Monday, September 11, 2017

Preschool Lesson: Caps for Sale

Happy Fall! Almost, anyways. I really love this time of year, and I get excited about the "back to school" buzz. This works for us, too, since our preschool is tentatively up and going. This year, we leave the alphabet theme behind us and instead take a literature approach. I hadn't heard of a preschool where each class revolved around a children's book, but it didn't take me long to get excited. This opens up so many possibilities.

For some mysterious reason, the first book I wanted to choose was clearly Caps for Sale. I love this book, and it kept speaking to me anytime I thought about picking something else.

Sadly, I failed to have my completely adorable calendar center up and running (curse you posterboard for being too small!!), but we started with a very short morning-meeting circle time. We sang Here We Are Together and What's the Weather? before diving into our book.

So this preschool strengthened my belief in the power of books. Since this was our first preschool with this particular quartet of kids, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. They range in age from a new four-year-old to a late 2-year-old, and I was curious to see how their attention spans, well, spanned. As can be expected, some activities appealed more to some than to others. However, all four seemed to love listening to books. Such a win.

Anyways, I read Esphyr Slobodkina's classic tale to my wide-eyed audience. We then talked about what a peddler is and how he sold hats for 50 cents. Handing each child a bag of 10 pennies, I explained how they'd need their 10 cents to buy various things for our activities (this was my "Math" bit of the day). To start us off, each child bought a monkey mask for 1 cent for our game of "Monkey See, Monkey Do."

In this simple game (our Imagination Activity, if you will,) I started off as the "peddler" wearing this fancy Bavarian Hat. Then each of the "monkey" children had to copy my actions as did the monkeys in the story. Once they had the gist, each child had the chance to play the peddler. We then took a moment to sing "5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree" with actions... it's a favorite.

We then took a minute too look and observe that the peddler sorted his caps by color and to count how many of each he had. At the table, the kids brushed up their Fine Motor skills and made their own stacks with blocks. We talked about the different color blocks we were using but didn't end up sorting them as I had thought. There was important building to be done. Priorities...

For our Snack, I intended to display green grapes and pretzel sticks in the shape of a tree on their plates like this. Instead, we ate green grapes and pretzel sticks sans tree shape (and snack cost 3 cents). The kids colored this neat coloring page (and a generic monkey picture) while I prepped the food.

For Music Time, we busted out the shakers for an animated "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." Other songs to match the theme include "Tapping on my Sticks" (I was thinking the monkey see, monkey do bit again?) and "My Hat, It has Three Corners."

Again amazed at their fixed attention, we had more Storytime by reading Old Hat, New Hat and Ten Apples Up on Top. After the latter, we talked about balance. I showed some pictures of women in Ghana balancing giant loads on their heads. We got some Large Motor movement going when we tried balancing on one foot. Here, I thought it would be adorable to do some preschool yoga! I never planned it out... but it still sounds adorable. We then had a "balancing race" by running around the room with pillows on our heads.

We did these delightful hat puzzles, talking about how different professions wear different hats. Then, I thought it would be fun to end by telling the Caps for Sale story again but this time with story bracelets. Elin blogged about them here; they "bought" pipe cleaners and beads for 2 cents and then I walked them back through the story, using different beads to represent a person, thing, or event. I knew this might be a little complicated for the group. I already had the beads divided into individual bowls and had them look for each bead as we got to it in the story. Perhaps I should have kept all the beads myself and handed each out at the appropriate part in the story? It worked out as it was; the younger two charged ahead and started stringing the beads in any order as I talked through the monkey tale once more. The older two somewhat followed along with me, pulling out the beads as I talked about them but not necessarily waiting to string them in the right order. No worries: the kids seemed to enjoy the activity, everyone was able to string the beads, and it provided an opportunity to talk about letters, colors, and symbols. Here's the gist of the story.

To cap it all off (see what I did there?), we decorated dollar store caps. I was going for an open-ended, simple craft. They bedazzled their hats with gems, feathers, pom-poms, and buttons while I scurried around hot gluing the treasures into place. I ditched the fabric paint last minute; we were short on time, and I felt under-prepared to prevent painting their clothes along with the hats.

I had a great time with the peddler, his caps, and some monkey business. I hope the kids did, too.

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