31 March, 2011

My favorite joke

For you Americans . . .

Tomorrow is April 1, and with this new month comes the time of year to tell my students one of my all time favorite jokes. Ready?

April showers bring May flowers
But what do May flowers bring?


Ha ha ha ha ha!

I love to see my students faces as they figure out this joke.  Every year I have a few students for whom this may the first joke they ever really "get."  It is wonderful to see them laugh so much and really know why.  I hope your students or children like this joke too!  


30 March, 2011

Benjamin Bunny Game

Inspired by this St. Patrick's Day game created by My Montessori Journey,  I created my own little board game.  It is based on The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.

A round of the game doesn't take too long (maybe 3 or 4 turns per child), but it gives the children a chance to revisit Beatrix Potter's story, play together while taking turns, count with one to one correspondence as they move their bunny game pieces, and show good sportsmanship if they lose a round.

Materials needed:

a copy of the game board
2 small rabbits (I used Safari toob animals)
2 small watering cans (I got mine at a craft store, quite inexpensively)
small basket of felt carrots

I also have a lovely wooden figure of Beatrix Potter which I purchased from mamakopp on Etsy.  I think this adds a bit of extra fun.  Don't you agree?  : )


Each child must roll the dice and move his or her rabbit the prescribed number of spaces. If a child lands on a bunch of carrots, she may add one felt carrot to her watering can.  If a child lands on the cat (and is trapped under the basket!  Oh no!), she must remove a carrot.  The child with the most carrots in her watering can (at the end of the game) wins.

You can print a copy of the game board from the picture below or download it here.

   Happy game playing!



25 March, 2011

Tiptoes Lightly Story Eggs

Yippee skipee!  I am so excited about these story eggs I can't wait to show them to you!  And these few are only the beginning of the project!  I think I may end up with a whole fleet of them by the time I am finished!
My inspiration came from Mamaroots and her story eggs.  They are amazing!  They are visually beautiful and surely very smooth and wonderful to touch.  Additionally they aid in her children's language development by encouraging them to retell their favorite stories.  My guess is that they also encourage the children to act out favorite parts of the story which would lead to deeper understanding of the parts of the story, character development, and much more!

With learning like that, how could I not want to make some story eggs of my own!

I decided to use a lovely Easter story about one of our family's favorite characters, Tiptoes Lightly!  The story is called The Starry Bird.  I am planning on beginning this story with my class this coming week, so I thought eggs with pictures of bits of the story would go along perfectly with our reading.  The children will be able to order the eggs to match parts of the story, identify characters on the eggs, act out the scenes portrayed on the eggs, retell the story themselves . . .

And who knows what other great ideas my students will come up with.  Whatever they are, I'm sure they will be fantastic!

I used some of the author Reg Down's illustrations from the book, and redrew them onto the wooden eggs using my wood burner and watercolor paints.  Then I used beeswax polish to seal up the wood.  The polish makes the wood almost glow and feel so smooth.  I love it!

Here are the eggs I have finished so far.

This is Tiptoes' little acorns house, described at the beginning of the story.
Tiptoes is soon visited by a very excited Jeremy Mouse, who tells her he has seen a huge egg, "this big!"
Tiptoes and Jeremy Mouse venture into the tall grass and find the egg.  It is very, very big!
Soon the little gnomes Pine Cone and Pepper Pot get involved. 
And another character, Farmer John, joins the story. 

Those are all the eggs I have completed so far, but I'll keep working and post again when I have more.  In the meantime, you may want to pick up your own copy of The Starry Bird.  It is delightful!

Oh and readers, I need your help!  You probably noticed each egg sits in its own little egg cup.  I polished one without painting it, and I liked that look.  I painted these egg cups (in the picture below) with blue and green watercolors.  Now I'm not sure which I like better.  Hence in the picture above 4 out of 5 cups are just bare, waiting for me to make up my mind.  Hmmmmm.  Which do you prefer?

Thank you for your ideas, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend!


24 March, 2011

Spring Break Work

What have we been doing lately?  Well, it is Spring vacation week, so . . .

C and I gave her room a Waldorf inspired makeover.   She requested pink walls with a rainbow, and a sunset.  She was a great helper!

All finished!  

