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Marshmallow Building

Morning snack conversation
Marshmallow Building

I gave Sweet Pea some toothpicks and mini marshmallows yesterday. This is what happened…

“This time I’m going to make a period.” (Pyramid)

Referring to the same object he just made. It started as the pyramid, but he kept adding to it. “This is just an animal, a caterpillar.”


Me: “Is a caterpillar an insect or an animal?”

Sweet Pea: “An animal. Now I’m going to eat my creation. No it’s not a tunnel. It’s a slingshot.” He proceeds to eat a marshmallow, then decides to eat a marshmallow off the end of a toothpick.

“Mommy, you have a pet baby dragon (blows on the marshmallow on the end of the toothpick and eats it.) I toasted it under the fire. Your baby pet dragon is talented at roasting mini marshmallows.”

Some days I use our little morning snack time to sneak a peak at e-mail or check Facebook, not that anyone ever sends me e-mails during the day or there is anything earth shattering on Facebook that I have to see. It sort of makes me feel connected to other adults during the day, even though I’m not.

Today, however, I sat with my iPad, intentionally ready to listen to him instead. I had planned to type out everything he said, because it dawned on me the other day that snack time is the time his talk is truly free, not rambling about his LEGO project plans or what his lovey plans to do when it’s done flying through the air. When he’s just talking more to himself than anything.

Snack time is when he’s trying to make conversation while we just sit together. I love that I listened to the imaginings of his mind yesterday. The creative thought process his mind goes through is so cool!

I think e-mail and Facebook will probably not go away while I listen to my boy again today.

L is for Legs

I know we started on the letter L over a week ago, but Sweet Pea seems to keep going back to it, so we keep working on it because he finds it fun!

We’ve been busy trying to keep active even though the bitterly cold weather has kept us indoors. I never really thought of my 5 year old as liking things like Lunges, Leg Lifts, and Large arm circles, but he was really getting into the action of doing some simple exercises with me! (and of course I don’t have any pictures of him doing them because I was doing them with him!) He was having a ball!

Now I have one more thing in my ‘stuck indoors’ bag – simple gross motor exercises! And I think we’ll try to find an exercise for every letter of the alphabet! After all, L is for Legs!

Block Building Challenge

wood block building funI had given my boys a challenge to build something new out of blocks.

Sweet Pea happened to have his hex bug next to him, so as he pondered out loud what he could possibly build I flippantly said, “You know, like a maze for your hex bug or something.”
Of course, that took away part of the challenge, but the result of his work was pretty cool for a 5 year old! (can you see the little hex bug working it’s way through the maze in the pic?) Building like this takes coordination, concentration, trial and error…

There have been a few other times I issued this challenge to my boys, but I forgot to take pictures. One time it turned into a contest of who could build the tallest tower. Another time they built a long, flat road and used it for cars as well as a balance beam. Still another time they laid all of the blocks out flat and tried to use it as a dance floor! (That was fun!)

Offer your kids this challenge…what did they build with blocks?!

Tooth Fairy in disguise

“Mommy, are you the tooth fairy?” Said by my 5 year old after his older brother asked why the tooth fairy didn’t take the note he had written and taped to the plastic bag containing his tooth.

“No, Honey, I’m not.” This is, in fact, the truth. The tooth fairy requires two people in this house, just don’t tell the kids.

“But Mommy! You have lots of money!”

I love the way the little minds work….

Interpreting Music

My boys are clamoring all over their makeshift “Cuddlebug Island”  listening to the soundtrack from Jurassic Park.


I’m sitting here pretending to work on the computer so I can catch glimpses of them through the doorway that lies between us. It’s better than sitting in the living room with pillows piled several deep on the floor. Climbing over them actually takes a lot of coordination! I know this is not a pretty picture, but is definitely fun for the kiddos and gives us a few moments in another room alone!

When the music first came on they were sort of lounging around, enjoying the cushy surroundings and making their lovies play. When the volume of the music increased, their playing changed. Their bodies and minds started feeling it.

Every time the mood of the music changes, their story and actions change. The volume of their voices raises or lowers, their movements quicken or they go ‘slo-mo’. They are creating their own story in there too, but I can’t catch enough of it to interpret the plot for you.

I just love how kids can totally immerse themselves in music if they so desire. My boys especially do this with classical music, and definitely with music containing no words. Hubby and I don’t even need to suggest they think about what story the music is trying to tell, or the picture it’s trying to paint.

