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Providers and Teachers share activities and ideas-from the Child Care Lounge newsletter.

Water packets
Pour water into thick plastic covers Seal the packet in less heat Poke small holes Ask the children to squeeze the liquid using both hands in opposite direction into the buckets Extension - Add food colors Add rocks or vanilla for texture and smell Play in the out door gym They enjoy and they develop hand eye co-ordination They develop using both hand at the same time in opposite direction improving the right and left brain They learn colors They improve tactile and sensory skill Helps them in fine and gross motor skills ~ Thanks Lakshmi

Egg Carton Flowers
First I cut the egg carton into two rows after they were dry we cut them individually with some decorative scissors that we have for scrap-booking and as a final step we pocked a hole with a pen and put a pipe cleaner through the flower making a little loop on the other end of the pipe cleaner to make the center of the flower ~ Clemencia

share ideas (2)

I keep a set of headshots of all of the children in my care on hand. If they are good, colored quality then even black/white photocopies look quite nice. I personalize a lot of my art projects with the photos, such as making the kids pilots, drivers, animals, angels, whatever the moment suggests. The kids and their parents always LOVE the personal touch. ~Heide

I don't know if you've ever tried this yet, but I decided to open a diaper (unused of course) shake out the tiny white specks under the white cottony material into the sensory table. I then filled the table with pitchers of water. After a few minutes the table was filled with a jellylike substance. No matter how much water I added, it became more and more jelly. It was so much fun to squish and squash between our fingers. It's very messy so we did this outside in the yard. I Iooked up some ideas on the web to help this experiment along and they mentioned that table salt breaks up the polymers and turns the jelly back into water. We tried it and it really did. Pam Katz SmartyPants Childcare Home

I have great idea for spring for you. My kids love Mr. or Mrs. Hairy Head Take knee high panty hose and fill toe part with grass seed. Take ball of poly fill stuffing and put in new on top of seed. Need the stocking down when doing. Cut off some of the knee high to not real long. Tie it off to form a person's head. (rubber band, string, twist tie) Now stand upright and you have the beginning of a person's head. Add some wiggle eyes or felt, depending on your kids ages, can use paint or sharpies to make face. Can tie off couple small pieces on either side to make ears if you like. Sit in dish of shallow water, (toe is on top now where hair will grow out) and watch your hairy head person grow hair. Kids like to use the scissors and cut the grass (hair) when gets too long ~Kim Glaubitz

My pre-K class uses white boards, not the expensive ones but these are just like them. From Home Depot buy a 4' X 8' sheet of shower board. The cost is $12.00, and cut them into 12" X 12" boards. I have my husband do this as the Home Depot saws will not make the boards even. I sand the edges to make sure they are not sharp and in about an hour I have 32 12" X 12" white boards. White socks work great for erasers because you can take them home and bleach them ~DeAnna Lopes, Pre-K teacher

While doing our earth day lesson I was looking for a way to recycle Styrofoam trays from our lunch delivery. I came up with the idea of making white boards which we needed but could not afford to buy. I cut off the sides of the tray so I had a flat piece of board I wrapped it in card board for extra support, than I added a piece of lined writing paper and covered it with a clear plastic binder sleeves, I sealed the end with tape. Now we have wonderful white boards for every student to practice their writing on. The bonus is we don't waste any paper .This is a very earth friendly idea and the kids love when we use white boards. The markers can be purchased at office supply stores or through school supply catalogs it saves a lot of paper and money in the long run. The teachers also use the white boards for word lists and bar graphs etc, ~ Maureen Craddock Pre-k Teacher Age 3-5

Here in Canada, March 16 to 20 is spring break and the kindergarten crowd invades our daycare. Here's how we're celebrating Green week: Monday: lay some green on me -all about money ( design your own, money through the ages, from different lands) Tuesday: St pat's ( design a leprechaun trap, green beverages, jewelry) Wed: It isn't easy being green ( a quick peek at saving the planet, recycle material to art) Thurs: feeling green around the gills (healthy life style, exercise, nutritious snacks, toothbrush painting) Friday: Spring (decorate planters, herb planting, marbles, hopscotch, skipping)

