Feb 2, 2014

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Preschool, Teaching Resources | 1 Comment

Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

It’s been a while since I posted something about preschool, but since I got asked the question, I guess it’s a good time to answer it :) First of all, let me share why giving children fine motor skills activities is important. Well, here’s something to think about: Imagine writing your name with your non-dominant hand, it’s hard, right? Why is it difficult? Simple: the skill is underdeveloped. Coordination is difficult as well.

Developing fine motor skills, in tandem with hand-eye coordination, is essential in basic academic tasks and in many of our life skills as well. Writing,for example, begins with well developed fine motor skills. Sadly, nowadays children are forced to develop penmanship skills even before they are ready.

Working on fine motor abilities, such as hand/finger dexterity, flexibility in the wrist, and small and controlled movements will help them achieve academic competencies with more ease and less discomfort. Plus it tends to be more developmentally appropriate.

Activities that can help include:

1. Paper Tearing – give them sheets of colored paper (or even scratch paper or old magazines) and work on tearing them into small pieces. At first, you will observe that they will grasp with all fingers coming into a fist. Over time, they will learn to use the fingers with more flexibility and control.

2. Play dough – allow them to work through the dough and watch how they manipulate it to shapes. Eventually they will learn to roll, mold, shape and piece together, other than pound and throw only :)

3. Barrel Beads – this is best type of bead to begin with because they’re large enough to hold and with large holes to shoot string through. Not recommended for very young children though, more for the older groups. Over time, they can graduate to decorative beads. Maybe some of them might even discover paper beads or jewelry beads. Who knows, maybe someday one of them will end up being a jewelry designer for and you can order their pieces online, such as from JoyJewelers.com or even Instagram of Facebook!

4. Finger paints – the use of finger paints give them more of a hands-on (literally) experience rather than just paintbrushes. Nonetheless, paintbrushes are also awesome.

5. Lacing/Sewing cards – these are great tools to teach wrist flexibility and concentration.

There are many other activities that can help, but I guess this is good for now :) Please do drop me a line for suggestions or other questions!

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Jun 4, 2011

Posted by in Arts and Crafts | 0 Comments

Scrapbooking Made Easy

A few months ago I wrote about a scrapbooking event I attended and I shared with you guys how my scrapping experience went. That blog post was actually a contest entry and as I shared in my Facebook wall, I won it! Here were some things that came with the prize! :)

I love it!!! These are not just fabulous for scrapbooking, but it also works well for learning materials. I used a whole bunch of these in decorating our department bulletin board. These scrapbooking accessories and pages are readily available at almost all National Bookstore outlets, and as we all know, National Bookstore is like, everywhere! Gone are the days where looking for stores that Sell Gold and silver stretchy thread, and cutesy buttons that are affordable and all are limited to Divisoria and Baclaran :)

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Mar 23, 2011

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Classroom Escapades, Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

Creating Keepsakes and Cherishing Memories

It’s been almost a week since I hung up the Teacher Ria hat that I wore for almost twelve years. It was so bittersweet to close the door on a career that I had (and continue to, in fact) loved very much. For all intents and purposes, being a preschool teacher was really what allowed me to feel most free, deeply loved and full of joy. To this day I question if it was the right decision, but I believe deep down inside that despite the fear and uncertainty, there is a whole new world of learning, living and loving for me to explore.

It was so timely, I should say, that I was invited to Hallmark/All About Scrapbooking Scrap and Tell Blogger event last Sunday at the Filstar head office in Pasig. It was the perfect ending to my preschool teaching life.

To be honest, I tried to get out of going to the event because I was feeling very nostalgic and sentimental (sige na nga, sad na rin) about having had to say goodbye to being Teacher Ria and I just wanted to spend the day in my room moping and grieving this loss (yes, I think it’s still important to honor that, right?). However, my friend Jeman convinced me —errr coerced should I say! haha — me to come and so I did. Armed with several photos of my days as Teacher Ria, I headed off to the event.

