Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Countdown to the New Year

If you are like me as soon as Christmas is wrapped up (pun intended), you start prepping for New Year's Eve.  When my boys were little, we  rang in the New Year with a special dinner, hats, horns, confetti and sometimes a balloon drop. 

You can also use bubble wrap to celebrate (sometimes we do this at school).  The large bubbles work the best.  It is fairly cheap.  I was just out shopping and saw large bubble wrap costs about six bucks at your local superstore for 15 feet of fun. Put on a the floor and have at it!

Have a safe and happy New Year!  We will see you soon!


Yesterday I went to the School House.  We received some gift certificates for Christmas and I had great fun looking for new things for our room.  I bought three new floor puzzles.  We always have puzzles in the Discovery Center but we put floor puzzles in the nursery during the winter months.

We start off the year with four to six piece puzzles, puzzles with knobs/handles. Super easy puzzles with a low level of frustration.  These puzzles are with some more difficult tray type puzzles.  We still have the tray type puzzles but we now have the 24 piece jigsaw puzzles plus the floor puzzles.  Puzzles provide a lot of learning for your child. 

Puzzles help with eye/hand coordination and small motor skills.  Puzzles are great for logic and problem solving.  The children often try to just randomly put the jigsaw pieces together.  We teach them to use the picture on the box for 'clues' and  to see if the pieces make a picture. Some of the children already know how to look for the straight edged pieces to form the outline of the puzzle.  Logic. Problem solving.  Important educational skills.  For more information

This group of children love puzzles.  If your child loves puzzles, Melissa and Doug have really nice puzzles. Most of these puzzles are available at the School House on Glen Avenue.

If you have a spot in your home, set up a puzzle area this winter.  Puzzles are great for all ages, a good family activity and are fairly inexpensive. I am going to set one up myself! 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Now What?

Christmas is over and your kids are still home for another week...what are you going to do?

Well, Luthy Botanical Gardens in Glen Oak Park has a Kwanza display this week. The garden is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The display is FREE but you can make a donation if you choose. For more information click-

During the day on New Year's Eve, Julie K will be performing over at Five Points. There will be a countdown to 12 noon. Concert is from 10:30-12 noon. Tickets are $8 or $10 at the door. For more information-

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Buon Natale! Kala Christouyenna! God Jul! Happy Christmas! Vesele Bozicne. Srecno Novo Leto! Mele Kalikimaka! Gledelig Jul! Joyeux Noel! Gledelig Jul! Frohliche Weihnachten!

Where ever you are and however you say it, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Light Show

Looking for fun free holiday entertainment? There is a home in East Peoria with an unbelievable light show. Enter 159 Cracklewood Lane into your GPS or Mapquest. When you drive up (you can't miss the house), you will see a sign to tune your radio for the musical accompaniment. The music in combination with the lights makes for one amazing light show. Look for the famous lamp from 'A Christmas Story' in the window. Put the kids in their pajamas, bring some hot chocolate and popcorn and sit back and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

If you are looking for some inexpensive holiday fun, there are many family activities available in the Peoria area this weekend.

The 63rd Annual Journal Star Family Christmas Sing is tomorrow (Wednesday, December 15th) at 7 p.m. Bring your family to the Peoria Civic Center. It's FREE! Free admission, free hot chocolate and free parking.

Forest Park Nature Center has a Holiday Shop and Stroll on Friday, December 17th from 6-8:30 p.m. There will be music, storytelling, carolling, wassail and yummy treats to eat. Admission is $2.00

On Saturday, December 18th you can skate with Santa at the Owens Center on Lake Avenue. Santa will be skating from 5 p.m. -7 p.m. I didn't even know Santa could skate! Admission-$3/12 and under----$4/adults. Skate rental will cost you $2. Do you think Santa will do a triple salchow or a double axel?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chain, Chain, Chain

Our Christmas program was this evening and it puts me in such a cheery Christmas mood. The children show up in their Christmas clothes and are just so cute and unpredictable. We will finish up the week with lots of Christmas fun in our room and then it's Christmas vacation! Two fun filled weeks with your kids!

We have had a lot of fun cutting and connecting paper chains in our room. This would be a fun activity for all age groups. We use wallpaper sample books for this art project. We draw lines with a Sharpie and a ruler. It is an excellent activity for your child to practice using a scissors.
Reusing is recycling so use colorful pages from magazines or catalogs. Better yet use this idea-one of our 'Grandmas' who picks up and drops off her granddaughter is using scraps of Christmas wrapping paper. Great idea and I'm going to use it for next school year! Thanks for sharing the idea!
Hang the paper chains in your child's room, in the basement or even on the tree! It really makes our room look festive!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mr. Moose and Friends

Boy, today's weather would have Rudolph working overtime!

