Thursday, January 27, 2011

Out Sick.... Again, Still... Take Your Pick

Well, just when we thought things were turning around.... we've got another/reoccurring bug in the house. I haven't had much time to blog, as I'm the healthy one trying to be more than one person right now. I hope to have my What Would You Do With It Wednesday (on Thursday) post up in the morning. I'm too beat right now to finish it. Hoping that we will all be up and running at full speed again soon so I can get back to normal with the posts!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blog Awards!

I'm a bit behind in checking back on comments and blog reading in general. Honestly, there just are not enough hours in the day! While I was on vacation, Deborah from Teach Preschool awarded me a Versatile Blogger Award, then last week, Michelle Willow over at This and that About Kids graciously awarded me with a Stylish Blogger Award.

Thank you Deborah! If you have not been over to Deborah's blog, it is a must read! Also, she does an amazing job of finding ideas from all around the web and shares them on Facebook and Twitter. Hop on over and check it out!

Thank you Michelle! If you have not been over to see this great blog, you need to take a moment to check it out. Michelle lives in Croatia and she has some amazing ideas!

Now, to follow the rules for acceptance:

1) Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.

2) Share 7 things about yourself

3) Award 15 recently discovered great blogs/bloggers (The Versatile Blogger guideline was different the first time I received it so feel free to choose 10 or 15)

4) Contact the bloggers to tell them about the award

I have shared 7 things previously when I received a different blog award from Abbie at Greening Sam and Avery in this post. To avoid redundancy, I am choosing to share 7 different things here.

1) I am the oldest of 5 children

2) I met my husband when I was an exchange student in Denmark

3) I love to travel

4) I typically sleep about 6 hours a night, but often take an afternoon nap

5) I am a volunteer board member for the Upper Peninsula Early Childhood Conference Committee. Our annual conference is coming up in April, you can find details here.

6) I enjoy arts and craft projects.

7) I don't think that I could ever live somewhere away from a large body of water.

And now, to pass these blog awards along... (This is by far the most difficult part of all... narrowing it down to 30 blogs!) I have decided to take the term "recent" out of the equation, although it is a relative term. I have also determined that I would not award this any blog I have previously awarded. (You can see my previous blog award post here, and find another list of 15 blogs). As a recipient, feel free to choose which award you prefer :) Here they are in no particular order:

1) Greening Sam and Avery
2) Little Illuminations
3) All Things Beautiful
4) The Magic Onions
5) Chasing the Seasons
6) Kindling
7) Little Preschool on the Prairie
8) Earthplay
9) Worms Eye-View
10) Harrigan Howdy
11) Mini-Eco
12) The Amazing Mess
13) Little Learners Lounge
14) Getting Messy with Ms. Jessi
15) Chasing Cheerios
16) Two Chicks and a Hen
17) I can teach my child!
18) Kozy Kids Family Daycare
19) Joyful Learner
20) Look at my happy rainbow!
21) The Imagination Tree
22) No Time for Flashcards
23) Tired, Need Sleep
24) Journey Into Unschooling
25) Time for Play
26) Sofia's Ideas
27) Meet the Dubiens
28) Confessions of a Homeschooler
29) Rockabye Butterfly
30) Views from My Window

Also, if you notice, I follow nearly 200 blogs now! I know I don't have an opportunity to read them all every day. I try to peruse the updates and when I find myself with "spare" time I catch up on some reading. I wouldn't follow a blog if I didn't find it valuable in some way, so if you are looking for some more GREAT reads, check out the list on the right! (It only shows 10 of the most recently posted blogs unless you click at the bottom of the list where you will be able to view all!)

Now, to find/make the time to let you all know I passed these awards along........

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Would You Do With It Wednesday (On Thursday)

First, I want to apologize for the tardiness of my post. We've been sick. I'm not going to get into long details, but alas.... Here is the first New Edition of....

I had really hoped to go through the thousands of photos I have and find some great ones of the children using berry baskets, but with all of the illness around here it just didn't happen.

We like to use them to make art prints. You simply dip the basket in paint or roll the paint onto the basket and press to print. The children here really like to use the mini paint rollers so the second option tends to be more popular.

The other way in which we really love to use berry baskets is to use them as bubble blowers! I have seen some folks cut their baskets into pieces and put them on sticks to use. We like to just dip the whole basket in bubbles and hold them up into the wind!

