A Pirate's Adventure

In August we spent a few days at the beach and decided to do one day at Disney World.  We split our time between Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  All of our fast passes were for later in the day at Epcot, so we spent the morning exploring Magic Kingdom and dodging rain drops!  

We rode several rides but once the rain picked up most of the outdoor rides were shut down, which made the other ride lines longer!  This was a great time for A Pirate's Adventure, an interactive experience where you can help Captain Jack Sparrow find the treasures hidden around Adventureland.  We have done this a few times before and Little Bit is a big fan of completing these missions!

You'll start your journey at  A Pirate's Adventure building just beyond the Pirates of the Caribbean ride on the outskirts of Adventureland.  You will use your magic band or park ticket to start your adventure, also known as your "talisman".  Pick up your map and head to the first clue.  

The game takes you to different areas around Adventureland that you may of not noticed before.  It is a great way to spend some time letting your kiddos, or even just yourself, explore and see the land come to life.  Each quest takes about 15 minutes if you don't have to wait on any other treasure hunters!  But you can spend as much or little time on this experience as you choose.  It is a great way to spend those extra few minutes you have between fast passes or dining reservations.

Once you complete a map, go back to the outpost and pick up your treasure finder card.  At this point you can be done hunting or start another mission.  If you are brave enough to finish all 5 maps you will get 5 treasure finder cards plus a bonus card for completing the set!

Once you complete at least 3 of the 5 missions you will receive Pirates of the Caribbean Fast Passes for each member in your party!  This was an added bonus we didn't know about ahead of time!  Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a must do in our book and the line can get quite lengthy.  So this was a win, win!


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, apples
Tuesday ~ chicken & cheese quesadillas, refried beans, guac & chips
Wednesday ~ fried shrimp, mac & cheese, salad
Thursday ~ oriental chicken salad, fruit
Friday ~ breakfast for dinner

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ breakfast for dinner...oatmeal, toast w/honey, fruit
Tuesday ~ chili, peanut butter sandwiches, fruit
Wednesday ~ peanut chicken, steamed edamame, fruit 
Thursday ~ oriental chicken salad, fruit
Friday ~ dinner on the go 

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


Changing plans...

Even the best laid plans get changed.  When you write something in your planner and then you have to change it you might think, but it's in pen, what do I do?!  When I first started planning, I debated what to write with.  I thought about a pencil but preferred a pen.  So I tried an erasable pen but I didn't love how it wrote.  So I quickly switched to something different, but then I had my first change to make.  Ugh!  

White out tape and rectangle labels quickly became my friend!  I use the white out tape to cover up the mistake or change.  Then put a white label, cut to size, over it.  Now you can write the correct information and even add some stickers to spruce it up!

I know I'm not the only one with this problem.  How do you make changes or corrections in your planner?  Also, what is your favorite pen/pens to use in your planner?


Prepare for Preschool

It's almost time for those preschool doors to open up!  Transitioning into preschool can be a tough time for parents and their child.  I've got a few tips that will helpfully make for a smooth school year!

Meet the teacher | Most preschools have an open house or meet the teacher night a week or so before school starts.  Plan on attending!  This will give your child a chance to get a look at their classroom, meet their teacher and see other kids who will be in their class.

Backpack and books | Take your child shopping for a new backpack before school starts.  This will help get them excited if they have some say in what backpack they get to carry each day.  You could also check out some books from the library about going to school.

Communicate | Talk to your child about preschool and what they can expect.  Ask them if there is anything they are afraid of and reassure them that there is always someone around who can help.  Let them know all the fun things they will learn and new friends they will make.  You could even play pretend preschool at home to help get them excited!

Practice separation |  If your child hasn't been away from you very often, try and have a baby sitter, grandparent or even friend watch your child for short periods to get them used to being separated from you.

Independence | In preschool your child will be learning to do things on their own.  They are capable of doing way more than we give them credit for!  Let them pick out and put on their own clothes, put on their own coat, pick up their toys after playing, They could also help at dinner time by putting napkins on the table or passing out the silverware.

Make time | When you pick your child up from preschool, spend some time talking to them about their day.  They might not freely offer up too much information so just ask a few questions to get them started.  Go through their backpack and see what art work or learning activities they did that day.  It is also helpful to talk to them about memories you might have from your preschool years.

