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New Years Eve Recipes for Kids : Pop Rock Popcorn and Italian Sodas

A new year is upon us. New Years Eve celebrations are right around the corner. Here are two fun, family-friendly recipes to make with your kids to celebrate the New Year.

Pop Rock Popcorn

This chocolate-covered popcorn is so fun to eat. You get to experience the crackle of Pop Rocks in every bite!

Here’s what you need:

  • 12 cups popped popcorn
  • 8 squares of white almond bark
  • 3 packages of Pop Rocks
  • large bowl
  • waxed paper

Start by placing your popcorn in a large bowl. Melt the almond bark in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring frequently, until it is melted and smooth.

Pour it over the popcorn and stir well, coating all of the popcorn in chocolate.

Sprinkle in each packet of Pop Rocks stirring in between each packet.

Lay out to dry on waxed paper. Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

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Italian Sodas

A yummy, Italian Soda is one of my favorite drinks to make at home. It is easy to make and the ingredients are simple but it feels more festive than a regular soda.

Here’s what you need:

  • Your favorite cup, filled with ice
  • Flavored syrup
  • Club Soda
  • Regular or Whipped Cream (optional)

Start by filling up your cup with ice. Pour in 3-4 tablespoons of flavored syrup. You can use more or less depending on how flavorful you like it.

My favorite flavor is vanilla. Caramel, Peach, and Raspberry are all great options too! You can buy a sugar-free option if preferred. I have found that World Market and Amazon have the best options when it comes to finding a variety of flavors.

Top off the rest of the cup with Club Soda. Stir well.

Complete your soda by adding a splash of heavy cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Add a cute straw and enjoy!

What are your New Years Eve traditions? We would love to hear about them @thepreschoolbox!

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Four Favorite Resources for Teaching Preschool That Would Make Great Gifts

As Christmas approaches and everyone seems to be finishing up shopping for gifts, I wanted to share 4 of my favorite resources for teaching preschool that would make great gifts for the preschooler in your life.

  1. Dot Markers

Dot Markers are always a hit with any preschooler. They may be messy but they are fun. My favorite way to use dot markers are “dot worksheets”. There is a wide array of worksheets available that fit almost every theme but a plain sheet of paper works just as good, too.

  1. Thinkfun Roll & Play Game

This is, by far, my most favorite item that I use in my classroom. This game encourages creativity, teaches kids how to follow directions and wait their turn, helps with gross motor skills, and is a fun way to learn! You roll the soft, plush dice, choose the card of the color you land on, and follow the directions on the card. You can play one-on-one with one kid or play with multiple kids at a time. This game is always a hit at circle time!

  1. Itty Bittys Storybooks

I was just recently introduced to Itty Bittys Storybooks. Each book takes a fun, fresh spin on a classic story and comes with an “itty bitty” plush toy to go along with the story. It is fun for preschoolers to have a tangible item they can hold while reading the story. You can find “Itty Bittys” at Hallmark stores.

  1. Egg Shakers + Noise Makers

There is always a song to be sung when you’re a preschooler. These egg shakers keep kids engaged while singing and learning. They even teach them how to keep a beat! You can use them for counting, color recognition, or teaching directions. Here is one of my favorite rhymes to use with our egg shakers:

“This is the way we shake our eggs, shake our eggs, shake our eggs. This is the way we shake our eggs, so early in the morning!”

Another game we play that encourages following directions in a fun way is to say “Go!” Everyone shakes their eggs as fast as they can until you say “Stop!”. Kids think its fun to stop so abruptly or to keep going if they choose!

What are your favorite preschool items that double as a learning tool? Share with us @thepreschoolbox!

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The Sweet Smell of Christmas

As a preschool teacher, Christmas is my favorite time of year in the classroom. There are unlimited crafts, lessons, and songs that come with the holiday season. Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite kids Christmas books and interactive activity that I love to do with my kids each year.

The Sweet Smell of Christmas is about a bear who experiences different Christmas traditions that bring about all the scents of Christmas.

Apple Pie, Hot Chocolate, Oranges, Candy Canes, Gingerbread, and Pine Tree.

The book includes its very own scratch ‘n sniff stickers but I wanted to give my preschoolers a visual and really bring the scent in something they could hold and experience. I decided to create these “scent jars”. Each jar features a different scent from the book.

Start with 6 empty jars. I used empty sprinkle containers.

