Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Egg Dying

Inspired by Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning. We got out the egg dye and boiled up some eggs. I had visions of lots of color, splashes of colored water everywhere, and messy kids... while we had fun, and the kids enjoyed dying the eggs (I think) they were not really into it. We first talked about the vinegar... smelly, then what did they think was going to happen to the little colored tablet when it hit the vinegar?? Change the water color, go away, and fizz... were some of the answers we got. Then each child got to drop in a tablet. So, far so good :)

We then got to dying some of those eggs!! This little guy was visiting for the morning, and needed a little help... no problem, plenty of hands to help. He was intrigued by the colored water and how it changed his egg to a different color... but beyond that, he wasn't real interested.

I think my friend here was the most interested... he liked dipping the egg, taking it out to check on it, and then dipping again. No, mixing of color though for this group. Just picked a color, and went with it. I gave them crayons for crayon resists, but I don't know why... no one really even tried it. We have done the crayon resist painting on paper before, and we experimented a little today, but again... a flop :)

I also had the Bunny Ear making station set up... I put out some paper, feathers, scissors, glue, stapler, and tape. They had a slow start, but when they figured out what they wanted to do, we got some really cute ears. Thanks to the girls at Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning for such a great idea!!

Is he just to cute??

I think that playing outside was the favorite part of our day again... The Bunny Ears came outside with us and there was a lot of hopping about, hiding pretend eggs, as well as becoming Mommy Bunny, Swinging Bunny, and Friend Bunny!! I think expectations can sometimes get the better of me, so I am glad that I didn't let it this time. I allowed the kids to explore as long, and as intent as they wanted, then let them move on when they wanted... I think I will set egg dying out again sometime towards the end of the school year... see what they do then... or, I could set it out with the School Agers, who I know would model the explorations (mess) I was imagining.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Friends + Water + Dirt = MUD!!!

I had planned on writing about all we did this morning... our trip to the local partnership for a Family Child Care Playgroup (lots of fun!!), our planned morning work (which we never got to) and some new routines we've implemented... but instead, I'm going to talk about MUD!!! Such a simple subject, in which, most adults hate it, most kids love it.

We played this morning, had our breakfast, made our way to our new playgroup, and came home. We quickly HAD to have snack, since a morning playing in a different place, with different kids, made us famished!!! Then we started to have some quiet play inside... I was going to introduce a new Chick Game I recently found from the blog, Tired, Need Sleep. Have some open ended art activities out, and finish some of our letter Ee work... but... the sun was shining, their was a slight breeze in the air and the kids were looking out the family room window talking about who knows what, but feverishly talking they were!!! Ok, I get it... lets go out!!

I wanted to grab some equipment to make up some quick stations outside, an idea I got from Linda over at Toddler Tale Daze (Thanks Linda!!), but the kids had their coats, socks and boots on before I could get my own shoes on. So, I decided that they would be fine with what is outside... :) They were fine alright, more than fine!!!

They didn't need arts & crafts, paints, balls, swings, or anything planned or thought out, especially by me!! They ran straight to a bucket that had filled with water over night, and went to town making mud... mud pies, mud puddles, mud bubbles, mud huts, mud shampoo (we had to stop that one), and just plain mud!!! The more mud the better... they painted the slide, the swings, the timbers, the boat, I could go on, but I know you understand. Their play revolved around this cheap, abundant, wonderful material for over an hour. I only wish we had a nice little creek to take them to, like the folks at Let The Children Play, to wash off. That would take our play to the next level, I tell ya!! But, we don't... so, we had to be satisfied with stripping our muddy boots and socks off and laying them in sun to dry, swapping our muddy pants out with dry, clean ones... and yes, washing one of our friends hair with real shampoo :) It's all in a days work. Mine and theirs :)
The talk at lunch was one of contentment, laughter, and silliness about their mud experiments. They relished in that sweet moment of childhood, that I know I remember, where everything was right in their world... and it revolved around some good friends, water, dirt and a safe place to explore it!!
Did you know Little Tykes has out this year a little outdoor Mud Kitchen?? They are making a little kitchen with accessories to make mud pies, mud hot dogs, etc... Toys made especially for mud. I saw it at the store the other day, and just shook my head. I wasn't sure if I should be excited to purchase a toy just for mud, or be sad that our imaginations and resourcefulness has gotten so lax, that a bunch of men and women in a boardroom have decided we need to be provided with a toy to get our children back to the basics of playing in the mud. I mean, what happen to having out old pots, pans, cups, spoons, Tupperware (mom's best was always a treat), and an endless supply of water and dirt??

