Life's like that!

December 31, 2011

Ideas to get kids involved in program planning and participation


METHOD 1... WHO'S INTERESTED...?At the beginning of the year, post a flyer inquiring, "Who's interested in planning this year's activities?   Tell us what you want to do!" It doesn't matter how many children sign up, but it will give you a list of your organizers.
If it's well into the school year, it is most likely apparent who your child program leaders are. Talk to them and other interested kids; inform them of a meeting to brain-storm ideas. Be sure all other children are aware of the meeting by posting an 'attention getting notice,' announcing the purpose, day, and time. At the meeting, empower the children.  This is their time to talk about their ideas and wants.
TIP:If your program is large, do this with more than one group. It will be easier to facilitate, and will afford eachage-group a venue to voice its collective thoughts. Discussing ideas also works during group, or snack time, or when children are simply chatting around a table.Ask if you may join them,then encourage discussionand active listening
METHOD 2... SURVEYS!Use 'interest surveys and questionnaires'. Provide each new family with an informational program packet. Include a short questionnaire for parents regarding their children's interests. Also, occasionally give children an interest form, to indicate things that they like to do in and out of the program.
METHOD 3... SUGGESTION BOXUse a program suggestion box. Have the children decorate a box with a removable cover or slot to use specifically for program ideas and comments. It doesn't matter if only one suggestion is put into the box, because in addition to receiving ideas, this shows families that we care!
You may find that you'll need to explain to some of the younger children what a suggestion is!
Be sure to always address the suggestions you receive.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Post a question of the week on various program topics. Have children put their responses in a large closed envelope or the covered suggestion box. Participation can be anonymous, with ideas and thoughts announced at the end of the week, or the beginning of the following week. A children's committee can also be formed to compile and post weekly idea contributions. Another similar idea would be to put up a large sheet of roll paper. At the heading, either ask a different question each week.
GRAFFITI WALL: Place a large sheet of roll paper in area where there are no black boards or whiteboards.

On the paper write title 'Graffiti Wall'.
Use any sub-title you like:
     √ Draw on Me
     √ Write on Me
Or use sub-headings such as:
     √ Things That Make Me Happy!
     √ Favorite Things to Do
     √ Pet Peeves

The wall is a good tool for thought and spontaneous sharing. Consider hanging the wall where kids line up during transition times.
     • Keep a box of or markers near the wall. The children can write while waiting.
     • The wall can be changed each week, or when written sharing has been completed!


METHOD 5... BOOKS & INTERNETAs a staff project, compile Activity Choice Books to be kept on site. From time to time, the children can look through the books and choose activities that appeal to them. The books can be divided into sections that include: art, crafts, seasonal choices, science, nature, cultural diversity, themes, clubs, word games & literacy ideas, indoor & outdoor games, etc.This is also a wonderful resource for staff to review and use often!
If you have a computer on site, allow children to visit approved website, searching for activities they'd like to try...

METHOD 6...THE 'I LIKE WALL'Early in the program year,another method is to put about twenty-five sheets of paper on the wall, with a pre-heading of topic sentences such as: 'I like to cook'; 'I like to help other'; 'I like to play gym games'; 'I like to walk', etc. These statements can be incorporated with more specific sentences such as 'I have blue eyes.'The children will think you're doing a survey;  however, as well as learning more about each other, information will be given to you regarding the children in your program.
After the wall questionnaire has been completed, use the sheets of paper as a spring board for ideas. You can look at the cooking section and say, 'I see a lot of kids like to cook. How would you like to have a cooking club?  You can continue through various popular topics. With this method, it is still advisable to form a 'planning committee' using the wall as a source.  This reinforces empowerment. Programs have also used this method successfully well into the school year, to spark children's input of ideas.
Meetings, talking, just hanging out!
• All children are unique. Building rapport with each child will help you plan a curriculum with their interests in mind. 
Children may say that they only want to color, play outdoors or in the gym; however, getting to know them as individuals will help provide quality programming based on their individuality.

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Clubs for School Age Kids

Possible themes for after school club

Sport Themes:
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Football
  • Ice Skating
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Miniature Golf
  • Roller Skating
  • Soccer

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Article: Why don't some student activities work?


