DIY Sunday – PVC Pipe Construction Set

Each week, I will present a low-cost do-it-yourself option for cutting cost and making cool learning stuff for your childcare and preschool children.

PVC Pipe pics 006I love blocks, and all building material that can be used in whatever way my children can imagine. This is why this week we are going to talk about a Pvc Pipe Construction set. I was first introduced to this idea awhile back at a center where I taught preschool, I fell in love with it immediately, but no one knew where it came from or who put it together. When I moved back to family child care, I still had this pvc construction set in my brain, I thought it would be perfect for my outside play area. I did not know at the time, when I went out got a bunch of pvc pipe, connectors, fittings and everything cool looking in the pvc world. That I would stumble upon a wonderful book where I could find great instructions on how to build a set where it can be used in a learning and exploring way, instead of Jedi Knight training. However, I will say that my children loved my put it together, here you go enjoy, pace pipe construction set. anyway,

Now, I have found myself in need of another set. Over the last couple of years, the set that I made has lost pieces, has pieces I can no longer get apart, and all we can make now seems to be really big beating sticks. I am going to share the book and the instructions and some cool pictures of me putting together my new Pvc Pipe Construction Set.

The book is Do-It-Yourself Early Learning: Easy and Fun Activities and Toys from Everyday Home Center Materials’ Do-It-Yourself Early Learning by Jeff a. Johnson and Tasha A. Johnson, I love this book and it has many great ideas to explore and bring out the do-it-your selfer, I know that you have it in you.

The materials needed: all the pipe, elbows, connectors, end caps and fittings 1/2 inch Schedule 40 PVC pipe.PVC Pipe pics 002

  • Four, 10 foot pieces
  • Ten,  90 degree elbows
  • Ten,  45 degree elbows
  • Ten connectors or couplings
  • Ten end caps
  • Ten tee-fittings
  • Ten four-way fittings

Tools needed:

  • Tape MeasurePVC Pipe pics 004
  • Marker
  • Pvc pipe cutter or hacksaw
  • Sandpaper

Do it yourself:

  • Start by measuring and cutting the four pieces of 10 foot pvc pipe into these measurements.
    • Thirty 4-inch pieces
    • Twenty 6-inch pieces
    • Twelve 10-inch pieces
    • Eight 15-inch pieces
  • Now use the sand paper to smooth the ends where you cutPVC Pipe pics 005
  • Mix the straight sections of pipe with the assorted fittings and connectors.  Viola! instant exploration and learning fun.

Helpful Hints:

  • I found out that you can get five foot lengths, these fit into my van very nicely.
  • If you decide to use the pipe cutter, you can work quite nicely in front of the T.V. cutting.  The hack saw is a bit messier and you will want to do that outside.
  • The pipe cutter does a nice clean cut, but the ends will still need some sanding. Then ends leave a little rim, that makes it more difficult to put the fittings and connectors on.

PVC Pipe pics 007

This PVC Pipe Construction set is tough and durable and pretty cost effective (it cost me around $45 dollars). I have tried to find something that is comparable. The pipe builders that you can order from one of the school supply places are similar, just not very durable.  My kids would step on them and they would crack and break, they have lasted me less than a year. My own attempt at an earlier set that had not to much rhyme or reason was a great hit with my kids.  This one is far better and the perfect size to complement a block area.

A List of Skills Children Learn in a Family Child Care Setting

Sometimes, it is hard for family child care providers to explain to potential parents that “yes, indeed a whole bunch of learning happening in my home.”  This list, I have had for some years and I use in my Parent Handbook,  as a way to explain to parents what types of learning can occur in a family child care setting.  I cannot say exactly who the author is, but who ever it was I want to shout a great thanks, for putting the information into such a great format.

Finding toys or learning materials to work with by self or with others

Specific Skills Learned:

Cognitive: Makes decisions about interests and abilities.

Self help:  Finds toys by himself or sets up environment for play

Social/Language:  Learns to share, barter, manage conflict and ask for help.

Emotional: Learns about acceptance and rejection.  Learns to express their own emotional needs.

Block play

Specific Skills Learned:

Physical: Learns to balance blocks and cause and effect, while developing their small motor coordination.

Cognitive:  May count, see patterns and design. Learns to build and plan structure. Matches blocks that look-alike.

Social:  Learns to share and cooperate.

Setting the table and sitting down to eat

Specific Skill Learned:

Cognitive: Counts silverware, glasses and napkins, or places one object by each setting. (one to one correspondence).  Follows patterns of place settings.  Measures to pour. Learns to listen and follow directions.

Social: Cooperates with other children. Mentors younger children by teaching them to help.

Social/Language: Learns appropriate table conversations and manners.

Physical: Picks up and places objects (small motor coordination), pours milk and water, passes dishes.

Story time

Specific Skills Learned:

Cognitive:  Listen and retains information. Pre-reading skills, word recognition, follows story line with eyes and ears.

Language: Learns words and speaking skills.

Music, finger plays and songs

Specific Skills Learned:

Cognitive: Learns rhythms, instruments, learns words, gestures and melody. Is able to learn to listen and follow directions. Learns by repetition and speech.

