Saturday, October 30, 2010

Counting, Sorting and Patterns

The MWF classes are playing with candy pumpkins and candy corn. Before we give the children the candy, I explain many children have touched it and it has been on the floor. Do they want to eat it? NO! They are old enough to realize the candy is pretty fun to count but pretty gross to eat. We also often end our activity by passing out a piece of fresh candy corn! We sort the candy, make patterns and count out ten pieces.

Some days we have the children stand up and we sort children. We sort by who is wearing long sleeves, short sleeves, blue jeans, a hoodie, who has an older brother, older sister, etc. The goal is learning to find a commonality between things.

Counting is a math skill we work on everyday. With this activity, we have each child count out ten pieces of candy. I often have parents tell me their child can count to ten, a hundred or whatever but counting out ten items is a different skill. It is harder because the child has to have the one to one correspondence between number and item.

You can easily count, sort and create patterns at home. This weekend is a great time to start. Empty those Halloween bags and count, sort and create patterns with your Halloween candy.

Click for more ideas!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Green Goo

Preschool Chemistry 101-Green Goo
For letter G and Halloween, we made green goo today. Originally, I had wanted to make the goo in small batches to send home. Aren't you glad that didn't pan out? :-) After a few failures, we went with larger batches. Many of the recipes you find on the Internet (including the one I have) show mixing a teaspoon at a time. Go big or go home, I say. This activity does require adult supervision. Here is what worked for us...

You will need:
Liquid starch
Food coloring
Small container/bowl for mixing
Spoon (we used Popsicle sticks and then disposed of them)

There are thousands of recipes out there for slime but this is what really worked for us today. I put a several drops of food coloring in the container and then added about 1/4 cup of glue. The kids mixed the food coloring and the glue. When the glue was green, I slowly added the liquid starch (less than a 1/4 cup). The kids stirred and stirred and were able to see and feel the chemical reaction. We let the goo sit for about five minutes and then rolled and kneaded the goo. Store goo in a zip-loc bag in the refrigerator.

I didn't measure the glue or the starch. It's preschool science not rocket science. It was just easier to pour the glue in and then add the starch. The consistency of the goo is between Silly Putty and Jell-o. We talked about chemistry, chemical reactions and molecules. Serious science mixed with serious fun.

If you make goo- try pulling the goo quickly, try pulling the goo slowly, roll the goo into a ball and drop onto the table, roll into a ball and set in a bowl or put on a table. Put the goo into the freezer for about an hour. What happens???

For more recipes search 'slime recipes' or 'silly putty recipes'. There are also lots and lots of video demonstrations on YouTube.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jack-o-lantern Jars

There are a few crafts we do every year. One is the jack-o-lanterns jars for Halloween because they are just so stinkin' cute. Not only are they cute but they are super easy. They require just a few materials and are perfect for the little battery operated candles.

You will need-
*small jars=salsa, olives, jams, etc. -anything with a wide opening (baby food jars are too small)

*orange tissue paper cut into about 2 inch squares

*black construction paper cut for eyes, nose and mouth

*white glue


*paint brush (big enough to spread the glue)

Dilute the glue with a little bit of water in a small bowl. Dilute enough so it is easy to brush but not watery. We do not use modge podge for crafts. We just dilute white or school glue. Using the paint brush, have your child spread the diluted glue on a small section of the jar and cover with the tissue paper. Work your way all around the jar until completely covered. Spread a thin coat of the diluted glue over the entire jar. Add the facial features and let dry.

These would be super cute to make for teachers or grandmas and grandpas!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Whatever Floats Your Boat!

If your child's sleeves were wet when they came home from school, it's probably because they were in our science center! This week we worked on Letter F and the science activity was Floating Fun.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Big Green Monsters!

During the month of October, we talk a lot about real and pretend in our TTH class. We talk about the decorations they see in the store, how older kids like to dress up scary but kids are under scary costumes and monsters, witches, ghosts are pretend. It is all an effort to keep Halloween fun for our little ones.

