Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know

I want to take a minute to introduce you to a blogger who is very near and dear to my heart. Her online work on Instagram and Facebook and her blog always, always inspires me. I have invited Meri Cheri to share with you today and I know you will find her work as inspirational as I do!

Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know...a Reggio Inspired Approach

I am so excited to be here on Teach Preschool today sharing about my ebook, Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know…a Reggio Inspired Approach. I have been teaching art to children for almost 20 years and I am so thrilled to share my greatest tips and secrets for teachers and parents to make art and creativity a truly rich experience in the classroom and at home. Plus, there is an exclusive discount for all Teach Preschool readers below. Check it out!

Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know...a Reggio Inspired Approach

Three years ago, I was hired to pioneer an art program at a local Reggio inspired preschool in Los Angeles. Prior, I had taught kindergarten through second grade for 15 years at a private elementary school in Hollywood, California, while teaching every after school art class and camp under the sun. When I shifted to preschool, after having two children of my own, I tapped into a passion I never knew I had. I always loved teaching art, but there was something about guiding and facilitating the art process of younger children that spoke to me on a deep level. Creating an art studio that functioned as a “teacher” was an evolving lesson for both me and my students. You can see the art studio here.

Check out open studio at this amazing art studio for kids!Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know...a Reggio Inspired Approach

Now, three years later, I have my own art studio for kids in Los Angeles called Meri Cherry Art Studio, where process art, creative thinking and an open studio format are paramount. In the art studio, I encourage creativity, healthy risk taking, cooperation, and self-responsibility, while learning new skills and making art. Students learned to trust their own abilities, development, and ideas. I have also learned to trust my own ideas and have developed many effective practices based on my own trial and error with my students over the years.

Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know...a Reggio Inspired Approach

In my ebook, Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know, I share 10 Art Secrets that I find to be essentials for creating an open ended, rich art experience for children. Each Secret is accompanied by a lesson that demonstrates the art secret. There are also 10 of my favorite art tips that will make your life way easier, as well as art secrets from some of the best art educators around the globe.

Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know...a Reggio Inspired Approach

Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know...a Reggio Inspired Approach

Here is a little taste of the style of the ebook. If this looks like something that would inspire you in the classroom or at home, I am happy to offer all Teach Preschool readers a 35% discount at purchase. Just use the code TeachPreschool.


Thanks so much and wishing everyone an art filled year! Thanks for having me Teach Preschool! xo, Meri Cherry

Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know...a Reggio Inspired Approach

Exploring letters with leaves

This simple yet lovely idea is from Linda over at Rain or Shine Mamma. The emphasis of Laura’s blog is on learning, creating, and playing in nature. I am thrilled to share her beautiful photographs and this fun idea with you today…

Exploring Letters with Leaves

by Linda of Rain or Shine Mamma

Nature is a wonderful place for learning and this time of the year I like to take advantage of the abundance of leaves that can be found on the ground. My youngest daughter (who is 3) is chomping on the bit to learn the alphabet like her big sister, and since we love spending time outdoors I came up with this simple letter recognition activity using leaves.

Exploring letters with leaves!


  • Tote bag for collecting leaves
  • 20-30 leaves
  • Marker

Exploring letters with leaves

How to do it:

  • Find a natural area with trees and start collecting your leaves. Encourage your child to find a variety of species, colors and textures. Learning in nature is typically multidisciplinary, and I always take the opportunity to talk about the color, shape and texture of the leaves. You can also discuss which leaves are OK to pick – do you get them off the trees or only pick the ones that have already fallen on the ground?
  • Use a marker to write letters on the leaves. If your child is just starting out with letter recognition, don’t include the whole alphabet. Choose four or five random letters and repeat them until all the leaves have been used. A logical place to start would be the letters in your child’s name, since those are usually the first ones he or she will begin to recognize.
  • When you’re done writing, put the leaves back in the tote bag and let your child draw a leaf out of the bag, eyes closed. Then have him or her identify the letter on the leaf. My daughter loved the element of surprise, and her hand kept going back in the bag for more!

Exploring Letters with Leaves

Variations for the more advanced learner: Children who are getting interested in writing may want to help print the letters on the leaves, at least my daughter did. Another way to challenge a more advanced learner is to have them put together their name using the leaves along with both upper and lowercase letters.


