Thursday, February 17, 2011

Circus by Lois Ehlert

Gathering Activity:  Free Art with Shapes
We gave each of the children their own black canvases (card stock) and fun foam shapes.  We did this BEFORE we introduced the book, so that they could create their own original designs.   We did this as a fun introduction to Ehlert's illustrations in the book Circus.  Her designs consist of colorful shapes forming circus scenes on a black background.

Circle Time:  Circus by Lois Ehlert
 The children and their mommies gathered on a colorful parachute for our circle time today.   The circus came to our town this past week, so it was the perfect time to share the book Circus by Lois Ehlert.    This is a wonderful introduction to the circus for children.  The pictures and text are simple, bright, and bold.  The story is told from the Ringmaster's point of view.  He invites everyone to join him at the circus and then introduces each act.  The children thought the flying zucchinis were a funny twist.  There are also some great vocabulary words.  The children were asking lots of questions.  I love books that spark their curiosity!  

We sang Walking Through the Circus and The Clowns in the Circus. 

Walking Through the Circus 
(Sung To: "I've Been Working On the Railroad")
I am walking through the circus (walk in place)
Happy as can be (smile real big)
I am walking through the circus (walk in place)
Just to see, what I can see (make binoculars with hands)
I can see the clown laughing (ha, ha, ha)
I can see the elephant, too (make trunk motion)
I can see the lion sleeping (yawn)
Look out (make binoculars with hands)... because he sees you too

The Clowns In The Circus (Sung to The Wheels On The Bus)
The clowns in the circus make us go ha ha ha
ha ha ha
ha ha ha
The clowns in the circus make us go ha ha ha
All day long!
The lions in the circus go grrrr grrrr grrrrrr
grrrr grrrr grrrrrr
grrrr grrrr grrrrrr
The lions in the circus go grrrr grrrr grrrrrr
All day long!
The elephants in the circus go errrrrrr eerrrrrrrr eerrrrrr
errrrrrr eerrrrrrrr eerrrrrr
errrrrrr eerrrrrrrr eerrrrrr
The elephants in the circus go errrrrrr eerrrrrrrr eerrrrrr
All day long!
The hot dog man at the circus yells red hots here!
red hots here!
red hots here!
The hot dog man at the circus yells red hots here!
All day long.

Art: Circus Tent Balloon Painting

Materials Needed: Circus Tent cut-outs on poster board, small balloons, washable paint 

Directions: Allow the children to paint the circus tent by dipping their balloons and using them as a paintbrush.  

Snack: Popcorn, Peanuts, and Animal Crackers
How could we have done anything else on circus day?   The children really enjoyed shelling their own peanuts.  It was great fine motor practice, as well as a lot of fun! 

Playtime: Circus Games

1-Jumping Through the Hoop 
The children took SEVERAL turns pretending to be lions and jumping through the hoop. 

2-Walking the Tight Rope
We drew a tight rope on the ground with sidewalk chalk and allowed the children to hold an umbrella as they practiced balancing on the line. 

3-Under the Big Top : Parachute Play
This group of little ones LOVE parachute play.  We pretended to be under the big top.  There was just enough breeze to make this exceptionally fun!

4-Feed the Elephant  
This was everyone's favorite activity of the day (mommies included).  One of the Mommies, made this adorable cardboard elephant with a gray sock trunk.  (Thank you, Jen).  The children played several games with this new friend.  

First, we tried to throw peanuts in his mouth.

Then we placed them in the elephant's trunk and the elephant placed them in his mouth.

Well then that silly elephant decided he wanted to play with the nice children who fed him, and started to play tag!  So many giggles! 

Of course each of the children wanted to have a chance to be the elephant, too!  

If you are still looking for more fun circus and wild animal ideas, check out my blogs from other fun circus days with other groups, here and here and here.   We dressed up as clowns, face painted, and there are some other snack ideas.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snuggle Puppy

Special Instructions: Bring a shoebox covered with wrapping paper and a Valentine card for each Mommy and Me friend.  

Gathering Activity: Doggie Valentine Boxes

We made these adorable puppy boxes to hold our valentine cards.  We printed the pieces off in black and white and let the children color them.  The Mommies had to do the gluing part on the boxes.

Then the kids delivered their cards to each other.

