Friday, March 30, 2012

I Can Draw

I just love this monkey and his flamingo friend!  I did a quick search on the Usborne website and didn't see this book (but I didn't look real hard either). It is listed on Amazon.  I like this book for our preschoolers because like the Ed Emberley books it uses simple shapes. In a few steps the children have drawn an animal.  There a quite a few aspiring artists in our room! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Some Bunny Love You

We are getting ready for our Easter Egg hunts on Thursday and Friday.  Our Easter Bunny Bags have turned out super  cute!!!

Use brown acrylic or tempera paint. Paint your child's palm and fingers (EXCLUDING THE THUMB) and print on paper.  Let dry.  Use the pointer finger to paint in pink ears (have your child start at the top and pull the paint down), a pink dot  for the nose and two black dots for the eyes.  After the facial features dry, use a sharpie marker to add mouth and whiskers.

These brown bunnies would look cute on an apron for Grandma, an invitation to Easter dinner,  place cards for Easter brunch (scan and print) and more.  An easy at home home Easter craft.  Hop to it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bunny Trouble!

Bunny Trouble by Hans Wilhelm is a wonderful holiday book to add to your home library.  Ralph is one of the Easter bunny's helpers.  Ralph loves to play soccer and gets into some bunny trouble.    

We have  large Easter eggs at our easel in the art center.  We have large and small plastic lids and thread spools for painting.  The children are creating some beautiful eggs.  No bunny trouble here.  

For a fun paint experience, save a variety of plastic lids (laundry detergent,etc).  Place paint in a Styrofoam egg carton lid.   Let your child paint with circle lids.  Best of all---easy clean up.   We use plastic lids and Styrofoam egg carton lids because we can just throw it all away.   Reusing is recycling! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Is In the Air

Spring is off to wonderful start here at MCP.  We have been talking about what will be happening in the spring and our TTh classes have cut leaves for our garden bulletin board.  We try to provide a lot of scissor use for our preschoolers.   The leaf is a simple shape. We cut a leaf on Tuesday and again today.   The leaves are cut from wallpaper books and donated scrapbook paper.  There will also be a basket of more leaves to cut in our art center for the children to continue to add more leaves to the tree.

We also have started our Easter bags for next weeks Easter hunt.  Taking a gift to Grandma or a favorite aunt?  These bags with your child's handprint are super cute.  Also, marble painting is also a creative way for your child to decorate a gift bag.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Van Gogh and Friends

We have been talking about colors and artists off and on all year.   This week we are looking at the art of Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt and Picasso  (more artists if we have time).   Today I showed the children two pictures and the children were to tell me the artist.  We repeated the process for several prints.  They were amazingly accurate.

We are also learning to draw. Hopefully, you have seen the large papers with black crayon drawings. This activity incorporates a lot of wonderful skills...listening, following directions, small motor skills, creating shapes, lines and letters and more.  The children also discovered when they drew something a second or third time that they got better!   We drew a spider, a ladybug, a bird, a pig and more. I give the children's directions from Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals.  I drew on a clipboard and demonstrated for the kids and they watched and copied.   They did a wonderful job.

 Ed Emberley's drawing books are a great introduction for preschoolers. Check out his website   and look at your bookstore or local library for his books.

Want  to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam? the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City?  The Google Art Project will take you to the best art in the best museums. Your child knows about landscapes, seascapes, still life, portraits, self portraits and more.  Take some time and explore these online museums.  It is a world class art experience. 

When you are out and about, pay attention to art.  Take some time to visit local sculptures.  Need ideas???   Have an easel?  Bring it outdoors to encourage creativity.  

Take some time this week to draw, sculpt and create with your child.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vases and Bunnies

 We are working on letter V this week in our MWF classes.  This is a very vibrant vase, don't you think?   If you would like to do this project home---

This is another cute Easter project you can do at home.  These would be cute at the 'kids table' for Easter.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Maddness

Easter Lacing Cards
We have had a wonderful and fun filled week at MCP (but that is true every week!)   We have a lot of activities out for the children to do. Most of these activities are easy enough to do at home. In our Discovery Center, we have egg shapes and bunnies for lacing.   Our lacing cards are take home projects.  We create them from wall paper books.  Cut two, staple together and hole punch.  And forget about wrapping tape around yarn!!! Dip the yarn into glue....For more lacing ideas and directions---

Do you have a large bulletin board?  A bulletin board in your child's room or playroom would be a wonderful ongoing art project!   The bulletin board in our art center is called "The Garden".   I started with blue sky and an empty winter tree.  Our TTh class has added green grass to the garden.  Soon green leaves, bunnies, flowers and birds will have this boring board springing into life!  Need more bulletin board ideas?  Check out 'Bulletin Boards' on our blog.