Quality school-age programs are designed to meet the needs of  children. How can the activity in question be adjusted to meet those needs and interests? Consider the following statements. Can one of these be the reason That it Just Doesn't Work Here?
1. Same-old-same-old.
  • Making a hanging skeleton at Halloween is fun if it's the first time, but is it still stimulating when you're in the fourth grade and you've made one every year?
2.  Not informing all the children of upcoming events, in a timely manner.
  • Be sure all the children are aware of upcoming events.
  • Advertise and inform in postings, newsletters, talks, in the daily schedule of events and information center.
3.  Failure to build excitement and anticipation! 
  • Post and count down the days to the activity sign-up day. This builds anticipation.
  • Staff needs to display enthusiasm for innovative endeavors to work.
4.  Not including the children in planning. Ask the kids what they want!
  • Knowing what YOUR children like will ensure that they will want to attend your school-age program.
  • Including children in planning also may encourage them to try new things.
 5.  Not getting to know YOUR kids!
  • All children are unique. Building rapport with each child will help you plan a curriculum with their interests in mind. 
  • Children may say that they only want to color, play outdoors or in the gym; however, getting to know them as individuals will help provide quality programming based on their individuality.
6. Failing to pre-plan.
  • Pre-planning curriculum ensures that activities will be scheduled and facilitated as intended.
  • Pre-planning allows for continuity with a variety of choices.
  • Pre-planning lessens the likelihood of last-minute scrambling.
  • Pre-planning allows staff time to organize materials and to have a say in what they do.
 7.  Not being ready before activities begin.
  • Staff should understand the directions of the project.
  • If an art or craft is involved, a pre-made sample is recommended. This sample is only a visual goal---which the children can adapt to their own personal vision.
  • If possible, pre-test scientific experiments and cooking projects.
  • All supplies and centers should be ready and set-up before any activity is scheduled to start.
  • Not being ready causes:
    • Long transitions and waning enthusiasm.
    • Unnecessary stress.
    • Possibility of behavioral challenges due to waiting.
8.  An activity that is either too young for the older children or too challenging for the  younger child.
  • Example: A game of Duck, Duck, Goose, would not appeal to most fifth graders.
9.  Activities or meetings that are held too long to sustain interest.
10. The #1 reason for a creative (or any) activity failing is the lack of consistent follow-through.
  • If something such as a School-Age store is to be open the last Wednesday of each month, then it needs to be open on that scheduled day. 
  • If a new and different Activity of the Week is to be scheduled each week, then that new activity must be on the agenda as promised. 
  • If a club meeting is scheduled every Tuesday at 4:00…then that is when the club meeting is held.
Children lose faith and interest when planned events aren't held consistently. Nothing kills creative programming faster than failure to follow through with the proposed agenda. Consider then, how program structure may be leading to mistaken beliefs and assumptions such as: The children in this program only want to play in the gym or go outside! or...That Just Doesn't Work Here!

Barbara Shelby~Tip page published in school-age-note of the day, April 2007

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Cooking Stone Soup Song

'COOKING STONE SOUP' SONGSing to tune of Farmer in the Dell...

We're cooking stone soup,
We're cooking stone soup,
Stir the pot,
It's getting hot,
We're cooking stone soup.
First, we add potatoes,
First, we add  potatoes,
Stir the pot,
It's getting hot,
We're cooking stone soup.
We're cooking stone soup,
We're cooking stone soup,
Stir the pot,
It's getting hot,
We're cooking stone soup.

Continue with rest of ingredients: tomatoes, onions, water, celery, carrots, etc.

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Article: The Psychological benefits of After School Clubs


Providing a safe place for children to go after school is so important and parents want to know that their kids are not only safe and well cared for physically but emotionally as well. Providing an After School Club Program can be beneficial in many ways.
  1. After School Clubs  can help instill a sense of belonging- After School Clubs are all about group building, and boosting team spirit as well as that of the individual. Also, giving children the choice of which club they wish to participate in gives them a sense of ownership in their club as well. It’s also a good idea to personalize activities as much as possible. Providing a thematic experience keeps them wanting to come back for more, especially if the theme is a popular one. Kids will look forward to Clubs because they feel welcome. Staff can also help with this by using positive language and displaying excitement about children’s attendance to their clubs!
  2. Promote personal and social skills- Anytime you are working with youth you can provide teachable moments. When leading After School Clubs you can encourage the building of personal and social skills such as raising hands, manners, taking turns, respect, responsibility, and more. In multi-age groups older children can also be taught to be good role models and help younger students or model positive behaviors to them.
  3. Allow for a reduction in juvenile delinquency- This can be true inside and outside of the Child Care Center. For School Age children, attending a Child Care Center after school helps with reducing juvenile delinquency in that they are in a supervised, safe environment. Also, Children that are busy and happy with their after school activities are also less likely to have behavioral or discipline problems.
  4. Improve Social relationships by working in a group- Participating in After School Clubs provides children with the opportunity to work in groups with their peers. This can help them to build new relationships and improve upon existing relationships. Staff can help to facilitate this by reinforcing manners, expressing expectations, and encouraging positive relationships.
  5. Develop positive relationships with Elders- Leading After School Clubs provides an excellent opportunity for Staff to nurture their relationships with children. They can find a subject that is exciting for the children and meet them “at their level.” This will help them to relate to the children better. Once the children trust the adult leading the club they will see them as a role model and mentor and an atmosphere of mutual respect will have been formed.
Every day that passes provides teachable moments for educators to impact the lives of children in a positive way. After School Clubs are no exception!