Fill each jar with similar items as those that are listed below. There are many different ways to create the same scents using different items. Here is what I used:

Apple Pie: Ground Nutmeg, Ground Ginger, and Cinnamon Sticks. Pour small amounts of nutmeg and ground ginger into your jar. Add a few cinnamon sticks.

Pine Tree: Christmas Tree Clipping, Pine Scented Wax Melts. Place 1-2 wax melts into your jar. Add as many pine tree clippings that will fit.

Candy Cane: Cotton Balls, Peppermint Essential Oil, Peppermint Sticks. Pour a few drops of peppermint oil onto the cotton ball and place it in your jar. Add the peppermint sticks.

Gingerbread: Cotton Ball, Gingerbread Syrup, Gingerbread Cookie, Ground Ginger, Ground Cinnamon. Soak the cotton ball in the gingerbread syrup and place it in your jar. Add small amounts of ground ginger and cinnamon. Crumble your gingerbread cookie (you could also use Ginger Snaps) and place them in your jar.

Hot Chocolate: Cotton Ball, Chocolate Syrup, Hot Chocolate Mix, Chocolate Chips, Mini Marshmallows. Soak your cotton ball in the concentrated chocolate syrup and place it in your jar. Add mix, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.

Orange: Cotton Ball, Orange Wedges. Squeeze the juice from one of the wedges onto the cotton ball and place it in your jar. Add wedges to top it off.

As you read the book, share each scent that Little Bear smells with your preschooler.

Your kids will love being able to see and smell each scent that comes alive in the pages of this book. Each scent brings back all the memories of Christmas.

The Sweet Smell of Christmas is written by Patricia Scarry and is illustrated by J.P. Miller.

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Kid’s Christmas Movie Favorites with Printable Watch List

Print your free Christmas Movie Watch List by clicking the button below.

Christmas Movies are one of my favorite parts about the holidays. There is something so special about cuddling up on the couch on a chilly, December evening with hot cocoa and popcorn to watch a classic Christmas movie. I have rounded-up a few of our favorite Christmas movies that we love to watch as a family. Here they are:

  • Home Alone
  • Home Alone: Lost in New York
  • A Christmas Story
  • Jack Frost
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Jingle All The Way
  • Elf
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • The Christmas Chronicles
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas
  • Santa Clause
  • The Santa Clause 2
  • The Polar Express
  • The Star: The Story Of The First Christmas
  • Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Animated)
  • Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Merry Madagascar

Don’t forget to print your own watch list here:

What are your favorite Christmas movies? Which ones did we miss? Share them with us @thepreschoolbox!

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3 Last Minute Ideas for the Kid’s Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Many of us will be gathering with our family or friends for some good food and fellowship. Here are 3 quick, last minute ideas to pull your kid’s Thanksgiving table together or simply entertain them.

Scroll to the bottom for a free Thanksgiving printable for kids!

  1. DIY Thanksgiving Placemats

Creating a Thanksgiving placemat is a great way to involve your kids in setting and decorating the kids Thanksgiving table.

Tie-Dye Turkey Placemat

Here’s what you need:

  • 12×18″ sheet of paper (Note: You can use a standard sized sheet of paper, too. The larger size is just closer to placemat size.)
  • Crayons
  • Coffee Filter
  • Markers
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Small pieces of brown, yellow, red, black, and white construction paper (You can use googly eyes instead of black and white construction paper.)
  • Glue

Begin by coloring your coffee filter with the markers. You want to make sure the entire filter is covered with color. Place your colored filter on a towel or another sheet of paper. It will bleed through once it is wet. Spray the filter generously with your spray bottle. You will see the colors start to form a tie-dyed look. Set them aside to dry completely. While the filters are drying, let your child color their 12″x18″ (or other size) sheet of placemat paper.

Finish your placemat by gluing down your filter onto the center of your sheet. Cut a large circle from the brown construction paper to form the turkey’s body. Cut a waddle and a beak from the red and yellow paper and eyes from the black and white paper. Glue it all together to form your turkey. Use a marker to write your child’s name and “Happy Thanksgiving”. You can use foam letters or stamps as a fun alternative!

