Monday, December 31, 2012

Wear Sunscreen

What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner.  Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

Tonight we toast to a new year and make resolutions.  Resolutions for better health, better relationships and a better life.  I have quotes and articles in most of the rooms of my house.  In August of 1997, Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune wrote a column directed to the class of 1998.  It was emailed, forwarded, and for awhile it was believed author, Kurt Vonnegut had delivered it as a commencement speech.
I cut out the 'Wear Sunscreen Speech' from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  My copy is brown with age and has water spots because it hangs in the laundry room.  I thought it was a great way to start my new year.  I floss, I sing, I dance but I do need to be more diligent with the sunscreen. Enjoy and have a great 2013.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '98: 

Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. 

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you. Sing.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Because I Said So...

Because I Said So  is a new book authored by ex-Jeopardy champion, Ken Jennings.  The book separates mommy facts from mommy fiction such as waiting an hour until swimming, the dreaded 'sugar high' and many more.  Read an excerpt from Parade magazine---

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

Sometimes it is hard to believe in anything.  There is a magic to Christmas like no other holiday and now more than ever we must believe.  We must believe in each other...the power of people.  Our local paper, the Peoria Journal Star, ran a story about Santa and little girl---

In 1897, Francis P. Church was an editor for the New York Sun when a little girl asked for the truth about Santa Claus. 

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that there is no Santa Claus. Papa says "If you see it in the Sun, it is so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your Papa to hire men to watch all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, or even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else as real and abiding.

No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, maybe 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the hearts of children. 

I believe!  I believe in people. I believe in goodness.  I believe in a better tomorrow. Believe.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bottle Cap Jewelry

We love patterns!  We love plastic bottle caps!  In this center, our MWF classes can lace a necklace but a pattern is required. The wooden beads are from two beaded car seat covers (a garage sale or thrift store find, of course) and the red beads are from a Christmas garland (a thrift store find).

Check out these fun patterns!
 Check out  the post from 2011---

 Want to see what else you can do with bottle caps?  Artist Michelle Stitzlein does amazing art with bottle caps!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Counting 2012

Our TTh class has a colorful center for counting.  This center has lots of colorful Christmas bows (found post-Christmas last year for ten cents a bag!  Score!), glue and tag board. Look how we can count!  Christmas bows are also good for sorting and patterns! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa, Call Me Maybe

Great job, friends!  
You rocked at the Christmas program!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Ornaments


I love creating crafts with student hand prints.  Last year, we made these snowmen ornaments for parent gifts.  Super cute and super easy.  You will need an ornament, white acrylic paint, a black Sharpie and an orange Sharpie marker. Paint your child's hand white and help them carefully grab onto the ornament.  Let the ornament dry (an empty egg carton works well if you are doing a classroom of kids!).  Teachers added the eyes and nose for the kids and done!!!

This year, I adapted an idea from Family Fun magazine. The original idea...  was to trace the child's hand on brown fun foam or card stock and cut out.  Cutting out forty five hand prints was going to be a little time consuming so we painted their hands and printed on some large gift tags we had donated. You will need brown tempera paint, googly eyes, red poms, brown chenille stems cut in about 3 inch sections, glue and ribbon.
We painted and printed the children's hands onto the gift tag.  Let dry.  Be sure to paint a little tail, too.
Bend the chenille stems into reindeer horns for gluing.
Reindeer horns

 Glue eye, nose and antlers onto reindeer. Let glue dry.
Add ribbon and hang on tree or doorknob! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cookie Jar

Our TTh class will be having a sweet time with our annual cookie unit.  Today we tasted some cookies...yummy!   We talked about the shape, size and  that the cookies all tasted different.  After cookie tasting, we went to the tables to make Cookie Monster.  The children used scissors to snip the paper to make Cookie Monster furry.  They did a really good job!

Student Work

Student Work

Student Work

We made cookies for snack!  This is a super easy recipe using a cake mix.  We used a butter recipe cake mix but my family likes dark chocolate with chocolate chips.  Here's the recipe---

On Thursday, we will be making some gingerbread man ornaments.  How to---

We will be singing 'Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?',  reading some books about cookies and writing about our cookie experience.

Have some fun with cookies this week with your child!

Monday, December 10, 2012

God Jul! Christmas in Norway

Good Christmas to you!  Our MWF classes started learning about how Christmas is celebrated in other countries.  We started on Wednesday talking about American traditions.  On Friday, we learned how Norwegian children celebrate Christmas.

We located Norway on our globe.  The children learned Norway is close to the North Pole and very cold.  We also learned that Norwegian children usually have snow on Christmas day and the sun shines only a few hours each day.  

Saint Lucia Day is a on December 13th.  Ask your child how this is celebrated...the oldest daughter dresses in a long white gown with a red belt.  She also wears a crown with seven candles on her head. 

Santa has many different names because children speak many different languages.  The children learned that in Norway the children call Santa 'Julenissen'.  As I was reading from the book, one little boy kept saying, "He looks like Santa."  and another child responded, "He is.  He is just Norwegian!"   You gotta love it :-)

Christmas trees in Norway are decorated with ornaments and lights.  We also learned that Norwegians like to bring decorations into their homes from nature (a little lesson on things from the mall or outside?) and children enjoy making paper chains (we have a paper chain activity in our art center.  If your child's is long, you may be getting a bagful!)

A julenek is a traditional Norwegian decoration made from oats and tied to a pole or tree branch.  The julenek is a symbol of hope and good farming.  The children also learned it is considered good luck if the birds eat from the julenek.  While the children were working on a special project at the tables, I quickly created a julenek.  Our julenek is not made from oats but decorative grasses from my yard.  It looks pretty close!  

Grud is Norwegian rice pudding.  An almond is hidden in one bowl and whoever finds the almond wins a candy pig!  We used vanilla pudding for the children and  because of allergies used fruit snacks instead of an almond.  It was amazing!  Everyone found the hidden surprise but we did not have any candy pigs...maybe next year!

God Jul!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brown Bears and Polar Bears

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  and  Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  are two children's classics by Bill Martin, Jr.  and illustrated by Eric Carle.  Our TTh class had some fun learning about bears and creating some cute crafts.  Please remember...if your child's craft does not look like a bear---no worries!  The children are working very hard on listening to teacher directions.  

Brown Bears...

Student Work

Student Work

Student Work

The polar bears were cut out of donated paper place-mats and glued onto scrapbook paper (donated, of course).  Pretty cute!

Student Work

Student Work

Student Work

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mint Condition

Our MWF classes are using candy canes and mints for counting, sorting and making patterns!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Cookie Dough'

Our TTh class will be having some fun with 'cookie dough'.  Our messy tub is filled with oatmeal (six large containers), some powdered milk and cinnamon.  I used the oatmeal containers to store the rice from our I SPY messy tub.  You can also use clean gallon milk jugs for storage.

Have a you created a messy tub for your child?  Need to know how?

Add measuring spoons and cups, small bowls and pans and watch your child have fun!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Swiss Chocolate

Swiss chocolate!  We received a wonderful treat from a friend in Switzerland.  She sent many interesting postcards and chocolate.  Each child  was able to experience the deliciousness of Swiss chocolate.  Thank you so much for sending us this special treat!
Some friends and family mailed us postcards from Germany and Italy, too!  We are really having a lot of fun with this project.  The children are learning so much and we will be having some fun the next few weeks learning how children all over the world celebrate Christmas.