Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flannel Friday-Pete the Cat

I have had a giant piece of blue felt sitting on my desk for the longest time. This week I decided that it would make the perfect Pete the Cat.  If you haven't seen this series, I highly recommend it.

This is Pete the Cat.  I made him standing up because I would like to use the same felt cat for all of his stories.  He is all felt with puffy painted details.

Pete the Cat's first book is Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes.

Here is Pete the Cat with his white shoes.  The shoes are all made out of an AccuCut shoe die.  As Pete the Cat is walking along, he steps in a large pile of strawberries, which turn his shoes red.

Next, Pete the Cat steps in a large pile of blueberries, which turn his shoes blue.

Then Pete the Cat steps in a large puddle of mud, which turns his shoes brown.

Finally, he steps in a bucket of water and washes off the brown, the blue, and the red.  His shoes are white again, but wet.

In his second book, Pete the Cat goes to school in Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes.  This is a good book to use with lower elementary kids or at a back to school story time.  While it hasn't happened yet, I need to make Pete the Cat a backpack, a guitar, a cool pair of high tops, a book, a milk carton, and a swing.

Pete the Cat's third book is coming out in May 2012 and is called Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  I was fortunate enough to hear the book read by Eric Litwin at a conference this spring and came up with flannel parts for the story.

In this installment, Pete the Cat loses the buttons off of his shirt one by one.  

Eric Litwin, the author of the Pete the Cat series, uses a lot of music and rhymes in his text, which make them perfect for sharing with kids.  I would also recommend checking out his cds (under Mr. Eric or The Learning Groove).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Toddler Art-Caterpillar Mural

This is a relatively inexpensive program to put together as you can tailor it easily to your customers and the size of your program room.  As children come into the room, I give them each 2 paper plates.  One plate is for them to take home and the other is for me to hang on the wall.  I set up stations of various art supplies throughout the room.  At our location, it is easiest for us to work on the floor as we can just cover it with paint drop cloths or giant roll paper minimize the clean up.  We do only register 25 kids so everybody gets a chance at every station.  With the art supplies, I always try to find some different ones so they can try something new.  With our most recent program, these are the five stations that I used:

Station 1-We used the Easy-Grip Super Stamping Sticks from Discount School Supply (item #8WWSTICKS).  These are great for little hands as they are easier for them to hold, which means that they have more control over the stamper.  It helps if you only use one color stamp pad.  For this program, we pulled out 4 green washable stamp pads.

Station 2-Our next station was Colorations Glitter Glue from Discount School Supply (item #8WWGLITGLUE).  This set of glue contains 6 4 oz. bottles in a variety of colors.  Little hands are able to squeeze the glue without help.  (Note-don't expect to be able to reuse the bottles of glue.  Chances are that they will up every last drop.)

Station 3-Some kids don't like to get messy so we put out a station of chubby crayons.  We use a combo of the large crayons from Discount School Supply (#8WWCLR8) and the jumbo crayons from Lakeshore Learning (#VX275).  Crayons are also good because you can encourage children to sign their creations and pull in some of those early literacy skills.

Station 4-We used dabbers or dot art markers.  While kids will sometimes color with them, the real use is to make lots of colorful dots.  This was the first time that we used these and they were a definite hit.  Our dabbers came from Discount School Supply (#8WWDABDOT).

Station 5-You have to have a paint station.  There will always be 1 or 2 kids who spend the whole session just painting.  You will want plenty of watercolor paints and extra brushes (they don't mind sharing the paint, but they need their own brush).  We also put the cups of water in a plastic dishpan as they will get tipped over and played with.

As the plates dry, attach them to a free wall.  You may want to do a spot test to make sure your tape will eventually come off.  We use masking tape.  If you run out of room, make another face and start a 2nd or 3rd caterpillar.

This summer we are going to do a similar program where we will pass out cardboard star shapes for kids to decorate and hang for the summer reading program.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flannel Friday-Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too?

I have been trying to get ready for our Mother's Day story time in May and found this oldie, but goodie.  Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too? by Eric Carle works for all ages.  If you have a group that doesn't sit well for long stories, the rhymes make it easy to paperclip pages together so you feel like you accomplish something.  At the end of each page, Carle asks "Does a giraffe have a mother too?" (underlined animal changes each page).  The kids love thinking about and answering this question.

