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Hartstrings Preschool Ideas
Teacher-Made Materials


Here are some of my favorite teacher-made materials. I love making classroom materials and will try to think of more to add. In the meantime, enjoy!

I finally got my scanner working so I hope to add some patterns to this section by the end of the month!

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Children love puppets! When you introduce a unit, use puppet to tell fun facts or to introduce your stories. Here are some of the most popular puppets:

Hand Puppet: you can make a hand puppet simply out of felt. Just trace your hand onto a piece of paper and draw the puppet around it for dimensions. Add a half in for room to hot glue or sew it together.

Finger Puppet: You can make fun finger puppets using peanut shells or film containers. You can also draw directly on your finger or cut the fingers off of a glove.

Stick Puppets: There are many different stick puppets that you can try. You can buy popsicle sticks or the sticks like the one's that doctor's use and glue them onto any picture. Laminate it first for durability.

Glove Puppets: These are great for fingerplays like "5 little monkeys" or "5 green speckled frogs". You can make the puppets from felt, paper, or craft pom poms. Then, add velcro to your puppets and your glove and sing. These are good because you relly only need one glove. They are easy to find either at Wal-Mart or at the Dollar store.


File Folder Games
I love file folder games! They are fun to make and easy to conform to your theme or topic. There are many different themes that you can use to create file folder games. Here are some examples of math and science concepts that can be introduced and an example for each:
How to make a file folder game: You just open a file folder and glue one set of items on the inside. Then, you laminate the other set of items (you may want to glue the paper one's to cardstock or old cereal boxes first) and glue an envelope onto the back of your folder. Put a cover page and instructions on the front and lable the tab for your own use. Laminate the folder and slit the envelope on the back. Put in a file box (I like "show-offs") and allow the children to work on them during free time or for small group or portages.
One to One Correspondance: You can easily allow the children to work on one to one correspondance. You can buy a coloring book and make two copies of a page and color and cut out the pictures. Glue one set inside the file folder and laminate the other set. Then, allow the children to work alone at matching up the corresponding pictures.
Number Sense and Counting: This one can be like one-to-one. Just make several copies of each picture or draw them. I found a Richard Scarry counting book at the GoodWill for 10cents and cut the pictures out of it. Then, glue like five cars in a row on your folder and five cars on a piece of cardstock to make a matching card. Then continue with each number that you would like represented and laminate and cut out your cards so that they can take the cards from the back pocket and place them with the corresponding number on the folder.
Logic and Classifying: This is  good one for living and non-living. Separate your folder into two sections by drawing a line down the crease of your folder. Then, write "Living" at the top of the left half and "Non-Living" at the top of the right half. Find pictures of several living and non-living things such as shoes, plants, animals, and household furniture for the children to classify.
Comparing: You can use colors to reinforce this concept. On the inside of the folder, glue "splotches" of different colored construction paper or some paint buckets with different colors of paint dripping from them. Then, color and cut out several pictures for the colors that you want to reinforce. All of the paint cans or splotches do not have to be represented. Have the child compare the items and separate them by color.
Parts and Whole: For this, get a picture of a doll, a chair, a cat, and an apple. Cut the arm off of the doll, a leg off of the chair, the tail off of the cat, and slice the apple in half. Then laminate the arm, leg, tail, and half of the apple. Glue the rest onto the inside of your file folder. You can either work with the child and ask him/her what it is without the extra pieces or allow them to put it together themselves.
Shape: You can use different shaped pieces of paper and glue them to the file folder. Then, you can collect pictures of items that are that shape (a clock for a circle, a box of cookies for a rectangle, etc) and laminate them to use as manipulatives. the children would pile the shapes over the one that they represent.
Spatial Sense: You may have to work with the child or allow the children to work together on this one. You can have pictures of household furniture on the inside of the folder and a paper doll manipulative (or each childs picture) to put on, under, beside, and above each item. You can give the child directions or have another child in the class give him/her directions.
Ordering: This would be hard as a file folder game. You could cut out cards with dots or pictures on them to represent the numbers 0 - 5 or 10. Then, allow the child to put them in order.
Patterning: You can use buttons for patterning.Round buttons are probably easiest but shaped ones would be fun, too. If using round buttons, just cut out small construction paper circles with two x on them in several colors to resemble the buttons. Then, glue them on the inside of the file folder in a short pattern. Allow the children to access the button collection to work on the activities.
Graphs: Another fun one... You can program a universal graph and just add velcro to the classification part of the grid. For example, you would make the grid by drawing a line down the center of one of the halves of the folder and then about 6 horizontal lines evenly spaced down the same side of the folder. ++. Then, you would laminate the folder. After that, put sticky-backed velcro on the top two sections. When you want to add the criterion, you would write it on a strip of cards stock, laminate it, stick on a piece of velcro, and velcro it in the appropriate place. Here are some ideas:
Living Room and Kitchen (pictures because they cannot read) and then cards with pictures of living room and kitchen items for them to classify.
Two colors and then cards with items of those two colors
Anything else that can be classified. You can also make it harder by building a larger graph to hold more criterion. The chidren can also poll classmates using these grids and cards with thier classmates names and pictures on them.
Sets and Symbols: This is an advanced math skil that you may use with some of your children. A fun example would be to use cookies with chocolate chips. Cut out ten circles from tan construction paper. On five of them, write a number from one to five and glue them on your file folder. On the other five, draw one to five black dots on each so that you have one for each number. Laminate them and allow the children to add the dots and match it to the corresponding symbol.
*** If you need to glue your pictures to cardstock before laminating them, do not use a glue stick. When you cut them out, they will separate from the cardstock. Instead, use a spray glue found at home supply stores and they may also have it at Wal-mart.

