Saturday, December 17, 2011

Preschool: X is for eXercise

Last week was my turn to teach preschool again. W and X. For "W" we talked about "winter" and went on a winter wonderland walk. The weather cooperated and we got a nice dumping of snow over the weekend. That was fun. We talked about what happens to different kinds of plants and animals in the winter. We read books about winter. It was fun.

Then it was time to focus on "X" and so I told a story about how "X" was best friends with "E" and as long as they were together "X" was great. We talked about some "ex" words like "exciting" and "extra" and "exactly" etc. Then we spent the rest of the time talking about eXercise and why it is so important. We talked about how it helps our blood, breathing, muscles and bones. We talked about the right kinds of "fuel" for our eXercising machines (bodies). 

But mostly, we eXercised!

I made "snowballs" out of plastic bags wadded up and taped. Then they practiced throwing them at this big fat snowman. This was their favorite activity. We used these same snowballs to practice catching. I'd say their name and then throw to them so they could catch, then when they all had a snowball I'd say their name and they'd throw it back to me so I could catch. It really was a good eXercise.


sit ups (did you know 4 year olds don't have the core strength or coordination to do sit ups? Well, at least these four didn't. It surprised me.)

ribbon dancing (probably the second favorite).

Balance beam

balance beam with "weights" (soup cans)
We also did yoga (cat, dog, and mountain poses), hiking (a pretend hike up the stairs), jumping (across a river - a blue rug), army crawls, jumping jacks, and a few others.

The time flew by and the kids loved it! I found most of my lesson plan ideas here. It is a great resource for getting your kids moving!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Calendar (under $10)

I bought this shelf at Deseret Industries for $3. It was green, falling apart, had some bad repairs made to it, and was just ugly. Somehow I saw potential (but not enough confidence to have taken a before picture). I really love how this turned out. I spent $6 on the wood rectangles for the numbers but everything else I already had. I really love the subway tiles (stickers) on the sides. This is a project that actually turned out better than envisioned. I thought I'd buy number stickers but I couldn't find any that I liked and then I realized that I own a colored printer (duh!) and I could choose my own typeface and colors. I love how they turned out. I embellished with Christmas stickers I'd bought earlier and voila!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Project: Earring Holder/Display (for $3)

I've been needing a way to organize my earrings. I had seen plenty of examples of cute ways to display and organize fun earrings and I wanted to do something similar.

This is what I ended up doing:

I bought an unfinished picture box frame from the HobLob at 50% off making it $2.50. I removed the glass and distressed it a little. Then I stained it with some stain I already had.

After the stain dried, I used some of this netting and covered the picture box two or three times. I just used hot glue and made sure it was nice and tight. Then I put the frame part on with the fasteners it came with and voila!

It was fun placing all my dangling earrings in this. It is so much easier to find what I want to wear now. I'm quite happy with it!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Magnetic Nativity Project - Easy and Fun

I wanted a nativity that Eden could play with and that would be durable, portable, and easy. This is what I came up with:

I bought this small (probably 6"x8") whiteboard for under $3:

Then, using craft paper I already had I made the background (blue sky, green hills, sandy ground):

I just used double stick tape to put it onto the whiteboard:

Again, using craft paper I already had, I made this simple stable. You could simplify it even more by leaving off the rafters:

Next I printed off these images. They can be found here. Then I covered the images with contact paper and cut them out:

I covered the stable/background with contact paper and placed magnetic tape (that I already had) on the back of the nativity images:

My total cost for this project (excluding items I already had) was less than $3. If I had purchased the magnetic tape and craft paper it still would have come in under $5. I have given some of these as gifts (and plan to do some more). Eden took hers to church last week and it was a great quiet Christ-centered activity for her to do during the talks.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mind your "Ps" and "Qs"

It was my turn to teach preschool again and this time we had "P" and "Q."

For the letter "P" we mostly talked about painting. I showed them some of Phil's art books and we discussed the difference between various styles and mediums (without any technical language). Not surprisingly, they all liked the more realistic paintings and water colors the best.

Next, I set up four stations (because we have four kids in our preschool). Each child got to spend time at each station. The stations were:

  1. Painting with brushes and a large piece of paper.
  2. Finger painting.
  3. Traditional water paints.
  4. Water paint pencils.
The kids had lots of fun and they were mostly clean at the end.

We also talked a little about pennies and I had them count pennies and then we used flash cards to pick a number and they counted out that number of pennies.

