Mom and Tot/Preschool Post-Office Theme

On Monday, we had our class that revolved around the Post Office and writing letters. I combined the Post Office theme with beginning letter sounds and sight words.

First we skimmed through a book about the Post Office (you can see my list here).  We also sang a couple of songs and then moved on to the learning centers. I, again, made a passport so parents and kids can remember what we did and make sure that they don’t miss a center.

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Our Passport

Our Passport

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Fun in the Snow!!

"I don't know why school was canceled, the roads don't seem that bad!"

Catching snowflakes!

Last night we were lucky enough to have a wonderfully beautiful winter storm which lead to my husband having a snow day today!! I love these extra days that we get to spend together!  We decided to make the most of it….

My Dad picked this up for us awhile back and we have just been waiting for our chance to use it!

My Dad picked this kit up for us a while back and we have been waiting for our chance to use it!  It says all you need is snow and we had plenty of wet, heavy, packing snow!  The kit includes a hat, scarf, buttons, and “coal” for the eyes and mouth.  I usually would prefer the old-fashioned way of doing things, but this really was easier than searching for an extra scarf and rocks for the face!  Also, it was $6.99 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (where you can use a coupon) and it can be used over and over again.  It enabled us to just get bundled up and go play!

So we got started rolling...and rolling..and rolling..

So we got started rolling…and rolling..and rolling..At this point, I had to put down my camera and pitch in.  We made three gigantic snowballs.  

Soon we had a snowman that was over six feet tall!!

Soon we had a snowman that was over six feet tall!!

Our snowman was so perfect! He looked like he had just come out of a book!  The kids were proud of their hard work and so what their Daddy!

Our snowman was so perfect! He looked like he had just come out of a book! The kids were proud of their hard work and so was their Daddy!

We went inside after all of our hard work for a well-deserved lunch and some tea.  We were having a great time, unfortunately, our snowman was not. Looking out of the window, mid-lunch, we saw this..

Oops! Our snowman may have been a bit too top heavy.  Oh well, we all had a great time playing in the snow together anyway!

Oops! Our snowman may have been a bit too top-heavy. Oh well, we all had a great time playing in the snow together anyway!

Random Awesomely Fun Night

While my husband was out for the night, my kids and I were left to our own devices to entertain ourselves.  After waking from their naps, we found our gigantic packages of paper products that we just bought from a warehouse store.  We had an idea, we could build towers with them! What came from this thought was hours of entertainment that night and the next morning….

I had no idea that we were going to extend this activity to the level that we did, so I didn’t start taking pictures until later.  First we built castles and towers, of course.  We also set up the paper towels and bowled and put all of the products together and swam in them.  We also built a fort…

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Post Office Themed Books

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Tomorrow we are having a class revolving around the Post Office!  I am, of course, going to have several books to read and have available for parents and children to check out.

The book that I am going to read, for the most part, is entitled “What’s it like to be a Postal Worker” by Morgan Matthews.

Our class is filled with very young kids, so I do not think that I am going to be able to get through the entire book.  It is a very detailed account to what happens to a letter when you mail it.  Throughout the book, there are several labeled illustrations that exposes kids to new vocabulary.  For example, in the illustration of the counter, at the post office, the postal meter, rubber stamp, tape dispenser, and computer postal scale are all labeled.  The book teaches you who the people are that help your letter arrive at the right location.  It also teaches the different details that you need to include on your letter in order to mail something such as a stamp, all of the components of your address, and your return address.  The book gets into details of “first-class” and special deliveries and the different modes of transportation to send your letter wherever in the world you want it to go.  I recommend this book to preschoolers and lower elementary age children to teach them how the United Postal Service works!

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Here are a few more books that I am going to have on hand….

Post Office Themed Books

“Letter Carriers” By Alice K. Flanagan

“Mail Carriers” By Dee Ready

“The U.S. Mail” By Elaine A. Kule (This is a great book for learning about the history of postal service, with photographs)

“Out and About at the Post Office” By Kitty Shea

“To the Post Office with Mama” By Sue Farrell

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Books On Writing Letters

“Sincerely Yours” Writing Your Own Letter By Nancy Loewen

“Messages In The Mailbox” How to Write a Letter By Loreen Leedy

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Homemade Bookends

In one of my grad classes, my professor told us about how she feels it is important to have a set of hardcover books or special books that are kept in a special place that kids are not able to reach.  I thought that it was a bit weird at the time, because I thought that it was important to have all books where kids can grab and explore them at any time.  However, after having kids, I agree with my professor.

