Fun FREE App for PreK!

I'm always on the look out for high quality, affordable apps that have a valid learning purpose for the classroom... recently I discovered two FREE apps - 123 Ninja and ABC Ninja from Alligator Apps that I just LOVE!

ABC Ninja is just like that other addictive fruit slicing app that so many adults have mindlessly played... I think that this, however, is a great learning tool to reinforce letter names AND sounds! I don't feel guilty letting my three year old play this on the commute to and from work and my students just about beg to play the 'ninja game!' The sound effects and music are subtle and not annoying in the least -- and are even minimalist compared to some apps, which is great for my students who have hearing loss; too much background noise & sound effects can be overwhelming and confusing! The game play is customizable with three different levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard), can be adjusted to focus on capital, lowercase letter names and sounds and can be set for a time limit from 1-10 minutes! At the end of each session, data is displayed but cannot be emailed - I've used the screenshot function on my iPad to capture data when I need it.

123 Ninja is the exact same concept, except it focuses on numbers 0-99. Again, a hit with my students and my own child. It's customizable with different levels of play, the ability to select target numerals and time limits.

With both apps being free to download & also free of in-app purchase opportunities, it's really a win all around!

The only thing that might make this set of apps better would be to have the letter/number repeated somehow, as my students sometimes miss the target when it's announced. And the ability to email data after the game is played by a student and/or the ability to set up individual student profiles so that you don't have to go back and forth changing the settings every time a new child comes to play would be great. I'd also like to see this game expanded to include a version for shapes and colors - my youngest preschoolers would really love reinforcing options for practicing listening & basic concepts!

p.s. just for the record, I was not asked to write this review and did not receive any sort of compensation for my opinion.

Valentine's Wrap-Up

Since last week's Valentine's activities were put on hold as a result of the snowy weather, we will likely finish up hearts, friends and love themes next week.

Here are a few of the activities that we've been enjoying (when we aren't home for a snowday!)

Valentine's Themed sensory bin - Both the girls and the boys LOVE this bin, containing metallic red 'grass,' purple, white, pink and red pompoms, plastic jewels, heart boxes, silicone candy mold, tongs, foam heart table scatter, red buckets and plastic heart shaped filler. Some kids just like to explore the contents, other like to collect certain items and some kids like to bring it to the kitchen area for a tea party!

Light play with hearts - We've continued exploring different materials on the old overhead projector that I dug out for my classroom. I found these heart shaped translucent bracelets and 'links' in the seasonal aisle at a local big box store - the heart shaped jewels are from the dollar store. We talked about size and spatial vocabulary, colors and counting while playing with the hearts. Now that we've had some more experience with light play, the kids are starting to participate more, ask questions and engage with the concept more than when we first introduced it.

Heart Traywork Activities - Here's one of the activities from my printable hearts pack... and our fine motor gloves in use to help my students work on pinching the clips to open them.

Sometime next week, we'll have our Friendship party, exchange valentines & treats and finish up the activities that I already had planned (for last week) ... then, we'll be ready to move onto Dr. Seuss!!

Rewind {Snow & The Mitten... }

January was a strange, long month... filled with 2-hour delays, snow days, sick days and other odd interruptions to the usual routine. I'm glad to say that the month is over, but looking back, I realize that I blogged about only a few of our classroom activities from last month. Here's a quick recap of the month...

Snowball Counting Tray  - The kids counted out white pompom snowballs on to the numbered mittens and then checked their work with a filled out tens frame on the back. We used one of our 'Fine Motor Gloves' to practice pinching one snowball at a time with thumb and pointer finger.

Salt Tray - A simple, but classic tray! A little iridescent glitter makes the salt look a bit more like snow too. Students traced sandpaper letter cards with a finger, then copied the letter in the salt tray with a finger. 

Magazine Letter Cut & Paste -  For this tray, I used my printable magazine letters and alphabet worksheet. This tray was time consuming and we worked on it over the course of a week+ Students found & matched letters, cut them out and then pasted them on top of the matching letter on the alphabet worksheet.

Pipe Cleaners & Beads - I really love this activity & have many seasonally coordinated sets of pipe cleaners & beads for other times of the year! Preparation was simple - just hot glue little laminated mittens to the ends of the pipe cleaners, write a numeral on the mittens and provide beads for stringing. Some students worked on making sets of beads to match the numeral, while others just worked on the fine motor aspect of stringing the beads - there's one of our fine motor gloves again!

