Easter Fun


We had a wonderful Easter celebration on a delightful sunny day!   The best day to get all the grandchildren together ended up being on Saturday.  Owen likes to see an agenda of the activities that I plan, so I typed it up for him (and to help me remember!)

Easter activities copy

Bunny hats were the first thing on the list.


I wanted to make a variation on a traditional egg hunt for a few reasons.  The range in ages gives the older kids a big advantage in a regular egg hunt.  The parents really didn’t want the kids to get tons of candy inside the plastic eggs, and the kids all participated in a couple of other regular egg hunts at other parties and in the community.  So I decided to make it into a clue hunt.  I numbered and decorated 6 paper lunch bags, and filled enough eggs for each child to open one at each stop.  Since Max is so little I just put 4 eggs into each bag.  There were a few pieces of candy in each egg, and there was one egg that contained a written clue inside each lunch bag.

hunt JPG

I gave each child a little bucket to carry to hold their eggs and the candy that spilled out when they opened them up.


We just handed them the first bag of eggs, and the clue inside one of those eggs led them outside.  They went to places like the swing set, under a tree, in the mailbox.  Owen read the clues and they all took off running for the next destination.

hunt read

They ended up back inside where they found bags full of prizes.

hunt end

The next activity was our Easter Parade.  I got out crepe paper streamers, foam Easter shapes, artificial flowers, paper plates, and other supplies.  They had fun decorating the bikes, wagons, stroller, and even our son’s wheelchair that was part of the parade!


They had a great time waving to all the cars that passed by.

We came back inside and made Tumble Bunnies, a craft I found on Pinterest.  I precut the shapes and the children colored them, then we folded and taped them with 2 marbles inside.  The directions recommended using a textured surface but the ones we made did great flipping over going down these ramps.

tumble bunny


Here is the template I got from Pinterest.  I found it on many sites there.

Tumble Bunnies

We went back outside to play with our parachute.   We played with balls I got at a Dollar Store, and each child took a ball home.



Back inside we played a Memory Game.  I set out a tray of things like a plastic Easter egg, a bunny, a jelly bean, a crocheted egg, just things I found in my Easter decorations.  The children looked carefully at the tray, then they turned away and I removed one thing.  They tried to figure out what was missing.

I included another old favorite activity – Froot Loop necklaces – they love to make and eat these!

froot loop A

We played a game of Hot Potato – passing around a bunny shaped bean bag, and trying not to be the one holding it when the music stopped.

We also did a cooking activity that I found on Pinterest too.  We used Grands Biscuits, some recipes use refrigerated crescent rolls or frozen bread dough, but they are all basically the same.  I loved this activity because it gave us a chance to tell a very simplified story of Jesus and the resurrection.

Each child rolled out one biscuit to about a 5 or 6 inch circle.  We painted on melted butter with a basting brush.  Then we put a marshmallow – which stood for Jesus, in the center of the circle, and sprinkled on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  We gathered up the dough to seal the marshmallow inside.  I told the children that Jesus rose from the dead and was not inside the tomb the next day.  We wondered together if the marshmallow might be gone too.  We sprayed a baking sheet with nonstick spray and dipped the biscuit bundle in more melted butter and placed it on the tray and sprinkled it with more cinnamon and sugar.   We made enough rolls for each family to take a tray home, and bake them for Easter morning breakfast.


They turned out great!  One of my favorite parts of Easter this year was a text message my son sent.  Lily was so excited she yelled “Yook!  Jesus isn’t there!  (Still perfecting the L sound!)

Of course we had to dye eggs too!  It was a great celebration!

egg dye 2


I hope your family enjoyed a wonderful, safe and fun celebration too!


Pete the Cat


We got to meet Pete the Cat!

Commerce Township Community Library hosted another fun evening event, this time our activities were all about Pete!  We started out listening to Pete the Cat:  I Love My White Shoes, by James Dean and Eric Litwin.  If there is anyone out there who is not familiar with this set of books, please  check them out.  I still like the first two best, and our activities featured the White Shoes and Four Groovy Buttons.  After the story we were free to visit the stations that were set up around the community room.  I really appreciate all the work, and thought that goes into setting up and organizing these special evenings.  They carefully think through the details and that makes everything go so smoothly.


Our first stop was this center where we acted out the story by stepping into “a large pile of strawberries!”  and continued around the circle until our shoes were white again, even though they were wet – and it was all good!  It was fun to hear the children using the language from the book – even 19 month old Nora chants off “Goodness no!”