This week our MWF classes learned about deer, moose and elk. This is the second year for this unit so some activities were added. Your child should be able to tell you antlers are made of bone and only the boys have antlers. We learned the terms buck, doe and fawn for deer and bull, cow and calf for moose and elk. We also know we have lots of deer here in Illinois and many of us see them in our backyard. On Friday, we had a dictation activity. I'll get this typed up before the holiday break to send home. Be sure to add it to the rest of your child's stories.

The reindeer craft was fun. The children were really good listeners and are following directions extremely well. The photo is actual student work. After the holidays, pack your child's holiday projects in your Christmas boxes to put out next year. It really makes me smile to see my young adult boy's childhood projects at the holidays.

On Friday, we read "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" and made chocolate muffins. Yes, they were yummy! It is another super easy recipe using cake mix! Of course, we had a chart to see who liked and did not like the muffins. It was YES for all but one student. Remember that cooking with your child reinforces lots of important skills-reading, following directions and math skills to name a few.

1 box cake mix (chocolate, butter pecan, lemon and spice are all delicious)
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter (I used vegetable oil at school and it worked fine)
Mix cake mix and oatmeal. Add milk, eggs and butter. The batter is really thick. Spoon into a cupcake pan lined with paper cupcake liners. Fill about 1/2 way. Bake at 400* for about 13 minutes. Makes about 18 muffins.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Who Took the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?

Our cookie unit provides a lot of fun for our three year olds. The first day, we looked at all kinds of cookies and compared and contrasted them (an important skill). Okay, we tasted them, too. This year, we made cookies! We had a good time cooking. A super easy cookie recipe you can bake at home with your child.

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box cake mix (we used dark chocolate)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Mix the cake mix, eggs and oil. Add chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350* for about 12 minutes.
It couldn't be easier.

The chocolate chocolate cookies were just so yummy warm out of the oven.

Today we made gingerbread man ornaments, played a cookie memory game and 'Who Took the Cookie...' That kept us pretty busy. We also did some dictation about cookies. For the recipe and additional information, you can check out

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Santa's Workshop

Our room is filled with reindeers, elves and an occasional Santa Claus. For the holidays, our dramatic play is 'Santa's Workshop.' Christmas vacation is just around the corner. The children will be home for two weeks and this would be easy enough to do at home (especially if you additional little ones coming to visit). The children absolutely have a blast with this center.

We set up our little play kitchen table, an old computer keyboard (for Santa's online orders, of course), old cameras, cell phones, notepads, pens and pencils.

Get a large box for Santa's sleigh. You don't need to decorate. Your child's imagination will fill in the blanks. I just love glitter!

I also wrapped small boxes. After I wrapped them, I wrapped clear packing tape over them so they would last a little longer. The kids know they are pretend but every once in awhile someone tries to open one. It's pretty funny.

Dress ups are a must for Santa's workshop. Get a Santa hat (or two), some reindeer ears (warning: these are pretty cheaply made and don't last too long) and for the elves? Get some bright green t-shirts large enough for the children to pull over regular clothes and bright green knit hats.

Put some Christmas music on and watch the fun!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Peppermint Pudding, Patterns and more!

The MWF classes have so much fun when we count, sort and create patterns. This week, we used lots and lots of red and white peppermints. We started off the week comparing and contrasting the candy. How are they the same? How are they different? Ask your child to tell you the similarities and differences.

The children are doing a great job with counting, sorting and patterns. You can reinforce these skills at home. Your child should be able to sort (putting similar objects together), create an AB pattern (some of the children are able to create more complex patterns) and count out ten items. For more ideas

On Friday, we ate Peppermint Pudding for snack. Yummy! We tallied who liked and didn't like the pudding. This year, I gave each child a candy cane and they were to color the candy cane pattern. After they colored the candy cane, they cut out the oval shape. Not all children use our art center freely so we try to incorporate cutting simple objects into our activities. For the recipe

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Clean Plate Club!

The TTh class agree 'bubblegum pizza' is delicious. We have had a lot of fun with pizza this week. Ask your child what they chose for their favorite pizza. Cheese seems to be consistently a favorite with preschoolers.

The children had a lot of fun making the pizza today. This is a snack we allow seconds and thirds and just eat it until it is gone! After snack, we graphed if we liked or did not like the pizza. We only had one student who did not try the pizza. Everyone who tried really really (I mean really) liked it.

