Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yarn Along - Baby Knit

I'm *finally* joining Ginny's Yarn Along. This is a weekly blog carnival where anyone who loves reading and knitting can link up to share their current read and project. I hesitated to join the Yarn Along because I tend to delve into either reading OR knitting and I go through phases where I prefer one over the other. But then I realized that even when I'm not reading a novel, I'm always reading something, even if it's just a snippet here and there for information's sake. :)

So, here's what I'm perusing and knitting now:
The book: Nature's Playground by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield. This is a fantastic book filled with adventurous outdoor ideas and projects for kids. One of my favorite early education references.
The project: a rainbow baby blanket for our August baby. I'm knitting with some deliciously smooshy Malabrigo yarn and I'm using my own variation of this pattern.

Be sure to visit Ginny's lovely blog, Small Things, not just to join the Yarn Along, but also to read about the beautiful life she lives. Every time I finish reading her posts I feel like I just chatted with a good friend!

PS: You can find me on Ravelry under 'rockislander'.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March Poetry Basket

This months' poem is about weather. I used a chunk of wool roving to represent the dark cloud, some radish seeds for the flower seeds (I didn't have actual flower seeds on hand), small crystals for the raindrops (James drops them little by little back into the glass votive to make a pitter pattering sound), and the felt sun from our weather sensory tub.

The poem is short and sweet and I've made it available to you via this link - just copy and paste into your address bar:

With regard to the poems I use each month, I either use this website or I simply hunt through Google for one that suits us.

To see our past poetry baskets, click here.

As always, my printables are for your personal use only - please do not sell or offer them in giveaways. Thank you!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weather Discovery Tray

First I must say thank you so very, very much for the warm wishes and thoughts you all sent our way last week. I was truly overwhelmed by the fact that so many of you cared enough to comment and email me about our happy news. I kept saying to my husband, "My gosh, there are so many good people out there!". Honestly, I feel so lucky to be a part of such a warm community. Big hugs to you all!

Ok, now before I get too sappy, let's move on to the discovery tray... :)

It'd been a while since I put together a discovery tray for James and after some thought I realized I could easily create a weather-themed tray that appealed to nearly all the senses. James absolutely loves this tray and pulls it out nearly every school day!

Here's what you see:
:: CD with thunderstorm sounds.
:: A prism (leaning against the CD) - to represent a rainbow.
:: Hand held fan - to represent wind. This is James' favorite!
:: A bowl of ice cubes - to represent hail and/or the change in temperature within a cloud as the ice melts into water.
:: Our homemade rainstick.
:: Spray bottle with water inside - to represent a light rain.
:: A tornado bottle. My husband purchased this on It's SO cool! As you gently swirl the bottle, it creates a tornado effect. This one is my favorite! :)

A couple of items we added later...
:: An inflated balloon which we rubbed against our heads to create static electricity - to represent lightening.
:: A flashlight - to represent the sun.

I should note that even though many of these items do not provide accurate scientific representations, they've provided LOTS of learning fun! And, in my opinion, that's what it's all about!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Psstt... Guess What?!

I'm taking a step away from the norm for this blog and sharing with you some personal and wonderful news... we're expecting kiddo #2!! We are thrilled to the gills about it and can't wait to meet him or her in August!

~mama made booties just waiting for sweet little feet~

I'm now 17 weeks into my pregnancy and, aside from daily nausea and vomiting, all is going really well. My sweet husband has been SO good about nagging me making sure I'm eating enough protein and greens. Unfortunately, our little B is a picky eater and vetoes just about anything I put in my stomach. I haven't been able to gain any weight yet as a result (in fact, I've lost 10lbs.), but my OB and I are not worried. The same thing happened with James - I was sick 24/7 for the first 5 months and he still weighed in at 7lbs. 11oz.! Despite the weight loss, I'm already sporting a lil' baby bump, which I am SO excited about! With James I didn't start showing until I was 6 months along, but I did hear you pop out a bit more quickly with subsequent children.

