Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Post Thanksgiving

What a fun day!  Everyone was happy to return to school this week after having so many fun days with family.  I think everyone had fun with their family because everyone was so tired at rest time, especially on Monday. We followed our typical routine:  Free play in morning before breakfast, the breakfast is followed by morning circle, some puzzles and free play for the younger group while the VPK group works on learning games, then we had story time together for some of the stories.  That is where we departed from our typical.  Usually the VPK children have a little more time working in educational centers inside, but we headed outside for outside centers. 

The children have decided they like to eat stevia leaves and mint leaves from our tower garden.  Love that they are learning to eat healthy, fresh food.  Even if it is just herbs. 🌿
 They rode the rolling scooters for fun, not knowing it strengthens their core as well. πŸ˜ƒ  They worked together to ride the airplane teeter totter, and the younger children rode the alligator teeter totter. They stepped up and down on the stepping logs advancing their gross motor skills. You can check the private page for a video of some of the children doing this while being careful of a younger child at the same time.

In the sandbox they scooped, poured, and sifted while they shared the space and worked side by side. There was a lot of soccer this week. Not necessarily good ball control yet, but lots of action. ⚽️  The climber was a great pretend play space, as was the Teepee. I think I saw some bears roaring, and possibly burping like our story The Slurpy Burpy Bear.  Love that they like to act out the stories that we read.  Shows great reading comprehension, right?! πŸ˜€

More pictures from our play this week:
Teepee decorating πŸ‘€

Look at those great block buildings!

A few more pictures from this week:

The books for Monday were:

So obviously we recapped how Thanksgiving was, and different traditions, and their manners.  After all, it will just be the blink of any eye before Christmas.

I don't have a picture of Tuesday books, but Wednesday's books are:

We read Share Big Bear Share another day.  Today I have heard many different children "reading it" to themselves saying on every page "Share Big Bear Share!"  Such a great early reading story with a sharing concept reinforced at the same time.

We are also talking about sharing and caring.  There are many people just in the Tampa Bay area that children won't get a Christmas gift or have food for a Christmas dinner.  It is so easy and tangible for children to physically go to the store with you, choose a gift for someone else (learning that it isn't all about "me"), and pick up a few non-perishable food items (preferably B1G1) to share with others.  Start checking for sales now to get a little something with your sweet child to share.

I just want to share what great Super Friends we have!  We have been focusing on listening skills, being gentle with friends, caring about friends, sharing, and some basic manners like being quiet when someone is talking (instead of blurting out).  Such hard things to have self-control when you are 1,2,3 or 4, or 20, 30, 40, etc....  So we started up our Super Friend Chain again, with our eye on cookies this time.  I think we will make it today.  We only need one more chain link to have cookies at snack.  Surely I can see someone being a Super Friend while cleaning up.  πŸ‘€ Our next ideas for the next time the chain reaches the floor are:  Park Day, Watching a movie, Aquarium visit, and still thinking of more.  Really trying to focus on the positive to get positive results.  I believe everyone except the babies have contributed to this Super Friend chain!

Our menu this week has been:
Monday:  Breakfast:  Oranges, Cereal, Milk
                 Lunch:  Turkey and Noodles with Peas, Tomato Slices, Milk
                 Snack:  Fresh Strawberries and Crackers

Tuesday:  Breakfast:  Fresh Strawberries, Waffles, Milk
                 Lunch:  BBQ Chicken, Broccoli, Lettuce/Tomato Salad with dressing, Roll, Milk
                 Snack:  Orange Wheels, Pretzels  
 Wednesday:  Breakfast:  Oranges, Cereal, Milk
                       Lunch:  Turkey Chili, Broccoli, Wheat Bread, Milk
                       Snack:  Apple Slices, Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cranberry Fun and More