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After School Clubs for Tweens

Abstracted from this web site

Recommended Grades: 5th and 6th

Provide long term, detailed oriented projects:

Having knitting, crocheting or quilting club may be a good choice for girls and Woodworking or Race Car Club for boys. The projects involved with these clubs require learning advanced techniques. They will be able to develop a strong sense of personal accomplishment that is different from what younger students are doing.

Provide a sense of Ownership-

Let them set the pace and choose their club theme and maybe even think of activities they might enjoy

Provide them with Leadership roles-

Building leadership skills is important. Maybe try giving older students the opportunity to be helpers during Clubs time. This will help build their leadership skills, responsibility and self-esteem. Also, many older students will still enjoy attending After School Clubs. Giving the chance to be a helper and a role model for younger students may lead to a more fulfilling experience for them!

Provide them with their Own space-

Even if it is just just a corner of the room dedicated to Upper Grade Students these students will appreciate having their own space. If you are feeling creative you can even decorate it to their liking. I also find that they enjoy having beanbags or a tube chair to sit in.

Create an environment of Mutual Respect-

Take the time to set rules to provide an atmosphere of mutual respect. Try to use language that is relatable to the children at your school.

Provide Less Structured activities–

Maybe this could mean being more flexible with a project timeline or having process art vs. product art. Process Art focuses on the creative process of the artist, rather than the finished product. The end result will therefore be unique to each artist! This will help them feel more independent. Of course, have adults nearby to supervise assist when needed.

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After School Club Ideas

This week, I have been hibernating at home with the kids because of winter break. Watching them growing up has been so much fun. DD1 is enjoying reading story books and retelling the plot through puppet play. DD2 enjoys stacking DS's baby food jars on top of each other and playing cooking with the kitchen playset. DS is learning to flip over on the bed and hanging out with us gals at home.

I had planned to visit friends during this break, but my body is craving for sleep and it takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep the kids alive at home until husband comes back from work!

Anyway, I have been thinking of organizing an after school club for DD1 when she goes to first grade next school year, Allah SWT willing. I think it will be a fun program for her classmates and her to hang out after school so that they can interact with each other in a fun and positive way.

Here are some ideas that I got from this web site

Game Show Club - Game Show club can offer a new opportunity for friendly competition. In order to instill a spirit of healthy competition make sure to remind children about sportsmanship and teamwork. If you’d like, you can keep a supply of small prizes to handout at each week for good sportsmanship, as well as for winning games. Here are ideas for a four week club.

Week 1: “Family Feud” style game

1) A few days before starting your club hand out surveys for the game including 15-20 questions for kids to answer i.e. Favorite Color? Favorite Food? Have staff members add together all the answers for each question to come up with a panel of questions.
2) Have the children form small groups and come up with a “Family Name,” You can also have them make signs for their team if you have extra time?
3) Give each team a chance to earn points trying to guess what the top guesses were in for each question. Each survey will contain the top five answers. The team may guess all 5 correct answers. If they guess incorrectly they are buzzed out. After 3 buzzes it is the next team’s turn. The second team gets one guess, if they guess correctly they can steal the points for that round, otherwise the points go to the first team. After this round a new category is introduced.
Example Category-Favorite Color
Guess = Blue
Blue is the # 2 answer for 23 points

Week 2: Have a Game Show DVD Game/Board Game Session.

Play Deal or no Deal or Wheel of Fortune TV Game, DVD Game or Board Game (whichever you can find at Local store). If you have a Computer Center you can set up the computers with games such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, or Who wants to be a Millionaire?

Week 3: Create a “Jeopardy” style Game with index cards

Describe Jeopardy as a game where you are given the ANSWER to a trivia question and must figure out what the QUESTION was. Use 3×5 Index cards to write trivia answers on one side and dollar/point amounts on the other sides. (Make sure Staff have created an answer key). Break kids into two teams and have kids take turns choosing dollar amounts and answering questions.
$100 ~ A type of food that is green with tomatoes and cilantro
What is guacamole?
$200~ Ernie’s Best Friend
Who is Bert?

Week 4: “Double Dare” style Challenge

**DISCLAIMER ~ Children may get messy, make sure parents are aware ahead of time (a permission slip would be a good idea)**
I remember watching the game show Double Dare when I was a kid. Some of the physical challenges on the show looked so wacky and fun. While they would likely be a little different, some of the challenges can be recreated and provide fun entertainment for all. Here are a few ideas:
Air-mail: Have contestants make a paper airplane and fly it so it lands on an object (such as a chair) placed 8 feet away.
Objective: See who can make an airplane and land it on the object.
Bubble gum pie challenge: Prepare 2-6 pie tins with an unwrapped piece of a squared piece of bubble inside. Cover with whipped cream. Have contestants line up with their hands behind their backs. At the “go” signal, contestants will try to find the gum and blow a bubble.
Objective: See who can find their gum and blow a bubble first.


