oh dear…

April 30, 2009

howdy all,

as you may have noticed, the website has not been updated for quite some time…

my reasons being that this site WAS free for teachers, but i have used up all of our storage space, and am now being coerced into spending money on it.

also, there have been some coding issues and stuff is just getting run-down and sloppy looking, so…

i feel somewhat conflicted about this.

which is why i haven’t updated anything.

so, my apologies and love…there will be a major overhaul of the site this summer, and then we’ll be back in business again! thanks for understanding. –ms. amy

Winter Session Update!

January 20, 2009

JANUARY: If you check the archives, you’ll see “The Cat in the Hat” was one of our first books of the new year.

Needless to say, when the Cat comes back, it is quite the event.


The glorious Chicago weather cooperated beautifully and dumped about four inches of snow just in time to coincide with the book…which is about the kids having to shovel snow, and that crazy Cat in the Hat making all sorts of mischief, the least of which are “snow spots”. We all helped read at story time, especially the ABC review near the end of the book. (oh, and ‘Voom’…must’nt forget the ‘Voom’!)

In honor of this story, we do all manner of crazy things, including our own “snowspot snowflakes”:

using white crayon to make “clean spots”, we put secret white crayon all over our paper, then waterpaint the snowflake picture all crazy, like the Cat. because of the wax resist, the white crayon keeps the “snow spots” off…a fun and almost magical painting process!

we also created our own doorhangers, which is an interesting and novel concept for preschoolers: one side says COME ON IN, COOL CAT and shows the Cat walking into a clean room, the other says ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK showing the kids amongst a huge mess…interesting to discuss with them who lets their room get messy and who’s room is always clean! ; )

Read with understanding and fluency.
Learning Standard A:
Apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to
comprehend selections.
1.A.ECa Understand that pictures and symbols
have meaning and that print carries a message.

Learning Standard B:
Apply reading strategies to improve understanding and fluency.
1.B.ECb Begin to develop phonological awareness
by participating in rhyming activities.

“So you see!” laughed the Cat,
“Now your snow is all white!
Now your work is all done!
Now your house is all right!
And you know where my little cats are?”
Said the cat.
“That Voom blew my little cats
Back in my hat.
And so, if you ever
Have spots, now and then,
I will be very happy to come here again…”


OLIVIA: These books are so great for getting kids into acting. i’m adding the link i use for free inspiring Olivia activities, games, and worksheets, all of which are free…

Opening Activity included making circus hats that featured a picture of Olivia in HER circus top hat…sequins and feathers also made this extra fancy and fun. Some of our students chose to create their own tiaras or neck-ruffs as well and had extra goodies to take home to use for imagination play.

Storytime included the books “Olivia and the Missing Toy” and “Olivia Saves the Circus”. To keep students engaged and to help them focus on the wonderful illustrative work, we use “clues” during the second book to help them focus. Pictures of items they MIGHT find in the story (downloaded from the link above) such as a scooter, a trampoline, a top hat, etc. are shown before the story begins. Students then point out any picture matches within the story as they occur, keeping them engaged and reinforcing the idea that the text and illustrations carry meaning and purpose.

Creative play included playing Olivia’s Acting Game…we made an impromptu stage out of risers and with Olivia-themed charades picture-cards, each child acted out on the stage one of the activities, such as walking a tight-rope, juggling, brushing your teeth, singing opera, etc. (cards for game also from link listed)…we also talked about the role of the actor and the audience, and discussed how it is sometimes difficult to only be able to SHOW an activity without using your words or sounds. they all loved it and did GREAT!


Learning Standard C:
Comprehend a broad range of reading materials.
1.C.ECb Respond to simple questions about
reading material.

Know the language of the arts.
Learning Standard A:
Understand the sensory elements, organizational principles and
expressive qualities of the arts.
25.A.ECb Drama: Investigate the elements of drama.


the latest and greatest…

November 20, 2008

the newest slide show to get you up to speed…includes “Miss Nelson Is Missing”, Pirate Week, Halloween, “I Stink”, and “Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge”!

Fall Session Slide Show…and Ms. Susan!

