Category Archives: Michelle

Easter Egg Fun

I am a mom of 6 (soon to be 7) and I realized the other day I was a much more fun mom to my preschoolers and toddlers for my first three kids.  My first three girls are each 18 months apart so they kind of did everything together. I did lots of fun learning activities and crafts with them because they could all do it.  Now that my kids range in age from 11 to 1 my toddler and preschooler miss out on all those fun activities.  Life gets busy homeschooling all the big kids! Well, I have decided no more! I am going to do a fun book activity with my toddler and preschooler each week.  The funny thing is the big kids are super excited about it and totally do the activities right alongside the little ones!

My first activity is a painted Easter egg. We began by reading a book of course! All fun activities have to start with a book.We read two books Here Comes Peter Cottontail by: Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins (warning: this one sings and will get stuck in your head for forever) and The Happy Easter Book by: Josie Jones. Any Easter book would work.

 

Then we painted Easter eggs.

 

The supplies we used are:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Painters tape
  • Scissors

 

Directions:

Start by cutting out an egg shape out of paper. Then using the painters tape make designs on the egg.  The big kids got really detailed, while my three year old was not as detailed.

 

Next, paint away!

 

When they are all dry, remove the tape.

 

Enjoy your creations.

 

My kids had a blast with this and it has really reinforced how kids of all ages love a good picture book and a fun craft activity. I can’t wait to do more and share all the fun!

What are your favorite Easter Crafts?

 

Teach the Joy of Giving Year Round

Every now and then we have the ME, ME, ME Monster creep into our house. This can happen any time of the year, but it seems more common around a big holiday. When this happens, I love to turn to a book for help.

We recently used the book, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, to help remind everyone that when we give and share with others we can all be happy. You can, of course, twist this around to adapt for any upcoming holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc. The more we talked about it, the more I realized how important it was for us to remember and practice these principles year round. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.

How Can You Teach Love and Giving In Your Home?

Here are some of the ideas my children came up with after our discussion of the “Giving Tree”. Another benefit is that many of these ideas allow them to practice their reading and math skills without it being “work”!

 

Write a Special Note

A little note has a lot of power and can go a long way! Encourage your children to write positive notes to friends and family. It will not only make everyone feel good, but it is a great way to practice their writing skills.  I know I have a box of notes that I kept from over the years from loved ones and it has become very special to me. As I go through my kiddos drawers,  I have discovered they keep their notes, too!

 

Bake Treats Often to Share With Others

Who does not feel all warm and fuzzy getting a treat from a neighbor?  And I think that feeling is equally shared with the giver. Teach this love of giving to your children.

My children love to help me bake and they really enjoy delivering them to neighbors. It is a great way to practice math and reading skills, too. Who says you giving and loving can’t be educational?!?!

 

Take Opportunities To Provide Acts of Service

Providing acts of service is another way to grow and share your love. We have been practicing sharing our “Love Bug” (kind of like a Service Bug) in our house and you can always tell which child has just passed on the Love Bug. They are beaming and giddy. I love it!

Alphabet Nature Walk

How to find letters in Nature Activity

We have all taken alphabet nature walks with our kids looking for things that begin with the letter A (apple tree), B (bird), C (cactus), D (dandelion) etc.  We did a little twist on this the last time we went on a walk and we went looking for letters. We didn’t look at signs or license plates but looked at architecture and nature to find things that looked like letters.

This was a little hard at first because you have to think out of the box a little bit but once they got the hang of it, it was super fun.  I let each of the kids take pictures of the letters they found.

They love using my good camera so I think this was their favorite part. We had a little lesson on how to take good photos before we started.  We practiced centering the letter in the picture and zooming.  This activity kept all of my kids ages 10 and under busy for quite awhile.  My three year old even loved it. She found a lot of the letter “O”. It was fun doing an activity that they all got into.

Here are some of our favorite letters….

 

 

My girls have decided that they want to make an alphabet book with all the letters we have found.  We are planning a trip to a historic park soon to see if we can finish our alphabet.

You can also put them together to spell words for signs. If you get the whole alphabet, you can practice writing spelling words and simple sentences. The possibilities are endless!!!

I would love to hear your ideas on what you do with your nature alphabet!!

