Monday, December 28, 2009

Word Recognition

You and your child may enjoy labeling things in your home. You have probably noticed almost everything in our room is labeled. You can apply this same technique in your home.

Use post-its or 3 x 5 cards. Choose a room and have your child help label items in the room. As you write the word, ask your child to try to identify the beginning sound. Some children will be able to identify the beginning sound and others will need help. Identify the letters as you write them. Place the card or post-it on the item with poster putty or removable paint tape.

After several weeks, remove the cards and see if your child can match the word to the item. You might be surprised how well they do! Remember these are emergent reading skills your child is developing so make up some games to make it fun. Go crazy and label the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, the basement and the car!

Lacing Cards

I do not buy lacing cards for our classroom. I have discovered that the children are more likely to lace if they can keep the lacing card instead of ripping out their hard work. Many opportunities are provided for children to lace which help develop those small motor skills. This month, we will also be lacing Styrofoam peanuts to hang from the ceiling in our room to look like snow which I have had my fill for the season. Time for spring!

For lacing cards, use yarn. To prevent the yarn from fraying and for easier lacing, dip the yarn in diluted glue (about an inch) and let dry for a 'needle'. Hole punch old Christmas cards (or any cute greeting card). Cut lacing cards out of cereal,Teddy Graham or fruit snack boxes (anything with fun pictures).

Lace cereal. Lace Cheerios or any type of O cereal (encourage patterns)and hang out for the birds. A yummy treat for feathered friends! It looks to be a long, cold and snowy winter. Stay warm and have fun with your little ones!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

C is for Cookie!

What is the Christmas holiday without cookies? The first day we had several different cookies. We had Oreos, wafer cookies, ginger snaps and Nutter Butters. We looked at each cookies shape, color and tasted each cookie. We wrote comments on chart paper. We made a Cookie Monster craft to practice scissor use and snipping around the blue circle. When we create a craft, we discuss colors, shapes and use positional words (above, below, inside, outside, etc.) The children were allowed to choose two different cookies for snack. We played 'Who Took the Cookie from the Cookie Jar' which the children enjoyed immensely.

On Thursday, we played a memory game with cookies. We place some out and then the children closed their eyes (in theory) and guessed which was missing. We also graphed our favorite cookie. Choices were chocolate chip, sugar and peanut butter. We counted the choices and discussed which numbers were bigger or smaller.

We made cinnamon gingerbread ornaments. This is a cheap and easy craft for Christmas ornaments. I have had these on some garland for my home and they have lasted for over five years. The children will be out of school for two weeks. It might be a sanity saver some afternoon!

Cinnamon Dough

1 cup ground cinnamon (get the cheap stuff at the dollar stores)
3/4 cup applesauce (not the chunky and again get the cheap stuff)

Mix the cinnamon and the applesauce until a fairly stiff dough is formed. If necessary, add cinnamon or applesauce to get a good consistency. It will still stick to your hands when you knead it but it should not be too dry or the ornaments will be too dry and just crack. It should not be too wet or you won't be able to roll it out. This is the official recipe but I usually just pour a jar of applesauce in a bowl and keep adding cinnamon until it is stiff. I have also put in nutmeg, all spice and ground cloves for that Christmas smell.

Now you have the dough. Give your child some wax paper and place the dough between two sheets of wax paper and roll out to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Use a straw to poke a hole for an ornament.

Keep the ornament on the wax paper and place on a cookie sheet to dry. Turn the ornament over occasionally as it dries. It will take about three or four days to dry completely. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Candy Canes

Who knew you could have so much fun with candy! We have had loads of fun counting, sorting and making patterns with candy canes and peppermints. We put the candy out for the children to look at, talked about the candy (comparing and contrasting) and recorded their response. How are they the same? How are they different? We talked about color, size, taste, smell, and shape. You will notice the word candy cane on the dictation sheet that was sent home was underlined and there is a picture clue next to the word for easy reading.

We ended our unit with Peppermint Pudding for our snack. We recorded our tally marks of who liked and didn't like Peppermint Pudding. Most of the children loved it! For a tasty treat at home, here's what you do-

You will need-

Per serving
1 snack pack pudding (we used vanilla but you probably could use chocolate, too)
2-3 peppermints or a candy cane
Reddi Whip or Cool Whip topping

Unwrap the candy and place in a freezer ziploc bag. Place the bag inside another bag. Have your child take a block and smash the candy several times. Smashing the candy will cause holes in the bag so you need two bags. Make sure the pieces are fairly small and remove any large pieces (any large pieces of hard candy can be a choking hazard). Place some whipped topping on the pudding and sprinkle the peppermint on top of the whipped topping and enjoy.

Don't want to smash the candy with a block? Use a Magic Bullet, blender or food processor to crush the candy.

