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!




A Fresh Look at “ME”

I received a very nice email from a talented reader in Australia, named Lavinia.  She told me that she really liked my book Special Me, but she asked if I minded if she redid it with updated text and graphics.  I am always happy to share, and she sent back her revised copy for me to share with you! If you would like to see my original book please click on Me Book Under the Categories on the right side of your screen. cover 5 1 name 2 colors 3 birthday 4 hand 5 foot 6 tall 7 family 8 TV 9 grow up  Lavinia also created different covers for you to choose from: cover 4 cover 3 cover 2 

Here is a link to open a pdf version that is easy to print:

I am Special

Lavinia sells things on Teachers Pay Teachers but she agreed to offer her adaptation of my book for free. Here are a few pages that she used to explain the book, including thumbnails of what the children did to complete my original book. Lavinia 1 Lavinia 2 Here is contact information if you are interested in what else Lavinia is up to!  I really appreciate the great job she did giving this book a fresh new look!  Hope you do too! Lavinia email

Pat the Bunny Party!


Please indulge this blessed Nana while I share a little more about my precious grandchildren!

We recently celebrated Nora’s first birthday with a Pat the Bunny party!   Her Mom made these cute invitations, using fiberfill under the bunny cut out.

We planned a game for each page of the book.  I was thinking that many of these activities could be used to reinforce 5 senses too!

Directions for games10

Directions for games2

Please overlook the chewed on bunny page, Nora did a little teething on my book!

Pat bunny times

I got these giant fly swatters at the Dollar Store.


Directions for games 3


Sharpies worked well for decorating the outside of the styrofoam cups.

Directions for games4

Here are the pictures we used to match the smells.

I used baby food jars to make the smelling containers.  I punched holes in the lids and covered them with a strip of construction paper.

smell pictures


Directions for games5

I found these stick on glasses, mustaches, etc. online and bought an unbreakable mirror at the Dollar Store.


scratchy face dirWe made cut outs on the ends of a large cardboard box for the children to climb through.  On the inside of the box we attached bubble wrap, sandpaper, corrugated cardboard and cotton batting for the children to feel.


Directions for games6

Here are the pages for the books we made.  I just stacked all the pages and cut through them all and stapled them to make individual books for each child.  Some of the guests could do their own writing, parents wrote for the others.

Book to read

Book to read4 

Book to read3 

Book to read2 


Directions for games7 


Directions for games8 

Okay, I was stretching things a bit for the Bye Bye page!  Put they liked knocking down the cans. 



Nora had a wonderful time at her party – oh, and she loved her new wagon too!


DSC_0340 - Version 2


The Pout-Pout Fish!

Pout Pout Fish I am so grateful to the Kohl’s Cares Program, because they are sharing so many wonderful, quality books for only $5.  I hadn’t had a chance to read this new book they are offering, and I just love it!   It is so much fun to read stories that have a catchy refrain that makes children want to join in and chant along. You just can’t help but join in … “I’m a Pout-Pout fish, with a pout pout face, so I spread the dreary wearies all over the place!” refrain The illustrations are really engaging too.  The colors are bright and the characters have personality.  The story is told in rhyme, and includes some great new vocabulary words like tentacles, grimace, and locomotion.  But my favorite part of this book is the way it shows how your feelings affect other people. Young children are usually very egocentric, it can be difficult for them to see another point of view, or understand other people’s feelings and reactions.  In this story. while the Pout Pout Fish was spreading dreary wearies all over the place, other ocean animals were trying to encourage him to cheer up.   The whole idea that when you have a “pout pout face” you ARE spreading dreary wearies is a good introduction to a discussion about how our feelings, and the way we act affects other people. I thought it would be fun to make a chart – or list – of other types of feelings, and what you would be spreading if you were experiencing those feelings.  Here are a few ideas … chart You could recite the chant, replacing Pout Pout like this: I’m a Giggle Giggle Fish, with a Giggle Giggle face so I spread lots of laughing all over the place. You could also encourage them to think of positive behavior traits too – a Friendly Friendly Fish, or a Sharing Sharing Fish, etc. Here are some clipart pictures of fish. If you click on the pdf link after the pictures you will find enlarged copies.  You could laminate these, or put them on necklaces and pass them out to children.  They might work in pairs or as a whole group to think about what trait each fish has – friendly, pokey, angry, helpful, etc.  and then what they would “spread all over the place.”    Then they could chant the phrase from the book about their fish. Fish page1 Fish page2 fish pics     Later the children could choose what kind of fish they would be and create it by cutting out a construction paper fish or drawing a picture.  Then they could think and write about what they would be spreading “all over the place.”   Here are a few samples of writing papers you might like to use. writing1 Or you could post their writing next to fish they draw or make: 2 on pg I noticed that the children in my class often had trouble filling in the blanks with this type of writing – if they couldn’t read all the words they weren’t sure what they were supposed to write, and where to write it – so I like this form a little better. Writing no pic   I’ve been having fun reading this book to my grandchildren!.  I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy at Kohls and that you’ll enjoy reading it to the children in your life too!

