Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Preschool: Watercolor Gingerbread Houses

For this simple Christmas craft you will need:
-copies of any gingerbread house coloring page or reproducible copied on thick paper or watercolor paper (found here)
Watercolor paints
Adhesive foam gingerbread men (I found mine at Michael's)

Kiddos paint the houses, cut them out (or adult can do it) and add a gingerbread man. Here's our ginger village! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Moment You Broke My Heart

From the first second you entered this world, you broke my heart. Your tiny little cry, your precious little face, your head full of dark swirly hair. It broke my heart. Your first latch, your first smiles, your bright blue eyes. My heart filled with so much love that I felt it start to crack. It was overwhelmed.

At two weeks old you took your first little bottle of pumped milk. My heart broke. Soon you started intentionally smiling, rolling over, staring into my eyes as you nursed. And my heart broke.

You would rub my face or arm as you nursed, clap your hands when you were happy and wave. And my heart broke.

It broke when you giggled and cooed and sat up on your own. When you played with your toys and  said "Da-da" the first time. It really broke when I cuddled you as you spent your first Christmas with a nasty cold.

My heart broke when you started to give kisses, wave bye, dance and be silly. When you started to intentionally play, chatter and show affection.

With each new word, each new triumph it broke. It still does. Your first steps, your first birthday. *sigh*

But today my heart nearly shattered in half. It wasn't because it was overfilled with joy and pride. Today it was because of my own mistake. I caused you pain. And my heart broke.

The first and only time you drank cow's milk, you got a bad diaper rash and bad tummy pains. Today as I poured a glass for the neighbor girl, I decided to take the doctor's suggestion to try it one last time. It was against my better judgement, what my heart felt. But I did it. Because you were begging for it. You were breaking my heart. You happily drank only an ounce or so, having more fun shaking it up and seeing the frothy bubbles it made. Shortly after, you were fussy and tired and chaos was ensuing around me. I needed to tend to the other daycare kids quickly and hoped that you would fall asleep if I put you in your crib for a few minutes. I laid you down and shut the door. I listened to your screams as I refilled cups, cleaned up messes and played referee. It was only five minutes, but I your heart breaking screams made it feel like hours. I picked you up, expecting you to stop screaming, happy that Mommy was holding you. But you didn't stop. You screamed and thrashed and wailed. And my heart broke. I thought it was because of me letting you unattended in your crib for a few minutes, that your heart was broken. For forty minutes I rocked you, tried to nurse you, rubbed your back, held you as you screamed. My heart broke. Again and again, over and over it broke. You have never acted like that. Never. Never have you been inconsolable. Tears welled in my eyes as I wished Daddy was home to help. I prayed with you. You finally fell asleep. As my hand was on your belly I could feel it rumble and rumble. The milk. The milk did this. My heart broke. When you woke up, again you were screaming in pain. Finally, you got the gas out and you were once again your happy little self. Running, squealing, smiling. And my heart broke.

You'll break my heart everyday. I know it. Sometimes from swells of happiness and sometimes rueful, sometimes painfully, like today. I'm so glad for a broken heart. I hope most are from the heaviness of happiness. I love that you break my heart.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Preschool: Name Book Turkeys

If you are not familiar with our Name Books start here.

Here's a little addition for this year. Matching up our names! Each kiddos was given a cup with a precut body, feathers with the letters of their name prewritten, 2 wiggley eyes and a beak. They matched their name to their name tags and glued them around their turkey body. Add eyes, beak and wattle and your good to go!

Comment, Pin and Share! :) 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Preschool: Grape Scented Grapes!

I used:
-purple paint
-wine cork
-an empty spice container
-grape Kool-Aid
-brown and green crayons or markers
-white paper (thicker is better)

Important things to know:
~Mixing Kool-Aid powder with paint will result in a gritty, bubbly mess. Don't ask me how I know. :)  Sprinkling it on afterward will give you the best results.

I poured purple paint into a craft cup. Then had the kids dip the cork into the purple paint then onto the sponge to remove excess paint before using it on the paper. This is important because if you use too much paint the Kool-Aid will absorb into the paint and do weird things.  ;)
Sprinkle a very small amount of the Kool-Aid powder via the spice container onto the grapes when finished. It only takes a little. It smells so yummy!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Preschool: Duck Pond Math Center

Well, school is off to a great start! I cannot believe that we are nearing the end of September already!
Here is a new math center that I did this year in conjunction with the book, "Little Quack's New Friend".  It was simple to prepare. 

 I cut out a pond shape out of blue tag board and had it laminated so I can use it yearly. 
I randomly wrote numbers 1-9 on the pond. Then I labeled the bottom of some rubber ducks with numbers 1-9.
 I tossed the ducks in a bowl. During Circle Time, we played the game as a group. Each student chose a duck and matched the number on the duck to the number on the pond. It was great to demonstrate how to play the game at Circle Time with all the students because they could complete the center on their own or with a friend during Free Play.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Off to the Strawberry Patch! (Freezer Jam Recipe and a Craft)

My day started bright and early capturing a few quick photos of Baby Girl. She is 10 months old today. *sigh* Time sure does fly!

I had just enough time to upload pictures before I grabbed the 4 year olds from my MIL's daycare and headed to the Pick Your Own Strawberry fields near my house. The kiddos were super excited. 

It stormed last night. That was not about to stop us. Kids like to get messy, right? 
So tromping through the mud we went! 