Most children can easily recite their numbers one through ten or even twenty.   Our goal is to get them to count.  We have lots of counting activities in our room.  Our Easter counting activity is an empty basket that needs to be filled with eggs.  The children have to recognize the number (another important skill) and glue on the correct number of eggs.  After a teacher checks their work, they get to press the easy button.

The TTh class is working on numbers through ten.  The MWF classes have baskets with numbers through twenty.

There's more!!!   We have a bulletin board with an empty Easter basket (the basket is not great but the kids don't care).  We have paper (from wallpaper books) and stencils in our art center.  Our TTh classes have eggs that are already traced and ready to cut.  When they cut an egg, you guessed it---they get to press the easy button. The MWF classes have to trace and cut the egg.  They also place a tally mark on a chart and we will count how many eggs each class puts in the basket.

That should keep us pretty busy for the next couple weeks.  Happy St. Patrick's Day to all and have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Frozen Planet

The Frozen Planet premiers this Sunday, March 18th on the Discovery Channel at 7 p.m. The website has episode guides and lots of facts about polar animals.

This series looks like a wonderful way to continue to learn about polar animals.  There is also the cutest Penguin Cam on the Frozen Planet site with a live stream from the penguin exhibit at Seaworld in San Diego.    It is just super fun to watch the little penguins waddle around.  I even watched feeding time!

 Enjoy discovering polar animals with your child!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Deep Space

"Walking in space, man has never looked more puny or more insignificant." 
Alexander Chase

We have a fun filled week planned for our MWF classes and our TTh class.  Our Universe and Space unit has some dramatic play that is out of this see our MCP rocket, click-

Our MWF classes will have two science centers available during center time.

The first is the Big Dipper...

And Moon Phases. 

The moon stencils are made with plastic lids.  If you would like to make stencils for your school, Sunday School, Scouts or home, it is easy.  Save some large plastic lids.  Adult job only---Trace a shape onto the lid w/a Sharpie and cut w/an Exacto knife. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sort, Make a Pattern, Count Out Ten

 I found these St. Patrick's Day erasers (does anyone really use them as erasers???) at the party store on Sheridan Road in Peoria.   Our TTh class will be using these for counting, sorting and patterns.  We will be working on these concepts in a large group. 

The MWF classes are using jelly beans.  Ooooo...they smell so good but dont' eat.  The children know and understand these jelly beans are for sorting, patterns and counting. Jelly beans are fun and inexpensive way to have some fun with math at home. 

Buy a bag and watch how your child works!  

For more ideas, search 'sorting, patterns or counting' on our blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Just Want to Bang on the Drum All Day!

Instrument Cards
 We are JAZZED at MCP this week!!! Pun intended.  This music unit has been a part of our MWF program for several years.  The unit keeps growing and getting better and better. I know the children are LOVING it!

What are we doing?  We are learning the names of the instruments.  I made these 3 x 5 cards several years ago when we were ditching our encyclopedias.  You could a similar activity with your child using clip art.

Here is a list of the instruments---triangle, guitar, harmonica, bongo/snare/kettle/bass drums, clarinet, banjo, violin, sousaphone or tuba, bagpipes, sleigh bells, cello, flute,accordion, saxophone, French horn, harp, trumpet,  piano and cymbals. 

These are direction cards. We have been using these cards with our band instruments since the beginning of the school year.  I hold up a card and the children play the instruments according to the card.  The children recognize when to stop, go, play fast, etc.  Ask your child about the cards. 

 Sometimes just the boys play and sometimes just the girls play.

 A music unit would not be any fun if we didn't make an instrument or two.  There are thousands of ways to make maracas. You can use clean plastic peanut butter jars, water bottles, yogurt tubs, etc.                                                                                 
 From Family Fun magazine...

