I'm a little behind, but have been wanting to share what we did for Mother's Day this year!  I think the kids really had a lot of fun with it, and so did I!  Together as a group, we mixed up our own bath salts to give to mom...
in both lavender and chocolate scents!  I got the "recipe" here.   Whether making them or using them, bath salts are a great sensory activity for kids!  A great texture, and so many scent possibilities!
We also made our own soaps.  The kids loaded a bowl full of glycerin soap bars, and I melted them down in the microwave.  Then they added lavender scent and the colors of their choice.  After it had cooled and set, the really fun part started!  The kids used cookie cutters, a wood block, and a hammer to pound out flower and leaf shaped soaps!
      I hope the moms enjoy their gifts as much as we enjoyed the process of making them! :)
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.
     We had lots of fun experimenting with candy canes today!  Before we could get started experimenting (or eating!), we had to use our fine motor/pre-writing muscles to open up the individually wrapped candy canes!  And while we unwrapped, we watched this short video about how candy canes are made.
     We talked about what happens to a candy cane when we suck on it...though we had to really think about it since most of the kids didn't have the patience not to chew them!  Then we talked about what we thought would happen to the candy canes when we put them in each of our four bowls: one with ice water, one with warm water, one with boiling water, and one with vinegar.
The kids noticed right away that the candy canes in the hot water turned the water red quickly.  The candy dissolved in the warm water next, with slower results in the cold water and the vinegar.  Next, I pulled out some baking soda and we added that to the bowl of vinegar.  We got the exciting fizzy reaction we are used to from that fun combination, but other than that it didn't do much to the candy.
     Next, I asked the kids what they thought might happen if we put some candy canes into the oven.  "They would get hot!", "They will get bigger." (I'm sure that guess comes from watching baked goods rise in the oven, so there was some great thinking going on there!)
So, we tried it and the answer is: they get bendy! :)  We put our mini candy canes in at 225* for about 8 minutes and when they came out, if we moved slowly and carefully, we could bend them into different shapes!
We had lots of fun playing with our candy today! :)
     Today we had fun decorating (and re-decorating!) our new felt Christmas tree!  The kids used pieces of felt that I had cut into the shapes of ball ornaments, light bulbs, and stars and took turns making their tree beautiful!  :)
     I'm back!  The new baby and I are, so far, adjusting well to merging our days with all the other kids... I'm glad to report that the first couple of days back have gone really well! 
     Today the kids made some festive trees using strips of green paper cut to varying lengths.  It was great practice using the pre-math skill of judging biggest to smallest, as they had to compare the rectangular strips to get them in the right order to make a tree shape.  They also had to use their visual-spacial and visual planning skills to lay the strips in a way that would allow them to fit the whole tree onto their paper.  Of course, for the younger ones we didn't worry so much about those things, and instead let them focus on the fine motor skills of  picking up the papers, applying glue, and placing them down to make a much more "abstract" tree!  :)  
     We then placed a foil star sticker at the top and used some Q-tips dipped in white paint to add some snowflakes!
Today we used painter's tape and foam stickers to create some resist paintings.  The kids made pictures, letters, and designs using the tape and stickers (and worked really hard at peeling the backs off the stickers and learning how to rip the tape off the roll - great fine motor work!), and then used watercolors to paint around their designs.
Once they were done painting, most of the kids peeled off all of their designs to see the picture that it left underneath!




    On Monday we used some paper cutouts of fall objects, like leaves and apples, to make some fun paint prints!
Most of the kids had so much fun painting that the shapes ended up under several more layers of color, but we had fun with the process! :)
    The kids enjoyed our Sticky Suncatcher so much last week, that we continued the activity this week, substituting in some patterning blocks.  I also used their interest in "Sticky" to focus on the letter "Ss" this week.  We have a growing list of words that begin with the letter S and have been having fun with our sticky window shapes, peeling stickers, and we might just have to mix up a batch of slime this week, too!

    Some of them really got into the pattern making, which is great since creating and recognizing visual patterns is such a vital pre-reading skill, as well as the math concepts it presents and the fine motor work it takes to get those shapes all lined up just right! :)
    Jake made us some really fun new wooden block toys over the weekend that we added to our "loose parts" collection outside  this morning.  I am excited about adding more and more loose parts as I see the benefits they offer to the kids in the form of creativity, problem solving, and concrete experiences.  The kids got right to work building and balancing with the new blocks and they seem to be a big hit! :)

    For our very rainy morning, we got out a few bags of marshmallows and a box of toothpicks, and had lots of fun making all kinds of "houses," "garages," "monsters," "swords," and lots of other shapes, too.  It is always fun to see what the kids come up with when I have something that I can just set out and let them go.

"Look! Heavy weights!"
There were patterns,
...and imaginary creatures,
...lots of fine motor work,
...and so much FUN, that even the "big kids" wanted to get in on it, too!  :)