Circle Time: Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton

At the beginning of the year, I asked each of the moms to send in a list of their favorite books.  Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton was on almost everyone's list.  I love this sweet book, and saved it for a special Valentines' Day treat!  The book is a little song from a parent to a child saying how much they love the child.  We read the story in circle time.  There is a CD available that includes the music and lyrics to the book, so after we read,  we listened to the song.  If you don't have the CD, you can also find it at .  (Warning: This song is very catchy and gets stuck in your head all day long)!   We each chose a puppy dog to snuggle with while we read the story.

We also sang the song "H-E-A-R-T" to the tune of Bingo.  I had written the letters on hearts and the children took turns taking on heart away after each time we sang.  It made it easier for them to keep up with the song.

"There is a shape and it means love and Heart is it's name-o. "H-E-A-R-T,  
H-E-A-R-T,  H-E-A-R-T, and Heart is it's Nameo."  Repeat leaving off a letter each time.  Blow kisses for each missing letter.  (adapted from here).

Art:  Valentine Conversation Heart Art
Materials Needed:  Glue dyed pink, hearts cut out of posterboard, sponge brushes, candy conversation hearts.

1-Paint the heart pink with the glue.

2-Place the conversation hearts on to the painted heart.

3-Dry flat.

Snack: Rice Krispie Hearts, Apples, and Strawberries

Games: Conversation Heart Games

1-Conversation Heart Scooping: We practiced scooping skills by moving hearts from one bowl into another.  Simple fun, great fine motor skill practice.

2-Large Conversation Heart Stacking: We built towers with the large conversation hearts and counted how many we could stack before they fell.

3-Valentine Sensory Box : We explored and scooped heart shaped gems, pom poms, balls, sparkly letters, and heart boxes. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Stink!

Special Notes: Please bring a toy Matchbox style garbage truck and a "robot claw" toy, if you have either to share.
Gathering Activity: Truck Puzzles and Truck Books
We read truck themed books and worked cooperatively to complete truck themed puzzles.

Circle Time: I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullan

I have to confess that I wasn't a big fan of this garbage truck book the first time I read it to my kindergarten class. It is filled with references to gross things like dirty diapers, puppy poo, and ugly underpants.   But fast forward 7 years and now I am the mom of two little boys who think the funniest things in the world are diapers, poo, and underwear.  Seriously, all one of them has to do is whisper the word "diaper" and the two of them are in hysterics.  And they LOVE watching the garbage truck.  So, I gave the book a second chance.  And I am glad I did.   The McMullans do a great job teaching facts about how the garbage truck works and why we need the garbage truck.  And while I am still not a big fan of the gross out factor of the Smelly ABCs included, all of my little 3 old friends thought it was hilarious.  And since it was in an appropriate context, I even loosened up and enjoyed the book right along with them!  I think the little ones enjoyed the reading of this book more than any other we have shared together this year.

After laughing at the story, we sang Oscar the Grouch's "I Love Trash."  Which the little ones also found very funny.

Art: Recycled Garbage Trucks

Materials Needed Per Truck: Recycled brown paper grocery bag cut into a large rectangle for background, green construction paper scraps cut into one small square, one large square, and one triangle, 4 small black circles, brown and blue paint, matchbox sized garbage truck toys

1-Glue pieces onto the paper bag in the shape of a garbage truck. 
I got the idea for this part of the craft here at No Time for Flash Cards.  Love that site!

2- Using the trucks as paint brushes, paint tracks on the truck.

Snack: Garbage Can Pudding 

 We made dirt pudding and placed it inside a plastic cup wrapped with aluminum foil to look like a garbage can.  We added a worm sticking out.  They turned out very cute...and yummy.

*I know that I found the idea of wrapping the cup with foil to look like a garbage can on someone's blog, but I can't find it again.  If it was your blog, let me know and I will add a link!  It was a great idea!

Games: Trash Pick Up and Toss it in the Trash 

1-Trash Pick Up

I spread out objects on the floor that are found in the story such as diapers (clean), neckties, empty, clean containers, toy apples and bananas from the play kitchen, and newspapers.    Then the children take turns using their robotic claws to pick up trash and placing the items into clan garbage bags.  When not picking up trash, they thought it was just as fun to be the one holding the big garbage bag. 

2-Toss it in the Trash

The children tossed newspaper balls into a clean waste basket.  We just had them all toss in at the same time.  Then they would run and grab a ball out and try again.  No waiting! (While patience is a great skill to practice with 3 year olds,  it is fun when there is more playtime then waiting time in an activity).