Fish Week at Preschool!

This was such a fun theme for us! Last year I did an “Ocean” week, so I already had a lot that I could pull from to do our fish week.

We started out each day with a dance to get all the wiggles out. I found this awesome YouTube channel that I’m hooked on! They have great songs and dances for just about anything!

For our craft time, I busted out the dreaded paint (it doesn’t matter how cautious you are…if you paint with a 2-year-old everything must be washed or hosed down…thus, we painted outside). I cut out some Dollar Store sponges into the shapes of fish for them to use on their paintings. I kind of wish I had used a canvas. It actually turned out kind of cool!

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Our lunches consisted mostly of tuna sandwiches and fish sticks, of course. The girls did help me make a very easy tarter sauce for the fish sticks which consisted of:

  • 1 Cup Mayonaise
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1-2 baby gherkin pickles, chopped (or sweet relish)

They got to mix all the ingredients together, which turned into them eating mayonnaise and very little else for lunch. But hey, what are childhood memories unless they’re sticky, messy, and full of fat?

Everyday we also sang the classic fish-biting song. Why? Because it’s fun to scare children while teaching them to count to 10.

fish song

But what is fish week without getting actual fish? We recently put a small pond in our backyard, and I finally got the pH adjusted enough for some fish to survive. And did you know that goldfish cost a whopping 29 cents? So I splurged and got 4. Super-simple and cheap way to entertain the kiddos!

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But the highlight of the week was getting to visit the Virginia Aquarium! I’m pretty sure I was more excited than the kids! Before we left I made a very simple (very simple) aquarium scavenger hunt for my eldest, and was pleasantly surprised that she ended up doing it all on her own!

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The aquarium certainly did not disappoint! It was full of sharks, turtles, a sting ray petting area, hermit crabs, crocodiles, snakes, crabs, frogs, seals, and river otters. And they had a kids area for the littlest ones to play forest ranger! Between buildings was a beautiful nature trail complete with the most extensive zip course I’ve ever seen!

We ended each day with a book (or 2 or 3) about fish. We’re pretty big Rainbow Fish fans, obviously, though I think my favorite was Whale Shines. Below are 9 book ideas for your own Fish Week:

fish books

I also found this great YouTube channel that helped me to explain a little better what gills are and how fish breath underwater.

For even more fish ideas, visit my Pinterest board:

Do you have any fun fish ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

Have a great week everyone!


Preschool Week 2: Friendship Week

Week two of preschool was supposed to be farm week, but my local farmer (who is a genius) politely explained to me that unless I want my kids eaten up with ticks, I might want to postpone farm week until October sometime. He’s smart. He’s really really smart.

As I am teaching her how to have emotional intelligence, I am also learning boatloads myself. We are both students at this school.

So we did friendship week instead, which turned out to be perfect.My preschooler possesses a preschooler brain and preschool-sized emotions….a lot of them. And while I’m often quick to try to get her to behave a certain way, it is much more important to me that she understand the meaning behind behavior…and for me to understand that meaning as well.

This is after telling her not to put her feet on the table. So she didn't put her feet on the table....arrrggg....
This is after telling her not to put her feet on the table. So she didn’t put her feet on the table….arrrggg….

So I pulled some different children faces off the internet and attached emotions to them. I then put them on cardboard, cut, and laminated them into emotion cards. We went through the cards, and she pointed out what she thought each child was feeling. We name of scenarios of why they might be feeling that way, and related those experiences to recent play dates. We learned a few ASL signs this week, including friends, alike, and different, so we incorporated that into our discussion. Who looked alike? Who looked different? Who felt the same? Who felt different?

We did this for 30 minutes. And then a miracle happened! She wanted to share her new toy!

I found this gem at a local store for $2 this past week (I grabbed 3 of them, of course), and thought it would be great to make friendship bracelets with our friends. After our lesson on day 1, she grabbed her new kit and went to her friend’s house to share! It was amazing!

Our field trip of the week was going to Mommy and Me (And Daddy Too). This place is crazy busy with children everywhere! I love it! Vendors come and bring crayons and markers and crafts and bubbles. There’s always some free toy for the kids and live entertainment. Though I’m pretty sure the kids would be just fine with each other and the train playground set.

IMG_0197 IMG_0194I got this great book off craigslist for virtually nothing on face painting and decided to start prepping for Halloween. That turned out to be a bad idea when my kids decided it was their turn to paint my face…

IMG_0201Aldi has become one of my favorite places to grocery shop, and this past week I was able to pick up a preschool workbook for $5! It is now my go-to for when the printer isn’t working or I didn’t have time to prepare for a lesson. The first part is simply trying to draw a straight line. I think she really enjoyed the challenge!

