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Category: 3 yr old

Rainy/Snowy Day Indoor Fun – Magnetic Letters

As you know, Sweet Pea has been learning his letters at home and at preschool for a while now. I thought it would be fun to share a few ways we’ve been playing with the magnetic letters everyone seems to have accumulated on their refrigerators! An educational spin on some indoor fun activities!

Here are just a few ideas!

Simply let children play with the letters. They don’t need to be spelling or reading anything. Playing and touching them helps them learn how they look!

If you have multiples of the same letter, play a matching game!

Make names! Spell their name for them…they’ll need to know it because they’ll be using it the rest of their lives! They need to see it!
  ~You can move on to writing their names on a piece of paper and having them put the letters in order spelling their name.
  ~If they are at this stage you can then give them more letters than are in their name and see if they can pull the letters of their name out!

What ways do you play with magnetic letters with your kiddos?

Rainy/Snowy Day Indoor Fun – Stuffed Animals Photoshoot

The Weather here hasn’t been very play-outdoor friendly lately and Sweet Pea is going a little bonkers being inside. We’ve been going to the area attractions, but some days it’s just nice to stay home and play. Unfortunately, we’ve been doing a lot of that, too! So what does this mother do with a bored little 5 year old? We have a lovey photo shoot! So easy for you to pull together, too!

At first, Sweet Pea did not like this idea, but after he saw me putting up a blanket and taking a picture or two of his favorite lovey he was all in!

This activity actually proved to be more gross motor than I expected. I have no idea how many trips Sweet Pea took up and down the stairs, but he didn’t grab a whole bunch of lovies each trip like I expected him to! And putting the tired lovies back up to his bed for a nap was even more of a production with some trips up and down because, evidently, some of them could not fall asleep right away!

Sweet Pea had a great time posing his lovies, and even got in on the action posing with almost all of them. He had a ball! (There was even a lot of conversation going on between his lovies regarding how fancy of a thing this was to do!)

So easy, right? The next day we’re stuck inside we’ll be putting together a photo album, at Sweet Pea’s request. This will also be a great keepsake, and a great resource for this Mom and Dad who can never remember the lovey’s names!

Rainy/Snowy Day Indoor Fun – Sense of Hearing Game

Have you been affected by this bitter cold and snowy weather? Are your kids going bonkers being stuck inside like mine?

Here’s a sense of hearing game for you that we called “Do you hear what I hear?” We really only gave this a Christmas-y title because it is still sort of Christmas time, but this game is all about what you hear! (You can read about how we did this game last spring here.)

This was so fun and so simple to throw together the first time, that it naturally came to mind as a go-to game for when we were stuck inside due to extremely cold temperatures this past week. It also ended up being played when I least expected it, so I didn’t have my camera ready.

I found several old, small butter containers. (You know, the ones that have a lid, but you cannot see through them?)

I then looked through my cupboards and drawers for a few items to put into the containers. I came up with coins, LEGOs, marshmallows, marbles, hot cocoa powder, popcorn kernels and a screw.

I put the items in their own container and taped the tops on (very important because the kiddos will be shaking these!), wrote a number on the tape on each container and listed the numbers down the side of a sheet of paper. I also made 3 columns on the paper, one for each boy and a third for the actual item in the container, but I folded the paper so the third column that listed the actual item couldn’t be seen. (I know, Cutie Pie isn’t a great reader yet, but I know he’ll surprise me one day and read everything I write!)

I simply placed everything on a tray along with a pencil and when they started bickering after being stuck in the house for a bit I asked it they wanted to see what I had set out for them. Attitudes changed pretty I quickly then!

One by one they took turns shaking the containers and telling me what they thought was inside after we counted how many containers we had. I didn’t give them any hints, but simply wrote down what they thought. I wrote their guesses in their respective columns.

After we had heard each container as it was shaken, we listened again before we took the top off. This time the boys talked about why they guessed what they guessed, saying things like “it’s heavy”, “it sounds like there are a lot in there.”

Then we opened the containers and discovered what was inside!

The boys really had fun talking about what each item sounded like to them and mentioned it was helpful for some to be able to shake them themselves rather than just listen. Sometimes they were really surprised it wasn’t what they guessed. Other times they were right, but maybe for reasons other than what they said.

This activity didn’t take very long to prepare and was over in about 15 minutes or less, but did a great job switching gears in our house when things started getting old. I found the boys had a renewed interest in playing together after this, too!

Try it on the next day you are stuck inside due to rain, snow, or too-cold temperatures and let me know what your kids thought!

D is for Doctor

D is for Doctor

Sweet Pea’s preschool made the cutest little doctor kits when they were learning the letter D! I just had to share!

You’ll need black, white and red construction paper, glue, scissors and rather flat doctor kit items like gauze, bandages, tongue depressors and the like.

First, take a piece of black construction paper, fold it in half.

Then outline two bubble letter Ds and cut them out. Glue this to the edge of the construction paper, so it looks like the top of a briefcase with a handle. This is good practice for cutting skills for those who can use scissors!

Next, lay out bandages, tongue depressors and gauze for the children to adhere to the inside of their doctor’s kit! Great fine motor work!

