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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Projects

Valentines Collage

This is a gentle reminder that Valentines day is February 14th!

First, a Valentines craft:

Today, the kids and I made some valentines day cards. Really, this was just a collage.

You need construction paper, glue, scissors. You can add any theme related tidbits you have. We had some jeweled hearts that the boys really liked gluing to their papers.

Mr. 3 decided to take the project in a completely different direction after he finished his decorating, and wanted to build 2 rocket ships.

Mr. 1 really enjoyed this project. We did the glue together (I helped squeeze and he told me where to put it) and then he put the decorations on top of the glue blobs.

I cut out different shapes for them to use: hearts, diamonds, moons, stars, flowers.

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I’m quite pleased with our results!

Second, some gift ideas:

For my husband, I am making Heavenly Scotch Ham and leaving him the rest of a fancy bottle of scotch.

For me, I asked for flowers and part of the Brandon Sanderson Mistborn series.

For my dinosaur obsessed kids I got them the Dinosaur Train A to Z book, which I thought would just be pictures and lyrics to the song but actually includes information for each of the dinosaurs they list in the alphabet song! Also, they are getting a Dinosaur sticker and activity book made by Roger Priddy who I think has best sticker/activity books for preschoolers.

Do you have any valentines plans?

Projects

Holiday Window Decorations

It turns out the “decorate your own Christmas tree” was a good idea. It was the execution that I had wrong!

 

Mr. 3: Mommy, I want to decorate Christmas trees. First you have to cut them out, THEN hang them on the window, and THEN we decorate them. That’s (plays with fingers) 3 things we have to do! Cut, Hang, Decorate! 

Well now I know.

Both boys really enjoyed putting the stickers on the trees and spent about 45 minutes decorating all the trees I cut out. Mr. 1 started decorating his arm instead, near the end.

You will need:

-Paper

-Scissors

-Stickers

-Tape ( I ran out of scotch tape so I used colorful Washi tape. You can also use these to decorate your trees or whatever holiday shape you choose.)

 

 

Books, Daily Lessons, games, Projects

St. Nicholas Day

Happy St. Nicholas Day. I hope you saw my reminder on Instagram to wash your boots yesterday, because St. Nick was supposed to have visited you yesterday.

This is a holiday that stems from my younger years in Germany. My mother has encouraged me to continue the tradition with my own kids. Mr. 3 was very excited yesterday and ended up cleaning his boots, his brother’s boots, the front of my dishwasher, the front of the oven, the trash can and compost bin, and some paint splatter on the cabinets. “What else can I clean, mommy?!”

This morning, the boys were very happy with what they found. A bucket of farm animals, DinoBlock, Trains, and Machines at Work. The two Byron Barton books came at just the right time because their favorite Trucks book broke in half last night while Mr. 1 was reading it in his crib. It’s only been a few hours but I have already read Trains and Machines at Work nearly 12 times total today. They also both really enjoyed the variety of farm animals and accessories.


 

We also did some large scale painting in the kitchen this morning. (Tempera pain is VERY washable and comes off really easily if the toddler swipes a cabinet or floor by mistake. At one point he started painting his diaper.) Mr. 3 was more interested in playing ambulance and trying to tie a ribbon bandage around anything I would offer him. While Mr. 1 and I were sitting in the bath tub scrubbing off the paint, the ambulance driver brought us towels and pretend lemonade. He also cleaned some of the “blood” (paint) from the kitchen floor. He repeatedly told me “Call 911 if you need me!” and “What else can I help with, mommy?”

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My husband is a much smarter person than I am. He is someone who really knows how to use his brain.

We only have short matches and I wanted to light a candle that was getting too low in the jar in order to cover the smell of the stinky diaper pail. My solution was to stick the match in a blob of play dough to make it longer. Feeling super proud of myself (even though I still almost burned myself) I gloated to my husband, “aren’t you going to ask me how I managed to light the candle?”.

He says, “Did you turn it sideways?”

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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!

Projects

A few Halloween Ideas

I couldn’t tell you why we celebrate Halloween; all I know is that it is a fun holiday full of candy and decorations. There are an infinite amount of crafts, projects, and games you can play with your littles… just don’t scare them too badly!

I came up with these 4 ideas by thinking, “Halloween…Halloween… what can we do for Halloween?”  Continue reading “A few Halloween Ideas”

Projects

Mr. 3 gets a splinter

I only noticed the splinter by the time the finger was swollen and inflamed. My husband was working from home that day, so I called him up to help. Together he and I spent 10 or 15 minutes discussing with Mr. 3 the need to remove the splinter so that his finger can heal.

