Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paint Bags

One of the most popular Pinterest ideas, that I just hadn't tried yet. Tuesday is our painting day and I decided to not wait any longer. I wanted cute zebra duct tape to put around them, but that will have to wait for another day. Today was clear heavy duty packing tape, which I think I like better. It allows the children to utilize the entire bag and see the edges.


 I was thoroughly surprised by how fascinated they were with these. Mixing the colors, and using different hand motions to make fine lines, bigger lines, multiple lines, kept them busy and coming back to this activity all afternoon.

 The 10yo said the light coming through made the colors look like neon. The effect is really amazing, and this was on a rainy overcast day.

Make sure to use heavy duty FREEZER bags for this activity. Just squirt some paint into the bag, remove the air, seal, and tape up. Easy peasy.

Fine motor
Art color mixing, light change, fluid movement, shapes and lines, creative expression, unusual medium
Math geometry
Social taking turns and showing something interesting to each other, showing how to do something over
Language describing what they are creating to each other, telling what they are going to draw

Tags: art, craft, paint, paint bags, fine motor, preschool, pre-k, home school, childcare, daycare, sensory

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Salad Spinner Painting

We hadn't done this in a long time. As in, not since I had all preschoolers...a LONG time ago, in another economic climate. I hadn't tried it with little ones. It went surprisingly well. 

One of the issues with the little ones right off, though, was that in painting we work to paint out the "blobs." In this activity they are purposefully making blobs to spin out. They all found it difficult to not paint out and just leave the blobs in the middle. 

I expected that the 3yo wouldn't have any trouble with manipulating the turning mechanism.

 But even the littlest at 22mo had no problem with just a few moments of trial and error. I did have to hold it. Next time I'll put a rubber mat under it so that they can be independent. 

 As always, even using the same medium and materials, they always do things a little differently and end up with different results.

 The 10yo could REALLY get it going. The children were fascinated to watch the paint flying around and the basket spinning so fast. I do think that this activity is more about the process than the product. They really enjoyed DOING it. 

I did help give them all a final good spin before opening.
They probably would have done better for the littler ones if the paint had been watered down a little. We'll try that next time.

Preschoolers can be shown how to do circles in the middle to overlap and fan out, color blocking, etc. For these young ones, though, I think the blobs of primary colors worked just fine. 
They agree. They gave it a rating of:
Tags: painting, preschool, prek, daycare, childcare, salad spinner, art, color, fine motor, craft

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Toddler Sings ABCs

G, 22 months...

Spring Has Sprung (I hope!)

Started seeds for the big garden and planted some spinach, lettuce and radish in the salad tub this morning. 60 degrees in February, birds singing, wind chimes playing and children laughing. It doesn't get much better! Hopefully, either the groundhog was WRONG, or we'll simply have another 4 weeks of the mild winter weather we've been blessed with this year.

The girls filled the seed trays.
 G tamped. His idea, not mine, but it needed to be done. 
He picked a good tool for it and did an excellent job.
We've just started filling these with basil, lavender, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts and other cooler weather crops. Another month before we start the warm weather ones.

Cleaned out the sprouting weeds from the salad tub next to the deck, used the cultivator to loosen the soil, and the children planted the seeds. The teeny lettuce seeds got spread out and smoothed into the soil.
 The larger spinach and radish seeds were placed individually and pushed in a little.
Math big/little, empty/full, counting seed pot openings, sequencing i.e. we have to fill the pots before we plant the seeds/we have to plant the seeds before we water/etc., we divided the salad bin into thirds
Language vocabulary
Science we eat plants, plants need soil/water/light/warmth to grow, soil has food for plants in it, seeds make food for us and animals, we plant seeds, we plant seeds in the spring time here and they grow until summer or fall, farmers grow most of our food, we eat leaves/roots/stalks of plants
Fine Motor scooping/moving/placing dirt into seed pots, placing seeds and pushing them in, covering the seeds with additional soil
Gross Motor balancing the dirt as they moved it from the sack to the container, holding balance as they bent over the salad bin to place seeds

Tags: preschool, pre-k, childcare, daycare, teaching, science, gardening, toddlers, seeds, plants, outdoor play

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kool Aid Play Dough, non-toxic

Woo Hoo! Love, love, love, LOVE 
(you get it but I could go on) 
this new play dough recipe!

Kool-Aid Play Dough Recipe

2 1/2 Cups         Flour
1/2 Cups            Salt
2 Packets           Koolaid (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon        Cream of Tartar
2 Cups               Water-  boiling
3 Tablespoons    Oil


You can add essential oils for scent, glitter, sand, flower petals or other sensory items to the basic dough. Beware of essential oils that can cause skin reactions. A list is available HERE. Items that can spoil, such as flower petals, will reduce the shelf life of the dough.

I hadn't made play dough in...well...years. I really liked the cooked one I did, but it was messy, produced inconsistent results, and it didn't last long at all. This one came out PERFECT the first time, was easy, went together smoothly and quickly, has a great consistency, and the kids love it as well.
Play dough is such an important activity, working hand-eye coordination, fine motor, logic/reasoning, physics, creative expression, sensory, and even gross motor. Given that we have three large bins of play dough toys, I was so pleased to finally come across a recipe that made it possible to routinely use them.

I love that it is totally non-toxic and not harmful if swallowed. That was one of the reasons we hadn't done playdough in a long time, the little ones just wouldn't keep stuff out of their mouths. YES, the little girls did try it, but only one taste, so it must not be that appetizing. 

(Update from original post: G fell in love with the taste of it. His mom asked him what he wanted for dinner a couple times and he said, "Play dough!" We are working on that.)

 I only had Tropical Punch on hand, but it made more than enough for the 6 children to play with. I will be getting other flavors quickly to try out! When they are a little older, or I'm certain they won't eat it, I'll try adding glitter. 

Even my home-schooling tween had to get in on the action! 
I saw something similar packaged up as class gifts, both completed and as a make-it kit which I think are wonderful ideas...made up for younger children and as a kit for older ones to do with adult assistance, as it does use boiling water. 

We made this orginal batch on 11/30/11and it's been stored in the fridge since. I always have the children wash their hands prior to playing with it to keep it relatively sanitary, and it is STILL, 3 months later, like I just made it.

G doesn't eat it any more. That took some effort, though. 
Must be tasty.

3/8/12 We have FINALLY made some more...
Lemon Lime Koolaid
Not much scent, and the green is more intense than in these pictures.

and Orange Koolaid
some scent, more of a peach color

J's creation..."Phillip"

Tags: play dough, playdoh, craft recipe, no-cook, preschool, pre-k, toddler, preschooler, craft, art, sensory, childcare, daycare, homeschool, edible, non-toxic

Magnetic Boards from Cookie Sheets

My kids love these magnetic boards. 

They use them with their magnetic letters, shapes and numbers, but also for keeping their craft items from being pushed onto the floor or into their neighbor's work zone. N (pre-k) is using one to work on his color word spelling, using the color word wall as a reference if he gets stuck.

We also use them for marble painting. I just saw a blog post that used magnetic marbles and a wand magnet underneath a cookie sheet to manipulate the marbles in a more precise manner. We will definitely be trying that soon. Since we use these a lot for art projects, I wanted something that cleaned up easy. I am thinking about painting the backsides with chalkboard paint, to have the best of both worlds. We have very large both indoor and outdoor chalk boards, though.

Since they have a hole in the ends, and nest, we store them on the manipulatives closet's door on a hook. If you use a good quality paint, they hold up very well. I've been using mine for 7 years and they show very little wear even though they've been scraped, dropped on the floor, etc.

As a professional commercial painter for many years, please take my expert advice. If you want these to hold up, don't skip any steps!

  • Take an old cookie sheet, light rust is fine 
  • Sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper or go over with a liquid sander 
  • If you are using a USED cookie sheet, ensure it is entirely free of grease 
  • Spray with a metal primer, let dry 
  • Spray with a light coat of a good quality enamel for metal, let dry 
  • Apply a second light coat 
  • Let dry thoroughly, preferably a week to let the enamel cure hard 
We seriously use these nearly every day.

UPDATE: Since I posted this nearly 2 years ago, it's gotten a lot of traffic and a ton of copying. Here's some of what others have done with the idea:

Tags: magnetic board, manipulatives, cookie sheet, pDisplayWall2r

ool, pre-k, marble painting, magnets, homeschool, daycare, childcare

Gifted Children and Brain Disorders

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults

I just checked out this site on advocating for the gifted, SENG, and of course one of the best books on the subjects (that I own) is on the front page. Written by doctors on their board. Not only is it good for parents of gifted children, but it also is one of the most comprehensive books on every brain related diagnosis there is. Especially good for comparing when a child borders between them or dual-diagnosis may be in the works. I strongly recommend this book for all teachers and caregivers. As well, parents of gifted children and those with brain disorders such as ADHD, Aspergers, bi-polar, OCD and depression will find a WEALTH of information. Often the gifted have accompanying brain issues, or act similarly due to boredom, frustration, or being misunderstood. 

This book is probably available through your local library. It is also available through the SENG website, or you can view/purchase through Amazon to the right.

SENG is the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted. It is for children and adults. They have a newsletter and excellent information.

