Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Freebie - End of the Year Checklist

Happy Friday! This week seemed to drag on forever, I am so happy to see the weekend!

That said, it's never too early to start thinking about the end of the school year.  This free End of the Year Checklist from Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox will help you start planning for all of those end of the year to-do's! Download your copy and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Resources

I've been working on a ton of different projects lately, and while doing so have stumbled across some new resources - and rediscovered some old favorites.  Here's a few that I wanted to share with you:

  • Early Learning Resources Ohio - This site is personalized for teachers and program administrators in Ohio, but there are similar sites for other states.  I cannot say enough good things about the resources that are available to subscribers; templates, forms, policy samples, discounts, every time I log on I find something different and this would have saved me so much time when I was an administrator!
  • Child Care Aware - this site has a ton of great resources (I know that I've shared it before), but my current favorites are the State Fact Sheets.  I think that the information they've compiled is fascinating and I love to compare what each state's child care profile looks like. 
  • Child Care Resources Inc. - I stumbled across this site and have been using it non-stop.  Their Child Care Tip Sheets are short and informative, perfect for sharing with staff, and there are even tip sheets for families too!
  • NAEYC for Families - I turn to NAEYC all the time, but lately I have really been loving the NAEYC for Families Blog because it is informative, easy to read, and user friendly.  I share their tips with teachers and families. 
I love to share information, but I hate taking the time to track down exactly what I'm looking for.  These sites have become the first places that I look, so I hope that they will be helpful for you too!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Teacher Inspiration

It's definitely that time of year when I feel myself needing a little extra inspiration.  The weather is so nice, my weekends are so busy, and I just want to do fun summer things - even though it's not quite summer yet.  If you're feeling the same way, here are some quotes to help you get through the rest of the spring!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I know that I usually write about preschool - some kind of activity, or assessment, or curriculum, or something at least slightly related to teaching so this one is a little bit of a stretch, but let's get real for a minute.  It's usually pretty easy for me to sit down and write a blog post. I enjoy it, and I love the topics that I write about - but this week I can't seem to get out anything that I want to share.  I had a bunch of posts about seeds planned, but I must not be very excited about them.  This is probably because I'm a terrible gardener, so I usually dread spring in preschool because instead of exploring plants, I spend most of my time desperately hoping that something my students have planted will actually grow - if only so they aren't disappointed in their efforts.  

That said, I have been avoiding these posts, so you may get to see them one day, but for now I thought I'd share something a little more personal, what I've been doing instead of writing blog posts.  So here are some links to my favorite things to check out instead of doing what I know I really should be doing:

  • Pinterest - for inspiration of course! Today I pinned this adorable Vegetable Garden Discovery bottle from Sunny Day Family - what a cute idea that requires no actual gardening on my part!
  • Amazon - I never need an excuse to do a little online shopping.  I stumbled across these adorable stuffed bunnies around Easter and I can't resist them! (affiliate link)
  • Instagram - I check it, and then I refresh my feed, then I hit the search icon and look at a bunch of random photos from people I don't know and will never meet. It's a fascinating black hole. 
  • My favorite blogs - There are a few that I've been reading for years, and I still love to check in and see what the authors are up to.  Links to all of my favorites are HERE!
  • More online shopping - I just ordered this dress from Old Navy and I can't wait to wear it all summer. 
  • Getting a snack - These Sour Patch Jellybeans were my favorite Easter candy this year, I'm a little sad that they're gone. (affiliate link)
  • Looking for new recipes - These cookies have been my favorite find lately. I've made the recipe multiple times because I can justify eating them for breakfast!
  • Finding new shows on Netflix - Because I need something to watch while I work of course! I'm in the middle of Hart of Dixie right now and I can't get enough. I will definitely miss these characters when I run out of episodes. 
Unfortunately I haven't been desperate enough to unload the dishwasher or start cleaning anything yet, but I usually get there eventually! What are your favorite things to do when procrastinating?!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Freebie - Earth Day Matching Book

Happy Friday! I hope that you have a beautiful spring weekend for your Earth Day celebration!

