Tot School Tuesday: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Who doesn't love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom? I'm not sure if it is the bright colors, the rhyming text or the simple and adorable story line, but this book is just a must read in our house on nearly a daily basis. We stuck to just reading this one book all week long and had lots of alphabet themed fun.

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Here were our plans for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Week:

And here is what we actually did:
We read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom every day this week. Madelynn's favorite part was using her princess wand to point to the letters in the big book as we sang the ABC's at the beginning and end of the book. I love how much she learns about tracking print and letter identification from this book.

Chicka Chicka Felt Board:
We started the week with this Chicka Chicka Boom Boom felt board set. We practiced naming letters as they climbed the tree and of course shook the tree to make them all fall out.  I made the pieces for this set myself, but if you want something premade, we also had this tree in my classroom with Velcro letters from Lakeshore Learning.
Snip & Stamp Coconut Tree: 
I was so impressed with Madelynn's scissor skills last week I knew I had to keep incorporating some more practice this week. For this tree I precut the leaves and had her snip each one for a palm tree texture.  Then she glued the pieces onto a white piece of paper and stamped the letters in her name. This letter stamp set from Melissa and Doug is the perfect size and I love that it includes upper and lowercase letters.

ABC Bead Name Bracelet:
Madelynn is really doing well with identifying uppercase letters so we are starting to focus on just the lowercase letters in her name. I found these awesome Lowercase Letter Beads and wrote Madelynn's name on a plain piece of paper. She matched a bead to each letter first and then strung them together on a pipe cleaner for an easy little bracelet.  We also had some fun just playing with the letter beads and pipe cleaners and naming each one.

ABC Water Painting:
Have you seen these Melissa & Doug Alphabet Splash Cards? Yes... I know I have a serious Melissa & Doug obsession, probably second only to my Target obsession...But seriously folks these are amazing. I'm pretty sure I love painting them as much as Madelynn. All you do is fill the pen with water..YES WATER! for mess free painting on each card. An the best part? When they dry the picture turns white again so they can be used over and over! We've had these for almost a year and they are a staple car/restaurant/shopping cart/diaper bag toy for us. We actually got this Melissa & Doug Water Wow Splash Cards Bundle with Alphabet and Numbers & Colors so we have lots of options when we're out and about.
Handprint Coconut Tree:
Madelynn loves to paint, and we just don't do enough of it these days with a baby that could wake up at any moment, but Aubrey was taking a great nap one morning this week so we got to finish this fun handprint tree with letter stickers and even had time for some free painting.
I was pretty impressed with the fact that her tree was recognizable, although her daddy did quite understand my excitement.  If you've ever painted with a 2 year old I'm sure you'll understand.
Outdoor Letter Hunt:
Since the weather is still beautiful and summer like I am trying to get us outside as much as possible. This outdoor letter hunt was fun and super easy to set up.  We used this Foam Letter Puzzle Mat and I popped all the letters out, threw them all over the yard and let Madelynn search and reassemble her puzzle. So easy and kept her busy for a LONG time.
Letter Hop:
I planned on doing this activity outside too but of course it was rainy this week so we improvised with a letter hop on the carpet.  I put on some music to dance to and then whenever I stopped the song I shouted a letter and Madelynn had to find it. We used the same Foam Letter Puzzle Mat from above for easy premade letters.
Race & Wipe Letters:
Did you know you can write on windows with dry erase markers and it will wipe right off? When I found this out I thought it was so cool so I knew Madelynn would love it.  I wrote letters all over our front windows and then had Madelynn stand back a few feet. I gave her a letter and she had to run over, erase it and run back.  She's been requesting that I write on the windows every day since, so I'd say this was one of her favorites this week.
Squirt the Letter:
Fine motor and gross motor practice all rolled into one with this activity. I wrote a bunch of letters all over the ground with sidewalk chalk and then told Madelynn which letter to find and squirt with the spray bottle. This was a great activity for an unusually warm September day.
Coconut Tree Snacks:
I have to thank Pinterest for the inspiration for most of these snacks.  There are a million variations so just do a quick search for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom snack and you'll find tons of inspiration.
Alphabet Snack Mix:
This one was super easy. Madelynn just grabbed a handful of Alpha-Bits cereal, Scrabble Cheez-Its and pretzels and mixed them all together for this little snack.
Pretzel Build a Letter:
We had a little fun with this one building lots of letters with pretzel sticks. I made a letter first, then had Madelynn try to name and or copy the letter herself.
ABC Puzzle Hunt:
Madelynn loves puzzles so I thought we would make things a little more fun with this sensory bin.  I hid the pieces to her alphabet puzzle in a bin full of black beans for Madelynn to hunt for.  She definitely thought this was a little more exciting than just dumping and putting the puzzle back together.
Play Dough Letters:
You can never go wrong with play dough in our house so for this sensory activity, we used our letter cookie cutters and Play Dough Tools for a little letter practice.
Chicka Chicka Sensory Bin:
This bin included play sand, mini palm trees, and magnet letters.  Madelynn used her tweezers to hunt for letters and match them to this page. Click on the picture to grab a copy.
Letter Hunt:
We used the same letter hunt page with our next sensory bin. This bin had colored rice, foam letters and little cups to explore.
Coconut Play Dough Trees:
This play dough smelled so yummy! We used packaged play dough mixed with coconut extract for this activity.  I let Madelynn free play but I encouraged her to build coconut trees and then use the letter beads from earlier to climb the coconut trees.

