Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Bucket List Part 2

Earlier this week, John and Nancy on  93.3 The Drive  were discussing that most of the grade schools in central Illinois were done for the summer this week.  YIKES!   Their children were already asking, 'What are we going to do today?'  Listeners called in with suggestions on summer activities.  I have also added a few more of my own.

1. Load up your bikes and grab your helmets and visit Safety Town

2. Visit Allerton Park which is one of the seven wonders of Illinois.  I bet you didn't even know there were seven wonders of Illinois.  I didn't.

3. Staved Rock is another one of the seven wonders of Illinois.  Starved Rock State Park is located on the Illinois River. It is a relatively short drive and a great day trip.  This is one of my favorite places in Illinois. You can hike in the park or walk around downtown Utica. If you are spending the day, pack a picnic or the Starved Rock Park Lodge has a fantastic view and outdoor drinks and dining. It's worth it just to see the facility and all the big log sculptures outside the lodge.  Stop by Foothills Organics for a free cookie. Check out the Foothills line of organic foods.  Tell Gerard and Becky I said 'Hi!'  Restaurants, gift shops and wine tasting are plentiful.  Skoogs Pub and Grill is a favorite.  We want to try the Cajun Connection sometime but have not been----There's is a good restaurant on the river but the name escapes me and I couldn't find it online but I also didn't search very hard.  Want to spend the night?  Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort is a lot closer than the Wisconsin Dells.  Did I mention I love Starved Rock?

4. Farmdale Park---I have never been but several listeners called in this one.

5. Nancy raved about the Kids Bowl Free program.

6. Like flea markets? Third Sunday Market is well...the the third Sunday of each month in Bloomington.

7. Head up to Grandview Drive and the park with the kids and a picnic.

8. Try geocaching

9. Watch Alice in Wonderland and plan an unbirthday party for everyone.

10. Dance...YouTube has great instructional videos on all sorts of line dances.  Start with the Hokey Pokey.  The Chicken Dance is a must plus the Cupid Shuffle, Limbo, Macarena, Hand Jive, Electric Slide and Cha Cha Slide.

Need more?  Younger children can draw pictures of their experience, journal, scrapbook,  take lots and lots of photos, video a 'news' report or create a family 'Travel Channel'.  Have a great summer with your child!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Reading List

How do you get your children to read over the summer?  How about a movie?  From the start of filmmaking, Hollywood has looked to children's literature to create  movies.  Normally, you would read the book and then see the movie.  Try generating some interest in the book by watching the movie first.  This is a great activity for older children and reluctant readers. Also,younger children are often ready to listen to longer chapter books.  Add a little academics by creating a chart and record if the movie or book version was preferred. 

Here's a Wikipedia link to get you started---'s_books's_books_made_into_feature_films

Some of our family favorites-
Charlotte's Web, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Jumanji, Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Holes, Indian and the Cupboard, Stuart Little  

School will be out soon.  Start planning some fun for you child!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Drama Queen Part 2

To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.
Anatole France Thibault

Prop boxes  (plastic storage bins) are a wonderful way to organize your dress-ups and dramatic play center.  If you are home daycare, a large center or parent, I think it's the easiest way to keep your hats, props and dress-ups organized if you have some storage room. 

Here are some of our dramatic play centers-housekeeping, fire station, the beach, space ship, dinosaur dig, pizza parlor, pet shop and veterinarian, school and Santa's workshop.  We also love to act out stories like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Mitten and The Three Little Pigs.  Check our blog posts under Dramatic Play for photos and specifics.  

More ideas-
BAKERY-bowls, measuring cups and spoons, cookie sheets, cookie cutters, rolling pins, wooden spoons, spatulas, clean empty food containers (cake boxes, etc), recipe cards and cookbooks

BABY DOLL BATH TIME-this is a great summer activity.  Take all the baby dolls out for a bath. Have soapy water, towels, and clean baby clothes.

BIRTHDAY PARTY-party hats, plates, cups, napkins, plastic cutlery, presents and a birthday cake.  Check out Melissa and Doug for cute cakes for play.