Today's freebie is an Earth Day matching book from File Folder Heaven. This little book would be perfect for a center, individual, or small group activity.  Go download your copy and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Earth Day Round Up

If you are still planning your Earth Day lesson plans, or if you're searching for activities to make the exploration last all week long, here are some of my past posts to inspire you!

Make sure to check back tomorrow for another great freebie!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Practicing Conservation in Preschool

Conservation can be an abstract concept for preschoolers, they haven't had a lot of experience with the world around them, and it can be difficult to understand why they might need to save water or electricity.  There are some things that you can work on in the classroom to help children understand conservation practices and why they are important.

  • Save paper scraps in a basket for children to use for cutting or collage projects
  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room, or leave the lights of during certain parts of the day and enjoy natural lighting
  • Use dry erase boards instead of printer paper
  • Set up recycling bins and encourage families to bring in recyclables so the children can sort them. Then take a field trip to the local recycling center
  • Start composting organic materials from lunches and snacks
These are all simple activities that children can participate in daily and that will have a direct effect on their lives. They are also activities that can be a part of your regular routine, and help children feel more responsible for their classroom and their environment.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Recyclable Jewelry

Yesterday I shared some thoughts on open-ended recyclable art, and today I've rounded up some more ideas for those recyclable materials.  These fun projects all use recyclable materials to create jewelry, so if you love the way they turn out you could use them as Mother's Day gifts too!

I can't wait to try a couple of these ideas myself, I'd love to know how they work for you too!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Earth Day Recyclable Art

Earth day is on Saturday and I am full of ideas for exploring conservation and natural resources! Today I wanted to share an opportunity for open-ended recyclable art.  Earth day is all about re-using materials instead of throwing them away, and using recyclables as materials for art is great way to encourage children to look at common objects in new ways and flex their imaginations. It's also a fun way to  explore three dimensional art since recyclables lend themselves to sculpture.

The key to open-ended art is to make sure that the children have all of the materials that they could need, and let them use them in any way they would like.  Recyclables can present their own challenges because there may be sharp edges or cleanliness issues to consider before presenting these items to the children.

Some recyclable items that are best suited for this particular experience include:

  • Empty water bottles
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Paper towel tubes
  • Empty food containers
  • Plastic lids
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Cardboard boxes
There are also some supplies that are especially helpful to have on hand to attach all of these items to each other:
  • Hole punches
  • Craft wire
  • String or yarn
  • Tacky glue
  • Sticky tack
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Masking tape
All of these items are things that children don't typically get to use, so to offer them for an open ended experience can get the children really excited about art and inspire some serious creative thinking!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Freebie - Bunny Hop Song

Happy Friday! There is just something about a holiday weekend that makes the weekend even more fun.  Today's freebie is a cute little activity that you can use with your class, send home for your families to try, or use with the children at your own Easter celebration!

This adorable Easter Movement Song from That Fun Reading Teacher is on a poster that children can color themselves.  I'm sure that your students would love to share this with their families over the weekend so download your copy and send some home! Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Egg Decorating without the Mess

While I love the entire egg-dying experience and welcome any sort of mess in the classroom, I can certainly appreciate that there are situations and environments where a neater approach is necessary. There are plenty of ways to decorate eggs without ruining your clothes, furniture, or carpet. Here are some great options:

All of these fun ideas offer egg dying opportunities without the mess - hopefully they will save you a little time and sanity!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Favorite Easter Books

It's been a while since I've done a book round up, so I wanted to share some of my favorites for Easter.  The best thing about these books is that they make great classroom read-alouds and they're perfect for adding to Easter baskets. All links are affiliates.

