Do you have an idea that you would like to share with the readers? If you have a craft, project, or something preschool related that you would like to share, please email me at trish@preschoolplaybook.com. I love sharing fresh new ideas. Click here for full details.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

School Supplies

Hi everyone. I promise to post a new craft soon. I'm so busy getting stuff ready for school starting next week, I've put off the fun stuff. Sorry about that.

I just wanted to drop a quick note about something we like to have our parents get children for school. Each school is probably very different about what kinds of items they would like you to supply for a child's school year.

We don't really ask parents to get anything for our school, but we do try to stress the importance of getting their children a backpack that is big enough to hold all those beautiful masterpieces the children will create throughout the year.

There are many different types of backpacks out there and sometimes the children are drawn to those cute backpacks that are tiny, but ornate. Unfortunately, these backpacks aren't too good for carrying home works of art.

So, if you are looking to do some school shopping with your preschooler, remember to add a nice sized backpack to the list. I'm sure your child's teacher will be grateful.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Off to School!

Here it is. That time of year! School is beginning. For my children they are off to the world of learning on Monday. For many preschoolers, there may still be a week of vacation left. Our preschool does not start until after labor day--so there is a little time left.

The start of school brings many different feeling to parents. Joy, excitement, apprehension, and maybe even a little fear. For some parents this will be the first time to send that little one off to, for all intent and purposes, a stranger. Yes, you visited the school, you had a meet the teacher night, or an open house, but, mom and/or dad were usually along for the ride. Now it's time to say, "Good-bye," and come back in a little while to pick them up.

What can parents do to make this an easier transition? The most important thing a parent can do to help the child to be comfortable with going to school is to BE POSITIVE. The more positive you are about them going to school, the more they will feel comfortable. Talk about the new toys they'll get to play with, the new friends they are going to make, playing on the playground, making fun things to take home, etc. Try to make it sound like they are going to maybe.... Disney World? A place of fun and happiness. That's what it should be.

So now, you've talked it up. You're at the door, the teacher's there, what's next? You smile, give your child a big kiss, tell them you'll see them soon and then go. I know, I know, a lot easier said then done. Sometimes even harder. Sometimes there is screaming, sometimes there is kicking, sometimes tears--and this is you:). No really, this might occur, but believe me, it IS going to stop. We tell parents give us five to ten minutes, it will stop. We do our best to try to get them involved in something fun. With today's cell phones, we usually get a lot of calls from the parking lot to see if everything is okay, and it usually is. Also, remember this routine might go on for a couple of weeks too, but it will end.

The children have to know that you are comfortable with them being there. That you trust the teachers and the surroundings. The quicker they see this from you, the quicker they are happy to stay.

If need be there might be some ways to help them have comfort. We have had blankies, or snugglies, or favorite stuffed animals stay with us in backpacks. That way during playtime they can get peeked at and help the child to have something familiar. Another option might be to make something for them to wear. For example take a picture of the family, or mommy, or pet(whatever might make them comfortable) then get one of those plastic pouches on a string. Put the picture in the pouch and they have a neat necklace they can wear at school. Be creative--draw a picture on their palm like a kiss, etc.

These are just a few suggestions, and yes it is going to be more difficult for some than for others, but you will get through it. I hope you all have a great school year wherever you may be. Have fun and enjoy!

Now, I have to go get my box of tissues ready because tomorrow I send my youngest off on the school bus to the "big school." I know, I know--BE POSITIVE!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Strike Up The Band


As many of you know, music is a very big part of young children's lives. They really seem to be able to associate with it. They can learn better with it, and they just plain enjoy it. It is very easy to make some "musical" instruments right in your own home. Most of these things may not be new, but sometimes it's good to have a "refresher" course.

Our first band item is the guitar--tissue box guitar. I first saw this on Blue's Clues and thought it was great. You will need:

1 tissue box(rectangular)
some large rubber bands (different thicknesses give different sounds)
feel free to decorate if you like





To make this guitar all you have to do is stretch some rubber bands length wise around the box and strum. You can attach a paper towel tube for the handle, but I haven't had luck with it actually staying attached.




