July 7, 2012

Colored sticks on Cardboard




Young children love to do collage and a great medium is just a bunch of colored sticks and colorful cardboard. You can add more materials but I asked the students what they wanted to use for a collage and the group decided on colored sticks and cardboard only. Of course I like it when children have the freedom to choose whatever they want to create art but I also like to ask them to decide as a group which materials to use and they have to respect the decision of the group, stick to it and share resources.

June 12, 2012

Shape Friends



One of the activities I like to do about shapes is to ask my students to make a ‘shape friend’ using pre-cut colored shapes. The students can create their ‘shape friend’ any way they want. Hands can be squares or circles, bodies can be rectangles or triangles, they can use yarn or shredded paper for hair and so on.

June 9, 2012

Painting with Cups

Another fun project we did this year was painting using cups.

I initially asked what were cups for. Nobody guessed it was for painting and then I asked if we could use cups to paint. The answers were varied and one student said we could do like stamps.

June 6, 2012

Brown Bear Brown Bear read by children

'Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?' is a popular reading in PreK and KG classes. The book is by Bill Martin Jr. with pictures by Eric Carl. It is magical, beautiful, musical, catchy, and you can read it, sing it and act it out. First and second graders can also get inspired by the book and do a variety of activities including writing their own book using the same format of Brown Bear Brown Bear.

In my PreK class I used this book during Shared Reading and we ended up doing a read along of it. I posted in youtube as there are no visuals of the children just their voices and it is a read along version.

I began using Garage Band but could not get pass the 'sharing the file' stage so I ended up using iMovie as I am more familiar with the program and the file is saved on an m4v format, which is one of the formats Youtube allows for uploads. I also uploaded on Vimeo.

Click on the picture to watch it on Youtube.

You can also watch it on vimeo below.


Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See from Amelia Mello on Vimeo.

The children were so into it! Congratulations EC readers! 

June 5, 2012

Painting with Spools


In exploring the classroom to find unusual painting tools we decided to try 'spools' that are part of the 'Laces and Beads' box. We found out that they make interesting prints.

June 1, 2012

Inspired by Georgia O'Keefe


Sometimes it takes one good tip from another teacher to change our way of presenting a project to our students. In reading the post from Sally's fabulous blog "Fairy Dust Teaching" about Georgia O'Keefe I solved a problem on how to present the 'poppies' project to my students. I never knew how to emphasize that the flowers Georgia painted were BIG. Big for preschoolers can be relative. Then I read in Sally's post that Georgia painted the flowers so big that they would reach the edges of the paper. Those were the magic words i needed! Thanks Sally!

May 28, 2012

Wooden Cakes!


We have been exploring about art mediums and we used small wooden pieces to create little faces inspired by Karel Appel as I posted before.  

May 23, 2012

One Line Design - inspired by Paul Klee

The One Line Design lesson that I do based on a lesson from MaryAnn Kohl's book "Discovering the Great Artists" is one of my favorite art lessons.

May 21, 2012

Exploring Capacity

What better place to explore capacity than a sandbox? I'm fortunate to have a large sandbox at my school. First we all sat around the sandbox and we made all kinds of inquiries. I carried out all the explorations as the children watched. I did it in a very excited manner to fire them up, so by the time I finished they were all very eager to try it themselves. They could then work in paris or independently. I believe a teacher's genuine enthusiasm is key to motivating students.

Those two girls worked together.
They took turns.
The end result was a birthday cake with a little twig candle in the middle.
 "I want a real measuring cut"
 "

 "This will take a long time and I can fit many spoons of sand in the bucket. I do not think I want to find out how many spoons fit in here."
"Oooh this is fast!


May 20, 2012

Newspaper Sculpture

We continue to explore art mediums and I showed the students how to roll newspaper. I had already in my mind a newspaper roll sculpture and it did not take long until one child said that we could stick the newspaper tubes together.

May 17, 2012

Reading Words Self-Assessment


I use this assessment with PreK and KG students 3 times a year. At the beginning (after a few weeks of school), middle (usually December or January) and end.

You color code according to the date so you and the students are able to see their progress. Give the child about 5 seconds to read the word then move to the next. young children usually sound out the words, which means they say each sound and then say the word.

At the beginning preK I do not expect the children to read any of the words but as the year goes on we begin to see progress. At the end of the school year I expect them to be able to read most of the words independently by slowly sounding them out. 

At the beginning of Kindergarten some children might not be able to read any of the words but they usually progress fast and by the end of the school year I expect them to read all the words accurately and in less than 4 seconds by sounding them out loud or internally.

I am also posting a blank template for you to put your own words.


Below is an example of a finished assessment. This assessment might go in the child's portfolio.

May 16, 2012

Art Appreciation using Technology


I made a Power Point Presentation for my students about Paul Klee’s works, to introduce the ‘one line design’ concept to them. The Power Point included the “Dramatic Landscape”, which is one of Klee’s paintings that better exemplifies the abstract one line design. The Power Point was on the desktop of one of my classroom computers and right after I projected it on the white board, wanted to sit at the computer and watch it again. Today students were still asking to watch the presentation.

I made the Power Point using scanned pictures from a postcard collection of Paul Klee’s work that I got at a museum as well as pictures I found on the Internet.

Here is the Power Point I did that you can download from Mediafire. Click on the title below.







I unintentionally discovered that this is another great way to promote “Art Appreciation” in the classroom. Some students sat together at the computer and were talking to each other about the paintings.