With the last day of child care before a gathering fun holiday, we just had to have some fun.  Also with three afterschoolers we had to come up with something they could enjoy also.  So.... Cranberry building, so much fun!  We have built with marshmallows and toothpicks before, and this is the same idea.  They were so engaged in this activity, it lasted for a long time.  The three and four year olds enjoyed it almost as much as the afterschool agers.  That is a win-win in my thoughts.  It was a great learning experience for all of them.  The three and four year olds were learning about putting them together, and how to make a shape. The older children made more complex structures.  Some of the children saved them, some took them apart, but they all enjoyed it.  The afterschoolers also had a Cranberry Crazy Game that I found on Pinterest with challenging activities for them to do while holding a spoonful of cranberries. They laughed and had a great time.

We of course had to make some cute little turkey prints.  What would Thanksgiving be without turkey handprints?  And to just throw a little educational in there, we made turkeys with name feathers.  The four year old and older children cut out their own turkey, and three and older write their names on the feathers they chose.  The one and two year olds chose their color feathers and glued them on, and Ms. Jenny wrote their names on while saying the letter/spelling the name.  

We still had a few pumpkins laying around, so I hollowed two out quickly, poured in some bubble solution, and tada!  We had pumpkin bubbles!!  They had to blow, not suck in the bubbles.  It was tough for the one and two year olds, but everyone else figured out how to blow and make tons of bubbles very quickly.
I have had a size discrimination game forever called Chef Gobbler's Desserts.  I did this in a small group with just the three and four year olds and they sorted them very quickly and shared which size dessert they would prefer; small, medium, or large.  Not everyone chose large. πŸ˜‡

Our books today were mostly about Thanksgiving history.  What was the first Thanksgiving feast like? What were the people like? What type of clothes did they wear? What did they eat? The book "Many Nations" was an alphabet book of Native Americans.  It was interesting for the children to be able to see that not all Native Americans lived in the same type environment or home, and the different tribes, or nations, dressed differently as well.  The Littlest Pilgrim was a good book for the children to identify with.  No matter how small they are, they like to help which isn't always possible.  However, they are never too young to make a friend.  The book "10 Turkeys In The Road" is just a terribly silly book about turkeys. Just plain silly fun.

They also had about 45 minutes to play in the play yard today where many worked together in the sandbox, in the mud kitchen, stepping on stepping logs, blowing pumpkin bubbles, riding trikes, or riding teeter totters, or bouncing balls with Papa Joe.  It was a fun, fairly stress less day. 

The menu for today:
Breakfast:  Multigrain Cheerios, Bananas, Milk
Lunch:  Cowboy Stew, Carrots, Whole Wheat Bread, Milk
Snack:  Orange Wheels, Whole Grain Crackers

Monday, November 20, 2017

Being Thankful and Sharing

The month of November is always a big month about sharing, caring, giving and mostly being Thankful for what we have.  If we have a thankful attitude we are more successful and have a more positive attitude because we appreciate what we have instead of only wanting more, more, more.  

We have been collecting non-perishable food the past couple of weeks as the children brought some in and I found BOGOs at my favorite grocery stores.  So today we brought our collection of 31 lbs of can food and boxed items to the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent to share with others.  We usually bring 50 lbs or more when we go but it has been difficult with also donating turkeys and filing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes in the past two weeks also.  We don't want to make it hard on anyone, so I'm just so excited that most contributed in some way or another. However, they do have an increased need this year for meals for Thanksgiving so if anyone would like to contribute directly to Metropolitan Ministries which feeds the Tampa Bay area I received this in an email: 

Please drop off gravy, rice, and boxed dessert mixes at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent or purchase them at our online store.

We also talked about being thankful, and what things we could be thankful for.  We made thankful apple baskets to bring home as a reminder of things we can be thankful for.  Each child either dictated what they were thankful for, or they wrote the words themselves. 
Most of the children said Mom, Dad, Sisters or Brothers, maybe Pets or House, a few said Friends or All Their Friends, and a few said Toys.  That's what a preschooler's world is all about, things that they are familiar with.  Yes, those things are predictable, but isn't that where being thankful starts?