Next we did the color ring toss.  the rings were painted paper plates, with a hole cut in the center.  We tossed them over painted paper towel tubes that were held upright on another plate.   I called the paper plates “buttons.”  They did a lot of rolling away!



Next the children made Pete the Cat hats.  All the crafts and games were fun and appropriate for the age range of the children who attended.  As soon as our kids put on their hats they ran over to Pete who was walking around the room, to show him what they had made.




Next we made Pete the Cat stick puppets.


I had not seen glue bottles like this before.  They have a small brush attached to the lid, and they worked pretty well, but the glue bottles have to be more than half full.  In my classroom I was always looking for the best way to glue!




There was a good selection of Pete the Cat books to read, along with a few other fun cat books.


This was a fun button race game.  We played it on a magnet board, there were two rows of colored buttons – one along each side of the board.  Each player took a Pete marker and began at the bottom.  Then we took turns rolling the special die.  We would land on a colored button or a message that told us we had to go back, or take an extra turn.  The player reaching the top button first won!  This could easily be a table game too.



I found the picture of Pete the Cat online and put 6 on a page.  I thought they would be great to put on popsicle sticks as pointers too!

Pete pointers 


This was all organized so nicely!


And the kids loved it!

It was such a fun time.  There are lots and lots of Pete the Cat activities on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers.

Harper Collins offers some wonderful bonuses too!  At  http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/feature/petethecat/‎   you can download 5 of the songs that go with the books, and one video – for FREE!  I have White Shoes and Groovy Buttons on my phone and my grandchildren love to listen to them in the car.  Basically the song downloads are read alouds of the entire books.images-5

When I was searching online I found these Pete the Cat images that would be fun to use in lots of ways.  Children could color their shoes different colors, or make a board game similar to the floor game we played.  These cats could be glued onto folded paper to make stand up game markers.  Here is another activity I came across.  You might even make a graph showing which shoe color is the most popular with your children.




Another idea I came across was to ask the children to write about where their button might roll, if it popped off.


Thank you Commerce Library, and thanks Pete!



More Fun with Nursery Rhymes!

Nora is exploring Nursery Rhymes!  At 18 months she loves to play with some plastic Humpty Dumpty and Old Woman in the Shoe toys.  She has no concern about memorization or rhyming – she just loves to manipulate the toys and yell out “Humpy Dumpy!”  But I know that she is developing essential language skills when she explores the rhythm and patterns of these rhymes.   She is gaining phonemic awareness as she plays with words, she is learning vocabulary when I explain words like broth, fleece, fiddle and curds and whey.   She is starting to sing some of the rhymes and she echoes the inflection of our voices as we emphasize different parts of the rhymes.  Nursery Rhymes are part of our culture and I think it is important for children to experience them.  In Kindergarten these rhymes can be used to enhance early reading skills in lots of ways.

One of my favorite ways to use Nursery Rhymes was to retell them.  Each rhyme is really a miniature story that children can act out, sing or retell from memory.  They gain confidence in retelling when they are repeating something they are so familiar with.  I was very excited to find some wonderful clipart images of Nursery Rhymes on my Kidoodlez Early Years CD.   Most of the pictures I am sharing are from this CD, please visit them at djinkers.com.

Here are some pictures of the characters from a variety of rhymes that could be used as necklaces or stapled onto headbands.  When the children act out these short rhymes they are speaking, listening and moving.  Because they are so short it is easy to take turns and let lots of children actively participate.

HumptyThe child playing Humpty Dumpty could sit on a low table or stool, then “fall” off!



MuffetA stool could be used as a tuffet., along with a bowl and spoon for the curds and whey!

JackJill The children could hold onto a bucket and pretend to climb up a hill,


You could draw a large shoe shape on paper for all the children to try to fit into!


For this retelling I would put moveable hands on the clock so the children can turn the hands and point to 1:00.

Hey Diddle

Hey Diddle 2 Of course the cow would need a moon made from something like yellow construction paper to jump over!

Boy Blue

Boy Blue 2

It would be fun if they had a real horn to blow, and you could cut out some corn for the corn field and flowers for the meadow!  The haystack could be taped onto a chair and Little Boy Blue could “sleep” behind it. 

NimbleI had an antique looking metal candle holder that we used with this rhyme.  As each child jumped over we changed the rhyme to include his or her name.  “Owen be nimble, Owen be quick!”

You could also make stick puppets with these characters by taping them onto paint sticks or tongue depressors.

