 minutes for them to dry completely. Then, we folded each side of the round coffee filter up about three inches and stapled them down. It now looked like a rectangle ready to be rolled into a cylinder. We stapled the ends together and glued the middle. We each chose different colors of yarn and strung it through four holes we punched evenly around the top and knotted all the yarn together.

We talked about how not all wind is scary. There are gentle breezes that can blow every day. Even these gentle breezes will make our windsock move. We wrote on the wind sock that God will help us to weather the storm.

The windsocks came out beautifully and are a good reminder that God is with us at all times.

Have a blessed week,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fully Rely on God

“Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you." I Peter 5:7

Here it is May already and our time together as a class will soon be coming to an end. All of my children will be leaving the comfort and security of a classroom, as well as the teachers and friends they have come to know and rely on each day. All of my children will be moving on to Big Kid's School, as they call it.
The end of school can be a very happy, sad and scary time all rolled into one. Not only for me and my aide but certainly for the children and their parents. I wanted to help make this transition as easy and comforting as possible.

In circle time, we talked about who we rely on each day. My kids gave examples of “mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, a couple of pets and other adults.” I said, “As you go off to big kids school, our family and friends may not be there in our new classroom and school. Who do we rely on then?" Two of my girls said, "Jesus and God." We talked about how God is always there to talk to through prayer. We can always rely on God to make us feel secure until we can be with the people we love.

We decided to make something to remind us each day that God cares for us and to rely on him. We got foam sheets, a frog stencil, green BioColor® and a balloon. We placed the stencil in the center of the foam sheet, put the green paint on a paper plate and blew our balloons up to the size of a tennis ball. The children dipped the balloon in the paint and bounced it up and down over the stencil until the center was entirely covered. They had no trouble doing this and really enjoyed painting with the balloon, When they were done, they removed the stencil and had a print of a green frog on their foam.

After drying for the afternoon, I lightly wrote F.R.O.G. at the top of the foam and Fully Rely on God at the bottom. They then took markers and traced the letters. We punched holes at the top and strung yarn for hanging.

We gave instructions to take their plaques home and have a parent hang it in a spot that they could see it each day before leaving the house. We all enjoyed making these keepsakes to remind us that God is eternal and will always be there for us.

I will miss this class as they move on to Big Kid School, and I look forward to a new group of eager young learners in the fall.

Hope you enjoyed this activity!
Have a blessed week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lily of the Valley

Spring and Easter are here and it is always an exciting time in the classroom. The true meaning of Easter is hard for young children to understand so in our classroom we concentrate on new life.

The Easter Lily is a great example of Easter and new life. So we decided to let the children plant Easter Lily bulbs. During circle time we looked at pictures of all different kinds of lilies and discovered that they come in many different colors. The popular colors are purple, blue and white. We looked at our bulbs and talked about what we needed to make them grow. The children decided that they needed dirt, water and sunshine. This was an outside activity. Each child had a pot and filled it 1/3 full of soil. In went the bulb, then water, and more soil to cover. They had the choice to leave it in the classroom or take them home. They all chose to take theirs home.

We explained that the bulb would take a long time to grow, so we decided to make Easter Lily's for Easter dinner decorations. The children had a choice of what color they would like to make. Some chose purple and blue, but most choose the most popular white. They laid their hands down on the colored paper, spreading their fingers wide, and we traced around them. They cut them out and used pencils to curl the fingers. We taped both hands to a green straw and pushed a yellow pipe cleaner up through the straw as the yellow part of the flower. They taped on green construction paper leaves and put them in clear plastic bottles.

Parents, teachers and the children enjoyed both of the Spring/Easter activities. I heard comments such as, "This is a keeper," "It was fun!" and "They are so cute."

Easter and spring are definitely here. Enjoy all the new life that both bring.

Have a blessed week,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

...let your light shine before others.... ~ Matthew 5:16

Our Bible verse this month is about having the light of God in us and letting that light shine so others can see our good works.

I wanted to help my children understand, in fun hands-on activities, how we see light and how it reacts in different ways. In my sensory table I put mirrors in the bottom, to see reflective light and magnifying glasses on the science tables to show refractive light.

