Preschoolers In The Kitchen ~ Series (Kale Chips)

This is a series about teaching your preschoolers how to work around the kitchen. They can be a big help if they are interested and have the right tools. Expect a little more of a mess than if you were cooking alone, but they will find such joy in eating what they make themselves. I am starting my series with something a little weird for a preschooler ~ kale chips. I have a seasonal job at a berry/pumpkin farm and it's cole crops season(cool season crops such as Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, broccoli, turnips and watercress). I had my preschooler tear the leaves off the stems, put them on the baking sheet and add some salt at the end. We baked them and when they were done, he ate one. He said, "It was good", but it wasn't a snack he gobbled up. Kale chips are good and healthy snack that my preschooler could help with. No special tools needed, just his cute little fingers.

Recipe: 1/2lb. curly or siberian kale (torn into bite size pieces)
             2 tsp olive oil
             salt & pepper
             (optional ~ brown sugar or parmesan cheese)
  Preheat oven at 375*. Cover a baking sheet with a single layer of washed, destemmed kale. Cover kale with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper & any optional topping. Bake for 15 min. or until the edges of kale turn a light brown. Cool. Eat. Enjoy!


Kindergarten Readiness

Is your preschooler ready for Kindergarten? There are somethings you can do to get him/her ready if your child isn't going to preschool. Where we used to live, we had one of my daughters attend preschool. It was a great experience. They used the Abeka curriculum and she was reading 3-4 letter words by the end of the year. She knew her numbers and I was so excited that she had learned so much in her preschool. After we moved, I sent my younger son to preschool. This area was known for its excellence in education, so I thought they would turn my young son into the next Einstein. I was so disappointed. Their goal was getting him "ready" for Kindergarten. They made sure he knew how to hang up his coat and put his lunch box away. He needed to know his ABC's and some numbers and he needed to know the names of his body parts i.e. arms, wrist, ankle, eyes, knee, jaw, etc. They did their job. He knew everything he needed to know before he arrived that first day of Kindergarten. Here is a checklist that you could follow to make sure your little preschooler can be all he can be:

·  Listen to stories without interrupting
·  Recognize rhyming sounds
·  Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
·  Understand actions have both causes and effects
·  Show understanding of general times of day
·  Cut with scissors
·  Trace basic shapes
·  Begin to share with others
·  Start to follow rules
·  Be able to recognize authority
·  Manage bathroom needs
·  Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
·  Begin to control oneself
·  Separate from parents without being upset
·  Speak understandably
·  Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
·  Look at pictures and then tell stories
·  Identify rhyming words
·  Identify the beginning sound of some words
·  Identify some alphabet letters
·  Recognize some common sight words like "stop"
·  Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
·  Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
·  Bounce a ball
·  Count to ten

       Here is a link to School Sparks which has a Kindergarten Readiness Test  so you can assess your child.

       This is just a guide. Children change so fast, if there are some activities your preschooler isn't getting, try again in a few weeks and see how fast your child will pick up on their new skills. The first day of school, teachers are looking for children that are healthy, mature and eager to learn.


Where A Kid Can Be A Kid

Do you notice something missing in this picture...Yes, it's my preschooler. He is very afraid of big mice and other costume wearing people. We went to Disney this past Feb. and we knew he would want to have his picture taken with his hero, Buzz Lightyear. No, he didn't. We walked to the line to have his picture taken and there was going to be no pictures with Buzz or Mickey or Peter Pan. No to Santa Claus. No to the Easter Bunny. This is as close as we could get him.
 Tears are shed and he will hide under tables until the character is gone. We have tried to bribe him and reward him but nothing. It's OK though, he will grow out of it. He just knows that bunnies and mice are not supposed to be that big.
  It may help your preschooler to continue to have them around the characters and clowns. They will eventually understand that they aren't going to hurt them but are just trying to add to the fun.