Oh no! The fish army just arrived. I can tell because the music just got very exciting. My services have been requested to go help save Cuddlebug Island!

L is for LEGO building fun

Do your kids love LEGOs as much as mine? I absolutely love that they love them so much, however, they absolutely greatly dislike taking their creations apart to build more creations!
Hubby and I have explained that they really need to take them apart sometimes so that they can be even more creative and make even cooler things. I don’t know if they’re buying it or not, but I have managed to take a few apart without their complaining too much. I think, though, that my taking pictures as is I did the disassembling so they could create the item again helped. Funny, that since then Sweet Pea has taken to having us watch as he ‘plays a video’ for us of how to build something.
He usually starts with a ‘kit’ something like this:

Then he tells us step by step how to assemble the item, sometimes having us retrieve our own pieces and make the item along with him. (I seriously need to video him doing this and upload it to show you! It’s so cute when he does this!)

FYI: The above pieces assemble to make the vehicle below:

Most of Sweet pea’s creations are trains. (You know how he loves trains!) Sometimes, though, they are just an object that he imagines to be something real. I am really loving his imagination and the way he is organizing his thoughts! Building with LEGOs is so deceptively educational!

What ways do your kids love to play with LEGOs?

L is for Listening – a game

Listening games - http://www.momistheonlygirl.com
Echo drumming listening game

The other day I made a special afternoon treat of chocolate chip cookies. When the timer went off the boys both came running into the kitchen with their high pitched screams of excitement…and Hubby retreated to his den!

To say the excitement-noise in this house is sometimes overwhelming is an understatement. What to do?
I quickly told the boys they couldn’t have their treat until they listened really well to me and did exactly what I asked. Then I proceeded to send them running around our ‘loop’ 3 times. When they were done with that, and obviously still had waaaaaay too much energy, I sent them hopping around for 2 laps…then skipping for 3…then galloping…you get the picture.

Twenty minutes later the cookies were cooled off and the boys were ready to sit down and enjoy their snack. Hubby was also ready to come out of his den hoping it would be a bit quieter! And the boys seemed to be listening better!

This is the perfect picture of a listening game. Calling out instructions (or whispering them when you really need to get their attention) and their following them.

There are so many other lsitening games for you to play that go along with Letter L is for Listening! Here are just a few:

  • Play the old telephone game, speaking into cups strung together with yarn that is held taut from ear to mouth. Can you understand what is being said?
  • Simon Says
  • Echo drumming (like I posted about here)
  • Drawing Instructions game – one person describes an object to another while the other tries to draw it on paper. This is a good one for all ages, don’t think it’s just for older kiddos!

 What sort of listening games do you play with your kids?

L is for (Q-tip) Letters

Four year old Sweet Pea is getting pretty good at writing his letters, when he’s in the mood. Sometimes he likes to paint them with a brush or write them inside a bubble letter I made for him. Sometimes he also likes me to draw small circles, then take a q-tip with paint and dot the letter!

Now, I know this isn’t a very unique idea as preschool classrooms everywhere seem to use Bingo markers to dab out shapes and letters. However, there is something about using a Q-tip that draws Sweet Pea to this. It’s also nice that this uses his fine motor skills and draws the letter size-scale closer to what he would be doing with a marker. (There are also a lot of blogs out there with free printables that you can use for this!)

We all know what it’s like when you are trying to prepare dinner or work with your older child on their homework and you just have to find a quick activity to keep your younger one occupied. Or if you are simply trying to work with your child helping them to remember how to write their letters! Sometimes you just need a quick and easy activity!

I found this to be great at giving me a few minutes, and it doesn’t get too messy for us, either. Bonus that it’s something I can whip up quickly and set aside for when I need those few minutes!

When you talk with your child…

Talk with your child

When you talk with your child are you really just talking to them?

Are you engaging them in conversation? Giving them time to answer questions, to respond to what you are saying? Are you giving them enough time to interject with their own comments?

Are you listening to their answers? Or are you planning what you want to say next?

I read a story recently where a parent was stopped in their tracks when their child said they never spoke, because they were never listened to. It truly saddened my heart. It made me stop, mentally, and think about my interactions with my boys.

This large question about how you talk with your child isn’t to point fingers at you or me. It is just something that made me stop and re-evaluate my interactions with my children and I thought if it had that much impact on me maybe others could use a little gentle nudge, too.

Do I kneel down and look at my boys when they speak with me or me with them?

Do I have an open heart and open ears to hear what they are sharing with me?

