Health, Science

Why I drink Tea…

Why do I drink tea? I drink tea because I like it! I do not like the smell of coffee and I cannot stand the taste. Soda makes me gassy both ways. I better just stick to tea.

I look forward to my tea breaks throughout the day. I drink tea in the morning after breakfast, I drink tea in the afternoon for a boost, and I drink tea in the evenings just because I feel like it. Caffeine free in the evenings, otherwise my trouble sleeping gets worse. Drinking tea makes me feel more relaxed, it helps me gather myself back if the kids are making me feel frazzled. It gives me a few minutes to myself. I can close my eyes and hold the warm cup, enjoying the scent and warmth. Even if my kids are pulling on my legs trying to get my attention I still take a moment to enjoy myself.

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It turns out that tea has a number of health benefits, too.

Numerous medical studies have found that tea contains compounds that exhibit anti-cancer properties. (Source)

The article goes on to explain that tea can also help lower your cholesterol, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent diabetes, and more.

Hold on, I need to make another cup.

Continue reading “Why I drink Tea…”

Science

Amazing Trees

I love love love The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library. These books are filled with important information AND they rhyme. I’ve only read 4 out of the 17 listed on the back of the I can Name 50 Trees Today book, but I am sure there are more since that was in 2005.

There’s No Place like Space – awesome ride through the solar system. (Amazon)

On Beyond Bugs – Gifted this to our nephew on his 7th birthday, and he apparently really enjoyed it. I also learned that all insects have 6 legs and how to tell the difference between butterflies and moths. Hint: It is not that all moths are brown, because sometimes they are not. (Amazon)

Inside Your Outside – Talks about our bodies and covers almost as much information as the Usborn book I mentioned briefly before. Really very informative. (Amazon)

I Can Name 50 Trees Today – this is the one we just got from the library and the reason I am writing about this today. There are so many cool facts about trees. There are so many cool trees. I am just flabbergasted by some of these facts and I want the whole world to know about them so they can appreciate the power and beauty of nature.

Did You Know?

  1. The tallest tree in the world is a Eucalyptus tree in Australia. It is 492 feet tall!  Actually, I just googled this and apparently the tree in Australia is only 327.5 feet tall. There is a Redwood in California that is 380 feet tall. This is still very impressive. (Source)
  2. The fattest tree (largest circumference around the trunk) is 117 feet around, located in Mexico. I guess the tree has grown a bit since the book was written because according to wikipedia, the largest girth tree in Mexico is 137 feet. But scientists have noted that the size of a trees circumference can change over time due to various factors.
  3. The Deepest tree is a wild fig whose roots go nearly 400 feet underground. According to The Cat in the Hat that is almost as deep as an oil rig would drill.
  4. The oldest tree might be 4,700 years old – a bristlecone pine. According to wikipedia, this tree is closer to 5,066 years old. WOW.

Well, I certainly have learned a lot about trees, and while The Cat in the Hat is not always right, it is close and has sparked an interest in me to do further research and learn a little bit more about my closest neighbors.

 

Projects, Science

Project: Sticky Zoo Collage

I have a new project for you guys! I randomly thought of it while on the airplane.

Sticky Zoo Collage

You will need: Contact Paper, Permanent Marker, tape, and pictures of animals.

I cut most of our pictures out the magazine sent by our local zoo for being members. Also, it may be better not to overwhelm the child with too many pictures at once. I think my 3 year old was a bit frustrated having to sort through them. Here we go:

Step 1: Cut your contact paper and lay it on the counter, clear side up.

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Step 2: Draw your zoo map. Include as much or as little as you want. You could even have your child help with this if they are interested.

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Step 3: Turn the contact paper over and tape it down as you peel the cover off. You should tape it so that the sticky side is up.

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Step 4: Give your child some animal cut outs and let them fill the zoo however they want. You may need to stick a few on there to show the younger ones how to do it.

Above, I included some construction paper cutouts taped to the non-sticky side to provide more color. I was hoping to get the child to think about different environments but I didn’t force the issue.

