Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Hisae, our student teacher this quarter, did a great cupcake activity with the children when we started the Bakery theme in our dramatic play corner.  After seeing these lovely pretend cupcakes at Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone, I had to post about our activity! (I wonder if this activity could work with this homemade craft clay from Busy Bee Kids Crafts...).

I thought one of the best parts of this activity was when she brought out a huge bin, a bag of flour, and pitchers of water. The kids got to get their hands dirty to mix the simple flour and water dough mixture. This would work well with a standard salt dough, too.

Hisae set out a creative assortment of materials to decorate, including beans, confetti, sequins, colored pasta, glitter shakers, and colored wooden sticks, plus baking cups and these beautiful plastic glasses. She also had food coloring at the table for mixing the salt dough into beautiful colors.

Wearable Fun

We decorated kids' tees with simple tie-dye rings courtesy of Rachel @ Sun Scholars.  It was a lot of fun and very engaging for many kids over long periods of time. Almost all of the children wore them home that day.

Just a few minutes into the activity (and after my initial learning curve), the children made this an almost entirely autonomous process.  I only needed to help them rubber band the cups to the tees.  They did a great job, even with eight or so at the table, of negotiating the use of markers and taking turns with the rubbing alcohol dropper (of which there was only one).  From youngest (young two year old) to the oldest were totally engaged.

Four easy steps

First, we used a rubber band to secure the t-shirt (a single layer or both layers) over a plastic paint cup or glass ball jar.

Next, the children decorated the resulting circle with permanent markers.

Then they used a small dropper to place a small amount of rubbing alcohol in the center of the circle. Some designs needed more alcohol than others to effectively diffuse the color. It takes a few minutes for the diffusing process to complete (great for practicing patience and observation skills).

The final step is to just hang them up to dry and to let the final bits of color diffuse.  They dried pretty quickly so the children could wear them shortly afterward. 

As for laundering, Rachel suggests heat setting it (wash alone in extra hot water) to get the initial fading/bleeding out and to set.

Next time, we'll try this alternative coloring process from Frugal Family Fun blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Foam tubes

Every now and then, I score at Home Depot.

Ever since swimming season has ended, the long foam pool noodles are nowhere to be found.  So I purchased pipe insulating foam for a few bucks and those things have brought hours of fun.



predator eyes

handlebar extenders

And then there's the good old pool noodles, used here as elephant trunks and baby bottles:

I linked it up at:

There's always the next level

A friend and mentor of mine used to say "There's always the next level". It applied to almost everything. Whether we were cleaning out a closet in the preschool, or setting up an art project, or performing a needed upgrade on the school building itself, we would always have that feeling afterward that we could have done it a little better.  My friend would say, "Well, there's always a next level."

I don't see this as a statement of defeat for not being able to attain the highest level of "perfect". I see it as an opportunity to stretch myself to 101%.  110% could wear me out and get me stressed. But 101% is a great target for the next attainable level.

I have been applying this mantra to our curriculum, seizing the opportunities to add one component and make the next level of learning happen.  One simple way has been to add a literacy or math component to our displays.  Here is one example of this approach that I felt drawn to write about it when I saw Deborah's linky at Teach Preschool today.

We made these trees, based on inspiration from Crafts by Amanda.

The Next Level:

To add a component of teachability, we charted out our favorite fall color. I am not a huge fan of asking children what their "favorite" things are as I think it pressures them into a paradigm of one right answer.  When I realized I was doing that very thing, I decided to make "All" of the colors be an option as well.  "All" won by a landslide!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Aromatic embellishments

One of the worse things about air travel for me is the smells.  Exhaust, body odors, the stale air that comes out of those little twisty fans above my seat.

Conversely, when things smell good, I really appreciate it. I love natural aromas. I have a very sensitive nose so that even when I water my garden, my soul is inundated with the smell of herbs.  I especially love fresh lavender in the garden.

There have been many intentional aromas added to the preschool lately (including last week's pumpkin pie paint).  I know we have a few sensitive noses in our group who might appreciate some aromatic embellishments to everyday activities.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

Just add some pumpkin pie spice (and color) to your everyday playdough recipe.

 Br noticed that when he pressed it into the placemat, it made an imprint in the playdough.

This is the day that Stephanie learned that it is indeed okay that Za discovered using playdough in the flour sifter and in fact it creates a pretty cool outcome.


Almond-Scented Moon Sand

We added almond extract to this recipe from Juggling with Kids and our bakery-themed dramatic play corner smelled amazing!  We used the most random combination of flours and it worked beautifully with mineral oil.   


Peppermint Liquid Transfer Activity

I came across this idea on Pinterest and thought, why not make a great idea greater by adding peppermint extract and red food color? We passed this bowl around the circle when I was showing it to the children and we literally only spilled a single drop : )  And they loved the smell.

Frogs, Water Beads, and an Overhead Projector

Materials needed:
Stirrer (e.g. chopstick)
Clear tray w/ a half inch or so of water
An overhead projector*
This can also be done just in a sensory tray but it's way cool to project it!

Water beads also make an awesome sensory table (this was our Halloween themed sensory bin)

And there are many uses for overhead projectors--here we have mineral oil and colored water (stirred with a chopstick):

Another idea--any props that you'd use on a light table:

*Safety note: Please supervise carefully any time you are using water on top of something powered by electricty.  Our overhead projector has a very long cord that we tucked behind a shelf, and we covered the machine itself (minus the vents) with saran wrap to prevent water from getting inside of it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Paint

The kids loved painting with pumpkin pie paint. It was basically orange, yellow, and brown tempera paint with a mixture of pumpkin pie spice mixed in (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger). We smelled each spice as we added it to the paint and the room was filled with a beautiful fall-inspired aroma.

As a side note, I used a hair dryer to dry these faster and to diffuse the smell, and it worked for both purposes.  We got to hang them up immediately.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Message from Beansprouts

Today you get to play Wheel of Fortune...guess which letters didn't show up in the photo and you win a message from all of our BeanSprouts!!!

See you next week!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coffee Filter Fall Leaves

Coffee filters, cut into leaf shapes
Sharpies (fall colors and black and brown)
Washable markers (fall leaf colors)
Spray bottle with water

Examine leaves with children. Notice colors, veins, patterns.
Draw leaf veins with sharpies onto coffee filter leaves.
Color leaf with washable markers (as much or as little as desired)
Spray one or two times with water bottle.
Watch colors diffuse!

My adult version of this activity:

The real artists work on their coffee filter leaves:

Here are the leaves on our classroom tree:

Okay, so the veins of the leaves aren't so realistic, but we learned and we created and the outcome is gorgeous!

Wrestling is good for children.

Originally published Sept 2010 Many of our parents seemed shocked when they came to pick up their children from Beansprouts and found the...