Don’t forget to cut out red crosses for the kiddos to adhere to the front of the kits! More scissor work!

This is also a very cute way to talk about how doctors can help us, too!

D is for DNA experiment

6 year old Cutie Pie has had his eye on this DNA experiment from our 50 Science Things to make and do book ever since we first got it. Unfortunately, whenever we sat down to do an experiment in the past this was just never picked! So the Friday Cutie Pie and Sweet Pea had off for Superintendents conference I made sure to pull this out. Little did I know how perfectly it would fit into our weekend! (But, if you read We are Unique then you already do!)


This Seeing DNA experiment is rather simple, but very interesting and can easily be combined with a lesson on how we are all unique, Psalm 139 or the letter D! Check out We Are Unique to see how!

(This experiment was taken from 50 Science Things to Make and Do, by Usborne Activities. We really love the experiments in this book!)

Materials:
an adult
bowl
onion
sharp knife
dishwashing liquid
teaspoon
salt
water
rubbing alcohol
sieve
glass jar
timer

First, make sure an adult is helping you. Then either you or the adult can finely chop up your onion with a sharp knife and place the pieces in a bowl.

Pour in just enough dishwashing liquid to coat the onion pieces and stir.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and carefully pour in two tablespoons of water trying not to make any foamy bubbles. Stir again, trying not to make any bubbles. Let this mixture sit still for 10 minutes.

Stir the mixture gently again, then place it in a sieve over a bowl. Pour the liquid that escaped into a glass jar, removing any foam with a spoon.

Carefully trickle rubbing alcohol into the jar, letting it run down the side of the jar so no more bubbles are made. This will make a second layer of liquid in the jar. Do not stir!

Set your timer for 20 minutes this time. At the end of 20 minutes or so you should see a white, stringy substance in the top layer. This is the onion’s DNA!

What’s going on? DNA does not break down in the dishwashing liquid and salt like the rest of the onion does. DNA doesn’t dissolve in alcohol, so it appears as the solid white strings!

This post contains an affiliate link for an Usborne book. I may or may not be compensated for your following or purchasing an item through the link. I am linking to this item because my family and I like it, not because I am being compensated in any way.

Beetles in the House

I don’t know about how it is where you live, but sometimes when the weather gets cooler around here we find bugs in our home. Bugs like beetles and bees.

It seemed sort of fitting that this happened during the week Sweet Pea was learning all about the letter B! And why not turn this into a science lesson rather than get all squeamed out!


The boys were really excited to investigate the beetle they discovered wandering around our Rumpus Room floor and wanted to know what kind it was.

We talked about what it looked like – what color, how big, how many legs. As well as what things we thought it could do – climb because of prickly looking legs, crawl!

After a quick search I found this neat site that helps identify insects. It was neat being able to read about this beetle right away and discovering their observations were correct!

My kids spent a long time checking out all of the insects and tried to find them in their insect books! (Explore Bugs by Maurice Pledger and Fandex Family Field Guides Bugs)

We are Unique

One recent Sunday one of the teens in our church handed me pumpkins for the boys. Attached to one was a note “This pumpkin made me smile because it is unique. Unique means something is special, God made each of us special and loves us very much!” I just couldn’t believe what I read!

See, on that Friday Cutie Pie was home from school, so I decided to pull out an experiment that he has repeatedly requested. We folllowed the steps to see DNA of an onion. (I’ll post more about the experiment in a day or so.) During a pause in the experiment (we had to set a timer for 10 minutes) we talked about how everyone has DNA and how it helps us to all be unique in many, many ways.

A while ago I came across Dare 2 Share and remembered reading a devotional there about Psalm 139. I read Psalm 139 aloud to the boys, stressing the words fearfully and wonderfully made. I shared that it is believed fearfully means “with great reverence and heart-felt interest and respect” and wonderfully means “unique, set apart, uniquely marvelous” and that these words described us! (I tried my best to explain these ideas in their words. These definitions were taken from Time to Read Your Bible by John Fullard as how they were meant in the original Hebrew.) They really liked that idea and when they could see the onion’s DNA at the end of the experiment they seemed to ‘get’ that even though it’s a sort of nondescript sort of thing, that it is special, just like our DNA is, which means we are unique!

Back to that Sunday, when I got into the car with the pumpkins and read the note attached to the pumpkin the boys thought it was cool. When I reminded them of the verse from the Friday before they thought it was really cool!

That night we read the book On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. And we watched the video Spoon, adapted from a book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. They just seemed to fit into the whole weekend just perfectly!

(This might be a good lesson for teaching the letter U? Or maybe the letter F and you can check out fingerprints and talk about how each is unique!)

This post contains affiliate links. I only link to these items as my children and I very much liked these items. I may or may not receive benefits from your checking out these links.

Playground Letter Search

Have you ever gone on a tangible letter search? It’s sort of like Hidden Objects, but in real life rather than on paper and with a much larger area to search in! Sometimes when we visit parks we play this, mostly with the child least entertained by the park.

Tangible letter searches are very simple and involve no preparation! Simply look around at the equipment, benches, fences and whatever else is at the park and search for letters of the alphabet!

 Can you see the letter P? Its part of the railing.

