Friday, June 29, 2012

The Relatives Came

My sister and brother-in-law arrive today and my brother, sister-in-law and nephew arrive tomorrow.  It is going to be a weekend of family fun! A large family reunion is on Saturday and we will see aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and  second cousins once removed (what does that mean anyway?)  I was fortunate to see my cousins often when I was little.  I really do feel  my "cousins are like brothers and sisters who live someplace else."  I have had that Family Circus panel on my kitchen bulletin board for almost seven years!

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant celebrates summertime, family reunions and family vacations. It brings back fond memories of  overnight visits to Grandma and Grandpa's house when my boys were little. Nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles all sleeping hodge podge around the house, lots of good food, good times, loads of hugs and kisses and many many cherished memories made.

The Relatives Came, illustrated by Stephen Gammell, was a Caldecott Honor book in 1986.  It is a great addition for your home library. Pick it up for some summer time reading!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blue Tadpole Studio

Found this on Pinterest and loved it!  Great instruction on how to draw animals and more.  Blue Tadpole Studio is located in Ontario, Canada and looks like an amazing environment for children to create and explore!  Click on 'How to Draw' and have fun!

Monday, June 25, 2012

More to Explore---zoo animals

The National Geographic Kids website is a great way to learn more about zoo animals.  Check it out!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Go Bananas! Go, Go Bananas!

Hot summers require cool treats for kids.  Frozen bananas are cheap, easy and delicious.  The concept is simple---Dip bananas in chocolate and freeze.  However, the combinations are limited only to your imagination.

The Food Network Magazine June 2012 issue had some yummy ideas!  Frozen bananas with candy sprinkles, peanuts, almonds, pecans, crushed cookies, toffee bits,  granola and more. Think mini candies, crushed grahams and coconut.  Raid the kitchen cupboards and go bananas with your toppings! Go to the  Food Network website and search 'frozen bananas' for recipes. 

Need some fun background music while you are cooking? Listen to  Banana Phone.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Art Appreciation

I can draw but I am not an artist.  I am no art critic but as with wine, music and theater, I know what I like and have an appreciation for what I do not.  I love introducing art, artists and art appreciation to our preschoolers.  They are open, honest and receptive to what they are experiencing in art.  This year with our preK students we learned about several artists and I was thrilled to see the excitement in our students as we studied each artist.  Have you thought about a visit to an art museum this summer (or any time for that matter?)  

When my boys were little, we lived near St. Louis, Missouri.  We would often go the St. Louis Art Museum located in Forest Park.  Despite security following us closely (constant reminders of LOOK but DON"T TOUCH from mommy), we  always had a good time.  They fondly remember the exhibit that displayed armor, shields, swords and helmets---a great hook to get my young boys into the art gallery.

Thoughts and ideas to help you with your trip:
*Number one rule is don't touch! Make sure your child understands this before you arrive. Explain to your child that by not touching they are helping make the pieces last longer and be available for everyone. The second rule is walk.  Walking ensures young and old have a pleasant visit and works of art remain safe.
*Let your child determine the length of stay.  A quick visit is a good start.  A long  visit with an unwillingly child is probably not going to have successful results for parent or child.
*Talk. There is no need to be super quiet. Let your child talk and ask questions.
*Have your child talk about and look for colors, shapes, fruit, animals, people, flowers and anything else they recognize.
*Ask your child questions.  What do you like or not like about the picture?  Make up a story about the piece.  Does it make you feel happy, sad, surprised, etc?  Keep discussions fun and simple.
*If you are up for it, make up an I SPY list.  You can use clip art to put on a sheet of paper or 3x 5 cards.  Look for fruit, an ocean, a dog (or any other animal), necklace or jewelry, birds, flowers, a mother and child, a castle, etc.  Add colors and shapes, too.
*If funds allow, visit the gift shop.  Nothing says 'good time' like a souvenir.

Where to go?
Bradley University has an art gallery or check out universities in your area.

Don't forget Lakeview Museum in Peoria.

The Contemporary Art Center is located in  downtown Peoria.

Road trip!  The St. Louis Art Museum is close to the zoo and FREE!

or drive north to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Can't get to a museum?  You can visit art exhibits and galleries world wide with the Google Art Project--- 
or explore and search for an artists work online.

More great articles---

Keep it light. Keep it simple. Have some fun exploring the world of art with your child.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Animal Arts and Crafts

I hope you are having fun with National Zoo and Aquarium month.  Need more zoo activities?  Get out paper, scissors, glue and start crafting.  We use crafts at MCP to practice cutting basic shapes with scissors, identify shapes, discuss spatial relationships and follow teacher directions.  We also end up with something pretty darn cute.  It is not's a craft but that is another discussion or check out this post from 2010

Time to get started-Pick an animal.  You can  Google 'paper plate animal crafts or go to DLTK kids page for great ideas.  You can use paper plates but if you want your child to have some scissor practice, trace the circle and cut it out. 

If you really want to get wild, go to your local craft supply store and buy some animal print paper. 

Talk about the shapes and where they are positioned as you glue.  Use words like top, bottom, inside, between, etc.

Give older children paper and let them create an animal, too.

If you use poster board or a heavier weight paper, you can turn your animals into masks and have some fun dramatic play time.  Place on a craft stick to create a puppet.