Blocking Your Time To Get The Most Out Of Your Day! Pt. 2

    I thought I would let you in on my day. I am always tweeking my day because life happens, but if I have a goal, I have hope. I actually have 3 different block times. One for me, one for homeschooled children and one for my preschooler. We all have different responsibilities and different amounts of free-time. I am going to concentrate on my preschooler but you will see that all of our lives, obviously, intermingle.
Jack's Block Time
7:30-8:30     ~ Wakes up, Eats, Brushes Teeth
8:30-8:45     ~  Family Devotions
8:45-9:15     ~ **Watches PBS or LeapFrog while I get others started on school
9:15-10:30   ~ Activity Bags and Lesson (We are using Sing, Spell, Read & Write)
                      (Check out Busy Bag Ideas and What Jack Did Today)
10:30-11:30 ~  ***Breaks with Brothers and Sisters ~ Snack, Play and Read
11:30-12:00 ~ P.E.
12:00-1:00   ~ Lunch
1:00-2:00     ~ Quiet Time (He doesn't take naps anymore, but you could insert a nap right about here) He has quiet time activities, a library bag of books, any quiet activity.
2:00-3:00     ~ Outside Time or Rainy Day Time (It is my experience, the more run around time I give my preschooler, the happier he is. On rainy days we will play wii, jump on an exercise trampoline or build a fort.)
3:00-3:30     ~ Snack
3:30-5:30     ~ Chore Time/Errand Running Time or watches a library movie
5:30-7:00     ~ He helps pick-up before Dad comes home and we eat Dinner
7:00-8:00     ~ Bath Time and Brushes Teeth
8:00-9:00     ~ Winds Down, Read Bedtime Story and *Go To Bed

  * He may have a later bedtime than most preschoolers, but he shares a room with an older brother and this seems to work out best for our family. 
  ** Most days, I like to keep his TV time no more than 2 hours in a day, but if I am working on a project (changing seasonal clothes or deep cleaning) I will prop him in front of a good, long movie. 
  *** I have other children at home and ask them to help keep him occupied while I help others with Math, Reading, Spelling, whatever it is for the day. 

   Well, this is my day. Like I said, it's a routine I like to stick to, but I am living this life with bumps and curves and try to be ready for anything.

Top 10 Preschool Educational and Fun Websites

We are living in a brand new world. A world of technology! When I was little, I played Barbies, colored in my coloring book, watched Saturday morning cartoons and The Muppet Show at 7:00pm. I played outside from sun up to sundown and never heard of a gig, byte, a thumb drive or a mouse (unless we caught one in the trap). My preschooler has heard of them and is pretty good with the mouse. Here are the Top 10, tried and true preschool websites, my son has enjoyed.
  1. (PBS and Sprout Characters, Elmo, Calliou, Superwhy, Thomas The Tank Engine, etc. Games, Coloring Pages, Videos, Crafts and Recipes) Free
  2.  (Learn ABC's, Learn To Read, Dress-up Gingerbread and Snowman, just to name a few. This is my sons favorite.) Free 
  3.  (GeoTrax, Little People, Power Wheels, etc. Coloring Pages, Online Games, Puzzles, Memory Match, Shapes and Colors, etc.) Free 
  4.  (Click on the Preschool at the right. Online Games, Coloring Pages, Fun and Educational) Free 
  5.  (Letter Games, Shapes, Numbers, Printables, Music & Stories) Free 
  6.  (Calliou, Dora, PBS Characters and NickJr. Characters. Videos, Online Games and Coloring, etc. ) Free 
  7.  (Disney Characters. Online Games, Stories, Videos and Coloring) Free
  8.  (Cat in the Hat Characters. Book Videos, Online Games) Free 
  9.  (Duplo Animations, Activity Sheets, Online Games and Coloring Pages) Free
  10.  (Have fun learning while you play. ABC's, numbers, Online Games, Sight Words, Guess Who, Popping Bubbles, etc.) Free Trial Week. $2.95 a month or $19.95 yr.
Keep your child safe by installing a kid safe browser, Create a seperate Windows account (a Guest account to protect your files) and to protect your computer itself, you can download a program like Toddler Keys to prevent tiny hands from fiddling with your computer by locking your drives, the keyboard, and the mouse.

