Hawaiian Luau


My grandchildren enjoyed another wonderful program at the Commerce Township Community Library.  This time the theme was a Hawaiian Luau!  I never would have thought to include Hula Hoops!  They enjoyed some Hawaiian music and tried out some Hula moves.  They had a chance to try out a few traditional instruments too!


Palm trees

The Palm tree bowling was a big hit.  The pins were large soda bottles filled with crumpled blue tissue paper, with laminated palm trees taped on the front.  They used small inflated beach balls to try to knock them down.



They made leis by stringing pre-cut foam flowers alternating with small pieces of pre-cut colored straws.  Great practice making a pattern!



These cute fish were preassembled, but many children could cut the triangle and glue it onto the back independently.  The library program has limited time and lots of fun activities so some projects are often pre-cut.  The children used markers, stickers, bingo markers and glue on jewels to decorate their fish.  They could also cut out shiny scales – just like Rainbow Fish!


Beach blanket



There were large beach towels on the floor to play Beach Blanket Bingo, but my kids chose to stand at the table.  I loved the colored shells they used as markers – I am guessing you could color them by shaking them in a baggie with a bit of food color and alcohol.  They were set out in small buckets – so cute and fun!  The high school helper pulled a picture out of her container.  I liked how this game showed some things that are special about Hawaii – birds, flowers, hula, surfing, etc.  The prize for the game was a candy bar – everybody played until they won!bingo

I found some free clipart online in case anyone wanted to make their own bingo boards.


The kids loved using a plastic stylus to scratch designs in these black shapes.  As they drew with them, pretty colors showed up.  There was string if the children wanted to hang these up.


Of course they loved the special snack of Hawaiian Punch (what else?) and pretzels mixed with colored Goldfish crackers.



They set out a few books based on Hawaii – Owen was anxious to check one out!

It was a great evening.  Just for fun I looked up a few Hawaiian terms that would be fun to use with children.


Mahalo  Commerce Library!  It was such a fun evening!



More Dramatic Play!

I still love socio-dramatic play!  I love the way it brings children of different ages and abilities together in  a common experience.  I love the way children incorporate reading and writing on their own as they take on roles and interactions.  I love the way children use higher levels of vocabulary and sentence structure as they make believe.  I love the way children are empowered to initiate play and draw on their own prior experiences when they are pretending to be a restaurant worker or mail carrier.  I love watching children have fun!

Dramatic play is one of the things I have missed most about teaching Kindergarten.  The most meaningful kind of dramatic play is when children initiate it by themselves.  It often naturally flows out of constructive play or dressing dolls, etc.  They might be using blocks and turn it into a castle, then pretend to be a princess or a King, etc.  Or dressing up their baby doll, then ‘taking it to the grocery store.’  This kind of play is so rich and meaningful, but it takes time, and sometimes encouragement for this play to develop.  At school I found that if I set up the structure of a dramatic play experience the children were always anxious to have a turn and jumped into the dramatic play.  I know that my grandchildren take on roles and use dolls and puppets in their play all the time, but I wanted to find an easy way to set up some fun dramatic play experiences at my house.


I had this small media cart that used to hold a TV and VCR, wasting away in my basement.  So I bribed my in-house handyman to lower the shelf and add a board to the back and a part over the top – like this:

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A coat of paint and a curtain, and I was ready to set up a restaurant!


This really is small, 22 x 15 inches but just the right size for my grandchildren to have fun.  I asked them what we should turn it into first, and they chose a restaurant.  So I made some menus, they gathered some play food and added some paper placemats.  If I hadn’t been so anxious I would have encouraged them to make the menus themselves!  We had a play cash register that we set on top of the shelf.   I ordered a set of very inexpensive aprons online, and used Sharpie markers to turn them into restaurant uniforms.  I found a very cheap rectangular chalkboard at Michaels that fits into a groove on the top – so the children can change the name of the play center.

After a few weeks of playing restaurant they wanted to change the play center into a Fire Station.  So they helped make some flames from colored foam sheets, dug out their fire fighter hats and Mr. Handyman cut off a few pieces of old hose.  We brought out Benchly – a relic from my Kindergarten days – just a bench with a steering wheel attached to the front, makes a great fire truck but can also be used as a school bus, airplane, tractor, van, etc.  Benchly is long enough for 3 or 4 children but here Owen and Max were on their way to fight a fire!


Nora had the hose and did a great job making squirting noises!


Back at the station, Owen was ready for another call.

IMG_8102 Anna took care of the flames on the recliner!


Great job Fire Fighters!


I added a wipe off board to the front of the play center.  They love to write on that too!

So I’m having a wonderful time playing with my grandchildren – hope you’re having a really happy new year too!