After Christmas, use those leftover candy canes to stir hot chocolate or crush and put over ice cream. I am sure there are a lot more ways to use candy canes!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pizza, Pizza!

Our three year olds had a fun week with pizza. We talked about the 'parts' of a pizza to introduce vocabulary. We talked about dough, crust, sauce, toppings, cheese and mozzarella. We discussed what sauce is made of (tomatoes), what toppings you can put on a pizza and the color of mozzarella (white). We graphed our favorite pizza. The favorite? Cheese.

Today we made 'Bubblegum Pizza'. Bubblegum pizza? Well, I think the name comes from the way the pizza looks on the pan and when the cheese pulls. Who knows? This recipe is a favorite with my youngest son still because it is so easy to make. Almost all the children LOVED it! With adult supervision, your child can make bubblegum pizza at home.

You will need:

mixing bowl
cookie sheet or pizza pan
cooking spray
1 can refrigerated biscuits
pizza sauce
shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400* and spray cookie sheet. Tear the biscuits into small pieces and put in bowl. Cover the biscuits with pizza sauce and mix. Biscuits should be covered with sauce but not runny. Pour the biscuits on a greased cookie sheet. Top with mozzarella. Bake 12-14 minutes.

We used four cans of biscuits and fed fifteen children. Most had seconds and some had thirds. At home, we have put on topppings and then the cheese. Yummy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

J is for Jam and Jelly

Jam and jelly have provided lots of fun for us this week! We started by showing the children the different jams and jellies. We talked about most jams and jellies are made from fruit. As we looked at each jar, we asked "Does it grow on a tree or bush?" Next, we tasted each jam/jelly on crackers and guessed what flavor it was. We tasted strawberry, red raspberry, blackberry, cherry, peach and apricot. Very yummy!

On a chart, we wrote-I liked all of the jam and jelly. I liked some of the jam and jelly. I didn't like any of the jam and jelly. We also charted if they liked or did not like jelly rolls. Each child makes a 'tally mark' by their choice. We look to see if we can visually see which is the most. We count each choice. I write the number on the chart and the children write the number 'in the air'. We discuss more than, greater than, less than, zero and the concept of equal.

The jelly rolls! A huge hit and easy to make. I will warn you that the jelly creates a mess on cookies sheets. We lined the cookie sheets with foil and still a little sticky. Smiles and sticky fingers make it worth it.

You will need:
cookie sheets
aluminum foil
Sharpie marker
plastic knife or spoon
crescent roll dough
container of white frosting

Each child was able to choose their flavor and create their own jelly roll. If you have several children making jelly rolls, cut six inch squares of foil and write their name on the foil square. This would be fun the morning of a sleep over. Seriously! You can do it.

Preheat oven to 400*. Give each child a square of foil and a crescent roll. If you want, you can spray the foil with cooking spray (this helped a little). Place a small spoonful of jam on the roll and have the child spread the jam on the dough. Roll it starting at the pointed end (to help keep the jam encased). Place the foil on the cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes. Rolls will be golden brown. Microwave frosting about 20 seconds to thin and drizzle on rolls.

Next time you are at the grocery store with your child, point out all the flavors of jam and jelly. Your child may have a new favorite!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I SPY Bottles

Our three year olds are having fun with an I SPY unit. The I SPY books are the work of photographer, Walter Wick with the fun rhyming text written by Jean Marzollo. These beautiful and fun filled books have been on shelves since 1992 and a classic children's favorite! My boys loved the I SPY books and the Where's Waldo? books. Remember Waldo?

We had the children look at the books today with a partner and locate items on the page. I SPY books will be in our classroom library and we will play "I SPY" in our room.

Each child made an I SPY bottle to take home. This would be a fun project for a family reunion, birthday party or sleep over. They are also fun for car trips. It's cheap and easy-a great combination for kids and parents. Here is what you'll need-

**Clean and dry plastic bottles with lids-one per child. We used flavored water bottles which have smooth sides (for easy viewing) but any soda or water bottle will work. The children had 16 oz. bottles but we have 2 liter bottles on our classroom shelves.

**Gather lots and lots and lots of little items-we had buttons, balloons, dice, seashells, crayons, toothpicks, Q-tips, feathers and much more. Anything you could fit in the mouth of the bottle that a child would recognize will work. Place in a shallow box or a 9 x 13 pan or cookie sheet would work, too.

**Rice-a small 32 oz. bag fills about two small bottles. Place the rice in a container (like a shoe box). You will also need a small cup and funnel for filling.

**Super glue

**3 x 5 cards, a pen and a Sharpie

1. Place the child's name or initials on the bottom of the bottle.

2. Have the child place six items inside the bottle. Write the items on the 3 x 5 card. We wrote the item and the color (pink feather, yellow crayon, etc.) In the two liter bottles, you can put more items.

