Thursday, May 31, 2012

Keeping Track of Medicine

I originally found this idea on Pinterest, but you know, I went through and deleted a few boards a while back and this was on one of those ones.  I tried looking for the pin again, went to the original site and it couldn't find anything. 

But the whole idea of this is to be able to keep track of perscriptions.  I know it's important to take the medicine the whole time it's prescribed - but I have such a hard time with it!  Not just my own, but the kids as well.  So when my daughter winded up with Strep Throat and needed some medicine, I took that opportunity to use this great idea!  Even my husband loves it (which is a huge statement!)  I truly hope you never have to use this idea, because that would mean that your child/children/yourself is sick, but if you have to, then I'm glad that I could help you out!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Drawing Circles and Lines

There are so many creative and fun ways to get your child working on their fine motor.  Instead of just giving them a pencil and paper, how about try something a little different?  I know some people don't like messes - if you don't, then stay away from this activity!

I actually got the idea from Pinterest (Salt Writing).  Both of my kids LOVE to be included in EVERY activity that I do, so it is really hard sometimes to find ways to create activities that are challenging for both of them because of their age difference.  So what happened this time?

Well, my daughter started with finger paints.  I showed her on a piece of paper how to make a square (line by line I showed her), then she finger painted a square on her paper.  She loves getting messy!  We did the same thing with a triangle and a diamond.  I have to say that she's not QUITE there.  She had the square down before this activity.  The triangle - she was still working on, but after this activity, she has got a LOT better.  The diamond?  She tried SO hard and was REALLY proud of the "diamond" that she made - and that is all that matters!  I love the look on my kids faces when they are proud of themselves - and it makes me even more proud of them!

My son on the other hand does NOT like to get dirty, so that's where the idea from Pinterest came in handy.  Simply a plate (with higher sides) and salt.  We didn't have much salt left and for the next time I do this activity, I would probably use a cookie sheet or something else a little bigger with higher edges.  It was nothing that couldn't be cleaned, it just would probably make less of a mess!  His mission was to make lines and circles in the salt.  Lines were easy for him and by the end, he started to make more curvy lines that looked more and more like a circle.  You can see in the bottom picture.  He was also very proud of himself.  In the beginning he wasn't sure how to make anything but a line, so I just took his hand and made lots of circles with him.

  • A paper and pencil are so boring when there are so many neat and creative ideas out there to teach your child how to copy - anything from lines and circles like my son, letters, more advanced shapes, etc.
  • Another way to "fingerpaint" without the mess: Put paint in a ziplock bag (maybe tape it shut), then your child can push the paint around in the bag without getting their fingers dirty.
  • Get a small chalkboard, chalk, small paintbrush and water.  This would be more tracing than copying, but draw a letter/shape/line with the chalk and then the child "paints" over the lines with water.
  • Outdoor Version: Do the same activity described above except with sidewalk chalk on a patio, fence or driveway.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Repeat, Repeat

Being able to repeat 8-10 words by age five is actually a very difficult task.  My daughter loves to imitate (we really have to be careful - especially when we listen to music on the radio), but even this was hard for her.  Instead of just sitting there and asking her to repeat after me, I picked up the phone and we changed the message on our answering system.  And both the kids were involved.  My son's job was to say "Hello" and my daughter's job was to say, "It's the __ family.  Please leave a message after the beep."  It took us almost 8 minutes (gotta love the timer on those phones) and probably about 15 tries but after lots of laughs, we finally got it perfect.  OK, not PERFECT, but perfect in our eyes.

We all know children will repeat what we say, that's why we're careful when they are around.  How about singing a repeat after me song to help them learn how to repeat as well?  Here's a fun one I used to sing as a kid.

The Green Grass Grows All Around(A repeat-after-me song with an accumulating chorus)
There was a tree [repeat
All in the wood.[repeat]
The prettiest tree [repeat]
That you ever did see. [repeat]
Chorus: The tree in the hole,
And the hole in the ground,
And the green grass grew all around, all around,
And the green grass grew all around.

And on that tree [repeat]
There was a limb. [repeat]
The prettiest limb [repeat]
That you ever did see [repeat]
Chorus:The limb on the tree
And the tree in the hole
And the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around, all around,
And the green grass grew all around.

