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.

Monday, November 1, 2010


This is another counting activity we have in our room. We do not use worksheets at our preschool so we have to provide active ways for the children to count. We usually have a basket of die cut seasonal or holiday shapes. Each shape has a number. The students are to count out stickers and have a teacher check for accuracy.

The ICC Child Care Connection has a die cut machine. The cost is minimal (I think it was a dollar last spring). Bring your own paper. Call ahead for hours of the work area. The Child Care Connection is located at ICC North at 54o7 N. University. Click for addtional information and phone numbers.