It's a beautiful day here in Florida. The temp is 73 degrees with a high expected to be around 81. The kiddos and I are going on a nature walk. I made a quick scavenger hunt list to take along. I have it as a PDF and word document with pictures if you' d like a copy. Leave your email in the comments and I'll send one right over.
I wanted to get crafty today with the kids. I was looking for an easy Fall themed craft and came across an image of a gorgeous leaf and followed the link here. I am so happy I stumbled upon Inner Child Fun. It's such a great site! I checked the step-by-step directions and happened to have all supplies on hand. I quickly printed out four different leaf styles and cut out three of each.
The next step was to fill a shallow pan with shaving cream and then select a few fall inspired acrylic paints. My kids were quite intrigued when I started squirting the paint on the shaving cream and were even more excited when it was time for them to get involved and swirl the paint into the shaving cream.
We decided to dip half of the leaves into the paint/shaving cream mixture and leave the others alone. You can see more step-by-step instructions on the Inner Child Fun site. We took the dipped leaves outside to dry and since we live in Florida it's pretty much still Summer here. I emptied the rest of the shaving cream into a kiddie pool and set up our slip-n-slide. The kids loved wiggling around in the shaving cream and then splashing in the water. After a bit, the leaves dried nicely and we strung them up using some craft string and clothespins. Here's a few pics of the final results:
Anyhow, if you're looking for a super easy and fun craft for the little ones, this is a winner. Who needs to travel to see Fall foilage when you can make these at home?
Last week I rediscovered eBay. I made several very exciting purchases. One of the ones I'm most giddy about is a collection of 32 Illustrated Classics that I picked up for less than $45.00. Check out the titles!
We started Peter Pan last night. I have a third-grade reluctant reader in the house so I have been working hard on recreating reading time. In the past, she has felt as though she is being punished when we ask her to read. That's the last thing I want her to feel!
In addition to silent reading, we will be reading aloud as a family several nights each week. I created a binder with various pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading activities. I also picked up a small dictionary so that we can look up and discuss unfamiliar words. My lil' reader will get a incentive sticker for completing various reading activities. When her incentive pad is full she will get a predetermined treat such as: ice cream with daddy, movie night, or a new book/toy. I also have a set of 28 books from The Magic Tree House series coming in. I even scored a set of 15 research guides to accompany The Magic Tree House books so that we can really dive into each book. There is a great website that includes games and many extras for this series. I sincerely hope we can change my reluctant reader into an eager reader. I think that this approach will have a positive impact on every member of our family.
Another good deal that I just scooped up at my local Bealls Outlet was a set Scholastic Learning Puzzles for $5.99 each. I searched them online and didn't find them for less than $8! Lil' Roo has really been enjoying the numbers learning mats.
Today we worked on numbers 1-3. Look at her go! She isn't quite ready to write the numbers on her own but she is GREAT at tracing them. The set comes with wipe-off crayons but I found them to be sticky and messy. We opted for an Expo marker instead.
First I pulled out just the numbers 1-3 and the star cards to match. Before getting the mats out we counted the stars and matched up the foam numbers to the cards. After that she matched the foam numbers to the the mats.
She matched the star cards to each mat.
She then began tracing the numbers.
I think she might be a numbers girl like me!!!
Have you dealt with a reluctant reader? What did you do to encourage reading in your home? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear some words of wisdom.
I scored an awesome science experiment book last weekend at the craft store. It was just $1!!!!! We decided to conduct the first experiment with Jazzy. It was very simply to conduct. All supplies needed are pictured below.
The title of the experiment is Growing Gummy Bear. I loved that the workbook introduces science vocabulary. We read through the experiment together and the we were able to quiz Jazzy on the new vocabulary. Jazzy did guess correctly that the gummy bear would grow when left in water overnight. The next morning we measured the sticky bear to test her prediction. You'll be able to view the results of the experiment below. Jazzy asked if she could eat the gummy bear. I didn't see the harm. I asked her if it tasted like a normal gummy bear and she said it tasted like water. When I asked why she thought it tasted like water she said, "Because it soaked up so much of it overnight through osmosis." Osmosis was a vocabulary term she learned from the outcome of the experiment. Good job Jazzy!!!
I started this blog out strong and then fell off the face of the earth. I wanted to share some exciting news. I'm becoming a full fledged "go-to" person for AWESOME learning resources. In addition to offering great games through SimplyFun, I am now also a consultant with Usborne Books & More. I just submitted my agent agreement for Little Passports. I'm a little bit crazy to take on all three but I am A LOT excited. More to come....
Bubbles are SO much fun! Don't you agree? For Easter I got the lil' guy a bubble blower. We took it outside on our deck and had some serious soapy fun. When they are a lil' older we can talk about the science of bubbles. I found a great site with some great information on bubbles. Andrew was totally facinated. I got some great pictures of the kiddos at play. Check them out!
I LOVE this last pic. My lil' turkey is SO handsome!
My mom wasn't surprised that I turned out to be the math whiz in the family. She said growing up that I was the only one out of her three kids who loved putting together puzzles. Research backs that up. Puzzle play improves spatial skills. Think geometry. Spatial skills give you the ability to rotate objects in your mind. This skill set is important in technical careers or careers involving design. Architecture, engineering, graphic design, and photography are some examples of careers where spatial skills are necessary.
In the research article I linked to above, I found the following paragraph to be quite interesting.
"The researchers asked the parents to interact with their children as they normally would and about half of the children in the sample played with puzzles at least one time. Higher income parents tended to engage children with puzzles more frequently. Both boys and girls who played with puzzles had better spatial skills, but boys played with more complicated puzzles than girls, and the parents of boys provided more spatial language during puzzle play and were more engaged in the play than the parents of girls."