Just leave | When it comes time to drop your child off for the first day of school make your goodbyes brief.  Give hugs, kisses, high fives, whatever you choose and then leave.  Your child may cry some but it doesn't last long before they are distracted by a cool toy or activity.

Just remember that your child may need some time adjusting to starting preschool.  Give them your full attention whenever possible, talk and ask them questions and let them know how proud of them you are for going to school.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ hamburgers, pickles, sweet potato fries, fruit
Tuesday ~ pesto pasta w/mushrooms, salad, garlic bread
Wednesday ~ sausage cups, fried potatoes, fruit
Thursday ~ pizza, salad, fruit
Friday ~ taquitos, refried beans, rice, 

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


Back to school outfit planning...

Little Bit goes back to school in 1 week!  I can't believe that summer is almost over and that she is going to be in 3rd grade!  We've crossed things off our summer bucket list and got school supplies in the backpack.  Now we are starting to get back in a routine around the house.  One thing that saves us on school mornings is having clothes laid out the night before.  On Sundays we take some time to outfit plan for the week.  When we first started doing this several years ago we hung them in the closet by day of the week.  Each hanger had a gallon ziplock bag attached with the day of the week on it.  This held socks, shorts, accessories, etc.

Then we moved to a shelf method, which we are currently using.  We hung little tags on each shelf and laid the clothes on the appropriate day.  Little Bit loves using this method and it is continuing to work well for us. 

A few other ideas I found on Pinterest are below...

This cloth hanging shelf would be great in the closet.  It's similar to the shelf system we use above.

I also think this drawer system is a great way to organize outfits for the week.  I love that they have a shoe drawer also. 

If you are limited on closet space, this under the bed sorting system might be a great solution for you!  

If I had tons of wall space, I would use this system for me!  The chalkboards above the hooks let you write notes about the day as well.

Are you ready for back to school?  Here are a few past articles you might find helpful...
Back to school books
Getting ready for kindergarten 
Dressed and ready
Teacher gifts
Homework area


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ fish tacos, refried beans, guac & chips
Tuesday ~ cheese & zucchini pasta, salad, fruit
Wednesday ~ fruit & nutella waffle, bacon 
Thursday ~ Girl's night!
Friday ~ Date night!

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


DIY planner pen loop

When I travel with my planner I like to use a special pen in it.  So I thought a pen loop would be a nice addition to my planner.  That way I could always have a pen with me when I need to jot something down.  

The Happy Planner sells a pen holder that you can attach to your planner but I didn't want something permanently stuck on.  I liked the idea of being able to remove it when I didn't need it.  So I choose to use a binder clip and elastic ribbon to create my own.  

The supplies I used were a binder clip, elastic ribbon hair ties, scissors, hot glue gun and pen of choice.

The first thing I did was select the elastic ribbon I wanted to use.  I bought this 5 pack at the Dollar Tree and choose the black with white polka dots to match my planner.  I cut a straight end and hot glued it to one side of the binder clip.

Then I placed my pen next to the clip and wrapped the elastic around to see how long it needed to be.  I cut the elastic, then hot glued the other side.

I slid my pen in and then attached the clip to the cover of my planner!  Now you are ready to plan on the go with your favorite pen!  {BTW I'm currently using a black Paper Mate ink joy gel .7....and I love it!}

Do you have any fun tips or tricks for planning on the go?  Check out my recent post on what I keep in my on the go planner pouch!


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ grilled burgers, tomato slices, chips, fruit
Tuesday ~ monte cristo sandwiches, chips, fruit
Wednesday ~ creamy tortellini soup, bread, salad
Thursday ~ fish tacos, refried beans, chips & salsa
Friday ~ fried chicken, biscuits, green beans, mashed potatoes

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


Happy Planner on the go!

Last year about this time I became a "happy planner"!  I posted about my thoughts on that here.  I just recently got my second Happy Planner and am loving it even more!  This time I chose the watercolor planner and picked it up at Michaels using a 50% off coupon.  I love the watercolor effect on the weekend portion of the planner pages and the fonts used.  Plus I love the bright pink discs and colorful cover!

Now that I have my new planner all set up I decided to put together a travel bag that I can take when I plan away from home.  I have this Thirty-One vary you wristlet that I thought would work great since it has several compartments.  This ended up working out perfectly for my planning essentials!

