Clubhouse Shadows, and more February Fun!

Most posts are written after I complete an activity with the Clubhouse Kids. I love to share not only the materials required for a craft, but the way the kids handle those materials. Their reactions, "FitKid Tips", and when I snap the camera at just the right moment.. a priceless facial expression. To me, that's the stuff that really matters. That's the material that can really inspire you to create not only the latest and greatest activity, but to create a memory. It is in the process... in the laughter, the mess, the attention, the play, that is where the actual learning happens. When I post, I want the posts to reflect that above all else. Go make a memory, see how the children react, note their facial expressions, have FUN!

That being said, I also realize that many months have Holidays and posting all of the activities we do after said Holiday isn't exactly helpful. Who cares about the Groundhog a week after his day? So, from time to time I will write posts with a brief overview of what the next few weeks have in store for the Clubhouse Kids. Hopefully that will prove to be helpful in any specific planning around events.

For the shortest month of the year, February sure is full of  a lot of themes and Holidays. It would be a really long post if I were to tackle them all so here's a brief review of some.

February 2nd is Groundhog Day... and the perfect day for shadow play! We will be making our own groundhogs using toilet paper rolls and this template. A range of brown paints, and "fur" will be available for the kids to use to paint and decorate their very own groundhogs, and then we will head outside to see if our Arizona groundhogs see their shadows or not! We are blessed with plentiful Sunshine in our Arizona Desert, so finding spots where we can see shadows is definitely not a difficult task. We will find our shadows and then we will chase them, trace them, engage in a groundhog shadow puppet show and go from there. The best thing about working with this age group is allowing their own curiosity, questions and comments to drive an activity to where it may go next. Lesson Plans are useful, but I never let them override where a Preschooler's imagination may take us! Also planned, a "throw the groundhog back into his hole" game with beanbags and a board with a hole in it. 

There are quite a few adorable printables for Groundhog Day available from so many wonderful blogs as well. We will be using this one during Circle Time. I love the adorable graphics and have cut out and laminated each word so that we can put the poem together, one word at a time while using the pictures to "act it out".

National Green Week  starts February 6th, and technically it is much longer than a week, it runs through Earth Day in April. It's easy to select one week during that time to focus on Environmental themes. Here at the Clubhouse we always say "Take care of ourselves, the Planet, and each other" and I often have activities that revolve around that "motto". We won't officially kick off Green Week until later in March though, but for those that want to start earlier, the Green Education Foundation has a wide variety of activities and ideas for students ranging from Pre-K through Middle School. From posters to contests to book ideas, check it out here. 

February 6th is also the last day of the Chinese New Year, known as the day of the Lantern Festival. Perhaps Chinese New Year activities from last month have you feeling completely done with lanterns, but we sure have a fun activity planned. We will focus on the Sky Lantern. With a bunch of helium filled balloons on hand to be our "lanterns", we will carefully paint our wishes on the balloons, and then let our wishes go up, up and away. I am so looking forward to the facial expressions when we do this one! 

February is also National Children's Dental Health Month. I visited a local Children's Dentist and got lots of free goodies for the Clubhouse Kids, including new toothbrushes, yay! We will be using those new toothbrushes, and also completing a 2-3 day long activity that will involve a couple of hard boiled eggs. Basically, a hard boiled egg represents a tooth. We will discuss how the hard shell of the egg is similar to the enamel on our teeth. The kids will get to tap the egg (carefully) and then tap their teeth to see how both are hard. Like the shell protects the egg, our enamel protects our teeth. Also, both are white. We need to brush our teeth in order to keep them hard, clean, white and healthy. Then, pouring vinegar into our jars, I will explain how that is just like the bacteria/acids that build up in our mouths. What do we think would happen to our teeth if we didn't brush them? Let's see! We will put the hard boiled eggs into the jars and seal them tight, leaving them in the Clubhouse Classroom on display. Two days later, out come the "teeth" that haven't been brushed so everyone can see what happened. We will definitely share the results on this one!

Also for the Month of February we have National Library Lover's Month, a great opportunity to visit your local library. We will be looking at printed pictures of libraries from all over the World (a simple Google search provided me with a variety of images to choose from), discussing how we "treat our books", and of course doing a lot of reading!!

Speaking of reading, we have a good one for President's Day (February 20th). Not only does it touch on Abraham Lincoln and what he accomplished as President, it also touches on being confident in what you look like and who you are! I do enjoy the book, but I must warn you.. I do not read the last page of the book. There's a little adult humor there at the end, and although the kids probably wouldn't get it, I do. So that page has been glued to the back of the book and *presto*, it doesn't exist. My apologies to the Author, but the way I read it the book ends with the boy who looked like Lincoln getting elected as Class President. Overall the book is great, there's also a page in this book full of teeth (great way to tie in Dental Health again) and it mentions the Civil War and the end of Slavery, which is a great way to tie in yet another thing February is celebrated for...