After the other kids went home, Eden continued to paint. She loved the water colors and started to really do some interesting things. She spent much time over the next several days painting. Phil would be so proud.

For the letter "Q" we did the following:
  • We told a story about how "Q" always wanted a best friend and then when he met "U" he realized he'd found one and decided that they would always stick together. The children took turns re-telling the story and then they took turns being "Q" and "U" and following each other around the room.
  • We made crustless Quiche. (3 eggs, 1/3 C Ricotta Cheese, 1/3 C Shredded Colby, 1/3 C Milk; blend in blender; pour into ramekins; bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes). The kids each got to choose what extras (bacon bits, spinach, etc.) to add to their quiche. When they were done, we ate them and Nestle Quick for snack.

  • We made Quilts. We used sticky-backed craft foam of various shapes and each child got to design their own quilt. I was surprised at how much they enjoyed this activity. Even the boys really got into it.

  • We sorted coins in order to find the Quarters. Then we did various counting and number games using the quarters.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanks-giving FHE

Yesterday we had a great lesson in RS about the importance of gratitude. I've been seeing all the November-is-grateful-month posts on FB but haven't felt inclined to join in. The lesson, though, reminded me that it is never a bad time to get on the grateful bandwagon. So, for FHE tonight, I brought back one of our favorite November rituals. Phil and I started this three years ago. It has taken slightly different forms but has kept its original intent and purpose.

Behold the Thanks-giving Turkey:

Every night from tonight until Thanksgiving we will add a feather of gratitude to this little Turkey. He looks pretty bare right now, but just you wait!

Eden and I talked about the importance of gratitude. I asked her why it is good to say "thank you" and she said, "because then you'll probably get more stuff!" Clearly, I have some work to do.

Yesterday in the RS lesson there was a quote that said, "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked Heavenly Father for yesterday?" I used that concept and said to Eden, "what if I took back everything except the things you have thanked me for?" She replied, "I'd be really, really mad." We talked about it and then I said, "what if Heavenly Father took back everything except what we thanked him for yesterday? Did you thank Him for our house? Did you thank Him for your mom?" etc. She realized she would have food and that is about it, no house or mom or toys or friends. I think her prayer tonight was the first time she's ever thanked Him for her mommy. Nice!

She is so excited to add feathers to our bare little bird. I told her that she needs to be thinking through out the day so that she'll know what to put on the feather each night.

I'm thankful for a great lesson yesterday and the inspiration to bring back the Thanks-giving Turkey.

To make the turkey I bought a piece of foam-core at the dollar store. I used brown wrapping paper to cut out the body (just a basic pear-like shape). I cut a triangle beak and red for that floppy thing (Layne can tell us in the comments what that is called). His eyes are just white paper and blue paper with accents from a black marker. His legs are from scraps of orange paper. I cut out feathers from a variety of colors. It is all pretty basic but makes a cute bird in my humble opinion. In past years we have done individual birds (that were smaller) and the first year we used a pumpkin for the body and I just cut out a head and feathers that we pinned onto it. The problem is that the pumpkin didn't quite make it to Thanksgiving.

FHE - Family Home Evening, a family night held once a week (usually on Mondays) in Latter-day Saint homes. Ours follows this basic pattern: song, prayer, flag salute, "Kesler Kudos" (a time to thank one another), lesson (brief), activity, treats, prayer.

RS - Relief Society, the women's organization within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the largest women's organization in the world.

FB - Facebook (but I'm guessing you already knew that!) :)

Monday, October 24, 2011


Every Halloween, my mom makes a bunch of doughnuts and all her neighbors flock to her house. She has candy for the kids (silly kids, choosing candy over spudnuts!) but the adults get a warm doughnut. I made them this past weekend and thought I'd share the recipe.

This makes over 100 doughnuts but you can half or even quarter it.