This past week, we read 'Go Away Big Green Monster!' by Ed Emberley. As the children listened to the book they helped me tell the big green monster to go away.

The illustrations are colorful and are very cleverly cut. The monster starts with two eyes and grows into a big green monster and then slowly goes away. Check it out at your library or buy it to add to your home library.

We also read 'Glad Monster, Sad Monster' by Anne Miranda & Ed Emberley. This is a book on monsters and how they feel.

Our craft was a BIG GREEN MONSTER! The children were to snip the purple hair and were given directions to create their monster. Some of our crafts will have cutting or snipping. We want the children to be able to hold the scissors correctly and cut basic shapes.

Want to do more? I love Ed Emberley. If you have a child (or even an adult) that likes to draw, Ed Emberley is the man. He shows you how to take letters, shapes and squiggly lines and draw just about anything. There is also a book on thumbprint drawings. The books are easy enough for preschoolers but challenging enough for grade school children. Go to for many online activities and a complete list of books.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boo! Bang! Gobble! Melt!

Huh? These are all titles to an alphabet recognition game we play in our room. We do not use worksheets in our room so we are always trying to create fun ways for the children to recognize their letters. We start off the year with a BANG!

The game is a simple idea repeated throughout the year with different seasonal themes. A container is filled with letter cards. A few cards are labeled BANG, BOO, etc. depending on the season. The children take turns picking a card and identifying the letter. If a player picks BANG, s/he returns his/her cards to the container. The child remains in the game and play continues. The children really love this game.

You can see in the photos some of the games we have created. We start off the year with BANG.

Halloween-pumpkin cards-BOO

Thanksgiving-turkey cards-GOBBLE

Christmas-gift cards-NAUGHTY

Winter-snowmen cards-MELT

Valentine's Day-heart cards-BROKEN
Ideas are only limited to your imagination!

What can you do at home? The letter tiles are available in the school/office supply section of most major retailers. You can create your own BANG! game for home. Also, point out letters in your day to day activities. Look at the letters of Menards, Lowes, Target and Walmart as you enter the store. At breakfast, check out the C in Cheerios, the T in Trix or the F in Froot Loops. You get the idea. Each day presents lots and lots of opportunities for letter recognition in your child's everyday world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preschool Science 110

I admit that the sciences were not my favorite in high school and college but I love teaching the sciences to our preschoolers! I attended a science workshop many years ago. The presenter was Sue Kerr. She developed a science lesson for each letter of the alphabet for her kindergarten class. The results of her efforts were published in the book "Science through the Alphabet" and it is still in print.

I had to alter all of the lessons for preschoolers but it was well worth it. I now have a file full of science and math activities. Materials are stored in large zip-loc bags in a storage tub. In addition to Sue's lessons, I have developed lots of science and math activities over the years. The time spent means easy access to some fun science and math lessons for our preschoolers.

The science activities are only used for our MWF classes. The science center is about discovery and exploration-not being right or wrong. We introduce lots of vocabulary-experiment, dissolve, chemistry, balance, etc. through our science center. The science activities are usually a one or two person center that the children can choose. Almost all children use the science center but not everyone. They are also allowed to experiment again and again. It is not a one time try for each child but they must take turns.

Two fun lessons were kitchen chemistry experiments. During the letter D, we asked 'Does It Dissolve?' The children were to choose an item (salt, sprinkles, beans, sugar, flour, rice, etc.) and stir it into the water to see if it dissolved.

Magic Potions is finding the right combination to create magic! We put out four magic powders and four magic liquids and only the right combination will create 'magic'. This is always fun around Halloween.