Before the event, the days hosts gave us a brief introduction to what scrapbooking is, and explained the different techniques and procedures involved in the craft. They also showed us all the equipment available for the art of scrapbooking, and although this was nothing new to me, I couldn’t help but still be amazed at how much I still didn’t know about it!

After the demonstration and discussion, we were given our own kits to create our own keepsakes :)

Like I said, I thought I already knew how to scrapbook well enough, especially since this is something we often do in the preschool. I learned, however, that I can do so much more, such as how to create more nostalgic effects by rubbing sand paper on the colored sheets of paper to make it look old and frayed. An interesting bit of trivia I learned from the event was when you tear paper towards you, it gives you that “torn” texture to the page that is left behind but if you tear it away from you, it comes out more smooth and does not leave marks on it. Never knew that before!!! Haha.

Suffice it to say the event shoo-d away my sadness about leaving my job and left me with a happier sense of reminiscing the twelve years I spent with so many children, all of whom taught me the essentials in life. I think this says it all:

to love with no questions, to laugh with no fear, to try witout worries...all these i learned in kindergarten

Scrapbooking with Hallmark’s All about Scrapbooking line sure makes the craft so much easier. When I was first doing this for my students portfolios in the past, I had to cut out shapes individually, color them one by one and I wouldn’t have very nice materials for it. Now, it’s so much easier! The kits range from about Php 150-200 and the albums about Php 225. The stickers and accessories range from about Php 25-100, depending on the style, size and material. In my opinion,that’s quite affordable!

Although it may not be appropriate for very young children, kids of about age 7 and up can enjoy scrapbooking with mommies and daddies any time. This will be a fun way for them to create their own memories, not just with the photos they see but also with the journey they take while making these scrapbooks.

For me, that Sunday afternoon was well worth it, even though I got lost trying to find the venue! It made me cherish my time as Teacher Ria a little bit more and it gave me that sweet goodbye as I walk away from the preschool into the bigger world out there, knowing that anytime, I can take out that Scrap and Tell project I made and recall those days with fondness.

nicey, right? :) drop by All About Scrapbooking’s Facebook Page and Like my project!!! :)

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Feb 14, 2011

Posted by in Advocacies, Arts and Crafts | 0 Comments

The Heart of Art

Over the weekend I was invited to attend a Toy Making (well, redesigning/reconstruction more like it) Workshop with the Pilipinas Street Plan (PSP) at the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library. It surely was a wonderful way to spend a lazy Saturday morning and I had so much fun tapping into that creative side of me. The event was also attended by some other bloggers and a handful of art enthusiasts. During the workshop, we got to personalize and rework an ordinary vinyl or plastic toy, like those you get at the tiangges or in places like Divisoria for example, and make it into something different.

This was my piece, Astrogirl reinvented :)

The photos on top show the original toy, before I coated it with a white base and reworked it. I actually wanted to do something different, but I didn’t have enough time to do so. I think it  came out interesting, nonetheless. This was a piece inspired by my yoga practice, and my quest to find balance in my life. Nice right?

We had a lot of fun getting our hands dirtied during the workshop! We used Boysen Acrylic Latex paint, the kind used for walls and houses. I thought these paints would trigger my asthma and smell bad, but it didn’t at all and since it’s water based, it was quite easy to handle.

My fellow artists also had a grand time making their own pieces, and this is what we came up with:

artist and jewelry maker Tara with her reworked bear

blooger Karen Ang's (aka Dementia of burymeinthisdress.com) dementia car

Toy Making Workshop Masterpieces!

