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Category: 4 yr old

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 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!

5 Senses – Sight Experiment

Next in our week of 5 Senses Experiments we experimented with our sense of sight. (Remember yesterday I posted about our sense of hearing experiment?)

In preparation for our sight experiment I got out just a couple of things: old pairs of glasses, some pictures that included dark outlines.

Sense of sight experiment
Glasses for the experiment

First we closed our eyes and tried to make our way around a room that I led the boys to. I wanted them to see what it was like to not see, if only for a few minutes. (Wearing blindfolds would not have worked with these boys…) And we talked about what things we noticed using our other senses.

Then Cutie Pie and Sweet Pea each put on a pair of my old glasses and I asked them to tell me what they could see around the room and then right in front of them. I also gave them a picture with bold outlines to look at close up and then across the room. They found this pretty humorous.

I explained to them that I see things blurry without my glasses or contacts, just like they see things blurry with my glasses on. We talked a little about how not seeing clearly could be a difficult thing, even though in this experiment it was pretty funny.

They had a really good time going around the house with my glasses on, then taking them off while looking at things. For a few minutes just one day it won’t damage their sight.

Later in the day I did a couple of other fun things with them for sight, but that’s to be shared in another post.

5 Senses – hearing experiment

Cutie Pie’s class recently learned about the 5 senses, so we thought it would be fun to do a simple experiment for each of the senses over the course of a week.

The first day was all about our sense of hearing. After being quiet for a minute or so and then talking about what we each could hear in the silence, we did a simple experiment I had put together on the fly and the boys loved it. You can do it to!

The ‘What’s Inside?’ Experiment

  • First, fill several cups with different items and cover them with paper and tape. You don’t want anyone taking a peek!
  • Then mark each cup with a number. (There is no need to keep track of what is in each cup.)
  • Take turns shaking the cups and guessing what’s inside. 

We made a list of our guesses for each cup. I used a simple sheet of paper with numbers down the side matching the numbers on the cups and made two columns – guess and actual. I filled in the columns as they guessed. (The kiddos can help with this part easily according to their abilities! writing, counting)

Then we opened each and discovered whether we were right or not! We wrote down what was actually in the cup and compared the guess with the actual item, discovering how they were similar and different.

The boys loved this and were totally intrigued. It was so fun hearing their guesses, since I didn’t give them any clues whatsoever!

Ice Ornaments

Some mornings this winter it was a little hard to keep 4 year old Sweet Pea occupied since we couldn’t go out and play with the frigid windchill hovering around zero.

One thing we did was play with water! I got out some containers and food coloring and we experimented with different color combinations, using an eye dropper to transfer water. Sweet Pea also practiced pouring and when the water ended up in some ice and muffin trays right before he said he was done playing, I cut some lengths of yarn and dunked it into the water. I then carefully placed the trays outdoors to freeze!

We did this a couple of years ago and were able to hang our ornaments on our front tree for some color. Unfortunately this year it started to snow those big, heavy snowflakes and by the time I retrieved the trays they had all overflowed and made one big ice chunk!

Discovered if you out your hand into a bowl full of water it ‘overflows’ and ended up learning the meaning of the word several through different methods!

Density Experiment

Our liquid density tower

Over the past few weeks we’ve done a few experiments, but it’s taken me a while to get the pics onto the computer. I’ve seen this density experiment in many places, several books I have as well as several blogs.

I’m posting about it simply because it was fun, but also to show you can do this with several difference liquids, not necessarily needing to go by an official experiment ‘recipe’. (Just make sure the liquids you are using are safe to be used together as well as safe for your child.)

Density Experiment

Experiment Liquids: olive oil, dish soap, water,
vegetable oil, food coloring

What we used: 

the same amount of olive oil, dish soap, water, and vegetable oil, a drop of food coloring, clean glass jar

What we did: 

I asked the boys if they thought the liquids they had in front of them weighed the same.

One by one I slowly poured the liquids into the jar, letting them dribble down the side rather than pouring into the middle of the jar. (I dyed the water red so we could see it more easily.)

Final density tower with items at each level

What we observed:

The liquids formed layers. (Cutie Pie loved this as he’d been learning about strata!)

It did not matter what order we poured the liquids. If a heavier liquid was added after a lighter one, it settled under the lighter one.

What we learned:

The liquids have different densities (or weights) and therefore do not lie in the same layer.