Physical: Coordination (small and large motor) for movement, gestures and finger plays.

Dramatic play

Specific Skill Learned:

Social: Plays adult roles.  Practices real life learning. Developes self-image and coordinates with others.

Language: Learns to express self in another role.

Cognitive:  Decides right dress and appearance for role; uses visual perceptions to help self, others, and play environment. Learns and remembers behaviors to imitate. Develops abstract thinking abilities.

Self-help: Dress self. Sets up play environment and finds props.


Specific Skills Learned:

Cognitive/Language: Listens to melody and rhythms. Learns to understand simple movement directions and their relationship to the music.

Physical: Coordination (large motor)


Specific Skills Learned:

Cognitive:  May count the rungs when climbing, plans their climb.  Maps out directions and distance to ride: watches for others in path.

Physical: Large motor coordination and balance.

Social: Learns to take turns and interacts with others.

Sand play

Specific Skills Learned:

Cognitive:  Measures sand and maps out play (spatial relationships)

Physical: Pours, dumps, pushes, gathers, scoops, packs (small and large motor)

Social: Learns to share, interacts, and learns cooperation

Putting Away Toys

Specific Skills Learned:

Cognitive: Sorts toys, listens and learns to follow simple directions.

Physical:  Places objects on the shelf, replaces lids, opens and shuts doors (small and large motor coordination)

Social: Takes turns, learns to handle toys with carefully and with respect.

This is a great list to start from, it shows a potential parent that you do so much more than play.  Plus, it shows what is learned from play.  It can be added to and edited as needed added too.  I have added a few of my movie clips that I use as marketing on my website, so you could see how this type of information could be used to promote your business.  I am currently redoing the page that this information will show up at on Little Scholar.  So as soon as I finish, I will share the link

20 Playdough Recipes

Get hours of fun, from these homemade playdough recipes.  Who says store bought Play Dough is better. The types of playdough that can be created is only limited by ones imagination.  I have only ever had one concern about making playdough, what if I mix up the cream of tartar with the alum?

Basic Playdough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 cups water
  • food coloring

Mix all ingredients over medium-high heat stirring continuously until it forms a ball, and none stick to the side of the pan.  Put on wax paper to cool enough for you to knead.  Remember to store in an air tight container.

Microwave Playdough

Combine the following ingredients in a 1.5 quart casserole dish:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • food coloring

After stirring well, place in microwave and cook on high for 60 seconds. Stir and cook again for 30 seconds.  Stir and continue cooking, stirring and checking the mixture every 15 seconds.  The playdough is done when it pulls away from the sides of the casserole dish and is no longer soupy.  Shape into a ball and place to cool.  When the playdough has cooled enough to handle, knead until smooth.

Oatmeal Playdough

  • 1 part flour
  • 1 part water
  • 2 parts oatmeal

Mix all ingredients well until mixture is smooth, knead and play

Smelly Colorful Playdough

  • One-half cup salt
  • Two cups water
  • Two tbsp  oil
  • Two cups flour
  • Two tbsp alum
  • Kool-aid packets (regular) for color

dissolve salt into boiling water. Stir in Kool-aid packet for color, slowly add cooking oil, flour, and alum into mixture. Knead until playdough is smooth.

Soapy Playdough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp liquid tempera paint
  • 1 tbsp liquid soap
  • 1/2 cup water

Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, then mix all liquid ingredients into the other bowl.  Stir the two mixtures together and knead until smooth.

Strawberry Cake Playdough

  • 1 pkg. strawberry cake mix
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 3 cups water

Mix ingredients. Cook over medium heat until ball forms, remove from heat and knead until smooth.

Lemon Poppy Seed Playdough

  • 1 pkg. lemon poppy seed muffin mix
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 6 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 cups water

Mix ingredients. Cook over medium heat until ball forms, remove from heat and knead until smooth.

Chocolate Playdough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients over medium-high heat stirring continuously until it forms a ball, and none stick to the side of the pan.  Put on wax paper to cool enough for you to knead.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • red and yellow food coloring

Mix all ingredients over medium-high heat stirring continuously until it forms a ball, and none stick to the side of the pan.  Put on wax paper to cool enough for you to knead.

Salt Playdough

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup flour

Mix ingredients and cook over medium heat.  Remove from heat when mixture looks thick and rubbery.  As the mixture cools, slowly roll in flour.

Coffee Playdough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 6 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 cups water
  • wet grounds from morning coffee

Mix ingredients.  Cover over medium heat until a ball forms.  Remove from heat and knead.

Peanut Butter Playdough

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • plastic zip bag

Mix ingredients into zip bag.  Close bag and knead until the mixture turns into dough.  Must use and not store peanut butter playdough.  You may not have to worry about this since most will probably eat it.

Saw Dust Playdough

  • 1 cup fine saw dust
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp liquid starch
  • 1 cup water

Mix ingredients together in bowl until dough is stiff.  Extra water can be added if dough is to dry.  This dough can be sculpted and allowed to dry for 2 -3 days.

