Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween!  It's Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
and we shall see what can't been seen
On any other night!

Jack Prelutsky

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Haunted House

 This is what our haunted house looked like at the beginning of October.  Black background is just crumpled tissue paper. Very simple.
 The art center has lots of stencils for the children.  Trace, color and cut. Yes, they are cutting these shapes on their own.  This activity is done with the MWF classes who are little bit better with scissors.
 The haunted house looks ready for Halloween.  This activity is part of our center time so not all children will have placed an item on the bulletin board.  Can your child find their ghost or bat?
After they create a piece for the board, the child adds a tally mark.  On Monday, we will estimate and count.  Want to see what's ahead for November???  I am sure you can guess.  It's a plump and perky turkey.  Check him out-

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bats and Nocturnal Animals

                             This week our MWF classes learned about nocturnal animals and bats.  We learned some great new vocabulary-nocturnal and echolocation. 

The craft we created was a very simple project.  The children cut out the circle shaped moon on their own. We try to incorporate and offer lots and lots of cutting.  We cut simple and complex shapes in our class crafts and in our art center.

On Friday, we wrote a report about bats. The children dictate facts they learned and I record as fast as I can.  The report will be sent home next week.

We will be doing a lot of writing throughout the school year.  A three ring binder would be great place to put all the stories and reports that are sent home.  Your child will enjoy 'reading' their reports and stories.  You may even want to put the pages in clear plastic page covers from the office supply store.

We also chose our favorite nocturnal animal.  The chart is blank when we start.  I say, "Nocturnal-what letter sound do you hear at the beginning of 'nocturnal'?  This is repeated for each word.  Don't look to closely at the illustrations. They are bad!  Each child comes up to the chart and makes a tally mark.  We look and see which has the most and the least. We count. We 'write' the numbers on the carpet with our pointer fingers. This activity gives us an opportunity to use words like-greater, more, less, least, and equal.

Want to do more?  Build  or buy a bat house. Check out some books from the local library.  Visit the Peoria Zoo to see some bats.    Want to see bats in flight?  Check out YouTube.  I would preview videos before showing your child.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our Fall Garden

The bulletin board in our art center always has a tree on it.  The tree changes with the seasons and inspires a lot of creativity in our students.  We have a basket filled with paper with a very simple black leaf outline. The child cuts the leaf and then records a tally mark for their class.   The paper is mailing envelopes, wallpaper books and donated wallpaper rolls. This allows us to provide the children with lots of opportunities to use colorful paper without the cost of construction paper.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1-2-3 Spiders

This is a fun activity we have for some creepy Halloween counting in our MWF classes.  An easy enough concept-put one spider on the number one, two on the number two, etc.  We like to provide the children with these types of activities so they begin to count out objects vs. just reciting one, two, three, four...When the child is finished, a teacher checks and then they can press the EASY button.  More on the EASY button at later time...

You can recreate a similiar activity at home.  Write the numbers     1-10 on a piece of paper and have your child place pennies, Goldfish crackers, Cheerios, buttons or small stickers by each number.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boo-tiful Lights

In the Woman's Day magazine October 2011 issue, there are some super cute variations of this craft-

Here are the directions for the jars we made at school-

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Pounding

Our TTh class had fun pounding on pumpkins the last  two weeks.  Safety goggles, golf tees and a toy hammer provided lots and lots fun.  It's kind of pretty, don't you think?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Walking on Air

Family Fun October 2007

Our science unit on air has been great fun.  Today we walked on air.  Really! Even I walked on air!  This was very exciting and another super duper easy science activity for home!  For the who, what, where, when and why's go to -

The 'Empty' Bottle-we also tried blowing a small piece of tissue paper into a two liter bottle (any size bottle will do).  This is way harder than it sounds.  Crumple up a small piece of paper (we used gift tissue paper).  It should about pea size.  Place the paper just inside the bottle mouth.  Hold the bottle horizontally in front of you and BLOW!   Your child should be able to explain why the paper will not go inside the bottle.    Try blowing very, very, very, very, very slowly.  I couldn't do it  but a few of the kids did.

The children also dictated a group report on air.  This will be typed up and sent home next week.  Encourage your child to 'read' their report.

