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Monsters Don’t have to be Scary

big green monster

Are your young ones worrying about monsters under the bed , in the closet by the front door or in the dark corners of the basement? If so, combat their fears by introducing them to some friendly, fun loving monsters and make those fears disappear. Stories are a wonderful way to deal with many different issues children face each day. Here are a few stories that I love and recommend for chasing those monster fears away.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, is an old favorite about a little boy sent to his room because of his behavior. He drifts off to a land of make believe monsters where there are no rules and no parents. He has a rollicking time with the monsters but eventually he returns to his family realizing he would rather have his loving family than all the monster fun in the world. This story provides a great starting point for talking about consequences and why parents sometimes have to make children do things they don’t want to do. This book is a little longer than some of these selections and is probably most suitable for 4-6 year olds.

Another one that I… Continue reading

We’re Back!!

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since our last blog post!!!  To say we have been a little busy is an understatement.  What have we been doing?  Well, during the same month as our last post we got our half-day preschool room licensed for full-day daycare.  Two months later in June, our infant room was licensed for daycare.  We got a very small school age room licensed just in time for the start of the 2012-2013 school year so our kiddos who were preschoolers wouldn’t have to leave us as they started kindergarten.  Finally, in January, our toddler room was created and licensed.  Since January, Margaret and Kristen have stepped out of the classroom and taken on full-time administrative roles.  The stress of taking care of all the administrative duties PLUS lesson planning and implementation has changed to a different level of stress, but we love it.  We miss being in the classroom but we are also enjoying what we are doing.

The past year and a half has been busy but we have many more projects to conquer.  One of these projects is… Continue reading

Homemade Blocks

What kid doesn’t love blocks?  Blocks come in so many different shapes, sizes and weights.  Our classroom has all sorts of different blocks, but the ones that they seem to love the most are the ones the BIG blocks that they have to move their whole bodies to use.  I’m talking about these:

Don’t they look cool?  These are sooo easy to make and even better…CHEAP to make!  We all have boxes lying around or know someone who does.  All you need to start is a few boxes.  Get an arrangement of different sizes and shapes.  You don’t need to go buying boxes, but use what you have or will have (from online shopping, shoe boxes, paper ream boxes, etc.).  Regular items that you may have around the house that you can save the box after use would be cereal boxes, rice boxes, sweetener boxes, paperclip boxes, etc.  If it’s made of cardboard and can be closed on all sides, it’s fair game! You also don’t need a lot, you are going to build your collection of blocks over time.  The boxes don’t need to be overly… Continue reading

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Week

Last week, we wrote a post on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Math. Today, we are going to show you what else we did during  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom week.

The kids enjoyed a variety of art activities.  We learned that the simplest of art projects were the most liked!

For the above activity, we put out brown and green paint and told the children to make a coconut tree from the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  We love to see the variability in the abilities of the different ages.  This next activity we clipped paper to both sides of the easel and left strips of dot stickers in the tray.  We gave the children no directions, just that they could put as many stickers on the paper wherever they would like.

Notice the stickers in the corner in the picture on the right?  The little boy who made who placed those stickers said they were his Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees.

During circle, we explored a real coconut and charted what we saw, what it felt like, sounded like and smelt like.  After we played a modification of the… Continue reading

Math Without Worksheets

We are teachers who believe there is no need to use worksheets to learn until about first grade.  Here is a great article on this very topic.  Young children need fun, hands on activities to learn, and that is what we do here at Bright Starts.  It saddens us that so many teachers think their job is to spend hours sifting through books and standing at the copy machine while they could be making fun learning experiences that can be used over and over again. Sure, it takes time to make some of these activities, but many can be used repeatedly over years.  Here are some examples:


  • Have children lay down in different shapes like circle, square and triangle-also targets motor planning and problem solving
  • Use Bendaroos to make shapes instead of having children draw them-also targets fine motor skills
  • Laminate shape printouts and use as playdoh mats-also sensory play

  • Shape puzzles-also targets fine motor skills and problem solving


  • Paint, let kids mix colors together to make new colors-also targets cause and effect, sensory and science skills
  • Play matching games such as matching the paintbrush to the… Continue reading

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats Activities

I just love The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  My son’s first preschool teacher gave it to him for preschool so he just loved having me read it to him over and over again.  This a great story to read during a winter or snow theme.  Homeschool Creations has a printable packet to go along with The Snowy Day.  You can find it here.  There are pages that can be printed and laminated to be used in games while others are quite ‘worksheety’.  Margaret and I try not to use many worksheets in our class.  We have found that our kids REALLY like to use dry erase markers, so we will at times laminate worksheets so kids can use them with dry erase markers or crayons.

How do you avoid using worksheets?

Hello world!

Hello from Central New York!!!

We are two special education teachers who have not only just started our own early childhood school, but who decided to start this blog as well.  We aren’t sure exactly what will come of it just yet, but we hope to include activity planning ideas, assessment information, how to furnish a classroom on a shoe string budget, special education regulations and more!  We hope you enjoy the ride with us!!


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