Saturday, July 12, 2014

Do You Love Vintage Tablecloths? Check Out My Vintage Tablecloth Heaven Blog Dedicated to My Mom's Tablecloth Collection

Visions of vintage linens await you at my other blog, Vintage Tablecloth Heaven, where you will find the loveliest collection of tablecloths! All of the tablecloths belong to my mom and have been used and loved by our family for several years.

My mom finds joy in collecting these fabulous fabric treasures and the thoughts of family memories created during the many meals and occasions they were used.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Home on the Prairie: Illinois Art and Lesson Plans for Preschoolers.

Clipart by Phillip Martin

Illinois is more than Chicago, corn and cows! Each mile is chock full of history and quirky charm as shown by this Roadside America page and great food such as deep dish pizza (need I say more!). From giant ketchup bottles, Olney's white squirrels to "The Bean, Illinois has enough pizazz to make even Mr. Lincoln smile.

Preschoolers will be squirming in their seats to get their hands on these ill-luminating Illinois crafts and lesson plans.

Illinois Puzzle Pieces 
Uncompleted Illinois State Puzzle 
Completed Illinois State Puzzle 
  • Create State Puzzles by tracing a template in the shape of Illinois onto heavy cardboard or craft foam.  Cut into 4 - 8 pieces depending on your preschooler's ability level. Skills: Math: Spacial concepts, parts of a whole, matching shapes. 
  • Mr. Lincoln's Hat Math Mat - Help children begin to identify and recognize numeric amounts and practice their counting/1 -1 correspondence skills by rolling a foam die and placeing the correct number of bingo markers on a cardboard cut-out of a stove pipe hat. 
  • Develop non-standard form of measurement concepts, by using plastic corn on the cobs. Hunt within your child's play food to find plastic corn on the cobs and "measure" household items. Popcorn is the state snack, so corn is a pretty important crop!
Getting Squirlley! Olney, Illinois White Squirrel Craft

  • Superman placemats (Superman was created by Illinois native) Find clipart of superman and glue to blue or red construction paper. 
  • Cardinal hand print bird (State Bird) 
  • White Squirrel Doily craft (Olney, Illinois is famous for their white squirrels) Use this link go to DLTK's Autumn Squirrel Wreath template . Print the Autumn Squirrel Wreath Template onto heavy white cardstock. Cut out head, hands feet and body from Autumn Squirrel Wreath Template and set aside. Trace a large paper doily around the body section of squirrel and cut out. Find a large heart-shaped doily and trace it around a piece of cardstock (this will be the tail). Cut out. Remember to also keep heart Shaped doily you used as tracing template. Glue previously cut doilies to both the body and tail. Glue the hands and feet to the body doily. Glue the heart tail doily under the body doily and glue face on top of heart doily. 
  • Route 66 Sign 
Social Studies/Geography 
  • See if you can locate Illinois on a U.S. Map (Geographical location of Illinois on a map)
  • Create a feely box with state symbols (cardinal, violet, popped popcorn in a bag, fake prairie grass etc.) (Investigating Illinois symbols and using sense of touch (science)) 
  • Locate famous people who shaped Illinois in a famous people scavenger hunt in your room. (Learning about important individuals who developed and brought publicity to the state). 
  • If you live in Illinois, research the town where you live. (State history, recognition of you towns social and civic properties) 
Water Table 
  • Fill laminated postcards of Chicago for the children to view using magnifying glasses
  • Grab the fast food! Illinois is the birthplace of McDonald's. 
  • Flower Power! Find flowers and plants that are native to Illinois. (Identifying and recognizing Illinois native flora) 
Language Arts 
  • Create a Land of Lincoln bingo game. (visual discrimination and naming of Illinois state objects) 
  • Have children describe (adjectives) famous landmarks in Chicago. Ex. Willis Tower: Big, tall etc.
  • Have children who have been to the state bring in photos of their vacation and ask them questions about their trip to create a written memory of their trip. (Language concepts: speaking and recording previous memories and math: logical thought accessed through previous experiences.)
  • Students can "send" a postcard to students in Illinois as pen pals.
  • Investigate the importance of wind power near farms. 
  • Learn about prairie ecosystems. 
Snacks (Allergy alert: Check to make sure your students are not allergic to any items found on the packaging of these foods. Always ask restaurants what ingredients they have uses to make their foods if you have any doubts.)

Now that's deep: Giordano's Deep Dish Pizza 
  • Order or make deep dish pizza. 
  • Sweet treat. Eat an ice cream cone.The ice cream cone was developed at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. 
  • Good to the last pop! Taste some yummy popcorn. 