Plastic Playdough (The Ultimate book of Kids Concoctions)

  • 4-6 drops food coloring
  • 1/4 cup white glue
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

Mix glue, water and food coloring together in a small bowl. Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate bowl.  Add the flour/cornstarch mixture to the water/glue mixture.  Mix until a stiff dough is formed.  Remove dough and knead on a floured  surface for 2-3 minutes.  Be sure to mold plastic dough on a surface covered with wax paper.  These can be molded and dried.  They try to a plastic like material.

Java Dough for those that don’t like straight Coffee

  • 1/4 cup instant coffee flavored
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt

Mix water and instant coffee together until coffee is dissolved.  Combine flour and salt in separate bowl. Add 3/4 cup of water/coffee until a smooth dough is made.  This dough can be cooked to harden sculptures in the oven @ 300 degrees for 30 -45 minutes.

Applesauce Cinnamon Playdough(The Ultimate book of Kids Concoctions)

  • 1/2 cup cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 plastic zip bag

Pour cinnamon and applesauce into zip bag. Seal bag and knead until mixture turns to dough.  Allow creations to dry 12 hours or until hard.

Sand Playdough

  • 1 cup sand
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water

Mix ingredients in saucepan and cook until thick. Allow to cool, knead and allow to harden enough for use.

Snow Playdough

  • 1 cup Ivory Snow laundry detergent
  • 2 cups warm water
  • food coloring

Need an electric hand mixer or egg beater.  Add food coloring to warm water, then add to laundry detergent. Mix well with beater until fluffy. Use just like regular playdough. Do not allow children to eat.

Cornstarch Playdough

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

Mix salt and hot water and boil in pot. Stir cold water and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to boiling water and stir. Cook over low heat, stirring until “pie dough consistency”. Remove from heat and place dough on board. When cool, knead dough until smooth. Have fun playing!

Gingerbread Playdough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. veg. oil
  • lots of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg
  • red and green food coloring to make brown

Mix the dry ingredients. Play with the spices till you get the scent you want. Mix water and oil together first and add them to the dry ingredients and stir. In a pan, cook the mixture for two to three minutes, stirring frequently. The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and clump together. Take the dough out of the pan and knead the dough until it becomes soft and smooth. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.

Playdough is a great sensory experience for children.  It also helps develop small motor skills, is very open-ended play, fosters imagination and can be used to ease frustrations in children with the kneading, pulling, pounding, squeezing and poking.  So if you are needing a calming activity it is time to make the playdough.

More Recommended Reading:

Sensory Play… It’s okay…We can wash our hands!

Spring, Spring, Spring and More Spring

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go

Monday’s Review: 1-2-3 Learn Curriculum

I found 1-2-3 Learn Curriculum early last week.  The creator is Jean Hayes, she has been doing Family Child Care since 1985 in MN.  She like many of us, struggle with finding a curriculum that fits our mixed age groups, eliminates waste and is cost effective.  She could not find a curriculum that suited her needs, so she made one.  I have had a chance to really dig in deep, to her stuff this weekend.  All I can say, is I love it.

  • Great themes
  • Well put together
  • Includes infant, toddler and preschool activities
  • Books with activities
  • Covers: literacy, language, arts and crafts, science, math and much more.
  • Great printables
  • You can use as you need
  • A great, great price
  • Plus, she is always adding free stuff.

Having used both Mother Goose Time and Funshine Express, I like the way Jean thinks and has put together her curriculum.  She know about family child care and how one day you can have four preschoolers and an infant and the next two toddlers, and three preschoolers. It makes it hard to plan and implement a consistent curriculum.  So do yourself a favor and check out some of Jean’s work.  123 Curriculum Blog or her website at 123 Learn Curriculum. You can also learn more about Jean here on video by Parent Aware talking about the Quality Rating Program that she participated in.

Plus, in support of a special cause all new subscription to 1-2-3 Learn Curriculum from March 16, 2011 – April 15, 2011, 50% will be donated to the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk August 19, 2011.  Awesome!

I know as I transition from a purchased and planned curriculum to my own managed and designed curriculum for Little Scholar I will be using 1-2-3 Learn Curriculum.  I  can’t wait for her to design up some more stuff.


Want More Reviews:

Monday’s Review: NAFCC New Website

Monday’s Review: Care Course

Monday’s Review: Barefoot Books

Twenty-five Things I have Learned from Family Child Care.

Now, I consider myself fairly educated, and knowledgeable.  As I look back over the ten years of working with young children, I can honestly say, they have taught me a great deal about the world and myself.  Here is a list of what I have learned.

