Here are some fun play-dough recipes using common Easter candies.
Marshmallow Peeps Play-Dough (original recipe found here):
- Package of Peeps
- 1/2 cup Corn starch
- 1 teaspoon Oil
- 1 teaspoon Water
- Melt 8 Peeps in the microwave for 45 seconds with 1 teaspoon of water.
- Add 1 teaspoon oil after they are melted
- Stir to loosen the mixture, but leave it in the bowl to cool.
- In a separate bowl, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup corn starch. Press the corn starch down into the bowl.
- Add the melted marshmallow Peep mixture and fold in the corn starch.
- At this point, the dough will be sticky and stretchy like bubble gum. Add a bit more corn starch if you need to, but keep mixing and folding until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.
Jellybean Play-Dough (original recipe found here):
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup reserved water
- 2 Tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Sort Jellybeans by color into microwave-safe bowls. Add 1/2 cup water to each bowl and cook on high for 1.5 minutes, until all the color from the jellybeans had dissolved into the water. Strain the beans and discard them, reserving the water.
In a saucepan (preferably nonstick), combine the flour, reserved water, salt and cream of tartar, until the mixture is somewhat smooth.
Place the saucepan over a low-medium heat and stir regularly. As the mixture starts to thicken, stir constantly.
Soon it will start to pull away from the sides of the saucepan and form a ball.
- Remove from the heat and place the play-dough ball on some parchment or wax paper. It might look a little lumpy at this point! Once it has cooled enough to touch, knead it for a minute or two until smooth.
Chocolate Play-Dough (original recipe found here):
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
- 2 cups of boiling water
- 4 drops of glycerine (optional extra for increased shine and stretch)
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Stir in the vegetable oil
- Mix together.
- Stir in the boiling water and mix until combined.
- When it has cooled a little, knead it on a clean surface until it loses all stickiness and becomes smooth and stretchy. No residue should come off on your fingers. If it is still sticky add a little more flour, if too dry and crumbly add more water, a tablespoon at a time.
Spring is just around the corner. Here are some ways to celebrate the first day of spring in your child care program:
- Make Homemade Bubbles and go outside to blow bubbles or play bubble catch (one child blows bubbles and other child tries to catch them with hands or a butterfly net).
- Create a gardening Sensory Table or Bin: Add dirt, plastic gardening tools, pots, seeds, and gardening gloves. Include some large dried beans…they will sprout over a weekend quickly.
- Create a Flower Handprint Mural with all the children in your class/group:
- What is Missing?: During circle time, place several spring items on a tray and let the children look at the items for 30 seconds. Place a cloth over the items, then take one or more items away. let the children guess which item(s) are missing. Item Suggestions: Umbrella, garden shovel, plant, flower, rain coat, flower seeds, etc.
Here are some ideas for National Nutrition Month:
- Fruit Painting – Cut various fruits (apples, oranges, pears, etc.) in half and dip them into paint to make fruit prints.
- Paint with Vegetables – Provide celery stalks, broccoli florets, asparagus, carrot sticks, and more. Let children use the vegetables in place of paint brushes.
- Food Sorting – Create a large version of MyPlate using Poster Board. Give children either pictures of food, or actual food items (real or plastic). Ask them to place the food on the section of the plate that it belongs.
- Class Vegetable Soup – Have each child bring in a vegetable and work together to prepare a class soup. Allow children to cut up the vegetables (with plastic knives) to help develop fine motor skills
- Paper Plate Food Collage – Give each child a paper plate, and provide grocery ads to the children. Ask them to look through the ads and find pictures of healthy foods to glue to their plates.
- Food Graphing – Create a graph on butcher paper or poster board. Make 3 columns – Dairy, Fruits/Vegetables, and Grains. Give children pictures of foods and ask them to put them in the correct column.
- Visit the ChooseMyPlate.gov website.
Mardi Gras can be fun to celebrate with preschoolers. Typically thought of as an adult theme, there is a lot of history and culture that are the center of Mardi Gras festivities. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. Festivities begin at the beginning of February, leading up to Mardi Gras day, and consist of parades, dancing in the street, costumes and masked balls.
Here are some Mardi Gras activities to use in early February with children:
- Make Mardi Gras Sensory Bottles – Fill empty plastic bottles with 1/3 karo syrup, 1/3 water with green, yellow or purple food coloring, and 1/3 cooking oil. Add beads, and allow kids to shake the bottle to try to move the beads into the middle section.
- Paint with Mardi Gras Beads – Set out paper, paint and strings of Mardi Gras Beads. Have children dip beads into the paint and dab on paper for a unique collage.
- Play ‘What’s Missing?’ – place several colored beads in front of children. Ask them to turn around, and remove one color. See who can guess what color beads are missing.
