Category Archives: Activites

TT Dear Dance Mom

Thoughtful Thursday: Dance Drama

As we enter a new season of dance, I feel compelled to write a little something about the drama that plays out after every audition season.  And believe me when I tell you that I have had to bite my tongue and sit on my hands…because I do not want to be one of “those” parents. So this is a reminder for me, and hopefully if even one parent who finds themselves getting wrapped up in their children’s activities can get a little peace of mind, then my intention with this post is fulfilled.

I see this every dance season: (mostly) mothers who are comparing notes as they receive their children’s schedules, complaining to the other mothers, asking their children why someone is in a class and they are not, going to the studio directors and asking after their children and their placement.

Number one: Your children have no idea why other dancers are the classes they are in.  Leave them alone.  Dance at it’s most primal element is an expression of emotion (joy when you are a child)…so let them revel in the joy of dancing.

Number two: When you hound the teachers, you become one of “those” moms. Do you really want to be one of “those” moms?

Number three: This is not about you. If you enrolled your children in dance classes to fulfill one of your childhood ambitions, then you are doing both of you a disservice. Children who feel pressured to do something will probably do one of two things: quit when they are ready to claim a little independence; or if they stay in it to keep you happy they may suffer the ill effects of stress: illness, injury, depression. What is this childhood ambition of yours really worth?

 

Here is the thing: if your child went through an audition process to be placed, their instructor saw them.  They see where they are today, and if you have history with the school, then likely, they have seen them the last 2-3 years.

Leave the schedule be. Even mindful teachers sometimes overlook children through the audition process, and when that happens then they will move your child into the correct placement. That is the key: THEY do it.  “They” as in the teacher, and “they” as in the child. You stay on the “cool parents” list, and your child has the joy of accomplishment as their progress is recognized and they on their own merit, get to move up to the next level.  When the child moves up on their own merit, they are not the kid whose mother got them in the class (people talk…both parents and children).  When a child does the work and gets promoted on their ability, the child knows they earned it themselves. Hence, the opportunity for a huge milestone on their journey to build self-esteem.

This is what it all comes down to in my book: either you trust your child’s instructors, or you don’t.  If you trust them, then deep down you can come to the realization that maybe your expectations for your child do not match their abilities “for now”. If you feel like the teachers are not doing their job or are not judging your child fairly, then by all means find another dance school that is a better fit for your family.

Bear in mind that “for now” doesn’t mean forever, it doesn’t mean for always…just for now.  Even though it digs at me sometimes, I have to go back to my mantra: I would rather see my child in the front line of a lower-level class, instead of pushing them up to the next level where they are relegated to the back line and lower self-esteem because they can’t quite keep up just yet.

I am not suggesting that you do not allow your child to goal-set.  Here is an idea if there is a class in which your child would like to participate, or you want them in.  Instead of appealing to the teacher to admit them, ask the teacher what the child needs to work on to be promoted to that next level. Then, if your child wants to, bring them in to the school a few minutes earlier so that they can work on those skills before classes start. I have seen other families hire some of the senior students help coach…that works, too, as long as it’s a child-led desire to do the extra classes to improve.

We have also seen our children flourish when they perform solos or small group numbers.  It allows them to receive more individualized instruction. In addition, a mindful teacher will choreograph a routine that plays to the child’s strengths while also putting in some sequences that challenge them to grow.

So trust the process, mama and papa. If you want your child to love dancing, then take them to class, feed them well, ensure they get plenty of sleep, keep them in shoes that fit, and enjoy watching them grow in the art of dancing. For grow they will, in their skills and their love for dance.

For tips on finding a good school, click HERE.

P.S. This is the cool part…when you leave your kids and their teachers alone, and you just sit on your hands and close your mouth because you trust the teachers and your trust their process…amazing things can happen.  One wish: your child becomes an amazing artist who is poetry in motion.