  1. Pea gravel does indeed get stuck up a nose.
  2. Ketchup and Ranch are considered by many a meal.
  3. If you have 5 children in diapers, there will be at least one day a week when they all poop at the same time.
  4. I can only handle 5 “why?” questions in a row.
  5. It takes at least six months for a child to learn that sand taste nasty.
  6. That toys must be beaten until something breaks.
  7. That louder is better.
  8. Two year olds do not understand “walk”, they can only run, save your breath.
  9. Pea gravel also fits nicely into your ear.
  10. That I have one diaper a year that makes me gag, even after all these years.
  11. I will get vomited on at least once a year.
  12. Children are natural creators, if left to their own devises they could create something you don’t appreciate.
  13. Children are an excellent example of the chaos theory.
  14. No matter how many play phones I have, it is never enough.
  15. Yes a magnet wand can be thrown through a glass window
  16. No matter how many times you vacuüm, and sweep an infant will still amaze you with what they have in their mouth.
  17. Yes, a beach ball can break a ceiling light.
  18. Streaking is necessary as a young child.
  19. When children first learn to use toilet paper, it is okay to use the whole roll.
  20. Milk art on the floor, is indeed very pretty.
  21. All paper items must be crumpled and ripped, even if laminated.
  22. If it is stuck on the wall it must be picked or pulled off, even if it is nailed or screwed on.
  23. Anything that has wheels and can be pushed, must be used to run over our friends with.
  24. You will only think that it is cute once, to teach an infant to blow raspberries or zurberts while eating.
  25. It is okay to keep worms and rolly-pollies in our pockets, so we can play with them later.

Please fill free to add to this list, I know that there are so many things to learn from children.  I am positive I will learn twenty-five more in the next ten years.

More Recommended Reading:

Developing Great Curriculum Part I – Your Daily Schedule

You might think that developing great curriculum starts with a great theme. Nope, it starts with a great schedule.  Many fail at their attempts at curriculum because they have not thought through their schedule.  They attempt to put into place this great theme and activities that are awesome, only to find that the whole attempt ended up in chaos.

Set up your schedule. It is time to take a look at your schedule, first look at the times of your day, that are set.  These would be breakfast, lunch, nap, snack and if you make any school runs. Write these down.

  • 8:00 am Breakfast, bus comes at 8:35
  • 11:30 Lunch
  • 12:30 Nap
  • 3:30 Snack bus comes at 4:05

Now schedule in your preparation for lunch, breakfast, snack and bathroom breaks and clean up times, like this. Remember that curriculum does not have to occur in a large amounts of alloted time.

  • 7:45 Start breakfast
  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 8:20 Start clean-up from breakfast
  • 8:45 – 9:00 Bathroom/Diapers

You are going to start to see, some time in small blocks.  Like the example above, what are the children doing in the 15 minutes that breakfast is being prepared?

  • Manipulative are always a good option, puzzles and books.
  • Dry erase boards and markers.
  • Anything using small motor skills.

As you move through your schedule, you will start to see patterns of time. Like what is going to go on from breakfast to 9:00 when I am partly distracted with clean-ups, diapers and bathroom breaks.

  • Free play
  • Block area
  • Home living or prop boxes

You have made it through, the first quarter of your day.  Now schedule your morning outside time and if you do a morning snack.

  • 7:45 Start Breakfast
  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 8:20 Start Clean-up from Breakfast
  • 8:45 – 9:00 Bathroom Break and Diapers
  • 9:50 -10:00 Bathroom Break
  • 10:00 – 10:45 Outside

In this example no morning snack is given.  There is almost an hour for curriculum. Here you can schedule parts of your curriculum that you know are going to be more time consuming. These are often done in 20 minute blocks.

  • Circle or Calendar Time
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Sensory and Science
  • Music and Movement

Another tip for your  curriculum schedule is that you can always do part of your curriculum outside.  I like to do art and some of my sensory and science outside.  Now, you can see another slot of time that curriculum can be slipped into.

  • 9:50 -10:00 Bathroom Break/Diaper Check
  • 10:00 – 10:45 Outside
  • 10:45 – 10:55 Bathroom Break/Diaper Check
  • 10:55 – 11:30

Lunch is a tremendously hard time.  We have tired, hungry kids and our attention must be partly distracted by making lunch.  What kind of curriculum would fit in this time period?

  • Purposeful media. (Computer, a short video that goes with curriculum, etc.)
  • Table toys and smaller manipulative’s
  • Books and literacy activities
  • Any type of one to one activity.  Sharing is usually hard during this period.

You have scheduled half of your day.  Continue on in this same pattern to finish out the rest of you day.  I know that you are thinking, “My day is always unpredictable, how do I schedule that?”  My best advise is to be flexible, schedule a catch-up time, or just come to the conclusion that some days, you can not get everything done.  Keep a look out for Part II, of Great Curriculum.

More Recommended Reading:

Developing Great Curriculum Part II – Breaking down the Components

Evolution of a Playscape

Beating Burnout with Social Networking

“Good Job” is out.  Time to find a new phrase.

What do you do with a Picky Eater?

What to do with a picky eater?  This is a question I get a lot.  Many that work with children, have that one child that just about refuses to eat anything besides hot dogs and mac and cheese. Is this because you only fed them fast food and kid food from the time they were little.  Probably not, I tell those who say “well they are going to eat or they will starve at my house.” Again, probably not.  I, have had two picky eaters. I have suffered through years of helpful people telling me: “it’s your fault you should make them eat or your too easy on them.” For many, many years, I took my food when we went to other people’s homes or out to eat to avoid embarrassment and a scene. I just want to give parents who are in this situation a bit of hope. I told those helpful people; that my children’s taste buds would develop and grow as they do. I chose not to fight over dinner, this is one area besides learning to go to the bathroom on their own, that if you decide to make it a battle they will win.  Now,  I  have children who are open to more foods than I am. But, until that time I have some helpful tips for the frustrated parent and a pair ear plugs so you don’t have to listen to those helpful people. Here are a few things NOT to do with a picky eater.

