Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chalk It Up

To reinforce alphabet and number recognition, take a look at this idea. Once again from 'Family Fun' magazine. Reader/contributor Ann McConnell had this great idea to help her daughter learn her letters. You could use this idea with very young children who are learning their shapes and colors. This would also work with older children practicing math facts.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Road Trip!

I have fond memories of family vacations. Every year, my parents loaded up five kids in the family station wagon and traveled. Most years we headed 'up north' to Wisconsin or Minnesota but we also drove to the West Coast (twice). All without car seats, cell phones, a GPS, hand held games or DVD players in the car. I do not know how my mother did it.

With the current economy, the 'stay-cation' is a popular choice for families. You can feel like you are breaking away without breaking your budget. This idea comes from 'Family Fun' magazine in the Family Traditions section The idea is 'A Mystery Adventure' from Goo and Dan Newman in Littleton, Massachusetts. The Newmans used this idea with their three children who are 8, 9 and 12. I love it because the get-aways are at no cost or low cost. My kids are too big but I am hoping to do some mystery adventures with my husband.

Want to do more? Have your children children journal about the trip in a notebook or special journal for mystery adventures. Too young to write? Have them dictate what they experienced. Older children can record the odometer start and finish and figure miles traveled. Use the family field trip first ( and most important) for family fun and second for family learning experiences.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Breakfast Playdate

Would you like to encourage your child's preschool friendships? If you would like your child to get together with classmates for a play date, have everyone meet up at the McDonald's Playland for breakfast. This is a great play date on rainy days (like today) and during the winter months when it is too cold to go out. Breakfast is nice because usually the Playland is empty. When my youngest was in preschool, a friend and I would meet semi-regularly for breakfast at McDonald's with our boys. He has fond memories of these trips. The Playland opens at 9 a.m. and don't forget socks are required for play.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

If the sun starts to shine, an excellent family field trip would be to Bicycle Safety Town. Safety Town has been around forever. I went there as a kid! BST is located at 6518 N. Sheridan in Peoria.
If your children are learning to ride a bike, this is an excellent location to provide experience and learn the rules of the road. It would be fun to get several families together and go as a group. This is a good field trip for a wide range of ages plus it is FREE!
You must bring your own bikes and helmets (that are fitted and adjusted).
BST is open daily from dawn to dusk. For more information go to

The Family Field Trip

From the Illinois State Board of Education-

Learning and Fun on Family Field Trips
What is a family field trip? When you and your child travel into the wide world with learning as your goal, you are on a field trip! Your destination can be as close as the front porch or as distant as a museum in another town. What are the secrets of successful family field trips?
*Plan with care
Where will you go? Illinois and neighboring states are packed with interesting places to visit. But keep in mind that to a young child, even the back yard or the neighborhood can offer many discoveries and new experiences.
What will you see, do, and find out? Any trip can be a rich learning experience if you and your child go with questions to answer, problems to solve, or a list of “things to look for.” You and your child can observe, sketch, write, photograph, audiotape, count, measure, or take notes about the place you visit.
How will you get there? Walking and biking are good ways to get physical exercise as part of the field trip. (Be sure to wear protective gear!) Traveling by bus, boat, train, or trolley can add to the learning experience.
What will you want to consider in scheduling the trip? Trips with young children may need to include mealtime and naptime. Plan ahead so your child can get both. It’s a good idea to set a “rain date” with your child in case of bad weather. You might also want to avoid peak visiting times at large public places.
What will you take? Maps, drinks and snacks, diapers (if needed), a change of clothes, books, paper and drawing materials, and change for parking meters are basic field trip equipment. Your trip might also call for special items like cameras, binoculars, tape recorders, or sandwich bags for collecting specimens. Family members can carry backpacks or “fanny packs” so their hands can be free.
How will you assure your child’s safety on the trip? Parking lots, trails, and large crowds call for special safety precautions. Parents need to be especially vigilant. Talk with your child ahead of time about how to stay safe. Be specific and firm so that your child knows exactly what she needs to do.
*Have a good time
Don’t try to do too much. You can see and do more another time!
If you have to wait, try playing games or looking at books with your child.
*Follow up
After the trip, make time to talk with your child about the experience. Encourage her to tell you the story of the trip, and write it down while she watches you. Keep a scrapbook or collection box of specimens, photos, or other reminders of the trip. Your child might enjoy dramatic play with items from your field trip.

To learn more about family field trips in Illinois, visit these Web sites!
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Illinois Directory (from the Association of Children's Museums)
Museums in the State of Illinois (38 Total)
Crossing the Street: How to Teach Your Child to Cross Safely
For a copy of Illinois' Annual Visitor's Guide call:

For additional information and more tip sheets go to

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Dictionary of Meanings (Author Unknown)

Dumbwaiter-one who asks if the kids would like to order dessert
Feedback-the result when the baby doesn't appreciate strained carrots
Full Name-what you call your child when you are mad at him/her
Grandparents-the people who think your children are wonderful even though they are sure you are not raising them right
Hearsay-what toddlers and preschoolers do when anyone mutters a dirty word or a cuss word
Show Off-a child who is more talented than yours
Sterilize-what you do to your first baby's pacifier by boiling it and to your last baby's pacifier by blowing on it and wiping it with saliva
Top Bunk-where you should never put a child wearing Superman pajamas
Two Minute Warning-when the baby's face turn red and s/he begins to make those grunting noises


Monday, May 3, 2010

The Carrot Seed

Hey, it worked! The carrot tops really needed lots of water and lots of sun. You can do this at home. It's easy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Okay, one more comment on the sculpture unit! I had a conference at ICC today and there are three sculptures in the courtyard area. One is small and the other two are GI-NORMOUS! The campus is almost completely empty of students on the weekend. This is a great location for your child to pursue their interest and curiousity in the arts and sculpture. Take a snack and some drinks. Take a camera. Take some paper, crayons and markers. There are many picnic tables and benches. Best of all it's FREE! Remember you are your child's first and most important teacher. What happens at home directly impacts what happens at school.