Link & Learn

kids-crafts-preschool-blogHappy Mother’s Day!

I hope all the mom’s out there are enjoying something they love today! I told my kids all I want is them to wait on me hand and foot when I return from my long run this morning. After that many miles, I may just pass out and they will get a free pass until next year!  One thing I will be doing is checking out what you are up to, so leave a link or two and share.

Dear Teacher, You Made A Difference! Teacher Appreciation Special!

dear teacher bigThank you. Thank you to new teachers anxious every day before their students arrive, thank you to veteran teachers who have wisdom that isn’t always recognized, thank you to music teachers fighting to keep the arts in schools, thank you to classroom teachers everywhere who fight for our kids, for their jobs, and aren’t valued as they should be.

We see what you do and how you put your heart into it.

Thank you.

Instead of gathering materials for a craft or activity today I gathered like-minded bloggers who wanted to thank a teacher who made a difference in their life. I’d love for you to read each and every letter linked below mine.  These letters aren’t just for the teachers named in them, they are lessons we can all learn about dedication and love.

1983 Allie School Pic2

I wrote this letter to my first-grade teacher Madame Obadia in 2002, days before I was set to start my bachelor’s degree in elementary education.  I had not kept in touch but I knew her husband was a professor at a local university and I sent it to him to forward. Unfortunately, Madame Obadia had passed away four years earlier. He did send my letter to her children and they wrote me back expressing their own thanks. I hope this demonstrates how important gratitude is and that it’s never wasted.


Madame Obadia,
Although you taught me in french and it has come in handy on my many travels throughout Europe, especially in Geneva when my passport was stolen, I will write this in English.

You were and still are my favorite teacher I have ever had, you taught me grade 1 at Hillcrest Elementary in the 1983-1984 school year. I hated school and was scared of going.  As far as I remember my mother Vonna was at her wits end on how to get me to go to school because I flat out refused to go. It was your plan to reward me every day with a stamp which I could collect or trade in for prizes. You made me love school, despite whatever anxiety I had about going.

I continued with french immersion through to high school , graduated from the University of Calgary in 2000 with a degree in history and in a few days I am heading off to Thunder Bay to start my B.Ed program in elementary education.

I am sure that you have had thousands of students and are hard pressed to remember one from 20 years ago, but more importantly I remember you and you left a lasting and positive impression on me. Whether it was the letters to Santa that came back to us…I think in your son’s handwriting, or that I can still draw a swan that he showed the class how to draw, or that it was the little caterpillar bookmark I traded my stamps  in to get…something you did made me love school so much I want to teach.
Thank you,
Allison McDonald.



Now 13 years after that first letter was written I think of all the things I didn’t mention. Like the time Madame Obadia asked me to befriend Miles a boy in my class that needed a friend and how she just laughed while my new puppy ran around the room peeing when I brought her for show and tell. She cared for us as a mother does, knowing when to push, having high expectations, and meeting each child right where we were.

In a few months, I will start a new chapter in my own education, graduate studies in early childhood and family development at Missouri State University, and without Madam Obadia I would never have made it this far. What she did was so much more than bribery, she made me feel safe even though I felt scared. She rewarded me for facing my fears. I keep the bookmark I earned so many years ago in Madame Obadia’s classroom to remind myself that I can do hard things.

teacher facebook

Check out more than a dozen other heartfelt letters of thanks to teachers who made a difference. Better yet write one of your own and share it with me or try to track that teacher down and send it to them!
Thank You, Miss Swett by Carrots Are Orange
Thank You, Mr.Blanchard by Not Just Cute
Thank You Mrs.Goetz by Thriving Stem
Thank You, Mrs.Ulrich by JDaniel 4’s Mom
Thank You, Ms.Austin by MultitaskingMaven
Thank You, Mr.Spencer by Education To The Core
Thank You, Mrs.Anderson by Mac-N-Taters
Thank You, Mrs.O’Neill by Encourage Play
Thank You, Mrs.Fox by Simply Kinder
Thank You, Third Grade Team  by The Educators Spin On It
Thank You, Mrs.Johnson by Mrs.Jones Creation Station
Thank You, Mrs. Ratto by Sparkling Buds
Thank You, Mrs.Powell by elemenopkids
Thank You, Mr. Brant by Bare Feet On The Dashboard
Thank You, Ms.Barry by Inspiration Laboratories
Thank You, Mr.Rouland by Clever Classroom

The best way to appreciate a teacher this Teacher Appreciation Week is to just say thank you. Go one grab a pencil and write a teacher who made a difference in you life or in the lives of one of your children and say thanks.

