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Sneaky Reading Learning

Are you like me and read a lot to your kiddos? This is just one example of how to switch up reading that we do with our kiddos all the time.

My kiddos often pick out the same books over and over again. Sometimes it’s really annoying when it’s a book I don’t necessarily like, but it’s familiar, interesting and probably comforting to our kiddos.

Next time you’re reading one of those books for the umpteenth millionth time, make it into a sneaky learning game by pausing and leaving out a word for your child to fill in. They’ll love it (unless they’re cranky!) You could always use this little technique with an emergent reader, pausing to see if they can read a new word!

(By the way, I’ve added a widget sharing some of our favorite books at the moment. It’s over there on the sidebar.)

Sneaky learning: increasing vocabulary, reading comprehension, pre-reading, concentration, listening skills

Learning through Outdoor Games #2

I posted previously about one outdoor game Sweet Pea, my almost 4 year old, loves to play that I introduce a little sneaky learning into. Today I’d like to share another.


Sweet Pea loves to play trains ~ outside and inside. Simply put, he wants to play Follow the Leader and we take turns being the ‘conductor’, or leader, while he tells a story about the train trip

When he is the leader he changes his speed, direction and volume almost continuously. I use the descriptor words for his actions, i.e. ‘the train is moving faster, slower, turning right, left, going under a tunnel, going over a bridge. He’s shown me he’s learning by using these words in other types of play and uses them correctly.

As the leader, I try to hop and jump saying the track is bumpy. He loves the action integrated into his ‘story’, as he’s always narrating so in a way I’m actually following his directions. Often this changes the story when he continues it as the conductor.

Sneaky learning: gross motor coordination, spatial relationships, imagination, language development

What ways has your little one integrated the things they love into games they play?


Sweet Pea Turns 4

Today is Sweet Pea’s 4th birthday! I can’t believe four years have passed since I first saw those little hands and held his tiny body against mine, saw his little smirky grin as Hubby burped him for the first time, knowing we were in for quite the ride!

Happy Birthday Family Photo

Of course we had a train themed party on Saturday, for the 3rd year in a row! (Click here to see what I did for his 3rd birthday party!) This time, however, to change things up I had made some cute signs for our ‘dining car’ and various other things, but could not get our printer to work (and of course he wouldn’t let me use the signs we used last year which are now hanging in his room)! Oh the frustration, but I was able to get just enough printed to pull it off with help from Mom’s Cricut which was instrumental in getting some train cars for the walls! (which I don’t have pics of) Many of my ideas were gleaned from Pinterest (look up train parties, you’ll find so many ideas!) and I tweaked them to make them my own and to suit Sweet Pea’s interests.

In the past we’ve made some pretty cool cakes, but this year we opted for a simple white fondant train cutout adorning a chocolate frosted chocolate cake which the birthday boy loved! The train table was set up with a track in the living room with a smaller train track set up in the family room where most of the adults congregated and where the presents were opened.

Lunch was simple, roundhouse sandwiches, veggies, chips and dip. I made little signs for each type of item, listing which train car carried them to the party!
“Chew Chew” was for the utensils, plates and napkins.
I remember seeing a simple sign like this on one of the blogs that had a post about a train party.
Sorry to not give adequate credit, but honestly I looked at Pinterest so often for ideas and followed so many links…

As guests arrived they followed the signs to the ‘Baggage Car’ to store their coats if I wasn’t available to greet them right away, and as they left the kiddos were given a goodie bag of gummy candies with a label attached saying “Chew Chew Thank you for coming aboard for my 4th birthday!” as well as a big boppy balloon. If my printer had worked the balloons would have had a label attached to the rubber band saying “Thanks for Puff Puffing along with me!” mostly for the parents entertainment as they would have been the ones puffing when blowing them up!

Every year we are so blessed by family and friends joining us to celebrate another year in our children’s lives and we truly feel the love in their presence at the parties! Thank you to all who came and hopefully I’ve inspired someone else to create a simple Train birthday party, too!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Pea!

We’re so happy you are ours and we are yours!