  • 4 1/2 C Water
  • 1 1/2 t Salt
  • 1 C Margarine (or butter)
  • 5 Eggs (if halfing, my mom suggests using 3 eggs)
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 2 C Mashed Potatoes (left overs are fine as long as you didn't add garlic or ranch to them)
  • 2 t Nutmeg
  • 14 C Flour
  1. In small bowl, mix 1/2 C water, 2 T yeast, and 1 t sugar. Let brew.
  2. In large bowl (as in HUGE) mix 4 C water, salt, margarine, eggs, sugar, mashed potatoes, nutmeg.
  3. Add yeast mixture and mix with a wire wisp. Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon until all flour is moist.
  4. Let rise in bowl until double (approx. 1 1/2 hours)
  5. Roll our and cut into doughnuts or bars and let rise again until double (approx. 1 1/2 hours)
  6. Deep fry in very hot oil. Place the side that was up while rising in the oil first, then turn..
  7. Glaze, eat!
Glaze Recipe
  1. Mix 4 C powdered sugar with enough milk to make a glaze (not frosting), mix with a wire wisp.
Plan on starting these about 4-5 hours before you want to eat them. While they are time intensive, most of that time is rising so you aren't actually working on them.

We made ours pumpkin shaped. They didn't keep their shape too well in the rising/frying process.
Deep frying - be careful!
We added orange food dye to our glaze since we made "pumpkins"
These were yummy. We're glad we had the Voice Male gang here to help us eat them!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

H is for Halloween (of course!)

Today in preschool we worked on the letter H. Whereas Monday was a science day, today was definitely an arts and crafts day.

We painted sugar cookie pumpkins. (Recipes below)

We read this book and each child got a set of 10 Timid Ghosts

We read this story and then they drew something from the story. Left to right: The mailman, Marley, the pumpkin. Not bad for 4 year olds!

We made foot print ghosts. They didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped (their arches were too high, I guess). Next time I think I'll use the bottom of a flip flop to stamp out the ghost shape (heel is the head).

We talked about shapes and then they got to design their own Jack-o-lanterns.

See how cute!

We sewed these hand puppets. This one is a witch in the making.

This one is a kitty. (These were from a kit I bought at the HobLob.)

Maybe my favorite project is one we didn't even get to. So, Eden and I did them after preschool. These are inkblot monsters. We painted one side, folded it over, rubbed it, opened it up, then put on eyes, etc. Aren't these hilarious? We have about five more that Eden did this afternoon. Truly fun and funny.

I love teaching preschool once a month. I get so excited to prepare for the week I get to teach, but let me tell you, I'm also so excited when my week is done and I know I won't be teaching again for a month! This is definitely a nice set up we have, it suits me just perfectly.

Recipe for sugar cookies found here.
The glaze is just powdered sugar and milk to a paint-like consistency then add your food coloring. Using the paint brushes is ingenious and so fun. Every fall when we do these I think of my friend Natalie back in Alabama. She is the painted sugar cookie queen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

G is for Glass and that rhymes with Grass

Yesterday for preschool we talked about the letter G. I wanted the focus to be on science and so we did some chemistry and biology. Specifically, we learned about how Glass is made and we learned about Grass.

I showed them this video:

I wondered if they'd be able to follow it but with some running commentary/explanation by me they were and seemed to think it was fascinating!

Then we made glass for ourselves (with a few substitutions).

Sand - Sugar
Soda Ash - Water (lowers the melting temperature)
Lime - Corn Syrup (stabilizes and makes less soluble)
2400 degrees - 350 degrees
8 hours - 20 minutes

Yup, we made suckers. It was a great parallel to glass making and the kids watched with great interest and enthusiasm.

See how it balls up just like the real glass?

They each got to take home a "glass" sucker and they were pretty excited.

Yesterday was our last day of summer weather (I know, we've been spoiled) so I wanted to get the kids outside as much as possible before today's fall-like rain began. So, we also learned about Grass.

We planted and watered grass seeds and talked about the life cycle of grass. I had a puzzle for each of them to correctly assemble the life cycle from seed to grass blades. 
We went outside and used our magnifying glass to look at the grass and all that was in it: bugs, dirt, etc. Then they drew pictures in their notebooks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn Time

Eden has been begging me to get out the fall decorations. I finally acquiesced.
Eden's Scarecrow

Eden's Witch

I made this last night. I have to say, I love it! Comparable wreaths at the HobLob were between $80-120. I made this for less than $20. It took about two hours. The first hour was just cutting the leaves and flowers off their stems. The second hour was hot gluing. I think it looks so pretty on my green door.

Dollar Store lanterns.

This guy was on the outside of our door last year but he kept getting blown away so he gets to stay inside this year.

Eden's decorations from last year.

The mantel. This year we have some dragonfly lights. We like dragonflies, they remind us of Phil.


I made these pumpkins two years ago (in AL) out of old Phil shirts (even the leaves). We like them.

More art by Eden.

Eden made these creepy critters on Sunday.