Try writing down all the things you are thankful for today and share them at dinner tonight.  Model for your children how many things we are blessed with and can/should be thankful for.  We can even be thankful in the tough situations because it builds character and makes us stronger.  What a great lesson in persevering through the tough things (not giving up) than to hear from a parent how they are thankful for that tough day they had.  How easy it is for us to complain about out day, when we could model being thankful instead.  If nothing else, thankful we made it through the day and are finally done. 😁

Another way we can model being thankful is thanking the servers that help us, the cashier who rings you up, the person that holds the door, etc.  I'm sure you can think of a few yourself.  Not just saying "thanks" as you walk on, but making eye contact, pause and say something like "thank you for the great job you do", or "thank you for being so attentive as you serve us", or "thanks for pausing to hold the door".  Doesn't it fill your bucket when someone takes the time to really thank you?

One way that the children here are showing they can fill a bucket is being a Super Friend.  When they are caught being a Super Friend - helping a friend, playing nicely with someone, sharing happily, letting someone else have a turn first, etc., we add a chain to our Super Friend or Helping Hands chain.  When our chain reaches the floor they can all have a cookie.  It is getting close and they are getting excited!  I saw many Super Friends today!!

Our books today were about being thankful, Thanksgiving, and a little "potty" book since we have some beginning potty trainers. The book "Baditude!" is about switching your mood from bad to being grateful or thankful.  A great look at how our attitude can affect having a good day, or a bad day.  We can choose what kind of attitude to have!  Choices are great!

The weather warmed up enough that we enjoyed about an hour outside before lunch.  We were a few minutes late getting to lunch, but they really were getting along well.  They played soccer with those bigger kids - K & R, and C, and they also enjoyed working in the sandbox measuring, scooping, and using the sand mills.  They also worked together to fly the airplane teeter totter, they climbed on climbers and slid down, and of course the perpetual favorite - the mud kitchen (which often has flowers in the mixing bowl 😊)  After we cleaned up the play yard and were about to go in, one of the children came up and very sweetly said "can we go on a nature hunt" with a stick in his hand.  He wanted to make some "nature art".  So of course we took the time to look for some colorful and not so colorful leaves to add to a small stick to make "nature art".  I'm so thankful that they are learning to love nature.  God has blessed us with many beautiful trees which mostly drop brown leaves, yet we have a tiny taste of northern fall with the Virginia Creeper vines that are here.  I'm very thankful for that little hint of color. 😍

After a healthy lunch, it was rest time.  Very peaceful around here during that time.  Everyone was worn out.  I wonder if they dreamed about being thankful.

Menu today:  BREAKFAST:  Multigrain Cheerios, Bananas, Milk
LUNCH:  Chicken (choice of light or dark meat), Lettuce/Spinach/Tomato Salad, Green Beans, Whole Wheat Bread, Milk
SNACK:  String Cheese, Cucumber Slices

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thanksgiving Practice - Friendsgiving Day Lunch

Today was not exactly a typical day.  After breakfast the VPK children went into the VPK room and reviewed their homework and chose a treasure from the treasure box.  While they were doing that, the younger children were coloring a little table setting page to laminate for their placemat at our Thanksgiving / Friendsgiving Lunch.  The VPK children colored one to be laminated after their treasure box prizes. While they played we took turns making a little rhinestone leaf that we purchased from Oriental Trading. The only thing really noteworthy about it was that we used fine motor skills to try to squeeze the glue (tacky glue so needed teacher help) and to place the little rhinestones on the foam leaf.  It was cute and the children really enjoyed making them.  While they were playing in the playroom they tended to gravitate to the home-living area.  I noticed that they were serving fruits and vegetables using the color sorting foods.  They do enjoy their fruits and vegetables for the most part.  Probably because we serve so much fresh fruits and veggies here because we are in the Fruit and Vegetable Co-op.  They also had a fantastic time doctoring or caring for dogs and baby dolls and playing with the little people in the little people house and bus.  The waffle blocks were another favorite today.  The babies are really enjoying the new toy that was put in yesterday for them to walk around, put balls in, and play with.  It really cut down on the climbing on furniture and standing, which was my goal for adding that toy. πŸ˜€  After play time and making crafts, we read stories and sang a song or two. 

