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 I love sharing fresh new ideas. Click here for full details.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Someone had the audacity to tell me that July 4th is on Sunday. I thought they were pulling my leg, but guess what? It is on Sunday! Can you believe it? Where did June go?

I thought I would just post some links to some past favorites I had for the 4th of July. I hope you enjoy them: if you haven't seen them before.

Here is a fun rocket that gets a great reaction when it blasts off!

The post Bursting into July 4th has a few fun ideas.

Fabulous Fireworks are included in the post listed above, but they are always a big hit.

Have a Happy 4th!

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Music and Children

As many of you know, music has so many benefits that it is an aspect that should be included in everyone's life. For young children then benefits are just as impressive. Mrs. Laura Yeh is a violin teacher in St. Louis. She talks about how learning music can instill confidence in children. She and her husband also give lessons on a musical instrument called an ocarina. (I am in no way endorsing this product as I don't know much about it.) I have read though that it is an easy instrument to learn. I thought it would be good to share with you some of Mrs. Yeh's insights.

Music Mastery and Confidence
Teaching kids to expect more of themselves

By Laura Yeh

When students master a piece of music that seemed at first impossible, they develop confidence and persistence that can help them in academics and whatever they set out to do.

I have seen this again and again teaching violin at the St. Louis School of Music. Students who apply themselves intelligently, efficiently and persistently end up surpassing their own expectations and achieving their goals.

Sometimes the lessons don’t come easily. I can remember when I was in high school getting frustrated in practice. I would play a section of music 50 times in a row and the next day it would sound as if I’d never practiced it. It seemed as if I’d made no progress. But later, I watched my husband practice violin day after day with seemingly little or no progress and noticed he did not seem to get frustrated. He just kept at it, trying various solutions each day. Over a couple of weeks his progress would become apparent and the end result was always brilliant.

That’s an important lesson of music education. Kids learn not to get impatient or discouraged when they don’t learn something immediately.

One of my students came to me totally lacking in confidence. She had very low expectations of herself. Her previous music teacher had let her develop a lot of bad habits. Over five years we have worked to fix those bad habits.

At first the progress was slow. Often when I corrected something in her playing, it would upset her and she would cry or act silly. Treating her with kid gloves did not seem to help.

Recently I decided to treat her like the other students instead of walking on eggshells around her feelings. If something is not right, I tell her directly without sugar coating my explanations. I raised my expectations for her and made it clear that I was expecting more of her. I saw an immediate improvement, a night-and-day change over a couple of weeks. She is growing more independent in her practice sessions and much more confident in what she can achieve. Rather than feeling hurt by my increasingly blunt corrections, she is pushing herself to achieve more.

Of course, some of this is because she is older and more mature now. But she is also learning what a great feeling it is to tell herself “look what I have accomplished.”

Music is a great way to learn excellence because it contains so many details that have to be exactly right. For some teachers, getting students to play the correct notes is enough. I have found, though, that students gain a lot more confidence when I push them to play with nuance and sensitivity. As I have started being tougher, my students are playing better and are happier for it.

When kids learn something that is too easy, they don’t gain confidence. It is through meeting challenges and mastering problems that they build self-confidence. This is an important lesson for parents who want to motivate their kids to succeed.

With my students, especially as they get older, I expect precision. When I give them feedback, it is honest and sincere. Music is a perfect avenue for teaching young people how to respond positively to constructive criticism. They start to realize that sometimes it takes more than a couple of tries to get something right.

We also teach the ocarina, a palm-sized wind instrument that developed in several ancient cultures. While it is easier to play than violin or piano, it is also good for building confidence, especially in younger children. They too can learn the work ethic of being persistent and not giving up.

With the violin, you could play for years and still sound like a student. With ocarina you can sound pretty good in a short period of time, but it is still not instant gratification. This makes it a good instrument for those students who don’t make music a huge priority yet still want it in their lives. Students who are more into sports or other pursuits can still get the benefits of music education without the large time and financial commitment required by more demanding instruments.

No matter the instrument, learning to play music well builds confidence that can help students in schoolwork and even in their relationships and future careers. Persistence builds the confidence to realize they are much more capable than they think. There’s no better lesson for kids to learn than to know they can rise to a challenge.


About the Author: Laura Yeh is a performer and music educator trained in the Suzuki method of instruction who teaches violin and ocarina at the St. Louis School of Music to children as young as 3 and adults. Laura and her husband Dennis have collaborated with ocarina makers around the world to produce new models of the ocarina, an easy-to-learn wind instrument with ancient roots. They have designed and produced many unique and innovative ocarinas sold by STL Ocarina (

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Guess What I Found?

I know this won't be of interest to everyone, but I have gotten many inquiries as to where I got the Allie the Alligator. I had told people that it was from a scissor skill book I purchased years ago, but I couldn't find it. Well, I just came across it.