Learning through Outdoor Games

Each morning Sweet Pea and I run around with Cutie Pie playing tag while we wait for the bus. Most mornings we stay out, otherwise I can’t get Sweet Pea to go back outside without a lot of complaining. I love sneaky learning through outside play! Over the next few weeks I’ll share some simple, creative ways my kids play and the ways I try to include some learning in it.

Outdoor Games

One morning recently we continued to play tag after Cutie Pie got on the bus. Tag is a popular game on playgrounds and in backyards, right? One person is ‘it’ and counts while the others hide and is normally played with more than two children. Since we play with just two I thought I’d share how we play!

Sweet Pea usually is the first to hide. I count to 10 and then he runs. Then I call out things like “run in a circle” or “run 5 steps then stop” and he starts following directions. Just like the books say, I keep things to about 2 or 3 simple directions at a time, giving him time to process things in between.

Um, have you noticed I didn’t mention me tagging him? He has so much fun running and squealing that he doesn’t even realize we aren’t playing tag or hide and seek. Even when we play tag with Cutie Pie he doesn’t seem to notice he’s never tagged!

The sneaky learning: counting, coordination, following directions, taking turns

How do you switch games up for your little ones to learn or at least participate at their level?

Indoor Pillow Fun

The weather here lately has been dreary and wet, so we have done a lot of playing inside. One recurring pastime was playing with a pile of pillows. The creativity and imagination was great! At different times we had a pond, boat, bridge, rocks, landing spot, train, train tracks, a train boxcar, a truck…the list could go on!

I’m so thankful to have a big enough home that my boys can get some gross-motor play in when the weather is less-than favorable.

What things do your kiddos do to let off energy when they can’t go outside?


Learning at Home

Cutie Pie has been in half-day Kindergarten since the beginning of September. (We live in probably the last school district in our state to move to full-day classes for these little kiddos.) He’s doing great in school, but UPK had definitely gotten him ahead of the game. He has several classmates that have just begun to hold crayons and learn their letters, things Cutie Pie feels he has mastered, but yet can improve on!

Cutie Pie has been feeling not-very-challenged, though, saying “Why do I have to learn my letters all over again. Why do I have to learn my shapes over. I know these things.” When he came home one day asking if I can teach him new things when he comes home from school I was a bit surprised…and challenged!

To answer his call we’ve been doing a lot more ‘sneaky’ learning here at home. He’s still just in Kindergarten, after all, so I don’t want to take that precious play time away. We’ve been doing a lot of letter searches when we go into stores or when we read books (and getting lots of sight word practice in there). We’ve been counting a lot with Sweet Pea (just about 4 yrs old) and Cutie Pie has gotten into the habit of asking him ‘how many’ of something (usually LEGOs!) and then checking to see if he was right.

I’ll be posting more on what ‘sneaky’ learning means to me in the coming weeks!

“Perfect Storm” and kid preparation

How do you prepare for a weather emergency?

I’m just a mom to two little adorable boys, but I am a mom who wants to know I can take care of my boys when things happen weather-wise. Most of the time that means having a blanket and shovel in the car along with extra mittens and hats as well as my cell phone.

We are prepared at home, too. In addition to all the essentials for home in case of a weather emergency, we have “kid essentials” like fun games, crayons and coloring books, special snack food in the house and good blankets to make tents and cozy up in (because that’s just what you do in bad-weather areas, right?)

Free Stock Image: The Rain Storm. Image: 136296

Lately, however, I’ve been listening every once in a while to the radio in the car (without the kiddos) to catch bits of news and weather reports about Hurricane Sandy and the “Frankenstorm” that is headed this way. We aren’t in NYC, but New York State just the same and every report I hear says we’ll be affected by it to some degree. I even saw a map today that shows we are in the red “action” area (which seems to encompass all of New York State).

Unfortunately, Cutie Pie heard us talking about the storm and he’s getting worried as the rain hasn’t stopped since last night. In his mind this means the storm is here and will get worse. We try to reassure him and tell him that we are making sure we have food in the house, wood in the shed for the fireplace and batteries for flashlights, and that we will be fine when the rain and winds come because he seems to be worried about being hungry and cold and is scared of the dark. We hug him, act confidently, and let him talk about it, but not for too long before we try to engage him in something fun.

