Teacher Ideas

Teacher Ideas
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Eggcellent Ideas!

With just a week until Easter, there is still some time to celebrate the season with your little ones. We've rounded up some pictures off of Pinterest (I know you hear it all the time, but what did we do before this "little" website came into our lives?) to help you get your creative juices flowing. We know that these have inspired us to get out the scissors and glue at home and in our classrooms! The best thing about each of these ideas is of course...they're educational! Each of these uses left and right brain thinking, problem solving, math, science, and more!



Coffee filter eggs from The Chocolate Muffin Tree.



Paper bunnies from Deep Space Sparkle.



A hand print chickie from A Little Delightful.



A paint strip garland from Modern Parents Messy Kids.



A pop up egg from Family Fun.

Now hop to it, and bring some creativity into your week!

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Birthday Celebrations





Birthdays are so much fun for our lil sprouts. We have a special birthday today in our house. Our little girl is turning 4. Our morning was filled with a breakfast birthday celebration. There were balloons all over Kaitlyn's room and hanging from her door, just waiting for her to wake up. She celebrated with her favorite... pink party pancakes.
They are so simple to make, just make pancakes using your favorite recipe (mine usually includes a box :) ) then add a splash of pink food coloring. Make them smaller by pouring a small amount into your pan using a measuring cup to control portion size. Stack them up, add your favorite fruit and a little syrup then top with powdered sugar.....they are sure to be a yummy treat!

For a little birthday fun change out your items in your sensory bin for some birthday exploration.
We added the number 1, 2, 3 and 4
letters K-A-I-T-L-Y-N
balloons,  ribbon, small boxes, fabric cupcakes, wooded cookies, small bowls and mini spoons, candles, tissue paper
(when looking for birthday related items gather items with various textures, sounds and sizes)


We played games, finding the numbers and placing them in order 1 - 2- 3- 4 and also found all the letters in her name and matched them to an index card with her name on it. We counted cookies, balloons and she named the colors for the different tissue papers andribbons. You can also group items according to function or size. So many learning possibilities!

 How do you celebrate birthdays with your little ones? What traditions do you have? We would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment :)

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Not Your Ordinary Easter Basket

Create an Earth Friendly Easter Basket

Easter is just around the corner, and it's by far my favorite holiday. I love everything about Easter. The significance of the holiday, the time of year, cute dresses, and the hope of starting fresh. I try to make spring a special time of year for my students. Although they're in fifth grade, these will be some of their last times to enjoy some seasonal fun at school.

Each year I work to impart some nuggets of wisdom for these young minds to contemplate and take with them into the world. I'm sure all teachers and parents feel the same way. For years, my classes have focused on being responsible stewards of our planet Earth. We've done school wide clean up days, family challenges, research projects, and one class even painted me green as a reward to themselves for changing their un-Earth friendly ways.

For several years now my students have made Easter baskets with a twist. I contacted the Energy Services department of our local city government (I imagine most cities have one) and asked if they had any promotional items that would help to encourage a family to be more Earth friendly. They have happily agreed for years to supply materials, and we appreciate it!

Each student brings in a used Easter basket. We take paper out of our classroom recycling bin and put it through the shredder for grass to fill the bottom of the basket. Next, we arrange items that the city has sent to us (i.e. CFL light bulbs, household thermometers, rain gauges, water and electricity saving tips, etc.). Brainstorming and a couple of lessons on energy later, students draft pledge cards for their families to sign. This is a commitment that their entire family will be more conscious of their habits and decisions when it comes to saving our planet. The students head home with an adorable, Earth wise, and educational basket. What better way to celebrate a season of fresh starts!

Other great ideas for alternative basket themes...

Make adjective baskets. Students put a kind and accurate adjective to describe each classmate in a plastic egg (a piece of candy wouldn't hurt either). Then allow them to pass them out. When the students open their basket of eggs they see a lot of great descriptive words, and feel a little confidence boost too! Put their creative writing skills to the test by having the student write a story using all the adjectives that they received in their basket.

Make science classification baskets. After teaching about different types of animals (mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, etc.) have students sort pictures or names of animals into different eggs that are labeled correctly (either with a marker, sticker, or printed picture). Take it a step farther and have the children design an animal that is a mixture of the different animals that they sorted. For example an elephant with cheetah legs, a bird's wings, a manatee's tail, and a horse's body!

For younger children you could have them sort candy or items around the house by colors. Use the color of the Easter egg as your guide. Make it a hunt through magazines or around the house for added fun!


Whatever your Easter basket holds, we hope that is full of the sweetness of springtime!

