Thursday, December 20, 2012

Coupon Code!

Would you like to save $6.00 off your January or February workshop registration?  Simply write "BLOGCOUPON6" on your registration form, and take $6 off your payment!

This code good for January or February 2013 workshops only.  Each person may use each code one time.  Limit one code per person per training.

Look for more codes by "liking" us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and visiting our Pinterest page.

View or print the full flyer showing all our January and February workshops

Hot Chocolate Theme for Winter Months

We found some great ideas on the web that can be put together for a hot chocolate theme during these cold days. suggests making fake cocoa mix and marshmallows using scraps of brown construction paper cut small and cotton balls. Fill your sensory table with the scraps of brown paper and some scissors, and let the children spend a few days practicing cutting skills to chop the pieces into small bits. Then create a cocoa making station using paper cups, plastic measuring spoons, and the “cocoa” and marshmallows.

The site also suggests using marshmallows as stamps in a painting activity. Marshmallows now come in extra large size, as well as the traditional mini and regular. You may even find other shapes in your grocery store. Set out a variety of marshmallows and white paint along with colored construction paper. Show children how to dip the marshmallow into the paint then stamp onto the paper. suggests using picture recipes to help children make real hot cocoa they can drink. This is a great opportunity to work on sequencing words like, first, next, and last. Children can measure the appropriate number of spoonfuls of cocoa into their cups, then measure the correct amount of warm (not hot!) water, then stir. Have children count as they add five mini marshmallows. Then use the experience as a writing or graphing prompt to record what children think about the cocoa.

Make hot chocolate play dough using this recipe from

2 cups of water

1 1/2 cups of plain flour

1/2 cup of cocoa

1 cup of salt

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons of cream of tartar

Stir up all the ingredients in a saucepan, over a low heat, until the dough forms. Allow the dough to cool before sharing with children. The dough looks and smells good enough to eat, so make sure the children understand this dough is only for playing.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Preschool Activities Promoting Thankfulness

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, you're probably looking for fun new ways to introduce the idea of thankfulness to the children in your child care program.  Here are a few neat ideas we recently found:

Thankful Placemats
Give children sheets of paper and ask them to draw pictures of people, places, or things they are thankful for.  You may need to explain what "thankful means."  A child friendly definition is, "you're happy you have this person/thing in your life."  With children's permission, you can write explanations on their drawings, naming the people, or jotting down what the child said about his artwork.  These placemats can then be laminated and used at meals and snacks during the week, then sent home before the holiday break so families can enjoy them.  Idea found at

I'm Thankful Each Day

This wonderful book by P.K. Hallinan could be left in your classroom library all year.  The simple words and illustrations can be understood by the youngest children in your classroom, and they promote being grateful for material and non-material blessings we each have in your lives.

Make a "I am Thankful For..."Book
There are many ways to make books in your classroom, whether individual books children can take home, or classroom books you'll leave in your library and share over and over. has a free printable book about thankfulness that you can allow each child to personalize.

Gratitude Journals
Oprah Winfrey made journaling about five things we are grateful for each day a popular activity with many adults.  You can pass this practice along to children in simple ways.  They could be encouraged to draw or write in a journal each day about what makes them feel grateful.  Or, you could have children share ideas as a part of circle time each day.

Service Projects
As children express things they are thankful for, we can begin to teach them about helping others who may not have these things.  Encourage children to come up with ideas about how they could help others during the holiday season.  They might want to collect canned foods for a food pantry or practice a short program they could perform at a nursing home.  Follow their lead, and help them carry out the plans they'd like to pursue.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rules, Rules, and Fewer Rules!

It is that time of year when many programs are in transition; new children are enrolling, some are moving to a different classroom, it is the beginning of a new school year. This is a great time to re-visit your classroom rules to see if they are working for both you and the children in your program.

The following are some general guidelines for rule-setting:
  • Your rules should be limited to a few of the most important ones.
  • The rules need to make sense to the children.
  • Rules should be stated in positive terms (Be safe, walk inside).
  • Rules should be short and easily repeated.
  • Rules need to be appropriate for the ages and stages of the children in the group.
  • Teach each rule to staff, children and families.
Whatever rules you decide are important, the children should be part of the process of setting those rules.  For example, you might choose three simple rules such as:

1. Take good care of yourself. 
2. Take good care of others.
3. Take good care of our school or classroom.

As part of your circle time or your morning meeting time, you can discuss each of the rules and find out what it means to each child.  “Taking care of yourself” might mean stay safe, walk inside, or hold the handrail.

“Taking good care of others” might mean using soft touches, or talking softly while inside.

And “taking good care of our classroom” can mean be careful with our toys or color only on the paper.

The children will come up with a lot of great ideas, and you can help them see how they fit under each of the simple rules. Then you can use the consistent language of the rules for each situation. “James, take care of yourself; sit on the swing.”

You will know your rules are working, when you do not have to continually remind the children about following them.

Written by: Barb Vigil, Early Childhood Specialist
Adapted from Child Care Plus+

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sunny Summer Fun!