Rainbow Toast
Set out small cups of milk. Add a drop or two of food coloring to each color. Children then paint white bread with the colored milk using clean brushes or Q-tips. Set under a broiler to toast. ~Yvonela

For a fun St. Patrick's day snack... use refrigerated bread stick dough to make clover shapes - make 3 sections of dough into hearts and then press them together, attach a stem - sprinkle with green sugar mixed with cinnamon and bake according to the package directions. I served these last year to my kids and they thought they were the coolest thing! Enjoy!~Pamela

For a Valentine's Day gift I have made "Hershey kisses" using rice krispie treats. Make a batch of the krispie treats, spray a funnel using Pam, push some of the treat into the funnel making a kiss shape then put the kiss shape onto a piece of foil and wrap it up. You can add a piece of paper saying I love you or whatever you like.~Jenn

Home made toss-able beanbags
We just went through all our sock drawers and any old socks that don't have matches or have holes in the top we used to make beanbags. What you do is cut in the middle or top (however big you want them) of the sock. We also tie died them with food color and rubbing alcohol mixed together. The children can dip them or dip q-tips in the die and make designs on the socks. Let them dry then fill with whatever size beans you want. Then sew the top and they make great beanbags that cost little to nothing and you are recycling as well. Hope this ideas works for others too. We had fun and the (older) kids love them. When we play with them they show them off and say "I made this." ~littletreasuresks

Ice Paint
Have children sprinkle dry tempera paint powder on their paper. The "paint brush" is an ice cube on a Popsicle stick you made in advance. Have children glide the ice over the paint powder and watch the colors run when the ice melts. ~Davenna


With my pre-K kids I made a wreath of their hand and footprints for the Holidays and they all told me something that they did that was a family tradition. They copied the sentence that they dictated to me and then drew a picture of their family engaged in that activity. I displayed this in the hallway with the caption: A Wreath of Traditions.~Ivan Cole

I think people have forgotten what our troops are doing, Honor them by offering military families a free night out when the parent gets home from overseas duty.~Wave of the Future Learning Center

5 little Christmas Trees
5 little Christmas Trees
Standing all alone
Their heart were very sad
'Cause they hadn't found a home.
Then chop went the ax
And down fell the tree
And off they went
with a happy family!
(continue from 4-1 Christmas Trees)
No little Christmas Trees
Standing all alone
Their hearts were very happy
'Cause they all found a home!!!
~ Beckie

My day care children and I put together fun ornaments to hang from the ceiling or on a window. They look great! What you will need for this project. MATERIALS Clear/Transparent contact paper ~ 2 each cut at 10" X 10" or what ever size you like BIG or SMALL Tissue paper what ever color you like ( We used solid green and green and white polka dots) cut in to small squares or strips Assorted colors of glitter Children's scissors Permanent marker ( To write the child's name ) ART PROCESS 1. Take one 10 x 10 sheet of contact paper peel off the back. sticky side up put on table in front of the children. 2. Apply a little glitter 3. Stick tissue paper flat all over the center of the contact paper. 4. Take the second 10 x 10 sheet of contact paper peel off the back apply this 10 x 10 sheet to cover the other. (sticky sides together) 5. Cut into the shape off an ornament. 6. Wright name on it with marker 7. Hang it up to enjoy for the holidays.

This year, our Child Care Center wanted to do something different for our children and families for Thanksgiving. We made a huge sign that says "We are Thankful for..." and put every child's name on it (we care for over 50 children!). We even put the names of three of our moms who are currently pregnant with their second child. We hung this sign up by our front door and parent sign-in sheets. Everyone LOVED it! We plan to do this again and again and make it an annual tradition.~Jaime Snider