Powders are sugar, salt, cornstarch and of course baking soda. Liquids are soda, water, vegetable oil
and the magic liquid, vinegar. The powders and liquids are color coded. A few children will use logic to try to figure out which creates the magic. Ususally, it's luck. It has never failed. Some time during the week, a child happens to get the right combination. The look on their face is priceless. The next step is to tell all their friend the right combination!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Haunted House

What gorgeous weather we had in central Illinois this week! Hopefully, it will continue so upcoming Halloween activities will be dry and somewhat warm.
On Saturday, October 23rd there will be a haunted house at the firehouse in Metamora. Child friendly hours will be from 4:30-6:30 for your little ones and older children can get spooked from 7-10:00 p.m. Admission for children 10 and under is $2.00 and all other ghouls and boys will pay $5.00. There will be complimentary cider and popcorn. All proceeds will benefit our Emergency 116 Ambulance Service.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin!

Each fall, we have a lot of fun with our pumpkin unit in our TTH class. Many of the activities we do every year. Check out the October 2009 blog

Teachers get bored doing the same thing over and over (at least this teacher does) so we always try to do something new and different. This year we made a Mr. Pumpkin Head. The children have been pounding golf tees into the pumpkin at one of the centers.

Today during our group time each child picked a facial feature or arms. You guessed it. They are Mr. Potato Head parts! I pounded them into the pumpkin. We talked a lot about spatial relationships. Eyes are near the top. Nose is below and in between your eyes. Mouth is under the nose. Ears are on the side. Lots and lots of vocabulary-each time we placed a piece we talked about how many and where it belonged on the head.

If you want to do this at home, get your Mr. Potato Head parts, a golf tee and a hammer. I pounded the golf tee in the pumpkin to make an opening and then placed the piece in the hole. I think if you made the hole big enough, a child could push the piece into the pumpkin.

We did three faces and your child will probably be able to tell you which piece s/he picked out. It was super fun.
Later in the day, we worked on a craft. The samples below are student work. When we work on a craft, we show a sample and give very specific directions. They are to watch and follow. So you ask, "Well, Susie Q's doesn't look anything like a jack-o-lantern."
Well, that is okay. We do not move pieces because for us it is a way to continually assess if the children are able to listen and follow directions-in small and large groups. They are young. They will get better at listening and following teacher directions. This is their first school experience so they are learning to listen and follow directions.

Want to have more fun with pumpkins? Morton is holding their annual Punkin' Chuckin' contest on Saturday, October 16th and Sunday, October 17th. It's $5 per vehicle. For additional information-

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Art Gallery

Do you have sliding glass doors in your house? Use Crayola window markers and draw frames on the doors. Hang your child's artwork inside the 'frames'. Easy breezy lemon squeezy plus artwork is easily changed. For other fun ideas using window markers, markers, crayons and chalk go to

Monday, October 11, 2010

Art Galleries

By now you may have several pieces of your child's artwork or several hundred. We have a lot of creative hands busy everyday. The refrigerator can only hold so much artwork and then how do you preserve those precious crafts and paintings?

***Head to one of the many Goodwill stores in the area and buy some frames. Check for store locations. Paint the frames a uniform color or collect unique shapes and sizes for your display. Check out for help with this project and other great display ideas.

***Do you have a glass topped table? Slip artwork underneath. Save seasonal art projects for this idea!

***Send art work in greeting cards to faraway relatives.

***Scan art and use a computer screen saver, post on your Facebook, place in a digital frame for a slide show (again great place for seasonal art).

***Use a three ring binder and plastic sleeve covers to store art.

***Pack up seasonal and holiday projects with your seasonal decorations and hang them up each year. I crack up when I get out my grown up boys old school projects. It really is such a joy to remember their childhood!

***The classic home art gallery is the refrigerator. I have many photos of my boys with lots and lots of art that did not get preserved. It is okay to throw it away. Seriously after a few years where can you store it all? The photos make us laugh because our first house came with an avocado refrigerator. We see favorite outfits they wore when they were little and we still can see the art! I wonder what they will say when they find out I posted their pictures on the school blog. Oh well, I'm still the mom :-)

Why go to all this trouble? It shows your child you value their work. The children love to create things for the family so try to create a space where your family can share their art work.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Boo at the Zoo

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate next weekend for the Peoria Zoo Howl-Zoo-Ween bash. There will be trick or treat trails, magic shows, a costume contest and many more activities for you and your family. Howl-Zoo-Ween will be held Friday, October 15th and Saturday, October 16th from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for zoo members and $5 for the rest of the world. For more information go to Why drive hours when you can play around in Peoria?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We Are in Great Shape

Our TTh class is having fun with shapes. We learned that shapes are EVERYWHERE!