• Don’t force your child to eat. Let him eat whatever he wants and how much he wants. Don’t force him to eat more. It is always helpful to have a healthy alternative that you know they will eat.

• Don’t withhold treats and snacks. It’s best sometimes to just move on to the next meal.

• Avoid punishment at mealtime. Don’t punish your child for not eating well or if he refuses to take a bite of new food. Remember it takes 5 -7 times or more for a child to acquire a taste for new foods.

• Don’t offer desert as a bribe or a reward for desired behaviors. For example don’t say, “If you will finish off all the food in the plate you will get an ice-cream”.

• Don’t offer him drinks just before the meals. Also limit the intake of high calorie drinks. Such drinks can fill their stomach and affect their meals.

• Avoid commenting on the child’s eating while at the table. Instead make mealtime a pleasant experience by discussing nice and positive topics.

• Don’t allow your child to complain about the food at mealtimes.Tell him that he can decline eating the food if he doesn’t want to eat it, but complaining about the food will not be accepted.

• Don’t allow your child to eat alone. Let the family eat the meal together.

• Don’t loose your temper if your child refuses to eat food. Be patient and keep on trying.

These are just a few idea that have help me through the years. But, knowing some of the reasons why a child might be a picky eater has made it even easier. There are several reasons why children become picky eaters. Some children are sensitive to tastes, smell and texture from birth itself. Some children find it difficult to chew the food and so they become picky eaters. Some don’t like the color of the food and others don’t like the taste.

I survived the picky years, and yes I have more than once made three different meals at dinner, and made sure that I had healthy alternatives they would eat because they snacked all day.  But, I now have a child that eats sushi. I would never have figured that.

One Bite Won’t Kill You: More than 200 Recipes to Tempt Even the Pickiest Kids on Earth

This is a post that I did over a year ago, a little tweaking and updating and it still applies today.

Teddy Bear Picnic

This is one of my favorite themes.  I  picked this one because I feel in the need of a picnic and I seem to have an abundance of stuffed bears.  You can spend a whole week on bears and Teddy Bears, but those can be difficult to put together and sometimes just to much bear.  Sometimes we just need a day, of something different.

So, gather your Teddy Bears, or have your children bring one from home.  Let’s start our picnic fun.

Dramatic Play

Start your day out by getting all your dramatic play stuff set out.  You will need a table-cloth, picnic basket, cups, plates, napkins, play food, pretend pitcher, Teddy Bears and anything else you feel you need to take on a picnic.  I like to set the stage, and do a little pretending myself, with the kids and the picnic play items.  It is easy to think that all the children will know what a picnic is, but maybe not.  Showing how to use and set the stage will eliminate the use of the props for other things not as appropriate.

Circle Time

Next, you can move right into a little circle time with the kids.  Get started with this movement activity your child can do with his or her bear.  Chant the following:

Teddy Bear, teddy bear, jump up and down.

Teddy Bear, teddy bear, turn all around.

Teddy Bear, teddy bear, touch the ground.

Teddy Bear, teddy bear, show me your shoe.

Teddy Bear, teddy bear you’d better skidoo.

or this one is also good

Busy Bear, Busy Bear, turn around,

Busy Bear, Busy Bear, jump up and down.

Busy Bear Busy Bear, walk to me,

Busy Bear, Busy Bear, bend your knees.

Busy Bear, Busy Bear, on your toes,

Busy Bear, Busy Bear, touch your nose.

Busy Bear, Busy Bear, hop around,

Busy Bear, Busy Bear, sit on the ground!

Letter recognition can also be done at this time.  The letter B or T is great. Stop by Preschool Express, for your ABC Letter Reproducible.

Bunch of Bear Activities

Gummy bear math, ask the children to hypothesize which color gummy bear there is the most of in a package.  Sort as a class and record on a chart.  Gummy bears can also be a great patterning tool.  Start a pattern let the children finish it.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Anniversary Edition of a Modern Classic Teddy bear hunt, hide the teddy bears all over the room. Then read going on a Bear Hunt. Now it’s time to go on that hunt.  Be sure to remember some of the actions as you search with the children for their teddy bears.

Coffee Bears make a great art project.  Add coffee grounds to brown paint.  Make or use a bear pattern.  Here is an easy one to copy.  Have children paint.  Makes great brown bears.  Be sure to add the googly eyes.

More Teddy Bear Coloring Pages

Are you Prepared for the Creative Art Moments?

Now, many times great art moments come out of the blue, or you find a great activity on the internet.  But… you don’t have all the supplies.  Here is a great list to keep track of your art inventory and to make sure you are always stocked up.