The flannelboard pieces are all made out of fun foam.  I added googly eyes and drew in details with permanent markers (my favorite is the giraffe).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Play to Learn-The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This month's program followed The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  This was one of my favorite programs created so far as there were a lot of props.  The kids LOVE the props and will often spend more time playing than creating at various craft stations.

Station 1:  Read the Story
We put this station in the same area as Station 2 as a lot of the activities go together.  This station encourages parents to read the story to their child or if they already know this story, for their child to read it to them.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a great story for children to read to their parents because the pictures match the text.  For example, the caterpillar eats 1 red apple, 2 green pears, etc.  By reading with their children, parents are nurturing a love of reading and motivating their child to want to learn to read.

This story also encourages a lot of talking, another of the 5 skills in Every Child is Ready to Read (ECRR).  Ask your child which food is their favorite.  Tell them your favorite too.  Count the pieces of food.

Station 2: Retell the Story with Props
This was our most popular station by far.  We created 4 different ways to play with or retell the story.  The first was our Very Hungry Caterpillar flannelboard.  We asked kids to put the pieces on the board to retell the story.  While most did, there were a few that sorted the pieces so all of the red food was together, all of the purple food was in a different place, and so on.  It is fun to see what they come up with.  Most of our pieces are made with Accucut dies and have painted details.

We also created caterpillars out of pipe cleaners that could eat food made out of fun foam.

The foam pieces were also cut with Accucut dies.  We then cut circles in the middle of each piece for the pipe cleaner to thread through.  In addition to our ECRR skills, this prop works on fine motor skills as children need to thread the pipe cleaner through the holes.

Our third prop was one that I had a lot of time putting together.  We made the parmesan cheese container caterpillar that can be found on Making Learning Fun ( 

Our fourth set of props were caterpillar and butterfly finger puppets.

Kids at this station are working on the talking and playing skills.  They are retelling the story in their own way, but are having fun doing it with the props.

Station 3:  Make a Book
Once again, we used a product from Making Learning Fun.  They created a caterpillar book where each page has a part of the caterpillar.  The pattern can be found at  With our age group, we blew the pattern up to a ledger piece of paper so the children (2 year olds especially) would have space to write their name.  Once again, the pattern is copyrighted, but here is a picture of how ours turned out.

As they complete the book, the children are practicing the writing skill.  Even though they are coloring, they are still making shapes, such as lines or circles.  Coloring is also an exercise that strengthens children's fingers so they are prepared to write.

Station 4: Caterpillar Letters
Before the program we used a 1-inch circle punch to punch a lot of circles out of green paper.  Then, we wrote each child's first name out on the circles, with one letter per circle (we preregistered for this program).  Each child was given their own baggie of letters for them to put in order on a leaf mat that we had out.

Some of the children were still too young to spell out their whole name.  Then was asked what letter began their name.  Could they find that letter?  Did they recognize any other letters?  With the older kids who could spell out their names easily, then we began to play with the letters.  Could they find any other words in their name?  What sounds do the letters make?

At this station children were learning that letters have meaning when they make up words.  For example, the letters in Chloe's name look different than the letters in Sophia's name.  They also sound different when you put them together.

Station 5: Making Nametags
At this station we had large Avery labels (size 5163) that children wrote their first names out on with a pencil.  Since we have little hands, we used golf pencils.  The children, then wore their nametag while in the program room.
When making nametags, children are learning that reading and writing go together.  The children are learning to recognize letters and how they are formed.  Plus, they are strengthening their hand muscles so they can eventually write smaller letters and longer sentences.
Station 6: Coffee Filter Butterflies
This station requires coffee filters, pipe cleaners, and crayons.  Start with a flat coffee filter and color it, making sure you go to the edge.

Gather the middle of the coffee filter together and wrap a pipe cleaner around it for the butterfly's body.  Twist the pipe cleaner together and curl the ends to make 2 antennae.

