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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pretty Princess Party

When my daughter turned five in the year 2000 she loved Disney's Little Mermaid. Her whole toy inventory was of something Mermaid. When we had her party, we decided to focus on Mermaid/princesses.

The party included my daughter and 5 other little girls. For decorations I had purchased a paper tablecloth, cups, plates, and napkins with the Mermaid on them. I actually made her a cake--there was a wonderful cake in the magazine Family Fun that year of a treasure chest.

The children arrived, I let them play for 15/20 minutes then we did a craft. The craft was followed by a reading of the Little Mermaid. After the reading, a "pirate" showed up and we had a treasure hunt outside. Following the treasure hunt we sang and had cake and ice cream. We followed with present opening and then good byes. It went really well.

The craft we had for the party was jewel boxes. I had gone to Staples and purchased some boxes one would use to hold index cards, they were all black. The I got bags of plastic jewels and letter stickers from the local craft store. Each girl was given a box and the letters to spell her name. The children put their names on the boxes, then we decorated them with the jewels. I used hot glue from a glue gun to hold the jewels to the box. This is where it is great to have other parents around for help.

When finished we went to the other room to have the Mermaid story. Then our "pirate" showed up. I did not hire a pirate. My husband dressed in some Halloween costume material and had an eye patch and bandanna. He brought with him a special treasure map that everyone followed, under the pirate's lead, to find treasures.

Before the girls had arrived, I had gone outside and placed all the treasures. I had bought wands, crowns, necklaces, and rings from our local Dollar store. The wands were stuck in the ground under a tree, the crowns were in a bush, and the rings and necklaces were somewhere else in the yard--sorry I don't remember exactly where. The pirate took them to each place and they got their treasure. These items were their "party bag" items. The kids loved this!

Then we went back in, had our cake and ice cream, opened presents, and we were done. We had a wonderful party, and believe it or not my daughter questioned who the pirate was for a couple years after that.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great New Site!

I found a great new site for myself today that I thought I would share with you. It has tons of printable pictures, plans, fun facts, etc. I loved it. You had to sign up, but it was totally free. They asked for my name and email and that was it. I got tons of usable tools for my Dinosaur Camp next week. The new site is called

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Monday, July 28, 2008


Nowadays it seems that children's birthday parties are getting more and more elaborate. I think it is a tendency of this nation to "try and keep up with the Jones'." One has to remember that with preschoolers, the simpler the occasion the more fun it is for them. Also, your 3/4 year old is not going to remember that you hired Cirque de Soleil for entertainment, Rachel Ray for food, and had a hot air balloon in your front yard for decoration. Sit back for one second, can you actually remember what your birthday was like at that age? If your family was anything like mine, it was probably a family party with cake, ice cream, and presents.

For my family, we still hold pretty close to the majority of birthdays being family events. My children had their first friend party at age 5. Following age five, we did not have parties every year. I usually allowed a friend party at 10, 13, and 16, somewhat major milestones in my book--the 16th party being the hardest.

Another thing we have done for these friend parties is to try and have them at home. Now, I know this is not a big draw to many families today. The major reason I hear is--"Then I don't have anything to clean up!" I definitely agree with that, but sometimes a party right at home can be more comfortable for your little one and some of their friends. They are in a familiar place with lots of recognizable things around them.

I thought I would post some pointers I find very helpful with young one's birthday parties. Then, I have had a few successful parties that I would like to share with you in case you might be looking for ideas. All the parties I will share will be for parties that I had for my children when they turned 5. I hope you find these helpful.

Some helpful tips:

1. Keep it simple. Very important and it also is a benefit to you. You won't run yourself ragged trying to be perfect, and they won't be so overstimulated that everything ends in disaster. Have plates, cups, utensils, food containers, etc. that can either be thrown out or recycled. Keep decorations to a minimum so it still looks familiar.

2. Don't have too much food. I find that cupcakes are the best--especially those mini cupcakes. I usually have ice cream cups, and the drink is usually Capri Suns, or another type of single serve juice drink. I also usually have pretzels and chips. Easy to eat and a favorite with the little ones. They are not going to eat much. The trash usually sees more action in the food department then they do.

3. Don't plan too much. They are going to want to play with each other--that's priority #1 to them. I usually plan one craft and one activity along with the cake and presents.

4. Don't worry about cleaning your house from top to bottom(I better remind myself of this one.) The kids are going to come in and pull out every toy they can find. You'll want to make sure the bathrooms look good and the floors, but don't worry about every nook and crannie. I know this is good to follow, but if you are like me it's going to be hard. I find I have to clean everything even if my sons bring their girlfriends home--oh well.