Basic Stuff: Equipment

Kids Scissors
Craft Scissors

various shapes

Art Smocks
Hole Punch/Paper Punch

various shapes and sizes

Various Cookie Cutters
Rubber Stamps
Play Dough  Accessories
Paint Brushes
Various Stencils

various shapes and sizes


Basic Stuff: To Buy

Paper of all varieties and colors:




card stock









dry tempera

Index cards








Colored Pencils
Colored Sand/Rocks
Paper Plates, Cups, and Bowls
Cotton Balls/Swabs
Craft Foam




Pipe Cleaners
Baking Cups
Coffee Filters
Paper Doilies
Pom Pom’s
Ink Pads
Clear Contact Paper
Clothes Pins
Food Coloring
Sidewalk Chalk
Plastic Zippered bags

various sizes


Basic Stuff: To Collect

Egg Cartons
Paper Towel/Toilet Paper Rolls
Fabric Scraps
Various Lids
Cardboard Milk/Juice Carton
Plastic Milk Carton

So, you are probably wondering where am I suppose to put all this stuff.  It really is not as big as it looks and you don’t need to become a hoarder.  I use a large plastic tote to keep excess, then a small rope (about 3 yards in length)  that is attached to my ceiling, clothes pins are used to hand my gallon zipper bags, that have a small supply of all my materials. No matter how you choose to store your materials, you will now never miss a creative moment.  It is fun to be a bit spontaneous, a bummer when you don’t have the materials.

Here is how you can make your own cheap and easy art storage.

If you want a copy to print out hit the share button below and you can print out a copy for easy inventory.

Business of Family Child Care…Yes, you need a website. Part II

Have you chosen your host, domain name, and selected a template?  If not go to Part I and I will walk you through these steps.  Now, let’s decide on what pages and content that you want to add.

Many people get stumped on this part.  I think anywhere from a one page to a six page is effective.  Here are some idea’s for pages.

  • Home Page
  • About Page
  • Curriculum Page
  • Your Program
  • Enrollment  or Fees/Rate
  • Photo Page
  • Links Page
  • Daily/Weekly News Page
  • Parent Page
  • Other

Now that you have decided what pages you want to include on your website.  Let’s talk about the content.  It is important what you put on these pages, you want it clean, informative and easy to navigate. Here are some ideas for topics for each page. I can not write the verbiage for you, but I can give you some helpful hint’s to get you started.

Home Page

1. Your Business Name and all contact information.  I do find that a physical address can also come in handy. E-mail and phone number are also a must.  You want people to contact you.

2.  Brief paragraph or billets on what you offer, this can be anything from , nutritious meals, daily walks and outdoor activities, warm loving home, ages of children, to if you talk only full or part-time children.

3.  A brief welcome paragraph.  Think of this as you opening your door and welcoming someone into your home.  Make it an inviting and informative, you want the person viewing your page to want to learn more about you and your program.

About Page

Your qualifications, years teaching, your associations, your philosophy, your education and training and I always think a little story about you is great for an about page.  It makes you real, and people like to get to know you a bit before they contact.  It is a most precious thing they are entrusting to you, it is okay to get a bit personal on this page.

Curriculum or Program Page

1. These pages can either be joined or used separately.  On a curriculum page you can find: type of activities, special curriculum used such as a religious curriculum or something like Funshine Express, Mother Goose Time or Baby Signs.

2. You might also want to put a daily schedule, this is helpful to for potential clients to see that you have a well thought out program.

Enrollment or Fees/Rate Page

1. On this page you can find everything anyone needs to know about your enrollment process.  This can be the paperwork that is needed for enrollment, and or the process in which you enroll families.

2.  Rates and Fees, you can add your enrollment fees, to the rates and ages of the children that you enroll.  Some, will argue that this information should be given either over the phone or in a personal interview.  I disagree, save your potential client some time.  A website is for information, so give it.

Photo Page

Use this page to give a visual story of what you do.  I think this is a great page to include.  It shows, how your home is set up, the equipment and toys you use, plus it shows how much fun your kids are having.

Links, Daily or Weekly News and Parent Page

These pages, I like to call the fun stuff.  These are for return visitors or current clients.  These pages allow you to become a resource to your families.   Be as creative as you want here.

The pages and content you put on your website you want it to best express your business.  So remember, sometimes less is best.

Business of Family Child Care…Yes you need a Website. Part III.  Part three will end this series, I will talk about some of the more tricky things, posting pictures, links, advertising and blogs.

Also Visit Business of Family Child Care…Yes, you need a website. Part I

Business of Family Child Care…Yes, you need a website. Part III

Beat Burnout with Social Networking

Business of Family Child Care… Yes, you need a Website. Part I

Do you think you need a website?  I say YES! With more and more potential clients, searching the web for information. Your site is the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential client, before they make a decision.

With a well-designed, and professional looking website your family child care business can project the image and professionalism that can compete with child care centers and preschools.

Here is part I in helping you develop a great looking website.  No need for you to ask, your ten-year old nephew, because you are computer challenged.  Let’s get started.