GROCERY STORE-empty food boxes and containers, bags, play money, clipboards and paper, grocery ads, grocery cart

OFFICE-keyboard, telephone, paper, pencils, office supplies

SAFARI-pith helmets, brown/khaki shirts, small animals (Beanie Babies or plastic figurines), maps, clipboards w/paper and pencils, shovels, sunglasses, binoculars

WE'VE GOT TALENT SHOW-fun dress-up, musical insturments

We use large cardboard boxes for many items in our dramatic play.  Boxes are free and store flat.  The work to create the prop is totally worth it.  Most of our boxes we have had for years. Santa's sleigh had a little accident this year but overall the boxes hold up to the day to day play of our classroom.

We have a play kitchen table and chairs.  We also have computer key boards, old cell phones and cameras.  These items are included in almost every dramatic play. Don't forget books, paper and pencils.

Dress up clothes from toy stores can be expensive.  I prefer to look at thrift shops and yard sales for children's clothes that are  few sizes bigger than our preschoolers. Don't forget purses, small suitcases and costume jewelry (the uglier and more gaudy the jewelry is the better the kids like it)

Take your dramatic play outside.  We have a large deck box outside and will be getting a second to add more props for outdoor play.  Take your play kitchen outside to the yard or deck. Most play kitchens are plastic and if you are concerned about the weather cover w/a tarp. 

Have fun playing dress-up with your child!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Drama Queen

Drama is a good thing in early childhood. Dramatic play is not just about playing house.  Because of limited space, we play 'house' early in the school year and that's about it.  We have a castle, a fire truck, a rocket, Santa's sleigh and pizza oven made out of large cardboard boxes. The best thing about creating props for young children is you don't need a lot of artistic talent (believe me...look at our dramatic play posts).  The children fill in the details with vivid imaginations.

The second best thing is you don't need to spend a lot of money on props.  Young children love 'real' adult props.  We use old cell phones, cameras and computer keyboards.  An old garden hose is cut in small sections for our firefighters.  Children's magnifying glasses, old maps and atlases, small clipboards w/paper and pencils stimulate their imagination and incorporate developing writing skills. Menus and books add a literary element to play.

Two 2 liter soda bottles or two juice bottles are air tanks for firefighters, scuba gear for divers and rocket boosters for astronauts. How to--  That's my idea in Family Fun magazine...

I love to hear the children using words like extinct and paleontologist in their play.  They point to and name planets on posters as they 'travel' through space. Dramatic play reinforces what we are learning  in our classroom.  The children are using new vocabulary, developing a sense of cooperation in play and role playing.  There is a lot of learning going on when your child is playing 'dress-up'.

For more on why dramatic play is important for the young child-


Monday, May 14, 2012

Summer Bucket List

When my boys were little, we lived near St. Louis.  Every summer a small group of us would plan fun field trips for moms and kids.  Once a week we would visit places most of us had never been or didn't know even existed. We toured  professional sports sites, visited the Bowling Hall of Fame (really!) and over the course of several summers really toured the city. It was great fun.

My point?  and I do have don't have to live near a metropolitan area to find activities for you and your family to enjoy this summer.  With gas prices near four dollars a gallon, the 'stay-cation' is still a popular choice for families on a budget (and that includes me!) Part of your summer is going to be running kids to and from camps plus sitting in a lawn chair with a diet soda and bad nachos and cheese watching ball games.  Make sure some of your summer includes fun activities with friends and family.  Start making some memories with your child!

Here is a list of ideas to get you started---

1.  Visit a public swimming pool in neighboring town
2.  Ride on the Spirit of Peoria
3.  Visit a zoo-Peoria, Bloomington or Springfield
4.  Have a backyard camp out before it gets to hot
5.  Attend area festivals and carnivals
6.  Look for free local band concerts
7.  Attend a Peoria Chiefs game
8.  Visit Wildlife Prarie Park
9.  Visit Forest Park Nature Center
10. Visit an ethnic grocery store
11.  Head down to the Peoria riverfront in swimsuits and run through the fountains...probably just the kids should wear their swimsuits
12. Have a Pajama Day, Park Day, I'm Board Day and Templeton Day.  Huh???  Check out this past post---
13. Visit the Bass Pro Shop
14. The Woodford County and Marshall County Conservation parks are along Illinois Route 26 north of Spring Bay
15.  Ideas for taking the kids to the Farmer's Market
16. The K'Nex exhibit opens June 2nd at Lakeview Museum
17. The Children's Discovery Museum in Normal is less than an hour away
18. Splashdown is a must at least once
19.  Have as much ice cream as you can over the summer
20. Enjoy a train ride, mini golf or an outdoor movie at Didley's Place

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teacher Let the Monkeys Out!