Linda McGurk is a U.S. writer and photographer who believes that the best childhood memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching frogs and climbing trees. She blogs about forest schooling and restoring the connection between children and nature at Rain or Shine Mamma, and hopes to inspire parents and educators to get outside with their children every day, regardless of the weather.

-Rain or Shine Mamma on Facebook

-Rain or Shine Mamma on Pinterest

-Rain or Shine Mamma on Twitter

Available on Amazon

By | October 17th, 2014|Categories: Science and Nature|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

Self-Regulation: the #1 skill for success in school and life!

As our summer blog book study on Challenging Behaviors continues, I am thrilled to bring you a guest post written by Jenny Spencer and appreciate her for taking time out of her summer to prepare this post for all of us. You can read more about Jenny at the end of this post but let me just tell you that she knows her stuff as she travels and speaks to folks all the time about how to address challenging behaviors. So let me hand the rest of this post over to Jenny!

Self-Regulation: The #1 Skill for Success in School and Life!

Several years ago when I  came across a workshop titled “How to handle all the fussing, fighting, fits, and tantrums” I really didn’t think that I needed it.  I thought I had everything under control.  Regardless, I decided to attend.  What I learned that day was the beginning of a transformational journey both personally and professionally.  I have discovered that it wasn’t control that I needed–it was connection. Hi!  I’m Jenny Spencer and I’m thrilled to be a part of this book study!  I am sharing from one of my favorite books with you today: “Managing Emotional Mayhem The Five Steps for Self-Regulation” by Dr. Becky A. Bailey…

Self-Regulation: The #1 Skill for Success in School and Life!

Over the years I have been faced with some very challenging behaviors so I understand how hard it can be.  My hope is that this post will inspire you and that you will learn some new skills that can transform your experience with even the most difficult child.  Move with me beyond what is comfortable to what is best practice in the field of early childhood.

I wanted pink!

Imagine that you are in a classroom of 3-5 year-olds. It is snack time and you are passing out straws.  You hand a blue straw to Billy, a white one to Alyson and a yellow one to Mary. All of a sudden, Mary bursts into tears and whines, “I wanted pink!” For many early childhood educators, Mary’s cry for a pink straw triggers eye rolling, frustration and annoyance.  With a room full of children still waiting on their straws, you quickly snap back, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

What do you think about Mary’s reaction to receiving the yellow straw? Do you think she is picky? Do you think she is spoiled? Are you willing to consider something different? What if I told you Mary is not picky or spoiled?  Rather, Mary IS missing an essential life skill called SELF-REGULATION!

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you some information from Dr. Becky Bailey’s book “Managing Emotional Mayhem” that will help you begin to see behaviors like Mary’s as an opportunity to teach!  

Awareness Is Key

In order to help children regulate their behavior, we must first understand our own.  Becoming aware of how our feelings were handled, by our family of origin, gives us insight to how we currently deal with the children in our care.  Were your feelings used as teaching tools for self-regulation and problem solving? Were your feelings ignored or dismissed? Did your parents save or punish you for your upset? To gain clarity on how your feelings were handled, watch this hilarious Conscious Discipline Video: How to Go Conscious Not Crazy With Our Kids!

Let’s go back to Mary and the straw. After watching the video, you now know that saying, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset,” can be dismissive or punitive. What would this scenario look like if we used it as an opportunity to teach?

Active Calming

The first step in any discipline encounter is for the adult to breathe. Breathing disengages the stress response. By choosing to actively calm, you have a better chance of staying in the “thinking part” of your brain. This is where all of your brilliance and problem solving skills reside.

Think for a minute what behaviors really get your goose.  Perhaps whining, tattling, complaining, laziness, disrespect, not listening, irresponsibility, and silliness will get you started.  We refer to these as ourtriggers or hot spots.  Becoming aware of these triggers help you begin to manage them.  Mary isn’t making you mad, she is triggering your anger.  When you notice that you have been triggered, follow the steps in the picture below to help you get your power back by actively calming yourself.

Self-Regulation: The #1 Skill for Success in School and Life!

