Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pop-Up Books: Coming Soon!!

Yeah, I will be getting a surprise in the mail!! Here is the email that I recieved today:

Hi and Congratulations!

You were one of the first 100 people to share a creative idea for unplugging your kids and for that, you will be receiving a wonderful gift from Creativity for Kids.

The Creativity for Kids Create Your Own Pop-Up Books will be sent to you directly from the sponsor...


I can't wait to create Pop-Up books with the kids. This sounds like a fun way to nuture creative thinking! Recently, I found this contest online. I had to write creative ideas that you use with your kids to get them "unplugged". This wasn't difficult for me being I started writing a blog on the subject, but I must admit that there are days where my children are plugged in too much! They love the computer and my peanut adores her Princess movies. Recently, I read a post on the Parenting Pink website that made me laugh. Parenting Pink Mom of 3 girls confessed to using Elmo to get her cup of coffee in the morning! She was actually quoted saying this in a magazine. I am guilty,too!! Elmo has come in handy in my past when I've tried to get my morning cup of Jo. You'll have to check it out!! Her writing is quite humorous! Maybe our confessions will help other Moms relax! Finding balance is the key! We should never have too much of anything- (except for chocolate, maybe).

After I start writing pop-up books with the girls, I'll be sure to post how it goes and maybe even share a couple of pics!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bears??

Bears? What could I possible write about bears? As I was drinking coffee this morning, peanut was trying to race to the computer before I got to it!
"I want to play on a website this morning," she pleaded.
Let me write my blog first I responded and then asked her, "What should I blog about today?"
"Bears!" she exclaimed.
"Bears, hah?" I thought. "What about bears?" I asked.
She told me that I should write about what they eat and stuff. She challenged me creatively today. How can I make a connection between curious and creative thinking and bears? I decided to take her up on the challenge, so here goes!!

If your children are anything like mine, they are fascinated by animals. When reading to your child about animals, link it to geography. Bears live all over the world and who doesn't love Koala bears, Panda Bears, or Polar Bears? Read different books about bears to your child. Next, use a map or globe to share with your child where the different species of bears live. You can also teach them about different habitats, too!

Panda Bear
Home: Southwest China
Food: Bamboo
Fun Fact: once thought to be a type of raccoon

Sloth Bear

Home: mostly in the forests and grasslands of India and Sri Lanka
Food: ants, termites, flowers, honey, eggs and more!
Fun Fact: makes a very loud noise when it eats

Polar Bears
Home: Cold, Polar North
Food: Seals
Fun Fact: The skin of the polar bear is black. It's fur is translucent!

Koala Bear
Home: Australia
Food: Eucalyptus
Fun Fact: Marsupial

Black Bear
Home: Throughout North America
Food: will eat nearly anything!
Fun Fact: The largest black bear recorded was 802 lbs.

Source: http://www.bears.org/

Click here for Bear Print-out from Enchanted Learning!

Find a few facts with your child in books or websites and create a small booklet or a mural!! If you have an older child and love technology, PowerPoint is always fun!

Just for fun!! Read the original version of the Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears and compare and contrast with a fractured fairytale such as Goldilocks and the Three Hares by Heidi Petach.

Okay, so how did I do?? Even if you don't like my ideas, at least peanut is excited that I took her up on her suggestion!! Let your kids challenge you, because there are so many opportunities to learn from and with them. I know I never knew much about a Sloth Bear until today! Now I want to know even more!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to School Shoes!


Too Cute! My girls are going to love creating their own shoes for back-to-school!! I came across this idea this morning in my MomSense-mini-magazine.

Creative Shoes!

1. Buy a pair of plain canvas tennies- let your child choose their favorite color!

2. Remove shoelaces.

3. Help your child decorate the shoes with fabric markers and other fabric glue
cutouts or scraps.

4. Replace shoe laces with colorful ribbon that matches the fabric marker designs.

5. Now your child has their own artwork to wear!

(Adapted from Step with Pep by Julie Cantrell)

(Photo from Flickr)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Green Eggs and Ham!

"I do not like green egss and ham,
I do not like them, Sam-I-am!"


What child doesn't love this simple book written by Dr. Suess many,many years ago. I picked this book up for storytime today and had fun reading it with my youngest. She enjoyed finishing the sentences to the rhymes as I read- "I do not like them in a house." and so on. I can't even count how many times I've read this book over the years. Did you know that the vocabulary of the text consists of just fifty different words?