November 6, 2008

EXCITING NEWS! Ms. Susan has started her own business venture…she will be with FUN CLUB until the holiday break, and then we will wish her well as she continues to grow her personal concierge service known as “Everybody Needs A Susan”. Click on her link to check out her services and be sure to wish her well in her new career track! : )

EDUBLOG AWARDS: Nominate this blog for the edublog awards! Last year, we were nominated for Best New Blog…I would love to be nominated again this year! Click HERE to nominate us…

Weeks Seven and Eight…

November 2, 2008

WEEK SEVEN: Pirate Week

avas, me hardies!

pirates are a subject that have fascinated me since my very first “treasure hunt” with my Grandpa Ferd at age four. In honor of my Grandpa, and the little adventure-seeker that lives in every preschooler, Pirate Adventure Week is a must.

We start out making the classic newspaper pirate hats–note to parents/teachers–be careful what images/text are on your newspaper! Hats can be decorated a number of ways–for our time purposes, we colored with marker. Our art requirements were: your name, jewels, feathers, and a parrot medallion. Requirements keep the children on task while providing flexibility and choice–some students worked for ten minutes on their hats while others worked for thirty or more! (Students go to “choosing time” when they are finished.)

Our books this week included “How I Became A Pirate” and/or “Pirates Don’t Change Diapers!” Senior Kindergartens also generated some excellent questions about pirates, for example, were pirates real? are there still pirates? did all pirates have eye patches? what did they eat? etc. I have an excellent book called “What If You Met A Pirate” that has a wealth of pirate facts and interesting tidbits. (The illustrations are a bit graphic though, so you may want to wait a few years before putting this one into your child’s library.)

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After our storytime, children participated in a treasure hunt–I hide small paper clues all over the room, and then we become a clue-finding team, hunting high and low for clues. It is really important to prep the children to help others find clues if they find one first–a lot of really kind moments and sweet sharing takes place during this activity. Also, be sure to have more clues than children–they really like to be able to find one (sometimes I keep a couple in my pocket and check to see who hasn’t found one yet–I then quickly hide them and invite the remaining child/ren to help me look for the last few clues.) When clues are gathered, we put the words together in a circle, using our emerging reading skills to “sound out” each of the words, and then unscramble the message (intro to sentence structure). Invariably, the message reads, “TO FIND THE TREASURE, YOU MUST FIND THE X!”

Children begin to hunt for a large letter X…when they find it, they point to it, giving everyone a chance to “spy” it. (This year, the treasure box was in the refrigerator upstairs!) A teacher carries the treasure box to the table and when all are seated we open it and take turns choosing our treasure!

Closure for the day includes learning the Pirate Handshake (make a “hook” finger and shake your neighbor’s “hook” and say “ARGH!”) and the Pirate Song, which goes like this:

“When I was ONE I sucked my thumb (show one finger, show pretend sucking thumb)
Going over the sea (make wave motion with arm)
I JUMPED aboard a PIRATE SHIP (jump aboard, make a sneer and a fist for “pirate ship”)
and the CAPTAIN said to me (salute on “captain)

He said, “GO THIS WAY (lean left) and THAT WAY (lean right)
FORWARD (lean forward) and BACKWARD (lean back)
over the deep blue sea!” (make wave motion with arm)

When I was TWO I tied my shoe (show two fingers, show pretend tying shoes)
Going over the sea (make wave motion with arm)…

You can see where that is going. Just change the first line each time to the next number and an appropriate rhyme! Students love to help think of a good rhyme too…be prepared for some wacky ones though (“five” and “hive” come up a lot).

WEEK EIGHT: Halloween Party

Weeks Five and Six…

November 1, 2008

WEEK FIVE: The Tiny Seed

OPENING ACTIVITY: Use waterpaint to discover “hidden” wax resist leaves and botanicals on “blank” sheets of paper.

PLAYTIME: Choosing stations

STORYTIME: The Tiny Seed

ACTIVITY: Children each receive a small “collecting” cup and stick together as we explore one square block of the Old Town neighborhood, looking for mosses, berries, seeds, leaves, and other nature treasures.

