Monthly Archives: November 2016

Finding a voice

Like many people, I am stunned that the United States elected an outspoken candidate who disparaged various groups of people who he deemed offensive or fair game for ridicule: Mexicans, Muslims, women in general, women of size specifically, veterans, people of non-typical abilities…the list goes on.

I sat in silence, trying to process.  I asked myself, “What happened?  What did people find attractive about a candidate like this?”  Trying to find the silver lining. Trying to be positive, because we teach our children that whether we agree or disagree with elected officials, we owe them a measure of respect because they are choosing to do a job that we do not want to do.

I watched as passions flared, seeing posts on social media from people who voted Republican, Democrat, or even {gasp!} third party.  So many words, so many emotions, and no solutions aside from commands to get over it or to get ready to put up a fight.

There are still so many things roiling around inside of me.  My shoulders have been in knots since the election results started rolling in on November 8th.  Despite assurances that there was no way the president-elect was going to win, win he did.  We have a new reality to contend with, and I am trying to figure out what it means for our bi-racial, Spanish-speaking family.  Where half of us look Latino and the other half could pass as status-quo white. What to do? What to say?

Then, one of our students was harassed on her way home from the zoo.  One car pulled alongside of them, and the other pulled in front of them and slowed down, two men in each vehicle.  They proceeded to drape out the confederate flag and a tattered Trump-Pence campaign sign from their windows.  Her daughter was in the car with her.  Her toddler child was confused, asking why these men were yelling at her mom and her.

That was the line in the sand.  I found a voice.  Not all of it.  Not even close. Nonetheless, here is a start, in part inspired by wanting to take a stand for this little girl, so that she knows that there are people who see her, and that it is unacceptable that she was frightened by angry men deliberately singling them out because her mother’s car has a Clinton-Kaine bumper sticker.

Here is what I posted on my personal social media page in response to that incident:

One of the comments I saw on social media is that people need to pull themselves up from their bootstraps and just get over the results of the election already. And that the safety pin campaign is pointless, real heroes wear pins from the armed services.

Three thoughts on those particular comments:

ONE ~ People in the armed services are heroes – and so are their families – EVERY DAY. Recognizing other people that are willing to stand up for all of us to have our inalienable rights intact doesn’t diminish their service…to me it means that civilians can be heroes, too.

TWO ~ The sun still rose on Wednesday, Nov 9th, and now one of our contemporaries or one of our daughters has the opportunity to become the first female President – I can deal with that. I don’t know anyone from any side of the issues that didn’t get up the next day and go to work. We pulled up our bootstraps and went to work, albeit some with a little more apprehension than other people.

THREE ~ From the time that we woke up on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, there are some of us in this country who will never truly be “free” again. Unless a person with true personal strength and character who has the power and the law behind them decides to speak up and to call off the bigotry and prejudice that was given voice by Trump’s election, and lead from a place of love and understanding. There is a lot to overcome.

Trump rallied ***some*** (I understand that not **all**) of his supporters with rhetoric that set up the “us” against “them”. He called out Mexicans and Muslims, and he also made disparaging remarks about women, people of size, and people of non-typical mental ability. He chose a running mate that has taken Christian conservative stances on women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights: essentially, that they have no rights if they choose to live outside of God’s laws.  

As the votes were counted, it became clear that Trump won the electoral college. Those people who voted for him to make “America Great Again” by removing the “them” he campaigned against feel like they have a champion. And some of his supporters are acting on it. Saying “Stop it” one time, looking at the camera – that clearly means nothing other than a wink and a smile to those continuing to try to spark a new reign of terror.

If you can deny the rhetoric or the harassment, then you are as complicit to the hatred that has been unleashed as the people who are carrying out the harassment and painting hateful graffiti in public spaces. If you are willing to excuse it because “I believe in pro-life” or “I believe he can save the economy” or “I want my guns,” or however else you chose to rationalize voting for a person who only cares about himself and his personal power, then I still don’t have kind enough words to write for all the feelings I have swirling around inside me right now.

So instead of telling ME to pull myself up by my bootstraps and just get over it already, tell me what you are doing to make sure that you and your neighbors that voted for Trump are going to stand up to the bullies who feel justified harassing people in a parking lot who have Clinton-Kaine stickers on their car. Tell me what you are doing to stand up to the people who are impeding traffic by boxing people in who have Clinton-Kaine stickers on their car. Tell me that you are going to defend my LGBTQ+ friends because they are human and deserve to live without fear, even if you disagree with their choice to live their truth without shame or apology. Tell me that you will stand next to my friends who wear a hijab so that they don’t have to face ugly words alone. Tell me that you would stand by my children and I if someone starts yelling at us to get back to Mexico because they assume that we are here illegally because we happen to speak Spanish in public.

