Thursday, August 30, 2012


"My 3-D Tree" 2012-2013 School Year

When I first started teaching preschool 21 years ago, I LOVED prep week. It was a time of anticipation and excitement of what the new school year would bring. New children's faces, new parents and families all going through the same milestones as the children and parents the year before. Even though the new parents had not seen the decor and bulletins from the previous year, I was always compelled to give something new. Why? (to challenge myself :) Because, one thing that will never change... "photos"... parents needing that picture of their child's first day of school : ) 
"pHoTo Op!" 

When I plan, prep and assemble my bulletin boards throughout the year, I always keep in mind a photo op wall. Something big and vibrant that will look good in a photo. 
So, as I pull out pictures of bulletin boards, ideas, and activities from past and present years, I will post to share, hoping that a single picture can create in you a new idea. 

I will start with this year's 3-D Tree

I wanted to create depth and dimensions to my tree so I cut out three large cloud shaped pieces and stapled them up on my 'blue sky' butcher paper. Keeping in mind, that, because these will represent background leaves of the tree, you can cut them out of a darker shade of green than the leaves you may apply in the foreground. In this case, I did not...but it still works for me :) 


Because I wanted a 3-D Tree, I cut the branches approx. 6-8 inches wide and the trunk about 6-8 inches wider than the space designated for the trunk. Once I had the tree shape cut out, I crinkled the whole tree carefully to not tear or rip my tree. The crinkling of the tree is to create a random wood texture, with no need to draw lines or paint to obtain texture. 

Let's say, if you had a 12 in. space on the wall to staple the base of the tree trunk to, you should cut your tree trunk 18 to 20 inches wide, or larger. You decide how wide and tall your tree will be. Then staple one side of the trunk to the wall, push the other end of the trunk towards the center of the trunk causing the tree trunk to bubble up in the center. This is what creates the 3-D effect. 

Leaves: First, I obtained an oak leaf clip-art pattern from the Web and printed it up. (These leaves are about 5'' by 7'' in size) Then I ran the oak leaf pattern off with a copier machine onto, a variety of shades of green, construction paper. I then cut the leaves out and began stapling them in multicolored clusters onto my tree branches. 

Here is the finished wall.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


 I would like to share a 2009 idea I had published in The Mailbox called "Oodles of Noodles". 

This large motor activity has proven to be fun and educational for preschoolers and older children alike. The idea came to me while I was in line at the Dollar Tree:) If it were possible for you to read my thought bubbles, they would have read... "those are bright and colorful"... "weatherproof and washable"... "but too long"..."hum, I wonder if I could cut them down?" "What could I use them for?".... and the list looked like this;

1.) Extra large outdoor string-ups. (Free-play) 

2.) Building blocks. (You can cut these noodles at a variety of lengths) 

3.) Patterning and Math. An example 'pattern' could consist of blue, yellow, yellow, green:) or by using a Sharpie, write numbers on several noodles and have them string up numerically. etc. 

4.) Color recognition. Place a laundry basket full of multicolored, thin sliced noodles in the center of the rug and ask the children to string up only 'yellow' noodles, or just 'blue', etc. 

...these were just a few examples of the activities that went through my head while standing in line at the Dollar Tree :) Can you think of more?

There is 'Oodles of fun' with Oodles of Noodles :) ENJOY
P.S. If you are wondering how to store Oodles of Noodles, the Dollar Tree usually sells laundry bags made from see-through netting material. This makes a perfect tote and storage for your Noodles:) 

mOrE OoDlEs oF fUn

Thursday, August 23, 2012



Recycled Juice or Milk Carton
Throw away's, no more!! You will be amazed at what you can create with these recycled juice/milk cartons. They can be art'zy, educational and while saving money on art supplies, you are also saving the environment by keeping "recyclables" out of the landfills. Let me show you just one idea I have used in my preschool classroom over the years.
MATERIALS NEEDED:    1) 1/2 gallon size juice or milk carton.  2) Grass seed. Any kind will do for this project. 3)Planting dirt. You can get a large bag very cheap at any home supply store.4) (Optional) Colored masking tape. I personally used the colored masking tape just to have a cohesive look to the front of the houses,  but, it can also act as a reinforcement to the planting box when you insert the dirt and begin watering. 5) Scraps of construction paper for paper houses. 6) (Recommended) Contact paper or lamination for the finished paper houses. This will protect the paper from water damage while you are watering the grass. 7) Tacky glue 8) Scissors. 

After cutting out the house form from the juice carton, mask the "grass box" at the bottom of house cut out.  

Depending upon the ages of your 'little carpenters', you can either allow them to cut and create their own houses or you can have prefabricated homes for them to assemble themselves using glue and their imagination.

Once the home is assembled you should either laminate the paper houses or use contact paper to protect the paper from water damage. After laminating, you will tacky glue the paper houses to the carton directly above the planting box.  

Note: Because I was doing a large group project with preschool children, I used computerized images of windows and doors and allowed them glue.  

TOO CUTE!!!! Our preschool neighborhood:) Let's get planting!!

Allow the children to insert dirt, seeds and a small cup of water into the planting box in front of their homes:) It can take up to 4-5 days to begin seeing results, but once the grass is in full bloom you can allow the children to take scissors and give their lawns a nice little "mow" (trim.)