Here are my reasons for wanting to keep a set of books away from the reach of my kids:

  • I am devastated every time I find a ripped or misplaced book cover.  Kids at my kids age, two and three, have a hard time truly treating hard cover books the way that they deserve to be treated
  • It adds a sense of mystery to the books.  It makes them more special and adds a sense of respect to them.
  • It helps kids to judge books.  It helps them to know some are worth more than others

With all this being said, I decided on a spot in my daughter room where the “special books can be stored where she won’t be able to reach them, but she will be able to see them.  I was going to put them on the top of her dresser.  The only thing that I needed was book-ends to help them stand up.  We got right to work….

I found several different book-ends that were more expensive than what I wanted to pay.  I also want my daughter to have a sense of ownership in what she has in her room.  So we headed over to Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I found these little wooden birdhouses that were one buck each!!

I bought two of them.  I knew that the birdhouses were not going to be heavy enough, so I found some small rocks that would fit in the hole of the birdhouse at the dollar store. Here is what we did…

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President’s Day with Preschoolers!

We were invited to a play-date with two other kids just about the same ages as mine (two and three).  I wanted to think of something that we could do that would be fun, crafty, and have a President’s Day Theme.  We had four kids altogether so combining that fact with the theme of presidents, I knew that I wanted to do something with Mount Rushmore.  I figured out that we could make our own Mount Rushmore with masks! Yeah!  Here is what we did….

I needed 4 paper plates, four popsicle sticks, glue, a book about Presidents, and construction paper to cut out the facial features

I needed 4 paper plates, four popsicle sticks, glue, a book about Presidents, cotton balls, and construction paper to cut out the facial features

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I cut out the middle of the plates and attached a stick to each one.

After finding pictures of the  different presidents, I started to cut-out the different facial features to add to the masks.  Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt anyone??

After finding pictures of the different presidents, I started to cut-out the different facial features to add to the masks. Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt anyone??

The four Presidents before the glue and cotton balls.  Yes, I had trouble making Thomas Jefferson, but that is ok, it still worked.

The four Presidents before the glue and cotton balls. Yes, I had trouble making Thomas Jefferson, but that is ok, it still worked.

All packed up and ready for our play-date!!

All packed up and ready for our play-date!!

When we started our activity, I read my copy of “So You Want to Be President?” By Judith St. George. In case you are unfamiliar with this book, it is a book about different facts about past presidents and the requirements of becoming a President of the United States in the future.  I think that the book is perfect as a whole for upper elementary-age students, however, younger children can enjoy parts of it.  I put sticky notes on all of the pages featuring the presidents from Mount Rushmore, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson.  I also included the page on the pets that have lived in the White House and the beginning and end of the book.  When I read the book the older two kids seemed really interested, the one and two year-olds, not so much.  After reading the sticky-note sections, we looked at a picture of Mount Rushmore on the internet.

Then we picked which kid was going to create which president’s mask.  We decided that the tallest person would Abraham Lincoln and then just randomly choose the others.  Then we got to work…

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Teddy!

Teddy Roosevelt!

The finished masks.  They looked so cute!

The finished masks. They looked so cute!

The real Mount Rushmore

The real Mount Rushmore

Our Mount Rushmore!

Our Mount Rushmore! (Apparently, George Washington doesn’t like to get his picture taken.)

Overall, I thought that the project went really well!  The kids learned about Mount Rushmore (Field Trip!), what it takes to become President of the United States, different facts about past President’s, and familiarized themselves with the names of four of them.  I think that it pretty good for four kids under four! Enjoy!

Book Recommendation: “A House is a House for Me” By Mary Ann Hoberman Illustrated By Betty Fraser

a house is a house for me pic

A while back I signed my kids up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Station (see below) and it is AWESOME! Every month, each child receives a free book in the mail. I highly recommend that you look into signing your children up for this program!  Most of the books are books that I have never heard of, which is great.  A couple months ago, we received “A House is a House for Me” By Mary Ann Hoberman and I was pleasantly surprised.  I know that you aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I did.  The book looked out of date and had pictures of clowns on the cover (not ok with me).  I found out that the book was published in 1978, which would explain the illustrations, not the clowns.

Upon opening the book, however, I grew to really appreciate and love the charm of the text and illustrations.  The cover page has the title drawn completely out of different houses that are listed later in the text, such as shoes for our feet.