My friends who supported Hillary with bumper stickers shouldn’t have to remove their freedom of speech stickers to avoid harassment. My LGBTQ+ friends shouldn’t have to conform to an accepted hetero- “norm”. My Muslim friends shouldn’t have to choose between personal safety and their interpretation of their religious book. I shouldn’t have to stop speaking Spanish to my children out of fear. Anyone who is ridiculed because they are not the right size, shape, color, or look non-typical. Tell me that person has an ally in you, and that you will call out their bully and walk them to wherever they are going so that they don’t have to be alone if they don’t want to be.

When I see actions from more Trump supporters that show that they are decent humans, then I will start to get over it. When I see that more Trump supporters are joining in the call for reasonable discourse instead of handing over the power to the alt-right and the Christian conservatives, then I will stop worrying every time I see Trump propaganda.

There is no place for “Christians” to tell the government how to do the business of governing.  While there are decent Christians who hold public office, their personal morals can inform their behavior towards their colleagues.  However, their morals have no place dictating public law.   The founding fathers made a very clear delineation between Church and State for a reason.

The Church can dictate morals for the home and what you should do if you are faced with breaking one of the commandments. The State has to ensure the peace and uphold the law, and that does not mean that some people get to tell other people how to love each other and what the acceptable moral code is or isn’t. The way I see it, we all agree to keep the peace, behave with civility and acknowledge that EVERY person that lives within our borders has the right of liberty and happiness. As constituents, we can lobby our representatives to make a clear path to citizenship so that all humans who want the promise of a better life can have it without breaking the law, and also without the fear that they are unwelcome because they are not the right color, orientation, or religion. Being human qualifies us to those inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. End of story.

If you see a person being harassed in public, please be an ally.  Stand next to them, talk to them, let them know you see them, and stay by their side until they are ready to walk off alone.  If you witness or on the receiving end of hate speech or actions, speak up!!  PLEASE report any harassment you receive or you witness to the police. And then fill out the form on this page. United we STAND.

Report any incidents here:

Preschool Playdate: Native American Day

Play date: November 10, 2016
Theme inspired by the USA recognition of Native American 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: homes of different tribes
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

My favorite thing about these two books is that they point out to the reader that there was no “discovery” of “America”.  There was already a vibrant, rich and long-standing cultural traditions alive and well when Europeans landed on these shores.  One of the books has a great map that shows the regions in the United States and how the cultural traditions developed to suit their climate.

The other book has images that are better suited for adaptation for toddlers. By that I mean that it is easier for me to make up an abbreviated version of the page to suit their attention span!

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I adapted THIS idea from the Heidi Songs blog .

Since we were not focusing on Thanksgiving this year, I decided to use an image of a buffalo since that animal played such an integral part of Plains Indian culture.  The letters on the plate are the first letters of names of the children who attended playdate this day.  I have found that associating the letter with a person they know really helps them to remember the letter name other times, so I wanted to use letters that were familiar to them from our weekly circle time.

Get your own “Bison Clip Art” to adapt it any way you like for your group.


As it turns out, we had a blue box from Costco that was just the right size for the sweet peas to sit in and play “going fishing”.  The fish are numbered, so there are lots of ways to play as they “caught” fish:

Level 1: Count how many fish they caught – there were up to 20 that could be snagged with the magnetic fishing poles.
Level 2: Separate the fish into groups – they are numbered 1-5, so potentially five different groups to make
Level 3: Add up the numbers on the back of the fish.  This makes the game challenging for the older children since the total sum could reach 50.


Weaving was a skill used across the country to create everything from baskets to blankets.  I thought that the sweet peas would enjoy trying it.  To make it easier for little hands, I used shoelaces.  They have a nice tip for chubby fingers to grab on to, and they are a little slicker than yarn.  The slickness makes it easier to pass the string up and over since it’s not snagging on itself like yarn does.


ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
One of the art forms that our toddlers could attempt is drawing their own totem pole.  These were illustrated in the book I shared with the group.  HERE is the pattern that we shared on the craft table.  I also printed out THIS inspiration picture.  I asked the sweet peas to think about which animal they liked or related to, and they came up with their own totem pole creations.

This craft can be taken a step further by cutting out the finished drawing and pasting it to an empty paper towel tube so that it can be free-standing.  Since we are out of the habit of using paper towels, I could only share this idea with the parents for them to do at home.

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Very organically, our children transformed our schoolroom into their own Indian Village.  They created a longhouse out of some pillows we have in our bedroom.  They also used blankets to create other home structures.  They had their fishing area set up complete with boat storage.  Other things they incorporated into their playtime: left-over buffalo plates without letters on them, and “eggs” from our kitchen play area.

Charger set up a hunt for buffalo by setting up buffalo plates around the house.  He had the kiddos throw a bean bag at the plates to knock them over (clever little man also had them count their yield!).  Someone else was tasked with fishing.  And then they grabbed the eggs from the “prairie chicken nests” and brought everything back to our craft table to make a feast.

It also let us talk about sustainability.  The Native American tradition is one of living in harmony with the environment, taking only what was needed and leaving the rest alone.  We could have the conversation about how many buffalo a group of six would need, and how practically every single piece of meat, bone and tissue was put to use.  We took out one of the “First Americans” books again and read that page in detail.