Foam Alphabet Puzzles & Hammers - What preschooler wouldn't be motivated by the opportunity to hammer something? I found these small individual letter puzzles at a dollar store a while back and was smart enough to by several sets of them. I've sorted out the letters needed for each child to construct their name and added a fun little wooden hammer - students find the letters they need for their names, put them together and hammer the pieces in to make their names. I provide a picture of the finished product for students who still need a model to correctly order the letters of their name. 

The Mitten Cut & Paste - After looking all over the internet for a cut & paste activity with the animals from the mitten, I ended up making my own - that had straight lines for simpler cutting! 

We used this as both a retelling activity & a vocabulary/preposition practice activity. The students had to listen for the name of the animal & the location to place the animal. With more advanced students, I gave longer directions that included a list of 2-3 animals and their locations all at once. It was great practice following orally given directions!

Roll-A-Mitten Color Game - We used this game, from my Roll-A-Mitten activity pack, as a small group game for color practice, waiting for a turn, following directions and more. Students rolled the dice, named the color, found a matching crayon and colored a mitten.

Tubes & Balls Exploration - I bought a variety of tubes (black plastic drainage pipes & dryer vent tubes) at the hardware store and collected a basket full of white balls of different sizes & weights - snowballs. (Our favorite balls are these 'Snowballs' that are like giant pompoms) We cut and hung the tubes along the window using suction cup hooks (the kind you'd use in the shower) and rubber bands. Then we did experiments to see which balls would go the furthest and/or fastest. The kids also explored the tubes using other toys including blocks and animal figurines - some things got stuck and others did not. It's been a great activity for students of all ability levels - with so many great concepts to talk about and try out!

Love, Hearts & Valentine's {FREEBIE}

This weekend, I spent some time updating & adding some new worksheets to my Candy Hearts early math learning packs... then I went to town using them with my 3 1/2 year old! He loved sorting, counting and graphing the hearts - most of all, I think he liked eating them after we were done.

Before we started, I prepared a box of Sweeheart brand candy hearts so that there were no more than 5 of any color. With older kids, you don't need to prepare the box ahead of time! We sorted the colors first - he doesn't know the names of them yet, but was able to match them to the card & put all the hearts of the same color together...

Then we quickly counted each group of hearts - I modeled how to count & touch one item at a time, but he's not there yet. Next, I showed him how to line up the hearts on the graph - we primarily focused on just putting one heart in in each box for now.

Last, we took the hearts off the graph and I helped him to color in the correct quantity of boxes on the graph. He really wasn't into this part and would have just scribbled all over the whole thing had I not had his hand in mine :)

Overall - I'd say great success!And he even got to eat a few of them when we were done!

Check out my Sorting & Graphing FREEBIE:

If you like this activity, there are plenty of similar activities in my other printable activity packs for students PreK-2!

Matching, Size Sorting, Counting & Color Sorting {PreK}

Counting, Graphing & Estimation Activities (Prek-2)
Counting & Graphing w/ FUN graphics {Prek-1}

Exploring Melting...

In class today, we read an old Scholastic reader - from January of last year! The kids usually enjoy reading the 'newspaper' and I love the great photos & easy to understand text....It's perfect for my students!

Today, we used it as an introduction to the concepts: frozen & melting - which the kids have had lots of experience with lately -- with all the wintery mixed-up weather that we've been having!

On the back, there was an activity where the kids were supposed to identify which items were 'frozen' and which items were 'melting.'

They had so much trouble showing that they understood the difference between the two, that we just had to do our own experiment to better understand what frozen & melting really meant!

We went outside & collected bags of snow. Once back inside, the kids came up with places to put the bags of snow - after some prodding & suggestions they came up with the fridge, freezer, next the heater & on the window.
To add another twist, we added some other ingredients to three of the bags: salt, hand sanitizer & flour.

We checked on the baggies several times over the next 2-3 hours & the kids were very excited to find that some of their snow had turned into water - it had melted. We took pictures of our observations to make into a book...
Some of my students were also able to figure out what ingredients made the snow melt faster - the bag with the salt even had 'frost' that formed on the outside of the bag (a neat little chemical reaction to make observations about!)

We ended out the day by reviewing the pictures that we took, discussing our observations & creating a little book about the melting snow!

At snack time, we read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats - and the kids knew exactly what was going to happen to the snowball that Peter put into his pocket ... it MELTED!

Hopefully tomorrow, when I ask them about 'melting,' they remember our experiment and can easily differentiate between 'melting' & 'frozen.'