Snowman Day at Preschool

Once a week, I get the privilege of having a handful of 4-year-olds come over to my house for a little preschool time.  We have so much fun together, I thought I’d share our days with you.  Each week we have a different theme and our schedule follows the same pattern:  an hour of school skills, an hour of art, snack time, active group play, free play (including some form of sensory play) at various play stations.

THIS WEEK’S THEME WAS SNOWMEN!

We started our day practicing tracing and cutting skills.  The kids took turns sharing a couple of snowman shaped patterns which they used to trace the shape on their cardstock.  Next they cut the snowmen out — a little tricky to get in the points, but they handled it well.  Each child drew a face on their snowman and glued on one of the scarves I had created out of scrapbook paper.  I had also created hats out of the same pieces of scrapbook paper and put a number from 1-12 on each one.  It was time to begin our game.

The children took turns picking a hat, turning it over to reveal the number and then placing the hat upon their snowman.  They got really excited when the hat paper matched their scarf paper.  Now the task was to place as many buttons on the snowman as the hat showed.  Once we checked to see if they had the right amount, they would switch hats and add or subtract buttons to match the new number.  They were not really taking turns, but all working on their buttons and switching hats randomly whenever they completed their task.  This game was far more engaging than I anticipated and the kids really enjoyed it.  Here is the post where I got the idea.

Next, we made snowmen out of glue which I got from this link.  I did a sample snowman, but it didn’t have the whole 2-3 days drying time necessary to be completely done by the day of class.  I was rather dismayed as it dried because the glue seemed to be absorbing into the wax paper and I thought I hadn’t used enough glue.  I didn’t realize this was exactly how it was supposed to look, so when the kids made theirs I kept encouraging them to use more glue.  While this didn’t hurt their final products at all, it did mean more drying time — about 3 days total for the thickest ones.  The final product had a milky translucency to it and is semi-stiff/semi-flexible.

 

Probably the best activity of the day was the melting snowmen which I got from this link.  Preparation involved dropping 2 beads and an orange felt triangle in the bottom of a cup, then stuffing the cup with a mixture of baking soda and water mixed to a stiff claylike consistency with a little silver glitter mixed in for fun.  I used red Solo “shot glasses” and I wouldn’t recommend going any bigger than that.  After I firmly packed the cup about half-full, I threw in a couple of sequin “buttons” and inserted two pieces of toothpicks down the side for arms.  Then I set them on the front porch overnight to freeze.  This worked great since temperatures were below zero last week.

preschool Jan 2016 010

Our frozen snowmen awaiting release.

It took some doing to get the snowmen out of the cup.  They were REALLY frozen solid!  We dipped them in hot water, rolled them in our hands, dipped them again and squeezed and prodded until finally, they worked their way out.  It was so fun to see the unique facial expressions each one was “born” with.  Each child was given one snowman on a plastic tray and a 3 oz. spray bottle filled with vinegar.  We also set out small bowls of vinegar and equipped each child with a plastic pipette.  Then we set them loose instructing them to melt the snowmen with their vinegar.  Because the baking soda concoction was frozen it didn’t react as abruptly as the baking soda and vinegar volcano many of us have done.  Each squirt resulted in a satisfying little fizzle and a tiny bit of melting.  The kids began debating which worked better, the spray bottle or the pipette.  One child figured out (after using all the vinegar in his spray bottle) that he could then suck up the pool of vinegar off his tray and refill his bottle.  Then he discovered pouring the vinegar onto the snowman out of the open bottle was a VERY effective method for melting him.  This project kept all the children completely engaged until the snowmen were totally melted.  In all, it took 20-25 minutes.  Wanting to let the children linger over this learning experiment, I decided to knock a few activities off of our list rather than rush this project.

Next, we read the book Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner and then let the kids draw their own “snowmen at night” pictures with chalk on dark blue paper.  We used colored chalk, but most of the kids chose to just use white anyway.

 

Snack time consisted of a marshmallow snowman in a field of popcorn “snow” with a side of snowman noses.

 

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I should have cut the button toothpicks shorter, so they didn’t look like daggers, but I was in a hurry.  I dipped a toothpick in food coloring to make the face and used a slivered almond for the nose.

 

It was time to get active so we split the kids into two teams and equipped each team with a bucket of snowball.  With a barrier set between the teams, we let the snowballs fly.  This activity rivaled the melting snowmen as a favorite, and I think the kids could have gone on forever.

While the snowmen-faced balls are adorable and soft, the plain ones have an incredible texture that feels just like you are packing a real snowball when you squeeze them.

Our sensory play consisted of snow dough.  Again, this was such a fun texture to work with.  It is a simple concoction of baking soda and conditioner in about a 4/1 ratio.  (I used a bit more conditioner than the original post suggested.)  You’ll know the right proportions by feel.  At first, it sticks together but is rather crumbly but as you mix in more conditioner, you get a silky soft feel to it.  It still looks like real snow though.  This packs nicely and can be formed into a snowman.  It’s still crumbly and your hands will get messy, but both these ingredients rinse off easily and will not clog your drain.

