Friday, February 28, 2014

Pre-K Week 27: Dr. Seuss

This week was a very fun and exciting one because we were learning all about Dr. Seuss! Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on Sunday, March 2nd, and I decided that we should learn all about Dr. Seuss the week leading up to his birthday so that the kids can get more excited when it actually is his birthday. It was so hard to pick and choose which books to read each day, because there are so many great ones and cute ideas to go with them!

I focused on one book per day, which we read in the morning, then we did activities on throughout the day.

On Monday, we read “The Cat in the Hat”, because I figured most kids would have already read the popular book, and it would be a great way to introduce Dr. Seuss as the author who wrote the words in the book everyone loves. We talked about what it means to write a book, and I showed a picture of Dr. Seuss. We talked about how he has very silly books with talking animals and made-up words and characters.

To go along with “The Cat in the Hat”, we made our own Cat in the Hat Hats out of paper plates and construction paper (from Mama Likes Me). 

This was actually a very easy craft and the hats stayed up perfectly and looked adorable! I started by cutting out the inside of paper plates. I then took a large piece of white construction paper, as well as a large piece of red construction paper cut into 2” strips. The kids glued the red stripes onto the hat. They then made little tabs on the bottom of the white paper by cutting on a line. We stapled the tabs to the inside of the inner ring of the plate, and it made the perfect hat! We added strings to keep the hats to their heads, and the kids LOVED wearing them around school at the end of the day (not to mention there wasn’t a person that passed them that could keep their ‘Awwww’ inside).

We also played a game called ‘Hat, Hat, Cat’, which is just like ‘Duck Duck Goose,’ but you change out the words. The kids loved playing it!!!
The kids started a Dr. Seuss Pre-School Pack from 123 Learn Curriculum, which was actually one of the most fun packs we’ve worked on all year!
Of course, we had to watch ‘The Cat in the Hat’ movie. We watched an old VHS one, and it was actually really cute! It wasn’t just a reading of the book, it added in more dialogue and songs and lasted a whole half-hour.

On Tuesday, we read “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”. The kids then got to play a game called ‘Pin the Goldfish in the Bowl’ from BearHugsBaby. This game was the same as ‘pin the tail on the donkey’, but instead of a tail and donkey, it’s a fish and a bowl. It was a great game to encourage using different senses (such as feeling instead of seeing), as well as learning to follow simple rules, such as NOT lifting off the blindfold. 

During rotations, the kids did a Goldfish Counting Activity that came with their preschool pack. For this page, they traced the numbers that were in a goldfish bowl, then they added that many fish to their bowl. Of course, they used Goldfish crackers and got to eat them afterwards!

The art project that they did on Tuesday was a ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish’ handprint activity from Vanessa’s Blog, where they practiced gluing their hands down in the correct order according to my directions, then they traced over my letters and added faces to the fish.

On Wednesday, we read “Horton Hears a Who”, which was a very long book for the kids to sit through (as some of Dr. Seuss’ books are). After reading the book, the kids took part in a ‘Speck’ science lab from Melissa and Doug. In this activity, I put a little dot of fabric paint on a few fuzzies and put them in a pile on our work table. The kids used magnifying glasses to look at all the ‘Clovers’ to see if there were any specks on them. The students LOVED using the magnifying glasses (I had to borrow some from Kindergarten, I didn’t have any) and it kept them focused all day.

The students also did a We Are Here Speck Art Project from TippyToe Crafts. This was another great way for the students to practice following directions and tracing letters, and it also gave them a cute way to remember the story. 

At the end of the day, I started the story “Horton Hatches the Egg”, which I read over two days so that they didn’t have to sit so long again. The kids loved this story even more than the first one!

On Thursday, we read “Bartholomew and the Oobleck”, so, of course, we had to make Oobleck! I used whole-group instruction for making the oobleck, and the students were broken up into 3 different tables and each table made their own bowl. I gave each student a name tag with a number on it, and each number had a different job. Number 1 poured in a cup of cornstarch to their bowl. Number 2 added half a cup of water. Number 3 added 3 drops of food coloring, and number 4 was the first one to stir. I pre-measured the ingredients and put them in Styrofoam cups. The whole process went very smoothly, and there was no fighting over the jobs! 

 I then let the kids play with the oobleck in one of the rotations… they had so much fun and their hands were ‘Hulk hands’ (green green green) for the rest of the day. 

I didn’t have the book “Bartholomew and the Oobleck”, and I couldn’t track down anyone at the school who did. Luckily, I found that there is actually an interactive iPad version available through the AppStore, that made it even more fun for my kids! The pictures moved, they added sounds, the book could be read to you, and vocabulary was highlighted when you touched the picture. The book is long already, so making it digital was really the only way we could get through it!