Taste of Mexico Club

Week 1-Hands on cooking experience: Make and Taste guacamole

The ages of children in my club were 6-11, so I had to make a few preparations beforehand such as chopping the cilantro, onions, and tomatoes and placing them in separately labeled zip lock baggies. For the avocadoes I simply cut them in half and let the children take turns scooping out the avocadoes with plastic forks into a large bowl. Once all the avocadoes were scooped into the bowl I had each child take a turn at mashing the avocadoes (I used a potato masher for this, which worked out fabulously!) Next, I assigned each student a duty to add a remaining ingredient: salt, pepper, lime, cilantro, onion, and tomatoes. Once everything was all mixed together everyone got to taste their creation. I then gave everyone an award for being a “Certified Guacamole Maker.” I also gave them the guacamole recipe to take home. One of the children loved the guacamole so much she went home and told her Dad about it. That next weekend they made it together and Dad put it out for sports party he was hosting and said, “My daughter made the best guacamole ever!”
Guacamole Recipe
Serves 15-20 kids
  • 6 avocadoes
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large sweet onions, chopped
  • ½ -1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • The juice of 2-3 limes
  • 1 Serrano Chile, seeded & chopped (optional)

Week 2- Piñatas Part 1

To start our week I announced that we were going to make piñatas, but first we started by learning a few facts about the history of the piñata. Each child was given a medium sized balloon. We used newspaper strips & liquid starch to completely cover our balloons. (Liquid starch is hard to find these days – I scoured Target and Ralphs to no avail. My most consistent source for liquid starch is Pavilions.) Try to encourage the children to wipe away excess starch from their strips with their fingers, as the strips can easily tear if too wet. It also will not cover the balloon as well. Once complete allow the piñatas to completely dry. I like to keep them in bowls and constantly turn them when one side dries. I also try to keep a vigilant eye on them and patch any holes I see. Also, make sure the club leader makes a piñata as well to be used at the fiesta the last week.
Balloon Piñatas
  • Balloons (1 per child)
  • Newspaper strips
  • Liquid starch
  • Plastic Bowls

Week 3- Piñatas Part 2

Today we painted our piñatas. I put out green, white, yellow and green tempera paints and pencils for them to draw their design. Once completed we put them in a safe place to allow them to dry and save them for taking home Week 4.

Week 4- Fiesta Time

We had a fiesta dancing to the Mexican Hat Dance and Macarena and served quesadillas for snack. (These can easily be heated in the microwave 3-4 at a time.) I filled the leader made balloon piñata with small toys and attached a jump rope. Creating the handle can be the hardest part, but duck tape is your friend, utilize it well, otherwise not all children will get a turn at whacking the piñata. Prepare for this ahead of time by giving guidelines to the children. Ours were: 1) Each child gets 2 tries 2) Even if prizes fall out don’t grab them until the leader says go 3) Only pick up 3 prizes and then sit at the table, once everyone has 3 in their bag (and a leader has checked) then you have one more “free for all” at the prizes. Our rules worked out well but you may want to change them depending on your group dynamic. At the end of the club each child got to take home their piñata to use at their own party!


Hawaii Club

Week 1 – Hawaiian Name Art

This week was all about discovering Hawaii. The group consisted of children ages 6-12. I played some quiet Hawaiian music in the background, while I taught the children some facts about Hawaii as well as a few phrases. I taught them how to say thank you, “mahalo.” I also taught them that “Aloha” means hello and goodbye. I also found a resource online where you could find out what your name would be in Hawaiian. For instance, my name Marie would be “Malie.” After I unveiled each of the children’s Hawaiian Names we made Name Art using our newfound names. I provided the children with examples of Name Art and also challenged them to think of their own ideas. Their work was very imaginative and they enjoyed the project very much.

M=palm trees & goldfish, A=dolphins & sunset, L=flowers, waves, & clown fish, I=bamboo, E=seahorse, shells, turtle, & rainbow
Hawaiian Name Art:
  • 3×3 Construction Paper squares
  • 5×12 strip of black construction (longer  if needed)
  • Pencils and Markers
  • Name Art Samples

Week 2- Candy Sushi (Musubi)

This week we made candy sushi or musubi in this case. I was a bit pressed for time this week and while I had plans to make my rice krispie treat base from scratch I was not able to do so. Instead I used prepared rice krispie treat squares and wrapped fruit roll ups around them so it roughly resembled a spam musubi. In all actuality this worked out great because the rectangular shape of the bar was very suited for our project. The children were delighted with this activity and used a lot of creativity making their candy sushi. I also provided them with Hawaii’s Endangered Animals coloring sheets and talked to them about what it means when an animal is endangered and what can be done to protect them. This was a successful club session. I was proud of my keikis!

Candy Sushi “Musubi”
Rice Krispie Squares
Fruit roll-ups (preferably the kind with cut-outs because it gives the kids more choices for topping ans designing their sushi rolls)
Fruit by the Foot

Week 3- Tropical Necklaces and Learning the Huki-lau

This week we made Tropical Necklaces ordered from Oriental Trading Company. I also taught the children how to dance the huki-lau dance and invited the children to perform the following week for the other children/parents at the program. Today I received my first parent response on providing this club opportunity for their child. I was overjoyed and flattered at their response.