During the workshop, we were told that we can actually do this technique for a wide range of other items and surfaces, which got me to realize, maybe that’s what I was doing all a long with my craft boxes and paintings on walls. According to Epjey, one of the members of PSP, this is actually inspired by graffitti art that can be seen in so many of our streets. This is also why the group is called Pilipinas Street Plan. It is a local community of artists that aim to make art accessible to all and to showcase local talents which is often grossly understated, and as stated in their blog, is “committed in showcasing and celebrating ephemeral artworks on streets. From graffiti, posters, stickers, objects and happenings”. And that’s actually  what the heart of art is all about, right? Tapping into that spontaneous , free-reined part of one’s self that needs to be expressed with no limits, no bounds, no censorship, just pure spirit no matter where it takes you.

In collaboration with the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library, the PSP has created a showcase wherein they have “mapped out” specific sites where graffiti art has taken place across the country. This is in line with their current exhibit, Extensions . The goal of the project, as I understood it from my conversation with MaryAnn, a representative from the musuem, is to be able to capture the essence of what Filipino artists are. In the musuem, a video is played on loop where it was said that the musuem hopes this will be a way of recapturing what the Filipino identity is all about. More so, the project, aptly called extensions, aims to highlight the fact that art is not just limited to the typical painting on a wall, but also to open up spaces and include different media as part of the true heart of art.

These were some of the wonderful paintings, artworks and installations I was able to see when I walked around the musuem:

The museum is located at the ground floor of the Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center and is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

The toys we participants were able to make during the workshop are going to be on display and up for sale in this upcoming weekends Art in the Park event, which will be held in Salcedo park :) Funds raised from the project will benefit the Knowledge Channel. So, if you’re free this Saturday, February 19, and are looking for something different from the usual malling fun you and your family often do, do drop by the park :)

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Jan 19, 2011

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Teaching Resources | 0 Comments

No Wonder They Call Me Momma Chicken!!!

Yesterday, I was cleaning up the classroom and I finally got an answer as to why the kids call me Momma Chicken. It’s my fault apparently…

I had forgotten about this:

So yesterday the kids told me, that’s why you’re our Mommy Chicken coz you hatched our eggs for our birthdays! Teeeheeeheee. Ktnxbai :)

Other themes I have used for birthdays include flowers, balloons and cupcakes but I think this one is my favorite :)

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Nov 20, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Teaching Resources, Tips and Tricks | 1 Comment

Unexpected Crafts

I think I have written about this in the past, but today, I came across a photo in Flicker that I fell in love with. Lookie:

Photo: “Star's Fault: Cigar Box #1” by Eileen Terwilliger, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

So cute right! I think this is one of those boxes you get when you buy wholesale cigars or something like that, rather than by the piece. I remember we used to have a whole bunch of them lying around the house (alongside a whole lot of wine bottles) then for some reason, just when I get into my whole mosaic mode (so much so that I created Project Sunshine as a mural on my wall), it disappeared. Wouldn’t handmade boxes and unexpected crafts like this make such wonderful Christmas gifts??? Sigh.

Anyway, for next weeks class, I asked my kids to bring old shoeboxes and I hope we get to do something kinda like this for the holidays. Other favorite craft materials for me include toilet paper rolls, big match boxes and plastic containers. Yep, I like boxes and cardboard a whoooole lot teeeheeeheee.

So, in preparation for Christmas (be it for decoration or for presents) I am getting ready to get into the artsy-fartsy mode once again. Wish me luck :-)

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Oct 31, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Classroom Escapades, Lesson Plans, Outside the Classroom, Preschool, Teacher's Corner, Tips and Tricks, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

The Alphabet Project

...taking reading out of just books...l

Contrary to what would be assumed, given that I am a teacher who teaches preschoolers after all, learning to read did not come easy for me. For those who have been reading my blog for quite some time now, you probably are familiar with the fact that I was diagnosed with a mild form of dyslexia as a child.  Yes, early on, I couldn’t read. Lucky for me, I had a teacher who noticed the red flags very, very early on and thus I was able to receive interventions very early on.