I'm feeling Disney: Walt Disney 
  • Watch a Disney movie! Walt Disney was born in Hermosa, Chicago, Illinois.

Illinois Best Book Bets: See my post about fantastic Land of Lincoln literature at my book blog Pump Up the Volumes

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Make a Statement!: Create a What a Statement! Mouse Pad That Celebrates Your State Pride!

Show off your state pride by creating a state mouse pad. It's sure to make quite a statement about your state of mind!  If you would like your preschooler to create this mouse pad, make sure all the items are cut beforehand or have your child use children's safety scissors to cut items out. Laminators should be used by adults only. 

To Make What a Statement! State Mouse Pad 
  1. Select two color-coordinated scrapbook papers in different patterns. Cut 1st paper into a large square shape as desired by the surface area available for your mouse pad. Put other paper to the side. 
  2. Choose two pieces of colorful cardstock. Cut one a little smaller than the largest square you just cut for the bottom of your mouse pad and glue on top of bottom scrapbook paper. Place your other piece of cardstock to the side. 
  3. Find a large metallic piece of cardstock and cut slightly smaller than the piece of cardstock you had glued to the bottom piece of scrapbook paper. Glue the metallic piece of cardstock on top. 
  4. Cut the other piece of cardstock you placed to the side in a slightly smaller square than the metallic cardstock you had glued on. Glue the cardstock on top o the metallic piece of cardstock. 
  5. Use the other piece of color-coordinated scrapbook paper to create a top focal point. Cut the paper into a small square and turn on its side to create a diamond shape. Glue on top of metallic cardstock. 
  6. Find a map of your state. The one I found was on the Rand-McNally site and cut around the state’s shape to give it dimension with scissors. 
  7. Use antiquing medium to give your state a burnished, aged old-world look. 
  8. Go on the Internet and find some of your states symbols. I found mine by using clipart from 
  9. You can use stamp pads to create colorful embellishments on the state symbols you select, such as the peony (which is Indiana’s state flower) on the right-hand side of the mousepad. 
  10. Find out your state’s nickname. Indiana is the Hoosier State and those that reside in Indiana are nicknamed Hoosiers. I used stickers to spell out the word Hoosier and the state name. Other ideas for possible titles include using your state’s admission to the union, a quote made by a famous person who was born in the state or pictures of places you love in the state. 
  11. Laminate mousepad for durability. 
  12. Place a non-skid pad on the back of the mouse pad. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Preschool Pep Talk: Want the truth? Speak to a Preschooler

If you truly want to know the truth about something be sure to ask a preschooler. Preschoolers are known for their somewhat biting, less than complimentary, and ulterior-motive free viewpoint of the world. Their innocence and lack of  experience gives them an unskewed and natural look at life. 

Favorite Comments From Preschoolers 

Your name is not Miss Hatcher, your name is Miss “Beautiful” Hatcher. (Perfection, I tell you, perfection). 

I wish I were you. 

You have goofy sunglasses. I like them, but they are goofy. 

I like you, but I love my mom. (This is how it should be. Moms definitely rock.) 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ponderings of a Preschool Teacher: Kiddie Kouture: Kid's Clothing that Screams Preschool Posh

As a preschool teacher, I often wonder why parents obsess over their children's clothing remaining pristine and utterly perfect after a long, hard day of preschool play. While I do feel smocks are adequate to reduce a great number of messy mistakes, I also feel that the childrens' worry over "keeping clean" limits their overall learning experience.

Getting down and dirty with play-doh, paint and glitter are just some of the wonderful things about childhood. These activities teach them about cause and effect, weight, measurement, spacial concepts, the bending of light within the color spectrum (glitter's prismatic effect), color mixing (creating tints, shades, primary, secondary and tertiary colors) and so on.

I say hooray to the Free Play Movement (Be sure to read Effort to Restore Children's Play Gains Momentum by Hilary Stout from The New York Times to learn more about this movement). Children deserve to smell the daisies, get a little dirty, and use their good old fashion imagination.

I've compiled a list of quality resale shops in the Chicagoland area that help dissuade the "Clean Clothing Epidemic" that is reaching monumental proportions.

These shops offer clean, slightly worn clothing, that are generally free of rips and tears. The majority of the items look brand new and the prices are so low that no one needs to worry if a dreaded grape juice or paint stain occurs.

I've also selected a few commercial department and discount stores that offer new, never worn merchandise.