Finally, on Friday, we read “Green Eggs and Ham”. After reading it, of course we had to watch the movie, which is only about 10 minutes long and reads through the book but adds sounds effects and music.
Then, of course, we had to eat green eggs and ham!!
Now, I was going to do the whole cooking experience where I bring in the skillet, we beat the eggs and let them cook, but after the mess that oobleck made on Thursday and the stress that was caused from keeping kids from being burned the last time I brought the griddle in, I decided the much easier method of making Deviled Green Eggs and Ham from pinterest. I made the deviled eggs the night before, added green food coloring to the yolk mixture, and folded up ham on top and secured it with a toothpick. Before I passed them out, I made a big deal out of how the man in the story was so brave for trying the green eggs and ham, and he liked them even when he thought he wouldn’t! I then offered up a sticker to anyone who was brave enough to try them. 

After we ate the green eggs and ham, we made this Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham? Chart that I am pleased to say I came up with myself (ok, so it’s not rocket science). I wrote each student’s name on a paper egg, and they put their names under the “I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like it Sam-I-Am” column, or the “Say! I like green eggs and ham! I Do! I like it Sam-I-Am!” column. I had to condense it down for most of the kids by saying ‘yummy or yucky?’ Out of all of my students, only 2 refused to try it! Most of them dumped out the green yolk mixture inside and ate the boiled egg, which was good enough for me (but the inside mayonnaise-y part is the best part!). 

For our green eggs and ham activities, we did a ‘Foods I Like’ sort, where the students took pictures of food that I had cut out of magazines, and they sorted it into columns of ‘foods I like’ and ‘foods I don’t like’. It was cute seeing how many students understood the assignment, as well as what the kids liked. There were pictures of pizza, cake, and goldfish in there that the students went wild over. 


We also did a Green Egg Matching game, where I wrote capital and lower-case letters on each half of green plastic Easter eggs, and the kids had to match the capital to the lower-case. It was quite a creative and eventful day! 

Oh! And of course I can’t forget to share my Sally and Me Bulletin Board, which was inspired by this picture on pinterest. I want to leave it up all year!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brooch Bouquet!

So one of the things trending on Pinterest right now is the brooch bouquet - a gorgeous bouquet alternative that's made of a collection of brooches instead of flowers.

So after toying with the idea of having a brooch bouquet for over a year, I finally pulled the trigger when I found a brooch shop less than a month ago. From there, the 'idea' just spun out of control and now I have a completed bouquet sitting downstairs, waiting for me to finally decide whether that's the one I'm going to use.

But while I'm still deciding on that, I can share with you how I ended up making it! I read through quite a few tutorials, mainly one from PlantingSequoias.

The biggest hurdle, of course, was collecting the brooches. Now there are a few really sweet ideas that I saw for this that would make your bouquet more meaningful... one was that everyone from the bridal shower brings a brooch to make your bouquet. That was cutting it a little too close for me on time, so no-go. Another one was that you ask family members to send you brooches, but I was worried I would offend someone if I didn't use theirs and I was also going for a very particular color scheme.
So, I was one my own to find silver and pink brooches to add to my bouquet. I had a few pieces of jewelry that I had been setting aside that I was able to use first. Then I found a few brooches at a gift shop expo. My next big purchase was actually at Michael's - they had a lot of great brooches and beads that worked really well for the different sizes I needed. My final success was at the Flea Market, where I found great pieces for like a dollar each! Fiance's grandma also sent me a beautiful piece that worked perfectly.
The key was to be creative - I didn't stick to brooches, but really used any piece of jewelry that I could add a wire to.

Once I got a good ways into my collection, I collected the rest of the materials I needed. Now there were many different ways to go about putting the brooches together, and the directions on Planting Sequoias instructed me to use large amounts of layered floral wire in a matching color to make long stems, then twist all the stems together. I was worried about the brooches moving or bending over time with this approach, so I chose instead to use a foam craft ball (spray-painted silver) and dowel.

This tutorial from the Knot gives instructions on this approach, and it says to use E-6000 glue to attach the dowel to the a hole in the foam ball. I tried this multiple times, but the glue kept eating away at the hole, making it bigger and bigger and the dowel more and more loose.

So I had to get creative.
Long, long ago, back when I was just getting back into crafts, I made these fake cupcakes with insulating foam from the hardware store. Remembering the consistency off the stuff and how it expanded and hardened, I thought it was the perfect thing to attach my dowel to my foam ball.

