Spring 2020

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The spring of 2020 was probably the most uncertain time of all of our lives. I felt like I was waiting for something but didn’t know what I was waiting for nor when it was going to get here. It was an eerie feeling.

Kind of like that feeling before a snow storm. Although the spring of 2020 gave us so much to consider, I noticed it was a breathtakingly beautiful spring. The most beautiful spring I can remember. Unfortunately, our springs in this area have been reduced to a couple of weeks at best. This spring the colors were vibrant and vivid. The blooms were heavy, long lasting and big. The pear trees didn’t shed nearly as quickly as they usually do.

The sky was even bluer. We had a LOT of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. This resulted in a technicolor spring. There are so many lilac bushes in Miss Amy’s neighborhood I could smell them every time we went outside. The tulips, daffodils, dogwood, red-buds all the early bloomers, really showed off. It gave me some comfort.

Getting to know the upstairs children took me out of my comfort zone and kept me on my toes as they are not easily impressed. We turned everything into a project. How many buckets does it take to return the sand to the playground from the dump buckets? The answer was 87.

We documented new birds that came to the feeders we made.

Mr. Peanuts, our squirrel, does indeed like peanuts although it took him 11 days to find them. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were very social, they made some duck friends and they all slept in the puddles outside.

We learned the Hand Jive – Bob Bop Clap Clap Side to Side. Everyone is very coordinated except for me. I made Bananas Foster French Toast with whipped cream. It was delicious! Now we are all back where we are more accustomed to being. It feels like home. We planted some impatiens but they failed to come up. We planted basil instead. We also turned grass seed, selfies, and plastic cups into a “Chia Pet”. We continued our seasonal tree art collaboration that was inspired by a project from a few years ago.

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Until next time,

Ms. Micha

A Winter Smorgasbord!

Hopefully, the majority of the bugs, viruses, flu, colds, coughs, and all other ailments have passed. Thank you to our parents for keeping your sick children home until they are all better. Thank you for helping us with handwashing, nose-blowing, sneeze & cough catching.

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Pajama Party Day!

Our Winter season birthday party was so cozy. The children piled onto the rug downstairs and watched Daniel Tiger together. We munched on some corn pops while we lounged in our PJs. I don’t know who enjoyed being in PJs more, the staff or the children.

We began counting in Italian when we returned from Christmas break. Some of the numbers were the same or similar to Spanish so the children caught on quickly. We learned to say Good Morning “Buongiorno” and Goodbye “Arrivederci”. We focused on Italian until Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day, we prepared a huge feast featuring Marcy’s delizioso pasta! Thank you again, Marcy! Marcy sent enough for 40 hungry construction workers. She even sent plenty for our vegetarian friends. The children got straight to work making garlic parmesan cheese bread, salad, and home-made salad dressing. For dessert, Miss Amy shared her Valentine’s gift from Mr. Mike & each child enjoyed one chocolate. Mmmmmmm Gooooood!  Thank you, parents, especially Marcy, for bringing items for our Valentine’s Italian Feast!

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Be My Valentine!

Our children thoroughly enjoyed Valentine’s Day! This wasn’t traditional, decorate a bag or an old shoebox and drop-in store-bought Valentines nor exchange of artwork which in my experience, usually results in tears. This was fun, different and a good experience. We measured, smelled ingredients like balsamic vinegar, garlic, & oregano. We mixed and stirred and used new words. Fractions and volume were demonstrated. A cooking lesson exposes children to so many opportunities to learn. I’m only highlighting a few. We like to reflect on past events and the comment that struck me the most was from one of our boys; he proclaimed “It’s not Valentine’s day anymore. I was really happy with that spaghetti”! Our students have evolved so much in the past eight months in every way. It looks streamlined with the new storage system. The riddance of the old carpet and the addition of the light-colored floor makes for a lighter, brighter classroom. The new traffic pattern and layout have created a cohesive floor that allows for more meaningful play.