Further investigation:

After letting our density tower sit for a while to make sure the layers weren’t going to combine on their own, we gathered a few small items and carefully dropped them into the jar. It was interesting to see where they settled. We used a small LEGO, a toothpick, a raisin, and a small stone.

Cutie Pie had fun with this experiment, trying to guess which liquid would be lighter and therefore higher in our final tower. He also had a lot of fun coming up with the items to drop into our final tower and guessing where they would settle!

When you try this experiment please let us know what results you came up with!

Last Week’s Questions

How would you answer these for a 4 year old?

Why do lovies have fur but the real ones don’t?
Why do animals not wear clothes?
Why do we wear mittens?
What does ‘complicated’ mean?
Why is the snow wet?
Why do we wear hats?
Why do we wear bras?
What does overflow mean?
Why do we brush our teeth?

My favorite of last week: to Cutie Pie – “Did you name Mommy Mom?”

I would love to hear the questions your little ones are asking!

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.

Geoboard Revisited

As I posted here, I’m revisiting some activities I originally did with Cutie Pie and am having fun introducing them to Sweet Pea!

One such thing is the Geoboard, which I originally posted about here. Great fine motor and coordination manipulative! It also makes a nice quiet time activity or ‘busy bag’.

Cutie Pie really liked this at first, but slowly his interest waned. I set it aside and it occasionally made an appearance, but not until recently was it met with enthusiasm. Sweet Pea can’t get enough of it!

He is enjoying making shapes, trying to create pretend scenes (making a square and saying it’s a train wheel or house) and counting how many bands he can attach to the board. Basically, he LOVES it!

If you haven’t already made one for your kiddo, I encourage you to. It’s cheap and easy to make! If your child loves it as much as Sweet Pea, it’ll be totally worth it! I think I might be making a larger one with nails instead of tacks, and maybe even elicit Sweet Pea’s help!

Marshmallow Float Experiment

So the other day I posted some of Sweet Pea’s questions. The one he asked right after I posted was “Why do marshmallows float?”

 

I decided to help him find the answer right then and there since we had some mini marshmallows in front of us while we enjoyed our hot cocoa (oh, that wind chill got to me getting Cutie Pie on the bus!) an impromptu experiment was born!
First, I asked him why he thought they floated. He said “because they have air in them.” Smart boy.
I grabbed a cup, filled it with water, and we squished a marshmallow and dropped it in (fine motor). It floated, but with only a little surface above water. We dropped in an unsquished one and it floated with almost half of its surface above water.
Sweet Pea declared “The one with the air squished out isn’t as good a floater!”
And that’s how you do it, answering simple questions when you can and researching the others along with the kiddo if you can!

Money Exercise

Sweet Pea was a little jealous of Cutie Pie today…Cutie Pie found a penny. Since he doesn’t really have a concept of the value of money, he thought Cutie Pie was pretty rich.

I pulled out our smaller change bucket and let Sweet Pea put several coins into his piggy bank, which he counted as he inserted each into the slot. It was a great little lesson on saving and also great fine motor work! He loved it and later in the day came back requesting to do it again!

(This is actually a great fine motor exercise that I’ve seen on some occupational therapists web sites!)

The Questions

Remember when I posted about keeping a notepad handy to capture my boys’ questions in order to search for answers at a later time? This idea was mostly to capture Cutie Pie’s questions. Not to be left out, Sweet Pea, in his 4 year old way, has been asking some pretty interesting questions of his own. Here are just a few:

Why do we put dirty clothes down the laundry chute?
Why do we need trees?
Why do sharp things pop balloons?
Why do we wash our hands?
Why do we have to ride in cars?

What questions are your kiddos asking?

Why we pray

We always say prayers with our boys each night. Last night when I was done praying, Sweet Pea says, “Mommy, why do we pray? There is no God.”

My breath left me.

Me, “I believe God is real and that there is a God. (pause with a silent prayer) Why don’t you think He’s real?”

Sweet Pea, “Because I haven’t seen Him.”

“Faith. Believing in God takes faith. Faith is believing in something or someone you can’t see.”

The eyes of a child many times see simple things, but many times cannot fathom not seeing the amazing, like God.

Being a child takes faith. An innocent faith.

At least, that’s what I believe.

How to have fun with your boys

There are several times a year that my string music teaching husband has concerts at night and meetings after school and I find I have a hard time balancing being a homemaker and mom (read play-partner).
This totally sets my kids’ routine out of whack.