State Goal 11: Understand the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.
Learning Standard B: Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of technological design.
Benchmark: 11.B.ECa Use scientific tools such as thermometers, balance scales and magnifying glasses for investigation.

Physical Development and Health
State Goal 19: Acquire movement skills and understand concepts needed to engage in health-enhancing physical activity.
Learning Standard C: Demonstrate knowledge of rules, safety and strategies during physical activity.
19.C.EC Follow simple safety rules while participating in activities.

Even in the midst of the city, a nature walk around the block can be made into quite the event.

I give the students tiny little dixie cups to collect nature “treasures” and we talk about what we might find before we go outside collecting. We stick together and stay away from the street as we explore our block. My only collecting rules are that they have to be natural finds (no garbage or rubber bands, etc.) and that the item must fit in the cup. Seeds, leaves, rocks, mosses, twigs, bark, etc. are usually the order of the day–as always, we found lots of specimens–sweet peas in dried seed pods, tiny flowers still blooming, ginkgo leaves, and three different types of moss in the sidewalk cracks.

Children come in and dump out their haul, using hand lenses (magnifying glasses) to see more details. They get pretty excited about their finds and we do a lot of, “turn and tell your neighbor” things–most interesting, smallest, most colorful, etc.

Our art tie-in was a leaf-rubbing wax resist, painted with water paint.



Storytime was “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle, which is wonderful and apropos. It really helps students begin to consider the life cycle of seeds and is a wonderful illustration of the passage of time through the seasons.

WEEK SIX: Miss Nelson Is Missing


OPENING ACTIVITY: Using permanent markers, students will color a canvas pencil bag. Following safety instructions, students will manipulate eyedroppers and isopropyl alcohol to separate the colors by means of chromatography.

PLAYTIME: Choosing stations

STORYTIME: Miss Nelson Is Missing

ACTIVITY: Downstairs activity begins with students discussing fingerprints and then using a worksheet to preserve their OWN fingerprint, noting the four main styles. They then solved riddles as a group to find the missing teacher!

State Goal 13: Understand the relationships among science, technology and society in historical and contemporary contexts.
Learning Standard A: Know and apply the accepted practices of science.
Benchmark: 13.A.EC Begin to understand basic safety practices.

Social Emotional Development
State Goal 32: Demonstrate a respect and a responsibility for self and others.
Learning Standard B: Perform effectively as a member of a group.
32.B.ECc Respect the rights of self and others.

I have loved this book since I was in grade school! It is so silly and clever…and teaches children an interesting, but not preachy, lesson.

I thought it would be fun to talk about being a “detective” this week–four and five year olds are just starting to become familiar with this word and what it means–Scooby Doo is a big help. Little ones love looking for clues and solving puzzles, so an intro to detective work and simple forensics fit in perfectly with this book.

We learned how to fingerprint ourselves and also that each fingerprint is different and unique, just as we all are. We looked at four common fingerprint patterns as well.

We also experimented with chromatography, or, as we put it, seeing what colors were hiding in our markers. Children are delighted to find yellow hidden amongst the green, purple hidden inside the black, etc. We teach them how to use eyedroppers with alcohol, explaining first about safety (keep away from eyes and mouth), and making sure our building is well-ventilated. We then color canvas pencil bags or canvas aprons with Sharpie permanent markers. The final step is to drip the rubbing alcohol onto the item–the alcohol immediately begins to separate and evaporate out different color pigments “hiding” in the student’s art, creating a beautiful, magical watercolor tie-died effect.

Items are left to dry for about 30 minutes and then taken home at the end of the day. This lesson really helps to get students to use their “detective eyes” when looking for things–how often do teachers (and parents) hear, “I can’t find my (insert item name here)!!!” Being a “detective” empowers children to use their eyes and look for clues, to stop and think about what makes sense, and to begin to make inferences–all higher level thinking skills and crucial for becoming critical thinkers.

Students solved riddles around the Clubhouse to find the missing teacher–who was “stuck” in the upstairs closet! I do believe Miss Nelson and Miss Viola Swamp will be paying us another visit later in the year!

