Preschool Activities

Mac-N-Cheese Please!!

Are you ready to have the greatest mac-n-cheese ever?!? It may come as a surprise but did you know that children's book author and illustrator Todd Parr is also an amazing cook?! Well, he is! Here is Todd's recipe for the the best mac-n-cheese EVER. 

Let’s start with the ingredients

  • 1 box of pasta (if you use elbow macaroni you can talk about different body parts!! Science!!)
  • 2 cups of cheddar cheese
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2TBS butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do.

Boil water and cook macaroni. Set aside.

In a separate pot over medium heat add 2 TBS of butter.

When melted add a small handful of the cheddar cheese.

To the cheese and butter add a full can of condensed milk.

Add remaining cheese and turn the heat on low.

Stir continually until the cheese is completely melted.

Add the cheese to the pasta and stir.

WARNING: This will be hot!

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wanna turn this into a tasty math and science lesson? Here’s how.

Start with the measuring. Have the little ones measure out the butter and cheese. If your child is anything like me make sure to watch them with the cheese (I’m a totally cheese sneeker!) Measuring allows your child to work on quantity, volume, fractions, and one-to-one correspondence.

Boiling the water is a great place to insert some science. You can talk about the properties of water. Ask your little learner what happens when water gets cold and when it gets hot. Ask them to make predictions about what will happen when you add heat. You can even do a time exploration by making predictions about how long they think it will take for the water to boil.

Bring in some more science with the cheese sauce. Discuss how cheese is a solid (another place to insert some science vocabulary). Then ask them what they think will happen when you add the cheese to the heat.

Finally, you can wrap up this mini lesson with setting the table. Have your little one count how many cups, plates, and forks you will need for dinner. Let them set the table and count as they do each place setting.

Sharing a meal is a powerful thing. According to The Family Dinner Project, sharing regular meals with family reduces substance abuse and depression, while promoting higher grade point averages and boosting self-esteem. 

MASSIVE thanks to Todd for sharing his home, his food, and his friendship! Check out Todd Parr for all things Todd! 

                                            -Ms. Giannini


Candy Candy Candy

Trick-or-treating is a scary good time….but you know what would make it better? Turning the sweet candy haul into a fun math lesson!! 

The Best-Ever Books for Preschool Rug Time

Reading to children is one of my favorite parts of being a teacher. Nothing is better than 20 captivated little ones listening intensely to a story. When we read to kids amazing things are happening. They learn language, sequencing, comprehension, logical thinking — basically the list goes on and on. However, if the story flops (and we’ve all been there) the kids take nothing away and you are left frustrated. 

To start, a quick video of my top ten favorite rug time books.

And now, after putting out feelers to the teaching community, I offer you more rug time books that are guaranteed to keep our little ones engaged! These are in no particular order. Enjoy!

Little Nino’s Pizzeria - by Karen Barbour

Art and Max - by David Wiesner

13 Words - by Lemony Snicket

Fortunately – by Remy Charlip

The Mixed Up Chameleon – by Eric Carle

The Gruffalo – by Julia Donaldson

Ain’t Gonna Paint No More – by Karen Beaumont

Quick as a Cricket – by Audrey Wood

One Hungry Monster – by Susan Heyboer

A Soup Opera – by Jim Gill

The Jazz Fly – by Matthew Gollub

Please, Mr. Panda – by Steve Antony

The Day the Crayons Quit – by Drew Daywalt

The Very Busy Spider – by Eric Carle

Little Blue Truck – by Alice Schertle

The Dot – by Peter H. Reynolds

Skippyjon Jones – by Judith Schachner

The Paper Bag Princess – by Robert Munsch

And my personal favorite…….. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge – by Mem Fox

Warning: Grab a box of tissues

If I missed your personal favorite don’t forget to include it in the comments below... because amazing rug times are No Small Matter.

Bug Activities for Preschoolers

For some, bugs are: CREEPY. CRAWLY. ICKY. 

But, they are everywhere! And bug play is a great way for preschool age children to explore nature right in their own back yards. So Rachel invited her friend and former co-teacher Tracy to join her for a quick tutorial on how you can use bugs in a preschool setting - with and without having to get too up close and personal with your new insect friends.

