Tag Archives: learning

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 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?

What Type of Learner is Your Child?

What Type of Learner is Your Child

One size doesn’t fit all. This goes for clothing, shoes, bicycles and individual learning. Kids are different. Their abilities are different. The efforts are different. Their struggles are different. Their successes are different.

Each year as the school year begins we are faced with choices on how to deal with achievements and disappointments. Having multiple children with different learning speeds makes homework and report card time stressful as parents.

Our eldest daughter is given leeway on her work and study time. She’s trusted to complete her work with little micro management from us. She’s already completed 11 years of school and is quickly finishing her senior year of high school. That’s not to say her school career hasn’t been without bumps but overall her learning personality has been easy to work with. School conferences have been uneventful, reports cards have been mostly excellent. When the instances presented themselves that classes were more difficult we approached them with revised study methods.

Studying has never been our son’s strong suit. Entering fifth grade brought a whole new world of teaching that he didn’t know was out there. For his first few years of school his effort was always appreciated. It was enough to please teachers and provide good grades. This year his teacher is expecting more. She’s looking at the details and wants her students to do the same. He’s now spending more time on penmanship and research than he’s used to. Homework is sometimes a struggle but when he completes a story summary with complex details I do a little dance of joy. While he may need more supervision to finalize his work it’s worth it to see the high grades coming home. His passion for reading grows each day and that in of itself is something to celebrate.

The youngest has always craved learning. Since she was a toddler she’d find a book to look through or a scrap of paper to scribble on. These days as she’s waiting for her school day to start she’ll work on an art project or new story to show to her teacher. Her first half of first grade has gone very well. She’s been introduced to advanced reading work and is working more independently versus other students. She comes home ready to tackle her weekly homework in just one night. Her enthusiasm to learn is refreshing and I hope she never loses that excitement.

My child are smart cookies. Each have their own passion and zeal for life. Each have their own interests and hobbies. We work on a harmonious blend of all of these traits to hopefully end up with well rounded, educated, productive members of society.

Learning achievements are one of the best motivators to get children more excited about earning better test scores and grades. Celebrating each child’s achievements in their own way encourages them to keep striving for the best of their ability.

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!

7 Fun Learning Activities For Halloween Candy

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Candy, candy everywhere! If your house is like ours, your house started collecting Halloween candy before the official day even arrived. Take advantage of your child’s attention to their candy and “play” with it. Here are 7 ways you can use your candy to help promote learning.

Spelling

Use the candy to create words. If you have a beginner speller, this is a great opportunity to have them practice sounding out the words as they are “writing” them. If anything, you can have them just write their name or practice the ABCs. My daughter loved this!

Counting

My children love knowing how many pieces of candy they have collected. You can count the total, count each individual piece or count each individual pile from when they were separated. This is a great way to practice counting to 100, something my Kindergartner is practicing everyday. For more advanced counters separate and count by 10s as far as they can go.

Number Recognition

Practice number recognition by using the candy to write the numbers and find the same number of pieces of candy to go with it.

Colors

Separate all the candy by colors. For a more advanced activity, you can name them all and practice spelling them out loud.

Addition

Use the candy to practice basic math, like addition. You can use basic math like, “1 starburst + 1 starburst = 2 Starburst” or for more advanced little mathematicians you can use the candy to create word problems, like, “Sally has 2 bags of M&Ms and Jim has one. How many bags do they have all together?”

Size and Shape

Separate pieces of candy by size and/or shape. This is a great way to practice greater than/less than by size, too.

Play a Game

Use a dice to play a game with all that candy and if you can make it a nice competition between siblings or parent and child, it adds to the fun. Have the player roll the dice and add that number in pieces of candy to their pile. First one to reach 100 wins.

This is just a small list of all the things you can do with your candy stash. If it is going to be in the house, you might as well get some education use out of the candy, right? ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

Needle Letter Fun Activity

Fun with letters

As my children have been learning over the years and are now in school, there is one important word that stands out to me…Repetition! Repetition is practice and a lot of the homework being sent home is just that. The more they practice, the easier it gets. Can you tell this is my new speech for my 2nd grader on why he has to read and write every night?

My new Kindergartner L.O.V.E.S. any excuse to practice. She enjoys the repetition and since she does not yet have homework like her brother, I have come up with a few ways for her to practice what she knows while her brother works on his homework. One that she has enjoyed that was inspired by some art she brought home from school is this Needle Letter Fun Activity. Even my 7 year old wanted to get in on the fun!