Find a special place to display your zoo animals.  I hope you and your child are enjoying National Zoo and Aquarium Month!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Afternoons

"Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”   Henry James

This week is Summer Solstice (Wednesday, June 20th).  Ancient civilizations all over the world have celebrated Summer Solstice.  Warm days and cool nights, the people  planted, gathered, harvested and prepped for the winter to come. Midsummer celebrations continue today.  This week Junction City (5901 N. Prospect Road, Peoria, Illinois USA) will celebrating Summer Solstice with live music, a balloon artist, face painting, a stilt walker, caricature artist and much more. 

Like a mosquito bite, we itch to do things in the summer more than any other season. Here's what's happening in Peoria this week---

Monday, June 18th and Wednesday, June 20th
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Pack up the kids and head down to the Peoria Courthouse Plaza.  Pack a lunch or buy from the street vendors.

Wednesday, June 20th
7 p.m.
Peoria Municipal Band will be playing in the Warehouse District on Water Street, Downtown Peoria.

Thursday, June 21st
7-9 p..m.
John Miller and the Romaniacs play some smooth jazz on the CEFCU stage, Peoria Riverfront.

Wednesday, June 20th through Saturday, June 23rd
Old Settlers Days in Metamora, Illinois
Carnival rides, food, games and free nightly entertainment on Metamora's historic town square.

Friday, June 22nd and Saturday, June 23rd
Duryea Days in Peoria Heights, Illinois
Food, music, classic car/truck/bike show and a cruise-in located in Tower Park.

Saturday, June 23rd
Rhapsody in Bloom Arts Festival
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Luthy Botanical Gardens, Glen Oak Park, Peoria, Illinois
$3-adults   Free-children under 12

Friday, June 22nd and Saturday, June 23rd
Peoria Chiefs baseball has more than just baseball happening at O'Brian Field.  For times and additional information go to

Start packing some fun memories into your summer!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Walk on the Wild Side

Have you been to the zoo yet?  It is National Zoo and Aquarium Month so get going! There are several zoos in central Illinois.  St. Louis and Chicago are close enough for a day trip (a long day trip) or an overnight visit.  Indianapolis also has a great zoo if you are up for a road trip with kids.  Here's a list to get you going...

Peoria Zoo---Peoria, Illinois

Miller Park Zoo---Bloomington, Illinois

Henson Robinson Zoo---Springfield, Illinois

St. Louis Zoo---St. Louis, Missouri

Brookfield Zoo---Brookfield, Illinois outside Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo---Chicago, Illinois

Shedd Aquarium---Chicago, Illinois

Indianapolis Zoo---Indianapolis, Indiana

Come on!!!  Put everybody in the car and head to the zoo!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Our Summer Bucket List

Charlotte Taylor-Page has a great blog---Make, Do & Friends.  Charlotte lives in London with her little guy, Vincent.  Here is her summer bucket list  There are lots of fun activities to add to your summer bucket list...but I am not quite sure what Pooh Sticks are??? Tonight I continue with my summer bucket list by watching the sunset from my front porch.  Thanks Charlotte!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Daddy's Girl

Daddy and Me

Father's Day is a week from today.  My Dad loved me unconditionally.  I was a lucky girl. I wasn't perfect and neither was he but his love for his family continues on through his children and grandchildren.  Call your Dad, buy a tie, have a cook out, go to a ball game and enjoy your time together.

When God Created Fathers by Erma Bombeck
When the good Lord was creating fathers, He started with a tall frame.   A female angel nearby said, "What kind of father is that?  If you're going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high?   He won't be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.   And God smiled and said, "Yes, but if I make him child size, who would children have to look up to?"
And when God made a father's hands, they were large and sinewy.   The angel shook her head sadly and said, "Large hands are clumsy.   They can't manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on ponytails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats."   And God smiled and said, "I know, but they're large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day, yet small enough to cup a child's face."
And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders. The angel nearly had a heart attack. "Boy, this is the end of the week, all right," she clucked.   "Do you realize you just made a father without a lap?   How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?"   And God smiled and said, "A mother needs a lap.   A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle or hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus."
God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer.   "That's not fair.   Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries?   Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?"   And God smiled and said, "They'll work.   You'll see. They'll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross or scare off mice at the summer cabin or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill."
God worked throughout the night, giving the father few words but a firm, authoritative voice and eyes that saw everything but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, He added tears.   Then He turned to the angel and said, "Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?"
The angel shutteth up.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wild Things

More zoo activities...
Draw zoo animals.  Our MWF classes learned how to draw animals with two great books---Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals  and   I Can Draw Animals.   These books are great because they use basic shapes like circles, triangles and squares to draw many animals. This will give your child a fun way to practice drawing shapes. Your child can also write the name of the animal on their art which will incorporate letter writing skills.  Children love to draw and these books provide easy to follow steps to make your child feel like an artist.

Here are few things some MCP students drew:
Need another idea?  You and your child can take turns acting out and guessing zoo animals.  Want to get fancy?  Use some clip art and put on 3 x 5 cards or slips of paper and pick. 

Go wild and have some roarin' good times with your child!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Put Me in the Zoo

More book ideas!!! Order online, download or head to the library!!! Celebrate National Zoo and Aquarium Month---

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gone Wild

June is National Zoo and Aquarium month.  Of course, you are going to have visit your local zoo or aquarium but here a some book ideas to get you in mood...