Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ideas for Snow Day Fun

Since all of northeast Ohio is snowed in for the next two days I thought we could share ideas on how to entertain little ones. Below are some ideas to keep your kids (and you) from going batty. Please post your suggestions in the comments!

  • Start a lego village - My friend's son was a serious lego-maniac. One day he began building a village. Not wanting to destroy his good work mom placed a small table in his room to contain the project. He continued to work on it and mom patiently dusted around it. The project was dis-mantled last year-- the week before this boy's wedding. Not surprisingly he has a degree in mechanical engineering from OSU. No word on whether or not the legos have found a new home in the newlyweds' apartment.

  • Stone soup, anyone?  Put those kids to work for an enrichment activity that promotes literacy and healthy eating. Have your child view this video then clean out your refrigerator and use up all those about-to-go-bad veggies. Your child can use a butter knife with adult supervision to assist in the chopping. 

  • Indoor tent - If you have the patience ( I was lacking in this as a mother) move the furniture, bring out some old blankets and let them have at it. Add a flashlight and some good books and enjoy a cozy afternoon. 

  • Borrow some of dad's shaving cream - Another all time favorite preschool activity is finger painting with shaving cream. This is also a great way to have your child practice writing their name. Placing a squirt of shaving cream on a cookie sheet will help contain the mess. 

  • Is it too early for a count-down to spring? Scrap paper, tape and glue sticks can entertain children for hours. Show your child how to make a simple paper chain and make one link for every day between now and spring. Each night before bed you can tear off one link. Let's see . . . there are only . . . 74 more days until spring. It will be here before we know it! 
Please share your ideas too. We're all in this together! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Let the Children Play

A pressing concern in early childhood is the lack of play experiences for young children. As our youngest children become more addicted to technology, opportunities for interaction with humans wanes. The fear is that we are raising a generation of kids who won't know how to relate, cooperate or even communicate verbally with their peers.

As a center that teaches to the whole child, we are committed to fostering social and emotional development. We facilitate positive play experiences throughout our school day.

This year we've added two new features to encourage play and increase our time outdoors:

Mud kitchen 

Music station

But shouldn't my child be learning the alphabet and how to write their name properly instead of just playing all day? Yes and no. 

There are many skills children need for future learning and intellectual development is a large part of the picture. But equally important (some may argue more important) are social development, emotional maturity and physical fitness. In generations past these skills were acquired in the neighborhood and on the sandlot. Today our kids' lives are consumed with enrichment activities organized and supervised by adults. 

Our staff has been amazed at the discovery and learning our new features have inspired in just two short weeks. Take a look for yourself: 

Our school will always teach ABC's and 123's. But we'll also spend a good part of our day instilling a love for adventure, exploration, discovery and being a good friend! 

Cheryl Hoover is the Director of Northampton Christian Preschool.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Does your preschooler have a smoking problem?

A wise facebook friend recently posted a link to this article about research at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. In the article Dr. Anup Kanodia says "sitting is the new smoking."  Simply put, this generation will cause as much physical damage to their bodies by sitting as the last generation did by smoking. Alarming? Absolutely. But the good news is that our addiction to sitting may be easier to kick than a two-pack-a-day smoking habit.

As summer continues to stretch before us it's a wonderful time to make healthy lifestyle changes. Here are a few suggestions to help your children (and you!) get off the sofa and move.

  • You've heard of meatless Mondays? How about electronic-free Tuesday? Turn off  any household item that causes you to sit and do nothing and replace it with anything outdoors. Even playing in the driveway with sidewalk chalk requires more movement that sitting motionless in front of a box. 
  • Really need to check your email or send photos to the grandparents? Prop your laptop on the kitchen counter and stand while you work. 
  • Have a child who hates sports? Become bicycling buddies. I know a father/daughter team who are enjoying trips of up to 40 miles together. Not only are they getting great exercise and enjoying the summer beauty of Ohio bike paths, but they are having wonderful conversations along the way. Here's a link to the group they cycle with:
  • Take advantage of the Metro park hiking spree. We have an abundance of beautiful trails at varying levels of difficulty. And it doesn't cost a dime! Check out a new trail at:
  • Go outside and play! Teach your children how to play kick-the-can or hide-and-go-seek in the dark. Do you remember flashlight tag? Have your children ever played? Start a new trend in your neighborhood by enjoying a nightly game. 
  • Tired of being stuck indoors due to rain? Grab your umbrellas and stomp through the puddles in the neighborhood. While you're at it have your children count (or collect) the worms they see. 
  • Park at the back of the parking lot. Try to add more steps throughout your daily activities by parking farther away from the door or using stairwells in buildings. 

By making a conscience effort to increase your steps to 20,000 per day you and your children can improve your health, prolong your life and deepen your personal relationship.

Now if you'll excuse me . . . I need to get off my own tush and walk the dog! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stepping Up, Taking a Risk & Trying Something New

Today was foot painting day in the four's class. One of our goals is to teach children to step a little out of their comfort zone and try something new. Many are apprehensive when this type of art is first suggested and I always allow those who are fearful to opt out. If children are hesitant I ask them to sit and watch first. After watching for a minute they invariably jump right in.

