Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lesson 12: I Am Grateful Animals

For each lesson I always have a few ideas that are terrible but I still think would be really really funny to do. Here are some of my nixed ideas for I Am Grateful for Animals lesson:

1. Bring in my cat, Battle, and let the kids pet him and chase him around. But I suspect once cornered by 12-14 two year olds, Battle would opt for fight instead of flight. And one kid out of the bunch is probably terribly allergic.

2. Pick up that road killed possum and bring it in to church so the kids could get a close look at a real wild animal.

3. Call up a friend of mine and asked to borrow his mounted deer head or his deer hunting X-box game.

There are a few more, but obviously they're all going in a pretty bad direction.

Really though, I love animals so this could be a fun lesson. I plan to open like I always do: reminding the kids about the earth's creation. Then tell them that Heavenly Father and Jesus created animals. I'm going to ask them about animals: Do they like animals? Do they have any animals? I'm going to tell them about the garden of Eden, that Heavenly Father put the animals in the garden and told Adam to watch over them. I'm going to talk about how Heavenly Father wants us to watch over and be kind to our animals. I'll ask them if they are kind to animals.

Tell the story of Noah's Ark. I plan to check out Peter Spier's Noah's Ark to help me tell the story. Great book! or maybe attempt to use this finger poem from the lesson book, maybe.... It's really really long so I think using the story book would be a lot easier.

Noah built an ark so big (outstretch arms);
He knew just what to do (place finger on side of forehead).
He hammered, sawed, and measured (make motions as indicated)
As he’d been commanded to (nod head).
And Noah called his family (beckon with arm)
To march onto the boat (march quietly in place)—
And, two by two, the animals (hold up two fingers)
Came aboard to float (make floating motion with hands).
The heavy dark clouds gathered (place hands above head),
The rain began to fall (wiggle fingers imitating rain)—
And all the earth was covered (make a sweeping motion with hand and arm);
There was no land at all (turn head from side to side).
The ark just floated safely (make a floating motion with hands)
Many a day and night (put hands together on one side of face),
Until the sun came out again (place arms in a circle above head)
And shone so warm and bright.
And all the water dried right up (cross arms across chest);
Dry land did appear (open arms and extend hands).
Noah’s family gave their thanks (bow head and fold arms)
That God was always near.
(Adapted from a verse by Beverly Spencer.)

I'm going to ask the kids why they think Heavenly Father wanted Noah to save the animals. Tell them that Heavenly Father loves the animals and Heavenly Father knows that animals do a lot to help people.

Brown bag 1: I'm going to tell the kids that animals do soo much for us. Here are a few items that I'm thinking off: some llama yarn from my knitting (let each child touch it), some cheese (I'll make it in small cubes so each kid can eat one), a picture of Mary riding the donkey, a toy bat (they eat lots of bugs so we don't get bit). Anyone have any other ideas? This is kind of tricky because I'm a vegetarian so I'd feel a little weird pulling out a bunch of meat or leather.

Brown Bag2: I'm lucky enough to have a bunch of knit finger puppet animals. I'm going to let each kid come pick one out of a bag and whichever animal they pick we are all going to talk about then pretend to be. After each child has picked an animal we are going to play a small game where I hold up a finger puppet and they have to pretend to be whichever animal I hold up. I'm sure this would work just as well with picture cut outs.

Some other ideas that I might do:
1. Play pin the tail on the donkey during play time.
2. Play little brown bear during play time.
3. Make three scenes: Farm, forest, house and let kids pick an animal off the wall and put it in the correct scene.
4. Sing Old McDonald. Or the What Use Are You? song.

For the craft I think we're going to make animals puppets out of brown bags. I need to go buy googlie eyes at the store today. Anyone have any other animal craft ideas?

Lesson 11: I Am Grateful For Fish

You know how sometimes you think you get a brilliant idea and you are sure it is the most innovative, creative solution and then it goes terribly wrong? That was my opening for the I am grateful for fish lesson. Thankfully the rest of the lesson went a little better.

I opened by showing a picture of the earth and asking what it was. Then I asked who made the earth and why. Then I got out a big bowl of water and asked them what was in the bowl. I let them touch it and asked them what it was. A lot of them really liked the water for whatever reason. Then I told them there was something really special about water. I said water made a very special home.

This is where the trouble began. At the dollar store I had purchase those little sponge pills that you can pop into the water and the pill disolves and a sponge comes out. I found a pack of 12 of sea creatures. Perfect, right? I let each child take a pill and pop it into the water. I told them to watch what happened, that the pill was going to "hatch." We watched and watched and watched. Nothing. Stupid cheap pills. Thirty minutes later a few of them had sort of half broken open. NO FUN.

