Math, Projects

Train Whistle Chain – A self initiated project

This is an example of how a child can take initiative in their own growth and learning through play.

When we first made the baby due date counting chain out of paper rings, it was super long. When I hung it between the outer edge of the curtain rod and the middle support screw, Mr. Conductor (almost 4) would pull on it and yell “Whoo Whoo, All aboard!” In fact, he enjoyed doing this quite a lot.

He did notice, though, that the chain kept getting shorter and shorter. Now that we have less than 30 days, the chain is too short to have the desired effect. He told me he wanted to make his own chain so he could keep playing with the train whistle. He picked out the paper, he got his scissors and all the colorful tape.

I showed him that folding the paper first provided us lines to cut by. By the end of the session I couldn’t tell his strips of paper from my strips of paper and he was even folding the paper himself. He also thoroughly enjoyed cutting the tape and putting it on the rings to make them hold together.

We only got about half-way with the chain before his interest flagged and he started cutting zig-zags and being silly, but he worked hard for about an hour while his brother napped. I was pretty impressed.

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Do you remember my preschool goal list from a few days ago? Well check off: Scissor practice, following directions, working on a project for a long period of time, working together, taping, folding, planning, executing, counting, patterns/design, etc. Some of those things weren’t on there? They are important none the less. Also, he was extremely proud of himself and couldn’t wait to show Daddy his new folding skills.

 

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art, Daily Lessons, Math, Science

Counting Rings | Bird is the Word

46 days have never seemed so long! It is 46 days, or 6 and half weeks, until our due date on May 3. (Although my husband is apparently hoping for a May 4th C-Section… I think it’s Star Wars related.)

Today we made a paper chain to help us count down the days. Everybody helped a little. Even my husband got in on the action. The 2-year-old helped by demanding I draw things on the paper, and he also colored some of it himself. The (almost) 4-year-old helped by putting tape on the rings.

I chose blue and pink because we do not know the gender of the baby and I thought it would be a happy coincidence if the color matched the gender on the day of the birth. I also numbered each ring to make it easy to keep track of and so the boys can practice their number recognition. When it was done the almost 4-year-old counted to 46 with only a few mistakes (“eleventeen” instead of seventeen, etc).

What else is new?

Mr. 4 has been asking me everyday to do math. He just asks me questions like “What does 20 and 20 make?” “What does 40 and 40 make?”.

We are also learning a bit about birds. Thank you to Grandma for sending us that bird feeder and motivating us to learn more about the nature right outside our house. With the addition of some figurines and a book, we’ve been able to identify a few different birds. We’ve only seen robins and black-capped chickadee near the feeder, but the figurines have taught us to identify Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jay’s, Blue Bunting and Yellow Warbler as well. I’m pretty proud that he and I are able to name these birds and I open the book everyday to point something out to the boys and reinforce the learning. It has been fun!

Mr. 2 has been building up quite the vocabulary, and has even been making up his own songs. He sang “The Firetruck goes round and round” at the aquarium today. He’s also naming lots of body parts, although he has a tendency to confuse my breast with my baby belly. In the car the boys always point out the red and green lights and tell me when to stop and go.

It has been an educational and busy week.

Daily Lessons, Language, Math, Parenting

21 Months and his own little person

As Mr. 1 grows into his own personality, it is becoming more and more obvious how different these children are from each other. The differences always surprise me because until recently, Mr. 1 could have been a visual clone of Mr. 3. He is slowly starting to look different from when his brother was this small.

Mr. 1 is obsessed with colors, and continually makes a game of bringing me a toy and telling me what color it is. And if he doesn’t know the color he just says “ah” and thrusts the toy at me repeatedly until I tell him what it is.

He already knows and says, “Gween” (green), “Wa-hite” (white), “Purplepurplepurple” (purple), “Blooo!” (blue), “Orang” (Orange). He still has a little trouble with Red, Yellow, and Black, but I have no doubt he will learn them soon.

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What I remember most about this stage for Mr. 3 was an intense love of puzzles, and playing with Mega Blocks for hours. On the contrary, Mr. 1 likes (not loves) puzzles, and spends most of his time with construction trucks or cars. Mr. 1 can also catch a ball tossed softly to his chest. (Some of his recent words include “Beach Ball” and “Football”).

Mr. 3 still hasn’t quite got the hang of the catching skill, but boy can he throw.

Mr. 1 has a 70% success rate with jumping, and can dribble a soccer ball about as well as his big brother. I think he just might be an athlete.

