Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LEAPing In! Encouraging Children to be ACTIVE!

Hula Hoops and Parachutes are GREAT for promoting children to be active!
If you remember, last month I had the wonderful opportunity to share with you exactly how much WE LOVE PAINT!  AND, with 128 link ups it is quite clear that you all LOVE PAINT too! Hop on over to my blog to see some of my favorites, or check out this great Pinterest Board I made from the link up!

This month, I'm LEAPing in! I usually post on the 30th of each month, but being that there is no 30th of February and a spot opened up.... I hopped right on over! I'm always trying to figure out how to add more hours to my day and celebrating the act of multi-tasking. I'm super excited to be sharing this "EXTRA" time with you and talking about movement, motor development, and exercise!

How to you encourage gross motor development?

We dance.... A LOT!

We throw Snowballs!
We also throw them outside.
 I like to provide children with targets- hula hoops work great!
We love to make our own games, and HOP, HOP, HOP!

We use "BIG" brushes and plungers when we paint

The bigger the brush or brush substitute, the more muscles we need to use. 
Sometimes, it even requires us to use our whole bodies!

We run and play games like 
tag and "What time is it, Mr. Fox?"

We RUN!!!

We sled down the hill and walk back up again!
Sometimes we sled in a swimming pool!
Working together to carry a pool up the hill not only
promotes large muscle development, but social skills too!

We dig, and dig, and dig.. 
and then we dig some more!
Sometimes we dig in the sand....
AND sometimes we dig in the snow!

We go for walks

Real mud is a fantastic sensory experience and jumping in and out of it can be challenge!

Playing with BIG blocks require us to use our muscles!

We climb UP the slide! 

I'm always finding ways to say yes to children especially when it comes to being active. Many times adults make decisions for children to outlaw activities that are developmentally appropriate and that promote healthy risk assessment. I do my best to encourage the children to continue to learn and explore while helping them to alter  "unsafe" activities to make them safe. (For example, providing targets to throw snowballs at instead of throwing them at each other. Helping children with their communication skills... I'm going up the slide right now, wait for me to get the top before you come down!" etc.)

Do you have a great post or idea on how you encourage children to exercise, be active, 
and encourage gross motor development? 

I'd love for you to link on up!!!!

The linky rules are simple...
The post much include an activity that promotes children to be ACTIVE!
Adding our button to your post would be greatly appreciated!

PreK + K Sharing
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 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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creating Rainbows With Toy Cars

Hi this is Melissa from The Chocolate Muffin Tree. We have been having fun with rainbows....hope you enjoy this post!

Rainbows have been buzzing in the blogosphere the past few weeks and we have caught the bug!  We created Rainbows with toy cars this past week.  Just the name sounds FUN...doesn't it?  My daughter loved the idea of painting with cars right away.

To create your own rainbow with car tracks you'll need: 

toy cars
tempera paint in all the rainbow colors 
a plastic lid or paper plate for each color of paint
large paper (we used 12x18 size)

Before we started,  I reminded my daughter of the rainbow color order and she remembered this video from last year: Roy G. Biv.  You could bring the colors out in order if you want the finished rainbows to be correct....or not.  My daughter dipped the car in the paint a few times to get the red to spread across the paper.

As you can see she continued on really well.....Beautiful.

Here is the finished rainbow.  I think it looks AMAZING!  Now she wasn't done yet...

My daughter had a blast creating car tracks without making a rainbow too.  Actually she enjoyed this even more!  Her cars were battling each other  and there was all kinds of pretend play going on during this process focused painting.

She created at least 5 or 6 paintings with cars.  A HUGE success and pretty rainbow too.

Be sure to check out our Styrofoam Rainbow Prints that we recently did too.  More RAINBOW FUN!

Have you been creating rainbows with your children?

Melissa Jordan blogs over at The Chocolate Muffin Tree.   She is a former Elementary Art Teacher  who loves inspiring others with her ideas on her blog.  Many of these activities she does with her 5 year old daughter.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Look Thru Deanna Jump's World

It's Debbie Clement, Master-of-Ceremonies here at PreK+K Sharing.

Today is our colleague Deanna Jump's contribution in our February issue.
She's up to her elbows right now in a myriad of exciting responsibilities and has been kind enough to agree to allow me to prowl through her blog and 'share' an over-view of my observations. Isn't she generous? Thank you Deanna!!!

The very first thing that stands out above all other as I look around, is the amazing 'quality' and 'maturity' of the student artwork created in Deanna's Kindergarten classroom. This is no doubt a testimony to many things: Deanna's own creativity, her guidance to the children, her presenting them with oodles of occasions to be creative and her immersing them in MANY opportunities to express themselves.

Here's a peek at their study of all things Americana, from earlier this month for President's Day. Those are absolutely amazing studies of the Statue of Liberty. You can see from the many examples around their anchor chart that all of the children in the room are reaching a sense of accomplishment. Deanna is teaching her students to FILL THE PAGE, one of the great delights of Art teachers everywhere.

As a picture book author and illustrator myself, one of my favorite things on earth is to see how teachers 'extend' the picture book into their classroom and into the hearts of their students. So of course I couldn't resist sharing a recent project unfolding in Deanna's room. They are studying Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are."

It's delightful to see the many ways that they are interacting with the concepts and artforms from the book.
The anchor chart is obviously a creation of the children's responses to the open-ended statement,
"When I feel WILD_________________"

It's awesome that their personal Wild Thing creatures are holding their wild writing assignments!!!!
I LUV several of their insightful comments: I stomp my feet. I swing really high. Favorites!

Now take a look at this variation on their Sendak Study. Yet more learning and lessons.
While everyone is provided a template to fill,
each child creates their own unique creature:
shapes + colors of their own design.

I could spend days prowling thru Deanna's blog.
Thanks for the opportunity to share!