So I powered through and asked the kids if they knew what lived in the water. I showed them a picture of a fish. Then I told about the apostles, that they were fisherman and I showed them a picture. Since it was Easter I told them the story of the resurrection and told them that the apostles were so surprised to see Jesus that they couldn't believe that he was really resurrected. I told the kids that Jesus ate fish and honey to show the apostles that he was alive again. Then I let everyone eat a swedish fish.

After that, I brought out my magnet fishing pole. I put cut out fish in a "pond"-tape on the floor in a circle. Each kid got a chance to come "catch" a fish. When they caught their fish they went to the table and got to decorate their fish with crayons and stickers.

12 kids showed up so the class was packed and everything felt pretty crazy. Some days are just harder than others. It was one child's second time in nursery so he wasn't too sure or happy about the whole experience. I was really grateful that my Mom was visiting and was kind enough to hang out with me in nursery. She has some mad skills with small children and did a great job helping that child feel okay. It was really interesting to watch. As always, my nursery assistants were life savers in a million ways.

Since it was Easter I also prepared a little Easter Egg hunt. I put two or three smarteez in each egg and hid about 30 eggs in the toys. The kids LOVED it. It was really interesting to see how the kids responded. Some were just happy to find an egg and didn't care about the candy. Some kids were ripping eggs open and devouring the contents as fast as they could claw their way into them. Other kid let the smaller kids find eggs then tried to poach them. I tried to step in to stop that. It was interesting how early you can see human nature in all its various forms.

Another thing that made last Sunday difficult is my apartment complex's internet was getting "fixed" last weekend which meant I was totally offline and now that it's back up I swear it is TEN THOUSAND times slower. I couldn't look up my lesson on the church's website and I was never given a manual. I had to free wing it. When I did look at the lesson I was sad there was so much I left out. Oh well. Everyone survived.

PS. My lousy internet situation makes it near impossible to upload images at the moment. I'll try to add them later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Song Time

On a previous post there was a question about where to find the words and songs for Primary songs. The church has put together a great feature on its website where you can see all the words to all the songs in Children's Song Book AND it plays the music too. It's PERFECT if you need to learn or "freshen up" on a song. You can check it out here.

You can also order the Children's Song Book on CD and they come with words here. I know some people love to have the CDs to play so they don't have to sing alone. I sing alone so I can speed up and slow down songs and keep things going and adapting to the class.

You can also buy a convenient pocket sized Children's song book here.

If you every want to know the words to a particular song that you see here on this blog, let me know and I will be happy to post them.

Lesson 10: I am Grateful for trees, plants and flowers

Since stake conference has put my ward a lesson behind a lot of other people, our lesson on being grateful for plants is right next to St. Patrick's day with all its four leaf clovers. So here is what I'm think of doing for Sunday:

Snack Time:
We'll eat our normal snack but I think I'll try to bake some four leaf clover cookies. I'm going to bring some green icing and let the kids decorate the cookies and eat them.

I have the book The Giving Tree but it's really sort of sad (though is shows how much trees do for us) and the book Blueberries for Sal to read to the kids. Any other suggestions?

Show the picture of the Earth. Ask them what it is.
Show the picture of Jesus. Ask the kids who it is. Tell them Jesus made the Earth. Why did he make the Earth? Because he loves us.

Brown paper bag:
In the bag will be things that come from plants. A wooden block, an apple, a carrot, a flower (for them to smell), some spices (I'll let the kids smell and maybe taste some cinnamon sugar), paper, whatever else I can find in my house that comes from a plant.

I'll pick kids to come up to the front and pick something out of the bag. We'll talk about the plant that it came from and why we like plants.

Our class tree.
I'm going to make a tree with brown construction paper. I'm going to give each kid a green construction paper leaf. I'll ask the kids something they like about plants and let them come put their leaf up on the tree. I think we'll hang this on our bulletin board. During craft time I'll trace the kids hands on different color paper and cut those out so the tree can have some flowers too. I'll let each kid put up their hand on the tree.

Tree songs:
We'll sing some songs about trees. Popcorn popping. In the pretty treetops. Leaves are falling.

Leaf rubbing
Flower puppet:
Take a small cup and poke a straw through the bottom. Have paper cut out in flower shapes that the kids can color then tape onto the top of the straw. The kids can move the straw up and down so their flowers can "grow."

Lesson 9: I am Grateful for Water

So last weeks lesson went really well. My class normally has about 12 kids show up. Thanks to the combination of the flu season and spring break only five kids came. It was soooo easy. I almost felt in control. Almost, not quite, but almost.

During snack I read them the story The Little Cloud by Eric Carle and a few of the other books. They seemed to enjoy it.

