Encourage the Home & School Connection with a Fine Motor Tub

preschool fine motor tub.png

Tell me something... do you happen to struggle with making meaningful home and school connections?  

A positive connection between school and families is an integral part of the success of students in the classroom.    It is important for us to try and educate parents on the needs of their preschool aged children.  When parents and educators are on the same page, a child's success can soar.  

But, if you don't get to interact with all your student's parents at drop off or pick up, it can be hard to get this connection going.  

One way I like to support both the connection and learning at home is by sending home 'Take Home Bags'. 

Today I wanted to share the Fine Motor Tub, one of the Take Home Bags (which it is actually a tub) that I send home with students.  The Fine Motor Tub focuses on building up fine motor muscles for later success in school.  We as educators know the importance, but not all parents are aware of the what, why and how of strengthening those muscles.

Gather some materials (materials list below) and download (and print) these FREE Fine Motor Tub printables and you too can make your own Fine Motor Tub!
Click the photo below for the file:

Materials in the Preschool Fine Motor Tub

  • Pom pom balls (puff balls) of different sizes
  • Bulb Syringe
  • Child-sized scissors
  • Cardstock (optional, but I like to use thicker materials for the cutting strips)
  • Bathtub gripper
  • Eye Dropper
  • Tennis Ball - cut a slit for the mouth and add googly eyes
  • Small erasers
  • Playdough
  • Laminated piece of construction paper for the playdough mat

Watch a video of the Preschool Fine Motor Tub in action:

Looking for the whole Take Home Bags printable set?  Here it is :)

Preschool Take Home Bags
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Easy (and free) Preschool Lesson Plan Template

Lesson Planning...

do you love it?  or do you loathe it?

Either way, for teachers {including preschool teachers}, planning is a way of life.  

You know what they say (or more specifically what Ben Franklin said)

 "Failing to plan is planning to fail"

I happen to truly believe in this statement, as I have tried (and failed) the whole 'fly by the seat of your pants' thing.  #majorconfession  I thought...'I got this, I will just wing it and it will be fine.'

I mean it was 'fine', I kept the children alive.

But... I didn't accomplish much and I felt all over the place.  Not only that, but I didn't have the materials I needed once I did think of what we were going to do that day.

So, to me - planning is a must. 

Have a path, you might get off the path, since working with preschoolers is never straight forward, but at the very least - have a path.

Now, all this talk about planning leads me to share with you the lesson planning template I use!

It is simple, easy and straightforward.  It is also created for a play-based learning setting, where limited time is spent in teacher directed activities.

To some, it might seem bare.  Not enough. 

But, I encourage you to really dig deep into what children need most in their day.  In my mind- it's opportunities to learn with peers in a way that is natural to them.  Yep, that natural way is play It is how they were made to learn.

Please feel free to take this template and tweek it - it is editable (but you must use Adobe Reader, fyi).  All areas can be changed that are in blue.

Tell me about your lesson planning process in the comments below!

Winter Preschool Activities

preschool winter theme

Activities and ideas for a Winter Theme in your preschool, pre-k or kindergarten classroom:

Literacy Winter Themed Preschool Activities

  1. Sequencing fun winter stories like 'There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow' or 'The Jacket I Wear in the Snow' (links at the end of this post).
  2. Create white paper snowballs by cutting out circles and writing an alphabet letter on each.  Scatter the snowballs throughout the room and instruct students to go find a snowball. Talk about the letter/sound on the snowflake as they toss it into a bucket.
  3. Draw a snowman on a large piece of chart paper.  Work together to label the snowman's parts.  Focus on the first letter sound that you hear in the parts name.  Example: /c/ for carrot.  Model how to correctly draw a line to the part of the snowman and add the written label.
  4. Create snowman names by writing students letters on white circles with a highlighter. Students glue the circles (snowballs) in order to spell their name. They then trace the letters and add another blank snowball for the head - decorating as they wish.

Art Winter themed preschool activities

  1. Use washable tempera paint to paint on a tub full of ice. This is a great process art activity!
  2. Make some melted snowman art using white paint and snowman pieces: googly eyes, orange paper triangles, buttons, ribbon (scarf) and brown paper sticks.
  3. Add some hot cocoa mix to brown paint to make a yummy smelling painting.
  4. Paint with blue and shades of blue watercolor onto heavy paper.  Add Epsom Salt to the wet picture to see what happens!
  5. Create your own white playdough (adding glitter is fun).  Then, provide students with snowman pieces: googly eyes, orange pipe cleaners formed into a small triangles (nose), buttons, brown pipe cleaners (sticks) and ribbon pieces (scarf).
preschool winter art
preschool winter art
preschool winter art

math winter themed preschool activities

  1. Sequence the pictures into an event of how to build a snowman.
  2. Get large white pom poms or cotton balls. Students aim and throw at a bucket. Count aloud as 'snowballs' make it into the bucket.  How many made it total?
  3. Build 3D shapes using marshmallows and toothpicks.  Talk about the difference between 3D and 2D shapes.
  4. All gone game - 2 players. Provide each player with a coffee mug and 10 (or more) marshmallows (or white pom poms). Students place all 10 marshmallows in their mug. Take turns rolling a die and taking out that many marshmallows.  First player to have no marshmallows is the winner!
preschool math winter