When it is almost time to for us to go to lunch the children don't want to wait in line or stay so we sing this song called Baby Bumble Bee and we tell them to catch their bee and we have our hands together and make a buzzing sound then we sing this song I'm taking home a baby bumble bee, won't my mommy be so proud of me. I'm taking home a baby bumble bee ouch he stung me (jump like you were stung) and then we sing I'm squishing up the baby bumble bee won't my mommy be so proud of me (do hands like squishing) then ewe he is all over me (show hands like it is all over) I'm shaking off the baby bumble bee won't my mommy be so proud of me. (shaking hands) and then look I'm all clean. They love it and even start singing it on their own~ ms anne

TomTom turkey
run away run away
Thanksgiving day is coming
Thanksgiving day is coming
Yum Yum Yum
Run Run Run
~ michelle Peterson

Albuquerque Turkey Tune: My Darlin Clementine
Albuquerque is a turkey
And he's feathered and he's fine
And he wobbles and he gobbles
And he's absolutely mine!
He's the best pet you can get yet
Better than a dog or cat
He's my Albuquerque turkey
And I'm awfully proud of that!
And my Albuquerque turkey
Is so happy in his bed
'Cause for our Thanksgiving Dinner
We have spaghetti instead
~ Sylvia C.*

Mystery Prop Box: "What can I do with this box?"
Choose a plain shoebox—plain is the key because you want the child to think about it and in doing so, create something from basically nothing and make it interesting. Inside the box, put a few items at random that you think might spark your child’s imagination. You might have a thought based on the items you put into the box, of what you think the children might do with it but be prepared….you just never know what a child is capable of until you give them an opportunity to express themselves in their own time on their own terms. I started my children off with a box at circle to give them an idea of what they might be able to do with the box and items inside…then let the children do one themselves the next day. Of course it immediately was a group effort because all the children were curious. I was amazed to say the least, what these children would do with the items in the Daily Mystery Box. When they came to class, they could hardly wait to get a chance at the Mystery Box! So…..Prop Boxes can be done in different ways. I became just as excited making up the Mystery Boxes as did the children exploring them!
~ Deborah Evans (Tdeb), ImaginationPlay/TdebCreations

I have a cloth bag with Nursery Rhyme print, when I sit down; with it the children are so excited. They all take turns reaching into the bag and pulling out a figure that goes with a nursery rhyme or a favorite song, such as a cat holding a fiddle for Hey Diddle Diddle, or candlestick for Jack Be-Nibble or a Star for Twinkle Little Star just use your imagination and start collecting figures from wherever, when the children see the figure they tell the class the rhyme or sing the song that goes with the figure the kids love it.~Tammy

I came up with the idea of wearing different hats during story time. I found a couple of construction hats, a Navy Dixie cup hat, beach hat, train engineers hat, cowboy hat, a straw gardening hat, a Minnie mouse hat with ears, and a London fog rain hat. Now the kids all sit nicely and pay attention during story time. ~Deb

I came up with an activity to play during fire safety week. I cut out a flame shape out of red and orange construction paper and applied a piece of Scotch tape on the back. I had the kids all stand in a circle to play "Smoke, Smoke, Fire". Like duck, duck, goose, but when you get to the player that you are going to say Fire, you stick the "flame" on them, and they drop to the floor and roll, to learn "Stop, drop, and roll" when clothing catches on fire. This was a big hit with the kids, especially when they stuck the "flame" on me, and I had to "Stop, drop and roll"!

During fire safety week, I make cell phones from empty juice boxes. I use file (circle) stickers, label 0-9, and practice calling 911 and giving our addresses ~Cathy Atwood

Here is an idea that we do in my class. It is very quick and simple as long as you have the ingredients available. We make playdough! 2 cups of flour 1 cup salt 4 tsp cream of tartar 1 cup hot (very warm) water 2 Tbsp cooking oil food coloring (optional) Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead. Add food coloring or mint extract or anything else that may go with your theme. After the first time I did it I made a copy of the recipe, put some playdough in a bag, then I sent it home with the kids. The parents enjoyed getting the recipe. Many said this playdough lasted longer than the store bought stuff. I took this recipe out of a book but I don't remember the name of it. ~Jennifer

