Fun Fine Motor Snack!

I was making holiday goodies with my own kiddos when I discovered that this snack is great for the kiddos to make!  I had seen similar postings on Pinterest for these type of treats, but none of them from an educational standpoint of course! 

Here's what we made:
I call them pretzel kisses because that's pretty much what they are...We used the tiny twist pretzels, chocolate Hershey kisses and red & green M&Ms.  They were super easy and the kiddos loved making them!  I loved that there was some great fine motor practice for the kiddos at the same time.  They unwrapped the kisses and placed them in the center on top of the pretzel twists.  Then we baked them and then they had more fine motor practice when putting the M&Ms on top and pushing them down.  Here's the directions summed up for you to be able to try it:
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
2.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread tiny twist pretzels on the pan.
3.  Unwrap and place Hershey kisses (or hugs too) on the top of the pretzels.
4.  Bake for 4-5 minutes.  They will NOT look melted.  They will still look like Hershey's kisses.
5.  Remove from the oven and place one M&M in the center of the kiss (on the point) and push down.
That's it!  It's just that easy.  They're delish too...of course!  You could do these with any color M&Ms so that they wouldn't be so Christmassy if you're making them for another occasion.

Gingerbread Fun!

Run, run as fast as you can!  You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!
I'll run and I'll run, with a leap and a twirl.  You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Girl!
We had some gingerbread fun in our class last week.  Here's what we did:
Here's the bulletin board display that I set up to go with our Gingerbread Friends Dramatic Play Center.  The candy canes are made out of pool noodles!  My sister helped me make these.  We opened up a wire hanger and stuck it in, bent them into the right shape and then hot-glued ribbon around.  The garland is just pom poms glued onto ribbon and the giant candies are Styrofoam craft circles that I painted and wrapped in plastic.
Here's a tutorial for a fun little craft we made: 

We also made gingerbread boy & girl ornaments.  They're SUPER EASY!
The ingredients are simple - cinnamon, applesauce and school glue. 
You also need a cookie cutter, straw and some decorations.
Mix together 1 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup apple sauce (the size of a single-serving cup)
1/4 cup school glue (I used Elmer's)

This is what it will look like as a dough.  Just roll it out to your desired thickness. 
I like a little more than 1/4 inch thick.  Then use your cookie cutter to cut out your shape.  Get don't HAVE to use a gingerbread shape!

After I rolled and cut them out, I used a small straw to make a hole in the top so that I could hang them as ornaments.  This is the only time you can make the hole.  Once it dries, you can't do it.
Here's a few different ones that we made in my class.  I gave the kiddos buttons to push into the wet dough.  I helped them with the glitter glue and they also got to choose some google eyes for their ornament.  We just used yarn through the hole in the top to hang it.

Here's one I brought home and hung on my tree.  It smells good enough to eat (but don't!!!) and looks so pretty too!

We also made edible "gingerbread" boys and girls.

We used Oreos for the head (the vanilla ones), Vienna fingers for the body, arms and legs.  Then they decorated them with frosting, sprinkles, snow caps and M&Ms.  Yes...they are made of WAY too much sugar.  The good news is that these were made with the parents there as part of a parent activity.  They were more fun to make than eat too.  The kiddos took a bite or two and were done, so it all worked out!
Have a gingerbread day!


I've got a pretty cute (if I must say so myself!!!) snowman craft to show you today.  We made these adorable snowmen names with each child's name.  They came out super cute!

To make them, I cut out white circles (about 3 inches in diameter, but you could use whatever size you want).  I then wrote the child's name in glitter glue.  When it dried (the next day) I gave them the circles with the letters in their name on it and they had to arrange them in the right order.  We glued them on , then we used a dessert sized paper plate as the head.  I gave them google eyes and a piece of foam cut into a carrot shape for the nose.  The mouth is sequins and I let them choose the color.  I love those for fine motor practice!  For the hat I was lucky enough to have real pieces of leather that my aunt gave me, but you could just as easily use construction paper.  I used little pieces of fabric for the scarf.  They stretched and glued cotton balls for the snow on the bottom and made glitter glue dots for the falling snow.
Happy Winter!!

