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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Seashells by the Seashore

Well we arrived home with, what, ten Ziploc bags full of shells? Not just the kind you buy in the store, you know those beautiful ones you find displayed on tropical islands. No, these are the ones that are pieces of pieces--ones that look like "long fingernails," parts of "beautiful" clams, the shell of the month--about a hundred of the same colored scallop shell, and the list goes on and on. Oh well, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So, what now? What do I do with all these shells? I will say I don't have an abundance of ideas for them, I probably can find a use for about --10? Anyway, I have come up with three ideas that may help out someone.

First and the easiest, is to find some empty jars and fill them with those "lovely" shells for a great knickknack for the special someone's room. If it's for someone special you can find some lovely jars, or even old vases at some thrift shops. Now if it is for your little ones room, maybe you could wash out that mayo jar, or pickle jar-good luck with the smell. Anyway, it is easy for them to do and it makes a neat decoration.

One problem I have with the above idea is that my wonderful son insists that each and every shell be seen in full view. Right now his bookshelf has shelves filled with pieces of shells so that he can look at them.

Another idea is to make some beach scenes with these shells. For this project you will need--glue, sand, cardboard, tacky, shells. I used a piece of cardboard from the side of a cereal box for this project because using the sand and shells on paper just doesn't hold up well. The cereal box was a bit flimsy. First, have the child paint the piece of cardboard with the glue. Then pour sand over the entire piece of cardboard, now you have a sandy piece of board. Next find the shells that will accentuate the wonderful piece of art work. Use tacky to adhere the shells to the "beach." I use tacky because it holds heavier objects better. You can either put globs of tacky on the board and let your child glue down the shells, or put the glue on the shells and let the child place them on the board--you need a lot of glue. If you would like, hot glue would probably hold the shells down too.

You could also spice up the above project by painting some sea water. First, paint on the glue and add the sand. Then use some tempra paint to add water. You don't want to paint first and then add sand because the sand will stick to the paint too. You could paint first and let the paint dry, but just remember sand will stick to wet paint.

The last project would be a use for all those pieces of shells you have. It would be a mosaic. You can draw a shape, do freestyle, or just do decorative areas, but just put some heavy glue down on some cardboard and allow the child to fill in the area with the pieces, making a mosaic. My daughter helped me make this project. She said it is the sun over the sea and sunset with a sandcastle. I think she did a pretty good job--she's not a preschooler though.

Some of you may be much more creative and be able to make some shell animals, or other creations--good luck. I hope you have a good time finding some uses for those shells.

UPDATE: I've gotten some great comments, thanks so much. Take a look for other ideas. Thanks.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008


Hi all you jellyfishers. I know there are many of you out there still looking for stories and songs about jellyfish. Well, I just recently came back from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and found some great books down there from a local author, Suzanne Tate. The books are all about various sea creatures, and Yes, there was one about jellyfish--Jenny Jellyfish. I didn't get to read it, I didn't want to stand in the market and read the book, but I bought one of her books last year for my son--very age appropriate. We were able to find her books online too at for $4.49 or at for $4.95. If you click on the book, you can get some sample pages to see. The add does say there are only 2 in stock. Jellyfish are very popular this year. If you have time, you could drive down to Nags Head and pick one up--just kidding. also had the book for $4.95. Happy hunting.

One other story I found, though a bit more expensive is Joy the Jellyfish. You can go to The site gives a little video and lots of customer reviews. The book costs $12.99.

I hope this information is helpful to someone.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Oh We're Goin' For a Ride.....

We just finished a ten hour car drive to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I don't know about you, but I don't like being in a car that long--imagine your preschooler. Sitting still in a seat for that amount of time is like being in prison to them--it's hard. Oh, and then if your lucky enough(Ha), just as your preschooler is about to go crazy, you say, "Just about 20 more minutes," you round the corner and boom, your in a traffic jam for an hour.

Traveling with a preschooler can be extremely difficult. I must say I have been very lucky--only one of my children HATED the car and we've gotten past that now. Imagine, 10 hours, 7 of us in a Chevy Venture minivan, ages 44, 43, 20, 16, 12, 9, and 4, five bikes on the hitch in the back, two carriers strapped to the roof, and every possible free space inside the van stuffed with something. My husband said we looked like the Clampetts on their way to Beverly Hills--felt like it to.

There are a few things I do to try to make the ride easier for my preschooler. First and foremost, you need snacks. We like goldfish in our car and always the ever present "sippy" cup filled with juice. But, beware you have to be ready for a potty break in the blink of an eye. I have one son that when he says, "I have to go potty," you have no more than five minutes, or your in trouble. I do try to keep some type of container in the car for such an emergency.

Secondly, I always let me children pack a toy bag. I give them a Ziploc bag and allow them to fill it with a few personal items. This year we traveled with lots of Hot Wheels and dinosaurs. Sometimes these toys get played with on the way down, sometimes they never see the light of day, but at least you know you have them if you need them.

