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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reindeer Food

Since Santa's reindeer work so hard on Christmas Eve, we think it's really important they get a treat:). So, we make a fun little treat to spread on the lawn Christmas Eve.

For the project you will need:

*glitter(can be toxic to outdoor animals) or
colored sugar
closeable sandwich bags

I pour the oats into a larger bowl so that the children can scoop them out easily. Each child gets a sandwich sized bag. I have the children scoop some oats out of the bowl and pour them into the bag. Then I let them add glitter, or colored sugar. I also have a little poem that I give the children to put in the bag so that when Mom & Dad get the "bag of stuff" they know what it is.

Here is what the poem says:

On Christmas Eve, sprinkle Magic Reindeer Glitter on your lawn.
Rudolph will smell the oats and the magic glitter will guide him to your rooftop.

Note: Got a comment today that I thought I should share. A reader noted that glitter is harmful to birds and squirrels. The reindeer food will be just as colorful with some colored sugar. Thanks. Of course, the poem I show will have to be changed. I'll probably just write Magic Reindeer Food.

Here's the poem I wrote to sent home with the reindeer food made with sugar crystals:

December 18, 2008: Today we made the reindeer food in class. I used the sugar crystals and I will say, we didn't have quite as much mess either. The colored sugar doesn't stick to the surface as much as glitter does. I had brought 5 different colors, and in teacher way I told the children then could pick a color and add it to the oats. In kid way they wanted to know if they could use all the colors--so why not. So this year our reindeer food was oats, and red, pink, blue, green, and yellow sugar crystals.

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Reindeer with Handprint Antlers

For our Christmas program one of our props is "Rudolph." We don't sing the full version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," but another song that mentions him. So when we sing this song we hold up this reindeer.

For the project you will need:

brown construction paper
white construction paper
materials for eyes and nose

First when the children come to the table. I fold a piece of white construction paper in half, then trace their open hand. Then,I give all the children a brown piece of construction paper with a triangle drawn on it. I have them cut the triangle out while I cut out the handprints. With older children you could allow them to cut out both items.

After the pieces are cut everything has to be glued together. I usually have them glue the antlers on first. I glue them on the back of the reindeer head, sticking out the top. Then we turn the paper over and glue on the eyes and nose. I usually have some circles already cut out for these items; red for the nose, any color for the eyes. You could use any items you like for this though; wiggle eyes are always fun, and red pom poms look great for a nose. Wallah...he's done.

We made this project the second week of December. I read a great book today. It doesn't have anything to do with reindeer, but it is a Christmas book. The children were so engaged in the story that I didn't have to ask for their attention once. The book I read was "Mrs. Wishy-Washy's Christmas," by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller. The story is about three animals that have to take their Christmas bath in the barn. a cow, a pig, and a duck. Well, it is freezing in the barn and they can't imagine bathing in the cold water. Mrs. Wishy-Washy says they have to get a bath, or no Christmas presents. Did they take the bath? Did they get presents? Fun story! (The link I gave is for the hardcover so it is a little expensive, but at least you get to look inside. There may be cheaper ones out there).

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Handprint Books

I finally got around to going through the books at school to look for the handprint books I told you about before. Both of them are really good resources with lots of fun easy to make activities for all kinds of holidays and seasons. All the instructions are really very clear and the pictures are great too.

The first book I have is called "Handicrafts," by Rosie Wermert and Marie McClurg, illustrated by Bari Weissman. It was published by Learning Ladders/Random House in 1989. I couldn't find a picture of the book anywhere, but I found one link.

The second book I have is called "Hand-Shaped Art," by Diane Bonica, illustrated by Jan Renard. It was published by Good Apple, Inc. in 1989 also. I found this book on Amazon.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Homemade Mint "Cookies"

My sister-in-law brought us some yummy desserts for our Thanksgiving. One item was a beautiful plate of cookies. On the tray were some flat, chocolate, delicious-looking cookies. When we asked her what they were she said, "Try them." They tasted just like Girls Scout Thin Mint cookies. She gave us the general recipe and it sounded like something you can make with your little ones. Easy and delicious--you gotta like that. I don't have all the specifics so I hope you can figure them out.

For the cookies you will need:

one box Ritz Crackers
one bag semisweet morsels
peppermint extract
Christmas sprinkles
waxed paper

First you melt the bag of chocolate morsels. She used semisweet chocolate, but you may use other kinds if you like. She said you can melt the chocolate in the microwave or stove, whichever you find easier. She wasn't sure how long to put them in the microwave, but it may say on the bag.

After the chocolate morsels are melted, add 1 to 2 drops of peppermint extract. You add it to taste. I would put one drop in and try it, add more if you like.