- Mardi Gras Masks – give each child a Mask to decorate. Provide beads, feathers, sequins, paper scraps, etc.
- Play Jazz music for the kids to dance to.
- Use Fruit Loops to make patterned necklaces.
- Give children beads and ask them to make different shapes using the beads.
Conversation Hearts can be used for many things that encourage learning in an early childhood environment!
Try these Conversation Heart activities for added learning during February:
- Give each child a box of conversation hearts and have them sort them by color.
- After sorting, have the children create a pattern using what colors they prefer.
- Use a grid to graph the colors of hearts.
- Hold up a jar of conversation hearts. Ask each child to estimate how many heart are in the jar. Write down their estimates. Count the actual amount and see who is closest.
- Play bingo using the hearts as markers.
- Place hearts in a variety of liquids (water, vinegar, milk, etc.). Ask children to predict which liquid will cause the hearts to dissolve first. Add baking soda and see what happens.
- Make your conversation hearts dance with this cool experiment.
- Give children one minute to see how many hearts they can stack on top of each other to make a tower.
- Have a heart relay race. One person from each team goes across the room to a bowl of hearts, scoops one heart out with a spoon, carries the spoon with the heart back to other side the room and drops it in a bowl. Teammates take turns until all hearts are transferred to bowl at starting line.
- Let children glue conversation hearts onto a frame, and put their picture in the frame for their families.
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Here are some ideas for National Children’s Dental Health Month:
- Try painting with toothbrushes instead of paintbrushes.
- Give each child a tooth-shaped paper cut-out and have them do string painting using dental floss.
- Cut the bottoms off of large plastic soda bottles and turn them upside down (they look like teeth). Staple several together, and place in a sensory table. Spray them with shaving cream, and give children toothbrushes to brush them clean.
- Take a field trip to a local dentist office. Ask for donations to set up a dentist dramatic play area.
- Make a Happy Tooth/Sad Tooth graph. Give children grocery store ads, and have them cut out pictures of food. Place foods that are good for your teeth on a Happy Tooth chart and foods that are bad for your teeth on a Sad Tooth chart.
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Here are some ideas for Groundhog Day Activities with preschoolers.
- The day before, create a graph about children’s guesses – Will the Groundhog see his shadow or not?
- Get a Ground Cookie Cutter and make Groundhog Cookies…or use the cookie cutter to dip in paint and make Groundhog prints.
- Add flashlights to the block area. Allow children to build towers, then create a shadow with the flashlight.
- Make a Groundhog Day Dirt Pie – Make a box of instant chocolate pudding, according to directions, and place into small bowls. Crush chocolate graham crackers squares (crush until it looks like fine crumbs or dirt) and sprinkle on top of the pudding in each bowl. Glue a small picture of a groundhog on a Popsicle stick. Place in the center of the bowl of pudding.
- Visit the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Preschool Resources website
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Here are some ideas for National Puzzle Day on January 29:
- Photo Puzzles. Take photographs of each child, cut into puzzle pieces and give pieces to another child. Have them guess who they have then put together the puzzle. Try one of these websites to make puzzles:
- Go on a Puzzle Hunt! Take puzzle pieces from a classroom puzzle and hide them throughout the room. Let children find the pieces then work together to put the puzzle together. If pieces are still missing, they will have to continue to hunt for them.
- Put old puzzle pieces in the sensory table.
- Make puzzle rubbings. Place puzzle pieces under a sheet of paper. Using the side of a crayon, rub the puzzle shape.
- Make a puzzle piece picture frame. Put children’s pictures in their frame for a parent gift.
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Here are some ideas for National Opposite Day on January 25:
- Have children wear summer clothes. Or ask children to wear clothes inside out and backward.
- Eat dinner foods for breakfast. Eat breakfast foods for lunch.
- Play Simon Says, but have children perform opposite tasks of what is suggested (ie. Simon Says Shake your hands very fast = children shake hands very slow).
- Fill one bucket with warm water and one with ice water. Have your children stick one hand in each bucket and experience the difference.
- Sorting! Ask children to find any toy in the room. Sort the toys by large/small. Think of other categories to sort.
- Float and Sink. Have children find one item in the room. Conduct a float/sink experiment, by asking children to place their item in a tub of water. Sort by whether the item floats or sinks.
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The Early Childhood Academy is up and running!
We have three 1-hour classes as part of our Learning Styles series. Each classes focuses on characteristics of each learning style, such as how they learn and the types of materials to use to aid in learning. Participants will also learn how to plan curricular activities and lessons to meet the needs of each type of learner in their early childhood program.
Click link(s) below to enroll now. Start right away and print your certificate at the end of the class.
Lesson and Activity Planning for Visual Learners
Lesson and Activity Planning for Auditory Learners
Lesson and Activity Planning for Kinesthetic Learners