Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

ToDaY iS hAlLoWeEn! 

This is a time where little ghosts and goblins and princesses and superheroes can't sit still at school/preschool, parents are bringing in candy, cookies, and cupcakes to increase the sugar highs, and everyone looks forward to going door to door in the neighborhood to trick or treat. When I saw the information below floating around on facebook, I knew it was the answer to what would go on the blog today. Then, Sandy hit the northeast, and I realized that thousands of children will be disappointed that they cannot trick or treat as usual. So, there is a second part to this blog that gives a few suggestions as discussed on The Today Show Oct. 30, 2012.

Image courtesy of Salvatore

I have tried to track down the original source; however, efforts have not been successful. I have added some additional commentary to the side of the original statements.

  • In a few days, a lot of creatures will visit your door. Be open minded. 
  • The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills. This child may also have proprioceptive challenges. Proprioception is the sense of where your body is in space. It's the awareness of position and motion. Children who are challenged or delayed proprioceptively are the children who always squeeze the juice box/pouch too hard, have a hard time staying sitting in chairs, run into the next child in line, breaks the tips off pencils and markers bearing down too hard, etc. They present as uncoordinated and are often thought of as not paying attention. However, they may not have the movement senses or skills needed to have smoother movements and control their posture and motions.
  • The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have motor planning issues. This child may also have sensory overload issues or be particular about what s/he wants. A child who has been coached to only take one (including when the person at the door says that) may need time to decide the best one piece of candy to take. This can take longer if there are several choices in the bowl that appeal to the child. This child may be overwhelmed with the choices presented. A child taking a long time to choose might be offered the chance to take more than one, or perhaps invite the parent to come to assist.
  • The child who does not say "trick or treat" or "thank you" might be painfully shy, non-verbal, or selectively mute. Children often freeze when faces with new people and pressure to "perform." It may be the last 2 houses of the night before they get comfortable enough with the whole process to speak. This same principle applies when asking children what they are dressed up as, if they are having a good time, telling them they are so cute or you love their costume. 
  • If you cannot understand their words, they may struggle with developmental apraxia of speech. 
  • They are thankful in their hearts and minds. 
  • The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have a life-threatening allergy. Or they may also be very particular about their likes and dislikes. Having a roll of quarters handy might do the trick. 
  • The child who isn't wearing a costume at all might have SPD or autism. 
  • Be kind, be patient, smile, pretend you understand. It's everyone's Halloween.
  •  Make a parent feel good by making a big deal of their special child. 

Image courtesy of Tom

Hurricane/Noreaster Sandy Hits East Coast
No Trick or Treating for Thousands

Image courtesy of

Some suggestions for alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating if conditions allow were presented on The Today Show Oct. 30, 2012. I have recapped some of them here and added a few of my own:
  • If conditions allow, round up your neighbors and create a small area of homes and families for traditional trick-or-treat. Or coordinate a trunk-or-treat.
  • Many people in the Deep South already have the tradition of Trunk-or-Treat as an alternative to going door-to-door. This would work well in a cul-de-sac. Have neighbors park in a centralized area with their trunks pointing out into the street. People put the candy in their trunks and open the trunks so children can go from trunk to trunk "trick or treating." This is very popular in church communities in the deep south. Many people go to great lengths to decorate their trunks as well. 
  • This is a wonderful opportunity to meet neighbors you've been meaning to, band together as a community to support one another, and have a block party!
  • Get crafty. Get out your craft items including glue and candy on hand and decorate. One idea is to clean out a milk carton or cereal box and glue candy onto it to make a Halloween version of a gingerbread house.
  • Have a cook out if you have a way to grill. Halloweenies and boo-burgers can be the main course. If neighbors come together they may be able to pool resources and have a fun food contribution for your non-traditional Halloween.
  • Trick or treat in your own house! Put different types of candy in each room of your home. Have your children go from room to room trick or treating.
  • Have a candy scavenger hunt. Hide candy around the house and let your kids find what the Great Pumpkin hid for them (like Easter egg hunts). For older children, make it more difficult and create clues for them to follow to find the best treats. Throw in some tricks like a pair of dirty socks or a can of tuna or like in Charlie Brown -- a rock.
  • Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    “ ’Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
                                  Only this and nothing more.”
    ~Edgar Allen Poe (From The Raven)
    Have a Happy, Fun, and Safe Halloween!
    Image courtesy of Elwood W. McKay