We Are Thankful!

Thanksgiving is a great time to talk about gratitude and what it means to be thankful.

Here are two of my favorite books to help spark that discussion:


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I also like this book that gives information about the history of Thanksgiving, and a great short description of the first Thanksgiving; and uses the format of an alphabet book!

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I thought it might be fun to use the alphabet book format to make a class book about things we are thankful for.  After brainstorming and making a list as a group, each child could illustrate the page for a different letter of the alphabet.

thankful pdf

I am having so much fun helping out in Owen’s Kindergarten classroom each week.  I am a little rusty on all the copy machine tricks, but I love getting a little peek back into a classroom.  Owen’s great teacher, Ms. Rosing, gave me permission to share a fun turkey book they will be reading.

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Isn’t this a fun idea?  She asked me to tie a feather onto a 26 inch length of yarn and tape it to the back upper corner of the book.   The children can use the feather as a reading pointer, and of course to tickle their turkey!  I know they will love it.

I was thinking about all the different reasons teachers might provide this activity for their class.  They might be focusing on pointing to each word as they read or helping children develop confidence reading, since most of the text is repetitive.  They might be assessing which children try to decode the last word of each sentence that changes from page to page.

I thought it might be helpful to add a picture cue so every child could be successful reading this book independently.  Of course you can cover the pictures before you copy it if you prefer.

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Here is another idea you might like:


Happy Thanksgiving!

As for me, I am thankful for my family … and for teachers who share!  (Thanks Laura!)

Tape Town!

Tape town

Commerce Township Community Library presented another fun family activity called Tape Town.   They filled the entire multi-purpose program room with colored tape that was used as roads for match box szied cars.  Throughout the room they set up all kinds of fun towns!

tape town 1

tape town 2

tape town 3

tape town 5 

Our girls LOVED Fairy Tale Town!

tape town 6 Owen’s favorite was hands down the Monster Truck Rally!  They created small foil cars by pressing squares of foil over a car and carefully removing it.  Then the children used small Monster Trucks to crash over them!  Who wouldn’t love that?

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At each town they displayed several books that were related to the town.  It was so fun to see the children playing and parents reading throughout the room!  Another great evening!



Room on the Broom

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I know this book was published in 2001, but it is new to me!  I ordered it from a recent Scholastic Book Order, and I have loved reading it to my grandchildren!   There are lots of ideas of activities to use with this book on Pinterest, as well as the website Roomonthebroom.com.  If you have a chance, check them out!

I think this story would be great for retelling!  My favorite way to retell stories is to act them out.  Here are some pictures of the characters that I found online and enlarged.  You could print them on cardstock and punch holes to make yarn necklaces, or put them on headbands for the children to wear.

witch cat

Good characters 2 dog

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Here is a smaller set that you could print out, add magnets and retell on a magnetic board.

character cutouts

Or finger puppets!

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Please check out the websites noted on these pages, they have great ideas!  Also, check out this site for more great graphics!

story cut outs

Another activity would be to sequence some of the events of this story.

Sequence board 

The children would just cut out the pictures on the following page and glue them onto the recording sheet in the order they happened in the story.

Sequence pieces

This story was just full of great examples of problems and solutions.  As well as generating some great discussions you might ask children to identify the problem represented by each picture, and find the picture that represents the solution.

Problem solution 1 

Problem solution

There are 2 of each item on this page – each child would get a half sheet.

This book is full of rich vocabulary.  I think it might be helpful to have some illustrations to help children understand these unfamiliar terms.

vocabularyYou might choose one or two fun new words to concentrate on, and then look for opportunities to use these new words over and over in your classroom.  I love the word “magnificent!”

The rhymes in this book make it fun to read, but I don’t think I would emphasize the skill of rhyming.  The words that rhyme are far apart in the story, and children who are still gaining confidence in rhyming might have trouble recognizing the rhymes.  But it would be fun to point out the phrases that are repeated through the book, and emphasize those rhymes – room/broom, ground/found, be/me and on/gone.

Another teacher in my building made a great bulletin board display – she cut out a very large paper broom and taped it up horizontally.  Then each child created an animal or character that might be riding on the broom, and she mounted those pictures as if they were riding on the broom, with the title, “Is There Room on the Broom for Me?”

Maybe you have been using this book for years and love it too!  I would love to hear how you use it in your classroom!


Owen is 6!

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Owen’s birthday comes just 8 days after his twin sisters’ and up until this year they all celebrated with one combined party.  But this year the girls had their hearts set on a Frozen theme, and Owen wanted a Transformer party so his parents decided to rent out the local bounce house for his celebration.  It was a big success!