 What about all of the Os?

And you can play with numbers, too. See the 0? There are several on the wall by the steps!

I usually find myself playing this with Cutie Pie when Sweet Pea has a lot of energy to burn long after Cutie Pie is ready to leave, but recently found Sweet Pea getting excited about seeing and touching letters on a recent trip to our favorite park without Cutie Pie!

As an introduction to letters for some of the younger set you can point out letters that have been formed and trace them! The large size of the letters seems to capture their attention and makes a great ‘aha’ moment to witness!

About the Absence

Did you wonder where I was for those few weeks? Even a little bit curious?

Well, back in the beginning of March my knee began to be pretty painful to the point that I couldn’t work out or run and play with the kiddos due to the pain. I went to the Dr., was dutiful and went to PT twice a week for about 5 weeks, had my MRI and was found to have a small meniscal tear and was told my femur is rubbing against the (rough) underside of my patella. I’m not in pain now, thanks to a very painful cortisone shot – I did not respond well to it at first – but I’m at about 99% now and doing a lot of strength training which will hopefully do the trick to ‘undo’ the problem and avoid another cortisone shot!

I’m not sharing this for a pity story, rather to explain why I took a little breather and to give a friendly gentle poke to go to the Dr. if you have pain in any of your joints. It could help avoid major work down the road. (I’m now looking at a knee replacement in about 20 years. Yick!)

Anyway, the oddly positive thing about PT was getting the ice for 10 minutes at the end of each session. The first time I laid there wondering what to think about. Isn’t that crazy? I mean, when do I have time to just think outside of my own home, to let my mind wander to things other than what around me needs to be ‘done’?! I actually was wondering what to wonder about!

I loved it, however, I realized I kept thinking about my kiddos and how quickly they have changed this past year. Time to think made me realize I needed to take time to just ‘be’ with my kiddos, drinking them in before they change too much.

So there you have it. A gentle nudge to get that little pain you’ve been consistently experiencing checked out and a gentle reminder to sit back every once in a while and truly drink in the joy of your kids. They grow up so quickly!

Balancing Act

I decided to post this right after yesterday’s post of Balancing and Coordination Exercises, even though it’s not a suggested activity since it involves a lot of coordination and balance!

Sweet Pea loves walking around with his lovies on his head. (I know, sounds silly, right?) When he first started this his lovies spent a lot of time on the floor. I was just noticing today they haven’t been down there that often lately!


Have you ever thought about what goes into balancing something on your head? I mean, for a lot of us just walking a straight line is difficult! You’ve got to be holding your head steady (neck muscles) your back straight (core) your legs steady….so much gross motor control and so many muscles working together!

At first Sweet Pea’s hands were held up by the side of his head ready to catch his precious animal. As he did this more often his arms lowered out to his sides, like he was walking a tightrope. You could see his coordination improving minute by minute, day by day. And his balance…he hardly wobbles from side to side, just practically runs along!

Encourage Writing – Balance and coordination activities

I took my little break before realizing I never posted this. I am so sorry if you were following along every Monday, but here’s another post about Encouraging Writing (and sorry it’s on Tuesday this week)!

Balancing and coordination activities help with early childhood writing abilities by way of the trickle down effect (gross motor enabling greater control of fine motor muscles), but they also can be just plain fun for kids!

The suggested ‘exercises’ included in the OT packet I received to help Cutie Pie with his writing are great outdoor chalk activities, which we love!

1. Make several lines with chalk – straight, curvy, jagged. Practice walking forward on the lines keeping balanced. Then, walk sideways or backwards along the same lines!

2. Draw different shapes a few inches apart and practice jumping into the shapes. As this gets easier, draw the shapes farther apart, or jump sideways or backwards.

3. Play hopscotch! Practicing holding an adult’s hand may be needed at first! This is also sneaky number practice!

Of course, to make this more challenging for your beginner reader you can use letters instead of shapes and numbers, similar to the Basketball Alphabet Game.

For other posts in this series check out:

Encouraging Writing – Gross Motor Vision activities
Some Simple Ideas to Encourage Writing
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Activities
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Activities We Like
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Visual Activities
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Visual Activities We Like
Encourage Writing – Prayer Box (or a great idea for a visual wish list)


Encourage Writing – Balance and coordination activities

I took my little break before realizing I never posted this. I am so sorry if you were following along every Monday, but here’s another post about Encouraging Writing (and sorry it’s on Tuesday this week)!

Balancing and coordination activities help with early childhood writing abilities by way of the trickle down effect (gross motor enabling greater control of fine motor muscles), but they also can be just plain fun for kids!

The suggested ‘exercises’ included in the OT packet I received to help Cutie Pie with his writing are great outdoor chalk activities, which we love!

1. Make several lines with chalk – straight, curvy, jagged. Practice walking forward on the lines keeping balanced. Then, walk sideways or backwards along the same lines!

2. Draw different shapes a few inches apart and practice jumping into the shapes. As this gets easier, draw the shapes farther apart, or jump sideways or backwards.

3. Play hopscotch! Practicing holding an adult’s hand may be needed at first! This is also sneaky number practice!

Of course, to make this more challenging for your beginner reader you can use letters instead of shapes and numbers, similar to the Basketball Alphabet Game.

