Category Archives: Michelle

How To Create A Great Morning Routine

back to school

It is back to school time everywhere and that means back to waking up early and morning routines. The hardest part for me is getting breakfast made quickly so we can get school started at a decent hour. To help organize myself this year I had my kids help make a list of all the breakfasts we like to eat. Here is what we came up with:

  • French Toast
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Blueberry muffins
  • Eggs with bread in the pan
  • Scrambled Eggs with toast
  • Sunny Side Up Eggs and toast
  • Egg Sandwiches
  • Cereal
  • Yogurt and fruit with granola
  • Egg burritos
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Homemade bread toast
  • English muffins
  • Banana Bread
  • Zucchini Bread
  • Oatmeal

As you can see most breakfast foods aren’t fast so I decided I needed a plan. What I came up with is I would make one batch of something that I could make in bulk on Sunday or Monday and they could eat it all week with some of the easier things. For example I would make up a bunch of pancakes or waffles and then we could reheat them throughout the week. Making muffins or breads the night before also is a huge timesaver in the morning!

Here is our families favorite pancake recipe that I thought you would all enjoy!

Yummiest Pancakes Ever

The Yummiest Pancake recipe

I always double the recipe and it makes a ton!!

  • 2 C. Flour
  • 3 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 C. Milk
  • ¼ C. Vegetable Oil
  • ¼ C. Pancake Syrup

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk. Let rest a few minutes and then cook on a hot buttered griddle. Enjoy!!

 

Make Breakfast a Teaching Opportunity

As always, you can make this pancake recipe into a fun learning (or more like practice) activity as well by trying some alphabet pancakes with our Learning With Letter Pancakes. Or for a fun twist, create numbers or shapes and a little age appropriate math with your kiddos.

How to turn breakfast and pancakes into a learning activity

I would love to hear what ideas you have for helping make breakfast time fast and yummy!!

Exploring Sound With Children

Musical Bottles

Every time I get an empty glass bottle part of me thinks I should save it for some fun craft or cute decor. If you are like me, let’s have some fun with your collection and experiment with our kiddos with the sense of sound. We ended up having a lot more fun than I expected, so I plan on “experimenting” for a few more days. My kiddos loved it!

What You Need:

  • At least a few glass bottles, jars or cups
  • A stick (we went for a wood stick vs a metal utensil in case the kiddos hit them too hard)
  • Colored markers
  • Slips of paper or notecards
Musical Bottles

Experiment Away:

We discovered there are a variety things we can do.  I let the kiddos lead it and I’ll share what we did, but there is no wrong way to have fun! My original intent was to teach them more about music, but as we experimented I realized my kiddos still didn’t recognize the difference between low and high pitches. So , instead we focused on these ideas:

Pitch: High vs low

Fill the botles with a variety of levels of water and arrange them in order of pitch from low to high.

Musical Bottles Experimenting

 

Follow Patterns of Colors, Shapes or Numbers

Similar to reading sheet music, label each bottle with a different color, shape and/or number.Musical Bottles

Then create a pattern to follow and write it down or call it out. Start out with colors to make it easy and for older children you can make it more challenging by mixing all 3 types.

Musical Bottles

If you have the bottles labeled correctly and with the right amounts of water in each bottle, you can create real music…maybe something easy like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” We are working our way up to this and I know my kiddos will be super excited when we get to this point.

**I will note: I went through a dejunking phase last month, so I actually ended up borrowing these from a friend.

What music will you create with your children?

Rainbow Mosaic Craft

scrap paper rainbow craft

You might remember my previous post Let them cut paper! Now that you have been letting them use scissors you should have lots of little pieces of paper floating around your house. I kept mine in baggies by color so they were all ready for our final color activity. You can’t have a color unit without ending with the rainbow!! Here is a fun and fabulous activity kids of all ages will love!!!

 

Supplies needed:

  • Colored scraps of paper in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple
  • White glue
  • Light blue construction paper
  • Sharpie
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cotton balls
  • Plastic lids or paper plates

DIRECTIONS:

I put the paper in Ikea bowls that come in rainbow colors so they are perfect for holding the paper in the right color order. They are great for color sorting activities too!

scrap paper rainbow

For this activity with my little ones I drew a cloud and lines for the rainbow to help them have a guide. Then they glued away and had a great time.

creative paper craft for kids

For the cloud they spread apart cotton balls and glued them down for a fluffy three dimensional look.

cutting with scissors craft for kids

This was a hit with all my kids! My oldest daughter decided it looked like fun and wanted to make her own mosaic picture with the rainbow colors.

scrap paper craft

It is great for all of them to have fun doing an activity at their own levels!!

