Project of the Month


Over the years we have been privileged to see so many wonderfully creative projects brought to fruition by the teachers we honor every year.  In order to help nurture the community of sharing and growing that they foster every day, we would like to highlight a different project every month, and share it with the larger teaching community. Please come back often, and build and expand on what you see, to help enhance the lives of all children.


Valerie Hapke

My students have loved the transformation of the Science Center since I implemented the supplies that were funded by the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation. There is a considerable amount of traffic throughout the day in the newly improved Science Center.

(Some students sorting seashells by physical characteristics and putting them in muffin tins to keep them separated.)

One of the biggest purchases, the light table, has been a favorite of the children.  The class loves seeing which items in the room glow when put on top of the light table.  This has led to students making thoughtful observations, sorting objects into groups based on whether they glow or not, and discussions about light and shadow. 

The purchased seashells and rocks are great learning tools that serve many purposes.  The children sort and classify them by many properties, such as color, size, shape and texture.  The seashells and rocks are also used in the sensory table to enhance water and sand play. 

A student putting animal x-rays on the light table and making observations about what he sees.

The magnet set that was purchased has been an excellent addition to the Science Center.  The students are fascinated with how and why the magnets work.  Some of the students have been very innovative in their use of the magnets!  When playing hairdresser in Dramatic Play, the students have used small magnet blocks as hair clips to help them when styling their classmates’ hair. 

The project has definitely met my expectations.  I imagined that the project supplies would entice the children to spend more time in the Science Center and to explore the materials in a way that would make them ask questions about the world around them and it has done just that.  The students continue to surprise me in some of the creative ways they use the materials.  It is evident that the children are discovering the world around them with the help of the supplies and becoming young scientists in the process.  I consider the project a success and will continue to add materials throughout the coming years to further develop the center.


Brenda Eden

Infant Room on the Floor Aquarium

Recently I added a thirty gallon floor aquarium to my infant room. I chose a floor aquarium so infants can enjoy watching the fish during tummy time. The infants, parents, and co-workers have been so excited to see the progress of this huge aquarium! Our local newspaper, The Janesville Gazette, wrote a very nice article about my winning the TLLCCF award. They also included a picture of the infants watching the fish in the aquarium. That great article has sent many prospective parents to our center for a tour. These parents always have a positive comment about our beautiful aquarium.

     I received a lot of help from our local pet store on buying the equipment, fish, and how to set it up in my classroom.  Our state child care licensor was very helpful with ideas on how to make sure that the aquarium would be safe for all the infants and crawlers in the classroom. Unfortunately, I work in an older building with very few electrical outlets.  Due to a state of Wisconsin regulation, I’m unable to use extension cords in my classroom.  Because of this, I was not able to place the aquarium in the center of the classroom as I had envisioned.  Through many discussions with the state licensor, we finally agreed it would be best to add an extension outlet, and place the aquarium against the wall.  It is still very visible to all the infants, crawlers, and providers in the classroom.  For the safety of the infants, I placed a wooden canopy cover over the aquarium, instead of a full Plexiglas cover.


One of the reasons I chose an aquarium on the floor, was to make tummy time more fun for the younger infants.  That goal was achieved.  I place a colorful blanket or a boppy pillow in front of the aquarium for the young infants to lie on.  The infants watch the colorful fish swimming, the plants swaying back and forth, and they also have the pretty background, and purple rocks for their eyes to explore.  The crawlers also go over to the aquarium on their own to watch the fish, talk to the fish, and point at the fish as they swim by.  When my co-worker and I lay with them on the floor, we talk to them about what they are seeing.

    The aquarium also brings tranquility to our infant room.  Watching the fish swim helps calm down an infant when they are upset.  It also helps any of the adults in the room to remain calm, when it is hectic in the classroom.

    I achieved my goal of a calmer classroom, fun tummy time, and another verbal form of interaction with the infants.  It has been an added bonus when parents are looking for quality child care for their newborn, to be able to offer them an aquarium that sits on the floor, because it is something extra that other centers do not offer.   Thank you very much TLLCCF, for making this possible.


Janice Killen

I was very excited to win the Terri Lynne Lokoff National Child Care Teacher Award. The items I purchased for my classroom helped to improve active learning in my classroom. In the morning during free play I get out the wrist ribbons and giant true tone chimes. The children love playing with the wrist ribbons while dancing and listening to music.


During our morning group time I enjoy getting the class started by turning on our good morning exercise cd.  The cd has a lot of fun music and activities to get the kids moving and ready for the day.  During this time we also use the get moving activity mats.  This allows the children to have fun while using the exercise cd. 

            On the days the weather does not permit us to be outside, I am able to bring the outside into our classroom with some of the items I received with my award.  We use the balance board and the balance beam along with the balance and flexibility kit.  The kids love making up their own games while using these fantastic indoor gross motor activities.  The absolute favorite of the classroom, be it indoors or outdoors, has to be the partner parachute.   The children love putting objects on the parachute and then watching how high they can get the items to fly into the sky. 

            I am very appreciative for the award and the items have had a positive impact on my classroom.  I thank you for picking me for this award and hope others can benefit just like my classroom has!

You can find Past Projects Here