For other posts in this series check out:

Encouraging Writing – Gross Motor Vision activities
Some Simple Ideas to Encourage Writing
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Activities
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Activities We Like
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Visual Activities
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Visual Activities We Like
Encourage Writing – Prayer Box (or a great idea for a visual wish list)

Excuse this absence

I have been doing a lot of watching lately…watching my boys change little by little every day…watching words grow into more intricate conversations…watching independence develop…watching legs grow longer…watching interests change with new activities attempted…

These past several days I’ve found a longing into my heart to take a step back every once in a while and instead of writing about what we are doing, to actually enjoy the process of doing without having the thought of a blog post in the back of my head. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Please excuse the short absence. I’m taking a short step back and enjoying my kiddos!

Encouraging Writing – Vision Gross Motor fun

young child laying on floor drawing and writing
Encouraging Writing

Vision gross motor fun is pretty much typical play for seeing children, especially when it is play that takes coordination of their limbs to accomplish something fun.

With the warmer weather finally arriving we’ve been playing outside more. One thing 6 year old Cutie Pie loves to do is pop bubbles. He will pop them with his fingers, punching at them, hitting them with a bat, squirting at them with a squirt gun, you name it! This is great at building coordination between his eyes and his arms and fingers.
Another thing Cutie Pie loves to do is pour, although he doesn’t love it nearly as much as 4 year old Sweet Pea! Cutie Pie makes much less of a mess than Sweet Pea, which shows me his eye hand coordination is better and improving! It’s another activity my boys love to do outside, where the mess isn’t even considered a mess!
These are just a few of my kiddos’ favorites for you to try to help your child gain greater coordination, which will ultimately help with their writing.

For other posts in this series check out:

Encouraging Writing – Gross Motor Vision activities
Some Simple Ideas to Encourage Writing
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Activities
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Activities We Like
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Visual Activities
Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Visual Activities We Like
Encourage Writing – Prayer Box (or a great idea for a visual wish list)

Encouraging Writing – Vision Activities Gross Motor

*Disclaimer: These ideas are not totally my own. I have been given some resources by the Occupational Therapists at my child’s school to help with his handwriting at home, unfortunately not all came with sources attached. I’m simply sharing these ideas in hopes that by seeing how they are helping my child they can help you or encourage you to seek help if you feel it is needed for your child.

I have previously posted about fine-motor visual activities. These are activities that require coordination between the eyes and fingers in order to accomplish a fun task.


OT has also suggested activities requiring coordination of the eyes and gross motor muscles as well. As we’ve all learned elsewhere, gross motor muscles are the first to develop and play a large role in developing fine movements.

Some of the suggested visual motor activities on the gross-motor end of things are:

  • Popping bubbles
  • Balloon volleyball
  • Flash light tag
  • Water balloon catch
  • Practice pouring water
My kiddos love doing all of these, so it’s been very easy to incorporate gross-motor visual activities around here! Especially with the warmer weather it’ll be easy to include more activities like this in our daily routine.

For more ideas to encourage writing, check out these past posts:

Encouraging Writing – fine motor visual motor activities we like

As I posted yesterday about the fine motor visual motor activities suggested by 6 year old Cutie Pie’s OT, today I’m sharing the fun ‘Vision Activities’ suggested.

Pop balloons
Balloon volleyball
Flashlight tag (catching each others circle of light)
Flashlight object search
Water balloon catch
Pouring water back and forth using containers with different size mouths
Play high five while looking into each others eyes, not at the hands

Cutie Pie’s favorites from this list are pouring water and flashlight tag (catching each others light circles) the best.

*Disclaimer: These ideas are not totally my own. I have been given some resources by the Occupational Therapists at my child’s school to help with his handwriting at home, unfortunately not all came with sources attached. I’m simply sharing these ideas in hopes that by seeing how they are helping my child they can help you or encourage you to seek help if you feel it is needed for your child.

Encourage Writing – Fine Motor Visual Motor Activities

*Disclaimer: These ideas are not totally my own. I have been given some resources by the Occupational Therapists at my child’s school to help with his handwriting at home, unfortunately not all came with sources attached. I’m simply sharing these ideas in hopes that by seeing how they are helping my child they can help you or encourage you to seek help if you feel it is needed for your child.

The occupational therapist at Cutie Pie’s school sent home a summer kit meant to keep kiddos working on their OT and writing skills throughout the summer.


These tools were meant to give me tools to work with him at home to improve his writing. He tends to hold the pencil with three fingers and his thumb, which seems to cause difficulty in forming letters and slows down his work pace, both of which will cause more difficulties when it comes to writing tasks in older grades.

Some visual fine-motor activities suggested are:
Cutting with scissors
Coloring, painting, writing with chalk
Drawing
Dot to dots
Mazes
Puzzles, hidden object seeking
Tracing

Each of these activities are focused on connecting what you are doing with your hands to what you are seeing. I think as adults we sometimes take for granted that everyone can do this easily. Kids really need to practice this eye-hand coordination, not just in a gross-motor way (like sports) but for writing as well.

