Monday, March 24, 2014

If You Give a Kid Some Cookies

If you give a kid some cookies, he's going to want to eat them! Well, these cookies were not edible, but they did make for a fun activity after we reread, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff. 

I cut cookies out of stiff felt, then on some I wrote numbers and on others I drew the corresponding number of chocolate chips. Jack, wearing his apron, chef's hat, and oven mitt of course, had to count the chocolate chips and use a spatula to pick the cookie up off the cookie sheet and put it on a plate. Then on the same plate he had to place the cookie with the corresponding number. 

Chef Jack loved this activity. We then did it a second time, using letters instead. He had to find the upper case cookie that matched the lower case cookie and place it on a plate. We did not use the entire alphabet, just the letters in his first and last name. 

In the last activity, he had to find food pictures that began with the letter "c". I printed pictures, half of which began with "c" and the other half did not. He had to say the name of the food aloud and if it began with a "c" he placed it in the letter "c". If it did not, he just left it on the table. All of the food items I chose began with a hard "c" sound. He's not quite ready for the confusion of soft "c" like in "celery", or a digraph like in "cheese". 

I think the next activity we do will be the most obvious one....baking cookies!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If You Give a Kid Some Puffy Paint

My sister-in-law recently shared this activity with me that she did with her 4 year olds and it inspired me to do some more activities based on books (my favorite types of activities!). Laura Joffe Numeroff writes a series of books that each follow the same pattern. You give a certain animal a treat and then they want a whole lot more from you!

We've read the story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie many, many times in our house. Often when we read it we add our own little dialogue between the mouse and the boy and always get a good laugh. So when my sister told me about this activity we decided to check all of the books out of the library to do a mini-author study. When reading the books we started by making some predictions. Because Jack is already familiar with the story patterns, it was a little easier to make some guesses about what might happen in the story. This first activity was based on the book, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. We made shaving cream paint in order to paint our own cupcakes.
We mixed together equal parts shaving cream and glue, then added some drops of food coloring to make the desired color "frosting". I drew a cupcake shape and Jack painted the frosting.
This shaving cream paint is great because it creates a puffy, 3-D effect! After painting the cupcake we talked about what other things we might find that are fluffy or puffy, or just any other sweet treats we might like to paint.

Jack painted an ice cream cone and then a snow cone. 

 My painting was a snowman eating an ice cream cone and another one eating a s'more.
This activity was a lot of fun. Thanks for the inspiration SIL. More Laura Numeroff activities coming soon!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Handwriting Wasn't Built in a Day

Every year I had students in my second and third grade classrooms who did not form their letters correctly, which makes for very messy and inefficient handwriting. It's not the worst problem to have, however, if it's something I can prevent with my own kids, I'm going to try my best. By second grade, children already know how to form their letters, so when they do it incorrectly it is nearly an impossible habit to break. I decided we would start with mastering Jack's name. Next, we will move on to the upper case letters, and finally the lower case letters of the alphabet. We started by using thick pencils/crayons to trace the letters of his name, but he lost interest in listening to me very quickly. Time to get creative! 

First we revisited this activity, where we drew his name in pudding. It was helpful to come up with a little chant to remind him where to begin. It doesn't need to be anything profound, just something that will get stuck in his head as a constant reminder. When doing the letter "J" we said, "down, down, down, down, to the ground, and then back up to the top to put the hat on". Another idea we used, given to me by my friend who teaches First Grade is sung to the tune of If You're Happy and You Know It
Where do you start the letters, at the top
Where do you start the letters, at the top
If you want to start a letter, then you better, better, better
Remember to start the letter at the top.

The next activity we did was painting the letters with cotton balls. I wrote his name in pencil and then he traced over them with the cotton ball dipped in paint. 

Then, we did the same thing but used cotton swabs this time. It can be helpful to make a little dot where each letter should start so he knows where to begin. 

Finally, we used our dot painters to dot our way around the letters, again making sure to begin each letter in the right place. 

We've got a lot more work to do, but I am already seeing big improvements. It was especially a struggle getting him to draw the circle of the "a" in the correct direction, but he is getting the hang of it! 

We did each of these activities on different days and they are BRIEF! It is important to keep it fun so that it doesn't become boring or frustrating from the beginning. 

*A few more ideas to get some extra practice in here and there: 
*Draw letters in the snow
*Write on a chalkboard with a wet cotton swab or a paint brush
*Paint letters using watercolors
*Trace the letters using a car to "drive" over the letters
*Put stickers on the letters in the same direction you would write them
*Write them in shaving cream using your finger
*Trace them in the air using a "magic spelling wand"
*Write letters on the driveway with sidewalk chalk
*Use bathtub paint to write letters in the tub
*Write letters with glue and cover with glitter

Do you have any other ideas to share with me?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sprinkled With Love

My dear friend has a two-year old son and has recently added TWIN girls to the family. Before the girls arrived at the beginning of the New Year, we wanted to show our love and help add a little more pink to their lives, so we threw her a Sprinkle.

When you have your first baby you are often showered with gifts for  your new little bundle of joy, but when you have your second and your third, you may not need an entire shower full of baby items, you may just need a sprinkle of items. In this case, we felt she just had to have some adorable pink baby clothes, and an equally adorable pink party at which we could sprinkle her and the babies with love.

