Clubhouse Year In Review: Top 10

As 2012 comes to an end, I thought it would be fun to take a little walk down memory lane and visit some of the most popular Clubhouse posts of this past year.

Coming in at #10,
one of our first Clubhouse Showdowns!

Goop vs. Gak.

Do you know who won?

Find out here!

On a hot Arizona day in May, #9 was born.

Rainbow Bubbles!

Do you know how to color bubbles?

Find out here!

Here at the Clubhouse we had A LOT of fun discovering and exploring with water beads in 2012.

So, what happens when we added a few pipes to our water bead play?

Why, Clubhouse Plumbers of course!

Coming in at #8, Waterbead Plumbing.

Have you explored with water beads yet?

See all of the ways they can be used on our water bead page here.

We make our own paint here at the Clubhouse all of the time. The fact that this post came in at #7 goes to show all of you out there are looking to make your own paints too.

Our DIY Watercolors painted vibrant colors, and were a lot of fun for the kids to make. Plus, they loved painting with the paint they made all by themselves.

Need the recipe? Here is it!

A bar of Ivory soap, a microwave, and 2 minutes, is how we landed at #6.

This post generated a lot of emails with the same question,

"Will this ruin my microwave?"

I'll have you all know, we are still using the same microwave, and every once in awhile we still stick soap in there ;)

For details on how to use soap in a Science experiment,
see here.

Coming in at our #5 post of 2012 is a tray activity that led to a 3D Art project.

Clubhouse Tray: 3D Art, all you need are pipe cleaners and a latch hook canvas.

3D art continues to adorn corners of the Clubhouse :)
Here's an activity I am sure we will revisit in Fall 2013.

Am I talking about Fall already? Sorry!

Fall Sensory Bags land at #4.

Sensory bags are popular, and so are Clubhouse Creation Stations. When I put the two together we ended up with #3, DIY Sensory Bags.

Preschoolers really are the best at making sensory bags ;)

To see some of their creations (and get some great sensory bag ideas), check out the post here.

Let's start to wrap up this countdown, with a hug! Also known as our second most popular post of 2012.

Do you know how to mail a hug? If not, be sure to get the details here, because everyone loves getting hugs in the mail!!

Finally we have reached #1. The most popular post of 2012 is an absolute adventure in Preschool Science. We proved that anything can be learned when you make it fun.. and add a lot of balloons ;) To read the post that led to a group of 3 year old Clubhouse Kids being able to distinguish between the States of Matter, check it out here.

There you have it.. The Top 10 Clubhouse posts of 2012!!

What a great year we had playing, learning, laughing and just plain having FUN :)

Thank you for stopping by the Clubhouse, and joining in on the fun.

HAPPY NEW YEAR Clubhouse Friends,
Ms. Liz

So you don't miss out on any of the adventures 2013 has in store, be sure to follow the Clubhouse:



Clubhouse Christmas Crayons

We're starting to feel festive here at the Clubhouse, 
and what better way to add a little Christmas cheer to our classroom then...


Clubhouse Manger

This was a very simple, and fun, little craft I did with my Clubhouse Kid last holiday season. Unpacking the Christmas boxes, it warmed my heart when I found it. I tracked down the photos of when we made this (I was not actively blogging back then, but I was still an avid photo taker) and decided to share...


Clubhouse Christmas, A Green Event

Today being December 1st, the countdown to Christmas has officially started here at the Clubhouse. Last night I got out last year's Advent Calendar, which I made out of all recycled materials. Tissue paper from gift bags, Christmas cards from year's past (yes, I save everything), brown paper bags, and even some wrapping paper. This year, we get to use it again.. so I guess it's re-recycled? 

That got me to thinking about all of the different ways we recycle during the Holidays. You'd be surprised at how much can be found in the mail. Before you throw out yet another "look at our lowest deals ever" circular, take a closer look...


The Clubhouse at NAEYC

There have been a few changes here at the Clubhouse, and that's why you haven't heard from me in awhile. We were taking the time we needed to transition, and we did some travel.

We're back though, and we sure do have a lot to catch up on!
What better place to start than last week?