Encouraging Writing – Fine Motor Activities

encourage writing

Last week I posted about Cutie Pie having a little difficulty with his writing. Today I thought I’d share a section of a basic list of fine motor activities that Occupational Therapy sent home for us to work on for a month to work on coordination, concentration.

Please remember, these aren’t something I am taking credit for, rather something I’m sharing as I’ve seen it has been beneficial for Cutie Pie, age 6, who is having a little difficulty with writing with his left hand, although they aren’t necessarily for left handers.

These are also great activities for younger children developing pre-writing skills!

  • Play with play dough – cut, squeeze, use cookie cutters, squish an object inside to be found
  • Pinch and pop bubble wrap – great pincer grasp work!
  • Use of eye droppers – with water or other crafts
  • LEGO play
  • String beads
  • Cut paper
  • Use tweezers to pick up objects, or play games like Operation
  • Practice zippers and buttons, snaps and shoe tying
  • Squeeze water out of squirt bottles (water plants or clean the driveway this way)
  • Stickers
  • Tearing paper for crafts – my 4 year old loves this!

There are lots of ways you can make these activities more interesting if your child already does fine motor work like this often, however I think most kids just like doing these simple tasks without mixing it up.

If you’d like something different because you’re bored (hey, we’ve all been there doing the same thing over and over with our kiddos), look for resources on the internet. Simply look up “fine motor” and you’ll get a lot of results, make that a ton of ideas! You can also add an age in there, or a school term like preschool or early elementary to get more refined results.

I will share some of the activities Cutie Pie is partial to later this week.

Encourage Writing in Young Children

I personally love to download different fonts for projects from the computer. There are so many different handwriting fonts that I’m seeing. This got me to thinking that everyone writes differently.

I think sometimes we perceive our children learning to write through the same method, be it handwriting without tears or another means, with the end result being everyone writing the same at the same ability in the same timeframe. We know that as adults our handwriting is completely different from one another’s and also that children progress in abilities and skills at different rates. So why should children’s handwriting be the same and progress the same?
While our children may not acquire skills or abilities at the same age, it is still very important for the encouragement of the development of social and academic skills to be taking place, not just from teachers, but from parents as well.

Many children learn the same way. However, there are others than need to use their senses in different ways to learn the same thing. I think it is important that we, as parents, do our best to not only help our children learn what they should, but discover how it is they learn best to further the teaching at home.

Think about it in these terms:

  • Fine Motor activities – strengthen their fingers (to promote a better pencil grip)
  • Visual Motor activities – connecting eye-sight to hand/finger (greater pencil control)
  • Sensory Motor activities – learning through all senses
  • Gross Motor activities – improve balance and coordination on the large scale with can trickle down to improved hand and finger control
I will share examples (ones we use) in future posts. It is my hope that sharing this information will help you discover new (to you) ways of helping your child love to write!

*Disclaimer: These ideas are not totally my own. I have been given some resources by the Occupational Therapists at my child’s school to help with his handwriting at home, unfortunately not all came with sources attached. I’m simply sharing these ideas along with my observations in hopes that by seeing how they are helping my child they can help you or encourage you to seek help if you feel it is needed for your child.

Encourage Writing – Prayer Box

Do you pray with your child and record their requests?

Six year old Cutie Pie’s Sunday School teacher gave him a box, originally for writing down prayer requests. At night when we pray he now draws his prayer requests rather than writing them since drawing is something he loves to do. A prayer box is so simple an idea, one I had thought of for me, but not for my kiddos before. (I’m not sharing a pic because this is something personal to Cutie Pie and out of respect for him I have chosen not to share it.)

Making a prayer box is a very simple (family) project if you’d like to make one with your kids (any age) and help them keep track of their prayer requests and answers to prayer!

What you’ll need:

  • index cards
  • box (small shoebox is great if you don’t have an index card box)
  • pencils or crayons
  • stickers or other materials to decorate the box

Simply have your child decorate the box in whatever form they wish. Insert the index cards, possibly making dividers by month if you want to get detailed and leave near the place you usually pray! (coordination, fine motor)

It’s pretty simple to use, and can be something very personal for your child, or something you do together. It can be a great encouragement for your child to write if praying for others is their gift. Your and/or your child can use it in a way that fits them best, drawing requests, writing them, daily, nightly, recording their thoughts about Bible Stories they’re learning, whatever. The project is completely personalize-able!

When Cutie Pie draws a request we date it. At first this was just to be able to keep some order to the requests, but it turns out this has allowed us to see improvement in his drawing skills over a period of time.

We can also review his prayer requests with him periodically to see if any have been answered, although we haven’t done this with him yet.

We are involving him in nightly prayers, even though he doesn’t always say them. He’s learning to pray for others and to be thankful for what he has. Whether you are a praying family or not thinking of others and being thankful are two great personality characteristics!

Alphabet Learning

I’ve posted recently about Sweet Pea learning the alphabet at preschool and how we’ve been trying to reinforce that learning at home.

One thing we still do to help Cutie Pie, his 6 year old brother, in learning to read is to have things labelled around the house and to point out words when we see them in writing (like on signs at the store).

