Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dr. Miller on Showing our Love for Children

February is the month of love. In this month we often find ourselves helping kids make paper hearts and talking about dental health. February is a great month for talking with children and demonstrating how to show we care for one another.

The National Association for Family Child Care requires that an accredited provider demonstrate that she “cares about, respects, and is committed to helping each child develop to his or her full potential,” andshows affection to each child in some way.

Why is this important? We can find answers from the NAFCC Accreditation Standards Resource Manual (2006):
·         Learning is more likely to occur when children feel cared about and appreciated by the adults caring for and teaching them.
·         Children’s experiences with adults affect how they view themselves and how they will interact with others.
·         When adults are respectful toward the children they are teaching, they teach children how to be respectful to others.
·         Acts of affection can reassure and comfort children and help them relax.
·         Affection helps build a positive relationship between [teacher] and child and sets the tone for all of their interactions.
·         In displaying affections, [teachers] model behaviors that will help children learn how to interact positively with other children and adults.

Expressing "LOVE" to children: through eye contact + modeling
How can you ensure children feel cared about and respected and be committed to helping them achieve their full potential? There are many ways to show affection to children. Warmth and affection toward children can be expressed throughout the day as [teachers] protect, guide, care for, communicate and play with children.

Expressing "LOVE" to children: speak to them directly

·         Pay attention to individual children. Take time to talk to them, listen to them, and show interest in what they are doing. Try not to seem hurried or tense so you can focus just on them. Smile at them.
·         Use a warm, soothing voice. (NOTE: New research about boys’ brain development shows that women’s voices can actually cause pain to boys. Look for those signs and modulate your tone to accommodate individual needs.)
·         Express your affection through physical contact. Always use a gentle touch. Take your cues from the child; some children like physical contact and others don’t. Be sure any physical contact is “good” touch and does not border on sexual contact.
·         Respond to children with patience and understanding. Give children a chance to make amends by cleaning up the mess they have made or righting the wrong they have committed.
·         Let children know they are appreciated. Take time to recognize small acts of kindness children exhibit or the little tasks they perform to make your day, and the day of the other children, more enjoyable.
·         Be specific with praise. Tie it back to the behavior you are praising. For example, “ Thank you for getting the crayons down for Jack. It was so nice of you to notice he was having trouble reaching them, and you really helped him out.”

Expressing "LOVE" to children: give attention to their activity

In February amongst the Valentine making and celebrating and visits from dental specialist, etc., think about how you show affection to the children in your program.

Do you show EACH child in your program you care about him/her?
Do you treat EACH child with respect?
Are you committed to helping EACH child develop to his/her full potential?

Examine your feelings for each of the children in your program. Be sure you have affection for each child and show him/her you care during your interactions. If you find there are one or more children about whom you don’t feel affection (and this is NORMAL!), look for ways to resolve your negative feelings for the child.

Review the way you relate to each child in your program, especially during guidance situations. Be sure your interactions with each child are characterized by respect.

Think about the activities you provide for children and you relate to them. Decide if the activities and interactions you offer the children are helping them develop their abilities. If not, adjust what you offer and how you interact with the children.

Expressing "LOVE" to children: provide activity

To learn 60 Ways to Show Kids You Care, visit the website of Counseling Corner, Inc., at http://counselingcorner.net/parents/care.html.

-- Dr. Ellaine B. Miller

Information in this blog was excerpted from the NAFCC Accreditation Standards Resource Manual – Relationship Standards for NAFCC Accreditation. Principle Author – Beverly Schmalzried.

Blog entry by Dr. Ellaine B. Miller, PhD. Family Child Care Partnerships at Auburn University. www.humsci.auburn.edu/fccp

Monday, January 30, 2012

We LOVE paint!

Painting is a great activity for young children, as it is truly open ended. Children can engross themselves in the process, and are not confined by the preconceived ideas of a product.
Sometimes we like to squeeze our paint!
We drip paint down....
We squeeze bottles of paint up......
Providing different tools to paint with help to promote creativity
and different types of muscle use/motor development.
Sometimes we paint the sidewalk
Different "tools" for painting are provided for different ages.
Sometimes we finger paint with shiny paints!
Sometimes we paint the snow with GIANT brushes.
Sometimes we use fly swatters, 
Sometimes we use catapults!
Sometimes we use potato mashers to paint/print.
Magic happens when you mix painting and science!
Painted Snowballs make GREAT splats!
Colored Ice Cubes are a great melting paint.

Pendulums + Paint = BIG FUN!
Plungers are great tool for painting!