Week 4- Huki-kau Dance Performace and Luau

I felt like a nervous stage mom today as it was our performance and luau. The children danced their huki-lau dance (with a little help from me with the hand motions) and then we had our luau. The kids got to taste some Hawaiian style foods that I found at the local grocery store. Our menu included: Hawaiian rolls, macaroni salad, chicken teriyaki, pot stickers and Pineapple Guava juice. I wasn’t sure how they would like the food; in fact I was expecting there would be a lot of leftovers. I was wrong! They loved it and ate everything. I was very happy that the club was so well received and would certainly not be opposed to leading it again some time. Aloha!


Camping Club

Ages recommended: 5-12

Week 1: Design First Aid Kits-

Materials needed:
Cotton balls, band aids, 1 pair of non-latex gloves per child, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, q-tips, gauze, permament markers, & washed out plastic margarine tubs.
Explain to the children the importance of carrying a first aid kit while Camping. Have each child decorate their own first aid kit and stuff them with all the first aid supplies.

Week 2: Make Trail Mix

Teach the children about what trail mix is and why it is a popular snack for camping. Trail Mix is a combination of dried fruit, grains, nuts, and sometimes 1 or two sweet items. It is often used as a healthy well-balanced snack for camping and hiking because it’s lightweight, nonperishable, & nutritious. It gives a quick energy boost of carbohydrates such as dried fruit or granola, and sustained (takes longer to burn off) energy from nuts. **Be careful with nuts here, many children have severe allergies to tree nuts or peanuts, be sure to make sure your children do not have nut allergies or that your school is a nut free zone.
Let the children have fun mixing & matching the various components of their trail mix. Have a vote, and choose the most popular from each category:
Dried fruits: pineapples, cranberries, raisins, apricots, apples, strawberries or blueberries, or bananas
Grain: Wheat, Corn or Rice Chex, Multi-grain cheerios, or Granola
Nuts: Peanuts, Macadamia Nuts, Almonds, Cashews
Sweet: chocolate chips, yogurt chips, chocolate covered raisins, M&M’s

Week 3: Make a Camping Scene Craft and Campfire Story Writing

Craft time!!! Try making this  fun camping scene craft from Oriental Trading Company. Announce the “Campout!” for next week and allow kids to write campfire stories if they wish!

Week 4: Campout!

Make a pretend campfire rolled up brown construction paper logs & tissue paper flames. Ask in advance to see if any staff or parent if they have a tent they would be willing to let you borrow. If this is not possible, you can use sheets to cover tables to make a “tent.” Ideally try to find a grassy patch to host your campout, otherwise indoors is ok as well. Have the children bring flashlights, sleeping bags, and first aid kits and munch on the trail mix that they made. Invite the children to share the campfire stories they have written with the group. Play a few fun camping games such as “I Spy” or “Going on a Camping Trip” or sing a song the Bear Hunt Song.


Our Incredible Earth Club

Week 1: Start a Recycling Project and have a Clean up the Campus Day

Take time to explain what recycling is (re-using materials rather than throwing them away in a landfill) and what materials can and cannot be recycled (aluminum, glass, plastic, etc.) Prior to starting your project find a local recycling center that will reimburse you for any recycled materials you bring in and what items they take. Give the children gloves & bags to help clean up the campus. Sort recyclables into the recycling bins you have provided. Another special bonus is that once you have completed your recycling project your group will have earned a little extra spending $money$. You can have the children create a goal for something they would like to obtain for your center such as an outdoor toy or game or have them help choose a charity to donate the funds to. TIP: Large sturdy Rubbermaid containers or trash cans can be used/labeled as your recycling bins.

Week 2: Craft Activity ~ Grocery Bags for Earth Day

Something I have done with the children for the past several years is to have the children participate in making Grocery Bags for Earth Day. The purpose is two-fold. 1) To promote Earth Day Awareness to the local community. 2) To have to children create a usable craft with a message that makes them feel like they are contributing to taking care of the Earth. A few days before Earth Day you can ask a manager at a local grocery store to “borrow” grocery bags. After the children have completed their designs you can return them and ask that they be distributed on Earth Day. TIP: Make sure children do not include any personal information/names on their bags since they will be distributed at a local grocery store.
You can visit for more information about to get an Earth Day grocery bags program started at your school/program.