Buuut... I wanted to check first. So, I went to Home Depot with my problem. I started in the insulating section, and that guy sent me to the painting section. In the painting section, the girl said 'yeaah... most adhesives are going to eat away at foam. Let me look it up for you."... then... she googled it. This was very considerate of her, but little did she know I already had the solution and my plan of getting them to come up with the idea first was failing miserably.  When she told me some craft stores might have 'some kind of foam glue that might work' I finally asked her about the insulating foam. Her reply was 'yeah... that might work.'

So, I went back to the insulating section. I wandered the aisle, looking for the foam. Just so you know, it's called Great Stuff, and it looks like this:

Finally, I had to break down and ask someone what I was looking for. He was happy to lead me down the aisle and point me in the right direction, but to be extra helpful, he asked what I needed it for. You know, windows? Doors?

Nope. I'm making a bouquet.

He... literally... laughed in my face, then said, "You're on your own with that one".

Well, one hour later... SUCCESS!

Take THAT Home Depot helpers... brush up on your crafts!

Ok, so if you follow this same procedure, just remember to use a very little bit of the foam. I sprayed a little in, then put the dowel in, then sprayed a little more around the edges to secure it. The foam expands like crazy, so it filled in the cracks the E-6000 glue had made, but it also kept over-filling the hole. No big deal, I just kept wiping it away with a paper towel, but my advice is... read the warning label first and wear gloves. This stuff is crazy sticky and permanent.

In this picture, you can see there was a little bit of the yellow gunk still visible the handle and the ball, but I wasn't worried about that because I knew it would all be covered up soon.

Ok, so I have my base, and I was ready to add my brooches. I decided to kind of create my own way of doing this with help from the tutorials I had already read. I used PlantingSequoias' tutorial to add wire to the bottom of the brooches, but instead of making really long stems I just made 2-3" stems and poked them in the foam ball. I had to secure them with glue, but I again had the problem of the E-6000 just eating away at the foam, so once again I had to come up with a solution.

Obviously, I wasn't going to get anything to stick to that Styrofoam ball, but I could get stuff to stick to fabric over the ball. I was planning on adding some fabric flower petals in there to soften it up, as Planting Sequoia advised, but I had to get the petals to stick to the foam ball too!

So... here's what I did. I took a large piece of lace that I already had on hand, and wrapped it around the foam ball, cut it in the right places, and hot-glued it to itself. I then hot-glued the fabric petals on top of the lace, securing them to themselves and to the lace. When it was complete, this is what it looked like:

So now I REALLY have my base and I'm ready to add the brooches... but first I had to prepare the brooches with wire. Here's a video I took of how to add the wire according to PlantingSequoia's tutorial:

Once I added all my wire, I separated the brooches into two piles: accent pieces and filler pieces. The accent pieces were the large statement brooches, and the filler pieces were the smaller beads, earrings, or jewelry that I would find a place for later.  I then chose my favorite brooches and found a special place for them first, spreading them out around the ball.

Now, remember, I have this 2-3" wire stem that would penetrate perfectly into a foam ball, but now my foam ball is covered with two layers of fabric. Once again, I had to get creative.

Creativity, in this case, was an Ikea Paring knife from our kitchen drawer. Now, I WOULD NOT ADVISE YOU DOING THIS but I'm just sharing what I did. Yes, a craft knife or even a small pocket knife would but much more effective, but I was in the kitchen and my craft knife was all the way upstairs.

So, every time I wanted to add a brooch, I just poked a hole through the lace and petals with my paring knife, stuck the wire in there, and secured the brooch with hot glue. Ta-Da!

Like I said, I started with my favorite statement pieces, added in more of the big accent pieces, and finished with the filler pieces to fill in the gaps. There were a few times where I had to cut away the petal to remove a brooch and place it somewhere else, but altogether it wasn't too bad.

I worked on adding the pieces over a period of a few days, and here are some pictures of the bouquet during the process.

When I finally finished adding all the brooches, I got to add the finishing touches. This meant covering the handle (dowel) in white ribbon, adding jeweled ribbon on top of the white ribbon, tying some pieces of white and pink tulle to the top of the handle (which I can't decide if I'm keeping), and adding draping pearls.

To add the draping pearls, I bought three strings of beads/pearls from Michael's for $0.99 each. I cut them down to size and strung each end to a wire, twisting it together and creating the same 'stem' that I did with the brooches on each end. I then found a place to stick the stem on each side and glued it in. I made sure the side I added it to was definitely going to be the front of the bouquet.

And, there you have it! My brooch bouquet!!  I know it's definitely alternative, but I am going very much with a glitzy theme for the wedding so I thought this was fun. If  I decide not to use it for my actual bouquet, I figured I can use it for the rehearsal or just a decoration. Or, as I keep telling everyone, I can always use it for a throw bouquet.

