A peak at my students' Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree craft

The first week of preschool has come and gone.  I am quite pleased with how it went, although I feel bad that one of my students was sick all week and unable to come.  Hopefully I will have all of my students this week.  I thought I would share the favorite activities that I discovered online (and especially through Pinterest.)

I decided to use the Making Smart Choices at School book that I found through Pinterest on the first day of school.  We did the pocket chart cards by just taping them on my easel since I don’t have a pocket chart other than my calendar right now.  Later in the day the kids glued the smaller version onto a sheet to take home, which made for a good way to talk about how to use glue sticks.

For centers this week I dyed pasta (some that I had gotten a great deal on with coupons but did not care for when cooked.)  You can find some information about pasta coloring here.  I hid the letters from an alphabet puzzle in the bin with the pasta for the students to find and finish the puzzle.  This gave me a good idea of how familiar my students are with puzzles and the alphabet as I observed their strategies for completing the activity.  A second center involved cut up pool noodles that were strung onto clothesline.  On the final day of this center we even tried doing AB patterns and most kids were very successful with the pattern, which was awesome.  Another center involved cutting strips of paper between the stickers.  It was interesting to see which kids would want to just cut and cut and cut in this center.  It also helped me see which kids would need some more instruction on holding scissors, especially when I challenged them on the last day of the week with a bigger sheet of paper instead of strips.

One of our books for this past week was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  We read the big book twice, made a special snack with graham crackers, apple slices, and Scrabble Cheez its,  and did a craft similar to this one.  For our snack, I gave the kids two apple slices, one long piece of graham cracker (4 crackers), and a handful of Cheez its.  We did not use anything for coconuts for our snack.

I will attempt to get some photos of my classroom and the centers to add to this post tomorrow.  Somehow even though I brought the camera two of three days I only remembered to grab a shot of my bulletin board and my students to add to the bulletin board.

This week our theme is Colors.  What are your preschoolers doing this week?

Preschool Train theme bulletin board

All Aboard The Preschool Express

Preschool finally started this week.  Last week seemed to be never ending with many hours spent in my classroom and at home in the evenings trying to get everything prepared.  I thought I had a plan for my bulletin board, but then I went to my first meeting of the year and saw two other teachers had already put up a bulletin board with that theme, so I had to start from scratch.  I spent some time wandering through Pinterest and then searching through Google and found a couple ideas to inspire me.  Not sure what I searched on Google, but I did pin them here:  All Aboard! and Kindergarten Express.

To make the board I used a standard size piece of construction paper for each train car.  I used one of my older daughter’s craft toys to cut a 4 by 4 inch window in each sheet.  The teaching assistant was kind enough to cut the circles from the Ellison die cut tool.  I cut a triangle to make the cattle pusher on the front.  I took photos of my students today and Monday to put in each of the train car windows.  At first I planned to have a photo of myself as the train engineer, but then I gained another student, so now one of my student’s photos is in black car.  (Yes, I only have six students, but I have a tiny room, no windows, and a “floating assistant” to balance out the small number of students.)

I had some fun making letters from other letters since I did not have enough L or H cut out letters in the pack to make my whole title.  I used a border with colors on it since we are reviewing colors next week and this bulletin board will be up then as well.  We also plan to read Freight Train next week as well, which will go well with the train themed board.  I kind of wish there were train tracks on the board, but sometimes time gets away from you and you just go with the general theme.  No one has mentioned the lack of tracks or the unlikely grade for the train yet, so no worries.

Counting Cookies

Counting Cookies











I really have been working on crochet projects. I just cannot seem to get motivated to completely finish them. These Counting Cookies look finished; however, I decided that they really need a container. So now I am contemplating what kind of container I want to create for them. If you have any ideas, please let me know. I am thinking that I don’t want to go for the huge cookie jar idea or the loose drawstring bag. I am thinking more of a container in which they fit only if put in neatly.

Christmas Ornament Ball

Holly and Ivy Christmas Ornament












In the meantime, I have been making Christmas ornaments. The tutorial can be found on my blog; I had discovered it elsewhere online a few years ago and have since lost the link. I seem to find myself making these in July; perhaps because they help me wind down from busy days with my kids and since I have made them many times they do not require too much thought once I have chosen the paper and ribbon. For more of my ornaments, please check out my Artfire studio’s Handmade Christmas section.

Thanks to my husband, I was able to get out to do my shopping alone this week. That means I feel like I can stop at more than one store and I feel like I make fewer mistakes with my planned deals.
Starr 080417-4151 Cucumis melo


I started off with Aldi’s and picked up cantaloupe, strawberries, bananas, and mini marshmallows. The cantaloupe and strawberries were specials of the week and the bananas and marshmallows are less expensive at Aldi’s than the other places I was shopping today.



