an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

May 14, 2014
by countryfun

Travels with Charlie: MAINE Footprint Lobster #bookingusa

We so enjoyed being involved with Booking Across the USA (Trip 1) last year. It was fun to connect with others from across the other states. So many new books and fun activities to explore. So when Booking Across the USA Trip 2 was announced we jumped at the chance to participate again.  50 bloggers sharing activities related to their state with all ideas being inspired by a new series of books! What’s not to like about this?

We got our learning started with a new book: Travels with Charlie – Travelin’ the Northest by Miles Backer. Who says you have to start every book on the first page? Not me, so we started the reading with our own state of Maine and continued through the Northeast comparing these other states to ours. (Future Venn Diagram) This series and discussion opens up a way to develop an understanding of the USA in the preschoolers here.

My original idea was to combine reading this book with all the questions that have been raised as we prepare to head off to various schools for K next year. I figured we could start from the big picture – Earth, heading to USA, to Maine and then our homes in our towns. We are still doing that, but will be expanding into making personal books about Maine.

This simple activity takes coffee filters, markers (not sharpies), white art paper and water.


  1. Color, scribble is best, onto the coffee filter with the markers. We viewed the earth as seen from space on our iPads to figure out the colors and what those colors represented. – Our choices were: blue, green and brown. the empty spaces would give us white.
  2. Place filter in middle of the white art paper (we used drawing paper, construction paper and copy paper all worked fine), start spraying with water. Really get the coffee filter wet. You will see the colors start to blend and parts of the filter will lift (do not push down). Leave everything in place until it dries.
  3. Once dry lift up filter, reposition on the paper and spray well again. Let dry. This can be done multiple times, but we only needed these 2 color areas.
  4. Using a clear circle shape place where you like the Earth image, trace around. Cut out saving remaining paper for the USA outline to come.

We have completed the earth and background for the USA outline, but the discussions have shifted our focus just now. The children want to know more about Maine.


In answer to their interest I headed to the library in search of books about Maine. Little did I expect to have such a large and varied collection of titles to explore and chose from. (I’ve listed all the books we’ll be exploring on the Country Fun Program Blog: Book Files.)

Needless to say the idea I had for the initial project has also evolved and will not be completed in time for the link up today (the 14th). I will definitely link up once done or you can check back here or on one of the other social media connections I use.

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Allowing the children to direct what books we explored next, they chose the Moose stories. DSC04510 (Never imagined I’d find a use for the jar of dried moose droppings we have sitting on a book shelf. It was fun to show the children, discussing size, shape and how we could see the fibers from the plants that moose eat.) However, it’s been the books about lobsters (Lobsterman by Dahlov Ipcar, open below) and islands that have engaged the children the most.  DSC04517 islands

I pulled together materials for a simple and fun activity I’ve done in the past – a footprint lobster.

PS- Live lobsters are brown. They turn red once cooked. The children chose to do red, not brown. That is the color used most in advertising here, so they think of lobsters as being red.


  1. copy paper (we’ll be cutting out), thin red paint and wipes
  2. paint bottom of one foot
  3. place carefully on one short edge of paper, pressing down firm. (Watch out that the toes are to the edge.)
  4. wipe foot clean
  5. paint palms of both hands
  6. position hands over heel area, finger together, thumb out, place and press down
  7. wash hands
  8. let dry
  9. cut out lobster


Chose background paper (we used 9″x12″ blues from the textured paper stash). Have book open to the page with clear example of the lobster’s body.

  1. lobstercut out rock shapes (more textured paper)
  2. glue down rocks then place and glue down lobster
  3. color arm section where claw attaches to body
  4. glue on eyes and antennas (cut into 2 pieces, does not stayed glued as well when folded)
  5. add 8 legs (“L” shape)
  6. lines for tail section
  7. label body parts


These will be added as a page to our Maine books.


January 10, 2014
by countryfun

Have You Ever Wondered About Snowmen at Night?

In exposing children to books so that their world expands it is important as part of that to help them understand the parts of a book.  Title pages, author, illustrator, beginning, middle and ending are all easy to develop an understanding of. In many of the picture books used for infants through preschool there are no “dust jackets”, especially with an introduction (found on the inside lap – I always thought of as the fly) or opening question to get you excited about what you will find once you start reading. So when I find one you can be sure I use it.

Our library copy of Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner had a great one and it was nice to be able to start this reading and extension project off from there.