One side has a variety of pens, pencil and scissors.  The middle pocket has my stickers and post it notes.  The other side holds my adhesive, white out tape and a few rolls of washi.

So now I can grab my planner and essentials bag for easy on the go planning!  What essentials do you have in your planner bag?  I would love to hear!


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ fish tacos, refried beans, chips & salsa
Tuesday ~ grilled cheese, tomato soup, fruit
Wednesday ~ leftovers
Thursday ~ eat on the go...
Friday ~ italian beef sandwiches, chips, fruit

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


{preschool} pets

Pets is a unit that we love to do in the Spring.  It is a flexible unit that we can shrink or expand as needed to fit our schedule.  This year we did 2 weeks of pets but in the past we have done 3.  We love to include common pets like dogs, cats, fish and guinea pigs but also talk about other things like turtles, snakes, birds, rabbits, frogs, etc...

Here is a sampling from our reptile day.   Magic fold turtle...There are plenty of turtle crafts out there but this one is a new favorite.  We use a light green construction paper (9x12) and fold it in half long ways, so your paper is 4.5x12.  Then draw half of the turtle on the fold.  The kids cut through 2 pieces at once and open up to reveal their turtle.  Then we stick on eyes and use a dot marker on the shell.  

Stripy snake number matching...We printed 2 copies of this printable from Scholastic.  On one we added dots to the snake sections.  The other one we copied on green, laminated and added numbers to correspond to the dots in each section.  The kids can count the dots and find the number that matches.  

Snake patterning...Using pipe cleaners and beads is a fun way to create pattern snakes.  We also used plastic lids to create another patterning activity.  I just traced the circles on half a sheet of paper in the shape of a curvy snake.  Then the kids could use the lids to create an AB pattern.  

Pom pom transfer...I have several of these bath suction mats in various shapes.  They are great for fine motor practice!  This time we used a frog and the kids had to use the tweezers to pick up a pom pom and place one on each suction cup.  

play dough snakes...These are simple but super fun.  I don't know what it is about play dough but the kids always go crazy for it.  Making snakes is a great activity for strengthening those little hand muscles....squeeze the play dough into a ball and then roll in between your hands to create a snake.  Then squeeze into a ball again and make another snake!

ribbon snake...I sewed buttons on both ends of a long piece of ribbon.  Then cut some shapes out of felt and cut a slit in the middle of each of them.  The kids take the shape and thread it onto the ribbon.   This is working their hand/eye coordination.  I have used this idea with silk leaves in the fall and felt shaped trees at Christmas.     

We create a Pet Shop on the wall outside our classrooms by hanging up a sampling of the different pets we create.  Here we have our turtles, guinea pigs, dogs, cats and fish!  The kids enjoy this unit so much and are usually longing for a new pet by the end of it....sorry parents!  ;)


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes, bread
Tuesday ~ rice bowls, chips & salsa, mango slices
Wednesday ~ small group...grab and go
Thursday ~ creamy tortellini soup, salad, bread
Friday ~ chocolate chip mickey pancakes, sausage, bananas

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ orange ginger tilapia, green beans, fried potatoes, bread
Tuesday ~ Olive Garden take out....yummo!
Wednesday ~ burrito bowls, chips & salsa, mango slices
Thursday ~ crockpot chicken & wild rice soup, salad, bread
Friday ~ cheese & zucchini pasta, salad, bread

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


{preschool} five senses...

Experiencing our five senses is a fun unit we like to include in the winter months.  It is interesting hearing the kids reaction to what they think the senses are and how they are used.  I love how preschooler's minds work!

We spend time focusing on each sense and helping the kids discover more about each one.

sight....make binoculars and look for specific items, shapes, colors around the room.
hearing...make a shaker using beans and plastic cups, listen to music and play with instruments
taste...sweet, sour, salty taste test
touch...feeling different textures and learning to describe them, playing with play dough
smell...smelling different scents and seeing what smells good or bad, painting with koolaid/jello

Here are a few of my favorite reads about our senses...

Me and My Senses by Joan Sweeney takes you through a girls day as she uses her senses to figure out what's for lunch.

My Five Senses by Aliki is a simple text that helps kids learn what their five senses are and how they experience the world with their eyes, hands, nose, ears and tongue.