You could compare Active Calming to being like a Paramedic.  Imagine that you are at the scene of an accident and the paramedic comes running up to the scene all out of breath.  He begins yelling at you and saying, “What were you thinking?”  “Why weren’t you wearing your helmet?”  Perhaps he wonders, “Hmmm let me see if I can remember how to stop the bleeding.”  That wouldn’t be very helpful would it?  You want a paramedic that comes to the scene calm and ready to help.  This person has practiced the skills and has all the tools needed to be ready and available.  The same is true for teachers and parents.  We must practice the skills for Active Calming on a regular basis.  This ensures that when a conflict happens you will “arrive at the scene” ready to help.

Helping Children with DNA

Now that you have self-regulated, you are ready to coach Mary. Dr. Bailey gives us the DNA Process to bridge the gap between problems and solutions.


Describe and mirror (demonstrate) the emotional signals the child’s body and face are providing.  Always begin with the word your.

“Your arm went like this_________.” Demonstrate

“Your eyes are like this __________.” Demonstrate

As you demonstrate, the child will usually bring their gaze toward you. When they do, take a deep calming breath and soften your face.


Name the feeling you believe is being communicated.  ALL behavior is communication! Always say, “You seem ___.” Dr. Bailey suggests starting off by filling the blank with one of four primary feelings:  Happy, Sad, Angry, or Scared. “You seem angry.”


End the process by acknowledging the child’s positive intent and/or desire. Acknowledging the child’s most heartfelt wishes shows you understand.

“You wanted the pink straw.”

Does that mean you give her the pink straw?  Absolutely not!  By going through this process with her you help her become aware.  You help her notice her body signals and help yourself stay in the present moment.  This helps you access the higher centers of the brain and see the upset from the child’s point of view.

Choosing to respond to the behavior of children out of the higher centers of your brain rather than reacting out of the lower centers is self-discipline.  This helps you connect with the child in the moments of upset and teaches new skills.  Empowering yourself so you can empower children…now that’s true power, that’s Conscious Discipline®!

About Jenny Spencer
Self-Regulation: The #1 Skill for Success in School and Life! by Jenny Spencer
 Jenny was an early childhood special education teacher in the public school for 18 years and left the classroom just over a year ago to focus more on her own family and to begin the process of developing her business as a Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor.  I have met Jenny personally (we live in the same town) and can tell you that she is incredibly passionate about the work she does in early childhood education and I appreciate her so much for taking the time to share with us today!
Connect with JennyIgnite Learning
Please take the time to connect with Jenny over at her blog – Ignite Learning: Bright Ideas for Parents and Teachers
And You Can Read More!
The Five Steps for Self-Regulation by Jenny Spencer was published just yesterday as a continuation of this discussion!

Learn more about Dr. Bailey and Conscious Discipline by going to the website: Conscious Discipline® is a classroom management system that integrates social-emotional learning using everyday events to teach life skills. Most importantly, Conscience Discipline teaches adult’s new skills first so they can coach children effectively.

These Books and more by Dr. Becky Bailey are Available on Amazon!

Be sure to check out the other posts in our Summer Book Blog Study! See the Linky Below!!

Easy ways to go from trendy to educational by School Sparks

Over the past few weeks, my preschoolers have been bringing little gifts in the form of bracelets that they made at home.  My guest Renee from School Sparks is here to share with you some easy ways to use the Rainbow Loom as a resource for learning too….

Easy ways to go from trendy to educational by School Sparks

One of the things I love most about early childhood education is that nearly any activity can become an opportunity for learning.  Parents and teachers of young children have likely seen (or maybe you already bought one) the trendiest new craft activity for kids: The Rainbow Loom!

Guest post from School Sparks Blog

Since this craft seems to have captured the attention of many children right now, it is a perfect vehicle for some fun – and educational – activities.  (Even if you don’t have a Rainbow Loom, the small baggies of colored rubber bands used with the loom are available at any craft store and are very inexpensive, so you can easily complete these activities even without the actual loom.)

Color Sorting

Guest post from School Sparks Blog 2

Give your child a pile of small rubber bands and ask her to sort them by color. This activity requires strong visual discrimination skills as her pile of rubber bands may include a few different shades of some colors and other colors (such as orange and red, blue and green) are very similar. This activity also requires strong fine motor skills, as your child will need to use the proper pincer grip to select just one rubber band at a time.

Guest post from School Sparks Blog 3


Let your child grab a small handful of one color of rubber bands and then a small handful of a second color. Ask her to guess which pile has more and help her count each pile to confirm to prediction.