I then headed to Shoppers, which has double coupons up to 99 cents. I had made a list beforehand of the coupons that were in my binder that were under a dollar that I might use. I ended up getting the following:

2 Nesquik powder pouches
normally $1 each, used 2 .50 coupons to make them free

2 Chi Chi 8 ct flour tortillas
1.69 each, used 2 .50 coupons to make them .69 each

Pillsbury cake mix
1.49, used .55 coupon to make it .39

Goya low sodium kidney beans
on sale for .88 (forgot to print a coupon so I only got one)

Johnsonville Italian sausage
4.49 with a $2 off coupon attached

2 packages ground beef
4.01 each, each had a $2 off coupon attached

2 packages mushrooms
on sale for .99 each, normally closer to $2 each

yellow squash

2 lb for 1.50

With coupons, all of this was 13.58. I saved 46 percent even though I purchased meat.
White mocha ice cream


At Target I will just highlight the deals I found.

Oscar Meyer hot dogs were on sale for $1.69 each. I had both a Target coupon for .75 off one and a manufacturer’s coupon for $1 off two, so I purchased two.

I bought a 2 lb bag of pink lady apples and used a $1 off apples Target coupon. This made the 2 lb bag 2.84.

I also had stacking coupons for Kraft cheese. I purchased a pack of the Big Slice since the $1 manufacturer’s coupon was for that. The Target coupon was for purchasing slices and shredded, so I also picked up shredded cheese. This made the total cost for both $3.08.

I discovered some Cabot block cheese on clearance, so I bought two 8 oz packages for 1.48 each and one 8 oz package for 1.90.

Nexcare Strawberry Shortcake bandages were 1.87. I bought two with two $1 off Target coupons and a $1 off two manufacturer’s coupon. This made the total cost .74 for two packages.

I also purchased 3 packages of Ore Ida Sweet potato fries, which had a deal to buy two get one free. I used two $1 off coupons, for a total cost of $4.48 for three bags.

The final deal at Target was the special promotion for Edy’s brand items. I only had one coupon for $1 off two ice creams, but Target had a deal to get a $5 gift card if you bought 5 items. I bought 2 ice creams, one sherbet, and two fruit bar packages. If I include the gift card as paying for part of the purchase, these cost 7.95 for all five.

Since I live in a higher priced area, your prices may be different than mine.  I notice that my Aldi’s store has slightly higher sale prices, for example, than some of the savings sites report.  I get my coupons online at Target’s site, at Coupons.com, and in my local papers.  I also occasionally get coupons mailed to me by Target or request coupons through company websites or facebook pages.

Since we recently finished a book during our nightly read aloud time, I decided the girls were old enough to listen to this book without any nightmares. Inside My Feet The Story of a Giant by Richard Kennedy is not a long book, but it grabs your attention entirely. I first heard this book as a read aloud when I was in college. Mr. Newhouse, my instructor for my children’s literature class, read a bit of this book aloud each week at the beginning of class. When I came upon a copy of it, I snatched it up even though I had no children at the time and was not sure I would use it in my own teaching.

In this book a boy’s parents are taken away in the middle of the night, one by one. A knock on the door rouses everyone from bed. The father goes down and finds no one there, but a pair of extraordinarily large boots. He brings them inside, which is his first mistake. The story continues with the boy, of course, being the one who figures out how his parents are taken and manages not to be taken himself. He then must figure out a plan to save his parents and not be taken when the boots come back.

We have just finished reading Meet the Austins by Madeline L’Engle. As I was looking at the comments on Amazon I discovered there is a chapter that I have never read of this book that was not included in the original edition (and not the edition that we have from when I was a kid.) Now I think I must drop by the local used book store this week and see if they have a newer version with this missing chapter or use some Amazon gift cards to get it.

This is the cover I have

Madeline L’Engle was one of my favorite authors as I was growing up, so I was excited to introduce her to my daughters. I figured that the Austins would be a bit of an easier introduction than the tesseracts in The Wrinkle in Time series. I truly enjoyed the family in this series. It is a family of four (plus one more) children with a mother and a father in the home. The family plays lots of classical music (as my father did when I was growing up), they say grace at meals, kids have responsibilities as part of the family, they have fun together, but the kids also get in trouble with some of the decisions they make. L’Engle makes them feel like a real family to me. There are real consequences for making wrong decisions, like a broken arm and mouth from going out on a bicycle after dark. This book in the series revolves around a new child who comes to stay with the Austins because her father has died in a plane crash. There are adjustments to be made by everyone.

