Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tie-dye Snowflakes

With this activity, I've taken the typical paper snowflake and jazzed it up a bit. It is very simple to do, and since the paper is thin, it takes less strength to cut making it a good activity for preschool children. This does take a bit of skill using scissors so it would probably be best for children 3 and up - possibly younger with a lot of help. My 4-year-old was able to do it all by himself.

This is what you'll need

  • One 4 cup round coffee filter (white)
  • Markers
  • Newspaper
  • Spray bottle
  • Scissors
  • Lay out the newspaper and flatten the coffee filters out on top of it.
  • Have the child(ren) color the coffee filter with markers - making sure they use a lot of colors.
  • Once they have finished coloring their filter, have them spray it with water until the colors start to blend.(Make sure they don't spray too close - you want them to mist, not soak, it)
  • Leave it on the newspaper to dry.
  • Once the filters have dried, remove them from the newspaper.
  • Have the child fold the filter in half, then in half again
  • Next, show them how to cut the filter on all three sides, making sure to leave portions of the folded area connected.
  • Unfold, and voila! Tie-dye snowflakes! :)

Variation: If you want to make these look more traditionally tie-dyed:
  • Grab the center of the filter and pull the ends together like a cone.
  • Tie rubber bands or twisty ties around the filter.
  • Color and spray.
  • Let dry.
  • From this point you just follow the same directions as above.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kid Quotes

My son says hysterical things on a daily basis, and I thought it would be fun to jot down some of the funny things he, and the kids in the school say. Hopefully,over time, this will grow to be a great collection of some really funny stuff.

Where Honey Comes From
This all takes place around the table at lunchtime. Sebastian is eating chicken nuggets with honey - the lunch time favorite of 4-year-olds everywhere - and we get into a discussion about honey. He wants to know if honey has vitamin c in it (his current obsession), and I say that honey is basically just a "natural" sugar because bees make it. Then he holds up the little bear shaped honey container and says very confidently "The bees just open the top of the bear, and pee honey in there." :)

Gotta love kids!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I used to teach art so I do a lot of art projects with my son. Here are a couple projects we did recently using unusual items for painting.

String Painting
This is one I'd never done before. Sebastian wanted to play with some of the string we got at the store, and I was going to try to teach him to braid and tie knots, but then he said he wanted to paint so I thought to combine the two. I simply squirted some paint on a Styrofoam tray, and placed one piece of string in each color. We used a plastic fork to push the strings into the paint because Sebastian didn't want to get his hands dirty (don't even get me started on that :P). I would show him one way to paint with the string, and give him a little time to try what I showed him before introducing another method.
We tried:dragging the string, laying it down carefully in straight lines, lightly tapping it on the paper, and running it carefully along the paper in curved lines.
I think it turned out great! And we had a lot of fun!

Knife and Fork Painting
Before I even begin... yes I'm talking about PLASTIC forks and knives. Jeez, what kind of mother do you think I am. ;)

This project actually came out of the string painting project. Sebastian wiped the fork we were using on the paper, and I was curious to see what he could do with it. I introduced the knife later after I realized what a cool idea this was. The great part about this project is watching them explore all the different ways they can make marks using the fork and knife. Sebastian really experimented with the utensils - especially the knife. He spread the paint like butter, scratched the paint with the serrated edge, sliced at the paint.. everything. The fork couldn't hold much paint but made great scratch marks on the paper and cool dots. I'm going to try thickening the paint next time and see how that works. I'll let you know....

Here is his painting. I love it!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mommy Sites

This blog is mostly about sharing the work I'm doing for my preschool with other teachers and parents. But above all else I'm a mom, and as a mom who really has no life outside of my children and this school (if you couldn't tell), I've discovered a lot of online resources for parents. So I thought I would share with you some of the great web sites I've relied on over the past several years. I hope you will find them as helpful as I have.

  • - This was so wonderful resource when I was pregnant. It's an enormous database of medications, and how they are graded for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Kellymom - Great resource for breastfeeding and parenting.
  • Baby 411 and Toddler 411 Developmental Checklists. - I love these checklists because they show age ranges.
  • Family Watchdog - A searchable database on sex offenders.
  • Skin Deep Cosmetic Database - This database lists detailed information about the substances in health and beauty products, and rates their toxicity.
  • - A guide to toxic chemicals in toys. Also contains a database of the results of hundreds of toys and baby products tested for lead, bromine, cadmium, chlorine, arsenic and mercury.
  • Kids-In-Mind - This is great site for parents who want more information about the movies their children are seeing than the rating system can provide. Movies are broken down by three categories: sex/nudity, violence/gore, and profanity. Ratings are given for each, but the really useful part is the detailed information they provide about the movie under each category.
  • - This site contains a wealth of information on vehicle and car seat safety.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I am the queen of Craigslist, I love yard sales, and am on a first name basis with the local consignment sellers. This is the only way I could have gotten all the materials I needed for the school. I have to admit that I have a disease for good deals because I CAN'T STOP!! But it is so much fun!