Black History Month. Using large cardboard boxes we will build an "Underground Railroad" and discuss Harriet Tubman and how she helped her friends to Freedom. This leads us to many conversations about friendship, and another good book, pictured here being looked at by my Son before bedtime. It is the story of how Martin's little friend no longer wants to play with him because of the color of his skin. One of the most important concepts I like the kids to understand about Black History Month (and all the time really) is that we can all play together, no matter what color we are or how our abilities differ. It wasn't always like that, and a lot of people had to work hard for equality. At this young age, I like to focus on that over discussing how many different Famous African Americans there are. We can discuss who invented the stoplights when we do a traffic theme, or who developed peanut butter when we're working on food groups! (Garrett Morgan and George Washington Carver, by the way.)  

At this point you may be wondering why I have yet to mention the most lovable event of all, Valentine's Day (February 14th). Well, there are just so many ideas to choose from for this one, the possibilities are endless. People have entire Pinterest Boards dedicated to this theme. Love is definitely in the air! After looking at so many different options, we settled on a few I know the Clubhouse Kids will love and I found a free pack of printables that I love. I don't just print and hand out worksheets around here, but I absolutely love when I find a set of worksheets that give me something to work with, and these absolutely do! I have cut, laminated (my favorite, you all know), added extra materials and created a Center for the Clubhouse Classroom that I will set up before Valentine's Day and leave out for the rest of the month. That being said, it is an entire post all in it's own which I am excited to share, this weekend... I promise.

Let me wrap this up now by saying that February is also Responsible Pet Owner Month, with February 20th being Love Your Pet Day
February 21st is Mardi Gras, another colorful and fun one to celebrate.

Told you February was quite full for such a little month. It's a good thing we get an extra day this year.. February 29th being Leap Day! Now with a name like that you know the activities are going to be good.

Learning, having fun, making memories and enjoying February is what it's all about around the Clubhouse. The posts will keep coming, as I share with you what we're doing and what we have yet to do. Let's all enjoy this jam packed month together!!

Shadows and Tooth Decay and Abraham Lincoln.. Oh my!

Ms. Liz


Clubhouse Jars, Glitter Included.

Working on a new project for the Classroom I decided that we needed a Glitter Jar. We have done a wide variety of Sensory Jars/Bottles in the past, and always have them around the classroom. They are usually a very quick, simple activity and the end result is something that can be used again and again. There is such a wide variety of types of Sensory bottles you can make, it all depends on what the purpose is for the bottle and what materials you are comfortable using with/ for your child.

Since I have a very specific purpose for this sensory bottle, I used a glass jar. It is actually from an old jar of Pasta Sauce (I told you I never throw anything away around here...) and has the lid as well. Lids are definitely required for this to work!

I also wanted a specific color, a deep blue. Back to the food coloring. You know I don't even remember the last time I used food coloring for actual food?

We filled the jar almost halfway with water, and then put some food coloring in.

Then came the corn syrup.
We needed just about the same amount of corn syrup as we had water, and after discussing how thick the corn syrup was and how slowly it came out of the bottle, he decided he had to start squeezing the bottle a little harder.

Then he added the glitter.                    
He took some time to observe how the layers were separated, the corn syrup having settled to the bottom and the glitter floating on top.  

Securing the lid as tightly as possible he mixed it all together 
to see what happens next.

He was clearly impressed.
When everything is settled, the jar looks like this:

Give it a little shake and you have this:
The glitter settles slowly, thanks to the addition of the corn syrup... which is exactly the result I wanted for the project I am working on for the Clubhouse Classroom.

Everything is more fun when you add glitter,
Ms. Liz


Clubhouse Goop, It's MAGIC!!

When I taught in a Preschool in Phoenix, making Goop was always a favorite activity. We made it in the sensory table, we made it outside, we made it with glitter, put it in ziploc bags and even used it in dramatic play, can anyone say Goop Soup Kitchen?

The Clubhouse kids hadn't done Goop yet though... until now.

The ingredients are simple.

Food Coloring.

So where does the magic come from?

Honestly, the kids add that part.
Pour corn starch in.

Start with 1 cup of Corn Starch.
FitKid Tip: (*These tips are from the kids, because they know how to do it all, don't they?) "Pat the cup, more stuff comes out."

Next, add food coloring to 1 cup of water.
FitKid Tip: "Add lots of colors!"

Add food coloring to Water.
Sure, why not? We add Red, then we add Blue.. and *presto*, we made Purple water. Whenever using color, be it paint or food coloring or watercolors, there is always room for color blending. Why just use the color Green, when you can have the kids mix Yellow and Blue and see what happens?