So I’m curious…how do you prepare for weather emergencies? What supplies do you have on hand? What do you talk with your kids about in regards to the emergency? I’m not just posing a question. I’m really asking to find out if I’m missing something.


How to Make a Water Glider

Stock Photos: Water & rock. Image: 55113
© Photographer Joseph Cortes | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Remember how Cutie Pie was fascinated with ocean experiments a little while back? (see here and here) There was one experiment we didn’t get to do until recently. We made a water glider and tested it in the tub. This was an experiment we saw on Popular Mechanics for Kids TV show, but I have not been able to find a link to it, and I also neglected to take pictures of our glider before the tiniest hands in my home pulled the glue off, so I’m just sharing how we did it. Please comment if you find the link!
Materials:

  • plastic (like from a clean milk container)
  • hot glue
  • sugar cube
  • metal washer
  • tub full of water

First, make the glider:

Being careful, cut triangles out of a flat area plastic, one big, two small, hot gluing one small triangle to the top, one to the bottom so it looks like a glider, or plane with wings to the side and to the top and bottom as well (I wish I could say ‘see below’ and have a picture for you!) This takes a bit of coordination and care since you are dealing with scissors and hot glue.

Then, take your sugar cube and hot glue that to the bottom nose of the glider and hot glue the metal washer to the sugar cube.

Once your glider is ready, find a body of water, preferably one that is safe and that you can retrieve your glider from easily (hint, a tub or pool work the best, but only with parents’ permission and following all safety precautions.)

This is where my boys hypothesized what would happen when we let the glider go. We actually did this experiment twice, at their request.

  • The first time we tried this with warm, bath temperature water and Sweet Pea hypothesized it would glide down straight and when it hit the bottom it would go back up while Cutie Pie thought it would go in loops underwater for a long time then float back up. 
  • The second time we did this in cold water and Sweet Pea thought it would just float and Cutie Pie thought it would slither along making bends and curves and even go upside down.

What do you think happened? Did the glider float? What happened to the sugar cube and/or the washer? How many times do you think we’ve repeated this experiment since?

Still Dealing with School Separation Anxiety?

Stock Image: Boy laying on the grass. Image: 208971
© Photographer Geotrac | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Some mornings it is such a challenge to drop my 3 1/2 yr old off at preschool. He suddenly gets so strong that I cannot break his hold. It’s amazing, like he’s gotten this super hero strength! On the other hand, my Kindergartener loves going to school so much he’s only looked out the window of the bus to wave once or twice so far this year! So different than when he went to Preschool Camp two summers ago!

After posting a couple ideas to possibly help with school separation anxiety, a nice comment came in suggesting I share a link with you. Normally I wouldn’t just share anything, so I spent some time reading the article and think it might help as it has some background on why a child might be experiencing separation anxiety.

I also did a basic search for school separation anxiety and found so many useful articles from Parenting.com, helpguide.org, aacap.org and several others with ideas that I may just be using to help soften the ‘pain’ for Sweet Pea when I drop him off in the mornings. (I’m not necessarily endorsing these sites, just saying there may be useful information here for you.)

I really encourage you to do some research if this is an ongoing issue with your child. There is so much information out there that might just make this less of an issue for you and your child.

Water bottle fountain

I saw this neat idea this summer on Learn With Play at Home and just had to give it a go. It’s a water bottle fountain and this experiment using just an empty water bottle, balloon, straw and some sticky-tac (or clay) teaches that air takes up space.

This experiment is so clearly explained step-by-step on Learn With Play at Home and has tips for making it easier or extending it for your child.

My kiddos loved every step of this experiment. I followed the steps almost to the letter and my boys were so curious! I love it when they try to figure out why something is happening, and any experiment with air truly gets them thinking because it’s an invisible force that does something so neat!

(I took several pics, but thought I should just send you to the blog to check it out.)

Mini-Hovercraft on Water

Yesterday I posted about making a mini-hovercraft. I forgot to tell you about Cutie Pie wanting to experiment, seeing if it would float across the water.

We had a nice big pool this summer, bigger than a bathtub! This proved to be the best place to test the hovercraft.

It was hard for me to get the hovercraft flat on the surface of the water, let alone the kiddos! Even once this was accomplished the hovercraft would lean to one side and eventually push itself under the water. Upon further investigation, Cutie Pie discovered there was much more glue on the side that always went into the water first. (He later surmised this was where the leak was the other day.)

