The Preschool that Almost Never Was… And then Surpassed All Expectations.

We all got strep.

Well… Three out of seven of us got strep, two of us just felt like we had strep. The other two felt great! (But there is always tomorrow, I suppose.)

But because we were diagnosed the day before preschool was scheduled, we had to cancel. The sound of a the week was long O and the theme was “ocean.” I was a little less enthusiastic about the theme since we already talked about underwater animals last time I was up to teach and the sound was short U. I could have just switched the theme to “snow” considering the the weather outside…

But we are all so sick of snow over here that nobody wants to really acknowledge it besides a grumble here and there. I didn’t even shovel. If you ignore it long enough, it really actually does just go away. 🙂 (5 days later and it’s practically gone!)

But oh, the wonderful activities I came up with for “ocean!” So fun!

And I was so disappointed when we had to cancel. It was a sad, sad day.

However, since I had already bought the goldfish crackers, Swedish fish, fruit loops, sea shells, and borrowed some beach sand already, we just had preschool at home by ourselves. And besides the whole being sick thing, it was wonderful.

I’ve never before simultaneously had pseudo-strep and felt so happy and at peace.

(Ok, ok. The peace and joy may not have had anything to do with the books, and shells, and sand, and goldfish crackers… but the Swedish fish may have had something to do with it.)

First, all curled up and warm on my bed, we read our ocean books. One beautiful, interesting, and educational, and the other one cute and silly. (I highly recommend both of these!)

Then, after making our beach sand play dough, we made some beaches! I was anticipating something simple with just sand shells, like this! (The shells came from the dollar store, the sand came from California via my kindergarten teaching neighbor – everyone should have one of those! – and the play dough recipe will be added at the bottom of this post.)dsc07275

But, after about 2 hours of molding, shaping, creating, laughing, sharing, and helping each other out, we found ourselves face to face with these beauties!!

Seahorses, crabs, clown fish, rays, sharks, squids, octopuses, jelly fish, star fish, electric eels, tuna fish, regular generic fish, and snakes! All hiding in shells, tunnels, caves, seaweed, and in plain sight!

We had so much fun trying to remember the different kinds of ocean animals we had seen at last week’s aquarium field trip so we could put them in our ocean scenes, that we decided to watch “Oceans.” We received this movie in a Christmas gift box from my husband’s office years ago (when they did Christmas gift boxes) and I love it. It is worth checking out at the library.  My oldest printed off an ocean life coloring page for everyone, and when they saw a different animal in the film, they would find it on their page and color it in. (I so love it when the kids plan and implement school for themselves.)

Obviously I wouldn’t have had the preschool kids watch that movie – not because they wouldn’t think it was interesting (but when I think about it, probably many of them wouldn’t actually find it interesting), but because there isn’t enough time and nobody sends their kids to preschool to have them just sit in front of someone else’s TV.

But we were all home sick, so we could do whatever we wanted.

Our post movie snack was goldfish crackers and Swedish fish swimming in ocean jello. I’m sure this did not help us get any healthier. And the Swedish fish get slimy after soaking in blue jello for a few hours so nobody really liked them after that… but it does make them seem a little more authentic. Fish are pretty slimy if I remember right. Although not fruit punch or cherry flavored. (Apparently the actual flavor of Swedish Fish is quite controversial, while the company maintains it is a unique fruit flavor all it’s own! I had to look that up, but now you know!)

The kids made graphs out of their goldfish to determine which colors show up more frequently. (This was another kid led activity. I feel like a winner!) The second picture is a model of a food chain, so she says. 🙂

I did have another fun little activity for the preschoolers that I think they would have loved. I bought generic fruit loops, and the kids and I made patterns out of the different colored O’s and strung them onto pipe cleaners to make Fish-Os. I hot glued some googly eyes, rounded up some sticks, string, and paper clips and made ourselves a little fishing game! Fishing for Fish-Os. I told myself this was at least semi-educational since the idea was to create repeating patterns out of our fruit loops, but honestly it was more for the fishing experience. Every little kids like catching a fish. (Especially when they fish is made out of sugar cereal!) It’s just a given.  dsc07317

We did most all of this on a Tuesday. But some of it started to spill over into Wednesday. And by then the kids had this fabulous idea to turn the entire downstairs into an aquarium in anticipation of the grandparents coming over and staying at our house the next weekend. (Strep and out-of-town company. I was a little worried. I’m pretty sure we didn’t pass on any nasty germs, just the regular kid ones.)

But we did have a wonderful little aquarium downstairs to surprise Grandma and Grandpa with. They used left over streamers from birthday parties 2 years ago as a waterfall to walk through at the entrance. You had to pass big Costco packages of water bottles to get into the aquarium also (this was their water feature!) All the underwater scenes we had made with play dough were set up nicely with little “do not touch” signs. (I also noticed an roped off area with a “employe’s only” sign!) There was a model of a whale on the floor made out of lined notebook paper. Aquason made an appearance. (This is how they placated the actual preschooler who they wouldn’t let participate in some of the other displays. He became a mix between Aquaman and Poseidon and was an exhibit all by himself!) They used the books we had read, opened up to preplanned pictures, and propped up as little fish tanks. They even created a little song about the Fish-Os. And the aquarium experience ended with a little game of fishing, after which you got to eat whatever fruit loop fish you caught.

Imagine 5 little delighted children showing off all their hard work (made especially hard because they had to somehow keep the 2 year old out of the playroom for 3 days!!) to their beloved Grandma and Grandpa while munching on dry sugar cereal!

They were so happy.

It was a lot of fun to not have “school” but still have “school.” Next week we are back to the old schedule… plus 2 extra classes I now teach for two different groups of students… which is a topic for another blog post… or two.

I guess we don’t actually have normal routine weeks around here. There is always something.

But it is always full of love, learning, and worth it.

Sand Play Dough

4 cups flour

1/2 C salt

1 1/2 C fine sand

4 C water

8 TBSP vegetable oil

4 tsp cream of tartar

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl (I’m pretty sure I didn’t do that and just dumped everything in together, dry first, wet second) Add together in a saucepan. Cook on low unit the dough thickens to play dough consistency. (Also I have a hard time waiting for anything to cook on low so I’m pretty sure I did medium-high and just stirred like crazy to keep it from burning.)