Teacher Ideas

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Classroom Ideas

Homemade Puffy Paint

We have had a lot of rainy wet days here in Florida, you can usually set your watch by the afternoon thunderstorms. It is so easy to quickly run out of stuff to do with your little ones. The moment the sky starts to turn dark my children start to immediately lose interest in all of their store bought toys. No matter how many toy trucks, dress up clothes, puzzles, baby dolls or Tinkerbell fairies my children have its never enough to keep their attention when the storms roll in. I immediately see them running crazy through the house, forgetting all of our house rules and driving this mama crazy!

Time to get Creative!

Being a first grade teacher I have tackled my fair share of messy fun projects. Which I minded much less when I knew a janitor would be coming through to help me tidy up before the first bell rung the next morning. Doing messy projects at home can sometimes feel overwhelming...but they are so worth it! Messy play is a developmental must for little hands and minds. They need to be encouraged to explore their own curiosity with minimal guidelines (or rules) from you....after all it's only a mess, nothing a Clorox wipe can't clean up.
We decided to make our own puffy paint. We followed this simple recipe, comprised of things that were already in our pantry.

3 Tbs. Flour
2 Tbs. Corn Starch
2 Tbs. Water
1 Tsp. salt
Food coloring

You want the mixture to be like cake batter consistency. If it's too runny just add a little more flour and corn starch.

I used an over sized muffin tin to hold our puffy paint. Plastic squeeze containers work great too...I just didn't have any on hand and lord knows I didn't want to run to the store in the rain with two kids!  I had the kids use some baby q-tips to apply the puffy paint, even my 16 month old was able to create his own masterpiece using the puffy paint. Once they are done with their creation put it in the microwave for 10 - 15 seconds ( depending on your microwave you might need to do a little more or a little less...please watch it and don't walk away for safety)
When you take the paper out you will see it start to puff up immediately. Viola you have made your own art using homemade puffy paint!

We moved our painting party to the bathtub once we ran out of paper...the kids painted the tile walls and themselves with the paint...cleanup was pretty simple we just rinsed the shower/tub with hot water. The kids had a blast and before we knew it those afternoon thunderstorms rolled through and the sun was out again!


What homemade recipes have you tried with your little ones? We would love for you to share your favorites below.....leave us a comment!
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Head to the Bathtub: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub Giveaway!

This week's Lil Sprouts Book Club choice takes us to the bathtub for a silly tale of a king who just won't get out. King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood is a humorous tale of a stubborn king who has no desire to get out of the tub. I probably wouldn't either if I could eat, fish, dance, and play in the tub like the King. His faithful page tries hard to get him out, but it finally takes pulling the plug!

The illustrator Don Wood, Audrey Wood's husband, earned a Caldecott Medal for his delightfully charming depiction of this oh so ridiculous king and his medley of guests. This is a family favorite book of ours especially when our son is fresh out of the bathtub!

So in the honor of Bidgood we headed to the bathtub.  We have some major cabin fever going on (Debby is still in our area) and  we're on a messy painting theme in our house.  Sounds like a dangerous combination right?  Stuck in the house and wanting to be messy and paint each day, yikes!  It was a perfect day to try out a homemade paint recipe that Marcy shared with me using baby shampoo as the base.  I have seen others that called for shaving cream, but thought that it would get in eyes and there would be crying.  It worked out fabulously and we had a royal time painting every inch of the bathtub.

What a colorful way to enjoy children's literature.  We used the paintbrush to make rainbows, spell out words, and make shapes.  I think the King would have been tempted to stay in this bathtub for a long, long time!  Oh and cleanup is even fun.  Tons of bubbles from all that shampoo!

We would love to hear about what silly things your kids have done in the bathtub for fun.  Leave us a comment and share a fun and creative idea with us.  We will randomly select a king or queen of the comments to receive their own copy of King Bidgood's in the Bathtub at the end of the week!


What a Mess!

It's just another manic messy Monday around here. Inside and out. Inside we have cabin fever and it looks like someone took a leaf blower to the toy bins, and outside we have Debby (tropical storm that is) Downer. Or should I say downpour? There are a few facts of life when you live in this area of the country. You're going to hunker down through some long lasting storms, and nine times out of 10 we need the rain so we try to remain grateful.

The question at hand is what do you do with a couple of toddlers when you can't seem to explain to them that the brand new swing set outside is getting pelted by rain? You distract them of course with something even more enticing! My niece was over for the afternoon and she and my son often get the "are you twins?" question asked. She is actually six months older than him, but they are precious together! I told myself that the next time she came over to play that we were going to get MESSY!

I've been reading up on the benefits of messy play for children. As a teacher I am always perplexed by the amount of children who don't want to get dirty, sticky, or just plan messy. I thought that's what kids loved to be...messy. I have to admit that I've been a priss pot my whole life, but when I became a teacher I knew that to really get creative, you've sometimes got to get a little yucky. These anti-mess attitudes are also present at our monthly Lil Sprouts events. I've learned to start the lesson with a disclaimer to parents that goes something like this:

Me: Okay, the little ones are going to get paint on their hands during this activity. It's going to be okay though. We will wipe them off in the end. They can bathe later, and a few days from now they will be looking like new!

Parents: Blank stare.