Back then, I couldn’t learn my letters very well, much less put them together to form words. As I understand (this is based on stories told to me by my mom and people around me, because I don’t really remember first hand anymore what it was like in the beginning), I would write my letters in mirror image and I couldn’t identify them properly. As I grew up, I loved reading but in hindsight, I realize I never was really good at it. I tended to skip words and make them up as I’d go along. It helped, however, that I had a good grasp of the English language and I enjoyed playing word games that allowed me to make up the right words as I went along.

Speaking of word games, this was really how I learned to read. In many ways, I would have to say I was really lucky that my mom is not a very traditional mom, so she really went out of her way to find ways to make learning more interesting and fun for someone like me. One way she taught me the alphabet was through the use of shells and corals in the beaches we often would frequent when I was a child. It helped a lot, I would like to say, because looking for these letters allowed me to work on my perceptual reasoning skills and helped me be able to see how letters really look like. To this day, whenever I am in a beach, I go and collect these shells to spell out stuff, just like these:

So today, I was inspired to start a new project. I want to take my alphabet project outside of just the beach and be able to find letters all around me and take photos of them. Here are a few examples:

Let’s see what I can find! Do feel free to take photos and send them to me via my Facebook Page so I can add them up :)

To keep tabs on the project, please check out my Alphabet Project Flickr Set :-)

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Sep 30, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Classroom Escapades, Preschool, Teacher's Corner, Teaching Resources, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Patterns, Patterns and More Patterns

Lately my kids have discovered beads. We’ve had wooden beads as one of the manipulative materials in the math area ever since the start of the school year, but for the most part, they have ignored it. One day, however, I brought out a set of barrel beads, the kind you get in those wholesale jewelry, trinket or accessory store and they discovered a liking for stringing beads. I love how it spontaneously has evolved into a learning experience, because even though I did not purposely use these materials to spark an interest in understanding patterns, that’s what it did! Now when they string their beads, they discuss and compare the patterns they make out of it. I swear, it’s the cutest thing!

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Aug 6, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Classroom Escapades, Lesson Plans, Preschool | 4 Comments

The Seniors Tie Dye Project

For our discussion on clothing (as part of how we take care of our body) and colors, I decided to let the kids experiment on tie dying this week :-) I started out the week with a discussion on primary and secondary colors, particularly how primary colors can mix together to make a new color. Since then my kids have been calling red, blue and yellow “magic colors” because they can become something else when mixed.

We also discussed the different types of clothing we wear and for what purpose (i.e. raincoats, aprons, gloves, socks, costumes and so on and so forth :-) )

For a culminating activity, we made rainbow shirts!

The kids had a blast! So did teacher :-) I was a bit worried at first about how this would have turned out, mainly because my past experiences with these activities were not very good. Luckily, my partner, Teacher Joy, had experience in this and did great in mixing the dye. I usually put too much water and I used to use vinegar instead of salt in the mixture. Plus I used to “cook” the shirts. Apparently, that was wrong! Haha!

This time, what we did was to prepare the different colors of dye then tie up the shirt and dye it section by section. Plus I squeezed out the excess dye before moving to the next color. Success! For the shirts that kinda had extra white spaces on it, we decided to use the stampers to add some flair :-)

Again, the kids exclaimed “this was the bestest day ever, Teacher!”

We did the shirts yesterday and today, before heading home, we tried it on!

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Jul 10, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Teacher's Corner, The Library, Tips and Tricks | 2 Comments

My Concept Wall

It’s been over a month since classes started and I realized I still have not posted what my classroom concept wall looks like. With no further ado, here it is!
The caterpillar is actually a recycled one from my Toddlers days but I love it so much I decided to keep it, even if my students don’t really need it. For the calendar, I decided to up the ante by having the kids master the concepts of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

My favorite feature, however, is the reading train. My co-teacher painted that over the summer :-) There are a series of pockets which currently hold our various word lists. An alternative I was thinking of is tracking titles of books we read throughout the month. Fun idea, huh? :-)

Join in and jump aboard the reading train!

