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Category: 6 yr old

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!

This post contains an affiliate link in which I may or may not be compensated. I link to this source because my children and I love this product.

Foam Letter Spelling

Cutie Pie is in first grade now, which meant we spent some time this summer reinforcing reading through some fun activities, which I’m sure he’s waiting for me to pull back out again!

One game we played was with those foam letters again. (You can read about what we did with them once before here.) We poked the letters out and used them in combination with the big squares to make words!

Six year old Cutie Pie loved this because he was in a phase where he loved trying to spell words, but also because it was challenging to come up with words and phrases that used letters at most twice!

What fun things do your kiddos do with the foam alphabet letters in your house?

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!

I’m not Pinterest-Creative

Sometimes I find myself pouring over blogs or Pinterest overwhelmed with great ideas for the boys and know I will never be able to do them, or feel badly because I am not creative enough to come up with ideas like the ones I see, let alone have the time to even think about doing them to the same level as what I see.

Ever feel like that?

Sometimes I get so caught up in making things for the boys to do and learn from, and when I do find the time to make something pretty cool the boys destroy it within minutes or don’t play with it as it was designed.

We’re Heading Outside!

Lately I’ve decided to take a break from the making and being creative and trying to teach my boys something with every free moment I have in which they want my undivided attention, and just go outside and see what they want to do.

Often they ride bikes or scooters, try to shoot baskets or play catch. Other times they pick up a stick and dig in the dirt or gravel pit. ‘Old fashioned play’ I find myself calling it. Nothing fancy, just like the way I used to play as a girl.

All of the creative learning and play ideas out there are great, don’t get me wrong. I just wanted to remind other moms who feel they are maybe falling short, that there is nothing wrong with good old fashioned play!

Clean up time without the fight

I don’t know how it is at your house, but sometimes clean up time can be such a challenge!

I tried something different recently and just let Sweet Pea put things away how he thought it should be done. I know, I know, I was totally asking for trouble. The thing is, he did it! It wasn’t how I would have done it. But it was done!

He had a great time putting the big wooden blocks away. They weren’t neatly stacked as I would have encouraged. He actually became an artist while doing it, proudly showing me his creation when he was done – a man with a big chin, a smile and wearing a top hat. (What, can’t you see it?!)

It took a bit longer than clean up time should take, but it got done. The floor was bare. The toys were all away. I had nothing to complain about, except that pile of laundry in the background that was my responsibility!

Sometimes I take too much control over the outcome of clean up time, or maybe I just try too hard to make my desired result happen and things just end up with everyone upset and tempers short because the kiddos aren’t doing it ‘right’. I admit this scenario happens way more often in our house than I’d care to admit to just anyone….

How does clean up time go in your house?

An Organic Reading Approach

When my husband was in school getting his music teaching certification he took many classes covering teaching for all grade levels. Recently he was  weeding out some files and came across this simple sheet that he’d saved. It is titled Ashton-Warner’s Organic Reading Approach. (You can read more about Ashton-Warner and her similarities to Reggio Emilia here.)


I love the ideas for learning to read recorded on this sheet, which appears to have come from SUNY Oneonta’s teaching materials, which you can read on your own by following that link, so I’m not going to list it all out here, rather comment on a couple of the points.

I love point 2, “Each day, engage the student in conversation and get him/her to tell you a word that’s very important to him or her that day.” The idea (from point 3) is to write it on a index card (point 1) and help the child learn to read it and for the student to create a pile of all the words they know (point 5). Using words they ‘own’ engages them in learning to read!

We began writing words down on cards when Cutie Pie was in kindergarten, and he had assembled quite a large pile all hooked together with a ring. He loved seeing just how many cards he had, because that was how many words he knew how to read! It was a great motivator, but I wonder how much more motivated he would have been to read if we had started adding in words he used in his everyday?! (Believe me, that would be a lot, he’s got quite the vocabulary!)

Cutie Pie is only 6 and in first grade, so I think I’m going to start with point number 2 now, capturing words that he declares are important to him. Of course, he’s already got a lot of homework each night, which limits his playtime, so I will do this in a play sort of way! There are so many new words learned and used every day, even for me! It’s never too late to start learning how to read words you use, right?!

What strategies have you used to encourage your kiddos’ love of reading?


What kind of family are you?

sense of community family front yard back yard
Front yard play in our community

I’ve been reading a lot about community lately, or the sense of belonging (I posted about it earlier this week, too). Mostly this was in relation to the whole ‘who am I?’ idea, but this idea kept popping up in the articles. (Sorry I have no references for you, there were so many short little ones. I admit I should have kept track of them for you.)