I put out a nice selection of snowman accouterments to try to encourage the kids to build one more snowman, but most of them just wanted to immerse themselves in the texture of the dough.  One little girl found a coal shovel in the train set and decided to use it to shovel snow.

Taking a break from snowmen, we ended the day by building a magnificent Duplo train track through the rooms.

 

UNPLUG and ENGAGE – 100+ Things OLDER Kids Can Do at Home to Learn, Relieve Boredom and Bless Others

Nothing ruins a summer so much as the phrase “I’m BORED!”  But letting your children pass the days sitting in the air-conditioning in front of some screen or another is not the answer to this problem.  Here are all kinds of things your older children can do to engage in life, relieve bordome, stimulate their minds and imagination and use their gifts to bless others.  [Check out my son’s stop-motion videos if you want to learn the value of stimulating the imagination.]  Here’s hoping that awful phrase is removed from your home this summer.  These activities are — for the most part — FREE!, child led (not a lot of parent involvement necessary), and can be done right in your home or yard.  Almost all of them don’t even require electricity much less a screen (although I do send you to some internet links to help you get started on some of them).  Print ’em and Post ’em.  When the kids even HINT at being bored, point to the list.  Enjoy!

Go here https://blessandbuild.com/2014/07/07/unplug-and-explore-60-things-kids-can-do-at-home-when-theyre-bored/  to see my list for younger children,
and here https://blessandbuild.com/2014/07/07/road-trips-unplugged/comment-page-1/#comment-160 to see my ideas for fun things to do in the car.

LEARN and ENTERTAIN

Alone or With Friends

  1. Learn  at least 3 different kinds of  SOLITAIRE.
  2. Learn to SHUFFLE and “bridge” cards
  3. Find old  FRAMES and/or old  FURNITURE (get permission!) and PAINT them with fun designs.
    DCIM100MEDIA
  4. Practice SPORTS SKILLS – dribbling, shooting, passing, free-throws, lay-ups, kicking, batting, pitching, volleying, archery, etc.
  5. LEGOS
  6. PAINT a masterpiece (If you haven’t got any ideas, try to copy a famous piece of art.)Imagination Station
  7. Practice DRAWING – I heartily recommend Mark Kistler’s books (or videos).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAcK9BY7Ymw
  8. Explore the world from a DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE with binoculars, magnifying glass or microscope.
  9. Have a KOOL-AID STAND.
  10. Gather, clean, and price outgrown toys and have a TOY SALE.
  11. CHALLENGE YOUR BRAIN with Cryptograms, Crosswords, Sudoku or Logic Puzzle
  12. Create a MAZE, with pencil and paper or with blocks or dominoes.
  13. Write a STORY.
  14. Complete a 500 piece PUZZLE.  (or more difficult if you choose)
  15. Use RUBBER STAMPS to make a collection of cards
  16. Learn ORIGAMI. – Get a book on how to do it from the library.
    origami
  17. Listen to AUDIOBOOKS  (Check your local library for a plethora of titles.)
  18.  CLIMB a tree.
  19. DECORATE your room.
  20. Build a TREE HOUSE.
  21. ROLLERBLADE
  22. Go for a BIKE RIDE. – With your parent’s help map out a 10 mile route and conquer it.
  23. Practice creating an outstanding AUTOGRAPH.  Your signature says a lot about you.  Make it stylish and unique.
  24. Make a MINIATURE GOLF COURSE in your yard or basement.   Use soup cans for holes.
  25. Learn some fancy JUMP ROPING moves.
  26. Learn some MAGIC TRICKS.
  27. Try a simple BUILDING PROJECT – shelves/bench/wooden crate/etc.
  28. Make an awesome COSTUME.
  29. Go on a NATURE HIKE.
  30. Create a SHELTER  out of branches, leaves, etc.  Sleep in it, if you dare.
  31. Press FLOWERS.
  32. Make PICTURE FRAMES  from twigs (or any other objects) glued onto sturdy cardboard
  33. Learn to KNIT or CROCHET.fairy garden
  34. Make DOLL CLOTHES.
  35. Create a  FAIRY GARDEN in a corner of the yard.
    http://www.themagiconions.com/2010/08/make-fairy-garden.html
  36. RE-FASHION old T-shirts.
    http://darlingadventures.com/?p=574
  37. Make BOOKMARKS.
  38. RE-CREATE your favorite book illustration.
  39. DESIGN your own GAME.
  40. Write SECRET MESSAGES with lemon juice on white paper.  When dry, hold paper over heating toaster to make invisible letters appear!
  41. Start a JOURNAL or write in one you already started.
  42. Organize your photos.  Create a PHOTOBOOK.
  43. Find and ant hill,  drop some crumbs or sweet liquid nearby and watch the ANTS do their thing.
  44. Play CHARADES.
  45. Draw/write a CARTOON STRIP of your own characters.
  46. Make a MAP of your bedroom, house or neighborhood.
  47. Find a PEN PAL from another country.  Share ideas about your cultures with each other.
  48. Collect sticks and mud and build a BIRD’S NEST.
  49. Create a family or neighborhood NEWSLETTER.
  50. Make PAPER AIRPLAINES.
  51. Learn to COOK a meal.
  52. Gather junk and discarded materials and turn it into a sculpture or other piece of art.  This is called FOUND OBJECT ART.
  53. Create a STOP-MOTION VIDEO.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuexL14O9L8
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9115ZqfkXM4  (See how creative my kids are?)
  54. Learn some CARD TRICKS.
  55. Practice FANCY LETTERING – a great skill to have for making cards and signs
    CHALK ART  https://www.etsy.com/listing/175732200/jeremiah-2911-for-i-know-the-plans-card?ref=shop_home_active_21
  56. Start a BLOG.
  57. Learn to FACE PAINT.100_0071
  58. Learn to whistle, snap your fingers, swim, ride a bike or ANYTHING ELSE YOU’VE WISHED YOU COULD DO.  (Probably not flying though.)
  59. REARRANGE your bedroom.
  60. Learn to tie a variety of  KNOTS.
  61. Learn a new VOCABULARY word every week and try to use it correctly every day that week.
  62.  Play MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
  63. Pitch a tent and CAMP OUT in the backyard.
  64. Learn to make SHADOW PICTURES.
  65. LIP SYNC to a favorite song.  Or just go ahead and learn to sing it —really well!