Whew! That's it, we had another busy and fun filled week.

Here is what we have planned for next week, more Chicka Chicka fun, this time with Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3:
And the themes that will be coming soon:

Pumpkin Pumpkin and other October Books Teachers Love

Its already the middle of September so we are back with 12 perfect read alouds for October. Grab your favorite pumpkin flavored treat and get ready for all things fall, pumpkins and Halloween! 

Like many kindergarten classes, every fall we take a trip to the pumpkin farm to pick pumpkins. We spend a lot of time reading about the life cycle and exploring pumpkins to build students background knowledge before we go.  My favorite book for learning the life cycle of a pumpkin is Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington because it is simple and easy to follow for young learners.

The simple story line of this book makes the perfect opportunity to practice sequencing a story.  First students put the pumpkin life cycle pictures in order. 
This time of year we are just starting out with writing letters and sounds and we do a lot of labeling in our journals. So for this book response I have students practice labeling each part of the life cycle. I also help students that need additional support use the book to find the words for their writing.
Want to try out this activity? You can grab the printables for FREE here!
But wait, that's not all! 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!

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Tot School Tuesday: Apples

We are SO excited to be back in our daily tot school routine.  Now I use that term loosely because our routine is a bit on the fly since adding little miss Aubrey to the mix in April.  Instead of having a set time for tot school, we jump right into our fun activities anytime baby girl decides to nap and I have two free hands and lots of attention to devote to Madelynn. That means it has been so important for me to have everything planned out ahead of time and prepped so we can grab and start right away. Some activities get switched around from day to day, but we try to get a mix of fine motor, gross motor, snacks, and sensory bins in each day.  If you are just getting started with tot school, be sure to read this post I wrote back in January when we started out on this adventure.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience*

Here were our plans for Apple Week:

And here is what we actually did:
Here are the books that we used to begin each day:

Ten Apples Up On Top! by Dr. Seuss
Apple Countdown by Joan Holub
Apple Picking Day by Samantha Brooke
Under the Apple Tree by Steve Metzger 

