Today is APRIL 18th.  And this is what it looks like outside our windows.
Yes, snow is wonderful.  Yes, we love to play in it.  But, yes, we have had enough.  The kids are so ready for warmer weather that we have had the vast majority of our imaginative free play consumed by thoughts of swimming!  So, today we had a "Pool Party" day inside.  I turned up the heat a couple of degrees and the kids all spent the morning in their swimsuits!  We pretend- sunbathed  (don't worry, we even got out some sunscreen first ;) )...
...pretended to swim a little...
...had lots of beach ball fun...
...and even planned, predicted, and observed sinking vs. floating while we played in the water!
We also read a book that was perfect for the occasion!
It has been a day full of fun and imagination!  :)
     We had so much fun last week celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday!  For the past couple of years, I think it has been the favorite "holiday" around here!  This year I brought out some old favorites (like painting with our feet, and then reading the Foot Book) as well as some new activities, art projects, and fun foods.  The kids had fun using tissue paper scraps to fill in their Red fish & Blue fish,  and loved dipping cotton balls into colored water to make colorful Truffula tree-tops!
     In addition to the fun art projects, we enjoyed some great Dr. Seuss themed games and activities, too.  The kids did some impressive building and patterning with our new Cat In the Hat foam stacking blocks, sharpened their fine-motor skills with some Tuffula tree beading, and even got to Hop on Pop!
     Of course we can't celebrate Dr. Seuss without having some Green Eggs & Ham, but we also had fun with lots of other Dr. Seuss themed meals and snacks.  One of their favorites was the fish cracker graphing along with some Pink Ink Drink (also from One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish).  We had colorful Lorax pasta with broccoli and asparagus "trees" and a blue alfredo river, played with Brown Bar-ba-loot bears and built our own Truffula trees (from the Lorax) using pretzel sticks and mini colored marshmallows, and at the suggestion of one of the kids, we even had a birthday cake for Dr. Seuss!
     We enjoyed celebrating Dr. Seuss once again and are now looking forward to lots of rainbow fun in the next couple of weeks, building up to St. Patrick's Day!
Preschool Valentine Heart Hop
     Our Valentine "Heart Hop" game turned out to be an even bigger hit than I could have predicted!  I have decided that I might just have to choose other shapes and ALWAYS have numbered shapes taped to my floor!  :)  I placed the hearts on the floor in the hallway that connects our toy room to the rest of the house, so every time the kids took that path, they were counting as they went!  We used them for various follow-the-directions type of games, but even before I led them in any of that, the kids were hopping, jumping, counting (forwards AND backwards), and even organizing and communicating their own games.  They also were able to reason that if this heart shows the number 7, and has 7 dots on it, then maybe that word there says "seven!" 

And, the hearts were a great way to get out some of that BIG energy that is always so abundant on holiday party days!
     We also had lots of fun with our themed breakfast and lunch, Valentine balloon play, painting, decorating Valentine treat bags (which led to a puppet-making session and puppet show!), and the highlight of course, passing out the Valentines they had brought for their friends.
    After seeing how much fun the kids had digging their very own sandbox river this summer, I thought we might try out another kind of river.  So today we got out some heavy duty aluminum foil and stretched it out to see if we could make a river out of it.  The kids all helped to roll it out and curl up the sides so that it would hold water.

    Once we had it all ready to go, we turned on the water and added a few bottle-cap boats to float. 
We floated boats, we splashed our toes in the cool water,
...and we even jumped OVER the river! :)
    After three days of hard-working play, the kids have completed their goal of digging a river ALL the way around the sandbox!  They are pretty proud and have had a lot of fun with it.  Over the past few days, they have used their cooperation and teamwork skills, have done some great planning and predicting, and have learned a lot about water flow, too.
    It all started when they asked if we could get out our rain gutters and the hose on a hot morning.   They began by digging a "lake" right under where the water poured into the sand, and just kept expanding their own goals from there!
    I found these fun squishy balls in the dollar bins at Target a while ago and have been waiting for the perfect day to use them for a little "splat painting!"
It was hot enough early this morning that we could just get right into our swimming suits and not worry about getting messy!  So, I got out some paints and the kids dipped the balls into the colors,
  ...and started throwing them at our paper!  Splat!
It took a little cooperation to get in the rhythm of dipping and throwing without hitting a friend with a splat ball, but everyone was so excited that they didn't even mind if they accidentally got painted!
We had lots of fun getting a great large-motor workout,
...made some really cool artwork,
...and got good and messy!
And, when we were done getting messy, we were all ready to go clean up in the swimming pools!
    We worked hard today! :)
 We have had so much fun building our new "water wall" this week!  With just a few plastic bottles, the fence, and some colored water, we put together a fun "wall" to explore and experiment with.  The kids have already had hours of fun with the few bottles we have up and I plan to keep building and adding to it throughout the summer.
The beginning of our work-in-progress water wall.
Today we added a pinwheel, some funnels, and some clear hose and had all new fun!
    To continue our celebration of Dr. Seuss this week, today we read "The Foot Book" & "Fox In Socks."  Part of "Fox In Socks" mentions "New goo.  Blue goo.  Gooey.  Gooey.  Blue goo.  New goo. Gluey. Gluey."  So, we made some Blue goo of our own!  I hear that some have already been asking their mom to get the "recipe" ;)  so, here it is:  equal parts white school glue and liquid starch (found in the laundry aisle, most commonly under the name "Sta-Flo").  That's all there is to it, unless you want to add in some food coloring like we did.  Just mix them together with your hands until they are fully combined.  It will go through a stringy stage right before it is done -- just keep mixing! :)  Ours was a little heavy on the glue this time, so was pretty sticky, but lots of fun!
    We also really explored our feet today, as we took off all of the silly socks we wore for the day to paint with our feet!  We have done this activity before, and it was fun to see how it evolved this time, since the kids were more familiar with it.  We got to see what our footprints looked like when we walked, danced, and even jumped!

Preschool marble painting
    I've been saving this  activity for letter "M" week and now that it's here, I was really excited to see the kids try this one out!  We used some marbles in a box to make our paintings today and the kids really had fun with it.  It was fun to see them concentrate so hard on getting those marbles to go where they wanted them to.  It took a lot of concentration and coordination to figure out how to get the box to move the marbles into and through the paint.  I set the boxes on top of an overturned bowl to give them some stability while they rocked the box around.  Some found it easier to control if they just picked it up, while others used a combination of methods until they found what worked best for them.  They had a good time seeing their colors mix together, and watching the patterns that they made, and the end results turned out pretty cool, too! 

    I had the opportunity to go to a great Early Childhood workshop this past weekend, and saw a couple of great speakers.  The first one was Eric Litwin, the author of the "Pete the Cat" books.  If you have never read these books, I highly recommend you check them out.  I did not previously own them, but that will be changing soon!  There's just something about seeing a story performed live by it's author that really brings it to life.  I learned some really great songs and activities from Eric that I am excited to share with the kids.  
    The second speaker of the day was named Sharron Krull.  I was reminded of something she said as we did this color sorting activity together today.  One of her sessions was on physical activity, movement and play for kids.  She said, "If it is in their body, it is in their brain!" referring to the way that kids receive and retain information so much better when their whole body can get involved.  It really is true and I saw this point in action today as the kids played with colors.

    Their task was to watch for me to show them a colored piece of construction paper, then call out what color it was.  I would then tape the paper to the floor as they ran around finding objects of that color. 
    They got pretty good at it, and by the time we got to the end of our rainbow, they were coming to the papers with arms full of monochromatic objects. :)