And on that limb [repeat]
There was a branch [repeat]...(etc.)
And on that branch [repeat]
There was a nest [repeat]...(etc.)
And in that nest [repeat]
There was an egg [repeat]...(etc.)
And in that egg [repeat]
There was a bird [repeat]...(etc.)
And on that bird [repeat]
There was a wing [repeat]...(etc.)
And on that wing [repeat]
There was a feather [repeat]...(etc.)
And on that feather [repeat]
There was a bug [repeat]...(etc.)
And on that bug [repeat]
There was a germ [repeat]...(etc.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Arts Festival

There are so many opportunities in our communities - and so many of them free - but people just don't take advantage of them or see the learning opportunities in them.  Today I wanted to show my daughter the artists that are in our community - and all the different types of art.  We took a trip to our local arts festival and enjoyed every minute of it!  My daughters favourite form of artwork was the jewelery (of course) and the knitting (there were some toques that she wanted - we may have to order some for next winter).  She also got to see a man who was creating art with spray paint.  She (and I) thought that was pretty amazing!  These are special moments that you can never get back so I encourage you to get out, find out about local events and have fun!  Create memories that will last a life time!

 Of course at a festival/fair there is always food, so we stopped at some vendors and grabbed ourselves some hotdogs, fries, mini donuts and cotton candy.  YUM!  We sat down for a picnic and when we were done eating, the kids had fun going down a slide that was close by.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My New Blog Button

I always see these cute little buttons on other blogs, but I have never really looked into putting on one this blog - until now.  I thought it was going to be really hard and scary, but I found this SUPER HELPFUL TUTORIAL that made it so easy!  I just wanted to share this link/blog with all of you because it was that helpful!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Draw a Person

The goal of this activity was to see how many body parts my daughter could add to a drawing.  By age 4, childern should be able to add 5 parts to a body - but I wanted to turn it into a little game.  So we took turns drawing the person.  She started by drawing a leg.  So I drew the other leg.  When I first drew it, I drew one line like she did, but then I thought she can learn by how I draw (upside down I might add, so no laughing), so I drew a little more "advanced".  She drew the head, I drew an eye.  She drew the other eye, I drew a mouth.  And this went on and on until we finished.  My daughter actually finished the drawing off with a hamburger in the persons stomach . . . No matter the result, we both laughed lots and had a really fun time together!

  • Use a mirror.  Put the mirror in front of your child and allow your child to draw a self portrait that focuses on their face.
  • Don't just use markers or pencils - use other forms of art.  Supply your child with clay/playdough or paint and see what they can make.
  • How about a self portrait cut out of magazines?  They find the body parts that best match theirs and create a beautiful collage portrait.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Left or Right?

Teaching left from right is as easy as every day routines and adventures.  The other night we took the kids for a walk around the neighbourhood.  Usually, we pick where we go, choosing the same streets every time.  This time it was an adventure.  Our daughter is pretty confident in her left and right, so we wanted to see if she could do it in a real life situation.  So on our walk, she got to choose which way to turn.  If she was right, we went that way.  If she was wrong, mommy or daddy got to pick.  Needless to say, she was right 98% of the time and she led us all over bays, crescents, walking paths and we saw places we had never seen before!  And now she knows her left from her right.

Teaching left from right is something that we obviously take with us into adulthood.  And as I said earlier, teaching it is as easy as every day routine and adventures!  Here are some other quick ideas to teach left from right.
  • Instead of a walk, go for a drive and let your child tell you which way to go.  Giving them that power makes them feel important.  Let them be in charge, even if it is just for a little while.
  • Do the Hokey Pokey
  • Here's a little chant you can sing with your child!
This is my left hand, I'll hold it up high,
(Raise left hand high.)
This is my right hand, I'll touch the sky.
(Raise right hand high.)
Left hand, right hand, roll them around.
(Roll fists over each other.)
Right hand, left hand, pound, pound, pound.
(Pound fists on each other.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Menu Planning

Like a lot of other people in the country, we live on a tight budget.  But we make it work and we get little extras every now and again because we are cheap frugal.  Well, my husband is cheap.  I am frugal.

Our favourite way to save money is menu planning.  It really does save us a TON of money.  We buy the sale meat/bread and put it in the freezer so that we have a stockpile.  We buy canned goods/cereal/crackers when they are on sale (sometimes with coupons) and we have a small stockpile in the basement.  Sales.  We don't use a LOT of coupons, but we do shop where it's cheapest and where the sales are.  Up to this point, our menu board was a whiteboard with a small weekly calendar written on it. 

But I saw a new and exciting idea on Pinterest and just had to try it!  First, I wanted to colour code into breakfasts and suppers.  Lunches aren't important around here because we are working 5 of the 7 days and the days that I won't be working (weekends and holidays) we will simply have leftovers for lunch instead of for supper.  Lunches need to be quick anyways because we always seem to be busy in the middle of the day.  So I measured the space on the bulletin board and cut our papers to write my recipe ideas on.

Next was the most time consuming part of this task.  I went through MOST (I left out the Company's Coming books) of our cookbooks and wrote down the NAMES of the recipes and the cookbook/page number.  I had three different piles going on.  One for suppers that we have already tried, one for breakfasts that we had already tried and one for new recipes that looked good enough to try.  After the cookbooks, I moved onto my Recipe Pinterest Board

At this point in the project, I decided I wanted more organization with the meals, because my husband is always saying, "we have ___ to use" or "nope, out of ___".  I didn't want to re-write all those recipes again, so I got some envelopes.  Each envelope was labeled and recipe cards were put in.  This was where my daughter helped me out. 