All in all, though, this was a great experiment, especially because one of the kids thought of it, thought through the process of how to make it work and who lead the experience!

How to make a mini-hovercraft

Another fun thing we did this summer was make tabletop hovercrafts! Wierd Science Kids has great instructions for how to make these using a hot glue gun, a CD, a water bottle cap (the kind that you pull up to drink from) and a balloon.

My boys had so much fun with these. Cutie Pie helped by looking at the pictures on the Wierd Science Kids site and assisting in assembling, following their process. We did have to problem solve a little bit when it wasn’t working right. Turns out there was a gap in the glue allowing air to escape.

Setting these off did take a bit of coordination, but once we got the hang of it we all had fun giving it a try! Cutie Pie could quickly explain what was making the hovercraft move so easily over the table. It was neat to see him come to the correct conclusion!

We tried guessing which way the hovercrafts would go when we set them free, but it was so hard to! I’m thinking this would lend itself to a graphing activity!

Obstacle Course

How many people do you know that have old tires and stumps hidden in their hedgerow?

My friend had us over for a picnic this summer and offered to set up an obstacle course for the kiddos. She ran into her side bushes and returned with large tree stumps, old tires and some plastic construction cones! Out came a ball and instantly the kids were having fun!

I have to admit the thought of having some tree stumps around has gone across my mind, but it wasn’t until this day that I realized just how convenient it would be!

Doesn’t it look like fun? Let alone all the coordination, body awareness and concentration going on in this outdoor play!

What things do you have on the ready to keep your kids and/or company occupied and having fun?

Another Gummy Bear experiment

In addition to the Yummy Gummy Bear experiment from the other day, I decided to pull the gummies out again before they were all eaten and do a little temperature/sensory experiment with them. This was a little simpler than the experiment I shared earlier in the week, but no less intriguing for my boys!


Materials:
freezer
refrigerator
microwave
plates or small bowls/cups
6 gummy bears (we did this with 1 bear for each boy)

I began by hypothesizing with the boys about what would happen to the gummy bears in the freezer for 8 hours, the refrigerator for 8 hours, and the gummy bears in the microwave for 8 hours seconds. Both boys agreed the gummies would freeze into ice, won’t be jiggly when taken out of the refrigerator, and will shrink and mush into a glob when taken out of the microwave.

Then we placed the gummies into small bowls, 2 to a bowl, and placed a bowl in the refrigerator and one in the freezer. The other we set aside to place in the microwave the next day.

We actually began by checking the refrigerator gummies and found they were cold, still a little soft and ‘chewier’.

The gummy bears taken out of the freezer were “skinnier, harder than the refrigerator ones and cold”.

What was the result from the gummy bears taken out of the microwave? You tell me!

Gummy Bear Experiment

Another idea I found this past spring for us to try on our Science days! Thank you, Ms. Baker! This Yummy Gummy experiment was originally for middle schoolers, but my youngest loves his gummy bears and when looking for science activities to do this summer I narrowed in on my boys’ likes and went from there.

Ms. Baker has a great print out for this experiment which walks you right through it from purpose to hypothesis to procedures and conclusions. The worksheet is great because you can use part of it for younger kiddos or the whole thing for older kiddos!

OK, so here is how my guys and I did the experiment. Look at the Yummy Gummy experiment for a more detailed explanation. (Remember, my boys are ages 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 and this is how I adjusted the experiment for their age group, but using Ms. Baker’s guide this could be appropriate for much older kiddos.)

Materials:

1/4 cup salt-saturated water
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemonade
4 cups
ruler
labels

First we took each of the 4 gummy bears and measured them (we used different colors, it helped us keep everything straight). This is where Ms. Baker’s sheets really came in handy, because you’ll be comparing the size of the bears at the end of the experiment.

4 gummy bears went into 4 cups. Using sticky notes Cutie Pie helped me label each cup – water, salt water, lemonade, control group (no water).