I decided to take this approach with the alphabet, too, but by placing the alphabet around the inside of the house. I already point out letters when we are out and about, why wasn’t I doing it at home? Oh yeah, because they are only in certain areas of the house, not throughout it like the word labels!

We now have letters on cards we use as mail for their mailbox, letters on the wall in the family room, in the bathroom, on the stairs. He’s getting pretty good at recognizing them and getting them right! (My computer is on the fritz so I have no pics for you, sorry!)

What do/did you do to help reinforce learning letters with your little ones?

Tape Resist Painting

In what ways are your kiddos creative? Do you have to reel them in by setting something up for them, even if it is an open-ended activity?

I set out some painting materials last week to see if I could draw the boys’ interest. Cutie Pie came over almost immediately, and tried his hand at painting dinosaurs and dragons. It took a bit, but Sweet Pea joined in, too.


After a few minutes I set out some painters tape. They were both curious as to why. I began placing strips of it on a new piece of card stock and encouraged them to paint it.

Sweet Pea loves to mix his colors and see what shades of brown he can make and Cutie Pie found the end result cool, but was more interested in creating his dragons and dinosaurs, so I made my own little creation. Do you like the pic I made with it for the blog post?

Interested in doing this with your kiddos? Simply start with a clean piece of paper, card stock or canvas. Place strips of tape as you please on your painting surface, then paint as desired. Once dry carefully remove the tape.

To make something a little more interesting (for any age) you can continue to layer the tape over dry paint and repeat as many times as you like, maybe over the course of a few days. Be very careful when removing the tape using this method as the paint with be thicker and will tend to peel off a bit. You could also use this method on a large piece of paper and watch your child use their gross motor skills to cover the paper with paint!

Cutie Pie asked to do this again another day and that time we painted on canvas with the tape placed right on the canvas making white lines. He added dinosaurs to the white lines using different colored crayons.

My boys aren’t necessarily into making crafts, but when they find a creative activity they like they tend to ask for it again and again!

What was your kiddos’ most recent creation?

Winter Letters

Sweet Pea, my 4 year old, has been learning his letters in preschool. Many times he’ll come home and write them in the air with his finger for me when I call out a letter which I know he knows.

The other day we had just enough snow to cover the driveway, so while we were playing outside I decided to see if he truly recognizes his letters!

This could very easily be done with numbers and lower case letters, too, and for any age that needs some letter recognition practice. It is also a short enough activity to do with younger kids, as once the snow is gone it would be quite hard to replace to shovel again. (Unless it’s snowing!)

This would be great gross motor practice for the older kiddos to do it themselves, and you could also practice name recognition if your child’s name is short enough to fit on your driveway! You just need snow! (But now the snow can go away, I mean, it’s almost April – we did this on March 24th!)

Jack Wax How to

Monday I told you about our trip to a Maple Sugaring Festival. They told us about a treat the Native Indian and early American children used to have during maple sugaring time. They would take a bowl of snow and drizzle the boiling syrup over it to create a toffee or hard treat (think hard like peanut-brittle).

As a child my dad used to give us a bowl of snow with nice warm pure maple syrup over it. I don’t remember it getting stretchy like taffy or hard like peanut brittle, but I remember it being a delicious slushy treat. I think the trick for it to become true Jack Wax is to get the pure maple syrup to the ‘soft ball’ candy stage, if I remember what they told us yesterday correctly.

If you don’t have snow around you, maybe try this with finely chopped ice? If you try it please let me know how you liked it! I’d be interested in seeing what your kids think the science is behind it!

Maple Sugaring Festival

Cutie Pie and Hubby trying to tap a log

Do you live in an area where there are maple trees and maple sugaring festivals?

Maple Syrup and sugar is made from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees in colder climates, which store starch in their trunks and roots before winter. This rises in the sap in the spring, providing nutrients for new leaves. Sap can be harvested from the trees at this time by boring holes in the trees to collect the sap (called tapping), which is then boiled down leaving the maple syrup!

Listening to a description of how sap
was collected in hollowed
out logs while the sap boils behind us.
Cutie Pie experiencing how kids his age helped collect the sap

The Native Indians and early Americans in the colder North American areas used to boil this down even further creating maple sugar (hence the name Maple Sugaring Festival) which was used in trading as it was very valuable. Since the maple sugar was the only sweetener, and therefore very valuable on it’s own, tapping trees and collecting sap to make maple sugar was a major family project and very important to their welfare. We were told approximately 16 gallons of sap turns into 1 gallon of maple syrup, so it was also a very large project!

How do I know all of this? We live in central New York, where maple sugaring, as it is called, is common in early spring, and so are Maple Sugar Festivals. We spent Saturday about an hour away at Cumming Nature Center (an extension of Rochester Museum and Science Center) for their festival, where we enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast, learned about the maple syrup making process, a treat called Jack Wax, walked the snow-covered trails, found lots of animal tracks and picked up lots of ‘specimens’ (read ‘twigs’). A perfect way to spend the day as a family! It was a bit nippy, too cold for the sap to be flowing, but truly fun learning history and how pure maple syrup was and is now made. The free samples weren’t bad either!

If you live in this area, you’ll have to watch for the Maple Sugaring Festivals next year, or possibly there will be some in the coming weeks during the thaw. It is a great opportunity to learn and to get outside and into nature!