By the way, this thing weighs like 10 pounds.

So, this was a very long post, so I'm going to condense it into a very short and to-the-point instructable. Keep in mind this is just what I did... there are plenty of variations!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pre-K Week 24: Forest Animals

Our 24th week in Pre-K fell right after Groundhog's Day, so it was a perfect time to talk about forest animals. To help students understand forest animals, we talked about camping and what animals you would see if you were camping.

For some reason, the kids kept saying giraffe. I must have reacted tout in an amusing way the first time someone said it, because now every time I ask a question in class at least one student raises their hand and answers 'giraffe' then dissolves into a fit of giggles. Oh we'll, it's nice that some of them are getting to that joking age...even if their joke isn't as funny the 27th time.

So on Monday we focused on groundhogs since Sunday was Groundhogs Day. I showed the students a video of the groundhog seeing its shadow and we read a story called 'Geoffrey Sees His Shadow'. We didn't focus too much on shadows because we were going to focus on shadows and light and dark the next week. We also touched on how the season was still winter and soon it would be spring, but again I didn't focus too much on that because we would be focusing on spring when it actually got here and there's no point in confusing them.

For Monday's projects, we made this Groundhog Pop Up Puppet from, and we also worked on a Camping Preschool Pack from http://homeschool

On Wednesday we talked about skunks and read the book 'Sassafras' about a skunk who thinks no one likes her because she stinks. We also made these Skunk Art Projects from Pinterest. Because the letter of the week was E, I had the kids practice writing their E's by writing the word 'Eeeeeew' around their skunk. 

On Wednesday I snuck in more hedgehog activities, because you can find hedgehogs in the woods, too! The kids made these cute Paper Plate Hedgehogs (from which was a great activity to practice their cutting! 

Finally, on Friday, we had a day completely centered around bears. I read the books 'There's a Bear in the Woods' and 'It's the Bear!', then the kids made these Paper Bag Bears from For our movement activity, I planned to read the book,'Going on a Bear Hunt' then doing all the movements with the kids. 

Pre-K Week 25: Love and Valentine's Day

Our 25th week of school this year led up to the Friday of Valentine's Day, so the theme for the week was love. The learning goals were that the students would be able to tell who they loved and who loved them. Right away, the majority of the students were able to give at least a simple answer, such as 'mommy'. Other students even gave very elaborate answers, naming off all their family members. My favorite answer was one student who made sure to include his dog in his list of loved ones.

The letter of the week was Ms. L. 

On Monday, we played a game called Hearts and Circles from 'Early Childhood Themes'. To play this game, I cut out hearts from different colored construction papering I laid down a hula hoop. I spread all the hearts out on a table, then working in groups of three student I called out instructions kind of like twister: "Put the pink heart under the circle", "Put the blue heart beside the circle", "Put the orange heart inside the circle". This was a great game because it helped the kids work on spatial/locational concepts as well as colors. 

The kids also did Love Finger Painting from I know I've done the same concept of finger-painting over an existing letter or picture, then removing it to have white space, but this was just too cute to pass up. For this, I die-cut the letters L O V E from scrap paper and put them on the paper with sticky tack in the Philadelphia love sign pattern. The students then finger-painted over the whole paper in red, purple, and orange paint. When it was all dry, we peeled off the letters and the kids had adorable pieces of art!!!

On Tuesday, we made Valentine's Day wreaths from the book "Art for All Seasons". For these, the kids just glued love shapes like hearts and the ASL symbol for I Love You on the rim of paper plates, then we hung them from the ceiling for decoration.

The kids also worked on Valentine's Day Preschool Packs from

On Wednesday, the kids made their Valentine's Day cards to their parents (from painted their hands pink and pressed them on the inside of a construction paper card in the shape of a heart. When it was dry, the kids glued a heart to the middle of their hands, glued on text that said I Love You, and decorated the outside.

On Thursday we made Paper Plate Valentine Mailboxes from To do this, we started with a whole paper plate and a half paper plate and the kids painted both of them. When they were dry, we hole-punched holes around the outside and the kids laced the two plates together. I had written all their names out on construction paper and cut out each letter in the shape of a heart, so the kids put their names in order and glued them on the outside of their mailbox. This was such a cute holder for the kids' Valentines on Friday, but it could hardly contain them all! I think next year I will have to so tissue or shoe boxes instead.

For my valentines for the kids, I made these cute Minion Twinkie Valentines from 
They were so easy and the kids loved them!

For our Valentine's Day Celebration on Friday, we decorated cookies, passed out valentines, and danced to music to end our week!