As I filled each cup with the corresponding fluid I asked for each boy to hypothesize what they thought would happen to the gummy bear (or for my 3 1/2 year old, what it would look like in the morning) then we let them set overnight. Out of curiosity they wanted to dip their finger and taste each liquid, so I let them. Then we observed what the gummy bears looked like under ‘water’. They were interested to see bubbles forming on one of the bears.

(If your boys aren’t patient waiters, this might be a good time to make homemade lemonade with them so they can feel like they actually did something constructive! I suppose you can always make the lemonade first, too!)

The next morning we observed the gummies without moving the cups. Were they larger? Smaller? The same colors? We then used a spoon and gently took them out and measured them. This was tricky!

After comparing the hypotheses with the actual results of our experiment we talked a bit about osmosis.  I won’t share our experiment results with you, because they actually differed from Ms. Bakers’ anticipated experiment results. That just added to the fun and we did it all over again!

I’d love to hear your results if you do this experiment!

Pom Pom Poppers

Come Together Kids had a great idea for a pom pom launcher. I thought this would fit in well with our catapults theme this summer. (Only thing is I forgot to post about it when we did it!) It’s also great for practicing coordination!

Materials:
Balloons
Pom-Poms (or mini marshmallows)
Plastic cups

How much more simple (and fun) can something get? You’ve got to go check out the directions, get outside and get popping!

A Scientist is…

I couldn’t resist copying these down as we walked through the Exploration room at the Buffalo Museum of Science. I want to frame them for Cutie Pie! Thought I’d share my favorites. I believe they came from What is a Scientist? What other phrases describe your little scientist?

A scientist draws what he sees.
A scientist has fun.
A scientist experiments by trial and error.
A scientist makes comparisons by measuring.
A scientist keeps trying over and over.
A scientist notices details.
A scientist thinks logically.


Close-up Science

Sweet Pea really enjoyed using the magnifying glass to examine his butterfly wings and feather. (See this post.)

Free Stock Image: Feather in the grass. Image: 174926
© Photographer: Gina Rothfels | Agency: Dreamstime.com

At first he looked a little uncoordinated holding it until I showed him how he could simply set the item on the table and look through the glass. Then I realized I needed to show him how he could hold it closer to his eyes to see the detail in the items rather than holding it almost touching the items themselves.

Once he got coordinated enough to do this on his own he told me about the details he saw…the lines in the feather, that there were lots of ‘strings’, the different colors on the butterfly wings…he was really excited about this!

He asked why these items were on the ground and thought maybe the bird was caught by a cat and that maybe the butterfly got hit by a car since we found the wings by the road. He didn’t know why the body wasn’t attached, though. I love his hypotheses! He’s starting to think like a scientist!

Science Invitation

Sweet Pea, my 3 year old preschooler, is taking an interest in science, but in his own time. I’m fine with that, but sometimes put a little invitation out there and see what he does with it.

On a nature walk this summer we discovered a feather and butterfly wings. We talked about exploring them more closely when we got home, but of course he was more interested in something else! A few days later I simply set a magnifying glass with the feather and wings on a tray on the table.

Just seeing them as he ran by interested Sweet Pea enough to come screeching to a halt and examine them!

Sometimes it’s all in the invitation…where can be seen….just that it’s there to spark their interest.

Letter of the Day – letter L (post 1)

We’ve been a little lax about reinforcing learning this summer, instead doing experiments and ‘sneaky’ learning through talking about our various experiences. With three weeks left until Cutie Pie heads off to Kindergarten I decided we’d do the letter of the day just to review and to get Sweet Pea reacquainted with them. I will share what we did for each letter over several posts, though, because some days we did more than others due to weather and other circumstances.

Letter L was a pretty fun one to review since both boys are really enjoying playing with LEGOs lately. I am reviewing the letters in a different order, beginning with Ll, since this will be easiest for Sweet Pea to try to write. (I saw this on 1+1+1=1 and thought I’d try it.)
The boys recognized our letter of the day quickly (I had fun making it) and began brainstorming words beginning with it, coming up with quite a list. They then realized I had written Ls on every writing surface and picked out the letters on our alphabet things.

First things first, the boys did a little estimating. I simply placed some LEGOs in two cups of different sizes and asked them to guess how many were in each. It was interesting the means they each used to come up with an estimate. Sweet Pea used LEGOs of the same size that were on the same tray and counted them, then placed them in an extra cup I had provided. Cutie Pie simply looked into the cup and threw out a number. (I didn’t question either method.)