    Blog entry by Dr. Ellaine B. Miller, PhD. Family Child Care Partnerships at Auburn

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Paper Spider Webs for Halloween

    I am so pleased to be visiting this wonderful blog and Pre K and K resource from over at Red Ted Art. With  Halloween "Looming" I have a super simple paper spider web to share with you. It is very similar to the 6 pointed snowflake I have already done - so if you kid get the hang of it, you can come back to this near Christmas or in January for Winter crafts.


     Materials: one sheet of A4 paper and scissors. The trick about this craft is all in the "folding". I have "borrowed" our photos from the snowflake to share again:


    1) You need a square piece of paper. If using an A4 piece of paper. Take one corner and fold it, so that you get a diagnoal crease. You should see a triangle, with a strip of paper left on the side. Trim of the strip. So you only have a triangle which, when opened, is square.
    2) Take triangle and fold again, so you end up with a 2nd smaller triangle.
    3) Imagine the top edge divides into three. If it helps, roughly mark out thirds. Fold one third in.
    4) Fold the remaining third in. The neater (i.e. how accurate you get your thirds) you get this, the neater you final snowflake will be. If need be, redo it to adjust to perfect thirds. You want the 2nd fold to align neatly with the first one.
    5) I trim the top off, as I find it distracting.


    6) Now it is time to cut your spider web (or snowflake). Be sure to not cut along the "spine" of your triangle, else your spider web will fall apart.

    Gently unfold and you are done!

    Decorate the walls or windows with them. If you are after some Halloween Cookies, check out our fun Frankenstein Cookie Pops!

    See you again soon!

    PS if you are interested in reading reviews about Children's Movies... I have a brand new blog for you to discover.... go take a peak!

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Linking literacy with music and movement

    By Laura Eldredge

    Research shows those of us in early childhood that movement is a young child’s preferred mode of learning – and that children learn best through active involvement.
    The same holds true for children's literacy learning. Linking movement activities to story time and other literacy learning gets children more actively involved in the experience.  
    When you involve children to physically perform action words (such as jump, march, roll) or descriptive words (like strong, gentle, huge, soft) – the understanding of those words is immediate. The children have heard the word, felt the word and seen the meaning of the word.  And, "the more senses used in the learning process, the higher the percentage of retention" (Fauth, 1990).

    "Book & Boogie"
    "Book & Boogie" is a children's story time program that we use at local area preschools ... in which we bring together story themes with a music and movement component to go with the stories, which gets children moving and actively learning.

    By actively involving children in a story theme with music and movement, it enhances their early literacy development, expands their vocabulary, and helps children to improve gross motor skills and coordination.  When we use music and movement ... the sequencing of movements “accesses many learning modes: visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, rhythmic, vocal, mnemonic (long- and short-term), and creative.” Block (2001, p. 44)
    To see how "Book & Boogie" works ... take a peek at the video below:

    More online videos are available which provide story ideas, music choices and simple dance choreography that teachers and parents can use with their classroom or playgroup. 

    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

    Research credits:
    Pica, R., “Linking Literacy and Movement”,

    Block, B.A. (2001). Literacy through movement: An organizational approach.
    Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 72(1), 39-48.

    Fauth, B. (1990). Linking the visual arts with drama, movement, and dance for the young child. In W.J. Stinson, (ed.), Moving and learning for the young child(pp. 159-187). Reston VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    What if its Not in the Common Core Standards?