It was a week spent in Atlanta, Georgia at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference. An event full of exciting sessions, informative meetings, focus groups, and more! Surrounded by friends and colleagues, I thoroughly enjoyed indulging in the world of early childhood education.

The exhibits were a personal favorite, it's just amazing to have every possible education resource under one roof. From toys to books to outdoor play, I was able to enjoy a lot of hands on fun, and be introduced to an entire range of new products coming during this holiday season and throughout the new year.

A panoramic photo of the exhibits area.
I wish I could have made the photo larger,
but I wanted you to see the entire spectrum of options.
It was definitely A LOT to see!


Clubhouse Cloud Dough Bakery

Sometimes I get an idea from a book the Clubhouse Kids are really enjoying, or comments I hear in the classroom during play. Even just a question from a child or parent can spark an entire array of activities in my mind.

In this case, I just had a lot of flour.

Really, too much.

So, the Cloud Dough Bakery was born.


The Clubhouse Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month: Spicy Tamale Art

This year, I am six, so I get to mix the dough, which is made of cornmeal. My sister Lidia is eight, so she gets to spread the dough on the corn husk leaves. I wish I was eight, so that my hands would be big enough to spread the dough just right--not too thick and not too thin...
          -Growing Up With Tamales by Gwendolyn Zepeda

As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month here at the Clubhouse, we have been reading some good books about food. Food is a big part of the Hispanic Culture, with many cultures having specific foods/recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.

A popular favorite at the Clubhouse?


So, I decided it was time to bring some of the ingredients, scents and spices of tamales into the Classroom, the Clubhouse way.


Clubhouse Creation: Gak Dough!

There are a lot of materials on hand in the Clubhouse Classroom, available for the Clubhouse Kids to engage, explore and create with.

As they were trying to decide between a container of Glitter Gak and one full of Cloud Dough, a Clubhouse Kid asks,

"What would happen if we mixed them together?"


Clubhouse Season Changes: Hello Fall

In case you're new around here, you should know that the Clubhouse is located in the Arizona desert. This means we do seasons differently around here. Leaves don't fall off of a cactus, and we don't have to take out the long sleeved shirts and pants until sometime in December.

This doesn't mean we don't thoroughly enjoy the sights, scents and simple pleasures of the Fall season though. We just have to bring them to us.

 What better way to do that than in a basket?


The Clubhouse Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month: Rice and Beans

September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage month.

What better time to introduce the language, arts, foods and celebrations of Hispanic cultures than now?

As a Hispanic mother raising a biracial, bilingual child, we often enjoy the books, foods and music of our culture. Exploring other Hispanic cultures, and bringing the fun to all of the Clubhouse Kids, is something we are excited about this month. We plan on sharing a variety of ways we delve into Hispanic Heritage over the next few weeks, but what better place to start than a good book and some rice and beans?

My Clubhouse Kid: Air Mail

My Clubhouse Kid is aware of a lot of different ways to communicate.
He has been Skyping with his Abuelita (my mother) since he could sit up in front of the screen and coo.
When he wants to let Daddy know something while he's at work,
he knows how to audio text like a pro.
He knows all about sending e-mails, leaving voice mails, and has had his fair share of trips to the post office to send actual mail.

Being so aware of all of the different ways that we can communicate with those far away from us, I shouldn't have been surprised when one day he asked me...

"Can I send Grandpa Mario a text?"

Mario is my father.
He passed away almost 20 years ago.
I would love to send him a text.
I'd pay anything for that Skype call.
I wish, above all, there was an app for that.

There isn't though, so as my son looked at me awaiting an answer, I knew I had to come up with a way to allow my son to feel like his grandfather could receive a message from him.


Clubhouse Sticky Blocks

Most days the Clubhouse Kids love to build tall towers,
stacking blocks until they all come tumbling down.
Today, the tumbling down part was apparently getting a little bit annoying,

"Ms. Liz, can't we make these blocks stick?"


Clubhouse Mail: Hugs for Grandma!

While we honor our grandparent's this week, we had to take some time to be sure to send a little love to our long distance grandparent's.


The Clubhouse Celebrates Grandparents with Giveaway Fun! [CLOSED]

This Sunday September 9th is National Grandparent's Day, and this year the Clubhouse would like to spend the entire week honoring Grandparent's with posts, links, and of course... a giveaway!