Top 10 Preschool Reading List + More Excellent Literature

My favorite books for my preschooler are below. My son has a wicker book basket with a great selection of books, just for him. Most preschoolers want to hear the same stories over and over again, which is actually very beneficial. Your child can get so much enjoyment from a few well-written children’s books rather than getting him a new one every time you go to the store. It allows the child more time to enjoy the written language and he has a chance to really understand and process the stories.

Some excellent preschool literature:
  1. The Little Red Hen pictures by Lucinda McQueen
  2. Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank you Book by Richard Scarry
  3. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  4. Guess how much I loveYou? by Sam McBratney
  5. The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
  6. Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani
  7. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  8. What do you Do with A Kangaroo? by Mercer Mayer
  9. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
  10. Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier
  11. Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  12. The Mitten adapted by Jan Brett
  13. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess
  14. The Greedy Python by Eric Carle
  15. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  16. The Real Mother Goose illus. by Blanche Wright *Rand McNally and Co.
  17. Play with Me by Marie Ets
  18. We help Daddy by Mini Stein
  19. Harold and the Purple Crayon
  20. Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
  21. 101 Things to do with a Baby by Jan Ormerod
  22. Little Cottontail by Carl Memling
  23. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
  24. The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
  25. Richard Scarry’s First Word Book
  26. There was and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback
  27. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
  28. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr.
  29. Good Night, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown 
So, hug your child, pick a story and read a great book!


Parent Corner ~ Time for Me

One thing a look forward to is Mom's-Night-Out and Hubby Date Nights. I need that time to be refreshed and renewed. I cater to every need of my children, home and family, with joy on my face, most days. Then, there are those days that I want to run out of my house screaming. Yesterday, Jack had colored himself purple, one of those stray markers left unattended, and whichever child was responsible for leaving it out, got the job of cleaning him up. My preschooler is wide open and hands on. He has poked holes in a wall with a screwdriver, knocked a hole in a door to a room that he was locked out of, drew on quite a few walls in my house and up the stairs. I love him and I like to think that I am quite aware of where he is and what he is doing, but I am still only one person. So, I look forward to those quiet moments I can steal away. Those nights out with my husband or friends. My quiet time with the Lord in the morning, to get a fresh perspective on the day. Just a few moments when a babysitter or grandma is watching my little ones and someone at a restaurant is serving me. Budget some money and time for yourself. Take the time to put yourself first at some point in the day, it isn't selfish and you are worth it.

Busy Bag Ideas ~ Pom Pom Patterns

This was the first activity we tried. With the preschooler busy bags, they concentrate on shapes, colors, ABC's, numbers and just plain fun. He had a lot of fun with the Pom Poms. It was easy for him to match his colored Pom Poms to the colored circles already given. We received a sheet for color patterns and he could continue the pattern to the end of the sheet. There was also a black and white pattern sheet so he could create his own patterns, but that wasn't as much fun for him. You can find the sheets at . I am going to do more on my own, maybe Pom Pom patterns that make the Abc's and numbers.  
                                                                     Busy Time: 10-15 minutes


Busy Bags! Activities for Preschoolers

My Preschooler Busy Bags arrived this summer and we have been using them for a month. There are always some activities they will enjoy more than others. He really loves the playdoh mats, what preschooler wouldn't. He enjoys the noodle caterpillar, popsicle colors, the fishing game and the sensory bottles. We haven't even played with everything because he wants to play with the ones he likes. There were a few things we received in our package that he hasn't learned about yet but we are ready when he is. It really got my creative juices flowing. Now I look at what he is learning and wonder, what can I make that will make it more fun and bring it home. I love them and can't wait to be in another swap or host one of my own, locally. I will take some pictures and explain them one by one, as we use them, so you can make them for your preschooler.

