Sunday, April 29, 2012

Inspiring Websites and Blogs

I am teaching a 6-week online course introducing other early childhood professionals about creating basic websites and blogs. Our first week of exploration required my trainees to scour the web for inspiration. Each participant was required to post about 5 websites or blogs that they found inspiring for either their content, layout, or both.

Here is the wonderful compilation of websites and blogs that they provided. (I removed the duplicates)

The Green Fish Chronicles
Counting Coconuts
Chasing Cheerios
Teacher Tom
Tired Need Sleep
Joyful Toddlers
Childcare Info
Playfully Learning

I haven't had an opportunity to check all of these sites/blogs out in detail yet, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see some new to me sites to explore! I hope you find some inspiration as you peruse them!

Do you have a website or a blog of your own or one that you find inspiring? I'd love to hear about it! Please post it in a comment below!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Log Puzzles...aka Cookie Blocks

"If you build this puzzle you would get a log"

"No, it would be a tree!"

Last week was the city's annual spring brush clean up. The perfect time for curbside collectors to stock up on logs, sticks, and branches!!! Driving around, I simply could not resist stopping at a number of piles to investigate.

I found some trimmings from a soft maple tree and brought them up to my parent's house and my dad ran them through his ban saw. I thought about cutting them myself or with the children, but quickly realized that the logs would probably sit for a long time waiting for me to get to my "to do" list. I'm glad that I had that foresight, because the children absolutely love these new "cookies."

We have two boxes filled with various sized wooden cookies. For right now, we have them all inside, the children have been playing with them for hours. They can't quite seem to figure out how to get this crazy puzzle back together....

They sure are fun to build with!
 Do you have any natural cookie blocks?

If you don't have the equipment to make your own,wooden cookies like ours and are in the market for some great natural blocks.....

You might want to check out B&B Blocks. They are a local (U.P. of Michigan) couple of guys who recently started a business making blocks! Their website is brand new and under construction. But, you can find all kinds of information and their products on the B&B Blocks Facebook Page.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pool Noodles and PVC Pipe

We have been having a lot of I'm with our pool noodles.... And not just for rough housing!!!!

Did you know that the noodles fit perfectly with 1/2" PVC pipe??? That are fantastic for adding to our building set ;).

If you missed our rough housing fun, you can check it out here:

For more fun with PVC Pipe Building check out these posts:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taking the "Danger" out of Sticks and Pipes

I love to give children an opportunity to play with a vast array of materials. We have a GIANT pile of sticks in our yard of varying sizes.... and a pvc pipe building set, among other things.  During a number of my training sessions.... I often hear things like.......

"Aren't You Worried They Will Hit Each Other With Them?"

"Oh, I could NEVER use those, my kid would be hitting each other over the head with those!"

"How do you keep them from hitting each other or using them as swords?"

"My kids would be fighting with those, there is NO way I could use those in my classroom."

Seriously folks.... my children are not "angels," they are really not that different from yours. However, what is different is my approach.

IF children are using things in ways that are of concern we have to stop and ask ourselves... WHY? What developmental need are they trying to fulfill that we are not sufficiently meeting? If children are using sticks and large paint brushes as swords and hitting each other, the answer is NOT to take away the learning experiences, but to find safe ways for children to rough house, and remind them of the safe options if/when they choose to use other materials in those situations.

For example. If a child decides to use a giant paint brush as a sword, a gentle reminder -

"I can't let you use this paint brush to 'fight' with your friends, I'm afraid someone would get hurt. BUT, If you both want to sword fight, the pool noodles are over there."

Simple solution, and everyone wins. Pool noodles are made from foam. They are soft, inexpensive and somewhat difficult to control. The children have an opportunity to meet their need for rough housing in a safe and developmental way, and you don't have to be concerned about someone's eyes being poked out with pvc pipe or a stick.

After a little time passes, children will choose safe materials and assess their own risk without you having to jump in. If you provide the proper resources and a safe environment, the "dangerous" toys like giant paint brushes and sticks aren't really all that "dangerous" anymore.

They will even get creative in their play, creating new games and ways to 'fight' like turning pool noodles into dinosaur tails and hitting each other with them by wiggling their behind!

How are you supporting children's developmental need for rough housing?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Wired, Fired, and Freakin' Inspired!"

It was fantastic to meet Jeff A Johnson of Explorations Early Learning!
My head is spinning from all of the recent inspiration! To steal a quote from my great friend and fellow presenter, Nancy Blackwell from Longevity of Success... "I am wired, fired, and freakin' inspired!"

