Monthly Archives: August 2011

Blogging Vacation

I’ll be going on a blogging vacation for a couple weeks.  Feel free to sift through all the fun activities we’ve done over the past few years.  There are helpful categories in the right toolbar to help you narrow it down.

And definitely check out the Favorites Page to find our most-used activities.  I recently updated it to include the more recent favorites.

Heart of Giving: School Supplies

Free back to school clip art of black board with apple message.This is the time of year when many organizations are collecting school supplies for those in need.  Our church is one of the many.  We read through our church bulletin together and I explained the need to J.  He’s so excited about going to school with his backpack in hand and wanted other kids to have a backpack too.  The bulletin announcement had a list of sugggested supplies. J and I used that list to create our own picture list on ppt.  I read the item, typed it into clipart and J chose which  picture to use.  This made even list-making an activity he could participate in.

To add some math practice, include how many of each item is needed.  Then have your little one read the list and count the correct number to place in your shopping cart. Of course I didn’t think of that while making our own list!

We printed our picture list and headed to the store to make our purchases.  J “read” the list and called out the next item needed. Of course his favorite was crossing off each item with his highlighter! When we got home I set out all the supplies for him to fill the backpack with and it now sits by the door, waiting to be brought to church.  I plan on having J turn it in himself.

This is a great act of service to get kids involved in since they so easily relate.  Do a quick search for those collecting school supplies in your area, maybe a local church, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, etc.  As a former teacher I know all you really need to do is call up your local school, and ask them for a list of supplies needed.  There were always students in need on the first day of school.

My Little Helper: Dresser Labels

In the months leading up to my due date, I worked at getting J a little more independent.  Just a few of the things we worked on: dressing and undressing, what goes in the dirty clothes hamper (and what does NOT go in dirty clothes hampers!), and finally putting away his clean laundry.

I decided to place labels on his dresser drawers to help in this process.  I created them in ppt, using clipart and Google Images to add pictures since J can’t truly read yet.  Then, I printed them on cardstock and laminated them with clear contact paper.  Finally, I placed them on the correct drawer.  These have worked great.  It made picking his clothes out in the morning and returning his clean laundry a fun and independent task.

**ETA: J did this well for 5+ months.  Just a few days after writing this post, J had the dresser fall on him while getting his clothes out in the morning.  I made 2 mistakes… 1) The dresser wasn’t anchored to the wall (it is now… it and all the other furniture in the house!). J wasn’t a climber so I just assumed we wouldn’t have a problem. Wrong. 2) I didn’t think to explain the step by step instructions of how to properly use a dresser.  I have since taught him that you must close one drawer before opening another or the dresser becomes unstable.  It never even occurred to me to teach that.  Don’t make my same mistakes! Oh, and J ended up being fine, thank the Lord for His protection! **

Since it meant just a tiny bit more work, I went ahead and made labels for the nursery too.  God must’ve known that these labels would be necessary.  I ended up with an emergency c-section, got home to a 3 level house and not able to use the stairs but once a day.

These labels made it so easy for my husband to find things easily.  Anyone else have a man that can be told exactly where the ketchup is but not be able to find it until you walk over and point it out to him?  “Oh, you meant the top shelf.” – “Well that’s what I meant when I said ‘The ketchup is on the top shelf.'”  I think it’s a universal falty circuit wire in the male population.  My dad and brother do the same thing.

The labels worked wonders! Without them, he would’ve been in that nursery looking for the extra sheets or burp clothes forever, despite my instructions.  I would’ve had to trek up there just to point them out.   They worked so well, I almost wanted to put labels on all the other cabinets in the house.  It sure could save a lot of repetitive instructions.

Click on the link below to open the pdf files of my labels.  They include the generic things: shirts, pants, socks. etc; or swaddles, onesies, diapers, etc for the nursery.

Nursery Labels                                                                               Boy Labels

 

 

(I don’t have any girls, so you won’t find girl attire on any of the labels.)

Chalk Roads

While writing the last post on sidewalk chalk math, I realized that I never posted about our outdoor chalk roads (or at least I can’t find the post!). This was something J did practically every day just after his little brother was born.  It allowed for outdoor play, kept him centralized to one place, and kept him well occupied with his love for all things cars!

Overtime his road system became more and more elaborate, adding specific stores, airports, parks, and parking lots to the roads just made it all more fun.  He is also becoming more capable of drawing his own roads.

If it’s too hot outside, check out our indoor version of the activity, Homemade Highways!

 

Sidewalk Chalk Math

Yup, we’re still using sidewalk chalk A LOT.  It’s still one of my all-time favorite learning tools!  It’s a great (and easy) way to create multi-sensory learning. Remember hearing about learning styles back in college?  We all have our ideal method of learning (auditory, visual, kinesthetic/tactile).  The most efficient lessons are those that utilize each learning style.

Onto the activity…

This summer, J really got into tracing his footprints onto the sidewalk.  We would trace all sorts of fun paths that he would then follow while running, jumping, skipping (or giving it his best attempt!), pushing his lawn mower or riding his tricycle.

After a few weeks of this, I decided to add some learning to the mix :)

First, I added a letter to each footprint.  J loved singing the Alphabet song while following his footprint path. Next was numbers, logically! That’s when I realized this would be great practice at counting by twos, fives, and tens.  I placed one number in each footprint and got J to call out the numbers as he jumped across. He actually learned a cute counting song from one of the Leapfrog movies that takes you through ones, twos, fives and tens. It works perfect with his footpaths.