The next item is the drum. For this you will need:

a coffee can with lid
some construction paper
markers or crayons
glue





Cut a piece of construction paper wide enough to cover the can. Let the children decorate the paper with marker or crayon, then glue the paper to the outside of the can. Ta-dah--you have a drum.




Next on the list are maracas. You can do this in a variety of ways. One is to get:
two paper or plastic cups
some beans, rice, corn, something to make a shaky sound
2 inch clear packing tape
Have the children decorate the cups if they are blank. You can use crayons and marker for paper cups. The plastic cups will probably need glue and other art medium to glue to the cups. Have the children fill one half of one cup with your shaker material. Then use the packing tape to tape the cups together. Now go ahead and SHAKE!
You can also use two paper plates. Decorate the bottoms of the plates then use a stapler to staple the edges together--staple closely to keep the shaker material inside. Leave one spot open, fill with shaker material, finish stapling up and SHAKE.



Some other items that might be fun: two spoons to clang together, or some cans--like soup cans--and spoons to bang and make a great noise. Clean empty cans make better sounds than filled cans.

Now you have some great instruments to make some "beautiful" music.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pirate Party

My final experience with a fifth birthday party actually occurred a couple of months ago. I have to say this party was very unconventional for me. I didn't stick too closely to my guidelines.

Our youngest son turns five in late August. I have learned from experience it is hard to have a summer birthday party as many people are away, or your not sure how to get ahold of his school friends. So, we actually had an unbirthday celebration for him in May--near the end of the school year.

My first and foremost guideline that I did not follow was the number of children at this party. I asked my son who he wanted to come, well he said all the kids in his class were his friends and he wanted them all to come. Great--so that's 12 children right there. Then, I ,of course, invited parents and siblings to stay so no one would have to do a lot of driving. It was a bigger birthday party then usual.

We decided on a pirate theme for the party. I purchased some pirate plates and napkins. I had a cake made with a pirate scene decorated on it, but I placed little pirates, a treasure box, and a small ship on it, it was pretty cute. Also, since there were so many children, I knew a craft was probably out of the question. I purchased some treasure boxes(from Oriental Trading) that my husband and I put together and we used for a later activity.

So here is how our party went: For invitations I went to the store and got a ream of paper that looked like parchment paper. I typed the invitation, printed them out on the paper, and handed them out to parents at school. The parchment paper was also used for thank you notes and a treasure map. The party was a picnic to be held at the house after school. That way everyone could follow me to my house. I had a small moon bounce, the sand box, swing set, a well supervised trampoline, and I was going to have water play. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn't up to cooperating with an outside party. She kept sending rain off and on. It didn't bother the kids, and thank the Lord we have a big basement full of toys.

Everyone arrived at the house and I set up for lunch. We had purchased pizza which my husband picked up on his way home from work. I also had hot dogs in the crock pot ready to go. Along with these I had watermelon, drink boxes, and chips. The kids played while I and some of the other parents got lunch ready. It was actually a blessing that all the parents came--there were eyes everywhere to watch the kids, and plenty of helpful hands.

After everyone ate, a pirate showed up with a treasure map. Yes, he was the same pirate from the Pretty Princess Party--he comes in handy. My son has a big treasure box in his room and my husband and I had put the smaller treasure boxes we made filled with "gold coins" in the bigger box. He then had dug a hole the day before and we "buried" the treasure.

The treasure map had the children looking for different things. They first had to look for the number 4 which was on the mailbox. Then they had to take 10 steps and look for another number which was posted on the telelphone pole. Then there was a shovel hanging in the tree and the map said to go somewhere to dig with the shovel--(the sandbox). In the sandbox there was an egg and the map said to go somewhere that animals have shells. (We have a turtle habitat in the yard: http://www.tallysturtles.com/). Then they had to cross the bridge and look for the X. We had placed a board in the yard for the bridge and had put an X on the wood covering the hole. Then the pirate helped them pull out the treasure box and they all got their own treasure. Then they ran off to play.