Do I truly take the time to listen to them – watching their body language, where their gaze is leading me?

Am I seeing life from their perspective or just dismissing their opinions (or fears or questions) because they are little boys?

With the new year just beginning, I’m going to try to pay attention when I am talking with my children. This is just one of my goals. My boys are talkers. And I want to talk with them as they grow.

What is it like when you talk with your child?

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!

Roller Coaster Building – teamwork

“Roller coasters need to go straight down, How will we do that?”

(block fell) Maybe that block was too heavy.

“No we have to push that block into place.”

“Now we need to crane that can put more wood on the dump truck.”

I said ” You guys are working really well as a team!” Cutie Pie responded with, ” Wow, I guess we really are!”

It was so interesting listening to my boys try to build a roller coaster out of wood blocks! (In the end they decided building a bridge was easier.)

Playing together takes a certain degree of cooperation. Building together takes that and more. There’s coordination – both physically and mentally working with another on the same task, cooperation, communication, willing to experiment involving trial and error, working towards the same goal and the list goes on.

Sometimes as parents we see our kiddos playing with others and think ‘how great they’re getting along’ when so much more can be appreciated. Of course, I’ll take ‘look at how great they’re getting along’ any day as long as there are no major squabbles!

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!

Number 5 Birthday Themed Party

Sweet Pea’s 5th birthday was last week! I cannot believe he is 5! Time has gone by so quickly! I know, everyone says it would, but it’s hard to believe them when you are holding a tiny baby!

Over the weekend we had a family party for him. It was simple. Because he is simple. He likes simple play, simple learning. The theme: 5. Simple, right? But so much fun to hear all of his ideas for his special day.

Six year old Cutie Pie helped decorate with simple things like colorful magnetic letters spelling Sweet Pea’s name and 2+3=5 equations. We found some toys that Sweet Pea likes and set them out as a table centerpiece in groups of 5.

I printed out several different fonts of the number 5 as well as the word. My plan was to have these decorated, but leaving them white in the end seemed just right for this simple theme.

Oh, yeah, and we had five balloons in each room. A group of five hanging from the window frame in the rumpus room on which Cutie Pie wrote out math mountains with the equations equaling 5. (Love it!)

Sweet Pea wanted a cookie cake, so we had one decorated with balloons and 5s along with chocolate chip cookie ice cream after a simple pizza lunch.

Such a simple birthday theme, but so enchanting to my Sweet Pea. He said he loved it even before he opened the presents!

Exploring words


I love the magnetic tile words. I can’t help but move them around and make sentences whenever I see them! Evidently, Sweet Pea follows in my footsteps!

On a recent visit to the library a door was closed that usually isn’t. Sweet Pea discovered the word magnets on the reverse side for the first time. Even though he can’t read, he started moving them around, then asked me what each said. It was very fun standing nearby listening to him jibber-jabber. Sometimes he’d point out a letter he knew. Sometimes he’d remember what some of the words were and try to place them where he thought they made sense.

Mostly, though, Sweet Pea had fun just lining up the words and asking me to read the nonsense sentences he made.

I love when my boys explore the written word this way. (pre-reading) There are no expectations. I can be as involved or not as involved as I want, or as they want.

As a parent, it is so easy to just take over and read for them, or talk and talk about the alphabet and the words that can be made from the letters. Sometimes we can discover so much more about our children if we just stand back and observe.

2013 Halloween Costumes

I can’t believe I actually forgot to post our Halloween costumes. How crazy that I could possibly forget with everyone posting them everywhere that night and the next morning! Forgive this relapse, but I just had to share since Hubby got into the action (being a school teacher he sometimes indulges his students!)

Our village has a trick or treat trail and its not to be missed! Our handmade dragon costume was worn by Cutie Pie’s uncle when he was little, and (handmade) Batman was worn by Hubby when he was in Kindergarten (we think he was that age…) They now reside in our costume/pretend play box! I love that Hubby’s mom saved these all these years so our kiddos can enjoy them!

 And Hubby was a hit at school in his Dr. Seuss character costume and even had his lines memorized! he was flabbergasted by the amount of students and teachers alike who had no idea who he was!

 My guys heading out trick or treating…

C is for Pete the Cat Counting

I always try to engage 4 year old Sweet Pea in activities which include his interests. Sometimes I totally get it wrong, but this time I hit the nail on the head!

Sweet Pea loves Pete the Cat! His 3 year old preschool class had the book Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons memorized and he still knows it by heart! I thought finding an activity to help reinforce learning the letter C and centered on Pete the Cat would be just the thing for a recent cold, wet day.