This is a such an easy recipe for you and child to make together. some fun with your child in the kitchen!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


We have had a pizza unit for a few years and it is always good times with our TTH class. On Tuesday, we made pizza with the children...out of paper. When we do a craft, we talk about shapes, colors, position. The children put the 'sauce' on the 'crust' and then created their own special pizza. They are getting quite good at gluing after three months!

Tomorrow we are going to make bubblegum pizza. We will also graph our favorite pizza. My guess is cheese is going to be the favorite. If you would like to make bubblegum pizza, click on

The Christmas Puzzle

Christian Union Church will be presenting a family musical on Friday, December 10th and Sunday, December 12th at 7 p.m. It promises to be a fun filled show with dessert served after the performance. The cost is FREE but CUC will be accepting donations that will be used to serve families in need this holiday season.
If you do not have a church family and are looking for services on Christmas Eve, CUC will have services at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. The early service will be a simple Christmas celebration to share with your family. The evening service will be a quieter service. CUC is our biggest supporter. Without their generosity, MCP would not exist.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

There is a lot to do in the Peoria area this weekend if you know where to look!

On Saturday, December 4th from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. several local and regional artists will be hosting the "One-of-Kind Holiday Artisan Market." There will be jewelry, glass, ceramics and wearable art plus much more. An ornament auction will benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The market will be held at the Cornerstone Building. Don't know where the Cornerstone Building is? Sure you do-it's that beautiful building across from the old "Spalding/Academy" high school on Northeast Madison. Facebook fans check out the market at!/pages/One-of-a-Kind-Holiday-Artisan-Market/167671959924511

If you would prefer breakfast with Santa at the zoo on Saturday, go to for time and cost.

The Gospelfest Singers will be performing at Five Points on Tuesday, December 7th at 7 p.m. Shawn and Anne Degenhart are MCP parents. If you would like to attend this family friendly event go to
Find some time for fun with your family this holiday season!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The 38th Annual Breakfast with Santa

The GFWC Illinois Metamora-Germantown Hills Junior Women's Club has invited Santa to breakfast! The breakfast (doughnuts, bagels and beverages) will be held at the Germantown Hills Middle School on Saturday, December 4th. The breakfast will be from 9-11 a.m.. The doors will open at 8:45 a.m. Tickets are $4 per person in advance and $5 per person at the door. Tickets are available at Jubilee Foods and Metamora Pharmacy.

There will be make and take crafts, games, a raffle and door prizes. All proceeds from the breakfast go to local projects sponsored by the Women's Club.

This would be a great way to start off your holiday season with your child and support local community service projects!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Pizza Parlor

Dramatic play is a very important aspect of childhood education. Dramatic play allows children to try on various roles, communicate with their peers, build vocabulary and much more. Dramatic play is a HUGE part of our program. The pizza parlor is a fun center. We have had this center for two years. I was inspired by an exhibit at the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal, Illinois.

With a few props you can create your own pizza parlor at home. We have two sets of the Melissa and Doug Pizza Party Set. I love Melissa and Doug toys. These wooden toys are durable and child friendly. You can find these toys on the web or locally at the School House on Glen Avenue.

I used a large cardboard box to create a pizza oven. We provide plates, glasses, small soda bottles, phones (for delivery, of course), Parmesan, a clip board for taking orders and menus. You can see the menu has words and picture clues for the children to read. The pizza parlor will be open for another week and then will close for the season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bread, Bread, Bread

This week our MWF classes had lots of experiences with bread. On Wednesday, I started out with the question, "What do people all over the world eat?" "Bread!" We read the book Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris with photographs by Ken Heyman.

After the book, we looked at many different kinds of bread. I had ciabatta, a baguette, corn and flour tortillas, pita bread, Italian bread, tandoori naan, an English muffin, a hamburger bun, croissants, dinner rolls and bagels. We talked about the shape, the weight, the color and feel of the bread. We also looked to see if the bread was flat or not. The basket of bread was available all day in the discovery center for the children to experience.

It is fun to introduce new foods to preschoolers. Okay, at school it is fun. They are often reluctant to try new foods but sometimes in a group are a little more adventurous. We tasted corn and flour tortillas, pita bread and bagels. We graphed what each child liked best and discussed the chart. We look at the chart and guess which has the most, we count and we use words like greater than, less than, least, most, zero and equal.