Once the recipe cards were done, I pulled out the glue gun and glued all of the clothespins onto the bulletin board. 

This was such a fun project, I can't wait to start using it!  I think the thing that surprised me the most was that we are always struggling with what to make for the week.  Grilled cheese again?  Soup?  Sandwiches?  But when I looked through my cook books, I was amazed by the number of recipes that we had tried and enjoyed and just never made again because I hadn't remembered.  Hopefully this will help having those names in front of me and we can have a more diverse supper experience!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Freeze Dance

What's more fun on a rainy day than having a dance party?  Having a FREEZE DANCE party!  We had some real yucky weather back in April and we couldn't get outside.  So on two different days (a couple days apart), we played the Freeze Dance.  The first day, we just played music, we danced and when the music stopped, they were SUPPOSED to stop.  They did eventually stop, but not until the music had stopped for about 5 seconds.  But we had fun. 

So a couple days later, we decided to try again.  This time I grabbed some construction paper from our craft cupboard and made a circle.  When the music started, they walked around the rainbow circle and when it stopped, they stopped.  This time they did it!  Both of them completely understood the activity and they had a lot of fun.  My son kept yelling "PEE" when the music stopped (I think he was trying to yell "Freeze").  We did this a couple times and then I thought I should see how well my son knows his colours.  So everytime they stopped, I would ask him the colour that he was standing on.  He has a lot of the colour words, but can not yet match them to the proper colour.  My daughter said, "Mommy, ask ME the colours." but obviously she knows them, so each time they stopped, I started teaching her the colours in French.  Learning for everyone!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Sorting Animals

Catagorizing and sorting are two skills that every kids needs to learn.  These are science/math skills that we really do use into adulthood.  And it's really easy to incorporate into play.

The other day, my daughter and I were playing with all the Little People stuff that we have in our basement and she held up one of birds (I think a nightingale) and asked me if all birds lived in nests.  I told her that I was unsure, but we could check on the computer.  "Not right now mommy, I want to finish with my animals."  I asked her what she was going to do.  "I don't know."  I kind of changed the subject and asked her what her friends names were at school, why they were friends ("Cause we like playing together.") which THEN led me to ask - "Well, which of these animals would be friends do you think?"  And that was when the sorting began.  She had all the animals sorted out by where they lived.  Forest, nests, caves, savannah, trees (Koalas), houses, water and dessert.  She was unsure of the word Savannah, but put all the animals together then asked me where they lived.  Savannah was the closest I could get to what grouping she had made.  I did not help her at all - some things are a little off - but she grasped the concept and ran with it. 

Oh, and as a side note.  I asked her about lions living in caves.  Her response?  "That's where they live on the Lion King movie!"  Gotta love Disney!

There are so many different sorting activities that you can do with your kids!
  • You can start sorting with really young children, sorting by colour or shape.
  • For the older children, choose something that they are interested in.  If they love dinosaurs, sort carnivore, herbivore and omnivore.  If they love superheros, sort the toys that they have by bad and good guys.  Be creative!
  • Try not to interfere.  This was hard for me, I couldn't figure out her thinking.  But instead of CHANGING what they are doing, TALK to them and figure out what they are thinking.  If they can explain it then they are right!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mothers Day 2012 Presents

Our Story:
Mothers Day this year was a little bitter sweet.  We lost my grandmother last summer to cancer and so this is our first Mother's Day we've had to spend without her.  Plus, her birthday was May 9th, so it was always such a special time of year.  I know that my mom was going to be having a rough time, so I also knew that the only gift she would want would be to be surrounded by her family.  I made her this frame just as a little note to let her know how much she means to me - and my family.  She loves homemade things and she loves cute little sayings, so I knew it would be perfect for her.  We didn't get to celebrate Mothers Day with a supper until this week, and I know she's on here every now and again and I wanted this to be a surprise, so that's why this post is a little later getting up!

To actually print this, I had planned on sending it to Staples Print Center.  However, I could not for the life of me to get that black background.  Whether the black just didn't show in the preview or what, I wasn't going to risk sending it and wasting my money.  So I just changed it up and printed it from home.  Here is the final product!