We then got to work playing a LEGO game, which Cutie Pie loved!

Tomorrow I’ll share our experiment of the day for letter L.

Creating with LEGOs

Apartment Therapy had a LEGO maze activity on their blog a while back and one extremely hot day when we were stuck indoors we tried our hands at it!


As soon as he saw the picture on Apartment Therapy Cutie Pie immediately loved the idea and started describing the obstacle course he was going to create. We don’t have too many large flat pieces, but he was kind enough to share and I got to create a maze too!

Challenges:

  • We didn’t measure the marbles first, so our pathways weren’t wide enough. After trying a marble in my maze we had to redesign our creations to make the paths wider.
  • Cutie Pie wanted to make jumps for his marbles. He had to figure out what pieces to use.
  • Our marbles would occasionally flip over the walls when we played. We had to experiment with how high to make them.

This proved to be a very fun project for  5 1/2 year old Cutie Pie. Sweet Pea ( 3 1/2) was entertained by the marbles and Lego pieces all by themselves as well as playing with the resulting creations.

I’m sure we’ll be doing this activity again and again!

coordination, fine motor, math, science, construction, logic

Popsicle Stick Catapult

I looked up ideas for the boys’ summer fun this spring and came across Baker County 4-H page titled Craft Stick Creativity with a simple tongue depressor size popsicle stick catapult, but no instructions. Soon after I found Super Charged Science. What a great homeschooling science resource, which happened to have instructions for our catapult!

Also I found the video How to Make a Popsicle Stick Catapult. I don’t normally list videos as resources but this was clear and simple enough that Cutie Pie watched it, walked away and remembered the steps. Bonus that it was by a young teenager, which boosted Cutie Pie’s mind that he could assemble it walk me through the steps to assemble it as it took a little more fine motor strength and coordination than he has.

Cutie Pie really enjoyed trying to figure out how to make the “bottle cap catapult” referring only to the picture to assemble it and it turned out great! We then looked at the instructions and discovered we created it just like they did!

He also really liked watching the video and then working through the steps to create the “popsicle stick catapult”.

Even though Sweet Pea was going a little stir crazy by the end of this process and making a mess in the other room it was worth it to see Cutie Pie so proud of his creations! More tomorrow on what we did with our catapults!

Dinosaur Game

While trying to distract the boys while waiting for dinner the other night, I suggested playing a game outside. Cutie Pie immediately explained his rules and ran inside to get the necessary items.

What you need:

Large dice, plastic dinosaurs, the outdoors

The Rules:

Determine a finish point. Roll the dice, go that many steps, either in dinosaur lengths or your own steps. The first one there keeps rolling the dice and moving the next player’s dinosaur to help him reach ‘safety’.

Cutie Pie’s game was fun for Sweet Pea, too! He did great counting and following the rules!

Boy Mom BlogHop!

Have you heard there is a Boy Mom BlogHop going on until July 23rd? I’m joining in the fun even if it is a little late in the game because I’m a proud boy mom and I love getting to know others!

(Don’t you just love their purpose!)

My little guys are getting bigger by the minute. Cutie Pie is my 5 1/2 yr old budding scientist/paleontologist. He loves it when we do science experiments together and every chance I let him use my iPad he’s ‘reading’ Dinosaurs by Rye Science to learn all he can about dinos! When he isn’t learning about dinos, playing dinos or talking about dinos, he’s playing with his Hot Wheels cars. Dinos and cars, that’s the life of my big guy.

Sweet Pea, my 3 1/2 year old just loves curling up in our laps like a kitty. Sometimes he’ll let out a cute little bark like a dog. He’s fascinated with LEGOs and trains. He’s not really much like his brother, who is 22 months older, but that’s just fine with me, but they do both love the outdoors and tend toward the science-y stuff. I love that my boys have their own identities.

Hubby and I are trying our best to raise our boys to love God, love family and love learning and life. I try my best to capture the science-y things we do and scatter my blog with some other things that interest me or are going on in our lives as well. Check out my links up above and to the side and let me know if you like anything! You’re always welcome to come back, to subscribe in RSS or on facebook and twitter!