1.    Hosting, what is it and why do I need it?  Hosting can be used to refer to the housing of your website.  You have to put it somewhere.  Knowing that you want a website cheap or free is where we will start.  Weebly is my favorite free website host.  What is nice about Weebly is they want your business, they have a section called Weebly for Education that is specifically tailored for teachers and schools.  My second choice is Homestead cheap but, a great site for easy to build websites that let you have a bit more freedom and space than the free websites.

2.   Now, do your consumer duties and become an informed shopper.  I highly suggest you Google free websites and look for some more options.  Any of them work great.

3.  Now that you have made your choice, you need to register or join.  During this registration they will ask you to enter a domain name.  Now, you can either buy a domain name.  This means you will get a name that looks like this, your name with a .com, .net, or .org at the end. They are fairly cheep; go to and research a untaken name or you can get you free subdomains from your host.  This name will look something like this  Your name, then the host company name then a .com at the end.  A bit more lengthy but still very cost-effective.

Tips on choosing your domain name.  Keep it simple, easy to spell and easy to remember.

4.  Now to the part I find the most fun.  Choosing a template and the start of your design.  Creativity rules when choosing your template.  You might have an idea of what you want, but if you do not I suggest you just browse until you find that one design that says, this is it.

Tips on a choosing template.  The template does not have to be all cartoon, and kids.  I have seen some well done websites by family child care businesses that use nature, color and anything in-between.

Websites, are an important tool in showing a potential client what you are about, and your business.  Many overlook this marketing tool, due to believing that it is too hard or expensive.

I am calling all family child care business that have completed your website to post it here.  One its free promotion for you. Two, it will help other get ideas on what they can have in a website.

The Business of Family Child Care…Yes, you Need a Website. Part II

The Business of Family Child Care…Yes, you Need a Website. Part III

Beating Burnout with Social Networking

Here is my Family Child Care Business Website.  Take a look.

Sensory Play! It’s okay…We can Wash our Hands!

Are you afraid of sensory play because you think it is to messy.  Well, I am here to tell you; there is more in a child’s world to explore with their hands than just sand and water.

A sensory box or discovery box can be easily made of  a plastic box designed for storage under the bed.  I have a couple that stack on top of each other so I can trade out types of sensory boxes every couple of days. This type of box is large and shallow enough that it is easy for children to reach and has less spillage over the sides. I also recommend using an old tablecloth or shower curtain underneath for fast and easy clean up. You can help your child use their senses during play by providing a variety of “sensory materials.” Let us explore some everyday items from around the house.

Potting Soil

Be sure to use soil that has no chemicals added to it or is sterilized. You can find this type of soil at your local hardware store. You can do a garden theme with child size garden tools, small pots and artificial flowers. Or, a farm theme is also fun, with tractors, trucks and a farm play set.


Sand is a very popular for sensory play, try adding shells, sand molds, shovels, sifter, funnels, small buckets or bowls, and small construction vehicles to get some variety with your sand.


Snow is also an excellent and exciting for sensory play when it is too cold to go outside. Have the children wear mittens and build snowmen and castles.

Ice Cubes

Using scoops, large tongs, plastic glasses and bowls is a great sensory idea.


This is last-minute activity that kids love. Have plastic pitchers, and cups for practice pouring. Also, if you have toys that need washing add soapsuds, wash clothes, and enjoy the clean toys and fun. Water has many sensory activities that you can do.


Leaves are great for rustling and make crunching sounds. You can also bring in twigs, flower peddles, stones and rocks. In the fall, a variety of colored leaves is great for seasonal lessons.

Shaving Cream

Be sure to use the classic type of shaving cream that is not methylated. Use foam blocks for the children to pretend building houses, roads and cities. Cars are also great for making roads and paths or just use it alone for a fun experience.

Bird Seed

Provide scooping and pouring toys. Bury small toys for treasure hunts.

Dried beans, rice and oatmeal

Use the beans, rice and oatmeal material in the same way that you would sand or the birdseed.

Play dough

Is great for pretending just about anything. They can use many molds, scissors, plastic knives, etc.

Here is a great recipe for homemade play dough.

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup salt

1 cup of water

1 tablespoon cooking oil

2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon powdered alum

2 packages unsweetened drink mix

Combine first six ingredients. Add the drink mix with water. Cook over medium heat and stir until mixture forms a soft ball. Put dough on wax paper until cool enough to handle. Knead until smooth and store material in tightly covered container.

Twenty More Great Ideas for Sensory Play

1.  Colored rice or noodles.

2.  Packing peanuts.

3.  Shredded paper.

4.  Crumbled Paper

5.  Straws of different sizes and shapes

6.  Colored pom, poms.

7.   Feed corn and wheat.

8.   Small roll of sod grass.

9.  Unwanted scrap construction paper and scissors.

10.  Rocks of various shapes and sizes.

11.  Coffee and Cornmeal mix.

12.  Cooked spaghetti.

13.  Buttons.

14.  Colored curling ribbons of various sizes.

15.  Home made silly puddy

Add equal parts of white glue and liquid starch to a small bowl. 1/2 a cup of each is good to start with. Liquid starch can be found at your local grocery store . Mix with hands or a plastic spoon and let sit over night, Doesn’t have to be thoroughly mixed. Mix again the next day to desired consistency.

