Categories
Blog

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough Recipe

One of my favorite ways to teach my kids about different seasons and holidays is to incorporate seasonal touches to normal, every day activities. You can do this by adding different holiday or seasonal themed books to their bookshelf, creating a fall or winter themed scene in their playhouse, or by making easy, festive recipes with them. Today, I am going to show you how to make homemade, fall scented play dough. Here’s how to make Pumpkin Pie Play Dough.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 drops of orange food coloring or 3 drops each of red/yellow food coloring

Begin by pouring all of the ingredients into a large saucepan and mix them together well.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the play dough starts to form. Once a ball is formed and the consistency of the dough is no longer sticky, remove it from the heat and let it cool for one minute.

Remove it from the pan and knead it with your hands for one minute, adding a tiny bit of flour if needed.

Let the dough cool completely. Pair it with your favorite cookie cutters and play dough tools. Store in an airtight container.

This play dough is super easy to make and smells just like fall! Share your creations with us @thepreschoolbox!

Categories
Blog

19 Kid Friendly Fall Activities

Click the Download button for a printable PDF of these kid friendly fall activities.

Fall is upon us and for most of us that means some nicer, cooler weather which makes it a great time to get out of the house and do some fun seasonal activities. We have compiled a list of some of our favorite fun, kid friendly fall activities that will get you in the fall spirit! We hope you can check off as many as possible and create some great memories while doing so!

  1. Go on a hayride
  2. Carve a pumpkin
  3. Visit a pumpkin patch
  4. Make candy apples
  5. Jump in a big pile of
    leaves
  6. Have a pumpkin
    painting party with
    friends
  7. Make a Thankful list
  8. Watch a Halloween
    movie like:
    • The Nightmare Before Christmas
    • Spookly the Square Pumpkin
    • Hotel Transylvania
  9. Go trick or treating
  10. Make a pumpkin pie
  11. Go to a high school
    football game
  12. Visit a Farm
  13. Make home-made
    play-doh
  14. Have a picnic
  15. Make smores over a fire
  16. Make a fall wreath
  17. Go apple picking
  18. Visit a corn maze
  19. Decorate for Halloween
Categories
Blog

Gourmet Caramel Apples

Fall has arrived. Whether it be the change in weather or the endless fall-themed activities that come with this time of year, there is something so comforting that comes with the change of seasons from Summer to Fall. One of my favorite fall recipes to make with my kids is gourmet caramel apples just like the ones you see at the mall that seem impossible to make.

Gourmet Caramel Apples are fun to make because the possibilities are endless, you can easily wrap them with cellophane and ribbon for a unique gift, and they sure are yummy!

Here’s what you need:

  • 5 green apples, washed and dried with stems removed
  • Skewer sticks made for caramel apples or just plain ol’ popsicle sticks
  • 1 package of Kraft Caramel Bits or caramel squares
  • Toppings of your choice. Our favorites include crushed Oreo cookies, mini M&Ms, or walnuts.
  • White + milk chocolate chips, melted for drizzle

Begin by removing the stems from each apple. Wash and dry your apples well. This step is important. Your apples need to be clean and dry as it helps the caramel stick easier. Place the popsicle sticks in the middle of the apple and insert them until they are secure. Place your apples in the fridge while you prepare the caramel and toppings.

Melt your caramel according to the package directions. Stir the caramel in 30 second to 1 minute intervals until it is completely melted and easy to stir. Tip: Melt the caramel in a deep, glass measuring cup for easy dipping.

While you are melting your caramel, prepare your favorite toppings. The possibilities are endless. Our favorites include crushed Oreo cookies, mini M&Ms, and walnuts. Place your toppings in shallow, wide dishes to make for easy rolling. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper to place your apples on.

Once your caramel is melted and your toppings are prepared, let your caramel sit for a minute before you start the dipping process. You do not want to dip your apples when the caramel is really hot or the caramel will run off and pool at the bottom of your apple. Make sure you don’t let it cool too much, though.

Begin dipping each apple into the caramel until it is completely covered. Swirl it around in the caramel and then let the excess caramel run off as you spin the stick in your hands. Tap the stick on the edge of the measuring cup before placing the apple on the wax paper to set. It is important to work quickly before the caramel cools.