C and our dog Nuala both seem to think her new pink room is a fun place to be.  : )

I also spent some time this week making a big mess!  It was so much fun!  

I cut out and painted a toadstool house . . .

 a sea serpent (not quite finished) . . .

and a basking mermaid.

I did a little needle felting too.  

Here's an ocean play mat . . . 

a tiny little play mat with a tiny garden and a tiny rabbit . . . 

and a Spring maiden holding a lovely rose.

Plus, our whole family has slept late, made brownies, played in the mud, seen a movie with Nana, spent lovely time with friends, and generally had lots of FUN!  Because that's what vacations are all about, right?

And now ONWARD!  Only 2 months of school are left, and we have so much to do!!!

13 March, 2011

Where We Are: Schedule Collages

Something that has worked out extremely well in our classroom is our daily schedule posting.  Each day all of our planned activities are posted, in the order they will occur that day, on the wall of the classroom.  I hope you can see in this picture.  It is on the left, next to the calendar.  There is a collage of photographs to represent each activity or place to which the children might go on any given day.  We have collages for . . .

P.E. (Physical Education)
Work Time

Please note:  When making these collages, I made a conscious decision not to include the times of the activities.  This allows us some flexibility if for example, the children are a bit squirmy, and we have to make our Circle time shorter.  It also allows me to use the same photographs each day, and just adjust the order in which the events will occur.  

If you would like to use these in your home or classroom, please feel free to print them.  I did make them quite a while ago, and I can't even remember where I got most of the images.  If you see something you know is copyrighted, please let me know and I will change it out.  Thank you!

Where are you going today?

11 March, 2011

A great little song for Spring

Here is another great musical resource for Spring.  It is an adaptation of old Irish folk song called, Pussy Got the Measles.  The version I have and love is sung by Jean Ritchie.  Here is a quote about the song, from the liner notes to her album, Marching Across the Green Grass and Other American Children Game Songs:

This lullaby is adapted from a very sad little Irish lament.  In the original, the kitten dies, gets nailed into a coffin, wrapped in linen, and buried.  My own children would not accept this outcome, so in our song, we nurse poor Pussy and make her well, and all feel extremely comforted. 

The last time I used this song in a classroom, I was an assistant to a marvelous teacher who had it on an old record album.  I was  delighted to find it for myself, on itunes for just $0.99!  They have a sample of it as well so you can listen to a snippet of it before you decide if you would like to buy it too.  Here is that link, and here are the lyrics to this sweet and lovely song:

Pussy got the measles on the first day of Spring, the first day of Spring, the first day of Spring,
Pussy got the measles on the first day of Spring,
The poor, the poor, the poor wee thing

We'll send for the doctor with his pills and things,
Pills and things,
Pills and things,
We'll send for the doctor with his pills and things,
The poor, the poor, the poor wee thing

We'll make her some soup on a chicken's wing,
A chicken's wing,
A chicken's wing,
We'll make her some soup on a chicken's wing,
The poor, the poor, the poor wee thing

And all night long we will rock and sing,
Rock and sing,
Rock and sing,
All night long we will rock and sing,
The poor, the poor, the poor wee thing

Pussy got the measles on the first day of Spring, the first day of Spring, the first day of Spring,

Pussy got the measles on the first day of Spring,
The poor, the poor, the poor wee thing

This is a great song for role playing.  I have the children sit in a circle, and choose one child to be the kitten.  S/he goes into the middle of the circle.  Then as we sing, a "doctor" goes into the circle to tend to the kitten, a "chef" has a turn making some delicious and healing chicken soup, and a "mother or a father" takes the last turn, rocking the kitten to sleep.

Awwwww.  I think she is all better now.  : )

08 March, 2011

Spring is Drawing Nigh

Our class has been on the lookout for a few weeks now, for signs of Spring.  We have all been been delighted to see little green shoots starting to spring up (pun intended) all over our school yard.  The children even spied one brave little dandelion!  They do say, "March comes in like a lion," so I guess that dandelion was doing its part to make the old rhyme true.  : )

I wanted to share a few of my favorite "Spring is Drawing Nigh"
 resources: songs and pieces of music, and books.