16.  Easter grass.

17.  Mardi Gras beads.

18.  Clean Mud

mix 1 roll white toilet paper, 1 bar grated Dove Soap (grate with a cheese grater), and warm water (make the water warm enough to melt the soap). Let the kids tear up the toilet paper into small pieces. Put into big bowl or large container with grated soap. Pour in water in small amounts while mixing paper and soap with hands. Enough water has been added when the mixture is the consistency of thick cool whip.

19.  Feathers.

20.  Styrofoam packing pieces of various sizes and water.

Not only is sensory play fun it is a learning experience.  When children use their senses, to explore different materials they gain important communication skills, reasoning, problem-solving, motor skills. All these skills get your child ready for preschool and kindergarten.

More Fun Activities:

20 Playdough Recipes

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go

Earth Science for Preschool,

Teddy Bear Picnic

Celebrate the Top Eleven Posts of 2011

When 2011 started, there was a glimmer of what I wanted to do with this blog.  Most important to me was to write about the Business of Family Child Care, there just was not many people out there, shouting the joys of this business.  I was a bit nervous and put off my first posts for almost a month, out of sheer fear.  But, then I just jumped in, started experimenting and was “Wowed!” by the response.  So if you missed some articles never fear, here is the top eleven of 2011.

1.  20 Playdough Recipes.  You can really never have too many playdough recipes.

2.   10 Sensory Play Recipes.  Gloop, mud, glunk, glack or flubber.  Must have recipes for making paper mache to colored rice and noodles.

3. Germs, Germs, Germs… Actives for Toddlers and Preschool.  This article had it’s debut on Squidoo.  I crossed it over added a few items, and now a very nice place to keep all the germ ideas for kids.

4.  Teddy Bear Picnic.  I love Teddy Bears and so do my kids.  I have not had one of these in a while, I think I will plan it for our first snowy week indoors.

5.  Sensory Play! It’s okay…We can Wash our Hands.

6.  A List of Skills Children Learn in a Family Child Care.  Have you been looking for a list to add to your interviews with parents.  Here it is a great list of skills, that children learn right in your home.

7.  First Aid Book, For Your First Aid Kit.  Want some quick references, make your own first aid book for yourself or parents.

8.  Developing Great Curriculum Part I.  You see lots of activities and things to do with the kiddo’s but how do you really put it into a working curriculum.  Start with a great schedule.

9.  Speaking of curriculum.  A must place to stop by and visit.  1-2-3 Learn Curriculum.  A family child care veteran that has developed some awesome curriculum, that will fit in your day and your kids will love it.

10.  Business of Family Child Care… Yes, you need a Website. Part I.  I want to see real family child care business, pop-up on search engines.  Online marketing starts with a good website.

11.  Child Care is NOT a Low Cost Start-Up Home Based Business.  This was a bit of a vent article.  I often think that there are many articles out there that mislead and do not give an exact account of what is really needed to run a successful family child care business.

Have a wonderful and blessed New Year!  I will talking with you soon about two new projects, Green Fish 365 and Kelsey’s Project…

Oh…Additional Reading…My Top Favorite Three!

Twenty-Five Things I have Learned From Family Child Care.

You can’t Take “Your Children” Out of Family Child Care. 

Meet the Hermits! Adding Science to a Small Space.  R.I.P. Plato, you are missed.

My Annual Holiday Dilemma

Every year at this time, I struggle…

Last year I struggled up until a week before Christmas…

My own children got a big kick out saying “Bah Hum Bug, Mom!”

My annual holiday dilemma, is decorating for the holidays. Honestly, it starts a week before Thanksgiving; I mentally go over all the children I care for, their age, activity levels, personality, defiance and overall jubilance for the opening of gifts. Then I make a mental checklist of all my seasonal decorations and…

Well, and that is as far as I have gotten. Why the dragging of the feet, you might ask?

  • Christmas decorations as a whole are not safe. They have sticky, prickly, blinky, sparkly, sharp things that children cannot help but want to explore.
  • Oh and how can you not see pretty, shiny gifts and not understand that you cannot open them. I mean really, that takes years of practice, I know adults that cannot master that challenge.
  • Plus, I wear myself out saying “No!” It really cannot be worded any other way.

I have tried, “Sorry, honey…if you pull on that, it is going to land on your head.” by then it is usually too late.

Or “I know that it is round and looks like a ball, but they are called ornaments, so they stay where they are.”

This does not work on a two-year old ever, “I know you just had your birthday, but these gifts are for other people.”

I could lock up my decorations, but it does not seem right to me. Or maybe, I could decorate with just stuff, we make for the holidays, but that just makes everything look messy and defeats the purpose of home for the holidays. I have a home that I would like to enjoy with my own sparkly, blinky things.

I am considering just putting the gifts under my new Christmas Disco Ball.  It hangs from the ceiling and is sparkly and blinky.  Oh, and the Christmas Disco Ball, is a story I plan to share very soon.  I am just trying to figure out how best to hang it from the ceiling and find the really cool disco music to go with it.  I am thinking some Disco Duck would be awesome.