Picture of moon and clouds

As I stepped into the cool night air, I was thankful to be living where I could walk alone in the evening with no need to fear.

I strolled a path well memorized.

Yellow lights from the windows reminded me that friends were not far. Yet I was alone enough to pray aloud.Moon and stars at night

I paused on the path and looked up. Glittering stars twinkled down at me, and the moon beamed so brilliantly that the night was not dark.

I smiled at the night sky and thanked God for its beauty. I sang a song of praise.

Then I looked up again. I noticed this time a blank spot. One section of the sky had no stars.

As I watched, the blank spot travelled across the sky. It was a cloud. I spotted several other clouds as well.

How mysterious that the stars can seem to vanish, though indeed they do not leave at all.

Then, as I watched, the moon began to fade. I saw a thick cloud slowly overwhelm its brilliance.

Something within me tightened. I didn’t want the moon to leave! Yet it did leave.

The cloud entirely blotted out the moon. The night was thrown into deep darkness.

Suddenly, I felt very alone. No longer could I see the dim outline of the path I’d been strolling. No longer could I see my own hands in the moonlight.

It seemed the moon had vanished – disappeared. At that moment, it seemed impossible to believe that the moon was there at all!

Thankfully, the cloud passed on, but a thought hung in my heart.

Sometimes in life, God seems to have vanished. Would I trust Him even when I can’t see Him?

When God’s presence is clearly seen and felt, trusting and rejoicing in Him seems nearly natural. Yet, when the clouds blot out His face, will I still trust that He’s there? Will I still rejoice in Him?

Jesus warned me that “in this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33b NIV

I don’t know what seasons of dark clouds this life will hold. I don’t know when they’ll come, but one thing I can be sure of is that:

“He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or abandon you.'” Heb. 13:5 CSB

I also know the end of John 16:33 in which Jesus tells me: “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33c CSB

Will I trust Him? Will I believe that His promises are true, even when I cannot see or feel Him?

Father, help me to trust You even in the seasons of dark clouds!

Title "5 Types of Storytime Seating" on colourful background

Circle time. That point when the entire class gathers around the teacher for songs, stories, and activities.

This can be a tricky part of the day for the teacher, as the children wiggle and get distracted by their friends. Different seating arrangements can help eliminate certain distractions. Also, different seating arrangements work better in different environments and with different budgets. Here are some pros and cons of 5 unique types of storytime seating for preschoolers that I’ve used. 

Note: the images included are for your reference. They do not indicate any partnership with or recommendation for those specific carpets and/or companies. The links are not affiliate links.

  1. Small carpet (with no individual spots)

  • This could be any rug you have around that is big enough for all the children to sit on. I have seen blankets or bamboo mats used as well.
  • Pros:
    • Use what you have, rather than buying a new expensive rug
    • Can fit a large number of children on a smaller space since there aren’t individual spots to sit on
    • Gives the children a defined area to sit during storytime
  • Cons:
    • Beware, rugs with very colourful designs can make it hard to spot toys, thus making clean up difficult and stepping on toys more likely
    • Children may jostle for position and argue since there are no boundaries providing needed personal space
    • Children are likely to crowd into multiple rows causing added distraction
    • Children have a hard time seeing what the teacher is holding since they are not arranged well
  1. Carpet with multiple rows of individual seating spots

  • These carpets can be square or designed to fit into a corner like a slice of pizza. Often, if all the spots are filled, you will end up with three rows of children directly behind each other.

Preschoolers sitting on corner circletime rug Children sitting on large classroom carpet

 

  • Pros:
    • Typically specifically designed for school type settings
    • Often high-quality carpets that will last several years
    • Often include an educational element such as shapes, or numbers
    • Children have specified spots to sit on with the goal of having the seating well-spaced – not too close and not too far
    • Multiple sizes designed for different numbers of children are available
  • Cons:
    • Often expensive
    • May be hard to clean
    • Can cause difficulties with children kicking those in the row in front of them
    • Back row of children often are not as attentive to the teacher
  1. Large oval or rectangular rug (with seating spots)