Here are a few ideas I found around the web that you know we will be trying!

This first photo comes from Fun In the Making and is a cute little bird nester. You can find all of the details by clicking on the photo above.

This next idea come from Crayola. I love how colorful these are! I would imagine that the baskets become much stronger with this time of reinforcement! Who wouldn't want to put things away when they had great baskets like this to put things in? Click on the photo for complete details!

Don't you just LOVE this snowflake? I found this via Teach Preschool on Facebook from Alphamom. Again, click on the photo for a direct link to the instructions.

Do you have a great idea or post that you can share using plastic berry baskets? If so, please join in linking up!

Here are the rules:

1) The post MUST use a berry basket

2) The post MUST be family friendly.

There are no other requirements. If you would like, I would love if you linked back to his linky party, but it is not required. I would hope that you will investigate the links shared and visit some of the other blogs, but I'm not imposing any "blog hop/linky" rules. Please, if you do find great ideas and photos... Give credit where credit is due :).

If you have been featured and feel inclined, my featured button is available to grab from the sidebar.

Next week, I will feature my favorite link up and I'll be posting about glass baby food jars! Hopefully, I'll be on time!

Now it's your turn:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Out Sick......

We've been hit with upper respiratory infections and/or strep throat. Fortunately not all at once. The daycare has been able to remain open. However, I'm focusing on recuperating. Fear not, we will be back in full force once we've kicked this bug!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Water and Ice

Do you remember last week when we painted the snow with our giant paint brushes? There was a considerable amount of "paint" left over, and instead of bringing it inside we opted to leave it out to see what would happen to it.

Overnight, it froze.... and then snow started to collect over the top. Today, we decided to bring one the paint containers inside and experiment with the frozen "paint" in our sensory table. The paint itself is just water mixed with a package of powdered Kool-Aid. (the kind you need to add sugar to without the sugar added.)

I prepared the table with small containers of water of varying temperatures and a few spray bottles of water as well. The children were also given pipettes and turkey basters.

Through their scientific explorations, they quickly found that the warm water worked better to melt the ice than the cold water. They were also surprised to find that the water collecting in the bottom of the table was really cold!

Concentrated sprays in the same spot started to make "caves" holes in the ice. "Do you think we can make a cave all the way through?"

"Brrr! That's COLD on my fingers!"

It took a good half hour or so before the children decided that they could pour cups of water over the ice.

The children spent a long time working with our frozen paint and water. Here are a few things that they discovered in their explorations:
*Warm/hot water makes bigger caves (holes)
*It isn't easy to make a hole all the way through the ice, but it can be done
*When you put hot (warm) water on the top, it is cold after it touches the ice
*If we all work together in the same spot, we get a bigger cave
*Hot water just works better
*Your hands turn red from the paint. (Shaving cream works really well to help remove the Kool-Aid "stain")
*Ice is really cold
*Ice will float if there is enough water in the table
*The ice disappeared (melted) when we just left it in the table (When asked why- because it is warm inside)
We decided that next time we could:
*Try plain ice and colored water
*Have big and little pieces of ice
*Have more than one block of ice
I personally think it would be fun to add some thermometers to the table. My older children could compare the temperature before the water poured on the ice to the temperature after.
I also think it would be fun to freeze some other substance than colored water, perhaps jello?
Do you have any other thoughts, suggestions?
(On a side note, we managed this activity during a "whisper day" as I didn't have much of a voice. I continue to be amazed at how little I am really needed, and how well the children continue to do when you just step back an observe.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Re-introducing..... What Would You Do With It? Wednesdays.

I'd like to re-introduce you to.... What Would You Do With It? Wednesdays! I admit, I have not been very diligent in keeping up with posting this Wednesday Blog Hop. I have oodles of ideas and have been finding amazing inspiration across the web! So, the new trend in my Wednesday posts will be to feature 5 ideas I have either tried for found. Additionally, each week I will feature my favorite link up from the previous week. (I'm working on a couple of new buttons for all of you who like to add the featured flair to your blog :).

There are new items added to the list, and we will re-visit some of the items that have previously been featured.

There is no link up this week, as I will be working to get the new format and buttons up and running for next week!

