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Monday, August 21, 2017


7 FUN Back-to-School Traditions & $50 Giveaway!!

Back-to-School time is here! I am super excited to team up with Osh Kosh B'gosh today to bring you seven of our favorite back-to-school Traditions!

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of OshKosh B'gosh; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

I will be honest: I love back-to-school time! My kids, however, could live in a perpetual summer for the rest of their lives. These traditions make the entire start-of-school season a little more exciting for everyone...and we all love an excuse to celebrate!

Fun traditions at the start of the school year also help our kiddos be a little less anxious about the changes that come at this time of year. Knowing they have a few fun traditions to look forward to makes it an upbeat time for everyone to look forward to!

Also, many of these traditions work for both homeschool and public school classrooms, can be done before or during the first week, and are exciting for any age group!

So... here are seven FUN traditions to celebrate the back-to-school season! 

#1: Style-Up For School with Osh Kosh B'gosh!

Picking out a new outfit is fun and exciting, and OshKosh has a solution for every need! I seriously love how OshKosh clothes are super adorable, sturdy, and have lots of bright colors that match each of my kids' personalities! In fact, the OshKosh B'gosh has a line of Mix and Match clothes that make it easy for your kiddos to create stylish outfits that show off their budding sense of fashion!

Take these little cuties for example:

They actually love wearing "twin" outfits! In these pictures they're showing off the coral colored Mix Kit Ruffle Sleeve Top, Mix Kit Floral Print Leggings, Eyelet Jumpers (made with genuine OshKosh denim and eyelet lace...I want this in my size!!) and shoes.

Since this photo shoot they have worn the ruffle sleeve top and leggings together (without the dress), the dress without the leggings, and the leggings with other adorable OshKosh tops, like this MixKit Embellished Yoke Tunic!

I have really active kids, so one my favorite things about OshKosh outfits is that they are both high quality and stylish. They work great for photos AND active exploration and playground play!

This outfit includes Osh Kosh Originals Graphic Tee and orange B'gosh Mesh Shorts. This kid could live in shorts, so we got a couple pairs...the back-to-school price was too good to resist! ;)  

Finally, I really appreciate OshKosh's reasonable prices and amazing back-to-school sales. It is so fun to involve kids in back-to-school shopping and know that there are loads of options for all pocketbook sizes! Ever since we went my older preschooler has been telling everyone, "OshKosh is my *favorite* store!" Completely serious!

You can learn more on the Osh Kosh B'gosh Homepage and find the store nearest you with the Store Locator!

And make sure you scroll to the end to get a 20% off coupon code AND enter a drawing for a $50 gift card!!

#2: Back-to-School Picnic!

There is something magical about eating lunch, or even just a snack outside. Do it "in honor" of a new school year, and everbody is still happy!

We had peanut butter and jelly "quesadillas," grapes, and cookies. Some of my other favorite picnic foods include cheese, crackers, cucumber slices, apple slices, ham and cheese sandwiches, watermelon chunks, blueberries, energy balls, and dried bananas!

We've had our Back-to-School picnic in our backyard, at a local park, and at several other random locations!

#3: Back-to-School Hike! 

A back-to-school hike, bike ride, or any other nature outing is good for kids' bodies and spirits! Honestly, the more time you spend outside, the better! They will continue to do better school work if you fill their days with outdoor adventures! Some of our most memorable outdoor adventures this summer included an 8+ mile mountain hike, a 12-mile bike ride, a shorter hike inside an "extinct" volcano, showing out-of-town family our favorite park, and our back-to-school hike & turtle hunt after our picnic. We might have brought bubbles on our hike too...

Remember to take plenty of water and stop to rest if your kids get hot...August is still super hot in Houston!

One of my all-time favorite pictures during our hike came just after my youngest slipped and fell. Her big sister (both preschoolers) jumped over to give her a hug! It happened so fast I almost didn't get a photo! I seriously want to save this one forever:

Don't they just look like little angels?!!

Finally, here we are hunting for turtles at the end of our hike:

#4: School Supplies Treasure Hunt!

I love wrapping some fun notebooks, gel pens, and other "school" treats in a gift bag with the kids' other traditional school supplies. My favorite thing to do with it is to hide it with "treasure hunt" clues like a scavenger hunt. Other years I've been more pressed for time, and just set the fun gifts out on the kitchen table before breakfast.

#5: Personalized booklets!

Every year the kids have new favorite foods, things to do, and habits. I love recording them in a personalized booklet like this one. You can even add a real picture if you want!

#6: Back-to-School Pictures!

Indoor portraits are always adorable, but I love, love, love to start the year out with our own back-to-school pictures taken outdoors. They just look so fresh and alive, and I love to see how the kids grow every year. Of course, I always follow a photo shoot with a treat too.  ;)

#7: New Books!

My final favorite tradition is one more shopping trip. This time, I take the kids to a book store, and let them each choose one new book. Sometimes I can predict what they will get, but sometimes they surprise me! It's just one more way to get everyone excited about learning!

