Aldersgate Preschool

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Fun, Educational, and Nutritious Too!

As the summer rolls along, I hope to share with you some of my favorite activities to do with my own children.  And, you’re in luck, I prefer easy, crowd-free, and cheap!  In checking through my Instagram feed today, I noticed that a friend had posted a picture of her children during a little trip to the farm for some strawberry picking.  Honestly, we have never picked strawberries but every summer (in July) we pick blueberries.

By clicking on the photo above, you should be taken to a link regarding Gieringer’s Orchard in Edgerton, Kansas (not very far away at all).  And, if you read through the information, you’ll find a coupon too! (bonus!) And, strawberry picking is perfect right now (so is the weather)!

Some cautions of berry picking: if you’re anything like me, it may become a bit of an obsession, “Oh no, we’re not done, look at all these plants with berries on them!”  For some reason, I am a little “type A” and feel the need to try to pick them all (who needs 10 pounds of strawberries?)! Children have short attention spans, aren’t so precise, and may be a little messy.  Keep in mind, you’re doing this for fun!

Benefits of berry picking:

*It builds up fine motor (yep, share that with the family next to you while you’re there, and I’m sure they’ll be super impressed) Imagine the coordination, the muscles it takes to pick those berries.

*Plants are low to the ground, perfect for little ones! (Not so good for you, but hey, you’re making memories!)

*A repeat: you’re making fabulous memories!  And, what I’ve found: even if you’re children complain during the whole trip, next year, they’ll fondly remember it and beg to go back!

*Berries are super nutritious: power foods!

*Children thrive in nature! (Notice I link to a wonderful article on what research tells us about children in nature: reduces stress, helps with ADD, supports creativity, nutrition, and on and on and on.  And if you’re super planned and organized, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while you’re there!

I do suggest you check their website or call prior to making the trek out there.  Once you’ve got the “okay,” go and check it out!  Let us know how it goes!

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Summer Bucket List

Preschool concluded last week and we celebrated with an end of year picnic!  When prospective families ask me what sets us apart from other preschools, one (of a few) things that I enjoy sharing is the sense of community that we have here at Aldersgate.  We are very much a family.  It’s not easy to say goodbye to families who have children moving on to elementary school.  We hope you will keep in touch and come back to visit!

Summer isn’t quite “officially” here but it’s a great time to begin planning.  One of my children’s favorite traditions is making our “Summer Bucket List.”  Honestly, I try to keep our events simple so that once summer ends, I don’t feel like a failure for not completing everything.  Click on the picture below for a link to a free printable.


What are some activities that you definitely want to make sure you complete this summer?  There are so many inexpensive, accessible activities in our area from the best parks to visit, great aquatic centers and pools, kids eat free deals, and many others.

Below is a list of parent sites that include calendar events:

KC Parent Calendar of Events

KC Kids Fun


And, while more than likely your children aren’t reading yet, Half Price Books has a fun reading program called Feed Your Brain that they can participate in through read aloud and earn Bookworm Bucks to buy books!

And, don’t forget that some of the best activities really are the simplest.  My own children love our annual shaving cream fights, sidewalk chart art, and even walks to Sonic.

Summer bucket list



Potty Training- eventually we all have to do it


Many times summer offers a good opportunity to potty train.  Clothing is less restrictive and schedules can be more sedate.  (Those of you with super hectic summers may already be skeptical of the authenticity of this post but please hang in there with me.) 

Allie, my daughter, recently potty trained our granddaughter Anna.  Watching her work through the process reinforced a few of my beliefs and also opened my eyes to some new tips.  I guess my biggest suggestion is to JUST DO IT.  Once you start then really go for it.  Remember the post about bluffing as a parenting tool, well this is a prime chance to practice a powerful bluff.  Just like they say about wild animals, they will sense your fear.  It is the same with children and potty training.  Plan for it.  Make time for it.  Just do it! 

Here’s the kicker though – you need to be consistent, don’t go backwards, and do it all with a calm, positive, “you can do it” attitude.  (This can sometimes be a tough test of your patience – but please perservere.)

Some of you may consider using a potty training chart.  Here are a couple from this site:

Potty-Chart-DORA-NJ potty-training-chart-5

Allie passed on this link to a fabulous post about potty training. I think Carrie, the author of the blog, is really onto something. It is a long read but worth the time.