I Can See Just Fine by Eric Barclay is an adorable story about a little girl who doesn't realize she is having trouble seeing until she gets her new glasses and everything is clear!

The Eye Book by Theo LeSieg is Dr. Seuss's hilarious ode to eyes book.  He takes children on a rhyming adventure exploring all the wonderful things their little eyes can see.

The Ear Book by Al Perkins is a similar style story about ears.  A boy and his dog listen to the world around them.

Usborne Touchy-Feely books by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells such as That's Not My Bunny, That's Not My Dolly, and That's Not My Reindeer just to name a few!  The kids enjoy getting to interact and feel the textures as we read together.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits
Tuesday ~ crockpot creamy tortellini soup, garlic bread
Wednesday ~ taquitos, chips & salsa, mango slices
Thursday ~ chocolate chip mickey pancakes, bacon, bananas
Friday ~ fish sticks, mac & cheese, apple slices

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


{preschool} Valentine week

Last week at Preschool we celebrated Valentine's Day.  I wanted to share some of the activities that we incorporated into our unit.  Even though they are heart themed, they can be adapted to many different themes!  

Pom pom painting...We printed a heart outline on red paper and then gave the kids pink and white paint to dip their pom pom painters into.  Just take a clothespin and clip in a pom pom and let the creating begin!    

How many hearts?...This was a free download and is a wonderful math activity.  It incorporates counting, number recognition and fine motor.  The students must count the hearts in each box, identify the number and then circle it.  
Heart patterns...I love the worksheets that Paging Supermom creates and this one worked perfectly into our Valentine unit.  We work on patterns with the kids, especially during our calendar time.   So this worksheet helped the kids create their own AB pattern.  

Beading chenille stems...This is a great fine motor activity but also another idea for learning patterns.  I put red, white, light pink and dark pink heart beads in a container and let the kids string them onto pipe cleaners.  One student was super proud to show me his ABCD pattern using all the colors!  

Cut hearts...The kids also cut hearts.  I used publisher to created a template with 4 simple hearts on a page.  Then we copied it on pink, purple and red paper for the kids to cut out.  We then hung them around the classroom for decor!  

Heart transferring...I put some small plastic hearts in a container and had the kids spoon them into smaller heart containers.  

Valentine sensory bin...The kids always love playing in the sensory bins.  These are usually simple and easy to create!  For the Valentines bin we had a base of white and red rice, red pom poms, rose petals, heart erasers, red jewels, small heart containers, mini spoons and scoops.  The kids loved pretending to make soup!  ;)

Here are a few past Valentine posts to check out as well...


preschool registration time...

I posted this article about preschool registration last year.  Since it's that time of year again and the preschool I work for just opened registration this week,  I thought I'd share again....

Now is the time!  If you have a little one that is 3 or 4 OR will be by September 1st, now is the time to register for preschool for the fall.  I know it seems early but that's just how it works.  I posted about my first time preschool experience and expectations here.

Here are a few ideas of what you can do to find the right Preschool for you and your child...  

Talk to your friends who have children of similar age or older and ask what they did or are doing for Preschool.  Nothing is better than hearing positive feedback from trusted friends about a potential school for your child.  If you don't have friends who can offer you advice in this area, get out the phone book...if you still have one around, lol...or Google Preschools in your area.

No matter if you have a good recommendation for a school or not, call and schedule a visit to check it out for yourself.  Our director shows the interested families what our classes look like in action, tells them about our program and what they can expect from our Preschool.  

Once you have decided which Preschool is right for your child, get registered!  There are usually several forms that need to be filled out, physicals to be gotten and registration fees to pay.  

Now you can start getting your child excited for starting school!  Some are ready from the get go but others need a little more time.  Here are a few fun books to help get them ready for their new adventure...
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney.  {This series is a favorite of mine!}
What to Expect at Preschool by Heidi Murkoff 
Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins
I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ Subway...mother/daughter dinner date
Tuesday ~ grilled hamburgers, chips, pickles, apple slices
Wednesday ~ taquitos, chips & salsa, grapes
Thursday ~ chocolate chip mickey pancakes, bacon, bananas
Friday ~ dinner on the road

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ almond coconut tilapia, rice, green beans
Tuesday ~ oriental chicken salad, fruit salad
Wednesday ~ hot dogs, mac & cheese, apple slices
Thursday ~ scrambled eggs, bacon, bagels, fruit salad
Friday ~ grilled hamburgers, chips, pickles, apple slices

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


{preschool} winter reads

One of the things my students look forward to each day are the stories I read at snack time!  The last few weeks we have been talking about winter.  Here are a few of our favorite winter themed books...

Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups by Tadgh Bentley.  This book is adorable!  Poor little penguin has a bad case of the hiccups and he tries everything to get rid of them.  I love that this book has a part where the kids can interact.  A must read!

Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Penguin has had enough of the snow and ice, so he decides to head to the beach.  He meets a new friend that shows him what to do in the sand and sun.

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson.  Bear is hibernating peacefully in his cave until his friends start coming in and having fun.  Does bear keep snoring or wake up?  I love all the fun Bear stories by Wilson.

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner.  This story makes you wonder if the snowmen we make really do stay put all night or not...lol!  We love talking about the snowmen and all the things they supposedly do when we are asleep!

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro.  I love these old lady books.  Is there anything she can't swallow?!  In this story she swallows snow, a pipe, hat and more.  Do you think you know what cold surprise is at the end?

Under My Hat I Have a Hood by Karla Kuskin.  This is a cute, rhyming story about all the things we put on to keep us warm in the snow.

The Little Snowflake by Steve Metzger.  It is the dream of the little snowflake to fall from the sky and land somewhere he will end up incorporated into a beautiful snowman.  Will his dreams come true?!  Such a cute "little" story.

There are so many more wonderful winter themed books.  I would love to hear what your favorite winter preschool reads are.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ cheese tortellini, salad, bread
Tuesday ~ ranch pork chops, green beans, potatoes
Wednesday ~ waffles, bacon, banana
Thursday ~ chicken caesar burgers, tater tots, carrots
Friday ~ ham & cheese pockets, chips, pickles, apples

Linking up with Org Junkie...check them out for more recipes.


preschool {winter} fun

One of my 2016 goals is to share more preschool tidbits on my blog.  The last couple weeks we have been talking about winter, snow and all things cold at preschool.  So here are a few super fun things we did during our winter unit...

Make a winter scene...Each child had to cut out 3 triangle trees, tear the white paper for snow and glue to the blue background paper.  Then they used a white crayon to add some "snow" to the sky and trees.  Finally they placed some fun wintery stickers on to finish the scene.  

We are always working on counting and number recognition, so this number snowman fit in great this week.  The child is told a number and they must find it on the snowman and cover with a snowflake.  The number line at the top is for those who needed a little help identifying the numbers.

Who doesn't love to make a snowman?!  We had 2 versions...the first was a manipulative.  The children were encouraged to take turns building a snowman using the provided pieces...cotton rounds, buttons, small twigs, foam hats, and ribbon pieces.  It was interesting to see color choices and number of scarves or buttons each snowmen had!

The next snowman was paper snowman.  Each child had to cut out 2 circles and attach them.  Next they glued on the arms, scarf and hat.  Then they were told to draw eyes, carrot nose, mouth on the head and buttons on the body.   These turned out especially cute.  I loved seeing the different mouth expressions some made..this one is a cute, simple smile while there were others with open, surprised mouths and even mad, grumbled ones!

Learning to identify colors and sort them is another skill we worked on.  Here I had cut mittens out of several colors of construction paper.  Then I grabbed a variety of colorful objects for the children to sort.  We incorporate this activity at circle time also.  The children identify a color on their clothing and then find something in the classroom that matches.

Another activity that is fun to do in our winter unit is hot chocolate tasting!  Most of the kids love the hot chocolates.  Only a few opt for water instead!  ;)  Everyone knows that hot chocolate is better with marshmallows, so we do several fun activities with those too!

marshmallow painting...use a large marshmallow, dip it into white paint and stamp it on paper.
marshmallow sensory bin....place a mix of mini colored fruit flavored marshmallows and white ones in a bin with foam cups, spoons and scoops.
marshmallow art....have children practicing using small dots of glue and stick on mini marshmallows
marshmallow drop...using tongs the children pick up a marshmallow or white pom pom and drop into a mug

Here are some other winter themed ideas I posted last year.