Tag Archives for activities

Super Letters!

School is officially out now and while Kari has been finishing up the school year with her 3rd graders, I have been settling into a routine with my kiddos and have been working really hard to teach Logan his letters and to test out some fun activities that we want to incorporate into The Garden Preschool. Here are some of the things we’ve found to be successful.

1. superletters2Finding letters everywhere: the weather is getting nicer and as we get out and about it is fun to ask if Logan sees super letters (yes, this is a Super Why show reference…Logan LOVES this show and I really love the way that it teaches all aspects of reading) everywhere we go.
2. superletters1I bought this letter assessment bundle for a few dollars on Teachers Pay Teachers (amazing resource for all things education that others have spent time making (why reinvent the wheel…right?)). It helps me to know which letters we need to focus on when I know which ones he has mastered. I am going to do this once per week through the summer to see the growth.
3. superletters3Best $5 purchase!These foam bath letters from Target are amazing and for some reason everything is more fun in the bathtub (even learning letters!). I usually just play monster gobble ( the monster eats the letters unless L can call out the name in time to save it). He loves making a tower with all of his “saved” letters.

Ok, happy letter-learning!

CU later! 😉

How Do I Love Thee…Let me Count the Ways

Learning to Count
Just as important as learning to recognize the letters of the alphabet is learning the numbers. Preschoolers need to not only understand the concept of counting by pointing and verbally counting up but also must learn the symbols that represent the numbers they are counting. Here is a great link with 5 interactive games for learning the numbers with your preschooler:
http://www.readingconfetti.com/2013/02/5-simple-games-for-teaching-number.html

Let’s get counting!

Come and Read With Us! Wednesday (5/15) at The Village Bean in Country Village

Come and Read With Us!

Wednesday (5/15) at The Village Bean in Country Village

We are beyond thrilled to be able to finally have our first meet and greet session! We are getting things done and the only thing left is for us to get a location. We are hoping to secure a space next month so that we can start setting up and scheduling tours. In the meantime, however we are going to have a fun story time/playdate/meet-and-greet at The Village Bean in Country Village in Bothell THIS coming Wednesday (5/15) at 10:00. Of course we will be promoting the preschool and getting to know interested families, but we would love for you to come out to support our business even if you aren’t in the market for a preschool. We will be reading aloud a few great spring-time stories and passing out a goodie bag (special healthy treats, preschool learning activities to go with stories, and a bookmark) for the kiddos. The Village Bean is great because your little one(s) can play with the fun toys afterward if you want to chat with us or ask questions.

As children’s book hoarders we have thousands of picture books between the two of us that we cannot wait to read to our preschoolers! We both have a passion for literacy and had the hardest time picking just a few books to read aloud. Reading aloud to children is so important as it helps them to learn fluency skills (we pause when there are certain punctuation marks, we read with a tone that matches the story, etc) and also gives you an opportunity to ask beginning comprehension questions (why do you think he did that? How do you think she is feeling?). Here are a few great lists of read-aloud books for preschoolers:

50+ Chapter Books for Preschoolers
50 Must Read Books for Preschoolers

Again, we hope you’ll come out and support us and have a great story time with your kiddos on Wednesday (5/15) at 10:00 at The Village Bean in Bothell.

Garden Letters!

Garden LettersGarden Letters

As I am currently working on teaching my son to recognize his letters while studying the current best practices for preschool literacy, I have found some very useful information that I have been able to “test”. While we have found many things that don’t work (“let’s sit down and do flashcards and workbooks!”), I have also found several activities that have helped him to improve his letter recognition. One of my favorite finds are these great stones that can be used in many hands-on learning games. How about putting them in our fabulous learning garden and doing a scavenger hunt? Another fun and active idea that I tried out yesterday (because we had an 85 degree AMAZING day here in the PNW) was a game of squirt the letters. We are working on the lowercase letters and I wrote a bunch of letters (uppercase and lowercase) on the ground with sidewalk chalk. He held his favorite garden spray bottle and when I called out a letter he had to run to it and squirt it away. It helped me to see which ones he knew and he had a blast! Having fun while learning the letters is key in keeping a preschooler engaged and building a solid conceptual foundation. We can’t wait to use these ideas and more with our kids next year!

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day Craft

Earth Day Craft

It’s Earth Day! A time to take a moment from our busy lives to stop and appreciate and celebrate God’s amazing creation. I wish I could say that I do this every day but between grocery shopping, diaper changes, cooking, cleaning, and general busyness I don’t often take time to stop and look around me at the beautiful world we live in. That whole “stop and smell the roses” idea is wonderful, but it’s difficult to do when you’re juggling a car seat, diaper bag, and totes full of groceries! Which is why I always appreciate Earth Day.