I am happy with how our morning has turned out... it was a good day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

They Say It's Your Birthday

Today my "Little King" turned 5!!! He finally got to have his Birthday!! After seeing his friends have their special day, he got to wear his crown and be the helper of the day!! He is such a joy! I am a lucky teacher, as well as Mom!!

Today starts off our short week... only 4 days of school/child care this week. We are off for Spring Break on Friday!! We can't wait to relax and enjoy some quality family time. But, till then... we have a lot in store.

We started our Circle Time off with a book about Easter... The Easter Story by Patricia Pingry... which is a wonderful telling of the Easter Story in words children 2-5 can understand. The illustration was engaging and the kids have enjoyed it. We also started talking about the Easter Bunny this week. Last week I spent more time on the real meaning of Easter, but this week we have brought in ideas on how the legend of the Easter Bunny may have started. So, we decided to read... The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing... I love her books. They are so cute and since they follow along with the cadence of a story they all know so well, it is easy for them to stay engaged and enjoy the story.

At our Art Center I had an idea I got from my son's Church School Class, I took a copy of a Cross and the kids practiced their scissor skills, by snipping long, skinny pieces of colored paper and gluing it on the cross. A very independent activity. I put the materials out and the kids just went with it. Not needing direction, except for helping the littlest ones with using their scissors.

We added a Monster Truck Ramp to the Block Center today. All the kids enjoyed racing the trucks down the ramp, and after some suggestions, added a Block Wall to crash into at the bottom. This provided a lot of fun for them. I'd show you a photo, but for some reason Blogger isn't uploading my photos today. I hope it is Blogger and not my computer.

We continue to practice our letter Ee. Some of the pre-kindergartners are having some issues writing the little e, so we spent some one-on-one time tracing little e's. We used markers and paper, sand, sandpaper letters, and using the letter builders to practice getting our hands used to the motion. No child is made to participate, if they want to practice I am there at the table, if they want to play... that is fine too. The materials are out almost all the time, so I "catch" a lot of the kids tracing letters quietly when others are off doing something else... sometimes they ask me for help, or show me... but sometimes they just quietly continue on their own. I like that they have that choice.

I also had out an Egg Matching file folder game and the Chicks in the Grass Mystery Bowl, where the kids find the little chicks in the Easter grass and put them on a numbered paper. The numbers are in little egg shapes on the paper... they love the Mystery Bowl games.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Friday is my favorite day... I know you all think it is because the weekend stretches before me, and the first time I said, "Friday is my favorite day" that was the reason why. Now, though, it is because the kids know it is my favorite day, and they count the days until we get there, they know the word pretty much where ever it is printed, and the joy they get from reminding me that "Today IS Friday" with a fit of giggles, laughter and much rolling and jumping!!! THAT is the real reason I love Friday!!!

I love this photo. It shows the need for that little spot of solitude kids need from time to time. It never seems to be for long, and they don't want to be to far from the action, but they still need it. My friend here spent quite sometime just rolling that rolling pin back and forth and seeing the designs it made in the sand. She didn't even notice me standing there at all.

Learning through play... need I say more??