The book is from the Let's Learn....Series by the Carson-Dellosa Publishing co. The only think is it is from 1984--yes, it has been that long--so I don't know if it would still be in print. The book is: LET'S LEARN...Scissor Skills--for Pre-K--Grade 1, Ages 3-7. It has a reference number of CD-7025.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Body Belongs to Me

I recently received an email from Jill Starishevsky. Ms. Starishevsky in an Assistant District Attorney in New York. She has recently written a book titled, " My Body Belongs to Me." This book is a very basic book for young children on a subject that many adults or parents have trouble approaching. Her book focuses on child sexual abuse prevention. She gave a wonderful interview on ABC news. I have included the link so that you may watch it:

I thought this may be helpful if there is anyone out there looking for resources on the subject. I personally have not gotten the book yet, but I hope to.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Care Courses Update

As some of you know, I live in Pennsylvania, where every 5 years I am required to do course work to keep my teaching certificate active. Last June I purchased courses from a place called Care Courses, Inc. I had until June 30th of this year to completely get everything done to continue my certificate. Did I make it? Whew, just!

I had a whole year and thought I would be done pretty quickly. I started off well then school started and I forgot to keep up with them. All of a sudden it was the mid March and I still had four courses left. Time to get to work! I finished them by mid of May and sent everything in. They had it all graded within a week. A glitch presented itself when trying to apply them to my certificate, but they persevered and everything was done by the first week of June.

I have to tell you I completely enjoyed doing the courses I purchased through this program. I have been to different seminars and programs over the years, but, when I did these courses I learned something new every time. I thoroughly enjoyed these courses.

And the company itself? I really can't say enough about them. They were extremely helpful and timely during every aspect. When I purchased the materials I received them very quickly. Then when I finished all of them I sent everything back and the grades were back in no time. When I hit a glitch, I was given personal attention by two representatives at the company. They would call or email to keep me abreast of how everything was going and when everything should be completed.

A reader wrote and asked of my opinion of Care Courses. After my experience I have a very high opinion and would always recommend them to others. (No, I am not being compensated for a good review:).

I now have active certification again for another 5 years. Would I go through this company again? Definitely. Also, I would love to share with you some of the things I have learned, but I will have to take some time and go back through them slowly.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

End of the Year Letter

Okay, get your tissues. Here is a beautiful letter my son had in his report card folder when he brought it home. I thought it was beautiful. It is a letter from my son's teachers to the parents:

Dear Parents:

We give you back your child, the same child you confidently entrusted to our care last fall. We give him back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature than he was then.

Although he would have attained his growth in spite of us, it has been our pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

We give him back reluctantly, for having spent nine months together in the narrow confines of a crowded classroom, we have grown close, have become a part of each other, and we shall always retain a little of each other.

We have lived, loved, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. We wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him back we must. Take care of him, for he is precious.

Remember that we shall always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes. His joys and sorrows we will always be happy to share.

Thank you for sharing your most precious gift with us. God Bless!

Mrs. D and Mrs. H

Such a beautiful gift. I thank Mrs. D. and Mrs. H for the wonderful year my son had with both of you.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gift From Teacher

This past week was the last week of kindergarten for my son. I have to tell you our first experience with the Catholic School was wonderful. He had a great year and was so happy. I am so glad I made this decision. (For my new readers, we decided to send the youngest of our five to Catholic School last year. It was a decision that left me sleepless many nights. All of our other children went to public school which went very well. There were some various factors that influenced our decision, but after his successful year, I know we made the right choice.)

My son came home with a very cute end of the year present from his teacher that I just had to share with many of you out there. I thought it was very cute and something that many people might find they would like to do.

He brought home a bag with his name and a star on it. In the bag was: a deck of cards, two Laffy Taffy, a pencil, two dice, and some sidewalk chalk. Along with all the goodies came a letter explaining what each item was for. Here is the letter that was included:

Here is what it says in case you can't read it:

Summer Survival Kit

*A deck of cards: have fun practicing Math!
--practice sorting the cards by suit, color, and number
--put the cards in numerical order(forward+backward)
--play card games like Go Fish and War
--flip the cards and add/subtract them

*A pair of dice: have fun practicing Math!
--roll the dice and add the numbers together
--roll the dice, count the dots, and write the word
--roll the dice, add the dots,and record the results on a tally chart--see what number appears most often

*Sidewalk chalk: have fun Writing!
--practice writing the alphabet, numbers, sight words, and words and sentences on the driveway!

*Pencil: have fun Reading and Writing!
--use the pencil eraser as a your pointer and read, read, read!
--practice writing sight words, sentences and making books
--keep a journal
--write letters to everyone!
especially Mrs. (teacher's name and address)
--practice doing math problems (adding and subtracting)

*Laffy Taffy: have fun and laugh a lot this summer:
--make lots of memories with your family!

*Remember you are a star!
--Shine bright and always be your best!
--Jesus is your friend. He is with you always!
--Jesus loves you and so do I!

(This is a Catholic School, I'm sure you could change the star part a bit.)

I know many teachers have probably already finished up end of the year "gifts," but maybe you might like to keep the idea around for next year.

Happy Summer!

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Week is Now Extinct

Our wonderful busy week has come to an end. We really, really had a great week. It was a nice group of children and we got to have so much fun during our time together.

