Tot School: Penguins

We watched Happy Feet over the weekend so naturally Madelynn is a bit in love with penguins lately which made it the perfect time for our penguin tot school theme. We did a few of the same penguin activities that we tried last year, but tried lots of new ones too!

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 
Here were our plans for Winter/Snow Week:
And here is what we actually did:

Our favorite penguin books for the week were:
Tacky the Penguin By Helen Lester
Penguins By Liz Pichon
If You Were a Penguin By Wendell and Florence Minor
Penguin Chick By Betty Tatham

Snow Letter Writing Tray:
Okay so we didn't really use snow, because of course we didn't have any on the ground to scoop up when I needed it. Instead I used salt sprinkled on our tot school tray, close enough right? Then we started out drawing lines, zig zags and circles using a penguin from our Penguin Toob. Madelynn is still a bit your to make letters on her own, so next i drew a letter in the salt tray and had her trace it with her penguin. Easy peasy fine motor practice.

Penguin Counting Tray:
For this fine motor activity we added in a little counting with a soft foam die. Madelynn rolled he die, counted the dots, then added that number of mini penguin erasers to her ice cube tray.  For a little extra challenge I gave her tweezers to pick up the erasers too.
Penguin Painting:
Now that Madelynn is getting pretty good at drawing shapes I have been trying to have her work on more open ended art projects. So for this painting I asked her to start by painting a penguin body with black paint. We looked at pictures of penguins in books so she could decide what shapes she needed. She told me she was going to make a big oval and a head. After that dried, we glued cotton balls on the head and body for the white parts and I gave her a few pre-cut pieces for the face and feet.
Igloo Painting:
To prep this activity I froze water inside empty fruit cups that I saved to make little "igloos." Then Madelynn used watercolors to paint her igloos.
Tacky the Penguin Play Dough Mat:
After reading Tacky the Penguin By Helen Lester, we made our own shirts and bow ties for tacky using play dough. I made a simple play dough mat that you can grab here. We also used our Melissa & Doug Play Dough Tools to stamp different shapes and textures on the clothes.
Penguin Dance Chant:
I have tons of preschool movement CDs that I used in the classroom full of fun themed songs. One song I remember loving was Jack Hartman's Penguin Dance Chant. The song has your little one(s) moving their left and right flippers, feet and more. You can find it on CD here or dance to the YouTube version like we did here
Penguin Waddle:
We did this activity last year, but thought we'd try it again now that Madelynn is bigger.  All I did was blow up a balloon and have her try to walk with it between her legs.  We talked about how penguin daddy's keep their eggs warm on their feet and have to shuffle around to move anywhere while the mommy is out getting food.
Iceberg Hop:
We did this one last year too, but it was fun and easy so we tried it again! I cut out white "icebergs" from cardstock and laid them out on the floor. Then I had Madelyn move in different ways between them. We tried walking, running, hopping on two feet, hopping on one foot, tiptoeing, and skating.
Penguin Cookies:
These cookies were pretty easy to make. I split the top half of an oreo into 2 pieces to make the wings and added a mini oreo for the head. Then I cut up an orange gumdrop for the feet and beak and added candy eyes on the face.
Build an Igloo:
For this fun interactive snack, I started with half an apple. I gave Madelynn some peanut butter and a plastic knife and helped her spread it all over the outside of the apple. Then we built our igloo with mini marhmallow "ice cubes."
Penguin Marshmallow:
This penguin snack was pretty easy to make too. I started by dipping a Jumbo Marshmallow in melted chocolate and let it set. then I added gumdrops and candy eyes again for the face and feet.
Veggie Penguin:
This one looked WAY cuter in my head, but it still kind of looks like a penguin right? I used cucumber, carrots, black olives and candy eyes for this one. Madelynn ate it and that has to count for something.
Penguin Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Penguins from our Penguin Toob, instant fake snow, and empty fruit cup igloos. 
Penguin Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Penguins from our Penguin Toobartificial snow, mini trees, and blue gems(ice).
Penguin Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Penguins from our Penguin Toob, blue gems, frozen icebergs, bowls, and water.

That's it for this week! Next week we will be learning about our 5 senses:

And here are the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Activities, you can find them all here:








Tot School: Winter

I love the holidays, but I am EXHAUSTED! I'm so over traveling, partying and never ending holiday to do lists and ready to get back into a bit of a routine around here. We had lots of snowy fun this week that I can't wait to share with you!