We had the honor of watching a very cool and collected Puma win not one, not two, but five national first place awards at the Dance Masters of America National Convention. Two for her solo, two for her duo with Night Owl, and one with her small group. She is a child who was “passed over” year after year as other children around her age were advanced. I trusted the process and stayed the course, trusting that her instructors are amazing, caring and capable people, and that they would move her when she was ready. Our beautiful, self-confident child reaped the rewards of HER hard work and dedication because SHE cared and did if from a self-drive to succeed. So very proud of her. For my part, thankful for the wisdom that comes with maturity. Because God knows that it took a lot for me to be still.

 

SPFscience

Kitchen Science: Water Week 2

Happy Thursday!

Here are the experiments we shared with our park play group last week…building on last week’s fun and trying on some new elements for the Sweet Peas to ponder: Sink+Float, Taking Up Space, and Melting Point.

Our inspiration for these posts is this book by Usborne Books:

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The mojority of the activities in the book can be done with things mosts of us keep around the house.

Experiment 1
Will ice float in water?
This is a great follow-up to last week’s sink and float experiment. When a Sweet Pea reasons it out, it would seem that something heavy like ice should sink…surprise!! It floats!

One interesting correlation to explain is perfectly demonstrated in the winter. If ice was heavier as a solid, bodies of water would freeze from the bottom up, effectively freezing out all life every winter.  By floating, it creates a layer of insulation for the life below, that continues to swim freely throughout the winter months.
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Experiment 2
Taking Up Space
Fill a container with water and put on the lid. Place it in the freezer and see what happens!  This experiment helps to illustrate the idea in experiment above.  Freezing water takes up more space because the molecules spread out, hence making it light enough to float in water.

As you can see in our experiment, it did not pop up the lid as much as we had hoped, it did however bump out the bottom of our container and created a very visible difference the Sweet Peas noticed right away.

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Experiment 3
Melting Ice
Prepare three containers: one with warm water, one with cool water, and one empty container.  Have your Sweet Peas guess what will happen to the ice they put into each container.

Careful with this one that the warm water isn’t too hot if they splash it onto the counter or on themselves.

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Experiment 4
Melting Without Heating – Salt
Sprinkle and ice cube with salt…compare it with a plain ice cube.  When the salt mixes with the ice, it lowers the freezing temperature. This salty ice will melt because it now requires a colder temperature to make it freeze.

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Experiment 5
Melting Without Heating – Pressure
Press a spoon into the ice.  You will see the ice melt underneath the area of pressure…if you look closely in the picture you can see the spoon-shaped divot in the ice because ice always melts when it is pressed.

Ask your sweet peas how this would affect their ability to walk on ice.  If they said it would be slippery, then they are correct! When we walk on ice, a thin layer of water forms between our shoe or boot and the patch of ice. This layer of water makes it hard for the soles of our shoe to grip the ground, so in effect Mother Nature is creating her own slip and slide!

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That is it for today’s installment of Kitchen Science.  Enjoy trying these out with your Sweet Pea at home.  Leave me a comment and let me know how it goes for you and your crew!

SPFFeb9

Kitchen Science – Water Play I

Welcome to our new series…Kitchen Science!!

Instead of doing “preschool playdates” with our SPB students, we decided to do park playdates so that more families could feel like they were welcome to join us.  The home educator in me has a hard time offering no activity for the children to explore while they share time with us…so I started bringing kitchen science experiments to the park with us.

I am calling this series “Kitchen Science” because most of the activities we will be doing use household items, and all the exploring can be done on your kitchen counter.  Join us over the next few weeks as we share the activities we are enjoying with SPB friends of all ages!

The inspiration for all these activities is this book:

SciVol1

We received it as part of the Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum that we use.

One of the first concepts we teach children about water is “sink” and “float”.  We used that vocabulary throughout all the water play.

WHICH ONE FLOATS BEST?

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This activity is to help the children explore the idea that some things are going to distribute weight differently than others.  When it’s dry, the basket would hold more things…this is what happened when we added water:

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There are lots of ways to add skills to this activity…

Level 1: Gross motor skills ~ place the glass beads in by the handful

Level 2: Fine motor skills ~ place the glass beads one-by-one into the containers

Level 3: Count the beads as they go in

Level 4: Science Journal ~ note how much each container held, and at which point it sunk to the bottom.