At this age both boys love(d) reading, and Mr. 3 still loves reading at 3 so I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Mr. 3 is currently in another puzzle phase, and is also interested in shapes and numbers. At lunch the other day he arranged all of his apple slices around his plate and told me he had made an Octagon. I counted nine slices so I told him that is a nonagon. Then we talked about different polygons and their names for a while. He liked asking our friend Alexa (Amazon Echo) for definitions of the different polygons.

We’ve also been keeping busy with different art projects. We did some chalk coloring on a broken cardboard box. I also bought a large bag of Christmas stickers at Hobby Lobby for $3, and we worked on making some holiday cards.

 

And finally, an update on the mystery guest in my belly:

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At 16 weeks I have felt movement a few times, but nothing consistent. I am excited about this stage of the pregnancy, because it is finally starting to feel like a little person in there.

 

 

Daily Lessons, Math, Projects

The kids are full of surprises!

Apparently Mr. 3 can write his ones and zeros. He also tried to write a two, but it looked just like his zero. He wanted me to draw shapes on the white board with him, “Octagon” is his favorite. And then we drew a “Hexagon”. Then we counted and labeled the sides to see the difference.

Mr. 1 has managed to get his feet off of the ground a few times when he jumps, he’s getting ANOTHER 4 teeth, and can apparently match colors.

We were playing with price stickers the other day, because they are such easy to use and versatile stickers.

For the 3 year old I made some low number activity sheets with the hopes that he would trace a few more numbers so he could practice with that pesky zigzagging two. He’s great at counting low numbers and can even occasionally do some very simple math. The stickering took him no time at all, and then he did trace a few of the numbers. He did the big two several times. Mission accomplished.

I was going to let Mr. 1 put stickers randomly in the circles, but out of my mouth pops, “Can you put the green sticker in the green circle?” I helped him find a green circle and then he knew exactly what to do. Once in a while I tried to gently redirect, “You’re holding a red sticker, can you find a red circle? That’s a yellow circle.” He would get very excited to hunt out the circles, shouting, “DA!” when he found one. (“There!”) He had so much fun he asked for more stickers when the first paper was full, so we ended up doing this twice.

After that I made some rainbow rice using Rachelle’s recipe at Tinkerlab. The boys played with it for 30 minutes before nap time and Mr. 1 came back for an additional 45 minutes after he woke up.

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Mr. 3 is NOT done napping just yet. He still lays down with me 2 to 4 times a week. This has been a recent development, and one that makes me happy.

Confession time…

I was so busy making activities for the kids, that I completely forgot it was Halloween. They forgot, too. We didn’t dress up or go trick or treating. Instead, I went to the grocery store when my husband came home from work and that is when I saw all the kids and remembered, but it was too late.

Shame on me!

I hope you guys had a happy Halloween!

Math, Projects, Science

Cooking with Kids – Pizza

I believe I mentioned before that letting your children help out in the kitchen, while hard on your counters and floors, is beneficial for them in multiple ways.

Pizza is a great way to let them help out. They can do it all (make the dough, roll it out, put on toppings) or just help with the toppings.

I use the American Test Kitchen pizza dough recipe, it makes a small pizza so I normally double it. I let my 3-year-old help dump the measuring spoons, help me count scoops, and press the buttons on the processor.

Combine 1 cup BREAD flour, 2/3 tsp instant yeast, a little salt. Add 1 tbsp oil and then slowly add up to 7 or 8 tbsp of water until it forms a ball and is no longer sticking to processor. (By slowly, I meant you should run the processor every few scoops to see how it’s mixing.) Take it out and knead it a bit and form a ball. Let it rise in a covered bowl for an hour and then roll out and add toppings. I bake mine at 375(F) for 10 minutes, or until all the cheese is nice and gooey and the crust is starting to turn golden. You may need to change the cooking time and temperature based on your toppings.

It’s easy, it’s delicious, and it is fun! Let your kids in on the joy of cooking. They may even want to help wipe down the counter when they are done. (Mine did not, they wanted to eat the rest of the shredded cheese, resulting in my having to vacuum when the 1-year-old started dropping cheese everywhere.)

Adventures, Math, Science

Garbage Trucks and Sensory Bin Experience

If you’ve been following my instagram, you may have noticed that my kids love garbage trucks. If they hear one coming, they drop everything and run to the window.

Today, we finally did what I have been meaning to do, I took them to the dump! (According to all the signs, it is called a Transfer Station.)

I told Mr. 3 we were going to go and he put on his big  Blippi persona and was so excited that he even went potty without resistance. 

