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.