"The fifty words used are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you. 45 of the 50 words (all but box, car, Sam, train and try) are of Germanic origin."
(from Wikipedia)


Well, now that I've read the book, I've been told that I have to play the Green Eggs and Ham board game today. Actually, peanut just handed me the directions to the game. I guess it says here that the first player to try the green eggs three different ways and taste the green eggs and ham wins the game!! Hmmm. I think that this game may have a great hidden theme- Play this if you want to persuade your child to eat something new!! Try a couple of the activities listed below after reading "Green Eggs and Ham".

Cook green eggs with your child. I use green food coloring. They get a kick out of this!

Pop some popcorn and rent the movie!

Play a rhyming game with the words. How many words can you think of that rhymes with fox??


Play on the website Suesville! www.seussville.com

Well, I'm off to pick up my oldest daughter from school and then it time to play the Green Eggs and Ham Game!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Puppets and Conflict Resolution!

I found this idea today and just had to share!! My 4 year old has been having problems "using her words" when she is frustrated with her older sister. I've been using time-outs with her and have repeatedly reminded her to "use her words and not her hands." Luckily, I only have a problem at home. Possibly a little bit of sibling rivalry, maybe?? Anyways, if you are experiencing the same, check out the great link that suggests using puppets and role-play to teach children how to resolve conflicts. What a great way to combine fun with an important life lesson!

http://www.education.com/activity/article/popsiclepuppets_preschool/

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Colorful Art of Collage- Eric Carle

If you haven't discovered the Children's author, Eric Carle, you'll have to check out his creative works at your local library. I was first introduced to his work when I was an Elementary school teacher and fell in love with his books. The illustrations are done with collage and are so bright and colorful. His books teach about animals, letters, colors, numbers, time, and more! The Very Hungry Caterpillar was one of my girls favorites! When Sunshine was two, I read this book to her and taught her about the butterfly's life cycle. We had fun learning about butterflies for a week in the summer and she had fun making a variety of crafts relating to the topic. My girls also enjoy The Very Quiet Cricket. It has a fun suprise at the end of the book that puts a smile on their faces everytime.

After reading his books, it is fun to teach your child the art method of collage. Have them cut or tear colorful peices of paper and design their own creations. My girls have collaged using glue sticks- less messy than a water/glue mixture. For older children, have them write their own children's book and have them illustrate some of the pages using collage. (A wonderful long-term project that you can pull out on a rainy day!!)

Click here to see more books by Eric Carle!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rainbows!

Ever since I was a little girl, I've had a fascination with rainbows. The beauty and appreciation of rainbows has still stayed with me! In my classroom, I would display large rainbows both student and teacher-made. Over the years, I've also taken photographs of rainbows that I've seen in the sky. Yesterday, I was excited to share a rainbow experiment with my daughters. They were more interested in playing in the sandbox than making rainbows. But maybe your little one(s) will enjoy it, so I decided to share it anyways!

Reflecting Rainbows
(from 365 Ways to a Smarter Preschooler)

Materials:
-small, unbreakable mirror
-glass of water

Directions:
1. Have your child place the glass of water in direct sunlight.
2. Next, have your child place the mirror halfway in the glass of water.
3. By tilting and or rotation, you can catch the sunlight which will be refracted
though the water to create a beautiful rainbow!

Check out another fun rainbow activity below!!

Paint a Rainbow

Materials:
Large roll paper
Poster paint - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet

I did this with a whole class of Kindergartners and the results were adorable!
Make each color (arc) of the rainbow with the children's painted hands. I had a bucket of water close by and a towel for drying.

Book Suggestion for Colors: Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
My daughters love this book! It is about a dog who starts out his day with one black spot on his ear, but as he goes about his day, he gets pretty messy. This book is also great for counting.

If you have any rainbow activities that you'd like to share. Please comment!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to school! ABC's

It's hard to believe that the start of school is just around the corner! Abby is a little bit nervous about going to first grade and peanut actually seems to be pretty relaxed about her second year of preschool. Over the past year, Sunshine's reading has grown tremendously (so exciting)! She has enjoyed practicing during our reading times together this summer and also participated in the library's summer reading program. Peanut is well prepared for another year of ABC's.