While they played we got the cake ready. We sang Happy Birthday, had ice cream cups, opened presents, then traveled home. It was a hectic party: A: because of the rain, and B: because of the number of children. I normally would not have had that many children, but my son had a great time. We got some good pictures, but they all had the children in them and I did not get an okay from parents to share them with the world.


So, there you have it. My ideas for some birthday parties. I hope they may have helped someone planning a party.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fun At The Beach....At Night!

Look closely, can you see him?

I've had the information for this post since June, but I couldn't find the time to get the post done. Unbelivably, it is now near the end of summer, I just can't believe it! Sorry for the late summer activity.

I wanted to share this with the many people that head down south to the beach for some fun and relaxation during the summer months. My family lives in Pennsylvania and has been traveling to the Virginia Beach/Outer Banks areas for our summer vacations. Our first experience with this activity happened many years ago by accident, we just "stumbled" upon it on an evening walk, my children really enjoy it.

This activity is not for the weak of heart or for anyone that does not like spiders. It's really not that scary, but here it is: Crab Catching. Yes, catching crabs, not with cages, or nets, but with hands, and they do use buckets.



What happened, is that one evening we decided to take a walk on the beach. As we were walking we saw all these "movements" everywhere. The next night we brought our flashlight and found that all these "movements" were crabs. They were EVERYWHERE! Most of them are little crabs, but there are some big ones.

Anyway, my kids love to catch these crabs, even my youngest. The youngest can't always catch them, but he loves to pose with them. They can not wait for the first evening of our vacation so they can go catch crabs. They have even perfected a technique that hypnotizes the crabs--they really seem to go to sleep. We don't really do anything with the crabs: catch them, get their pictures, then let them go.


They caught this one during the day.
If you look closely, you can see he is "sleeping."

I myself have never actually had the nerve to catch these wonderful sea creatures. I am much more happy just to be the camera clicker. They, though, love it. I can't give you specific techniques. I can just tell you what I see. Catching a crab can take some time as they can be very quick. Usually one person keeps the flashlight on the crab while the other "chases" it. My daughter usually covers the crab with sand. Then goes to the crab from behind it, picks it up from the back placing her fingers somehow to get the crab to "sleep." The first crab of the season usually takes the longest to catch, but once the kids are back in the groove "catching" gets quicker.




I know this might not be an activity for everyone, but if you've never gotten to the beach for an evening walk with your children, this is something you might want to give a try. It has become a tradition for us--as crazy as that sounds. It is a part of our vacation that our children can not live without.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Dinosaur Camp-Day 5

Well, here it is. We have reached our final day of Dinosaur Camp. Today is the day our young paleontologists get to practice their developing skills by going on a dinosaur hunt. This is one of the most anticipated parts of this camp.




Before the children arrive at camp, "dinosaur bones" are hidden outside. Then after we have our craft for the day. The children get to go outside, "dig" for dinosaur fossils, then we have to put the fossils together to create a whole dinosaur--the kids LOVE this.


The bones I have are VERY heavy, it takes two of us to carry the container they are kept in. The bones actually came from my very patient and gung-ho sister-in-law(the same one who made the race car cake). To make these bones she used plaster of paris and sand molds. She molded the bone shapes in the sand and then poured in the plaster of paris--that's a lot of plaster of paris--and a lot of patience. She found the project somewhere, but I don't have specifics. When I get ahold of her I will let you know. She had made these bones for her son's birthday party and passed them on to me to use at camp. When the bones are all put together, they make a cute dinosaur. As you can see, I've had these a few years, and yes, they can break.


Our day consisted of first discussing what the earth looked like when the dinosaurs lived. We talked about lots of trees. water, rocks, swamps, and volcanoes. The children drew a picture with crayons, then we used dinosaur stamps and ink to add dinosaurs to the picture. I had different colors, but by the end of the project they were well mixed. I have had the dinosaur stamps for quite a few years, but yes, I did get them at Oriental Trading(I couldn't find jus the stamps, only a kit, sorry).