October 31, 2008

WEEK THREE of Fun Club brought us Laura Numeroff’s wonderfully fun books, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “If You Take a Mouse to School”.

OPENING ACTIVITY: Use pre-cut, geometric shapes, glue stick, and black marker to create an individual representation of a mouse.

PLAYTIME: Choosing stations

STORYTIME: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

ACTIVITY: Children will work together cooperatively to measure, mix, and taste the ingredients that make up Mouse’s Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies. They will take the cookies home with them to work on patience, self-control, and sharing.

State Goal 9: Use geometric methods to analyze, categorize, and draw conclusions about points, lines, planes and space.
Learning Standard A: Demonstrate and apply geometric concepts involving points, lines, planes and space.
Benchmark: 9.A.EC Recognize geometric shapes and structures in the environment.

Social Emotional Development
State Goal 32: Demonstrate a respect and a responsibility for self and others.
Learning Standard B: Perform effectively as a member of a group.
32.B.ECb Begin to share materials and experiences and take turns.

Language Arts
State Goal 1: Read with understanding and fluency.
Learning Standard C: Comprehend a broad range of reading materials.
1.C.ECb Respond to simple questions about reading material.

Children love the cyclical nature of her books, along with the great illustrations and crazy animals…plus, the familiarity and repetition makes these great for emerging readers.

To activate our prior knowledge, we first used shapes to create our own little mice pictures. Children discuss what mice look like, how many ears and eyes and whiskers and whatnot…then they create on their own using the shapes provided. As you can see, they are far more creative when given the freedom to make it their own way within the given perimeters!

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We also baked “Mouse’s Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies”. (For our diabetic and gluten-free students, we checked with parents first for the appropriate accommodations.) I love baking with the children because cooking is such a great lead-in to science, especially chemistry. They “taste test” most of the ingredients, smell the vanilla, help cream the butter, and sift the flour. They take turns and pass the bowls, usually doing “1-2-3-pass it on!” I use counting and simple questions to slip in extra Spanish and French…today it was “Que es el azucar?” and 1-20 en espanol. When all of the ingredients are mixed, the children roll their own cookies, getting SO messy in the process…but they are so excited to do it themselves, to get to experience what the dough feels like, to be the “chefs” (evidenced by the flour on our noses), and of course, to get to take home their cookies at the end of the day!

I’ve said it before…simple pleasures are so divine!

“Mouse’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies”

1 c. salted butter
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed (so cool to compare to sand at the beach / sandcastle making)
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs (important that they don’t eat raw dough because of this…also, what other animals lay eggs besides chickens? good discussion ensues.)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla (how can it smell so good but taste so bad?!)
1 1/2 c. flour
2 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients in given order. Mix thoroughly. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool. Hide from your mouse friends!

***SK did a lesson plan based around the book, The Jolly Postman, which included tiny book-making and a walking trip to the mail box!

WEEK FOUR…”Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude”

onceuponkids.png once_dude-l.gif

OPENING ACTIVITY: Choosing time at stations, then come together as a group for science experiments of “frog slime” (which illustrates how two liquids can react to form a solid) and “magic potion” (which shows how a solid and a liquid can react to create a gas)–BOTH activities introduce and reinforce the concepts of solid, liquid, and gas and are very visual and sensory-oriented. Students are prepped in safety procedures and conduct the experiments by themselves while under supervision.

PLAYTIME: Choosing stations

STORYTIME: Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude

State Goal 11: Understand the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.
Learning Standard A: Know and apply the concepts, principals and processes of scientific inquiry.
Benchmark: 11.A.ECa Uses senses to explore and observe materials and natural phenomena.

First off, I love this book. I have adapted it into a play and done it with kids for camp. I have used it with younger kids and older kids…it works in so many ways, on so many different levels. A great language arts tie-in for older grades is to have them write “partner stories”–use this book as a model for how two people can go back and forth creating a story, and then compromise to reach an ending.

