The Growing Tree Learning Center,  Westfield, MA

Teachers’ Corner – Ideas, Lessons, Articles

Welcome! 

This page is dedicated to the hard work of ECE Teachers and TA’s everywhere! 

This page will change frequently as new material is added from Teacher and TA contributors.

Please explore some of our favorite lesson ideas and feel free to share your own favorites, with us and our visitors. Simply fill in the INQUIRY FORM and paste or type your lesson ideas right into the text box at the bottom of the form.  We’ll be happy to share your ideas and experiences right here on the Ideas Page! If you wish credit for your submission, please be sure to provide your full name, first name or initials.

Be sure to visit our Links page for our favorite links to lesson plans, games and art activities!

Thanks for your interest and contributions!


All submitted Lessons and Ideas will be categorized by subject. 

LIVELY LANGUAGE

Alphabet Sound Stories  Submitted by Linda

ABC’s For Pre-K and Kindergarten children, it can be great fun to create a story together using a specific letter sound.  For Example: The letter sound for this story is “B” The teacher provides a starting sentence. (such as “One day a little”)  The Teacher then points to a child who provides provide a noun (the child might say “Bee”) The teacher then continues the story (making it up as she and the children go along, (such as “this little bee’s name was”) she points to another child (and they child might say “Betty”) (Teacher: “Betty Bee was very sad because every time she Buzzed it came out” Child: “Blunk”) And you just keep going on and on with the story, helping children with the letter sounds, enforcing the “B” sound throughout the story.

HINT: Remember to say “buh, buh Blunk” when a child gives you a word.  This enforces the sound, so if a child says “hee haw” you can say “buh, buh, hee haw?” and show them that is not a “B” sound!


MATH MAGIC 

Bean Bag Addition  by Kelly L.

This game can be played by 2 and 3 year olds, as well as 4,5 and 6  year olds, even all at the same time!  Using a painted cloth (twin size sheet) or 9 cereal boxes cut (cutting the face and laying down flat) stapled together to form 9 sections.  The idea is to give children 9 large sections in which children can toss a bean bag into.  Each section will have one number 1-9.  Each child is allowed 2 throws. With each throw, the Teacher asks the child what number the bean bag landed in, showing her fingers for younger children to help them count out the number.  On the second throw, the Teacher again asks the number, then helps the child add the two together.    When all children have had their turns, the teacher then asks the child who has the highest “score” who has the lowest “score”  (no score is a winner, this is to determine and help children understand the “value” of each number) At the end of the game all children receive a sticker or stamp.  The children really have fun with this game and can be altered to fit each child’s development. Some may just count numbers, others may name them, still others may add them and others may subtract!

Hint: The Teacher may keep a chalkboard or dry erase board close by to further assist and/or to keep tally of each child’s “score”.



SUPER SCIENCE

Colorful Crystals Submitted by E. Daniels

For each child mix 1 tablespoon Epsom salts and 1 tablespoon water on a small yogurt lid.  With a spoon, carefully stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the desired food coloring other than yellow. Children can observe the changes over the next few days as the water evaporates and small crystals begin to form. Keep a magnifying glass handy for closer examination.

HINT: Remember to combine colors to make more colors. Also be sure to label each child’s project by placing the lid on a square of paper with the child’s name on it.



AMAZING ART

Art recipe and Art Project Submitted by Vickie S.

Puffy Paint
Flour
Salt
Water
Tempera Paint
Mix equal amounts of flour, salt and water. Add liquid tempera paint for color. Pour mixture into squeeze bottles and paint. Mixture will harden in a puffy shape.

HINT: Use construction paper to paint on. Choose a color that would match your theme.  Ask the children to paint on a theme related, pre-drawn or pre-cut figure.  For older children, ask them to free paint a theme related picture.

 

A Child’s Thanksgiving Tree

Submitted by Sasha/found at Family Corner

To make your own Thanksgiving Tree you will need the following:

Materials

sheet of white poster board, colored pencils, scissors, glue, tape, glitter glue, buttons, bows, scrap paper (torn in sm bits) paint, and whatever else you have to decorate with and all shade of red, green, brown, yellow and orage construction paper.

At the top of the posterboard, entitle your tree ie: “A Thanksgiving Growing Tree”, or Our Preschool Thanksgiving Tree”
in the title.