I also created some small stand up figures to go along with each Nursery Rhyme.  You could run these off as they are, or cut them apart and use them as stick puppets too!   Children can manipulate these figures as they retell the rhyme.

Humpty Dumpty


Here is Humpty’s wall along with the haystack from Little Boy Blue.

wall haystack

Little Boy Blue 

Boy blue

Old Mother Hubbard 

Mother hub

cupboard hill 

Jack and Jill

Jack Jill

Jack Be Nimble


Little Miss Muffet

Muffet spider 

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary Lamb 

Hey Diddle Diddle


Diddle 2 

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

woman shoe

Tuffet shoe

Here is an example of the stand up figures from Little Boy Blue.


I did a bit of cut and pasting to make pictures that the children could cut out and put together in the right sequence.  Using these pictures would also be helpful for kids learning the rhymes.

Mary Lamb sequence

Little boy blue seq

Humpty Dumpty Sequence 

I also used this great clipart from DJ Inkers to make a couple of  rebus stories for the children to read. 


Humpty rebus 

Mother Hubbard rebus 

Nursery Rhymes provide great practice with concepts about print, one to one word correspondence and early reading.  Because the children sing and memorize these rhymes most of them are successful “reading” them.  I loved putting the words into a pocket chart or posting a large copy of the rhymes on the wall for children to read.  I put together this sheet of characters that could be taped onto tongue depressors or popsicle sticks to make reading pointers.  Great for reading the room! 

Nursery rhyme pointers


I was thinking that I would also like  to keep a set of these sticks in a can at circle time.  It would be fun to have a child pull out a rhyme for the class to remember and recite when you have a few minutes to fill.


Here is a die I made that you could use to reinforce the rhymes or put at a center.  You could run this off on cardstock and tape it together.  When I wanted to make a cube that was more sturdy I got 2 empty milk cartons from the school cafeteria.  I cut them off so they were square cubes, and pushed one inside the other.  Then you could cover it with paper or contact paper, or just glue the pictures onto each side.  These milk carton cubes are almost indestructible!


I also made this little board game as another opportunity to practice the rhymes.  The children could use buttons or coins as markers, and a spinner or die.

Board game 

Here is another activity, the children need to identify which pictures are from the same Nursery Rhyme.  There are 2 pictures that go along with the first picture in each row.  The children cut them out and glue them on so there are 3 in a row from each different rhyme.

Matching game 2

Matching game 1 

I don’t really think that Nursery Rhymes are the best way to introduce or teach the skill of rhyming because there are really not very many rhyming words in these chants, and the rhymes are far apart.  But they can be good for reinforcing rhyming.   For this activity the children cut apart the pictures and find the 2 words that rhyme and then glue them next to each other on the recording sheet.

rhyming game 2

rhyming game 1

I found these small fold up books at Kidzone, please visit their site for more great ideas!







I hope you can use some of these ideas to have fun with Nursery Rhymes with the children in your life too!


Love Letters

I thought I would take advantage of Valentine’s Day as an excuse to share pictures of some of the people I love most:





I try to get a picture of all of them together, but so far I haven’t been successful!  I am so blessed to have 5 grandchildren – age 5 and younger!  I am spending this season of my life taking care of the two youngest, Nora age 18 months and Max who is almost 3 months, while their parents work.  I try to find as much time as I can for the other 3 too, because they are all the delight of my life!

My husband is over the moon about these babies too!   In my free minutes with the little ones I wanted to do something that would make him smile for Valentine’s Day.  I decided to make him a whole bunch of Love Letters, and hide them all over the house where he would find them.

letters 2

letters 1

I saw lots of similar ideas on Pinterest and other blogs, but I started out by going around my house and collecting little things I could use.  Some other sites used all kinds of candy but I just used random things.  Then I printed out little sayings to go along with each item and taped them together.   I hid them in the refrigerator, his sock drawer, the pocket of his coat, the seat of his car, the cereal bowls, the floor of the shower … everywhere I could think of!

Here is the Love Letter template I made using DJ Inkers clipart!

blank (dragged)

Here is a sample of how they looked with the sayings printed on, then I ran them off on pink paper.

love letters done

I was thinking how I might have used this idea with my Kindergartners too.  Recognizing and noticing good behavior or small achievements is so important to children, and their parents.  I often sent home little notes to reinforce these things, and I know it meant a lot to them.  You could use these “Love Letters” with a small inexpensive candy or toy as a way to celebrate something with one child, or the whole class!  If you are looking for some ideas here are some of the items I used and sayings I made up (or borrowed!)