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Lil Sprouts in the Park



Sensory Gardens

Lil sprouts in the park was so much fun! Thanks to all who made it out for our first event. It will definitely be just one of many more to come. The lil sprouts came ready to learn and have fun. They learned a little about vegetables and where they grow. Then they painted a tomato (which we all know is actually a fruit), and two varieties of carrots an orange one and a purple one. The lil sprouts thought it was pretty neat to see a purple carrot. They used their magnifying glasses to get a closer look. They pointed out the stems and examined the carrots very closely. While their vegetables were drying each lil sprout made their very own sensory garden they counted out their scoops of rainbow rice and added a gardening tool, a seed pack shaker and their painted veggies. Sensory bins are a great way for children to explore new concepts through play.


 The art of Carrots

















Our lil sprouts took their painting skills to new heights with a little finger painting. You should have seen the giggles and smiles as their messy little hands played in the paint.



Counting





Our lil sprouts practiced their math skills with some adorable little bunnies. Each lil sprout counted out 20 cottonballs for their bunny. They counted as they placed each one onto their bunny. This is a great sensory activity to help reinforce counting skills at home. For quick practice take the bunny out and have your lil sprout count them over and over, touching each one as they go making that relation with one to one correspondence a skill they will definitely need as they begin school. We also had our lil sprouts fill up a  carrot for their counting practice with jelly beans (10) reviewing their counting skills and even introducing subtraction as they start to crave those sweet little jelly beans.....I'm pretty sure my lil sprout would like to start with 10 - 10 = 0....yum!!!!!



A Scientific Snack


We ended our activity day with a fun dessert. The kids made a dirt cup, complete with worms, grass and of course a carrot patch.
They stirred in their mud layer ( pudding) and then added a few wiggly worms, next they added some top soil ( crumbled chocolate cake) and then added a few sprouts of grass ( edible Easter grass), last they added some mini carrots to their cup for an irresistibly fun scientific snack.






















Lil Sprouts





Our lil sprouts had a lot of fun and even learned a few basic skills along the way.
As it was time to say goodbye and our little sprouts hopped away, they each got a treat to take home. A tiny little pot with a few little seeds. Just for their lil hands to take care of and watch as it grows.
Hopefully we planted a seed of creativity and curiosity in our lil sprouts.
  We hope that you will join us at the
next Lil Sprouts event!





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Magical Memories for the road


Spring break is in full swing and what better way to celebrate than a road trip. As a parent of two little ones 3 and under I know how stressful time in the car can be. Between the constant fussing and the endless questions...... Are we there yet? Any mom would go crazy. 
So why not introduce a little unexpected fun for your next road trip. Create a Road trip themed activity pack for the car, stock it with new books, flash cards, figurines etc.

I recently took my two little ones to Disney World in Orlando, which is about a 4 hour trip from where we are. I was traveling with the kids on my own so in order to survive the trip I needed something to keep my 3 year old quiet and entertained so she wouldn't pester her little brother and I could drive peacefully......driving peacefully does that even exist?
I stopped by my local Dollar Tree and put together some educational games for the road. I put everything in a small metal lunchbox that could fit on her lap in her carseat, so everything would be contained. Her kit contained several mini Mickey Mouse Clubhouse books, 2 Mickey and Minnie figurines, a kaleidoscope and two packs of flashcards, one was shapes and colors and one was numbers. Some Mickey stickers and a small notepad and a few crayons to doodle with.
Most importantly was a note from Mickey to Kaitlyn telling her about her trip, 
you should have seen her face when she saw that!
For just a few dollars I was able to keep her entertained and learning the whole time we were in the car. Instead of listening to the same movie on repeat from the backseat or a video game soundtrack my daughter was counting and singing her ABC's...what music to my ears...and to Mickey's.


To encourage positive choices in the car I purchased a pack of 7 little mickey rings. 
After 30 minutes if Kaitlyn followed the rules of the road she could earn one. They also provide for something that can be taken away if there are poor behavior choices...when a timeout spot or other disciplinary tool isn't practical. Just remember if you take something away always offer the child a chance to earn it back by displaying the behavior you are striving for. Using small tangible rewards in the car can help little ones keep focused for longer periods of time. Knowing that every 30 minutes or so they are trying to earn something can help them to make better choices when traveling instead of acting out.
 A long road trip can feel very daunting to your child....often with no end in sight. 
Heck sometimes it feels that way for us adults!



I just couldn't resist showing off my cuties and their Mickey outfits!
If you would like a tie like my little man's or a letter from Mickey for your next road trip, please feel free to use the images below. We would love to hear from you, leave us a comment.
How do you keep your little ones entertained on long car trips?
Be sure to join our blog for more freebies and educational tips for your little ones.