Now comes the fun part: adding your toppings! You want to let your apples sit for a minute after dipping them but before adding your toppings so that the caramel has a minute to set before taking on the weight of the toppings. Otherwise, your toppings will fall to the bottom of the apple.

Roll each apple into your topping, pressing down pretty generously so the topping really sticks into the caramel. Place the apple back onto the wax paper to cool completely. You can place it into the fridge to chill quickly if needed.

Melt 1/4 c. of white chocolate chips and 1/4 c. of milk chocolate chips in 15 second increments until it is melted and smooth. Drizzle each kind of chocolate over the apples while spinning it until you reach the desired amount of chocolate that you want.

Let the apples sit until they are completely cool and dry. Wrap them in cellophane and ribbon to gift to a friend or slice and enjoy!

What are your favorite fall recipes? We would love to hear your favorites! Share them with us @thepreschoolbox!

Categories
Blog

Create Your Own Sensory Play Bin

Sensory play is a very important aspect in learning especially with young kids. Sensory play is a simple concept. Whenever your child’s sense of touch, smell, taste, sight, or hearing is used during play, that’s considered sensory play. Digging in the dirt, washing dishes in the sink, tasting a special treat, or walking the dog can all be considered examples of sensory play.

According to Educational Playcare, here are 5 reasons why sensory play is beneficial:

  1. Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks.
  2. Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
  3. This type of play aids in developing and enhancing memory
  4. Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child
  5. This helps children learn sensory attributes (hot, cold, sticky, dry)

(https://www.educationalplaycare.com/)

One easy way to bring sensory play into your child’s daily life is by creating a sensory bin. This can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Here is how to create your own at-home sensory bin plus 6 ways to fill it!

Here are the main items you’ll need:

-Bin with lid, any size that you prefer. It can be small for one kid or as big as you need for multiple kids to play with at once. Don’t forget the lid for easy storing!

-Tools for scooping, dumping, and grabbing. These can be items that you already have at home.

These are just a few of our favorite sensory bin tools. Spoons, ladles, tongs, measuring cups, or scoops are just a few ideas of what you can use.

Once you have chosen your bin, its time to fill it! There are many different ways to fill a sensory bin that will keep your kid interested and busy. One of my favorite places to buy items for our sensory bin is our local dollar store.

Alphabet Soup: The easiest way to fill your bin is with water! You can add boats or scoops. Our favorite way is to make Alphabet Soup. Scoop out a letter and say it’s name!

Create a Car Wash: Gather some water, dish soap, a couple toothbrushes, and your favorite cars to create a car wash. This one is sure to keep your kid busy and having fun! You can even skip the cars and use your favorite dinosaurs or farm animals!

Water Beads: These are sure to be a hit! Water Beads do take time to soak and grow to size but they are always worth the wait. The slippery gel-like texture is fun to scoop and squeeze. Add animals or letters to create a search and find activity.

Cotton Balls + Pom-Poms: Cotton balls can be easily squeezed with tongs and the soft texture is enjoyable for kids which makes them a great addition to your sensory bin. You can add colored pom-poms and cups for sorting practice. Using recycled materials from home like toilet paper rolls or egg cartons to place the cotton balls in makes for good fine motor skills practice.

Shredded Paper: I love to hide bugs and creatures in shredded paper to challenge my kids to see how many they can find! Paired with tongs and a magnifying glass, kids have fun trying to search for everything they can find.

Pasta: Funky-shaped pasta is a fun addition to have in your sensory bin! You can use it plain or add color to it by mixing dry pasta, a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and several drops of food coloring in a gallon sized baggie. Let it dry on wax paper overnight.

Some of our other favorite sensory bin ideas are kinetic sand, rice, colored water, shaving cream, and beans. The possibilities are truly endless. Sensory bins are a great tool for development, practicing fine motor skills, and learning. We would love to hear about your favorite sensory play ideas! Share them with us @thepreschoolbox!

Lastly, please make sure you are always monitoring kids of any age as many of the items could pose as a choking hazard.