5. One thing I do for preschool birthdays is to prepare for parents to stay. I usually make sure I have some coffee brewed and enough cupcakes if they would like to stay. At this age I find most parents are more comfortable if they can stick around. Sometimes it's easier for the kids too.

6. Don't invite too many friends. I think the guideline most people use is to invite as many children as your child's age. This way things aren't too overwhelming for them--or you.

7. Finally, it doesn't have to be an all day event. One and a half to two hours makes for a good party time.

My next few posts will include the types of parties I had and what we did there. Hope you enjoy them.

So, there you have it. I hope these will help you with your child's next big day. Remember, make it right for you and your family, not for the people down the street. Have fun.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Fabulous Froggy

Last week at our summer camp,the theme for the week was; I Love Animals. The teacher that was running the camp was wonderful and I thank her very much. All of her crafts centered around certain books. This is a great way to create lessons. Books are wonderful inspirations for many things.

The one day I was there they were making a frog out of a paper plate. I honestly can't remember the book she based the craft on, although I have a good frog book at home that my youngest likes. The book is The Big Wide-Mouthed Frog, by Ana Martín Larrañaga. It's about a frog that travels to discover new animals and what they eat. His last encounter is with a crocodile that likes to eat big wide-mouthed frogs. It's cute.

Her frog is really easy to make. For the project you will need:

a paper plate
4 strips of green paper for legs
2 cotton balls
a red tongue cut out of paper
green paint.

The first thing one has to do is paint the plate green--back and front and allow this to dry.

After the plate is dry, fold it in half. Glue two cotton balls to the top outside half for the eyes. She put two small black circles in the cotton to finish the eye, you can do this, or you can use a marker.

Then glue one edge of the strips of paper to the bottom outside half for the frogs legs. These will dangle down like long legs.

Finally, glue the red tongue inside of the frog sticking out a bit for effect.

Now don't fret if you don't have green paint, or paper--make a frog to your liking. If you think about it, there are many different colored frogs around the world. Only have markers, color your plate with them, have blue paint, make a blue frog, have an artist, make a frog of many different colors.--have fun with it.

Many thanks again to the I Love Animals teacher for allowing me to share this with everyone.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Yummy Summer Treats

I must confess that I am not a big fan of the kitchen. I make food because I have to. Oh well, one can't be gifted in all areas--HA!

My daughter made these treats the other day--I can not stress to you how easy they are. Some of you have probably already made them. She made what she calls-yogurt pops.

To make these you will need: an ice cube tray, toothpicks, and yogurt. We used Trix yogurt as it is a favorite with my kids. You probably could use any yogurt I would think.

Have your child spoon the yogurt into the ice cube tray, then have them stand a toothpick in the yogurt, then put them in the freezer. We didn't need to put plastic wrap over the top to make the toothpicks stand, they stood very well freely. Also, I'm not sure how long they take to freeze as she put them in the freezer one evening, then got them out the next night at dinner.

They love them, especially our youngest. Hope your little one enjoys them too!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sing, Sing a Song.

Hi everyone. Occasionally I like to add some resources I love using as a teacher. Singing is a part of everyday at our school. Most children adore singing. I find that the songs that go over the best are ones that are to tunes they already know.(They're also the ones I find easiest to sing.)

Three books I use very often at school are called PIGGYBACK SONG BOOKS. I LOVE these books. We have three versions of the book at our school; Piggyback Songs(red, 1983), More Piggyback Songs(blue 1984), and Piggyback Songs for School(black, 1991). I will tell you my two favorite ones are the red and blue version. These books were already at the nursery school when I began and they were quickly added to my everyday repertoire. One even has the cover off I use it so much. The songs are fun, the children pick them up easily, and they are easy to learn.

The books are published by Totline Press, Warren Publishing House, Everett, WA 98203. I found them on too if you are interested.

Thanks for letting me share a favorite. Sing often, it's always great to have a song in your heart!

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Friday, July 11, 2008


This is most unimportant, but last night I played the game of Life with my older children ages 16, 12, and 10. I now remember why I work with preschoolers! :)

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away.

Bugs are a very popular theme in the summer time. My son helped me put together a common bug we see during summer, the ladybug. It's a craft that is very easy to make.

For the ladybug you will need: construction paper ( I used red), scissors, black crayon or marker, glue, and a paper fastener.