After a quick Pinterest search (I love using that for a preschooler activity resource, don’t you?!) I found some great Pete the Cat activities. The one I chose this day was so simple and involved some print outs of Pete with numbers as well as some colorful buttons. (You can find it here.)

While Sweet Pea and I listened to the story, you can listen to a few books and songs here, he put the correct number of buttons on Pete’s shirt. After doing that several times we sorted the buttons by color, placing them on the coordinating shirt. Sweet Pea also noticed the numbers on the printouts and decided to count out the proper number of buttons and place those on the shirts, too!

I love finding an activity that totally pulls my boys in! (Like doing something to do with cats!) What activities have you found lately that have totally engaged your preschooler?

C is for Cats

Cats!

Sweet Pea loves cats! (At least the stuffed kind!) He has a little lovie he calls Kitty Goes and he’s excellent at making this little cat act real!

For letter C week we read a bit about cats, made cat masks and tried out best to be cats. (Unfortunately he thought he should try to drink his milk like a cat too, which lead to talking about how a cat’s tongue is much different than ours.)

We also talked about animals that are similar to cats as well as other animals we know that are in the cat family. Sweet Pea keeps telling me he wants to be an animal rescuer, so he really loved learning about one of his favorite animals!

And you can’t forget the Pete the Cat books we read! Sweet Pea has Pete the Cat’s Four Groovy Buttons memorized!

For more ideas to reinforce your preschooler’s learning the letter C, head here!

This post contains a link to Amazon, which may result in my being compensated for any purchase being made at no additional cost to you. I only link to products my children and I absolutely love!

C is for car

Car. Carrot. Call. Cry. Cousins. Cotton. Crayon. Cup. Curb. Caterpillar. Carpet. Crust. Coconut. Christ.

What do these words all have in common? You bet, the letter C! It was an easy question for Sweet Pea, too. Some days that little 4 year old seems really smart to me!


Sweet Pea’s preschool class covered the letter C by reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric . Their craft for this story was making caterpillar necklaces out of red and green pasta, and enjoying a bit of patterning while they made them.

At home Sweet Pea and I spent lots of time making the hard C sound and listing lots of words starting with C. This has become sort of a game to him and I find we do this quite often throughout the week for letters we have learned. Some times I find him sitting at the table looking at the 3D letters we have taped to the wall and hear him whispering the ABCs. What’s not to love about that?!

He seemed to have a pretty good grasp on this letter, so I got out the cars and we had a lot of fun with them! We even made a letter C out of his car tracks!

For more letter C ideas head here for other fun we’ve had learning the letter C!

I Remember – Reading Out Loud

I clearly remember first grade reading group. I remember sitting in a hard wood chair at a low table which made my teacher have to sit with her knees to the side when she had her reading book open in front of her. I remember feeling like I was a good reader, thinking I was in the top reading group, but still so incredibly nervous when it came time for me to take my turn reading my assigned section out loud.

I remember comparing myself to those who read before me and to those who read after me. Do I read as well as they do?


I remembered those feelings so clearly when my first grader Cutie Pie raised his hand to read in Sunday School a couple of weeks ago. Even more vividly when he didn’t read after another child said “He can’t read! He’ll just say ‘Blah, blah,blah’.” As a helper in the room I watched his confidence fall, you could clearly see it in his posture. The Sunday School teacher later kindly talked to the other child about encouraging others.

The past several weeks I have seen the confidence Cutie Pie has in reading go up again with reading nightly and lots of encouragement. Of course, I have no idea what his reading experience has been in school.

Once again I found myself as a helper in Sunday School this past Sunday and saw Cutie Pie raise his hand to read. Immediately he looked at me with a little doubt in his eye, but that same other child caused CP’s head to turn when he said “I know you can read it this time!”

When it came his turn to read, Cutie Pie read loudly and clearly. His bright smile when he was done was a beautiful sight!

I remember reading out loud and feeling the pressure. I don’t remember the encouragement that came from the teacher or other students. I am so thankful Cutie Pie was greeted with encouragement and succeeded!

What experiences do you remember as a child that you find yourself witnessing your child experience?
What ways do you encourage your child to encourage others?

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!)

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Foam Alphabet Matching Game

The kiddos love to play with their foam alphabet letters. Sometimes they just lay them all out on the floor and poke the letters out and simply match the letters. Lately, however, they’ve been building with them again. This led to a fun (sneaky learning) game!