Here is a list of upcoming featured items:

1. Plastic Berry Baskets - January 19, 2011
2. Glass Baby Food Jars - January 26, 2011
3. Plastic Baby Food Containers - February 2, 2011
4. Tissue Boxes - February 9, 2011
5. Crystal Light Containers - February 16, 2011
6. Laundry Detergent Containers - February 23, 2011
7. Pizza Boxes - March 2, 2011
8. Glass Jelly Jars - March 9, 2011
9. Wine Corks - March 16, 2011
10. Pringles, Oatmeal,.... (or other cylindrical containers) - March 23, 2011
11. Metal Coffee Cans - March 30, 2011
12. Plastic Coffee Cans - April 6, 2011
13. Yogurt Containers - April 13, 2011
14. Playdough Containers and Lids - April 20, 2011
15. Plastic Easter Eggs - April 27, 2011
16. Aluminum Cans (from Beverages) - May 4, 2011
17. Water Bottles - May 11, 2011
18. Magazines - May 18, 2011
19. Milk Jugs - May 25, 2011
20. Markers (That no longer work) - June 1, 2011
21. Paper Towel or Toilet Paper Tubes - June 8, 2011
22. Tires - June 15, 2011
23. Plastic Caps/Lids - June 22, 2011
24. Egg Cartons - June 29, 2011
25. Laundry Detergent Lids - July 6, 2011
26. Spice Bottles/Jars - July 13, 2011
27. Cereal Boxes - July 20, 2011
28. Newspapers/Advertisements - July 27, 2011
29. Metal Juice Can Lids - August 3, 2011
30. Metal Cans (Frodm Canned Foods) - August 10, 2011
31. Parmesan Cheese Containers (The larger clear kind...) - August 17, 2011
32. Plastic Shopping Bags - August 24, 2011
33. Packing Peanuts - August 31, 2011
34. Bubble Wrap - September 7, 2011
35. Dish Soap Containers - September 14, 2011
36. Juice/Milk Cartons - September 21, 2011
37. Deli Food Containers - September 28, 2011
38. Shipping Pallets - October 5, 2011
39. Popsicle Sticks - October 12, 2011
40. Plastic Push Up Sticks - October 19, 2011
41. Straws - October 26, 2011
42. Peanut Butter Jars - November 2, 2011
43. Metal Clothesracks - November 9, 2011
44. Metal Clotheshangers - November 16, 2011
45. Thread Spools - November 23, 2011
46. Ribbon Spools - November 30. 2011
46. Broken Crayons - December 7, 2011
47. Larger Tubes from Rolls of Paper, Carpet, etc. - December 14, 2011
48. Produce Netting - December 21, 2011
49. CDs or DVDs - December 28, 2011

...... And I'm sure I'll think of more! If you have a great idea for an item to re-purpose that you would like to see added to this list, send it to me! I will continue to update the list. (I'm sure all it will take is a quick walk around the house to come up with other ideas!)

So... stop on back next week for the new and improved blog hop!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jump Into the Swimming Pool this Winter!

Who said outdoor swimming pools were just for use in the summer time? I know that up until this year, we only used our pool outside in the summer.

After a great workshop from Dan Hodgins, I learned that you can use swimming pools outside in the winter too:

They make great winter sleds!

Their size gives children a great opportunity to work together.

We are still in the "testing" phase with this wonderful idea! So far, we have learned that the pools work best when the trail is made from really compact snow. The pool does not slide as fast as some of our other sleds.

Our "butt" slide is much steeper than the hill we sled on at the park, and the pool works much better on the "butt" slide.

Have you ever used a pool as a sled? If so, we'd love to hear your recommendations as we continue to test and perfect our pool sledding technique :).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowball Painting

This week, we have been trying to add some color to our outdoor winter wonderland. First we spray painted the snow, and then we painted the snow with giant paint brushes. Today, instead of just painting the snow, we are painting with the snow!

Everyone who lives in a climate where winter snow is the norm knows that there are all kinds and variations of snow. Some snow is powdery, some is super sticky, etc. The best kind of snow for this project is sticky, wet, snow. I've been itching to try this, and considering that we didn't have "the right kind" of snow and that the temperatures are too cold to hope for sticky snow in the near future, we brought this activity inside!