During these weeks I usually find my kids wanting more attention (hence the play-partner in the opening sentence). This is when I go into survival mode and just try to have fun with my boys. This is how I to it:

  1. Ignore all the housework around you (do it when they are in school or sleeping)
  2. Don’t answer the phone
  3. Be prepared to get dirty/messy
  4. Try very, very hard to not let the whining, begging, fighting and manipulating get to you
  5. Have a few fun outings, or special snacks, fort building with all the extras, etc planned to distract the kiddos and put the attention on how great you are as a mom at least until you have to talk sternly to them
  6. Truly try to have fun and be a kid again

Remember in a few short days (weeks) Hubby’s schedule will return to normal and the kids will be satisfied and happy again. The attention will be all on him and the super fun routine of housework will return.

How do you “do” Survival Mode in your home during times like this?

Rolling ball experiment

Playing indoor bowling the other day led to Sweet Pea asking why balls roll but not stuffed fish. It’s not usual for Sweet Pea to ask a question and stick around for the answer, so we got into investigation mode. Is this how you react when questions are asked?

First, I asked his opinion – why do you think stuffed fish don’t roll. I received a whole lot of answers, but they were pretty far out there. I mean, ‘fish have gills so they can’t roll’ kind of answers.

Then I asked his opinion as to why balls do roll. I got some pretty funny answers, like they are soft (the one in his hand was, so maybe that’s why he said this) to which I countered, ‘are all balls soft?’ This led to finding all the balls in and outside of the house and checking for softness. You get the picture…I kept asking questions about his answers.

Finally, I asked if we should try rolling each of the balls we found and the fish we found (we found 3). Before we did I checked one more time if he thought fish still didn’t roll. Know what? He was right. They don’t!

I think he was excited about his little ‘experiment’ because that’s how he described this activity to his brother, as an experiment!

When your child comes to you with a question, no matter how silly or small, how do you react?


Indoor Fun

Cutie Pie and Sweet Pea received a F.A.O. Schwartz soft bowling set when they were too little to really use it as intended. After a while they weren’t interested and it got set aside. We pulled it back out the other day when Sweet Pea was switching from one activity to the next faster than I could say “STOP” (for my own sanity)! Sweet Pea had so much fun with it! He still switched from one thing to the next quickly, but every activity was centered on the bowling!

Have you ever thought about all the things you can do with a soft bowling set? After talking about how they felt (heavy on one end, funny texture, soft, like one of Daddy’s gloves) these are a few of the things we did with it:

Sweet Pea and I used two pins as drum sticks. We banged on our thighs, the floor, a toy drum, the wall. We talked about how the sound was different each time we (gently) banged on something different.

We got out different sized balls and different weights of balls, aimed and rolled to knock the pins down.  Some questions that were answered: Do some balls knock more over? Are some balls harder to roll? Do some balls go where you want them to better than others?

We practiced counting. What to count? Count the number of pins in the set. Count the number of pins knocked over. Count how many pins didn’t get knocked over. Count how many balls you can find to play bowling with.

Sweet Pea practiced coordination. Holding onto a small ball is a lot of work for small hands! It also takes a lot of coordination to roll a ball smoothly, let alone aim it and knock a pin over!

So much fun and so much learning going on at the same time! Love it!

Pretend Play with a Twist

You never know what you’ll become when Cutie Pie and Sweet Pea have the magic wand! Hubby was an orangutan, gorilla, you name it! So many giggles, squeals and screams of delight as they were carried away, had ‘bugs’ picked off of them, chased the runaway animal and eventually had the magic wand stolen and used against them leaving me with a living room full of wild orangutans!

I love the imaginations that come to life with just a little suggestion from Hubby’s creative mind!

What sort of fun does your kiddos Daddy bring to life in your children?

Dinosaur Skeleton Experiment

Thursday I posted about this great book we discovered at the library, Dinosaur Discovery. (I meant to post this on Friday, but got caught up in making a really fun LEGO/dinosaur party come together for Cutie Pie’s 6th birthday…sorry!) This great book contains a lot of dinosaur information that we haven’t come across in other books about dinosaurs, or perhaps just not in such a simple and attractive way. As I shared yesterday, this book also contains some really neat experiments! (Simple enough to do with a preschooler on up!)

Sweet Pea, Cutie Pie and I tried the ‘Standing Up to Force’ experiment about skeletons being built “to take the forces pushing and pulling against them, without breaking.” The experiment describes sitting on a table because it has legs positioned strategically to support the force of the tabletop pushing down on it. The bones in dinosaurs are no different.