There are also several different types of books that teachers can make for the classroom. Here are a few examples:
Class Books: These are easiest made using regular sized paper for the children's artwork,etc and a piece of cardstock for the front and back cover. You can lso use rings to bind it together instead of staples. They are removable and they don't take away from the book.
Big Books: You can make Big Books using regular sized paper or Chart Paper. If using chart paper, laminate it before putting it all together in the book. It will also be harder to use unless you kept it on your chart stand or easel and flipped the pages over the top. Big Books are good because you can turn any of the children's favorite songs in to a book.
Bound Books: These are actually pretty fun to make. You just take a piece of construction paper and five sheets of paper for ten pages. You also need a tapestry needle and some thin yarn or twine. Pile the white paper on top of the construction paper and fold it slightly to find the middle. Then, take the threaded needle and sew the book together with a running stich down the center. Go back up the book for a good bind. Fold the book again to crease it and viola!

Here are a couple of ways to make a flannelboard for your classroom. I also suggest making one for each of the children in the classroom or each table in your room because they will want to try their own stories, too.
  • I used a poster frame backing board made of a thin wood. I covered it with Pellon (it doesn't work as good) and then hot glued it to the back edge. After that, I took the cheap frame that "hugged" the board and glued it on. It actually looks pretty good and is large enough for a whole story.
  • Use a prestretched artists canvas to cover with felt
  • You can also use a cardboard box and cut it so that the side looks like a triangle and then lay it on one of the flat sides and cover it (that sounds confusing but I'll try to add a picture of what I mean)
  • The child-sized ones can be made from a cereal box or the sides to a recycled box
  • You can also try making it inside a suitcase so that the activity and the board can travel with you. I think a small atache case would be really cute. You can get used one's at garage sales and flea markets for a couple bucks.
Here is a comprehensive list of all the ways I know of to make flannelboard characters. I also have a section at the end about storage. The flannelboard activities are located on the circle time page.
Felt or Pellon: You can make some of the most durable pieces from felt or pellon. Pellon is like felt but fluffier and white.
Dryer Sheets: These dryer sheets would be those that are webby. They are supposed to be easier to color on and last as long as felt and they are free. There is a website of a woman who is a professional storyteller who uses it. I'll try to find the link to add.
Computer Printed: My favorite way is just to print them out on the computer and laminate and stick some velcro on them
You can back paper pieces with: velcro, felt pieces, sandpaper, and foam dryer sheets
Storage of felt pieces: 
There are several good ways to store felt pieces. I am thinking of changing my own way of storing them. Here are a couple of good ideas:
Large Mailing Envelopes
Pizza Boxes
Three ring binders with page protectors
Manilla Folders
Zip Lock Bags
Plastic Envelopes with tie on the flap
Filing Envelope (has the divided sections with tabs in it)

Lotto Games
There is a variety of lotto games that you can make to suit any theme and developmental level. You can make them so that there are 4 spaces or 10 spaces. You can also make it like the traditional "BINGO" games or you can make it so that there are enough matching cards so that each child can match every space on his/her card. This is good so that the children can play alone or in a group. The children can shuffle the cards together and take turns drawing cards. If the card does not match, they put it at the bottom of the pile. There are so many options to making lotto games.  Here are my suggestions:
  • Materials for game board: file folders, cardstock, posterboard cut into thematic shape, inside of empty cereal boxes
  • Materials for pictures: stickers to match theme, wrapping paper (good for holidays), small pictures of the children (I-Zone camera), magazine pictures, photocopies of pictures you draw, computer printed images
  • Ideas for games: thematic lotto, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Getting to know each other, recognizing names, sets and symbols (make the gameboards with numbers and the cards with dots)

Lacing Cards

Lacing cards can be made from several different materials and to fit any theme. You can make lacing cards easily by cutting your design or shape out of the chosen material and then use a hole puncher to punch holes around the outside edge. Tie a piece of shoelace around one of the holes so that the children can lace the cards. Here are some materials that can be used to make lacing cards:

  • vinyl placemats
  • cereal boxes covered with contact paper
  • laminated posterboard

Memory Games

You can make memory games from several types of materials:

  • baby food jar lids
  • cardboard pieces
  • die cuts
  • juice can lids

Number Cards

Make number cards using file folders or posterboard pieces cut into large rectangles to create giant playing cards. On the cards, glue a die-cut number or hand drawn number on it and then stick on the appropriate number of stickers.

Sensory Bottles

Save 20 ounce soda bottles to create sensory bottles to keep in the science center or to use at nap time to calm the kids down. You can make sensory bottles using the following materials:

  • sand with small seashells
  • magnetic items that the children can move using a magnet wand
  • baby oil with sparkles and confetti in it
Valentines Day
I bought some Valentines at the local party supply store  for 29 cents a box. Then I found some at work. I have a few ideas for putting them to work in the classroom:
Cut them and make them into small puzzles
Make a Bingo game out of them
Play a Memory game with them
Let the children cut them to make a collage

want to add something to flannelboard section?

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