With a pencil on poster board, draw a basic tree with a branch for each child.
Using tempera paint, markers, or crayons color the tree trunk brown. On red, orange, green and yellow construction paper, trace both hands of each child. Cut out and give each child their “leaves”. Have children decorate ONE leaf any way they wish. Then ask each child  one thing that they are thankful for (write it for the child on 2nd leaf). Next, tape or glue the leaves onto their choice branches.
.
Hang up the Thanksgiving Tree where the whole school can see it. Makes a great conversation piece!

Hint: The teacher should make the TREE ahead of time so the children can attach the leaves as the fininsh them for instant gratification.
Thanksgiving Tree


MUSIC MANIA

Pow Wow Rhythm Game  (no name submitted)

Children and Teacher sit in a circle.  The Teacher chants.  “Let’s have a pow wow pow wow pow wow, we have a pow wow hands up!”  The children need to follow the movements of the Teacher and the Rhythm of the chant.  The children may clap on every other word, and slap knees on the in between words.  Or open hands on every other word and close them on the in between words. Any movement can be used.  The idea is to teach rhythm and to help children hear it as well as visualize it.

Hint: The teacher may ask each child, one by one, to give her the two movements for the chant.  By the time you make it around the whole circle, most children have the rhythm down!


HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS

Family Project Holiday Decoration  Submitted by EMD

Here is a great holiday plan to help involve the child’s whole family!
Draw some turkey figures on brown construction paper and attach it with a paper clip to the following note for each child’s family.
Dear Parents,
The Holiday season is upon us!  Holiday = Family!  So to help you get into the Holiday and Family Spirit, your child is bringing home a piece of construction paper with a turkey drawn on it.  Please cut out the turkey figure and help your child use any items you find in your home to create feathers and decorate Tom Turkey. You may use real feathers, cereal, dry beans, tissue, ribbon, etc, but please try to avoid using only paint, crayons, markers. Please return these turkeys in for display by the Monday of 2nd week of November.

HINT: You may do this project for any holiday.  Decorate a Holiday Tree, New Year Baby, Spring Bunny or Basket, Patriotic Flag, ETC!


GROSS MOTOR MARVELS

Lummi Sticks and Lummi Stick Records   Submitted by A.T.

My favorite Gross Motor activity with my preschoolers has always been Lummi Sticks and the Records for Lummi Sticks.  Great songs that children are familiar with, from opening songs of cartoons, to songs from commercials, to popular children songs.  Children learn singing and rhythm, get exercise and develop following direction skills.

Hint: Be sure to be a “leader” and use the lummi stick, sing along and do the exercises.


STORY STRATIGIES

Mike’s Kite, Making the story active  Submitted by Elli D.

Mike’s Kite is a wonderful book about a boy and his kite.  The wind took the kite and the kite took Mike!  Passers by grab on and are taken too! After a while a snake of people were hanging on to the kite and flying through the air!  When the wind stopped everyone came tumbling down.  As fun as this book is on its own, one day I had asked the kids to help Mike too!  I selected one child to start and as I read the book I would pause to allow the child to call out the next person to “grab on”.  That child would hold onto the waist of the child that called him then I would keep reading the book, as the last child selected would call out the name of another child from circle to “grab on”.  We would continue the book until all the children were “grabbing on”.  I would then say, “The wind blew and it blew then it STOPPED!”  The children would all fall down.  All laughing of course!  This became a very favorite book and was read about 100 times that year and no one ever got bored!

HINT: You can do this with ANY book!  Do a play, actions, give kids puppets to use during the story.  However, make sure the kids know the story well enough first!


CREATIVE COOKING

Cinnamon Applesauce Hearts (no name submitted)

1 lb jar sweetened applesauce
8 oz cinnamon

Place contents of a one pound jar of sweetened applesauce in a strainer and drain for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Place applesauce in a bowl and add 8 ounces of cinnamon, mixing it well. This will make a pastey mixture.  Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten on wax paper. Finally cut with cookie cutters and let harden and dry.

Hint: You may sprinkle with baking confections such as sprinkles, colored sugars, confectionary sugar, etc. but it is not necessary.


AWESOME ARTICLES

Why Children Bite!  Submitted by The Growing Tree

Did you ever wonder why children bite?  Do you realize that the first stages of speech begins with the hands and mouth?  Children who can not yet talk, or can not make themselves understood, often revert to hitting, grabbing and biting.  In most cases, this behavior is not out of anger nor is it meant to hurt!   In most cases, it IS a way “to make known”.  In other words, “No one is listening to me, so I must find a way to make myself or my wants known, if I hit, bite, or take what I want, that will get their attention!”

Often too, especially with toddlers, the means to verbalize feelings, especially frustration or hurt, are very limited, thus they resort retaliating by means of pushing, biting or hitting.