So go on…hop away!

Memory Making

I love it when the boys are in to doing something ‘different’ than usual. I admit this is one of the reasons I had so much fun when we went creek walking the day Cutie Pie graduated from Pre-Kindergarten!

Birds all around, bugs, water bugs, no fish, different depths of the creek, different height steps down into the water, unpredictable depths near small waterfalls. These were a lot of the things Cutie Pie, Sweet Pea and I noticed when we explored the creek.

Sciency stuff yes, but it was so relaxing being in nature!
Even when Cutie Pie got wet up to his waist on accident I was able to take it all in stride. Partly because I was prepared for the possibility of them getting wet, but also because I was already having fun with them rather than just watching them have fun!
Not only did we get to talk with real scientists, but Cutie Pie got his hands wet and examined a worm he found, too! He wanted to fish with it and held it on the end of a stick for quite a while. That’s sort of what got us walking along the stream for a long time, exploring paths others had made to the waters’ edge. He was bound and determined to find a place to fish with that worm!
Of course, he also found some smelly brownish-green stuff that he picked up with that stick, too!
Moments like this make me realize sometimes I stop having fun with my kids and simply watch them having the fun and playing. While this is important, I think we can all relish in the fun sometimes and create memories with our boys…the kind they will remember us being present, not just our being there.
Enjoy making memories with your kiddos this summer!

Crushed cereal craft

If you read my post yesterday you know that I had sweet colorful cereal in my home a little while back. We didn’t just lace with the cereal, we played with glue, too!


First Sweet Pea placed some cereal into a plastic baggie, which I sealed for him. Then he smashed it with his hand until it was all small crumbs. Pretty, isn’t it?

I outlined Sweet Pea’s name in pencil, then Sweet Pea traced it with a bead of glue. (letter recognition, fine motor coordination, name recognition)

Sweet Pea then sprinkled the colored crumbs over the glue and pressed lightly. (slightly more gross motor, fine motor, more letter recognition)

I couldn’t have imagined how much Sweet Pea liked this activity before we started! The result was kind of cute, too, and he was very proud to tape it up on the wall! (No, his real name is not Sweet Pea…he had so much fun that I had to make one too!)

Stringing fruity loops

We don’t normally have sweet cereal in our home, but on a whim I bought some a few weeks ago thinking it would be an easy craft/snack to get out on a busy day. I think this was brand new to Sweet Pea and didn’t realize how much fun learning he’d have with the circles!

One afternoon when the kids needed distracting, I got out the pipe cleaners (I know they are called something else nowadays, but I grew up calling them this and just can’t change!) Cutie Pie patiently showed Sweet Pea how to lace the cereal onto the sticks and both boys got to work. In fact, Sweet Pea revisited this activity several afternoons in a row he liked it so much! (His fine motor coordination improved so much just in the few times he had fun with this!)

The boys didn’t just lace. They counted how many they had on the table. Counted how many they laced. They counted how many they had of each color. Sweet Pea enjoyed sorting by color quite a lot!

Cutie Pie took it to the next level when he started snacking on them…he started counting how many he had, would count how many he ate, then how many he had left! I love that he began this all on his own!

I decided after this activity that sweet cereal may not become a permanent fixture in our home, but every once in a great while it’s ok because my kiddos had fun learning with it!

Hot enough to melt a marshmallow

Cutie Pie was noticing how much cooler he felt when he went into the shade and then again when going into the air conditioned house. I asked if he thought something could be cooked in the sun and that set the whole experiment up with excitement!

Sun Cooking experiment (from 50 science things to make and do by Usborne Activities)

Materials needed:
Tin foil
Bowl
Toothpick
Clay (we used some playdough that was past its prime)
Cling wrap
Marshmallow
Sunny day

Experiment steps:

  1. Line your bowl with tin foil.
  2. Place a toothpick into the ball of clay and carefully place a marshmallow on it. Place this structure in the center of the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Cover the bowl with cling wrap.
  4. Place the bowl outside in a sunny spot, propping it up so that the inside is directed at the sun.
  5. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Observe what happens to the marshmallow.
  6. Carefully remove the cling wrap. Observe how the marshmallow feels. (Use caution, it may be very hot.)
  7. Replace the cling wrap for several minutes longer and make a new observation if desired.