I have so many wonderful new things to share with you.... but tonight I just have time to share a few photos and videos.... So, bear with me as I work to catch my breath, regroup and regain a "normal" life pace!
Rusty Keeler from the Earthplay Network is also a GREAT source of inspiration!
This past Friday and Saturday was the Upper Peninsula Early Childhood Conference, and I had an amazing opportunity to meet some folks who have been a HUGE amount of inspiration to me in my life journey as an early childhood educator and professional.
Deborah McNelis of Brain Insights was also presenting at our conference!
She had an amazing session on brain development!

Here are a few short video clips from the Family Fun Night we hosted with Jeff A Johnson of Explorations Early Learning as part of our 2012 Conference:

There are a ton of other photos and videos on the conference's Facebook page! If you are interested in joining us next year... save the dates! April 19-20, 2013 at Bay College in Escanaba, Michigan! Visit for updates.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Creative Challenge: Egg Cartons

Today, we are participating in the Creative Challenge hosted by Tinkerlab.

(If you remember, we've done this before with paper bags,  magazines and cardboard boxes.)


This month's item to explore is Egg Cartons!

To be perfectly honest, we have been super busy around here....
and I don't have any good pictures from our planting adventures this year....
but our favorite thing to do with egg cartons
 is to use them as planters for our spring plants!

Planting grass in a row from an egg carton looks an awful lot like a caterpillar! 
It is also great fun and practice to trim the grass with scissors!
Cut your carton into sections, add dirt, seeds, and water.
Place somewhere safe. Water regularly....
and in a few days... your caterpillar will start to grow!

You can decorate your caterpillars if you like, but we kept ours simple!

Wondering what else to do with your egg cartons?

All of these other sites are participating in the challenge! Hop on over and check them out!

Tinker LabChild Central Station Red Ted ArtSun Hats & Wellie BootsTeach PreschoolThe Chocolate Muffin Tree The Educators’ Spin On It The Golden GleamGlittering MuffinsInspiration LaboratoriesKitchen Counter ChroniclesLiving At The Whiteheads ZooMake, Do & FriendMama Mia’sheart2heartNurtureStorePlayDrMomRainy Day Mum,  The Imagination TreeToddler ApprovedReading ConfettiKindergarten & Preschool for Parents & TeachersRainbowsWithinReachMommy Labs,  Green Owl ArtReusecraftsThe Outlaw Mom BlogHappyLittleMessesExperimenting-MomDuck Duck OctopusPaintCutPasteTrain Up a ChildGrowing A Jeweled Rose Coffee Cups and CrayonsReady. Set. Read!Scribble Doodle and DrawCarrots Are OrangeJDaniel4′s MomQuirky MommaA Mom With A Lesson PlanGood Long RoadTwo2Read

Visit  Tinker Lab for a Great Linky with all sorts of other ideas too, 
you can even link up your ideas there!
 (I had it posted here, but I'm having technical difficulties making it work right!)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Earth Day Blog Hop- Recycle!

Earth Day is just around the corner! 
I'm super excited to be participating in this wonderful collaborative effort 
on Earth Day books and activities today! Please make sure to hop on over and
check out all of the great books and activities being shared!

The book I am choosing to share is called, Why Should I Recycle?
This book is a wonderful way to get children thinking about social responsibility 
through  reusing and recycling! The book is a little long, 
but with creative reading and storytelling, 
you can shorten the story for younger listeners :).

We recycle A LOT! 
Today, I'm also recycling posts... 
Here are a few of our favorite activities where we 
"reused" "recycled" or "upcycled" 

I could go on and on and on.....

We re-purpose A LOT! If you are interested in more, feel free to check the archives!

There are a lot of  Earth Day books along with fantastic ideas being shared by some other bloggers today! Stop by and bookmark or even go ahead and pin them all :).

  Teach Preschool : Child Central Station : Living Montessori Now : Aunt Annie's Childcare : The SEEDS Network : Flights of Whimsy : Pre-K Pages : Kreative Resources : I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here! : Share & Remember : Music Sparks : little illuminations : Greening Sam and Avery : Putti Prapancha : Early Play : 52 Days to Explore : Little Running Teacher : Look at My Happy Rainbow : Rainbows within Reach

Do you have a great Earth Day book or activity to share? We'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment or link up below!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Life is GREAT, but life is busy! I hope to be back
with some new faces in a couple of weeks!

I spent last week in Grand Rapids at the MiAEYC Conference. 
I have so many great new ideas and things to share! 

Yesterday, I was awarded as the Outstanding Graduate Student in Psychology at NMU....

and the UP Early Childhood Conference is less than 2 weeks away!

We are upgrading our business from a family home to a group home and I'm hiring/training new staff.

I'm busy.

Life is GREAT!

I'll be back to blogging as soon as I can.

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...