Children, NORMAL children, children of great homes, children with wonderful parents, children with all the love and happiness in the world, may BITE!  This is normal in a child’s development!  Especially SPEECH development!

Think of it this way.  We must teach children to form words with their mouth, so that they no long need to use their mouth to bite.  In every biting situation, there IS a reason.  Maybe John took Sally’s ball.  Maybe Sally kept poking Cindy.  Maybe Cindy kept teasing Joey.  MAYBE Joey tried to tell the teacher, but the teacher was busy helping Patty who fell.  Maybe Joey kept telling Cindy to stop, but Joey could not find a way to make known his frustrations with Cindy known, so, Joey bit her!  And guess what?  It worked!  Cindy stopped teasing Joey!

We as Teachers AND Parents are OBLIGATED to find out WHY a child is biting.  To give this child other means to communicate his/her needs.  Sometimes the answer is not as clear as the scenario above.  SOMETIMES it may take a very long time to discover!  But in the end, the reason IS there, and often much simpler than you think!  Sometimes it may be hidden because it may be something that happened outside your care, as in the scenario below.

One summer Lisa accidentally hit Chris very hard with a stick, while playing in Chris’s backyard. Lisa threw the stick down and ran away because she was scared she would get in trouble. Chris was startled, never saw it coming, he was scared, hurt, and now he was all alone in his yard with no friend to play with. Chris went into his fort to sulk. By the time he went into his house, there was not physical sign of the incident, no one ever knew what happened because Chris never said a word to his parents.  Chris didn’t get a chance to play with Lisa again for the rest of the summer. Chris remembers it well however, even though it happened a month ago.  At Kindergarten, the teacher asked Lisa to take a seat next to Chris.  Chris in defense, bit Lisa. The teacher saw the whole thing.  Lisa did nothing to Chris to provoke that bite!  AH!  In the teacher’s mind and eyes, YES!  Lisa was being a very good little girl and did as her teacher told!  Chris however, was in fear for his life!  Chris was protecting himself, he was asserting himself to the mean girl who hurt him!  (Because we have the whole story, we KNOW Lisa is not mean, we KNOW it was an accident, we KNOW Chris is not mean, we KNOW Chris is afraid of Lisa. Chris however, does NOT know Lisa didn’t mean to hurt him, and that she ran away because she was scared.  Chris thinks she hurt him on purpose then ran away laughing!)

NONE of us has a crystal ball that we can look into and see the reasons why.  As hard as it is to find them, they CAN be found!

Communication is KEY!  We MUST find the reason. We MUST stay calm and show no anger to the one who bit.  We MUST care for and give a lot of TLC to the one bitten.  We MUST get the WHOLE story.  If we are angry with the biter, we will NEVER get the reason from him.  If we are not careful in the way we talk, our body language and our frustrations with the situation, especially if its recurring, then we can NOT do our job and find the reason and correct it. We MUST help the biter (and his Parents), we MUST protect the rest of the children in the class!  We MUST keep our classrooms safe and enjoyable!

HINT:  When a child bites more than once, be sure to keep a close eye on the situation.  Does it happen in a particular area, with a particular child, over a particular toy, at a particular time of day?  KEEP RUNNING NOTES!  If it is one toy, simply remove the toy from the room for a while until the child has developed better communication skills.  You can periodically TRY the toy in the room.  If however, it is one particular child, FIRST, keep the children separated.  SECOND try to find out why the children clash.  Once you find out why, then you can start mending what is broken between them. With very young children (older infants and toddlers, you may not find out why because of lack of communication skills, however, periodically try, with supervision, to let them play together.  The biter may eventually “forgive”  “grow out of biting” “forgotten” or developed better communication skills.

If it happens in a particular area, then simply more supervision is needed for that area and perhaps some revamping of the area is required. (making it smaller, larger, less toy or activities, less children at a time in that area, etc.)

If biting happens at a particular time of day, you may want to take a look at your classroom schedule, maybe it is too demanding at that time of day, or too unstructured, or overwhelming.  Or perhaps the child is tired, comes in too early, or his day at school is too long.  Talk to Mom and Dad to see if they can shorten his hours for a while. Perhaps Mom can drop off later than Dad, and Dad can pick up earlier than Mom!

In any case.  It IS our responsibility as Childcare Providers to make it work for all involved: the biter, the biter’s Parents, the one bitten and his Parents, for YOU the teacher and for all the other children in the classroom!  Ask for help!  Fresh eyes are always helpful!  As Caregivers, we must be there for all the children and families, not just the easy ones.


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