Mr. 1 enjoyed the project once he figured out what to do. Mr. 3 wanted to put the animals into his safari truck and drive them to the zoo.

Comment below if you try this out!

 

 

Daily Lessons, Science

Kubota Gardens

For our third day of sunshine we decided to try going somewhere new. We went to the Kubota Gardens because we always see the sign on the way to the Museum of Flight. 

Kubota Gardens is a free botanical garden just south of Seattle. It was really pretty with easy hiking and even a stroller/wheelchair path. We walked around for an hour and probably did not see everything. 

The kids were most fascinated with the koi pond. They watched the 4 large fish and 1 duck for quite some time before wandering off and then they asked to see it again before we left.


Mr. 1 was fascinated by all the bushes and flowers and kept trying to pick them. He repeatedly made the sign for plant/flower because he was so excited. (Also the sign for duck and the sign for fish. He quacks like a duck when he sees one!)

The Gardens feel large and there are even parts where you can go in the woods and enjoy the nice shaded areas. 

The park is open to dogs as long as you clean up after them. 

If you live or spend a significant part of time in Seattle, then I recommend you check out these Gardens with your family! They are very peaceful and even though the parking lot was full, we hardly saw any other people. 

The only downsides are that there are no bathrooms (only 2 portapotties) and I do wish they had some way of identifying the different trees and flowers. Maybe I can find a good book at the library for that. 

This was a wonderful little place for the kids to explore. 


Health, Science

Getting out of the House… Yes, please!

I think most mom’s have so much going on that they really and truly wish they could stay home. I have the opposite problem, a pre-schooler that does not want to leave the house.

It’s probably a combination of many factors such as the weather, hormones, not doing many fun things outside of the house and who knows what else, but I have been feeling rather blue lately. 

I like the idea of respectful parenting and treating my kids as people, but they don’t always respect me. So I tried explaining that mommy needed to get out of the house and get some exercise and sunshine, and received only “but I want to stay HOME and play with TRAINS!” no matter that I said please, and explained that we need to consider other people’s thoughts and feelings as well. 

 At any rate, in my slightly depressed state, I was left with two choices:

1. Open a bottle of wine and drown my sorrows, possibly endangering my children, or

2. Let my 3 year old throw a brief tantrum, and then strap him in the stroller and be on my way.

I chose option two, and the one year old was happy to accompany me. The dog was so excited that she nearly knocked us all down the stairs. 

We walked to the library (about a mile and a half) and by then I could tell I was feeling much better. We found some really great books and got some good exercise.

 There was another little boy that was trying to teach Mr. 3 how to use the library computer, and it was so interesting to just hang back and watch them interact. I was really disappointed when his mom got off her phone and told him to leave Mr.3 alone. I tried to explain that it was good for them, but English was not something we had in common.

The closest I got to “thank you for making me leave the house, you are so beautiful and smart, mommy” was him repeatedly saying ” I really LOVE this book! ”

I was feeling better, but I was not excited about staying home today. When I woke up,the sun was shining and it was already getting warm. It was NOT an indoor kind of day. I tried the same approach of reasoning but met with the same resistance. So I became boss instead of mom and I told that boy to get his butt downstairs and put on shoes!


We had such an amazing time at the zoo! Both boys were in and out of the stroller. We played on the jungle gym (little one dug in the mulch) saw a beautiful peacock splay his feathers. This frightened the three year old, but the one year old had no fear. Tigers, owls, bears, and the funny and graceful river otters!

We practiced our signs for the animals, and Mr. 1 learned a new sign for “swim”. We talked about the animals enjoying the weather. We saw a baby (joey) wallaby drinking milk from his mommy, and a pregnant giraffe. There was a zebra rolling in the grass near some sleeping hippos. We pet the goats and sheep in the farm petting zoo. 

After all is done, I can feel the sunshine in my heart. There was so much smiling and running and laughing (and learning) today, how could I not feel better?

And the bonus? Two tired kiddos! 

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.

History, Science

Trains, Trains, Trains

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do in the morning?

Three: Play with TRAINS!

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do… in the afternoon?

Three: Play with TRAINS!

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do in the evening?