We have decided on Chinese numbers, hello & goodbye. If you would like to follow along at home; a simple YouTube search will be helpful – that’s how I do it. We do two or three numbers at a time and I spend a whole week on each new addition of the two-three numbers. Currently, we are learning ‘Hello’ and numbers one – three. As of now, I’m not sure which direction our Chinese counting will take us. We will be watching play urges and listening to conversations from the children to see where this might lead us.

 

We remind our parents to label every item that their child brings from home. Even if it’s a one of a kind custom item, it is 100% necessary to write their child’s name on every single article. We go outside every day unless the temperature is below 20 degrees. We go outside even if it is raining. We are so very fortunate to have our porch as a play area. So, children MUST have a coat DAILY. We DO get dirty! They’re clothes, shoes will get soiled if not with dirt, mud, and sand. It will be with paint, markers, glue, flour, or some other amazing concoction.

 

Miss Stephanie, Miss Amy, and I are currently working on individual goals for each child. We will be involving our parents with this. This is something I’ve been working toward since I started in June. While it will be casual and informal, my hope is to make each child’s experience personalized in addition to being able to track progress with data and input from teachers, aides, and parents. It’ a work in progress!

Until next time,

Ms. Micha

Back to School

     During the back to school season, I always get a feeling of melancholy. Going back to school after a summer break was a big deal! My favorite part was getting new “tennis” shoes. Some people may call them athletic shoes, or sneakers. I believe it depends on where you are from as to what you call them. It’s kind of like, do you say soda, cola, or pop. Most of us born and raised in Southwest Virginia call our athletic shoe tennis shoes and it doesn’t matter that some of us have never played tennis in our lives.
So, with new white Nikes or Reeboks and my new Levi’s that were so stiff, they could walk to the bus stop by themselves. I would make my way through the halls, stopping to catch up with my friends, finding out your schedule, your teachers, your homeroom, where your friend would be and of course your crush.
My teachers left such impressions on me there are things that I do in my classroom today that is a direct result of my teachers. My wish is to impact children in ways that hopefully stimulate lots of thinking and challenges them to step outside of the box.
We have completely conquered counting aloud in Spanish and are now learning to count in Japanese! It is great fun and the children enjoy it so much. This is an activity we do during transition times throughout the day. Transitions are the toughest part of a toddler and/or preschooler’s day. Adding signals or cues make transitions so much easier for all of us, plus it is a fun thing to do.
Our fairy garden is another huge success for us!

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Miss Amy found some nice galvanized trays. We then added some aquarium gravel. Then we put in some potting soil. Next, we spread the grass seed/mulch mixture and watered it. The children found some really great decorations and ornaments to go inside.

 

They chose objects that they felt may attract friendly fairy’s and then they waited….and waited….and waited some more. At last, we saw the first signs of bright green grass. That is when Miss Amy thought a ‘grow light’ may come in handy and how right she was. WOW! What a difference a day made. We now have a beautiful lush grass so thick and long that Miss Stephanie had to give it a ‘hair-cut’.

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We have been busy, busy, busy…We even made, and ate, Purple Stew!

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If you have been following our blog then you know that this is our most favorite song and dance. You can find it on YouTube GoNoodle Purple Stew. The recipe is rather simple; It contains purple potatoes, purple carrots, purple onions, purple cabbage, a couple of beets, corned beef hash, some V-8 juice, and little bit of blue food coloring. Viola! Purple Stew! We all liked making it and most everyone enjoyed eating it.
Back to school season is a time of renewal and reflection. I’m excited to begin the process and build new relationships. I am very proud to watch a few students graduate to the older classrooms upstairs and spread their wings a little. I fondly remember a teacher that let us go for a walk and brought in exotic fruits and vegetables for us to taste. The teacher that encouraged u to make a big mess and sing a little louder. So maybe this is why I always “need” a new pair of “tennis” shoes every August and why I now like “soft distressed” jeans rather than those 505’s that could stand alone.

Until next time ~ Miss Micha

Picture This!

