Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aromatherapy Play Dough with Essential Oils

Time to take a look at our scented play dough!!


I always start with my favorite basic recipe:

1c. All-Purpose Flour
1c. Water
1/2c. Salt
1T Oil
1T Cream of Tartar

Add food coloring and scent of your choice

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the dough comes together in a ball and is no longer sticky.  Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth.  Play!

Here are the variations we used:
Add 2-3 drops of Lavender Essential Oil and purple food coloring.  
Lavender can have a calming effect and it smells light and fresh.

Add 2-3 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil and green food coloring (I used the neon green).
Peppermint is refreshing and uplifting and can even soothe upset tummies - it was my morning sickness cure of choice during all three of my pregnancies. :)

Add 2-3 drops of Geranium Essential Oil and pink food coloring.
I have to be honest here and say I have never used my geranium oil except for making play dough, so I can't really speak to its health benefits.  I do know it is wonderful for the skin, however, and has an amazing smell!

Take a look at our other activities from this month, Colors! and 5 Senses!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

5 Senses!

We're moving into week 3 of our lessons on colors and our 5 senses, so we still have lots of fun in store, but I want to share a few activities we've done so far.

Colorful maracas for a hearing-inspired craft.


Textured paint - just add Epsom salt and end up with some lovely sparkly art!
So pretty!

Remember our Color Surprise play dough??  
It got a face lift when I added some googly eyes, rice, glitter, salt and sequins.

My wonderful friend, Amanda was kind enough to dig into her fabric collection and provide me with a variety of textured material.  We spent some time touching and describing each fabric to work on our descriptive language skills!

This is part of a Scent Sort Match Up Kit I purchased.  The kit comes with 30 different scent jars and cards, so I broke them into more manageable groups of 5 for the children to use independently.  These can get tricky, but we'll be expert smellers by the end of the month!

This week, we will be coloring on some textured paper I had left over from my scrap booking days.


Coming soon.....scented and edible play dough!!!



Friday, September 5, 2014

Colors!!

After this week, I can officially say #1: I'm exhausted and #2: I'm in LOVE with my new curriculum!  It's always tricky writing an entirely new curriculum from scratch and then attempting to implement it when neither the teacher nor the children have experienced it before, but after working out all the kinks in August, we've settled nicely into a routine and we're really starting to get into learning through play!

September at Seedlings is all about colors, 5 senses, descriptive language and finding out more about our friends and how we are alike and different.

We had a veritable color explosion this week, here is a look at what we did!

One of our sensory tables was completely filled with RED items!  I will switch the color each week, so we will also have a blue table, a green table and a yellow table this month.

Our other sensory table was filled with rainbow rice, which, of course, only looked like this for three seconds before it became this:
Still lovely!  And the most popular place in the classroom this week!

Part colors, part 5 senses; I created a rainbow water xylophone for a bit of musical fun.  A feast for eyes and ears!

Our second most popular activity this week was our color mixing tray.  I'm pretty sure I reset this tray about 15 times per class, but I was so thrilled every time I heard, "I made green!!" from that area.  This one will be switched out each week so we can create all of the secondaries and by the last week of September, the kiddos will have all three primaries to work with.

We start many of our days with play dough.  Everyone loves play dough and it's a great way to get the kiddos involved and talking immediately.  Our 5 Senses theme this month offers loads of options for play dough additions and this week I opted for Color Surprise play dough that I saw posted a while back here.  We start out with white dough with a surprise inside and as we play, we see it begin to change.
Eventually, the whole ball of play dough is a solid color.  I started with just primaries for my first class, but because I have multiple classes and different kiddos each day, I wanted everyone to have a chance to make a new color, so we eventually ended up with a fun mix of doughs.
Next week, these fun colors will be getting added textures!

Stay tuned for a look at our 5 Senses adventures later this month!!


