Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Muffin Tin Monday

For over a year now I have been following a chain of blogs about interesting lunches for kids. The ideas piqued my interest but I never followed through and tried the muffin tin lunches or the whole bento trend. I am happy to say that I FINALLY tried it out and I was very happy with the results.

It was a rainy, cold inside-the-house kind of a day. A bummer for the start of our spring break. Jade had a friend over and I was wishing the girls could all get outside in the sunshine. As I looked outside at the hail and rain, I thought I'd make a sunny lunch to try to brighten up the afternoon. I did a yellow/orange theme and told the girls that it might lure the sun out of hiding (it didn't)

There are carrots, mac and cheese, corn, oranges, cake bites with powdered sugar and bunny sprinkles, and gold coins.

While I was making this lunch I was thinking about how great muffin tin meals would have been on playdates when Jade was younger. There was always fighting over who got to use the Cars plate or the Mickey bowl. I wish I'd known about these lunches back then. Also, while I know the child Jade had over this time is a good eater, many of her friends are not. I could fill up the muffin tin with lots of choices and let the pickier friends eat what they like rather than reciting every food item I posses in hopes that they'd identify one thing they'll eat. Jade will eat nearly anything so a variety muffin tin lunch would make everyone happy.

Here's Jade with her tin (I didn't want to include her friend because I knew I'd be posting it online) The girls devoured everything and came back for seconds on the mac and cheese.

Friday, March 8, 2013

(top) A princess goes to tea parties.
 Kings and Queens:
Unit activities

Our kindergarten class has been studying kings and queens following the EngageNY modules (found here). We have liked the content but found the module alone to be a bit dry and boring. So here are some of the supplemental materials I developed to add to the unit.

These castles were our culminating activity. The idea is from Deep Space Sparkle- check out her tutorial and great examples here

After creating the castles we had the kinder kids write a sentence to tell us one thing they learned about being royal. I have provided some captions to help you decode the kinder-writing.
(top left) Princesses wear a dress. (middle left) Princes wear a crown. (middle right) The queen plays in a kingdom. (bottom right) The queen rides a carriage. (bottom left I have no idea, sorry)

 I also created a word jar for this unit. The purpose of this word jar was to practice with our two main vocabulary words: royal and common.

Here's the jar- it's a recycled cheese puff tub from a class party. I made the label and used packing tape to secure it to the jar:

On either side of the "word jar" label, I attached two laminated cards labeled "royal" and "common". They were attached with small velcro circles.These cards were the headings for the vocab sort. By affixing them to the outside of the jar, they were easy to identify as the headings and they were quick to find when the students only had a minute to sort.

Inside the word jar were cards that belonged in one of the two categories (shown below). On each card is a picture of the object or person and on the flip side is the word. Though many of our kindergartners cannot yet read words like "carriage" and "pajamas" they can begin to associate the word with the picture through this sort. The cards also doubled as spelling assistants when the students were writing about royal things. They just went to the word jar, found the image they needed and flipped it over to help them write the word.

Here are all the cards in their categories

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wall Shutter

Pinned Image

Here's a pretty popular pinterest post that's been going around for a while:

You take shutters and hang them for an interesting display.

I found shutters at a garage sale for five dollars a pair and they were the exact shade of burgandy that I want to use in my living room. I was stoked!

It took me a couple months to stop dragging my feet and actually start to decorate this room of my house. I finally got around to it and here are my lovely shutters!

I made clothes pins to match the shutters. They are useful in helping smaller papers stay in the shutter slats without falling through. You just clip the clothes pins to the paper.
I used acrylic paint and Q-tips to give them a flower design


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Teacher Gift

Jade made these flower pots for her teachers as an end of the year gift.

I found the pots at Target in the dollar section and I HAD to buy them!

Then I made tracers out of cardstock for the three different parts of each flower. Jade traced them onto various colors of felt and I cut them out (the felt was too hard for her to cut)

Next she chose fancy buttons and arranged the flower stacks into piles. She and I sewed the buttons to the flower parts to hold the whole thing together.

On the weekend, Jade collected sticks that were about 1/2 inch around and long enough to poke out of the pots. She covered all nine of the sticks with green yarn by herself! I hot glued the yarn at the bottom and she wrapped and wrapped until it was totally covered then I hot glued the yarn again at the top.