So what are you favorite ways to "Style-Up" and get excited for school? 

Do they include shopping? If so, I have some great news for you! OshKosh B'gosh has a 20% OFF COUPON!! Just use the Coupon Code OKBG3352!!

AND... OshKosh is providing a $50 gift card for one of you!! You can enter the giveaway HERE!! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below!  You must be 18 to enter, live in the continental United States, and respond to my email within 24 hours. If you do not respond within 24 hours another winner will be chosen. Entries will only be accepted until Monday, September 11th at 12:00  am CST (that's also midnight on Sept. 10th). I will use Rafflecopter to choose a random winner. 

You should also know that I just learned that OshKosh B'gosh has been partnering with Donors Choose to donate more than a million dollars in clothes and school supplies since 2014 through their The B’gosh Jeanius Campaign! I LOVE when a big brand contributes to local communities!! You can join us and donate either online at oshkosh.com/bgoshjeanius or in a local OshKosh store!

Be sure to let me know what you're most excited for as we enter a brand new school year...I can't wait to hear from you!!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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Monday, August 7, 2017

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Preschool STEM Camp: Day 4 - States of Matter & Art

Day four of our Preschool STEM Creation Camp is all about states of matter and art! I could call it STEAM, but I think STEM Creation Camp has a "catchier" sound. Anyway, it's perfect for homeschool, summer camps, maker spaces, and more! Here's the step by step science, art, and storybook lesson:

{To see the rest of the themes, supply list, and lesson plans (5 days, with one and a half hours of STEM activities planned each day), click HERE!}

Today is 

Preschool STEM Camp

DAY 4: States of Matter & Art

Supplies: canvas (or art paper on top of cardboard), crayons (either Crayola or CraZ Art Crayons), hot glue and glue gun, hair dryer, (Amazon affiliate link): The Noisy Paint Box, any extension supplies. Optional, but really useful: butcher paper 

Gathering Activity: As children arrive, direct them to a building station. Today I put out (Amazon affiliate links): TINKERTOYS and Magna-Tiles (they've quickly became a favorite for this group).  We often build on the floor, but today I put the blocks on a table for everybody since we have a child in a wheelchair. This also gives everyone a chance to get to know each other while they build next to one another and, if they choose, together.

Group Circle Time: Gather everyone in a circle. Review names and discuss solids, liquids, and gasses. Solids are hard and don't pour. Let everyone touch a solid. Liquids can pour from one cup to another cup. Let everyone tell their neighbor a liquid (water, milk, and juice were the most common ones listed in our group). Gasses can be in the air. Discuss examples like water vapor and your breath (let everyone breathe on their hand). Discuss how you can change from one state of matter to another by adding or removing heat. Announce that we're staring with a story of a famous painter...are paints a solid, liquid, or gas? (Depends, explore this idea if your kids are interested!)

Story Time: I have everyone stand up and form a new semi-circle in another room for the story, mostly because I wanted everyone to have a chance to move and stretch between introductions and a story that takes at least five minutes to read. Today's story is The Noisy Paintbox. Discussion points: Does art always have to look like something? How does the last artwork on the 2-page spread make you feel? What do you think of when you feel it?

Today we're using science to make artwork that does not need to look like anything! We call it abstract. As you work on it, ask yourself how it makes you feel!

   (Image is an Amazon Affiliate Link:)

Science Art Project #1: Melted Crayon Art. This project actually took more than 45 minutes -- it is a little involved, but even 4-year olds can do every step of it!

To introduce the project, I had the kids watch me closely while I explained and modeled all the steps. Then I asked them, one at a time, what each step would be. This cuts down on questions SOOO much!! Once they begin, you'll still want to help as they need it. 

Step 1: Break 4-5 crayons in half and peel them. This is amazing fine motor exercise, and some of our kids did it literally five times faster than others. It's tempting to do it for your kids, but every 4-year old I've met is capable of peeling 4 crayons...it might just take some kiddos 20 minutes.  ;)

Step 2: Place a drop of hot glue on the canvas and press a crayon into it. Repeat for each crayon. I use low-temp hot glue guns, and my 4-year olds have no problem using them safely. If you don't think your kids are ready for it, you can help them with this part...but if they're willing to do it themselves, I love to let them!

Step 3: Melt the crayons by adding heat from a hair dryer! Watch the solid crayons change to liquid wax as they absorb heat from the hair dryer! As the wax melts, you can direct it by the angle you hold the hairdryer at. Some of our smallest kids needed help holding the heavy hair dryer up so it didn't land in the wax, but they could all direct it and control the melting pattern. Again, this is fantastic hand exercise!

Logistics Note 1: If you don't have a lab station set up designed to handle high currency loads, you will want to make sure to only plug one hair dryer into each circuit. At a home, this may mean only one hair-dryer in each room. Otherwise, you risk tripping your circuit breaker.  ;)  If you do trip your circuit breaker, just reset it with your breaker box.  :) In most cases, you cannot plug 5 hairdryers into one extension cord at a desk.