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We like these picture journals from Miller Pads and Paper.
The Sweet Peas can draw a picture to remind them of their experiment,
and also write notes or dictate notes to the parent.

You may have noticed the green lines on the side of the tub…we drew those to measure the starting and ending point of the food tray and the blue rectangular container.  After we emptied the water, the children could measure the difference between the change of the containers in the water.

BLUE CONTAINER

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MEAT TRAY

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Here is another variation on the theme using two metal containers.  I asked the children to guess which one would float.  Some said neither since they were both metal…they got a surprise, and also an “aha” moment when we talked about how giant ships made of metal can sail in the ocean.

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The solid container floated…the enjoyed watching the sieve gurgle bubbles and sink.
You might also fill the solid container with beads to see what it’s sinking point was.

DISTRIBUTION OF WEIGHT

Next we explored what would happen if the cargo on our “ships” was evenly distributed or one-sided.  We don’t buy plastic egg cartons so I had to improvise with a cardboard carton and some plastic wrap. For this activity we used 24 glass beads.

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For comparison on this activity, you could draw lines to measure the change in angle of the containers, and then measure the angles with a protractor after the water was drained.

AIR PRESSURE

Blowing bubbles!! This activity demonstrated what would happen if you forced air into a submerged container.  I added two glass beads to our container to better demonstrate the effect of air on an objects ability to sink or float.

We connected this experiment back to the metal containers that float. Showing how air adds buoyancy to an object, we talked about how ships and submarines use ballast to sink or float in the water.

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So those are three experiments you can do at home with household objects…I would love to hear how your Sweet Pea enjoyed them!

 

ppdchildrensday

Preschool Playdate: Children’s Day

Playdate: November 17, 2016
Theme: Universal Children’s Day

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— 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: Who are the people in our family?
— Storytime: Two books today!
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

STORY TIME
We used two books this session.
“La familia”
The first one we flipped through and “read” toddler-style…basically that means showing them the pictures, summarizing the text, and asking them what they see in the page.

“World Babies”
This one was perfect for toddlers – simple text, lots of great pictures of babies around the world.  We could look at their hats (refer back to Hat Day), see how they were dressed compared to how we dress in the desert, and then we also looked at the ones we saw being worn in carriers.

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LITERACY CENTER
Some of the families took this home because the sticker station attracted most of the todders’ attention! This is a great “All About Me” pamphlet that I picked up to use with our children – we have so many that it was time to share!

However you find this format, it’s such a great way to capture a snapshot of your child’s interests at the time.  Ideally, I would remember to do this every year; at around the same time would be even better :)

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MATH CENTER
I got this idea from Preschool Plan-It.  It was actually quite opening to go through our ads and put this activity together.  The size and age bias is really clear when you look at print advertisements.  We did our best to represent people of all colors and size in our activity, age was much harder.

The tag sheet by itself served as our introductory tool…we asked all the guests what names they had for the people in their family…what did they call their aunt? uncle? grandparents? Everyone had different “titles” for those people based on their heritage.

For the center, we put out the other pieces and the children had to match the picture to the correct category on the tag board.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
This happened after playdate at the park!! We took out sand toys and bubbles for the children to enjoy at the park.

 

ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This was a bigger hit than I ever could have imagined.  Leave it to the sweet peas to make it amazing!! The kiddos had such a great time creating “faces” out of the plates, stickers, yarn, and googley eyes that I set out on the floor.

Here are their creations…and the “heart” ears…all the credit goes to a very clever three-year-old!

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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.

This concludes our playdate series for 2016.  Thank you for joining us to see our weekly preschool themes!! You can click back through the archives to see other play ideas we have shared since September, and there are more many themes on the blog if you click under “Toddlers”. As I was typing this, I realized that we are in our third year of hosting playdates for our students! Fun times.  I started keeping track in the Spring of 2014, so I hope that you will find some fun ideas on the blog to share with your Sweet Peas.

We have a fun idea in the works for the blog in 2017…I hope you will check back with us to see our new series that we are preparing for you!!