More Fun with The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Our community library hosted another great family event this week, this time all the activities were based on Eric Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Last year I shared some of the ways I used this wonderful picture book with my Kindergarten classes, check out the link under the Insects section if you are interested.  After this terrific evening I have more great ideas to share.   The kids loved getting to meet the giant caterpillar, and they even got a chance to dance with him!  And I got a shameless opportunity to share a picture of my youngest granddaughter!

One of the children’s librarians began the evening by retelling the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar using a flannelboard, felt food pieces and a wonderful sock type Caterpillar puppet.  The felt pieces all had large slits cut in them so they fit over the sock caterpillar on the librarian’s arm.  Very cute!

After that parents and children were free to explore all the projects and activities that had been prepared and set up around the large community room.  It was very well organized and clear instructions were posted on each table giving directions for the craft or game.  Oh – and one of my favorite ideas – they set out adhesive name tags for the children to wear, and they were all punched with several holes, I heard several parents and children laughing and enjoying how the caterpillar must have nibbled on them!


The first activity my grandchildren decided to do was making Hungry Caterpillar bookmarks.  They used red and green Bingo markers to make their caterpillar on a strip of card stock, then they used a hole punch to make nibble holes, and a hole to tie a ribbon at the end.  I loved having kids use hole punches in Kindergarten, I think it is a great way to help develop hand strength which is so important for fine motor control.  They had a new kind of hole punch for the children to use – they were easy to squeeze and most of the children were able to punch independently.  I am sure I need one of these!


Here is 2 year old Lily’s bookmark!


The librarians had made large cardboard cutouts of some of the foods that the caterpillar ate.  They were cut out of corrugated cardboard and painted.  The parents held them up and the children had so much fun crawling through the holes.

photo-122 photo-121 photo-123 llllphoto-126

My favorite project of the evening was making butterfly wings!  The project had been prepared ahead of time by cutting open brown grocery bags, they were shaped so they were larger at the outsides and a bit narrower in the center.


On the back of the grocery bag, the inside of the wings, they attached 2 handles, one on each end.


The set out glue sticks and small squares of tissue paper, along with crayons to decorate the wings.  They decorated the sides of the bag that did not have the handles.  Glue sticks are by far the most convenient, but a lot of the tissue paper squares fell off because the children didn’t press them into the glue.  I used to use watered down glue and paint brushes, the tissue paper adhered more easily, but sometimes they had to be left to dry awhile and that would not work for the library program.

photo-108 photo-113 photo-112

But the most fun part was using the wings when they were done!  The children held onto the handles and the wings went across their back.  When they moved their arms the wings flapped in and out!  It was so cute!

photo-101 photo 4 photo-105

Another fun idea was making pompom caterpillars, glued onto a spring clip clothespin.  The jiggly eyes had already been glued onto the red pompoms.

photo-132 photo-131

The children had fun “feeding” the hungry caterpillar a variety of colors and sizes of pompoms.  This encouraged even my little ones to recall the food from the story – they called the purple pompoms “plums,” the red ones were “apples,” etc.

photo-129 photo-128


The children used dry erase markers for the final activity.  I loved the idea of gluing large pompoms on the ends of the markers as erasers.

photo-99 photo-95

They provided a laminated paper with the numerals 1 – 5.  The children needed to remember the foods at the beginning of the story, and draw them.  Then they put on a cute caterpillar glove (another great idea – the caterpillar was made of felt and glued onto the pointer finger of the glove), and pointed to each food as they retold the story.  At the bottom of the page there was a butterfly that was covered with dry erase marker and they had to rub off the marker to reveal the butterfly.


So I see the fruit on this paper were not drawn in the right order – of course that wasn’t done by my grandchildren!  Mostly because I prompted them!  It might have helped to have a copy of the book close by in case children needed to check out which food came next, but it really didn’t matter anyway – the whole idea was to think about the story and to have fun!