Ten Apples Felt Board:
We started the week reading Ten Apples Up On Top! by Dr. Seuss and retelling/counting out the apples with felt board pieces.  I still can't find our felt board since the big move, so we just played with the pieces on the floor. I made the pieces myself by cutting out the patterns I found on Making Learning Fun. Madelynn didn't seem to mind at all and had fun moving the pieces around while looking through the book.
Apple Magnet Maze:
Do you love Melissa & Doug toys as much as I do? Seriously I want to #buyallthethings. If you haven't visited their website before you really need to go check it out. I have about 700 ideas for Christmas and birthday gifts just from their site. This Melissa & Doug Magnetic Number Maze was one of those things I had been wanting to check out so I finally ordered one for our apple unit. Madelynn struggled a bit to move the apples along the paths, but it was really great for fine motor practice and concentration. As she gets better at moving them, we will focus more on the counting aspect.
Apple Paint Prints:
Painting with apples was an easy fine motor activity.  I also saw the idea a while back to cut notches in the top of the apple to make a handle for easier stamping. So smart! Madelynn had to be reminded a few times not to eat the apple but otherwise she had fun stamping, mixing colors and exploring.
Apple Tear, Cut and Glue:
Madelynn has never really used scissors before, so I fully intended this activity to turn into a tear and glue apple, but I found these ALEX Toys Little Hands Squeeze Scissors that are AMAZING! There is a little spring action that helps open the scissors back up each time. Madelynn did a great job with little snips along the strips I had cut out.
Apple Dot Stamps:
Dot stamps are always a favorite around here. We use these Do A Dot Art! Markers  for lots of fine motor practice and she is getting really good at placing them in each circle. Although she does enjoy coloring the whole page with them too! I can tell this is really helping her build one to one correspondence for counting as well.
Apple Color Sort Race:
Gross motor activities are always the hardest for me to plan because I need to get really creative or Madelynn isn't all that into them.  Usually saying anything is a race is a sure fire way to get her engaged as long as I am running along side her.  For this activity I used these Learning Resources Attribute Apples, dumped them on a tray and labeled a few baskets.  We took turns running back and forth with one apple at a time and dropping it in the right basket. Super easy set up and I got a little exercise in too :)
Apple Size Sort Race:
We doubled up on this activity and used the same apples for sorting by size. The differences between small, medium and large apples were pretty small, so I chose to use just big and little. It was still a bit challenging and Madelynn wanted to continue to sort by color, but it was a good concept to introduce to her. We will definitely have to work on sorting by size more.
Apple Toss:
See those little apples? Yup we used them again for another game. This time I set out the baskets for Madelynn to throw the apples into.  She really just wanted to set them in so I tried to get her to stay behind the tray to throw. Either way it entertained her for a little while but not her favorite.
We're Going on an Apple Hunt:
This was by far Madelynn's favorite activity of the week.Why you ask? Because she got to use a clipboard. So funny the things that capture her attention. All I needed to do was write numbers on apples 1-10 and hide them around the house.  She hunted for them then named and colored each apple as she found it. I think I may be creating lots of variations on this one in the future!
Apple Pie Chex Mix:
You can find this quick delicious recipe here. We made lots and have been munching on it all week, yum!
Apple Chips:
If you have a food dehydrator these are pretty easy to make but definitely plan ahead because they took a whole day to really dry out.  Here is a little tutorial I found that includes directions for dehydrating in the oven if you don't have a food dehydrator.  When they are done they are so sweet and delicious!
Apple Pie Bites:
These are pretty much heaven on earth and I will definitely make them again. They were a little hard for Madelynn to help with, but she did get to sprinkle brown sugar and apple pie spice on each one. You can find the recipe here.
Apple Dippers:
For this fun interactive snack I used a small sorting tray and filled it with peanut butter and fun toppings. Then I cut up an apple and Madelynn was happy to create her own little snack. We used peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles and crushed nuts, but you could use all sorts of dips/toppings. Marshmallow fluff, caramel, almond butter, raisins, nuts, mini marshmallows, etc.
Bobbing for Apples Sensory Bin:
We kicked off apple week with a fun water play sensory bin.  In the bin I included these fun Helping Hands Fine Motor Tools, apples from Madelynn's kitchen play food, and fruit counters from one of the Lakeshore math centers I have from my classroom. The little cups are empty fruit cup containers that we saved because they are the perfect size for our little bins. Madelynn played for over 30 minutes with this one, definitely a success!
Apple Words Sensory Bin:
This bin included popcorn seeds, apple magnets with letters that I wrote on them, and word cards for matching letters and learning vocabulary.  Madelynn didn't build every word, but she did have fun digging for letters, naming them and matching them.
Apple Picking Sensory Bin:
This was a nice mess free bin.  I used all different size pom poms in red and green, a few small cardboard boxes from the dollar store, and paper trees that I made from toilet paper tubes and green cardstock.  I stuck velcro on the trees to put pom poms on for Madelynn to "pick" and put back as well.
Apple Pie Play Dough:
This play dough smelled so yummy! I planned on making my own play dough, then ran out of time so I used packaged play dough and added a few sprinkles of apple pie spice.  It smelled wonderful and was already colored which was a plus.  We practiced rolling little balls of play dough and squishing the on these counting trees.
Apple Picking Game:
Last a little bonus activity we did this week was this First Orchard Cooperative Game . To play you roll the die and pick that color fruit off the tree to place in the basket. If you roll the crow, he takes one step closer to the gate. Everyone takes turns and the goal is to get all the fruit in the basket before the crow reaches the gate. It was great for practicing taking turns, color id, and funny enough how to roll a die.

Whew! That's it, we've had a busy and fun filled week. You can grab the printables for the activities above for FREE here:

 Here is what we have planned for next week:
And the themes that will be coming soon: