Friday, April 20, 2012

Egg Theme Books

Here are the books we used for our Egg Theme. 

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We also used the book The Egg, a First Discovery Book by Scholastic that I LOVE. It has a 5 star rating as well, for good reason. 

Amazon Link

It has transparent pages that show the development of the embryo inside the egg. This book also shows how eggs develop in the hen and introduces the different animals that lay eggs. It's not as thorough in that aspect as An Egg is Quiet or Chickens Aren't the Only Ones, but I like this one for an introduction and a discussion about eggs, leading the next day into a more thorough discussion on the different animals that lay eggs.

Our chickies left for the farm this morning. We already miss them. The children got a few last cuddles in and said goodbye.
Tags: egg, preschool, daycare, childcare, theme, unit, Easter, spring, dinosaur, reptile, pre-k, prek, kindergarten

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Languages Are a Gift

We all want the best for our children. For all children, really. So I am amazed that early language instruction is pretty much absent in this country. So many of us try learning a second or third language later in life, with mixed results, but never easily, nor attaining the proficiency and fluency we long to exhibit. Children have a window of birth through age five for learning language. If a child is not exposed to language before the age of five, they will never be able to gain it. 

22% of children under five are latino in America. 40% of children under the age of five in California are described as dual language learners. There are "140 different languages represented in Head Start alone." We live in a multicultural, multilingual society. 

Children under the age of five learn a second language in the same way they learn the first one and stored in the same area of the brain. However, after the age of five, a second language is learned and processed in an entirely different way. Anyone learning a second language after the age of five can never have the fluency of a native because they didn't learn it within the appropriate developmental window to do so. 

"Infants have the innate capacity to acquire two languages without significant costs to the development of either language." Patricia Kuhl of the Center for Mind, Brain and Learning at the University of Washington.

Another study found that even learning up to three languages was seamless for children younger than five. 

I describe it to parents as learning that mom, momma, mommy, Jen and Jennifer all mean the same person. It's just more words to describe the same thing, and just as children learn that certain word choices are more appropriate to certain situations, they learn to distinguish when each language is appropriate to be used.

Children who learn two languages have greater neural activity and become "better at focusing on details and on certain literacy-related tasks." 

My sister-in-law is Phillipino. Her children do not speak it. My cousin-in-law is from Uzbekestan. She doesn't speak her language to her daughter, either, even though both of these children spend time around family that do not speak English. It was so difficult for these women to learn English later in life, that they didn't want that for their American children, so they only speak English around them. I have tried and tried to explain that it doesn't work that way, that they are doing their children a disservice by denying them a chance to learn another language from a native speaker. So many of us do not have that to offer. 

I have 5 years of French and 2 years of Spanish instruction and know that I don't speak either at all well enough, but I have the ability to work on vocabulary and grammar and the basic instruction of any language, the children just don't get the best intonation from me.

It becomes harder as they get older. Here, we work on our native American English along with Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. My son didn't start learning Mandarin until he was 8, and it became more difficult for him to distinguish between the three. He said one day, "Nǐ hǎo, me llamo es Jacob." However, all the other children understood him, because they knew and understood the same words. 
I am not an especially fluent speaker of either Spanish or Mandarin, and neither are their parents. I had one little girl at two yelling, "Ayúdame! Ayúdame!" at her parents and they had no idea what she was saying. Unfortunately, it was "Help me! Help me!" So, I try to make sure to teach the parents along with the children, especially on words that could be potentially very meaningful. One of my little ones, turned two yesterday, was going over colors with his mother a couple weeks ago and was telling her them in Spanish rather than English. Not that I have been teaching them to him in that language, but he's around when the older girls go over them in Spanish and has just picked it up. Again, for little children, it's seamless, almost osmotic, learning. She said she knew that three of them were correct, but she didn't know the others. So, I'm sending her a cheat sheet.
My language instruction, like all of my instruction, is play based and interactive. Language of any kind is only meaningful in context and usage. When you are holding a child's jacket out to them, you can use any language and the child will understand you. The children in my care are expected to repeat what I say to them. This helps greatly in learning language. They can hear it from me, physically experience it in some way, and say it, reinforcing the learning process.

When you think that over a quarter of this nation will be speaking a second language by the time these children are adults, even if they are in a fairly homogeneous group of peers at the moment, we are doing them no favors by not teaching a second language from the beginning. Dual language learners will be their friends, co-workers and bosses in the future. The ability to understand and communicate on many different levels and in many different ways can only be an asset we give our children. 

I strongly urge other childcare programs to try to integrate a second language into their everyday interactions. For parents, I urge you to fall back on that highschool or college language, recruit family and friends who speak a second language to work with your child, begin to learn a second language and teach your child at the same time, or at least find a quality childcare provider or educational program that has a second language component to it. Beginning language education at the middle-school level, as we normally do, is just not the same. 

Birth-5 is the time.
Tags: spanish, chinese, preschool, childcare, daycare, pre-k, prek, language, infant, toddler, preschooler, second language, bi-lingual, dual language, learning, foreign language, language

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Eggs is the theme this month. We've been pretty busy. The incubator was set up and loaded with a dozen eggs from my mom's buff orpingtons on 3/27/12 and we started the count down. Here is my printable for that.

Click for PRINT Link
Given 21 days to hatching, I anticipated on seeing some action by Saturday, but nada. 

We got to the house on Sunday, 4/15 at 7pm and saw this...

Then at 9pm we heard some cheeping, and found this...

so we totally missed the actual hatching. Another was making it's way out as of 11pm. That one was out the next morning, Monday, and the children and I watched two more emerge. Here is a video of #5... and 5 more were already showing signs of hatching.

7 were out by the time we left Monday evening, and 11 greeted us Tuesday morning. We went ahead and moved them into their new, temporary, home Tuesday afternoon.  

The children LOVED being able to pet them and watch them take their first pecks at food and water before closing them up with the heating lamp. The container is on the counter at perfect kid-viewing height so they can observe them as much as they want. They've been checking them out regularly. I'll open them up for more petting and closer observation this afternoon and tomorrow before they head to the farm on Friday. 

Science lifecycle, incubation, incubation needs, humidity, evaporation, heat concepts, chick care, chick physiology, thermometer reading and temperature of environment in incubator and different areas of holding bin, observation, food chain
Math 21 days to hatch, counting chicks, counting legs/beaks/wings, measuring chicks, measuring the water they drink, thermometer reading
Language incubation, incubator, humidity, evaporation, discussions and observations, gentle touch, concepts of little and baby
Sensory down, feet, beaks, pecks

Associated posts:
Egg Themed Books
You're A Good Egg!
Egg Coloring Printables
Floating and Sinking Eggs

Tags: egg, eggs, chicken, chick, hatch, hatching, farm, theme, unit, incubator, preschool, daycare, childcare, pre-k, prek, kindergarten, life cycle, homeschool

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Truth Tuesday #7 - If The Shoe Fits, Wear It

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

#6 Parents will buy their children new shoes and they will NOT let the child wear them over a weekend first to see if there are any issues. They will send them to school in them the next day. They will not bring a broken-in comfortable pair in case of problems. There will be problems. Blisters, abrasions, the child refusing to wear them, etc. WILL happen. Every time. Seriously.  
 This is today. It looked much worse yesterday. Yesterday she was screaming hysterically, "Get my shoe off! Get my shoe off!" by the time she decided she just couldn't take it any more. She hadn't mentioned anything up until that point, because she liked showing off her new shoes. Different shoes today, but we're still going barefoot to let it heal.
Tags: childcare, daycare, parenting, preschool, shoes, new shoes, dressing

Friday, April 13, 2012


These were all over Pinterest, FB and the web for Easter. However, I never saw anything discussing the finer points of making them with children. I know this post is late for Easter, but they are also good for a bird, spring, dinosaur or reptile theme/unit. If you've been living under a rock and don't know how to make these easy peasy cookies(?)/treats, here's a run down...

3 ingredients: 

  • 12 oz. bag of butterscotch or peanut butter chips
  • 12 oz. bag of chow mein rice noodles
  • Egg shaped candies
Heat chips 30 seconds in the microwave, stir, repeat. Add in noodles, stir and drop by about 1/4 cup portions onto parchment paper, silicone mat or other non-stick surface. Indent the middle and add 3 candies or an appropriate number depending on the size of your chosen candies. We used Whopper Mini Robin Eggs. Let harden before attempting to move.

When I make them for an occasion such as Easter, I use my large scoop which holds a little less than 1/4 cup, mash the mixture in tight, release onto a silicone mat, and use the back of the scoop to make an indentention for the eggs. I get about a dozen good-sized treats. You could double that with a small scoop and using jelly beans.

Now here's the kiddo particulars. 

For children 3 and up, this is a great autonomous activity. I could have easily sat down several children over 3, given a demonstration, then put 3-4 portions in the microwave at a time, let them scoop out their own 1/4 cup portions of noodles from a bowl and provided a bowl of candy eggs in the middle of the table and let them go at it. I think it is a perfect supervised preschool activity.

"We have these eggs. Where do eggs belong? ...Yes, in a nest. So we are going to make some nests for these eggs today. What kinds of animals could these eggs be from?" [Ours had no pointed end, so no open rock layers, and they weren't perfectly round, so no turtles, etc...]

Discuss the ingredients and tools. Let them handle each.

"What do you think will happen to these chips when we put them in the microwave?"

I placed 1/4 cup chips into a microwave safe bowl [won't be hot to touch after heating]. It took the exact same time to heat the smaller quantity as it did to heat a whole bag...still 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds. I let them stir the chips. While they may not look melted when you bring them out, they are. Just stir. I stuck my finger in a batch to see if they would burn, and though they were pretty warm, they were not to the point of uncomfortable for me so I don't think they get hot enough to burn, but microwaves can create hot spots in cooked food, so if letting 3 and ups do independently, caution to not touch while stirring at first. We discussed how the chips were no longer hard, but soft and could be stirred together.

As soon as they got the chips stirred just a little, I had them add the noodles and keep stirring.

  After mixing, I sprayed some non-stick spray onto their hands and they rubbed it over their palms. I don't think it did all that much to keep the mixture from sticking to their hands, but it was worth the try. Added an additional sensory element at least.
The smaller amount of chips seemed to cool much faster and be much safer than letting children help form cookies from a full batch. They patted it into a circle on a plastic oatmeal container lid.  
  Why a plastic lid you say? Well they are FREE, just the right size, can be marked and spread apart for individual project identification, and above all they are FLEXIBLE...
 I told them to push down in the middle with just one finger to make a spot for the eggs. Then said to choose 3 eggs for their nests. I was surprised about the exactness of the placement of the eggs. This was serious craft making.
As for younger than 3s, all it takes is doing it individual with the teacher, but as long as they can stir and have a pincer grasp, the little ones can do it all as well. Just watch the temp of the mixture to make absolutely certain that it is not too warm for handling. Before serving to eat, I smashed up the candy eggs for the under 3s.
Math measuring, measurements, volume, shapes: circle, oval, ellipse
Fine Motor stirring, forming cookies, placing eggs
Gross Mostor stirring
Science heat, solid/liquid changes before/during/after, mixture
Language indent, indentation, mixture, volume, hard, soft, crunchy
Sensory texture: chips, noodles, eggs, warm mixture, stickiness, non-stick spray if used; smell of the chips; taste and texture while eating
Tags: Easter, egg, egg theme, egg unit, dinosaur, reptile, theme, unit, preschool, childcare, daycare, pre-k, prek, kindergarten, cookie, cooking, bird's nest, bird's nest cookies, nest, nests

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You're a Good Egg!

Our take on a classic...tissue paper covered eggs. 

I created this blank for our craft. 

I collect tissue paper from birthday parties and Christmas celebrations. So, we get what we get as it's FREE! They really liked this pink polka dot. 

We used watered down glue, 2 parts glue to 1 part water to paint small areas of the egg at a time.

 They tore up the tissue paper at will, the littler ones producing larger pieces than the older girls. The younger ones used a two-fisted pull-apart technique and the older ones ripped it with dexterity.

 They ended up looking like this.

 We cut them out, using teacher-assisted scissors. For older preschoolers this would be a wonderful opportunity for scissor practice, as it has simple, large lines to follow.

 We punched the holes. 

We cut 2 pieces of yarn, one 12" long to attach the bottom card, and one 6" to tie at the top for a hanging loop.

 They threaded the yarn through with guidance and assistance. I tied a knot where I wanted it so that the card would hang a little below the egg. I tried just tying a bow, but it kept pulling the yarn too taught, so I found I had to knot it tight first and then tie the bow. 

Then I clipped the ends to the same length as the bow loops. I couldn't trust these children to not clip the bow, they are too unpredicatable with scissors in hand still, so this one thing I did myself. I tied the top hanging loop and clipped the ends close to the knot.

Arts and Crafts tissue paper media, cut, paste, creative expression, colors
Math oval, rectangle
Fine Motor tearing, ripping, pulling, cut, paste, writing name, threading yard, punching holes
Gross Motor tearing, ripping, pulling
Language reading, vocabulary, names 
Tags: childcare, daycare, preschool, kindergarten, pre-k, prek, Easter, egg, egg theme, egg unit, spring, science, art, crafts, cut, paste, glue, scissors, yarn, tissue paper

Floating and Sinking Eggs

Starting off posts regarding our egg unit we've been working on for a while... Today we took the incubating eggs off the automatic turner in preparation of hatching.