P.E. ~ Burning Off Some Energy

We need PE everyday. Built up energy, inside a house, does not mix. On nice days, it's easy. We go outside, walk to the park in our neighborhood, ride a bike or just run around. On rainy days, it's a little harder. We do have a Wii and he loves to play on that, we will walk around the mall or a big box store or we budget in a few visits to one of the bouncy house fun places. We will put on some music and dance or just march around in a circle. If that energy doesn't get out on purpose, he will start running the halls, up and down the steps, just going a little crazy and making me a little crazy. I plan on getting that energy out on purpose everyday.

Let The Older Teach The Younger

As a homeschool mom, one of my biggest frustrations, is how to keep my preschooler busy and out of trouble, while I am teaching my other children. His school just doesn't last as long as my older children. I use our busy bags, I read him stories, I go over his lessons, he builds with legos, he races his cars and only an hour to an hour and a half has gone by. I am not a big fan of TV babysitting, but some days, I wouldn't mind. One day I came up with an idea, if I block our time, I can also include time where the older children play with Jack during our school day. You know what, It Worked! They get a little break from schoolwork and Jack is entertained and not getting into trouble. Just 20 minutes from each child and that is an hour where Jack is being entertained and I can help the other kids with their questions or even go clean or sweep something real quick. I can do this at several points during the day and they can play with their little brother. I will post more about our daily schedule and block times later.


Preschoolers Will Be Teenagers One Day

I think I am pretty fashionable. I like to dress comfortable, but I can clean up if I need to. I do not like shopping, I know, I know, how could that be.  So, I took a deep breath and took my teenage son shopping for some new clothes, he grows every night I think. I get to the store and I realize I don't know what guys are wearing these days. I start looking at the pictures on the walls, trying to get ideas. My son looks around, training kicks in because he looks at sale racks first, and finds a few things he would look good in. I noticed on the walls that the layered look is in for guys. I pick up a brown, plaid, button up shirt with a t-shirt underneath and put it in the basket. I thought it would look good on him. I make my purchases and take them home.My son tells my daughter, "Hey, would you like to see what mom bought me?" and he proceeds to pull his clothes out of the bag. My daughter just looks at me and says, "Mom, you need a stylist with you." and asked me if I had the receipt so I could take them back. Well, now I know. I have 2 other sons and I am going to have to make sure I take my daughter shopping with me, so my boys will look good. Preschoolers are much easier. Shopping is not my favorite, but I love yard sales and consignment sales. Lots of clothes available for the little girls and guys but less selection for the teenagers, thank goodness for Plato's Closet. Just remember, preschoolers will be teenagers one day.


Blocking Your Time To Get The Most Out Of Your Day!

  School is starting soon and your life is about to get busy again. The best way to make the most of your day is to block your time. I used to work outside the home and I always thought I got much more done when I worked, then I do now. I knew I was going to be out of the house a certain number of hours and sleeping a certain number of hours and had a house to run the other few hours. Since I am home, now I can always do it later; dishes, later; laundry, later; I will just do it later. Later comes and goes and I didn't get done what I wanted to.
  I needed to block my time. The first thing you need to do is write the To-Do-List. You can write it for the day or the week. Determine how much time it will take to get that task done. After you have your list made of things you want to get done, prioritize. What do you really want to get done first? Does the dog need a bath? Does the clutter drawer need to be cleaned out? Is it time to change out this seasons clothes? For the homeschool mom, block the time it takes for each subject, the chores you want to see done and any sports or meetings that you need to attend. For preschoolers, block their time for activities, nap, stories and outside time. If you write it down and post it where you see it, there is a better chance that you will get it done. What doesn't get done the first day, gets carried over to the next. There are only 24 hours in a day and we need to make the most of it. The HomeSchoolMom has a series of free planners you can use for homeschool, menu planning, chores and to-do lists. Help yourself and get organized!


