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:


Scan 296

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!

Scan 297

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.

Scan 293

Scan 295

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.

Scan 286

Scan 287

Scan 288

Scan 289

Scan 290

Scan 291

Scan 292

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?

tape town 4

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

Scan 269

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

Good characters 3 


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

character cutouts

Or finger puppets!

ROTB-activity-sheet-4 (1)

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!

photo 5 (23)

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!

Watder bottles 2

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

2 sided toppers 1 2 sided toppers 2

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.

rescue bots match

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!

Screen shot 2012-09-23 at 10.37.49 AM

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.

Games and Activities copy

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.

Biingo Game6 Biingo Game5 Biingo Game4 Biingo Game3 Biingo Game2 Biingo Game1

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!

photo 2 (26)

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.

photo 1 (30)

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!”

photo 3 (32)

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.

IMG_2957  IMG_2954 

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!



Abby Cadabby Party!


Yesterday we celebrated Nora’s 2nd Birthday with an Abby Cadabby party.  Nora’s mom experimented with fondant and made an adorable cake!   I saw the idea for these party favor bags on Facebook – there was quite a bit of cutting and gluing but Nora loved them.

number 2

We went through our photos and came up with some favorites.  They are glued onto a large 2 cut out of posterboard.

There was a wide range in age among the child – guests at this party, but the games were mostly geared for the birthday girl.  The older cousins were very gracious and participated willingly to make this a fun day for our special 2 year old!

Directions1 Directions 2


Directions 3

Directions 4

balloon copy

We made the paddles from birthday plates with paint stir sticks taped onto the back with duct tape.  They worked great!

Directions 5


Directions 6


We taped the numbered pictures of Abby Cadabby all over the yard – making some a little more challenging to find for the older kids.  I had not anticipated a joyful Nora running through the yard “collecting” the pictures that were taped low enough to reach!

Abby checkoff

Numbered Abby pics

Directions 7



I think Nora’s favorite part of the party was the parade!  She loved marching around the yard, and kept going with various instruments long after the parade quit following her!


It was a great birthday!

I hope you have so much fun and love being 2 precious Nora!

S.T.E.A.M. Fun!


The Summer Reading Program at our local library (Commerce Township Community Library) was based on S.T.E.A.M. – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math!   Along with many other fun activities, they offered a different program one evening each week through July.  The last one we attended was based on experiments!  Don’t my little scientists look great – and protected – in their safety glasses?

As always the evening was well organized and lots of fun.  We began with the Elephant Toothpaste experiment.


Each child took a paper plate containing dish soap, water, and yeast.  I love how they have everything measured out and easy to use.  Of course, if you did this at home it would be a great time to practice measuring too!


They each got to choose which food color to add, our kids all chose different colors.


Lily is looking a bit frightened because the librarians demonstrated the final experiment for the group and it made a loud noise inside the room, so she was a little worried this was going to POP!


They loved watching it foam and fill up the plate!

A scientific explanation was provided too!



Our next experiment was trying to blow up a balloon without using our mouths.



The kids loved using the funnel and pouring the baking soda into the balloon.  After an adult pulled the balloon over the bottle they helped shake the soda into the vinegar – and then they watched it inflate!




We went outside for the last 2 experiments.  The kids loved using the eye droppers!  The straws were standing up in a pile of baking soda on a paper plate.




The last experiment was my favorite.  I used to do this with my Kindergarten families at Parent/Child Activity Nights.

Each child received a small film canister that contained a small amount of watered down tempera paint and a half tablet of Alka Seltzer.  They were instructed to break the Alka Seltzer tablet and put it into the water.  Then they securely snapped the lid onto the film canister.  Finally they set the film canister UPSIDE DOWN on a piece of paper, and backed away.  This was the experiment that the librarians demonstrated at the beginning so they could emphasize the importance of safety glasses, and backing away from this experiment.  When the tablet dissolves in the liquid it expands and pops the film canister way up in the air!  If you do this experiment inside (as I did with my classes, you must use plain water and leave the canister right side up so it doesn’t go quite as high!



The canister shot high into the air, leaving a neat design on the paper.  Hey!  I just had an idea of using this as a sequential writing activity – First – Next – Last!  A fun way to integrate science and writing!

By the way – if you have trouble collecting film canisters, they are available online through Steve Spangler Science materials!  Lots of fun things for sale on that site!

This was such a wonderful family evening.  It was so great that we used common kitchen ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and yeast because now when we use these materials in the kitchen we can talk about the chemical reactions!  Being a Nana is so much fun!


Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,938 other followers