Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween Everyone!
Our house is decorated and have been waiting for this day for a while now!
We always get pumpkins from my grandma who still grows them in her garden on the farm.  The kids love Thanksgiving because that means that the pumpkins are ready and we get to bring some home!

Last year my husband helped me make these cute Haloween blocks!  You can go to this website to get the printables and to get the dimensions for each of the blocks.  It's really simple.
1. Cut the 2x4 to the correct dimensions.
2. Paint each of the blocks what ever colour you wish.  I painted mine orange and black.
3. Print off the letters from the website above (or I'm sure you could make your own) and them out.
4. Once the paint is dried, use Modge Podge to glue the paper letters onto each of the blocks.
VOILA!  You're done!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Rainbow Rice

There are two parts to this post.  It's all about introducing in small steps with 3 & 4 year olds.  This was my end goal (of course found on Pinterest) - but how would I get there?

Step One: Get the rice from a Wholesale Club of some kind.  Cheapest and easiest.  Don't worry about quality, you won't be eating it, it's just to play with.

Step Two: Colour the rice.  We used baggies.  Put in a 3 or 4 cups of rice, added a few squirts of hand sanitizer and a few drops of food colouring.  Mix it all together.  Depending on how dark you want the rice, you will have to play with the amounts. Then we dumped it out to dry.  It doesn't take that long to dry.

Step Three: Let the children play with JUST the rice for a few days (or weeks).  The kids loved playing with the rice.  We gave them small shovels, strainers and we made some larger funnels out of construction paper.

Step Four: Add the letters.  We actually had to add more rice to the table because A. Lots was dropped on the ground in two weeks and B. We wanted the letters to be hidden and LITTLE harder to find.  I used the ABC Foam Puzzles that we have in the classroom and just put the puzzle base on the table beside the rice table.  My daughters Kindergarten class also had this in their classroom and she put the rice table right beside the whiteboard and used magnetic ABC's to match under the hand written ABC's on the whiteboard.  Two different possibilities!

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Listening Center

In the four years that I have been in this classroom, we never had a listening center.  We borrowed a listening center from another classroom in my first year, but we only had it for a couple months.  We needed something high tech - yet cheap - and we knew that was going to be tough.
I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it would be a great starting point.  It was small . . . but would it be cheap?
An I-POD Touch is not cheap.  It's not horribly expensive, either, but it was too much money for me.  So I gave my husband a mission.  I told him what I wanted and told him to flyer shop for me (he's great at saving pennies!) . . . and he completed his mission wonderfully!
XSCargo had everything we needed!  An MP3 Player that had two head set outputs and two headsets . . . for just around $50! 

Where do you find the stories?  Online!  There are stories to download everywhere online, I actually downloaded a compilation of some kind with about 300 stories on it.  But we only put between 3-5 stories on the MP3 player so that it's easier for the kids.  We find the books that go with those stories, put them in the box and the kids now have a listening center that's portable and fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Felt Story Storage

So now we have these two new fancy dancy felt boards - we need somewhere to store all of the felt stories.  Previously, they have been stored in baggies and stuffed into a rubbermaid.  Problem is, I never remember they are in there and they are hard and a hassle to get to.  But I LOVED this idea!

It's really simple.  I tried the baggie method that she talks about and just put duck tape on the baggies so that they wouldn't rip as easily.  Then I hole punched them and put them in the binder.  We have two binders: 1. Seasonal Rhymes  2. Stories and Nursery Rhymes
In each baggie I put the felt pieces and the story/words that go WITH that story just in case I'm having a rough day and don't remember the words to Itsy Bitsy Spider!

The other option that she talks about in the blog post is putting the felt pieces into page protectors.  When my baggies start ripping, I will try that method as well, but I do see problems arising when the felt pieces start falling out . . .

Monday, October 22, 2012

Felt Boards

Storytime!  I love story time, but reading a story every day can/will get really boring.  So I like to switch it up!  Depending on the day, I choose one or two of the following activities.  Songs, reading a story, doing nursery rhymes, felt board stories/rhymes and youtube storytime (there will be a post on that later!).
We have some really old felt stories in our classroom, but they work for now until I can find the time to make some new ones.  Storage was one problem that I had but the boards . . . they were another one.  We had two boards.  They were just felt glue gunned onto cardboard.  They were starting to bend and they just were not sturdy. 
This summer when we were on holidays, one of the places that we went was a Children's Museum.  That was where I got the idea for a new felt board.

What you need:
a large poster frame (Walmart)
felt (I reused the fabric from our current felt boards)


2. Measure and cut the felt so that it fits nicely on the backing of the frame.

3. Use a glue gun and glue the felt onto the backing of the frame.  Once on, you may have to trim it again because the felt will be too thick and it won't allow the backing to fit into the frame properly.

3. VOILA!  You now have a sturdy felt board that will stand the test of time!

I made two for our classroom.  One for the teacher to use and then I put the other one on the wall so that the kids can make up stories and use their own felt board.  They LOVE it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Using Stencils

In our classroom we stay away from your typical crafts.  We don't sit down at the table and make the kids create something that looks exactly like their neighbours.  We put out the supplies that are necessary and if they are interested, they will come and join us at the table.  Usually 8/12 will join us, depending on what it is.  The first art project that we attempted this year was stenciling.  We tried lots of different things.
First we bought some small stencils from the Dollar Store and the kids sat at the tables and used sponges to create wonderful fall pictures.

Then we cut out some large leafs from sturdy paper and used large stencils to sponge paint with.

Finally, we used those large leaf stencils and we spray painted them.  I followed the link from Pinterest and all it lead to was this art supply site.  PLEASE NOTE: YOU DON'T NEED TO BUY THESE SPECIAL SPRAY BOTTLES.  We bought ours from the Dollar Store.  This site also didn't tell me anything, so I had to figure it out on my own!  At first I tried water and food colouring, but take this as a warning - IT DOESN'T WORK!  It's too runny.  So we took some paint and watered it down a little and that worked great!  This is NOT an art project that I would give the kids free range with, unless you were outdoors (great idea for spring!).  It can get messy and you will have spray paint EVERYWHERE!
*** These pictures are from the water and food colouring attempt, not so great, but you get the idea***

Stenciling is a lot of fun!  Every month we try and focus on a different art medium and stenciling was one of the first!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Afternoon/Evening Routine

Morning routines are the most imporant, but afternoon/evening routines are important as well.  Especially if you have activities that you need to get to every night.  We have a great routine that works for US (every family has to find that RIGHT routine that works for them).  I have had other afternoon/evening routines (last school year) but it seems like as the kids get older, the routine has to change a little bit to keep up with the kids.
We have activities.  Both of the kids are in swimming lessons one night a week (thank goodness it's the same night) and my Daughter is in Guiding another night. 
But on a regular afternoon/evening, this is what we get done:
5:00 - Arrive Home from daycare/work, empty backpacks, put shoes away, hang up jackets
5:10 - Chore Time (*)
5:30 - Kids play and wind down and Mommy makes supper
6:00 - Supper Time!  They only get 1/2 an hour. I set the timer. There is no reason to have a longer supper than that. If they don't like it, I don't make another meal. They will eat if they are hungry.
6:30 - Table Time (**)
7:00 - Bathtime for my son, Homework time for my daughter (***). My daughter can do her homework by herself (most times) so that's helpful.  I can stay upstairs with my son.
7:30 - Bedtime for my son, Bathtime for my daughter.  Our sons bedtime routine is pretty basic.  Read ONE story, tuck him in, turn on the radio and walk away.
8:00 - Bedtime for my daughter.  Her bedtime routine is a little different.  We read ONE story (or two if she reads one), tuck her in, turn on the radio and walk away.  BUT the lamp stays on.  We have her lamp on a timer that will automatically turn off at 8:30.  That means she gets 30 minutes by herself to what she wishes.  She doesn't have big toys in her room, a couple of dolls, but usually she just draws or reads or plays on her Dora computer.

* - I have the best app in the world. It's called "Motivated Moms" and gives you a customizable list of chores that you need to get done every day.  Somet of them are every day (clean out sinks, sweep floor, etc.) , some are once a week (clean toilet, mop floor, etc.) and some are even once a year.  Do you HAVE to do these things when it says?  NO  But it's a great reminder for busy families who get off track fast!  At chore time, I let me kids pick one item on my to-do list and they have to do that. 

** - Table time is a quiet time that I came up with this year.  Table time can be lots of things!  Playdough/Arts and Crafts, Supper Games, Puzzle Time, Board Game Night and on special nights, even a movie night (usually Fridays).

*** - My daughter gets "homework" every Friday that we have to do on the weekend.  But to keep her in routine throughout the rest of the week, I give her homework to do.  Sometimes is colouring (learning how to stay in the lines), writing a letter (practicing her printing) and drawing a special person a picture.  If I know they are learning something at school, I give her something that is closely related.  For example, I know they are learning about patterns, so I pulled out the Pom Pom Pattern Supper Game and let her make some fun patterns!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Morning Routine

Mornings are the craziest time of day for any family.  Whether you have one child or 5, having a routine in place can be a lifesaver!  Around our house, the summer months are full of lazy mornings - get dressed when you want, eat when you want, play when you want - no routine what-so-ever.  And I like it that way because that what summers are for - especially  because I'm not working!
But as the end of August crept closer, I knew that routines had to make a comeback - especially because we had a Kindergartner on our hands.
I found these printable morning routine cards and I really like them.  But they weren't EXACTLY what I needed and I would have to find more wall space when I already had something that would work just fine.  Remember the Chore Chart?

These are the magnets that we had on WAY back in February, I changed it so that it would better suit our morning routine - the most important part of my day and the kids.
So every morning looks a little like this:

7:00 - Wake up daughter and get her eating breakfast.  She doesn't have time at daycare before the school bus comes.
7:15 - Daughter starts on her Morning Magnets which include: Get Dressed, Make Your Bed, Brush Your Teeth and Feed the Cat. 
While she does her thing (all independently) I go into my Sons room to help him out.
I take off his night time diaper and then pull out today's clothes (shirt, pants, gitchies, socks) and tell him to get dressed.  He can undress and dress himself completely while I do my hair or make my coffee.
7:25 - Son is dressed (mostly), I help him brush his teeth.  Daughter is still usually putzing around.
7:30 - TV goes on.  This is our TV time during the day because we don't have time after school.  They kids watch Bubble Guppies and we even have a routine built into the show. 
7:45 - When the Bubble Guppies start singing their "Line Up/Outside" song MY kids have to line up (not literally) and get on their shoes and their sweaters/jackets.  They can still watch the TV from the porch, but it's time to get ready. 
7:55 - Then by the time the show is over, we just have to walk out the door.
8:00 - Drop off at daycare

What makes our mornings even better?
  • Snacks and lunches made the night before
  • Coffee maker on timer (I have yet to do this - I keep forgetting)
  • Shoes and sweaters/jackets/mitts/toques where they need to be
  • Clothes picked out and ready to go (we pick our clothes for the whole week on Sundays)
I can't stress the last one enough.  My kids are so independent that I can get my stuff done and not have to worry.  Yes, sometimes my daughter is a daydreamer and my son comes downstairs with his gitchies OVER his pants - but for the most part, they can handle the morning routine by themselves and I love it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Glitter Dispensers

In our classroom - as every other classroom/daycare SHOULD - we have an Art Center.  We focus on open ended art projects, not a "I'll cut this circle out for you and then show you where to glue it so that it looks like all the others when I hang it on your wall." 
However, with open-ended art projects comes a lot of mess.  This year we wanted to allow the children to have more choices when being the little artists that they are.  Glitter is something that they LOVE to use, but more often than not it is spilt all over the table and the bottle you thought would last for the year has been used up in one day.  Sorry, one hour.
I found this idea on Pinterest and I thought we could give it a try.  When I went back to find the original link, I was just brought to a home page.  I tried using the search engine, but I didn't have much time.  So back to my story . . . We went to the Dollar Store and bought 4 salt shakers and then filled them each with a different colour of glitter (yes, one is empty in the picture.  Red was back ordered).  At first I was scared that the glitter wouldn't come out.  But it comes out perfect.  Not a lot, so that kids have to be patient, but it's the perfect amount that it does not make a big mess.  I haven't had to clean up glitter once yet and they have been using these for a couple months now.  They are even learning how to problem solve because they have found it easier to get out the glitter if you tap on the bottom of the shaker while you shake out the glitter.  Smart cookies!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sheets in Pillowcases

This was one of those pins where I thought "What a great idea!" and then I forgot about it.  And then when I remembered and I did it, my thoughts were . . . "Was it worth it?"

Does it save you time when you are changing sheets?  NO
Does it save room?  NOT REALLY
Is it convenient to grab everything in one grab?  YES

But I'm telling you, MY pillow cases did NOT look like the ones in those pictures.  I guess I just have really big pillow cases, but when I shoved the sheet and the extra pillow case in, this was what I got.

So I just folded the extra end under and plopped it on the shelf.

Here are some things to think about before you do this.
1. If you have kids who have accidents at night - or even just the flu going through your house - you may not need a new pillow case every time.  Or the other way around.