And now that I'm in my 2nd trimester I'm feeling less tired and sore, too, which is great and makes chasing after a preschooler MUCH easier. Oh, and I've already been feeling the nesting urge! Actually, that's an understatement. I'm practically busting with the need to unpack and organize (eee!!) all of James' old baby clothes! Alas, I must restrain myself for another few weeks until we find out the gender of our little B. Yes, we will be finding out the gender... I'm just WAY too much of a planner to not find out and I think the surprise is just as wonderful if it comes sooner than later. :)

We have yet to tell James the wonderful news and we have a fun idea for how we'll tell him. Funny thing is, we have a feeling he's already aware of what's going on... he said to my husband the other day, "Well, I'm going to go sit by my mom and my sister..." (!) and when a flabbergasted me asked him, "Where's your sister?", he pointed to my stomach and said, "There!". We haven't really discussed the baby in front of James and we do not yet know the gender, so it kind of gave us chills to hear him talk about it so matter of fact! It will be SO cool if he's right and it is a girl!

Ok, enough baby talk (for now!)... you may notice me posting a bit less frequently going forward. In an effort to appease my nesting urges, I've been using most of my "free time" to knit booties and blankets for the B. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy 1st Day of Spring!!

We've been decorating our classroom with some of our homemade spring goodies from last year...

~A delightful bouquet of fingerknitted flowers~

~A wee little blue bird~

~A beautiful rainbow window star~

~A magical spring maiden~

~A fragrant beeswax ornament~

Hooray for spring!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nut Sorting & Nomenclature Printable

I meant to post about this activity a few months ago when it was nut season, but it got lost in the mix. Hopefully you can still find some nuts in your grocery store, but if not, there's always next winter!

This is a very cheap and simple sorting/matching activity. It was a favorite of James' when he was 2.5 years old and he still enjoyed it a year later. Normally, I would have James set out all the cards at once (on a mat) with a bowl beneath each card, but this set up was just for photographic purposes. :)

I forgot to include this cute little squirrel basket (found at the local thrift store) in the set up above, but he's a favorite in our classroom and he creates an added point of interest in this particular activity. James loves "feeding" him the nuts once the activity is over.

I created the cards you see in the photo above and have shared them with you via the link below. I added an acorn to the mix for those of you have access to them.

There are a couple of extensions you could do with this activity:
::Print out two copies of my printable and just do a straight matching or memory game.
::Using a child safe nutcracker like this one, have your kiddo crack open the nuts (hello, practical life!) and match them to the cards that way. Each photo includes an image of a shelled nut.

Here's the printable link - just copy the link into your address bar:

As always, my printables are for your personal use only - please do not sell them or offer them in giveaways. Thank you!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My wee little leprechaun enjoying a green minty milkshake and a rainbow of fruit!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Rainstick

In honor of our weather theme this month, James and I made a rainbow rainstick using this tutorial. It was such a fun craft and since the weather outside was warm and sunny, we took it all outside!

First we hammered lots of nails into the cardboard mailing tube. This was James' favorite part, though he got bored with hammering about halfway through. :)

Next we filled the tube with river stones and rice.

The inside of the tube looks a little scary - watch those fingers!

Testing out the sound.

Then we we decorated the tube with all sorts of colorful goodies.

The rainstick makes such a beautiful sound and will be a welcome addition to our classroom instrument basket!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Friday, March 11, 2011

Where's James?

Some of you have very sweetly told me you've missed seeing James' photo on this blog and asked why I no longer share photos of him "in action" during our schooltime. I should say up front it's not because I'm trying to protect his identity (too late for that, given all my previous photos). :) Rather it's me trying to respect his space during our school time. I realized a while back how distracting it must be to have a camera clicking away while you're trying to concentrate on school work. I also felt like I wasn't able to be really present with him during our lessons because I was too busy trying to capture that perfect photographic moment. There was also a period of time when James would instinctively wait to begin working on something because he assumed I wanted a photo first. That just seemed odd to me and I felt like I was the paparazzi in that sense! I now take photos only if it seems comfortable and easy to do so, and I always ask James beforehand, "Do you mind if I take a picture of you right now?".