It was such a fun time!  Thanks and hugs to the Commerce Township Community Library, and all the dedicated, talented librarians who provide wonderful programs like this for our kids!


Chickens to the Rescue!

I take Owen to story time at our local library.  Today we heard this fun story, it was new to me and I loved it!  It was full of silliness and opportunities for children to join in; but mostly I loved it because it would be wonderful to introduce or practice the story elements – Problem and Solution.

Basically this story is about the Greenstalk’s – a farm family who run into a myriad of problems, but luckily their flock of chickens always comes to the rescue, until the end of the story.  The events take place through a week, so it is another chance to reinforce the names of the days of the week.  This would be a fun story to act out.  You could make headbands for the characters using pictures like these.  You could make as many chickens as you’d like to include more children in the retelling.

These directions are to make a mask, I would just staple the chicken head onto a paper strip for a headband.

Here are the farmer, his wife and their two children from the story.   There is also a duck and a cow.

Here are printable versions:

chicken hat

cow duck


After reading this book a few times I would show the children pictures of the problems that occur in the story, and each of the solutions.  After reviewing story elements, I would remind the children that most stories have a problem that needs to be fixed.   I would encourage the children to make two columns of pictures – ones that show a problem, others that depict a solution.

Here are sorting words:


Printable pictures

problem and solution

I put the problem and matching solution on the same page, if you print them just cut them apart.  I always glued pictures like these on construction paper to make them a little more durable.

After sorting the pictures into the problem or solution columns,  I would ask the children to match each problem with the right solution.

I would discuss all the ways these chickens were problem solvers in the story.  I might lead into a writing activity:


Since this book ends with the pigs solving the final problem it would be easy to do a new story as a class, thinking of problems that the pigs might solve.  Of course it would be titled Pigs to the Rescue!

At story time today the preschoolers made this very simple chicken project – it was fast and very cute.  If you plan to display the children’s writing these would look great next to their writing paper.

The comb was made by tracing Owen’s hand, then we folded it in half and taped it to the back of the small (6 inch) paper plate.

One child at story time had read this book before, as soon as the librarian turned to a picture of the group of chickens he started yelling “Chickens to the rescue!”  Soon they were all joining in.  It was so fun!

Delightful Dinosaur Day

Dinosaurs are fun!

I am always on a campaign to bring more fun to early childhood.  I am very familiar with the amount of curriculum and expectations that govern the time young children spend at school, but I just really believe that teachers need to advocate for play and fun.  I shared a book we made about dinosaurs in an earlier post, now I am sharing a parent/child activity day that my kindergartners loved.  I think these parent/child days are one of the most effective ways to educate parents about how children learn and things they can do with their child at home.  If you are new to my blog, please check out other parent/child activities like Cowboys, Outer Space, Transportation, Oceans, and Pirates.

Here is our invitation:


When I planned these special days (or evenings) I tried to include activities from many areas of the curriculum, language arts, science, math, and social studies.  We usually began the day by showing a little of our every day circle time routines, then we did a fun song, story or poem that got parents and children actively involved.   For Dinosaur Day I passed around a basket that contained simple dinosaurs cut from construction paper, and everybody took one – parents and kids.  Then as we sang this song, they stood up and did the motion.

Tune – If You’re Happy and You Know It

Printable version:

If you have ..

Then we did an enthusiastic version of  Dino Pokey (think Hokey Pokey!)  I really encouraged parents to get up and do this with the kids.  I always practiced it the day before with the children.
 Dino Pokey

Here are some very simple clipart pictures of these dinosaurs:

5 dinos clips

Next I quickly went over the activities that were available, passed out a check off list, and gave each child a paper bag to collect his/her work as they went between the classrooms.  We usually decorated the bags ahead of time.

I repeated this parent/child activity many times and usually changed a few activities, but here is a simple description of the activities from one year.

description of activities

I also found a list of things to do in my files, so I thought I’d share that too!

I printed directions for each activity and posted them on 3 sided signs on the tables containing the materials for the project or game.  Here is a picture to show what the 3 sided signs looked like:

I didn’t save all of these directions, but here are a few.

activity directions

Some activities required a recording sheet, like Bronto Boats.  The children placed small dinosaurs in different colored boats, after predicting which boat would hold the most dinos.  They recorded their results on this paper (2 on the page).