So here's a quick summary of what we did. I showed the kids a picture of the earth and asked them what it is. We've done this three or four times now and one kids every time says the moon! Then all the other kids say the moon! Then I tell them it's the earth, it's where we live and they stare at me. Then I show them a picture of Jesus and ask them who it is. Then I told them that Jesus made the Earth because he loves us.

I told them I was going to show them something really special that Jesus made. I told them to close their eyes. I had a spray bottle filled with water and I hid it under a piece of cloth and shook it. I asked the kids what they heard. Then I told the kids to hold out their hands. I put the spray bottle on mist and I sprayed their hands with the mist. I asked them what they felt. They said water! I asked them what it felt like. Then I told them to open their mouths and twisted the spray bottle to a stream and gave each of them a spray in their mouth. I said they could taste the water too. That cracked them up and I spent the next five minutes letting them feel or taste the water.

Then I asked them what they did with water. I showed them a picture of Rebekah at the well. I talked about how we drink water. Then I asked them if they ever drink water. Then I showed them a picture of people taking the sacrament and talked about how we drink the water during the sacrament. I showed them a picture of a child being baptized and a picture of Jesus being baptised and a picture of Christ washing the apostles washing His apostles feet. I let the kids point out the water in each of the pictures.

Then I let the kids sit at the table. I gave each of them a pie pan filled with a little water and a cup and the played and splashed in the water. A couple of them drank the water. They seemed to really enjoy it.

Then we cleaned up the pie pans and we did a little craft where they glued raindrops over an umbrella and drew flowers.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Water Books

In preparation for the upcoming lesson, Lesson 9: I am grateful for water, I've picked out a few water oriented books to get from my library. Here they are:

Over in the Ocean: In A Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes

Cloud by Eric Carle

Rain by Manya Stojic

Snow by Manya Stojic

Where the Wild Things Are by Mauric Sendak (Max rides in his boat)

Lost and Found

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub and He Won't Get Out by Audrey Wood

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion ( I LOVE the Harry books!)

Noah's Ark by Peter Spier

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats

I would like to find another book or two about the animals that live in the water. I think I'll look around when I get to the library. Anybody have any other suggestions for water books?

If you are looking for books on another topic, some great sites for pre-school age book recommendations are Surlalune Story Time which is here (she organizes her book recommendations by topic, so handy!) and Minneapolis Public libraries page here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What to Sing

Today was the first Sunday after cleaning out the toy cabinet. I was very curious to see if the hour or two of work made any difference and I was pleased with the result. Play time was MUCH cleaner. The kids found the toys they do play with much easier and GONE were the cluttered mass of plastic knick knacks spewed across the floor. Woo-hoo! Clean up time was even more manageable.

So every Saturday night or Sunday morning I find myself writing out a list of songs to sing. I then use that list to put tape on the back of the laminated pictures I hang on the wall with sticky tack for the kids to pick off. I realized it would be much easier to simply write the songs down here for me to reference. If you have any songs you do that your kids like please let me know. I would love to try them out. I would really like to learn some more church oriented songs that are still active. Any ideas?

In no particular order:

Give Said the Little Stream
We Are a Happy Nursery (modified from We are a Happy Family)
Book of Mormon Stories
Rain is Falling
Do As I'm Doing
Popcorn Popping
If You Are Happy and You Know It
Once I Was A Baby (modified from Once There Was A Snowman)
Once There Was A Snowman
I'm All Made of Hinges
I Am Like A Star Shinning Brightly
If You're Very, Very Small
In The Pretty Tree Tops
If You Chance to Meet A Frown
Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
Father Abraham
The Primary Colors

Hmm, I know I left a few out but that's normal. There are now 14 kids in my nursery. I generally have 12 show up. Since every kid gets to pick a picture off the wall, we have a pretty long singing time. That's why really short little songs like If You're Very Very Small are helpful. Even though singing time lasts a while, the kids seem to get into the songs and enjoy themselves. I think it's one of the most fun parts of nursery to them. I do my best to have hand motions or so something the kids can hold during each song to keep them involved. More on that later.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Song: Once I Was A Baby

One of my class's favorite songs is Once There Was a Snowman. As it warms up, it can get a little weird to be singing about a snowman. I mean, I know he melts and the kids don't really care but when it's 98 degrees outside, it gets obvious you're just desperate for any song.

So I was really happy when the lesson manual provided another little song that goes to the snowman tune. The kids LOVE LOVE LOVE this song. They will sing it five times straight and still be begging to sing it again. Here're the words:

Once I was a baby, baby, baby. (Pretend to rock a baby in your arms)
Once I was a baby, small, small, small. (Shrink down, like a snow man melting)

Now I’m growing bigger, bigger, bigger. (Grow back up)
Now I’m growing bigger, tall, tall, tall! (Throw your arms high in the air)

We sing the snowman and the baby song every class.