Guest post from School Sparks Blog 4

Or create a game by allowing your child to trade in 10 of a common colored rubber band for 1 of a less common colored rubber band (I hear the “glow in the dark” rubber bands are in scarce supply!). Before making each trade, she will need to count the rubber bands she wants to trade into groups of 10 and correctly tell you how many of your rubber bands she is trading for.


Ask your child to create a bracelet using a repeating pattern.  Encourage her to map out the pattern before starting to weave.  Begin with a two-color pattern (such as ABAB or ABBA) then progress to four- and five-color patterns which are more challenging for young children to identify and create.

Guest post from School Sparks Blog 5

Auditory Processing

Ask your child to touch a peg on the loom.  Using only words (no pointing), give your child directions such as, “Put one green rubber band on the peg two above the one you are touching” or “Stretch a yellow rubber band between the peg you are touching and the peg three to the right.”  With so many pegs on the board and so many different colored bands to choose from, your child will need sharp listening skills to follow your directions.

Guest post from School Sparks Blog 6

For more simple ideas on how to foster any child’s educational development

please visit!

Renee has lots of free kindergarten resources on her website as well!

Be sure to check them all out over at School Sparks!

Available on Amazon

By | October 30th, 2013|Categories: Around the Classroom|Tags: , , |1 Comment

How to make friends in kindergarten

Today, Sarah from How Wee Learn has joined me to bring you a few tips for helping children make friends in kindergarten. Sarah is a mom of three children and has been a kindergarten teacher for many years. Now let’s take a look at what Sarah has for us all today…

Making friends in Kindergarten

Kindergarten is an exciting time for many children and their parents. But with that excitement comes some challenges. One area of concern for many parents is fostering friendships for their Kindergarten child. Every parent wants to be sure their child has a friend in Kindergarten.

Building Friendships in Kindergarten

How can parents help foster friendships for their Kindergartener when they are not in the classroom themselves? Having taught Kindergarten for years, I have some suggestions.

  1. Model and teach how to be a friend

Hopefully, before your child starts Kindergarten, she has had some time to be with other children – whether that is in a preschool, a playgroup, or simply at local parks. If your Kindergarten child has not had much of this yet, there is no better time to start. Use any opportunity to model and teach what ‘Being a Good Friend’ looks like. Focus on sharing and caring – but be sure to have your wee one expect the same respect. In Kindergarten some children are so busy sharing that they never get a turn themselves. Remind your little one that she must stand up for herself too.

  1. Send friendly postcards

One year, a wise Mama made sweet postcards on the first day of school and asked that I hand them out to all of the children at the end of the day. The postcards said the name of the child, her parents, and her phone number and that she would love to get together at a park for a play sometime. This was a great ice breaker and the child received lots of play invitations.

Building Friendships in Kindergarten

  1. Have play dates outside of school

Since Kindergarten children are still so young, they still need help with friendship skills. Having play dates with friends outside of school gives parents the opportunity to continue building on social skills.

  1. Never hesitate to chat with the teacher

Most Kindergarten teachers put a lot of emphasis and focus on friendships and social skills. Most do lessons and specific teaching on what being a friend means and teachers try very hard to observe the children at play and address any issues as well as highlight positive behaviours. That being said, there are usually a lot of children in one Kindergarten classroom. There will be comments or issues that go unseen by the Teacher. Please never assume the Teacher knows of trouble your wee one is having. Children thrive in the classroom when parents are involved. A quick call to your child’s teacher is always welcomed.

Kindergarten is a time full of learning and adventure. It is quite the journey and having good friends makes that journey so much more fun!

About Sarah

Sarah from Three Wee Ones

I am a Mama to 3 wee ones and I have been a Kindergarten teacher for many years.  I now have the opportunity to stay home with my children and blog about How my Wee ones Learn at home.   I write daily about simple, creative, and fun play-based learning activities that are meant to support the natural curiosity and wonder wee ones have.  I love to connect and learn from other Mama’s and believe a supportive community (even an online one!) is what all Mamas and their wee ones need to learn, grow, and thrive.

A special thanks to Sarah for sharing with us today! Be sure to visit Sarah over at How We Learn!