Categories
Blog

A Father’s Day DIY Gift + Free Printable

Father’s Day is right around the corner and let’s face it, Dads can be hard to buy for. Over the years, I have found that an easy way to win over a dad’s heart and to show them we appreciate them is by gathering up the kids to create a homemade gift that he can use and proudly display at work or home. I was considering all of the options of what to create for the Dad in our lives this Father’s Day and I came up with something I believe will be useful, but cherished. An even bigger bonus is that kids can create it themselves, just for dad, or any other person in their lives. 

Here’s how to make this Salt Dough trinket + coin dish. The best part is, you likely already have most of these items at home. 

Here’s what you will need: 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • ¾ cup-1 cup of water
  • Mixing bowl + spoon
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint brush 

Start by placing the flour, salt, and ¾ cup of water into your mixing bowl. 

Mix it well until it forms into a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

If it seems dry and crumbly, add a small amount of water until everything combines together well. If it is too wet, add just a touch of flour. Once your dough is the perfect consistency, separate it into 4 different balls. This recipe will make enough to create four different trinket + coin dishes.

Take one of the balls and begin forming your dish. Turn the ball in your hands as you push out the middle, almost as if you are forming a pizza crust. (Top Left) Once your dough is about ¼” in thickness, place it on your surface and form the edge. You can do this by pinching the edges and moving your fingers upward, turning it as you go. (Top Right) Next, stabilize the edge of your dish by running your finger along the edge like above, smoothing it as you go. (Bottom Left)

Once you are done forming your dish, transfer it to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (Bottom Right)

Bake it at 200 degrees for 2 hours until it is completely dry and baked.

Remove your dish from the oven and let it cool completely. The last, and most fun, step is to paint your dish. This can be as creative or simple as you want it to be.

Before
After

Give the dad in your life a place to empty his pockets at the end of the day. This trinket + coin dish can hold change, keys, a wallet, or even candies.

All About My Dad Printable

Complete your gift for dad with this survey all about him! He is sure to enjoy reading about himself through the eyes of his kids.

Find your free printable here.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads, grandpas, uncles, and brothers out there!

Share your Father’s Day creations with us on Facebook @thepreschoolbox.

Categories
Blog

Easy Summertime Smoothie Popsicle Recipe

Summer is upon us which can mean two things for parents: we need to beat the heat and we need to find new, easy ways to keep our kids busy and learning. Popsicles are a summer staple that nearly every kid (and adult!) loves. This smoothie popsicle recipe is quick, easy, and sure to entertain them and keep them cool on a hot day. The kitchen is a great place to build upon their math and reading skills by measuring and following a recipe. Then, they will get to enjoy a yummy, cold treat after their hard work.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 ½ cups any frozen fruit

⅔ cup yogurt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Water

Blender

Silicone Mold

Popsicle Sticks

Begin by placing the frozen fruit, yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice in your blender. You can use any frozen fruit you like. There are so many different combinations you can try; peaches, strawberries, strawberries and bananas, or a berry blend. We used a blend of mango, papaya, and strawberry for our popsicles.

Start blending your fruit mixture. Add water as needed until everything is blended together. Your fruit mixture will need to be somewhat pour-able. Pour the mixture evenly into your silicone mold.  

Place it in the freezer for 30-40 minutes until they are just beginning to set. Remove the mold from the freezer and place the popsicle sticks directly in the middle of each well.

Place the mold back into the freezer for another 1-2 hours or until completely frozen. Carefully remove each popsicle from the mold to enjoy!

What fruit combination would you love to try? Share your favorite summer treats with us! We would love to see photos of the popsicles you create this summer. Share them with us by tagging our Facebook page! @thepreschoolbox

Categories
Blog Charitable Causes

Partner with Us to Help Fight the Covid-19 Crisis in India

Donate Here:

https://fundraisers.giveindia.org/fundraisers/the-preschool-box-gives-back

The Coronavirus pandemic is no stranger to the spotlight. In fact, for the past 14 months, it’s been the topic of conversation and debate on a global scale.  And while some countries are seeing a shift back to “normalcy”, other countries continue to struggle with the impact that Coronavirus has had on its citizens.  For many in the US, the question now is, “How can we help in areas of greatest need?”. Here at The Preschool Box, we want to shed light on a particularly dire situation and provide an opportunity for those who are willing and able to step up to make a positive impact in others’ lives.

