Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Polar Express

Special Note: Have the children wear pajamas and prepare tickets for the train ride during circle time.

Gathering Activity:
Jingle Bells Bracelets 
Supplies Needed: loose assortment of jingle bells of various sizes and colors, 1 pipe cleaner per child
Directions: Allow the children to string several jingle bells on to a pipe cleaner.   Parents will twist the ends to make a bracelet when finished.

Circle Time:  We read the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  This is a magical story of a young boy who travels aboard a train bound for the North Pole on Christmas Eve.  He is selected to receive the first gift of Christmas from Santa.  He selects a bell from Santa's reindeer, that only those who believe in Santa can hear.   (Which is why all of our activities have to do with trains and jingle bells this week).  :)

After we read the story, each of the children were given a ticket to board our own Polar Express.  We lined up chairs and created our own train.  Each child took turns sitting in the first seat and "driving" the train.  Whoever was seated in the "engine" selected a favorite Christmas song that we sang together.   We rang our jingle bell bracelets as we sang our songs.

Polar Express Jingle Bell Shoebox Train Art
Supplies Needed:  1 train cut out per child, 1 shoe box per child, red, green and white paint, jingle bells, spoons, glue, black paper, tape, and q-tips
Directions: 1-Tape the train cut out in the bottom of a shoebox.  2-Using a spoon, dip a jingle bell into a paint color and then place bell in the box.  3-Shut lid and shake.  4-Repeat steps 2 &3 with additional colors. 5-Glue train shape onto a black sheet of construction paper.  5-Use white paint and a q-tip to add snow to your  Polar Express landscape.

Train Cake, Hot Cocoa, and Marshmallows
I have a great train shaped cake pan that we used to make pound cake  We enjoyed it with warm cocoa and yummy marshmallows.  (Just like the kids in the story).  I would also suggest finding candy with white nougat centers, but I was unable to find any before our party.  (I found lots afterwards).

1-Present Toss: Place jingle bells inside of an open gift box.  Allow the children to toss bean bag "presents" into the box.  When they hit the sides of the box they get a musical surprise.

2-Jingle Bell Blanket Toss: Place jingle bells in the middle of a blanket.  Sing "Jingle Bells" together as you shake the edges of the sheet like a parachute.  When you say "Hey!", toss the bells into the air.  I think we could have played this game the entire hour and a half and the kids would have been thrilled!

3-Present Pass: We wrapped identical train puzzle presents for each of the children, with his/her own magical sleigh bell on top.  We played Christmas music and passed the packages around in a circle.  We started with one present and added one at a time until we were passing one per child.  The children had to use a great deal of coordination to pass so that they each only had one present.   When the music stopped, they opened their presents and did the puzzles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa's Noisy Night

 Gathering Activity We made Reindeer Food together.  The children each measured their own ingredients into their own bags and shook them up.  We placed the poem inside.  I have done this for several years as a teacher and with my own children.  I am not sure where I originally found the poem and recipe, but I am sharing a link in case you need one.
Circle Time We read Santa's Noisy Night by Julie Sykes.  This is a funny story, perfect for a read aloud to 3 year olds!  It follows Santa along his Christmas Eve journey as he tries unsuccessfully to remember to be quiet and not wake up the children.  It is perfect for a read aloud.  There is repetition which the children can join in on, yelling and whispering, which makes it easy to be silly with, and familiar characters like reindeer, snowmen, elves, and of course, the Big Man himself.  After sharing the story, we sang "Up on the Housetop," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  We also did the following Finger plays.  (You can click on the links to find the complete words).  We did "Call Rudolph", and each child helped take away a reindeer figure during the finger play.  We did "Here is the Chimney" and "There's A Little Reindeer."  The last one was originally about an elf, but we changed it, and I gave each child a Little People Reindeer to use to act out the song with me.  This one was by far their favorite.  We sang it several times.  

Art We made these adorable Paper plate Santas.  You can find directions here at No Time For Flashcards.  This was a wonderful fine motor activity that the children could do without much help. 

Pin the Nose on Rudolph: One of our talented moms made these super cute Pin the Nose on the Reindeer Game.  She drew a noseless reindeer on poster board and cut out enough red noses for each child to have to turns.  We covered the children's eyes with our own hands, so it wouldn't be as frightening as a blindfold.  

 Quiet Santa Says Played like Simon Says, but whisper all of the directions. 

Snack Reindeer Sandwiches:  These fun sandwiches have been around forever.  Another one of our fantastic moms made these from peanut butter triangle sandwiches, pretzels for antlers, cherry noses, and marshmallow eyes with mini chocolate chips.  I had to take a picture fast, because these disappeared quickly!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Special Instructions:  Bring a mallet or small hammer.  

Gathering Activity: Dinosaur Googly Eye Search- We hid googly eyes in playdough and then searched for them.  (This is a wonderful fine motor activity).  The children loved hiding them for the Mommies to find.  Then the mommies would hide them and the children would search for them.
Circle Time: We read How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?  by Jane Yolan.  We sang dinosaur songs and dinosaur fingerplays.    We counted and sorted plastic dinosaurs.  We danced to "We Are the Dinosaurs" by The Laurie Berkner Band (a family favorite).