 

Tip: 

White glue can be hard for little fingers to get out of the bottle. They either use half a bottle in a matter of minutes or they squeeze and squeeze and nothing comes out. Years ago I started saving my plastic lids from sour cream containers and other plastic lids to use for art. They are the perfect surface to put glue and paint on. It washes right off when you are done and you can reuse them over and over! Put a blob of glue in the middle of the lid and little ones can use cotton swabs to get the glue where they need it. Way less mess and way less wasting of glue!!!

scrap paper rainbow craft for kids

What activities do you do that incorporate a large age group of children?

I would love for you to share!

Let them cut paper!

How to teach a toddler to use scissors safely

I know many of you read the title and went running in the other direction thinking I had lost my mind! As a former kindergarten teacher I was always amazed at the number of kids who came to school and had never held a pair of scissors before, let alone cut anything. Using scissors is a fabulous fine motor activity that really helps children in many areas, especially writing. Parents had every excuse in the book as to why their child had not used scissors; they would cut their hair, cut their clothes, cut the couch etc. Honestly I have my fifth child learning how to use scissors and we have never had more than a little hair trimmed. Let me tell you a secret about scissors; if you watch your children while they use scissors and then put them away when they are done they won’t have a chance to get into any trouble with them!! Earth shattering shocking information, I know! So give it a try let your preschooler or toddler use scissors. It will provide hours of entertainment and be a skill that will build their fine motor development.

Try the following activity when introducing scissors……

We are learning about colors this month with my 3 year old. She insists that everything is blue because it is her favorite color so we are trying to open her stubborn eyes to the other wonderful colors of the world! We are reading lots of fun color books like the following.

Every few days we discuss a different color and then she gets to use scissors and cut up a piece of paper in that color. She gets a pair of scissors, a piece of construction paper, and a bowl to catch the scraps.

This method is just getting her comfortable using scissors. There are no lines to follow and it doesn’t matter the size or the shape of the pieces. She is just learning confidence with scissors and practicing her fine motor skills. I am saving each colorful bowl of scraps in a baggie to be used in a fun craft at the end of our color unit.

Try it with your child this month, I promise you won’t be disappointed in how much fun they will have with such a simple activity. Save your scraps and come back soon for our fun rainbow craft!!! 

Exploring Our Hands!

Activities for children to explore their hands

As  my baby is now turning into a very curious toddler, I thought it would be fun to do some activities exploring our hands. My older kids loved it as much as the youngest, so it was a hit. It ended up being a great way to explore all our senses, too!

If you want to repeat our exploration, you can do it all in one afternoon or you can spread it out over the week. Here is what we did:

What You Need:

  • Cookie Mix – we bought the sugar cookie and gingerbread mix from the store to make it easier
  • Bowl
  • Large wooden spoon
  • Baking sheet
  • Rolling Pin
  • Butter knife
  • Touch and feel type books
  • (optional) Cookie decorating toppings – frosting, sprinkles, fruit snacks, candy, etc

Time To Explore:

Before we started we had a fun conversation talking about our hands and pointing out to my youngest our “hand”, “fingers”, “thumb”. She’s just old enough to copy us, so it was fun!

Then we made our cookie mix and made sure to use our hands to mix it for at least a little bit. We made sure to talk about the texture and actions like “soft”, “sticky”, “squeezing”.Activities for children to explore their hands

And in honor of our hands, we created hand cookies! We rolled out the dough and had one of the kiddos lay their hand on the dough while I cut/trace their hand with a butter knife. Then we pulled away the excess dough and had a replication of a cute little dough hand.Activities for children to explore their hands

Next we baked them in the oven and even turned the oven light on so they could see them bake. Activities for children to explore their hands

While the cookies were baking we pulled out some of our books that have different texture and the older kiddos read to the youngest and helped talk to her about the different textures they were touching. (They each had to have their own book!)Activities for children to explore their hands

The kids loved the Hand Cookies and loved eating them even more. If you want to add extra fun to the cookie making process, you can have your kiddos decorate their hand with frosting, sprinkles, fruit snacks, etc.

Other Hand Activities

Another fun hand focused activity was putting yogurt into a sealable type baggy and letting my kids squish it. We added a little Kool Aid for coloring to encourage more squishing. And since it was cold, it was an awesome activity for a hot afternoon…excuse her sweaty baby hair!Activities for children to explore their hands

We had a lot of fun with textures as we walked through stores throughout the week. Her favorite? It had to be the bin of bumpy balls!Activities for children to explore their hands

What are your children’s favorite hand activities?

Summer Fun Learning Games For The Pool

funonadime.net pool fun games

When summer arrives in Arizona, “Pool Time” is a must to cool off. And of course, my kiddos love any excuse to play a game and even more so when they are in the pool. We discovered that with a stack of foam letters and numbers, there are a lot of fun games to play and as a bonus, it was easy to give them an educational twist without them even knowing it!