In circle time we read the story “Northern Lights, A to Z” by: Mindy Dwyer.
and we looked at pictures from Natural Geographic on the Northern Lights.
I handed out flashlights to each of my children. We turned out the classroom lights and I let them shine their lights on the walls and the ceiling. We used the flashlights to spotlight items around the room. I never had a child that didn't love a flashlight.
My aid and I helped each child make a Northern Light activity. We took a large, inexpensive white paper plate. Each child cut their paper plate in half and glued a large craft stick to the cut side. This was their handle to hold the plate. We gave them white school glue and brushes to paint their paper plate. They then glued glitter confetti onto their paper plates and let it dry. When their plates were dry we shut the lights off in the classroom and used our flashlights to reflect the light off the glitter and the colors magically appeared on the walls and ceilings. They had to discover the best angle to hold the flashlights to make the colors appear.

My kids had so much fun with this activity they wanted to take their plates to other classrooms to show them how the lights appeared on the walls. We even went into the directors office.

We kept the glitter plates in their cubbies for a full week and the flashlights on the science table for continued exploration. Then they went home for the families to enjoy.

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) have been shining long before the dinosaurs roamed the earth and will continue shining forever. God's light has shown from the beginning of time and will continue to shine in our lives for eternity.

Hope you and your kids have fun with this activity and let God's light continue to shine through you.

Blessed week.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Good Samaritan

My goal for this month is to help each of my children learn their home address. Helping a child learn their address covers many areas of their cognitive and social development. While trying to accomplish this I also wanted to incorporate our Bible story, The Good Samaritan.

After telling the story in circle time we talked about who is our neighbor. Who is sitting next to you? Are they your neighbor? Do you know who lives next door to you? Are they your neighbor? I let each child share about who they know, see, say hi to and play with around their neighborhood. As all young children, my kids love to share. This was a lot of fun, as they all had stories to tell. We then talked about how important it is to know where we live and that each of us has an address. When we know our addresses we will always be safe and be able to tell someone if we need help to find our home.

My aid and I helped each child, using the foam numbers, to put their address on a square piece of construction paper, using the color of their choice. We then used a large triangle for the roof, small squares and rectangles for the door and windows. We gave them markers if they wanted to do more decoration. On a large sheet of butcher roll the children each glued their houses to make a neighborhood. We gave them foam shapes of children, flowers, dogs, cats, cars and airplanes to finish off the group activity. We continued to talk about how God wanted us to love your neighbor as yourself. This means to be kind to not only those who live in our neighborhood, but also your neighbor friends in our classroom and at church.

We hung our group mural on the wall about a couple of feet above the floor. This became a real conversation piece during free choice for them to tell stories about their houses and who lives with them.

We continued to reinforce our address numbers and street until everyone was able to say where they lived. When it was time to take the mural down we cut the section that each child had contributed to and sent it home.

Not only did we all learn a lot about each other, but we were able to memorize our Bible verse …Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Matthew 22:39

Have a blessed week.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Who Loves you, and Whom Do you Love?

“Hide My Word in Your Heart.”

February is the month for talking about love. Whom do you love and who loves you. At circle time we talked about all the people in our lives who love us very much and everyone we love too. Three of my children said they love their dogs, cats and Morris the tortoise. In a little basket beside my chair I had small items for each of the children. I asked if they had little treasures and they wanted to put them some place safe where would you hide them right now so they would not get lost. I gave them each a small toy and saw where they put them. Most put them in a pants pocket, shirt pocket and one in her shoe.

We talked about the Word of God and our Bible verse. To keep it safe we hide the word of God in our hearts by memorizing our Bible verse each week. Our Bible verse is “Love the Lord Your God with all Your Heart”, Matthew 22:37.

We talked about color patterns in our shirts and our pants. I gave them a cut out of a pair of pants or a shirt and let them decorate them as they liked. They had their choice of anything that was in the art center to use. Some used markers, paint, stickers and the girls loved the sequins and glitter pens. After their article of clothing was dry I gave them an outline of a heart and they cut it out and glued it to their shirt or pants. On the heart I wrote-I Have Hidden Your Word in My Heart… After we recited the Bible verse they tucked the piece of paper into the heart pocket. We hung our shirts and pants on the walls for about a week and after we had memorized the verse, they took them home.

Hiding small items from the science center, cars and trucks area, and small animals is all part of the preschool experience. Hiding the Word of God in their hearts is part of their growing experience.

Have a joyous February.