Tag Archives: Star Blogger

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!!

Story Time

2013-12-03 08.10.59

Family story time is one of the most important times of the day, but as my children get older it gets a little more difficult. I have 6 kids that range in age from 1-10 with three readers, one almost reader and two little ones.  The big kids like to read their own books at night and with the baby sometimes it is just easier to skip reading together.  In order to help keep me accountable and get the all the kids excited about reading together I have come up with a great plan!!

I pick one book for every day of the month and then wrap them up!! Sometimes we do a theme such as the holiday of the month, an author study or just fun random books.  The kids take turns each night opening the books and they are always excited to see what we are reading.

The themes I am using this year are:

  • January- Winter books (favorite winter author Jan Brett)
  • February- Valentines books
  • March- Spring and Easter
  • April- Author study Robert Munsch.  We love all of his books!!
  • May-Clifford and Curious George Books
  • June- Summer books
  • July- Patriotic and American history books
  • August- Back to School Books
  • September- Family favorite books (Seven Silly Eaters by: Mary Ann Hoberman is our all time favorite book)
  • October- Halloween books
  • November- Thanksgiving books
  • December- Christmas books

Tips and tricks

If I do not have enough books that fit my theme, I just throw in a random book that we love. With five girls we read a lot of Fancy Nancy! Wrapping paper can be kind of pricey so newspaper, comics and butcher paper work fabulous! The kids help wrap the books, too, which makes it an easy activity to pull off.

Give it a try, I am sure you will not be disappointed!

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.

4 Tips To Help Prepare Your Child For Their First Day of School

First Day of School - No Tears Here!

As summer is wrapping up for us, school is on my mind as I am sure it is with most parents. Here are 4 tips to help prep your child for their first day of preschool or kindergarten.  Ready or not, here they go!

Have Playdates

Getting to know other children is healthy for your child. Invite friends over for playdates and go to other friends’ houses, too. This is a great way for your child to learn how to get along with others because not everyone plays the same. If you are new to your area or not comfortable going to other people’s homes yet, try a park or visiting a story time at your local library. Both are free events and great places to meet other parents/children your child’s age.

Leave Them

Eventually, the day will come when you have to leave your child at the door of his/her kindergarten class. Do NOT let that be your first time apart! To avoid a sad scene at your first school drop off, leave them every now and then before that day comes. There are many different ways you can start practicing your separation. You can sign them up for preschool before kindergarten starts, leave them at a friend’s house for a playdate on their own or leave them with a babysitter for a night out with your spouse, just to name a few. You will get a little time to yourself to get something done on your own and they will be able to learn how to get along with others while you are not in the room and know that you are going to come back for them.

Practice Lunch

If your child is going to be eating lunch at school, it is a great idea to practice eating lunch. Find out how long they will have to eat and give them a test run at least once before school starts so they have a general idea of how it is going to go.

The summer before my son went into kindergarten I realized that he had never had a sack lunch and did not know how open juice boxes or milk containers. And I will admit, I was deathly afraid he would see all the kids at lunch and think it would be fun to start a food fight! We started practicing a week before school so I could at least show him the basics and walk him through what would be expected of him (i.e. cleaning up, what to throw away etc.). The first day, I helped him do everything just so we did not have him experimenting.  Every day I did less until he was doing it all on his own.

Let Them Get Excited

As sad as you may be about your kiddo going off to school, do NOT take their excitement away from them. Your child should be excited about going to school. So, if you have to hide your sadness, do it! ;-) After my daughter’s first few days at school, she came home with this note below and giggled with excitement all weekend long for me to “leave her at the door with a hug and a kiss.”

Your child not having a meltdown at the door when you say goodbye is a good thing. It does not mean they will not miss you, but instead it means that they are ready and prepared. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back because you just did something awesome!

 

Practicing Math During the Summer

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Once summer break started in our house, this mom discovered we had an uninvited friend who wanted to be the center of attention ALL of the time. The television! I should have expected it, but I had hoped to have a better handle on it. Fortunately, it recently stopped working for a couple of days and my 5 year old almost kindergartner daughter and I found ourselves alone in a quiet house with not much to do.

We read all the princess books we could handle for one afternoon and then decided it was time to break into the game closet and choose a fun game. This time she chose Yahtzee! As we started to play I remembered how many different math skills can be developed/practiced while playing Yahtzee.