All that said, I have felt my blog is lacking a little sparkle now that the star rarely makes appearances. So, I wanted to share a few recent photos of James taken inside or outside of the classroom, and always during times when there was some learning fun taking place!

~new wheels~

~creating a masterpiece~

~feeding a dolphin~


~throwing a snowball at mommy in Central Park, NYC~

So there you go! Thank you again for asking about my little guy - it warms my heart to know you care! And maybe I'll try to include a few more casual photos of him from now on. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weather Songs & Storytelling

We've been having lots of storytelling fun with our felt board! I cut these weather themed shapes out of felt and oh my goodness, what a hit they've been! James loves to make up stories and with the assistance of these felt pieces he can be heard regaling tales of mighty hurricanes where cats fly through the air, and calm, sunny days filled with popsicle eating. I just sit back and enjoy his stories - they always make me smile.

We've also used a few books and songs with our felt board. Our favorite song to sing with this is "What's the Weather". I've written the words below, in case you're not familiar with it:

What's the Weather?
(To the tune of O' My Darlin')

What's the weather, what's the weather, what's the weather today?
Is it cloudy, is it cloud, is it cloudy today?
** Here you'd introduce the clouds to the felt board. **

What's the weather, what's the weather, what's the weather today?
Is it raining, is it raining, is it raining today?
** Here you'd add the raindrops to the clouds on the felt board. **

And you'd continue on like this with the remaining pieces:
Lightening ("stormy")

It's easy to use these pieces with other weather songs, too, and you can certainly create more or different pieces to suit your songs. Here's a link to the songs we're singing this month - simply copy and paste the link into your address bar:

As always, my printables are for your personal use only - please do not sell or offer them in giveaways. Thank you!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, March 7, 2011

March Playdough

Unpredictable Weather Playdough :)

I made one batch of playdough (click here to see my recipe & notes) and split it into three sections: yellow w/gold glitter (sun), blue w/ white glitter (rain), and white (clouds/snow). Note: the white is simply plain dough - no food coloring.

I also made some weather word cards for James to use along with letter shaped cutters. James loves to spell and read and so this was a HUGE hit with him! Btw, we received the cutters as a birthday gift a couple of years ago - this exact set is no longer available, but this one is similar.

I've made a PDF of the weather word cards - simply copy and past this link into your address bar:

As always, my printables are for your personal use only - please do not sell or offer them in giveaways. Thank you!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Our Shelves - March

As I've mentioned, our theme for this month is weather. I was tempted to do a St. Patrick's theme like we did last year, but I thought we'd try something different instead. :) Note not all the activities below are theme related.

Practical Life
Tweezing "Starbursts".

Lacing. I found this image of a sun and a cloud on Google, which I printed off and laminated. Then I used a hole puncher to turn them into a lacing card. (The laces are in the little straw basket.)

Pouring Water. I used just a bit of blue food coloring to make the water easier to see. James loves this small, lightweight glass pitcher - it's perfect for little hands. I found it at Montessori Services, but I see it's no longer listed on their site.

Spooning Pasta. This tiny pasta is shaped like little suns (I dyed it yellow). Spooning into the funnel is a fun challenge - you have to be careful to spoon in just a little at a time.

Pushing Umbrellas into Styrofoam. This one was a favorite when we did it for our beach theme last summer.

Table Washing. We've done this before and it was a huge hit. The spray bottle has just a bit of soap in it, which James will spray onto our little table. He'll then use the sponge to wipe it clean and he'll wring the sponge out into the bowl. Voila - a clean table! :)

Open & Close Basket. I always try to include a variety of containers with different closures (e.g. zipper, snap, screw top). There's a little trinket inside each container - James loves this.