We also like to make our own paints.... Some of our favorite recipes include:

Kool-Aid, just add the powder to water.
Puffy Paint- Shaving Cream and Glue
Homemade Liquid Watercolor- Add old markers to water!
Homemade Scented Watercolors
Are you looking for some more ideas for alternatives to "regular" paint brushes? Why not try some of these:

Acorns, Apples, Baggie Bombs, Balloons, Balls, Bath Puffs ,Bingo Dabbers, Bottle Bottoms, Bubbles, Bubble Wrap, Cans, Cardboard Pieces, Catapults, Chalk Dipped in Paint, Combs, Condiment Bottles (Ketchup/Mustard), Cookie Cutters, Corks, Cotton Balls, Crayon Bunches, Dish Scrubbers, Feathers, Feet, Fingers, Flowers (real and/or artificial), Fly Swatters, Foam, Forks, Funnels, Hands, Koosh Ball, Leaves/Branches/Pine Needles, Magnetic Marbles, Marbles, Medicine Droppers, Mops, Nylon Splatters, Pine Cones, Pipe Cleaners, Plungers, PomPoms, Potato Mashers, Q-tips, Rocks, Rollers, Roll-on Deodorant Bottles, Scrubbies, Shoes, Spools, Spoons, Sponges, Spray Bottles, Sticks, Straws, Tooth Brushes, Toy Cars, Toys, Vegetables, Washcloths, Yarn.....

Are you looking for some additional ideas for different "canvases?" Why not try:

Aluminum Foil, Bed Sheets, Butcher Paper, Cardboard Boxes/Tubes, Coffee Filters, Cookie Sheets, Contact Paper, Easels, Egg Cartons, Fences, Leaves, Light Tables, Magazines, Mailing Paper, Mirrors, Newspaper, Old Posters, Paper Bags, People!, Plates, Playground Equipment, Plexi-glass, Rocks, Sand Box, Sandpaper, Seed Pods, Shower Curtains, Sidewalks, Snow, Table Tops, Trays, Scrap Wood, Wax Paper, Wrapping Paper .....

I encourage you to keep painting, and to allow children to enjoy the process of art!
For more about process art for children, you can read my post: 

 More About Amy

Amy Ahola is the owner/operator of Child Central Station, group home daycare and educational toy store in Marquette, Michigan.  She has been running her own business since 2005. Prior to that time, Amy worked in a childcare center and public school. In addition to her childcare business, Amy also provides educational training sessions. Amy earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Northern Michigan University and a M.S. in Training, Development, and Performance Improvement.  For more information about any of her programs, please visit Child Central Station or Find her on Facebook

I would LOVE to hear about your children's favorite painting activities!  Please link up your favorite painting activities, recipes, and explorations below.  Sharing with each other helps to inspire us all to learn and grow! Come on and join in on the fun! (If you don't have a blog, but have an idea to share, please feel free to leave it in the comments section!) I've created a Pinterest board with all of the linked up posts! 

The only "rule" of this linky party is that you include our button in your post!

You Can Grab it Below!
PreK + K Sharing
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.prekandksharing.blogspot.com/2012/01/we-love-paint.html" title="PreK + K Sharing "><img src="http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll28/faithandfifty/FabricButton-2.jpg" alt="PreK + K Sharing " style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Happy Painting!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A "Lovely" Bookmaking Project

Ooh, it’s almost February and I’m making some heart-filled plans. I love Valentine’s Day!  Maybe because my husband brings me Chocolate Cheesecake every year, or maybe because it’s the only time I get to fill my house with pink, or get my kids to use the pink crayon for craft projects. (I’m the lone princess in a house full of blue-loving boys.) Anyway, in honor of the lovely upcoming holiday, I bring you a sweet and simple valentine literacy craft...

The "I Love" Book

  • Cardstock or heavy paper
  • Stamp ink for heart making. (I recommend a pale color since you’re going to write on top of it. The red I used here is just a little too dark. Pink would be perfect.)
  • A fine tip Sharpie marker
  • Something to bind paper together to make a book. I just used a binder ring, but you could attach pages to a construction paper booklet, or use a blank book like these.
This is a flexible activity that works for many age groups and developmental levels.