It's no wonder that technical fields like engineering are dominated by men. As parents it is important that we engage our girls in puzzle play in the same way we engage our boys. If you are like me, you want ALL of your children to have EQUAL opportunities in life.
Friday, the UPS man dropped off a box containing some new puzzles. We headed out of town for Easter so today was the first day I had the chance to break into them and play with my kiddos. I snapped some pictures of my babes at play.
Roo is a little young to learn how to tell time but this is a fantastic puzzle for number recognition and sorting colors. Lil' Turkey was drawn to the hands that spin round and round. Roo had no problem taking all the pieces out and putting them all back in their places. She was quite pleased with herself.
As Roo took out each piece I said the number and did the same as she returned each piece. She repeated me and then insisted she count each piece. I love that she has put together that numbers are used for counting. Lil' Turkey is at that age where he repeats every sound that he hears so he too was calling out the number names along with Roo. She was able to clean this one up and put it away all by herself.
We moved on to the Our World puzzle set which includes planets, continents, and the U.S. We have an older version of a SimplyFun (SF) U.S. puzzle already so the new one will become someones birthday present. Each puzzle is individually wrapped which is great.
When you lift the planets out the base, it's position to the sun is noted. Cool! Besides learning about the sun and planets, this puzzle can be used to discuss colors and compare size -- Which is the largest? Smallest? Which one is the red planet?
On to continents and oceans!!!
Lil' Turkey busied himself with some blocks. Every child should have a set of blocks. I found a pretty good list of the benefits of blocks. The list includes spatial reasoning, language skills, and hand-eye coordination.
You can find all of the information about the puzzles that SF offers here.
Great summary of research findings that that show the link between board games and numerical knowledge.
My lil' Roo at 2.75 years old impresses me daily with her ability to count fairly accurately up to 5 objects at a time and sometimes further. The first time she counted along with me it blew my mind. It was several months ago now and we were eating breakfast. She had a few grapes, or maybe they were blueberries, on her plate (I'm so happy I'm blogging now so I can keep better track of details along with dates and ages). She was using one of those segmented children's plates so I picked up the first grape and moved it from one side of the plate to the other. As I did this I said, "One." I picked up a second grape and said, "Two." As I picked up the third grape, Roo looked at me and said, "Three" and continued on to four. My jaw dropped. She preceded to keep on counting. I was so amazed. I had counted with her before but didn't realize she was paying attention. Quite honestly, I think Dora the Explorer had her hand in Roo's counting abilities too.
Now we play a great game called Share A Berry. It is a game designed for toddlers that helps them with early counting, one-to-one correspondence, left and right, fine motor skills, and SHARING! We played yesterday with the twins during my mommy preschool. I was so pleased at how well all three kiddos were taking turns and shared their berries without hesitation. You can learn more about this game here. It's recommended for ages 3 and up but can easily be played with your two year old as long as you are involved. The berries are about the size of a grape so they are a choking hazard if you take your eyes off your munchkin.
Back in February I did an event with a local group called S.O.A.K. (Supporting Our Aspie Kids). There was a family there with their 4 y.o. son who has been diagnosed with aspergers. I sat down with them and taught them how to play the game. The first few rounds of the game you are adding berries to your berry string. It's not until you reach the last two cards that you begin to share your berries with the player on your right or on your left. The first time this lil' boy had to share it was not a pretty scene. His parents told me that sharing is an area where their son really struggles. We explained to the child that he would need to share but when it was his mommy and daddy's turn they would also be sharing. After a few rounds he was happily sharing and truly enjoying the game. The parents bought their own copy without hesitation and were so thankful to have found such a fun way to teach their child how to share. That reminds me -- I need to give them a call and see how they're doing. I always love to here how SimplyFun games have impacted families.
Today started like most days. I woke to the sounds of my giggling toddlers coming through the baby monitor. I must admit, there is no better way than that to wake up each morning. Today and every Wednesday, I host mommy preschool in my home. My friend allows me to teach and play with her twin boys alongside of my little Roo. All three kiddos are two and a half with third birthdays quickly approaching. Roo is my girl Emma, my first. I also have lil' Turkey -- Andrew. He recently passed the one year mark and is a force to be reckoned with. Roo and Turkey have a big sissy too. She is my step-daughter Jasmine -- aka Jazzy. Boy-oh-boy do those kiddos keep life interesting! Their daddy is my hard working husband, Marcus
I've set up a blog page before but I've never made it past the "design" phase. I am determined to blog about my experiences being a mommy to two toddlers at play. Like many mommies I know, I started a home based business with an AWESOME company called SimplyFun. I had no idea the impact it would have on my family. The mission of the company hit home with me: Smarter Kids & Stronger Families. You can learn more about the company mission here. I was invited to a party and while I was there I knew I had to get involved. That was October 2011. In the short time I've been a part of the SimplyFun family, I have learned so much about how kids learn through play... not through flashcards and not through popular videos. I am so passionate about what I am experiencing within my family. I want to share it with others who know that the best place for kids to learn is at home with their families.
I've always had a passion for teaching. I began my teaching career in 2004 and I haven't stopped since. I spent most of the years since then teaching middle school math. I spent one year at the high school level. I wasn't a big fan!! I needed something that would fit my strong desire to stay home with my kiddos. Thankfully my Master's Degree in Math Education allowed me to take a position with my local community college teaching prep math. I LOVE IT! Teaching adults is almost as amazing as teaching my own children. I truly found the perfect balance of work and family. I am so grateful!
Come back often and read along as I reflect upon moments of play and the learning that occurs in those precious moments.