The idea of the ‘one line design’ lesson comes from MaryAnn Kohl’s book “Discovering Great Artists”, which I will post about later. 



May 15, 2012

Connecting the Dots of Knowledge



Connections! Learning taking place! Applied knowledge! Isn't that what all teacher want to see happening with their students? Here is one example from last week.

Early in the morning many students were using beads and laces to make chains. They would do and undo them until two students said they wanted to share what they had done.

Beads and laces are also a great fine motor activity.


One of the girls began to talk about her chain and she said she used a bead like the cube we have in our 3D shapes box. Then she showed the cylinder-shaped and sphere-shaped beads. Of course she hadn't planned to discuss the "3D beads," but rather is was a connection she made once she started to talk about her chain.

One of the boys also made a chain and made all the connections with the shapes we have been exploring. He also noted his chain was longer than the girl’s chain, and they began comparing who used more cylinders.

From this day, on almost every day we’ve had someone making a chain and asking to share with the group.  The end result is that the students found a way to review 3D shapes with something they were interested in; thus the initiative came from them and not from the teacher.

This week a girl called me to show she found the 'primary colors' in the beads. 

I had also done a “shape hunt’ around the classroom and other relevant activities such as comparing shapes properties, which ones can roll, etc, but to me the best learning experience are the ones initiated by the children.

I use the word “connection” often and frequently ask them to draw parallels with past learning.  It is wonderful to see this becoming established in the student’s minds.

I never ceases to amaze me how children are so ready and eager to absorb knowledge. As Maria Montessori used to say: "Children are like sponges absorbing everything around them. They have absorbent minds”.


May 14, 2012

Sensory Collage

Using felt, yarn or any other type of soft material is a fun way to make a 'sensory collage' or as the students called it a 'fluffy collage'.

May 11, 2012

Portfolio Cover Idea



Student portfolio covers is something that usually evolves with the portfolio content. The students had done a nice collage of tissue paper on colored paper and we thought that would be it, another beautiful art creation. 

May 9, 2012

Painting with Cars


Using toy cars to paint is a lot of fun! You can suggest this project any time you are investigating about transportation.

May 8, 2012

Wooden Faces


A walk outside was all it took for us to collect wood chips fallen from a branch that was cut off a tree. We were not sure of what to do with them but who could resist such interesting shapes and texture? Now that we are doing an art unit and talking about art and art mediums all it took was for one of the students to browse our box of artwork photographs and make a connection between our wooden chips and the work of Karel Appel entitled “Questioning Children”.

May 7, 2012

Sand Collage

by Shose

Exploring texture is a lot of fun as well as finding art mediums that can create textured artwork.

After reading the book "The Shape of Me and Other Stuff" by Dr. Seuss one of my students made a comment about the wavy lines on the last page. I said it would be fun to explore lines and texture at the same time. One student said we could use glue and sand to make wavy lines. I asked her how she came up with that idea and she said she just did. That's great. I love to use students' ideas.

May 6, 2012

Words on Your Plate

I created a game that I call “What’s on Your Plate” to have my students practice building three letter words and writing them, which they did on a paper plate.  I wrote consonants and vowels on blank dice. The children had to throw the dice and try to form a word. If a word was formed the child would write the word on a paper plate.



If you cannot find blank dice you can make them out of paper. 

 You need to do the game according to the level of your students. After assessing my students I decided to write the vowel a in all sides of one of the dice. The other two had consonants that would make it easier to build words. one die had t n b c  s r and the other had t n g p h m. That made t easier for them to build words ending in ‘an’ and ‘at’.

 I placed the dice in a cup.  The students had to throw the dice in the plate and try to arrange them to form a word. Then they would write the word on the paper plate.



 They were motivated by the game and I left it in the language shelf for them to use during choice time. They also wanted to put the plates in their portfolio so I placed them in a plastic pocket with an explanation of the activity written on top. I had to cut the paper plate a little to fit in the plastic pocket and that is why the boarder looks like that. I used one of the Krazy Cut Scissors from Colorations to make that trim.



May 2, 2012

My Mondrian


When investigating about art with children one great artist to explore is Mondrian. It is fascinating to ask the children how they think Mondrian created his art and then ask them how they could create an artwork inspired by Mondrian.

May 1, 2012

Letter Sound Assessment


Assessing the knowledge of letter sounds is extremely important in preschool. If a child knows the sounds of the letters and has the ability to orally blend and segment sounds to read and write words then this child is likely to be successful in reading and writing in Kindergarten.

Of course I am going to take into consideration all the important reading and writing behaviors expected for the age of the child but for that I use different assessment tools.

This post is to share with you what I have developed for assessing the knowledge of letter sounds.

With the template I created the child (or the teacher if it is too tiring for the child) colors the letters as the child says its sound.

Once the letters are colored the child can ‘see’ how many she or he knows and the others become a learning goal.

Once the child colors all the letters it gives the child such a sense of accomplishment, and by then the child is usually doing guided reading which is heavy in comprehension, word attack strategies and becoming an independent reader.

I usually use this assessment at the beginning of the school year, December and end of the school year, usually end of May or June. 

The child shown below is moving to another country so we had a short conference about her portfolio and we decided we should complete all the assessments that I will do later in the month with the other students. 


Below are the templates for assessing knowledge of Upper and Lower case letter sounds. Just click on the images do download the template.



Here are the blank templates for you to write the letters as you teach them in your class.



I suggest to demonstrate the assessment to the class before you do it with the individual student.
If you have a projector and a white board or an interactive board you can easily do this.