I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day yourself – I miss the school parties, but I celebrated with a very special dinner party at the home of good friends!

Simple Machines

Last week our family experienced another STEM storytime at the Commerce Community Library.  This time we were learning about simple machines, I love how these evenings always tie in literature, hands on exploration, and a take home activity.  At first our librarian discussed what simple machines are, she defined them as “something that makes work easier.”   We learned there are 6 types of simple machines:  pulley, lever, wheel and axle, screw, wedge and inclined plane.  We spent the evening concentrating on 4 of them:  inclined plane, wheel and axle, lever, and pulley.

Here is a sampling of some of the great books available about simple machines:



After reading about inclined planes, levers, wheel and axles and pulleys we were free to experiment and try out these simple machines.

Here are the directions for our experiments with inclined planes.

inclined plane directions

There was a basket with a sturdy handle, filled with books.  First the children tried to lift the basket, then they pulled it up the ramp.  The ramp was simply a board with blocks stacked under one end.


The children agreed it was easier to pull the basket up the ramp than lift it.

Next they made the ramp more steep by adding more blocks under the end.


Then they tried to pull it up the ramp that was more steep.


There was also a sign showing where we might see inclined planes in daily life.

Inclined planes examples 

Next we experimented with wheels and axles.

wheel directions

This was such a simple idea and it worked very well.  The kids tried to push the heavy container, then we lined up dowels and set the container on top of them – it rolled great!




Then we put the container on a big cart and talked about how the wheels on the cart were bigger than the dowels – the kids loved pushing the cart!

Here are examples of wheels and axles:

wheel examples

Our next experiment was with levers.

lever directions 

First the children put a large plastic dinosaur on one end of the board, and stacked bean bags on the opposite side.


Then they tried out a tiny dinosaur


Later we moved the board so the stack of blocks (fulcrum) was close to one end of the board.   We saw how it made it much harder to lift the dinosaurs.



Here are examples of levers:

levers examples

Our final machine was a pulley.

pulley directions 

The pulley we used was a simple wheel attached to a wire coat hanger, hung from the hinge of a door.


The children filled the  pumpkin buckets with different materials and experimented with lifting them using the pulley.  The hangers were taped to the door hinge so it wouldn’t come off with the force of pulling.






My son, the engineer, told me that a pulley system really doesn’t make it easier to lift weight unless there are at least 2 pulleys.  But I noticed that the children could lift the weight much higher using this one pulley than they could have lifted it without the pulley and rope.

Here are examples of pulleys:

pulley examples

Warning!  If you take an engineer with you (like my son), be prepared to hear the intricacies of how these systems are really supposed to work.   These activities did a great job demonstrating how simple machines are used to make work easier!  It was another fun evening at the library!

The children were given this take home activity.   These pictures would be great for sorting, or you could even make a Go Fish type of game by trying to collect a set of pictures of levers, or a set of pulleys, etc.

Inclined Planes

Wheel and Axle



Now it’s fun for me to point out examples of these simple machines to my grandchildren when we are out and about!  If I were still in a classroom I would try to take some photographs of things around school that use show these simple machines in action!




Poems and Fingerplays

There are so many valid, important reasons to use a lot of poems and fingerplays with young children.  First of all, they are interactive and fun, they help get children’s attention and participation and keep them engaged.   Poems and fingerplays are also great ways to expose children to rhyming and new vocabulary.  Some fingerplays encourage counting, or counting backward.

We all know that different children learn through a variety of styles, and you can present poems and fingerplays different ways too.  Sometimes you might just chant off a poem, encouraging listening or echoing back; which is great for auditory learners.  You might add physical movements – whole body movements, or hand and finger movements as you recite the poems; that suits kinesthetic learners.  I also love acting out poems and nursery rhymes – or having 5 children stand up and sit down one at a time with a count down rhyme.

I found the easiest way to keep most children engaged and participating with simple poems and rhymes is to include pictures.  When you allow the children to hold and manipulate the pictures as you recite the poems you are incorporating auditory, visual and kinesthetic styles, and the kids love it!

