Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall Festival

In two weeks, our pre-k classes will be holding our "Fall Festival." This activity is a student, family, and teacher favorite!

The Fall Festival structure uses the same rules and procedures that the children are already familiar with from our rotations in the classroom. (We used a the same lesson structure for our
Rodeo Day lessons outlined in another post.)

Fall Festival is organized on a center rotation with a teacher, assistant or parent volunteer assisting at each center. Each center rotation will last 8-10 minutes.
Sometimes we have centers last up to 15 minutes, but this year we have a lot of 3 year olds, so we wanted to plan for all children to be successful.

There will be three or four children in a group. (If we add another class or more students, we will increase the centers accordingly. I want a maximum of five children at a center, three or four would be best.) Activities are designed to encourage oral language development, social/emotional development, gross motor development and fine motor development.

Key component:
You want to have as many children as possible actively participating in centers at any given time. It is important to practice waiting for your turn, but more active participation at any given time equals less discipline problems. Makes sense...the students are involved in the task rather than getting in trouble.

TIP to spend less money!!!!!!! We hold our fall festival AFTER Halloween. This way the pumpkin patches and grocery stores are very willing to donate pumpkins and hay bales and cornstalks.

Morning Circle:
1) Safety comes first! (hands and feet to self...this includes hula hoops and plastic bowling balls)

2) Stay in your center until the whistle blows

3) Listen to the staff and volunteers


Pumpkin Toss
Set up:
~Gather 6 hula hoops
~Place up to 10 or 12 pumpkins spaced apart so that a hula hoop could go around it.

~Get four carpet squares. Each child sits/stands on a carpet square. We place two in one "line" behind a set of three hula hoops and two carpet squares in another "line" behind a set of three hula hoops. It visually cues the children on where they need to be. (Every child in a group should should have a carpet square to stand on while they are playing or waiting.)


~The child sitting on the carpet square closest to the pumpkin patch tries to throw the hula hoop around the a pumpkin.

~After the turn is completed, the child who was on the "waiting square" moves up to the "throwing square" for his/her turn. The child who was throwing moves to the "waiting square" to wait for another turn. This step is important because it teaches children how to wait, but they don't have to wait for very long. When you have two lines at each center like this you have at least 50% of the class actively participating at any given time. Remember: more children actively participating in the lesson equals less discipline problems.

~Repeat until the whistle blows. The first whistle blow is the cue to "clean up". After the clean up whistle, we have children point to their next center. The second repetetive whistle blow is "move to the next center". Since today is Fall Festival Day, we will "fly like crows" to our new centers.


Practice social/emotional skill of taking turns. We also encourage the children to cheer for their friends while they are waiting. This helps the give compliments and recognize achievements of others. Throwing movement naturally requires students to cross their midline. Great opportunities for oral langauge. 50% of the children are actively engaged at any time.

Fall Sensory Table:


~We have two sensory tables we are using. One is based on the
"fall sensory tub" video (scroll down and look for the title) from The other is filled with rice and vegetables from our housekeeping center.
~If you don't have a water table, Home Depot or Lowes have mixing tubs in the concrete/masonry area that would work. They look similar to
this, but I have seen others for $6 or $8.
~Gather 4 or more scooping tools or tongs tools. (Our favorite tool for the fall flowers is the popcorn fork.)


~Let students scoop and explore.
~Move flowers and pumpkins or vegetables to a "safe spot" with tongs, the popcorn fork or "cheater chopsticks."
~Repeat until the whistle bows. Clean up and get ready to "fly like a crow" to a new center.


Great sensory activity. The practice with the tongs and cheater chopsticks exercise the muscles needed for writing and cutting. Lots of opportunities for oral language. 100% of the children are actively engaged the whole time.

Pumpkin Dip


~Gather mix items: Cool Whip, pumpkin pie mix, vanilla pudding, gingersnaps or apple slices. (We use this
recipe from Also get juice boxes so students can have a drink.
~Create a picture recipe.
~Gather a bowl, a spoon, small cups or bowls and a box of baby wipes.


~Have students clean their hands with baby wipes since soap and water won't be available. ~Have students "read" the recipe with you.
~Have students add ingredients and stir the mix.

~Eat the pumpkin dip with gingersnaps or apple slices and drink a juice box.

~Enjoy until the whistle blows.


Students practice early literacy skills when reading the recipe. Students follow a sequence of directions. Students get a chance to cool off and have a less active center. 100% of the children are actively engaged the whole time.

Build a Scarecrow:


~Gather enough materials so that each group can make a complete scarecrow. We use: old newspaper for stuffing, jeans/overalls, button-down long-sleeved shirts, boots, gloves, hats, large brown grocery bags previously colored orange with a face drawn on it and stuffed with newspaper to create a head, string.

~Before Fall Festival use the string to tie the ends of the sleeves and bottom of the shirt, and the ends of the pant legs so your newspaper stuffing won't fall out.

~Sort all of the materials into piles of pants, shirts, hats, etc. Let students take turns picking each part of their scarecrow.

~This year since we are reducing our time to 8-10 minutes, I will have the shirts already stuffed and have the students stuff the pants and put the scarecrow together.

Play: ~Children build scarecrow with help.
~Children crumple newspaper and stuff the pants and shirts. They choose the materials to create their scarecrow as a group.

~Because this center has a task that needs to have a clear start and finish, we use this center to time the rest of the centers. The person who is leading this center gives the one minute warning for the other centers and blows the whistle when it is time to move.

Gross motor and fine motor skills in crumpling the newspaper for pre-writing. Many, many opportunities to develop oral language skills (colors, body parts, clothing items, choices).

Corn Bowling:


~Before Fall Festival Day, have students color a coloring page that has an ear of corn, cut out and laminate if possible.
~Gather 2
plastic bowling sets. (We use old ones from a garage sale. The Oriental Trading is the least expensive one I've found.)
~Tape the coloring sheets of the corn to the bowling pins.
~Use painters tape to mark the spots where your bowling pins will stand. This will make set up over and over much, much easier.
~If possible use hay bales as a back stop for the pins and bowling balls.
~Gather 4 carpet squares.

~We make two bowling lanes.


~Children stand on the "bowling" carpet square or the "waiting" carpet square.

~The child whose turn it is to bowl, rolls the ball towards the pins to knock them down. (We usually give 2 turns.)

~When his/her turn is over he/she moves to the waiting square and the next child gets a turn.


Gross motor skills and oral language skills. Social skills and turn taking. At this center we really encourage the children to cheer for their friends and give compliments or high fives.

photo courtesy of
Tigerlily 09 at Flickr Creative Commons.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This site was sent through one of the Yahoo groups I belong to. I love it! My students and I used it on the Activeboard today as a "sponge" activity while we were waiting for our OT to come in to start our writing rotation.

Visual Dictionary

photo courtesy of chrishoward at Flicker Creative Commons

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Template

Disney has a free, interactive
pumpkin template.

We use this on our ActiveBoard to work on choice making, turn taking and language skills.

The vocabulary we work on using this lesson is: pumpkin, jack-o-lantern, eyes, nose, mouth, change, arrow, same, different, shape.

After each child completes a template we print them and save them for a coloring task later.

Photo courtesy
Tigerlily 09 at Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Memorable Moment #7: Dragging/Dragon

So we're walking back from breakfast and this little guy is dragging his lunch box on the sidewalk. I tell him, "Steven, you're dragging your lunch box. It will get broken. You need to pick it up." and he replies:

"Yeah, cause the dragon gots fire, huh?"

:-) LOL

(get it?…dragging/dragon)