Bronto Boats

We also play Dinosaur Soduku

Dino Soduku

The kids made up a dinosaur story with a beginning, middle and end.

Here is an assortment of dinosaur clipart:

dinos clipart

More clipart


This boy was tossing beanbags into the swampy basket!

Check out the stegosaurus hat – they glued spikes to a piece of adding machine tape that went down their back and was fastened to a headband.  We put a stegosaurus head on the headband.

Here are a few more resources that I found in my files.  I hope you find something you might be able to use.


Here are a few songs and poems about dinosaurs!

I hope you find some time to play dinosaurs with your class too!


10 Little Rubber Ducks

I was so happy when I found out that Kohls was releasing more of Eric Carle’s picture books in their Kohls Cares for Kids program.  These are such wonderful hardcover picture books for the bargain price of $5!  If you don’t live near a Kohls you can find them online!

I already owned a copy of this book, but it was one of those that I had not taken time to develop lessons and use.  When I reread it I was so excited about all the possibilities!

1.  I loved the whole idea of talking about HOW AN AUTHOR GETS AN IDEA.  Eric Carle shares a news article that inspired this book on the inside cover.  He read about a cargo ship containing toys that dumped into the ocean, and decided he just had to make it into a picture book.  It would be really fun to look for simple news stories that the children might adapt – or to create a story as a class based on something in the news!

2.  This book is wonderful for RETELLING and acting out.  I found some clipart pictures that you might be able to use, either staple pictures on headbands, or punch holes to wear as a necklace – or even glue them onto construction paper for the children to hold.

Here is a link to full sized pictures:

Necklace clipart pdf

3.  Along with retelling – this book makes great use of DIRECTIONAL TERMS!  You could choose one child to be a duck – or 10, and have them go in the specified directions.  This would be a great time to label North, South, East, West in your classroom – if you can figure it out!  I am a bit directionally challenged myself!  I do have a good concept of left and right though!


4.  This book would be a good tool if you have children still working on basic NUMERAL RECOGNITION.  I am sharing some pictures of numbered ducks, but it would be even more fun to get small plastic ducks (they come 2 in a pack) from a dollar store or somewhere, and put numbers on them!

Number ducks

5.  COUNTING BACKWARD!  You could also use these pictures or the plastic ducks to practice counting backward from 10 – 0.

6.  When you first read this book it is obviously a great way to introduce or reinforce ORDINAL NUMBERS!  Here are the same ducks labeled with ordinal numbers.

Ducks ordinal

Then I had an idea – you could run off copies of a box for each child and cut a vertical slit in it. Each child will cut out these strips, overlap them and glue them together.  Then they could cut out the numbered ducks and put duck 1 in the box under the word 1st, etc.

This is kind of large – you might just want to use it to demonstrate or play with as a group – you could probably reduce all the pages on the copy machine to make a smaller project for each child!

out of box

7.  In the story they packed 10 ducks in each box.  This would lead right into practice COUNTING BY 10’s!

I had a couple of ideas to use with this story.  You could give each child a copy of the cargo ship and just let him/her glue on 5 boxes labeled 10, 20, etc.

Or you could give them pictures of 5 boxes full of 10 ducks each.  After cutting out the boxes they could glue on the numbers counting to 50 by 10’s on the back, and then glue them onto the boat.  That would give them a more concrete idea of what it means to count by 10’s.

Count by 10s

8.  Of course this book would tie in to an OCEAN UNIT very well because the ducks fall into the sea and met a variety of ocean animals.

9.  There is some great VOCABULARY too!  I loved the  “Chuckedy-chuckedy-chuck” sound of the rubber duck machine.  I would spend a few minutes talking about “bob” and “drift.”  The more I read this book, the more I love it!!

10.  One of my favorite parts of this book is the wonderful STYLE and VOICE!  A technique that Eric Carle uses is to repeat the last few words of some paragraphs, I would tell the children that when I read this book it touches my heart!

He repeats phrases like “whistles across the sea,”  “10 ducks overboard!” and “only water and sky.”  It is a very effective way to include emotion in this story!

If you don’t already own this book I hope you get a chance to pick it up at Kohls!  And I hope you love it as much as I do!

Weather Pictures

Allison wrote to ask if I had the masters for the Weather Book I made with my Kindergartners.  I tried to reply to her comment but I guess I don’t know how to add pictures to comments!

Anyway, I do not have the masters for that little weather book, the words were very simple –

The weather today is sunny.