It was really neat to see the sweet peas enjoy the elements of the different activities in their own way.  Watching them assimilate the lessons through play once again validated why this kind of time to be creative and play is so important for children.

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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.  Playtime was definitely the crowd favorite today, as was the fishing game.

To close out our time together we sing 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.

Thank you for checking out our Native American Playdate.  We have one more to share with you this season.  Today we are doing Children’s Day in honor of the Universal Children’s Day on November 20th….all the details will be up in next week’s post.

One more thing in case you are interested…Here are some Thanksgiving ideas to share with your Sweet Pea at home. Check out this link:

Preschool Playdate: King Tut Day

Play date: November 3, 3016
Theme: King Tut Day – celebrated on November 4th, the anniversary of the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt

FYI:  All links are informational only. I do not make any revenue from any content in this post…simply sharing for you to enjoy and recreate this play date at home for your sweet peas!

Most of the materials for this playdate are from the “Geography Jumper: Egypt” packet created by Wise Little Owls
Get your packet here:

The packet costs $6.00 – well worth it for 53 printable pages.  There are lots of activities to print and enjoy with your Sweet Peas!










I printed out the full-color Cover Page (pictured above), the “Fact Sheet”, the “Country Poster” and the “Flag Poster” to laminate and display in our classroom.  They were all bright, welcoming our guests to the day’s theme and hanging in the background to set the scene for our play date.

— 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: Showed pictures from a “Step into Reading” book called “Tut’s Mummy: Lost…and Found“, plus used the Ancient Egypt TOOB figures to introduce the day’s topic
— Storytime
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers: Alice the Camel
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

The Geography Jumper included a handy little informational book about Egypt which included a map of the country, where it was located in Africa and the world, a picture of the flag, topography (desert and the Nile River), and some of Egypt’s ancient history (Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, mummy, sarcophagus, hieroglyphs). To tie in with education, it also talked about how long the required schooling was for Egyptian children (8 years).


Alice the Camel


There were two activities in this center, both from the Geography Jumper packet.  One was vocabulary cards and the second was an emergent reader book.

Vocabulary Cards
Level 1: review cards for vocabulary retention
Level 2: Sort the cards into “geography” and “history” sets
Level 3: alphabetize the cards


Emergent Reader
This book reinforced all the vocabulary introduced in the “All About Egypt” book and the vocabulary cards.  It is in black and white so the student could color it as well as read it.  Every page starts with “Do you see” and then includes the vocabulary word that corresponds to the picture on the page.


This center was one of my own creation, using clip art from Classroom Clipart, a free on-line resource.  I printed 6 camel images and mounted them onto card-stock paper.  The center also included foam numbers and counting sticks.

Level 1: Count the camels out loud
Level 2: Count the camels and match the correct foam number
Level 3: Place out a foam number and have the child place the correct number of camel cards on the table
Level 4: Add in the counting sticks to Level 1-2-3 activities
Level 5: Introduce the concept of odd and even



Using the counting sticks to introduce the concept of 5 tally counting


Odd numbers have a middle


Even numbers have equal sets


Another way to visually demonstrate odd and even numbers: odd numbers have one left over, even numbers are always matched.

We hid the TOOB figures in sand and had the Sweet Peas play archeologist to unearth the treasure.

The pyramids and the sphinx we left out of the sand to give a clue on where to dig.  Again, these figures could be sorted into the items discovered in King Tut’s tomb and other Egyptian figures.


I had our children bring out their Lego building blocks. They actually had a couple of Egyptian-ish mini-figures, and then we picked out the 2x building blocks for the Sweet Peas to play around with and build their own pyramids and palm trees.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of this activity!! I will see if they can get the parts out again soon and I will add some pictures.

ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This idea was also from the Geography Jumper packet by Wise Little Owls.  The packet included a pattern to trace plus the instructions to create this cute little mummies.



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.  Making the mummy and digging in the sand were the two popular activities today. We also sang one more round of “Alice the Camel” since every one had so much fun singing the song the first time around!

We close with a good-bye poem and then 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.

Today, each guest took home an enrichment packet of four print outs from the Geography Jumper.  We gave everyone the following worksheets to take home and enjoy later.

  • “Glue the Pictures” – outline of the country of Egypt plus four pictures.  Three of them are from the images used in the “All about Egypt” book.  The activity is for the child to cut and paste the three “Egypt” images into the Egypt outline.
  • “Let’s Travel” – shows a world map with a highlighted Egypt.  The child finds where they live in the world and draws a line from their area on the map to the country of Egypt.
  • “Egyptian Flag” – coloring page in black+white for the child to complete
  • “Puppets” – coloring and cut-out page in black+white

Finished puppets glued to oversize popsicle sticks

Thanks for checking out our King Tut play date!! Check back with us next week when we share all our activities and centers for our “Native American” theme that we are going to do today.