When April 22nd rolls around each year, strangers meet at local parks to pick up garbage, communities join together to plant gardens, and for one day there is a common focus: the Earth. I can’t help but think God smiles at this, as He gifted us with the earth—the plants, animals, oceans—and calls us to take care of it.

With our experience working with kids we’ve found that most LOVE activities that involve nature and the earth, so getting kids excited about Earth Day is fairly easy. In the past we’ve had our classes pick up litter around the school, and the kids were more excited for this than if we’d surprised them with an extra recess! But we’ve wished we could take it a step further and share why it is important to care for and love the earth—that it’s God’s creation! We are so excited to do this at The Garden Preschool. To teach kids about God’s creation, how to honor and care for it, and to celebrate it not just on Earth Day, but every day!

Here are a few things you could do with your kiddos to celebrate Earth Day this year or in years to come:

  • Read the creation story in Genesis with your kids
  • Get out and enjoy God’s creation: go for a hike, a nature walk, or take a picnic to the park and enjoy the beauty around you
  • Make a family resolution to help the earth: Start composing? Make a recycle bin? Have fun with it!
  • Join with other families to clean up your neighborhood or a local park
  • Use earth materials (sticks, rocks, etc.) or recycled goods to create an art project! (Our classes have done this and the kids LOVED it. And their creations were quite impressive!)

Here are a few websites/blogs we found that have other great activity ideas. Happy Earth Day!

http://www.creativefamilyfun.net/2013/04/10-ways-to-celebrate-earth-day.html
http://playfullearning.net/from-the-bin-diy-recycled-vases-flowers/
http://www.housingaforest.com/recycled-crafts-and-activities-for-kids/
http://blog.melissaanddoug.com/2013/04/19/4-ways-to-celebrate-earth-day-with-your-child/

Our craft…we talked about composting and set up our can.  We also made a scrap holder for our birds so that they can have a soft “bed” in their house.

Logan learning about continents and The Earth this morning

Logan learning about continents and The Earth this morning

Composting Can

Composting Can

Scrap Holder for Birds

Scrap Holder for Birds

Lastly, we had our Garden Preschool meeting outside with a picnic lunch today…beautiful!

Kari and Keira at our meeting

Kari and Keira at our meeting

Logan and Dylan at our picnic

Logan and Dylan at our picnic

Sweet (and Healthy!) Treats for Valentine’s Day

VALENTINES-HEART-FRUIT-KABOBSValentine’s Heart Kabobs

Valentine’s Day is today! I have always loved to make festive, fun foods and treats for holidays but have found it difficult to find healthy options, especially for a day like Valentine’s Day (when chocolate, candy, and frosted cookies fill the store shelves and kids’ bellies)!

As an elementary teacher I’ve found it hard to plan class celebrations without bringing in a ton of sugary treats. Kids LOVE decorating cookies and munching on the conversation hearts gifted to them by friends, and that is what they expect at a Valentine’s party. It can be hard to bring in the festive feeling of the holiday while still making health a priority.

Now that my son or daughter will be joining us soon (maybe even on Valentine’s day!) I am thinking ahead to the ways I can make holidays like Valentine’s Day special while still providing healthy, nutritious foods.

So whether you’re a teacher planning a class Valentine’s party or a mom hoping to make some special treats for your family, here are a few ideas I found that I wanted to share with you.

Simple Valentine Breakfast Ideas:

  • Heart Shaped French Toast: cut your bread out with a heart cookie cutter and then proceed with making french toast. Make it with whole wheat bread and add fresh berries with a little powdered sugar for a healthy option!
  • Heart shaped whole wheat pancakes: Use a metal heart cookie cutter and pour pancake batter inside.
  • Toast Made with Love: Cut whole grain toast into a heart with a cookie cutter and spread with red jam.
  • Cupid’s Biscuits: Make biscuits shaped like hearts and serve with eggs

Valentine Snacks and Treats for throughout the day:

  • Cheese and Crackers: Low-fat cheese can be cut using a heart shaped cookie cutter and paired with crackers or fruit. Just 2 ounces of cheese equals one serving of calcium. Use whole wheat crackers for a punch of fiber.
  • Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwiches: These tasty sandwiches can be cut into heart shapes using a cookie cutter. Two tablespoons of cream cheese provide a full serving of calcium and the strawberries are packed with Vitamin C. Your kids will love the heart-shaped surprise when they open their lunch box.
  • Heart Shaped Hard Boiled Eggs: Give this protein-packed snack a loving twist by making the eggs heart shaped! Check out this blog for step by step directions (it’s easy, with no mold needed!)
  • Fruit Heart Kabobs: Use a small heart cookie cutter to cut fruit, and spear with a popsicle stick. Serve with a healthy dip or eat them on your own for a sweet and healthy treat!