IMG_0218The thing I love about Montessori teaching is how easy it is. The toddler can participate as well in her own way. This past week she found a new game of putting money into different parts of a lunch container. I think it kept her occupied for at least 10 minutes, maybe 20!

IMG_0226We ended our school week with a friendship chain, adding all our friends’ names to it and uniting us all together. My Dancing Diva thought it was beautiful!

IMG_0235Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend!
Follow ReliableRoots’s board Friendship Week – Preschool on Pinterest.

Preschool Week 1: Apple Week (and apple leather recipe)

So we kicked off our preschool curriculum this past week (you know, again…don’t judge) learning all about apples. The week before, we decided to go ahead and drive to the closest apple orchard, which was almost 2 hours from my home. But it was well worth it!


This place was at the top of a mountain in Charlottesville and was breathtakingly beautiful!! We ate peach ice cream, donuts, and apples for lunch. Don’t judge…I’m never prepared for these things. Oh and the peach cider was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. Ever.IMG_0048IMG_0054IMG_0055IMG_0060

We picked $13 worth of apples. Not sure how many pounds that was, but it was quite the challenge to keep the toddler from eating all the rotten ones off the ground. For her it was a smorgasbord!

They had a lookout area where I could experiment with my new phone on how to do a panoramic. Doesn’t do the view justice at all, but I tried!


I had so much fun learning about apples with my little preschooler! Of course a few days into it I realized I missed an important milestone that every other mother was reminding me of on Facebook. Mom fail.

IMG_0123Our “preschool” days are really only 30 minutes to an hour. And it’s incredible how long it takes me to plan for that 30 minutes to an hour! We practiced writing the letter A, learning about the lifecycle of an apple and the different parts of an apple, making apple leather and apple chips, learning about oxygenation, and did apple crafts all week. Everyday we started with some exercise and a song. It was so much fun!


It's difficult to tell, but that was supposed to be apple prints. You might need to use your imagination to see it...
It’s difficult to tell, but that was supposed to be apple prints. You know…you might need to use your imagination to see it…

I’ve had some requests for the fruit leather recipe…it’s too easy and kids can help!

For more ideas on how to create your own apple-themed preschool week, check out my pinterest board!
       Follow ReliableRoots’s board Apple Week – Preschool on Pinterest.

Apple Leather
Print Recipe
Really easy, kid-friendly apple leather
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Apple Leather
Print Recipe
Really easy, kid-friendly apple leather
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Cook Time
3-12 hours
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then turn down to 180 degrees. If you have a gas oven that doesn't go down that low, preheat to 400, then turn off and just keep the pilot light on. This is how I made mine, and I had to keep it in the oven overnight.
  2. Lightly spray baking sheet with oil spray.
  3. Spread applesauce over baking sheet, just enough to barely cover the sheet (about 1/8th inch).
  4. Place in oven for at least 3 hours to overnight, or until you can peel off the applesauce.
  5. Peel off applesauce into a roll, cut, and enjoy!
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Ocean-Themed Preschool Week

I’m on a roll lately with starting up a homeschool/preschool routine. It’s not very structured, and it’s pretty basic, but it basically involves a lot of themes, crafts, field trips, and fun! It’s my way of testing the water towards homeschooling, and thus far we’re loving it!

This week was Ocean Week (click here to read about last week’s theme on camping). And what is the ocean without sand? I’ve been wanting to do some sort of sensory board/water table/sand box for a while, so I finally did…trailer park style. I got a storage bin and filled it with sand. Then I got the girls some small ocean animals and sea shells from the Dollar Tree and just let them go to town.

DSC_0114 DSC_0116 DSC_0121I’m loving this because it’s easy and I can reuse it again and again in virtually every theme and then some! There’s so many things you can do with a sand box!

Every animal my preschooler found in the sand was an opportunity to learn. We found some educational videos for kids on YouTube:

I also tried to get a little creative with snacks (and when I say creative, I mean that I looked up what other people did on Pinterest and copied that….that’s about as creative as I come).

If you can’t tell, that’s a cheesestick octopus, a PB&J Jellyfish sandwich with turkey tentacles, and some banana sand dollars. (Ok, you might have to stretch to really see it all, but kids are supposed to use their imagination, right?)
This one was a mistake to make. Simple bananas are no longer good enough…they must have eyes and be playing some kind of game. No exceptions!

We did a lot of crafting too.

That is a crab, in case you couldn’t tell…and the green circle thing is a sand dollar. I’ve found that with ocean week you can pretty much call anything circular a sand dollar.