Then the children had about 30 minutes of play time outside.  I don't believe they did centers today, but mostly ran around and expended all that sweet energy that small children have.  They came in ready to eat turkey and veggies and fruit.  We had an abundance of food today thanks to the food brought in by parents today.  We had corn casserole, fruit salad, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes brought in today, then we had cooked sweet potatoes in the smaller crockpot and the turkey in the large 8 quart crockpot, and had rolls and pumpkin pie and apple pie.  The turkey barely fit in the large crockpot.  I had never made one in the crockpot before; wow was it moist!  Definitely recommend making a turkey in the crockpot!

One of the goals of our Thanksgiving Lunch is to prepare them for the manners necessary for the official Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving day.  Children can be overwhelmed with large groups of people especially if they don't know what is expected of them.  Things that we reviewed today were: where to put your fork and spoon, where to put your cup, to use your napkin, and how to ask nicely for food or drink. Thankfully the group of children we have is pretty good already with knowing what is expected at lunch time.  The main trouble we have, generally, is volume control.  It is like it is a dial that keeps turning higher, you turn it down for a second and then up it goes again.  We have been using a visual with a Lion for Loud outside voice, a Turtle for Talking Turtles inside voice, and a Fish for Fishy Quiet like rest time.  I believe we got the visual from Program Wide Positive Behavior Support.

Today "J" removed the Talking Turtle pictures to show his friends many times - to no avail. πŸ˜• but he kept trying until we told him to just leave it. They were really excited to have Thanksgiving / Friendsgiving feast.  To make it more special we used stoneware plates instead of plastic plates.  They are breakable but not china. (I'm not that crazy!) They all ate very well and kept the plates on their placemats, not breaking even one plate!

After lunch and rest time the children had peanut butter sandwiches and pumpkin pie and apple pie which most of them loved.  So happy to make things that they enjoy. πŸ˜‡

Someone had asked me for the recipe for the Sweet Potatoes in the Crockpot.  I made them per the recipe but with just a little marshmallows.  I think it may have been ok without the marshmallows, just wasn't sure.  Here is a link to the recipe.  Sweet Potato recipe
Here is another Sweet Potato crock pot recipe that looks a tad healthier. Healthy Sweet Potato Crock Pot  Either way it saves oven space and stress at the time of the meal.  A win-win in my book!

The menu for today was: Waffles, Blueberries, Milk.
Lunch: Turkey, Rolls, Mixed Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Fruit salad, and Corn Casserole,
Snack: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Helping kids to understand donating to others

I firmly believe that we should all help others - period.  It doesn't have to be someone less fortunate than us.  Everyone needs help sometimes. In the Fall there are many opportunities for helping children learn to help others, then we can continue through the rest of the year looking for ways that they can be helpful to the community.

In November, we start with collecting for Operation Christmas Child.  The children understand that they like toys, and that other children will like getting toys, clothes, etc. as well.  So we begin bringing in toys, clothes, or toiletries for the boxes.  We sorted the toys, clothing, and toiletries into the 6 boxes (the number they chose this year).  We could see that we needed a little more.  I take the older children shopping to add a few more items to the boxes, and after $$ we have more to add to the boxes. 😏 This morning we packed the final time making sure that all the OCC boxes have enough items in them to make it fun, and have a "wow" item.  We prayed over the OCC boxes asking God to direct the right box to the right child.  Perhaps a child has been wishing for dinosaurs, or playdoh, or a new shirt, or a for a doll.  We drove them to the collection location - Horizon Church - so they can be taken to the big warehouse and then shipped out to where ever they are going. 