To review letters with her this summer, I posted a hand-made poster of the ABC's on the wall in our dining room. I had both capital and lowercase, so that she could learn both at the same time. She enjoyed having this visual on the wall and at times I would see her pointing to the letters as she sang her ABC's. Besides reading (everyday if possible), there are a variety of things that you can do with your preschooler or kindergartner to review letter and sound recognition. Below are a couple that have been successful in our family.

ABC puzzles: foam puzzles for the floor or bath.
Abby learned a lot of her letters and sounds from bath time letter puzzles that went on the wall. The letter was inside the animal that began with that letter.

Letter menu:
cut out foods from magazines and grocery flyers and paste on letter page. Example: A=apricots, apples B=bananas, beans C= carrots, cream cheese and so on. We would then play restaurant and order food from the colorful alphabet book!

Letter collage: similar to above, but you can cut out any pictures that begin with the letters in the alphabet. Have your preschooler write the letter next to the picture to practice writing the letters. Abby (age 6) did this activity with us, but she practiced spelling the words to match the photos that she cut out. Remember that at this age, spelling doesn't have to be perfect. It is more for them to practice sounding out the word and writing it the best that they can. (also known as invented spelling) Spelling is important, but they are just starting to learn how to write.

Letter walk
- find letters on signs and have your child identify the letter. Can also be done with colors, shapes, or a good old scavenger nature hunt!!

Starfalls.com- this website has a lot of great activities for ABCs and beginning reading. Great for preschoolers and early Elementary school!

Other resources:
Alphabet Lotto(Usborne Farmyard Tales Games), Leap Frog Bingo, Leap Frog Alphabet Pal, ABC Alphabet Building Blocks by Sarah Buell Dowling, book- ALPHABATICS by Suse MacDonald


Please share your great ABC ideas!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fine-motor Fun!


If I ever get a few moments away from the kids, one of my favorite places to browse is JoAnne Fabrics. This week, I was pricing some fabric for a mother's group craft when I came across some great $1 buys for the kids. A necklace craft with large beads jumped out at me, so I picked one out for both girls. At first glance, I thought that this craft didn't inspire much creativity to complete, but then I thought what a great way to continue to develop fine-motor skills!! (especially for Emmy who has tiny, tiny hands.)
There are two different types of skills that children need to complete both large and small developmental tasks. Fine-motor skills include skills that children do with their hands- such as cutting, writing, or the manipulation of small objects. Gross motor skills involve larger movements with the use of other parts of the body such as hopping, running, or bouncing a ball. There are fun ways to help our children develop both of these types of skills. For $1, the girls enjoyed beading and didn't even know that they were practicing an important skill!!

Fine Motor: Computer Games

Preschool Activities for Fine-Motor Skills

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Daddy time!!

I often use things around the house or the backyard to help nurture my children's curiosity and creativity. My husband on the other hand uses nature! He loves to take the girls in the wild, whether it be for a nature walk to search for deer or to investigate different animal tracks, an amphibian search in a near-by creek, or a day of fishing!! The outdoors can teach our children a lot about God's creation. Sometimes, I will follow up with a search online to answer any questions or to explore a snake they have a question about or I read books relating to nature to help support what my husband is teaching them when they are together.
Our girls have been camping, hiking, and fishing since they were babies. This summer, my oldest daughter was so excited to catch a 25 in. Catfish!! Little Sis' gets just as excited with the little blue gill that she catches- especially if she cast the line herself! Below are a couple of pics to share of my husband instilling his love for the great outdoors in our children!




Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quick Craft!

Need a break from the housework? Take some time to do a little quick craft with the kids. This morning while I was cleaning the kitchen, I noticed two empty paper towel rolls and decided that I was going to use them to spend a little time with my children. Here is the quick craft that we did today-

Paper Towel roll Binoculars


Materials:
Paper Towel roll, scissors, duct tape, string or yarn, and crayons, markers, or bingo dabbers to decorate

Directions:
1. Cut the papertowel roll in half.
2. Decorate the two rolls. (We used bingo dabbers)
3. Connect the rolls on one end with duct tape- don't hide too much of your child's design.
4. Poke two holes in the side for yarn or string, etc.
5. Put around your child's neck and let the make believe begin!