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Winter/Snow Week:
And here is what we actually did:

Our favorite winter books for the week were:
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin
The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Nietzel
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Snowmen at Night by Carayn Buehner
Build a Snowman:
We used this little snowman last year as one of our very first tot school fine motor activities and it was a big hit so I pulled it back out this year.  The goal is to fill the water bottle with mini marshmallows. Last year we just used fingers, but now that Madelynn is a whole year older I added the tongs for her to grab marshmallows. She used them for a while and then started using her hands. Either way great fine motor practice!
 Snowball Counting Tray:
Since mini marshmallows make the perfect little "snowballs" we used them for our counting tray as well. We used a mini ice cube tray and tongs then practiced counting and placing marshmallows in each hole.
 Snowball Name:
This was such an easy low prep activity.  I taped 2 sheets of paper together since Madelynn's name is nice and long. Then I wrote her name with large letters and gave her some white circle labels and hole reinforcements.  She then used the stickers to trace the shape of each letter.
 Puffy Paint Snowman:
In order to paint these snowmen, I used a simple DIY recipe to mix up a batch of puffy paint.

Puffy Paint Recipe:
Equal parts shaving cream and white glue
Pinch of glitter
A few drops of vanilla for scent

After painting, I gave Madelynn small paper cutouts to use to decorate her snowman.
 Marshmallow Paint Snowman:
I like to switch up our painting tools from time to time, and since we had all kinds of marshmallows laying around from our other activities, I thought it would be fun to use them to stamp a snowman.  Madelynn started out stamping, then used them more as a paintbrush to create her snowman. After painting we added a few felt snowflake stickers to finish our artwork.
Snow Theme Snacks:
I went a little snowman crazy this week with our snacks.  First I made a snowman quesadilla using circle cookie cutters to create the 3 parts of the snowman body, and peppers, black olives, and pretzels for the decorations.  Next the delicious donut snack was my favorite with chocolate chips, licorice, Oreo, and a Reese's cup for the decorations. After the sweetness overload, I needed to balance it out with a healthy snowman.  Not quite as cute but our veggie snowman was made with cucumber, carrot, peppers, and black olives. Finally we made the same marshmallow snowflakes that we did last year by pushing pretzel rods/sticks into big and small marshmallows.
 Winter Sensory Bin:
In this bin: Cotton Balls, Bells, Foam Snowflakes, Star Lights, Bowls, Scoops and Tongs
 Pretend Snow Play:
In this bin: Instant Fake Snow, clear snowman cup, scoops, and snowman cookie cutters
 Build a Snow Globe:
In this bin: Artificial Snow, plastic tubes, small trees, penguin and snowmen mini erasers, and scoops
Snow Shape Pasta Sensory Bin:
In this bin: Snow Shape Pasta, sorting tray, tongs, measuring cups and spoons

That's it for this week! Here are the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Plans, you can find them all here:







Secret Santa Gifts for You!

Do you participate in Secret Santa with your coworkers? I always love exchanging little surprises with my teacher friends to help get through the crazy month of December.  Whether you exchange gifts at work or not, I am excited to share with you that my Elementary Entourage friends and I have some special Secret Santa gifts for all of you and you don't even need to leave your couch to grab them!

I wanted to share some really great FREE resources I have to help with your plans for next week or when you come back in January.

First I have this Christmas Graphing Sampler that has 3 engaging activities to make math fun and festive for your students.

Next, if you need winter themed printables, this Snowy Snapshot Sample has 4 printables that are perfect to use if you have a few days left before break, or anytime after you get back as well.

And last, I LOVE picture books. I seriously have a problem with buying WAY too many. Scholastic and Amazon Prime just make it way to easy, right? So here are 2 fun winter themed freebies for comprehension with Dream Snow by Eric Carle and Nat Geo Kids: Penguins.

I hope you find something you can use and don't forget to hop along and check out all of the other Secret Santa surprises from the Elementary Entourage, Happy Holidays!

Penguins...and other Books Teachers Love

I know it's not even Christmas yet and many of you are probably just trying to hold on to your sanity until break, but when you have the time my blogging friends and I are here to help you check some January planning off your list. These 12 books are perfect for January so come check out all the awesome lesson ideas, activities and more!

I try to incorporate nonfiction all year, but we really up our nonfiction reading in January when my little kindergartners comprehension skills are starting to take off. So this month my favorite book is a nonfiction reader about Penguins.

National Geographic Kids readers are so perfect for the primary classroom because they always include fantastic photos alongside easy to understand information. I love that they usually include tons of text features to help my students learn about the topic a well. 
In January I really dive into student led inquiry learning with my students and one of my favorite projects is our Antarctica research.  While students are looking for information, one of the things I really try to emphasize is just how much we can learn from pictures in non fiction books. 

Here are a few examples of how students can use the pictures in non fiction books to gain information even if they cannot yet read the words.

I created these 3 leveled response sheets to go with this book for kindergarten-2nd grade.

You can grab them for FREE here:

And if you are looking for more response sheets and writing activities for your read alouds, check out my other Read and Respond packs here:
Don't forget, each month, the Books Teachers Love Crew is giving away 4 of the books that we blogged about, and YOU get to choose the books you want! So scope out all 12 blog posts below, pick your favorites, and enter to win.