One of my favorite sources for clipart is DJ Inkers.  If you are not familiar with their great products please check them out at http://www.djinkers.com.  Most of the clipart I am sharing on this post are copyright by Dianne J. Hook.  I know you will love her pictures too!

photo 2 (7)

Here is a book I made for my grandchildren that holds pictures to go with a bunch of different rhymes.

photo 1 (10)

I printed off a copy of each poem and pictures to go along with them.  I bought a 1 1/2 inch binder and these clear plastic sleeves.  These probably would not hold up if a classroom of kids were taking the pictures in and out, but it works great for a family.  When I used these at school I laminated the pictures and kept each poem along with the pictures in a 9 x 13 inch manilla envelope.  For my grandchildren I put the poem into one plastic sleeve, and the cut out pictures into another.

photo 1 (6)

photo (19)

I cut small pieces of magnetic tape (from JoAnn’s or Michael’s) on the back of each piece.  If you are more comfortable with a flannelboard instead of a magnet board, you might put a small piece of sandpaper on the back of each piece and that works great too!

photo 3 (5)

You can use a large pan or cookie sheet as a magnet board too.

photo 2 (8)


Here is the cover I put into the clear cover on the outside of the binder.  I have made these books for several families and usually put the child’s name on the cover.

Here are some of the poems I included:

5 Little snomen fat

5 snowmen2

5 snowmen1

You could also laminate these pictures and call on 5 children to hold the snowmen.  I put the sun on a tongue depressor – or made a larger one on a paint stick.  When we recite the part that says “out came the sun and melted one” a child holding the sun touches the snowman, then we removed that snowman from the magnet board, or if kids were holding them – that child sat down.

We often made a project by folding paper to make a pocket and cutting out 5 snowmen and a sun.  The children could keep their snowmen in the “snow pocket” and act out the poem at home.

Five Monkeys



More monkeys



Five Green Frogs

frog pic1

frog pic2

Five Ducks

5 Duck pics


hive pic


Here are a few more poems that I enjoy doing with children, but I didn’t use pictures with these – we just did the motions!

Tommy Thumbs

Ten Fingers

Open shut

Grandma's glasses

Crackers and Crumbs

shapesI had songs about shapes that I shared on another post, and used these simple shapes to go along with those songs.

Coming soon – Nursery Rhymes!

Thank you to Dianne J. Hook and djinkers for allowing me to share their wonderful clipart, please respect their copyright.  They allow me to share these images because I do not charge for any of the things I share with you.  They do offer a license at a reasonable price, please check them out at http://www.djinkers.com.

2,014 Things

2014 things

I enjoy reading a blog written by Kathi Lipp, check it out at Kathilipp.com.  She has issued an interesting challenge for the new year.  In an effort to find order in her home, create peace in her life, and share over-abundance with people who could use items, she has pledged to get rid of 2,014 things from her house this year.   I think I’m going to try it too.  It sounds like a lot, but it works out to be between 5-6 items every day.  It would be easy to cheat and count all the junk mail, stray puzzle pieces, and broken toys that go into the trash or recycling, but to make it meaningful I plan to only count things that I can donate or give away, or at least things I have held onto for many years and finally decide to give them up – like college text books and old photographs.

Today I went through 2 books of old pictures and scanned the ones I cared about, then threw out the rest.


Ah yes, here is one from our rehearsal dinner, the night before our wedding in 1972!   I have an unhealthy fear of my wedding photos ending up in a random antique shop someday, where people will laugh and point and remark on my outdated dress and hairstyle.  I’d rather scan them and not hold onto the originals.  My kids aren’t going to want to inherit all my old pictures anyway!  I think I will count each book of old photos, or each box as one item.

I am purging books, weeding out craft materials and unpacking closets!  Kathi pledged that her house will have 2,014 fewer items by the end of next December.  Every time she buys something new, or brings something home (other than consumable items) she plans to get rid of something additional, on top of the 2,014 items.  I’m still thinking about whether I can commit to that part – but it makes a lot of sense.

I know I could have applied this challenge to my classroom too.  I had boxes upon boxes of STUFF.  When one of my sons was young he told his own teacher that he had a solution to the world’s garbage problems.  He said we should build more schools, because then we would hire more teachers, and everyone knows that teachers don’t throw anything away!  Well, I’m sorting, sharing and tossing now!  Anyone care to join me?

The most convenient way for me to donate items is Purple Heart.  You can schedule a pick up online and they come to your house and cart away clothes, household items and small pieces of furniture.  I also drop stuff off at our local Salvation Army.  I have a tendency to get attached to things, and feel sentimental about them.  But I also love the idea of someone using and appreciating things that I have been storing in closets or boxes.

So I am hoping for a happy, healthy and less cluttered 2014.

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