After seeing their children get busy creating, the parents take a deep breath and chill. That's the beauty of messy play. Children are free of the fear of being scolded, and they know that this is an appropriate time to get messy. It takes some getting used to, especially for us neat freaks. However, the benefits to a child's creativity so outweigh the cleanup time. Early childhood experts have written plenty of articles to back up the case that messy play for children stimulates their senses, allows them to experience textures, and develops their fine motor skills.

My hope was to let the toddlers paint out in the yard and get as messy as they would like. But the art studio had to be moved to the porch, which caused my mom (a 37 year teaching veteran) and I to shake in our rain boots. We were going to put messy play to the test here, and see if two grown women could let these little ones' creativity soar. I taped a tablecloth to the floor, and then brown craft paper on top of that. I filled a couple of disposable baking dishes with a tempra paint and water mixture. We encouraged them to put their hands in it, feet in it, and whatever else they could think up. THEY LOVED IT! We went through several sheets of paper and had a grand ole time!

In the end I realized that this mess is nothing that a garden hose and a warm sudsy bath can't clean up. So take a deep breath and do something messy with your kids today. These are going to be the moments that they remember!

Some other messy ideas are: finger painting with yogurt or pudding with food coloring if your child is too young to not put paint in their mouth, water and sand tables, spaghetti with food coloring for play, sensory bins, gardening, water gun fight with colored water, and anything else that you can think of that let's kids be kids!

Our book club pick this week will take us to the bathtub to get messy! Join us on Wednesday!


Lil Sprouts June Activity Day

Our lil sprouts were so excited to come and play with us this weekend!
We had lots of new faces join us this week, kids from as young as 9months to 5 years old. It was so much fun to see them so excited to play.
We set up the tent for our lil sprouts to explore, they made their own camping lanterns, learned all about trees, used their math skills to make their own trail mix snack and participated in a backyard scavenger hunt.
Amanda and I feel so blessed to get to share our love of science and education with the littlest members of our community.

Our Activities

One of our activities was all about our "Tree"mendous trees. We had a few samples of branches and stumps that were sliced from large trees for our lil sprouts to take a closer look at. We showed them the patterns and the rings. They learned how a tree gains a ring as it grows each year, we showed them the knots in the tree "cookies" We talked a little about decay and how we use trees.Each of our lil sprouts got their very own tree "cookie" necklace. They used their little fingers to make little thumbprint insects. We had little red ladybugs and tiny black ants....and some of our littlest sprouts were able to do their entire hand.

Our next activity was creating a kid friendly camping lantern. We used clear plastic tumblers from Walmart and hot glued a red bandana ribbon for a handle and around the rim of the tumbler. Our lil sprouts learned about colors, red, yellow and orange and even saw how red and yellow blend to make orange. The glued their tissue paper flames onto a thin strip of construction paper. They slid this into the bottom of their lantern. They added a flameless candle into the bottom and Viola! Their very own kid friendly lantern perfect for a backyard camp out or even a night light next to their bed.

 Our little campers practiced their math skills by counting out trail mix. There were 5 different items. Each lil sprout counted out 10 of each item and placed it in their bag. When they were done they had practiced counting by 1's and 10's and had a yummy snack perfect for any camp out!

Our last activity was a fun scavenger hunt. We created a smaller version of our Camping activity Pack which is on sale this week in my store.  The lil sprouts had to find several items around the yard that were on their scavenger hunt. They immediately were off trying to check off every item. We were so excited to hear the conversations between the lil sprouts and their parents. The learning that was taking place was astounding. The little ones were building vocabulary, the 2 year olds were using context clues to find items, the 3 and 4 year olds were following a list and the 5 year olds were off to the races trying to find each item as quickly as they could. It was a great learning opportunity for all ages.

To keep up the exploration and learning at home our lil sprouts got their very own bug catchers. They had nets and tweezers to pick up those icky bugs.
We were so glad all of our campers came out to learn with us. We even were able to get all of our activities in before the rain came. 
We hope that you will join us for the next lil sprouts event!

We didn't get a picture with everyone but we did get a few lil sprouts together for one before everyone headed off.

A Huge Thanks to My great Friend Darcey who helped out with our lil sprouts today! 
You are the best!

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How a Bird Uses its Beak

It's no secret that I'm a bit terrified of birds. Long story short, my brother is a typical older brother, and a bird might have gotten stuck in my ponytail as a child. I'm trying to let bygones be bygones with birds and my brother, and that leads me to this great science lab for kids! Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of birds. Their beauty, their melodic songs, their sweet little nests, and of course their purpose in our world. This is a really fun and hands on way to teach children the all about how a bird uses its beak.

Whether you are doing this lab at home or in a classroom, you should definitely be able to round up the materials needed with a quick trip to the pantry. This is a fun way of showing kids that the size and shape of a bird's beak allows it to pick up different types of food items. They will also see that animals have to make adaptations to survive in their environment. Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers site for a direction page, student response sheet, and the cute cup labels.

Kids will have a chance peck for food using items such as tweezers and straws to take the place for a beak. It's great to see a child understand that the bird's food choice, and beak shape and size have something to do with one another.

Just another wonderfully creative way to teach children to love and appreciate the great outdoors. We are packing our bags and looking forward to our BIG camp out on Saturday with our Lil Sprouts! We can't wait to share with you some other wilderness wonders this weekend!

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