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Jul 8, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Classroom Escapades, Lesson Plans, Teaching Resources | 2 Comments

What’s Inside My Body?

Today was a super fun day with the Seniors of Playschool! Thanks to a friend of mine who suggested making one of those cut-out standees, I was able to make learning about the body a more enjoyable and meaningful experience for my preschoolers.

Because my students are Seniors, and especially since most of them were from my class last school year as Juniors, we have progressed from naming the visible parts of our body to the internal parts.We also talked about what it does for the body. For example, we talked about what happens to food when it goes to the tummy and how our body gets rid of excess waste. As a follow up, we will be reading Taro Gami’s book “Everybody Poops”.

So today I tried my best to make a replica of a human body. Pardon me if the dimensions and locations are not 100% accurate, but I used one of the school books to guide me :-)

After creating the model, we took photos with our standee :-)

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May 4, 2010

Posted by in Arts and Crafts, Tips and Tricks, Toys and Playthings | 0 Comments

Learning from scraps and household items

During the summer, it is customary in the preschool I work in to do a general cleaning where we get rid of all the old junk and make room for the new stuff that will come in for the upcoming school year. However, every year we seem to find more and more bits and pieces of scraps that we teachers can’t seem to let go off because we transform them into learning materials. We have a shelf-full of all sorts of odds and ends, from toilet paper rolls to old party hats, scraps of cloths and buttons, as well as all kinds of things you wouldn’t really think of keeping! Even old office papers find a home in our school. See that tall stack of white papers just waiting to become artworks?

Although it may look like a mess, this is a source of endless fun, adventure and learning, not just for the kids but even myself as their teacher! Teacher-made materials are excellent learning tools because you can design it to cater particular themes or needs your students have. Plus it can come out more cost-effective, especially if you teach in the Philippines where educational toys are quite expensive.

Here are some fun things my students and I have done with scraps and household items we’ve used as learning supplements in class:

Toilet Paper. I use these to measure my kids’ heights by taping to to the wall and counting how many squares tall they are. To further extend the lesson, we compare the number of each student then we put it in order from least to greatest. This teaches them sequencing, comparing greater and less than, and other math concepts


Gumamela flowers to make bubbles or other fallen flowers and leaves for drying or incorporating to handmade paper.  To make our handmade paper, we’ve used old window screens for straining and draining the paper pulp pressed together. Sometimes the paper comes out quite thick so we end up using this to make picture frames or other crafts.

playschool 1419

Old water bottles are big favorites for kids! Whether its filling them up with colored water, stones or whatnot, they love shaking it around and are quite fascinated by what goes on inside the bottle! If you’re lucky, you can find those little connectors that allow you to put together two bottles to make one of these tornado bottles :-) It works best though if the water bottle is the thicker kind of PET bottles.

christmas 09 519 christmas 09 513

Making Christmas crafts from leftover paper plates and cardboard is also a good way of harnessing a child’s creativity and fine-motor skills.

new pics 178

Wondering what to do with old tires? Make them into playground swings! A word of advise though: be careful when cutting the rubber because there are a lot of steel wires on the inside. We had this done by our school carpenter and he sanded down the wires and we wrapped them up in protective sealants before painting it.

new pics 185

Old egg trays or cartons can also be great ways to teach kids colors, one-to-one correspondence, matching and classification. This also helps stimulate a child’s thinking skills. For older kids, instead of using just colors, you can integrate other concepts to it. Ive also used old egg trays as 3D tic-tac-toe frames :-)

assorted 355

Old newspapers and scratch papers are great for paper maché projects!

These are just a few things I’ve done (and have pictures to show of!) but there are so many other ideas to explore. One of my other favorite household trash items I love to use are toilet paper rolls!!! They’ve become musical instruments, bahay-bahayan toys and even presents made by the kids for mom and dad.

