Friday, August 31, 2012

The Messy Tub

MCP Messy Tub
If you do a search for 'sensory tubs' or 'sensory tub ideas', you can get anywhere between five and seven million results.  Want to know why early childhood programs use sensory tubs? This article in Earlychildhood NEWS is all about the messy fun of the sensory tub.

I have been using a sensory tub for years and years and years!  I have had a traditional preschool sand & water table in previous classrooms. However, space at MCP is at a premium so we have adapted an under the bed storage bin into our messy tub.  It works great! The tub is placed at the end of a table and three children at time can play very comfortably.

You can do this at home for your preschooler.  Don't buy specialty toys---search the kitchen.  You can use empty plastic jars, spoons, funnels, measuring cups, egg cartons and scoops.   Many sensory tub ideas involve a theme---color, story, season, holiday---the list is endless.  These might be fun to create for home.  We do not do themed sensory tubs because of limited time (mine) and storage space.  Pinterest is great source for sensory tub ideas.

What to put in a messy tub?  You are only limited by your imagination.  Here are some ideas to get you started and remember to pull the vacuum cleaner out of the closet!

Rice***Sand***Water***Oatmeal***Flour, Oatmeal & Cinnamon***Pasta***Birdseed***
Corn***Popcorn***Milk Caps (I have some for you)***Snow***Construction Paper & a Hole Punch***Potato Flakes***Feathers***Craft PomPoms***Cotton Balls***Shaving Cream***Corks***Dry Beans (use different colors)***Yarn w/scissors for snipping

As you and your child play, talk about the experience.   How does it feel?  What are you doing?  Is there a smell?  Here are some more vocabulary ideas:

TEXTURE WORDS-smooth, slick, rough, bumpy, silky, slippery, gritty, prickly, crumbly, thick, thin, wet, dry, soft and hard.

ACTION WORDS-pour, bury, dig, find, squeeze, poke, squish, smash, measure, watch, observe, crumble, fill, empty, break, dump and sweep.

SMELLING WORDS-sweet, good, bad, yucky, stinky

MISC. WORDS-colors, shapes, sizes, shiny, dull, full and empty.

Want to go a step further?  Put a piece of paper by your messy table and record the words your child is using. 

Go and get messy with your child!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MWF PreK Classes ABC's & 123's

I am getting so excited for the children to arrive next week!  I have been very busy in our classroom creating lesson plans, building Santa a new sleigh (more on that project another time), cleaning,  vacuuming up glitter (that kind of goes with building Santa's sleigh), cutting, gluing and making sure everything is ready when we open the door for those little smiling (we hope) faces!  

We provide a wide variety of activities using all sorts of materials for all classes.  We work on the alphabet, number recognition, counting, sorting and patterns with the TTh class and the preK MWF classes without worksheets. 

Want to learn more about how we teach these skills?  The links below are some blogs from past years.  If you would like more information or more ideas look under LABELS on our blog and click 'Letter/Number Recognition' and 'Math'.

Sorting, Counting & Patterns

More Counting, Sorting & Patterns


Alphabet Games
Alphabetical Order

Preschool & Kindergarten Skills

Monday, August 27, 2012


Bottle Cap Art by Michelle Stitzlein
I recently received lots and lots and lots of clean (never been on a milk jug) milk caps.  So where does one go to find creative ideas when one has thousands and thousands of milk caps?  To the place where creative people hang out...Pinterest of course!  Don't you love these flowers?

Michelle Stitzlein is an artist who creates beautiful and unique sculptures with recycle materials.  Check out her bottle cap art and bottle cap art books at

Did I happen to mention I have lots of bottle caps?  What a fun project to plant in the yard during the winter months for some color and fun! MCP parents (and alumni)---if you want to create some of these flowers let me know and I will give you some milk caps to get started! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

National Banana Split Day

This Saturday, August 25th is National Banana Split Day.  The banana split was first served up in 1904 and cost ten cents.  The longest banana split was 4.55 miles long! 

Call some friends and celebrate National Banana Split Day.   Make a grocery list with your child---vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, chocolate, pineapple and strawberry topping, whipped cream, nuts, cherries and go BANANAS! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Snyder Village Annual Benefit & Auction

The Snyder Village Annual Benefit & Auction is Saturday, August 18th. An all you can eat breakfast starts at 6 a.m. (cost is a free will donation). Pancakes will be flipping and sausage sizzling until 9:30 a.m.  There will be a live auction, a silent auction and many other activities.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hike for Hunger

The Hike for Hunger is this Saturday, August 18th at Forest Park Nature Center.  The hike is a family event to benefit South Side Mission in Peoria.  Each hiker receives a t-shirt and breakfast.  Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.  Cost per hiker is $15 or the family rate is $45.   Online registration is available and there is a discount for registering early.  Go to  for more information, to register or even donate.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Give Them Wings

The first day of school...

This week the children in our area will start a new school year.  New school supplies, new teachers, a new classroom, new classmates and often a new building all create an atmosphere of anticipation and apprehension for children and parents. Teachers feel the same anticipation and apprehension (at least this teacher does).

This past spring I found a robin nest in one of our pine trees.  I cautiously took the photo and marveled at the incredible blue of 'robin egg blue'.  The next few weeks, I peeked in on the eggs and then babies and watched them take flight from their hidden home inside the pine.

Recently while visiting with a friend, I asked her son when he was leaving for university.  Without pause, he said the date with the enthusiasm of a college freshman ready to fly.

When my husband and I dropped off our oldest at his university a few years ago, I hugged my 'final' hug (complete w/tears free flowing).  My son looked at his father and asked, "Is she going to be okay?"  My husband responded, "I am not sure."   I look back at this moment with extreme fondness because at the time I didn't think I was going to be okay but I am.  To quote Tim Rice's lyrics from the move 'Lion King', "It's the circle of life and it moves us all."  No matter how old your child is, the first day of school is part of your child's circle and your own circle.

The essay below has been hanging in my laundry room  for awhile.  I did a quick search but was unable to locate the author, Paula Carroll from Timonium, Maryland.  I am not even sure where I found this is not from a magazine or newspaper.  Well, whatever...kudos to Paula. 

So preschoolers, kindergarteners, high school and college students....Baby birds, it's time for your first flight.

First Flight by Paula Carroll
The plaque reads, "There are only two lasting bequests that we can give our children.  One is roots, the other is wings."  A thoughtful parent  reads the words and feels a twinge. Roots grow slowly and silently beneath the surface of daily family life.  Wings sprout in the embrace that occurs when the child leaves the family residence.  The separation often begins when the child leaves for college.

For months, parents and child know the target date.  As the day approaches, they collect and pack items on the college list. Groups of high school friends gather to say goodbye.  The conversation focuses on the mythical college life they imagine.  Upperclassmen call to reassure the beginner that survival is guaranteed.  Everyone evades the idea of "leaving home."

The day arrives.  All of the material items necessary for independence are loaded in to the car.  The journey begins. Map reading, sign sighting, and time checks dominate the limited, inconsequential conversation.  Each silently acknowledges the mounting anxiety. They drive through the main entrance and see the buildings that identify academia.  They locate the assigned dorm and capture a strategic parking place.  They move large items into one-half of a small room.  Activity fills the next hours.  Eventually the scheduled assembly time for "students only" arrive.  It is time for good-byes.

In the handshake and the one armed hug of the father to son, in the lifted embrace of father to daughter, in the touching hearts as mother holds daughter, in the tip-toed reach and clinging embrace of mother to son, parents give wings to their children. 

Humor or relief serve as temporary defenses.  Eventually, the empty chair at the dinner table, the unused bed, the uneaten snacks or the tidy bathroom verify that the child is gone.  Time passes. Then comes the first visit home.  In the course of the "visit", parents notice new time schedules, new attitudes, new priorities and a new restlessness.  "Visiting home" is paradoxical.  Time solves the puzzle. The etymology of  "growing pains" becomes apparent.

Hand-holding days are over.  Now understanding hearts provide support.  Just as the robin stands guard on the limb of a tree as the struggling baby thrush attempts to lift himself from the ground, parents stand by as children develop their natural abilities.  Both learner and observer work through the waiting.

Like the bird, the child was born to build a nest, to sing a song.  Whenever or however parents give the gift of wings to children, a remarkable gesture of unselfish love occurs.  Parents accept the end of an era in their lives.  They trust that unseen, immeasurable roots will sustain the growing child.  They hope to see an adult, contented with his or her own composition.

Friday, August 10, 2012

More Paint Brushes

Some more paint ideas...

*Blow w/a straw
*Use fingers, toes, elbows or nose :-)
*Dip Mardi Gras beads
*Cookie cutters
*Roll corn on the cob
*Old tennis shoes
*Bottom of plastic soda or water bottles
*There are unlimited ways to paint w/your preschooler. Look around your house.  If you think you can paint with something , you probably can!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Painting at Preschool

Kitchen scrubbies, monster trucks and kitchen utensils
We love to provide paint experiences for our students.  I am always amazed (maybe shocked is a better word) when I talk with family or friends and discover a preschool program does not have an easel in the classroom, the children rarely paint or paint experiences are very controlled or limited.  So sad...

Painting provides young children with an individual art experience---to create something uniquely their own. We also use painting to talk about shapes, develop small motor skills, and it's just a lot of fun to paint.  This is a good article on painting and young children--How Learning to Paint Benefits Children

At MCP, we have an easel for painting but we also provide the children with a wide variety of unusual paint "brushes".  I like using plastic lids, corks and spools because it's easy clean up---straight to the trash (we recycle when we reuse something!)  We also put paint into Styrofoam egg cartons for the same reason---easy clean up.

Plastic Lids

Corks, Slinkies, Spools and Push Pop sticks
Paint Trays

Monster Trucks on Road Map
Kitchen Utensils

Kitchen Art
Corks and Legos

Cover up the kitchen table (or go outdoors on the picnic table), put an old T-shirt over your child and start painting!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Collage Box

The Collage Box

The collage box in our art center is a wonderful assortment of odds and ends thrown into a plastic tub.  The children search, dig, and glue their pieces and create the most amazing works of art!   Creative juices and glue's wonderful to watch.  There is no rhyme or reason to what is in the tub-whatever I pull from our main storage closet.  The children will often ask if I have...pipe cleaners, more googly eyes, ribbon, etc. and I happily grant their requests if I am able.

Creating a collage box for your child at home is easy.  Get a box with a lid (a shoe box---you don't need a store bought storage box).   Gather random items---buttons, old beads, fun foam, pom poms, puzzle pieces, old playing cards, ribbon, small silk flowers, etc. The children usually glue on cardboard or tag board which is sturdier for gluing collage pieces.  Save cereal and cracker boxes for gluing.  Reusing is recycling! 

These pieces were created last spring by some of our preK students----

I love this one!

A collage box is a creative way to spend quality time with your child!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Art Center

MCP Art Center
The beginning of August means school is just around the corner and I begin to get very excited.  It also means I have to head back to the classroom.

Over the summer, I love to search for treasures for preschool at thrift stores and garage sales. We don't operate on a shoestring budget, we operate on half a shoestring. Garages sales and thrift stores keep our tuition costs down (don't you wish universities could say the same thing?  Believe me, I do!)

Because I am on summer break, I  just plop the bags in the classroom and leave. Sometimes I turn on the light and check phone messages but I try not to stay too long.  The piles of found treasures and  recycled items grow on table tops, chairs and the floor.  I was going to take a before and after picture of the classroom but it was too scary and just too embarrassing. :-)

I've spent the last few days in the classroom. I've been putting all the treasures in their proper places, planning lessons and getting our centers organized for the new school year.

One of  the centers your child will experience is our Art Center.  There are a ba-zillion ways to present an art center in a classroom.  This works for us because of our limited space.  The bins hold stickers, crayons, markers, colored pencils, stencils, glue, construction paper and collage items plus there is paper, cardboard and rulers. The Art Center plus our easel provide the children with unlimited opportunities for creative expression in our classroom.

The bulletin board is called "The Garden".  The Garden changes as the seasons change.  The tree remains the same but the children provide the rest.  Our bulletin boards are created by the children. I provide a basic background and the kids provide the rest. Look under the "Bulletin Board" label on our blog for ideas and inspiration. Check out these past blogs about the garden for some more ideas---



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Holidays-August 2012

Need more ideas to fill your days until school starts?  Here is a link to all the holidays and celebrations for the month of August.  I am thinking about combining National Waffle Day with National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, National Banana Split Day and National Chocolate Chip Day.  You gotta love it!  Mark them on your calendar, make some memories and enjoy these fun filled holidays with your child!!!