We made a craft with squares which required a lot of listening and following directions. Our circle craft was more open ended. The children could glue the circles anywhere. We started with one large circle and the circles became smaller and smaller.

We are singing a shape song and playing a shape game. Each child is given two shapes on a card (we work on square, circle, triangle, oval, rectangle and diamond). We sing the song and when they hear their shape, they stand up.

The Shape Song (Where is Thumbkin?)-

Where's a ________?

Where's a ________?

Show me now.

Show me now.

If you have a _______,

If you have a _______,

Sit back down.

Sit back down.

Want to do more? We talked about shapes are everywhere. You can point out shapes in your environment to your child. In the car, on the road, in the store and in your home-shapes are everywhere.

Band on the Run

Remember that one time at band camp? Me neither. I never went to band camp but this Saturday thirty plus marching bands from all over Illinois will be lining up to march through Metamora.

The 30th Annual Metamora Parade and Field Invitational will be held this Saturday, October 9th at Malone Field. The parade starts at 11 a.m. and will follow the MTHS homecoming parade route. If you have an aspiring musician and would like to watch the field competition, head to Malone Field at 1 p.m. Adults admission is $5 and children/students $2. There will be food and drink for purchase at the field competition. A super fun filled local event for you and your family.

Helpful hint-stay clear of the high school in the morning when buses, trucks and trailers are arriving.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Barn Dance!

Our MWF classes listened to the story 'Barn Dance!' This is one of my favorite children's books. It is written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. Do you recognize the authors? Bill Martin Jr. wrote the 'Brown Bear, Brown Bear' books with Eric Carle as the illustrator. Bill and John also wrote 'Chicka Chicka Boom Boom'.

Before I read the book, we looked at the cover and the children told me what they saw. We talked about the boy, it's dark, where should that boy be, the scarecrow, what is a scarecrow's job, are they in the city or the country, what is a barn, where do you find a barn, who do you think is going to come to the dance and what do you hear at a dance. Remember the goal of reading is to engage your child in the book. Ask questions. Talk about the illustrations. Get their reaction to the story.

When we talked about hearing music at a dance, I told the children that I was not going to read them the story but sing it them. We had a blast. This is such a good book and I highly recommend it for your library. It is available at Amazon and most major book stores. I read it so many times to my boys I know the words by heart!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Perfect Playdough

This is seriously the best playdough recipe ever! I have had the recipe so long I can't even credit the person that gave it to me. With the forecast looking to cooler temperatures, it is time to look for indoor activities away from the TV for your kids and kids love playdough. This is a cooked recipe so it is an activity you can do with your children. Remember cooking with kids is fun! Seriously remember that when there is flour all over the kitchen. :-)

Playdough Recipe
(I usually double for school)

2 c. flour
1 c. salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 c. water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Food coloring

Measure the dry ingredients and put in large pan. Add liquids and heat on a medium heat. Continually stir. Mixture will start to get thick. When it gets to playdough like consistency, remove from heat. Let cool a a bit and knead. It will probably be too warm for little hands.

If the mixture is too wet add small amounts of flour or too dry add small amounts of water.

Store in a Ziploc bag or sealed container.


We have had our playdough for over a year. When I pulled out the bag this year it was a little dry and I just added water. We love this playdough because it doesn't flake into little bits like the store bought playdough.

We provide small rolling pins, plastic knives, cookie cutters, small plates, small baking and muffin pans and lots and lots of birthday candles.

For scented playdough, add one or two packs of unsweetened Kool-aid to the dry ingredients. You can also add cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to the dry ingredients for a yummy smell. Vanilla can be added to the wet ingredients and look in the baking aisle for other extract flavors that could be added for scent.