Also, my kids made me plants this year for mothers day at preschool and daycare.  I ended up with three of the best flowers ever!  I shared them with my mom and my grandma, so now each of us has one.  Here is a picture of one of the flowers I got from my kids this year!  I love the Croc idea!  Coincidentally, I made it with my preschool class as well.  Super fun and cheap because you can get the crocs from the Dollar Store.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Make Your Own Puzzle

Love this idea!  I actually found it on Pinterest (The Green Classroom).  I have seen the idea before.  You can actually buy these types of puzzles from teacher stores anywhere, but what a great learning tool!  There were two parts to this great activity.  The first goal was to see how well my daughter could use scissors and cut along a line.  I drew lines on the calendar pages and she cut them like a pro!  I then labeled each piece (from 1-?) and now she can learn numerical order when she does the puzzle.  Had I been THINKING, I would have done something different, because she knows her numerical order.  But it will be good for my son down the road.  She was so proud that she made these puzzles herself, she wanted to make two.  Now she wants to make more.

To make this activity harder there are a couple things you could do. Don't draw the lines like I did for my daughter. I actually did not know that she had got so good with scissors. And instead of numbers (well, full numbers) you could do decimals, fractions or even count up (or down) by 2's, 5's 10's or any other number. You could even do the alphabet! There are so many endless possibilities, but I think the most important part is to let your child be a part of MAKING these puzzles. It's a great learning experience!

Here are some tips and ideas for teaching your child to use scissors!
  •  Be sure to know if your child is left handed or right handed and buy the proper scissors.
  • Don't be afraid.  So many parents don't allow their children to use scissors because they are scared they will wreck something.  Yes, supervision is required.  But teaching them the rules (only cut paper, stay at the table, etc.) is the first step.
  • Show your child the proper way to hold the scissors.  This is a skill that they must learn.  Show them where to put there thumb and finger and teach them how to open and shut.
  • There are so many worksheets and printables out there, but I'm not going to link to them because I believe there are better ways to teaching than a worksheet.  How about making a collage?  Either with coloured paper or with pictures from magazines.  For the beginners who get frustrated because they can only make one snip - How about giving them string so that it just takes that one snip to see results!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Collage Site!

So way back when I was making some collages of my kids (12 Month Canvas) I was talking about a website called "Picnik" and that they were closing.  I have now come across a new collage making website thanks to a friend and I wanted to pass it on to you.  If you used "Picnik", then the format will look a little familiar, so easy to use!  I love making collages and they have some really neat layouts to choose from!  After you make the collage, save it your computer and you can print it at whichever photo place you prefer!

It's called IPICCY.  Check it out!!

So did everyone know about this website but me?  Am I a little slow on the ball?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Relay Race

On a rainy, windy and cool evening, there's nothing better than curling up on the couch with some popcorn and watching a movie.  Unless you live in this house.  Then there's nothing better than having a super fun relay race where there is laughing, running, skipping, "cheating" and laughing.  Ya, I said laughing twice.  It's that important.  This is something SO easy, anyone could throw it together in 5 seconds.  And we did it in our living room, you don't need a LOT of space - it depends on the number of kids, their ages and how they are moving.  I just grabbed some foam shapes from another game and put them on the couch.  The orange for my son and the purple for my daughter.  There were 10 shapes in total.  Obviously, my daughter is faster, so instead of running (she's got that mastered) we told her she had to skip.  She can do it, but no matter how hard she tried to remember, she kept going back to running.  She's competative.  Our son was able to run, and he mastered that, too.  They had a lot of fun running back and forth through the living room.  And yes, there was some cheating.  My son would take more than one shape at a time and try to hide it.  Goof.  And when my daughter got too far ahead, my husband would hold her back and let her brother catch up.  Laughter all around!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Allowing Choice

The number one thing that you will find here - and I hope to continue it for a long time - is to ONLY teach my children through play, experiences and reading together.  Once children enter Kindergarten I find that a lot of teachers want them to sit in a chair, listen and print/trace page after page.  There is no play!  I have always wanted to home school my children - I am a teacher by trade (preschool) - but I don't for a few reasons.
1) We financially could not afford for me to stay home.
2) I do love the social aspect of school
3) I love my children, yes I do, but it is also nice to get out of the house and do my own thing with other adults during the week.  I don't consider my job "work", because I am doing what I love.
But that doesn't mean that on weekends, after school or during the summer my kids are just going to sit and watch TV (although this does happen lots, sometimes it's a nice quiet break!).  They play by themselves, but I also wanted to play with them and TEACH them at the same time.
Sometimes I choose what we will do because of the weather, the day, what we have on hand or what comes up in the heads of my kids.  Other times, I want my daughter to choose.  She is really smart and she loves to learn.  Not always is she going to want to learn about numbers, sometimes she may just want to read a book.  So I made up some cards for those days that she gets to choose the direction of play.  She already has her favourites (Math and Art) - but she has also chosen Gym a couple times because that's what she wanted to do that day.
Other times, our play will be lead by what they say to me.  For example, the other day my daughter said, "Let's go play store." So that's what we did - with real money and learning how to name each coin.
This is our life!  Welcome and enjoy the ride!