Ask the right questions

We gave ourselves a family gift at Christmas. A fish tank. We’ve been trying to teach our boys responsibility with it, as well as just enjoying watching the fish – relaxing! It’s been interesting to say the least!

Unfortunately, the first fish that Cutie Pie named (Big Foot) died about 3 weeks after we got him. Then slowly the next 3 fish died one by one. We discovered we were teaching our boys about death of pets instead. (I would post a pic, but the only one we have that has come out well is of Big Foot and that seems sort of disrespectful in a way, even though he was just a fish.)

We visited the store, asked questions, tried getting our new fish from another store. After much research, a phone call and trial and error, Hubby visited the store once more with a water sample. He talked with yet another person and just happened to phrase an answer to a question just enough different to make this person ask another question which led to the great discovery. We now have healthy fish.

It’s funny how asking the right questions leads to more questions and ultimately the answer that fixes everything. I find often that it is just the same with my boys. We can go around in circles with our conversations, until just the right thing is said and we make the great discovery! (Then I usually do a victory dance….)

Listening to Patterns

The boys love to sit with their daddy after dinner and take turns drumming out patterns and copying what their daddy plays. We used to do this with our fingers on the edge of the table or on our knees, but it’s more fun with our drums!

This is something we all love, sort of a family music activity. I love listening. Daddy loves playing – both with the drums and with the boys. The boys love drumming, copying their daddy and their daddy copying them!

You can do this, too, no matter what the age of your kids! Simply by drum on the table or floor with your hands or play patterns with toy drums, a xylophone, spoons, really anything you can use to thump out a noise!

What they are learning: patterning, listening skills, drumming skills, coordination, steady beat, counting

In a future post I’d like to discuss patterns a little more in depth. In the meantime check out this great, simple resource about patterns.

5 Senses Experiment – Sense of Touch

I remember being in Earth Science class in High School having to reach into a box and determine what kind of rock I was touching. I put together a simple sense of touch experiment for the boys based on this very thing, but I made it much more simple and you can do it too (and for a big range of ages)! I apologize for the lack of a picture, it was hard to get one and keep them from cheating by peeking!


Simply take your pillowcases or paper bags and fill them with items found around the house (or outside of you don’t mind them getting a little dirty.) Twist the ends closed and blindfold your kiddos, or hold your hands over their eyes. Let them put their hands into the bag and guess whats inside! If you are doing this with several kiddos you might want to record their answers to compare, and make sure to only have one child in the room at a time!

The boys loved this little guessing game. After we compared their guesses we opened the pillowcases and determined if their guesses were correct. We also talked a little about how they knew what each item was. I did the experiment in this order because I wanted to see if they knew that touching was one of our senses! They got it!

We actually didn’t get to an experiment for the sense of smell because the boys came down with colds before we could get to it and I didn’t think it would be much fun to do a smelly experiment if they couldn’t sniff! I’ll be posting about that in another week or so. I can tell you it involves baking ingredients!

If you go ahead and complete your week with a sense of smell experiment please share!

5 Senses – Sense of Taste Experiment

To continue on with the 5 sense experiments theme, today I’ll share about our little taste experiment. (sense of taste, coordination, science) This was also very easy to set up, and I’m sure you have items in your kitchen that you could grab to pull this off quickly. (Very easy to adjust for different ages, ingredients.)

I remembered once a long time ago hearing that different parts of your tongue could detect certain tastes like bitter and sweet. I also remembered hearing this wasn’t true. I, of course, only told them the first part thinking the ‘real’ experiment would be to see if they thought it was indeed true by tasting bitter and sweet things on different parts of their own tongues.
Here’s what we did:

Taste Experiment

Materials needed:
small bowls
sugar
salt
lime, lemon or orange slices
marshmallows (or something sweet, we used M&Ms too)
we also used raisins and Craisins to see if they could taste the difference

First, I explained that they would be able to taste different items on different areas of their tongues and showed them a diagram I found on the internet which shows you taste bitterness at the back of the tongue, sour on each side, and salty/sweet on the tip, with little tasted in the center.

I let them each pick up a tiny bit of sugar, asking them to put it only on the very tip of their tongue, then again on the back of their tongues. I asked them if it tasted different in each area. We repeated this with the salt, with me not telling them beforehand which was salt and which was sugar.

I placed either a raisin or Craisin in their hands and asked if they could taste the difference.

They each tasted an orange slice and told me if it was sour or sweet.

Finally, I asked them to eat a marshmallow then an M&M, then taste the orange slice again and asked if the taste was sweeter or more sour. (For one it was, the other it wasn’t.)

They both loved the little tastings, but didn’t seem to notice they tasted everything no matter where they put it on their tongues. An hour or so later, though, Cutie Pie came back to me and mentioned it. I thought it was funny it took him that long!

I’d be interested in knowing (if you try this with your kiddos) if they taste more strongly in different areas of their tongues and whether the sweet treats intensified the taste of other foods. Please share!