India is currently experiencing a second wave of Coronavirus outbreak that is putting a strain on an already struggling economy.  Each day, the government reports more than 300,000 new infections, a world record. (As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted, 2021) Experts, however, believe that even those numbers may not represent the full scope of affected individuals. On top of that, India has seen its death toll reach over 180,000 since the pandemic began. (Covid-19 in India: Why second coronavirus wave is devastating, 2021) Unemployment, Homelessness, and Hunger are ever increasing concerns for much of the affected areas of India.  Organizations such as the Khanna Chahiye Foundation are stepping up to meet the immediate needs of the hungry.  They have started a citizen led campaign in March 2020 through GiveIndia to allow people like us, who may not be able to make a direct impact overseas, to do our part to lessen the impact this second wave has had on the people of India.  The campaign focuses on providing meals for homeless, migrant workers, daily wage laborers, and other vulnerable populations in the city of Mumbai. (KhaanaChahiye: Mumbai is battling hunger along with Covid-19. Again., 2021)  According to the information provided on the fundraiser page, they have established a network of 15 NGO partners (Non-Governmental Organization), 20 kitchen partners, and over 250+ citizen volunteers working to meet the demand for the 20,000+ meals daily across Mumbai for those affected by a sudden pause in economic activity.

 Hospitals in India are also in dire need of life-saving equipment like Oxygen Cylinders and ventilators.  A second GiveIndia fundraiser is aiming to provide oxygen to help India breath again.  Donations raised through this fundraiser are helping to directly support patients affected by COVID by:

·         Setting up oxygen generation plants

·         Providing oxygen concentrators

·         Providing and refilling oxygen cylinders

·         Providing ventilators

(Provide oxygen to help India breathe again, 2021)

            For many of us, we are well aware of the vast number of charitable causes we can contribute to.  Sometimes, it is super easy, like rounding up your bill at a fast food restaurant or dropping coins in the container at your neighborhood convenient store.  Other times, it takes the conviction of seeing or hearing about unimaginable situations in places you have never even been to open your heart to donate.  I cannot imagine not being able to feed my children and my family.  But many in India are experiencing just that.  Whether it is due to food shortages, unemployment or in many cases… both, the people in India need help.  We are writing this post to do several things. One, to bring awareness to the situation in India so that at the very least, those of you reading this will share with others the devastation that is happening in India and to offer up your thoughts and prayers for those affected. But more importantly, we hope that you will consider donating to one of the many causes out there working to get the people of India back on their feet.  For the next month, The Preschool Box will be matching any donations to our fundraiser up to $2000. Our particular fundraiser through GiveIndia will be specifically for the life-saving equipment needed to fight against Covid.  We would love for you to partner with us in helping make an impact in India. 

Donate Here:

https://fundraisers.giveindia.org/fundraisers/the-preschool-box-gives-back

References

As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted. (2021, 04 24). Retrieved from New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/24/world/asia/india-coronavirus-deaths.html

Covid-19 in India: Why second coronavirus wave is devastating. (2021, April). Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-56811315

KhaanaChahiye: Mumbai is battling hunger along with Covid-19. Again. (2021, 04). Retrieved from GiveIndia: https://fundraisers.giveindia.org/fundraisers/khaanachahiye-mumbai-is-battling-hunger-along-with-covid-19-again

Provide oxygen to help India breathe again. (2021). Retrieved from GiveIndia: https://covid.giveindia.org/oxygen/

Categories
Blog

Think Outside The Box!

Parents want the best for their children.  It is at the epicenter of who we are as parents.  We want them to have the best chance to be successful in life.  I have created this preschool learning box and the learning activities because I want children to be prepared academically for their first year of school.  I am very passionate about this as I have spent several years in the education field which helped me develop this home preschool curriculum.  I feel even more strongly about children developing into socially and emotionally healthy individuals.

I want to reflect a little bit on what I think are some of the most important, non-academic characteristics that we as parents should develop in our children .  This first of these is kindness.  In my opinion, the world would be such a better place if everyone was kind to one another.  Helping your child understand what kindness is and how they can show kindness to others is one of the best things we can do as parents.