What You Need:

  • Foam letters (any size)
  • Foam numbers
  • Frisbee, kick board or something to hold foam pieces on (optional)

Game Ideas:

The kiddos figured out that using something like a frisbee was an easy way to gather the foam letters and organize them while playing the games.

 

Preschool Age Games (and older)

Alphabetic and Numerical Order: Have your child find each letter or number in order. We found this easiest for our preschooler by keeping the letters in a smaller area.

pool games for kids

Letter Sound Shout Out: Call out a letter sound and have your child find it

Sort by Color: Practice colors by shouting out certain colors and having your child bring the color to you or sort on their frisbee.

funonadime.net preschool learning

Counting: This does not necessarily need foam numbers. If you have them, sort numbers in order. If you do not have foam numbers, constantly count when you are about to do something. My 18 month old is learning how to count to 10 simply because we use it when she jumps into the pool and she will count with us.

Variations for Older Children (Kindergarten+)

Letter Recognition: Scatter the letters and tell your child to find certain letters.

funonadime.net pool fun games

Listen Carefully: “When I call out the letter H jump in the pool.” My kiddos always love a challenge. You can also treat this like Shark and Minnos but with letters and numbers

Practice spelling and sounding out words: We had many variations of this game and they loved them all. “Find the letters for the word CAT. Now replace the C with a B. What does that spell?” For older children you can have them find their own words and sound them out.

Advanced Letter and Number Scatter: This can be fun with one child or multiple children. Scatter the foam letters/numbers all over the pool.  Call out a letter/number or multiple numbers and see who can get it first.

I am a firm believer that just because it’s summer time, it does not mean the learning has to stop. These little games are easy to play and adjust to each child’s abilities AND the kiddos have so much fun getting cooled off, too!

 

Make Stories Come To Life With Puppet Play

3 easy to make puppets

Puppets can be magical assistants when telling a story. They always seem to draw my kiddos in and make the story come to life. We have had a lot of fun with puppets over the years, but our favorites are the ones we have made ourselves. And what is even better, they are all really easy to make!

Three Simple Homemade Puppets

Sock Puppets

Sock puppets are classic puppets and can be as simple as an old sock with a face drawn on it OR you can have a little more fun and get creative. With a few random craft supplies like fabric, yarn, a glue gun and a pair of google eyes, you can create anything!

In our particular case, we made ours into super heroes and they were used not only for story time but their own story creations and imaginative play.

 

Paper Bag Puppets

Paper bag puppets are also a great puppet. They have a natural mouth and are easier for young children to be able to “control”. You can make a great puppet with your own paper scraps and a little glue. Or to simplify the process search the internet for “paper bag puppet templates” and look under images. There are a lot of already made, super cute templates ready for you to print, color, cut, glue and put into story telling action.

 

Finger Puppets

Finger puppets are great because you can use more than one or two at a time and they are a great way to work with a lot of characters at once. We have found an easy way to make these are out of paper. With a quick internet search for “paper finger puppets” (look under images to make it a faster search), you can find any character you need quickly and the kiddos always have fun coloring them before we use them.

 

What is your favorite way to tell a story?

Eating Our Way Through The Alphabet

photo 5

I have been trying to get the kiddos a little more involved in selecting the food we eat for our meals and eventually assisting in preparing the meals. This activity ended up being a perfect way to get them excited about what they are eating and helping out.

How To Start

Step 1: Have your child write each letter of the alphabet down the side of a sheet of paper. ~ We were only able to get halfway through the alphabet with my kindergartner.

Step 2: Then have your child write down a food for every letter on the paper ~ It was fun to have both kids creating their alphabet lists at the same time because they were able to brainstorm together. They took many trips to the pantry to get inspiration when they got stuck on a letter, which I thought was a great idea!

Step 3: Once you have your list, try to have them come up with meals that will allow everyone to eat the alphabet as much as possible. We used a cookbook that had great pictures to help inspire some meal ideas from the kiddos.

Step 4: Shop for your food and enjoy everything you made from the alphabet!

Meal Ideas

Here are some meal ideas we came up with:

Crockpot Fake Cheese Pizza – Ingredients: Cheese, Tomato sauce, Noodles, Hamburger, Seasoning

Tacos- Ingredients: Bell peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Avocado, Lettuce, Chicken, Onions

Fish & Potato Wedges – Ingredients: Fish and Potatoes

German Pancakes with Grapes – Ingredients: Eggs, Milk, Flour, Butter, Grapes

Originally, my thought was to have them make a list of the alphabet on the wall and after each meal they could cross off the starting letter of the foods we just ate, but the kiddos wanted to do full meals. This turned out to be a lot more fun for us and it helped get the kids energized about what we will be putting on their plate over the next week.

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!