Blessings,
Krystyna

ppdnativeamericans

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 http://www.native-languages.org/houses.htm
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

STORY TIME
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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LITERACY CENTER
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.

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MATH CENTER
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.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
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.

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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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IMAGINATIVE PLAY
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:
http://www.pre-kpages.com/thanksgiving/

ppdcookies

Preschool Playdate: Cookies 2.0

Play date: October 20, 2016
Theme inspired by National Cookie Month (October)

— 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 took the time to talk about the ingredients that go into making dough.img_2802 — Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

 

STORY TIME
This was a fun book to tie-in – lots of “C” words in Spanish to reinforce the hard “c” phonetic sound in the word, “cookie”.  This is our second week using a Stella Blackstone book.

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LITERACY CENTER
The letters are from Kidzpark.com ~ the activity is from our first cookies playdate last year (link HERE).  Since we have a younger crew this season, I only put out the five letters for the children to match on the correct card.

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MATH CENTER
This is a favorite game in our home, whether or not it is Cookie Day! The sweet peas will take any opportunity to play with cookies.  This is played by choosing a color plate (also programed with a shape to continue the learning…).  The dice are rolled, that number cookie is added to the plate, and the turns pass until one player reaches the number 10.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
We had two different activities…tasting of course!!! And we also brought back the cookie baking station from last year.  This year we added some cinnamon to the play dough to add an extra sensory aspect to the imaginary play.

The imaginative play lets the sweet peas use the kitchen tools, their motor skills to roll and cut out the cookies, use their creativity and fine motor skills to decorate, and lots of opportunity to acquire and/or use  vocabulary words that pertain to baking and the kitchen.

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This was a printing activity today – keeping it simple since our guests are younger this season.  Puma used markers to embellish hers. After I took this picture, Otter took a paint brush to her project and painted inside the lines.

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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.

 

PLAY TIME
Here are some more images from our cookie play time…it provides so much opportunity to do sensory exploration, vocabulary acquisition and also some safety rules for the kitchen.

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ppdteddybears

Preschool Playdate: Teddy Bears

Play date: October 13, 2016
Theme inspired by Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day

— 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: This week we did a Teddy Bear “Show and Tell”
— Storytime: Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone
— Unsquiggle activity “Teddy Bear” Rhyme
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers “Teddy Bear” Counting
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

STORY TIME
I fell in love with Stella Blackstone’s books the very first time we ever checked them out from the library. As you can see this copy is well-loved…and it was great to share her wonderful rhymes and bright illustrations with our Sweet Pea friends.

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teddybearbw-nursery-rhyme

Image source: “Come and Share Our” on Blogspot

Image found on Totally Tots on Blogspot

Image found on Totally Tots on Blogspot – click on image for their source and a clear printable page.

LITERACY CENTER
Here is our “T” sound box ~ I chose to use all hard “t” sounds and avoid the confusion of the “th” combination.  The sweet peas had a turtle, truck, triceratops, twig, train, train track, tomato, trooper, turmeric, and tuna fish.

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MATH CENTER
I combined two ideas – the cute bear image came from the Nuttin But Preschool blog and a color match set from Lakeshore Learning. I tossed all the items into a basket, put the plates on the table, and had the sweet peas match by color.  For more advanced sweet peas, you could also sort all these into categories: crayons, foods, animals, and balls.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
This idea came from Preschool Plan-It – berry tasting!!  We chose different berries from the grocery store that bears would forage for in the wild.  It allowed for lots of opportunity for discussion: where do the berries grow? How do the bears reach the berries? How does their fur protect them from the berries that grow on spiny branches? Which berries grow on spiny branches?
With more time, we totally could have printed up pictures of all the plants/vines/bushes that these berries grown on and do a little biology lesson as well as a sensory lesson –  my favorite ways to teach!!

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This project was inspired by Cutting Tiny Bites.

Shaving cream paint is always a big hit with our crowd!! We make our “paint” by mixing the shaving cream with school glue (half cream, half glue, enough paint or food coloring to make the desired color for the project).  The finished craft has a puffy, smooth texture that the Sweet Peas like to run their fingers over when it’s dry.