Then dip the crackers in the chocolate and set them on the waxed paper to harden. Put some sprinkles in the center before the chocolate hardens. She said she used a pair of tongs to dip the crackers in, but if a child is helping, they may squeeze to hard and break the cracker. I think it might be more fun to let them get a little chocolaty. Mm mm, love that chocolate.

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Egg Carton Christmas Bell

One of the first projects we do this month is to make an ornament for our class Christmas tree. These ornaments are SOOO easy and also SOOO pretty. They brighten up any tree.

For Christmas I have to have glitter around--sparkly glitter just makes anything pop. For this project you will need:

egg carton

First cut the cup portion out of the egg cartons so you have as many as you need.

Have the children pick our a color pipecleaner that they like. Push the pipecleaner through the cup, so it looks like a bell.

Next have the children paint the whole part of the egg carton cup with glue. I put some Elmer's glue in a dish and just let them use a paintbrush.

After the cup is covered in glue have the children pick out the glitter they would like. Then sprinkle the cup with glitter. Make sure it all gets covered.

After they dry let the children hang them on the tree. They really look great.

The book I read today was "Asleep in the Stable,: by Will Hillenbrand. It was a very cute story of a baby owl waking in the evening to find a new addition to the stable. He has all kind of questions for Mama Owl about it. He learns of the Heavenly Father's warmth and love for all.

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The Christmas Story

One year I had the pleasure of teaching our Pre-K class. Since these children are bit older, the other teacher and I decided to put on a Christmas program that was a little more involved. The church allowed us to use many of the costumes they had on hand for their Christmas program. Then we has some help from parents, and made a few things ourselves. This program does require some planning and preparation. We had to coordinate some times to practice together also. It was work, but it was also beautiful.

For the program the children did not have to learn any lines. I read the book, "The Christmas Story," with Ruth J. Morehead's Holly Babes. It is a beautiful story of Christmas written so that little children can understand it. I love this story.

We gave the children parts in the play. We had Mary, Joseph, Angel Gabriel, an innkeeper, shepherds, three kings, other angels, a donkey, and some animals for the stable. The main costumes came from the church. We mostly had to make some animal decorations. All we did was make headbands with different ears on them.

As I read the story the children performed on the stage. Our stage had two entrances so we had children lined up on each side with a parent or teacher with them. We also had someone nonchalantly on stage in case children forgot where to go.
By the end of the story all the children are on the stage together. We finish by singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

I loved doing this play, but have been unable to since that time. If you are thinking of trying something out, check out this story, it's easily adaptable and creates a great program.

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Christmas is Coming.....

Here we go. If your school is anything like ours, you have so many great Christmas plans, but only a few days to complete them. Our three-year-old class has a total of six days to complete our Christmas unit. It really flies by.

In our school we always finish up our Christmas unit with a small program for parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. It is nothing like the Thanksgiving celebration. It is only a small "show" at the end of our last class.

We are very lucky to be a small preschool in a church setting. Because of this we are allowed to continue to teach that we Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We have found a wonderful little "play" that we perform for the parents at our show. It is really simple, but very cute.

We keep our show very basic, but it can be elaborated on by designing props, making costumes, and creating a set. We use what we have around our classroom.

For our play we go on a special Christmas journey. We have an area where we begin and we travel around to different doors and sing songs as we go.

So, we have our starting point and then the children travel to the first door singing the following song to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat":

A long, long time ago
An angel came to say
Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary
You will have a babe.

Then we come to the first door. I knock on the door and we say, "Any room here?" Then we all say together, "No room here.

Now we walk to the second door singing the following song to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb":

Mary went to Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Bethlehem,
Mary went to Bethlehem
Riding on a donkey.

Joseph went to Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Bethlehem,
Joseph went to Bethlehem,
With his wife Mary.

Now we are at the second door. I knock and we all say, "Any room here?" Again we reply, "No room here."

We travel on to the third door. On this door I have a star posted. We sing the following song to the tune of "London Bridge":

Can we come inside your inn?
Come inside, come inside?
Can we come inside your inn
To rest our tired feet?

This time I knock on the door, we say, "Any room here?" The reply by all is, "Yes, come inside."

We travel back to our beginning spot and pick up some bells and sing this song to "Frere Jacques":

Bells are ringing, children singing
Jesus is born, Jesus is born.
Happy Birthday Jesus, Happy Birthday Jesus.
We love you, we love you.

This is the end of our "play." We have other songs we perfom at this time with a few props. Then the children give their gifts to the parents, followed by the teachers giving their gifts to the children. By using Scholastic Book club we accumulate many bonus points during the course of the year. All the children receive a book from us as a Christmas gift.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just a Minute

So--the house is cleaned, the turkey's in the brine, apple crisp is made, green bean casserole ready to go, potatoes peeled and diced ready for boiling, leaves in the table, tablecloth on, and centerpiece created. I just found a minute to sit down and I wanted to make sure I let all my readers know that I wish you all a Thanksgiving filled with laughter around the table, joy of spending time with family and friends, and many Blessings to be thankful for. Have a great Thanksgiving Day.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Feast Day

Well, we made it. Today is the big day. Our Native Americans and Pilgrims have been practicitng for this day and here it is. They put on a wonderful program for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. They really did a great job.