We looked at the tortillas and talked about how they were flat but the Italian bread was big (poofy was the term I think the kids used). What makes bread 'poof'? I showed them yeast in a bowl. I asked them, 'What does it look like?' They looked at it and smelled it. I explained yeast is what makes the bread rise. I added some sugar and told the children I was going to add some warm water. I asked them what they thought would happen. It will explode. It will make a mess. Lots and lots of fun answers. We added the water, waited and watched. Ask your child to tell you what happened.

Easy enough to do at home-you need a package of yeast, a teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. I did it in a small bowl and the reaction was great. Extend this activity with your child by trying to add cold water. What happens? Eliminate the sugar. What happens?

On Friday, we made bread sticks. Each child was given a bread stick and made the first letter of their name. The bread stick letters were a huge hit. We used the canned Pillsbury refrigerated bread sticks. This would be a great way to reinforce letter and number recognition.

The children also dictated a story about bread. This helps the children with the sequence of events and review of any vocabulary learned during the lesson. Underlining the word 'bread' and picture clues will help your child read the story. Put it with your other stories and have your child 'read' it to you.

Want to share more bread experiences with your child? Go into the bakery section of your grocery store (better yet go to a real bakery) and the bread aisle. Look at all the different kinds of breads with your child. Talk about the shape, color, size and texture of the breads. Pick a bread to taste. The kids really liked the pita bread and most said they had never eaten pita bread. Make homemade bread??? Nah! Frozen bread dough is much easier. Get some frozen bread dough and watch it rise. This is making me hungry for fresh bread. I think I am going to buy some bread dough myself!!! I love the smell of baking bread in my house.

Every time you share an experience with your child, they are learning. Have some fun with bread in your house this weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Deal Me In!

Preschoolers love to play games. Cards games with playing cards or games like Uno can be frustrating for little hands. I made these card holders for my boys when they were little and we also had some at Grandma and Grandpa's house for family gatherings. With the holidays coming up, you might want to make some cardholders when your family gathers for game night.

They are super to easy to make. You can use lids from small coffee cans, instant hot chocolate, formula, oatmeal, Pringles, and frosting lids. Any small plastic lid will work. Poke a hole in the center of two lids. Push the brass fastener through and your done!

Milk & Ice Cream-liquids and solids

Holy Ben & Jerry's, did we have fun with liquids and solids this week. For the directions on tin can ice cream click
A few pointers---this year I lined the cans with food storage bags and trimmed the bag after we put on the lid. We do not remove the lid and salt and ice the cans again-we just froze what we had. Ask your child what they thought of their ice cream experience.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Plump and Perky Turkey

The bulletin boards in our room are for the children's work but not in the traditional sense. We send all their art work home so we use the bulletin boards as giant group art projects. The October bulletin board was a dark Halloween night with a haunted house. The children added ghosts, pumpkins, moons ( I am pretty sure we had more than one) and stars.

In November, we start out with a very plump but featherless turkey. In the art center, we have a basket for the children to cut feathers.

You will notice we reuse wallpaper. Construction paper is expensive (paper in general is expensive). We have lots of discontinued wallpaper books that we use for a variety of activities in our room. Cutting turkey feathers is one of those activities.

For the TTH classes, we trace the feather shape for the children. We just want them to use scissors.

For the MWF classes, the children have to trace, cut and write their name on their feathers.

TA DA! A plump and perky turkey!

The MWF classes also make tally marks each time they cut a feather. At the end of the month, we will count up how many each class cut out for our turkey.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Noodle Necklaces

Is your child coming home with some glamorous jewelry? No, it is not from QVC or the Home Shopping Network, it is straight from our art center. Our students are doing a lot of lacing. Why? Small motor skills and patterns. The TTH classes lace necklaces in any manner they desire. The MWF classes are required to create a pattern on their necklace.
If you would like to do this at home, click for directions .

What to do with it later? I put my son's necklace in with our Christmas ornaments and hung it on the tree. Not too many pieces of pasta left after fifteen years but there are a few!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't Forget to Play

The Child Care Connection is a resource center for daycare providers and early childhood educators. I receive their newsletter and wanted to share an article with you about-

"The Importance of Play in Early Childhood"

Carol M. Tiggelaar, MA, LCPC Early Childhood Behavioral Consultant

Play is so vital to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. However, its value has been diminished by the promotion of hundreds of 'smart baby products' and the misconception that the earlier children begin to master the basic elements of reading such as phonics and letter recognition, the more likely they are to succeed in school. And so kindergarten has become heavily focused on teaching literacy and other academic skills and preschool is rapidly following suit. Our society has been lead to believe that play is a waste of time. As a result, directors and teachers are feeling more and more pressure to focus on the the 3 R's and limit unstructured play.