Ok, a story behind this photo. The easel is pushed up on the side of the room, near our Art Center and I leave the paint out most of the day... Little Miss M LOVES the easel!! She also will USUALLY ask for her smock. Today, her and her little friend N, decided that it would be a lot of fun to paint without a smock!! I sooooo wish I could have gotten my camera before they moved, but just like a Toddler, they never stay still very long. This is the picture that they created together. They were so proud of themselves, when I called their names, they turned to me, and at first they weren't sure how I would react... but needless to say, Miss Michelle is usually a push over for any creative, messy projects. Soon a huge grin broke out on their faces and they turned and finished their painting... together. They were a little messy, a little sticky, but, Oh did they have fun. Another example of Process over Product!! They could care less about the outcome or the picture that I hung up... they just immersed themselves into the paint, brushes and the feeling of paint on paper (and themselves :) )
After Little Miss M got all cleaned up, she promptly walked back into the room and started another painting... Oh No, I think I've created an Artist. Sorry about the paint Mom!! I just couldn't disturb her, she was sooooo content and focused.

We have been working on the letter Ee this week... I had this Elephant game from a long time ago. There is a fan in the elephant and she (the fan) blows all sorts of colored butterfly's from her trunk. The kids each have a colored net to catch "their" color butterfly. In theory it is a great game!! A lot of action and movement, BUT... the fan is sooo not strong enough to get all those butterfly's out the long trunk. Now, I have had this toy for over 2 years and today was the first day (after much waiting and frustration on the kids part) I thought about cutting the trunk down a little. WELL... let me tell you, what a difference!!! Those butterfly's were flying everywhere!!!! Why didn't I think of this 2 years ago??

Have a Great Friday!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Art Experience


Whatever you call it, children need it!! They must have opportunities to create just to create. They need to be exposed to as many materials and rick-rack as they can be. To feel the stickiness of a glue stick when it is first opened, and the stickiness of a glue stick when it is almost dried out. Feeling what it is like to have Elmer's Glue dry on the palm of your hand and then peel it off. Will a glue stick be enough to glue pom-poms to a hat?? For some it might, those who put a lot on :)

In our art center we have paper, recyclables, stickers, pens, crayons, glue, glue sticks, chalk, scissors, markers, glitter glue, rick-rack, and anything I can think of for them to use, and is safe for a 20 mth old. They came up with these hats yesterday!!

This little guy started it off and the others followed. They discussed, cut, glued, colored and decided what to play when they finished. There was a Princess, a Birthday Boy (his birthday is Monday), and a Fairy. They wore them inside and outside. They showed the School Ager's when they came home from school, who were appropriately Amazed on how GREAT they came out!!
Having the opportunity to create freely is so beneficial for young children. It provides them room to explore, take risks, use their senses, learn new ideas, expand on old ideas, practice language, make decisions, problem solve... I could go on and on. It gets messy, it gets sticky, and sometimes it even stains... but the look on those little faces when they finish their creation is priceless!!
Young Children should have the opportunity EVERYDAY to do open-ended art activities. To create something that represents their uniqueness and individuality. To immerse themselves in projects that are perfect for their developmental stage, because they are doing it themselves. From the first idea to the last dab of glue. It is all them!!!

So, open up or create an art area!! Don't worry about the mess, or take it outside... but give them the ability to create for creations sake. Buy enough glue, pom-poms (1 kid can use 100 sometimes), finger paint, q-tips... stock up on toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, cotton balls, pudding cups, Styrofoam... Go for a nature walk, see what you can find, it doesn't have to be expensive... then put it all out and you will be amazed!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Egg Washing

Yesterday we did our Egg Painting in the morning and I set out these buckets of soapy (I use Tear Free Shampoo) water, mini toothbrushes, and the messy eggs after the kids were done. Hoping they would find it and clean all the messy eggs. Well, they must have walked by those buckets a few hundred times and didn't even give them a second glance. No one asked "Why" I put out water buckets... usually water is a magnet in our playroom. So, I just left them there on the table during lunch, during nap, and during snack. FINALLY one of the kids (School Ager) asked, "Why are these eggs and water here?? Can I wash them??" I said, "Sure, go for it." Well, you would have thought I gave that child a lollipop and didn't offer one to the preschoolers :) The kids all swarmed on the table and we had Egg Washing go on for 30 minutes... then it turned into Rock Washing until parents came to pick up. Each child who left was replaced by another until all the children were gone and only my own children were left. The water was freezing by then, and I made the kids dump it and replace it if they wanted to continue... believe it or not, they didn't want new water. They dumped it and cleaned the buckets, dried them, and they were done.