The lazy days of summer are here, and we know you’re always looking for new ideas to keep the children cool and occupied during these warm weather months. You can find an abundance of activities, themes, and inspiration online. Here are a few things we recently found:

Invisible Beach Drawings

Give children white crayons and a large sheet of manila paper. Encourage children to draw beach or ocean themed artwork with the crayon then paint over the drawings using blue, green, and brown watercolors to create water and sand. This is a great way to use up those white crayons nobody wants to use, and the manila paper lets the white show just enough that children can see what they are drawing and be amazed at how the drawings show up under the water color.

Pass the Ice Cube

This game is played just like Hot Potato, except you use an ice cube! Try playing outdoors on a hot summer day. Have the children sit in a circle then instruct them to pass an ice cube around the circle while you play music. See who has the ice cube when the music stops, or see how many times you can pass it before it melts away.

Kool-aid Painting

Sprinkle unsweetened powdered drink mix in a variety of flavors on sheets of paper, then give the children ice cubes to move over the paper. The ice will melt, dissolving the drink mix and creating colorful designs. Plus it smells delicious! Be sure to wear smocks or old clothes, because it might stain.

Beachy Dramatic Play

Create a fun beach or swimming pool theme for your dramatic play area. Add beach towels, empty bottles of sunscreen, goggles, blow up toys, sunglasses, and big floppy hats.

Summer Quiet Place

For a fun, summery quiet space where children can read a book, calm down, or just be alone, set up a small plastic pool in the classroom. Try setting it up first as a cutting practice area, and provide scraps of blue and green construction or tissue paper. Let the children cut or tear the paper into little pieces, reminding them to keep the “water” in the swimming pool. Once the paper is shredded, use it as a sensory area where children can dig through the paper shreds using shovels, scoops, or their hands. In a few days, empty the pool and put in some beach towels and swim rings, and let children snuggle up with a book or soft toy.

Chalk Time

We’ve all given children sidewalk chalk to create with on warm days. You may have even had children “paint” the sidewalk with water and a large paintbrush on hot days. But have you ever combined the two? Dipping chalk in water before using it makes the colors more vibrant. Or let children draw with the chalk, then “erase” with the water. Try encouraging children to draw roads with the chalk then use toy cars on the roads.

Cool Sensory Play

Use your sensory table, or empty plastic tubs to explore ice cubes. Simply put the cubes in the tubs and provide your usual water play props. Or add to the experience by dropping food coloring in the ice cube trays before you freeze them. Children will enjoy watching the colors mix as the ice melts. You can also provide shakers of table salt, and show the children how the salt melts the ice. See if you can get the cubes to stick together using the salt!

Ball Painting

Hang a large piece of paper (or try an old, light colored sheet) on your fence outside. Give the children paper plates with some paint and a variety of soft, small balls. Have them dip the ball in the paint, then throw the ball at the canvas. Try nerf balls, koosh balls, golf balls, or whiffle balls and see what patterns the different balls make. Do this on a hot day, and let the kids wear swimsuits then run through sprinklers to wash off any paint.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Child Care in America: 2012 Fact Sheets

Child Care Aware® of America recently released its annual state-by state report on key child care data.  Child Care in America 2012 Fact Sheets provide information and statistics on working families, child care supply and demand, costs and other relevant child care data.

Some interesting facts for Missouri:
  • Out of 678,384 total families with children, 124,899 families live in poverty.
  • Average annual fees for full time infant care in a child care center in Missouri are $8,580. 
  • This amounts to 39% of the median family income for single working mothers. 
  • As a comparison, average annual cost for tuition and fees at a public in-state four-year college is $7,668. 
View or print the full 2012 Fact Sheet for Missouri here.

View or print the Fact Sheets for any other state or the District of Columbia here. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

New Crib Standards for Child Care

We've gotten a lot of questions from child care providers about the new crib standards.  A few facts:
  • The new standards go info effect for child care providers December 28, 2012.
  • They went into effect for manufacturers, retailers, and distributors June 28, 2011.
  • Immobilizing the drop side on older cribs does NOT make them compliant.
  • You should not purchased used cribs for use in child care, especially ones that were manufactured before June 2011.
  • You should dispose of non compliant cribs in a manner which prevents them from being used.  This means you should NOT sell them or donate them.
  • You cannot tell if a crib is compliant by looking at it.  If you purchased cribs prior to June 2011 and you want to verify whether they meet the new standards, you can contact the manufacturer or retailer and ask for written proof, a Certificate of Compliance.
See more information on crib standards from the Consumer Products Safety Commission here.     

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When You are in the Sun

It is that time of year again when the sun and heat play a major factor in our outside time. Keep the children safe this summer by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Babies under 6 months should avoid sun exposure, and dress in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck. A minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) can be applied to the infant's face and the back of the hands with parent’s written authorization.

For older children apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The SPF should be at least 15 and protect against UVA and UVB rays. Have children cover up their arms and legs with lightweight cotton clothing with a tight weave. Children should wear a hat with a three–inch brim and sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays).