Winter themed sensory tub

Create a fun wintery sensory bin by adding white rice (uncooked), buffalo snow, fake ice cubes and small toy arctic animals!

winter preschool sensory tub

Our Favorite Winter preschool Books

The Mitten by Jan Brett

The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming

The Jacket I Wear In the Snow by Shirley Neitzel

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colandro

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

The Biggest Snowman Every by Steven Kroll

Red Sled by Lita Judge


Preschool Teacher's Data Collector

One day I was getting ready to do a whole group alphabet activity.  It was a simple 'swat the letter' game where you call out a letter name or sound and students take turns whacking the letter card with a fly-swatter. I was trying to decide which letters I wanted to focus on for this activity. I knew that I couldn't focus on all the letters of the alphabet because that would become too tiresome and I would let loose the ants in my kiddos pants.  

But--- which letters do I choose?

I needed to know, as a whole, which letters my students were struggling with the most.

That sounded like a data nightmare. -data is not my favorite thing, fyi-

But, now my curiosity was peaked.  Which letters on average were giving students trouble?  While were at it... which numbers, shapes and colors were learning curveball culprits as well?

So, even though -data is not my favorite thing- I made it work.  I created a template that can be used in Adobe Reader (free btw) where I enter the letters/numbers/shapes/colors that students could not identify on our most recent assessment

The form tallies up the number of students needing help with that particular skill.  So, the higher the number in the total column = the letters I needed to focus on in circle time.

My little data experiment totally worked and I can sleep better at night knowing I didn't just thrown caution (in this case alphabet letters) at the wall and hope I wasn't wasting time focusing on letters they already knew. 

And.....since I went to so much work - I need someone else to love on this little data collector too.  It just feels nice when someone besides myself can use something I worked hard on.

So, click below to get this Preschool Teacher's Data Collector - but promise me - you will open it in Adobe Reader (free - google it) - because if you don't, it will not work as planned!

Now, go forth and collect that data teacher friend!

Preschool Art Center Storage

The art center has so many supplies.... crayons, glue, scissors, stencils, stickers, paper.... well, the list goes on and on!

In the past, I placed my art center materials in small organizers on top of the table.  But, with so many supplies taking up the table space, my students struggled to find enough room to spread out and create!  Plus, I hated the dis-organization of it all.  Yes, I had labels on most everything...but things just seemed to get thrown in the tubs and not organized during clean up time.

So, when I saw a rolling cart full of beautiful rainbow drawers at my local Sam's Club, I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for!  

Hey Art Center...get ready to get organized!

Preschool art center Storage.png

Here is my new art center storage!  I love the organization of it all!  

My rolling cart has 10 drawers - so I did double up some supplies.  I also love that the drawers pull all the way out so students can take a drawer of supplies to the table if needed!  You can check out what is in each drawer in the list below...

So...I guess the real question is - does it stay organized?  

Well, at clean up time I find my students really trying to put the items in the correct drawer.  Since the drawers are clearly labeled and there is enough room for all supplies it makes it easy (and maybe kind of fun) to put things away.  Although, you can see in the photo above - the drawer with the small pieces to glue is a bit of a mess.  I've just had to let it go... sequins don't like to stay put.  I mean...they are in the drawer at least!

So, I would say this drawer full of art supplies has been a big benefit to our art center.  Not only has organization and clean up of supplies been more successful, but I love how my students have the whole table to create!

art center labels 1.jpg


Art Center Labels:  With all the labels seen above + an editable Adobe Reader file to add your own photos and wording!
Rolling Cart (similar to mine - affiliate link)
- List of Items in the drawers:
  1: paper
  2: scissors (regular and crazy)
  3: pieces to glue and sequins
  4: glue sticks and glue bottles
  5: markers
  6: crayons and colored pencils
  7: stamps and stamp pads
  8: dot paints
  9: stickers & paper punches
 10: stencils

*Note: We also have an easel in our art center where I bring in painting of various types.

I hope you are inspired to get your art center organized!