    By now, I'm sure everyone has heard of the Common Core Standards in the education world and it sounds like they aren't going anywhere for a while.  But, my question is, what about the things early childhood educators know to be important, but are nowhere to be found in the Common Core Standards?

    I got thinking about this when I had a fan email me a question about Pokey Pinning.  (If you are unsure what Pokey Pinning is, it is a fine motor development activity that I use for my students to practice and review item concepts that we have learned and/or are working on).  The question asked how Pokey Pinning aligned with the CCS (not because she was questioning the validity of the activity, but because her administrator wanted all lessons and/or activities to represent the CCS in some shape or form). 

    Well, quite frankly, it doesn't directly align with anything represented in the Common Core Standards (unless you count WHAT students are pinning and then you might be able to loosely tie it to a standard listed somewhere).  So, my question is, do we stop doing activities like this simply because they are "unlisted" in CCS?

    As early childhood educators, we could justify to the moon and back why the long-forgotten fine motor development activities should be in the forefront of our teachings.  However, will administrators want to hear what we (and our years of experience and piles of research) have to say about this subject if it isn't even remotely represented in the CCS?  Does a lack of representation equal a lack of importance?  These are questions that I continue to ponder and hope that you will help me sift through them as well.  In the meantime, I would like to share a Ghostly Pokey Pinning freebie as we reflect!  I hope you and your students enjoy it and reap the many grand benefits that this activity has to offer (regardless if the Common Core agree with us or not!).
    Click here to grab your freebie and have your students Pokey Pin these cute ghosts for your windows!

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Rocky Teaching

    Hi! It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose. Repurposing, reusing, and recycling are important for the world and are great ways to have fun resources for little or no cost.

    Some teaching resources may be just lying around. Use rocks and other natural materials in your classroom. Here are some ways we've used rocks.

    We investigate them. Add magnifying glasses, rulers, paper, and pencils. Kids can look, sketch, and note their observations.

    Brick by Brick

    We build with them. Add rocks and other nature materials to your blocks center. Let the kids decide how to use them.

    Brick by Brick

    Or "build" and create with them without blocks. Sometimes basic materials encourage creative thinking in different ways.

    Brick by Brick

    We count with them. Use rocks as counters in games. Or just on counting mats. You can count sticks, flower petals, leaves, or other natural items.

    We weigh them. Just a scale and the rocks can provide lots of investigation.

    Brick by Brick

    We find them in sand. Sometimes I'll print letters or words on the rocks with a permanent marker. Sometimes we just find and sort the rocks.

    We spell with them. Print letters (or words) on paper. Kids can outline the letters with rocks. You can also outline shapes or just lines, working on fine motor skills.

    Brick by Brick

    Use rocks as game markers. 

    Use rocks in your art explorations. 

    Use small rocks in homemade shakers. 

    What ways do you use rocks and other natural materials?

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    FALLING LEAVES -- DANCING THROUGHOUT THE DAY Part 7: A Movement Exploration That Addresses Science

    Hello EC Community,

    Happy Autumn!  The activity below is filled with ideas that can be used as a stand-alone exploration, or a supplement to any fall-themed or science lesson.  It is a celebration of the autumn season.  The children will dance about living things and explore the cycles of the seasons through movement.  In addition, the motor skill of galloping is introduced.  This 45-minute fall-themed lesson is adapted from my first book, Dance, Turn, Hop, Learn!  Enriching Movement Activities for Preschoolers (Redleaf Press, 2006).

