Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Off to the Strawberry Patch! (Freezer Jam Recipe and a Craft)

My day started bright and early capturing a few quick photos of Baby Girl. She is 10 months old today. *sigh* Time sure does fly!

I had just enough time to upload pictures before I grabbed the 4 year olds from my MIL's daycare and headed to the Pick Your Own Strawberry fields near my house. The kiddos were super excited. 

It stormed last night. That was not about to stop us. Kids like to get messy, right? 
So tromping through the mud we went! 

 After a little lesson on strawberry picking from me, they began to fill their baskets!

 Red from top to tip! That is the number one rule!

 It wasn't long before our baskets began filling up!

 Ready to mark where we stopped!

  Mr. Muscles needed to carry the baskets full of our berries!

 When we got home, we washed our berries and the used plastic knives to cut the green tops off to prep our berries for freezer jam.

I apologize for the lack of photos for the jam part. Having three helpers in the kitchen left me with no time to pick up the camera. This is the recipe out of the Dutch Gel pamphlet.
I pulsed the berries in my Ninja to mash them. You do not want to puree them.
Then measured out 4 cups of mashed berries.
We added 8 cups of sugar to the berries (Whoa!) and mixed it.
Meanwhile I added 2/3 cup of Dutch Jell (Clear Jell or Sure Jell will work also) to 1.5 cups of cold water and mixed.
I put that in a small pot on the stove and heated until boiling, stirring constantly.
When it boiled I dumped it over the berries and stirred for the recommended 3 minutes. Then transferred to jars and other freezer safe containers. This jam lasts in the freezer for 6 months and in the fridge for  3-4 weeks. Keep that in mind when choosing containers. It can be used as jam or ice cream sauce. You can make milkshakes with it too.

We made milkshakes with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream and just blended in the ninja until smooth. The kids were loving it.

For lunch we had PB and fresh strawberry jam! Along with some of our freshly picked strawberries.

 But we did not end the fun there! After rest time, it was time for a strawberry craft.
 Kiddos cut out a strawberry shape by folding a piece of red paper in half and drawing a half heart shape on and then cutting it out. Then traced their hands onto green paper and glued it on as the top of the berry. Then they dotted glue all over and added glitter for the seeds. We twisted green pipe cleaner to resemble the vine and added a string to hang.
 Cute! Now I need a nap! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Preschool: Name Books

I want to share my most successful project that I implemented into my classroom this year. They are called "Name Books". Last school year, I realized that while I was working with the children in many different ways to learn how to write their names, many could not spell them or do it without a name tag. My goal was to be more intentional about name writing and spelling. I perused my pinterest board with all my name writing ideas. They all had merit. The problem was there was no organization to it. No way to see progress. I decided I wanted to keep each student's name practice all in one place to see progress. Also to have something at the end of the year to take home and be proud of.   By the end of the year, most children were able to complete their name more legibly without help of a teacher or name tag.

I saw huge progress this year. The books made everything feel more intentional and organized. I had a lot of parents compliment the idea. 

I purchased these notebooks from Discount School Supply.

They work best if used horizontally. 

I dated and labeled each page as we completed a task. Below are a few pages from our book. We did one page a week. I recommend starting out with a "first try" writing. Then begin spelling the name before writing it. We did this by putting our names in order with the help of our name tag. Each time a student completed an activity, they earned a sticker for the front of their book! 

Some of the individual activities were original and others were found on pinterest. Click into my board for links to the original posters. http://www.pinterest.com/tinkerbell9428/preschool-name/

 I wrote the children's names in yellow highlighter and they traced it using paint and q-tips. (Stickers were earned each time they completed an activity in the book. )Activities were sometimes done as a group at Table Time or individually during free-play.
 We use Handwriting without Tears as our writing curriculum. We had a OT come in that works for HWOT and he told us that kids should be tracing whole letters, not dotted or dashed lines. He also provided us with some gray squares that help the kids get the idea of spacing and how to write the letter like we build it on the blue HWOT mats.  I made each child a small gray-squared name tag and laminated them. They could grab these and use them when spelling and writing their names.
 One of our first activities included children cutting apart the letters of their name (that I had pre-written) and then gluing them into their book in order. 

 Another early activity was for kids to find glue their name in order in their books. This was around Valentine's Day.
I asked my facebook friends for any half used sheets of ABC stickers taking up space in their scrapbooking storage. Kiddos searched for the letters of their name. We did this during our animal unit, so we called it a letter safari!
 I often programmed pages with "Trace and Try" They traced what I had written and then gave it a try on their own. I did this at least once a month. 
 Lines and boxes
 Rainbow Writing: students trace names several times in several colors.
 Fill in the blank.
 Honing in down. 
 Students searched for the letters in their names and then stamped them into the book. Lots of fun!

For letter R week we made name rockets. I suggest having the students count the letters of their name first, glue on the correct number of squares second, then write their name accordingly. This worked better than having them write it first. 
Name Trains for letter T week. Same thing as rockets, count, glue, write. 
Letter repetition. 

Letter Snowman, count, glue write. 

I hope you find this useful!