Transformer decorations are a little hard to come by, so I took a picture of Owen wearing his Transformer jacket – with full face mask, and enlarged it to use as a decoration.


We made labels for water bottles because all that jumping and climbing makes everyone thirsty!

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There is a lot of free AutoBot clipart online, so it was easy to put these together.

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I found these pictures that would be great stapled onto straws or on sticks to put into cupcakes.

On Owen’s actual birthday we had a small family party and the children each got one of these simple matching games.

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I even found a ready made birthday card to download.

Birthday card

We wanted to be prepared in case there was some down time during the bounce party, so I came up with a simple group game that I called Transformers – Ready to Roll!


I printed off these pictures of 4 different Transformers.  The children would sit in a circle, each holding one of these pictures.  Then an adult would call out 2 Transformers, including the color in case some children are not as AutoBot savvy as my Grandson.  So they would call out Red Optimus Prime and Yellow Bumblebee.  (Or just use the colors!)  Those children would stand up and run across the circle to sit in a different spot.  The adult would continue calling out colors, but if (s)he calls out Transformers!  Ready to Roll!  all the children get up and run for a different spot.

Here are the pictures I printed, these sheets provide 3 of each color.

Fruit Basket game 2

Fruit Basket game 1I was thinking of different ways I could have played this game with my Kindergartners.  As a child I used to play it using different kinds of fruit and the teacher would call out Fruit Basket Tips Over – and we would all get up and run.   It might be fun to print off body parts like eye, ear, nose, hand and tongue – and use it to review 5 senses!


Or  names of punctuation!  You could play it with any things you want the children to remember!

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Anyway …

Happy Birthday Owen!

I hope you love being 6!



Frozen Birthday Party!


Our little Princesses turned 4 years old last week and we celebrated with a Frozen themed birthday party!  They looked lovely in their Elsa dresses!

Olaf door

This picture of Olaf was on the door to greet our guests.

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We had a few activities set up for arriving guests.  I love Dollar Tree!  I found Frozen tattoos there, and some cups with removable inserts that could be colored and decorated.  I made personalized Frozen inserts with each child’s picture.  I found lots of free clipart online – for these I looked up Frozen coloring pages.


cup iinsert After printing out these personalized pages, I used the insert that came in the cup as a template to cut them to fit inside the cups.

I found some glow in the dark bracelets with glow in the dark beads for each child to make too.


I ordered 3 inch white pompoms from JoAnn Fabrics for snowballs.  The basket was set out for children to toss the snowballs into an empty container as one of the “arriving time” activities.


I found some great fleece Olaf fabric at Walmart and used it to make pillow cases for small travel size pillows as take home gifts for the guests.


I used the free Frozen clipart to decorate bags to collect all their take home stuff.



prize bags

This was the first time I tried group games at one of our birthday parties.   I made a very simple Bingo game using clipart of the Frozen characters.   Each child had a small cup of Honeycomb cereal “snowflakes” to cover their pictures.

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I did find a Bingo set from Frozen already done online, but it had more rows.  This set with 3 across and 3 down was just the right size for the age of our players.
I cut apart these cards of the characters to use as calling cards.

Bingo callers

The kids had lots of fun, and everyone was a winner!

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Then we played “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  I found this game on Pinterest!

I printed the die pictures on cardstock and folded it into a cube.  I made enough dice for each family to take one home, but we all shared one at the party.

Olaf dice

I also used cardstock to print and cut out the pieces for Olaf, for each party guest.

Olaf parts These are the same pieces I enlarged to put on the door.  For the game I put each child’s pieces into a ziploc baggie.

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The kids did a great job taking turns rolling the die and adding that part to their snowman.  I put magnets on the back of 2 more sets and plan to repeat this game with 2 children at a time on the magnet board.

Next we went outside for more games.  Luckily it was a beautiful day!


I used a silicone Gingerbread man pan to make people shaped ice cubes.  I gathered the children and told them that Elsa had cast a terrible spell and frozen all the people of Arendelle.  I asked the children  to help save them.  I put 5 frozen people ice cubes into each dish, labeled with a child’s name.




The kids lined up on the other end of the driveway until we said, “Get ready, get set, go!”

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Then they ran down, picked up one “person” and ran back to the other end where they put the ice cube into a bowl.  They ran back and forth until all the frozen people were “saved.”



Then we played with the parachute and snowballs.

After that we divided up and had a snowball fight – using the pompoms!


The kids were loving the ice so much that we used the rest of the ice cubes to “write” on the driveway.

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Or just eating the ice!


After a great Pizza dinner we enjoyed the Frozen Birthday Cake!


Happy Birthday my sweet Anna and Lily!  I hope you LOVE being 4!



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