DSC_0273And finally, a field trip. Actually two field trips. The first was to the Science Museum of Virginia, which was amazing. However we went there to see a movie about Humpback whales, and silly mom didn’t really think through about a documentary on whales in a giant dome theatre is probably a bit of an overkill for the first movie theatre experience. The poor girl thought for sure the whale was going to eat her alive. We left after about 2.5 minutes. Fail. However, the following day was Shark day at the Nature Center in Henrico. A friend of mine invited us to go and I’m so glad she did! I cannot believe there are places like this that operate for FREE!

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This lady was fascinating! She knew so much about sharks! They had molds of shark teeth as well as a real baby shark in a jar! People are so amazed at sharks, there’s even a saying in show business called “Jumping the Shark“, in which they throw in some shark stuff whenever they need to boost ratings. I now understand the point of “Sharknado“. People love sharks!DSC_0255DSC_0230

This place was so neat! It had a plethora of stuffed animals throughout, but the biggest attraction was the aquariums. Mostly it was turtles, but the larger aquarium was inbedded into the deck and could be seen both inside and outside and hosted a few dozen species of fish.

We also had a lot of fun learning ocean words in sign language and doing ocean-themed yoga!

I’m having a blast with this, but after two weeks I can already feel how difficult it’s going to be to keep up this learning momentum. Thank goodness it’s summer, and it’s just preschool, so there’s no pressure to keep this going full steam. For every craft, there’s probably an hour of planning and getting set-up, then about 5 minutes of crafting and another 15-20 minutes to clean up. It’s exhausting!

Teachers and homeschooling parents…I’m afraid you are drastically underpaid and under appreciated!
Follow ReliableRoots’s board Ocean Theme Preschool Week on Pinterest.

A Camping Week of Preschool

I have the fondest memories of early education while growing up. There was always something magical about a brightly colored carpet, or the decorated bulletin board. Early education always brings back memories of excitement in learning; you couldn’t wait to go to school because there was so much fun stuff to do and learn about.

While still trying to decide what kind of schooling I want to expose the girls to, I thought I’d creep in a form of curriculum and see how we’d do. I picked up an early childhood development book at the library and have dove headfirst into weekly themes. I love the idea of exploring different aspects of life each week…there’s so much to learn!

We just completed week #1…camping. This week was pretty easy since, well, we live in a campground. Actually it was too easy. I love camping!

We started the week off with a field trip to the Pocohontus State Park. Pocohontus has this wonderful splash pad/pool area. We went with a group of local mothers and children and had a blast! There’s a parking fee and a pool fee, but if you camp there it’s all included in your camping fee.

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We then went to the library and cleaned them out of every preschool-age camping book on their shelves. We read them every night by flashlight under a homemade tent in the bunkroom, before engaging in shadow puppets on the walls. By the end of the week, the spirited 3-year-old could read them back to me.


Everyday we took part in some finger play and singing of camping songs. Then we did some crafts to go along with our theme. Our first craft was binoculars (made out of toilet paper rolls and yarn), then we made a picture of a fire with marshmallows roasting, and finally we went outside and recorded what the clouds looked like with some cotton balls.

DSC_0019 DSC_0021DSC_0580DSC_0034We also learned some sign language for camping. I just love sign language, and I’ve always wanted to learn. What better time to learn than when teaching?! Tent was pretty difficult for my little nature-lover, but she got the hang of fire just fine. She can tell what word I’m communicating when I sign it…doing them herself is another story…

A few weeks ago I bought a fishing pole. Why? Because it was free fishing weekend in Virginia and I needed a pole like you wouldn’t believe. So now I have a pole. Since it’s camping week, I took the hook off the end and we went down to the extremely overgrown pond to catch us some seaweed. Success!

DSC_0031While we were there I spotted a baby bird’s nest! Such a wonderful treat for our camping week! I’ve been checking on these guys everyday and they seem to be doing just fine!

DSC_0057We finished up the week with the all-American favorite camping pastime…the roasting of the marshmallows (though I now think it should be renamed to the roasting of mom, since it was 95 degrees outside when we started this lovely fire. Oh the things we’ll do for some toasted sugar and childhood memories!).

DSC_0067 DSC_0081 DSC_0099I’m not sure if the preschooler is having fun, but I’m having A BALL! I really love this age, and I really love teaching! There’s so many ideas out there of fun, easy, entertaining ways to learn!

Next week is Ocean Week, and I cannot wait!
Follow ReliableRoots’s board Camping Theme Preschool on Pinterest.