Third, I have a backpack that is filled with kid friendly items--we have crayons and markers, coloring books, blank paper, some sticker activity books and some general reading books. These are always helpful to fill some time. I have in previous years also brought along a Magna Doodle or Etch-a-Sketch. Anything that could be helpful to while away the time.

Fourth, I'm not a huge fan of the car entertainment centers--I feel they are used way too casually in today's society. To me, there is no need to have to have a DVD on to go to the grocery story. But, on the other hand an entertainment center on a ten hour drive can be extremely helpful. We usually watch about two movies during the whole drive. I don't feel the need to have it on the whole time, but if nothing else works, it's time for a movie.

Finally, I always have the pillow and "blankey." Any type of security object is great in the car. It's soothing for them and can be soothing for you.

Will all these things guarantee a peaceful journey? Can't say that!! But, at least you have some avenues to help occupy the time of your trip.

Have a great one!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flutter, Flutter Butterfly

Sorry it took me so long, but I have the second of my butterfly posts finally ready.

For this butterfly you can actually make it a small science type unit. I usually start off the "unit" by reading the story, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle. This is a great story--very basic, but it explains that a caterpillar is hatched from an egg, eats and eats, spins a cocoon, then comes out as a butterfly. As a side note, Eric Carle is a wonderful author for children. I enjoy his books immensely and we use a lot of them for many different units at school.

Here are the items you will need for the whole thing: clip clothespin, pom poms, tacky glue, wiggle eyes(optional), toilet paper tube, tissue paper, coffee filter, markers, and water sprayer(optional). If you only want to make the butterfly, you do not need the toilet paper tube or tissue paper.
After reading the book, have the children make a caterpillar. To make the caterpillar you will need: a clip clothespin, pom poms, and glue. I also used wiggle eyes--if you haven't noticed yet, I love wiggle eyes.

The children glue the pom poms to the clothespin--you usually have to use a pretty good glue. I like a material called tacky to help hold objects like pom poms. After the pom poms are glued the children can add eyes. The head of the caterpillar is the part of the clothespin that you would squeeze.
Now for the next part of the unit you would need a toilet paper tube and tissue paper. The children put the caterpillar into its cocoon(the toilet paper tube) then glue on tissue paper to seal the tube.

Sometime during the two weeks as the butterfly is going through its metamorphosis in the cocoon, have the children take a coffee filter and some markers. Let them color the filter so it is very colorful. I like to spray the coffee filter with some water afterwards so the colors mix. Let dry.

Now comes the sneaky part; when the children are unaware, open one end of the tube, take out the caterpillar, then scrunch together the filter in the middle. Open the clothespin and attach the wings. Then carefully wrap the wings around the caterpillar and reinsert it into the cocoon. Hopefully the children will see the cocoon has "opened" and will pull out a wonderful surprise. If they don't notice, you might have to direct their attention to the cocoon.

For my three year old class we only read the book then make the butterfly. We are only at school two days a week and it is hard to have a unit run for more than a week. So we usually just make these pretty butterflies near the end of the year.

If you would like, you can even put a magnet on the back. I hope you enjoy creating this butterfly with your preschooler.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jellyfish Fingerplay

I know I told you I was doing two posts on butterflies, and honestly I am in the process of the second. The wings are actually drying as I write. But, there have been some results in my search records showing that people have been looking for jellyfish songs and books.

After seeing this I went to school and scoured the resources I have there--guess what? I didn't find any.

Then my creative husband:) came up with a little fingerplay I thought I would share with everyone. The fingerplay is based on the 5 Little Monkeys. Most people recognize the 5 Little Monkeys:

Five little monkeys swinging in the tree.
Teasing Mr. Alligator-can't catch me.
Along comes Mr. Alligator, quiet as can be.
Four little monkeys swinging the tree.

Then the rhyme begins again with 4 little monkey working down to: No more monkeys swinging in the tree.

Here is the Mr. Jelllyfish fingerplay:

Five little plankton swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Jellyfish, "Can't catch me!"
Along comes Mr. Jellyfish, quiet as can be.
Four little plankton swimming in the sea.

Continue the rhyme counting down to the last plankton(4 little plankton, 3 little plankton, etc). The last verse would go as follows:

One little plankton swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Jellyfish, "Can't catch me!"
Along comes Mr. Jellyfish, quiet as can be.
Watch out for jellyfish floating in the sea!

Here are the hand motions:

1st line--hold up hand and wiggle fingers-use one less finger each verse.
2nd line--point finger when saying "can't catch me".
3rd line- put hand together, fingers down, wiggle fingers.
4th line -- Clap loudly.
5th line--hold up hand with one less finger.

Take a look. Have fun!

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