Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lots of Dots

I discovered this great book at my local library, which if you do not visit your library you should. They are a great resource for inspiration. The book is Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier. The cover is what caught me, and the simple repetitive text is what hooked me. I knew my little friends would love it.

I decided to try the book out on my five year old and 2 year old. After one time reading it, my five year old read it on his own! It was the first book he ever read to me. After several readings, my two year old memorized it and "read" it to me. I cannot recommend it enough.

Now that I have to book, the craft was harder to nail down. My options are cotton swap painting, yogurt cup painting, water bottle flowers, and bingo dot painting. How am I going to decide?

I decided on dot stamping with the recycled materials I purchased from Arts and Scraps. My friends loved the stamping motion and how the stamp glided across the paper when there was a lot of paint on the stamp.

For fine motor skills I had my friends sort buttons and pom pom's into egg cartons. I colored the bottom of the carton and the children placed the correct color object in the slot.

I also had a bean bag toss game that is always a hit. I got it from Discovery Toys years ago; I am not even sure they make it any more. You toss colored bean bags (circle shaped) into what looks like hats. The goal is to match the colors but my friends always end up wearing the plastic "hats".

I love it when a plan comes together. This was a last minute decision to do the circle stamps and it paid off. My friends stayed at the art table for such a long time this morning. It was lots of fun and messy too.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Block City

Several other bloggers (Hands On: As We Grow) have created their version of a Block City with painters tape on the floor for city streets. I knew this was right up my alley. I ran like a mad woman searching for our painters tape; finally after several yelling sessions with my husband (I was in the basement searching while he was upstairs) I found it. Or we found it.

Let the games begin!

I got out our blocks, our dinosaur hunter items, some small wooden train set pieces, and later on I got out our old school Fischer Price City (it was mine). My boys had a blast! 

It is simple, and yet it engaged my boys for hours. They would walk away and come back for more. Today we moved it from the living room to their bedroom. At 8 am they were playing like mad. It only stopped to take my oldest to school. 

Have you made roads with painters tape?

Awesome Finds at Arts and Scraps

Have you been to Arts and Scraps? If not, you should. They carry recycled materials to use for arts and crafts. I love it! I went today and look at what I got...

All this fun stuff only cost $16, plus I donated $4 towards kids crafts. I got foam circles (for stamps), bottle caps of all colors for color recognition games, a bunch of stencils (bug, dinosaur, butterfly, worm, i.g.), and some great calendars with wonderful art to hang in my room. Oh yeah, colored sand. 

I am so excited to get crafty with these items. I will be posting our ideas soon! 

Have you been to Arts and Scraps? It is in Detroit, and we love you!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Outer Space

My boys are always pretending they are blasting off to space or walking on the moon; it was so natural for me to tackle this theme. I am going to share what we did in class and then give you some fantastic links to other kinder bloggers who have great ideas that I wanted to share.

I am apologizing for picture quality today, not so great.

Books: Good Night Moon for my 1-2 year olds, Aliens Love Underpants for my 2-3 class.

Cloud Dough: I got the recipe from Tinker Lab. I have had the commercial Moon Dough and it drove me nuts. It is fun for the kids, but a huge mess for the parents to clean up. I always joke if you don't like someone, give their kids moon dough. Terrible, right? I do think this is great for my sensory table though. It is powdery, yet moldable.

*My friends had a blast at the sensory table today, they enjoyed the feel of the dough, but loved that it molded to the shape of their cups.

Alien Headband: I love the ones No Time For Flash Cards created. I am taking inspiration from this and will have my older kids make a headband.

Star Sponge Stamping: My little friends are going to stamp with sponges that I cut out in the shape of stars. I did this during the holidays with my boys at home and made wrapping paper. ti was so much fun.

Rocket Ship Craft: I don't recall where I got this idea from as I did it with my oldest a couple years ago. I have a rocket ship cut out (2) and had him glue windows and flames to it. I put the two cutouts together around a straw, which acts as a handle. Both my boys love to play with it!

In my class I did one rocket cut out. I had the children glue a circle to it for a window. I asked them to draw themselves, or to decorate the rocket any way they liked. This is the first time I have really given them instructions on how to do something. Then we taped the straw to the rocket. My son promptly got up and started running around the classroom with his rocket ship; the rest of the class followed. I will get pictures of the actual craft tonight.


We also did color recognition by asking what color the rockets are, since I gave the kids several choices of color. We listened to Laurie Berkner's Rocket Ship Run song and danced along. I had some simple fingerplay's and we sang Twinkle Little Star.

Below you will find some of the great resources available for Space ideas.

Other great resources:

Outer Space Printable
Space Play Dough from Nurture Store
Pinterest Board all on Space from Rockabye Butterfly
Pretend Play from Imagination Soup
Toilet Paper Tube Craft

Friday, February 17, 2012

Music Fun!

I went to the library and checked out a few Ella Jenkins CD's. This morning I played the Play Your Instruments and Make a Pretty Sound CD. My boys (the oldest had no school today) jumped right in.

They grabbed their drums full of instruments and started marching around. They listened intently to what Ella was saying, playing each instrument as she instructed. I was so excited to see their response to her voice and the music.

Then the real fun began...

I love that they came up with the idea to put their shakers in their pants so they could make music as they ran, jumped, skipped, and walked around.

So this lazy morning has started of great; fun in our pajama's listening to Ella Jenkins. I need to remind myself to do this more often. Put down the phone, turn of the television and play some music!

Do you have a favorite Ella Jenkins CD?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

To Valentine or Not To Valentine

On my personal Facebook page I saw a lot of discussion on Valentines cards and school policies. Many moms were discussing the fact that their children had to give a Valentine to every child in the classroom. Some moms were against this policy. These are elementary aged children mind you.