What You Need:

  • Print out of alphabet letters
  • Colored sheet of paper (card stock, construction paper, etc)
  • Needle – knitting needle works well for younger children
  • Carpeted area for them work on
  • Stapler

Step 1: Print out a sheet of alphabet letters. The Rusty and Rosy software has a worksheet or you can quickly find one by searching “alphabet letters” on google.

Step 2: Place the printout on top of the colored sheet, lining the corners up together. Staple the top 2 corners so the two sheets are attached together, but the bottom can be lifted up to look underneath.

Step 3:  Place the paper on the carpeted floor. Use the needle to poke holes in the paper following the outline of each letter. We discovered that a knitting needle was easier for her to hold and we did not have to worry about losing a small needle. Also, by placing the paper on the carpet it will allow the poking easier and will not put any dents on the table.

Step 4: When ready, lift the top sheet and place the back sheet towards a light (window, ceiling light, computer screen etc.) and enjoy the view. This is the part that my daughter loves the most!

 

This is a simple activity, but it makes basic letter practice exciting for my children. If you want to increase the difficulty, below are a few ideas of advanced activities you can add.

Extras:

  • Ask your child the name of each letter they are working on
  • Practice the sounds of each letter they are working on
  • Ask your child for words that start with the letter they are working on

Play to Learn – Memory Games

Memory Game Fun

I have learned over the years that the best way for me to help my children learn is to incorporate learning into some type of game.  We have an obsession with playing and sharing games!

My children are big fans of memory games and they love this version because there are many different ways to play it! Just to name a few ways…we can turn it into a sensory game, a game to practice using description words or a “what’s missing game”. This game is also great because it is easy to adjust for different ages and learning levels.

What you need:

  • a variety of small items (usually toys) with different textures, shapes and sizes
  • small blanket or towel (optional)
  • blindfold (optional)
  • At least one eager player. If there are more than two, than one person can be the seeker

Directions:

Step 1: Pick out a certain amount of small items/toys from around the house. For younger ages start out with 4 items and work your way up. With my 5 and 7 year old we started out with 8 items.

Step 2: With all the participants out of the room or their backs turned, lay the selected items out on the ground and cover them with a small blanket or towel.

Step 3: Have participants turn around, remove the blanket and give them a certain amount of time to look at the items in front of them on the floor. We usually do 10 seconds.

Step 4: Cover the items again and have all participants leave the room or turn around while you remove one or two items from under the blanket. Make sure to keep the selected “removed” items out of sight.

Step 5: Invite participants to turn around or come back in the room. Remove the blanket and let them figure out what is missing.

Step 6: Repeat. Switching up a few or all items every now and then will help keep the game fresh. If you are playing with older children, let them take turns being in charge.

Variations:

  • Make it a sensory game by choosing a variety of mystery items with different texture, sizes, smells, etc. You can have them guess the items or have them talk about what they are feeling (a great opportunity to practice descriptive words).
  • Keep participant(s) blindfolded and have them figure out what is missing by sight.
  • Sometimes I let each of the kiddos secretly pick four items and put them into a bag for me to add to the game. They love knowing which items they picked out and cannot wait to see what everyone else selected.

Hide and Go Seek – Sound Version

Hide and Seek with a Twist

Since we are a house of young children, playing hide and go seek seemed to be a little difficult until my oldest hit 1st grade and learned by playing with bigger kids. So, we learned from our cousins a variation of the game using sound and have been using it for years with all the younger aged children, even our 7 month old is playing it now. It is a great game because you do not need a lot of places to hide and hiding behind couches, chairs or spaces you do not quite fit behind over and over again is okay. It is a great way to practice those listening skills and have fun at the same time!

What you need: 

  • At least 2 players
  • Confined space is great to start out with depending on the age of players (i.e. the kitchen, downstairs only, etc.)

Directions:

Step 1: One player (usually the adult) hides. For super young children, start out hiding pretty close and in pretty obvious places, (i.e. around the corner, behind a chair, etc.).

Step 2: Once the player is hidden, they start calling out “Beep Beep” or for babies say their name. Sometimes popping up and shouting their name gets their attention and grabs their curiosity to make them start heading for you. Make sure that when the seeker(s) find the hiding player that you make it an exciting event and they will learn it is a good thing to find the “hider”.

Step 3: Hide again!

Once the younger children start understanding that they need to call out “Beep beep” when the seeker says “Say beep beep”, all but one can hide.

This is a perfect game for preschool aged children to play with younger children. I love this picture below. You can see the two preschool aged children are way too excited to even stand still OR stay hidden and my 7 month old is excited to scoot toward them! For now they are popping out and calling her name to get her attention. They could do this for at least twenty minutes if my baby had enough attention span!