Another project they could participate in was using brightly colored foam dinosaur stickers on black paper to make a delightful picture. This was on the table for anyone interested. Oriental Trading had some great foam stickers that I used this year, but in previous years I did get them from our local craft store.



After clean up we got together, went outside and had our best part of the day--finding dinosaur bones! The children were all over finding them all. Then we sat down and put the pieces together to create our masterpiece. For some reason when we were done they kept saying,"Now we're rich." Not really sure why, but I guess they thought someone was going to give us money for our accomplishment.


So, that was our week at dinosaur camp. This is always great fun for the kids as they enjoy dinosaurs at this age immensely. Plus, there are so many resources out there for someone putting together this theme. I hope you enjoyed reading about all the great things we've done.


UPDATE: I got some information back from my sister-in law. She is 98% sure that she got the idea from a Family Fun magazine, about 5-6 years ago. All it is is plaster of Paris; get wet sand, "carve" out the shape of the bone, and pour the thick plaster in. The bone is ready to be removed after 20-30 minutes of sitting out in the sun (depending on how "wet" the plaster is when poured). Good luck.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dinosaur Camp-Day 4

I have to apologize right off the bat, I forgot to take my camera with me to school today, so I don't have any pictures from the morning. Sorry about that.

Anyway, today we worked a little bit more on dinosaur names. I think some of the kids have them down much better than I do. Why in the world do they have to be so long?


Today we made sun catchers. I had never done this project before, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I, of course, got the sun catchers and the paint from Oriental Trading(dinosaur sun catchers, were out of stock, I linked to the sun catcher page). The project went extremely well. I had put the paint in cups so that it would be easier for the children to manage, each color got it's own paintbrush so we could "try" to keep the colors from getting mixed. I thought the project would not be able to go home until Friday because of drying time, but they were ready to go today. One word of caution if you ever use sun catcher paint--it starts to dry quickly. I had poured the paint in the cups, got the boys, had our intro, and there was already a skin on top of the paint by the time we started. They really did turn out cute though. I got to take a picture of my son and daughter's projects when we got home.

Our other project they enjoyed today was dinosaur magic color scratch shapes. These are really neat and also from Oriental Trading. They are dinosaur shaped pieces of card stock-like paper, covered with a black coating that the children can scratch off and some bright colors shine through. I had this set out on one of the tables so the boys could do this if they were interested.

The rest of the day ran pretty much the same. I must say I am very impressed with how well the boys are getting along and how well our days are going. One more day left--it's flying by.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dinosaur Camp--Day 3

Well, here we are mid-week. Our third day with a room full of boys in the midst of summer. Of course, it rained early this morning, so playground first thing didn't work out too well. We went to the room with a lot of energy.

Today we went over some more names of dinosaurs and practiced our distinguishing skills for carnivores and herbivores. The boys have gotten pretty good telling the difference.

Our activities today included water play with dinosaur capsules, finishing our dinosaur magnets,
dinosaur sticker scenes, and "hatching" the dinosaur egg in the "volcano.




I had purchased some foam dinosaurs squeezed into little capsules that will dissolve in water. I got these from a local craft store called Michael's. This gave the boys some time to have some water play, and watch their dinosaur "hatch" from it's egg.






Our other project was to finish the wooden dinosaur magnets we painted yesterday. Today we glued a magnet to the back of the dinosaur, glued on a wiggle eye, and decorated the dinosaurs with lots of sparkly decorations. They loved the end result. They're really cute.









On the tables today I had a dinosaur sticker scene which let the children place stickers on a background to make a dinosaur land. These I purchased from, agian, Oriental Trading. I also had some regular coloring papers that were dinosaur themed.



The "big event" for the day was the hatching of the dinosaur egg. Last year my son had gotten a "volcano" that you fill with warm water. Then you place specially made "eggs" in the volcano and the egg will dissolve leaving "dinosaur fossils." We then collect all the pieces and put them together to create a dinosaur. They REALLY ENJOYED this activity. I purchased the egg from our local Target store.






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