Before I get into this week’s blog post, I wanted to take a moment to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for the job that I have here at Miss Amy’s. I’ve had the pleasure of working here for just over a year and I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without the community here, without the children, and without all of you. I, for one, feel very blessed to be a part of each child’s life. Thank you for that opportunity. Your children are amazing and I learn so much from them, day in and day out. May we never stop listening to their small voices, wrapping them up in our arms, and making sure they know we love them and always will. No. Matter. What.

And, on that happy note, let’s flash back to some of the fun and crazy things we’ve been doing the last few weeks. Of course, we celebrated Easter with an Easter egg hunt and we dyed eggs, but we also decorated some paper Easter eggs and made chocolate chickens.

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Since the kids were obsessed with things popping out of eggs, I made a little chick peeking out of an egg as an example of what they could choose to do with their own paper Easter eggs.

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What they did with their eggs was totally up to them though!

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And boy, did we have some funny looking Easter eggs…

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A few days later, we melted down a bunch of chocolate and poured it into candy molds, making chocolate chicken popsicles for snack!

This past Friday we had our annual Trike-A-Thon, where we raise money for St. Jude’s, so that they can continue fighting childhood cancer and finding ways to improve the lives of those children and their families. Here is a link to more information about these events held nationwide! As for our particular event, we took tons of pictures and have been updating along the way and all of that information can be found on our Facebook page. We had a wonderful time!

In other news, we have been quite into making masks lately. All sorts of fun masks. Beards, sharks, and maybe my face…? I’m really not sure on that one. Sometimes, I just have to sit back and laugh at some of the silly things that happen here.

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Speaking of funny things, when one of the kids learned about my upcoming birthday and they found out how old I’d be turning, they looked at me for a moment and pondered my answer, before announcing, “You’re going to die sooner than I thought you were.” Good gracious, I about fell over I was laughing so hard. Only a child. It made my day.

Another incident that made my day was the dancing down on the porch. We recently put a speaker down on the porch, so children could listen to music in the afternoons. We plugged in our iPod and have been playing Music Together songs and some of the children have really been getting into it. They grab scarves and just rock out to the songs. It’s hard not to smile when you see a two year old getting down to “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”

Here’s just a smattering of beautiful paintings courtesy of the kids.

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And last, but definitely not least, we have officially begun working on our fall art exhibit. I’m going to keep the theme a surprise for now, but here’s a sneak peak at some of the work we’re doing. And, as always, here’s the link to more photos from the past few weeks.

It’s going to be great! Right now, we’re gearing up for the summer and are getting ready for the long sunny days ahead. Here’s to hoping the clouds clear up and the rain, rain goes away and comes again another day.

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

 

Picture This!

Happy April 6th! Y’all, we made it. It’s finally spring! The weather has warmed up nicely and, of course, the rain has begun. But, spring is that wonderful time of the year when flowers start blooming and we begin planting our garden!

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As with last year, we are partnering with Grow Appalachia to plant and maintain a community garden and it’s such a valuable experience for the children. They love getting to spread compost around the plants, starting seedlings, helping choose what we plant and where we plant it, and harvesting when things are all said and done. It’s such a magical thing to watch a tiny seed poke out of the ground and grow into a grand plant that then produces cherry red tomatoes you can eat straight off the vine. And, because it’s a community garden, our produce will be available to the community!

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A corn cupcake for Tillie’s first birthday, courtesy of Miss Amber’s class!

Another fun event that occurred recently was the birthday of our chicken here at Miss Amy’s. Her name is Tillie and she recently turned 1 year old. To celebrate this event, all of the kids wanted Tillie to have a birthday cake, like they would have on one of their own birthdays. That said, we knew that it wouldn’t be a great idea to give her actual cake, so we made our own little corn cupcakes. We then frosted them with plain yogurt and topped them off with some leftover strawberries. And boy did she love it!

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Just like any other 1 year old, she got cake all over her face!

Lately, we have been doing a lot of experimentation with painting and the use of different brushes. Sometimes, we need to use a certain type of brush to produce a certain type of artwork, to get across the picture inside our brains. And I must say, it’s been working pretty well. With the choice of which brush would be best, the children are producing some amazing paintings.

