c is for calendar trick

we check our calendar every morning (after we wish each other well).  usually we are trying to figure out a pattern along with what number will come next.  i’ve started drawing the month’s calendar each month instead of using a purchased one.  i think i did that in february when i wanted to draw hearts around the number in different colors.

for may we hid the numbers with post it stars.  when the child’s name was on the star, they came and took it off.  my, my that was exciting.  i think i’ll do that in september as well…perfect for when we’re trying to learn each other’s names.

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w is for water transfer

i had two tubs, water in one, and a bunch of small tools (mini droppers, spoons, pvc pipe, straws, ladles, etc.).  the challenge was to move the water from one tub to the next without picking up the tub or getting any other tools.

by the way, the oily film you see on the water is from an organic mint extract i used (thinking it would just add a nice smell…i won’t use it again).

w is for (made up) words

i’d never done this activity before….maybe because i had never been given a stack of letter stickers (the kind used for mailboxes, etc).

the kids were encouraged to put the letter stickers in a row to make up a word and we would read them at circle time.  i didn’t realize there were number and symbol stickers along with the letters, but that only made the words even more silly.

this would be a simple way to demonstrate the function of vowels.  one little girl realized that when she put an “o” between other letters, it sounded like a “real word.”  way to go!  though it wasn’t our focus, some kids knew words already and had fun adding those to their papers.

i don’t know who had more fun:  the kids listening to the made up words or us teachers trying to pronounce them.

h is for hospitality

if you were an adult who came in on a certain morning towards the end of the school year, you were met with a free coffee cart.

we have coffee made every day and there are some families who have time to drink a quick cup.  this day that was made a little easier by the kids “serving” coffee as families entered the classroom.  as the morning went on, preschoolers would wheel the cart to me and ms. carol to refill our cups.

again, REAL WORK is so satisfying.

b is for bubbles

i like to provide bubble water in our tub table…really warm at the start of the morning and it cools by the end of the preschool day.  there are a couple of kids who like to test the temperature throughout the morning.  i should figure out a way to actually measure the temp…a pool thermometer?

bubble girls


we label the straws to help cut down on germ sharing.  though with all that soap, would they be okay?  : )

p is for pioneer heat and light (fire!)

fire was made even more amazing this week when we discussed the necessity of it for heat, cooking and light.

fire building

we practiced our fire making skills after collecting our own twigs.

fire sticks


then we enjoyed a real campfire.

fire for real


families joined us for the last part of the last day.  i hear the fire ring was still smoking.  it was a delightful way to end our week.

p is for pioneer group games

we played several games as a group (see directions at the end of the post).

bean bags

one popular indoor game (that was maybe more suited for outdoors) was a bean bag toss.  if you see a red blur in any of these photos, it is the bean bag!

bean bags

bean bags

bean bags

bean bags

:: :: :: ::

other group games:

Blind Man’s Buff – One person is blindfolded and other players form a circle around him/her. The blindfolded person is turned around a few times then let go to catch one of the players. There are different ways to play the game. One way is that the blindfolded player has to guess who they have caught.

Drop the handkerchief – Players join hands and form a circle while “it” holds a handkerchief and runs around the circle. “It” drops the handkerchief behind one of the players and keeps running. The player then picks up the handkerchief and runs around the circle in the opposite direction. They race to see who reaches the empty spot first. The loser becomes the next “it”.

Ducks Fly - Players face the leader, who says what to do. Then they copy the actions of the leader. The leader will say “Ducks fly” and flap his arms. The players also flap their arms. The leader continues with other actions like “cats meow”, “dogs bark, etc. But the leader also tries to trick others by saying “sheep oink”. The players must remain quiet until the leader says it correctly.

Fox and Geese – This game is played after a snowfall. First the snow is tramped down in paths to make a big wheel with spokes and a hub in the center. One player is the Fox and the rest are the Geese. The Fox tries to catch a Goose (who then becomes the next Fox). Players must stay inside the paths. If a Goose steps off the path, that Goose is caught. The only safe place for a Goose is in the center (hub). But only one Goose is allowed to be in the center.

Hot and cold – One person (it) leaves the room while the others hide a button (or some other object). When “it” returns he/she has to try and find the button. The others give hints by saying “warm, warmer, hot, or cold, colder, etc.”

Jack Straws – This game is like “pick up sticks”. Straws or very thin sticks were used. The straws were placed in a pile shaped like a haystack or tent (coming to a point at the top and spread out at the bottom). Each player took a turn pulling a straw out of the pile trying not to move any other straws. If a player was able to get a straw without jiggling any other straws he/she scored a point. Then it was the next player’s turn. The game ended when the stack fell. The winner was the player with the most straws. To make the game more interesting, there were “special” straws which were worth more points.

Marbles – The object of the game is to win marbles from other players. The first player tosses a marble on the ground. The second player tries to hit the marble by tossing his/her marble at it. If the second player is successful, he/she wins the marble. If not successful, the first player has a turn to try and hit the second player’s marble. There were many other ways to play “marbles”.

Poor Doggie (or Poor Kitty) - “It” is the doggie who must try to make someone laugh. The players sit in a circle and Doggie goes to each player and barks, whines and imitates a dog. The players have to pet Doggie and say “Poor Doggie, Poor Doggie, Poor Doggie!” The player must not smile while saying this or he/she will become the next Doggie.

Rolling the hoop - Children would run along beside a hoop, rolling it by using a stick. Sometimes races were held to see who could be the fastest. There were also contests to see who could roll the hoop the farthest or who could keep it rolling for the longest time.

Shadow tag – “It” tries to step on another player’s shadow. If a player gets tired of running away, he/she must lie down so “it” cannot tag them.

Simon says – Players face the leader and must do what the leader says. If the leader says “Simon says, Thumbs up” and puts up his thumbs, then the players must do the same thing. The leader calls out and does other actions like “Simon says hop on one foot” or “Simon says touch your toes “, etc. But if the leader does not say the words “Simon says” and just says “jump up and down” the players should do nothing. Anyone who is tricked by the leader has to become the next leader.

Who has the button? – The players form a circle and the person who is “it” leaves (or closes his/her eyes) while the others pass a “button” or another object around the circle. One person hides the object behind his/her back. All the other players put their hands behind their backs, too. Then “it” is allowed three guesses as to who is hiding the object. If “it” guesses correctly they exchange places and a new person is “it”.

p is for pioneer toys

a popular stopping point in the museum is their old toy display.

old toy

old toy

after the first day of camp, the campers also know about the drawers at the bottom of the case that open to reveal toys they can play with!


old toy

old toy

we played with spinning tops, whirly-gigs, corn cob dolls, jacks, jacob’s ladders and marbles (all while sitting on the real bison rug, mind you!).

spinning tops

spinning tops

i bought these spinning tops and we painted them with watercolors.  there were some finger muscle work outs this day!


we started each day with a game of “yes and no.”  i held up drawings and the children said “yes” if it existed way-back-when and “no” if it didn’t.

NO:  computer, plastic toys, video games, markers, tv…(one friend suggested that every child would have to live by a creek so that they had something to do.  i think i agree!)