Some of the math skills Yahtzee helps teach:

Basic Counting

For my daughter, this was a great way for her to reinforce over and over again basic counting skills. She could easily count the dots on each die and it was not long before she could recognize she rolled twos or threes, for example, without having to count each individual dice.

Pattern Recognition

While playing we had the opportunity to talk about patterns. For instance, putting the dice in 1-2-3-4-5 order or 2-3-4-5 order, looking for dice all of the same number, looking for two dice of one number and three of another, etc. She was even the one who first pointed this out to me when she stated, “I found a pattern” as she put her dice in order for a large straight.

Addition/Advanced counting

At the end of each of her turns if we needed the total amount of points, it was her job to count all the “dots” up. This allowed her to practice counting well in to the 20′s which she does not get to practice often with most of the other dice games we play that only have one or two dice.

Patience

We learned that rolling a handful of dice and hoping to get all of the same number over and over again, takes patience and we did not always get what we want. It was also perfect opportunity for her to practice waiting for her turn as she had to wait for me to add up my “dots”.

Writing Numbers

This is a great game to help young players practice writing their numbers, too. I will admit this skill is a little advanced for my daughter at the moment, but perfect for her 7 year old brother who wanted to jump in when he got home. He is also able to help make sure his sister adds everything up correctly, also great practice for him too. If they want to play with out me, which is happening often, I encourage them to stick to the top half of the game where they aim for rolling all of the same numbers.

Since my kiddos have discovered the Yahtzee game, they have been playing it a ton. They think they are playing and I am secretly doing a little happy dance as they are doing something educational without a fight during their summer break!

How do you practice math during the summer?

 

 

Summer Bucket List – Creating Summer Fun

How to create a Summer Bucket List

Summer break is just around the corner! Are you ready for it? I felt myself get a little antsy about a month ago to start planning some summer fun for my kiddos. I know from experience that when I do not plan ahead of time, we miss out on some fun activities during the summer months. Even making a list of summer possibilities helps give us a general guide of what we want to get done during the summer. NOW is the perfect time to get planning for summer fun. One way to do this is to make a Summer Bucket List.

Last year I sat down with my kiddos and asked them to tell me some things they wanted to do during the summer and made that into our Summer Bucket List. They loved being able to have input on what we were going to do. I took their ideas and made it into a list that they could check off and hung it on the wall where everyone would be able to see it. You can see on our Summer Bucket List that they got pretty creative and specific (i.e. “play queen”). We kept our list pretty simple, as we had a lot of reading we wanted to do last summer.

Here are some ideas to help you create your own Summer Bucket List:

The possibilities are endless. Keep it fun, keep it as simple as you want/need and throw some educational learning opportunities into it. A fun summer is sure to be on its way to your house!

 

Top image courtesty of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bottom image courtesy of Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

 

Bubble Themed Day

Bubble Paint

The weather is warming up and I am ready to have a little fun. I find myself scheming and planning our summer schedule already and have decided I just can not wait! So, we are going to celebrate our nice weather with some bubble fun and turned it into a Bubble Themed Day with a few activities and some great books.

Bubble Activities

Basic Bubble Fun

I don’t think I have ever met a child who does not enjoy bubbles, so keep it simple. Go outside and blow bubbles. Let them pop them, count them, step on them or anything else you can think of. I can still send my kiddos outside and they will keep blowing and playing with the bubbles as long as they have bubble solution available.

Advanced Bubble Fun

Have a little science fun by adding different objects with holes to a shallow dish of bubbles and see what happens. For older children, have them search for items on their own and see what they come up with. You can use string, plastic lids with holes cut into it, use your finger and thumb in a circle (the O.K. sign) or anything else you can think of. My personal favorite is a slightly open fist and if I immerse my hand in bubbles, I can blow bubbles out the other end of my hand.

Bubble Art

Create bubble paint by adding water, tempera paint and a couple squirts of dish soap to a pie tin or cup.  Take a straw and blow into the mixture to create bubbles. Then take a sheet of paper and touch it to the top of the bubbles to create a fun design. (Bubble paint = About 1/2-1 cup water, 1-2 T of paint per couple squirts of dish soap…not an exact science.)