First on the construction paper you will draw two red circles of the same size. In one circle draw a line to split the circle in half. Then draw one smaller circle. I used a small plate to draw my bigger circles, and a cup to draw my small circle.

The solid circle will be the ladybug's body, the split circle will be the wings, and the smallest circle will be the head.

Have the child cut out the three circles, then cut the one in half. My son helped me with this project. You will notice that the circles are not perfect, and they may not have been cut exactly on the line, but it's just good practice to allow them to cut. Also, remember, circles are hard to cut.

Next have them put two eyes on the smallest circle, and black dots on the two semicircles with the crayon or marker. Glue the head onto the full circle. Then with the paper fastener, attach the wings. A paper fastener will allow the wings to open and close. If you don't have one, you can always glue the wings on in an open position.

Some variations for the project are to use a black ink pad and your child's thumbprint to add the dots, or you could use some pipe cleaners to attach antennae at the top.

TA-DA, you're done. Nice and easy, but also cute.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Boccie Anyone?

Ever hear of Boccie Ball? I'm not quite sure how popular it has become here, or how popular it is in other parts of the world.

Growing up in an Italian family, I was exposed to the game of Boccie Ball at a very young age. Every gathering from Little Johnny's christening to Sunday afternoon get togethers under the big shade tree, included a game of Boccie. But, no children could play. You could watch, follow along, but not say a word--not even make a sound--you sneezed, you were gone. Sometimes, Boccie could make or break the day. They took that game seriously.

Ever see the game? It consists of eight balls about the size of a softball, but a bit heavier, and one small white ball called a pallino--we always called it the "jack"--still do. The balls they used when I was kid were a kind of ceramic. The balls we have today are plastic balls with some water inside to give them some weight. The object of the game is to throw your balls as close to the jack as you can to get points. I think maybe they played to 21--we never quite get that far.

Today, Boccie doesn't quite monopolize our family get togethers. Our staunch Boccie players are long gone. For my family, Boccie ball has become a family play time. We're not as strict, and the rules may change a bit every time, but we make it so all can play--down to the youngest.

As I said there is the jack--which someone will throw--usually the youngest goes first. Then everyone has 2 bigger balls of the same color. We each take turns throwing our balls trying to get them as close to the jack as possible. The person with the closest ball gets the point, 2 points if both of your balls are the closest, and gets to throw the jack. We play up to 10 points. Sometimes the youngest don't quite make it that far.

This game can be very fun for preschoolers as long as you keep it light. It's a great form of exercise, throwing and walking(or running if your between the ages of 3-5). It's fun for the whole family and it's a great way to make those little guys feel just like everyone else. Remember, it's for fun. It's okay if they laugh when your about to through your ball, or keep running in circles as you try to concentrate, or even throw the jack 3 inches in front of you. In my eyes, if they're having fun, so am I.

(it really doesn't take this much effort)

So get out there and, "PLAY BALL!"

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Great Resource....Scholastic

As a teacher, one of my most favorite resources is Scholastic. Our school has used Scholastic to bring books to the children there for years. Scholastic offers book clubs for children of ALL ages. It is great for the school too, as we gain points from parent's book orders and are able to use those points for resources for our room. We have gotten a refrigerator, microwave, toy bins, a puppet theatre, resource books, reading books, and the list goes on and on.

I can not stress how great it is. All of their products are just great too. Everything is extremely age appropriate and great quality. The customer service representatives have always been extremely helpful too. Any discrepancies are always handled quickly and with great professionalism. I LOVE SCHOLASTIC! is an invaluable resource to parents as well as teachers. When you go to they have sections for teachers, parents, kids, and more. Each section is just a full of articles, games, ideas, crafts, books, games, etc.

I was in the parents section for quite a while. They have ideas for the time of the year, crafts, cooking, outside fun, books that are great for you child, articles with good information, printables, games, etc.

If you are a teacher looking for ideas, this is another great resource. They have lesson plans, teaching strategies, supplies etc. I found this site extremely helpful when I was renewing my teaching certificate. Pennsylvania recently made a law that teachers must take a certain amount of credits or have a certain amount of continuing education hours every five years to keep their certificates active. This came at a time when I had done nothing formal for more than ten years. Scholastic's site was very helpful with their lesson plans and teaching strategies.

Scholastic also has a store that offers many books, DVDs, toys and games, crafts, etc. I have bought many things for the nursery school from Scholastic and I feel that their prices are reasonable. I honestly feel that Scholastic is a most valuable resource for teachers and parents of children.

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