Popcorn Art – Springtime Celebration

Popcorn Art - Celebrate Spring with Some Art

I cannot think of springtime without thinking of all the trees that look like they have popcorn on them as they bloom. Now that spring has officially come, I thought it would be fun to do a fun craft with popcorn. Add some fun spring themed songs and poems and we created an easy project to put together that the kiddos loved. With friends over, we had ages ranging from 3 all the way to 8 and they all were able to enjoy it together.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper in a variety of colors
  • Card stock or other stiff paper for the back
  • Glue
  • Popcorn – plain and already popped
  • Fun spring themed songs and poems

Directions:

Step 1: Have a quick discussion about springtime and the construction of a tree (trunk, limbs, etc.). My kiddos weren’t quite sure what we were doing and this helped them get some direction.

Step 2: Create ripped art trees using construction paper. Basically, create a tree by tearing strips of colored paper. We unfortunately did not have brown so the kiddos got creative with their color choices. We ended up only needing about 1/3 a sheet for a basic tree.

Step 3: Glue the strips of paper to the card stock.

Step 4: For sanity’s sake, we prepped our trees with dots of glue of where they wanted to blossoms (aka popcorn) to go and quickly moved to step 5 before our glue dried.

 

Step 5: Now it is time for the fun! It’s time to sing or recite our poems! Pick a few springtime words for the kiddos to listen for and when they hear them, they add a piece of popcorn to a dot of glue on their tree. You can see in the pic below that they are singing along, too!

For example, our first song we did was “Popcorn Popping” and we picked the word “pop” and “spring” to add the popcorn to the tree. You can make it as hard or as easy as you want. But since we were singing it, two words were perfect!

Here are the lyrics I found in a children’s song book (they will play it for you on the right sidebar if you need it) and if you look up the title on youtube, you can find plenty of videos, too:

POPCORN POPPING

I looked out the window, and what did I see?

Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!

Spring had brought me such a nice surprise,
Blossoms popping right before my eyes.
I could take an armful and make a treat,
A popcorn ball that would smell so sweet.
It wasn’t really so, but it seemed to be
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.

 

Step 6: Enjoy your Spring trees! They were all pretty excited about their trees even though we did not fill them up all the way.

Skills practiced during this activity:

  • ripping skills
  • listening (for the key words)
  • practice fine motor gluing/attaching the popcorn
  • practice control and pressure when using the glue
  • recognizing different textures -between the rough/bumpy feel of popcorn and smooth texture of the paper

 

What is your favorite Springtime song or poem?

Handmade Alphabet Letters

Alphabet Letters

As you know, handmade gifts are the best but educational handmade gifts are the cherry on the top! My 5th daughter is about to turn 3 and I made her these fabulous fabric alphabet letters. They are really easy to make and are sure to be well loved.

How To Make

I saw a picture on good ole Pinterest that did not go anywhere and thought, “I can make those!”

Supplies needed:

  • Letter stencil (print out letters on card stock and cut them out to create a homemade paper stencil)
  • Flanel – scrap fabric is the best!
  • Scissors
  • Fusible fleece (optional)
  • Pen
  • Sewing machine

Directions:

I have a bubble set of letter stencils that I used, but you could use any font. I wanted them thick and soft, so I put fusible fleece inside and used flannel scraps for the outside.

You can learn from my mistakes and do not trace around your stencils with pen. Oops!

Once they are traced, put the fabric together and sew both sides together. Then I cut them out with pinking shears. I will admit cutting them out with the pinking shears was a little challenging because I used so much fusible fleece. I used had two layers of fusible fleece inside.  I think next time I will only use one layer to save my poor hand the pain!

5 Fun Letter Activities

Once you have them all finished, there are a million things you can do with them! But for now, here are my favorite 5 things:

1. Lay them out and call out a color, sound or letter and have your children race to see who can find it first. This works with one or more than one child.

2. Put them all in a bag and have a child reach in and pull one out. When they pull one out have them name the letter or sound.

3. Have your child put them in alphabetical order.

4. You can use them to spell simple words.

5. They are just fun to play with and chew on if you are 1! I guess I should make him some boy ones.

Math at Bedtime Calms the Brain

Calm the Brain with Bedtime Math

A few years ago I remember hearing about a father who did math problems before his kiddos went to bed instead of story time. My oldest was in kindergarten at the time and so I decided to give it a try a few nights a week. We started out with a couple minutes of basic counting of toes and addition problems and it has moved on to word problems and math games. Amazingly, I find my children calm down just as easy or maybe even better than with just a story as they answer my “math challenges”. Most of the time they are half a sleep after a few minutes! I have really enjoyed it and I am pretty sure my children do, too. They BEG for their turn, so I take that as a good sign!