“Have you ever wondered about the secret life of a snowman? Maybe one morning his grin is a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have drooped, and you’ve thought…. what do snowmen do at night?”

How much more fun to peak the interest in a story, than to just start right in reading? Some interesting answers to this opening.

As a follow up activity we took black paper – a little different for a snowman picture – and some unusual painting tools to make a snowy night time background for our snowman.

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November 18, 2013
by countryfun

Finishing Up with Pumpkins

We have finally finished up our lessons with pumpkins. Over the years I have found that pumpkins are great for learning about a plants life cycle and pant parts. There are so many uses for pumpkin and lessons can go in many directions. It all depends on interest and taking hold of opportunities.

This year there has been a lot of prior discussions on recycling, composting, and rotting. Now I know what a wonderful mess a Jack-O-Lantern turns into, but most children do not see theirs once Halloween is done. Our garden pumpkins were not great this year, but definitely good enough to do a bit of exploring with.

To top our lessons off I found this new book while on my lesson search. It was a perfect fit with it’s wonderful real photos and scientific information. For me this book was a non-fiction find, even though it’s story is told in 15 voices. These voices added to our discussions and knowledge gained.

Here’s the cover of this new book. Can you see why I knew it would catch the children’s attention from the start?


Here’s a quick look at our pumpkin observations over the last few weeks.

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March 1, 2013
by countryfun

A Dr. Seuss Day

It’s that time of year when it seems almost everyone who works with kids is covering the same material – all in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Some are doing a week of books and activities. This year we are just spending the last day of class time before his birthday (3/2) reading, playing with and crafting around  a couple of our favorite Dr. Seuss books:

The Cat in the Hat needs to be heard by every child at least once.

Every teacher of young children needs to enjoy a good tongue workout with Fox in Socks.

and in trying to find one that is more uncommon I have settled on What was I Scared of?

Our Cat in the Hat project is adapted from one seen at Just 4 Teachers: Sharing Across Borders. I found a free template online, drew in the 5 sections of the hat then enlarged it to a size that worked for my group to paint using their fingertips. This worked on patterns (hat), basic following directions, and color, but still left room for individualizing.

All you need is 2 colors of paint, the copied cat in the hat and 1 finger tip.

Before reading Fox in Socks we matched and counted sock pairs. (Problem solving, fine motor, language, team work/support, visual discrimination all from playing at matching socks.) Then had a race to see who could get the unmatched socks on quicker – me or the kids.   They won each time. Wonder if it was because they were putting a much too large sock on?

What was I Scared of? was read as part of story time. We did some predicting as read.

January 27, 2013
by countryfun

A Little Catching Up

Last week was not a good one for getting posts on our activities up, but believe me we stayed good and busy inside while the cold raged outside. This post will try to catch up on some of the activities we enjoyed this past week.

It’s been all about snowmen, snowflakes and mittens this month. This week we finally got around to using our class snow storm project as a background for our “construct a snowman challenge”.

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Too cold to make snowmen outside and wanting some “larger” movement means using some of our large sheets of paper and spreading out around the playroom and kitchen for enough floor space. Drawing on large paper is a totally different experience and uses one’s motor skills and muscle groups in a different way.

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Thought you might enjoy seeing how “school” happens when the school-age are leading the play.

Taking advantage of our earlier darkness and using the light box. Can you tell we have been doing a bit of work with “patterns” recently?

Yes, we get silly (what fun would it be with kids all day if you didn’t get silly?) and it often involves stories we are reading together. Tacky Penguin  is a perfect story to get silly with especially on a cold Friday (at the end of a cold week). The kids were having so much fun singing Tacky’s song I thought I’d try to get it on tape. (It was way better without the camera running, but you’ll get the idea.)


With mixed ages it’s also about finding time to be sure the developmental needs of everyone are being met. Placing beads on sticks is great fine motor practice for young ones. What I hadn’t expected was it becoming a birthday cake. Love seeing imagination in action.

We also managed to get in lots of practice with finding similarities and differences or matching between our homemade snowflake and mitten games and some iPad apps. (Postings on these in the speciality blogs in the next few days.)


November 5, 2012
by countryfun
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Our Fall Book is Completed!

Happy kids going home tonight with the projects they have worked hard on this past month all together in a book of their own.


For how the books were constructed click here and you’ll be taken to the Country Fun Preschool Blog with descriptions of each page and links to sites that inspired parts of this project.


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