Here’s the plan:
  1. For each blank page, have the child name something he or she loves. Single words work best. (Mom, Dad, Lego…) Using two fingerprints, stamp a heart for each letter in the word.
  2. Write the letters of the word on top of the heart using Sharpie. For my three year old, I asked what he loves and helped him stamp the correct number of hearts, then I wrote the letters for him. After I wrote a few, he was ready to make lots of his own pages, complete with his own “letters” written in each heart. Older preschoolers and kindergartners might need a little help figuring out how many hearts they need, but could handle the stamping and writing on their own. For those kids, I recommend brainstorming together and writing the words on a piece of scrap paper first, so they can count the number of hearts needed before stamping.
  3. Make a cover using the same technique. We chose “Jack Loves” as our straightforward, (yet slightly unoriginal) title.
  4. Bind it, and you’re done!
  5. Read your book lots of times in February, and then save it forever as an adorable keepsake.
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Want more ideas to gear up for February 14? Today on Small Types you’ll find links to more Valentine’s Day project ideas, books and printable valentines. Or visit my Valentine’s Day board over on Pinterest

We'd love to hear from you! What's your favorite Valentine's Day project?

Erin Wing writes about creating a print-rich home at www.smalltypes.com.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Two Valentine's Crafts to Try Out


I am so pleased and honoured to be part of this fabulous Pre K + K network of bloggers and part of this wonderful website producing such a fabulous range of invaluable resources! My name is Maggy and I blog over at Red Ted Art, where I regularly get crafty with my 4 and 2 year old children. You will find weekly Kids Crafts, as well as more adult focussed tutorials, as I hope to get all age groups more interested in crafts and creativity. Everyone can, in my book! My kids crafts usually combine a story plus craft approach. We love reading in our house and this gives us the chance to explore stories in a different way! So here is a book and 2 crafts for you. As Valentine's Day is only around the corner, I thought it would be a great theme for my first post!
The Book 
Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink, by Diane deGroat. Mmmmh, ok, so why did I choose this book? Two reasons, 1) is that Valentine's can be incredibly pink and mushy and 2) because I have a little boy at home and he is rapidly become selective about the type of story that appeals to him. The pink fluffy ones are interesting once (to see if anything good will happen) but he quickly can loose interest. So this one is a nice compromise... The children have been told to write Valentine's cards to each other. However Gilbert is less than keen to write a card to two of his classmates that have been mean to him in the past. So writes them some silly verses and and signs them in the other children's name. He is discovered. He ends up doing the right thing, writing nice cards to the children, who also apologise for having been mean in the first place. Everyone is happy again. My son LOVES the silly (if sometimes not nice) rhymes and that keeps his attention. I think it is great that there is a "moral to the story" and that all ends well. We also love the illustrations, perfect for the preschool readers!

The Craft 
 Today I have a project for you that "evolved". It started off with my 2 year old, getting hold of the paints and saying "Mummy paint face".  Me: "No darling, they are not for your face". She: "Mummy paint feet". Me: "Ok, we can do that tomorrow". Next day (6am) She: "Mummy paint feet now". Me: "?????".

So... once I eventually got up, we painted some feet.

And then some hands... 


We painted lots of feet and lots of hands and had paint everywhere. Lots of fun. Then we made some "hand and fingerprint bouquets" (the left one is the 2year old's and the right one the 4 year old's). I think they look a little but like flowering cactuses, but they reminded me of some cards I had made many moons ago for Valentine's. So I decided to make them again. 

Materials: Old Christmas Cards, a heart shaped hole punch (but I made a sample card by cutting the hearts out by hand - I hate it when you need"specialist" equipment to make something), cardstock and glue

I think you could also make these out of old magazines, "old" children's artwork or even heart shaped stickers. You could also make these MUCH larger and make a huge collage - especially if the children are cutting out the hearts themselves. 


 1. Cut out/ hole punch lots of hearts. My son ADORES hole punching! Cards can be a little tough, but he loves magazines with their thinner pages... If you are cutting out the hearts yourself, you can incorporate the patterns of the cards you are recycling.

2. Stick onto the card. I always make a "sample" first if I "want him to do something specific"... he likes to copy, as much as he likes "free crafting". I found it helpful to add the glue to the page for my son already. He is going through a stage of not liking getting glue on his fingers. This meant he could just stick on the hearts and that the hearts would roughly stay within a "bouquet shape" - but to be honest, this is a free for all bit and the more hearts the merrier!

3. Draw some stems


 4. Add a paper bow. You can draw this too with a big marker pen.  Done! My son loved the card so much, he wants to send it to himself. I hope you liked this little Valentine's craft and that you do have a go and get crafty soon! If you need more Valentines Craft inspiration, do come and visit Red Ted Art - you will find our own Valentine's crafts, as well as great round up of Valentine's crafts from around the web!