G is for Groceries

We focused on nutrition this week for letter Gg, with a G is for Groceries theme.  Take a peek at our week:
Our crafts didn't go with our theme, but they don't always go together each week because I like to change it up.'s our adorable crafts this week!  G is for Giraffe and g is for guitar.

Here are some pictures of our Grocery Store Dramatic Play Center this week:
(you can click any of the pics to go to my store to buy your own pack to use with your kiddos)
This is the way I set up the bulletin board in our Dramatic Play area.  I hung the "Market Kids" store banner and the sale signs.  Directly under that I placed a shelf and put the food section signs on it, with corresponding foods on the shelf.

 Here's what it looked like from the front of the center area.  I just used the standard "kitchen" items that came in my classroom.  I turned the refrigerator into the cold/frozen food section.  I pushed together and turned the stove and sink and made it the check-out area.

Here's a close-up of the cold goods section.
Here's a close-up of the check-out section.  I used black construction paper and covered the sink and stove to look like a conveyer belt at the grocery store.
Here's another view.
I borrowed my daughter's grocery basket and shopping cart for my students to use.
I displayed all of the word cards in a pocket chart on the wall in the center.
We graphed our favorite fruits and vegetables in our pocket chart.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic!  The favorite fruit in our class was strawberries and the favorite vegetable was broccoli.
I also used a nutrition unit that I created.  It has food sorts for healthy foods, unhealthy foods, diary, protein, grains, fruits, and vegetables.  I used real pictures of food instead of clipart in this pack.  My students did well with the sorts and enjoyed it as well.  By the with all of my newly listed items, this nutrition pack is 50% off for the first 48 hours!  Enjoy!
I hope you've enjoyed a peek into my week!
Sweet Teaching,

F is for Fire Safety

Fire Safety is so important for the kiddos to learn about.  It was also so much fun to learn.  It's been one of their favorite themes so far!  Here's a look at our letter F and Fire Safety activities that we did in our class.

This is our lowercase f craft.  f is for flamingo.  We used hot pink paint to make handprint feathers.

Our uppercase F craft was F is for Frog.  We made the tongue out of red yarn and this was the most challenging (but great fine motor practice) for the kiddos.  I made a squiggle line of glue and they had to follow my line to lay the yarn on top.
A very colorful interpretation of a Firefighter hat!
This is ABC uppercase and lowercase letter matching with the uppercase firefighters putting out the lowercase letter fires.  The kiddos liked this activity because they were "putting out fires" each time they made a match!
Roll and graph activities are one of my students' favorite activities, so we do them pretty frequently.  I like to do them during our circle time.  I like to use it to not only teach math skills, but also to teach sharing and turn-taking skills.  You could also do this in a small group setting.
This is our positional words fire truck.  You can use it one of two ways:  You move the hose into different places and have the students identify it's position (under, over, next to, behind, etc.) or you tell them the positional directions and they have to correctly place the hose.  Tricky concept for the little learners, but I feel that this activity really helped them grasp it a little better.  Of course, we'll also do more practice throughout the year!
Another activity that we did was patterning.  To teach patterning to my little learners, I usually say the pattern in a different tone of voice for each part of the pattern and they join with me in saying it.  I have found that that helps them understand and predict the next sequence in the pattern a little better.  I have a bears patterning freebie you can grab in my letter B post.

If you've followed my blog, or read any of my posts, you'll know that I LOVE to do poetry each week.  This week was a cute firefighter poem with a handprint that turned into firefighters doing their job!  (Stay tuned to my blog for a complete poetry post....coming soon!)
Here's one of my cuties making her shape fire truck.
Here's the finished product!  I think she did a great job!
If you like the activities shown here, you can get your copy of the Fire Safety Unit by clicking any of the pictures.  It will take you to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, The Teaching Zoo!
Have a great day!

Letter of the Week - E

I'm behind on posts...SORRY!!  I have letters e, f and g to post for you!!  Looks like I'll be busy the next few days!  Here are some of the activities we did for the letter Ee.  I hope you can find them useful in your classroom or homeschool!  There are links in the post for you to either download freebies or purchase an activity. 
Here's our lowercase letter e craft.  We made "e is for eagle".  I think next time I would like to add brown handprint "feathers" to give it a little something extra special. 