Friday, August 29, 2014

Emotional Intelligence in Preschool

Emotional intelligence sounds like a really fancy shmancy thing to be teaching at the preschool level, but it's actually quite simple and something most people probably do without even realizing it.  At Seedlings, we work on emotional intelligence every single day, but this month, it was a major focus as we got into the swing of the school year.

Part of increasing our emotional intelligence is recognizing feelings, in both ourselves and others.  We accomplished this in a variety of ways this month, here is a look at a few of the tools we used.

The Excellerations My Feelings Chart was a big help.  We took turns making faces and talking about how the person was feeling and what could have caused those feelings.  The very best thing about this chart was that every child used the eyebrows as mustaches - awesome!!  :)

 We used these People and Emotions Photo Learning Cards to spark discussions about feelings and what might cause them.

We made our own Feelings Books, which gave the kiddos good practice making happy, sad, angry and scared faces and talking about all the things that make them feel certain ways.



Of course, the best way to practice and improve emotional intelligence in preschoolers is through personal experiences.  Sometimes we have disputes among friends and that is a wonderful opportunity to point out how each child looks and have each child explain how he or she is feeling and what caused those feelings.  We can also find ways to comfort each other if we are feeling sad, scared or lonely.

We're off to a wonderful start towards emotional intelligence at Seedlings!!



Friday, August 8, 2014

Body Awareness in Preschool

We're learning all about ourselves this month at Seedlings!  From bones and organs to remembering to ask before hugging and finding words to say, "No thanks, my body is mine," we're exploring and playing our way to some serious body awareness.

One of our most popular activities was play dough body parts and faces.  As the week went on, they got more and more complex, even including the skeletal system in some cases!
These fun people and faces also open an avenue for discussion about diversity and similarities and differences among our friends.

Also offered this month are some 5-layer puzzles by Hape.  I have both the boy and the girl puzzle and the kiddos adore them!
We got a good look at bones with our Foam Skeleton Floor Puzzle.  
In our art area this week, we had a chance to make silly faces with magazine photos.

Most of our activities were presented as a group lesson and then placed in the classroom for free exploration.  Our new format has improved the children's awareness of the offerings in the room and has given them confidence in their abilities to complete the activities as instructed and then expand upon them with play and creativity.

Our first week went amazingly well and I'm looking forward to more playful academics with my new friends and seasoned students!  :)


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Our 2014-2015 Classroom

The new school year begins next week and it's time again to change things up.  Last year's big reveal of a refreshed, painted and rearranged classroom was one of my most viewed posts to date.  It may sound odd, but that fact makes me so proud!  Organization and classroom arrangement has always been one of my favorite parts of being a preschool teacher, so the recognition of my work makes me happy. :)

Check out this year's exciting changes and additions!!

First, the big picture....

And another angle....

And another....

One last view....

In the Dramatic Play area, you can find lots of Waldorf-Inspired fun.  Babies, play silks, kitchen and cleaning tools provide for plenty of imaginative play.  This area helps hone social skills and creates many opportunities for language expression and expansion.

Our Cozy Corner and Circle Time Area is a place for resting, reading, songs and stories.  Each kiddo has a picture frame for art projects to be displayed.
Our perpetual calendar was lovingly made by Elizabeth over at Toadstool Forest.  She even made a special Dust Storm Weather Gnome just for us and our crazy AZ weather!

Items on this shelf are changed out occasionally depending on our monthly focus.  Language, math, building, and much, much more!

Our light table has been relocated and given its own shelf.  Any light table toys can also be taken elsewhere in the classroom, allowing for plenty of expansion and creativity.

I've added an additional shelf to serve as part of our science, sensory, writing, art area.  Activities on this shelf are also rotated monthly.  Our work mats are also kept in this area.

Finally, we have our Safe Place with our Feelings Buddies and our Peace Basket.  The Buddies are part of a curriculum to help children master emotional regulation and our Peace Basket contains items that can be used by one or more child when there are big feelings that need to be worked out.


There it is!  I'm so excited to get started with the new curriculum and sharing all of the amazing activities we'll be doing each month!


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