Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rainy Day Fun...Balloon Baseball

It's pouring buckets of rain today. It's finally feeling like Spring outside but we are stuck inside. Boredom was sneaking up on my kids and they were beginning to ask for the TV to be turned on. I said, "I have a better idea".

I happened to save a couple of cardboard paper towel tubes (for a rainy day activity) so that we could make telescopes. I gave my kids some markers and told them to decorate their telescopes. After spending awhile decorating, they were finished and ready for their next adventure. The telescopes were fun for a few minutes but quickly turned into swords and my couch pillows became shields. It was a creative use for the tubes but I wasn't sure that I really wanted to encourage that game for very long so I suggested an alternative that was an instant hit.

I blew up a balloon (I always seem to have a bag of balloons on hand) and showed my girls how to play balloon baseball in the living room. They loved it! I probably should mention that although they played very nicely and had a lot of fun, after awhile, they became weary of sharing one balloon (a natural and frequent occurrence with preschoolers ;-)) I blew up a second balloon so they could just hit it around with their "bat" on their own. I didn't have to worry about the "ball" breaking anything, knocking anything over or anyone getting hurt so that made me happy. It was an easy and fun way to pass about an hour of time.

The next time you finish off a roll of paper towel, save that tube. When you and/or your kids start feeling stir crazy or bored, give this easy project and game a try.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fun Field Trip Ideas

If you are in need of some fun field trip ideas (and who isn't during a long, cold winter), check out our newly updated Field Trip page on We have compiled a list of our favorite field trips for young children as well as links to some other great resources. Now go get rid of that cabin fever...Enjoy!

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Valentine's Day / Handprint Hearts

I want to share a very easy Valentine idea. To make a hand print heart: paint on your child's hand in his/her choice of color(s). Once the hand is painted, instruct them to close their fingers and then press their hand onto a piece of white construction paper at a sideways slant. Paint the other hand in the chosen paint color and press that hand onto the paper slightly overlapping the fingers of the print already on the page. This is a very easy project but rather difficult to explain so I'm going to add pictures of my own children's hand print hearts so that you can actually see the project. I think this will make it much easier for you to do the project at home or school.

Once the hand print hearts are dry, you could add a clever Valentine message and give the card to a parent, a grandparent or special friend as a gift. A couple of Valentine phrases that I have used in the past:

~You're the best Valentine, hand's down!

~I've got to hand it to you, you're the best!

You could also do this project with feet. You could make foot stamped hearts or trace the children's feet and help them glue their foot cut-outs into a heart shape.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valentine Mailbox / Love Box Craft

A fun and easy craft to do at home, school or daycare is a valentine mailbox or love box.

Collect enough empty tissue boxes for each child. I prefer the longer boxes (8.6 In X 8.4 IN) rather than the smaller boxes. A shoe box would also work fine.

You have a few options. I usually just let the kids paint the entire box using their choice of red, pink, white and purple tempera paint. They may also sprinkle glitter onto the wet paint. When the paint dries, they can add a variety of heart shaped cut-outs, etc.

Another way I have helped the kids decorate the boxes is to cover the box with paper (usually red or pink), as if I am wrapping a present. Be sure to cut out the opening at the top. The children then decorate the paper covered box by coloring on it, adding stickers, glue designs or even stamp art.

This is a great craft to use in a school or daycare setting where the children exchange valentine cards with several other children. They usually get a lot of cards and need a place to store them. Make sure each child's name is clearly visible on their mailbox so that others can easily drop cards in the appropriate boxes.

This is also a fun project to do at home whether you have several children or even a single child but I have a slightly different idea for the use of the box. Instead of using it just for a Valentines Day box, use it as a love box. The week leading up to Valentines Day (or however far in advance you would like to do this) you can leave your child special love notes and messages, maybe even a small piece of candy or a trinket inside the Love Box. You could even make a small "flag" out of card stock paper and when your child sees the flag raised, he/she will know that she has mail waiting. The flag is really not necessary as I'm sure your children will be checking the box all day anyhow but it's a fun option. The love boxes are fun for all family members and it would be extra fun if the parents had one too. I know that my kids love writing me notes, drawing pictures and even leaving things inside my shoes as a surprise.

I'm sure that your children will enjoy making the valentine / love boxes and will especially love getting surprises inside!

If you are interested in a Valentine Lesson Plan unit, I do have them for sale on my Lesson Plans Plus Website. You can inexpensively purchase my set of 28 themed lessons or you can purchase the lessons individually for only $1.99 each.

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