Pretend you see wild animals in the jungle or go on another adventure! If you get a chance to do this, send me a pic. I'd love to see your little explorers!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wonderful Water Games!

With summer sadly coming to an end and the beginning of school right around the corner, I want to hold on to summer by having a water day with the family! Below I will share some of my families favorites, but I also added a few ideas that I am going to try out that I discovered on a couple of websites! If you try out any of the games, let me know!! Have an awesome time getting WET with the kids!!!

Water Balloon Ideas

(remember to be cautious around the little ones under 3- if your anything like me, after the balloons pop, I'm running around collecting little balloon pieces as the kids play)

1. Water balloon hot potato: Just like the original hot potato game, but use a water balloon instead.

2. Water balloon race- try to race with the balloon in between the knees.

3. Water balloon target- make a target and try to earn points by hitting with the water balloon. This might be fun with squirt guns, too. (Just came up with this idea-need to get a target or create a target that won't get ruined if wet.)

4. Water balloon tarp toss- you will need two teams and two small tarps. You pass the water balloons in the air and try to get it to land in the other teams tarp that they are holding. It takes practice, but a lot of fun for a large group of kids.


Duck, Duck, Squirt
Source: funattic.com

Required: Squirt gun and bucket of water
Players: Small to medium groups

"All players sit or stand in a circle. Pick a person to be it. They are to go around the circle like Duck, Duck, Goose but they say " Duck, Duck, Squirt". They then squirt a player and the chase begins. The "squirter" is to run around the circle and back to players position without getting tagged by the person that was squirted."


Splash Tag
Source: amazingmoms.com

"You'll Need:
A big, soft sponge, like the kind you
use to wash the car, and buckets of water.
This version of the classic tag requires one person to be "IT".
"IT" tries to tag running players with a wet sponge them.
Once tagged, that person becomes the new It.
No denying who's been tagged...
The wet mark on their back is a dead give away!"


Squirt Water Relay - "The Turkey Baster Game"
Source: amazingmoms.com

"You’ll Need:
Two buckets or tubs per team
A plastic turkey baster per team
To Play
Each team is given one full bucket of water at the “start line.
Set the empty bucket some distance from the start line. The distance depends on the age of the players.
The challenge is to be the first team to transfer the water in the full bucket to the empty bucket, using only a turkey baster. Players take turns relay race style
Variation…
Use big sponges to transfer the water instead of basters."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Marshmallow Madness!!


Marshmallows, marshmallows, marshmallows! I know that our kids shouldn't play with their food, but sometimes there can be exceptions to the rule! Today, the girls had fun building with marshmallows! They used mini-marshmallows and toothpicks. My daughter did this at science camp this summer and loved it, so she begged me to buy toothpicks today at the store! Very easy activity and fun for the whole family!

Tip #1: Have fun trying to create the longest, tallest, or strongest structure.
(At camp, my students would put a paper plate on top and count how many pennies the structure would hold to test its strength)

Tip #2: Be sure to facilitate or your little one may get a belly ache from eating too many of the marshmallows instead of building. (This happened to us today! We left the room for a little bit and came back to an empty plate!!)

It is amazing to see the different designs and structures that the kids can create with two simple materials. For other ideas with marshmallows, take a peek below!


Marshmallow Game

Marshmallow Lasagna

Marshmallow History

Marshmallow Toy (not a big proponent of toy guns, but this marshmallow blaster looks like fun!)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Travel Games!

We're back from a fun-filled 4 day vacation to Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park! I definitely recommend this park if you are looking for a place to camp with kids. They had so many activities scheduled daily: Train rides, snack bingo, coloring contest, visits with Yogi Bear and his friends, swimming, miniature golf, etc. My girls didn't want to leave to come back home! Anyways, back to the topic at hand: Travel Games! We did a few of our favorite games while traveling in the car, but we also tried out a few new ones!

License Plate Games

1. Oldy, but Goody! Recommend this for children who can read- Find all of the different states on the license plates while the cars drive by.

2. Number Game: This was new game that we played. This is appropriate for young children as long as they can identify numbers. As the cars drive by, you look for the numbers 1 to 9 in order. You can't get a three until you see the number two. This actually takes longer than you would think to find all of the numbers, but a fun family team game! (The Everything Book by Eleanor Graham Vance)

Alphabet Games

1. A to Z: Find the letters in the alphabet on signs, etc. as driving! Must be in order like the number game. I often play this even if driving short distances to practice letter recognition. Great for preschoolers and up!