Preschooler's in Church

  What a wonderful worship time we had in church today. We are teaching our children the things of God are holy. All of the instruments are used to worship God. Our voices are used to worship God. We aren't allowed to run in church or disturb people around us. Church is a special place. We usually all worship together and then the children are dismissed, but not this morning. Was I ready? Not exactly. It was a very special service because my husband was preaching. He has never done that before. He didn't even let me in on his surprise.
  I have always believed that while you keep little hands busy in church, they still have the opportunity to open up their little spirit and receive from God, while not disturbing others around them. So, what did I have to keep his little hands busy? Where do we turn, ladies, when we need to keep our little ones busy? Yes, my purse. I usually have something to write on and write with, so that will occupy him for a few minutes. Then, he will want me to make a paper airplane out of the bulletin. He can fly it, if he will just sit on the floor. I usually have a mint or something chew on. I wasn't as prepared as I would've hoped to be. This just usually doesn't happen without some notice but I love spending time with my children. So, besides the turning around trying to get his cousins attention, laying upside down in the seat or accidently kicking the lady next to us. He did  a pretty good job.
  My husband did an awesome job, also. He spoke on the ark of the covenant. When the Israelites had the ark, they were winning battles. The Philestines had the idea that if they had the ark, they would also win battles, but all they got were hemroids. To sum it all up, You Can't Put God In A Box. He is not limited and will not work in your situation the same way He works in another's situation. All children are different, also. Just when you think you have parenting figured out, your kids will throw you a loop. Enjoy Them and Love Them!


Blueberries...Ripe for the Pickin

Today was the day for our first Blueberry picking. I had my little preschooler in hand to help. He had on his little sunglasses and his bucket in hand ready to pick some incredible blueberries. (Pic was lost off the phone...but he was so cute and raring to go) You really can teach your children in everyday situations and this was my chance to teach. You pick the Blue, blueberries not the green ones (lesson in colors). Jack you picked so many, how many do you have in your hand? (lesson in Math). There is a lot over there, to your right (lesson in directions). I love spending time with my children, especially one on one. When I took my daughters 11 and 15, I got a little more complaining from them. The older they get, they no longer see adventures but chores. I then notice a dark cloud overhead and started thinking, if it rained, that would turn a chore back into an awesome memory. Then, the cloud opened up while we are in the middle of the blueberry bushes and the big, bright smiles grew on my daughters faces. We did run for cover at the sound of thunder, but that was the blueberry picking trip they remembered. Go Make A Memory With Your Children!
Stay tuned for Cooking with your Preschooler and find out what we make with these blueberries.


Popsicle Sticks

My children may not have created images like this with popsicle sticks, but give them enough time and they will come up with some real ingenious ideas. Last night Timmy (9) called me while I was on my way to the store and asked if we still had popsicle sticks and a glue gun. I led him to 3 places they should've been, if we had any, but they weren't there. So, I bought him some. He was going to build a boat that would float. He cut a plastic bottle in half, from the re-use/recycle bin, put some pennies in the bottom for the ballast and started hot gluing popsicle sticks together to finish his boat. He found skewers for his mast and grey tape for extra support and then one final test to see if it floated and It Did! He was so proud of his creation. Then everyone wanted to build something.

Preschooler Variation:

  • I bought some wooden skill sticks that have little notches in them and fit together for the preschooler. They are like flat lincoln logs. If all you had was regular popsicle sticks I would opt for taping them together instead of the hot glue gun. 
  • They can make letters: A, E, F, H, I, K, L, M, N, T, V, W, X, Y & Z.
  • Glue the popsicle sticks side-by-side and let them paint pictures on them. You can have a homemade trivet from your preschooler
Start saving your popsicle sticks and get building!