Another recent read was A View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg. I discovered this one while I was teaching fifth and sixth grade at a private school in Maryland. When I read it aloud to my students there I made a bulletin board to help see the connections between all the characters in the story. This story is written from different perspectives. Each of the four members of the sixth grade academic bowl team tells a story, with intervals between describing what is going on with the team and their teacher. My youngest daughter keeps talking about tea being served at 4 o’clock which comes from an episode in this book. I like how the author shows why each student would know the answer to the questions from the academic bowl championship through the stories of events in their pasts. I made sure we discussed the relationships between the characters while we read this aloud since I am not sure we have read any books before that change who is telling the story during the book.

State Study, Chore Chart, Baking and Crafts….

I cannot quite believe everything we did this first week of summer.

State Study

We started our study of the 50 states with our state passports that we found on Musings of Me’s blog.  We decided to use card stock as a cover and back to the passport.  The pages had to be stapled in sections since it was so thick so our passports have a bit of an accordian look to them right now.  (I will attempt to get my daughter’s camera to speak with my computer this evening for some added photos.)  We started our study with Virginia on Monday, since that is the state where we live.  We moved on to West Virginia on Tuesday and Kentucky on Wednesday.  After that, the week got a bit nutty and we took off for a couple days and did Tennessee today.

If you check out my United States theme board on Pinterest you can see some of the places and books that I am using for this project.  I am trying to give my kids information in different ways each time so that they don’t just get the same worksheet to fill out every day about a different state.

Chore Chart

We also started our summer chore chart, thanks to Confessions of a Homeschooler and a pocket chart calendar that I picked up on clearance a while back when I was not sure whether I would receive one with my preschool classroom. The girls have really gotten into earning tickets, although they don’t necessarily put the chore cards on the spots I planned. Mostly they look at the chore cards for ideas of what to do. My youngest really wanted some of those tiny toys in the little balls, so I told her 10 tickets earns one. She has been pretty good this week about earning 10 tickets in a day so she can earn a toy. On the other hand, my oldest has been saving hers and cashed in to get $1 for spending at the craft store on a pretty blank notebook. She is still holding some tickets to cash in to attend the $1 movies next week.

Other places I found with printable chore cards include:

Aussie Pumpkin Patch — new design here, less detailed ones I printed some of the less detailed ones after reducing them in size so they would fit in the pockets of my chart.

Homeschool Creations — a simpler chore chart with cards


Banana Bread Recipe from this book

We made two loaves of bread machine bread this week.  The first loaf was a requested banana bread for my youngest, who helped measure everything and was a little disappointed to find out that the machine mixes everything for us.  We chose a recipe for Banana Poppyseed bread, but left out the poppy seeds.

The second loaf yesterday was almost a disaster.  We decided to make whole wheat raisin bread from the recipe book that came with our machine, partly because we were out of bread flour and only had whole wheat to use.  When it came time to add the raisins I hit the start/stop button for some reason after my youngest put the raisins in, which turned off the machine.  I then saved the loaf by kneading it a bit, letting it rise, and then finishing it in the oven.  It probably could have had some more time rising before I put it in the oven, but the girls were more than happy with the results.


We travelled to two craft stores this week for free craft activities.  I managed to get out of them with only one purchase.

ACMoore has a weekly free craft on Wednesdays all summer from three to five in the afternoon. For this week it was supposed to be CARS related stickers, but the craft person was kind enough to get out some leftovers from other times so the girls could decorate a framed chalk board with glittery stickers.

Michaels has an around the world themed (mostly) free craft on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays this summer.  We attended the Germany and Egypt themed crafts at Michaels.  The girls decorated a jingle bell with paint markers and put a bow on top for Germany.  My oldest also made a German hat with feather.  For Egypt they made mummies from a clothespin and strips of white tissue paper, along with googly eyes.  They used some terra cotta Model Magic to do some heiroglyphics and a pyramid.

We also created some crafts at home.  I discovered this yarn doll tutorial via Pinterest and shared it with my girls.  We now have probably 20 or more yarn dolls of various sizes and colors that are being used in elaborate pretend play games.


I almost forgot that we planted some sunflower and tomato seeds that I received as a thank you from the kindergarten teacher and assistant for volunteering every Thursday morning this year.  We now have seedlings that are almost ready to move into larger homes.  Now, where to put them?



This afternoon I took my girls to get their first free books of the summer for completing one of the summer reading programs I wrote about earlier. We went to Barnes & Noble where the girls chose:

Liberty Porter First Daughter
Liberty Porter First Daughter

Summer According to Humphrey
Summer According to Humphrey

We then headed to Dunkin Donuts to get free Frozen Hot Chocolates since we had coupons to use before they expire at the end of the month, along with a donut to bring home for after dinner. The donuts we paid for with money instead of coupons or reading forms.