3. Place the bottle inside the shoebox and have the child fill the bottle about 3/4 or more with rice with the cup and funnel. Do not fill to the top. The rice needs some wiggle room.

4. MOST IMPORTANT-SUPER GLUE THE LID ON TO THE BOTTLE!!!(an adult job) Place super glue around the lid and screw onto the bottle tightly. It so funny when children first are using our school I SPY bottles they always try to take the lids off. Good thing this is not my first rodeo!

5. Let the glue dry a few minutes and enjoy!

Want to do more???
We just wrote the items on the 3 x 5 cards. If you would like your child to be able to 'read' the card themselves, you can draw a picture clue next the word.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Colored Rice and Pasta

Several parents have asked where I get colored rice. I make it! I also color pasta for lacing. Some of the children have probably brought home beautiful 'jewelry'. The TTH class may lace in whatever style they want. The MWF classes have to create a pattern if they want 'jewelry'. Skills worked on are small motor skills and patterns-all while having fun! You probably are wondering how to color rice and pasta. It's stinky but easy.

Colored Rice or Pasta

For each cup of dry rice-
1 cup dry white rice (get the cheap stuff) or pasta such as rigatoni or penne
1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol
4-6 drops food coloring (the more food coloring the more vibrant the color)

Place the rubbing alcohol and food coloring in a bowl and add rice. Mix until the color is fairly uniform. Dry on newspapers.
I really don't measure and just estimate the rubbing alcohol and food coloring.

The colored rice is placed in a plastic tub. Since we do not have an official water/sand table we use a short plastic tub like you would put under your bed. It is amazing how the children love to just fill and dump the rice. Funnels, plastic spoons and plastic peanut butter jars are just a few of the items we use for filling and dumping. Easy! Cheap! For the brave, this is really fun for those blah winter days and rice is pretty easy to vacuum up. Our rule is keep it over the tub which works most of the time. The children also help with clean up with a small broom and dust pan and Dustbuster. We store the rice in clean gallon milk jugs.

For easy lacing, dip yarn in slightly diluted white glue up about an inch. Let drip dry on a dry rack (outside or place old towel underneath) or wax paper would probably work, too. The dried glue forms a 'needle' for easy lacing.

Have fun!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tin Can Ice Cream/Liquids & Solids

We have been learning about liquids and solids. One concept we worked on is liquids do not have a shape. We also talked about liquids and solids can change with temperature. Water will turn into ice and ice will turn back into water. The grand finale of this unit is making ice cream. This is really easy and would be a great activity for a family gathering if there are lots of little ones. Here is how we did it-

Tin Can Ice Cream
1-3 pound clean coffee can
1-1 pound clean coffee can
Duct tape
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Rock salt
Crushed ice or small cubes
Two or more hungry kids

Pour the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla into the one pound coffee can. Tape the lid on securely. Place inside the three pound coffee can. Layer ice and salt around the sides of the small can. Duct tape the three pound lid on securely. We did two strips (an X) on the top and then wrapped tape around the outside of the can. Roll briskly on the ground for at least ten minutes. Cement works best. Open the lid and drain the ice water. Now at this point depending on how into this you are, you can (a) scrape the 'ice cream' into a plastic container and freeze the rest of the way which is what we do because of time or (b) open the lid of the small can. Scrape the sides. Retape the small can. Place back into the the larger can and repack with salt and ice and roll again. Makes about three cups.

We did three cans and each fed about five children.

During story time, the children dictated how we made the ice cream. Why do we do this? Sequencing-which is a skill used in reading and writing. We want the children to remember the events in the order they occurred. First, they were to just think about what we did. Then they dicatated how we made the ice cream. They do skip steps but we ask them, 'What did we do before we rolled it?' They kept telling me we rolled the cans in the street! Too funny-of course we did this in the parking lot just in case your preschooler told you we were in the street today!

I also wonder what the drivers on Washington Road thought were doing?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Counting, Sorting and Patterns

One of the activities we do in our MWF classes is work in pairs counting , sorting and creating patterns. We do these activities in a variety of ways all the time in daily lessons and centers but we often have a special activity when the children work with a partner.

This month we gave the children yellow candy corn, brown candy corn and candy pumpkins. Each pair received a small pile of candy. First, they count out ten pieces. Next, we have them sort the candy. We explain sorting is putting things together that are the same. We could sort candy pumpkins and candy corn but we could also sort candy pumpkins, brown candy corn and yellow candy corn.