So, whenever you have trash at home, think twice about what can be done with these. Just be crafty!

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Nov 15, 2009

Posted by in Arts and Crafts | 0 Comments

Green Eggs and Ham Story Stretchers

One of my favorite beginning reading books in class is the infamous Dr. Seuss story Green Eggs and Ham. Even though it doesn’t really tell a story per se, it’s a fun read. I use the story a lot when trying to teach position words or spatial concepts. It’s a great way for me to also build the kids’ vocabularies.

The story doesn’t end there, though. More often than not, I make sure I find a way to stretch my stories to other learning areas. For the story Green Eggs and Ham, here are a few of my favorite story stretchers:

1. Yummy Green Eggs and Spam

For a fun cooking activity, prepare scrambled eggs with the kids! To make it green, add a few drops of green food coloring. Add in some chopped Spam (or sweet ham if you’d prefer) and some grated cheese to make it yummier. The activity helps teach sequencing, rote counting and similar math skills. Save the egg shells for an art activity.

2. Our Green Eggs and Spam Story

Prepare a sheet of paper with a big box drawn on the upper part of the page and several lines underneath it. Have the children draw a picture about where they would like to eat their Green Eggs and Ham. For the independent writers, let them write the story in the lines provided. If not, have them recite it to you. If you do this after the cooking activity, ask them how they liked it and let that be the theme for drawing.

3. Green Egg Mosaic

Have the children decorate a shape/picture with eggshells that have been dyed green.

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Jun 1, 2009

Posted by in Arts and Crafts | 2 Comments

The World is my Oyster.

I don’t think I’ve been mum about how much my world has changed since I discovered the blogosphere. It has enhanced my life in many aspects, as well as been detrimental on occasion. Nonetheless one big lesson I’ve takes from this thus far is that truly, the world is my oyster.

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May 29, 2009

Posted by in Arts and Crafts | 0 Comments

Unleash Your Talent!

The Filipino Youth as a cesspool of great talent. As a teacher of these individuals, I have been fortunate enough to see what potentials they have. With that said, allow me to share this invitation with you:

Marc Ecko in cooperation with Ms. Clavel magazine invites you the Ecko Unltd. Art Battle event at 5PM on May 30th, 2009 at the Cinema Lobby of Trinoma, featuring live art installation by Weewilldoodle and Pilipinas Street Plan.

Ecko Unltd. is driven by a simple belief: that no one needs to be corralled into a single aesthetic viewing the world with a voracious curiosity, finding inspiration at every turn.

With sales around the world in countries full of youth with artistic talent and passion – the time has come to open our apparel collection to new artistic palettes.

If you have the talent – This is your chance to take part in the first Ecko Unltd. Global Art Battle. Marc Ecko will select winners from each country and their art will be featured in the Ecko Unltd. Spring 2010 collection.

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May 6, 2009

Posted by in Arts and Crafts | 6 Comments

My Classroom Window.

For many preschool teachers, the month of May means getting the classroom ready. Okay, so I’m running a wee bit late myself! I’m still trying to decide on a classroom theme for this year. Last year I went with a garden themed room. Maybe because it was my first year back from a two year hiatus, I went a bit overboard. Here is my classroom window.
arts and crafts glass painting windows

I love painting on glass windows because it gives the transparent, boring glass life. However, because I had no poster paint on hand I had to find an alternative. Then, chancing upon a pile of scrap cut-up colored papers, I decided to used these! I cut the shapes individually then glued them to the window :-) Unfortunately, because the glass is hit by almost direct sunlight daily, the colors of the papers have faded. Nonetheless this window became inspiration for many class projects for the kids. We sure used a lot of recycled paper and scraps for art projects!

For this year, maybe I’ll go with a city theme. Or maybe a zoo. Suggestions?

by the way, I wanna share this glass window with the rest of the readers of Window Views, a weekly meme featuring, yup, you guessed it, windows.

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