Still on our shelves: Dressing Basket.


Build-A-Kite. Sorry, I can't recall where I found this as I printed it off months ago. If anyone knows, please feel free to leave a link in the comment section - thanks!

Still on our shelves: Geometric Solids, Knobbed & Knobless Cylinders w/ extensions, and the Pink Tower.

Weather Matching. This activity involves matching seasonal clothing to three weather cards (rainy, sunny, snowy). I found this on Kidsoup.

Worksheets. I believe I found these sheets on abcteach. I made a fun flower pencil for James to use with this activity. :)

See & Spell. This is from Melissa & Doug - we love it!

Sandpaper Phonograms. We've moved on to the green series. James can read quite well now and has no problems reading Hop On Pop straight through. A few blends (like au, ie) still trip him up though, so it's timely we're focusing on those now.

Books. We have a good selection this month and all have at least a little something to do with weather:
How To Build A Rainbow by Eric Carle
Spring by Nuria Roca
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Little Cloud by Eric Carle
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
Hurry Home Little Kittens (one of our Kindermusik books)
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
We're Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

Still on our shelves: The Moveable Alphabet

Skip Counting. I made these little clouds and numbered them 2-20. James will need to put them in order and then use the snowflake beads as counters.

Rainbow Game. I created this rainbow mat which James will use along with the dice and place markers. This is a great addition/subtraction game!

Math Puzzle. I found this at our local teacher's supply store.

Counting "Raindrops". I'm eager to see how James will like this activity. It's interactive in that I'll clap a certain number of times and James will place that number of raindrops (clear beads) on the cloud. Thanks, Kidsoup, for another fun idea!

I also created a few dot to dot sheets.

Still on our shelves: Number Rods and Sandpaper Letters.

Culture & Science
South America Continent Bag. Well, just a few pieces of it. :) I like to put it out a little at a time - much easier to look through that way.

Types of Weather 3-Part Cards. I also have Types of Clouds cards, too, but I see I forgot to photograph them. Both are from Montessori For Everyone.

I have LOTS of fun science experiments and projects planned for this theme and I'll try to blog about them as we go. We'll be having plenty of outdoor school this month!

Still on our shelves: Continent Globe & Puzzle.

Art & Music
Composer of the Month: Vivaldi. I chose Vivaldi because of his beautiful Four Seasons concertos.

Every month I gather (from the internet) a selection of short, theme related songs for us to sing during circle time. Click here for the link to download this month's songs.

Art Basket. I have to confess, the whole art basket idea didn't go over as well as I had hoped. Sigh. But, it wasn't a total flop so I'm trying again. :)

Coloring Pages.

I have a few art projects planned as well and hope to share them throughout the month.

Still on our shelves: Instrument Nomenclature Cards.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Sensory Tub - Weather

Our theme for this month is weather! I'll be sharing our playdough and what's on our shelves later this week, but in the meantime here's our sensory tub...

I can't even begin to express what a HUGE hit this tub has been with James, the lightening bolts in particular. He spends ages with it and all I hear the whole time is "ka-chung, ka-chung!" (which, of course, is the sound of thunder!) :) Today we listened to a thunderstorms CD while he explored the tub. He was on cloud nine about this and acted out a little "play" with the objects as they coincided with whatever was happening on the CD. It was an absolute treat to watch!

Here's what's inside:
:: Blue aquarium rocks (the sky)
:: Cotton balls (clouds)
:: Blue beads (raindrops)
:: Silver pipe cleaners (lightening bolts)
:: A felt sun
:: Small puffs (snow) & snowflake shapes
:: Rainbow pom poms (click here for my tutorial on how to make your own)
:: Plastic cubes (ice/hail)
:: Small silver pitcher and shovel (for scooping & pouring)

Click the button below to see a full list of my sensory tubs or click here to view my slideshow on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

~Thank you for your comments!~


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