Egg Carton Caterpillar Craft

egg carton caterpillar craft We love egg carton caterpillars, they are possibly the most classic of all crafts. We decided to make a fresh twist on an old favorite. Our egg carton caterpillars are a little different. No glue or paint means your child can play with their creation right away or if you are a teacher your students can pack them up and take them home that day. This is a fast craft that can fit into pretty much any schedule. So next time you are picking up eggs grab some in a plastic carton and make some egg carton caterpillars.

egg carton caterpillar craft for kids

Gather your materials. You will need a plastic egg carton, sharpies, scissors, adhesive googly eyes ( our friends at sent us these!), and some pipe cleaners.

egg carton crafts

Start by cutting the carton into caterpillars. Take a second to check for sharp edges and use your scissors to round any you find.egg carton craft for kids

Get out the Sharpies and color. The eye shadow and facepaint are optional. My daughter and our little friend who is three both took great care with the “big kid” markers. They were careful and loved being given the responsibility of something for older kids. sharpies in preschool age crafts egg cartonsYou may still want something to protect your table.

egg carton caterpillar craft for camp

After that, it’s time for the eyes. egg carton caterpillar craft for childrenThese adhesive googly eyes rock- the kids popped them on themselves easy peasy!

egg carton caterpillars for kidsThe antennas were my job, poking it through the plastic was really hard when I tried to do it through the bottom, but the side of the carton was super easy to poke through. If you can’t just poke through with your pipe cleaner try a thumb tack to make a small hole then thread it through.egg carton caterpillars arts and crafts


Books About Caterpillars

All book lists include affiliate links.


percival the plain caterpillar

Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar by Helen Brawley is one of my son’s favorite books right now, due to the fact that there are shiny and shimmery pictures throughout! The story though leaves something to be desired, as the message seems to be that being plain is bad and the only fix for poor Percival is when he turns into a beautiful butterfly! When reading this to my class I would often interject with questions to my students about what they thought was cool about Percival, and that combated the undesirable message that you have to be beautiful to be worthy.

 bob and otto book

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel is a lovely story about 2 friends who must part ways , in this case because one is a caterpillar who needs to build a chrysalis and the other an earthworm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earth worm’s digging is vital for the trees to grow so that the caterpillar can eat the leaves and turn into a butterfly. I like the lesson about how we all play a part!

the crunching munching caterpillar

The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain is another story about a caterpillar who is not happy with his lot in life. There is a fair bit of language that some parents would object to. This caterpillar is often reminded that he is too fat to fly- so that poses a few challenges to parents like myself who are trying to instill healthy body images as well as using respectful words with others in our children. I have dealt with this book in two ways, first by saying that the caterpillar is getting fat but it’s a good thing because he will be sleeping for a long time in his chrysalis and needs that fat to live. Also, I have simply replaced fat with big, a word that is much less ugly to many people’s ears.

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book, not only does it explain the life cycle of a caterpillar/ butterfly it also is useful for a lesson about the day of the week and healthy eating! It was a childhood favorite of mine and if the fact that he fell asleep holding his ” Pillar” is any indication it is already one of my son’s favorites too!