Want to do more?  One thing we did not get to do was painting with the blow dryer.  We were just to busy.  Tape a piece of paper to a table.  Have your child put globs of paint on the paper.  Set the dryer on the lowest/coolest setting and direct the paint.  You might even try using primary colors to create secondary colors!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wildlife Scary Park

Wildlife Scary Park and the 'Merry-Not-So-Scary' Park event is the next two weekends.  For time, cost and activities-

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Playdough People

Aren't these cute? We always have rolling pins, cookie cutters and small pans for playdough.

 Add short strands of Mardis Gras beads, large googly eyes, Popsicle sticks and fun foam to playdough.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Counting Game

This activity is a counting game we use with our MWF classes.  Fun, easy and very adaptable to play at home.   Each child has a cup and a die.  Taking turns (this is probably the hardest part of the game),  each child rolls the die and places the appropriate number of pumpkins in the cup.  Play continues until someone reaches the top of the cup.  You could also use two dice.

We have also had the Magic Potions experiment in our science center. To learn more

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Candy Corn

"The great thing about candy is that it has no redeeming social characteristics.  Its only purpose is to please, to taste so sweet and so good that we simply have to go back for more.  Irene Chalmers, author 1935

We know the quote is so so true.  Aaron Carter might not be singing about Snickers bars but he is right-we want candy especially around Halloween.  I always enjoyed  hosting Halloween parties for the kids when my boys were little (I know it's not for everybody).  Halloween is on a Monday.  If you would like to plan a fun party for friends or just family consider National Candy Corn Day is Sunday, October 30th.  I am not making this up.

Here are few ideas-

Candy Corn Pizza---

Payday Snack---couldn't be an easier snack.  Mix equal parts salted peanuts and candy corn. It tastes like a PAYDAY candy bar.

Candy Corn Gelatin---

There is the food part of the party.  How about some crafts and games?

Candy Corn Pots---

Candy Corn Pumpkins---

Candy Corn Hand Prints---
Candy Corn Hunt---Fill small baggies with candy corn and hide.

Game Ideas---Games for young children are really easy.  For school we take classic children's party games and create a game for the holiday.  For example, the game Pin the Tail on the Donkey can be changed to Pin the Top to the Candy Corn.  On poster board, draw a large piece of candy corn and paint or color.  Have the white pieces for 'pinning'. 

Clothespins in the Milk Bottle-Back in the day all milk was in bottles.  This game involves a steady hand and eye/hand coordination.  You were to drop a clothespin from waist high into a milk bottle.  Easier said than done.  Same concept-drop a piece of candy corn into a Starbucks Frappacino bottle, small bottle or vase.  EASY!

Bean Bag Toss---use the poster board from the Pin the Top on the Candy Corn game.  Place point values on orange, yellow and white. Place poster board on floor and toss small bean bags or candy corn.

Finally, random candy corn facts to share with your friends, family and party guests:

*Candy corn is made by the Jelly Belly Candy Company.  It was first made around the 1880's by the Wunderlee Candy Company.

*35 MILLION pounds are made each year which is 9 BILLION pieces of candy corn. 

*Each piece is about 3 1/2 calories.

*Each piece is fat free.

*Search for "candy corn" and  there are 3.5 MILLION results and more candy corn ideas than you will ever need.

Enjoy National Candy Corn Day everyone!

Friday, October 14, 2011

More AIR

Your child should have brought home two plastic cups and ping pong ball in their backpack. We tried to make the ping pong ball jump from one cup to the other.  For directions,  the how to's and the why's go to

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Power

 Pumpkins provided a lot of opportunities for learning, discovery and cooking for our TTh class.  We looked at the inside of the pumpkin, looked at pumpkin seeds and made pumpkin muffins. Overall, these were a hit!  Check out the recipe at  It is basically yellow cake mix (you can also use butter cake mix), a can of pumpkin and spices. No eggs.  It is a really thick batter so I would suggest using an ice cream scoop to load  the muffins. Also, depending on your oven, bake for 30-35 minutes (I baked a triple batch for 35 minutes and they were perfect) Read the reviews at for additional hints. 

Want more ideas or the recipe for easy pumpkin pudding? Check out

Can't get enough pumpkins?  Want to see pumpkins hurled through the air at great distance?  The 15th Annual Punkin Chuckin' contest is being held this weekend in Morton.  For time, cost and directions

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Our MWF classes started a unit on AIR today.  Here is today's experiment.  Super fun and super easy. This would be a great at home activity but requires adult supervision. 