Lesson 8: I am thankful for the day and night

I am grateful for the lesson I am thankful for the night and day. My class is SUPER young so I have REALLY been looking forward to starting the creation lessons. I feel like the kids can understand these lessons so much easier. The concepts are much less abstract so it is easier to keep their attention.

I've realized that since my stake had stake conference I'm probably a week behind most of you. I'd love to hear what you did last week and hopefully I'll be even with you again sometime in the year.

Here's the plan for tomorrow:

During snack time I've started bringing a book or two from the library to read them while they eat. I do my best to make it relate to the lesson or be the scripture story in the lesson. This week I'm bringing Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes to introduce the idea of the night and The Sun's Day by Mordicai Gerstein to talk about the day. A few other good books about the subject are
Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
Where Does the Sun Go at Night? by Mirra Ginsburg
When the Sun Rose by Barbara Berger
Goodnight, Goodnight by Ever Rice
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

I'm going to have them around for the kids to read if they want.

Here's my lesson plan:

Show Picture of Earth
Ask What is this? The Earth. Who Made the Earth?
Show Picture of Heavenly Father and Jesus.
Why did they make the Earth? Because they love you! and they wanted you to have a place you could come live with your family.

(I'm going to try to do that same opening for every creation lesson until the kids have it down.)

Do you know what the first thing that Jesus created on the earth was?
Show picture of night and day picture from the gospel library.
Ask them what is in the picture. If they can't get it I'll tell them Night and Day!

I'm going to talk about day first. Is the sun or the moon out during the day? Yes, Jesus made the sun so we would have day. What does the sun do?
It gives us light, it makes us warm, it helps plants to grow. (Try to find pictures for each thing)

What do you like to do in the day?
Let kids answer.

But Day doesn't last forever does it? What comes after the day, when the sun goes down? Night. Is the Sun or the Moon in the sky at night? Jesus put the moon in the sky at night. There's also something else we can see at night. Do you know what it is? If they can't guess, I'll pull out one of the foil stars. You can also see the stars at night. Jesus put the stars in the sky to help people find their way in the dark.

Tell story of three wise man, emphasizing that the wise men used the stars in the night to find baby Jesus. Show picture. Let the kids point out the star they wise men followed. That's why Jesus wants us to be like stars to show others the way to do what's right. Can you show your brothers and sisters how to do what's right? What can you do? (Answers like be nice, help mom, etc)
Sing I Am Like A Star Shining Brightly with foil stars.

If the kids are still paying attention I'm going to show them several pictures and ask if it is day or night until they have it down.

Then to get the wiggles that have been building up out, we'll do the God Creation finger play:

God’s Creation

God made the moon (make a circle with hands)
And winking stars (open and close hands)
And put them in the sky (reach up).
He made the sun (make a circle with arms overhead)
And trees (hold arms straight up)
And flowers (cup hands)
And little birds that fly (wave arms).
(From Fascinating Finger Fun by Eleanor Doan. © 1951. Used by permission.)

After that we'll play a Night and Day game:

When the lights are on it's day and I'll give the kids a command to run or march or hop or yell or clap.
But when I flip off the light switch, I'll yell Night! and the kids have to stop and pretend they're asleep.
When I flip the lights back on they can start again.

Kt gave a great suggestion for the craft this week and I am going to use. Get black construction paper and the shiny star stickers and let each kid decorate their night sky. White and pink crayons should work on the black construction paper too.

That's my plan. I didn't use the story in the lesson manual about the night in the Americas when it didn't get dark because I think it would REALLY confuse my young kids. I think the three wise men story should be a good substitution. Any suggestions?

Apron Talk

The idea of wearing an apron came up a fair bit in the attempt to protect Sunday clothes from the natural affects of nursery. I wasn't a huge fan of the idea at first because in my mind, aprons seemed kind of dumpy too. But then I started looking at aprons and there appears to have been an apron revolution. You can find some really cool designs. If I had any skills on the sewing machine I would make the apron above. Isn't it pretty? You can get the pattern for free here

If you're like me and not so crafty, Etsy has a great supply. Here are a few that caught my eye:











Song: I Am Like A Star

I've found that every song goes better if the kids have something to hold or do. So today I'm making foil stars that the kids can hold up when they sing I Am Like A Star Shining Brightly.
To make the stars find or make a star stencil. Take an old cardboard box and trace and cut out the number of stars you need. I now need fourteen. Once you have your star forms cut, coat them in glue and wrap them in tin foil. If you don't want to waste your foil you can coat your stars in glue and dip them in glitter. The kids love glitter but it does get EVERYWHERE.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Devil in the Toy Chest

In case you were wondering about the long silence on this blog, I apologize. Things got a little hectic. First there was Stake Conference = Break from Nursery, Hurray! Then I came down with the flu. Then I got in a car accident. Nothing serious, but it was thoroughly unpleasant. This string of bad luck has me thinking of all the stories about temple attendance. You know, how everything in the world will rise up to stop you. It has felt like everything in the world has risen up between me and my one, tiny, righteous desire to clean out the nursery toy cabinet.

