What on earth does “social distancing” look like in the preschool classroom, and how is that even possible? How do you get your classroom ready for something like that?
That’s what I’ve been asking myself since March. I’m no longer teaching in the classroom, so I can’t even imagine what the struggle must be like for early childhood educators right now. I’ve seen the panicked, desperate questions in the many preschool groups I participate in on FB; many teachers and childcare workers have worked in centers that never once shut down for COVID-19. They had to make accommodations fast when there was limited information to go on, often with no pay raise and very little recognition for their efforts.
And they are all superheroes.
I wanted to find out more about the kinds of adjustments and policy changes educators and caregivers are having to implement due to COVID-19, so I reached out to Stacy Harmon from Preschool Plans.
Stacy teaches at a private play-based preschool in the San Francisco Bay area, and she was kind enough to share all kinds of advice for ECE teachers who are heading back to the classroom in the next few weeks. I’ll hand the post over to her now, because she explained everything so well.
2020 has brought many challenges and changes to our world. COVID-19 has caused many of us in the education sector to make many crucial decisions concerning the health and safety of our students, their families, and staff. As my school began to reimagine the classroom we consulted the CDC, county health department, and CA Child Care Licensing guidelines. Many of these programs contradicted each other so we chose to follow the strictest of guidelines to ensure the health and safety of anyone who entered our campus.
This post contains some affiliate links, which means that clicking on them might give me a small kickback.
September is apple month for my little adventurers. Yep, all apples all month long. I used to think this theme was so overdone, but there’s a reason apples are so popular for preschool–there’s so many opportunities for learning, and it’s easy to apply the apple theme to real life experiences. We’ve easily incorporated science, nutrition, and sensory learning without having to do a ton of prep.
I’ll share a few of my favorite apple activities below!
Apple Process Art
We painted with a potato masher and a meat masher (…is that what you call it?) but you could use any utensil for this. They loved seeing the differences in patterns; the stripes from the potato masher and the X’s that the other utensil made.
Here’s some other tools you could use instead of kitchen utensils:
Toilet Paper Rolls
Fall objects (acorns, leaves, pinecones, etc.)
This is a classic, right? Stamping with apples is so fun! Try cutting the apples in half both vertically and horizontally and compare the different shapes they make.
Notice that I cut a “handle” on the apples. It’s relatively easy to do, just cut two wedges out of the apple halves. This makes it easier on the children to hold and prevents them from getting a lot of paint on their fingers.
Apple Taste Test
We tasted red, green, and yellow apples, and then voted on our favorite. This was an excellent vocabulary-building taste experiment; we discussed how some apples were sour while another one is sweet. As they tasted the different apples, they completed the activity sheet (seen below) and circled “thumbs up” or “thumbs up” to show whether they liked it or not.
Once we tasted them all, we took a class vote. Green and yellow tied for our fave. You can get the Apple Taste Test Activity here–it comes with printable chart headers for taking a class vote on the best apple!
Apple Sensory Bin
I like to have an apple-themed sensory bin throughout the month of September. Last year, I used oats for my apple pie sensory bin (make sure to check it out) but this year I opted to use green rice.
How to dye rice: It’s easy! I put 2 cups of rice and 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a large tupperware along with about 15 drops of food coloring and shook it like crazy. Afterwards, I laid the rice out on a cookie sheet to dry. I repeated this step many times until I had a good amount of rice to work with.
What’s in this bin: small decorative apples (found at JoAnn’s), cinnamon sticks, aluminum pie pans, green rice, measuring cups.
Every Apple Has a Star
Did you know every apple has a star inside? Cut apples in half horizontally to find it! Before you do this, ask your students to guess what kind of shape is inside the book. You could also read The Apple Orchard Riddle, in which some students on an apple orchard field trip discover the star inside of an apple.
It’s definitely a neat thing to show preschoolers and you could just throw it into your apple tasting or apple stamping activities.
Apple Number Matching
You can get this apple freebie by subscribing to my mailing list! You’ll get access to my entire free resource library, actually! It’s brand new and growing. I’ve been working on lots of freebies for preschool teachers like you!
More Apple Printables by Every Little Adventure
I have a bundle of apple activities in my TPT store here. It includes lots of hands on math and literacy activities with an apple theme!
I’m a total nerd for fonts. Maybe even a little bit of a font snob. (Just say no to Comic Sans.) And my favorite place to download fabulous teacher fonts? Teachers Pay Teachers, of course!
Below, I’m showing off some of my favorite fall-ish fonts that I’ve found on TPT. They all give me that crisp, back-to-school, strolling through a pumpkin patch vibe. You feel me? Maybe not. But these fonts are definitely worth checking out. And the great thing is that most of them are free; and the ones that aren’t come in a bundle of several fonts that are ok for commercial use at a pretty low price.
Font names are under the examples! Keep scrolling for download links.
I’m always looking for new playdough recipes that are simple and don’t have to involve cooking. I don’t always have access to a stove, and I want my kiddos to be involved in all of the steps.
I recently discovered you can make playdough with just two ingredients: icing and powdered sugar. I was pretty skeptical at first–because it doesn’t sound like those two ingredients combined would make anything remotely similar to pliable playdough. But it actually works! And it smells SO good!
The first batch of homemade playdough I made with icing was strawberry-scented and so delicious-smelling. But to go along with my first week of preschool theme, cookies, I wanted a Chocolate Chip Cookie Playdough!
2 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Vanilla Icing
Mini Chocolate Chips
In a medium sized bowl, stir or use an electric mixer to combine the powdered sugar and vanilla icing. It will feel very sticky at first!
If it’s still too sticky, add another tablespoon of powdered sugar.
Add a handful of mini chocolate chips once it’s well-blended. Add as many or as little as you want. We kept adding more and more to ours!
We used the cookie sheet playdough mats from my First Day of Preschool Activities resource on Teachers Pay Teachers. To make it even more fun, you can add cookie cutters, rolling pins, small cookie sheets, and other playdough toys!
I hope you enjoy making this edible cookie playdough with your students or children! It’s definitely a favorite of mine and I know we’ll be making it again soon.