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Spring Sensory Fun



Spring Sensory Fun
A great way to enjoy the beauty and colors of spring is through a sensory box.
What's that you ask....let me give you a brief description.
A sensory box is a contained area where kids can explore and play through utilizing their 5 senses. Helping them to understand the world around them, and how it works.
Sensory boxes are inexpensive and fun to create, taking very little time to assemble.
The main contents of the box can be any multitude of things from colored rice, beans, pasta, sand etc. Any tactile material that kids can explore with their hands.

Adding color to rice or beans or even sand is simple it requires just a couple of things. Get a large plastic bowl and fill it with the rice ( or whatever) you would like to dye. Add a little bit of hand sanitizer...you heard me hand sanitizer, the alcohol helps the dye to adhere to the rice and allows it to evaporate without the rice feeling sticky. I prefer to use a hand sanitizer with a  bit of a fragrance so my rice smells nice. Then add food coloring. Play around with color combinations and amounts, let your kids help with this it is a great "teachable moment" for color blending.
After the rice is stirred well and the color is blended to your liking pour out onto wax paper and let dry. I like to put mine on a cookie sheet and let it dry outside so the drying time is faster. Depending on how thick your pile is you might need to spread it thinner as your rice dries.

The hard part is over, now comes the fun...whatever you theme is start collecting. You kids can help with this as well. Find small toys and objects you have around the house to add to your sensory bin. Make sure they relate to your theme. A few suggestions for themes: letters, counting, shapes, colors, transportation, things that grow, things that roll, textures, animals, Spring...the list goes on and on.
The one I created is a a Rainbow Garden sensory tub.
I used rainbow colored rice and then some soft fabric and plastic fruits and veggies
  The ones we have are from IKEA
To foster creative exploration add shovels, scoops, rakes, cups, spoons, sifters etc.

 
Sensory bins can provide a wealth of knowledge for your young learners, however you are still the most valuable educational tool they have. Model by asking your children questions. Can you find a green fruit for me? Which of these are vegetables? How many red round objects are there? Which one is the smallest? Largest? These thinking questions will help to foster their own curiosity and help your little one relate what they are playing with to practical real world application.

Take a good mental note this is the last time you rice will ever be that clean :) But that's ok you want it messy, mixed and explored...because you know your little ones will be learning. I love for my little ones to play outside on the sidewalk or deck with their sensory tubs. You can also use them inside on a rainy day, an old plastic shower curtain underneath helps with easy cleanup when you are done and everything can be put right back into the box.

Kids love to explore the world using their senses. They love to feel objects and explore interesting textures. Touching objects and manipulating them allows children to  and understand the world around them. Using sensory  bins is a great way to help kids develop their senses and understand their world. Sensory bins are like a guessing game that your children will play for hours.  They love the mystery of not knowing what is inside and exploring.

Each time you change out your sensory bin make sure you save your items. I like to keep mine in small plastic boxes so I can reintroduce them at a later date. The rice saves wonderfully in a Ziploc bag.   

For your little ones this is a great opportunity to explore and discover. Their curious minds love to get their hands on things. Use extra caution and make sure you explore with your children who are under the age of two and like to put things in their mouths. While the rice won't hurt them if swallowed larger items like beans or uncooked pasta could pose a choking hazard. So please explore with your younger children.

Here are some great literature tie ins to your Rainbow Garden Sensory Tub

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

 The Tiny Seed By Eric Carle


What kind of sensory tubs are you going to create with your little ones. We would love to hear from you. send us a picture of your latest sensory bin creation to simplysprout@gmail.com


I Received an A+ at SunScholars.com
            
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Staycation starts now



Our family is welcoming our dear friend Ashley and her three little ones to our home for the week of spring break. Some might shriek with terror at the thought of four that are four years old and under in close quarters for that long, but we are counting down the minutes until they arrive! Mack and I have left her children Will, Carolina, and Walker a little bed side table treat to make them feel at home. I gathered things from the dollar bins at Target and our pantry to show how excited we are to have them. Of course along with the treats (animal crackers and a few pieces of candy), there are educational items too (coloring books, crayons, counting books, and an early reader). Find something cute to collect all the goodies in and make a card to match the theme. We are ushering in spring around here and Mack has been enthralled with all the bumblebees in the yard, so there you have it!



It only takes a few dollars and some love to make your guests big and small feel right at home. Remember just because kids are taking a break from school this week, doesn't mean that learning has to take a break. Make it your mission to introduce your children to something new while together as a family. Your first lesson can be the importance of being a good host or hostess!

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