 

 

LEARN and ENTERTAIN

With Friends / Siblings

  1. Play BOARD GAMES.
  2. Play cards with a friend.  Look up “POPULAR CARD GAMES” and learn the rules and strategy.
  3. Play MARBLES.
  4. PUZZLE RACES – Using two puzzles of the same difficulty (100 pieces or less) Race a friend to see who can complete their puzzle first.  You can also do this with teams.
  5. MAKE A VIDEO staring you and your siblings/friends.hopscotch
  6. Play HOPSCOTCH.
  7. Set up an OBSTACLE COURSE and  challenge friends/siblings to beat your time.
  8. Have a water BALLOON TOSS or an egg toss.
  9. Have a WATER FIGHT with water balloons, water guns, big plastic cups or all three!
  10. Play FLASHLIGHT TAG.
  11. Play KICK the CAN.  http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Kick-the-Can
  12. Have a SCAVENGER HUNT.  Form teams and a list of things that must be found outside/ in the house/ in the neighborhood.  State a time limit and see which team can find the most items.
  13. Record you and your friends doing CRAZY STUNTS like posing as mannequins in a store window, asking a stranger for a bite of his sandwich, handing out candy bars to random passers-by, having a parade down your street, or protesting something ridiculous.
  14. Play FOUR SQUARE.  http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Four-Square
  15. Play photographer.  Have a friend take turns with you doing PHOTO SHOOTS of each other.

 

 

Be a Blessing

We Are Most Blessed When Blessing Others

  1. WRITE a Letter.set up fair
  2. Wash WINDOWS.
  3. Clean a SHELF or DRAWER in your room.
  4. Set Up CARNIVAL GAMES for the kids in your neighborhood or for your siblings. (If you want to get really into it – have the kids bring old toys in exchange for tickets and use the old toys for game prizes!)
  5. Memorize then  Recite BIBLE VERSES.
  6. Memorize then recite a POEM.
  7. Put on a PLAY.
  8. BAKE A TREAT for your family or neighbors.
  9. ADOPT A GRANDPARENT from among the many lonely people in assisted living.  Write them notes, visit them, make things for them.
  10. Make CARDS/PICTURES and send them to loved ones
  11. CLEAN your bedroom.
  12. Pull the WEEDS.
  13. Using family friendly movies, run a THEATER in your living room for friends (complete with popcorn!).
  14. Write “THANK YOU” cards to tell someone how they’ve blessed you — even if you haven’t received a gift from them.
  15. Create circus stunts and perform a CIRCUS for/with the neighbor children.Circus Lion
  16. DUST the house.
  17. BRUSH the pet.
  18. PICK berries or vegetables.
  19. ENTERTAIN a younger sibling or neighbor child and give mom a break.
  20. Play outside with a PET.
  21. Surprise a neighbor with a GOOD DEED.
  22. Host a TEA PARTY.
  23. BATHE a pet.
  24. READ to younger siblings.
  25. ORGANIZE a dresser drawer.
  26. Clean UNDER the BED.
  27. MOW the lawn.
  28. Create a list of “RANDOM ACTS of KINDNESS” you can do.  See how many you can accomplish.
  29. Hold a neighborhood BIKE WASH.
  30. Do a STORY HOUR  for the younger children in your neighborhood.