We spent a lot of time in the playroom, again, today. Our Princess brought in some drum sticks she and her brother got from a Real Band. They were a huge hit. The kids banged away on pillows all morning. They brought in every pillow from the Family Room and set them up on the floor. Where they promptly plopped down in the middle (either back to back, or facing one another) and pretended to be Rock Star Drummers :) They shared the sticks, one to each child, and took turns with all their friends. I was very proud of them at the sharing, and the carefulness they showed to each other.

During this jam session, the other kids busied themselves at the Writing Table and the Science Center. I put out some more Easter Stamps on the Writing Table and I added some new things to the Science Center. I went to a Science Workshop our Local Smart Start put on last night and we made those Wave Bottles with oil, food coloring and water, and the kids loved shaking them up and rolling them back and forth :) I am glad I went, I also got to take home a Tin Can Phone, where you take 2 tin veggie cans, drill a hole in middle of the bottom, tie string from one to the other and talk away. They liked this, experimenting with it in a straight line, outside, and around the corner. They decided they couldn't hear each other very well when it was around the corner. Then again they were do loud, I don't know how the neighbors didn't hear them :)

We ended our morning outside, enjoying the Sun Shiny day. Another Great Day!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What a Great Day!!

What have we done today? How was our new space utilized? Did we accomplish what we set out to do today... Have Fun?? Yes, I think we did.

Building... Friendships :)

A Budding Artist... You never know what the future may hold!

Look... "Sticky"
Language Development

Cooperation, Problem Solving, Communication
These 3 boys played at the Sensory Table for 30 minutes today... not one disagreement!!

Spring Has Sprung!!!

Fine Motor Skills, Concentration, Language
"Tiny" "Help" "Egg" "Bunny"
All while getting those little ornaments on that tree... I was amazed, but not surprised by it!!

Some More Messy Hands.... I love when the kids get engaged in an art project beyond the actual intended project... some of them loved the slimy feel of the paint on their hands :)

Shaking/Rolling Eggs to make "Marbled Easter Eggs"

Some Free Art this morning... the kids love to just have the art materials at their fingertips... this project was actually started yesterday and she wanted to finish it today... I think she really just liked the way the glue felt going on the paper, because we used a lot of glue and not a lot of anything else :) No worries... we have more glue

There was a lot of activity in the playroom today. All the centers were used, and I allowed for extra time to let the kids explore today. We saved our Circle Time for the end of the morning, instead of the beginning so they could really get the feel for the "new land." I noticed that they spent more time in one area today, I think because the block area was more "protected" they were able to build without the worry that someone was going to knock it down. Thanks to Bev for the advice on making that area a little more insulated!!!
The Writing Center was a Hot Spot today!! I set out some markers, stamps, and different types of paper... I don't think that center has ever seen so much traffic!! I loved it. They even found the letters stamps for their names and stamped it on a piece of paper. It was exciting to watch all the connections being made. Of course, Little Miss M decided to use her whole hand to stamp with, but it worked :) Who am I to tell her that her hands aren't for stamping :) (Thankfully her Mom & Dad appreciate the curiosity of a Toddler!!)
It was one of those days that brings such joy to me... I can't really explain that excited feeling I have right now writing it down... it's just so amazing to see the happiness and excitement that these kids have everyday for learning.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Are you one of those teachers that has to change your room around every month?? Or are you a teacher that keeps the same set up from year to year?? Do you fall somewhere in between?? I am one of those teachers that has got to do an over haul of my room every 3 to 6 months. It all depends on how the kids are behaving. If they are engaged with what I have out, then I leave it... if not, I change it. I like that the look of surprise when the kids come in on Monday morning (I tend to do these things on a weekend or vacation) and can't believe things are moved around. "Where are my toys?" Is usually the first question I get... then we go and explore until we find the special toys we were looking for (usually dress up clothes, the beloved Kitty's, or popular monster trucks).