Cornstarch Finger Paint

  • 3 tbsps. sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Food coloring
  • Soap flakes or liquid dishwashing soap.
Mix sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan over low heat. Add cold water and stir until mixture is thick. Remove from heat. Divide into four or five portions (in muffin tins or cups). Add a drop or two of food coloring to each portion and a pinch of soap flakes or soap. Stir and let cool. Store in airtight container ~Helmastots


One little cat on a sunny day Put on his hat and went out to play Two little cats when it started getting dark Put on their hats and went to the park. Three little cats when the sky was blue Put on their hats and went to the zoo. Four little cats by the kitchen door Put on their hats and went to the store. Five little cats on a sunny day Put on their hats and they all ran away ~Monica

Watermelon Art
Let children paint a paper plate; Green on one side and pink and red on the other. When the paint dries they can glue on watermelon seeds as they wish. ~Sussue

Take some old panty hose and cut the legs off at the top. Make the foot part of the panty hose look like a fly (Stuff toe and add wings). Hang them around the room. Give each child a fly swatter and tell them to get the flies. This is a great large muscle thing to do. ~EllisonE2

This is a simple recipe for children to make. The weather is colder and we are serving more soups and stew. Children enjoy making and eating these muffins. Sour Cream Muffins (Yield 24 small muffins or 12 large muffins) 2 cup self-rising flour 2 sticks butter, melted 1/2 pint sour cream Combine all ingredients and spoon into small, un-greased muffin tin. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 Degree ~ Mary Cleckley

Lacing Cards
Cut colored poster board into different shapes and punch holes around the edges. Children can lace yarn or a shoestring into the cards. ~Dona

For those who have a team of teachers: Many digital cameras have a video feature or you may use a tape recorder, or the sound recorder on a computer as well. Make videos or tapes of teachers reading etc. The children enjoy seeing a video clip of their teachers reading or singing. The sound recorder can also be used and have children try to guess what teacher is speaking. Also let the children speak and guess who is who. You can also video clip the children doing an activity. ~ Kelly H.


  • 2 c. baking soda
  • 1 c. cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 c. cold water
Mix soda and cornstarch together, blending well. Add the cold water and mix well until mixture is smooth. Boil for one minute until it has consistency of mashed potatoes. Stir constantly. Spoon out on a plate. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to cool. Knead dough and roll out on waxed paper. Cut out designs with a cookie cutter or shape by hand. Let dry until hardened, about 1 to 2 days. Paint ornaments with tempera or water colors. Dry well and coat with shellac or clear nail polish. Hangers may be mounted on back with glue, or pressed into dough before it dries.~Brynn 59


Me Mobile
Paste a sheet of paper around the side of a milk carton to cover it .Then paste yarn on the top of the carton for hair. Draw a face on one side. Draw pictures of favorite foods one side, favorite games on the next and have child dictate words about themselves on the next. Poke a hole in the top of the carton .tie string through it ;now hang up~GUL HABIB

Here are some things that I do around Halloween time in my class: Ghost cookies: Items needed: Nutter butter cookies, white frosting, chocolate chips Spread the white frosting onto cookies and add chocolate chips for their eyes. Spider cookies: Items needed: Oreo cookies, black licorice strings, red hot candies, white frosting cut black licorice strings to about 3inches in length, give each child 8 of them--4 go on each side of cookie, (they slide into the crème center fairly easy)- then a small amount of white frosting in 2 small places on top of the cookie to be eyes, add a red hot to the center of each white frosting dot. One of the kids most favorite Halloween arts and craft activity is the foot ghost, they love having their foot painted white and stepping onto black construction paper., and then they add eyes and nose, mouth whatever they want to once dry. I also have the Wee Sing Halloween music cd, and we listen to it all thru out our day!! during the month of October. I also like doing the spider web as one of our centers on Halloween day: I get 2 bags of spider webbing, and a bag of spider rings, the kids have to pull it and glue a spider web onto black paper and add a spider to it, they love this and it’s a good fine motor activity! I hope that someone will be able to use some of these things, I have a lot more and will send some more ideas from time to time! ~Wendy

Do you get bored with the same projects everyday painting and coloring well I did a new painting project and my kids were in awe to see what happens. First get a salad spinner and cut a piece of paper to fit inside. Then let the children pour a little of 2 or 3 paints inside. put the top on and let them spin the top. The face they make when the cover comes off is so worth it. ~Whitney

1,2 You know what to do. 3,4 Sit on the floor. 5,6 Your feet you fix. 7,8 Sit up straight. 9,10 Let's listen again. ~TraceyB

Clean Crayons
Mix 2 parts Ivory Snow powder with 1 part water until thick and creamy. Add a desired food coloring drop. Let harden in small molds, or ice cube trays. ~Teri L.