I used my Creative Memories Circle Punch for the ears and eyes, and we free-cut the snout and nose.  Because there is school glue in the paint, the sweet peas just had to push the pieces into place – nothing extra required.  In order to do the snout, we dipped the back of the nose into the paint and had the sweet peas place them where they wanted them.  Then they drew the mouth, and lastly they put them on the plate.

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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

ppdkindness

Preschool Playdate: Kindness

Play date: October 6, 2016
Theme: Kindness (in honor of World Smile Day on October 7, 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: what are actions that show kindness?
— Storytime: Knuffle Bunny
— Unsquiggle activity: Kindness Spider Web
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers: The More We Get Together
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

Kindness Spider Web Game from BrightHubEducation.com:

“Have your group sit in a circle on the floor. Take a large ball of yarn and give the end of the yarn to the first child. Have this child roll the ball to another child and say one nice thing to that child. Then, this child rolls the ball of yarn to the next child and gives praise.

Now, make sure all children hold onto the yarn when it comes to them. After the game is finished, show the children how they are entwined in a spider web of yarn – everyone is connected to one another and has shown kindness.”

STORY TIME
Mo Willems is one of our favorite authors. This series is set in Brooklyn, NY, one of the Burroughs in one of our favorite cities.
This is the story of a preschool-age Trixie learning and her favorite bunny toy. It lends itself well to the theme of kindness and what kind actions are, as opposed to unkind. Both are evident through the course of the story.

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LITERACY CENTER
“K” sound box – the “K” sounds in our box were kangaroo, key, killer whale, kitty, and koala. The other items were thrown is as decoys so the children could say yes or no to the beginning sounds and decide whether or not they went in the sound box.
I really debated using the “killer” whale since our theme was “kindness” last week. Thankfully the kiddos (and parents!) gave me a pass and none of them voiced an objection.

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This was an activity for the older children from Enchanted Learning. The older siblings of the preschoolers enjoyed this reading/match activity, and the preschoolers just like writing with the dry-erase markers even if they can’t read.

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MATH CENTER
There were lots of different ways to play at this center last week…
Level 1: Identify the numbers and put them in order using the cards, foam numbers or magnet numbers.
Level 2: Match the cards ~ numbered cards to picture cards or cards to number manipulatives
Level 3: Memory game ~ turn the cards over and have the children find the matching cards.

These are cards that I printed with pictures from the Internet. I specifically chose images that represented children of different ages and skin tones. I feel as if normalizing variety in shape, size and color is part of teaching kindness.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
This was another activity that leant itself to the idea, “we are all the same and we are all different”. Some of the children put their thumbprints on our card, so they could see everyone has finger prints. Then we could point out how although each print is different, every human can benefit from kindness.

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
We took paper chain dolls to the next level with markers and stickers. Although each doll was the same shape, the children had the opportunity to personalize each cut-out. The lesson here was, “we are all the same and we are all different”.

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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.

Come back next week to see the “Teddy Bear” Playdate we are having today in honor of Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day.  We are modifying it to “Take Your Teddy Bear to Playdate Day”.

See you next Thursday!  Thanks for stopping by. :)

ppdhats

Preschool Playdate: Hat Day

We are back with “sneak peaks” into our daily activities!  One of our favorite days of the week is Thursday, when we host Preschool Playdates for our alumni families.

Our first playdate for the 2016-2017 school year fell on the celebration of “Hat Day” on September 15th. We had lots of fun exploring around hats and the letter “H”.

STORY TIME
Harry’s Hats, by Ann Tompert, illustrations Marcelo Elizalde
I picked this book because of it’s obvious tie-in to our theme. I also like it because it helps teach the days of the week.  We follow the main character, Harry, through a week where he wears different hats and enjoys different activities.

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LITERACY CENTER
This week we kept it simple.  I put out mini-whiteboards and dry erase markers so that the Sweet Peas could explore writing.

We also had this “H” sound box for the children to play with different toys that either showed the letter H or started with the letter H.  The items included: handbag, hair bows, headband, and horses. Other great “h” words: house, hippo, hydrant – we didn’t have small toys to represent those!