Play is the most effective and powerful way for young children to learn. Often it is said that play is the work of children, the primary method for them to learn about themselves, others and their world, scientists have found evidence that play can sculpt the brain and build denser webs of neural connections. This means, when we play we literally exercise our brain cells. The nerve cells in the brain actually thicken and grow as we play.

Following is a summary of some of the serious learning that happens during play (this is adapted from the Your Active Child: How to Boost Physical, Emotional and Cognitive Development through Age Appropriate Activity, Rae Pica (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

1. Blocks and other building materials encourage creativity, reproduce places and experiences in a child's world, develop eye-hand coordination and motor control, encourages discovery and mastery of mathematical and scientific findings for the child.

2. Cooking activities develop small motor coordination and introduce pre-math and reading readiness.

3. Dramatic play encourages the child to try various roles, to interact appropriately with peers and to practice social verbal communication.

4. Play with plants, animals and other things in the natural environment encourages an understanding of the world of nature.

5. Unstructured art activities provide a way for the child to express feelings and ideas. They assist in the development of fine motor control and skills in handling tools.

6. Manipulatives encourage eye-hand coordination and the seeing of similarities and differences in color, size and shape. They also help develop visual memory, practice classification and individual activity and self-reliance.

7. Water and sand play provides the opportunity to develop small muscle coordination and eye-hand coordination. It also provides for cooperation and stimulates verbal communication. It helps regulate mood.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity Fun

November is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is food and we are having fun with food in the MWF classes. We started off talking about healthy foods and junk foods. We gave each child a scissors and a grocery ad and the children cut out food and glued on the 'HEALTHY' or 'JUNK' chart. The children were very enthusiastic about this activity. They spread out on the floor around the room and it was just fun! So fun we ran out of grocery ads so I had to do a shout out for more.

I have 3 x 5 cards with fruits and vegetables. The card has an illustration and the name of the fruit or vegetable. I showed the children a card and we identified as a fruit or vegetable. We talked about where it grew (tree, bush, vine, under the ground, etc.)

We gave the children the grocery ads, spread out all over the room and more cutting and gluing. We made fruit salad for snack which was super yummy and overall enjoyed by all the students. We had peaches, pears, pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, blueberries and strawberries. I'll admit it was good!

We recorded if we liked or didn't like the fruit salad. When we record results we use a lot of math vocabulary-more, less, greater, least, etc. We look at the chart and estimate which has more and count. The children are also asked to 'write' the number on the carpet or in the air.

We also read the 'Seven Silly Eaters' by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marla Frazee. This was a favorite with my youngest who was a 'silly eater'. Bread and ketchup was his favorite. I know...seriously it was his favorite. Thank goodness children do grow out of food phases. Anyway, Mrs. Peters has seven silly eaters and deserves sainthood for cooking special foods for all of them until a wonderful mishap occurs in the kitchen. The rhyming text and detailed illustrations make it a great addition to your home library or check it out at the library. I did a quick search on YouTube and didn't come up with anything worth viewing. We also wrote about if the children were silly eaters what would they eat.

Want to do more??? At the grocery store (if you have time), spend a little time in the produce section and look at all the fruits and vegetables. Try a new fruit or vegetable. Make fruit salad at home. We had the children help cut the larger pieces of fruit into bite size pieces. Make fruit kabobs. Have some rooty tooty fresh and fruity fun with your child.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Five Senses

The holiday season is a wonderful time for you and your child to explore the five senses. We have had two science centers in our room for the MWF classes-hearing and smelling. Notice lots of words and picture clues in the center for easy reading.

Want to do more at home??? Two quick ideas...POPCORN. Popcorn uses all five of our senses. We can see the popcorn, hear it pop, touch the popcorn, smell the popcorn while it's popping and taste the popcorn. Soda works, too.

Get a bag and fill with common household items. Reach in the bag and try to guess what you have picked.

While you are out and about this holiday season, pay attention to the sights, sound and smells of the holiday with your child.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


You are not going to believe this but when my nieces and nephews were little I was the aunt who did the crafts and games during the holidays. We just finished an I SPY unit in our TTH class and the I SPY bottles would be a fun favor for the kids table at your Thanksgiving dinner.

This is the second year for our I SPY unit and again we had great fun. Each child made an I SPY bottle for home. For complete directions click

We used flavored water bottles for the take home craft. Our classroom bottles are 2 liter bottles. I prefer using bottles with smooth sides for easier viewing.

Want to do more? Go to the I SPY website for games and activities.