Monthly Archives: February 2016

PPDblackhistorymonth

Preschool Playdate: Black History Month

Play date: February 18, 2016
Inspiration: Black History Month

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: we talked about how even today, people are talking about excluding people due to the color of their skin or their religion:
— Storytime: Our Children Can Soar by Michelle Cook

STORY TIME
This is my second year sharing this book – still can’t read it without having my voice crack. I can’t help but think of what it must have been like for these tremendous people who had the courage to face discrimination, hatred, and even violence to assert their basic humanity, and the right to equitable treatment under the law and from their fellow human.

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LITERACY CENTER
This year I chose for all the cards to tie to the characters in the book.  We split the cards and the letters between two tables so the kiddos could do two letter stations and explore a little more about the historical figures mentioned in the book.  I also highlighted the first letter of the name that they were looking to match to make it a little easier to locate the letter.

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MATH CENTER
This was a neat find – the inventor of the golf tee is from one of the towns I lived in as a child – Oswego, New York!! This idea is from Preschool Plan-it: using golf tees in styrofoam, and then having the kiddos balance pom-poms on the top.  The Sweet Peas got to practice counting as well as fine motor skills if they used the tweezers.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
This little chemistry experiment was an homage to the great African-American chemist, George Washington Carver.  We didn’t use peanuts or sweet potatoes, but we did use a vegetable: red cabbage.  Red cabbage can be used to test for acids.  After soaking in boiling water, it turns to water purple.  If any acid is mixed into the solution, it will turn varying shades of pink.

The Sweet Peas had fun guessing which items would turn the water pink, testing their hypothesis, and then finding out what in fact, is and isn’t acid.

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This is another inspiration from Preschool Plan-it: mixing shaving cream and glue so that the art work is permanent.  It actually has a really cool spongy texture.  Mixing the glue, shaving cream, and food coloring was a fun activity in and of itself!

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We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  This morning, there were three popular centers: the math, the art, and the discovery centers were all mentioned with equal enthusiasm.

We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

Join us next week for a peek into our carnival-inspired playdate!!

PPDmakeafriend

Preschool Playdate: Make A Friend

Theme: Make A Friend Day
Date: February 11, 2016

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: Friendship and Making Friends
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity: Modeling Puppet Center

 

STORY TIME
AH – thank you Frozen fever…and zulilly!! We got a few of the books on super-secret sale, and this one was perfect for today’s theme.  In the book, it shows several of the different friendships that happen in the movie, and there is even a page where two of the characters get along sometimes, and other times they do not.  It was a great point to emphasize in another activity we enjoyed for this theme.IMG_9745

 

LITERACY CENTER
We continue with our “sound box” theme.  Here are all the different things the children found that started with the letter “F”:
fabric, fan, fire truck, fish, flower, french fires, fried egg, fur

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MATH CENTER
This was a counting and/or matching game. I made a concerted effort to represent children of all colors in these cards.  An article I read recently has made me more mindful about the images I am presenting to the children.  So I prepared these cards showing children participating in all different kinds of play, making friends and being friends.

The children could count and match to the corresponding numbered card, and also with the foam number.  The cards can also be used as a “memory” game, matching the correct number of children together.

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Foam numbers by ALEX
Activity inspired by Preschool Plan-It

DISCOVERY TABLE
This was a fun one!! I covered our Discovery Table in butcher paper and laid out a grid, some ink, and a magnifying glass.  Each Sweet Pea that wanted to could leave their fingerprint.  Then the other Sweet Peas could take turns looking at each other’s fingerprints under the magnifying glass.  I had to move this table into more sunlight so that the kiddos could see some detail.

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Activity inspired by Preschool Plan-It

Here is another activity we did: Puppet Show!! I printed up little cards of different scenarios that might come up, when it would be good to try to use words to work things out.  The Sweet Peas each got to pick a puppet and a scenario card with them to help model respectful behavior.