The children take off their shoes and socks and sit in a chair. Next comes the paint. As I paint their cute little toes I tell them their foot prints were also taken on the day they were born. We wonder about how much their feet have grown since then.

As the squishy paint is applied we talk about how it feels. Many of them giggle and squirm at the sensation of the paint adding to the fun. Who wouldn't love to have purple feet?

After we make a print of their feet to take home they add their piggies to the class mural.

Next comes a soothing warm-water foot bath complete with bubbles!

After painting about 12 adorable pairs of feet this morning the class insisted that I try it too. In all the years I've done this project I have never tried it myself. They were excited to grab a paint brush and take turns painting my badly-in-need-of-a-pedicure feet a beautiful shade of yellow. Next my sweet little friends held my hand as I walked across the paper and they gently helped me into the chair for the foot bath.

"Wasn't that fun?" they asked. "You thought you wouldn't like it but when you tried it you did!" one little guy told me.

How interesting that the concept I was trying to teach; taking a risk and trying something new, is exactly what my four-year-olds taught me today!

Cheryl Hoover has been the Director of Northampton Christian Preschool since 1995.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spreading some love

For the past ten years our church has sponsored a Royal Family Kids Camp ( This all-volunteer camp provides a week of respite for children in foster care and showers them in royal treatment. Campers spend the week swimming, fishing, canoeing, hiking, creating crafts and making positive connections with caring adults. We pray they return to their homes with a renewed sense of hope for their lives.

A silent auction is held each year to raise the funds needed for this ministry. This year our preschool will be contributing five original pieces of artwork for auction.

Bree Young, a real artists and mother of a student, graciously volunteered her time and expertise to create the following masterpiece.

First she instructed the children in making proper strokes. Each child practiced on their own.

Next we added the brilliant colors to the canvas. The children worked in groups of two or three and anxiously awaited their turn. A few budding artists remained at the table throughout the morning.

We used colors that reminded us of the beautiful leaves of autumn.

And here's the finished product!

Although our preschoolers don't understand the significance of this project, they know their paintings will be sold at an art show to help other kids.

Our Royal Family Kids Camp Auction will be held on Saturday, April 20 at the Falls Natatorium. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased from Cheryl Hoover.

P.S. On April 20, 2013 these paintings were purchased at the RFKC Auction for $1200 (and Mrs. Hoover only purchased one!)

Northampton Christian Preschool is owned and operated by Northampton United Methodist Church.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sharing Ideas

One of the beautiful things about modern technology is the ability to share good ideas with others in your profession. This weekend I received a tweet from Lisa Murphy (@OoeyGooeyLady) that directed me to a preschool blog detailing this activity. I was so excited to share this idea with my own class I could barely sleep last night.

Using the book I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont and David Catrow as a launching point, I organized the above supplies and covered two walls with our canvass. Upon arrival the children gathered around to hear the story. We discussed the importance of keeping the paint on the canvass, waiting patiently for our turn and using our imaginations. 

Then we added talented artists like this. 
And these sweeties. 
Even the teachers contributed. 
This guy worked up a sweat!

Adding finishing touches.
When our painting was dry each artist signed the work. It will be on exhibit for the next several weeks in Room 202. Stop by and view it for yourself! 

Northampton Christian Preschool has been inspiring artists like these since 1995.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Slurping our way to better nutrition!

For the past several years we've made a concerted effort to improve the health and nutrition curriculum at Northampton Christian Preschool. The children are taught how to distinguish between healthy foods and treat foods and the importance of filling our plates with an abundance of healthy foods. Our snack menu has evolved from teddy grahams and juice to one rich in fresh whole veggies and fruit. Today we tried something new; Green Smoothies!

When my children were young I had difficulty getting them to eat veggies. When they did try an occasional carrot or celery stick it always seemed to be smothered in a high-fat dip. To make matters worse, my children were terrible breakfast eaters. I wish I had tried smoothies back then. Not only is it a wonderful way to sneak veggies into a picky eater's diet but it's quick for families rushing out the door in the morning.

My co-teacher, Mrs. Lori starts each day with a smoothie and she graciously shared her "magic bullet" with us this morning. A blender or food processor works too. After perusing several recipes online, we adapted our own. Here's what we used:

  • frozen banana chunks 
  • frozen peaches 
  • green apples, peeled and sliced 
  • fresh spinach 
  • a little bit of juice for thinning 
  • ice cubes 

First we blended the fresh spinach with the juice. Next came all the other fruit and ice. The finished product looked like this: 

You can mix fruits and veggies for a variety of combinations. It's a good way to use up those brown bananas or the last few wrinkled strawberries. Although many recipes call for yogurt or milk, we omitted it this time.

The best part is the kids loved them!

If you have a favorite  smoothie recipe, please share it in the comments below. We'll be trying several more varieties before the school year ends!