We purchased tracking labels so we will be able to see where they are going to.  That was all that was originally planned for today.  Dropping off the OCC Shoeboxes was busy enough I thought, until I heard that the T-Shirts for Turkeys pick up location for Brandon was going to be at the Bloomingdale Publix.....

Every year we have taken the children to purchase frozen turkeys πŸ¦ƒand donate them when The Joy FM has their drop off locations.

They are shared with local food banks so that people can have turkeys with their Thanksgiving.  It is another easy way to share with children the idea of sharing with others.  After all, children by the age of 3 or 4 already know that they are going to have Turkey for Thanksgiving!  So as we were loading the Turkeys into the basket from the freezer at Publix, so easy to talk about how we want others to be able to have Turkeys for their Thanksgiving meal.  You should have seen their excited grins as they helped put the turkeys in the basket so we could go pay.  They also were excited to share that their parent helped buy the turkeys. So thankful that we have child care parents who are showing their children by example how to share with others. We purchased and dropped off the turkeys - 6! - before taking the OCC Shoeboxes simply because of windows for the Joy-FM and OCC Shoebox drop offs.

Our next donation for the month of November will be for Metropolitan Ministries.  They collect tons of food in their holiday tent to feed the homeless, or those that don't have enough income to feed their families, pay their bills, or whatever.  I have visited Metropolitan Ministries and seen the good work they do with the families that live there.  They train them to have better paying jobs so they can support their families, but they also have to attend parenting classes and other classes to help them.  Papa Joe and I toured that last year while taking an Infant Mental Health course.  Very inspirational to see all that they are doing.  We are collecting can foods and other non-perishables to take to Metropolitan Ministries next Tuesday.  We will take another trip in December to donate as well.
This is all we have collected as of this moment.  If anyone would like to contribute you are more than welcome to do so.  The table and box are directly inside the door.  

Now that was a lot to ask these toddlers and preschoolers to be kind of quiet, and kind of still going through stores and riding in Clifford (the big red van). 

So we returned to Nana's Learning Post for a short story time and lots of outside time to run off our energy. During story time I tried to bring out that warm feeling you get when you help others, to help them remember how it felt.  So I asked them, how did they feel when they brought the OCC shoeboxes to donate.  A few of them answered and said they felt sad.  When I inquired why they replied they wanted the toys.  What a good lesson πŸ˜‰ that we don't have to have everything we want, and that we can share it with someone else.  We talked about how many toys they have at home, and the children these are going to may not have any toys at all.  Such a tough concept for American children! They all agreed that they wanted the other children to have some toys.  Then they started piping up that they felt good on the inside, and felt a warmth in their heart.  Which is what I had expected really since they were all excited and smiling when we dropped off the boxes.  Obviously they were conflicted when they dropped the OCC Boxes off.  So proud of them for working through the feelings and finding the good inside. Here is the tracking # so later you can track it on the OCC website. 000048535164 

A much needed wiggle break!  They had a great time "cooking or baking" in the mud kitchen, working in the sandbox, and making music in the music area -  we added a new deep tone wind chime 😁

They rode trikes, sometimes pulling someone in the trailer, worked together to fly the airplane teeter totter, and played chase, lots of chase!  So busy.

Yes, they are sleeping very well for rest time. 😴😴  Just about to wake them up.  

Menu for today is: Breakfast:  Multigrain Cheerios, Apples, Milk.  Lunch:  Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, Peas, Carrots (cooked for younger), Milk.  Snack:  Yogurt and Blueberries. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Operation Christmas Child Shopping