A couple of other tips my daughter had were:

  1. Prep your child with talk about the potty for a while before you actually begin the process.  The Potty Time with Elmo book above is available at area stores.  The little songs are catchy tunes.  Your child will enjoy this fun way to begin talking about the process.  Anna received one from a friend and was it was a hit!
  2. Set a timer to alert you when it is time to try to go.  This takes the pressure off of you.  “Oh, the timer says it is time to try to potty again!”  It is even more fun if you let your child be the one to turn off the timer.  We all know how kids love to mess with gadgets so this is a positive reward in itself.  I understand some phones can have an app that gives a duck sound for the timer alert – how fun!
  3. Celebrate dry underwear as much as if not more than going in the potty.  This gives you an opportunity to make this process as positive as possible – and it celebrates the ultimate goal, staying dry!
  4. In the beginning have your child practice with a doll.  This gives them the opportunity to feel power over the process.
  5. If your child is resisting trying, you may want to go first. This just shows that you are on-board with this whole potty on the toilet thing.
  6. Let your child do what she wants to do at first, if she wants to wipe herself or not, flush herself or not, turn on/off the water or not. Eventually she will get to where she will want to do more herself
  7. Have your child help change his clothing when he is wet.  Be sure to have him feel the wet underwear and talk about how dry underwear feels so good on our skin. I know that is unsanitary but the physical reinforcement will help.  You can wash hands really well.
  8. Speaking of washing hands, make it fun.  Buy some special soap, maybe a favorite character or sparkle soap.  Your child gets to use this soap only after trying to go potty.                                                          copy_0_soapbox_mini4x4fishHere is a link to a wide variety of fun soaps:
  9. When you begin using public restrooms be sure to hang something over the sensor of an automatic flush toilet. Children can be startled if it would begin flushing while they are sitting on the seat. Warn your child ahead of time when you are going to flush. They are loud and you don’t want anything causing regression in the process.

Those are my helpful hints for the day.  Again, I encourage you to read the article.  I will add my endorsement for the statement that once you are in underwear – stay in underwear.  I believe pull-ups during the day just confuse the issue for children.   I think this blog post has some great ideas but it is certainly not the only approach around.  Please comment on this post if you can offer some tips or tricks that worked for you.

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An unexpected kind deed from an “Alumni”

At school, we continue to talk about doing kind deeds.  It is something that will carry on through life.  Our kindness chain continues to grow and decorate the preschool office.

Recently, Meghan Rigdon, one of our “alumni” and the daughter of Ms. Mary Rigdon, wanted to do a “brain pop” to come up with ways she could help us even though she isn’t here with us.  How very kind!  Her words greatly touched my heart.  I love the practical advice as well as the nostalgic words of wisdom from her advanced age of eight. 

Cyndi Mawhiney

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Building is learning (Block Play)

I say it quite often but truly believe: “there is intent to all that we do here at Aldersgate.”  From our schedules, to the way we serve snack, to the way that our rooms are set up.  We do it all for a reason.

Each of our classrooms at the preschool are set up with four distinct areas: block play, dramatic play, art, and quiet area.  We’ll be talking about each in future posts but for today, I’d like to tell you about our block play.

Did you know that there are lots of different kinds of blocks? We have bamboo blocks, wood blocks, lego blocks, letter blocks, sign blocks, number blocks, transparant color blocks, foam blocks, brick blocks, hollow blocks, natural tree blocks, rainbow blocks… you get the idea, right?  I’m not sure that we could ever have too many blocks.  Kids love them!  And, we enjoy seeing the things that they create with them…



Block play is often a social time for children.  They work together to build and create things, they compromise, they take turns, they take pride in their accomplishments, they practice trial and error, and they learn!

There is a plethora of information that you can find if you google “benefits of block play in early childhood.”  But, the best thing that I have seen that, really, says it all is a poster that diagrams wonderful benefits that children experience just by playing with blocks.

image found via Designs for Childhood

Interested in enriching your home with some blocks? We order most of ours from here. But, really, they can be found anywhere; from Target to Wal-Mart to U.S. Toy.  And, as always, let us know if you have questions!

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Hide & Seek: It has endless potential

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I am hiding, hiding, hiding. I am hiding, hiding, hiding.  I am hiding, hiding, hiding.  Peek-A-Boo.”

Tune: Paw Paw Patch

From early on children are entranced with hiding and finding objects or people.  We know that young infants, working on object permanency, are amazed to see you are still there when you take your hands away.

As children develop we can continue to use this “thrill” with a variety of skills.  Here are some options.

What’s missing?  Show your child two items (more for older children) and ask him to close his eyes or you can cover the items with a cloth and remove one item.   See if your child can tell you which one is missing. Take a turn as the person making the guess too.  This game helps develop language and perceptual memory.  As the leader of the game your child will build confidence.