So let's get right to the part I know you're waiting for... giveaway details ;)

We are hosting the week long event on the Fit Kids Clubhouse Facebook page here.

First, like the page. That gets you in, and then the fun can begin!

There is a photo album entitled "Grandparent's Day Giveaways" highlighted on the Fit Kids Facebook wall.

Within that album you will find photos of all of the items up for grabs.

Each photo will contain details on how you can enter to win that specific prize. The entries are simple, usually just a comment on the photo or a quick like of the sponsor's Facebook page will get your "ticket in the basket" for your chosen prize.

On Sunday we will randomly select names from each prizes "basket" and winners will be announced!

So, what are the prizes you ask?

Here's a sneak peek:


DIY Clubhouse Watercolors

One of our favorite things to do around here is make paint. From coffee paint to epsom salt paint. From petroleum jelly paint to dirt paint. You name it, we've tried it. Puffy paint? Yes, we did that one too. Providing the Clubhouse Kids with materials they can use to artistically create is always a priority, allowing them to make those materials themselves is always an experience.

Clubhouse Tray: 3D Art

This activity is a perfect example of what happens when I set out a simple invitation to engage in an activity, and the Clubhouse Kids decide to pick it up and take off running.
Not literally. 
There was no running involved. 
Actually, there was a lot of sitting still involved. 


Clubhouse Gak, Just Add Anything!

At the Clubhouse we call it Gak.
We make it with three simple ingredients; glue, water and liquid starch.

Then there are days where we add some extra ingredients...


Traveling Clubhouse: Tray Table Town

The day for us had finally arrived. It was time to take the Clubhouse on the road :)

The evening before departure my Clubhouse Kid got a sneak peek of the "Traveling Clubhouse" activity bags as I packed them into the carry on. He was definitely excited to get his hands on them, and talked about them all the way to the airport the next morning.

Travel Tip: Preparing specialized activities, and having "special snacks" for travel will give your traveling Preschooler something to look forward to. Choose activities that will be new to them and snacks they don't usually get to indulge in. Let them sneak a peek before your travels at all of the goodies that are in store, and it should help to ease the transition when it's time to leave home and board a plane, or buckle up for a long road trip.

I was convinced that my carry on full of baggies would be completely used up by the time we landed in Buffalo, NY. Oh boy was I wrong.
In a good way ;)

In this post I will share the most popular activity for my Clubhouse Kid on our travels. Special thanks to some readers who shared a sandpaper and yarn activity on the Fit Kids Clubhouse Facebook page, they inspired me to create this activity bag.

Clubhouse Water Bead Pool

We have had a lot of fun with water beads here at the Clubhouse. From shrinking them to freezing them, from putting them in sensory bottles and baggies full of a variety of liquids, to putting them in sensory tables full of "worms". You name it, and we've probably done it when it comes to these bouncy little beads.

One thing had been left undone though, and after a few weather setbacks, we finally got to check it off of our list...


Clubhouse Problem Solving: Lemon Dough

We must make a batch of play dough at the Clubhouse at least once a week. We have tried so many different recipes, the Clubhouse Kids do believe they invented play dough. On this day we decided it was time for a fresh batch, and what better scent for Summer than lemonade?

The recipe I found only required 3 ingredients; corn starch, baking soda, and water. I had never used this recipe before, and I found it here. I decided to add some powdered lemonade mix, and a few squirts of lemon juice.

First, we brought 1 1/4 cup of water to a boil, mixing in the powdered lemonade and the lemon juice. The smell of lemons was strong, just the way we wanted it. 

Then we stirred in a mixture of 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of corn starch.


Clubhouse Storms mean Clubhouse Rainbows

Today was Clubhouse Summer Fun Day. We woke up this morning excited for all we had planned.

Then we noticed the ominous dark clouds.

This is Arizona though so it doesn't rain three times in one week, right?

Not even during monsoon season, right?

I had a very sad Clubhouse Kid on my hands, as he saw all of the activities we had set up outside start drowning under water, and heard Momma making all of the cancelled event phone calls.

Time to rescue this day before a sad Clubhouse Kid turned into a grumpy one. So I asked him, "What comes after the rain?"