Today the kids came in and loved what they saw. I made some more nooks and cranny's for them. More intimate centers where only 1 or 2 kids can fit and explore... I tried to cut down on the open "running" space that we had, and I think I did. We will see how the next few days go to really know if it was a success.

This is a photo of the art area before the move. I thought I has some recent photos of the playroom space... but I can't seem to find them. I found this one in some random file... I don't even remember taking it... it was probably one of my kids :)

I went to IKEA and bought these really cute magazine holders for some of my resource magazines, children's work, and various paper work I tend to lose :) I was also excited about the mesh ball bag purchase... we lose so many balls due to leaving them outside (and the dogs eating them) and forgetting to bring them in... this way, I dump them out, the kids play with them, then when it's time to go in we race to see who can get the balls in the bag fastest. We will save so many balls from sure destruction this way.

Here is a view from the doorway of the house... where all my families come in each morning. In the back left corner is the Science Center area... I put my son's old work bench (which I plan to hang magnifying glasses, goggles, etc...) back there to work on, today I put out Magneato's to explore. I also situated the Sand Studio under the window, this will help with the sand not getting on my carpet, and be close to the equipment they use to explore in it with.

Right on the bottom of the picture is the writing/manipulative center... I put out some language games, stamps (letters, numbers, pictures), their workbooks, and a few different kinds of writing utensils. Back behind the pole, is the Art center... not much different there, I just replenished supplies, added some do a dot markers, and added a collage bin.

Here is our Circle Time area... The kids are used to having the whole carpet and spent the first 2 minutes of circle talking about how much smaller their sitting space was. Mind you, I have 5 kids :) there was plenty of room!! On the opposite side of the circle time area is our Housekeeping space. I still have a little more work to do there. I want to move in a table and hang the dress up clothing up somewhere... still brainstorming :)
This is the view from the Circle Time area into the new block area... I put blocks, cars, monster trucks, mega blocks, trains, and some My Little Pony's in this area. The new rug is a race track theme and the kids loved it. My own 8 yr old son spent a lot of time there last night :)
I didn't get any photos of us using the space today because I was busy helping the kids re-learn where everything belongs, how to keep our Art area in working order, and going outside. So, hopefully tomorrow I will catch some kids in action.
I think that they were so excited they had to try everything, go to every center, and touch the materials to make sure it was still the same toys they have been using. They also, spent some time in the family room playing Ladies, Kitty's and making and setting the bed (the couch) with the blankets. It was a busy morning and went by pretty fast.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Day at the Park!!!

We went to the Park today!! It was 70 degree's out, so we decided it was the day to go to the park for our first picnic of the season!!! What a wonderful time!! We met new friends, played with friends we know, and had fun with each other. We took a nature walk around the park and heard an Owl!! What fun... we could also hear different kinds of birds. We saw a squirrel and chipmunk... and there was an itty bitty cricket making it's way across the sidewalk.
So we got to use all our senses today at the park... we used our sense of sight to see the animals and our friends, our sense of hearing while we listened to the birds and Owl... we also heard the brook before we got to it. There is a great bridge that is over a babbling brook, now that was fun. Next time we will try to get closer to it and really start to explore. I can just picture the kids with their bug houses, little nets, and mud boots looking for just about anything... that will be soon :)
We ended our trip to the Park with a trip to the Deluxe Ice Cream Parlor!! We are lucky enough to have an Ice Cream Parlor that makes their own homemade ice cream, it is always a treat to visit and support a local business, especially one that taste so good!!!
What a Great End to a Great Week!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I have been a fan of Bev Bos, the Guru of Early Childhood Play, for a long time now. She is a Renowned Early Childhood Expert, known for her view on Early Childhood Play. When I went to the local Smart Start I found a book, Tumbling Over the Edge: A Rant for Children's Play by Bev Bos & Jenny Chapman. It was incredible, I love to read how she allows the children space and freedom to grow... Using every part of themselves, all their senses. She creates an environment that promotes self discipline and responsibility of the young child. Bev Bos walks the walk and gets what she wants done. She started Roseville Community Preschool because she wanted a place that met the picture in her head of what a child's preschool should be like. She got it done.
Today we played, it was a beautiful day and we just played. We experimented with the left over green paint that I had saved from yesterday, Little Miss M found a pencil and paper and drew to her hearts content and then moved on to the Circle Time Center and pretended to be me. We had movement, singing, climbing and cooperation and none of it was teacher directed... and all that was while we were inside.
We moved to the yard and there was a lot of discussion of leprechauns. We found that if we dug deep enough we could find bits of gold (crushed rock and pebbles), so there must be leprechauns down there. The kids then turned to mud pie making and mud soup making... I saw in my backyard what I read about in Bev Bos' book (just with a little less water today, it was still a little chilly, so no rivers or lakes today).
Now, I can't provide for the uninterrupted flow of play that she can at her school, I don't have the plethora of volunteers, visitors and parents at my disposal, but I can definitely create an environment that lends itself to the self discovery and security that children need. In my own way. I may never be able to let the kids freely move from inside to outside as they want, but I have made sure my indoor space and outdoor space is as child centered as possible. A place where discovery and messiness is encouraged... Thankfully, I have really great parents who don't mind wet, messy clothes!!!
A Messy Kid is a Happy Kid!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day!!!