A wonderful book and song, The Garden Song by David Mallet

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground

Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down 

Our class has been listening to a version sung by Maria Muldaur.  I found it here, if you would like to listen to a sample of it.  I have a very active class, and they quiet down immediately upon hearing it.  We play and sing it during our Circle time as we imagine we are tiny seeds which have been "sleeping" quietly in the cold Winter earth, and are now beginning to send down roots and grow.

There is also a lovely book, Inch by Inch: The Garden Song illustrated by Ora Eitan, which illustrates the lyrics to this song.  My students' favorite picture shows the gardener sliding down a rainbow!  They oohed and aahed the first time they saw it and have continued to do so every time thereafter.

Another Spring musical resource is from Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.  It is the Violin Concerto in F Major.  (Here is a place where you can listen to it although you'll have to ignore the autumnal images on the video.  Yes, this piece of music traditionally represents Autumn, but when I hear it I envision green lawns dotted with hopping rabbits.  Listen to the piece and hopefully you will hear the "hopping" part of the music.  My students and I listen to this while we sit on our carpeted area and pretend to be rabbits.  We hop during the "hopping" parts of the music, and during the other parts, we wiggle our rabbit noses, eat carrots, parsley, and lettuce, take a quick rabbit nap, and scutter underneath a hedge to get out of the rain.

If, after listening to the "hopping music", you are still feeling rabbit-ish, you might also like Rabbits and Raindrops by Jim Arnosky.  This is a great book with beautiful illustrations that go right along with the Vivaldi rabbit hopping activity.

Tomorrow we are going to begin a Spring planting activity, indoors.  It is still pretty chilly and the school is pretty strict about what we can plant outdoors, so we are going to plant by making terrariums!  Look for more about this soon, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy Spring spring-ing!

01 March, 2011

Spinny Birds

If you don't know or haven't heard about something called Angry Birds, fret not.  Apparently it is a little game for mobile phones.  Since I am not so mobile phone savvy, I have never played it, but my students can't seem to stop talking about it!  Hence my name for our little art project for this week.

Here is my tutorial, How to Make Spinny Birds!


  • paper plates
  • construction paper
  • feathers
  • anything white and fuzzy (we used pillow stuffing)
  • washable tempera paint in squirt bottles
  • salad spinner
  • glue

Optional Extra Materials

  • inexpensive hair gel
  • glitter
  • pipe cleaners
  • string


  • Head over to a thrift shop or a yard sale and pick up an old salad spinner.  I got ours at a yard sale last summer, for $1.  We have one at home, but I still use it for salad - a lot - and I did not want to mix food and paint!
  • Lay out all your materials, making especially sure to put your paint in squirt bottles.  If you don't have any on hand, you could save and use old ketchup bottles or you buy some at any art supply store.  I have some almost exactly like these, I bought from Discount School Supply last year.  They were about 35 cents each, and work very well. (If you happen to have any inexpensive hair gel, add a squirt or two or three, to each paint bottle.  It makes the paint stay very shiny, even after it is dry.)
  • Cut the paper plates, if necessary, so they fit neatly the inside of the salad spinner.  You may have to scrunch them a bit to get them in and out.
  • Place one of the plates into the spinner for a child.  (Or if she is old enough, perhaps you can instruct the child to do this alone.)
  • Ask the child to select the colors he or she would like to use, and to squirt a bit of each color onto the top of the plate.  This was the tricky part for me.  I wanted the children to feel free to use the paint just as they wished, but if they used too much, there wouldn't be any room on the plate for the little "rivers" to extend out from the pool in the middle! I decided to just try to warn them about the "dangers" of too much paint and hope for the best.  They did pretty well!

  • Have a helper hold an extra paper plate over the top of the spinner if it doesn't have a top, as sometimes the paint does tend to fly out a bit.

  • The child holds the spinner handle in one hand and with the other pulls the string in and out and in and out . . .
  • Ta da!!!

  • If you wish you could of course, add glitter to the wet paint.  Glitter makes everything even better, right?  : )
  • After these gorgeous wings dried, the children chose a bird body which I had pre-cut these out of construction paper.  They glued the body and wings to a large piece of sky, and added a small orange beak and feathers.  Our students also liked the idea of adding clouds to the sky so we used some old pillow stuffing for that.  You could also add pipe cleaner feet or string for nest making to the beak . . .  the sky is the limit! 

I hope you have fun making some Spinny Birds too!