Today was the day we went shopping for those last few things for the Operations Christmas Child boxes.  The children originally voted to make 6 OCC boxes, which is a pretty big number.  We had some great support and had enough to pack 4-1/2 boxes as a trial run yesterday afternoon.  So, off to Wal-mart we went, just Nana Robin and 6 excited VPK children 😜 after reviewing our field trip rules, we were on our way. We talk about what we are going for - to purchase toys for children that don't have toys for Christmas.  Hmm, so excited, gets louder and louder.  Review field trip rules again (quiet voices, looking eyes aka no touching, holding hands, listening ears).  Almost there..... ok review rules again.  Finally unloading van and going to store. πŸ˜„Everyone is holding hands, walking so nicely, just slightly super excited, but still listening well.  We get the cart, arrange everyone around the cart, and start into store.  As some of the children are just confirming with me - we are not getting a toy for me right??  But they are only confirming, they know we are on a mission to find toys to put into the shoe boxes for other boys and girls.  As we are walking down the main aisle toward the toys they see the big blow up snowmen.  Yes, there are other blow ups, but the Olaf blow up really has them excited - review rules again 😏 and continue.  

We made it to the toy section with just a few stops to admire the awesome blow ups, toys, watches, and whatever else caught their fancy.  I looked for things that weren't too expensive, then gave them choices (votes) about which ones to get.  We bought some cars, little watches, stuffed bear, and a few other items.  As we are going to check out they were doing well, but distracted by the cashier in the self-check out area who was being Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  The cart suddenly starts walking away 😨silly kids did they forget I have eyes in the back of my head. πŸ˜‚  Later I will go to the dollar store, maybe with the littles, to get combs and things to finish the boxes.  Hopefully we added some "wow" things today so when the child opens the box they are happy to see just what they have been wishing for.  God can move mountains, he can certainly make sure that just the right toy goes in just the right box.  🎁

After shopping we worked on a sequencing story art to retell the story of The Old Woman Who Ate A Pie.  Following that was some outside time.  We played Hokey Pokey Turkey Style -- Gobble Gobble, rode trikes, raced and played Pilgrim and Turkey, and made nature art on a stick. Soon it was lunch time and rest time. 

Our breakfast today was Cinnamon Toast and Pineapple with Milk.  Lunch was Chili with Rice, Green Beans, Yellow Squash Casserole (no one's fav apparently), and Milk.  Snack is simply Goldfish and Apple Slices.

The picture below is their "nature art on a stick".

Operation Christmas Child link is:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thanksgiving Fun begins

With Thanksgiving just a week and a half away we began thinking about Thanksgiving and what it is all about.  I pulled out all our fun Thanksgiving activities and printed and laminated a few more.  These are all activities that others have shared either through Teacher's Pay Teachers or on their own website.
This cute Turkey number game is from Thanksgiving Turkey Number Center by Lavinda Pop on Teacher's Pay Teachers.  Most had a fun time with this one with the colorful clothespins to open and close and making the turkey feathers any way they wanted.

The ABC Match Mat was from Thanksgiving Preschool by Creative Learning Fun.  Many of the math related Turkey activities were from the Free Thanksgiving Math and Literacy Park for Pre-K by  So we put puzzles together checking for the number at the bottom of the puzzle as well as puzzles with no numbers on the bottom.  We played cards with two letters on them and we had to discover the letter that goes in the middle.  I think the children enjoyed them.  They either zipped right through them to get to making Fall bracelets, or they took their time and did them over and over again.

And of course we went outside to have some Fall fun as well.  They worked a little in every spot:  mud kitchen working with flowers and leaves, spelling their name with rocks, stepping from one lot to another, building in the block table or lifting small stumps, making music, Everyone was very busy, and everyone is sleeping peacefully now.

We will continue the afternoon with Yogurt and mixed fruit for snack, followed by a short story time, and more Thanksgiving themed activities and assessing what we have for the Operation Christmas Child boxes.  In our stories we are reading about sharing with others and Thanksgiving.

Our menu for today was:  Bagels, Apple Slices, and Milk for breakfast.  Crockpot Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Whole Grain Bread, and Milk for Lunch.  And of course Yogurt and Mixed fruit for snack.  They ate most everything as usual.  They do love to eat. 😁😁😁

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