I have spent weeks looking forward to this Tuesday. It was the day appointed to sort clean and organize the jumbled, mangled, and disfigured mass of toys inhabiting our toy cupboard. Sunday after Sunday the kids pull out every single piece of junk, throw it on the floor, step on it, trip on it, and smash it in order to find the three or four decent toys that all 12 kids want to play with. I was SO ready to get rid of the germy junk.

But after swells of nausea and the car collision, I was not in the mood to wade through infested mounds of plastic. With the assistance of my angelic friend who came along to help, I went anyway. It was a pretty good time. There is some sweet satisfaction in throwing out some of the toys that have haunted me. We ended up with four very large trash bags of junk. (I'm sorry great North Pacific Gyre--that's the oceanic vortex where plastic trash ends up) I wanted to bring my camera to document a few of my favorites but forgot. Here's a description of a few of the highlights:

Child sized baby doll: This thing might actually have survived the cut because baby dolls are so loved by the kids, but I hate it. I'm fairly certain it was used as a CPR dummy before becoming a "toy." It's just about as large as the kids, has on a pair of raggedy cut off shorts that are way way too small for it, and has these suspiciously hideous scratch marks on it's scalp. The really terrible thing about this toy is when seen out of the corner of my eye, lying prostrate on the ground, I have mistaken it for a crumpled child and rushed over to "save" it. Sadly, I have made this mistake more than half a dozen times.

Second most hated doll: She has hair the color of red jolly ranchers and neon blue eyes, a kind of neon blue that can look into your soul and fill it with a feeling of florescent doom. I would be fine if I could keep my distance from her, but one very kind little girl in my class always tries to get me to hold her. I do not know why. It's started giving me bad dreams.

Over a hundred magnets: I love magnets, but for some reason we had a huge bag of them--each a little smaller than a marble. PERFECT choking hazard. Is someone trying to kill these kids?

Every ugly figurine ever given out in happy meals in the last forty years. Some are fine; most made no sense. I liked the purple and yellow green octopus. Didn't like the Polly Pocket whose hair had all been pulled out.

There were a lot of really wonderful others but it's hard to remember them all. Still, by the end of the night we had made a lot more room, organized the toys, and wiped everything down with disinfectant. I think play time and clean up will be a lot more fun.

We do have a few really wonderful toys that are staples. They are:

Large wooden puzzles with pieces large enough for the kids to handle.

Very large hard plastic car and truck. These are just big enough that the kids try to sit and ride on them. It doesn't really work but the kids love them.

Balls. The kids love balls.

A toy kitchen. Great for fun and fights. Three kids always try to play with it at once, it's so much fun.

The baby dolls. No matter how ugly, they are cherished.

The baby stroller. The kids love filling it up with anything they can find and wheeling it around.

Fisher Price Cash register. I played with this thing when I was a kid so it warms my heart to see it still in action.

I have a little money in the budget to make a few responsible purchases. Any suggestions for toys for 1-3 year olds?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What to Wear?

After nursery today, I noticed my shirt was smeared with snot. Lots and lots of snot, in multiple places. I also had a piece of scotch tape and a blue foam sticker pig stuck to me. I pulled off the pig and the tape and I really hope all the snot washes out okay.

I know church is supposed to be Sunday best, but working in nursery has made me adjust my wardrobe. I've found myself reaching into the back of my closet for clothes that are old or ugly. I try to pair those clothes appropriately in order to avoid dumpiness but I can't say I get many compliments on my style. I feel a little sad because I know I look a lot better when I go to work than when I go to church these days.

What I need is a SUPER kid-proof outfit. If anyone could produce this outfit, I'm sure they could make a million, billion dollars. I think Project Runway should try to tackle it. Here's a few of the requirements:
Resistant to staining
Resistant to the absorption of any type of body fluid.
Flexible enough to run in place, jump up from Ring around the Rosy, do Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, lift screaming and kicking small children
Fit perfectly so I don't have to worry about accidently flashing or mooning anyone
Look Amazing
And I suppose it should look appropriately feminine, although pants seem to make a lot more sense.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I have a testimony of finger play

This week I turned the lesson over to my lovely and very capable nursery assistant so I'm enjoying a little more peace of mind than usual this weekend. As soon as I russle up a hiking companion I'll be hitting the trail.