Here's some decorations the children made:

Tables and food:

Family and Friends:

The parents were great with all their food donations and we all left with full bellies. Our feast is a wonderful way to get everyone together and enjoy the atmosphere and all the great accomplishments of the children.

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Snow Day?!

If you read my post yesterday, you saw that Mother Nature decided to help us out with some of that "white stuff" for white day. Well, she played quite a joke. I'm not sure if she knows we are not ready for this stuff, but here's what we woke up to today:

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

White Like Snow

The final color we do for our books is the color white. This week was that color. I think the color box ran it's course. I had one child the whole week find me something white for the box--and white is everywhere.

Mother Nature helped out with white quite a bit today. It was snowing! Just a snow shower, but it was sure coming down. Of course, that was the end of the day for me. Once they saw the snow it was like I had fed them two pounds of sugar. Yelling, running, just general mayhem ensued. Thanks Mother Nature!

Since coloring with a white crayon is a bit "useless" the first page of our color book involved painting a white snowman. Just a small one to have something white in our book. Our second page was to add white stickers to a snowflake. All the colors are in. When we get back from break we will make the cover and send the books home.

We had some great fun with shaving cream today. I always love shaving cream play. The room and the children smell so good. It was quite funny though. It was the first time we have done shaving cream this year. I got out the can and sprayed some in my hand and asked the children what they thought it was. One person said cream, one said cleaning stuff, and the others weren't sure. Then, I spread it on my face and the light bulb came on. They all knew what it was then, but they wanted me to go wash--I guess I didn't look too good.

I was going to bring marshmallows for snack but forgot them this morning--THANK GOODNESS. I don't think we needed any energy boosters. I got lucky though, our snack was graham crackers and sliced apples. We talked about the inside of the apple being white.

For the remainder of the year we will practice colors as a whole with games and activities. We had a great time enjoying all our color play--OFF TO SHAPES!

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Today's activity at school was watercoloring our handprint turkeys. Now we have done some watercoloring at school before, but have used individual liquid watercolors. Today was the first day we used the original packs of eight color water colors. You know, the ones with the eight little oval cakes that you have to get real wet. Well, I was shocked at the number of children that really had difficulty with this.

I start off each child individually, tracing their hand, adding the parts to the turkey, then showing them how to use the watercolor paint. Dip the brush in the water, swirl it around on the color you would like, paint the picture, then go back dip the brush in the water, swirl it in the color, paint the picture, and so on and so on. Well, some just could not get this. I had a few that finally said I can't do it and left the table. I had one little boy that repeated the phrase the whole time he painted. I was just really surprised at the difficulty of this task.

So, with Christmas just a few weeks away, I wanted to give parents a little idea for the stocking. Maybe some watercolors would be a great addition. They really aren't that messy, and if there is mess it is really easy to clean up. Happy painting!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thankful Turkey

Well, my "bag of tricks" was emptied today. I came to my last Thanksgiving craft today. We made a thankful turkey using circles and triangles. It's always a little difficult getting the children to tell you what they are thankful for. After they hear the first child's thankful thought, you get a lot of repeats. I reread the story "Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks, " by Margaret Sutherland, that I read the other day to try to give them ideas.

For the turkey you will need:

brown, red, yellow, & orange construction paper
(these are the colors I used)
wiggle eyes

First you will need a large circle cut from the brown paper. If you have children that are old enough you can have them cut the circles out themselves. I already had ours cut. I cut triangle feathers from the yellow and red paper--the paper cutter comes in handy here. Then I had a yellow circle for the head, an orange triangle beak, and a red triangle wattle.

On the back of the circle I have the children put glue in a semicircle along the edge. Then they glue the feathers on--I let them do as many or little as they like, and whatever colors they want to use.

Next all the rest of the pieces get glued on--the circle head, triangle beak, triangle wattle, and wiggle eyes.

Finally I ask the children what they are thankful for and I write that in the middle.

The book I read today was called "10 Fat Turkeys," by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Rich Deas. It's a cute story of 10 turkey doing silly things and counting backwards to--NONE. It also has rhyming prose which makes it fun. If I had more time, I would have loved to put up 10 of the children's turkeys and remove one at a time as we read, to help with counting backwards. We used our fingers each time, but it can get confusing with little ones. Sometimes that time aspect can be a bugger. They had fun though, with lots of giggles.

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