What can you put inside?  Rice, popcorn seeds, beads, pennies, beans---use your imagination.  Make several and compare and contrast the sounds. 

So we made maracas and of course the kids had no idea what these little canisters are and I am going to be really sad when I run out (if you are hoarding some send them to me).  Again with the office stickers.  Cute, colorful and easy.  A little slit in the lid, push in the stick and done. 

Today we reviewed the names of the instruments and listened to different types of music.  We listened to classical (thank you Little Einsteins. It's amazing how many songs they recognized from LE), jazz, country and rock 'n' roll.  We also made another instrument. Yep-they are just paint sticks.  This idea was adapted from Family Fun magazine   We used markers and white reinforcement stickers. Then the fun began!

We have been drumming on the take out containers from Michael's for awhile so the children are very familiar w/watching and repeating what I do.  We banged on the tables first...and then later we brought out our drums and made some awesome music.  The children understand we are creating a pattern.  Isn't that awesome how the math gets in there!  We sat in a circle and drummed on the floor, on the drum and our sticks.  We drummed our neighbors drums to the right and then on our neighbors drum to the left. This is a fantastic activity that helps us listen and follow directions.  Don't tell your child...they just think they are having fun!

There is so much more you can do at home to engage your child.  I searched on YouTube and you can find solos and great videos of any instrument.  I found videos on the bagpipes, the harp, accordion and even the triangle.  It would be a great way for your child to see and hear the instrument (be sure to preview videos first). 

Listen to classical, country, jazz or some old school rock 'n' roll. 

This summer there are many free concerts.  Check the blog over the summer for activities for you and your family.

A special thanks to Chad Dunn of Recycled Rhythms.  Chad is a music teacher at the Next Generation School in Champaign, Illinois.  I met Chad teaching at the Sun Foundation's Art and Science in the Woods camp.  I teach a class called Little Explorers (6 and 7 year olds)  and we spend an afternoon playing on recycled drums.  Chad can turn a tire, oil drum, tin can, a trash can and more into an instrument.  He inspired me to do more with our music!  To see Chad and his student perform, click

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Have You Seen My Duckling?

Have You Seen My Duckling?  by Nancy Tafuri  is a great spring book to have in your home library.  Few words but fun illustrations make this book engaging for young children.  Our TTh class will be learning about birds this week.  We read this book today, looked for the duckling and had some laughs about the ducks that were bottom up!   Next was a craft...

Scrapbook paper, green construction paper
 w/straight black lines and yellow duck die cuts

We had a large amount of scrap booking paper donated to our program that have given our crafts a fresh new look.  You can buy the duck die cuts at school supply stores.

First we gave each child and a scissors to cut the green paper into grass.  More cutting practice!!!

Next the children glued the grass onto blue paper.  Each child glued their ducks onto the grass. They were given no other direction than to glue their ducks.  I love how they lined up the ducks and have the one adventurous duck out on his own just like the book.  Too cute!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fins and Flukes

Last week, our MWF classes learned about sharks and whales.  We learned sharks are fish and whales are mammals (introducing the concept of mammals).  We learned baby sharks are called pups and baby whales are called calves.  That's funny.  We saw how big a whale shark and a blue whale are.  THEY ARE BIG!  This is an easy activity for you to do at home.  If you child is interested in sharks and whales (or any other animal for that matter) get a skein of yarn and measure out how big the animal is (we do this activity for dinosaurs, too.)  It was great fun to see the children get wide eyed as I kept walking and walking with the yarn to see just how big that blue whale is (it really makes one feel very small).  Ask your child what they remember about whales and sharks. 

A trip to Shedd Aquarium and you can see belugas---

Good whale and shark website---
Good whale website---
Good shark website---

Keep the learning process going at home!  Learn more about these amazing creatures with your child!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Changes in Attitude...Changes in Latitude

We had a change in attitude and  a change in latitude today at MCP!  We headed 'south' and warmed up the room for some summer fun.   We changed the season on our chart from winter to summer and changed the weather from cold and rainy to hot and sunny!  YES...good times had by all. 

On Wednesday, our MWF classes made sand bottles.  How to color sand---

Time for me to do my favorite seashore activity----take a nap!   Plan some summer fun for your family this weekend!