Anyway, I looked through the lesson in the manual this week, 6: Heavenly Father Loves ME. It's a good one. It has a lot of finger play-little poems with accompanying hand motions. When I first started trying to do nursery lessons I thought the little finger play activities were impossible. I rarely knew the poems and I doubted the kids would know them or do them. Time for another slice of humble pie. I tried one just for fun and the kids LOVED it. It's by far, the MOST successful part of my lessons. The kids actually demand to do them over and over again.

Now just because I have developed a devoted adoration to finger play doesn't mean I'm able to remember the poems. Sadly, I'm not President Monson. So I cheat. I write the outline of my lesson and all the poems on a 5x7 note card. I used to hold the card in my hand but that can get in the way of the motions, so I tape it to my wrist. It's my personal game plan. The tape makes me look crazy but it's SO helpful. And next time I got to the sporting supply store I'm going to buy myself a real football wrist band. I expect it will be exactly what I need.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


This may be the most successful nursery craft I've done yet. I did it last Sunday because I hung out at a party a little too long Saturday night. Turns out contact paper can be difficult to find at 11:30 Saturday night. I was ready to panic. I needed an easy craft I could make from grocery store supplies. As I roamed the aisles I had no idea what to do.

I honestly believe this idea was a blessing from God. It was time consuming in a good way, not too difficult and the kids absolutely loved it.

Here's what you need:
2 small dixie cups, masking tape, a bag of dry beans and some stickers.

Here's what you do:

Get two small dixie cups and tape them together with masking tape. Cup one facing down, cup two facing up.
Like this:

Once FIRMLY taped together cut a small x in the bottom of the cup, just large enough to push your small finger through. You now have a tiny hole about the size of a dry bean.

Here's what the kids do:

Give each kid a set of taped cups and a small handful of beans.

Let them fill the cups with as many beans as they want. They really love shoving the small beans in the hole.

Let them decorate them with stickers. I recommend the foam ones.

When the kids are content with their bean load, help them put a sticker over the top so the beans won't fall out.

Then the shaking will begin!

Here's how it happened in my class:
I made my own shaker before class. I passed out the empty taped cups to each kid. Then I held up my cup and said see my shaker? Ready? Listen! Then I shook it really loud. The kids were amazed and immediately jealous. Then I told them to shake their cups and asked them if they heard anything. They shook hopefully then admitted they did not. Then I told them all they had to do was add the beans. I was amazed how excited they were. As soon as I put a few beans on the table they leaped into action. They liked it so much, a few started fighting over beans.

As pointless as these may seem, they are great to keep around for singing time. The kids love being able to shake them to the beat of the song. I plan to do it on the lesson I am Grateful for my Ears and any other time I need a craft.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Getting Past No

I have a little boy in my class who has a favorite word. That word is NO. Any question I ask gets a furrowed brow, a scowl and an emphatic little NO.

I'll say:
Do you want to sing a song?
Do you want to play?
Do you want to eat a snack.

At first it threw me off, but I think I've gotten better at getting past no. Mostly I just pretend his no is the answer I wanted to hear: Yes! And I try to ask less yes or no questions and more which one questions.

So we'll have singing time and I'll ask the class, Should we sing Head, shoulders, knees and toes?
I'll get no response except that solemn little NO.
So I'll say, Great! Where's your head? and then start singing the song.

When coloring time comes I'll ask Do you want to color?
Okay, which crayon do you want? Red?
He'll take it if it's a good day.
If it's a bad day I"ll just leave a crayon and paper in front of him and avoid looking at him so he can take it without feeling like he lost the standoff. It's worked pretty well.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lesson 5: Jesus Christ is the Son of Heavenly Father

So I mentioned earlier that I've been trying to figure out how to open the lesson. Here's my plan.

Opening: Picture time

I'm going to show the kids a picture of my Dad and Mom holding me as a baby. I'm going to show them the picture and ask them:
What is this a picture of?
How do you think the Daddy and Mommy feel about the baby?
Do they love the baby?

Who Loves You?
Pull out a bean bag or small ball. When I throw the bean bag to a kid, they have to tell me someone who loves them and throw it back. I'll make sure to give every kid a chance to name someone who loves them. I'll also make sure to bring a spare bean bag so I can continue the game if someone won't give up the bean bag.

Someone Else Loves You
Tell the kids there is someone else who loves them. Have them guess. Tell them it is Heavenly Father. Talk about how he is the father of our spirits. Tell them there is someone else who loves them: Jesus. Explain that Heavenly Father is Jesus Christ's physical father. I plan to try to find a picture that shows both of them so I can point to the one I'm talking about.