The center eggs were old ones, so after 18 days in the incubator as heat indicators, they are good and rotten. PERFECT for our sink or float experiment.

I asked the children if they thought the new egg, straight out of the carton and white, would sink or float. We discussed it, and the concepts of sink and float, with the sinkers and floaters votes equally divided. Even the 2s had opinions on this. Then we discussed the yucky old egg and what it might do. 

It did help that they were different colors for the children to be able to easily see which one was which. Then the older girls placed each one in water and we saw what happened.

We observed the air bubbles coming off the eggs and discussed why that was.

I asked if they wanted to smash the yucky old egg and smell it's stinkiness, but they declined. They trusted me on that one.

Science density, gases, air, rotting, water displacement, volume, floating vs sinking, prediction, deduction, hypothesis, classification [old/new, sinker/floater]
Math graphing, counting, one-to-one correspondence [glasses to eggs to children who put them in], prediction, deduction, classification [old/new, sinker/floater], shapes: oval, cylinder [tumbler], rectangle [tray], circle [tops of tumblers]
Language vocabulary, adjectives, placement words, colors, explaining their vote
Tags: preschool, childcare, daycare, pre-k, prek, kindergarten, homeschool, eggs, egg theme, egg unit, Easter, float sink, science, spring

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Truth Tuesday #6 - Baby It's Cold Outside

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

#6 Good, caring, concerned parents WILL dress their child inappropriately for childcare. This is especially true when it's REALLY important, like it's ridiculously cold outside. 

This morning's conversation, exactly as it went down...

Mom, coming through the door: "SORRY, I didn't know it was going to be so cold today and I dressed her in shorts. I thought it was going to be like yesterday." 

Me: "Shorts?"

Mom: "I know..."

Me: "WHITE shorts? Seriously?! REALLY?!!"

Mom: "Well....they looked cute with her t-shirt."

Me: "WHITE!"

Mom: "I know..."

I redressed her in black pants with mom standing there. She's one of the best mom's I know, and STILL. 

It's especially bad with parents who enter the car through a garage, park at work in a garage and go straight into their nice warm office where they spend the day. I try to get across to them that we are mandated by the STATE to be outside for a minimum of one HOUR a day, even if it's in spurts of time because it's too darn cold out for sanity. They still send them in light jackets when it's freezing outside, or the girls in dresses or light weight leggings, etc. 

I also love it when the toddlers are potty training and arrive in overalls. That's a good one. 

SIGH! Happens all the time.
Tags: childcare, daycare, preschool, pre-k, prek, outside, appropriate dress, parenting, teaching

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Bunny Cupcakes and Minis

Jen brought these for snack today. The big one for me, and anticipating a sugar rush weekend for the kiddos, the minis for them. The peeps were too big for the small ones, so she had the brilliant idea of putting the Easter candy corns in as bunny ears. The children thought it was great to have bunnies hiding in their cupcakes.

Easter/Egg Coloring and Pre-writing Printables

A coloring page for your Easter or egg unit...
And its pre-writing counterpart. Advanced level on the top and bottom. Don't forget to have them trace over Egg!

Also included is the printable for our You're A Good Egg! craft.

A Blessed Good Friday and Easter to all!

Fine motor: tracing, coloring with the lines
Math: shapes circle, triangle, oval, symmetry
Language: spelling egg, letters e/g
Art: creative expression, color recognition
Tags: Easter, egg, coloring, pre-writing, prewriting, childcare, daycare, homeschool, art, craft, worksheet, crayon, crayons, marker, markers, paint, bird, theme, unit

Monday, April 2, 2012


I simply LOVE springtime!! We are outside pretty much all day every day during this beautiful weather. 
The mature lilac was one of the main reasons I wanted this property when we were looking 13 years ago. It's still one of the things I love most and look forward to each spring. I can remember laying under my mother's pride and joy lilac and reading, my senses just bathed in the scent. 
Dandelions are edible. A good choice for infant introduction to flowers.

 This forsythia started as a twig from my grandmother's garden. Her forsythia hedge was ripped out by the city in a street-widening project years ago, and last year her house was sold and she moved into an assisted living facility. This forsythia is a wonderful reminder of my childhood as well.
These are true pear trees, not decorative. We get some wonderful fruit from these, along with the apple, peach, cherry, apricot, and plum trees. Some of the better planting decisions I made the first year we owned this property. I appreciated that this volunteer cedar tree chose to grow directly in the middle of the two, when viewed from the house.

The only things prettier than the flowers at spring time, are these adorable students of mine.