As you know, classroom furniture is ridiculously expensive, so I had to get creative. Here is some of the furniture I've gotten for my classroom:

Quite possibly my favorite is my art table. I needed a table that would fit 6-8 kids and couldn't afford to buy something full price. After searching for children's furniture online for a while - I was looking for a cheap train table - I had an epiphany. Children's tables are just regular tables with shorter legs... duh. I decided to look for just a nice "all wood" table, and I found a really cute kitchen table on Craigslist for $25. It didn't come with any chairs. Then, I went to Home Depot and they cut the legs off for me for free (to 20 inches table top height), and I just added some pads to the feet


Now I needed some chairs, but since I was short on space I opted to use stools. These little stools were only $9.00 each at IKEA. My mother in law was kind enough to pick them up for me so I didn't have to pay shipping. Now that I think about it... I didn't pay her anything. Oops. Sorry. :P

Another great buy was my TV stand. Yes... TV stand. I'm not playing Barney for the kids or anything -we're more of a Blues Clues house anyway :). I use it to store toys. TV stands, although soon to be extinct, are perfect for storing toys. They are low to the ground, have deep shelves, and can handle heavy loads (namely my kids' 5 billion toys!). I use two TV stands in my room, one I've had since college (yes, it is that old), and the other I got at Goodwill for $30. It was missing the doors which is why it was so cheap, and also why it was so perfect. I didn't want the doors.

Cubbies are also fairly expensive. I just got some of the cubicles made by Closet Maid, and turned them on their side. They make perfect cubbies for toys or for storing students' things. I found mine for sale at Target, but you can also find them at Wal-mart and AC Moore.
(Tip: AC Moore always has coupons on their web site)

I also found the cutest mirror on Craigslist. It's a child's full length mirror - shatterproof - soooo adorable. And I can't find a way to get it up on my classroom wall because of the chair rail. Double oops!

Do you have any good ideas for classroom storage and furniture? Please share!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hammering Board

A lot of early childhood education books advise teachers to allow children the opportunity to work their motor skills by hammering nails into wooden boards. While I agree with this in theory, giving my son access to a weapon and free reign to beat the tar out of a bunch of nails in a board is a little beyond my comfort zone. And I certainly don't want to be responsible for the damage one of my students might inflict on themselves or my home using one of these boards. So when I came across this idea, I thought it was a winner. I would still advise that children are supervised when using the hammering board, and I wouldn't give it to children under the age of three, but that's your call. As you can see from the picture below, this was a real "hit" with my son. (He-he).

What you'll need:

  • Three fabric bolts (You can get these for free at any fabric store, but make sure they are the kind that are completely enclosed)
  • Duct tape
  • 2 inch golf tees (natural wood)
  • Hammering tool (plastic hammer, or a wooden/rubber mallet)
  • Container for holding the tees (Dollar store)

Directions: This is too simple!
  1. Duct tape the three bolts together, by wrapping the tape around each end.
  2. Use the container to hold the excess tees.
  3. Show the child how to position the tea and hit it, and let them go at it.

We used a plastic hammer, but I would think a small rubber mallet would be ideal. For the life of me I could not find a single wooden or rubber mallet ANYWHERE! If I find one, I'll let you know. Also, we used white tees, but the paint chipped off everywhere so plain wooden ones would probably be a better bet. Happy Hammering :).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dressing Boards

These boards are a great way for little ones to work on their hand-eye coordination skills. They're usually for children 2 and up who are learning to dress themselves, but even my 13 month old enjoyed working the zipper frame.

These are pretty expensive new, and really easy to make, so it just makes sense to do it yourself. Dollar store wooden frames work great! I used one of my daughters sweaters, but the other two I got for really cheap at a consignment store.

What you'll need:

  • 5X7 wood frames
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Infant clothing - 3 or 6 months - with zippers, buttons and/or snaps
  • Chip clips or clothespins
  • Staple gun and staples (approx 1/4 inch)

  1. Remove the glass and backing from the frames.
  2. Using the pliers, carefully remove the metal tabs from the frames.
  3. Fit the clothing over the frames and lay them button side down.
  4. Bunch up the excess clothing in the back, and secure it with chip clips or clothes pins. (Don't pull to tight or the buttons will be difficult to manipulate)
  5. Staple the clothing onto the frame leaving at least and 1 to 1 1/2 inches between staples.
  6. Remove the chip clips and fold the excess material so it lays flat. Staple it to the frame using the spaces between the first set of staples.

Here are the ones I made. Next I need to figure out how to make a lacing frame. They just don't seem to make bustiers for infants. ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sebastian's Stories

My son, Sebastian, has been really into making up stories lately so I thought we should try to take it to the next level. We've been working together writing little books. Sebastian dictates the story (with a little support from me) I write it out for him in book form, then he draws pictures to go along with each page of the book. It's been a lot of fun, and I am really amazed by what he can do. Here are the two books he's written so far. They are so cute, I just had to share.

Joey-o Got Lost
There was a boy named Joey-o
Joey-o got lost in a big cave in the woods.
Rocks fell down and covered the opening to the cave. It was really dark and Joey-o was very scared.
Then a big, friendly gorilla punched a hole in the top of the cave to let Joey-o out.
He saw the bright lights, and heard the loud engine, of the help helicopter going super-fast.
The help helicopter lowered the hook into the cave.
Joey-o grabbed onto the hook and it pulled him out of the cave.
And the help helicopter flew him back home.

Marley the Space Alien
Marley was from Saturn. He wanted to look at the stars so he shot a flying telescope up into the sky.
The telescope got really old and started falling out of space.
Marley got into a rocket, and shot out into space toward Jupiter to stop the telescope from falling.
But he wasn't fast enough and he telescope fell onto Jupiter.
It crashed into a house and broke.
Then Marley got into a better rocket, went to Jupiter, got the telescope, and took it home.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Here goes!

I thought I would start this blog with a list of books I am currently reading or want to read, as well as some books I recommend on preschool education. Just because I've read or want to read certain books doesn't mean that I subscribe to any particular philosophy. I am trying to expose myself to as many different methods as possible to inform my work as a teacher.

No need to tell me I have no life.. I already know :)

Have read (Recommended):

Currently reading:

Want to read: