Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My New Year's Resolution

I resolve to play more in 2015. To continue to grow in my play will result in a happier and more talented me!  Happy New Year!
It is a happy talent to know how to play.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Places to Go & Things to Do

What to do now that Christmas has come and gone and there is still a week left until school starts? The good news is there is no snow to cause traveling chaos. The bad news is there no snow to make snowmen and have some wintery fun. 
No need to stare at a screen to keep the peace and quiet.  Call some friends and...
Visit a local zoo...Area zoos are the perfect size for small children.
Miller Park Zoo-Bloomington, Illinois
Peoria Zoo-Peoria, Illinois
Or visit the botanical gardens.  Luthy Botanical Gardens is hosting a Kwanza display through December 31st.
 The Children's DIscovery Museum in Normal is a short drive away.
Want something more active?  How about gathering some families for an afternoon of bowling?
Plaza Lanes in Washington
Mt. Hawley and Landmark in Peoria

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Peace on Earth

My Christmas wish...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Thanks for creating everyone's favorite big red dog.
Norman Bridwell

Monday, December 15, 2014

Santa, Call Me!

Our MWF classes did a great job tonight on their Christmas program! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Happy 50th, Rudolph!

Fifty years ago Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appeared on network television (I probably watched it in black & white for most of my childhood). Make sure you and your child find some time to watch this classic Christmas tale.

A quick online search and you can find some fun coloring pages for Rudolph and all of his friends.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

You're a Mean One.....Mr. Grinch!

Our PreK classes are enjoying the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas this week.  To add to the fun at home, you can make a super easy, super fun Grinch game!  This is an alphabet game which I have adapted from the Crocodile SNAP! game found on the website Making Learning Fun (my favorite!).

Use a washed Cascade dishwasher detergent tub.  Create a Grinch face.  I just used construction paper pieces glued with a glue gun for durability and a Sharpie.  You can add green pipe cleaner hair strands or a Santa hat on top to finish him off.

Print off and cut out the alphabet cards found here.  I printed them on green card stock to add to the Grinchy mood!  I also laminated for durability.

Since there were four blank extra cards, I wrote STEAL! on them and added them to the mix.

To play, put all cards inside Mr. Grinch.  Take turns picking a card.  On each turn, chant, "Mr. Grinch, Mr. Grinch,  heart of coal, what is the letter you have stole?"  (Please do not judge my poor grammar.  I'm just trying to rhyme!)  You must say the letter name aloud in order to keep it.  If it is correct, keep the card.  The next player takes a turn.  Continue in this way until all cards have been picked.  If you pick a STEAL!, you must place all your cards back into the container.  I would remove that steal card from play once it is used to keep the game moving along. Otherwise, it may be Christmas by the time you finish and you may well feel like a Grinch.

You can adapt this game to any skill and age level as well.  If your child needs to practice numbers, put in number cards.    If you have an older child who needs to practice sight words, throw in sight words for their game.  Need addition practice?  Throw in addition fact cards.  It's just a fun way to keep learning right on through the holidays!  Merry Grinchmas!  --MJ

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The DePauw Brothers Holiday Art Show

Local artists, Greg & Doug DePauw's Holiday Art Sale is being held each weekend through Christmas at Greg's Studio (206 S. Davenport  across from the fire station---you can't miss it :-)  The studio will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12-5 p.m.  

I have had the great pleasure in working with Greg and Doug DePauw at the Sun Foundation's Art & Science in the Woods camp.  Hope to see you at the studio!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

More Lacing Activitiies at MCP

We will have many opportunities for students to lace in our centers.  Why are lacing activities important?

Milk caps and marker lids are great lacing 'beads'.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Winter Wheat

 During our bread unit, we learned about wheat. We planted wheat and it is really starting to get tall.  Our MWF students each received a small bag of seeds to plant at home. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Be Thankful

“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”  Oprah Winfrey
Thanksgiving Bulletin Board
Today we are gathering with friends and family to give thanks.  At MCP, we are extremely grateful we are able to  provide a quality early childhood program for our community.  Our program has grown in so many ways and we look forward to providing the best start to the youngest students in our community for many, many years.

We are also very thankful for the support of our MCP families (past & present) and local businesses. We are a small not for profit community preschool but are doing BIG things with our little ones.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stuff the Santa

I have been 'pinning' ideas for a long time.  Before Pinterest, I had several three ring notebooks filled with home and holiday ideas (most of which were never created or fulfilled).  Many of  the ideas came from Family Fun magazine which was a new magazine when my boys were little.  This holiday game was pulled from the November 1994 holiday issue!!!  We often played this game at our family Christmas party.
Instead of a union suit, I bought the largest red long underwear shirt and bottom I could find and stitched the two pieces together in six spots. This left openings between the shirt and the bottom so players had more places to stuff the balloons.

To play, have lots and lots of balloons inflated and ready to go (some will pop). Divide your group into two teams.  Have each team select a Santa.  'Santa' will put on the union-suit/long under wear over clothes.  Determine a time limit (1-2 minutes depending on the age and number of children).  Stuff the Santa until time is up and count the balloons.   Repeat for each team.  The team that stuffs the most balloons wins.

Helpful hints---
*Can't find a union suit or red long underwear---use Christmas pajamas.
*Do not over inflate balloons.  Usually players are enthusiastic and moving quickly so we found smaller balloons were safer and less likely to pop.
*We learned the hard way not to stuff balloons into the costume near 'Santa's' face.  Have players stuff balloons in and around the waist or back of neck.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pizza Party 2014

Our TTh 3 y/o class enjoyed many activities with pizza this week.  We learned about the parts of a pizza. The crust begins as a dough.  The sauce is made of tomatoes and most 3 y/o do not like a wide variety of pizza toppings.

The children made a paper pizza.  We see such an improvement in listening and following teacher directions after just a few months and now using glue is easy!

Student Work
Student Work
Student Work

Our dramatic play is a pizza parlor where 'the staff' makes really fabulous pizza!  More info---

Yesterday our special snack was pizza.  Yummy and super easy---
 Pizza gives us an opportunity to work on some math vocabulary like greater, least, more and less.

 Next time you and your child have pizza talk about it!  It's a delicious way to learn!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mash That Monster!

One thing I always used to keep learning fun and active at home was games.  A few years ago, I found a game called "Mash That Monster" on the website A Teaching Mommy.   "Mash That Monster" is an alphabet game that I actually used at my daughter's kindergarten Halloween party, but it's really fun to use any time of the year.

You simply print off the monster alphabet cards found here.  Again, I use cardstock for durability.  Laminate if you can.

Using a clean flyswatter or two, depending on how many children are playing, call out a letter.  The children use the flyswatter (gently) to mash the monster with that letter.

Whoever had the first flyswatter to swat the card keeps it.  Play continues until all letters are used.  Whoever has the most letters at the end is the winner!   

For more games to try at home, check out these previous posts:

Happy learning!  --MJ

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Miss Manners 2014

What we need in the world is manners...
I think that if instead of preaching brotherly love, we preached good manners, we might a get a little further.  
Eleanor Roosevelt  
"My Day"  
February 17, 1938

Imagine fifteen hungry preschoolers.   Now, get their hands washed, seat them at a table, feed them a snack and keep everyone happy.  Snack time is a busy time at school but it is also a teaching opportunity.  We focus on good table manners at our snack time and that is an important life-long lesson.
The children must wait until everyone is served and we say a short prayer before they can eat.  This is really hard at first but now the children understand they must wait for their friends.  We thank our friend who brought the snack. We ask the children to keep seated in their chair with their knees under the table.  The children say 'Please' and 'Thank you' when their snack and drink is served.  They are learning patience.  They now know there are fifteen hungry children and only two teachers getting everyone snack.

The children are encouraged to talk with their friends at the table.  When they are finished, they must remain seated until everyone is finished and we clean up.  They wait for our 'garbage' helper and throw away their trash before leaving the table. Good manners are taught, encouraged and praised.

The holidays are great time to encourage and reinforce your child's good manners. For more information--- and thank you!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Feed the Birds 2014

Winter months mean we are indoors at MCP but the birds are busy on our playground.  Our preK students colored half gallon milk jugs with Sharpie markers. On one of the jugs I placed circular office stickers and another masking tape.  The students colored over the stickers/tape and I peeled off for a cute look!

A neighbor gave me some sunflower heads at the beginning of the school year and we harvested all the seeds for the birds.
Need an activity for visiting nieces and nephews?  Grab some half gallon jugs from the parent cart.  Email us or send a note in your child's notebook if you would like us to send some home. 

How to---

Enjoy making some bird-feeders and watching the birds this winter with your child.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bread Winner

In November, our preK classes enjoy lessons on food (their teachers enjoy these lessons, too).  We begin with a discussion on healthy and junk foods.  Each student is given a  grocery ad and a scissors, they are spread out on the classroom floor and cut out healthy foods and junk foods. Large pieces of paper are on the tables and the children glue the foods on the appropriate chart.
We also learned about liquids and solids.  The basic concept we are introducing to our students is that liquids do not have a shape.  We also learn that temperature can change liquids and solids.
We made ice cream for a special snack.   No cranking, no salt and just three ingredients---

Who loved the ice cream?  (we are also learning to spell Yes and No).
Morning Class
Afternoon Class

What is our favorite flavor?  We are learning math concepts---greater, most, fewer, least, equal and zero.

Morning Class
Afternoon Class
Wait! There's more!  We are learning about bread. The children have looked at all types of bread. We were sandwich artists and created a huge sandwich.  We also tasted ham and turkey.  You can't have a sandwich without cheese.  We tasted Swiss, cheddar and American cheese, too,

This was a fun and simple project. Swiss cheese and black olives were hole punched.  Pickles were cut with a pinking shears. We instructed the children to put on 1, 2 or 3 pieces of meat, the same for the cheese and then as many toppings as they wanted but leave room for the bread!
Not done yet...there's more!  On Friday (and next week, too) we made bread.  Dee---lish!
Morning Class
Afternoon Class
We also looked at wheat seeds and planted the seeds (a big thank you to our buddy KS's family) and Village Florist donated some wheat.

Want to do more???
At the grocery store, spend some time in the bakery looking at all the different breads.  Ask your child how they are the same and how they are different.

Make ice cream.

Take out ice cubes and put them in a bowl.  Have your child observe.  Record how long the ice takes to melt.  Refreeze.  How long does it take the water to freeze? 

Don't want to make homemade bread?  Buy some frozen dough and have your child observe how the bread rises and falls.  Try different temperatures and observe what happens.

Next week---J is for jam.  Bread and jam...oh yea!