There's no shortage of Easter books out there, but I tend to lean towards the classics, such as:

The Easter Egg by Jan Brett

Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco

Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells

Easter by Gail Gibbons

What are some of your favorite books to share at Easter time?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Easter Snack - Bunny Trail Mix

Even  if you aren't planning an Easter party, it's always fun to add a little excitement to your day with a special snack.  I love to make snack mix with preschoolers for a couple of reasons:

  1. None of the ingredients have to be measured or cooked, just dump it all in a great big bowl and stir it up!
  2. It is really easy for families to help bring in supplies because they only have to get a bag of this or a box of that.  You aren't asking for a ton of stuff and they don't have to sort or seperate any of it.  
The other really great thing about snack mixes is that you can make them work for nearly any holiday or even just by adding some specific colored items or seasonally shaped treats. Plus, you can decide how healthy (or not healthy) you want your snack mix to be.  

Here are some ideas for an Easter Bunny Trail Mix.  Pick your favorites to create your own recipe:
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Chex Cereal
  • Bunny shaped graham crackers
  • Cheddar bunny crackers
  • Cheerios
  • Chocolate chips
  • White chocolate chips
  • Raisins
  • Yogurt covered raisins
  • Jelly beans
  • White mini marshmallows
  • Colored mini marshmallows
  • Bunny shaped marshmallows
  • M&Ms
  • Chocolate Easter candies
And too sweeten it all up you could always drizzle melted chocolate or white chocolate over the entire mixture - the combinations that you could create are endless!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Freebie - Easter Bunny Glyph

Happy Friday! I know that it isn't Easter yet, but I am so ready - or maybe I'm just ready to bust out the Easter candy, so bring it on!

Today's freebie is a super cute Easter activity that you can still use before Easter.  This Easter Bunny Glyph from Lauren Nye is a great way for children to explore similarities and differences, and parents love to look at the key and see what their children chose for each category.  This makes it a great conversation starter too! Download your copy and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Easter Traditions for Preschool

There are certain activities that I always looked forward to doing with my students when certain holidays rolled around.  Easter is no exception, and there are three activities that I made sure to include on my lesson plans every single year:

  1. Dying Easter Eggs - even when I taught toddlers I loved to share this with my students. I know that it can be a colossal mess, but my classroom has always been the safe place to make messes.  At home it's hard to fully experience this messy activity so I love to give my students this opportunity.  Dying eggs the traditional way - vinegar and little dye tablets - also offers so many learning experiences.  First, you've got the smell of the vinegar, and watching the dye tablets dissolve and turn the vinegar and water mixture colors.  Then you've got practicing being gentle as you slowly put the egg into the dye, so the egg doesn't break and the dye doesn't splash.  Then of course, you can't forget waiting patiently while the egg soaks up the dye - or while someone else's egg soaks in the color that you really want to use!
  2. Easter Egg hunt - to be honest, this is just as entertaining for the teacher to watch as it is for the children to participate in.  It is amazing to me how difficult an egg hunt can be for a group of very young children. They can walk by the same egg 5 times before they notice it, and it doesn't have to be well hidden, they just get so caught up in the hunt that they can't wee what is right in front of their face.  It's also a great opportunity to encourage children to help each other and to practice being fair. The best thing about the Easter Egg Hunt is that preschoolers can literally do it over and over and over again.  Once they've found all of the eggs they will want you to hide them again so they can start all over. Once they get tired of hunting for the eggs, they'll want to hide them so you can do the hunting.  This activity is a great way to spend a beautiful afternoon outside!
  3. Peep Smores - Yep, you read that right, every year I make smores in the microwave using Peeps instead of regular marshmallows.  These are the perfect snack for preschool because you can make them in the microwave. If you've never put a Peep in the microwave then you're in for a fun new experience.  This is one thing that I remember doing with my Dad at home every Easter morning, and I love being able to share that with my students.  It helps that most preschoolers are familiar with smores, so they love the idea of adding the sugary peep - although one year I did have a little guy who thought his Peep chick was a real chick and he refused to eat his smore after we melted the marshmallow Peep.  
For more great Easter activities, take a minute to check out these great posts, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for an Easter Friday Freebie!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Easter Writing Centers

There are so many Easter-themed activities out there, I'm sure that just a quick Pinterest search would fill your lesson plan for the next two weeks.  Unfortunately, to find the great ideas you generally have to sift through all of the duds, and the ads.  So this week I'm going to do the work for you, I'll be rounding up all of the best Easter activities so that you've got them all in one place!