Some other basic strategies to remember to shield children and adults from excessive sun exposure:
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen - about one ounce per sitting for a young adult. Lotion– and cream– based sunscreens tend to adhere to the skin longer, thus providing better protection.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
Following these ideas and suggestion will certainly keep everyone’s skin healthy and safe.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

As early childhood professionals, it is our job to ensure child abuse prevention efforts are happening year round. The month of April is a great time to emphasize the importance of prevention in our community.

CHILD ABUSE is a COMMUNITY problem. . .
  • a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.
  • 90% of the victims knew the perpetrator.
  • 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted by age 18.
  • 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted by age 18.
Visit Prevent Child Abuse in America website at:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winter 2012 Connections

The Winter 2012 issue of the Child Care Aware® of Missouri newsletter is now available.  You can view or print the full newsletter here.  Articles include information about T.E.A.C.H. Missouri, a scholarship program for early childhood professionals and a discussion about defining quality child care.  You'll also want to read the important warning about using Bumbo Baby Seats.

Playdough Day is February 24, and this helpful article from Child Care Aware® of Eastern Missouri, a Program at LUME Institute explains what children can learn from experiences with dough.  The article includes recipes for making your own Gingerbread Playdough or Jell-o Playdough.

The article from Child Care Aware® of Southern Missouri an Operating Agency of Council of Churches of the Ozarks shares information about The Children's and Young Adult Book Review Board of Missouri.  This group of volunteers reviews new children's books to help parents and teachers choose quality books for children.  Read the article here.

For great ideas to get kids moving both indoors and outdoors during cold weather, read the article from Child Care Aware® of Western Missouri a Program at The Family Conservancy. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Questions about Online Workshops

After many years of child care providers asking for a chance to take professional development classes for clock hours online, we are thrilled to be offering this opportunity now! Since this is such a new process, we’ve received many questions, and we wanted to address some of those most frequently asked here.

What equipment do I need?

Prior to the training, you will be e-mailed workbook materials, and you’ll need to print these out before the class. During the training, you’ll need a computer with access to the internet. You’ll use this to see the visual portions of the training, such as power point slides. You’ll also need a phone (either a land line or a cell phone) to call a toll free number so that you can hear the instructor and ask questions. Up to three people can use the same computer and phone during the training.

Do I need computer skills?

Basic computer skills are necessary to get the most from these online professional development experiences. If you can access the internet, navigate to websites, and type a little, you’ll do just fine.

Can I participate in these trainings during my work day?

We are offering these online trainings at a variety of times including evenings, Saturdays, and typical nap times. Please keep in mind that proper adult/child ratios must be maintained in your program at all times, and children must be supervised. Nap time is often an easier time for a substitute or floater to take charge of a classroom, thus allowing the regular teacher time to take an online workshop.

How many online clock hours will licensing accept per year?

Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services Section for Child Care Regulation allows an unlimited amount of annual clock hours to be earned online.

How will I receive my certificate?

Your certificate will be mailed to the address you provided at registration once you have completed all the training activities.You are expected to attend the full class and participate in discussion and activities during the professional development event.  You will also be required to complete an evaluation of the session.

To view online clock hour opportunities available now, visit the Missouri Workshop Calendar at and click on the "online/distance" tab at the top.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Preschool Activities for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

As I set out to write a blog post about fun and educational activity ideas for child care programs to do on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I came across many websites with coloring pages, worksheets, and other printables, and it frustrated me a little bit.  If you're looking for ways to teach children about the true meaning of this day, I think there are more developmentally appropriate ways to go about it.

Why not simply share a nice book about Dr. King at story time?  Here are some suggestions:

Reading books like these can be the start of wonderful discussions with young children.  We often share fiction books with preschool children, but non-fiction books are just as important.  Talk about the difference before reading one of these selections.

If you want to do an art activity based upon this theme, here is a good one:

A Dream Quilt from Everything Preschool
We discussed Martin Luther King, Jr. and talked about how he dreamed of a world where people didn't fight and hate people because their skin was different. Then we looked in mirrors at ourselves and each other. We also talked about what quilts are, blankets or covers that are made of little pieces.

At art time each child drew a picture and dictated what they dream of becoming. Some examples were, "I want to work with animals", "I want to cook the food", "I dream of being a friend" etc. Then we placed each individual picture on a large piece of bulletin board paper with a border around the edge and titled it "Our Dream Quilt".
If you're looking for a simple way to explain who this important man was in terms that young children can understand, use this script found at Twiggle Magazine.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is important because he helped our country realize that it needed to change some very unfair laws. A law is like a rule. Sometimes rules are fair and sometimes rules are not fair. What are some of the rules that we have in our class? Are the rules the same for everyone in the class? Are they fair to everyone?

Use the story of Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to start circle time conversations about how everyone is unique and valuable. Building a classroom community based upon kindness, caring, and equality is perhaps the most valuable way to celebrate the holiday!