2. If all your sheets and pillow cases are the same or you don't care what does with what - then this probably really isn't worth it - if you are already organized in your own way.  However, if you do find yourself more often than not with no pillow cases, then I would suggest this.  It's convenient and you know that with one grab, you will have everything you need to make your bed.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 
Fall is here and our house is decorated!
Leaves, vase and the orange/brown sticks from the Dollar Store

Subway art from this site, AUTUMN blocks bought on clearance last year

Orange/brown sticks, fake berries and jars from the Dollar Store.  Play sand from the kids sand table (bought at Walmart in the summer)

Close up look at the berries and sand

More Subway Art from this site, pumpkins/squash and vase from the Dollar Store


Frame: Walmart
Click here for the FALL Printable
Leaves: Dollar Store

Friday, October 05, 2012

40 Bags in 40 Days

I found this wonderful list on Pinterest and I knew that it would be great to acomplish something like this for my Spring cleaning!  Then Spring came and went.  And so did the summer.  So I have decided to do it now - in the Fall - so that we have some extra space around the house when the busy season of Christmas is upon us.  Not only do the kids get gifts at Christmas, but my daughters birthday is the same week and our sons birthday is a couple months after, so there is always an influx of "stuff" (toys, books, more toys, craft supplies) in a three month period.
I found this list and took a quick look at it.  There were some "spots" that would not apply to me, so I would have to make my own list.  And yes, I did come up with 40 spots as well - actually 42 but I combined some of the small items.  And we don't even have a garage!  So here is my list (some jobs are just too big to only spend one day on).

1 & 2. Storage Room
3. Utensil Drawer
4. Junk Drawer in Kitchen
5. Junk Baskets in Kitchen
6. Kids Craft Cupboard
7 & 8. Pantry(s)
9. Under Kitchen Sink
10. Fridge
11. Kids Snack Cupboard
12. Cereal and Cooking Supply Cupboard
13. Master Closet (My Clothes)
14. Master Closet (Husband's Clothes)
15. Desk Drawers and Baskets
16. Dresser Drawers (master bedroom and kids)
17. Nighstands (master bedroom and kids)
18. TV Stand Drawers and Cupboards
19. DVD/Game Cupboard
20. Kids Closets
21. Master Closet Shelves
22. Jewlery Boxes
23. Bathroom Cupboards
24. Kids Toys
25. Linen Closet
26. 9 Drawer Cube in Hallway
27. Kids Books
28. Mommy's Craft Box
29. Bath Toys
30. Candy Bowl
31. Bathroom Vanity
32. Laundry Room Storage
33. Vehicles
34. Cookbook Stand
35. Entryway Closet
36. Dresser, Bench and Stairwell Baskets (Entryway)
37. Tupperware Drawer
38. Kids Artwork
39. Mommy's Bookshelf
40. Keepsake Box

So let's see what kind of a dent I can make on my house!  I'm not going to gurantee a lot of pictures or an update every day.  We are busy - as everyone else is - so I may end up doing 6 of these spots in one day and then nothing for 10 days and then 12 on another day.  But I do promise to be done by the beginning of December!  And I will update to share with you how much I am throwing out/donating/recycling!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

12 Days of Kindergarten

Sorry, I know this is a little bit late.  The start of school is a busy time of year for us because not only do the kids go back to school, mommy goes back to work.  And this year was VERY special because my daughter started Kindergarten!
During the summer, we took her school supply shopping and clothes shopping.  She picked out MOST everything and was very proud of that.  I found this idea on Pinterest and I thought it would be a good idea to get her excited about school and to stop the question "When do I start Kindergarten again?"  Instead of using toilet paper tubes (looks cute, but really?  There are so big supplies on these lists!) we used paper bags.  Some of her BIG items still wouldn't fit, but for the most part, we were safe.  I started at 12 and she got a school supply every day.  Bag #1 was opened of course the day before her first day and it was her new school clothes (already washed) and new school shoes.  It was the perfect 12 days!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Slowing Down JUST a Little

Now that the school year is back in full swing, I will not be doing blog posts every day because that takes away too much time from my kids and let's be honest, my life.  I will try at minimum to post 3x a week with new and exciting kids activities, classroom set up/activities and random decorating/cleaning posts.  I will be sharing parts of our classroom this week so if you know a preschool teacher/daycare worker - let them know that we have some great ideas coming . . . of course straight from Pinterest!