Week 3: Plant a Vegetable Garden

Even if you don’t have a lot of space planting a vegetable garden is still possible and can be a very rewarding experience for children. It also teaches them to appreciate nature from all stages: seed to vegetable.
Some veggies you can include in small planter boxes include: green onions, radishes, tomatoes (such as small fry or patio), and green beans.
1)  Help the children create colorful labels for your veggies.
2) Use a nutrient rich soil such as Miracle Grow to plant your seeds. Make sure to provide adequate soil and space for the seeds.
3) Assign a watering schedule. It is very easy for kids to over water or under water the plants, assigning a schedule and letting the kids know the importance of sticking to it (to keep plants healthy and growing) is essential.
4) Make sure to place your planters in an area with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Week 4: Solar Pizza Ovens and Our Incredible Earth Awards:

1) This week is all about celebrating the journey the children have made in Incredible Earth Club. You can challenge them to start thinking of ways they can conserve and take care of the Earth in their daily lives. For instance when using paper to draw, using both sides of the paper and not wasting it or placing objects in a recycling bin instead of the trash. Help them to know that even the little things they do can make a difference.
2) You can continue your celebration by warming up a yummy treat in your own homemade solar pizza oven. Cooking foods in it is not recommended but heating up pre-made cookies using the suns rays can feel like eating a freshly baked cookie from the oven!
3) As far as a giveaway or prize for the participants of Our Incredible Earth Club I am inclined to stay away from paper rewards as it doesn’t really keep in theme of the club nor do justice to it. But I have used a fun giveaway made from recycled newspapers that the children just love called ~ SMENCILS! They are scented pencils, and the children really enjoy them.


Penguin Club

Week 1-How to draw a penguin – drawing lesson
Week 2-Yarn Bugs – Make your own puffle and name it!!!
Supplies Needed
  • Yarn in assorted colors (Purple, pink, white, black, blue, yellow, red, green, orange, & white) + 6 in. yarn pieces (1 per child)
  • Cardboard
  • Tag Board or White Foam Sheets
  • Scissors
  • Permanent Markers
  • Egg Carton (cut into individual cups
  • Glue Gun (Adult use only)
  • 5” square of cardboard (1 per child)
  • Tacky Glue
1)  Have the children choose their puffle’s color. Have them tie their yarn around the center of their cardboard square and then  wrap it around the center at least 100 times. Tie the 6” yarn piece around the center of one side of the cardboard. Flip the cardboard over and cut the yarn completely through the middle on the other side (this cut should correspond with the knot placement on the other side.)
2)  Smooth out the puffle and glue the egg cup to the underside.
3)  Use the white foam/tag board to create the puffle’s eyes and glue them to the front.
4)  Now each child has their very own pet puffle to name and play with!
Week 3- Hot Puffle (like Hot Potato) ~ use a black yarn ball for the the black puffle
Week 4-Special Event: Make O-berry Shakes
For more fun Club Penguin activities check out this page at the Club Penguin website:


Cooking Club

Make your own ice cream

This activity is very fun for the kids and after they are finished they will have a fun slushy treat to taste.
  • ½ cup whole milk or half and half
  • ¼  teaspoon vanilla or 1 teaspoon chocolate sauce
  • 6 tablespoons rock salt
  • 1 sandwich size ziploc bag + 1 quart size bag (optional, for double bagging)
  • 1 gallon-size ziploc bag
  • Ice (depending on the size of your group you may need a lot, so purchasing bags of ice is recommended)
Step 1~ Fill gallon size bag half full of ice and add rock salt
Step 2~ Combine the rest of the ingredients in the sandwich bag and have the kids choose their flavor ~ vanilla or chocolate.
Step 3~ Hand the bag to the child and instruct them to shake it vigorously for approximately 5 minutes.
Each child will need to take turns with an adult in preparing their ice cream bag. While they are waiting you can provide them with a Drawing Activity to draw their perfect ice cream sundae!

Chocolate dipped frozen bananas

  • Chocolate chips
  • Bananas
  • Craft Sticks
  • Sprinkles, Fruity Pebbles, mini M&M’s, coconut flakes and additional chocolate chips
Step 1~ Before getting started with the group cut the bananas in half and insert the craft sticks about half way up. Place the bananas in the freezer for 2-3 hours until firm
Step 2~ Have adults melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Heat for 30 seconds and stir and repeat the process until melted. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate.
Step 3~ Set up a dipping/topping station and help each child to dip their banana and top it with toppings of their choice
Step 4~ Let the chocolate cool to room temperature and then place bananas back in the freezer ~ once frozen eat and enjoy!

Yogurt Parfaits

  • Granola
  • Various chopped fruits~ blueberries, peaches, strawberries
  • Vanilla and strawberry yogurt
  • Clear plastic cups & spoons
Step 1~ Explain to the children that parfaits are desserts that come in layers. Have the children choose layers of their choosing.
Step 2~ Set up an assembly line of all the ingredients children may choose to put in their parfait
TIP: While kids are waiting you can put out colored permanent markers and let the children color the outside of their parfait glasses or you can provide some fun, healthy food printables at

Ants on a Log

  • Peanut Butter (or light cream cheese if you have students with nut allergies)
  • Celery, cut into sticks
  • Raisins
Step 1~ Make up plates for kids so they make their own ants on a log. On each plate provide: A plastic spoon full of peanut butter of cream cheese, a handful of raisins, 2 celery sticks
Step 2~ Let the children build their ants on a log and eat them or save them for later.
Step 3~ Read a  fun story about food such as We Eat Food That’s Fresh by Angela Rush-Ayon or Super Sprouts by Laura Concannon.