From Cateroillar to Butterfly

From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of my favorite non-fiction for kids series ” Let’s Read and Find Out Science”.  I always grab these books at garage sales and thrift stores. In this edition, you follow a classroom of students observing a caterpillar as it metamorphosis into a butterfly. A classic spring activity for preschool age children to discover and learn about life cycles. Also a perfect match for your own Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden which I highly recommend and will be doing this year with my son. Reading non-fiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading are not just for stories but for information too.

caterpillar and polliwog

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent is a sentimental favorite. I remember being read this book in elementary school when learning about life cycles. It’s more than just about life cycles of butterflies and frogs, it’s about becoming comfortable with who you are. I remember thinking it was hilarious when the caterpillar tells the turtle that she will be changing into something else not just getting bigger and bigger and he replies with ” I don’t blame you.” It made me snort as an adult too. Good for preschool through the early elementary years and if like me you read it as a child there is, of course, the sentimental factor. I love sharing books from my childhood with my kids.

Color Mixing with Play Clay – Hand Strength Activity

color mixing free choice activity Who doesn’t love concocting new things? My kids can’t be the only ones making potions with hand soap, mouthwash and shampoo behind locked bathroom doors!  I like to use that enthusiasm for a less wasteful activity like color mixing with play clay. You can lay it out and let them go for it, or make it a more structured activity and have specific pairs to be smushed together.  Kneading the dough is great for building hand strength and mixing two colors together takes a few minutes of good kneading. You can do this with playdough, plasticine, or use the Melissa & Doug modeling compound like we did. What I like about this compound that was sent to me to try out is that it’s super soft and feels great on little fingers.

Gather your materials. You will need a tray with lots of little compartments for different colors. I used an ice tray. You will also want something to protect your table like a tray and, of course, your play clay.

color mixing lesson

Start by putting just a teeny bit of a whole bunch of colors into the compartments. Call your color scientist to come make you some new colors!color mixing with play dough

She was into it from the get-go. Look at those little hands working hard building new muscles. color mixing with play doughHand strength is important for handwriting and other tasks like tying shoes, buttoning shirts and pants, and using utensils. So giving your children opportunities to work on it without making them feel like they are working on it is important.

color mixing vlogging

See that little mirror? That’s her pretend camera, she narrated the whole activity because as she told me ” She was vlogging!” can you tell she has grown up with a blogger for a mom?

colors mixed

After she mixed each pair she decided to mix all these colors together. Before she did I asked her to make a prediction about what color it would be. Then she was off to mixing the colors. Her prediction was gray and she was right!color mixing play clay

Books About Color Mixing

all our book lists include affiliate links

White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker is a classic in my mind and if you have never read it you must. It’s not a complicated story, instead it’s a brilliant book and lesson about color mixing. The cover illustration of the bunny in the paint always makes me think of dyeing Easter eggs which are another great opportunity to teach about color mixing. Kids love this book and adults reading it will enjoy the fun and dynamic language used to describe the vibrant colors that the bunny plunges into.


Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob! You’ll be surprised by how easily your preschooler will pick up on the connection between the two. In my PreK class, I had more than a few kids make the connection all on their own.

mouse paint

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute little story about mice that get into the paint and not only make a mess but discover what happens when you mix colors. Great for every day but even better when you are learning about colors specifically mixing colors.

Letter Of The Week – Letter S Theme

letter s week letter of the week Does your school follow a letter of the week or maybe a letter of the day curriculum? Are you doing a letter of the week with your child? If you are here are some ideas for your letter of week letter s week. Can I share a few more thoughts about letter of the week? I think letter of the week is a fun way to use a little novelty to focus on one letter, but that’s it. Please only focus a small amount of attention on the single letter and continue to focus on all letters as a whole. Letters work together and children learn about letters and how they work when they use them in meaningful ways. Play is meaningful, art is meaningful, and a fun craft can be a mix of both but focusing too much busy work is not. Choose one or two fun ideas from this post then check out the whole alphabet activities after the S crafts and activities.

Letter S Crafts

letter of the week from no time for flash cards

Superhero SSeahorse SStar SSnake S – Spider S 

Letter S Activities & Crafts

letter of the week

Sand ArtSnail Craft Star Sensory BinSuper Hero ActivitiesSwamp Sensory BinShape Snake CraftSun craft – Starfish Craft  – Spider Web Walking 


Whole Alphabet Activities

letter constellations alphabet for starters

Letter Constellations ( great for this week it fits the space/star letter s theme) – Letter SlimeSalt Tray Letters  – Move & Groove Letters