The weather today is cloudy.

The weather today is rainy.

The weather today is windy.

The weather today is snowy.

I changed this text different years to make it simpler or more difficult to read, based on my group of children.  You could just say Today is rainy.  Today is sunny. (etc.) or you could make it longer – “The weatherman said it will be rainy.”


And I included small clipart pictures of that type of weather next to the words.  Then we made a little weather forecaster – run off on yellow construction paper with the child’s photo on it.  I am attaching weather pictures and a “forecaster.”  You just need to use white out or cut out the bear’s face so the children can glue on their own photo.


Here are printable versions:

weather pictures

I hope your kids like playing weather forecaster too!



The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I used the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar for a preschool storyhour, and wanted a way to engage the children, most of them had already heard and seen this story.  I used colored posterboard to make story boards of each page in the book.  I cut the posterboard into rectangles about 22 x 9 1/2 – I made these a long time ago, but I think I basically cut each posterboard in 1/3s.  Making a project like this takes quite a bit of time, but I used it with my Kindergartners over and over again for many years.

I used construction paper and cut out the tree, leaf, moon and egg, then I rubber-cemented them onto the posterboard.

On the back of each posterboard I wrote the words from the story so I could hold up the picture and read the words.

Because these pictures were so big and it was a new way to hear the story, it really kept the children’s attention.

I cut a hole – using an exacto knife – through the apple and the posterboard.
I made a caterpillar from small red and green pompoms.

I stuck the pompoms onto a piece of magnet strip – using the sticky side of the magnet to hold the pompoms on.  I have used this caterpillar for 20 years!!  I just keep it in the file with the posterboards, it is a little flattened from all those years of storage!!

This looks quite big here, but  it is only about 2 1/2 inches long.  Then I took a rubber band and slipped it over the caterpillar between the red and first green pompom.  If you don’t have a small rubberband twist it on a few times – leaving just enough room for your pointer finger to slip in under the caterpillar, on the magnet side.

Then you can poke the caterpillar through the hole in the apple, and pretend to munch, munch, munch all the way around the circle.  The kids love it!!

If you don’t want to make a caterpillar, you could just draw eyes and a mouth on your pointer finger and use that.

One thing you have to remember is to poke your finger into the right hole so you are helping reinforce counting from left to right.  I added sound effects like slurping, munching, gobbling, etc. as the caterpillar ate through the hole in each food.

When you are cutting out the strawberries and stems, I folded the paper and cut all 4 at once to make it faster, then I just tipped them a bit as I glued them onto the board.

Over the years we made lots of different projects to go along with this story.  For preschoolers we wrapped a pipe cleaner around a pencil to make it coiled up and called it a caterpillar.  Then we ‘decorated’ a brown paper lunch bag for the cocoon.  We made a butterfly by pushing tissue paper into the legs of a slip on wooden clothespin.  We put the butterfly inside the paper bag and as the children retold the story – they put the caterpillar into the bag, pretended he was nibbling his way out, and pulled out the butterfly.

In recent years I used this near the end of the year in Kindergarten and my children were ready to write phonetically, and reread some text.  We made a book to retell the story.

This is a half page sized book.



The first letter of the day of the week was already printed on the page.  The children also need to write the number word on some pages.  I provided “helper sheets” for them to refer to if they needed help writing the days of the week or number words.  You could cut these into strips of days/numbers if you’d like.



To make this book a little easier, the children drew the parts they would glue on first.  Then the next day we made the books, they just bubble cut around their pictures and glued them on.  Most children were pretty independent with this.

There were 2 on this page – each child got 1/2.

I put little picture cues to help them remember each food.  The children could draw with crayons or markers.  I didn’t leave a space for them to write their name – be sure they write their name on the back of their paper!

On this page they had to draw at least 3 things, and write the words phonetically.

They just had to color the cocoon or chrysalis, it was already printed on the page.  I debated over the years over whether to keep using the word cocoon that was in the text, but I used this book with end-of-the-year kindergartners and we had been talking about how a butterfly comes from a chrysalis – so I used that term.

The children created a butterfly – practicing symmetry – but using a folded piece of paper and free cutting the wings, then decorating both sides the same – and glued it on.

Here are the masters for this book – there are 2 on each page so you can xerox, collate and just cut each book in half to make 2.  Sorry about all the separate files – not sure how to put them all together!  I am definitely not a techie person!









Sunday again





helping sheets

I hope you have as much fun with this as I have!


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