            Falling Leaves
                                   ©2006 by Connie Bergstein Dow. Published by Redleaf Press, 

    What You Need: 

    Musical selections:

    • Upbeat music, such as Bluegrass or a lively classical piece
    • Calm, soothing music, such as environmental or New Age

     Pictures of nature in different seasons, and particularly pictures of fall colors
    • Colorful leaves you have gathered, or pictures or cut-outs of leaves
    For the Quicksand game, masking tape or string if there are no lines or delineated areas in the classroom
    • Drum

                   What You Do:

    Begin the lesson with the Quicksand game:

    1. Prepare the Space: For this game, you will need areas in the classroom that are “safe” and areas that are “quicksand.” If there are any lines on the class- room floor, these can be incorporated into the game. Several parallel lines along the length of the floor work well, and they can be marked with masking tape or thick string to make three or four long lines.

    2. The Object of the Game: The children try to walk along the lines as if they are walking on tightropes, trying not to fall off. If they do fall off, they must crawl through the quicksand to another safe line. If the lines are close enough, the children can jump from one line to another. You can make up your own rules about passing if two children are on the same line and need to go by each other. For example, one or the other can back up, or one of the children must jump to another line.

    3. Play the Game: Once the children understand the premise of the game, ask them to spread out along the lines to begin. Play a lively musical selection to start the game. The game will evolve based on the type of space you have, so be prepared for the children to be creative about the rules of this game!
    Greeting Circle
    4.  Conclude the Game:  Bring the children together into a circle and tell them that they are going to dance about autumn. Ask, What are some of your favorite activities during the fall season?

    Movement Exploration: Falling Leaves
    Continue with a Large Motor Skills Practice:

    Line the children up along one side of the room, and prompt them to practice the following large motor skills to the other side of the room, using autumn as a theme:

    1. Walk: Let’s think about being outside on a warm fall day. What do you see as you are walking?

    2. Tiptoe Walk: Can you try to tiptoe through crisp leaves and not make any noise?

    3. Run: Imagine that you are running through a pile of leaves on the ground! Remember that these are “hurry up and be quiet” runs! Put on your brakes when you get close to the other side of the room.

    4. Gallop: Introduce gallops. Begin by beating the rhythm with a drum or tambourine: LOUD-quiet, LOUD-quiet, LOUD-quiet, GAL-lop, GAL-lop, GAL-lop. Ask the children to clap the rhythm, and then ask them to gallop across the floor while you are beating that rhythm, demonstrating if needed. The same foot leads throughout the gallop. Practicing the rhythm and repetition of the step is the best way for children to master gallops. Once the children have learned this motor skill, they should work toward galloping swiftly, in a controlled way, and quietly. Gallop like a horse through the field on a beautiful fall day!


    The next activity will be a movement improvisation, based on a story you will tell about a tree in the changing seasons. The children will respond to the images and suggestions through movement. Allow each idea to unfold and give the children time to explore each movement prompt.

    1. Introduce the Activity: Have the children join you in a circle. Show the pictures and the leaves you have brought and talk about the changing seasons to prepare the children for the dance story. Ask them to spread out and each find a spot in the room. Play a calm, soothing musical selection quietly as background music.

    2. Begin the Story: Imagine that you are a small seed, but you are the seed of a very large tree. You are deep in the rich soil under the ground in winter. Curl up like you are a seed.
    Slowly grow to be a strong, tall tree. Stand up now and reach toward the sky!
    3. Spring:  The weather begins to get warm, and that is your signal to start to grow. Feel the sunlight and the rain, and stretch your roots deeply into the rich soil all around you. Slowly grow to be a strong, tall tree. Stand up now and reach toward the sky. You are beginning to sprout leaves! Look how you are changing!

    4. Summer:  Now it is summer! The sun is hot, and there are strong thunderstorms, with wind, lightning, and lots of hard rain. What does it feel like to have the warm sun, and then the cool rain, on your outstretched branches and waving leaves? What does it feel like when the wind whips through your leaves and branches, and moves you back and forth, up and down? See how the force of the wind can move your strong branches!