I gathered a variety of items from around our room and put them on the table.  I asked, "Does air move things?"  Yes, air can move things. From there each child came up and picked an item.  Next we predicted  (new vocabulary) if the item would move or not. I turned on the blowdryer and we watched. We charted each item under yes or no.  Ask your child why some items are under yes and no. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday to the MCP Blog!

Happy Birthday to the MCP Blog!  Two years ago I started the blog for our preschool parents. Parent communication is a very important of our program.  It has been fun to be able to explain and share many of the things we do at school. I love posting the crafts and activities we do at school. I love posting things to do at home.  I love posting things to do in our  area.  One thing I did not expect is that anyone else would be reading our blog.  Although we have few followers, we have readers in  the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Russia, India, Australia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Latvia, Philippines, Austria, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, Honduras, Brazil and Columbia.  I know there are others. My one regret is that I didn't keep track of all the countries---it just never occurred to me. 

Where ever in the world you are...Thanks bunches.  Thanks to our MCP parents, homeschoolers and all of you.  Have some cake and ice cream to celebrate!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Today's Weather Report

We love to talk about the weather.  Too hot, too cold, just right-it is probably the one thing many of us talk about every day.  The weather reporter is one of our classroom helpers.  This activity is a great way to discuss the seasons, the weather and introduce new concepts and vocabulary. 

The weather reporter goes to our classroom window and checks the weather while we sing-
(Tune-Oh Dear What Can  the Matter Be?)
(NAME) what will the weather be?
(NAME) what will the weather be?
(NAME) what will the weather be?  Can we go out to play?
Rainy or sunny or warm or cool?  What will the weather be like at school?
Cloudy or snow or cold or hot? What is the weather today?  HEY!

Our first step is the season.  When summer was ending I asked if we were at the beginning or end of summer.  What season is next?  Now that we have entered fall,  I ask what happens in the fall.   Leaves will turn colors (what colors?). The leaves will fall.  Mommy and Daddy will rake leaves.   It will get colder.  We will start to wear long pants and jackets. You get the idea.  This line of questioning is done for each season.  We also focus on the word-SEASON.

These past few days we have made a point to discuss summer weather does not mean it is summer.  It is still fall and it is still going to get colder.

Next, the child is to choose a weather word and temperature word.  Our weather reporter reads the weather report (The weather is sunny and cool.) and decides if we can go out to play.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The MCP Castle

Children love castles.  They are central theme in fairy tales and movies. Children are very familiar with the concept and look of a castle.  We have removed the 'kitchen' and replaced it with a castle in our room.  Very simple but very fun for our preschoolers.  I have used a lot of cardboard for a wide variety of dramatic play.  We like to use large boxes because they fold flat for easy storage.  We have a sleigh, a rocket, a castle, a house of sticks, stones and bricks and much more stored very compactly.  

The castle is very simple but the play is very complex. We have the castle, dresses, capes and 'armor'.  There is also gold, pouches for the gold, beads and medallions for the knights (this is what I did with all the medals my boys received for sports).  Finally, you can see the table and chairs plus there are  pots, pans and play food.

AND THE LEARNING THAT IS HAPPENING!!!  The children are using a wide range of vocabulary and their imagination provides the rest.  There is communication and cooperation.  This is learning through play.

Want to do more?  This is probably the best website I found  Let me know if you find more. There are also many books at our local library.  A word of caution about castle books-some have some violent illustrations of medieval times.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


There are lot of great BFF's out there-Monica and Rachel, Calvin and Hobbes, Harry, Ron and Hermione and of course Sesame Street favorites...Bert and Ernie!  Last week, our MWF classes talked about friends and friendship and we created these two crafts.  The photos are actual student work.  We do a lot of crafting in our room.  Crafts and art are very different.  

Our art center is a space for the children to express themselves creatively however they choose (we do try to control the glue flow).  Crayons, markers, scissors, paper, glue and much more is readily available for the children to use freely.  Their work is totally their own.

Crafts?  Well, now we have to listen and pay attention.  Very important skills for school.  Many crafts will also incorporate some sort of scissor use.  We start with snipping and move to cutting basic shapes.  Some of the children are able to cut very intricate shapes but that is another post!