Quite simply, take two toilet paper rolls, stand one up in its end. Carefully set one book at a time on the roll that’s standing up, balancing them with your hand if necessary. How many can it hold before collapsing?

Now take the other roll and set it on its side. Stack the books on it one at a time, holding the bottom book to keep it in place. How many can this one hold?

Why?

What is the difference between the two?

Can you figure out how dinosaur bones are similar to the toilet paper roll standing up?

See, isn’t this so simple and fun? For more really fun experiments check out the book!

According to Cutie Pie the T-Rex rules the roll

The link contained in this post is an affiliate link that I may or may not receive payment from, however, I would not post about any product I didn’t wholeheartedly want to share with you. My just about 6 year old wants me to share this book with you, too!

Got a Dinosaur Lover? (Book review)

Cutie Pie recently checked out the book called Dinosaur Discovery Everything You Need to be a Paleontologist by Chris McGowan, illustrated by Erica Lyn Schmidt. If you have a dinosaur lover in your house you should really take a look at this book!

What we really like about this book is that it contains experiments as well as shares so much detail about dinosaurs. Other books are great at details like how fast a dinosaur probably ran, or how big it was compared to a bus.

Dinosaur Discovery, however, shares interesting details. For instance, for the brachiosaurus “Vertebrae the trunk vertebrae have larger hollows in their sides than the neck vertebrae. These deep openings reduced weight but not strength.” Cutie Pie ate this information right up!

In addition, it contains several unique experiments that are fun to do and help in understanding things such as why a dinosaur held its tail up off the ground, or how different length crests on parasaurolophuses might have produced different sounds.

If you have a dinosaur lover in your home, one who knows so much about dinosaurs but keeps asking for more books, check this one out. We think the details you find inside might just be different enough to satisfy any budding paleontologist!

Tomorrow I will be posting about one of the experiments we did from this book, just to give you an idea of what you will find!

Every child is different

Are there activities you set aside after one child wasn’t interested that you forgot about with the next that you wish you had remembered?


Many parents tell me their children are different, but none tell me that they’ve done anything different with each child at particular ages. Does that make any sense? (On second thought, most of the parents I know don’t really talk about what they do with their kids, just where they go. Hmmm, interesting thought.)

I have to reassess the fun activities I’m doing with Sweet Pea, after all, he’s a different child than Cutie Pie with different interests and abilities than CP had at this age, too. I’m going back to some things I’ve done in the past when CP was 4. Some worked, some didn’t. I just need to pull out some things and try again! Who knows, maybe the things that didn’t work so well the first time will be great this time? And maybe the things that worked just fine will be just the thing for Sweet Pea’s interest to be piqued!

What differences have you noticed between your kiddos? Do you notice yourself treating them differently?



Kid Questions

Do you have an inquisitive kiddo at home? If you’re familiar with my blog you’ll know that Cutie Pie is our inquisitive one around here, but Sweet Pea is right on his heels. What do you do with all the questions?


Sometimes when I least expect it one of the boys will come out with a question that I just don’t know how to answer. I know very well that they will remember their question when I least expect it and will want to find the answer.

I’ve started keeping a small piece of paper and pencil in every room (especially the bathroom – because that’s where the best questions are thought of!) to capture any and all questions. I also make sure to talk about the questions at some point during the week and make it a point to find the answers with them if at all possible.

One thing I’ve learned is to treat all of their questions as sincere requests for information. Nothing makes a kiddo feel bad like truly wanting to know something and have their question be made fun of or taken lightly when it shouldn’t be!


The Father’s Path

Hubby made a path in the deep snow today, with the boys following. I stood back to take a picture.

A thought paused in my mind as Sweet Pea veered into the fresh, unspoiled snow and had difficulties immediately. It’s sort of like when we walk through life. We do well or maybe just manage when we are walking with our Father, or are at least trying to. We struggle when we veer off on our own path even if we’re still going in the same basic direction. Once Sweet Pea was back on the path (after calling for help from his daddy) he did just fine, even if at times he stumbled.
After having some fun Hubby and Cutie Pie headed in. Cutie Pie followed his daddy and then wandered off the path his daddy made. He wanted to enter by the back door, to go his own way. He struggled and fell almost immediately, but got right up and tried again. Hubby reminded him that they were going in, but by a different door. Another thought paused in my mind. Even when we are doing God’s will, if we are trying to get it done by our own means, we will have a more difficult time than if we follow the path He carves out for us.

