Monday, December 13, 2010

Recycled Gingerbread People

I usually remember to take my reusable bags to the market, but now and then I forget and had somehow accumulated a big enough stack of brown paper grocery bags to make gingerbread people. The children used white paint to make gingerbread people on the bags. Once the paint dried, the people were cut out and they used Silky Crayons to add faces, buttons, hair, etc. This was easy and inexpensive and, best of all, they loved it!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

how leslie and eden create in the kitchen

No, it's not a cake! It's paper mache. Not sure what it will turn out to be. Even teens need a little process over product from time to time . . .

gingerbread houses

We've been learning about our 5 senses - and gingerbread seemed to tie in. We created these gingerbread houses at one of the art tables this week. Children were invited to paint a house. Some used brown paint and some mixed in a little white. When the houses were dry, the children used white paint (frosting) to outline the houses. Finally, they used sticky foam candy shapes to finish off the houses.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Parent Gift

Close-up photo of child printed in sepia ink on white cardstock and mounted on red construction paper. Topped with a sheet of velum printed with the child's dictated poem. Tied together with a green ribbon.

Friday, November 19, 2010

On the eve of your birthday

Dear Leslie,

Sixteen years ago today. I didn't know your face yet. I hadn't heard your voice. I loved you - yes. But I didn't know the depth of that love yet. How proud I'd be of all of your accomplishments. How protective I'd be of your heart.

Sixteen years ago today. I hoped you'd be beautiful. You are. I hoped you'd be kind. You are. I hoped you'd be smart and confident and brave and artistic. You are all of these things - and more. You hear music that no one else can hear. You see art in the every day. You have empathy for those around you and those you haven't met. You want to please - yet you also want to do things your way.

Sixteen years ago today. I prayed that I would be a good mother. That I'd know how to take care of you. Know how to teach you all I know about this wonderful and sometimes scary world. Know how to fill you up with love, and knowledge, and all of the things inside my heart. Know how to let you go out into the world when it was time.

Sixteen years ago today. The eve of your birth.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl. I love you.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

come to my house . . .

We've been talking about our families and where we live. This week we painted our houses and added a photo in the open doorway. Then each of the children dictated a sentence or two about what friends could do if they came over to play. It was an interesting view into what they like to do at home! I loved that one little boy said his friends could come over and play hide and seek with his grandma :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

let the wild rumpus begin!

Where the Wild Things Are. Love this book. And I've never had a class that didn't love it too. It's scary - but not too scary. The language challenges - but it doesn't go over the heads of the audience. The illustrations are amazing. And so . . . year after year, I share this with my littles.
Then I pull out construction paper, markers, stickers, glue, and scissors and we get to work making monster hats. This hat is pretty cool because you wear it on the back of your head and it doesn't block your face or your vision. Seventeen littles in backwards masks make a pretty awesome parade . . . um, or should I say "wild rumpus"!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Sometimes I am simply overwhelmed by all of the words and images that float on the screen before me as I scroll through blog-world. To be honest, that's why I've been avoiding it lately. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE that so many ideas are right there at my finger tips. No more searching through magazines and books for something to do with the littles. No need to do the same thing each year with every one of my classes. But sometimes and on some days, it is just too much. For one thing, it isn't humanly possible for me to try each and every one of the activities that I find that I like. Secondly, I have a little trouble keeping track of all the ideas I see. I print them off or stick them in idea folders. I jot down notes on a pad that I keep near my laptop. But, invariably, I forget where I found a great idea just when I need it most. Case in point: these triangles. A few weeks ago (I think!), I saw an idea for teaching organic shapes. The littles trace the shape with a sharpie and then color it in with water based markers. Finally, they spray water over the paper so that the colors run. I loved this idea and the littles had a great time with it but I'm sorry that I can't give proper credit to it's originator :( The computer should be making my life easier - why do I feel like it's just making me crazy???

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

little miss muffet has nothing on us . . .

The littles took turns acting out "Little Miss/Master Muffet" while I snapped photos. Once the photos were developed we glued them on paper and drew spiders.

I attached the following poem to each of their papers:

Little Miss/Master __________ sat on her/his tuffet eating her/his ______________ all day. Along came a spider who sat down beside her/him and frightened Miss/Master _________ away!

The littles had fun telling me what they were eating out of the bowls.

Friday, October 1, 2010

jack smiled back and then replied, "i'm just a pumpkin with a light inside"

a little color mixing with watercolor paint
some tearing construction paper for a stem
sharpie for a cute face
a bit of teacher help for the face cutting
scraps of kite paper behind the faces
and . . . voila! adorable jacks

i love these every year

Friday, September 24, 2010

log hotel

I was first introduced to Log Hotels when my daughter was a toddler and we took several classes at our local nature center in Michigan. As part of each class we would take a walk in the woods, stopping to observe nature all around us. When we'd come across a fallen log we would stop to examine the plant and animal life that had moved in and taken up residence.

Our logs are painted forearms/hands. We used photos from old Ranger Rick magazines, stickers, foam leaves and acorns, and silk leaves to adorn our logs. Some of the littles really got into this activity - making up elaborate stories about the animals inhabiting their log hotels.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What's in a name?

I gave the littles watercolor paint and the first letter of their first names cut from watercolor paper. Once the letters were dry we glued them on black cardstock and the littles tucked a photo of themselves somewhere on the letter. I do a lot with the children's names all during the school year because their names are a meaningful connection to the world of reading and writing for them. Next up: a class alphabet book using our names.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I try to stay away from themes that aren't really relevant to the experiences of four year olds that are growing up in hot and humid southwest Florida. That being said, we do explore apples every fall. Even though we don't grow apples here and can't go to the orchard, apples are still "in season" at our local grocery stores. Today we cut open some apples and explored them with our 5 senses. We talked about what we call the different parts of the apple (core, seeds, flesh . . .) and we also discovered the "star" surprise inside when you cut an apple horizontally. Then we put all of those apple halves to good use making apple prints. I also found some large green, red, and yellow apples in an old Mailbox magazine and after laminating them they made good sorting bases to be used with stickers. Because they were laminated we can re-use them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

circle prints

I found some heavy duty tubes in different sizes last summer at The Scrap Box in Ann Arbor. I'm not sure what we'll use them for but this was a start . . .

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You never know . . .

You never know what the littles are going to love. What they will come back to over and over again. What will hold their attention in a room full of activity. I usually have a pretty good idea - but I'm still occasionally surprised. Today we tried an activity I found at It involves taping bubble wrap to the table and laying a large sheet of butcher paper over it and then coloring with unwrapped crayons. As you color, the bubbles pop and a neat pattern appears. The littles liked this activity and it did hold their attention for quite some time. Then, one of the littles started pulling the bubble wrap out from under the paper in order to pop the bubbles by hand. Everyone loved this idea! Silly teacher. We just want to pop the bubbles. That's the real fun!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

If You Take An 11 Year Old to the FLea Market . . .

she is going to ask to borrow your camera. And if she borrows your camera . . . you are going to be enchanted when you look through the photos and realize that she saw things that you had walked right by. And, once again, you will be aware of how much you can learn if you just adjust your focus. Thanks, Mollie. Love you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

fairy world

fairy world in a re-purposed dresser drawer

Friday, July 9, 2010

key west

Every now and then we like to take a road trip. Last weekend we headed to Key West. Key West in July is colorful, hot, and just a little bit crazy.