Logistics Note 2: It is extremely helpful if you can have one adult or assistant for every 4-5 kids. I had 3 assistants for 9 kids, and it was super convenient.  ;)  

I LOVED the huge variety of finished projects!! Here are a few...you can see how easy it is to talk about how art can make you feel a certain way with these!

These one needed to add some marker art onto the melted crayon art. I love how it turned out!!

At this point, we had our snack and playtime because our scheduled 90-minute class was almost over! I had prepared one other activity, but since we didn't get to it, I just saved it for my kids on another day. You can decide if you have time for it or not! I'll give you a summary here and then add pictures later.

Science Art Project #2 / Extension Activity: 

Preparation: At least 24 hours in advance, fill a 12" balloon for each child with enough water so that it is about 4" in diameter. Place this in the freezer so it is frozen when you pull it out.

Supplies: frozen balloons, paper cups, pipettes, food coloring, water, salt

This is a really fun way to watch matter change from a solid to a liquid, and the process is very artistic!

Step 1: Ask your kids what state of matter (solid, liquid, gas) the ice is. Ask them how we can change it to a liquid (let it absorb heat from the room, cook it, etc.). We're going to watch the melting process with colored water!

Step 2: Fill the cups about half full with water and add 4-5 drops of food coloring. What state is the water/food coloring?

Step 3: Use pipettes to transfer water to the top of the ice. Watch where it goes! Add salt to the ice. Salt lowers the freezing point of ice, so it melts at room temperature faster. Add more colored water! Continue experimenting until the ice is gone...or you run out of time!

Free Play & Wrap-Up: Regroup, thank everyone for coming, review their favorite states of matter, and let them play with the blocks again before they leave! Free play is important for kids because it gives their brains a chance to process what they've learned. It also lets them create their own environment (to a degree!) for interacting and socializing with other children. I still supervise young children closely! 

 If you need more activities, try some of these artistic science projects for preschoolers:

And if you want to see a huge collection of STEM projects we've done with preschoolers, click on over HERE!

I'm so glad you're joining us for this Preschool STEM Camp, and I hope to see you again next week!! I would be delighted if you shared this post on Pinterest or Facebook! Be sure to see the whole camp layout HERE!!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

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{FREE} Snake Colors Easy Reader Book

Tonight  I have a fun freebie for you: an easy reader for emergent readers all about snake colors!

This snake themed mini book is high interest, uses real snake images, includes a snake coloring page, only contains 15 words, and is fun for all ages from toddlers and preschoolers to early elementary kiddos!

Suggestions for use:

* Read to preschoolers a couple times; then let them "read" it back to you! Pair with a picture book that includes snakes like The Gruffalo. Design your own snakes on the coloring page (the last page in the minibook)--this is especially fun with play dough! Re-read the book and ask your kiddos what color each snake is.

*If you have early readers, let them sound out the appropriate words and review sight words. Display sight words and letter sounds you are working on!

This is the first early reader in a small series about snakes! Check back soon for the next mini book!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Fall Themes for Preschool

Today I'm sharing a big resource full of ideas for fall themes for preschoolers! Everything from apples and busses to Halloween and Thanksgiving! 

Earlier in the year I was sharing monthly themes for preschoolers, but I realized that making a seasonal resource list might be more helpful since a lot of themes can overlap into different months.
I also have a HUGE (52 ideas!!) of preschool theme ideas here that might help with your planning and almost two dozen fantastic themes here you may want to look at!

First I'm going to share a list of fall theme ideas for preschool. Themes are my absolute favorite way to organize a preschool year. We usually spend 1-3 weeks on one theme, depending on the interest levels of our kids.

After the list of fall themes I will share a HUGE collection of resources for teaching those themes!

Finally, I will end with a collection of some of my favorite fall-themed books. No preschool day is ever complete without some quality picture books, and I am always happy to share our favorites!

So let's get started!

Fall Themes for Preschool:

* All About Me
* Back to School
* Apples
* Forest
* Friends
* Leaves
* Fall/Autumn Season
* Bats
* Spiders
* Pumpkins
* Bones
* Halloween
* Dinosaurs
* Harvest
* Thanksgiving

Resources for Planning Fall Themes for Preschool:

* All About Me:

* Back to School:

* Apples:

* Forest:

* Friends:

* Leaves:

* Fall/Autumn Season:

* Bats:

* Spiders:

* Pumpkins:

* Bones:

* Halloween:

* Dinosaurs:

* Harvest:

* Thanksgiving:

Our Favorite Fall Themed Books:

Each image is an Amazon affiliate link and will take you to Amazon where you can learn more and/or purchase the book.

What is your favorite fall theme for preschool? Or your kiddos' favorite book? I'd love to hear from you!! Feel free to send me an email, leave a comment, or stop by my Preschool Powol Packets Facebook page!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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