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MATH CENTER + IMAGINATIVE PLAY
We used hats for imaginative play, counting, and sorting

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ARTS+CRAFTS
Craft hat and magnet play!

We upcycled some oversize coloring pages the kiddos had outgrown, then we folded the colored papers into hats! They enjoyed wearing the points in front and on the side.
You can also use the letters to teach sounds and upper case and lower case, as well as reinforcing the theme.

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paperhatInstructions from http://www.hittyprintmini.julieoldcrow.com/camp/camp2005.htm

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.

Next week: Fall Fun!!

SPFJune9toddlers

Air Travel: Toddlers

Travel Series: The ABC’s of Flying with Toddlers

Welcome to the second installment of our summer travel series…flying with your toddler! For the purpose of this series, we are going to consider children between one to three years old as “toddlers”. (Click HERE If you are looking for baby flight tips!)

The key to understanding this age: squiggle. Children this age are newly mobile, and they want to move!! They are exploring their new freedom, figuring out boundaries, and sometimes even testing them as they reach the mid-twos and into the threes.

What to do with all this energy? My best advice is to work with it instead of against it.

A.) Talk to your children about what to expect.

I am a big believer in having one-sided conversations with your children at this age. I know they are probably not answering in complete sentences…it doesn’t mean that the information isn’t being soaked in. Take the time to explain and describe the experience.

Some things to highlight and fill in the details about might be…

We are going to pack – we are going to drive and park the car – we will go through security – we will wait to get on the plane – we will have to sit in our seats with our seat belts on – we will have fun – we will get to see the clouds – it’s going to be an adventure – it’s going to be cramped and feel like a long hug – we will get snacks – when we get off the plane we will see (people? place?) – we will have fun!

Yes, fun is in there more than once because THOUGHTS ARE THINGS! Start planting the seed in your child’s mind that this is going to be FUN and maybe, just maybe, (okay probably!) you will have a fun time if you allow yourself to experience a trip from your child’s point of view. Everything is new – big – amazing – and because you are there, they know they are safe.

Show them pictures of airports and airplanes. If you are going to take their car seat on the plane, tell them they are going to have it on the plane and that it may feel like a very long car ride. You can explain the experience of takeoff and landing – the opportunity to introduce concepts and vocabulary is endless when it comes to travel.

If you still have to carry travel documents (usually a yes for children under two) such as a birth certificate or vaccine record – check with your airline for requirements – then show them those, and show them where they are in your bag.

Once our children were mobile, I would also make them a name tag (2″x3″) to attach to their clothing.  On one side, I would put their picture, name and birthdate.  On the other side, I would write our names, phone numbers, list any allergies and their blood type, and the phrase, “I AM A U.S.A. CITIZEN”.  I would laminate this, and then attach it to their clothing with a safety pin.  You may want to do some trial runs with this before travel day so that they are used to it, and you can figure out where best to put it so that it stays on without bothering them.  The best spot for our kiddos was at their waist right around the area where a waistband was out of the way of a seatbelt.

I would also fill out a couple of index cards with the same info and tape it to their car seats and the underside of their strollers.  I am a big “just in case” person – thankfully, we never had to use them.  My intention was that our children could be identified, cared for, and quickly reunited if we were separated or god-forbid, incapacitated for whatever reason.  Once I placed them, I would show them where they were and tell them that this information would help reunite us if we were separated.

B) Packing List for the flight

Diapers – Plan on taking two sizes for the flights…one that fits and one size bigger to catch blowouts – put the child in both of them for the duration of the flight. This would also work if there is going to be extended car trips at your destination.

Books – we love the Indestructibles series: they are lightweight, bendable, and there are no words! You can introduce vocabulary or make up a new story every time!! Even if you can’t find these, something your child can hold aside from your phone is great! At this stage, “reading” also includes eating the books sometimes. Pick two or three favorites if you are packing board books – and maybe read them in different voices, or change up the story a little bit every time and see if they notice!

Toys – some favorites that you know they like, some new ones wrapped up as gifts. We would buy a little set and wrap up each piece individually to be opened up every time the alarm rang on a watch or phone.