Here are a few different ways we have incorporated math into our bedtime routine:

Counting

Great for any level and can be adapted as needed for each child. I think it is easier if they can count something and fingers and toes are always available. Start at their level and remember to challenge them a little each time and to try and end on a “happy and successful moment”. If they can only count to 5, continue on to 10. Or if they have counting down, count by twos, fives, tens, odds, evens…you get the picture

Addition and Subtraction

You can not go wrong with practicing a few addition and/or subtraction problems before bed. Again, start where they are and give them a challenge for the last couple. If you have math flash cards, they are always fun to use to switch things up.

We did additions of 1 for quite awhile when my daughter was barely 4. She learned from her brother and loved the success even though it seemed pretty easy. At 6, she really loves math and picks it up quickly, which I like to blame on our math games. ;-)

Word Problems

Again, start where they are with a little bit of a challenge. With my son we started out towards the end of Kindergarten with something similar to this:

“Johnny has 5 apples. Sally gave him 2 apples and ate 3. How many are left?”

I remember giving my son what I thought was a difficult math problem, similar to the one above, when we first started doing math at bedtime and he easily answered it with out a groan or a fight.

Math Games

My kiddos live for fun, so we have learned to incorporate math into their favorite games like, Go Fish. It always makes bedtime a happy moment when we end with a quick round. With this version instead of asking the other player for your particular number you want, ask, “Do you have a 3+1?” or “Do you have a 10-7?”, etc. So far, we stick to all addition at first and then switch to subtraction for the last half.

 

Love Bug Poems

Valentine's Day Bug Craft - Haikus for kids

I am always on the lookout for fun educational ways to spend the holidays.  This is one of my kids favorite Valentine activities that we do every year. I love it when I come up with an idea that they like!

Start by doing a craft, all kiddos like that! We made Love Bugs with leftover scrapbook paper, but construction paper would work just fine too.  As you can see from the picture, it’s pretty self explanatory and easy!! We made the wings heart shaped and accordion folded the arms and legs to make it stand out more. Googly eyes and pipe cleaners make every craft more fun.

When we were done, we learned about haiku poems and made poems about our Love Bugs.

Haiku Facts:

  • It is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. (Take a trip to the map and find Japan).
  • It consists of three lines.
  • The first and last lines have five syllables.
  • The middle line has seven syllables.
  • They rarely rhyme.

 

Some examples of ours are:

“I have a love bug
Her name is Curly Shirley
She likes to have fun”

                                      Delaney age 5

“I love my love bug
Because its just like my mom
Cause she’s the best mom”

                                    Sydney age 8

“Will you be my friend?
My name is Miss Polka Dots
Be my Valentine?”

                                     Kennedy age 7

We always have lots of fun with this and it is neat to see how their poems change as they get older. I hope you try it out with your family. I would love to hear what your poems are!!

Roll to 100 Dice Game

Fun Dice games for kids

Something I have learned from my children is that they love math, especially when it is in the form of a game. Our friend taught us this game and my kiddos had a blast. You know you have a good game when they keep asking to play it again! This game is perfect for all levels and a great way to practice math skills. If your child can count, they can play this.

What You Need:

  • Piece of paper
  • Pen/marker
  • 1-2 dice
  • Base ten blocks – we borrowed ours from a friend. 10 of each is perfect

or

If you do not have access to base ten blocks, then you can get creative. Here are some ideas for alternatives:

  • Ones – you can use mini marshmallows, cherrios, small crackers, etc
  • Tens – you can use popsicle/craft sticks, cue tips, or anything stick like
  • Hundreds – you can use a piece of bread, graham cracker, etc

Directions:

The rules for this game are pretty simple. The goal of the game is to get to 100 hundred by rolling the dice.

Set up your board by drawing/creating 3 categories on a piece of paper. Label each category with “Ones”, “Tens”, “Hundreds”.

Player rolls the dice and adds that many ones to the “Ones”. Then they roll again and continue adding the ones until they have reached 10. Then they exchange their 10 ones for a tens stick. Player will continue rolling until they get 10 tens and will then be able to trade for a hundreds block.