TAGS: gifted children, ADHD, teaching, special needs, special education, duel diagnosis, brain disorders, childcare, daycare, pre-k, preschool




Saw this poem on Play at Home Mom's status and had to create a poster. Girl's version is also included on print/download with a meadow background.
PRINTfree download
Tags: printables, parenting, toddler, baby, babies, preschool, mom, mother, childhood, poem, poetry

Facilitating Infant Sitting Balance

Found this video via Pinterest. I never thought to provide such a strong visual focus for this activity. I think it really helped the baby to less consciously learn balance. 

I used this with my infant, having my son sit in front of her and just talk to her. It worked famously. She was sitting independently almost immediately. Within a couple days she was a pro. 

So glad I came across this video!
Tags: Infant, baby, babies, balance, core, sitting, childcare, daycare, homeschool

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Truth Tuesday #1 - Trusting Preschoolers

Truth Tuesday is blog posts regarding my 
Murphy's Laws of childcare.

#1  As soon as you trust an older preschooler with independent use of child-safe scissors they will:

  • Cut another child's hair (happened more than once, one time right in front of me)
  • Cut up your new holiday decorations you just put up (only happened once)
  • Cut up on your $4000 hand-knotted wool rug (took two of them to really make a mess of it...they also took a blue Sharpie to it, don't know where the Sharpie came from)
Anyone have their own experiences to add?
Tags:  preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, childcare, daycare, homeschool, teaching

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy President's Day!!!

 We made George Washington tricorn hats, more fun than you would think [surprised ME anyway!]

Free Pattern - click for link


(the stars are harder and may require teacher assistance for even older children)

Staple two sides

Fit for last staple
(she's happier than she looks, and it seems I didn't get all the Mexican from lunch off of her)

Glue stars over staples

Pretend to be George Washington crossing the Delaware and fighting red coats...
accessorized with a few dress up beads ...

The preschoolers did some money sorting, of course I didn't have any color ink to even print out my own printables in color. Oh well, black and white worked just as well. I provided 10 of each and they fit perfectly on the images.We only had 3 half dollars, and found them after I'd printed the other one, so when I get some ink we'll have a re-do.


Math symmetry, oval, ellipse, star, 5 points on star, 3 sides + 3 points = tricorn
Colors blue and yellow
Fine motor cut, paste, staple, placing stars

Touch on History and how they wore different things in the past than we do today, that stars in the military mean that you are an important person and the more stars the better, so they must be VERY special people given how many stars on their hats!
Tags: President's Day, printable, craft, cut and paste, money, sorting, dress up, dramatic play, math, preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, childcare, daycare, homeschool

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine Rubbed and Framed Hearts

I saw a Pinterest post that used cutouts to frame children's scribbles. Well we do a LOT of scribbling around here, but one thing we haven't done in a while is use the rubbing mats. I got these from a client years ago that worked for an architectural firm and these were commercial wall paper samples they were going to pitch in the trash. They are the perfect size and nubby enough for even the ones to get some wonderful texture out of with little effort. 

While removing the paper from crayons is a great fine motor skill, it's not something I encourage due to the mess generated. So, they got to pick their colors and then I removed the papers while lurking in the corner out of view, so as not to give them any ideas.

B at 3 could do most tasks for this art craft independently. Just a little older and I would have just given her a demo and let her do her own thing. But none of them are quite at that developmental level yet, so it was hands-on teacher time. But not for the rubbings....these they were all able to go to town on.
 Next they each chose the color of their construction paper, we folded it in half, and the children traced a heart blank. B was old enough to do it relatively well on her own. The others need a little hand guidance.
None of the children are proficient with scissors at this time, so we used the teacher-assist scissors and everyone cut out their hearts. I tossed the center heart out of the way, since it wasn't part of the activity I was focused on. The girls were a little upset by this. I think they thought the center heart was the important part since they didn't have my vision. They asked if they could color them and I of course said yes. 
 Then they glued the back side directly around the heart shape with a glue stick, which was fine for this activity and gave them a measure of independence they wouldn't have had with liquid glue.

 Then they glued around the outer edge on the FRONT of their rubbings [YES, the first one we glued on the back out of habit, so don't make that mistake.]
 Then they got to SHMOOOOOSH them together. Easier to center from the back side, and it's kind of a kick when they turn it over and see the finished product.
 Especially at this age, even though they see the heart, see the rubbing, and put them together, they just can't forsee the finished project and it is a wonderful surprise for them.

I think they turned out pretty great.
Math symmetry, heart shape, rectangle, pattern
Fine motor rubbing, trace, cut, paste
Art creative expression, color usage, media manipulation, composite construction

Tags: Valentine's, craft, rubbing, art, colors, coloring, cut, paste, shapes, heart, holiday, preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, childcare, daycare, homeschool, craft, Valentine, day