It is so much easier to put together writing center activities when you have a theme that children really want to write about.  Holidays are the perfect themes because little ones are already excited about using the vocabulary words and all of the associated shapes and colors.  Here are some fun ideas for Easter-themed writing center activities.

  • Put out Easter vocabulary cards to encourage children to write their own Easter themed words
  • Find stencils shaped like bunnies, eggs, chicks, ducks, and lambs
  • Add writing utensils like colored pencils and colored pens in pastel Easter colors
  • Fold pastel colored card stock into cards
  • Use magnet letters to spell Easter vocabulary words
  • Write letters on the outside of plastic eggs and ask children to put the matching foam or magnet letter in the correct egg
  • Cut egg shaped pieces of construction paper and ask children to decorate them by drawing different types of lines (dotted, squiggly, straight, etc.) across the egg
  • Add Easter themed stamps and stamp pads
  • Ask children to use a hole punch to punch holes in an egg-shaped piece of paper
  • Write a letter on a piece of paper and ask children to cover the lines of the letter with jelly beans
  • Give children scissors and tissue paper and ask them to cut thin strips in order to make their own Easter grass
These writing center activities are sure to keep your students busy.  Make sure to check back tomorrow because I'll be sharing some of my favorite Easter traditions!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Easter Math Activities

There are so many Easter-themed activities out there, I'm sure that just a quick Pinterest search would fill your lesson plan for the next two weeks.  Unfortunately, to find the great ideas you generally have to sift through all of the duds, and the ads.  So this week I'm going to do the work for you, I'll be rounding up all of the best Easter activities so that you've got them all in one place!

Math was not my strong suit as a child, so as a teacher I made an extra effort to find fun math activities for my students.  There are a ton of math activities that you can do using Easter materials, especially those plastic eggs, so here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • Matching colors with plastic eggs
  • Making patterns with plastic eggs
  • Size sorting different sizes of plastic eggs
  • Write numbers on the outside of your plastic eggs and ask children to count the correct number of jelly beans into each egg
  • Write numbers on one half of a plastic egg and draw that many dots on the other half. Take them all apart and mix them up, then ask the children to put together the matches. 
  • Make patterns with different colored jelly beans
  • Measure items using jelly beans as the unit of measure
  • Weigh different chocolate bunnies; compare weights and discuss differences that may affect the weight
  • See how much Easter grass you can fit in different sized Easter baskets
  • Graph everyone's favorite Easter candy or favorite colored jelly bean (after a taste test of course!) Then ask parents to add their favorites to your graph
  • Put bunny footprints with numbers on them on the floor and ask the children to hop on them in numerical order
Do you have any other math activities that you like to do with the children at Easter?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Easter Fine Motor Activities

There are so many Easter-themed activities out there, I'm sure that just a quick Pinterest search would fill your lesson plan for the next two weeks.  Unfortunately, to find the great ideas you generally have to sift through all of the duds, and the ads.  So this week I'm going to do the work for you, I'll be rounding up all of the best Easter activities so that you've got them all in one place!

Today is all about fine motor activities, and Easter lends itself perfectly to fine motor practice, especially when you think about working with tiny little jelly beans and manipulating those wire egg-dippers! Here are some other fun fine motor ideas:

  • Taking apart plastic Easter eggs and putting them back together
  • Sorting jellybeans by color
  • Peeling hard boiled eggs
  • Making mosaics with egg shells
  • Balancing a plastic egg on a spoon
  • Decorating eggs with collage materials and glue
  • Frosting Easter cookies
  • Making patterns with Easter candies
  • Tracing Easter shapes
  • Making bunny ears and whiskers out of pipe cleaners
  • Filling plastic eggs with Easter grass
I have to confess that my favorite activities are usually the ones that give me an excuse to buy candy! What are some of your favorite fine motor activities that can be done during your Easter celebrations?