In my opinion, take it or leave it, I think every kid should get one. No one wants to be left out. Valentine's should be about love, giving, sharing, and inclusion. I told my five year old son that we need to give one to every friend because you never know how that little card could lift someone's spirit. Okay, I really said make your friends heart happy because I was speaking to my five year old, but it is true none the less.

I made my husband a Valentines card from construction paper and glittery foam stickers. I told him how much he grounded me, supported me, and was an amazing dad to my boys. I gave it to him at dinner. You could see the smile on his face when he read it and it seemed to me that his heart skipped a beat. He was very touched by my words.

Normally I skip the Valentine's day card, but after seeing what it did to my husbands spirit, I am all in now.

How about you? How do you feel about the Valentine's Day card policy?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentines Day

This topic has caused me much stress; there are just way too many cute ideas. How do I narrow it down? I don't. I am going to have several options for my little friends this week!

I got so busy in class that I forgot to take action pictures. I believe it is the lack of coffee; I gave it up on Sunday and have not been the same since.

Coffee Filter Hearts: As simple as it sounds. Cut your coffee filters into heart shapes. I then had my friends paint with water colors or you can color with washable markers and spray water on them.

Salt Dough Hearts: This was a flop. My dough was too runny and there was not enough time to fix it. If you plan on doing these you have 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of water. You will not need all of the water. Add a little at a time to make a dough consistency. At this point you can add in red food coloring if you choose. Have the kids use heart shaped cookie cutters to make the shapes. Add a hole at the top if you plan on hanging the heart. Then set out to dry for a few days or bake in the oven on low for a couple hours.

Celery Roses: I need to come back and give credit for this one as I found it online but do not remember where. Dip the end of celery in paint and make roses on paper. Simple. Cute. Love it.

Roses drying. Add stems after the paint dries.

We rounded up our theme with a silly valentines songs - I found it in my song book from The Mailbox. It says: Do you "carrot" all for me and I held up a carrot. My heart "beets" for you and I held up a beet. We make a perfect "pear" and "lettuce" just be friends. It was super cute and the kids loved it.

Unconditional Love

I read a great article on the Huffington Post the other day regarding unconditional love. The author discusses how we have unconditional love for our children but not for our parents. It really made me think about my parents and in particular my mom. We are so much alike that it has been a love/hate relationship for sure. Mostly on my part, but I am sure there were days when she did not like me at all when I was younger. I was a button pusher to say the least. I was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. I would say we did not get along from the time I was 12, until I was 23.

I never recognized my mom as a person. She was just my mom, who did and said things that made me mad or embarrassed (because I was too cool). Today I know this; my moms is a smart, hardworking, and talented woman who deserves my unconditional love.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of attending my mom's retirement party. It truly was an eye opener. There were so many people there that were praising my mom and all her hard work. My mom was a hand therapist at a major hospital in the area. In attendance at her party were several well known surgeons who thought my mom was the cats meow. They did not know what they were going to do without her; surgeons (you know the REALLY smart people). It dawned on me there, I do not and did not give my mom credit where she deserved it. She worked hard all her life to get where she at in her life. She has a great marriage to a wonderful and loving man; my dad. She had two daughters and has 4 grandsons.

I look back at pictures of my mom and think to myself how cool it would have been to known her as a person. She has this great photo of herself in San Francisco, circa 1960's. She looks so cool. She owned all the Beatles albums and we listened to them non stop growing up. I had no idea that this was cool. She was in the Army and really wore combat boots! That deserves some respect. She traveled to Europe after high school. She did cool stuff. Cool stuff!

Cool stuff is not why my mom deserves my unconditional love. She deserves it because she gives it. She loved me when I was the biggest pain in the ass and that is putting it lightly. She loved me through the Robert Smith 1980's hair stage, and the purple hair, nose piercing, and Doc Martin boot wearing days. She loved me when I was sick. She loved me when my heart was broken from some silly boy, through tough times when grandparents died, and through stupid high school girl stuff. Most importantly she loves me because I am her daughter.

Now every time I end a phone call with an "I love you" and mean it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Recycling Crayons

Today I finally picked up the silicon mold I have wanted for ages. I have had broken crayons peeled, sorted, and ready to go for months. I found one at my local dollar store, in the shape of hearts. Perfect!

Find your broken crayons and peel them. Sort according to color. Break bigger crayons into smaller pieces in order for them to melt better. Put all your broken pieces into the mold, about an inch high. I chose to make mine multi-colored crayons.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Bake the crayons for 15-20 minutes. Carefully take them out of the oven and let them cool. Be patient! Pop out of the mold and enjoy. I think these will make great valentines day gifts.

Have you recycled your crayons before? If so, what mold did you use?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ocean Sun Catcher

I am really disappointed because I had to cancel my snow theme yet again. Curse you weather, let it snow! Let. It. Snow!

I decided to change our theme to the Ocean. I read one of my favorite books on the ocean, which has the child act out what each animal does. We clapped like sea lions, walked side to side like crabs, and sang like whales. It is a great activity to get the sillies out!

We created a fun, yet simple craft. Ocean sun catchers. You will need construction paper, contact paper, and items to stick to the paper. I made cut outs of fish and octopi. I did not have any cute ocean foam pieces or stickers on hand.

Contact (or wax) paper, construction paper frames, and fish cut outs.

Cut a frame out of the construction paper, then adhere to the contact paper. Let the children decorate their frame. I should note you can use wax paper and let the children glue everything on. If you are going to do this option use school glue and not glue sticks. The glue stick glue did not work on the wax paper. *Let the children place the animals any way they want, there is no right or wrong way.

I made a big mistake in our sensory table today. I actually put sand and water in our table. I ended up with mud; it was just too tempting for my little friends. Note to self, do not do this again.

This is NOT a good idea.