I use this “funny fairytale” week for some great hands-on science. We make “frog slime” and “magic potion”…here are the recipes and instructions. It is really important to remember to talk safety before you do this and also to look for those “teachable moments”–these experiments are visually stunning and really help kids get excited about being magical scientists!

FROG SLIME (great way to see if two liquids can combine to form a solid):


Brew #1: Mix 2 Tbs. Borax with 1 cup warm water. Pass around the table having children do 1-2-3-stirs and pass it on!

Brew #2: In separate dish, mix 1 cup Elmers Glue with 2 drops of food coloring and ½ cup warm water. Pass around the table having children do 1-2-3-stirs and pass it on!

Pour Brew #1 into Brew #2—do not stir. Gently slosh side to side for 30 seconds. (I have the kids tap their fingers on the bowl and say magic words like “sham-a-lam-a-ding-dong!”

Reach into the bowl and pull upward dramatically! Ta-da! Slime! Tear off small chunks to share with all. Knead out excess water & it becomes like silly putty! You can stretch it, roll it, bounce it, etc. Great to send home in Ziploc baggies with instructions.


Get two small cups and a plate or shallow bowl. In cup 1, pour a small amount of vinegar (about an inch or two), squirt in some liquid dish soap, and one or two drops of food coloring. Swirl gently to mix. Model this to students and let each do their own.

In cup 2, put two teaspoons of baking soda. Set cup 2 on the plate or bowl—this will get messy. Have students hold up Cup 1 and make a magical “toast”—1-2-3-POUR CUP ONE INTO CUP TWO (or liquid into solid)…

Your students will delight as they watch the foam magically appear! Smaller cups work better because then the foam can cascade over the edge and down the sides. They can feel the foam and comment on what they see, smell, and feel. I usually have them play with this for a few minutes, and then we all make a “giant” potion by pouring our liquid into one big clean-up bowl.

FUN CLUB…Weeks One and Two

September 18, 2008

Welcome to our website!

You will find all the info you need to keep in touch with what your child is doing each week at Fun Club. We look forward to your comments and positive feedback…as always, all information is private, and photos are safe and secure. Enjoy!

–Ms. Amy, Ms. Nicole, and Ms. Susan

WEEK ONE: The Cat in the Hat

Opening Activity: Make two paintings that get made into kites with emphasis on color blending and filling negative space.

Welcome Activities:
Rules, Introduction to procedures and stations, talk about how to make friends
Morning Meeting

The Cat in the Hat


Illinois Learning Standards:
State Goal 14, Social Science: Understand political systems with an emphasis on the United States.
Learning Standard A: Understand and explain basic principles of the United States government.
Benchmark 14.A.EC Recognize the reasons for rules.

State Goal 4, Language Arts: Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations.
Learning Standard A: Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
Benchmark 4.A.EC Listen with understanding and respond to directions and conversations.
1.B.ECb Begin to develop phonological awareness
by participating in rhyming activities.

Week ONE of FUN CLUB brought us watercolor painting, “The Cat in the Hat” (great tie-in to kites as Thing One and Thing Two fly their kites in the house), Rules to Keep Us Happy and Safe (done as a guess-what’s-happening-in-this-picture game), and playtime with friends.


Choosing stations included: Playdough, dinosaurs, magnet letters, chalkboard coloring, quiet reading (all Dr. Seuss easy-readers this week) in the reading tent, or connector blocks.


WEEK TWO: Let’s Go Fly A Kite!

Opening Activity:
Color, draw, and glue pictures/shapes to make a representation of yourself flying a kite, identify diamond shape as one potential kite shape

Bathroom breaks for everyone before field trip

Children will be able to walk to the playground in a “train”, holding hands with a partner on the way there and back. Children will be able to play at the playground and try at least one experiment with their kites. Experiments may include: short string, long string, walking, running, hopping, sliding, climbing, etc.

Illinois Learning Standards:
State Goal 14, Social Science: Understand political systems with an emphasis on the United States.
Learning Standard A: Understand and explain basic principles of the United States government.
Benchmark 14.A.EC Recognize the reasons for rules.

State Goal 4, Language Arts: Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations.
Learning Standard A: Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
Benchmark 4.A.EC Listen with understanding and respond to directions and conversations.