Add water to Corn Starch.
Add the water to the corn starch, and then let little hands mix it all together.
FitKid Tip: "I can do it myself!"

This is where all of the Scientific evaluations come in:

"It's slimy!"

"It's soft!"

"It's stuck!!"

Doesn't take long before they start to realize the consistency of Goop. It will flow like liquid when pouring slowly, and yet you can still roll it into a ball. A ball that will "melt" away as soon as you stop rolling. It can get so hard you can crack it, yet it will still flow through your fingertips. Little hands may get sticky, but little brains are processing the way polymers work. Yes, I said polymers.. and I totally looked that up. I don't remember a thing from Chemistry class. The kids had a much better explanation than the Scientific one though,

"This is MAGIC!!"

Wasn't long before we got another FitKid Tip: "Add more colors!" 

So, we do.

A few drops of food coloring, and you can actually "paint" designs right into the Goop. Our Goop went from Purple, to Blue, to Green.. as fingers swirled around.

The consistency and texture changes that occur as it is touched, along with the changes in color, and the ability to create their own free flowing Art, made this whole process exciting for the kids.

Quite beautiful as well.

Once we added so many colors, and little fingers were done creating their works of Art, we decided to pour the Goop and see if that would mix all of the colors together. Although the Goop had gotten pretty firm while sitting in the container, it still poured freely... to the Oohs and Ahhs of
"We made a Rainbow!"

Once in the cup the kids continued to observe how the colors were still separate and how the Goop they had just poured, was now firm in the cup.

We continued to pour from cup to the original container and then back again, watching colors dance and Goop change. This was one activity that kept everyone's attention for awhile, and although hands may have gotten a little sticky and temporarily color tainted... it was definitely worth the mess.

Speaking of mess, Goop is actually quite easy to clean up. Let the splashes all over your work area dry, and then it will all flake right off in a powdery substance. I left the Goop out all night so the kids could observe the changes in it the next day.

We were left with something you could crack and smash into a powdery substance. Another activity that kept the kids busy for awhile. All I had to do in the end was dust and vacuum.

Now isn't that worth this face?

Here's to making Magic and creating Rainbows,

Ms. Liz


Clubhouse Calendar, Yesterday or Tomorrow?

You know that age where a child refers to anything that happened as something that happened Yesterday, 
and everything they look forward to will be happening Tomorrow? 
Today sometimes just gets lost in the shuffle, 
because isn't it just another Tuesday? 

That is where we're at here at the Clubhouse,
and thus the Calendar Board was born... Yesterday.
When I decided it was time to make the Calendar Board, I headed straight to Preschool / Homeschool blogland! With so many resources available at the click of a mouse, I thoroughly enjoy exploring what is already out there and figuring out how to make it our own. Of course, I also thoroughly enjoy giving credit where credit is due, and I definitely hit the blogland jackpot on this project!

Let's start with the Month, Dates, Days of the Week and Year. All were made readily available to me in perfect printable template form simply by going HERE. Also provided are step by step instructions on how she made her Calendar Board. Good stuff. I knew mine would be different based on the age group I work with, but the instructions and template were thorough and useful, thanks Mama Jenn!

Once I printed out the templates I got to fire up the laminator. You may not know this about me, but I am like a kid at Christmas when it comes to using my laminator. Trust me, if I can laminate it.. I will. If you don't own a laminator, get one. Let me welcome you to this new world of preservation. Come aboard, bring your pouches.

Once everything was laminated and cut, I decided to use velcro dots to affix everything. This option was just better for the Clubhouse kids, who like to pass the days around until they find the right one, and then take turns deciding who gets to change the information out. Sharing and taking turns, every morning. What could be a better way to start the day?

I also liked the Make The Date with coins idea I saw on Mamma Jenn's board, so I added that as well. The kids have recently been intrigued with learning the value of all of the coins, and this allows me to incorporate a little Math lesson every day as well! Again, everything is affixed with velcro dots, which happen to be the perfect size for the back of a coin.

Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday printable templates were found HERE. Thanks, Confessions of a Homeschooler. Changing this around every day (laminated, velcro dots again) has really started to show the kids how maybe, just maybe, not every thing that happened in the past happened yesterday. Sometimes something happened on Wednesday, which was the day before yesterday, right? These are pretty deep concepts for Preschoolers, and this simple template is really helpful in getting them to understand. I love watching their eyes light up as they figure it out. "TOMORROW is FRIDAY?! WOW!!" At age 3, this is some serious knowledge!!

Shape of the Day cards were also an easy find, just click HERE. Thanks, Tls books! They have a wide variety of printable flash cards available, take a look around while you're there.

