Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

 I was doing my normal Facebook stalking, when I came across a photo posted by my former TA showing a display she created at her new school.

My very first thought was "That should have been in my classroom!". I jokingly commented "I'm totally stealing", in the back of my mind feeling there is NO way that I could ever make something of that caliber. This lady is AMAZING with a pencil and a pair of scissors and I'm lucky if I can even find my pencil and my scissors. 
I was so in love with this display however, that I had to try. So I picked her brain on her process and, like all great teachers, she shared the wealth. As an aspiring great teacher, I feel it is only right that I do the same. So here is my rendition of the display and my process, which due to my artistic shortcomings, is somewhat different from hers.

Everything in her display is hand drawn and since I no longer have her to draw for me :-( and I couldn't find my pencil, I decided to go to my next best friend for help-Google. All of my images are downloaded and printed on multiple colors of paper and then cut and glued together. 
I printed the log cabin on brown construction paper and the trees on green and white papers. I traced the top of the log cabin on white paper and cut it out to make a snowy roof. I then cut all of the snowy parts of the trees out of the white paper and glued it on top of the green trees. The sky is blue construction paper over poster board and the snow is white construction paper. 

The falling snow is holes punched out of white paper and individually glued to the paper. (This was the most tedious part of the project. The holes kept sticking to my finger and not the paper.)

Next, came the window frame (brown construction paper)

and the curtains (yellow construction paper).

Next came the candles. I printed the same image on black, white and green papers. Then I cut each individual part out and layered it onto the black base. The berries are cut from the white paper and colored with a red marker and the flames were cut freestyle from orange and yellow paper.
The poinsettias were printed on red, green and yellow paper. I used the green paper as my base and glued the red and yellow cut outs over the base. Layering it this way gives it a slight 3D effect. 

Next, I did the flames. I printed these on red, orange and yellow paper, but I layered it wrong, so the red is behind the yellow instead of the orange. My husband said it wasn't really noticeable so I left it, but if you are going to recreate it, I would suggest placing the orange behind the yellow and the red behind the orange.
 The logs are printed on brown construction paper and glued after the fire had been placed. This was done on black poster board, but I did another for the lobby of my building which utilized black construction paper over white oak tag.

The brick was bought in a roll from a neighborhood pharmacy and cost $1.99 each. I used two complete rolls. This is my finished project:
The entire thing is held onto the wall with contact paper and to protect it from little hands. The Mantle is white poster board and the stockings were purchased from Deals for $1.00 a piece and decorated by the two classes. My class decorated the one on the right with our hand prints.The other class' has a really cool hand print reindeer project housing their names. 
The stockings are held on with velcro strips and will be removed after the holiday. We plan on leaving the fireplace up throughout the winter. 

I also made one on a smaller scale for the lobby of my building. As previously stated, the fireplace uses black construction paper over oak tag. Other changes are that the trees are just printed once on white paper (I didn't think the layering made so much of a difference for the amount of work that it entailed) and the colors for the fire are in the correct order (pictured below).

Completed window and fire. 

Score 1 (or 2, if you count both) for the artistically challenged!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

All Gingerbread Houses Have Witches

We loved the mini Gingerbread theme so much that we continued it for another week. We made gingerbread character headbands and took turns chasing that gingerbread boy until he was finally eaten. We made a class story titled "Going on a Gingerbread Hunt", which included snow angels and a snowball fight as we made our way through the snowstorm. After making it to the gingerbread house and finding and eating the gingerbread man, piece by piece, we got chased home by a witch! After all, in the words of a very intelligent four-year-old "All gingerbread houses have witches." Good point.
We topped off our unit by making the coolest gingerbread houses out of milk cartons. We used graham crackers with marshmallow fluff adhesive. Add some vanilla frosting, gumdrops, Twizzlers, peppermints, M&M's, marshmallows, sprinkles and imagination and you have some really cool 'witch cribs.'

Alas, we never got a chance to make gingerbread men of our own. I have been searching endlessly for some ready-made gingerbread dough to no avail. Looks like I am going to have to roll up my sleeves and make some from scratch. Thankfully, I have another week to figure it out.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Catch Me If You Can...

I started my mini Gingerbread unit this morning with a reading of The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone and a Roll and Graph Activity compliments of (slightly modified for a larger group). The children were so excited and engaged that they wanted to keep going. My centers were stocked with gingerbread activities to stimulate their little minds, however rehearsal for the (dreaded) Christmas Showcase sent us past the centers and onto the stage. 

While we were walking by, the children noticed the  laminated Gingerbread Boy characters that I attached to a cookie sheet via magnet dots (an old teaching trick that I just discovered) and got super excited. They went on and on about the story and who was going to the story center first and I was ELATED!!!! The teacher in my head was doing the wop and saying "I rock, I rock!!" Not only did I finally find something to do with those magnet dots, I sparked interest in the story, the children were eager to do retellings...I had to tap my pocket to make sure I had enough post-its for afternoon center time. 

After practice (which went surprisingly well, by the way), lunch, outdoors and nap time, it was finally time for  centers. Everyone was on their best behavior, hoping to be called first so that they could have first center choice. The first center picked-the story center. 
By now, the teacher in my head was doing the running man with a side kick (yeah, I'm that old). I was so excited to see the action in the story center, I could barely make it through the rest of center assignments. I watched in awe as the two children at the story center arranged the pieces onto the cookie sheet and with each holding an end, carried it over to the kitchen area and put it into the oven.
They weren't excited about the characters at all, they were excited about the cookie sheet. 
The dancing teacher in my head came back to earth. I have SO much to learn.
A feast of roasted fox, gingerbread old man, old woman, boy and threshers, bar-b-cue cow with a side of cantaloupe and a red, yellow and green apple pie for dessert lifted my spirits up again. 
Maybe tomorrow I will challenge them to bake the characters in the order they appear in the story. 
A great idea, but I'm not going to start dancing yet. 
Okay, maybe just a little two step.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Drowning in Applesauce

November 25, 2012

After 18 years of managing a construction company, I finally called it quits and decided to pursue my dream of teaching. With a mixture of fear and excitement, I took a deep breath and dove right in, head first. Eight months later, I am still learning to swim.

Preschool is nothing like anything else I have ever experienced. The mini beings that I would look upon with oohs and aahs are now giants to me. They are full of life, energy and big ideas. I look upon them with awe and each day we discover new things together. I am amazed by my new life and I have a sense of fulfillment that was missing in previous years.

At the same time, I am frightened. These larger than life beings are learning the same way I am and it is my job to lead them. Alas, their fearless leader has no idea what she is doing. The textbooks didn't prepare me for this. Great teaching is a skill that comes with experience and experience with time. 

Maybe in a few years (or decades) I'll feel like I have it all under control. In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy the journey, pick up some new tricks along the way and try to keep myself from drowning in applesauce.