Snacks – I seriously believe that you cannot pack enough of these. We had a small soft-sided travel cooler that would carry a small ice pack and lots of cheese sticks. I also like the “handful” snacks from Trader Joe’s (lots of protein!), and also fruit leathers or cereal snacks. The cereal snacks serve a double purpose… first, you can make shapes or letters with them on top of a napkin on the tray table…and then your toddler can eat them up.

Wipes – do not leave home without them!! I put some in my purse and in the diaper bag.

Wet mat – I shared THESE last week as well – I never left home without several of these tucked into my bags…they are great for the car seat or your lap if your child is going to sit on you, and they also make great floor mats if you are going to be at the airport for a while and need a place for your child to sit aside from the dirty floor.

Extra clothes – for both child and parent!! When a spill or a blow-out happens, it is hardly ever contained to one person. As I mentioned last week, extra clothes is packed into zip lock bags – it lets you squeeze out the air for tight packing, and also provides a container to hold any icky smells/wet stuff you don’t want getting on the rest of the items you packed in your bag.

Wet bags or zip bags – I always carry an extra wet bag and a few quart-size sealable plastic bags…you just never know. They can store dirty clothes, uneaten snacks, serve as containers for errant toys or crayons…they have always come in handy.

Coloring or writing implements – a spiral notebook and triangle crayons or pencils that don’t roll are my favorites!!

C) Flight Tips

  1. As in last week’s tip list, do your best to plan flights around their sleep times. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, get through security, and then have time to feed them and play with them in the gate area before you board the plane. Walk up and down the concourse, or have races, or go window shopping if your airport has shops along the way…anything to get them primed for a nap on the plane. Once you board and get them settled, you can all sleep through the flight.
  1. Take advantage of any early boarding policies for families with small children. At this age, some kiddos will still use their carrier, others may be too big or too squiggly and your best bet to move through the airport is a stroller…either way, it adds up to a lot of gear!! Early boarding gives you extra time to lug on any of the bags, car seats, assorted gear, etc. that you don’t gate check*, and let’s you get your children situated without the huffing and puffing of the line of people behind you. Wait until they are pleasantly surprised when your child travels well…they will change their tune!
  1. Have a strategy for take-off and landing – at least two to three ideas to help them deal with the air pressure changing in their ears. If you are still nursing and you have a lapsit child, you can breastfeed them during take-off and landing. If your child is in their car seat and/or not breastfeeding anymore, then you can offer them a drink or show them how to yawn big and wide…make it into the “Yawning Game”…who can yawn the biggest?!? Or if your child is a little older, you may even consider chewing gum for them. Whatever it is, have a plan in place to help them move air down through their throat to help counteract the effects of changing air pressure.
  1. Definitely take advantage of empty aisles between service times if, despite your best laid plans, your sweet pea did not fall asleep for the duration of the flight. As long as the seat belt light is off, you two can go up and down the plane. I would also use a timer for this…when the alarm goes off, we will get to walk up and down the plane one time. Have them look for a color as they walk, or maybe a letter – let the walk be a little different every time.
  1. Relax – your child and the people around you feed off of your energy. If you are anxious, they will multiply it. If you are relaxed, your child feels your safety, and the people around you will feel your confidence and probably start to relax a little themselves. If I can make eye contact, I will greet them and make a little small talk. You can even invite them to help and make them your ally…

Hello, this is my Sweet Pea’s (x)th trip…we are so excited to have fun!! We have packed lots of entertainment in our magic bag…and of course, if you have any positive travel tips for toddlers, I’d love to hear them! Hopefully we will all get to sleep…and if not, we are going to have lots of fun learning and exploring along our trip to (destination)!!

 

That’s about all I can think of for now. Did I forget anything? I would love to hear what works for your family – please leave me your best tips in the comments!

 

*gate check: once you get to the gate with all your gear, you can check anything you don’t want to or can’t carry in the main cabin due to size restrictions. I would pack a couple of large garbage bags to store the gear in and attach a name tag and claim ticket to the outside of the bag.