Clubhouse Salt Dough Stars

After making our water bead Flag, we decided to dive right in to another patriotic activity to celebrate Independence Day.

First, how about a fun fact? The original 13 stars on the United States flag were to be white, on a blue background, to represent "a new constellation". So that's why there are stars on the U.S. Flag!! Who knew today's activity would turn into an astronomy lesson? :)

Now on to the actual activity. Salt dough. There are a few different recipes for this, but for us what always works is equal parts of all ingredients. For this activity, we mixed 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of water.

Once we had our dough ready to go, we rolled it out and used our star shaped cookie cutter to make our stars.


Clubhouse Flag

After looking at several photos of the United States flag in books, we decided to use a few different ingredients and make a flag of our own.


International Mud Day 2012, Clubhouse Style

We did have big outdoor plans to celebrate International Mud Day today. We had a nice big space cleared, ready to make some mud in. A mudslide, a mud kitchen and even a mud river were on the agenda. That was until we woke up this morning and it was 90 degrees before it was even 8:00am. With an expected high of 113, there really was no way we were going to pull it off. Yes, it's a dry heat... and that is exactly what our mud would have been too, dry.

Plan B was simple, still involved mud, and we got to incorporate one of our favorite books.


Readathon 2012: Arthur Does Yoga

For week 2 of the Memetales Readathon 2012 we read the book Arthur. Arthur is a brown dog in a pet store who is tired of watching all of the other animals get adopted before him, so he decides to attempt to be the other animals and see if that works. As soon as we read this book, I knew how to incorporate it at the Clubhouse.


Clubhouse Showdown: Goop vs. Gak

We have decided to have a few showdowns this week in the Clubhouse Classroom. This is the first of the battles...


My Clubhouse Kid: Motion Sickness

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."                                                                                                   -St. Augustine

Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

Tell it to a Mother who gets puked on every time she turns the page.

First time it happened my son was 18 months old, and I thought it had something to do with what he had had for lunch that day. Second time, I thought maybe the milk he drank was bad. Third time, while I was pulling over to start cleaning us all up again, it dawned on me. This was happening every time we drove out of our small town. Which meant any car ride over 20-25 minutes. Which meant, he was "carsick".

I found out a week later after an episode on a quick flight to California, that "carsick" wasn't quite going to cover it.

Motion sickness.


Clubhouse Themes

I was recently asked how I felt about themes. Well when it comes to party planning, we love a good theme. Once a theme is in place, everything else can fall into place. From decorations to food, from games to crafts, a theme makes it easy to plan accordingly. Start your planning far enough in advance and you can collect things along the way. Take your time to scour the internet for the best prices on theme matching accessories. Find homemade ways (can anyone say Pinterest?) to bring the theme to life. Ask me to plan a party without a theme, and I'd be lost.

That brings us to this past April, when my baby boy turned 3. By this age he knew all about parties and themes and was ready with his answers before I even asked the questions.

"I want a Toy Story 3 party Momma, because I'm gonna be 3. I want to be Buzz, and I want my friend Sammy to be Woody. I want a cake, a statue cake, with Buzz, Woody and Lotso on it, and I want it to be strawberry... because Lotso smells like strawberries."

I'm not kidding, he really said all of that.


Readathon2012: Clubhouse Ducklings

This week Memetales Readathon2012 is all about animals! There were a few books on the app to choose from, and after reading them all my Son chose "The Five Little Ducklings" and said,

"Let's do duck stuff."
So duck stuff it was.


Clubhouse Play Dough: Just Add "Dirt"

During play dough pledge week it only made sense we took one of our favorite paint recipes, Dirt Paint, and added a few extra ingredients to make it into play dough.

Clubhouse Readers: Summertime Book Clubs

One thing I am certain we can all agree on is that reading is an essential part of Early Childhood Education. Actually, it is an essential part of all Education, from Preschool through Graduate School and beyond. Sure technology has changed the way we are able to read, but the bottom line remains the same, reading is fundamental, and can also be a lot of FUN :)

This Summer we have joined up with a variety of reading programs online, as well as locally. Here' s a brief summary of a few, for those of you looking to ensure you keep your children reading throughout the Summer months!