  • These are very standard storytime seating for preschools to have. There are many different designs from letters to woodland animals and more.Children sitting on rug for circletime
  • Pros:
    • No back row of children meaning the teacher can see all the children and the children are not distracted the same way as those with multiple rows
    • Many beautiful designs to choose from, including educational themes
    • Are large enough to accommodate many children
    • Individual spots on the rug for children to sit on
    • Typically specifically designed for school type settings
    • Often high-quality carpets that will last several years
  • Cons:
    • Your classroom must have a large open space to set this rug
    • Difficult to find a place for the teacher to sit where all the children can see (some may be behind another child along the side)
    • Depending on where the teacher sits, some children will be sitting a considerable distance from the teacher making it difficult to see what the teacher is holding, or for the teacher to hear the child talking
    • Most are very heavy if you have to move them
    • Can be difficult to clean
    • Typically expensive
  1. Individual story spots or carpets

  • Story spots come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. They may be individual sized squares of carpet, or circle shaped cushions. They could even be laminated pieces of paper. The thing that makes them all fit in the same category is that they are one spot per child and that they are movable.Child sitting on story spots
  • Pros:
    • Spots can be rearranged to whatever shape fits your space.
    • Can be stacked on the shelf during playtime allowing more space for toys
    • Might be machine washable
    • You choose how many to use rather than always having 12 spots if you only have 10 children.
  • Cons:
    • Spots are not secured to the floor allowing children to move them around which can be distracting
    • Creates an extra task for the teacher (or children) to set them up and put them away every day
    • If used on hard floor, the spots may be slippery if stepped on
    • Can be expensive
  1. Tape

  • Rather than buying a rug, take a roll of masking tape and put it on the floor in a large “u” or semi-circle around the teacher’s chair. The children will sit on the tape. (Alternatively cut pieces of paper and use clear tape to secure them to the floor)
  • Pros:
    • Inexpensive
    • Can be placed in any shape, according to your needs
    • Can adjust length of tape to accommodate any size of class
    • Children do not argue over getting their favourite colour or letter
    • No second row (unless you want to make one)
    • No heavy rug or stack of story spots to deal with
  • Cons:
    • Children may pick at the tape and pull it off
    • Lack of individual spots means the children sometimes sit too close to each other causing irritation
    • Leaving the tape down for several weeks, or during deep cleaning, may leave lines on the floor
    • Tape will need to be replaced from time to time as it wears out or the children pull it off
    • Not ideal on hard floor as it does not protect children from hard surfaces or cold floors

That’s a long list of pros and cons to consider. If you were to ask me which storytime seating for preschoolers I prefer, I would likely say using tape is my preference. However, this, of course, depends on the program and the space available.

What is your preferred storytime seating for preschoolers? Can you think of pros or cons I didn’t include in this post?

Paint covered hands and the words: My Hands Have Too Much Paint

I need to wash my hands first

“Are you finished?” I ask a preschooler as I point to the bright picture in front of him.

His hand pauses mid-air, still holding his sponge.

“Um… Yes.” He puts the sponge back in the paint tray and smiles up at me.

“You did a good job on your painting.” I remark. “I like how hard you worked on it.”

His smile brightens as I lift the wet painting and move it to the drying rack.

I glance at his hands. “Looks like you need to wash your hands.”

He looks at his red and green fingertips. “Yeah.”

“Come on over,” I invite, “I’ll help you wash.”

As he moves toward the sink, I glance at the other preschoolers to ensure they are still fully engaged in painting.

Satisfied, I hold his hands to help him climb onto the stool without touching the walls.

I turn on the water and encourage him to wash his hands.

He lets the water run over his hands. The paint is still there.

He looks at me. “It’s not working.”

“Here, I can help you.” I take his hands in mine and start rubbing.

Immediately, his hands look more coloured. Rather than just red and green, his hands now have black and blue as well.

I frown, then look at my own hands.

Sure enough, I’d forgotten that I had accumulated a thick layer of paint on my own hands.

“Uh oh,” I say, “I forgot to wash my hands first. You rub your hands.”

Releasing his hands and moving my own hands underneath, I quickly rub the paint off them.

A glance at my hands tells me they’re paint-free now.

I take his hands once more. “Let’s try again.”

This time, as I rub his hands, the paint easily comes off. It takes a little longer because of the black and blue paint I’d inadvertently added, but soon his hands are paint-free too.

I hand him a paper towel and help him climb down.

“You go play,” I say.

“Ok,” he calls as he hurries off.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that. So often, when helping my preschoolers paint, I get paint on my own hands. Rather than wash my hands every few seconds, I simply rub the paint until it’s dry so I can continue helping other children.

This wouldn’t be a problem, until I try to help them wash their hands. The water restores the paint on my hands and, suddenly, I’m making their hands worse rather than better.

This reminds me of something Jesus said.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 NIV

I needed to wash my hands before I could be of any use in helping the child wash his hands.