Three: Read a book… and play with trains!

Does that sound familiar to you? Is your child obsessed with particularly fond of trains?

We check out a great deal of train books at the library, and he was lucky enough to receive a train table and train set from his Oma for Christmas. (That’s german for “Grandma”).

Whoo whoo

The latest train book we have read is Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train by Anne F. Rockwell. We have read a lot of train books, but I have never seen the word Semaphore before. Also, this book is full of bright pictures and has special emphasis on identifying colors. Mr. 3 and Mr. 1 both really like it and want to read it again and again.  (Amazon)

Semaphore: One of the earliest forms of fixed railway signal is the semaphore. These signals display their different indications to train drivers by changing the angle of inclination of a pivoted ‘arm’. [Wikipedia]

Basically, the trains use it to send messages like “Stop”, “Caution”, or “Clear”. Apparently it’s been around since the 1840’s and hasn’t even changed too much over the years.

Steam TrainOne of my personal favorite train books is Steam Train Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker. The reason I like this one, is not only does it rhyme, but it names all the different types of freight train cars. Now if we see a big freight train go by, I can remind the kids what they are called. (Amazon)

 

Autorack – I have never seen one of these, but that would be awesome! They are used like an auto carrier/car transporter.

Box Car – General purpose – I think these are the most common

Flatbed Car – Just like a flatbed truck… it’s flat and used to carry large things.

Freezer Car – Used to store cold goods

Tanker Car – Used for transporting liquids and gas, such as oil and gas.

Well Car – This sits a little lower than the traditional flatbed car and allows for double stacking shipping containers.

Gondola Car – A train car that has short walls but is open on the top, it can carry loose items.

It has been a while since I read that book, so I might be missing a few from the list, but it is very interesting.

Now I’m going to reward your continued reading with some interesting facts about trains. Links to original source are included.

  • The first railways in Great Britain were made between 1603 and 1604 as a simple “wagonway”. Modern railways came in the 1800s. (Source)
  • The U.S. embraced four time zones only after trains enabled fast travel across the continent. (Source) They are not to be blamed for day light savings time, though.
  • The word “train” dates back to the 14th century. Its original meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was: “Treachery, guile, deceit, trickery; prevarication.” (Source)
  • Ore trains in Sweden traveling down to the coast generate five times the amount of electricity they use, powering nearby towns and the return trip for other trains. (Source)
  • You can ride the Hogwart’s Express (movie version) in Scotland, although they do not call it that there. (Source)

Hopefully you have some new train facts to share with your kids.

Feel free to share your favorite train fact or train book below in the comments!

 

 

 

Daily Lessons, Science

Tinkering Around

Mr. 3 has been in a tinkering mood this last week. I love to see him building. He still needs help sometimes but he gets the ideas in his head and we try to follow through together. (Mommy, I want to build an airplane! Let’s build a crane!) I love to watch him sitting there with his tongue out (a sure sign that he is thinking) and arranging the pieces the way he wants them to go. He is learning, and there is no doubt about that.

Tinkering has many benefits for children of all ages. I did some actual research on this, and this is what I learned.

  • “Tinkering during play is critical to children’s motor skills by teaching children to use their hands to shape, move, and manipulate,” said Lu Lewis, Creative Discovery Museum’s Early Childhood Coordinator. (http://cdmfun.org/tinkering-offers-valuable-skills-to-kids)
  • Tinkering can help develop their problem solving skills. (Multiple sources). Mr. 3 has been learning this lesson, too. When his garage roof collapses I ask him why he thinks that happens. He will answer “It needs more support”. Then I ask what we can do to support the roof, and he will answer by placing his cars under it as a support beam. 
  • Tinkering is an outlet for creativity, and experimentation. It allows him to build confidence if he succeeds and learn from his mistakes.
  • If children tinker together, it will often times help them build sharing and collaboration skills.

The things our children can tinker with can be as simple as toilet tubes and cardboard boxes. You could use play dough and toothpicks. You could use books or cups or… anything at all!