5 Senses Experiment – Sight

Yesterday I mentioned doing some other fun things with the boys on the day we did our sight experiments. One taught about visual perception and was very fun. All you need to do it is a large piece of paper and makers. I found the idea, along with a wealth of other experiments for older kids, here. (visual perception, coordination, communication, colors, counting, math)

Sense of Sight Experiment
Visual Perception Experiment

Visual Perception Experiment

  • First, draw a target on the paper.
  • Give each child markers, use different colors.
  • One child stands with their arm outstretched with their hand over the target holding a marker with the cap off. The other stands a few feet away, giving directions to the other.
  • The child without the markers is to give instructions to the other (move your hand to the right, left, back, forward, drop!) aiming for the marker to land on center of the target.

My kiddos used markers of different shades of the same color and kept track of how many drops (marker dots) landed on the target. (You can label each circle of the target with a number and sneak some math practice in there if you’d like!)

After a while they just stood over the target and tried to get their marker to drop in the center without any instructions from the other, which was surprisingly difficult for them!

This was a very fun visual perception experiment, and it can easily be altered for a variety of ages!

Fine Motor Play

Fine Motor PlayWhile on the subject of some fine motor play with the goeboard and shaving cream play posts, I thought I’d share about Sweet Pea’s interest in K’NEX.

Rochester Museum and Science Center has an area set up with every piece of K’NEX you can dream of and Sweet Pea will sit himself at one of the tables for such a long time. If you’ve read my blog you know this is a big deal since he doesn’t like to sit still much!

On a recent visit he created this ‘wheel’ all by himself! Of course, he’ll play with LEGOs and Trios, too, but there is something about these tiny little pieces that you have to clip together just so, but that fit together so many ways (coordination, processes, creativity, fine motor)….he’s well on his way to learning to write strengthening his grip!

Color Mixing (more fine motor play)

“Mommy, this is a really cool experiment!” I love hearing this!

I was on the computer checking out a couple of blogs when I came across this little project. Little did I know it would be the perfect sensory activity to settle my boys down before dinner! It’s also a fun little way to strengthen those fingers for holding a pencil or crayon! (read fine motor)


I happened upon Dilly Dali Art’s No Mess Color Mixing post. It is so simple and my boys were in love with it immediately!

Simply take contact paper, squirt some paint in the center of a square, then place another layer of contact paper over that and press down on the edges (and add tape if you’re worried about leaks). The kiddos will enjoy mixing the color without the mess, just like the post is called!

Modification: Tape the whole thing to a window to be squished for an added sensory experience! Write numbers or letters or make shapes.

It’s one of those “Why didn’t I think of that sooner?” things. Actually, come to think of it, we might have tried mixing colors in a baggie before, but for some reason this just sticks out in my memory!

(Sorry there were no pictures…dinner preparation took priority on this one.)

Shaving cream play

Friday I posted about revisiting the geoboard with Sweet Pea after Cutie Pie had set it aside for some time. Another activity I decided to revisit recently was shaving cream play, although this time I re-introduced it to both boys after trying it here about a year and a half ago. (fine motor, sensory play)


Sweet Pea loved it! At first there was no color, I just let him feel it with his hands, but after I added color he really loved it! His tray of shaving cream was used as a road for his monster truck, a writing tablet which he used to make O’s and L’s as well as lots of swirls and curly-q’s and quickly became brown!

He wasn’t afraid of getting his hands ‘yucky’ at all! I actually think he had as much fun washing everything off after his playtime as he did during it!

Cutie Pie never really liked getting his hands ‘messy’ unless there was a purpose behind it. To just sit and play in a tray of shaving cream never went over well with him when I first introduced him to this. This time, however, he really got into it. I think having done some shaving cream writing practice in UPK last year helped!

He didn’t just drive his cars and trucks through it, make designs, swirl colors and make hills, we also tried a game of tic tac toe and made shaving cream cards. He was actually pretty good at tic tac toe!

Next time I will get out some kitchen utensils to run through and fill up with shaving cream as well as try painting with it on the easel, or maybe even just use it to create a cloud in a jar!

Be Safe: If you introduce shaving cream play to your kiddos please be safe and don’t let them put it in their mouths or eyes.

Train Game (Sneaky Learning)

This morning, when Sweet Pea wanted me to ‘play trains’ (running around behind him as he tooted like a train) I asked if he wanted to stop at some stations along the way and the game was born! Of course, sneaky learning was involved!

Stock Image: Train Station. Image: 161331
© Photographer Gfadel | Agency: Dreamstime.com


To Play:
Print Station numbers onto paper. You can specify numbers (or letters) your child needs to work on. Sweet Pea is just learning to recognize his numbers, so I used 1 through 5. I made sure to include the corresponding number of dots, so he can begin associating what the number looks like with how many dots he counts.

Place the station numbers in various places along the ‘train route’. You can be sneaky here and mix them up if you are trying to reinforce, or put them in order if you are working on recognizing.

Then roll a die. Whatever number lands face up is the next station number to stop at. If you roll a 6, simply run the whole route.

This game kept Sweet Pea running around the loop in our home for over a half an hour! (But I think could easily be played on the driveway with chalk!) He’s also beginning to recognize the numbers without having to stop and count the dots to make sure he’s correct! I think next time we play I’ll mix the numbers up to see which ones he needs help on!