Just something to think about as our new year begins. I know it spoke to my heart.

After Christmas Toy Purge

Four Christmas celebrations in four different houses and now our home is settling back in to a routine. We are so thankful for the gifts of love and the physical gifts we have received this Christmas season and feel so blessed to be in driving distance of our parents so that we could see all of them this year, even if travel was delayed a bit by weather. We know others don’t have this luxury and don’t want to take it for granted.


Now that we have unpacked, though, we are quickly realizing we have more toys than we thought which our kiddos have outgrown. That’s bad enough, but we also have kiddos who are not ready to depart with some of those toys! I mean, Sweet Pea is 4 and still wants to play with the walking toy he used when he learned to walk! (I’ve tried to put things in the basement to wait for a spring garage sale…he always manages to see the most annoying toy when he goes down to ‘help’ me get something from the freezer.) We have talked with the boys about donating to others less fortunate, but when it comes to actually doing it they have a difficult time. Are your kiddos the same?

I wish there were phases in a child’s life that were uncomplicated, rather simple and easy. Maybe that toys would just dissolve when a child got to a certain age or mastered a certain developmental milestone. Where is the toy genie and who else needs one?

Learning your name

Sweet Pea is now 4 and I find myself repeating activities I did with Cutie Pie quite often now. In some ways it’s fun to revisit them, but in other ways I think Sweet Pea may learn differently than Cutie Pie so I’m trying some new things, too. I’m sharing today the process I used to help Sweet Pea learn his name and am wondering what methods you have used in the past or are using now to reinforce this with your own kiddos.

Free Stock Photo: Pencil Crayons 1. Image: 159065

Sweet Pea is starting to learn his letters in preschool using the Handwriting without Tears method and has so far learned L, F and E. At home he’s still not very interested in writing, but we have been working on recognizing his name.


This time around, I wrote out Sweet Pea’s real name on paint chips then cut them to fit together like a puzzle. At first he loved it, like holding the letters of his name was something mysterious. But now he doesn’t like to play with them now that he’s done it a few times.

However, after realizing he was learning letters at school I wrote his name on the chalkboard and set the paint chip letters below. He got excited and wanted to match them with his paint chip letters (I was hoping he’d try to write it himself.) We did that several times and now he’s bored with that, too.

Then, a few days later, I tried writing the letters of his name with just my finger on the chalkboard, leaving a clean line through some remaining dust. He picked up the chalk and traced his name! Progress!

He’s at the point now where he definitely recognizes his name and the letters in his name when they are not spelling his name (if that makes any sense!) although he still doesn’t like to write. It took a while to get here, but like I said, he learns differently than his brother.

Like I mentioned above, I’m very interested in learning how you’ve worked with your kiddos to learn their names and letters. Any other fun learning methods I can try with Sweet Pea?

Learning your name

Sweet Pea is now 4 and I find myself repeating activities I did with Cutie Pie quite often now. In some ways it’s fun to revisit them, but in other ways I think Sweet Pea may learn differently than Cutie Pie so I’m trying some new things, too. I’m sharing today the process I used to help Sweet Pea learn his name and am wondering what methods you have used in the past or are using now to reinforce this with your own kiddos.

Free Stock Photo: Pencil Crayons 1. Image: 159065

Sweet Pea is starting to learn his letters in preschool using the Handwriting without Tears method and has so far learned L, F and E. At home he’s still not very interested in writing, but we have been working on recognizing his name.


This time around, I wrote out Sweet Pea’s real name on paint chips then cut them to fit together like a puzzle. At first he loved it, like holding the letters of his name was something mysterious. But now he doesn’t like to play with them now that he’s done it a few times.

However, after realizing he was learning letters at school I wrote his name on the chalkboard and set the paint chip letters below. He got excited and wanted to match them with his paint chip letters (I was hoping he’d try to write it himself.) We did that several times and now he’s bored with that, too.


Then, a few days later, I tried writing the letters of his name with just my finger on the chalkboard, leaving a clean line through some remaining dust. He picked up the chalk and traced his name! Progress!

He’s at the point now where he definitely recognizes his name and the letters in his name when they are not spelling his name (if that makes any sense!) although he still doesn’t like to write. It took a while to get here, but like I said, he learns differently than his brother.

Like I mentioned above, I’m very interested in learning how you’ve worked with your kiddos to learn their names and letters. Any other fun learning methods I can try with Sweet Pea?

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!

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?