The second thing that I think is important for children to learn about is empathy.  It is not important for them to understand the word, but more so the idea.  It is very important for individuals to be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes to help them better understand what others are going through.  As parents, we can help our kids learn this skill by occasionally asking them “how do you think this person feels” or “why do you think someone acted a certain way”.  This will help them gain the skill of being able to look beyond themselves to try to better understand others.

A third and final trait that is important for parents to help their kids develop is the ability to be grateful.  Children come from different backgrounds.  Regardless of their situation, everyone has something that can be thankful for, whether it be new clothing, a meal to eat or waking up with a roof over their head.  People these days tend to take things for granted.  Teaching children to be grateful for what they have will help them develop into more appreciative adults one day down the line.

I know that my children sometimes take the simple things for granted, so I like to point out to them what they do have… a bed to sleep in, food to eat, friends to play with, a new video game, or other things.  Being grateful is such a great quality for people to possess.  Taking time to think about others feel and being kind to others kind of go hand in hand, and are important skills for children to develop at a young age.

I hope you are able to take a little bit of time to talk with your kiddos about this.  We can make the world a better place one child at a time.

Categories
Blog

New Year Time to Learn!

As the new year kicks off, many decide upon new years resolutions.  Some of those are health and exercise related, while others are aimed at forming healthy habits.  As a former teacher, I know how important it is to exercise the mind.  With the new year, now would be a great time to get your kids started in our learning program.  For students that are going to enroll in kindergarten later this year, this is especially important.  

When I was teaching kindergarten, I could tell which students had been doing learning activities before they started school.  Those students typically had greater success in their learning because they had been previously exposed to the content that I was covering.  Having a strong foundation of reading and writing skills as well as basic math skills puts students at a great advantage in their academic journey.  Anything that you can do to help prepare your students for academic success early on will provide them with a firm foundation for the remainder of their education.

The Preschool Box was created with my understanding of what is important for students to know going into day one of kindergarten.  Each activity and learning objective were carefully planned and aligned to what will best benefit your student.  I sincerely hope that you consider having your child begin their learning journey with The Preschool Box. 

Categories
Blog

Teacher Gift Ideas for the Holidays

This year has been trying for everyone, especially teachers.  From schools being open one week to 100% virtual the next, from having to instruct some students in person while simultaneously trying to hold the attention of virtual learners, teachers are arguably facing the most challenging year the educational system has ever faced.  They are risking their health and that of their family’s in order to serve our students.  Virtual learning has also required them to use much more of their evening and weekend time in order to give your students the best possible learning experience.  Many parents are, especially for younger children, choosing to have their students attend school or preschool at home.

I can’t think of a better way to show them they are appreciated than by giving them a gift for the coming holidays.  I remember when I was a kindergarten teacher, I loved getting gifts from my students.  Even better, I could tell the students loved giving me gifts.  I remember so many times my students would bring me a gift with the biggest smile on their face, and were beaming with excitement as they waited to see my reaction.  It didn’t matter to me if the gift was big or small, but just seeing the joy they had in giving a gift made my day.  

When it comes to picking out a gift for your student’s teachers, you should ask your student what their teacher likes.  Many times teachers will tell students what their favorite candy is, where they get their coffee, or what their favorite restaurant is.  This will let your student feel like they have a bigger part in picking out the gift.  I taught at a school where there were many economically disadvantaged families, so I want to reiterate that it is never the price tag that matters, it is the thought that counts.  Here are some ideas, broken down by approximate price on what you can get your teachers this holiday season.  You may or may not see coffee under several pricing categories.  I’m not sure any of us could have enough caffeine in 2020 anyways. 

$5 or less

Teachers favorite candy

Gift card to Starbucks or a favorite local coffee shop

A holiday card with a handwritten message from your student

$10

Essential Oils for a diffuser (Recommended scents for relaxation: Lavender, Rose, Neroli and Spearmint)

Candle

Gift card to Starbucks or a favorite local coffee shop

Insulated Coffee mug

Gift card to Target, Bed Bath and Beyond or a store like that

$20

Diffuser for essential oils

Gift card to teachers favorite restaurant (or coffee shop)

Personalized gift (My favorite is a lunch box with my name embroidered on it I got my first year of teaching.  I still use it to this day.)

$20+

Gift card to a salon for a pedicure

Gift card for a massage

Remember to spread that holiday cheer and take care of your teachers.