    5. Fall:  What happens in the fall? Imagine your leaves are turning red, orange, yellow, and brown. The leaves will begin to fall off of you, and when they do, they will swirl through the air. Now, let’s pretend to be leaves! You are way up high and you are about to fall off the branches. Let go, and blow through the air, as you slowly fall to the ground. (Play an upbeat musical selection during this part of the story, and elaborate on swirling, gliding, turning, and falling movements—this section can go on for a couple of minutes, so prompt the children to change the speed, level, and energy of their movements).

    6. Conclude the Activity: Let’s each grab a rake, and rake up all of these leaves! We’ll make a huge pile in the center of the room. Then we can line up and take turns jumping in the pile! Have the children line up and, one at a time, take a running jump into the imaginary pile of leaves at the center of the room.

    7.  Bring the Lesson to a Quiet Finish:  Gather the children together again, and say: Let’s make a pretend campfire. We will gather some wood, and make a small fire. Because autumn nights are cold, let’s warm our hands by the campfire. Have the children sit down in a circle around the pretend campfire. Now, let’s curl up into our sleeping bags! 

    Keep on Dancin',



    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Fall Sunflowers

    In my primary classes we have been looking at the beauty of Autumn. We are so blessed to have the four seasons in Ohio and experience the cycles of life.  This year the fall colors were spectacular! In Art class we discussed the beautiful colors that you see in the fall and the foliage and flowers in bloom.  One fabulous flower is the Sunflower. 

     The children delighted in created their personal flowers. 
    First, we painted various shades of fall colors on construction paper. 

     After our painted papers were drying,  I read the book The Sun Seed by author Jan Schubert.

    This is a lovely book for children to view before creating their personal artwork.

     We looked at the shapes of sunflower petals, then the students created their own petal shape, traced more petals from the original one, then glued the petals to a circle center. 

     Lastly, students created seeds from oil pastels and tissue paper.

    When students were done creating their special sunflower stems were painted on a background then the flower tops were added to the finished mural. I hope you have a wonderful fall season as well!


    Construction Paper
    Tempera Paint
    Oil Pastels
    Tissue Paper

    Laura is an elementary art teacher and the author of the blog Painted Paper. She has presented her thematic units nationally at the National Art Education Association and Ohio Art Education Association Conferences. You can follow her updates on fun and creative projects for kids here.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Pumpkin Painting!

    Hello, my name is Carie and I am a kindergarten teacher in Illinois! 

    A few years ago, our school district decided to cut our elementary art position. Our Art teacher was AMAZING! She got our kindergarten and first graders to create masterpieces that I couldn’t even create on my own! So we were very sad to see her leave and take all of her Art Magic with her! So, for the past few years I have been trying to make Art as meaningful to my students as she did hers. After years of giving students construction paper and letting them cut and paste the pieces to make jack-o-lanterns; like this...

     The construction paper jack-o-lanterns are fun too...


    This year I decided to get over my fear of letting all of my students paint at the same time and let paint do the talking! 

    Painting is very therapeutic and my kiddos needed some of this therapeutic time (as did I). As I was filling paint trays, I ran out of orange paint so I used it as a teaching moment to teach students which two colors make orange and then showed them how to mix red and yellow...then WAHHH LAHHH, we had orange! We then talked about how to use each paint brush in only one color so not to mix the colors to make even more colors. We didn't want crazy color pumpkins for this activity...just orange :)

    I let the students choose what size of paper they wanted (12X18 or 9X12). They then got to choose if they wanted a short, fat pumpkin or a tall, skinny pumpkin. (They all reminded me that those different kinds of pumpkins were opposites). Each student also got to choose if they just wanted to paint a pumpkin or if they wanted to paint a jack-o-lantern.  Then I let the painting begin. 

    They had enjoyed it so much, they wanted to paint more pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. If we would have had had more time, I definitely would have let them! They were so calm and serious while paintingthey need this ART time to express themselves and let their true personalities show in through in their “masterpieces” 

    I hope everyone has a very Happy Halloween!! 

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