Continue reading “Mr. 3 gets a splinter”

Projects, Science

Fruit Fly Trap

I love these Take and Toss cups. They are so versatile and despite the fact that they are cheap ($3 for 4 cups!) they hold up really well. I use mine for both my 1-year-old and 3-year-old. They are great for smoothies because they have wonderfully thick straws, but we also use them for water and chocolate milk. I even saw a mom use them as snack cups once, and I can see myself doing that too.

My latest use for them has been to make a fruit fly trap.

Do you have fruit flies? They lay eggs on your fruit and then buzz around obnoxiously getting on everything, and it’s really hard to get rid of them.

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Basically, you fill the cup 1/3 or half way with left over fruit. If you have a young child, I am sure you have plenty of left over food or banana that has “fallen” to the floor. (My 1-year-old lately just chews on apple and spits it out. I cannot figure out why he won’t swallow it. Even if I cut off the skin he does the same thing. But he always REALLY wants apples…)

Put the lid on the cup, then place a piece of tape over the straw hole. Use a knife to cut a small slit in the tape. (These Washi tapes are too cute! They can be used for innumerable art projects and gift wrapping, too.)

The hole should be big enough for them to crawl in but not big enough for them to easily find their way out. According to WikiHow, who first taught me about making fruit fly traps with old bottles and a paper funnel, the fruit flies are too dumb to find their way back out when the opening is small.

After a few days pour warm soapy water into the cup until all the flies have drowned. Then rinse and repeat.

This has really cut down on the number of fruit flies in our kitchen. They even choose the cup over hovering around the normal fruit bowl.

Continue reading “Fruit Fly Trap”

Daily Lessons, play, Projects

Warning: Severe Heat in the Seattle area!

It’s 90 degrees in Seattle. Yowza! How are we keeping cool? We aren’t. One thing that surprised us when we moved here from Texas was the general lack of centralized A/C.

We have a little unit A/C but the kids won’t leave the door closed, so it’s no good to anyone.

Actually, it does a great job of blowing bubbles. Still, if you are paying $200 for a bubble blower… you are crazy and probably insolvent. 

Forgive me, the heat makes me cranky. 

What we are doing is taking it easy and keeping busy. We’ve got some collaging with contact paper, playdoh, painting on the patio, sticking pipe cleaners into things that have holes, and drinking lots of water.


Also, playing with ice until the freezer runs out. I took an idea from my recent follower Heather (thanks!) and froze some of their water resistant toys in a big bowl of water. Mr. 3 poured salt all over it and we played with together for a little while, at least 30 minutes.  

The salt was as old as he is, so I’m not too heart broken about him using the whole bottle. 

How are you keeping cool? 

By the way, I’m super excited to announce… that Mr. 3 has started “reading” to Mr. 1 and finds many opportunities to explain things to him. 

“Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm”

“No, that’s not a truck, that’s a tractor” 

I love it. I love it. I love it. 

Projects, Science

Clown Fish

Has it been 2 months since I let my children watch their first movie? We watched Finding Nemo over a period of two days, and he now has a few moments of obsession.

He named his dump truck “Nemo” and the front loader is “Nemo’s Dad”.

Today he took it a step further because he saw that the picture on our Big Ocean book is a Clown Fish. He asked me to read him the section on clownfish a few times, and we also looked in our Animal Encyclopedia for additional information.

For a child that is hard to understand, he is REALLY good at pronouncing Anemone.

– Clown Fish live in anemones. They secret an oil that protects them from the anemone stings. They lure food into the anemone and the anemone protects them from larger predators… like that nasty shark in the movie. This is called a symbiotic relationship.

– Clown Fish can lay 400 to 1,500 eggs at one time.

Mr. 3 asked if we could get a fish tank and fill it with clown fish. We talked about how much work and responsibility would be required with that. However, I was inspired by my child’s interest to make our own clown fish!


You will need pipe cleaners, construction paper, scissors, pencil. The glue and stick are optional, depending on how your child wants to play with the fish.

1. Draw and cut out your fish. Glue to a stick if you want to.

2. Fold a bunch of pipe cleaners in half  and loop one of them around the bunch to hold it together. Bend and spread the pipe cleaners as desired.

3. Have a heart attack when your 3-year-old insists on using the kitchen shears to practice cutting.