See example below: Player rolled 7 on their first roll, so they put 7 blocks in the “Ones” section. 2nd roll the player rolled a 4, so they add 4 ones to the “Ones” section. When they reach 10 in the “Ones” section, they exchange will exchange 10 of the ones for 1 ten block. 

Player will continue rolling until they get 10 tens and will then be able to trade for a hundreds block.

This game can be played as a one player game or played as a team game. We played it as individuals this time, but they liked to see how their sibling was doing.

We had a lot of fun with this game and it can be easily adjusted for each child’s learning level. I thought my second grader would think it was a boring “little kids” game, but he was just as much into it as my kindergartner. And after 30+ minutes of playing they still wanted to keep going.

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

Snowflake Fun Facts

We are working through our holiday advent right now like so many others and today we are making snowflakes.  I decided to add a little education to our activity this Christmas and we looked up facts about snow and snowflakes.  The kids had a blast with this since in sunny Arizona we don’t get to see much snow.

Here are our 15 favorite facts:

 Snow Facts

  1.  Each snowflake is six-sided and made of as many as 200 ice crystals.
  2. The ice crystals form around tiny bits of dirt that has been carried up into the atmosphere by the wind.
  3. As the snow crystals grow, they become heavier and fall toward the ground.
  4. To snow the temperature must be below 32 degrees.
  5. The size of a snowflake depends on how many ice crystals connect together.
  6. Close to 80% of the worlds fresh water supply comes from snow and ice.
  7. Snow is not actually white but clear.  Snow looks white because of the way the light reflects off of the ice crystals.
  8. Snow forms in a variety of shapes.
  9. Heavy snowfalls are called snowstorms.
  10. Heavy snowfalls with high winds over 35 miles per hour with limited visibility are called blizzards.
  11. When the weatherman predicts a blizzard is coming, people buy more cake, candy and cookies than any other food.
  12. The most snowfall over a year was in Mount Rainier in the state of Washington.  It snowed 1,224 inches from February 19th 1971- February 19th 1972.
  13. The most snow to fall in a 24 hour period was 76 inches in Silver Lake Colorado in 1921.
  14. The largest snowman was 122 feet tall.  It was built-in Maine in 2008.
  15. The snowiest place in the US is Stampede Pass in Washington State. On average it snows 430 inches a year.

Tricks and tips for snowflake making:

  • Use coffee filters.  They are much easier to cut than paper for little ones.
  • Use a pencil and trace the pattern on the folded paper for little ones that tend to just cut up the paper. My kindergartener loved this and was so excited when it turned out.

  • Staple them on white yarn or tulle and hang them up in an arch way so your kids can enjoy them all winter long.

 

Math, Math Everywhere!

Math ideas

With two young children in school, I have come to realize you cannot do much without math. It really is EVERYWHERE! Today I wanted to share a few easy ways to incorporate math into your daily lives.

Count

Count anything and everything! Having your child practice writing their numbers is always great, but it can get boring. So, switch it up! If you look around, there is always something that you can have your child count to give them another way to practice their numbers. They can count:

  • stairs they step on as they are going upstairs
  • pens in the “pencil jar”
  • shoes in the shoe cubbies or basket
  • dolls in the doll box
  • blocks they can stack
  • toes in a group of people sitting together (we usually do this at bedtime)

The possibilities are really endless once you start looking. Start small and encourage them to go as high as they can go. The more they count and practice, the easier it will become. I know at my kiddos’ school they like them to be able to count to 100 be the end of kindergarten.

Number Scavenger Hunt

Send your kiddo on a Number Scavenger Hunt. I got this idea recently from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and it has been a lot of fun for my daughter. Challenge your kiddo to find the numbers 1-20 in order, or expand the range according to ability.  This is perfect for when you are the grocery store or another place that has a lot of numbers. An at-home alternative is to save your grocery store ads or phone books and have your child look through them to find each number. This is a perfect activity for when you need a distraction. When I did this with my daughter, I realized that although she could count and write her numbers, that this was a nice challenge for her.

Play A Game

Who says math is boring? My children love any excuse to play a game and Math is already a part of so many games or can easily be slipped in. Some favorite math games for my kiddos are Yahtzee, Garbage and Dice War. All of which are great to practice counting and number order. What are your favorites?

Practice makes perfect and with a little variety you can help your child practice the same things over and over again without them even noticing. There is nothing wrong with making learning fun, right?

Top image courtesy of photo stock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net