What’s inside?  Hide an item inside a shoe box that has a hole cut out the end (or make a box from Duplos, Legos, etc.)   Have your child feel the item inside and try to guess what is in the box.  For younger children you could have a few pictures of items to choose from or give them clues.  For older children have them ask inquiring questions to help determine what it is.  You could also hide a letter inside (those magnet letters would work well) to see if you child can tell which one it is.  Say words that start with that letter as clues.  This game is wonderful for building the sense of touch, visual imagery, vocabulary and other language skills.

Can you match this?  Using items that are similar in size (our Blue class uses small stones, sticks and shells) lay your items in a pattern.  Our Blue classes lay the pattern on a simple grid of nine squares on a paper.  You can just lay the items in a row if you would like.  Have your child look at your pattern and then cover the pattern with a cloth or paper.  The game is for your child, using her own set of similar items, to recreate the pattern from memory.  This game encourages so many upper level thinking strategies.  Again, your child will love a chance to make a pattern for you.


Shine a light on it.  This is a fun variation of hiding Easter eggs.  Simply hide items around the house or yard and have your child find them using a flashlight.  This is a great way to build interest in shapes, colors, letters, and even math facts for elementary age children.

Hide and Seek.  There is a reason this game has been played for centuries.  Take time to enjoy the game of hiding and finding your child.  It is fun!  Your child also has a chance to develop patience and delayed gratification as he can hide for longer and longer times.  He grows in his ability to think about future actions as he chooses harder and harder hiding places.  Those are just three areas your child develops as he plays.

Have some fun hiding and seeking!



Healthy Sleep (for you and your children)

Sleep.  It’s something we all need in order to be healthy, to grow and develop, and to survive.  So, why can it be so tough to get our children to do?  We’ve  had several questions recently about ways to get children into good sleep routines.  First, if this interests you, I highly recommend that after reading this post, you go straight to the bookstore, library, used book store, whatever and check out this book:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

This is what truly helped me when I was struggling with my own children. (It kind of changed my life, actually). Let me also preface by saying that parenting books are not Bibles; you are your child’s best advocate.  I loved the science and research offered in this book.  It helped me to realize how very important sleep was for my child which helped my perspective when we were struggling with routine.

The first part of figuring out sleep for your children is realizing just how much they need…

“What?!  My two year old needs 14 hours of sleep?!  She’s only been sleeping 10!”

First, understand that the chart above is an estimate and it is a total of sleep (adding both naptime and night time).  Also, when I first began my mission for sleep for my children, I soon realized that (1) they were not getting the amount of sleep that they needed and (2) the more they slept, the more they slept.

Structure and Routine Yep, the absolutely toughest thing (for some of us) in parenting but also the absolute most important.  Children thrive on routine and structure in their day, their brains need it, their sleep needs it!

So, give your child a bedtime and stick to it.  All three of my children have specific bedtimes and they directly correlate to their age.  My 6 year old needs (has-to-have-or-will-throw-major-meltdown-tantrums-during-the-day) 11 hours of sleep.  Her bedtime is 7:30.  This is not the most convenient for me (and causes me to miss out on some of my older children’s activities) but I know that Margo needs it to thrive, to be healthy, to do well in school, and to be happy.  So that is what I do.  My oldest is 12 and in middle school and while she would like to be up til very late at night, she has a bedtime of 9:00.  Her body is growing too and sleep is just as important for her as it is for her sister.

Once you figure out your child’s bedtime, stick to it!  Then, concentrate on routine.  Children’s brains need routine in order to thrive.  So, bath, book, bed, prayer?  Whatever works for you all, do it and do it every night. Once my children were in bed, they sometimes had a hard time staying there.  Dr. Weissbluth shares (in his book) some great and simple rules that I used to say to my children each and every night and often, they repeated back to me:

1. Stay in bed

2. Lay very still

3. Close your eyes

4. Go to sleep

Yes, it all sounds so very simple and it is… and it works.  It may not work the first night or the third night but when bed time, routine, and the rules are consistent, you will eventually begin to see results.  Be consistent.  Be firm.  Be unemotional. (If your child climbs out of bed 20 times one night, show no emotion and put him back in bed, safe, and repeat your four rules).  It can (will) get exhausting and emotional but remember that your child needs it, you need it.

Please, feel free to comment with specific questions that you may still have regarding your child’s sleep and we will do the best we can to help.

Shelly Todd