Paint Resist Turkey Placemat

Here’s what you need:

  • 12×18″ sheet of paper (You can use any standard sized sheet of paper. Cardstock, cardboard, or poster board work best.)
  • Painter’s or masking tape
  • Paint (Any colors you like!)
  • Foam paint brushes
  • 1 sheet of brown construction paper
  • Small pieces of yellow, red, black, and white construction paper.
  • Glue

Begin by placing a half, oval-shaped paper in the middle of your placemat. Start taping long strips of tape from the oval out to the edges of the paper. Fill in those long strips with small strips to form a feather-like look.

Now for the fun part! Paint your paper! Try to fill in all the holes with paint. Tip: Push your paint brush away from the oval paper.

Let it dry completely before gently and slowly removing the tape.

Finish it off by cutting an oval from the sheet of brown construction paper for the head. Cut a waddle and beak from the red and yellow construction paper and eyes from the black and white paper. Glue all of it down to form your turkey.

2. Thanksgiving Printable For the Kids

These are such a fun addition to your kid’s table during your Thanksgiving meal. Print yours by clicking the button below.

3. Build Your Own Turkey Printable

Give each of the kids at your Thanksgiving table some play-dough, googly eyes, buttons, pipe cleaners, a beak and waddle, feathers, and any other assortment of items you can find around your house. Who can build the cutest turkey? Which turkey has the most creative name? Print your build-your-own turkey cards by clicking the button below.

We would love to see your Thanksgiving table ideas! Share them with us @thepreschoolbox!

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Thanksgiving Snack Mix + Gift Tag Printable

The season of Giving Thanks is upon us. There are so many ways to show someone you are thankful for them. The recipe I am going to share with you today is a simple, cute, and affordable way to share a snack with the people you are thankful for.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 cups Bugles
  • 2 cups popcorn
  • 2 cups Honey Nut Chex cereal
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup Reese’s Pieces
  • 1 cup candy corn
  • a large bowl
  • a spoon for stirring
  • cellophane favor bags
  • ribbon or string
  • Thanksgiving Treat gift tag printable

Stir together all of the ingredients in a large bowl until everything is mixed well.

Fill the cellophane bags with your snack mix.

Tie the bag with ribbon and finish it off with a gift tag from you!

Click the box below to print your free Thanksgiving Treat gift tags. You can use these on more than just snack mix! Take a plate of cookies to your neighbor or a pie to your co-worker. Let’s show those around us how thankful we are to have them!

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Creating Classic Spin Art

When I was little, I went to one of those school carnivals with the classic games and booths that we all know and love. While others enjoyed the original Sand Art booth, the Spin Art booth is where I chose to spend most of my tickets. (The cake walk definitely got the rest of them!)

There is something so mesmerizing about creating spin art. The mixing of your favorite colors. The anticipation and surprise of the end result. The cool, abstract design formed from the spinning. As a kid, I just loved creating spin art.

I wanted to show my kids how to create spin art with supplies we already had at home. This is where the salad spinner in the back of your pantry comes in handy! Today, I am going to show you our way of making spin art.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Salad Spinner. You can find these for a discounted price at your local thrift store.
  • Cardboard or Card Stock. You will need to use a heavier paper. Thin paper will move too easily during the spinning process.
  • Paint. You will want at least 3 colors but the more options you have, the better!

Begin by cutting your cardboard or card stock so that it fits well into the bottom of your salad spinner. Add as little or as much paint as you want on top of the cardboard or card stock. You can choose to swirl the paint around or just squeeze your desired amount straight onto the center. This may take some trial and error depending on what design you want to achieve. Give your salad spinner a good spin. Open the lid and admire your design. You can add more paint and spin it again if you want your art to have additional paint or colors.

Place your art on a flat surface until it is completely dry. Drying time will vary depending on how much paint you used.

Tip: You can use this to create any holiday craft or decoration by cutting your cardboard or card stock into shapes and using holiday themed colors!

There are so many combinations you can try that makes spin art the perfect craft to keep your kids entertained and creating.

Share your creations with us @thepreschoolbox!

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Seek + Find Printables: Halloween or Fall

Every kid loves to play a game of I-Spy. These free, fun printables are a twist on the classic game you use to play on family road trips.

Click the links below to print a Halloween or Fall (or both!) Seek + Find printable!

Search for spooky and fun finds with this Halloween printable!

Search for cozy and colorful finds with our Fall printable.

How many Halloween or Fall themed items can you find?

Share a photo with us using these printables @thepreschoolbox!

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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!

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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!