One little cat on a sunny day Put on his hat and went out to play Two little cats when it started getting dark Put on their hats and went to the park. Three little cats when the sky was blue ?Put on their hats and went to the zoo. Four little cats by the kitchen door Put on their hats and went to the store. ?Five little cats on a sunny day Put on their hats and they all ran away?~Pamms

One year, I had noticed that the kids were having problems with identifying and quantifying any numbers beyond 3. As a result, I created two projects: A. Ice Cream Cones. Cut out brown paper cones for each child in your class. Then cut out tons of pink, white, pale green, yellow, and brown circles to represent the ice cream. Be sure that the circles are wider than the "opening" of the cone. Put some handmade flashcards into a container, and let the children choose one with their eyes closed. Make sure the smallest number is no smaller than 3; anything else will be too easy, no matter what the kids have you thinking. If their card reads 9, then they have to count out 9 scoops of ice cream and glue them in a stack on their cone. After it's dry, write the number of scoops on the cone, and hang up on a bulletin board. I kept this to about 10 scoops. B. Gumball Machines. I used numbers from 9 to 20 for this project. Use red paper, and cut the base, and use white paper for the globe, which should have about a 7" diameter. Then, trace a nickel or a quarter, or the inside of a Scotch tape circle, and cut out a kabillion different colored gumballs. Again, have the children close their eyes and draw a number out of a container, this time making sure that the smallest number is 10! Let the children count out the exact amount of gumballs and glue them into the globe. Write the number on the base of the gumball machine, then display on a bulletin board. ~Aunt Gnatty

One royal penguin …feeling very blue (hold up one finger) Called for his brother then there were two (hold up two fingers) Two royal penguins . . .swimming in the sea (swimming motion) Called for their sister then there were three (hold up three fingers) Three royal penguins waddle on the shore (waddle) Call for their mother, then there were four (hold up four fingers) Four royal penguins learning how to dive (Make diving motion) Call for their father, then there were five (hold up five fingers) ~ Amber

Gingerbread Cinnamon Dough

  • 1 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of ginger
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup white school glue (optional)
Add the cinnamon and ginger to the applesauce. You may add glue for added thickness. Store unused dough in a bowl with plastic wrap as a cover.


Oatmeal Soap

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup soap shavings
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
Put soap shavings in a plastic bag, and pound them into smaller pieces. Place the soap and oatmeal in blender, and pulse until mixture has a grainy consistency. Pour into a bowl and remove any oversized pieces. Add oil and water and begin mixing with your hands. Form into a firm ball and set aside a few hours until it is hard. ~Sami G.


Snow Painting
Water down tempera paint and pour into spray bottles. Let children spray paint designs in the snow. ~Lucy

Rainbow Viewer
Cut out a large circle in the middle of 2 paper plates. Glue colored cellophane to cover the hole on one plate, and then glue the two plates together. Try different colors overlapped too. ~Mara

Cinnamon Ornaments

  • 1 C. ground Cinnamon
  • 1 T. ground cloves
  • 1 T. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 C. apple sauce
  • 2 T. white glue
Mix spices together in a medium bowl. Add the apple sauce and glue and mix well with your hands for 2-3 minutes to form a ball. You may need to add more cinnamon if the mixture is too wet or more applesauce if the mixture is too dry. Knead on a bench sprinkled with cinnamon and divide dough into 1/4s. Roll each out to approx 1/4 inch thick. Use shaped cutters to cut shapes and place flat on oven trays. Make a hole in the top of each using a drinking straw. Leave to air dry for 2-3 days. You may need to turn them over and flatten with a fish slice or metal spatula to ensure they dry flat. It is faster to dry them in the sun but you need to watch they don't curl. When hard, thread with ribbon or gold thread. You can decorate with glitter glue also if you like. Makes around 2 dozen, depending on the size of your cutters. Joni, I plan to make a shape of the child's hand by making a pattern of their hand and cutting the shape out of the dough. After it is dry...I plan to write on the back the child's name, age and date. That way the parent can have it for many years to come. ~Maureen