During the 15 minutes hypothesize about what is happening in the bowl, to the marshmallow, to the tin foil, etc.

Cutie Pie hypothesized the bowl would stay cool but that the marshmallow would get bigger. Sweet Pea just wanted to eat the marshmallow.

We observed the inside of the bowl appeared very bright. Cutie Pie believed this was due to the sun shining on it. He made a shadow on the bowl and it was no longer bright. This hypothesis was correct!

Our Experiment outcome:
At the end of 15 minutes Cutie Pie observed the marshmallow appeared to be sliding down on the toothpick. The bowl felt very warm. He then carefully removed the cling wrap and found the marshmallow felt warm as well. (I did touch it first to make sure it would not burn my kiddos.) Sweet Pea said he wanted to touch it, so he did and then he ate it! (Not exactly planned!) After several questions for Sweet Pea we determined the marshmallow was warm, but not hot. It was soft, but not completely melted.

This experiment, called Cooking in the Sun, was found in 50 things to make and do, an Usborne Activities book. My kiddos and I really love the experiments we’ve done in this book. I am in no way affiliated with this publisher, book or author. My family simply finds the experiments fun to do!

Silly Putty Textures

Are you as scared of small hands playing with silly putty on carpet as much as I am? Well, one day the boys got hold of some. They were very responsible with it, though! I supervised closely once I saw what Cutie Pie wanted to do with it. What a fun little texture/sense of touch experiment he came up with!

Cutie Pie pressed silly putty onto different surfaces throughout the house. He discovered that it doesn’t stick to a lot of things. (Thankfully he didn’t press very hard!) The impressions left from the sofa, the table and chairs, the refrigerator, the paper…all were fascinating to Cutie Pie!

“Look at the texture from my hand! Sort of like a leaf!”

“The table and paper didn’t really make any marks.”

“Look at the tiny marks from the (dining room) floor.”

“What would happen if I put it on my nose?”

I was most impressed that he didn’t just observe what impression was made. He related it back to what made the impression and discussed the texture of the surface. After seeing impressions of a couple of surfaces he also began hypothesizing what the resulting texture would be – smooth, bumpy – and began searching for similar textures to make impressions of!

I wish I had thought of this as a more ‘formal’ experiment, but, once again, Cutie Pie surprised me by coming up with this one on his own! Love it! I’m hoping if he does this again we can experiment with outdoor surfaces!

Building Experiment

A couple of weeks ago I came across Science Sparks. I’m sure I must have discovered this blog before, but for whatever reason I found it again and decided to try experimenting with the stability of structures the next time the boys got the Duplos or Legos out. We had a lot of fun building, experimenting and hypothesizing together!

First we built just a house the way Cutie Pie wanted to, with towers of bricks one on top of the other, once standing next to each other and connected at the top. The second time with just four towers and a flat piece at the top holding them in place (like on the left in the above pic). We then went on to build a house with the bricks more interlocking, creating solid walls (like on the right above).

While we were building we talked about what was needed to build something strong. Both boys agreed lots of bricks were needed, but Cutie Pie thought an important component was a solid top to hold everything together.

Then the boys got a few balls. We rolled the balls at Cutie Pie’s first structure and it quickly fell apart. I asked Cutie Pie what he thought could have been done to make it stronger. He thought building it like the second one and then wanted to roll the balls at that one. Of course, it was indeed much stronger. The boys took matters into their own hands to bring down the “strong” house.

It was interesting talking with Cutie Pie as he further explained his building theories, then tried to create a building he described and test it’s strength!

Camps Parents wished existed

Camp Learn to Clean Up
Camp Listening Ears
Camp Please and Thank You
Camp Get Along

Oh my, can you tell what’s been on my mind? Seems like kiddos always get a little off their routine when something is going on in the family. They don’t have your undivided attention anymore and know how to get it, don’t they? I think my distraction with worry for my dad might have taken a little toll on my boys.

Maybe this summer I’ll concentrate on fun for them…Mom Camp style! Cutie Pie has already requested we do an experiment a day! Any ideas for fun? Links to check out?