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This was a little crazy to execute, and absolutely worth it when everyone got to take one home!! I tried to keep it simply by only putting out two colors of ink that were pretty similar.  This “circle of friends” will be a keepsake to treasure when we pull out old artwork and reflect on how much our Sweet Peas have grown.

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Activity inspired by Preschool Plan-It

We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

PPDhungrycaterpillar

Preschool Playdate: Hungry Caterpillar

Theme: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Play date: February 4, 2016

— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: intro to 5 signs the sweet peas could use during storytime
— Storytime: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
— Unsquiggle activity: butterfly life cycle

 

STORY TIME
One of our students knows ASL and she and her daughter were kind enough to lead story time.  Before we started, they taught the group 5 signs that we used throughout the story.  We’ll check in to see if they remember what they learned when we start this week’s story time.

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Our “unsquiggle” activity today had the children act out the life cycle of the butterfly.  I used three different instruments to represent different segments:

  • Knocked on a rhythm stick: caterpillar breaking out of it’s egg
  • Scraped the rhythm stick: caterpillar crawling around looking for food and making it’s pupa
  • Silence: caterpillar undergoing metamorphosis to transform and change shapes.
  • Tambourine: Butterfly breaking out of the pupa and flying out in the garden

To add to the activity, we asked the parents to bring a pillowcase and a scarf.  The Sweet Peas climbed into their pillowcases (scarf tucked in at the bottom) and were very still inside their “pupa”.  As they came out, they used their scarves as their wings, and then fluttered around the room.

This unsquiggle activity was a combination of an activity suggested in The Mailbox
Superbook, and one from THIS blog that offered Hungry Caterpillar lesson ideas.

LITERACY CENTER
Sound Box: We used the letter “C” this week.  It’s a tough letter since it doesn’t always have the soft sound.  In the future, we will use the letter “K” next to it reinforce the sound we are looking for.  Most of the things on the tray had the hard “c” sound, the others were placed on there to be the “no” items.

Our “C” items: Can, Card, Cat, Car, Clip,Clothespin, Comb, Cow, Crown

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MATH CENTER
Level 1: Taking inspiration from all the food mentioned in the story, we had the children roll the dice and then “feed” the caterpillar with the number of items that matched the number they rolled.

Level 2: Have the children sort the food into groups. We did fruits, vegetables, breads, desserts, and dairy.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
This week we had an activity that provided an opportunity to work on motor skills.
Gross motor skills: hole punching
Fine motor skills: stringing the leaves they punched on a string.

Once the sweet peas were done with their leaves, they could glue them on the “tree’.

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This was a craft idea I picked up at a story time at the mall.  Other ways to celebrate this story are to make thumbprint caterpillars with red and green ink.  We also printed out an activity sheet from The Mailbox Superbook for the Sweet Peas to add to the story.  The page asks them to draw other food the caterpillar tried to eat into the caterpillar’s tummy.

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We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

PPDaustralia

Preschool Playdate: Australian Animals

Australian Animals
Play date: January 28, 2016

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: used our MAPS book by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski, plus some postcards I had picked up when I visited Australia in 1998.
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers: Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree

 

STORY TIME
I could not find the kind of book I wanted for today, so I “wrote” one and presented it to the children on PowerPoint.  Inspired by the MAPS drawing of Australia, I tried to imagine what we would see if traveled around the edge of the country. In order to make the book more vocabulary rich, I also incorporated different words synonymous with walking and swimming.

Here it is on YouTube :

 

LITERACY CENTER
With two “K” animals in the Australian Animal Toob, I naturally gravitated towards the “K” sound for today.  We picked up items from around the house and put them on the tray.  The Sweet Peas had to find the other items that started with the “k” sound, and put them in our “K Sound Box”. I leave it flexible, so that whether they are spelled with a K or sound like a K, they can go in the sound box.  Some of the older Sweet Peas knew the difference between the “c” words and the “k” words, so they were encouraged to play however their Sweet Pea led.

