Music and you – The Auto-autoharp

Ahhhhh….Classroom music. No matter who you are – please sing! Children need music in their lives!

Start with the basics. I have a list of song titles posted by my rocking chair that has around 20-30 song titles. When I’m stuck for the next song to choose, this jogs my memory.

I accompany my group with a tenor guitar (another post for another time), but you can sing without accompaniment! A little hint: sing in the children’s range, which is from middle C to an octave above. (Male teachers, you don’t have to actually sing in that range, but pick a key where the children are singing there.)

If you have an iPad, I just found an app that is pretty great – the autoharp! (Here it is shown on an iPod.)

See those letters? Those are the chord names.  If you look at children’s music books, they should have the chord names posted above the music.  Just push the chord buttons and strum away!  Look at you, you instant musical genius, you!

Of course, you could always buy a real autoharp, but I think you’d be happier with the Apple version. :)

Communicating with Parents

This past year I finally bit the bullet and gathered e-mails from parents to communicate via e-mail and I’ve been kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

What held me back was laziness and fear. I didn’t want to spend the time entering the e-mails, but in all honesty, it took less than an hour. (I’m so foolish sometimes.) The fear came from thinking I’d be overwhelmed with parents asking all kinds of questions, and I didn’t want to be tied to answering all those e-mails. Well, they don’t. There are a few parents who write often, but for the most part it is fairly quiet. I was honest at the start of the year that I only check my school account during a short time in the afternoon when I’m free to look at the computer. (Those precious 15 minutes at naptime.)

If you are familiar with the concept of a Daily Journal, this has translated very nicely to a Daily E-Mail. I write a very brief description of what we did during the morning and attach 1 or 2 photos. I encourage parents to use it to have conversations with their child that evening. It gives them something more specific to ask about rather than, “What did you do today?”

Note: I always send group e-mails to myself, with the parent group entered in the blind carbon copy line to preserve privacy.

Simple Drawing – Nativity Scene

This is a companion post to the Preschool Christmas Gift for Parents Post.

Disclaimer: During Group Time, I sometimes like to show children easy ways to draw things using very simple shapes.  I am not an artist myself, and we always talk about how my drawing isn’t going to look exactly like the thing I’m drawing  – and that is ok. “We are just practicing” is our motto.  (I had a hurtful thing said to me when I was younger, and strongly feel that children should be encouraged to draw no matter their talent level.) We also talk about how their drawing isn’t going to look exactly like mine.  We are just practicing!

I like to tell the children that I have drawn a Nativity scene the exact same way since I was little – and I’m not kidding.  It has some lines, some circles, some triangle-y shapes, a rectangle, a cross and an x.

I like to start with the roof.  (We use our arms first to talk about flat roofs and pointy roofs.), then add sides


Then a manger, which is a rectangle, 2 legs, a half-circle, and some ‘glory’.  We talk about each part as I add it.


Then the people.  We start with a circle-ish shape for the head, then a triangle-ish shape for the robe.


Another one for Mary or Joseph – depending on who’s taller.


Then we need a star in the sky.  We start with a simple cross shape:


Then draw an ‘X’ through the middle.  These are always good for the children to practice drawing in the air first.


An angel is just a tilty person in the sky….


With some half-circles for wings.



I go through it again on a blank paper/whiteboard and have the children tell me the parts that need to be added.  I don’t put features on mine because I don’t want their work to be an exact copy, but we talk about the things they could add to their picture to make it look fancy – faces, arms, a shepherds hook, etc.

I hang my prototype where they can see it from their drawing space.  The results are fabulous!

Simple Shepherd Costume

This is an accompaniment post to the Preschool Christmas Gift for Parents post.

Let me just say this: Fleece is your friend.

I am not a seamstress by any means, but a simple shepherd costume for children is crazy easy to make.  All you need for this one is a CHEAP fleece blanket and some yardage of felt in a contrasting color.  Wal*Mart often has fleece throws for around $3, and you can’t beat that.

I apologize in advance for not having any measurements.  I’m a ‘just wing it and it’ll be fine’ kind of person.

1. Fold the blanket in half. You might be able to get two costumes out of one throw, depending on the size of the children that will wear it.


2. Cut out a big ‘T’ with the fold at the top.  You’re basically making a big shirt.  Make sure the part that will go around their trunk has enough room for you to stitch seams and still fit easily.


3. Sew up the sides.  You don’t have to hem the edges of the sleeves or bottom because it’s fleece!


4. Cut a ‘T’ in the top for their head to slip through.


5. Turn it right-side-out to hide seams. Or don’t – it doesn’t really matter.

5. Cut a long strip from the felt to use as a belt.

Done! You could stop right there, but if you want to get fancy (and not lose the belt), you can stitch the belt to the back of the costume so it’s ready to just be tied.

For the head piece, cut out a big rectangle of fleece or felt that’s another color. Cut out another long strip of felt (in a different color) and stitch it about 10 inches along the front of the rectangle.  If you  set it back an inch it will look nicer when tied.


Done! Enjoy your costume! It will last for years.



Panic has set in.

And as long as I don’t think too hard about everything that has to be done, I’ll be fine.

I’ve really let this website fall by the wayside, and I think I’m just going to turn it into a memory archive like the other one.  It will help me in the long run, I’m sure.  Here goes: Prepping for home visits 2008

  1. 26 days before first day – Asked Lloyd to retake my picture, printed and cut new postcards (4 x 6).
  2. 25 days before fist day – Addressed and stamped postcards.  I would have mailed them right away but I had a problem with one child’s address.
  3. 24 days before first day – printed other teacher’s cards and cut them out.  (Thank you, Lloyd, for the paper cutter!)
  4. 23  days before first day – dropped them in the mailbox.
  5. 22 days before first day – drew up home visit schedule and printed it on cardstock.  It will stay in my purse ALWAYS, since I included my phone number on the card.  One copy, no missed appointments (ha).  Also made new version of stick-figure daily schedule.
  6. 21 days before first day – started to make phone calls, realized this is going to be a small nightmare.  Made up a one-day sign-up sheet to leave at school tomorrow.



I was pleased with how I put together this version of the schedule.  It’s on 8 1/2 x 14 paper, and I bent a little glue margin and marked it before making the copies.  They fold nice and flat this time ’round.