Our uppercase letter E this week was "E is for Elephant"  We used a pipe cleaner/chenille stem for the tusks.  We curved it and the students glued them on, so that they stick up a little for a 3-D effect.
We do these uppercase/lowercase letter sorts weekly for each letter.  I usually do it on the first day of the week when I introduce the letter.  You can see the full pack by clicking the picture.  I also follow up this whole group activity with individual letter sorts later in the day, during our small group time, in our ABC Interactive Notebook.  You can read that post by clicking the title or here.
One of the books we read this week was Elmer.  I love that story!  It teaches you to be who you are and that everyone is special.  We followed up by making an Elmer. 
We cut up tissue paper and laid it on top of the elephant printout.  They the kiddos sprayed water on top of the tissue paper.  We let it dry over night and then the tissue paper just falls off and leaves behind a beautiful and unique colorful design.  We then did a writing activity to go along with it.  You can get the free printables for the Elmer activity by clicking the picture.
Playdough letters is another activity that I do each week with my students.  Of course they love using playdough and they think they are just playing, when in reality it is a great way to build fine motor skills and letter recognition through play!
Usually on Fridays, after my kiddos have learned all about our letter for the week, we make our crowns.  Here's one of my students coloring his crown.  Each crown has three pictures that begin with that letter, in this case the letter Ee.  Then they cut it out and I staple it to a sentence strip and then fit it to each child's head.  They are so proud to wear their crowns each week!

Letter of the Week - D

This was another fun week in paradise!  Seriously...I LOVE MY JOB!  Getting to plan all of these fun and exciting activities really makes me happy!  We learned all about the letter D this week.  We also learned about pets as an extension of "d is for dog".  The best part was of course our Paws & Claws Pet Vet Clinic!  There will be a whole other post about that coming soon!
You can click the pictures or highlighted words in the post to be able to purchase the items or download the freebies.
The 5 Little Ducks poem/song/fingerplay (whatever you want to call it!) was one that we enjoyed singing over and over this week.  It was fun being able to swap out the numbers and move the duckies in and out on the board.
I extended the fun my kiddos had this week into their poetry notebooks that go home every Friday.  They loved having their own duckies to do the poem movements with.  Great for introducing basic subtraction too!!
This is our "Give a Dog a Bone" alphabet matching game.  It was fun for the kiddos to try to find the uppercase letter dog who matched his lowercase letter bone!  They wanted to play this again and again!  I love when they love learning!

Here's our craft for uppercase D this week:  D is for Dog.  The kiddos loved putting on the spots!  Each student placed their spots differently and I love how they each looked so unique!

This is our lowercase d craft: d is for duck.  The feathers were fun and we cut the beak so that it has a fold and opens up!

The sensory bin this week was dinosaurs!  I'm a huge sensory bin fanatic!  I love to change them every 1-2 weeks so that it's fresh and exciting for the students to explore!

We counted using real dog bones!  Then we glued them on a dog bone shaped piece of construction paper and wrote how many bones we counted.
This of course was the highlight of our week! 
The Paws & Claws Dramatic Play Veterinary Office Center.  One word - LOVE!
We graphed our favorite pets this week too.  I try to create different things to graph every 1-2 weeks too.  It's an important skill to learn and I like to make it fun for my students too! 
Click the pic for the freebie!  The graphics were from Charlotte's Clips.

1 Year Anniversary of Becoming The Teaching Zoo CELEBRATION!!

Well, it's official!  I've been "The Teaching Zoo" for 1 year!  I'd like to have a celebration for all of you to show how much I appreciate your continued support!  There will be fun stuff on each of my sites.  I will be having giveaways, freebies, sales and new products...with giveaways of those too!  Please make sure you check my blog, my Facebook and my TpT all this week!

On my Facebook page, there's a giveaway of my ABC Hole Puncher pack going ends tomorrow - so enter now!
On my blog, I'll be giving away $20 to my Teacher's Pay Teachers store!  I usually do a Rafflecopter giveaway, but I'm going to try it with comments.  Just comment on this post for your chance to win!
The SALE on my Teachers Pay Teachers store begins NOW.  Everything will be 20% off for the next two days!!  Take advantage and grab some things on your wishlist! Happy Shopping!
Stay tuned for more...I have more planned!