2. Alphabet Sentences: This game was little bit harder for our girls, so I recommend it for older children, but my husband and I enjoyed playing it! Using the letter A, the first person makes up a sentence that contains at least 5 A words, the next person makes up a sentence with 5 B words, and so on. Example: Bill buys a blue bat and a ball.
(The Everything Book by Eleanor Graham Vance)

3. Animal Alphabet: My girls like to think of different animals that begin with each letter. A is for Antelope, B is for Bear, C is for chameleon, etc. Good for sound and animal recognition.

My girls also enjoy the video animal alphabet: LEARNING YOUR ABC'S WITH ANIMALS from Time Life Kids . It isn't a video that they request often, but I think they enjoy seeing video of the different animals. Features armadillos to gibbons from Africa. Something to checkout at your local library!

MAD LIBS


This was a lot of fun and the girls were actually able to do it at 4 and 6 years old! I just had to remind them what the different words meant, for example: Adjective: describing word and I would give examples: silly, messy, colorful;
Verb: an action word- running, singing, Plural Noun- a thing that ends in S, cars, trees. You get the idea! We purchased Mad Libs on the Road by Roger Price & Leonard Stern for this trip. They were pretty funny.

Games that are fun for everyone, encourage creative thinking, and practice skills are my favorite! If you will be traveling soon, I hope that you will try out some of the above ideas and let me know what you think!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Yogi Bear Park- Here we come!

I'm on my way out the door, so I don't have much time to write today! We are on our way to a family camping trip to Yogi Bear Park. The girls are so excited!! We will be gone for 4 days, so I won't have a computer in the great outdoors to blog. While I was packing, I did have a few ideas for camping fun!

Nature Journaling- Have the kids record with pictures or words what they see in nature. When you get back from your camping trip, research the critters and other nature finds on the Internet or books from the library to add some fun facts to the journal. Another idea is for your child to keep a photo journal. I know my kids love taking pictures! During our last camping trip, I took a lot of digital photos of different wildlife encounters and made all of the photos into a collage on Snapfish. (Develops photos online- if you were wondering!) It was very easy to do, inexpensive, and the results were great!

Acorn finger puppets: Actually came across this idea in a book just yesterday. Have your child put the tops of acorns on their fingers. Decorate their fingers with washable marker to make a face. I think I'm going to try this week, too cute! Emmy has actually made puppets out of her fingers before and dressed her fingers with Polly Pocket clothes, so I think she will get a kick out of this idea!

That's it for now. I better go before my family starts yelling for me to get packing!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Simple Thinking Games

Are your kids bored while they are waiting for food in a restaurant or while waiting in the doctor's office? Yes, they do get the little coloring pages in some places with the mazes, etc. and books are great in the doctor's office, but sometimes it is fun to mix things up with a few thinking games! One of my family's favorite thinking games is called Guess the Animal. We take turns giving clues or answering questions about an animal. We name the habitat and/or the country that it is from and then the other players take turns asking questions until they can guess the name of the animal. For example: My animal lives in the desert and is a reptile. Then my husband or one of my daughters might ask- Is it green? Does it have scales? etc. We love this game because not only does it teach our kids about different animals, habitats, and geography, but it connects us as a family.

Another simple game that we like to play and is very popular with little kids is good ole' Eye-Spy. We enjoy playing this in our doctor's office, because the walls are covered with colorful, painted murals. We often spy the color of something, but you can also vary this game by searching for things of a certain shape- "I spy with my little eye something that is a circle or triangle."

Concentration is a great thinking game that my daughters request often when we are waiting somewhere. We take turns coming up with a category and then all of the players need to think of something in this category. The rule is that you can't repeat a word that someone else says. For example: The category is fruit- 1st player: mango, 2nd player: grapes, 3rd player: strawberries and so on. You try to go as fast as you can to come up with answers. There is even a little hand jive that goes with it where you tap your lap twice and clap once, but it isn't necessary if you don't want to disturb others in the restaurant.

If you have any great thinking games that you play with your families, please share! I'd love to try some new games with my girls!

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