First, make cubes with your letters and poke the letters out. (Like Sweet Pea is doing in the pic.)

Next roll the cube like dice.

Whoever rolled the die has to find the letter that lands face-up!

Of course, there is no real winner or loser, but we like games like that sometimes!

This is a great game to accompany learning the alphabet, reinforcing the alphabet and one to one correspondence. It’s also a great gross motor game, especially when you play it outside and the kiddos try to see who can roll the die the farthest!

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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!

Learning Something New

Have you ever stepped back and thought about what it takes to learn something new? Some find trying new things to be very scary even as adults. Now think about that from a kids’ perspective. What sorts of emotions do they experience?


Recently we bought a round swing, one that hangs from a rope attached to a branch. Both boys were very excited about it, but after one attempt at getting on, six year old Cutie Pie didn’t really want anything to do with it. Four year old Sweet Pea on the other hand jumped right on and started begging for us to give him a push. Then after his initial squealing was done requested to be swung higher and spun!

This swing had been in our yard for a few weeks before Cutie Pie dared to get on it again. I could see him studying how Sweet Pea got on, how he held his legs, and I saw him attempt the same moves. Unfortunately, Cutie Pie has much longer legs, so the same moves didn’t work! After a little practice and much trial and error, Cutie Pie got on and in a comfortable position, then asked to be pushed. He squealed a nervous squeal. I could see his body relax just a bit when he swung back to me and didn’t fall off. Then he wanted to be pushed higher, ‘but not too high’. Caution was definitely his plan. By the time he got off he was smiling his playful smile and said ‘That wasn’t as scary as it used to be!”

It just was a little picture of him trying something new, a little glimpse I had into his mind. I know new things make me very nervous and many times I forget to stop and see new things from Cutie Pie’s mind and instead sometimes get frustrated with him for not jumping in and experiencing the fun.

I’m reminded of this little swing scenario every time I walk into a store these days, surrounded by school supplies and back to school signs. While our kiddos might have gone to school before, the routine being slightly similar, there are enough new things happening in their lives that they might need us to step back and notice they are a little unsure, a little hesitant. As moms, stepping in with reassurance and love is definitely appreciated and desired!

How do you help your child learn new things and begin new adventures?


Unexpected Playdate

The little boy around the corner is 3 weeks older than Cutie Pie and they’ve known each other all their lives. They were even in Kindergarten together! Every once in a while he and his Mom come to her Mom’s house across the street from us and he stops to play. I always find it intriguing to watch the different dynamics while they play.

Sweet Pea seems to love playing with T much more than Cutie Pie. They both seem more physical in their approach to play. Cutie Pie keeps wandering away, coming back to me. It doesn’t really seem like the need for reassurance, rather the acknowledgment that he doesn’t want to play the same way.

This summer my eyes have been open to Cutie Pie’s acceptance of his interests being different than that of his friends many times. However, I’ve also seen him think about who has similar interests and ask for play dates around specific themes, like meeting at the museum or having LEGO camp for his friends.

For now, I’ll just enjoy the neighborhood kids coming over unexpectedly and running around my backyard having fun with or without my boys (and their father!) being reassured not everyone is the same, but everyone can have fun!

What things are your eyes being opened to while watching your kids play this summer?

Ice Play

Last week it reached 95 degrees here, and the humidity was awful, making it feel more like 100. We have a small kiddie pool in the back, but sometimes that just is not enough to cool off.

Ice Train
Four year old Sweet Pea had a good idea and asked me to make some ice for him using the train shaped cake mold I got for his birthday party last year. It was the perfect thing to pull out when the boys were getting tired of each other!

Playing with an ice train is the perfect way to cool off

I simply popped the ice out on the table and Sweet Pea had a ball ‘driving’ his train around on the table, keeping cool as it melted while Cutie Pie had fun splashing in the pool and spraying me like I was a water gun target.

I’m definitely going to do this again!

Meeting Family

We all love to spend a little time with family, right? This weekend we had the chance to visit with Hubby’s cousin and her family, whom he hasn’t seen for over 20 years largely because they live in California and we are in New York State! It was so fun for me getting to meet her after hearing all about her, and to meet her family was an added bonus! Of course the only photo my computer wants to share for me is the one with her hidden behind her daughter!

Bonus of a walk we took together along the Erie Canal was getting to see the lift bridge go up in Fairport, NY. So cool! I’ll share more pics of that at another time. It is so neat to watch!