When the butterfly is finished, act out the following rhyme:
Butterfly, Butterfly
Butterfly, butterfly, flutter around.
Butterfly, butterfly, touch the ground.
Butterfly, butterfly, fly so free.
Butterfly, butterfly, land on me!
Butterfly, butterfly, reach the sky,
Butterfly, butterfly, say good-bye.
As the children are making their butterflies, they are working on their fine motor skills, which will make their hands strong enough to write (it's like exercise).  By saying or singing the rhyme,  the children are working on listening skills.  Songs also slow down language so children can hear the different sounds in words and help children learn new words.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Flannel Friday-Colors in the Rain

April is a great month for pulling out our "rain" stories and rhymes.  Here is one that I found that also utilizes colors and counting. 

Colors in the Rain

I took a walk out in the rain
And saw umbrella colors.
What colors do you see?
Orange, blue, green, yellow, and red!
Can you count them? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!

The umbrellas are clip art.  I printed them out and laminated them.  Kids really like rhymes where they can answer, especially if you use knowledge that they know (such as colors or counting).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bunny Hop

With Easter right around the corner, we held a Bunny Hop this week for 3-6 year olds.  As the kids come in, they picked up their nametags.  These were bunny ear headbands with the first name's written across the band.

We started off the program by reading Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes.  We did the Bunny Hop (on Disney's More Dancin' Tunes cd) and the Bunny Pokey (on Holiday Pigggyback Songs cd).  We passed out die cut bunnies and did the following rhyme (I admit it, I "borrowed" this from another branch):

There's a Little Bunny
(to the tune of Happy and You Know It)
There's a little bunny sitting on my toe,
There's a little bunny sitting on my toe,
He is sitting on my toe, then off away he goes,
There is no little bunny on my toe.

There's a little bunny sitting on my knee,
There's a little bunny sitting on my knee,
He is sitting on my knee, just watch and he will flee,
There is no little bunny on my knee.

There's a little bunny sitting on my head,
There's a little bunny sitting on my head,
He is sitting on my head, then away he goes to bed,
There is no little bunny on my head.

Next, we divided the kids in half so they could rotate through two craft stations.  At our first we made bunny paper bags.

Click here to download the bunny paper bag ears and mouth. (Note-the ears can also be used for the bunny headbands.)  To make bunny paper bags, first color the middle of the ears pink.  Cut out the ears and glue onto the top half of the white paper bag.  Cut out the mouth and glue near the bottom of the bag.  We used a 1 inch circle punch to make the pink noses.  The whiskers are cut out of black construction paper and are about 1/4 inch by 3 inches.  Glue the nose and whiskers to the bag above the mouth.  Draw eyes on the bag.  Add a cotton ball tail to the back of the bag with glue. 

To make the bunny paper cups, we started by shrinking down our bunny ears a lot.  Color the inside of the ears, cut them out, and glue to the back of the white paper cup.  We found peel and stick googly eyes at Michaels (my new favorite product!).  Stick the eyes about 1/3 the way down from the top of the cup.  The whiskers are cut into 1 inch pieces out of white pipe cleaners.  We put a 3-D glue dot where the nose should go and fit the 4 whiskers and mini pink pom pom on top of it.  To give it some color, we added pink or green Easter grass to the inside of the cup.

The Bunny Hop turned out really well and we would definitely do it again.

Flannel Friday-Five Elephants in the Bathtub

I am a big fan of silly rhymes and this one is a great example.  It would work for both a bathtime or an elephant story time. 

Five Elephants in the Bathtub

One elephant in the bathtub
Going for a swim.
Knock, knock, (Clap twice with "Knock, Knock.")
Splash, splash, (Splash knees twice with "Splash, Splash.")
Come on in!  (Motion with both hands to come in.)

Two elephants in the bathtub...etc.

Five elephants in the bathtub
Going for a swim.
Knock, knock,
Splash, splash,
They all fell in!

Not only is the rhyme great fun, there are lots of things you can talk about with the story time group. (Just remember-if you ask a question, they WILL answer.)  You can count or talk about the colors.  You can talk about their body parts as they all have eyes, ears and trunks.  I also like to talk about size when using large animals, such as, "Wow, do you think an elephant can fit in your house?", "Could an elephant fit in your bathtub?", or my favorite, "What do you think your mom would say if there was an elephant in your house?"  You will be pleasantly surprised with what they come up with!

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