To love what you do and feel that it matters-how could anything be more fun?  
Katharine Graham

This quote is the perfect way to describe how I feel about teaching preschool.  Thank you so much for choosing Metamora Community Preschool and sharing your children with us.  We truly believe when a child is loved and is able to laugh, the learning will shine through!

Need some ideas to keep the kids busy over the summer?  Check out the June, July and August blogs from past years to get you started.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When God Created Mothers

Bestamor, Grandma, Mom and Me
Mother's Day is a week away.  Written by Erma Bombeck (1927-1996), I think this is probably pretty close to the truth.  Enjoy your mother and hold her close.
When God Created Mothers
When the good Lord was creating mothers He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said, "You’re doing a lot of fiddling around this one."
And the Lord said, "Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic; Have 180 moveable parts... all replaceable; Run on black coffee and leftovers; Have a lap that disappears when she stands up; A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair; And six pairs of hands."
The angel shook her head slowly and said, "Six pairs of hands... no way."
"It’s not the hands that are causing me problems," said the Lord. "It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have."
"That’s on the standard model?" asked the angel.
The Lord nodded. "One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, "What are you kids doing in there?" when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, "I understand and I Love You" without so much as uttering a word."
"Lord", said the angel, toughing His sleeve gently, "Come to bed. Tomorrow..."
"I can’t," said the Lord, "I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick... can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger... and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower."
The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It’s too soft," she sighed.
"But tough!" said the Lord excitedly. "You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure."
"Can it think?"
"Not only think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator.
Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. "There’s a leak," she pronounced. "I told You. You were trying to put too much into this model."
"It’s not a leak," said the Lord, "it’s a tear."
"What’s it for?"
"It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride."
"You are a genius," said the angel.
The Lord looked somber. "I didn’t put it there."
- Erma Louise Bombeck

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Little Sprouts

We knew they would grow. Our carrot and sunflower seeds have sprouted.  Planting seeds is such a great lesson in observation and patience for children (and their teacher).  The seeds have been sent home and you can plant the tubes directly into the ground.  

This is the first year we have planted seeds in the toilet paper tubes. How to---  I love trying new ideas out in our classroom. I have bounced back and forth liking and disliking these seed starters.  Overall, I like the idea but here is what I learned--

*I used two tubes (see the 'how to').  Some of the tubes started to uncurl and the second tube kept dirt, seeds and roots inside the pot.

*I used office labels for the names of the children and type of seeds.  At  first, I wasn't sure this was going to work out well because as the labels got damp they wanted to come off.  Eventually, they stayed on the tubes.

*Use a dark Sharpie marker on the labels.  I started some vegetables at home  and wrote directly on the tube. the tube gets damp the marker just washed into the cardboard so I think the labels are a good idea.

*Eventually, the dirt did settle and the tubes became a little more stable. 

*Because of the dampness, make sure air can circulate between the tubes and they get plenty of sun to dry out or you will have fuzz growing on the outside of the tube and that is a completely different science experiment :-)

Some of the sunflowers were really growing.  You and your child can measure and chart the growth. I am planting some sunflowers in my yard and hoping to have some giant sunflowers on our science table in the fall. 

There is still time to start seeds!  Getting growing with your child!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Are You My Mother?

There's no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one.   Jill Churchill

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12th.   I love children's books about mothers.  Here are a few of my favorites to check out at your local library or add to your home library. 

 An oldie but a goodie

 Mrs. Peters is a saint  

 Breakfast in bed---it's the thought that counts

 A classic

 I love this book--Sarah, Percy and Bill. 
 I want my Mommy!

 I love Mrs. Large---not all may love this book because Mrs. Large
just wants five minutes peace from her children.

Cause Mommy loves you always!