Nativity Story:
I'm going to try to find a very simple picture book that tells the story of the nativity and read it to the kids. While I read I will ask them who the different people are.

Alternate Idea: Place plastic figurines in a brown paper bag. Let each child come up and draw a figure out of the bag and let them say who that is. Have the kids build the nativity together or pretend to be the different character.

Jesus Grows Up
At this point I plan to raid the library for pictures of Jesus and run through several of them with the kids.

Rhyme -from the lesson manual
Young Jesus went to the temple (walk in place)
Before he grew strong and tall (stretch arms up)
To do the work of his Father (hold hands out)
Because he loves us all (hug self).

I think I might try to add a few verses to do with the kids.

i.e Jesus was baptized in river Jordan (make a flowing river with hands)
To be obedient in all (make a grand gesture) . . .

That's my lesson plan so far. Anyone have any ideas to add? I LOVE the suggestions

I'm planning on trying to do a small craft afterwards. My friend Sarah discovered this AWESOME glueless collage idea that is perfect for toddlers. Check it out here on her blog. You basically get the sticky contact paper, let the kids stick stuff all over it, then fold it in half so it seals shut. It is BRILLIANT. There's a butterfly spinoff idea which is also really cool. Contact paper is totally my new favorite substance on this earth.
I'm trying to think of objects I could provide that would relate to the lesson. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I love my Da....

Yesterday I started looking over the lesson for next week, Jesus Christ is the Son of Heavenly Father. The manual suggests to start the lesson by having someone's daddy come in and talk about how much he loves his child. I'm a little worried about this idea because I think if one person's Dad comes in the others will expect theirs to come too. I'm also a little worried that when that Dad leaves, his child will fall apart.

I was trying to think of an alternate opener and thought it could be fun if I got pictures of the kids' Dads through email requests, printed them out, and hung them on the wall. I would then start the lesson by letting the kids come up to pick out their daddy and say what they like about him. I was starting to get into the idea but then I remembered that one child in my class has a single mother. Her dad isn't in her life at all.

I feel like I want this child more than anyone else to know that she has her Heavenly Father who loves her. I really don't want her to feel left out. To avoid that, I'm thinking I maybe need to skip all the earthly daddy stuff, but that would make teaching Heavenly Father's relationship to the other kids really difficult. Does anyone have ideas? Advice?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Clock Watching

My ward has gotten into the habit of going ten to fifteen minutes over every Sunday. This has left me thinking very mean thoughts. I don't like thinking mean thoughts but after two hours of toddlers who are becoming exhausted and irritable I am SOO ready for church to end.
What adds to my problem is I watch the clock like a hawk, doing my best to pace my lesson and activities to the end. Another ten minutes can be a VERY long time. As soon as the first kid leaves, usually the one lucky enough to have parents in primary instead of EQ or RS, the others are antsy and eager to go. I'm not sure what a good activity for this time could be. Does anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

No Daniel

I picked up some cookie cutters at the craft store by my house. The big box bookstore is next door so I stopped in hoping to peruse their selection of Daniel in the Lion's Den children's books. I expected a few cheesy offerings and maybe something nice but they didn't have a single version of the story. I was surprised and a little disturbed that such a common Bible story wouldn't be available.

Jello Playdough

This is by far the best use I can think of for Jello since I can't stand to eat the stuff. It's Jello Playdough! It provides color and a good smell. I think I might try to make it today. You can see a recipe here or here.
I found out about this at Design Mom which is an awesome blog to browse if you ever have a moment.

Nursery Talk

There's quite the discussion going on at Feminist Mormon House Wives right now and it's ALL about nursery. Go check it out here!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lesson 4: I Can Pray to Heavenly Father

Here's my lesson plan for Sunday.

Opening: Brown Bag Surprise
I bring a brown bag full of things I am grateful for. I'm going to tell the kids that the bag is full of things I pray about. I'm going to let them guess what's inside. That should take about ten seconds since none of them really talk yet. I'm then going to take the objects out of the bag one by one and talk about them. If things are going well I'll let the kids come up and help me pick the objects out of the bag. Here are some of the things I plan to put in the bag.
A picture of my family
A ball
My scriptures
A fake flower
A little globe
A paint brush
Something that has to do with sleep
I'll talk about how I am grateful for each thing and I thank Heavenly Father for each them by praying to Him.

Picture Time:
LIttle Girl Praying
I'll show the picture of a girl praying and ask if the kids can say what she is doing. I'll ask the kids if they know how to pray.
Family Praying
We can pray with our families too! Talk about that

How Do We Pray?
We fold our arms
We bow our heads
We close our eyes
Now we are ready to pray!
Let anyone who wants to say a prayer.