Finally, we create patterns. We work on the AB pattern, ABC pattern, AAB and ABB pattern. As we introduce these patterns, we tell them how to create the pattern (put a pumpkin, pumpkin, candy corn). As the children are creating patterns, I am verbally chanting the pattern and clapping, slapping my legs or snapping the pattern, too. We talk about a pattern repeats itself over and over.

Activities for home-

*Counting, sorting and making patterns-use Halloween candy, coins, buttons, Hot Wheels, beads, shoes. Use your imagination. Anything you have a lot of your child will be able to count, sort and make a pattern.

*Use magazines and cut and glue pictures. Use a piece of paper and label food, babies, toys, etc. Glue the pictures on the correct paper.

*Lace Cheerios and Fruit Loops on craft lace (or we dip yarn in diluted glue and let dry for a 'needle). Make patterns with the cereal.

Have fun!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Writing Our Name

In our MWF classes, we will be helping the children write their first name. We do not focus on proportion, using lined paper or obsess about proper letter formation. We do not want them to get burn out on writing before they reach kindergarten. This is one thing most children want to learn to do-write their own name. Here are a couple simple things you can do at home to help your child--

*Cover your child with an old t-shirt or paint smock. On a tray or cookie sheet, place chocolate or vanilla pudding on the tray/sheet. Have your child use their pointer finger to write their name in pudding! Start with just writing the first letter. When your child feels successful with first letter, begin to add others. Older siblings? Have them practice their spelling words in pudding. Do it before bedtime and you can call it their bedtime snack!

*Write your child name with a highlighter and have them trace the letters.

Remember make it fun. If your child is getting frustated, it's time to stop.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Our three's have learned a lot about pumpkins. Concepts we work on are: Pumpkins grow on a vine. Pumpkins grow on the ground. Pumpkins grow in a field. We look at the shape, color, texture and seeds.

Some of the things we do in our classroom, you can do at home (if you are brave and don't mind a little mess!)

*You will need a small pumpkin, golf tees, a toy hammer (highly recommend not using the real thing) and safety goggles. With adult supervision, have your child hammer in the golf tees. We do not create a face or pattern but older children would be able to be very creative with this activity, too. Great activity for a rainy fall day!

*Cut a small pumpkin in quarters (adult job) and place on a cookie sheet to contain the mess (well, sort of). Leave the pulp and seeds intact. Give your child a spoon and a magnifying glass if you have one and let them explore the 'innards'.

*Pumpkin Pudding-there was no middle ground with this recipe. They either loved it or hated it. I love it! It tastes just like pumpkin pie. You need a Snack Pack vanilla pudding and Pumpkin Pie Mix. Add a small spoonful of pumpkin pie mix to the pudding and stir well.

Have fun and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Egg-citing Egg Experiment

This is a great experiment and totally amazes the children. You will need:
4 eggs
1 egg carton
A sheet of paper (paper towels, wax paper)
A 2 foot stack of hardback books that are about the same size and weight (which is why I used encyclopedias. I am also probably the only person in town who still has encyclopedias!)

Now place the eggs in the second and fifth row of the egg carton with the pointy part of the egg facing down. Place a sheet of paper over the eggs in case of breakage. Now here comes the egg-citing part. Begin to put the books on one at a time. We were able to place nine encyclopedias on top of our four eggs. We stopped because I only brought nine. Silly me!

I found this experiment in Family Fun magazine many years ago. It was submitted to the magazine by the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their explanation of why it works:
"The eggs shape-two dome shapes pushed together-makes it resistant to compression (in other words, a force pressing inward). That's why a mother bird can sit on her eggs without breaking them. On the other hand, eggs and other dome shapes are weak in tension, a force pressing outward, so that a baby bird can easily peck its way out when hatching. Of course, an egg is easily broken from the outside if a strong force is applied in one spot."

We do not give the children this explanation. We want them to see how strong the egg is and how a mother bird can sit on her eggs and they don't break. Have fun!

Friday, October 9, 2009

MCP Blog

Welcome to the MCP blog! I have been wanting to do this for awhile to post additional ideas you can use at home with your children.

The MWF classes will be doing creative writing throughout the year. We have already sent the Apple and Bees, Biscuits and Butter stories home. Some dictation will be just recapping what we have learned about the the unit. The children will also experience creative story writing and boy are they creative!

What can you do at home?

***Put the stories in a three ring binder for your child to 'read'. You might also consider either laminating the paper or picking up the clear three ring binder sleeves at an office supply store. Have your child design and color a cover for the story book.

You will notice I add picture clues and bold type certain words. You will be amazed how your child will pick up on these reading hints.

*** Have your child dictate additional information or continue the class story.

***After a holiday, special event or vacation, have your child tell you what they remember and what they did. Highlight repetitive words that occur in his/her story.

***Keep it light and keep it fun!!!