Mr. 3 likes to build with this Melissa and Doug Wooden Construction Set. I only wish their instructions weren’t on the back of the box, because you have to dump the whole thing to read them.


Mr. 3 also enjoys Playmags magnetic tiles for creating buildings and cargo trains. Mr. 1 is also hugely entertained by the magnets. He enjoys pulling them apart or dropping them into a bucket, or putting them on the refrigerator. I have even used them to distract the wiggle worm during diaper changes.


I also like the Duplo’s because there are instructions to follow, even though we only have 1 small set. Learning to follow instructions is surely an important life lesson, and I appreciate that Mr. 3 can look at the manual by himself and figure out what to do. (Mr. 1 destroyed the paper manual so we had to download it on the Kindle.)


What do your kids enjoy building with?

Projects, Science

Trees – without which there would be no life.

This week, when I asked what we should learn about, Mr. 3 chose to learn about trees.

We read “All About Trees” in our book Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature – Jacket unfolds into a huge wall poster!“>Natural World. It is just 3 pages in this book that breaks down the different parts of trees, shows different leaves for identification, and provides examples of the many creatures that live from or in trees, but the book also provides important information on some of the creatures that live in the trees, or how photosynthesis works, and so much more.

Photosynthesis: The process by which plants use sunlight to produce their own food and “ultimately for every creature on the planet” (Natural World, page 58) and as a by product they release oxygen for us to breathe. Photosynthesis. I like hearing my 3 year old say that word, it really makes me feel like this whole homeschool thing can work.

My favorite fact about trees is that they provide food and shelter for many different kinds of creatures. From the fungi that help decompose it at the end of a tree’s very VERY long life (some oaks can live up to 600 years!) to the owls, birds, squirrels, and bugs that nest among its branches or in it’s trunk. You would not guess that from looking at tree, but maybe we should look a little closer.

img_6107Other than reading, we’ve had some tree related activities to help expose him and encourage him to learn more.

1. In a rare moment of sunshine we took the dog on a walk and I pointed out how different some of the trees are. “These trees are so tall, that one has white blossoms, this one has red, look at this leaf it has 4 points” etc…

2.We (mostly me) collected different leaves and bunches of pine needles to bring home and try to identify.

3. We made tree art! This is a project for all ages and it can be as simple as painting trees. I provided some different drawing tools (sponge brush, Qtips, paintbrush, wine corks) in the hope that they could make different kinds of leaves with them.

img_6149I left the leaves and book out for inspiration.

I covered my table and provided only 2 cups of paint to keep it simple. 1 cup for green leaves (it’s spring!) and 1 cup for mixing red and green to make brown.

My toddler enjoyed mixing the paint.

We use Handy Art Little Masters Tempera paint, and it washes off really easily and doesn’t leave stains on the clothes. I did ask 3 to wear a smock and 1 was only in a diaper, just in case.

3’s first picture was completely his own design, and he surprised me by taking the big leaf and painting on it. He wanted to glue it on the paper so I brought him glue. img_6152

Next I painted some tree trunks for him to add leaves to, and he used the wine cork to do it.

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Baby was working hard getting paint on the tablecloth and chair, but he did most of the following painting.

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The paint comes right off with a wet washcloth, so the chair is fine! Our chairs are dark wood and white leather and it wipes of off both very easily,

And finally, mom’s gotta have fun too, so this is the picture I made:

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The whole thing lasted about twenty minutes and ended with a short bath, but it was a lot of fun!

Project Summary: Painting Trees

Supplies:

Thick paper

Tempera paint

Various brushes, Qtips, wine corks, leaves and twigs.

Instructions:

Cover your table or area to protect it, and experiment in making different leaf shapes and mixing colors for trunks or flower blossoms.

Feel free to comment below if this project was a success for you, or if you have any cool facts to share about Trees!

Science

We are 93 Million Miles Away

My 3 year old is very concerned with the weather lately. We have the book Weather and Climate an Usborne Flap Book at home, but I wanted to try another book just to compare and provide some variety. We checked out Little Kids First BIG book of Weather by Karen de Seve and National Geographic Kids.  Continue reading “We are 93 Million Miles Away”