One of my favorite parts of our Calendar board is the Character Trait we are learning about. Some may think, isn't Preschool a little too early to start discussing Character? To that I respond, how could it ever be too early to start discussing Character? This month is about being Patient. Planting our seeds and understanding that they don't grow overnight is a practice in Patience. Using gentle words like please, thank you, excuse me.. all ways to practice Patience. Having a patient 2 year old may seem like quite a stretch, but when else do we start discussing character if we don't start now? They really do get it. After saying excuse me and not plowing over another child for the newest puzzle in the Classroom, suddenly I hear a Clubhouse Kid exclaim, "I WAS PATIENT!!". I stop, clap, smile and celebrate. Celebrating Patience, now that is a definite highlight in our day.

I got a variety of character traits HERE. Thanks Sarah's Sweeties. Yet again, another blogger who found the time to create printable templates and offer them to blogland at no cost. Talk about positive character traits!

On my own I added a Spanish Word of the Day. I only did the days of the week in Spanish to begin, but perhaps I can give back by designing a template of Spanish words to be shared with whoever may find them useful. Be Patient with me though, I need a few days of the week to get that done.

There you have it.. the Fit Kids Clubhouse Calendar Board. Thanks to everyone who had information to share, I was done with this in just a few evenings. I did run out of laminating pouches though (the horror!) so I will have some laminating to do once I get some more.. which I should probably do yesterday.

Every Day is Fun at the Clubhouse,
Ms. Liz


Clubhouse Gardeners, Flowers Coming Soon!

While some other parts of the World are covered in Snow, or still awaiting snowfall... the Clubhouse Kids are seeing a break in our Arizona Winter weather and are delighted to head back outside for all of the activities that Spring brings! (Yes, Arizona has Winter weather.. and cold little toes definitely feel it!)

Before we all make a mad dash for the outdoors, we have decided to begin to prep for our Clubhouse garden, which will be definitely getting an upgrade this Spring. We started last year with a few herbs and veggies, but now we are ready to expand! More veggies, more herbs, and a new flower garden! We may not be able to use the flowers for healthy snacks, but we can definitely have fun playing in the dirt to make our Outdoor space even more beautiful!

It's easy to start this process indoors, as long as you are comfortable with a bucket of dirt in the house. The Clubhouse Classroom isn't afraid of a little dirt in the name of Education, so we jumped right in...
A quick trip to our local Ace Hardware Garden Center and I got a variety of seeds and big bag of dirt. No specific dirt required, although I did choose an Organic Soil with Plant Food mixed in there. Egg cartons were easily obtained from our vast collection of recyclable materials that I never throw away (Because you never know when an old pasta sauce jar or packing peanuts are going to come in handy, right?) The egg cartons are of the biodegradable cardboard type, which is essential since they will be getting buried right into the outside garden when transition time comes.

  First we poured all of the seeds into a container so we could talk about what they all looked like, and how they were different. The flowers I randomly chose definitely had a wide variety of seeds differing in size, color and quantity. This is also the part where we discuss how inside of that little seed is a big flower, waiting for the right conditions so it can grow.

The children happened to have perfectly sized hands to fill the egg carton sections with a handful of dirt and then sprinkle the seeds into their new, temporary, little homes. Little fingers made sure the seeds were tucked in tight, with enough dirt to keep them warm as they start their journey.

Since dirt isn't all that our little seeds need to grow, we found a perfect place so they could get plenty of Sunshine and we gave them their first taste of water. The water bottle I used was one that my Son never liked to drink out of because the water always comes out so slowly.. perfect for watering tiny seeds with just the right amount of water droplets!

Now... we wait. It's a good thing Patience is the character trait we are learning about this month because planting a seed and waiting for it to grow is definitely going to require some!!

Checking on the seeds every 4 minutes was how the rest of our day went. The best part being that every time they checked, they excitedly exclaimed "The seeds are growing in there!!", "I can see them getting bigger!!", "Wow, they will sure be flowers SOON!"

Kind of reminds you to look at things through the eyes of a Child ;)

We have a lot of windowsill space in the Clubhouse Classroom and will continue to plant flower, veggie and herb seeds throughout the month of February. Watering them, showing them "love", watching them sprout and grow and tracking their progress, is always a fun addition to daily classroom activities. We've also posted a poem the children love to hear as they water their seeds.

So stay tuned as we plant more seeds (we have A LOT of egg cartons and other biodegradable materials we can plant seeds in) and explore new things to add to our garden. Come Spring we will be transitioning all of our new plant friends outside, and that is sure to be fun!! Perhaps by Mother's Day, every kid will have something pretty he/she grew from a seed that they can take home to Momma :)

Things are always blooming at the Clubhouse...