This incorporates auditory (singing), visual (written numbers) and kinesthetic (physical movement with each number).

Here’s some other activities to do with sidewalk chalk.

Pouring Practice

Simple pouring practice kept my J occupied for 2 hours.  He was soaking wet by the end of the two hours but had so much fun (apparently he needs a little more practice before I hand over the milk).

We did this activity inside (it was BRUTALLY hot outside).  TIP: I bought a waterproof tablecover to lay down for activities like this. It’s more sturdy than a tarp, so it stays in one place easily.  And it does a great job in trapping the water so it doesn’t hit my new wood floors! We also use the tablecover when finger paiting inside and under the pool for our indoor snowbox. It’s more expensive than a towel or simple tarp but worth the expense in my opinion.  And we can always use it as it’s intended too! :)

I gave him two trays (found at Target) a bowl of water and some different containers.  I asked him to pretend each container was a cup that needed to be filled with the water before setting the table for dinner.  I would’ve used real cups, but every single cup in my house was in the dishwasher.  Btw, how do 3 people go through every cup in the house in such a short time???  Toy tea sets would work perfectly for this.

My goal was for him to learn when to stop pouring to keep the “cups” from overflowing.  He tends to pour until the water hits the very tip of the cup which of course makes spilling guaranteed.  I used this to teach him when to stop pouring.

Was this a successful lesson, well yes and no.  Yes, he learned how to do it “right” but he didn’t necessarily enjoy doing it right.  He would much rather pour until it spills!

After the pouring practice, he just played and played and played.  I was so surprised he stayed focus for so long.  I just added some new utencils or containers every half hour.

Waterplay utencils that J finds entertaining:

  • medicine droppers and dispensers
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • bottles
  • milk carton with holes poked in the bottom (to create rain showers)
  • nasal aspirator
  • tubes
  • funnels
  • baster
  • squirt bottle
  • serving tray
  • muffin pan
  • ice cube tray
  • flask
  • tea kettle
  • bowls
  • buckets
  • paint brush
  • water wheel
  • sponge

What utencils does your little one like to play with in the water?

Homemade Sunbleached Puzzles

I came across this brilliant idea for sunbleached puzzles.  They were so easy to create and great entertainment (and practice) for a puzzle-lover. It was also a great little lesson in the sun’s effects.

I set out foam bath letters and numbers on dark construction paper and left them to sunbathe awhile on the deck.  J enjoyed watching the process, impressed by the magical results! We then brought it all inside to start putting it all together.  You can make this activity more difficult by adding extra foam letters to the choices.

This is great practice at letter recognition.  It’s also great way to help them learn how to spell their name, memorize their phone number or address. 

The link above used magnetic letters and shape blocks to create their puzzles.  You could also cut your own shapes out of colorful foam.

Ice Cream and Popsicle Patterns

I came across some foam ice cream and popsicle stickers in Target’s dollar section.  They were too cute to pass up.  I thought they were perfect for summer and was sure to put them to good use.

 **If you can’t find them at Target anymore, it would be simple to cut out similar foam shapes.**

I created pattern cards as one activity using the popsicle stickers.  Beforehand, I began both color and shape patterns on cardstock.  I then gave J the pattern cards and a bowl of the extra stickers to continue each pattern.  

With the ice cream cones, I created different color combinations for him to mimic.

After already creating my pattern cards, I thought it would be really cute to have made multiple dips on each ice cream cone for him to mimic.  Opportunity missed on that one!

Btw, J just set the stickers in place so that we could redo the activity again.

Button Snakes

Back when I was pregnant, I put together a basket of go-to activities that I could quickly pull from to keep J focused when I was busy with his little brother.  When I saw the button snake here, I knew I wanted to include it.

It was so easy to make, taking maybe 5 minutes, even with my sad skills using a needle and thread.

You need: colorful felt, scissors, ribbon, a button, needle and thread

What you do: 

  1. Cut the felt into squares (or fun shapes)
  2. Cut a small slit into each square (to fit your button)
  3. Sew one felt square near the end of your ribbon
  4. Sew a button onto the other end of your ribbon
  5. Your done!

    This was great practice for J.  He had really never tried button until this.  I made a beginner level button snake (using an extra large button) but was surprised at how quickly he caught on.

I recently made another button snake with a smaller button to increase the difficulty.  This time I cut the felt pieces into different shapes so that the pieces could also be used to sort or create various patterns as he builds the snake.

We’ve also used this activity in our airplane travel and it works great, lightweight and keeps him occupied.

Becoming an Artist: The Dot by Peter Reynolds

At our last library trip, we happened across the cutest story! 

The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, is a story about a little girl who thinks she can’t draw until her teacher proves her wrong.  She’s inspired to keep trying and eventually inspires others too. 

This was the perfect book for J.  He is such a perfectionist that he often chooses NOT to do something if he thinks that he won’t be able to do it “right”.  This book fulfilled its purpose and inspired my little guy to become an artist!

After reading the book, we decided to create our own art museum of dots.  I pulled out markers, crayons, map pencils, water colors and cardstock.  J was thrilled.  He was confident.  He became an artist and loved it!  He even wanted to sign his work, just like the little girl in the story.

After all his pieces dried, we hung them in his room.  We now have an in-house art museum featuring my favorite artist.