Available on Amazon

20Moms: making simple peg fairies with Red Ted Art

Today, I want to introduce the fabulous 20Moms member, Maggy Woodley: the author and blogger of Red Ted Art.  Maggy is sharing her beautiful and creative peg fairies with us today and then there is much more to come – so keep reading on down the wall!

Peg Fairies from Red Ted Art

Each of the 20Moms has her own unique style of blogging which brings a broad range of creative ideas, tips, and inspiration to our readers as a whole. After you read Maggie’s post, then hop on over to The Artful Parent and read my super cool post on Building and Creating with Curves! As you make the circle of posts being shared today, you will end up right back here – I think you will find it worth your while!

Peg Fairies by Maggy Woodley

It is wonderful to be here on Teach Preschool and sharing one of our crafts! I am Maggy and you will usually find me over on Red Ted Art getting crafting with the kids (or talking about Family Life and cooking or the latest movies). Writing for Teach Preschool was an opportunity I embraced, as I wanted to show how many of our crafts can very easily be adapted to the classroom or to suit different age groups. I myself have been doing some of my crafts in my Son’s Reception class (4-5yrs old) and appreciate that the process is indeed quite different.

Clothes Peg Fairies from Red Ted Art

Also, I love to craft FOR my children – making “perfect little toys”, which of course I have no expectation of them to make themselves – however I LOVE how these toys inspire THEM to get creative and make their own. Such as the Peg Fairies today!

The wonderful thing is, that they love THEIR fairies just as much as they love MY fairies. And their fairies are a wonderful example of how I hope people will adapt my activities and crafts to suit their kids – having just brought a book of crafts, this how I hope people will be inspired!

I have a “how to” over on Red Ted Art to show how I  made the Tinkerbell Fairy for the Kids. But this is about how the kids made theirs:

Materials: a peg, some plastic acetate (e.g. overhead projectors), glue with a fine dispenser & glitter OR sharpie markpens, “normal pens”, and Elmer’s Glue.

Peg Fairies from Red Ted Art

1)      The children coloured in their pegs with pens (I hasten to add that the colours were all chose by the kids – and yes Pip Squeak chose PINK and Red Ted BLUE! Hey ho).

2)      Then they decided that they wanted glitter hair – this is purely their invention. I think Red Ted came up with it a while back when we received some fantasticly beautiful glitter from Zing Zing Tree. We dip the head carefully in glue and then we dip it carefully in glitter. Now if doing this with a larger group of kids, do help them, as they can get a bit carried away and mummify your peg in glitter and glue!

3)      Let dry and carefully add a face.

Making Fairies by Red Ted Art

1)      In the meantime, get your “acetate” cut out a pair of wings for the children (you will probably want to prep these – or cut trace out the wings for them and let older kids cut themselves – alternatively you could cut 2 larger and 2 smaller “petal shapes” and assemble the wings afterwards).

2)      Carefully drip some glue on and then coat in glitter. Pour the remaining glitter back into your pot. We had cut some heart confetti earlier and Pip Squeak really wanted to add some of that too. I thought that was a very cute idea.

3)      Let dry and then glue onto your peg with Elmer’s Glue!

Done! Red Ted informs me, that HIS is a pirate fairy. Well there you go.

Building and Creating with Curves - A Fun and Easy Kids Sculpture Activity!

Now don’t forget to hop on over to The Artful Parent to see what Deborah is sharing today or click on any of the links below in the 20MOMS collage…

20 Moms The Artful Parent No Time For Flash Cards - Crafts, books, and learning for babies and kids. Creative with Kids Red Ted Art Teach Preschool A Mom With A Lesson Plan | add a little learning to your playtime The Imagination Tree Not Just Cute | Intentional Whole Child DevelopmentNot Just Cute | Intentional Whole Child Development Playful Learning Inner Child Fun | What to do with kids | Crafts, Activities, Play Ideas Kids Stuff World — The little things, the big things and all the "stuff" in between Lasso the Moon Lasso the Moon » Making Everyday an Adventure Kids Activities Blog - Fun Learning Activities Kids hands on : as we grow | hands on kids activities for hands on moms » Peanut Blossom 20 Moms Rhett
Thank you Maggy for sharing with us today! Could you all tell that Maggy is not from the USA? How wonderful it is to meet folks who can about young children from all over the world!


By | April 9th, 2013|Categories: Around the Classroom|Tags: , , , |0 Comments