Quickly after starting to read the book, I found that I enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme of the text.  My kids love it too.  The book plays on the idea of different “houses” for different creatures and so much more.  Here is an example:

“A book is a house for a story. A rose is a house for a smell. My head is a house for a secret.  A secret I never will tell. “

Although the book is fun to read, there is also the idea that we all have our own individual homes and all of our homes are on Earth.  “A House is a House for Me” is a great way to introduce vocabulary that your child may not be familiar with such as sty, fold, hutches, and hangar.  There are also several Native American tribes mentioned in the book and their different “houses.”

Overall, I was really surprised how much my children and I enjoyed this book!  I am sure that we will enjoy it for quite awhile! Enjoy!

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The first page of the book.

More about “A House is a House for Me:

  • Here is link to the website
  • It is a National Book Award Winner
  • Scholastic rates the interest level at grades 3-5, but I think that children younger than this would really enjoy this book!  (My kids did and they are 1 and 3 years old)

imagination library

Here is some information on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Station:

  • Dolly Parton started the Library in 1996.  At the time of this post, just about 667,000 children are registered!
  • Every month, a child in the program receives an age-appropriate book
  • Children under the age of 5 qualify
  • From what I understand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library works with local organizations to get to books to you and your family for free.  Local organization accepts donations and is listed on every address label.
  • Here is the website with more information.  You can register your child(ren) for the program or donate to the cause.

Preschool Theme: Valentine’s Day

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Today we had such a great time with our Valentine’s Day theme!  I packed just about as much as I could into our hour and a half.

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One half of the centers

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The other half of the centers

First, we started out with our book of the day.  I read, “I Love You Through and Through” By Bernadette Rossetti Shustak (See my review here).  The kids really enjoyed this book!

After reading the book, we did our gross-motor activity.  I wrote different tasks on a bunch of different hearts.  I wrote things such as “waddle like a penguin” and “walk backwards.”  I laminated the hearts so they could be reused. I placed the hearts in a circle on the floor.  The kids walked in a circle, stepping on hearts, while I played music.  When I stopped the music, the kids stopped, picked up the heart that they landed on, and acted out whatever it said.  The kids really seemed to enjoy it, however, it did get a bit confusing when trying to get all of the little ones to walk around the circle (I was too wrapped up in this to get a picture-sorry!!!).

A Few Notes:

  • I laminated the hearts, which was good and bad.  They will last longer after being stepped on, but they were a bit slippery and when we played this later in bare feet, the hearts stuck to us.
  • I took this one home and we played it with our family, four people, and it was so much fun!  My husband and I participated and our kids loved it!  My daughter loved watching her dad “dance like a ballerina.”
  • This activity could easily be adjusted to other themes.  The hearts could be different shapes, the tasks could be reading a sight word or making an animals noise.

Centers:

I made another passport for this class.  It was really useful for parents this time and I also found it useful in my planning.  I made the passport before preparing everything and then I referred to it as I went along to make sure I didn’t forget anything.  Here are the centers that I offered:

  • Complete the Pattern.  I found an awesome packet here.  The blog is called Over the Big Moon and it is so awesome!  A lot of the different printables I used today, I printed from this site.
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I laminated the “What Comes Next?” sheet and had clothespins available for kids to pin the next object in the pattern

  • Make a Necklace (Fine-Motor/Pre-Writing Skills). I cut out a ton of hearts and hole-punched them.  I also cut some string.  The kids had to put the string through the hole in the hearts and create a necklace.  The kids really liked this one and most of the necklaces were given their mothers-Awww!

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  • Matching The Upper and Lower Case hearts together-For this center, I printed off all 26 upper and lower case letters (and laminated them) and the kids had to match them together.  I found that this was a bit much.  There were a ton of letters.  I suggested that the parents find a couple matches and play memory and try to find the pairs.

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  • Worksheet Station. I had a bunch of the sheets from Over The Big Moon printed out and colored pencils available for kids to use.  I printed off the “Find the Difference” and “Pre-Writing” sheets.  I also printed extras so parents could take them home and work on them.

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  • Sequencing Hearts by Size

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  • Valentine Sort. Another activity from Over the Big Moon, the kids have to sort children and Valentine gifts.
  • Graphing with Conversation Hearts.  I bought a bag of the hearts and put them in a bag with a scooper.  I printed off a graphing sheet that I found here.  I also printed a sheet to analyze the information found.  When a child came to this station, they took a scoop of candy and sorted the candy by color.  They laid the heart directly on the chart.  When finished, they decided which color they had the greatest amount and which they color they have the least.