English Muffin Pizzas

This is a super fun hands on project! Kids will enjoy them even if you do not have a toaster oven to heat them!
  • Ingredients:
  • English Muffins (wheat for a healthier snack)
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Assorted sliced veggies-olives, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions
Step 1~ Set up an assembly of all the ingredients. Before starting ask the children to identify each ingredient, what food group it is in and why its good for you. ( i.e. cheese has calcium, bell peppers have vitamins A & C)
Step 2~ Allow the kids to choice their toppings and put together their pizzas. Use a toaster oven to heat them, or eat them as is!

Teachable Moments in Cooking Club

  • Teach measurements and cooking terms- teaspoons vs. tablespoons, cups vs. ounces
  • Vegetable/fruit identification trivia and bingo
  • Cooking teaches them planning and making choices
  • Working together as a team

Pond Life Club

Recommended Ages: 5-7
Do you remember spending time at the pond when you were young (or something that resembled a pond)? I can recall observing the tadpoles and getting bit by mosquitoes — yikes! But I always had a ball!
Here are several ideas for hosting a Pond Life Club with your kids!

Down by the Banks Game:

A classic game and as such the actual lyrics of the song are up for much debate. How do you sing it? Here is how I have learned it:
Down by the banks of the Hanky Panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
With the eeps, ops, sodapops
Hey Mr. Lily and he went kerplops

1) Have children sit in a circle. Have them place their right hand on TOP of their neighbor’s hand and their left hand BELOW their neighbors hand. Whoever has their hand clapped on the last PLOP! of the song is out for that round.
2) When you reach the last two children the setup changes. They hold each each others hand in a fist, like they are shaking hands and move their hands back and forth. On the last PLOP! whoever has their hand back (towards the chest) is out. Adults, be sure to monitor very closely so the children are fair and not playing too roughly.

Lily Pad Snacks-

Materials needed: Cream cheese, blue food coloring, sliced cucumbers, sliced english muffins, and gummy frogs (optional)

1) Have adults slice the cucumbers so they resemble lilypads (ex. pictured at the right)
2) Allow children to help make the mix the “water” (blue food coloring + cream cheese) and spread it 1 english muffin half.
3) To with 2 cucumber slices and 1 gummy frog.
4) Eat and enjoy!

Leap Frog Game-

This is also a classic game, check out this awesome video on: How to Play Leapfrog
Remember, safety first! Check your field area for hazards before beginning the game.


Fun with Fancy Nancy Club 

Week 1-Make your own Fancy Fabric Hair ribbons

Introduce the group to Fancy Nancy by reading  her  first book entitled, Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor

Fancy Fabric Hair ribbons
Materials needed:
  • Fun, yet sturdy fabrics
  • sparkly pony beads
  • hair ties
  • fabric cutter
  • yard stick
1) First have an adult use the fabric cutter and yard stick to cut equal sized strips (~ 1/2 in wide. and 6 in. long)
2) Next, have the children choose fabric strips and tie simple knots to create their hair ties. Every third or fourth tie they can add a bead to make it look more fancy if they so desire. The more strips they choose, the thicker and fuller their hair tie will become.

Week 2- Fancy Decoupage Trinket Boxes

Decoupage is a fancy way of saying the art of decorating with colored paper cut-outs, paint, & glitter. I think children will truly enjoy creating their own decoupage boxes
Expected Project Time: 45 minutes-1 hour
Materials Needed:
  • Small boxes (1 per child)- small takeout boxes or margarine tubs would work well if you are on a $$, or you can purchases small cardboard boxes at a local craft store.
  • White (or Clear) school  glue & water
  • Plastic bowls
  • Paintbrushes
  • Magazines, Color Catalogs, & Newspapers
  • Scissors
  • Glitter Glue
  • Rhinestones
Side of Box
Side of Box
1)  Spread out magazines, catalogs, and newspapers. Encourage children to cut out shapes and objects that interest them.
2)  Mix 1 part glue to 1 1/2  parts water in each plastic bowl to prepare a glue wash. Have children “paint-on” their cutouts in their desired pattern. TIP: Use only interior pages from the magazines, not covers as they will be too thick and won’t stick/lay flat against to boxes. The thinner the pages, the better ~ the more polished outcome there will be!
Top of Box
Top of Box
3) Allow the boxes to dry for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime you can check out for some adorable printables the children can use while they are waiting. Use rhinestones & glitter glue to give their boxes an extra special fancy touch – Voila! Fancy Decoupage trinket boxes to hold all of their fancy objects! TIP: If boxes are still too wet after 10-15 minutes, skip this step and save it for the following day/week when the group next meets.