See you again soon!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Starting Your Day the Brain Smart Way!

Hey Y'all!  I hope you are enjoying your week.  
Today is Friday!! Can I get a Yee-haw!!!
This is Deanna Jump speaking to ya from Georgia!
What is it about some weeks that make them seem sooo long?  Sometimes it feels like Friday will never get here!  I have to honestly say that's how I've been feeling a lot lately.  Our class sizes this year are a little larger than usual and when you add a lot of extra little bodies into one tiny little classroom that can equal: exhaustion, behavior problems, chaos, and did I mention exhaustion?  

But luckily, I found the book above.  My teammates and I recently started a book study on 
Creating the School Family by Dr. Becky Bailey.  We have just started this journey but we are seeing some positive changes already.  One of the things we've started implementing is Starting the Day the Brain Smart Way!  

There are four types of activities that are necessary to start your day this way:

1.  Activity to unite the group- this pulls the scattered energy of the group together.  
2.  Activity to disengage stress-turns the stress response off which increases higher-order learning.
3.  Activity to connect-stimulates impulse control centers and activates attention centers in the brain.
4.  Activity to commit-activates planning circuits in the brain and builds self esteem which helps focus attention and achieve goals.  

Dr. Bailey goes into the process in great detail and lists lots of ideas for each of these four activities. 

We've implemented this by starting our day with a Morning Meeting.  We come together to the carpet and sing our special Good Morning Song.  Then, we do some partner exercises.  Next, we recite our class pledge and make our daily learning goals.  

This is a picture of the class pledge:
I'm totally not brilliant....  I took the idea for this cute chart straight from the book.  
The picture clues are made with Mr. Potato Head pieces.   

I would love to hear from you!  What types of activities do you do to create a classroom family?

Deanna Jump

Thursday, January 26, 2012

More snowy activities in preschool

By Laura Eldredge

Unusual for this time of year in Connecticut ... we haven't seen much snow so far. Oh yes, we had a HUGE snowstorm in October (when no one was prepared for it) ... but so far January has been very light on the white stuff.

But, that hasn't stopped us from planning lots of "snowman" related activities to do inside that encourage learning and exploration! Here are a couple of my favorites, and some books that you can use to accompany them.

Edible snowmen

By far, my FAVORITE activity of the year! So simple to execute ... and fun for the children to see! Here are the steps to make these adorable edible melting snowmen:
  1. Take a marshmallow and make a snowman face using food coloring markers (these are very easy for adults AND children to work with - and it's edible).
  2. Then, place it on top of one striped cookie (you can substitute other types of cookies, like graham crackers or nilla wafers or any type of cookie that you wish).
  3. Place them in the microwave for 10 seconds.
  4. Take them out ... and show the children how their snowman MELTED!

Before doing this activity, you can have a discussion about what happens to real snowmen when the weather gets warm (they melt) and talk about why that happens. After having children make their own marshmallow snowman, ask them what they think will happen to it when you put it in the microwave or oven. If their marshmallow snowmen get hot, what will happen to them? And there you can touch upon the scientific concept of melting (properties of matter) and have them make predictions.

They will really get a kick out of seeing their snowman MELT! Top it off with another cookie, and it tastes like a s'more!

Since the main topic is the melting of the snowman, there are some lovely children's books that go with this theme and can lead to further discussion. A few books I like to use with this activity are:
The Smiley Snowman, Where do Snowmen go? or Snowmen at Night.

These stories all provide an imaginative "alternate" theory on why snowmen look droopy after a few days, which is a lot of fun for children to envision and explore. You can encourage the children to try and come up with their own alternate theories as a literacy activity.

We had a few other fun snowy activities these past few weeks, such as ...

Making Snow Dough

Snowpeople (and other creations) were made with our
Snow Dough!

Learning about colors with snowmen

We used the idea that Deborah Chitwood talked about in her Montessori-Inspired Snowman Color Activities post and had fun sorting snowmen hats and pony beads beads by color!

Snowman pancakes

This we did one Saturday morning when we did have a little snow fall on the ground. Here was our crack at making some snowman pancakes!

PreK + K sharing SNOWY roundup!

Need more "snowy day" inpiration? We've had several snow posts on the preK + K sharing blog already! Here's a round up!

Laura Eldredge is a teacher and curriculum coordinator at a NAEYC accredited early childhood program in Connecticut. She also co-founded the website
The SEEDS Network, as a way to provide early childhood professionals with ideas and resources that support them in their quest to provide quality care and education to our youngest learners. She blogs at www.theseedsblog.com.
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