Resale Shops

The Hope Chest La Grange, Illinois
See my review on my fashion blog: Inpurse-suit of Happiness

The Carousel Shop La Grange, Illinois

Saver's (Various Locations)

Small Change La Grange, Illinois

Goodwill  (Various location)

Salvation Army Stores  (Various Locations)

Department and Discount Stores 

Tuesday Morning (Various Locations)

T.J. Maxx (Various Locations)

Marshall's (Various Locations)

Target (Various Locations)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Put on a Happy Face: It's National Smile Power Day

Image Source:

First off, Happy Father's Day! Dads everywhere are ripping open packages full of ugly ties and receiving lots of hugs and love on this very special day.

But guess what?.... there's another holiday that we can celebrate today. It's National Smile Power Day, a day when we show our pearly whites off to the world! A day of grinning solidarity. The best thing about smiling is that it is free and it is guaranteed to lift everyones' spirits!

Here are a few smile-worthy ways to make someone grin from ear to ear:

  • Pay someone a compliment
  • Give them a hug 
  • Tell a joke 
  • Make a funny face 

See below for more ways to have your family and friends grinning like the Cheshire Cat, including some fun crafts that kids can easily whip up in a flash!

Crafts and other smiley ideas from

Artsy Momma  Paper Plate Smiley Face Craft

All Kids Network Smile Button Greeting Card

Games and Activities

Read your little wiggleworms a snappy, happy book about the joys of a smile!

Bobo's Smile by Seymour Chwast 
Smile, Lily! by Candace Fleming 
Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson 
I Love It When You Smile by Sam McBratney 

"Smile," says little Crocodile : a Book About Good Habits by Jane Belk Moncure 
Smile by John A. Rowe 
Grandma's Smile by Randy Siegel 
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein 
How Do You Make a Baby Smile? by Philemon Sturges 

Learn about the health benefits of smiling from

Smiley Face Facts that will make you giddy from the Huffington Post 

Make sure to celebrate National Smile Power Day today and the whole year through!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Treasures In Your Attic: A Parent's Alphabet Poem Given To My Parents From A Past Teacher

The following poem, A Parent's Alphabet by Carol Hurst, was found while my mother was dodging dust bunnies during a major attic cleaning. It was hidden away in a box of old schoolwork and mementos that were pushed to a far corner of the room.

Just read the poem in order to learn the Parents' Alphabet.

A Parents’ Alphabet by Carol Hurst 

A is for arms, Arms that hold and arms that support and arms that push when they have to. 

B is for Books, which should abound in every home; and for Boredom, which can’t stay long if books are there. 

C is for the Children, and the Caring and the Crying which sometimes come together all at once. 

D is for Doors, which you sometimes have to help them open and through which they have to go someday never to return unchanged; and for Discipline and Dignity, which you owe every child. 

E is for Everything you hope for them; for the Easier you hope it will be for them; and for Education, which takes place at least as much at home as in school. 

F is for Foolish mistakes you make with your kids; and for the Freedom they must have to make their own. 

G is for Grandparents, who can add tradition and wisdom to children’s lives; and for Growth, which parents and kids can experience together. 

H is for Home, which is only sometimes a house where a child feels wanted and loved. 

I is for Ignorance, which darkens the world and is sometimes mistaken for innocence. 

J is for Jealousy, which creeps into so many relationships; and for Joy, which can push it out. 

K is for Kickball, and tag and hide-and-seek and all those other adult-less games kids need to play; and for Kissing, and hugging, which nobody does enough of. 

L is for Love, of course. 

M is for the Memory all parents have of what childhood was like for them; and for Money, which can never substitute for love no matter how lavishly given; and for Manners which make living easier. 

N is for Nurturing, the giving of love and care which only sometimes comes naturally. 

O is for Occupation, which takes so much of your time; and for the openness which exists when kids and parents really work at it. 

P is for Presents, which are easy to give; and for Presence, which is harder; and for Parenthood, which is only partly biological function; and for the Patience it takes to see you through it. 

Q is for Questions, which are so easy to turn off and so hard to turn back on. 

R is for Rest, which it seems never comes while the kids are young; and for Reward, which you get when you look in their faces or hold their hands. 

S is for Summer, which seems endless; and for School, where you ought to feel welcome; for the Stories you know but seldom tell; and for Shoulders, which sometimes are drenched with tears. 

T is for Time, which there never seems to be enough of; and for Teachers who try to understand. 

U is for the Upper hand, which you try so hard to keep; and for the Understanding that you try so hard to have. 

V is for the Virtue of overcoming all those roadblocks life seems to throw just when everything’s going well. 

W is for the Whys, which can drive you up the wall; and the Wisdom it takes to answer them. 

X is for the X-ray of the broken bone you both cried over; and for the Xtra love it takes to be a parent. 

Y is Yelling, which helps only temporarily, and for being Young which is only partly a matter of years. 

Z is for the end, the end of the alphabets, the end of child-hood, but never the end of love.