Handmade invitations featured an umbrella with hearts that I cut on my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. The text inside read:
We're having a party for the mommy to be
Genny Robbins is having numbers two and number three
No need for a shower
They have cribs and toys
Let's sprinkle them with pink 
For the new bundles of joys

We had a couple of very simple games. There was a "guess how many buttons are in the jar" game, and a "celebrity baby name" game where guests had to match the name of the celebrity to the name of her baby.

As you can imagine, the often eccentric celebrity baby names added some good laughs to the party. 

For favors we made little pink boxes stamped with baby feet, flowers, and "oh baby", and we filled them with the most deliciously simple to make cookies. 

Sandwich a smear of peanut butter between two Ritz crackers. Then dip the sandwich into white melting chocolates. The ingredients don't sound like much, but these are some addicting treats!

We added simple pink and gray decorations, including pink flowers and pink handmade tissue paper flower puffs. In the midst of my chaos of party hosting I did not take pictures of the food, but we served brunch fare, including baked french toast, mini quiches, bagels and cream cheese, fruit salad, and, of course, cupcakes. 

The party was a pretty, pink success. Momma-to-be was very grateful for her Sprinkle and her carload of cute, pink items. Even cuter though, are her two new sweet baby girls, Charlotte and Annie. Congratulations Genny!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's Almost Spring....Let's Get Ready For Fall.

It’s the end of February, what better time to talk about Halloween projects? I’m just getting a head start for next year, I swear. Truth is, I’m so very behind, but I figured I’d post anyway so I’d be ready for Halloween 2014. Plus, with all of the 2 degree weather we’ve been having, we all might need some indoor activity inspiration, even if it is making spiderwebs and pumpkin decorations!

Here is the round up activities from this past fall. A few are pictures Jack made in his pre-school class. Why not recreate school activities at home? There are so many benefits. It reinforces the lessons taught in school, it is an opportunity to create something and spend some quality time with my little guy, and it creates a dialogue where he’s encouraged to give more details about his day at school as I ask him to teach me how to do the project. If I ask him what he did at school today his answer will be, “I played”. But if I ask him to teach me how to create his super cool spider web project, he is forced to practice those language and communication skills. Win, win, win, all around!

These activities were done at age 3 years, 5 months

Leaf Man
This work of art was created by my 3 year old by gluing fall leaves and acorns to a piece of paper. 

Leaf Rubbings
Here, he placed leaves under a piece of paper and rubbed with the side of a crayon. This activity can be done in the spring too! Find some leaves, rocks, sticks, and other items found in nature and create a spring rubbing masterpiece. 

Painting Pumpkins
We decorated those adorable tiny pumpkins and gourds from the grocery store with paint, glitter, googly eyes, and feathers. 

Pumpkin Prints
He used pumpkins to stamp designs using autumn colored paints. You could use other fall fruit/veggies for this too such as apples or squash. 

Spider Webs
We placed black construction paper in a shirt box with a couple of gobs of white paint. Placed one or two marbles in the box. Gently shook the box to roll the marbles around, creating a "spiderweb". 

Jack-o-lantern Painting
Painted an orange circle. Once it was dry, glued on construction paper shapes to make the Jack-o-lantern's face. 

Footprint Ghost
Painted the bottom of my little guy's foot and made a footprint on black paper. He painted a face with black paint. 

Egg Carton Witch
I cut a piece out of an empty egg carton that Jack painted with green paint. Next we glued cotton balls  in two of the holes and made a dot with a black marker for the eyes. We made a cone shape out of black construction paper for the witch's hat. 

Autumn Tree
We traced Jack's arm and hand then cut it out of brown construction paper for the "tree". Next he used autumn colored paints to make fingerprint "leaves" falling off the tree. 

Well, there is the roundup of autumn artwork. Sorry it's so late, but maybe it will inspire some spring creations. A tree with green fingerprint blooms perhaps? Or an Itsy Bitsy Spider spider web? Hmmm, now I'm getting lots of spring ideas! 

Back to Blog

I have not blogged in months. Not because I don’t want to or because I don’t have topics to write about. I haven’t blogged in months because I haven’t had the time.  Oh I hate to use that excuse! There is time for the things I want or need to make time for! So rather than say I don’t have time I’ll be very honest and say that I have not blogged because I am having trouble with time management, setting priorities, etc etc.

The average day has been something like this lately: wake up, make breakfast for the kids and myself, eat, clean up from breakfast, get everyone dressed/tell Jack 9 thousand times to get himself dressed, take Jack to school, go to the gym, come home, play with William, do some cleaning, pick up Jack from school, make lunch, put William down for nap, clean up from lunch, play with Jack, put Jack in for rest time, clean the house, kids wake up/finish quiet time, play/clean/run errands, make dinner, bathe kids, clean up from dinner, collapse on the couch and watch TV, read a bit, go to sleep, repeat.  That is with, of course, plenty of temper tantrums and sibling quarrels sprinkled throughout. So I’m finding it difficult to carve out that time for things like hobbies and blogging.

A few years back my husband was really into playing Call of Duty. He would gather in the world of PlayStation gaming with some work buddies for what we referred to as Warfare Wednesday. And Warfare Wednesday was a great push for me to make some time for myself, to force myself to do the things that I clearly had no time to do during the day. Alas, Warfare Wednesday has slipped away, and with it, so has my motivation to get off the couch and do something in the evening other than watch TV.

If ever there was an opportunity for a New Year’s resolution, this looks like the spot. Whether or not Rob goes back to War on Wednesday evenings, I resolve to focus just a little bit more on me, and in turn (hopefully) this blog. If I put it down in words and share it on the Interwebs, it’s more likely to come to fruition, right? Well, here is goes…..