Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Circus Day at Preschool

Today was my first day teaching our co-op preschool.  This post is probably going to be boring and a little lengthy because I'm just going to recap everything we did, mostly so I have a record of it and it can help me remember what worked best and what didn't work as well.
Since this was only our second day of preschool I stuck with continuing the introduction to the alphabet theme of last week and started in on the circus curriculum from Mother Goose.  It worked out well for me since we actually already had quite a few things that were geared toward the circus anyway, like the little circus tent in the corner and a popcorn counting game with jumbo-sized popcorn and buckets in graduated sizes with numbers on the side indicating how many popcorn go in each bucket. 
Anyway, I just moved the couches around in the living room to free up a wall and then taped up the alphabet, color, number, shape, sight words, and calendar posters that came with the curriculum.  Then I pulled out our Eeboo alphabet letter cards that I bought a while back (they have a bunch of different sets that you can find on amazon but I loved the landscape ones - each card has a number of things on it that start with the letter). 
I also set out a bunch of our alphabet books along with shape and number puzzles so that there were things for the kids to play with and look at while everybody was showing up.  Of course we didn't get to everything on the wall but we touched on a lot of it as part of the class routine once we got started.  We started with welcoming everybody to preschool and introductions (one of the girls was new this week because she wasn't feeling well last Wednesday) and then said the Pledge of Allegiance.  Clara held the little flag and totally surprised me by reciting the ENTIRE THING along with me (and a couple of times going ahead of me to the next word or two).  I have been saying it to her randomnly over the last week trying to expose her to it and asking her to say it with me and she has completely refused so I sort of thought that maybe it was just going over her head (words like "indivisible" and "liberty and justice for all" just can't have any meaning to her yet) but apparently all she needed was an audience to perform in front of to bring it out of her.  It was a proud moment.
After reciting the pledge I pulled out a big magnetic wooden puzzle map of the USA and did a quick geography lesson and explained the part of the pledge where it talks about the United States of America and how the puzzle showed the country we live in.  Then I had them point to California and we talked about the pictures on our state's piece (grapes, the Golden Gate Bridge, redwood trees, the ocean).
Then it was the "Days of the Week" song and pointing at the day of the week on the calendar.  After that I talked to them about the color red, which was the color for the day and told them to find something red around the room and bring it to me.  I had scattered a bunch of random red objects around the room beforehand (a measuring cup, a little wagon, a hairbrush, some of Clara's toy fruit, a toy guitar, etc.) and the kids loved that game.  Then we counted things that had multiples while we talked about each of the red things. 

The next thing was introducing the circus theme more and reading books about it.  First we read a Clifford book about the circus that the kids seemed to really like (I don't know why but I sort of loathe Clifford books but apparently kids love the big red dog).  Then we read this amazing animal ABC book created by the American Museum of Natural History (Katydids for "K" and one sentence of a fascinating fact like dolphins are mammals, not fish, and can't breath underwater - the kids really grabbed onto that one and we talked a lot about mammals the rest of the time and how whales and dolphins are not fish, they are mammals just like us) and "Olivia Saves the Circus" (great humor). 

I interspersed some songs to get wiggles out along the way but after a couple of books the children were getting restless so we moved into snack time and had circus themed snacks of popcorn, celery with hummus, apple slices, and cheese cubes.  So I guess only the popcorn was circus themed, but it worked.  I'm pretty certain that Clara has a little crush on the boy in the red hat.  Last week she kept talking about him and this week she interacted with him quite a lot.  And after preschool was over Clara made sure to mention him in our prayer at lunchtime when she was blessing the food, lol.

While I cleaned up after snacks I let the kids have some independent play time with the circus tent and the toys.  Then I had them each carry over their art supply box and we did a craft where we painted red stripes on a white rectangle (to practice making vertical lines as sort of a pre-writing technique and continue with our "red" theme for the day), cut one straight line into the center of a circle (learning how to properly hold and manipulate scissors and develop those motor skills while talking about shapes), and used glue sticks to stick a pipe cleaner onto a green rectangle which we folded over to create a flag.  Then I folded the cut circles into cones and taped the circus tents together for each of the kids.  Honestly, it was a little bit complex but the kids were so focused and I could definitely see how challenged they were but also so determined.  It's sort of an amazing thing to watch.

While we worked on our craft one of the letters fell off our alphabet wall so I improvised and we transitioned back into more of a class setting by looking for the letter that had escaped (it was the "e" which makes the "eh" sound so escaped was perfect, right?  I didn't go into all that for them but I was thinking it to myself.)  I made a big deal about "oh no! a letter is missing! this is a really big problem!" and asked them to help me figure out which letter was missing by singing the alphabet with me.  We sing through it a couple of times, identified that it was "E" that was gone, then "found" it on the floor and stuck it back up and then sang the full song again.  Seriously, the kids LOVED it and as soon as everybody left Clara was immediately begging me to take a letter off the wall so we could find out which one was missing again and we have gone through practically half the alphabet repeating the game over and over already until I finally told her it was time for a break. 

Then it was a couple more books before dynamic play time where I pulled out our fabric tunnels and the kids pretended to be lions at the circus going through hoops.  The went around and around in circles until I (the lion tamer) called them into the circus tent where they giggled with each other while I told them that when I closed the tent flaps they needed to roar as loud as they could.  Which we repeated multiple times until the other moms showed up.

All in all, I felt like it was a success although man alive it was exhausting!  But fun.  The biggest problem is figuring out how to manage wiggly bums and keep them on their carpets.  I'm going to have to brainstorm techniques and would appreciate any suggestions.  The kids are so cute and Clara did great sharing her toys and helping and not getting jealous.  Which I was nervous about because she told me more than once yesterday that she did NOT want the other kids coming to her house and playing with her toys for preschool.  We had some talks yesterday and this morning and I am super thankful they seem to have sunk in.  And now I don't have to teach again until mid-October! 

I'm thinking this is gonna work out just great.


  1. So adorable! In a past life I was a preschool teacher (I know, really?) and I used to sing a pretty fantastic days of the week song to the tune of Addams' family with sign is a girl doing a version ( and a clean up song (yes, from Barney: do sometimes miss those preK days...

  2. Wow, impressive. You should just run a full preschool! I love those alphabet posters. They are beautiful.

  3. Well done Amy. Miss you and your sweet family,

    Shauna xoxox

  4. Looks like it was a huge success! That is awesome!


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