We have also been having great success with melty beads too. For the first time since this group has been at Miss Amy’s, they are finishing whole melty bead designs and I’m having to melt 5 to 8 different creations each day. They are blowing it out of the water! I’m so proud! Even Miss Amber got in on it and made a lizard out of melty beads!

And to wrap up this posting’s brief overview of art at Miss Amy’s the past few weeks, we also had a station where children could make little chicks from toilet paper rolls. Using tissue paper, they could put “feathers” on their chick, and a little orange beak and feet, but I knew long before I ever put the supplies out that I was going to get some really strange looking chicks. Aren’t you glad this isn’t what actual chickens look like?!

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Oh! And before I forget, we also “tasted the rainbow” a few weeks ago! We did this really cool science experiment where you “melt” skittles and they create these rainbows and then you can eat what is left of the skittles and drink the juice. It was such a big hit at school, that a few of the kids actually went home and did the experiment again!

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I promise it’s not science fiction, but I’m not sure I would believe it if I hadn’t seen it happen!

All in all, it’s been a great beginning to spring here and we are looking forward to a fun and very busy April. If you’d like to see more pictures from the past two weeks, you can find them here. With that, farewell! Until next time!

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

Picture This!

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It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood, a wonderful day for a neighbor. Oh, would you be mine? Could you be mine?

Holidays are magical times for children. What lasts a mere twenty-four hours for us adults goes on for days and days in a child’s life. There is no Valentine’s Day, but Valentine’s week! I’m actually still not sure it’s over… But, it was fun!

On Monday, in preparation for Valentine’s Day, Miss Amy made some amazing homemade angel food cake with a ton of eggs that we got from our lovely chicken Tilley and I worked on making little heart shaped pizzas with the kids.

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They were incredibly tasty little treats and a great way to start off our Valentine’s week. Oh, and before I get too carried away, here’s a picture of our chicken, Tilley. She is very sweet and the children love to feed her leaves and grass and she happily gobbles them up.

On Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, we had fun eating the angel food cake Amy made and picking our handmade valentines out of the box. We also had some brownies and fruit salad and all in all, it was a day of much sugar and much love. I apologize now that I don’t have more pictures of the events I speak of, but it can be difficult to step back and photograph when you are in the moment, enjoying it, helping the kids.

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Wednesday and Thursday, we continued making valentines for each other, coloring hearts, and we retained our focus on compassion and love. On Friday, we made adorable heart shaped cookies for snack and everyone ate far too many of them. I may have made more than necessary though, like 30 more than necessary. Oops!

Throughout the week, we also had a “Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf” provocation which encouraged the children to try building with different materials, such as straw, sticks, and “bricks” or Legos in our case. It also gave them the opportunity to play and re-enact the story while simultaneously crafting their own new stories with the same familiar characters.

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I so desperately wanted to call them the three little bears and the big bad mouse, because my ability to make spoons look like pigs and a wolf was laughable. Thank goodness for the powerful imagination of a child!

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve also has a grand ole’ time with feats of engineering, from building ramps – jumps included- to digging tunnels, to intricate games of “Don’t fall in the lava!”

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It was quite a good week! And with that, I bid you adieu. I promised myself I wouldn’t write a crazy long blog post this time and I’m sticking to it! That said, I still want to be able to share photos and stories of some of the fun things happening at Miss Amy’s, so I created a photo album where you can explore more photos from the past weeks and all the weeks to come! Just click here: More Pictures! Happy Sunday y’all!

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

Picture This!

Happy Saturday! I just wanted to take a second to let y’all know about the new art themed picture based blog post series I’m about to start up. Each week, I take oodles of pictures of the art that your wonderful children are producing day in and day out and I wanted a way to share this outside of my normal blog posts. So, every few weeks, I’m going to update “Picture This!” with new pictures of our recent art! Don’t worry, still the same blog, just a running series of posts within and I’ll always call it “Picture This!” Excitement! Now, without further ado…

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The kids love this book, so I thought we’d find a way to incorporate it into an art activity!