I cut some leaves from green felt and added them to the sticks to give the flowers some dimension.

I took some old gum-ball-machine-style plastic rings and glued them to the top of each flower stem. If you don't have a collection of crappy plastic rings hanging around you can use buttons or even heavy cardboard squares. This part of the craft helps the flowers to point outward instead of drooping down. I glued the flowers to the gem part of the rings and they were all set.

The flowers didn't want to stand up on their own in their pots. I took some styrofoam, which I save when it comes in packaging, and cut it into circles that fit into the bottoms of the pots. I poked the sticks into the styrofoam and voila! The flowers stood up and the arrangements looked lovely.

Jade added her teachers' names (one for her teacher, one for the aide, and one for the school counselor that Jade sees) to each pot using foam sticker letters. These can be purchased from a craft store. However, I recommend buying them from Oriental Trading because you get a million of them for a great price. I bought them a few years ago and still have plenty left.

End of the year school project

Last year I interned in a first grade classroom. On my last day I had a craft and accompanying read-aloud ready to help the kids create a thank you for their awesome teacher! There was a substitute for half the day so it was a surprise for the teacher when she returned :)

The book is The Day They Smelled a Skunk at Peanut Butter Pond by Lael Littke

The Day They Smelled a Skunk at Peanut Butter Pond

The premise of the story:
A skunk wanted to go into town to eat his favorite ice cream. He tried to go to the ice cream shop but the people shooed him away because of his smell. He didn't realize he smelled bad and his forest friends have to break it to him nicely and tell him that they love him anyway. All his friends help him get to the ice cream shop by buying perfume and spraying the scent all over town while they walk to the shop. The people smell the skunk mixed with the perfume and, instead of being mad, the smells remind them of good times they had (camping, visiting grandma, etc.) They reminisce while the forest animals get their yummy ice cream.

Based on this read aloud, I created an art project for the first graders to share their sweet memories with their teacher. I printed large ice cream shapes.  Each child remembered a sweet memory they had with their teacher and wrote it down. After I helped them correct the basic spelling, they copied their memory onto their ice cream shape.  The children painted them using water color paints. I asked them to use light colors so the writing would show up, but they had a hard time remembering this. So, after the paint dried (only about 20 minutes), I traced over their writing with a fine-tipped sharpie.

Then I cut an ice cream cone from construction paper and created a title paper and hung it all up in the hallway. Here's how it came out:

The picture is a little fuzzy but the purple paper says "Sweet Memories with Miss Gregory"

I recommend this book for a similar craft activity or for a character-building lesson because it also has a message about embracing our differences.

Get ready for the...


We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How about you, you you?
During our last week of preschool we took all the children to the Ross Park Zoo. Before we took our trip, we did some fun zoo activities with the kids.

I got inspired by these animal themed crafts on pinterest and we did a few in our preschool classrooms.

I made animal foot prints out of Styrofoam and the kids made paint prints.

We also made animal cages and created a classroom zoo board:

Pictures were printed and I cut grass pieces for the kids to add. Then they sewed the yarn through holes I had punched in the foam trays. Sewing is a new skill and this activity was good practice. In the future I would like to use magazine cut-outs, particularly from National Geographic magazine, instead of wasting ink printing the pictures. Older children could draw pictures instead.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gravel Sensory Box

The Possibilities for Gravel are endless!

Here's a great Dino gravel box from

Where to get the gravel:
I purchased mine at a pet store in a mass quantity. You can also purchase this at some outdoor stores like Agway. It's not particularly cheap but it can be cleaned which means you can use it over and over again!

Related Thematic Units:
  • Dinosaurs
    • In this box: plastic dinos, bigger rocks, bowls (maybe fill one with water), trees or real leaves, plastic bones... try adding these awesome baked cotton balls:

  • Construction or vehicles
    • In this box: vehicles, wooden signs, scoops and bowls
  • Halloween
    • In this box: black and orange gravel (purchased from the fish dept of my local pet store), spiders, tomb stones, halloween characters (garage sale time!), and maybe a couple flashlights to make creepy shadows

Pinned Image
  • Any other holiday can be created using the appropriate colored gravel and festive items
  • Add water to your gravel table for an aquatic unit like turtles, frogs, even mermaids!