Top 10 Activities To Keep Preschooler's Hands Busy

Living in a house with seven people, there is always something to clean, put away or fix. I try and have my preschooler occupied before I start. Sometimes the activity lasts for 3 minutes but sometimes, if I'm lucky, it lasts for 20 minutes.  Here are 10, tried and true, activities to help keep your preschooler occupied in no particular order.
  • Computer time ~ I don't think it's ever to early to learn how to use a mouse. We have used several different games and websites. Reader Rabbit, Jump Start & Busy Town are a few CD's and websites, we enjoy, Nick Jr., Starfall and even Club Penguin (so they can keep up with big brother or sister) have helped with the little ones computer skills.
  • Building Blocks/Legos ~ They love to build tall towers and knock them down at this age. Mine loves to try and make little cars and airplanes like his brothers.
  • Matchbox Cars with a Homemade Ramp/Trucks ~ We just purchased a few "new to us" cars from a yardsale and the first thing he looks for is a piece of wood to run the cars down. He ended up finding a screen and propped it up on the front of a chair, Ta-Da, 20 minutes of fun.
  • Water ~ We will play in sprinklers outside, fill up the bathtub or sink (supervision required) for plastic fish and boats and anything else that will float or sink. We will put in a few plastic cups or bowls and just pour from one item to the other.
  • Scissors and paper/Coloring Pages ~ Scissors (supervision required) bring at least 20 minutes of fun and is a great activity for their fine motor skills. Find an old magazine and a pair of kid friendly scissors and start cutting. They start with pressing the scissors down and tearing the paper, but eventually they get the scissor motion. You also see the progression in coloring. Starts with 1 or 2 colors of scribbling and works into a few more colors trying to stay in the line.
  • Playdoh ~ Get out your cookie cutters & Playdoh and get started. They can make a ball, put the balls together to make a snowman, make a snake, cut with plastic knives. Endless options.
  • Stuffed Animals/Baby Doll ~ My girls, especially, like using their imagination with little stuffed animals but they always draw their brothers into their make-believe world. My daughter becomes director, "OK, now your dog says, I would love to go to the park with you and my dog will say, Great! Let's go." It is probably the best activity my daughter has created for herself. She would spend hours in her room.
  • Outdoor Time/Ride Bike/Swings ~ When I was little, I would leave early in the morning and be back home for dinner. My how times have changed. I have a very hard time getting my children outside, but once they get out there, they have so much fun. We go to the park, ride the bike, ride a scooter and they are trying to dig a whole to China on the side of the house.
  • Games (Hiding go Seek, board games, puzzles)Apples to Apples has been a surprising game that my preschooler enjoys. I read his cards but he puts the one that makes the most sense to him for the category. There are so many different puzzles my son loves. Peg puzzles, wooden puzzles & magnetic puzzles. He loves active games like Hide n Go Seek, Ball, Freeze Tag,
  • Card Board Box ~ Best "free" activity out there. What is it about a cardboard box? It can be whatever they want. A castle, rocket, store front, TV and their imagination goes on.
     There is the Top 10 list of activities. I am fortunate to have children of different ages to help play with each other and look out for one another, while I try and keep my castle fit for a king.


    New Beginnings

    I look at this school year as a fresh start. Last year was the year I would like to forget, but I won’t. I learned many ways to teach my crew and many ways not to teach my crew. I learned I need to block out time for each subject, activity and chore. I learned schedule’s are a little hard for me because I am not a type A personality, but a B type. I learned I can develop routines and set times and stick them a little easier. School starts at 8:30, Snack is at 10:30, Lunch is at 12. I can work with routine. Now if I can pass that on to my children. Well, this is a brand new year. We have a new curriculum. I have an attack list of preschool activities. I will not try and entertain my preschooler in another room while my older children are not doing what I told them to do around the table. I will not sit around the table helping the older kids with their assignments while my preschooler is flooding my bathroom. Yes, this year will be different and I will tell you guys about it along the way.