Deanna invites all of our friends here to visit her at her blog and go on your own investigation of her journal of sharing going on there at Mrs. Jump's Class. I know this year she is really opening her planning + organization to viewers the world over.

She also has a store at Teacher's Pay Teachers. I know that she is too shy to toot her own horn here. So I'll report the facts on her behalf. The truth is, she is the Number One selling contributor to the TPT site.  As a result of her dedication to the field Deanna will be presenting this summer at the "I Teach K" National Conference in Las Vegas!!!

Celebrating Dr. Seuss round-up

By Laura Eldredge

We are quickly approaching March 2nd ... and as teachers, many of us know that to be the birthday of the one and only Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka "Dr. Seuss")!  It's not surprising that the National Education Association (NEA) has chosen this date to celebrate Read Across America DayRead Across America Day is a day when many schools, libraries and community groups across the country celebrate with read-alouds and literacy activities for children of all ages.

Will you be celebrating this day at your school, child care center, library or home?  Need some fun preK-K activities to go along with the reading of your favorite Dr. Seuss books?  I've compiled a list of a few of my favorite stories, paired along with activities, that I've seen from around the web. 

The Cat in the Hat 

A true classic!  There are so many things you can do to extend the learning with this book, like making cat in the hat "hats" (patterning), rhyming activities and discussions on teamwork and putting things away (oh those messy "things"!).

Here are a few great activities to go along with this book:

Green Eggs and Ham

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories! 

Here are a few great activities to go along with this book:

And, check out this FUN video clip of "Mr. David" as he puts a playful hip-hop spin on "Green Eggs and Ham"!

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Great for counting, rhyming and color recognition (all wrapped up into one)!

Here are a few great activities to go along with this book:

PreK + K sharing SUESS-ical roundup!

Want more of Dr. Seuss?  Here are a couple of other Dr. Seuss-inspired posts from our preK + K sharing blog:

Also check out:

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

We're adding our round up to a GRAND Linky Party with Kid's Network Bloggers around the World!
This blog hop is being hosted by the following blogs.
Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas 
Ready. Set. Read!
Reading Confetti 
Montessori Tidbits
Make, Do & Friend 
Putti Prapancha 
Kitchen Counter Chronicles
Living at the Whitehead's Zoo 
Mama Mia's Heart2Heart
Living Montessori Now
Kindergarten for Teachers and Parents
Toddler Approved 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cultivating a Creative Mind

If you were given a box, a wooden spoon, tape and muffin liners what could you create? 

This is one of many activities you could do in the classroom and at home to inspire creativity with your children.  In a recent IBM poll, 1500 CEO’s identified creativity as the single most important trait for leaders in the future. 

I don’t know about you, but as a teacher and mother this fact is exciting to me.  Although it is exhilarating, it also means we as educators have a great responsibility to cultivate creativity in young minds.  How do we go about completing this titanic sized task?  Well, let’s start with inspiration. 

To encourage creativity you must first be inspired and passionate.  Your passion will be contagious and grow!  Take cues from kids!  In a Montessori Class we follow children carefully and observe their interests and activities.  Plan a unit based on their enthusiasm.  Kids who develop an interest in a particular subject tend to be more innovative. 

I like to plan my lessons based on theme units.  Don’t forget the importance of open ended play based learning.  When you are teaching on a particular theme be sure to have ample props, creative sensory tables, low tech toys, and dramatic play items out to develop and extend the artistic process. 

Rotate the art center materials often.  Plan creative thinking projects.  One project idea would be to say here is a paper plate, a paper towel tube and a piece of tissue paper.  What can you create?  Be sure to display their masterpieces. 
Open ended art center, I change the materials in my art center every 2 weeks
Gingerbread Play dough center, We have different themed play dough activities and new scented  play dough out every month

Another way to cultivate creativity is through music and movement.  Provide quality musical instruments and cds such as Debbie Clement, Dr. Jean, Jack Hartmann, greg and steve  Set up a music center where kids are free to explore instruments and dancing items.  When planning activities make room for plenty of movement!  A body that is movin means the brain is movin! 

Music and movement activity to make ice cream

Cultivating creative kids requires you to be creative however, don’t over plan so much that is squelches your ingenuity!  Mix it up, wear a goofy hat, talk in a fake accent all day, do a progressive story hunt throughout the school and yard.  Tell a story and let the kids create their own ending to act out. 

Most of all don’t forget to show kids how to have fun!  Creating + Learning = Fun!  Inspire, cultivate, create!! 

A little bit about me!  My name is Rachel Supalla and I am first and foremost a wife and a mom!  I married my high school sweetheart who is still my best friend!  I have 4 sweet kids ages 3-9 2 boys and 2 girls.  They are my inspiration every day.  I was a teacher before I was a mom but I believe they have made me a better one.  I have taught preschool and Kindergarten for 15 years.  I am Montessori certified but I wouldn’t consider myself a Montessori purist.  I have done a great deal of research along with trial and error and have combined the best of a few different methods in my school. 
I own, direct and teach at Discovery Kidzone Montessori School  I started my school 3 years ago and it is my passion.  Teaching kids to read at an early age brings me joy beyond belief!  I just recently started homeschooling my daughter who is in 2nd grade because she has ADHD and does much better in a progressive, creative environment. 
I started Discovery Kidzone Montessori Adventures Blog to blog about our educational, Montessori and homeschooling journey.  I used to be a children’s event planner and I will begin blogging about that soon.  I am constantly researching and experimenting with new creative learning ideas.  I strongly believe that you can make everything you learn FUN and in the process you will retain the information better.  My school slogan is CREATING+LEARNING=FUN!  I try to live by that motto every day.  You can find me pinning new creative ideas on or come chat with me on facebook at 

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