Bubble Bath 

An easy activity to do to end a Bubble Themed Day is to have a bubble bath, of course! My kiddos are always excited for a good bubble bath!

Bubble Books

And you can not have a Bubble Themed Day without some good bubble books. We went to our local library to see what kind of bubble books they have and found a couple fun ones. What will you find? Tip: When searching for books using their catalog, use “bubble” instead of “bubbles”. We did not find any children’s books with “bubbles”, but had plenty of options without the “s”.

 

6 Ways to Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week {April 15-21}

April 15-2, 2013

Have you heard about World Creativity and Innovation Week? Me either…that is until recently. I am always up for learning and doing something new and so I just had to find out what this was all about. It is a new event started in 2002 and according to the site dedicated to this week:

“It’s about spreading the word about how you and others are using their creativity – new ideas, new decisions, new actions – to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too.”

What a fun concept! What are you going to do? Here are six ideas to help get you thinking of something fun and creative you can do with your children:

Use your imagination

Where do your kiddos want to go? What would it be like? Put on costumes and pretend to go there. For instance, my children decided to visit the moon once. We made space helmets out of tinfoil and they created a rocket out of chairs. They had quite the adventure!

Get Messy

Experiment with your hands and get messy. Make homemade play-dough. Paint with finger-paint or pudding. Play in the mud. Some of the most creative time my kiddos have spent outside usually has to do with water and dirt. They make rivers, cities, and dams. Boy, do they come inside a mess, but they love it!

Eat Something New or Different

Create your own meal or make something new. Eat dinner for breakfast or breakfast for dinner. Trying something new to challenge your taste buds is always a fun experience.

Build Something

Try building using something new or different like marshmallows and toothpicks, sugar cubes, whatever is in your recycling bin (that could be fun!), refrigerator boxes, or keep it simple with something you already have on hand, like building blocks. I am always amazed at what my children can come up with when I pull out a box of blocks. All it takes is someone to egg on a “let’s see who can make the tallest tower” type of competition and they are off. Soon they are building cities, farms, bridges and more.

Visit an Art Exhibit or Museum

Experience creativity and innovation by visiting a local art exhibit or museum. In our case, we we have a Children’s Museum near us that encourages creativity and experimenting with simple art and science. It is a great way to get my kiddos thinking about how things work or try different types of art.

Solve a Problem

Ask your children for help with a household problem and see if they can help solve it. Try to implement the idea. This one kind of sounds scary to me, but I have been surprised with some of the ideas my kiddos have come up with before and maybe it will be one of these times!

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have fun and no matter what you do be creative!

 

Family Mottos for the New Year

Family Mottos

I have New Year’s on the brain and have been thinking a lot about family mottos. Do you have a word or phrase that works a kind of “magic” in your home? Where all you have to do is say it or remind your children of it and POOF you can see a quick change in moods and/or behavior? Every family has a phrase they use to motivate whether they realize it or not. Thinking over the last year, I have discovered that we do. We actually have a few we use often! My favorite phrase is simple. It is:

I can do hard things

I l.o.v.e. the power that this little sentence has on my children. Whenever my children start to get frustrated about something they are trying to accomplish, I will ask them, “What does Mommy tell you?” And they will repeat, sometimes with some sass, “I can do hard things.” After a quick talk it does not take long before they have figured out a solution and are off to take care of it. This is a phrase we can use for millions of situations but I find I use it the most right now with my children when it comes to reading/writing, homework and chores. And do not think it is just for the kiddos either. I find that I use it often for myself, too. We all need a little motivation to clean up after our mini tornadoes or tackle our massive to do lists sometimes!

Other phrases that have been popular in our house over the last year are:

Just Try It

This phrase is also used to motivate with new activities or experiences. i.e. trying a new food, reading a new word, writing (not always loved here!), etc.

You Get What You Get and You Don’t Throw a Fit

Don’t you just love this one, too? Earlier this year, my son shared this phrase with his younger sister while playing with toys. A magical sentence his Kindergarten teacher started using in class. I loved that he understood it and it has melted many temper tantrums around here!

With the New Year coming, I would love to set a goal to have an official Family Motto. Since my family is young, I am sure it will change over time, but it would be nice to have a phrase that we can focus on together and will motivate us throughout the year.

What is your favorite family phrase or motto?

 

*Top Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net