Week 3: Fancy Nancy Vocabulary Challenge

You can start this session by reading Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words, by Jane O’Connor. Then ,depending on the ages of children in the group you can have 2 different types of challenges or use a combination of both. Have small prizes on hand for everyone who participates in the challenge. Prize Ideas: Boa Pens, Rhinestone Rings, Glittery playdoh.
Ages 9-12: Fancy Word Spelling Bee
Gather a list of fancy words (ex. accesories, boas, parasol, etc.) and challenge children to take turns spelling the words.
Ages 5-9: Fancy Nancy Vocabulary Challenge
Using the list of fancy words you have compiled have the children guess what the definitions of each word are.

Week 4: Special Event: Fancy Nancy Tea Party & Dress Up Day

This week encourage the children to dress up for the tea party and wear pearls, fancy dresses, costume jewelry, tiaras, gloves, boas, etc. One of most festive parts of a tea party is serving dainty and delicate foods, most of them being “mini” versions of their normal selves. You can serve scones and tea sandwiches (sandwiches with filling such as egg salad, chicken salad or cucumber/cream cheese, crusts cut off, cut into 4 triangular shaped pieces), small fruits & veggies and tea of course.
You can also encourage the children to discuss their club experience ~ what did they learn? What was their favorite part of the club?

For more about information about Fancy Nancy, visit


December 29, 2011

Doubles Cover-Up

1st& 2nd Grade Doubles Cover Up Game - a great way to learn your doubles!

You will need:
*counters in two different colours (or two different coin denominations)
*a partner to play with
*a board with the numbers 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20 on it.
*a ten sided die

First, you and your partner need to figure out who is having the first turn. A good way to do this is to play "rock, paper, scissors" or to see who rolls the biggest number on the die.
The person who is having the first turn rolls the die. Then they have to double the number they roll (0 stands for the number 10) and put a counter on the square of their answer to cover up the number. Then other person has a turn, they do the same thing. If you get the same number as your opponent, you can knock their counter off and put yours on.

You keep playing until all the number squares are covered. The person with the most counters on the board is the winner!

It's a really good way to practice your doubles. And it's also double as much fun as learning any other way. If it sounds good to you, you should play yourself.


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December 25, 2011

Native Amerian words in U.S. vocabulary

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December 24, 2011

Preschool Projects in Bottles


December 23, 2011

Bucket Filler vs. Bucket Dipper
Bucket Filler
- give a hug
- give a friend a flower
- give mom/dad kisses
- say nice things
- help someone
- smile
- share
- say I love You

Bucket Dipper
- hitting
- saying mean words
- being disrespectful
- pushing and shoving
- cutting in line
- not playing with kids
- being a bully

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Tea Area School Intermediate Library
Love this school library's home page design. Awesome!

 I Love My Library

Tea Intermediate School by Serena Gutnik, Librarian

I am the librarian at Tea Intermediate School (grades 4-6) in Tea, SD.  My position is part-time, so I have to fit all of my lessons and in-school work into just three days - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Our library's budget had been completely cut this year and we despaired of having any new materials.  In such a small town (pop. 4,000), there is little extra-curricular opportunity for young people.

I started a library club about 6 weeks ago and thought that I might get 10-20 students, who want something fun to do after school once a week. Within two weeks, I had 102 library club members; that's 1/3 of the student body here!  I thought we could meet every week, but the library can only hold about thirty students at a time, so I split the club into four groups, R, E, A, and D; this seems to work well.  I have a schedule reminder on the library webpage.

My little school raised $950 dollars in one week with a Class Coin Challenge that went towards Scholastic's One for Books! Program. I am also incredibly proud of a dedicated group of sixth graders, who helped with our Scholastic book fair, craft fundraisers, and shelving books after school. I am blown away by the spirit and generosity of my students and hope our success can encourage other small schools to get creative with their "fundraisers."  Anything is possible!

When Ms. Gutnik asked her sixth graders’ for their opinions about the library club, here is what they had to say:

Sara – Mrs. Miles’ 6th grade class
            “If I had to describe the library club, 3 words I would use are: fun, new, and exciting.  Ms. G is like, the best librarian I’ve ever had.  She is fun, nice and creative.  I think we have a special bond.  The library is better in a way.  She has the best taste in books.  Now I love to read.  The club is amazing and very successful.  So many people love it.  I really love it.  I love helping, and volunteering.  Ms. G. and this club brought out more of the best of me.  I work harder so my mom won’t make me quit.  I love it.”

Kayla– Mrs. Row’s 6th grade class
            “I really like library club, it’s really a lot of fun.  I think library club is a great idea.  I think I read very well.  I was going to mention that I’m actually reading to the 4th graders in Mrs. Deibert’s class.

Dawson – Mr. Willemssen’s 6th grade class
            “I think that the TLC (Tea Library Club) is awesome.  I think Ms. G and all of the kids have done a great job.  We have raised a lot of money for books for our library.  Every dollar we get, Scholastic gives one book to a child in the U.S..  We have a lot of students in the TLC.  I am so greatfull that we started the TLC.