Week TWO of FUN CLUB brought us some review and reminders, a walking trip to the Sedgwick Playlot, experiments with our kites, and playtime! We were lucky to have gorgeous, unseasonably warm weather to make our walking outings extra fun.

Before walking outings, we practice an action/memory game on how to walk safely. We:

STOP!!! (we all do “stop” with both hands)
HOLD HANDS (we all grab hands with the person next to us at circle-time)
LOOK BOTH WAYS (we all show with our heads looking left-right-left)
WAIT FOR A TEACHER OR GROWN UP (we show waiting patiently for the go-ahead to cross the street)

When we go on walking trips, we wear BRIGHT yellow shirts with all of M. Club’s info listed, we recruit parent/caregiver volunteers for extra eyes and hands, we walk in a “train” with teachers in the front (engine), middle (cars), and end (caboose), we hold hands the entire way with friends, and we take first aid items, parent cell phone numbers, and water with. We begin the year with a short walk down quiet streets to help everyone learn and practice in safety.

All of the eight classes did an EXCELLENT job, and were rewarded with stars toward our token economy known as the “Teeeeeny, Tiiiiny, Toy Store”!

At the playlot, we talked about basic flight concepts. This will tie in later in the year when we make and fly paper airplanes. I held a lifeless kite and asked the children why my kite wouldn’t go? They all answered, “Because there’s no wind!!!” I asked them how I could make wind…answers ranged from “Blow on it!” to “Run really fast!” to “Get a BIG fan!!!” I then asked them to think quietly for a minute about other ways they could make wind on the playground. Experiments ranged from spinning in circles to walking to running to sliding down slides different ways to jumping from up high to down low to going down stairs to dangling a kite over the edge of something and waiting for a good breeze.

Kites were sent home at the end of class along with smiling students!

***”Thing Two and Thing One! They ran up, they ran down. On the string of one kite we saw Mother’s new gown! Her gown with the dots that are pink, white, and red…then we saw one kite bump on the head of her bed!” from The Cat in the Hat***

drama drama drama…(camps, that is!)

August 25, 2008

SIXTH YEAR of drama workshop and musical theatre workshop camps…can’t believe it has been that long already!

two fast and furious weeks back to back…i must confess, i hope my students didn’t find me too frazzled?! many many thanks go out to Miss Nicole, Miss Paloma, the parents, and my own dear friend Chris for the assist–there is no way i could remotely pull these two weeks off without the help!


enjoy the slideshow and if you want photos, just email me here or at [email protected]

MONDAY NIGHTS will be back to back theatre classes at the Clubhouse Building, 244 W. Willow (and North Park Ave.)

4:00-5:00 p.m. GRADES SK-2nd, drama skills (we work toward making a new play each session)
5:00-6:00 p.m. GRADES 3rd-6th, musical theatre (we work toward making a new show each session)

go to Menomonee’s Website to register online…classes begin the week of September 8th!

LOST AND FOUND items are at the Drucker Center, 1535 N. Dayton…there are quite a few things, come and get ‘em!

WANT THE SCRIPT??? (remember, these are adapted without permission, so only use them for your personal enjoyment, not for your entire school or for profit or anything like that…!)




5-6-7-8! all love and hugs from Ms. Amy


February 28, 2008

from Columbia’s website…check me out in all my teacher-ly glory…

Mexico: Schools, Language and Culture

This program offers teacher candidates the opportunity to study at Kukulcan Language Community in Cuernavaca, Mexico, approximately 75 minutes south of Mexico City. The two-week experience is both personally and educationally enhancing for the teacher candidates. They live with a family, interact with students and teachers in private and public P-8 schools, bask in the sun during breaks in between Spanish grammar and conversation classes, attend dance, music and cooking lessons, and explore Mexico City, local art museums, as well as nearby archeological sites. During off hours, they practice newly learned phrases as they negotiate their way around the town. As a result of full participation, these future teachers receive one semester hour of credit and ten of the required field experience hours toward certification.


Contact Mary Pat Garr at 312-344-8146 or [email protected]