Rachel and Tracy get down with two different kinds of bugs: Bess Beetles and Tobacco Horn Worms, which Rachel acquired from a great company that can send you bugs that are native to your local habitat.

Some great tips for working with bugs:

  •  Break out a magnifying glass to look at the bugs details and build vocabulary (it's green, it has a tail, etc.)
  • Think up fictional stories about the bugs' lives
  • Let the children do research on the bugs and report back to you as bug experts
  • And so much more! 


P.S. Looking for bug "sources"? Here are a few websites Rachel has bought from in the past:

Superhero Play for Preschoolers

Call it superhero play, power play, rough and tumble play - whatever you call it, this kind of play is often banned in schools and discouraged at home. But, it can be developmentally appropriate, and teaches kids all kinds of things about flexibility, adaptation, strategy, and emotions. Watch for tips from Rachel (and a demonstration with her friend Cory!) about how you can (safely) encourage power play at home and in the ECE classroom.

What does power play for preschoolers look like? It can be anything from kicking, to play hitting, to battling, to chasing. And here are just some of the reasons why it helps kids grow:

  • It practices negotiation - how to be dominant, how to be submissive
  • Kids learn what acceptable rough and tumble play looks like
  • It builds trust between kids, and between kids and adults

Just make sure to play in a wide open space - and when someone says stop, STOP! 

Play hard, have fun, and be safe y'all!

Should You Bring a Pet Into Your Preschool Classroom?

With great power (to teach empathy, vocab, math and more...) comes great responsibility! Go through the pros and cons of adding a pet to your preschool classroom with Rachel.

Thinking about bringing a pet — guinea pig, hamster, frog, or fish — into your preschool or early learning classroom? Rachel maps out some of the benefits — like building a curriculum and fostering empathy — as well as some of the pitfalls... yes, we talk about pet funerals. Watch for developmentally appropriate tips for using a pet with your early learners.


  • Amazing at creating empathy, encouraging little ones to think outside of themselves
  • Great addition to curriculum: e.g. language skills and vocabulary (describe the pet) or math (how much does the pet weigh?)
  • Fosters responsibility: Who will feed the pet and clean its cage?


  • Responsibility: Ultimately, the responsibility falls on you as the teacher to care for the well-being of your class pet.
  • Price: The cost of food, bedding, toys, vet visits, etc. can start to add up!
  • Pets are a full-time commitment that doesn't end when the term does. Where's your guinea pig or fish going to spend the summer holidays? (SPOILER: Probably at your house.)
  • Pets eventually die, and you'll need to explain that to the kids. (Rachel says honesty is the best policy, as far as this goes!)

Why You Should Try Cross-Curricular Teaching

How does cross curricular teaching work in an early childhood classroom? Students from Columbia College Chicago produced this video at a YMCA preschool exploring how teaching across subjects works for early learners, and why it's important for building school readiness. 

When children learn out in the world, they use all their senses, so why not put all five senses to work in the classroom too? Cross-curricular teaching creates a connection between all subjects through a common theme, giving kids an opportunity to learn multiple subjects without even realizing it.

For example, in a cross-curricular lesson plan, there might be a letter of the week -- let's say, "I" for "insect." Children would count the body parts, legs, and antennae of different insects to learn math skills. For vocabulary, they would learn the names of the body parts. Then for art, they would get creative making their own bugs.

Cross-curricular teaching ties all the subjects together, and makes it easier to learn through repetition. It's one more method for you to try out with your little learners, at home or in the classroom.

What Is Tinkering?

Put on your safety goggles! Rachel visits the Chicago Children's Museum's Tinkering Lab and Kim Koin, "Head Tinkerer," to learn about why experimentation and learning by doing is so important for children zero to five. 

So, what is tinkering, anyway? Tinkering is a way of trying things out without a preconceived notion of if what you're going to do, a great form of exploration. Through tinkering, kids can learn that failure is a great option. Even when you don't succeed in what you set out to do, you learn from your "failures" and will be able to make something even better in the future.

Tinkering can be a little bit intimidating to the first time adult supervisor. So here are a few tips for tinkering at home or in your classroom:

  • Wait, watch, follow: Give you children a chance to figure it out for themselves. 
  • Keep it simple.
  • All you need to start is a piece of wood, a hammer, and nails. Little imaginations will take over from there!