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MATH CENTER
For this we pulled out some older toys of Puma’s from her toddler years, plus some of the animals from The Australian Animal Toob.  The numbered cards are also from Puma’s preschool days. They were a great tie-in for the Great Barrier Reef!  All three levels of play allow for parents to also work on the concept of even and odd numbers

Level 1: Count the animals

Level 2: Match the amount of animals to the number on the card

Level 3: Place the cards is oder

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DISCOVERY TABLE
Some animals, some sand…the Sweet Peas really enjoyed today’s center. I picked some red sand as well as some tan sand to use in the center.  I had showed the children pictures of the red rock in Central Australia, so this was a fun way to incorporate it into the morning.

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
Inspired by the images on a scarf I bought in Australia, I thought that stipple art would be a good project for the Sweet Peas.  It’s actually framed and hanging in the hallway near our art area, so Puma walked the Sweet Peas over to it to show and inspire them before they worked on the art project.  We also used the four basic colors most often used in Aboriginal art: brown, yellow, white and red.

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We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  This morning, the discovery table and the art project got the most mentions.

We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

Come back next week as we peek into our “Very Hungry Caterpillar” play date that we are doing today!

 

SPFFeb1

Making More Space for Peaceful Mama

It is good to know that all of us regular, real mamas struggle with the similar things. If you have read some of my previous posts about parenting, you know that I am constantly striving to find more space for Peaceful Mama and less opportunity for Crazy Mama to come crashing into our day.

I have learned a breathing technique through the Birthing From Within classes that I am mentoring that has helped me keep Peaceful Mama around, even when we are in the throes of a temper tantrum and my biggest trigger is happening: I HATE it when our children hit me. Talk about a “donkey on the edge” moment – nothing has me seeing red faster than that.

(Side note: we do not spank our children, nor do we allow them to watch violent movies/shows/videos. I chalk this behavior up to a lack of words. I have seen our older two outgrow it, so for now, I have the same belief with that our younger two will outgrow this phase/behavior as well. It is usually an expression of frustration, anger, tiredness; or sometimes it is a result of something they ate: too much sugar or a food dye that slipped in somewhere.)

The coping mindset is called Non-Focused Awareness. It invites the person to observe what is going on around them without judgement – it’s simply calling out the stimuli and naming it.  Here is an explanation from eHow:

 

When I apply this theory to the screaming Sweet Pea in front of me, I replace the word “pain” with the word “anger” .  Instead of creating more space for anger, I can keep that “pie piece” of anger pretty small by taking stock of what else is happening in the interaction in front of me.

I don’t use all the stimuli the instructor talks about in the video. In my “donkey on the edge” moment I ask myself what I am seeing, hearing, touching…without holding on to any of these thoughts. Then I check in with my breath – am I making a deliberate outward breath?

So it goes something like this:

What am I seeing? “Sweet Pea”

What am I hearing? screaming

What am I touching? hand hitting me

BREATH: where is my outward breath?

Running through these questions in my head, and then simply tracking the observations, slows me down so that I don’t react by yelling. For me, this is finally the little nugget that can keep Peaceful Mama around when Crazy Mama is jumping at the opportunity to find her way into our day.

I have noticed that taking the time to say our child’s name in my head reminds me that this is a little human that I love, not a screaming minion that doesn’t love me because it is hitting me.

Now it’s your turn…start by noticing what you are seeing – hearing – touching – BREATH as you sit here, reading this post.  If you have your phone next to you, set a timer.  Before you start, remind yourself to suspend judgment – just call it as you see it – hear it – touch it.  Then breathe!

Take one minute to give it a try, and then practice it as many times as you need throughout the day to get a good feel for this coping mindset.  Suppose you use this the next time you are in your frantic moment, that edge between keeping it together and losing control, might you add a new trick to keep your Peaceful Mama around? It is certainly working for me – wishing you all the best!

If you would like me to lead you through a practice on Google+ or Skype – email me!! We’ll set up a time and date to meet online and I would be happy to share this practice with you.  My email: sweetpeafamilies{at}gmail{dot}com

Wishing you a Peaceful Mama day!!