We collected some snow and put it into our sensory table. The indoor heat turned the fluffy powdery snow sticky rather quickly! Then we used our spray bottles filled with colored water (food coloring and water) to paint the snow in the table. I provided the children with the primary colors and they sprayed them together to make the secondary ones.

I prepared the floor area with a vinyl table cloth to serve as a tarp to catch our snowballs, and we opted to use freezer paper. This was a GREAT idea. The paper becomes quite wet, and I'm afraid that if you try to use regular paper, your creations will end up as mush!

You could use an easel, we opted to use our patio door. (This made for easier clean up, as I could brush all of the snow right out the door when we were done).

After you have prepared your area, you need to paint the snow! Spray it well- add lots of color and get it good and wet! Have I mentioned how much I love using spray bottles with the children?

Then gently form it into a ball (or just grab a handful of slush!)

Toss it at the paper, and instant snowball painting! How do you know when it is done? Well, in some cases, I would assume that some children would tell you that it is done. In our case, the paper was so covered in dripping colored water from the melted snow that they fell off the door! We then of course replaced it with more paper. This continued for quite some time.

You can provide mittens or gloves for the children to use if they choose, but most of them really enjoy having the opportunity to do this activity with their bare hands.

The colors aren't super vibrant this time. We are going to try this again outside when we have the right snow. Rather than using an abundance of food coloring, we are going to try Kool-Aid, Paint, and the Solution from the markers that don't work. I'll report back with our findings when we determine the best coloring option for a great product that matches a super fun process!

Here's to more sticky snow in the near future so that we can continue to explore!

This post was linked up over at:
PreK + K Sharing

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Giant Snow Painting!

Yesterday, we spray painted our snowy white outdoor canvas. Today, we decided to go BIG, and to continue to add some color to our world of white....

Again, like yesterday, we opted to use Kool-Aid to color some water. Today, we put the powder into buckets and pitchers with water.

For our paint brushes, we took our handy dandy pvc pipe set and made some giant ones! Some of them have sponge pieces on the ends (We took apart our water bombs from this summer and attached them to the end of the pvc pipe with pipe cleaners and packaging tape.) We also made some brushes with the pieces of a new clean mop head. We used the same technique to attach them to the pvc pipe. Like Dan Hodgins notes, when it comes to paint brushes- the bigger the better!

Then, out into our winter wonderland....

This painting was a lot of fun. It did not hold the children's attention as long as the spray bottles did. There is something magical about squeezing those that keeps little ones entertained for hours! We went through about half of our paint. (The rest of it is left outside- hopefully we will find some fun frozen chunks of ice tomorrow!)
This post was linked up at:
PreK + K Sharing

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Snow Spray Paint

We're back in Michigan! I had expected to come home to piles and piles of snow, but warm temperatures and rain has melted some of our snow. Don't get me wrong, there is still a layer of white stuff out there, but not the heaps and mounds that I'm sure we will be seeing in the months to come.

I have all of these great outdoor projects and I was eager to get to work... but it appears that they will have to wait for fresh snow! So, today, we opted to use the crusted snow as a canvas!

A pile of spray bottles....
a stack of powdered Kool-Aid...
excited children......
and.... a layer of crusted snow (the perfect canvas!)
We added some color to the yard and enjoyed the "yummy" scents. "This orange smells like orange!"
Instant outdoor art!
Teacher Tom, those letters keep showing up here too! "X" marks the spot! I wonder what buried treasure lies below?
It is a good thing we buy powdered Kool-Aid in bulk, considering we don't actually drink it, we sure do find all kinds of great uses for it! In this instance, we added one package of Kool-Aid to each bottle of water. You could also do this with food coloring or even jello! (Although the powdered jello ends up being quite sticky!)

If you don't live in a climate where you have the opportunity to play in the snow, this painting works great on piles of shaving cream too! Perhaps you could use a white sheet to spray on, I'm sure there are other ways to incorporate spray painting into your play!

The spray bottles are great for children to work on building their fine motor skills. The same muscles they are strengthening while participating in this activity will help them to be able to cut and write! We love to use spray bottles to paint with, to have water fights, and to use in our dramatic play when we have a hair salon or when we are cleaning! They are definitely one of my favorite "must haves" in my classroom!

This post is linked up at:

PreK + K Sharing

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...