Daniel and the Lions Den (MUST FIND PICTURE. I might just check out a picture book of the story from the local library.)
Do you know there once was a man named Daniel who loved to pray? He loved talking to his Heavenly Father. Some people didn't like Daniel praying so they threw him in a lion's den. Do you know what lions are? What do lions say? (Let the kids roar. Kids like to roar.) Lions EAT people. Daniel was afraid they were going to hurt him so he prayed. Do you know what happened? Heavenly Father sent an angel who shut the lion's mouth so Daniel was saved!

Make Lion's masks with paper plates and string. I'm going to figure this out tomorrow. I think I'll have them mostly made but will let the kids color and decorate them.

Daniel in the Lion's Den Game
After the kids have their masks made I will let them pretend to be ROARING Lions. They ROAR and Snarl as loud as they can and act like lions but when I pray - they shut their mouths. We'll see if that happens. As soon as I stop "praying" they can start ROARING again.
If they don't want to stop roaring and acting like lions I think I can be okay with that.

That's my plan. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Island Hopping

Here's another little game I discovered by accident. I guess it's kind of a modified hopskotch. I call it Island Hopping.
Take some masking tape and tape out small circles all over the floor. Have the kids try to hop "island" to "island" without falling into the "sea".
I don't know why but the kids seem to really like this game. They'll hop the route over and over. They're islomaniacs. Check it out here. It's a real condition, an obsessive love of islands.
My lesson plan for this Sunday should be up by tomorrow. Thanks again for dropping by.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lesson 3: Heavenly Father's Plan for Us

So I posted what my lesson plan was but like Napoleon said, No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. I'm telling you, I'm no miracle worker. This is how it went down.
My husband decided to stay up until 2 and I succumbed to temptation and was up way past midnight. That made for a tense and testy morning. We have 8:30 church and I woke up at 7:50. To get to church in time to set up, I went shower-less, dressed ugly, ate only a granola bar, and tried very hard to not say things to my husband that I would need to repent of.
At the last minute I got the idea to make mobiles from the circle diagrams. I snagged ten cheap wire hangers from our closet. The Swimmy book, the big people shoes and my lesson outline got left on the table where I set them out. Sigh...
When it came time to do the lesson I realized I forgot a cardinal rule of lesson giving: Open BIG! I found myself stuttering out, "Hey, Hey, over here!" I needed an attention getter. I pulled out the circles. I got some attention. I talked about having a plan and how nursery had a plan. I showed them the first circle and told them about living with a loving Heavenly Father and how he had a plan for all of us.

I gave them the whole overview using a story about myself. Miss Kate lived with Heavenly Father in the pre-mortal life (hold up circle 1), then Miss Kate came to earth to get a body (circle 2), Miss Kate and her husband are going to live happily in heaven (circle 3). I picked a kid to help tape up each of my circles to the wall. I passed out the blue circles to everyone and let them start coloring as I pulled out the earth circles.
I held up the earth circle and talked about how we lived on Earth now where we have bodies and get to grow up to be big and more like our Heavenly Father. Steve and baby Eliza knocked on the door just then. Perfect timing. I thought, I have them now, they'll see the baby and be interested. I was SO wrong. I asked them about the baby and the daddy and I got BLANK stares and no response. I was so sad. I really expected them to like the baby. At this point I would have pulled out the big shoes to play with but they were not to be had. Instead I passed out the earth circles to each of them with a handful of stickers in the middle of the table that they could decorate their earth with.

I told them about heaven and how Heavenly Father wants us to come back and be with him with our families. I asked if they loved their family and who the loved in their family. Then I passed out the heaven circles and helped some of them draw their families in. Others were happy to have their Heavenly family be composed of horse stickers. At that point I was fine with that too.
I and the other nursery workers went around and helped each kid tape their circles to strings attached to the hanger. They seemed to like their mobiles okay. They really liked playing with the tape. The ones who finished got up and started swinging their mobiles around. They were having a great time, but I started to worry someone was going to get a hanger in the eye. I confiscated the mobiles and we danced the last five minutes of class away. That might have been enough, but grown up class went ten minutes over again. I pulled out the bubbles. And everyone survived.

If any of you are wondering why I didn't rock all three degrees of glory it's because I got tired of cutting circles and I figured that all of these kids "are redeemed from the foundation of the world through the atoning sacrifice of Him who died to save us all." I was willing to be optimistic in the case of myself and my husband.

I'd give myself a 6 out of 10 for how well it went this week. Sort of disappointing. Hopefully next week will be better. It's Lesson 4: I can pray to Heavenly Father. I'm thinking about letting the kids make a phone call on my cell phone. Is that a bad idea?

I'm telling you, this is the only time I spend with kids. I feel a little out of touch so your advice is appreciated/LOVED.