Join Readathon 2012PBS Kids and Memetales have teamed up to provide us with Readathon 2012! Kicking off today, this program has not only brought together some amazing bloggers to participate, but it also provides you with access to free books online and through the Memetales app... AND it's all for an amazing cause. The program runs for 6 weeks, and each week is a different theme.
To read more about the program and how to get started, click here.
*Note: Fit Kids Clubhouse is a "screen free" Preschool, so we will not be reading the books online in class. My son will have access to the online books during his screen time, and together he and I will incorporate the books and themes into our classroom activities weekly.*

Next on our list


Clubhouse Play Dough: Just Add Crayons

Place hand on table, palm side up. 
I do so solemnly swear to play, with play dough, all week, 
in ways I have never played with play dough before. 

If I do not abide by this pledge, 
take away my rights to use Flour and Salt forever.

...and that's how our week started. 

By the way, the aforementioned blogs didn't really make me say that. Just in case you were wondering.

Our first play dough concoction of the week,


Clubhouse ABC's

In the past I have been asked how I teach Preschoolers ABC's, letter recognition, and ultimately writing their name. The answer is simple. Here at the Clubhouse, letters are everywhere, and the Clubhouse Kids manage to teach themselves.

Sure, I help them a long.

That's what I'm here for, right?

I start with a basket.


Clubhouse Truth: Preschool Science Matters

It started with the weather forecast. 100+ degrees every day this week, for the first time this year. We go outside every day, so it was time to start adjusting to the Summertime heat. Enter, ice play. Simple, fun, and although the prep time lasts longer than the ice does around here, the Clubhouse Kids always love it.

Speaking of prep time, I turned to my very own kid for help with this one. He was more than happy to help fill muffin tins, balloons, heart shaped molds and small cups with water, food coloring, glitter, water beads, small letters, etc.

While we were working he says,
"Momma, this is a lot of water we're going to turn into a lot of ice!"

My reply, without even really thinking, was
"You're right. We're taking a lot of liquid and turning it into a lot of solid!"


and so it begins.


Clubhouse Tray: Water Bead Style

We have a blue tray in the Clubhouse Classroom, and the activities on the tray are ever changing.

Whatever is on the tray is a one kid operation, and the Clubhouse Kids are really good about that. They like knowing that once the tray is in their hands, it's all theirs, so they take turns accordingly. Yes, even in Preschool.. it can be done!

The tray activities are not only one-kid operations, they are also usually very meticulous activities. Sorting small items. Lacing beads. Tongs. Patterns. Gardens made of "crayon dust" with small scoops and sticks. The tray is about details, and often requires precise movements. All in the name of working on those fine motor skills. The Clubhouse Kids can incorporate anything else from the classroom when they are working on the tray. Actually, I love when they do that and I often place the tray in a part of the classroom that is close to other objects I think they may like to incorporate with that particular tray.

So what do water beads have to do with fine motor skills?
Aren't they for big, squishy, bouncy sensory play?

Well just take a look at that pincer grip.


Clubhouse Spiderwebs

"She was very busy spinning her web..."
"The Very Busy Spider" spins her web to catch the fly.

"At my house we use the fly swatter to catch flies..."


Another Clubhouse Kid comment that inspires an activity...


Clubhouse Bubbles, Just Exhale

Here at the Clubhouse we always stumble across our "Word of the Day". When we decided to shrink water beads in the Sunshine, it was Dehydration. When the kids decided to take "The Clubhouse Box" and completely cover it in sticks, leaves and stone, it was Camouflage.

Today, it was Exhale.

Clubhouse Plumbing

Did you know that Rainbow Water Beads actually does sell a pack of Rainbow water beads? I popped a pack into a bowl of water to hydrate, and then drained them. Placed them next to the Waterway Pipe Builders set. Done.

"We need a big box to catch them when they come out!"

This was true, I'm glad he thought of it. 

Had I really not thought of it myself?
Of course I had. I know how bouncy these little things are.
Sometimes I like to leave "something missing" and watch the Clubhouse Kids come up with their own solutions;)
After fishing out a big Styrofoam container from the pile of "just in case we can use this" recyclable materials, he was all set. 
He started with just a funnel and watched them drop into the container.  Realizing they go right through, he started constructing.