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In case you’ve never read Sneezy the Snowman, he melts over and over again because he’s too cold and keeps trying to warm himself up by drinking hot chocolate, sitting in a hot tub, and standing by a fire.

Here’s a link to a reading of Sneezy the Snowman on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RiHfYElP-M

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First we painted snowmen and decorated them and then, using straws, we blew our snowmen into oblivion!

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Looks like a melted snowman to me!

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Next, we decided to take normal Play-Doh to the next level and draw on it!

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Each child got their own hunk of white Play-Doh and then took to it with markers.

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And once they’d finished drawing on it, we mixed it up with great success! Beautiful!

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Played with our Play-Doh…

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And even practiced our letters.

Our end result: Play-Doh as unique as each child’s imagination and a great future toy!

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We also tried our hand at replicating snowflakes!

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All we had to do was place tape on watercolor paper in the shape of snowflakes…

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Paint…

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And pull the tape off!

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Not one snowflake like any other!

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With Pajama Day coming up and yet another book we all love, we started making our very own red pajamas from all manner of materials, including tape, noodles, and glitter.

Here’s a link to a reading of Llama Llama Red Pajama on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD1g3P-nKWo

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After we were finished decorating our pajamas, we could move on to the next step of making sure we put heads, hands, and feet on our pajamas.

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Because headless pajama would be scary – Eek!

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Some of us wanted to use yarn for our hair and others just used pencils and crayons.

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But either way, we drew our faces, painted our hands, and stamped our feet and soon had…

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Pajama clad versions of ourselves to take home on Pajama Day!

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We also painted many a picture over the past few weeks, something we quite love to do.

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You just can’t go wrong with paint!

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Our creations included this car, which looks like it came straight out of a children’s book…

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And the Moaning Lisa!

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We circled back around to snowflakes and tried our hand at decorating them too.

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Once more, not a snowflake too similar!

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We had a few sensory tables thrown into the mix as well!

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Here, our biodegradable packing peanuts are dissolving in water…

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Being squished by children…

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and rolling around in a bucket of shredded paper “snow!”

Can you tell yet how desperately we are hoping it will snow very very soon?

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Finally, we built things, drew things, and just played and had fun!

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Wiki Sticks!

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Spaghetti and Meatballs!

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Melty Beads

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Loose Parts

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Look at that structure!

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HAPPINESS!

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It’s only a snapshot – I take at least a hundred pictures a week – but hopefully it brings you into our world of art and exploration. Until next time!

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

Valentine Muffins

In preparation for our Valentines Party on Friday, our 2 and 3 year old classes worked together this morning in making “Strawberry/Banana Muffins”. Miss Amy gathered some of the children to read a story first.

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After the story everyone was very eager to mix all the ingredients together. So after a real good hand washing everyone found a seat around the table. First they had to prep the strawberries and bananas, first they tried just pounding them (which most enjoyed that method). Then some used a rolling pin,  Miss Amy ask them first what it was and a one child said a “roller”.

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The recipe was discussed before the ingredients were added. They used
1 egg, bisquick, sugar, milk, oil, strawberries and bananas. When the milk was added someone said “it looks like a river”.

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Everyone had a turn stirring all the ingredients together, as it got close to being all mixed well another child said “it’s getting gooder”!

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After Miss Amy poured the batter in the muffin tin everyone counted the to see how many they had made and then they counted all the children to see if we will have enough for everyone tomorrow.

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The finished product! Yummy!

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Miss Susie

Love is in the Air!

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It’s “love week” so we have been celebrating and preparing for our Valentine’s Party on Friday. At Miss Amy’s we always like to let the children share their thoughts and ideas, at party time this is no different. Some things we can accommodate, others not so much. Here is their list for the party. Can you guess what was cut ?

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The children have been very interested in baking the past couple of weeks. So they will be baking muffins for the party. They are so excited about that! I also mixed up some chocolate playdoh for them to experiment with. They love the scent!

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We have also started on our valentines. Each child makes one valentine to put into our Valentine Box. Then on party day they each get to pick one super special handmade valentine out of the box. In preschool love is friendship, and there is a whole lot of love here ! – Miss Amber

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