We’ve been spending a lot of time with our boys this summer…taking them to camps, having fun at the pool, playing with LEGOs, trips to see family…summer fun!

Table Time- letter tiles

I’ve been trying as often as I can to have the boys sit at the table and do a little “academic” work, we call it ‘table time’. For 6 year old Cutie Pie we’ve been doing things like writing a sentence, tracing words, creating specific objects with playdough…fine motor things basically. For 4 year old Sweet Pea we are doing things like coloring, tracing, attempting mazes, play dough play and pouring practice.

The other day I found the lower case letter tiles I picked up a year or so ago. I quickly looked up a pin I remembered and printed out some word tile cards and laid them on the table.

Cutie Pie really didn’t want to do table time that day because he had just gotten his LEGOs out, but he came anyway when I said it was something we hadn’t done before.

He had fun searching for letters to build his words, but was itching to get down. After coercing him into writing a sentence for me I let him go play, but as he was going away from the table he said ‘next time lets use word families!’

Hubby overheard and picked out some tiles, built some word families and somehow enticed Cutie Pie to come back. He sat there for about 20 minutes making words with us! (He looks much more happy, don’t you think?)

I’m pleasantly surprised when Cutie Pie suggests doing things that to me are more ‘academic’ than I think he’s interested in doing! I only wish I could figure out when he’s in the mood for something like that so I can piggy back on it before it happens!

Oil and water experiment 2

Earlier this week I posted a simple, fun oil and science experiment. My kiddos loved this so much, that they asked for it the day after we initially did it! I liked it too, so I pulled out the materials again (an edged dish, cooking oil, food coloring, medicine dropper) but this time I got out the vinegar and baking soda as well! Such a fun twist!

Once again I coated the bottom of the dish with a small amount of oil.

Then I poured a bit of vinegar into several medicine cups and added various colors of food coloring to them.

The boys grabbed their medicine droppers and had fun again with the colors.

I handed them a couple of small cups of baking soda. They looked at me like I was crazy, then each picked up a pinch and dropped it into their dishes.

Can you guess what happened? You should try it!

Oil and Water experiment

Sweet Pea concentrating on getting water in his dropper

We’ve had a lot of rain here lately and the boys were getting a little antsy. I pulled out the water and oil, taking a tip from Growing a Jeweled Rose, added some food coloring to the water and set it out along with a couple of medicine droppers. The boys, of course, were immediately drawn to it asking if it was for them!

This is a great activity for fine motor pincer grasp work, learning/reviewing colors, science talk about liquids.

Isn’t this cool?!

It’s pretty self-explanatory what to do. Pick up drops of colored water and drop them into the thin coat of oil (preferably in a dish with sides).

Hint: I found medicine cups to be the perfect size for holding paints and water for their projects!

When the water came into contact with the oil it formed little droplets, which alone looked pretty neat. Here are some questions to ask while you do this experiment:

What happens to the drops of color?
Does it stay in little droplets? Why?
What happens when you try to make two droplets into one? How do you do that?
What happens to the color when they are mixed?

I hope you have fun with this experiment! Tomorrow I’ll share with how we switched things up a bit the next time we pulled out the oil!

How similar are the words?

I used to doodle in my writing books as a little girl. When I noticed words sort of lining up one under the other I would tend to look for similar letters and draw lines between them. It was sort of like seek a word which is drawing circles around words formed within a chart of seemingly random letters. This activity consumed more of my time than actually reading. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I’m a slow reader?

I showed this little similarity activity to 6 year old Cutie Pie one day, but he wasn’t impressed. I think it might have looked too much like a worksheet to him.
(I blogged before about how he doesn’t seem to like things that look like ‘formal’ learning when at home.) Four year old Sweet Pea was engaged in this activity a bit, and seemed to like finding the same letters in the words. It was great fine motor work and letter recognition for him! (And a sneaky way to try to encourage a little bit of reading!)

I thought I’d share it with you, just in case this was something that your kiddo might like, but that you might not have thought of before!

I started by simply making a list of our names on a sheet of paper, one below the other. I made the letters rather large. Of course, you can use whatever words you would like, but I kept my lists to about 4 or 5 words.

Then we set out to discover the similarities – the same letters. We drew a line from one letter to the same letter in the next word.

Very simple! But like I said, it appeared too much like a worksheet for Cutie Pie’s taste, but it might be just the right activity to capture your child’s interest or be something different to do in your homeschooling to reinforce letters of the alphabet.