 After a little lesson on strawberry picking from me, they began to fill their baskets!

 Red from top to tip! That is the number one rule!

 It wasn't long before our baskets began filling up!

 Ready to mark where we stopped!

  Mr. Muscles needed to carry the baskets full of our berries!

 When we got home, we washed our berries and the used plastic knives to cut the green tops off to prep our berries for freezer jam.

I apologize for the lack of photos for the jam part. Having three helpers in the kitchen left me with no time to pick up the camera. This is the recipe out of the Dutch Gel pamphlet.
I pulsed the berries in my Ninja to mash them. You do not want to puree them.
Then measured out 4 cups of mashed berries.
We added 8 cups of sugar to the berries (Whoa!) and mixed it.
Meanwhile I added 2/3 cup of Dutch Jell (Clear Jell or Sure Jell will work also) to 1.5 cups of cold water and mixed.
I put that in a small pot on the stove and heated until boiling, stirring constantly.
When it boiled I dumped it over the berries and stirred for the recommended 3 minutes. Then transferred to jars and other freezer safe containers. This jam lasts in the freezer for 6 months and in the fridge for  3-4 weeks. Keep that in mind when choosing containers. It can be used as jam or ice cream sauce. You can make milkshakes with it too.

We made milkshakes with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream and just blended in the ninja until smooth. The kids were loving it.

For lunch we had PB and fresh strawberry jam! Along with some of our freshly picked strawberries.

 But we did not end the fun there! After rest time, it was time for a strawberry craft.
 Kiddos cut out a strawberry shape by folding a piece of red paper in half and drawing a half heart shape on and then cutting it out. Then traced their hands onto green paper and glued it on as the top of the berry. Then they dotted glue all over and added glitter for the seeds. We twisted green pipe cleaner to resemble the vine and added a string to hang.
 Cute! Now I need a nap! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Preschool: Name Books

I want to share my most successful project that I implemented into my classroom this year. They are called "Name Books". Last school year, I realized that while I was working with the children in many different ways to learn how to write their names, many could not spell them or do it without a name tag. My goal was to be more intentional about name writing and spelling. I perused my pinterest board with all my name writing ideas. They all had merit. The problem was there was no organization to it. No way to see progress. I decided I wanted to keep each student's name practice all in one place to see progress. Also to have something at the end of the year to take home and be proud of.   By the end of the year, most children were able to complete their name more legibly without help of a teacher or name tag.

I saw huge progress this year. The books made everything feel more intentional and organized. I had a lot of parents compliment the idea. 

I purchased these notebooks from Discount School Supply.

They work best if used horizontally. 

I dated and labeled each page as we completed a task. Below are a few pages from our book. We did one page a week. I recommend starting out with a "first try" writing. Then begin spelling the name before writing it. We did this by putting our names in order with the help of our name tag. Each time a student completed an activity, they earned a sticker for the front of their book! 

Some of the individual activities were original and others were found on pinterest. Click into my board for links to the original posters.

 I wrote the children's names in yellow highlighter and they traced it using paint and q-tips. (Stickers were earned each time they completed an activity in the book. )Activities were sometimes done as a group at Table Time or individually during free-play.
 We use Handwriting without Tears as our writing curriculum. We had a OT come in that works for HWOT and he told us that kids should be tracing whole letters, not dotted or dashed lines. He also provided us with some gray squares that help the kids get the idea of spacing and how to write the letter like we build it on the blue HWOT mats.  I made each child a small gray-squared name tag and laminated them. They could grab these and use them when spelling and writing their names.
 One of our first activities included children cutting apart the letters of their name (that I had pre-written) and then gluing them into their book in order. 

 Another early activity was for kids to find glue their name in order in their books. This was around Valentine's Day.
I asked my facebook friends for any half used sheets of ABC stickers taking up space in their scrapbooking storage. Kiddos searched for the letters of their name. We did this during our animal unit, so we called it a letter safari!
 I often programmed pages with "Trace and Try" They traced what I had written and then gave it a try on their own. I did this at least once a month. 
 Lines and boxes
 Rainbow Writing: students trace names several times in several colors.
 Fill in the blank.
 Honing in down. 
 Students searched for the letters in their names and then stamped them into the book. Lots of fun!

For letter R week we made name rockets. I suggest having the students count the letters of their name first, glue on the correct number of squares second, then write their name accordingly. This worked better than having them write it first. 
Name Trains for letter T week. Same thing as rockets, count, glue, write. 
Letter repetition. 

Letter Snowman, count, glue write. 

I hope you find this useful! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Preschool: W is for Whale in the Water

Love this little craft! It can be adapted to suit kiddos of all different ages.
 Since I have 3 and 4 year olds and we were completing this as a group, I cut out the whales for the kiddos and had them ready.  Older kiddos could certainly cut out their whales themselves.

I used this whale temple and traced them onto light gray paper.

I gave each child a half sheet of light blue construction paper, one pre-cut whale, and one third of sheet of dark blue construction paper programmed with curved line to represent waves/water.

Each student started by cutting out the "waves" and gluing them to the bottom of the light blue sheet of construction paper. Then they glued the whale to the waves. Next we added an eye and mouth and I helped them draw a  "W" in glue to represent the water shooting out of the blowhole. The last step was sprinkling blue glitter onto the "W". And there you have it! A "Whaley" cute craft! ;)