I also found this game to be a great way for children to learn how to respond or answer back when they are in another room or out of site (probably being naughty!). When my son was “lost” outside we could call out “Say beep beep” and we would then hear his little “Beep beep” back that would help us find him. We really have had a lot of fun with this game!

Choosing the Right Educational Website

Online Homework Help with Rusty and Rosy

I have three kids in three different grades who learn thre different ways. Their ages are spaced far apart so homework time is a huge obstacle some nights.
The oldest is almost out of high school so her homework is usually done independently but the two school age kids often need help.

It’s been many years since I’ve been to school so sometimes I’m not the most helpful with “new math”, improper fractions or combining sentences with participles. These examples are true representations that have come about with our 4th grader. I’ve turned to Google, Wikipedia and Facebook for explanations and refreshers. I realize it’s the only way for the kids to stay on top of the skills they are learning each day.

A little screen time each day on select sites and software is how we are keeping minds sharp and fresh. Each company below offers something different than standard workbooks or flashcards. Digital content is updated often to reflect current learning trends and changing information. These are some of my favorite reputable and supportive resources that are helpful for just about any age or grade.

online homework helpSpellingCity.com is a Free (Premium membership available) efficient game-based website focusing on literacy and language art skills for children from Pre-K to 3rd Grade.

Education.com is a comprehensive collection of printables, activities, games and articles for children in pre-k through high school. The fun and insightful content spanning many subjects is a great educational boost to assignments from school.

KhanAcademy.org is a whole different level of learning. This donor supported non-profit resource hosts a library of over 4,000 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of other life skills to practice.

DiscoveryEducation.com offers FREE resources for teachers and student turning lessons inside and outside the classroom into engaging digital learning environments.

RustyandRosy.com is a skill building educational software tool for pre K- 2nd graders. Rusty and Rosy teaches phonics, vocabulary, language concepts and math through games, songs and activities.

No matter what tool, website, software or method you use to enhance your child’s school education make sure it’s a fit for your family. Rely on tools that encourage what they are already learning.

Go Fish with a Math Twist

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Each year my son’s school throws together a night to celebrate math and play games. We always come home with a new handful of games that we love to play and that encourage him to practice math. The added perk is that his little sister gets a lesson in math, too, as she tries to join us in all the games. A game we have been playing recently is a version of Go Fish with a math twist.

What You Will Need:

  • Deck of cards with numbers (UNO, Phase 10, Regular face cards – remove any cards with letters because that may get a little confusing)
  • At least 2 players that know their numbers 1-10

Directions:

Go Fish

To be able to play this version of Go Fish you must know how to play Go Fish itself first. I would hate to assume everyone knows how to play and leave them hanging. So if you already know how to play, skip to the next section below. 

Object: Collect pairs of matching cards (two 4′s, two 9′s, etc. Having two spades or the same of any other character does not count. For this game the numbers matter)

How To Play Go Fish: Each player is dealt 5 cards. The remaining cards are place in the middle face down for a draw pile. Each player takes a turn asking one other player for a card/number they currently have in their own hand. (The goal is to get matches, so if you have a 4 in your hand, you would ask one of your opponents, “Do you have a 4?”). If the player asked has the card, they must hand it over. If they do not have it, they respond “Go Fish” and the player who asked for the card must pick from the draw pile and their turn is over. Continue play until all matches are made. Common instructions say that a turn keeps going if a match is received, but for my sanity match or no match it is the next player’s turn.

Go Fish With a Math Twist

Object: Collect pairs pairs that differ by a certain number (i.e. if you choose that they differ by one, then a 2 and a 3 are now a match because 2+1=3).

How To Play Go Fish With a Math Twist: Choose what number you want your pairs to differ by. Follow the directions above for Go Fish except instead of each player asking their opponent for a card that matches one that is currently in their hand, they will ask for one that differs by the selected number (i.e. same as above: if you choose that they differ by one, then a 2 and a 3 are now a match because 2+1=3). Keep going until no more pairs can be made.Go Fish with a Math Twist

This is a great way to practice math and have some fun together. As I mentioned above, my soon to be Kindergartner loves to join in with her big brother and although she needs to ask for help, she catches on pretty quick. We have been practicing plus 1′s for now because she is playing with us, but as we get more comfortable or if it is just me and my son, we can start doing subtraction only or numbers differing by 3 (just for example). The sky is the limit on the amount of variations you can have with this fun and simple game.