The wind was full of tricks today.
It blew my brother's hat away.
It made the trees bend and dance.
It made the leaves twirl and prance.
It chased our paper down the street.
It almost blew me off my feet!
~ Polly G.

Green Eggs and Ham
To celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday, we do a cooking activity and let the children add food coloring to make real green eggs and ham! Do this after reading the book and see how many children will try them! ~Helen

Color Books
Start with a sheet of construction paper (any color) fold in half-this will be the book cover. Take 4 pieces of typing paper, and also fold in half. This will be the inside of the book. Place inside the colored cover. Staple together along fold. Title book. (depends on the color) This is my blue book by _______________ etc. ON each page the child will do something different. If the book is Yellow, one page the child only uses a yellow crayon and colors a yellow picture, next page they can finger paint in yellow next page they can cut anything yellow out of a magazine and glue in the page. Next page they can glue on yellow shapes, whatever shape you are working on. Another page can be ink stamps, only in yellow. and they can tear up yellow paper and glue on the yellow paper to a page for a collage. When finished they now have the YELLOW BOOK, Do this for each primary color. Until they have a whole series of "color books" ~Pat Alexander

5 little hot dogs frying in the pan the pan got so hot that 1 went BAM ! 
4 little hot dogs frying in the pan the pan got so hot that 1 went BAM ! 
3 little hot dogs frying in the pan the pan got so hot that 1 went BAM ! 
2 little hot dogs frying in the pan the pan got so hot that 1 went BAM ! 
1 little hot dog frying in the pan the pan got so hot that 1 went BAM !
No little hot dogs frying in the pan.
~ Whitney

We may not be able to enjoy the fun of a pool, but we can enjoy the items used in a pool. Pool Rings-We use them to sit on to dry after sprinkler fun, we place them around our bellies and run around the play yard pretending we are driving a car-if they fall it cushions them, we hang them from a tree to use as a bulls-eye game, we roll them down the play yard like you would a tire, they are really fun to just throw up in the air and try to catch-if they land on someone's head no harm done. Pool Noodles-T-Ball (directions sent in previous email), hang a hula-hoop from a tree and use the noodle as a javelin, play tug of war, use as a balance beam (secure both ends with a long tent stake (green end removed)-or cut into lengthwise and lay flat end on ground, use the small connectors to play nose roll across the yard, older ones can learn to balance them in their palm. Beach Ball-attach a wide piece of elastic to ball and hang from a tree or awning and play battleball, a great exercise is to lay over the ball and rock back and forth, set up an obstacle course they can kick the ball through, play over-under ball while reciting a chain gang chant. Of course all pool toys can be used in your water table year-round, most of them are great for sink and float experiments. ~swpreskool

Red Apple
A little red apple
Hung high in a tree
I looked up at it
And it looked down at me
"Come down, please" I called
And what do you suppose---
That little red apple
Dropped right on my nose!
~ CKBarnet

As a beginning of the year activity I get 2 white pillow cases. (I have 2 pillows in the book area). During the first week I have the children use fabric paint/markers to decorate them. Then I put the book area for them to use while looking at books. The children always seem to be attracted to these and often ask to use them at rest time. ~Kelly

The rhyming song the bear went over the mountain and then make binoculars with toilet paper rolls as you sing the song. ~Michelle

You get a brown construction page and a green one. Cut the bottom of the tree and the green wood be the top have kids glue the 2 parts together and then give them a zip lock bag and go outside and look for small leaves that have fallen then have them pick them up and go back inside and glue them to the green construction page. ~Lisette