We arrived at the North Transfer Station at about 10:45 and went straight to the special public viewing area. We were there for nearly 2 hours, with only a quick potty break.

Mr.1 ran back and forth from window to window to watch the trucks dump and then be weighed and leave. Mr. 3 nearly drooled on the window when they brought out the monster front loader.

I promised them that we could come back because we didn’t even make it to the playground. I want to find out if they have a recycling sorting facility, because Mr. 3 loves the part in the Blippi show where they sort the recycling. 

They fell asleep in the car ride home; Mr. 1 right away and Mr. 3 shortly after getting a super cool side view of the I-5 bridge. I took this opportunity to calm my hungry stomach with some Starbucks and get the kiddos an easy lunch. For 5.45 you can get 1/2 pbj sandwich, cucumbers, carrots, cheese stick, apple slices, and chocolate covered raisins. Yum. I don’t buy them lunch often, but this one makes me feel good.  

After lunch, Mr. 1 dragged the big plastic box inside. I decided this meant he wanted to play with water. He loves bubbles so I added some dish detergent, and put the box on the patio. This kept the boys busy for nearly another hour. 

I definitely recommend checking to see if you have a local Transfer Station because it was a lot of fun!

By the way, did you know that the large garbage trucks weigh 64,000 pounds WITHOUT garbage? The more common medium size ones we saw today were about 34,000 pounds.

Daily Lessons, Math

Craft Ball Games

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My boys love these craft balls, and we don’t even use them for crafts. Both of them will go to our art cabinet and grab the bag and then empty them out somewhere. For $3 they are well worth the cost as they have seen a lot of use.

Two days ago they emptied the bag of 100 pompoms near their colorful stacking cups, and I thought why don’t we try to match up the colors? Both Mr. 1 and Mr. 3 participated for an educational few minutes, and then we somehow ended up in a pompom fight. They loved throwing the balls at each other and me. Today they rolled the balls down the slide and tried to toss them up onto the changing table. Mr. 3 also was putting them in the laundry hamper, and trying to count them as he did it.

I love when they take initiative and come up with games on their own. I also love it when they take my suggestion and I can feel like we tried to do some active learning.

 

Math, Science

Happy Chocolate Chip Day! 

According to National Day Tracker, today is National Chocolate Chip Day. What better way to celebrate, than by baking some chocolate chip cookies?

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These home-made cookies follow the Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in my favorite cookbook, The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook by American Test Kitchen. (Available from Amazon)

I had Mr. 3 help me make these and they turned out wonderful! There are so many benefits of cooking and baking with your children! Here are a few that I discovered today:

  1. This is a great way to practice MATH skills. We talked about so many different math things including, but not limited too: Measuring, Addition, Subtraction, Fractions. We also counted our 12 cookies before we baked them. And we counted again after we baked them, and ate two.
  2. We read the recipe together, and we talked about how the recipe was broken down into different parts. We read the ingredient list and talked about all the funny abbreviations and the weird way they write the measurements (fractions). We talked about the importance of following directions.
  3. They get to practice their gross and fine motor skills when measuring, scooping, pouring, and mixing. They have to practice being firm but delicate at the same time in order to not make a mess. The downside is that it does take a while to get these skills.
  4. There are science skills involved too. Watching the ingredients come together, or watching them interact in the oven and evolve into something we can eat is amazing. Also, we talked briefly about food safety and how baking the cookie dough makes it safe to eat.
  5. We practiced being patient while we waited for the cookies to bake.
  6. We discussed how cleaning up is part of the cooking and baking process. He helped me clean up by bringing the vacuum and helping me clear the floor of toys. He also helped me do laundry and we put in his shirt that was covered in flour.
  7. We were rewarded for our hard but fun work with super amazingly soft melt in your mouth chocolate chip cookies.

The more I think about this, the more benefits I can come up with. How about bonding with your child over something you both love? Or your child feeling useful and proud for making something so amazing? We need to remember that cooking is an important life skill, and we probably learned how to cook from our parents. Baking may not be a life skill, but it is similar to cooking and may help children get an introduction to the kitchen in a way that is pleasing and rewarding.

Besides, it was time to vacuum and wipe down the table anyways.

KidsHealth.Org has a great article that shows simple ways to include your little ones in the cooking or baking process. This includes giving them skill appropriate tasks such as scooping, pouring, mixing. If they are more skilled, they may even be able to crack eggs. My 3 year old likes to use the vegetable peeler on carrots or cucumbers. They also suggest cutting soft food with cookie cutters. Older children may be able to do more things. Trust yourself and your children!

I hope you have the chance to eat some cookies today.