Art: Clothespin Stegosaurus:  We made these super cute (and super easy) dinos.  The children needed very little help and were so proud of their creations.

Snack: Dinosaur Shaped Sandwiches and Bananas (Fun Fact: A T-rex's tooth is as long as one banana).

Playtime Activities:

Dinosaur Hunt:  We hid plastic dinosaurs outside for the children to find.

Dinosaur Eggs:  We made these awesome dinosaur eggs with baby dinos hiding inside.. Then the kiddos used a mallet or small hammer to crack them open, supervised closely.  By far the favorite activity of the day.  The prep for these is intensive, but soooooo worth it!  Don't skip this fun activity. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Turkey for Thanksgiving

Gathering Activity:  We read Thanksgiving stories with our mommies. 

Circle Time: We read A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting.  We sang Thanksgiving songs together.

Art Activity: Hand Print Turkeys

Materials Needed: Construction paper, crayons, scissors, glue, googly eyes, feathers, red pom poms.
Directions: Trace both of your child's hands and cut out. Glue on a second sheet of a construction paper. Allow them to glue feathers on four of the fingers on each hand.  Add a googly eye, a yellow beak, and a red pom pom waddle to each turkey.

Playtime Activities: We played 3 Turkey themed games together.

1-Duck, Duck, Turkey (played just like Duck, Duck, Goose) 

2-Turkey Dinner Game

Sung To: " Frere Jacques"

Turkey dinner, Turkey dinner
Gather round,  Gather round.
Who will get the drumstick?
Yummy Yummy Yum stick!
All sit down!  All sit down!

Materials Needed: A turkey place mat for each of the children and a plastic drumstick from our play kitchen food. 

Directions: Choose one child to be the "hider."  The other children close their eyes (with Mommy's help) and sing the song. The "hider" places the drumstick under one of the place mats.  Each child opens his eyes and lifts his place mat to see if he has the drumstick.   The child that finds the turkey hides it the next time around.  Such a simple concept, but the kiddos loved it! 

3-Turkey Hunt: Play Hide and Go Seek with our Moms.  The children hid with their mommies and gobbled like turkeys while one family pair searched for the gobbling turkeys.  We played until everyone had a turn to hunt.
Snack: We held our own little Thanksgiving feast.  We ate turkey shaped sandwiches, cheese cubes, apple slices, pumpkin muffins, and popcorn. Each mommy brought something to contribute to the feast.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Napping House

Special Instructions: Wear your favorite pajamas and bring a flashlight.

Gathering Activity: We sat on blankets and read stories about bedtime with our moms.

Circle Time: We read The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood.  We sang songs about rain and nap time.  We had plush animal versions of each of the story book characters and acted out the story over and over and over again. Each child took a turn being different animals. So many giggles!

Art Activity:  Marshmallow Rainbows

Materials Needed: Pastel colored mini marshmallows, glue, pre-drawn rainbow outlines.

Instructions: Help your child pour the glue in one part of the rainbow and fill with coordinating rainbow color.  Repeat until all sections are filled.

Snack:  Snack Houses and of course, leftover mini marshmallows (because it would be cruel not to let them eat them).
Materials needed: Create individual kits for each child:
9 wheat things per child, 1 cheese triangle for roof, 1 small cheese rectangle for chimney, 1 large rectangle for door, 1 raisin for door knob.
Instructions: Allow each child to assemble their homes and then enjoy! 

Playtime Activity: We played 3 games.
Who is Under the blanket? : We had a stuffed animal to represent each of the characters in the story.  The children took turns leaving the room with their mom and return to guess which animal is hiding under the blanket.

Sleeping Animals: Each child pretends to be one of the characters sleeping and tries to lie as still as possible when the game leader calls out. "Go to sleep!" until the game leader calls out "Ouch a wakeful flea bit me!"  then everyone jumps up and makes the sound of his or her animal.

Make a Rain Storm: We used a rain stick, instruments, and flashlights to make a rain storm.  The children brought a flash light from home.    We took turns doing all of the parts of the storm.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

Special Instructions:  The children each wore a costume and brought a dollar to help pay for the pumpkins.

Gathering Activity: We decorated paper plate monster masks together to use for our Wild Rumpus at the end of class.

Circle Time: We read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  We roared along with the Wild Things in the story. When we sang our opening song, "Here We Are Together," we sang it twice.  Once for our real names, and once for the names of the characters we came dressed as to Mommy and Me. We sang monster songs and did monster finger plays. 

Snack: Monster Face Pizzas
Ingredients: English Muffins, pizza sauce, cheese, pepperonis, pepper slices, olives.
Directions: Allow the children to assemble their own pizzas and bake until cheese is melted.

Art Activities: Pumpkin Monsters
Materials Needed: Pie Pumpkins, foam stickers, glitter glue, feathers
Directions: Allow the children to use the supplied materials to decorate their pumpkins however they wish.

Playtime Activity: Wild Rumpus
We held our masks in one hand and our instruments in another and ran through the house making lots of noise dancing, jumping, stomping, and crawling like wild things.  Then when a child pretending to be Max yelled "STOP", all the children stopped and then another child had a turn to be Max.