And here is a quick and delicious recipe to try:
Love Potion Smoothie
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 small carton of yogurt
1/2 Cup ice cubes
1 cup apple juice
Place strawberries, raspberries and juice in blender. Blend several seconds. If you would like a thicker smoothie add more fruit or for a drinkable smoothie add 1/4 Cup more juice. This is one of those Valentine recipes that can be used year round.

These are just a handful of great, healthy ideas for your family on Valentine’s Day! Enjoy!

It’s February Already?!?!

Valentine’s “crafternoon”

I was walking through Target yesterday picking up a few things for my poor sick little man when I noticed the 10 aisles of red and pink Valentine’s “stuff”. I turned to my husband and said, “I need to get started on L’s class Valentine’s! Only 14 more days to go!” He responded logically, like he always does, “Why? Logan is old enough to make his own Valentine’s this year.”

But, they have to be cute and have a clever pun on them…right?

Last year, I made shovel Valentine’s with the “I Dig You” message and they were really cute. I love being crafty and putting together things like this, but my husband was totally right. Logan can make his own Valentine’s and they will mean a lot more if he does the “work” instead of Mommy handing him a bag to give to his teachers to pass out. I found this idea to have a Valentine’s “crafternoon” and I think this is great! I love the simplicity of it and I love the freedom and exploration that it allows the kids to have in expressing their love for others. I think I am going to cut out some hearts, get some foam and regular stickers, put out the crayons and stamps and let him go to town. After the cards are created we will sit down together and decide what we want to say on our cards. We will talk about why we love other people and put something meaningful to Logan on each one.

I was fully prepared to pump this blog post full of cute Pinterest “punny” Valentine’s but I know that letting him learn and explore will be most meaningful this year!

Happy Crafting!

Resolving to Build Faith Together – A few ideas

Boz the BearBoz the Bear

Could there be any more of a daunting task? Teach my child all of the skills necessary to thrive in the world and then also teach them to have good character and desire to learn about God and how to live a spiritual and meaningful life? Yikes! There are many resources out there that have great ideas for teaching young children about God. I think that the biggest struggle with the toddler and preschool age is that often you sit down to do a devotional, sing, and read the bible and within 10 seconds they are up and making dinner in their play kitchen. You feel like you’ve failed. I felt this way for a long time….we tried to make family devotionals a part of our evening schedule ever since Logan was born.

We started in infancy with us reading while he ate and then playing the LullaBible – My absolute favorite-even still!

Now we have progressed to reading a bible story from the Hands on Bible and doing the activities from it and singing a few songs.

Logan usually lasts about 5-10 minutes now and it is still hard to imagine that we are making any difference. We also watch Veggie Tales and Boz the Bear.

Yesterday in the car we were listening to the Veggie Tales worship cd and he started singing (the right words!!). My husband and I just looked at each other and smiled. He might not be reciting any versus right now, but I know that his character is being shaped by what we are doing and that with God’s help (through lots of parental and family prayer) that good values are being built in our little man’s heart.

Resolving to Spend Quality Family Time

Q is for quality time

We lead such busy lives and I am as guilty as the next Mom of missing out on some of those little moments that present themselves to spend quality time with my son. I often try to catch up on emails and text messages when I get home instead of saving it until after he goes to bed. I have realized that I only get 2 ½ hours with my son each night when we all get home from work. Yikes…that time flies by! And while we can’t add hours to the day, we can be intentional about the time we have with our families and find creative ways to carve out more time to spend with the ones we love.

Here are some quick and mostly low-prep ways to spend quality time with your family.

A few favorites include:

A couple of strategies to create more family time during the week:

  • Make enough dinner for leftovers the next night, or prep meals on the weekend to free up time after work.
  • Limit your screen time – Put down the phones, laptops, tablets, and spend uninterrupted time with family. Emails will still be there for you later.
  • Share jobs and stick to a routine – everything from setting the table, cleaning up, getting PJ’s on, etc., will go faster and smoother if the routine is predictable.
“Because how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

~Annie Dillard