Since I have been writing about the Early Childhood Conference this week, I haven't really been posting about what we have been up to in the classroom. Well, we have been learning about St. Patrick's Day!! We found Ireland on the Map, I have some photo's from a trip there so I showed them to the kids (they really got a kick out of me kissing the Blarney Stone) and read some story books about St. Patrick's Day... our favorite being, The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing. They absolutely loved the little traps for the leprechaun, and made me read every thing the kids wrote on them. I also added their names into the story as much as possible and that brought on a fit of laughter every time they heard their names or their friends name :)

We had some friends over today to help us celebrate and do some special crafts. We had a lot of fun and even got to play outside in the beautiful sunshine!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Cheese!!! Don't I look grand with my hat on??

This is how I made it!!!

We had the easel set up with green, blue & yellow paint... the murals came out wonderful. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do with all the easel paintings?? I allow them to paint until they don't want to paint anymore, sometimes that means 2 pieces of paper or 15 pieces... some I keep, others I send home, and still others I throw out. I was thinking of using it for wrapping paper for our Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts... now finding a place to store it :)

I put out 3 shades of green paint and some small heart shaped boxes. I showed the kids how, if they connected the hearts they would look like a Shamrock.

Some got it... other's just liked the stamping with the hearts.... Process over Product right :)

We had Green Eggs again today... I thought it doesn't have to be just for Dr. Seuss' Birthday right!!! What would be more fitting then green eggs and toast for breakfast on St. Patrick's Day. The kids really enjoyed "painting" their toast. I got the idea from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds. But, note to self... use a toaster oven not a toaster to toast the bread. The side painted with the milk didn't toast as quick as the opposite side... so our first attempts were a little soggy. On our second attempt I just toasted the bread and then let the kids paint the toasted bread. It was a little messier, but it was fun.

I love these mystery type works. I hid gold coins in the Easter grass and the kids had to find a coin and put it on the numbers/space. The coins had numbers on them for the older kids to match, but the younger kids just put them on a circle.

Here the kids have to put the correct number of shamrocks into the hats. The little ones just put them in and take them out, which is a great fine motor activity for them.

In the Sensory Table I put some magnetic wands, magnetic chips, gold coins & shamrocks (not magnetic) and cups to place the items in. They enjoyed figuring out which ones would stick to their wands and then sorting them into the cups. Others just loved the feel of waving the wand, getting the chips and then taking their hand and pushing them all off the wand. One little girl did this over and over and over again. She enjoyed it very much.

Below are the pictures from our Lion and Lamb Theme!! I keep forgetting to post the finished product and the kids keep asking why they haven't seen THEIR work on the blog. So here they are...

What a busy week...