So how do you culminate a week that has included so much fun? With something really big!! And when I say big, I mean big.
I decided on a new activity that I had never done before. I wasn't sure how it was going to work out, but it got a great reaction. We built a T-Rex out of paper plates. Not little T-Rex's for them to take home, but one big T-Rex to put on display. (Next year I think I'll make him at the beginning of the week so he can stick around.)

This was one of those cooperative projects. (If you have read before, you may remember me talking about a course that stated how beneficial it is to do cooperative activities.) We took LOTS of paper plates. The children set them out and I stapled them together. There was guidance on my part concerning the shape, or our dinosaur would have been a long snake from one end of the room to the other.

After all the plates were stapled together I gave the children squirt bottles filled with liquid watercolor. They squirted the plates to make our T-Rex really colorful. Now here are some wrinkles to work out: some children squirted constantly in the same spot making HUGE puddles; and it took quite a bit of time to dry. All in all the project went smoothly for a "fling thing."

During playtime I also had gotten dinosaur gliders from Oriental Trading that I let them put together.

Our grand finale was to "excavate" dinosaur bones outside and put them together to make a dinosaur skeleton. This excavation is so exciting to the children. I think they think they are building a real dinosaur using real dinosaur bones. (Click here to see where the bones came from).

I thank you for "joining" us on our expedition to prehistoric times this past week. I hope all the children had as much fun as I did. May they all enjoy their summer.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Budding Paleontologists

Today we talked about "that scientist that digs up dinosaur bones." Most of the children already knew that this person is a paleontologist. (I actually think they are smarter than me.) I tried to bring up the fact that actually finding and digging up dinosaurs is not an easy job. I asked the children if they could think of anything that might make the job hard. I got: it's hard to find the bones, you have to be careful so you don't break the bones, it takes a long time to dig them out, digging in rock is hard--okay, now I've got nothin'. Yes, they hit all the points.

My objective today was to give them a feel of how difficult it is to dig out a dinosaur and to let them use tools like paleontologists use. Of course, we didn't have realy paleontologists' tools, but we did use "tools."

The children actually love this activity. If you get a chance you should try it at home. Each child gets a paper cup. Inside the cup I have frozen a small dinosaur figure. They must use the tools to get the dinosaur out of the ice. Their tool--a nancy bottle filled with water, and wooden picks.

Some of the children have all the patience in the world and keep working and working. Others will finish off two of the bottles of water and say, "It's not working." We didn't do it for them though. Each child was able to dig their dinosaur from the "rock" and then take them home. They are all so proud and excited when they complete their task.

Our craft was a dinosaur hat. I cut a shape out of paper, stapled it together, and let them decorate it. They didn't go home today as some were very "heavy" with glue.

I also had dinosaur stamps and ink pads out on the table for the children to do some stamping. Some of them "really" enjoyed this activity. So much so that we were removing dinosaur stamps from faces.

We read a pretty funny story today too. It was called "Dinorella," by Pamela Duncan Edwards . It is based on the story of Cinderella, but uses a dinosaur. Also, just about every other word starts with a "D." You really have to do some good tongue exercises before you read this book. It's funnny--at least the kids thought so. (I had to change one word as I'm sure it would have gotten qutie a reactioan. They use the work "dummy" for the bad guy so we just changed it up a bit."
Tomorrow is the big day. We use our skills to go on a hunt outside for dinosaur bones and see what we can create.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Day of "Eruptions"

Volcano day today, and boy did we have a blast today! (Get it?)

Since the Play-Doh in our dinosaur world was starting to harden, I thought it would be a good day to make the volcanoes in it erupt. At the beginning of the day I brought dino world to our gathering time. I gave each child a dinosaur figure to add to the display. Now it was time for some fun.

In each baby food jar, which represented a volcano, I spooned in some baking soda. I then added a few drops of red food color. Now the fun part--pouring in the vinegar. I did the first volcano for the children so they could see what would happen. Then I gave some other people cups of vinegar to pour in the other volcanoes. The effect never got old. They loved watching that "lava" pour out of the "volcanoes." I actually let them do this all during our free time as there was lots of baking soda in each jar. I never had to replace that. I did, however, have to keep filling cups of vinegar. (My picutres aren't that great, but believe me it is really neat to see.)

The next highlight of the day was milk volcanoes. "Milk?", you say. Yes, milk. This was just a way to be able to blow bubbles in our milk and not not get in trouble. Each child got a half glass of milk which we turned red(pink) with food color. I then gave them a straw and let them blow bubbles and overflow the milk from the glass--thus milk volcanoes.

Our craft project was rather dull compared to these two grand experiences, but they still couldn't wait to take them home. I had them cut out a large brown triangle to represent a volcano. I then let them rip tissue paper and glue it to the top of the volcano to represent lava. Finally, I had some dinosaur stickers that they could stick anywhere they would like. (Another great idea from No Time For Flashcards.)

The children got to take a lot home with them today: their volcano picture, their stegosaurus from yesterday which was dry, ( I would have liked to have more spikes for each dinosaur, but I didn't buy enough clothespins.); the fossils were also dry today so they went home; along with the photo I took of them on Monday.

Only two more days left to this week--way too fast!

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