The same is true when we’re trying to help someone. My heart has to be right with God before I can effectively help anyone else get their heart right with God.

Does God use imperfect people? Absolutely! I’m one of them.

It is not that we must be perfect and have everything figured out. No, but we must have our hearts right with God.Hands with paint on them

As David said, after he’d sinned,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me… Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You.”   Psalm 51:10,13 ESV

Paul, too, talked about something similar when he said:

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”  Galatians 1:6 NIV

With these verses in mind, I must be intentional to seek God first. My relationship with Him must be right in order for me to be effectively able to help those around me.

Oh, that I would keep my hands continually washed clean so that I can be useful for helping others.

Stacks of heart-shaped cookies

A preschool story by S. J. Little for Susanna Hill’s writing contest.

Contest: write a Valentines Day story that has to do with curiosity

Contest details: https://susannahill.com/2020/02/01/the-twelve-days-of-valentines/

Word count: 208

Sasha danced into the kitchen wearing her red Valentine’s Day dress.

Grandma opened the oven door. She pulled out golden heart-shaped cookies.

Sasha sniffed the air. “Yummy! Can I eat one?”

Grandma waved her away. “Not until they cool.”

Sasha opened the fridge. “Where’s the milk?”

“Oh dear,” said Grandma, “I forgot milk to go with the cookies. Will you get some?”

Sasha didn’t want to leave. The cookies smelled delicious, but they would be even better with milk.

“Okay.”

Sasha hurried across the street to the store. She couldn’t wait to eat the cookies!

As she passed her neighbor, he sniffed. “What’s that wonderful smell?”

Sasha smiled. “Come see!”

The mailman paused and took a long whiff. “What’s that scrumptious smell?”

Sasha grinned. “Come see!”

At the store, Sasha found the milk.

The cashier smelled the air. “What’s that delightful smell?”

Sasha giggled. “Come see!”

When Sasha got home, she called, “Grandma, we have visitors!”

Outside stood the cashier, the mailman, and their neighbor, licking their lips. “Something smells delicious! Can we have some, please?”

Grandma laughed. “Come on in.”

Together they enjoyed the heart-shaped cookies and milk.

Grandma hugged Sasha. “Today we’ve shared more than cookies. We’ve loved these people. That’s what Valentine’s Day is for.”

Muffin packed in preschool snack box

5 tips from a preschool teacher

Do you have a preschooler? Do you pack snacks for them? Then you’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover five useful tips I’ve learned from observing the preschool snack packing techniques of countless parents.

Please keep in mind that each individual is unique. Use discretion when deciding which tips will be useful for you.

  1. Involve Your Child

    • Children enjoy and benefit from having opportunities to choose. Try involving them in picking what to have for snack, but keep the options limited. For example, you could ask them if they want an apple or a banana. Or you could ask if they want white cheese or orange cheese. Be sure that the choices you give them are all ones you are happy with them making.
  2. Limit the Options

    • Deciding how many food options to pack in your child’s snack can be tricky. Not enough food leaves them hungry. At the same time, did you know that sending too many options can cause a child to eat less? Of course, this depends on the child’s personality. Some children become overwhelmed or indecisive when presented with too many options. Sending two or three decent sized food choices is often better than six.
  3. Offer Healthy vs. Unhealthy Options

    • Many parents complain to me that their children only eat sugary processed food. If given the option, the majority of children will eat the sugary and/or processed treat in their snack first. This may leave them with little appetite or no time to eat the healthy options you packed for them. If this is a concern for you, try packing only healthy options such as fruit or vegetables and perhaps some crackers. Most children will be happy to eat healthy snacks, if those are the only options you provide.
    • Note that if the child has learned to expect a sugary snack, it may take a few days for them to decide to eat the healthier options.
  4. Send Two+ Food Groups

    • While we’re on the topic of the options to pack for snack, one preschool I worked at insisted that parents include at least two food groups in the snack. Food groups include: fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, and meat/alternatives. Including options from at least two of these food groups is a great rule of thumb in providing a wholesome snack.
  5. Change Things Up.

    • Rather than sending the exact same snack every day, try changing it up from time to time. This suggestion, again, depends on your child. Some children prefer the exact same snack every day, while others quickly get bored of repetition. Eating a wide variety of food is a healthy thing to do.
    • To keep from getting stuck in a snack-time rut, keep a list readily available, like my 11 Quick and Easy Wholesome Preschool Snack Ideas.

Have you tried any of these tips, or do you have others to add? Leave a comment.