For Bert and Ernie who are just pretty darn cute, the children had to snip the hair. Next step by step we put the craft together.  When we give them a piece and  place it onto the craft, I ask about colors, shapes, inside/outside, between and talk about shapes, colors and spatial relationships. Please know that we do not move pieces so the craft looks correct.   

Make room on the refrigerator for lots of arts and crafts! Need some ideas on what to do with your child's art when you run out of room on the frig? Here you go-

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FALL-ing in Love with Autumn!

The next few days are going to be absolutely gorgeous.  If you are looking for something to do check out Spindler Park on Illinois Route 116. 

I have driven by this park for ten plus years. This past weekend, it was so pretty and we were looking for something different to do. We decided to explore Spindler Park.  There are nice wide trails and lots of room for little legs to run. Most trails are rocky like an unpaved driveway. You could push a stroller depending on the type you have. The trail by the playground goes down to the riverfront. If you leave from the marina, there is a fun bridge and some marshy waters. I was told one of the trails from the playground goes over to Jonah's.  It's a fun spot for walking, a picnic and some preschool exploration! For info and directions-

So today I am running errands and decided to cut down Grandview Drive to head to Chillicothe.  I have not been on the WMBD (world's most beautiful drive) in a long time.  This would be a great spot for some family fun, too.  Or even a fun site for a group play date at the playground. So pack a picnic, pick up some Jimmy John's or Subway.  Grab some water bottles and head out for some outdoor family fun! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dough Boy

Click here for the recipe I use for our classroom playdough.  Make a batch for home. Make a batch for a homemade gift for some little cousins with some Christmas cookie cutters.  Make a batch to keep at Grandma's house-
I would recommend either buying a cheap pan for cooking playdough or finding one at a resale shop. 

Pumpkin Pie Playdough
1 can pumpkin
3  4 oz. cheap cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1-1 1/4 cup flour

*Mix.  Keep adding flour until stiff.  This dough smells so good!

Play Clay
1 cup cornstarch
1 pound baking soda
1 1/2 cups cold water

In medium pan, mix cornstarch and baking soda.  Add water all at once and stir until smooth.  Cook over medium heat until consistency of dried mashed potatoes.   Cover with damp cloth and cool. Turn out onto cornstarch covered surface and knead.

Wood Dough
1 cup sawdust
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon liquid starch or white glue
Sieve or piece of screening

*Sift the sawdust through the sieve.  Use only the dust-not the splinters or chunks of wood.
*Mix ingredients.  Add more water or flour as necessary.
*Knead dough until workable and pliable.

Use this dough for pots and bowls.  Roll flat for cookie cutter shapes.  Let projects dry for 2-3 days.  Sand and paint or seal with acrylics.  I am gathering sawdust and will be making this dough soon. We will probably use this dough around Christmas and try to make ornaments.  We'll see how it goes!

Coffee Clay
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup used coffee ground (ask at Starbucks and they will bag some up for you!)
1/2 cup cold leftover coffee

I don't think I have ever made this recipe but we might try this one, too.  My notes indicate this project will look like 'stone' when dried.

*Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until blended.
*Gather and mix w/your hands.  Good child job!!!
*Knead on a floured surface until dough is smooth.
*Store in sealed plastic bag or plastic container.

Soapy The Snowman Dough
Super soapy dough!  You can also turn this dough into soap on a rope.  A good handmade gift for Grandpa!
Click on the link for the recipe and snowman instructions.

One idea for soap on a rope-

or use one yard of cord. Tie the ends together w/a large knot.  Press good soap size amount of dough on yarn just above the knot. Form into a shape.  Let dry for several days.  Tie an additional knot where the cord comes out of the soap.  Squeeze dough so it will hang securely from knot.  Form a shape or you might be able to press into a mold

Sandy Dough
Never have attempted this recipe...if you try it let me know.  It might be fun for our seashore unit :-)
1 cup sand
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon alum
Mix over low heat.  Add 3/4 cup hot water (or colored water).  Stir rapidly and knead until smooth.

Molding Sand
Haven't tried this one either. 
2 cups sand
1 cup water
1 cup cornstarch
Mix and cook until thickened.  Form castle shapes or mold.  Let set until dry.

Peanut Butter Playdough  YUM-O!

Can't get enough playdough recipes??? Here is the website for you- Go ahead and try a few of the recipes.  Have some creative fun with your child.