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  • Arctic Animals Slides on Laptop. Ok, this may seem a bit weird, but I forgot that I made a slideshow on PowerPoint about different Arctic animals for last week’s class and I forgot to have it available to the kids-oops!  I put pictures and text to go along with different Arctic animals and I had it set so kids push a space bar to advance the pictures and the text.

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  • I also had an assortment of Valentine books available for the kids to read, play dough (grape flavored from Kool-Aid), and magnetic puzzles.

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Craft.  We made “Mr. Heart Men” (that is what we called them)

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For this craft I needed the following for EACH Mr. Heart Man:

  • One giant heart
  • Four, about 1 ½ inch wide, long strip
  • One mouth
  • Two hands
  • Nose (I had stickers from the dollar store)
  • Two feet (I used hearts)
  • Eyes (I used googly eyes)
  • Glue

First, we took whichever four colors the kids wanted for the arms and legs.  Then we folded them accordion style.  We glued those to the body.  Then we glued the hands and feet, mouth and eyes.  Here is what the end result looked like.

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After our craft and our snack was completed, we passed out Valentine’s.  My kids helped me make mine.  We took toilet paper rolls and bent them to make a heart shape and dipped them in red paint.  We stamped the “heart” on paper and wait for it to dry.  When it did I cut them to create bookmarks.  I made a hole and attached strings.  Here is what they ended up looking like:

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These came out so cute!

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Hard at work!

“I Love You Through and Through” By Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

through and through

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought that I would share a popular book around our house about love.  It is entitled “I Love You Through and Through” by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak.  It is not exactly a board book, but close.  The pages are thicker than usual and the cover is puffy.  The background of all of the pages remind me of tissue paper with specks of color.  All of these details add to the charm of this book.  We bought this book originally for my daughter and it was her absolute favorite book, and after my son was born it quickly became his favorite as well.

A young boy and his teddy bear are the characters of this book and the reader/narrator is telling the child what they love about them.  The illustrations, by Caroline Jayne Church, are adorable.  The little boy really reminds me of my son.  For example, on the cover, the boy is holding his bear high in the air and his belly is hanging out of his shirt (I love big baby bellies!).

The narrator loves the child inside and out.  They love the child no matter what they are feeling or what they are doing.

A favorite part for my kids is when I read about the different body parts that I love.  The book reads “I love your fingers, and toes, your ears and nose.”  I always tickle each body part as I read it and my kids crack up!

The final line of this book is the best and just pretty much sums it up “I love you through and through..yesterday, today, and tomorrow too.”  Ahhh..how perfect?!?!

If you are looking for an adorable book to tell your children (probably about 5 and under) just how much you love them, I highly recommend picking up “I Love You Through and Through” By Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak.  Enjoy!

A Few Notes:

  • There is a simialar book, in format and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church, entitled “How Do I Love You?” that features a little girl
  • The price listed on the book is $8.95, but at the time of writing this post, I found it online for about $5-well worth it.
  • The book would make a great gift for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and for new parents.
  • There is an app based on this book by Scholastic.  Here is an overview (looks cute!):

Book Recommendation: “I Like Myself!” Written By: Karen Beaumont and Illustrated By David Catrow

i like myself

“I like myself! I’m glad I’m me.  There’s no one else I’d rather be.”  This is the opening to “I Like Myself!” a wonderful self-esteem boosting book for young children.  The little girl in the book shares just what it is that she likes about herself-which is everything!

The witty, rhyming text may seem simple, but it really hits on so many complex life issues.

“Beauty is only skin deep”

  • On one page, the little girl wakes up with hair that just about hits the ceiling.  The text on this page reads “even when I look a mess, I still don’t like me any less, ‘cause nothing in this world, you know can change what’s deep inside, and so…”

Dealing with people trying to bring you down

  • “And I don’t care in any way what someone else may think or say”

Loving yourself, both the positives and negatives

  • “I’d still like me with fleas or warts, or with a silly snout that snorts, or knobby knees or hippo hips or purple polka-dotted lips.”

The illustrations in this book are very engaging and fun.  David Catrow also illustrated another great self-esteem book, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon (see my review here).

I highly recommend reading self-esteem boosting books to your kids!  They send such a great message and will hopefully have a positive impact on them in the future.  If you decide to search for books with this theme, I recommend picking up “I Like Myself!” By Karen Beaumont.