I remember the mention of neighbors playing outside with their kids out in front of their homes and slowly other neighbors would come around and after a while evenings just became social gatherings or parties. A sense of community arose as a result of families being accessible to others, not secluded in their back yards, even if seclusion wasn’t the intention.

I found it very interesting that my sister in law brought this very thing up at our recent play date, er, well, I mean our kids’ play date, while we were chatting. L. told me that when she and her husband first had kids there were several families in the neighborhood with young children and everyone seemed to gather ‘out front’ and chat at night while the kids played together.

Slowly homes sold and the ‘feel’ of the neighborhood changed. L. said when new families moved in children began playing in their backyards more often and there seems to be little sense of community now. My niece and nephew still play out front, but neighbors have talked to her about the volume her children play at, which isn’t any louder than other kids playing in their back yards.

We play in both the front and the back, depending on what our kiddos want to do at the time. I think for us the communication between neighbors has more to do with the stage of life our neighbors are in. The communication is different, with simple hellos exchanged in the front yard between our family and singles or couples (with grown children who are no longer living at home) walking their dogs and meaningful conversations with immediate neighbors (who can watch the children play in our yard from their windows) in the backyard.

So I guess I’m not sure if I’m a front yard or backyard-er. Maybe a little of both? Playing outside, in back or front, with my family has definitely made me feel I belong in this community, though.

Are you a front yard or back yard family and do you think this relates to the sense of community in your neighborhood?



Where do You Belong

In light of the recent articles on community popping up here and there, I’ve been thinking a lot about where we belong, as individuals and as a family.

Growing up in the country sharing property with a young neighbor my sister, brother and I always had a friend to play with, but only her. We didn’t grow up in a neighborhood, with classmates living in other homes on the street, or other neighborhood kids to play with. We grew up knowing we ‘belonged’ there in scruffy clothes, climbing trees and log-rolling down the grass-covered hills without neighbors who could see us from their windows except when we climbed up the hill and played in the trees.


I also grew up very shy. It took me a very long time to overcome my shyness, and mostly as a result of being thrown into situations where extraverts befriended me. Hanging around them I met more people and slowly became more comfortable with myself as a person. Making friends and having friends gave me a sense of belonging, like who I was mattered somehow.

As adults this feeling of belonging differs in intensity depending on the person, the place…but as an adult watching my own children making friends, or finding their way to do so, it deeply reminds me of the (almost) pain I sometimes felt when faced with making friends and I hope and pray they find a sense of belonging like I did.

As an adult I sometimes wonder where I belong now and how I can define the sense of belonging. Is it just a feeling based on where and how I find myself fitting into a group, feeling comfortable around others doing the same as me – being a mom as part of a mom’s group, for example? A sense of community.

…And I wonder how I can help my child always remember they will always find a place to belong here at home.

Where do you belong?


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?


Vacation Friends

My 6 year old wavers back and forth between friendly and talkative to reserved and shy. It’s funny, though, how in the summer when we are out and about playing he seems to hold nothing back, talking and playing with almost any child he meets.

One of our favorite neighbors has her grandchildren visit each summer. Cutie Pie swears he doesn’t remember them, but runs out eagerly to play with them just the same. You’d swear they were the best of friends seeing each other again.

I like friendships like this in my own life. Easy to get started. Conversation flows easily. Almost immediately some commonality is discovered. Why can’t all friendships in life be like that? Yet deeper?
Funny how this came up in conversation with my sister-in-law the other day as we were talking about how we each are desiring a sense of community.

Summer usually finds me playing a lot with the boys physically, but this year my knee is bothering me and I find myself sitting on the sidelines watching instead, which also means more seemingly random thoughts form in my mind. Like this.

My question for you today is where do you feel the most ‘community’ in your life?

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?

LEGO creations

Cutie Pie has been really into LEGOs for a while now, but has mostly liked to create things from kits, or things that he could readily see or touch.

More recently he’s been creating things in his imagination, or taking something he’s very familiar with and changing them to make them exactly how he wants them. I love that he’s doing so much fine motor work and bringing his imagination to life!

Can you tell what he’s into now based on this creation?

Can you tell your child’s interests based on their LEGO creations or through other types of play? How do you act on your child’s interests?

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.

Encouraging Writing through Word Games

Do you remember decoding secret messages that were on the backs of cereal boxes as a kid and the secret decoder ring inside (or am I just dating myself?) You know, where a symbol represents a letter, or the letters are represented by numbers or some such thing?

A few weeks ago I made a secret decoder chart for 6 year old Cutie Pie and gave him a few pages of two to three words, with simple images placed above empty lines. Phrases like ‘I love you’, ‘You are smart’ ‘Dinosaurs are cool.’ (Yes, my Dino-lover recognizes that word!)

When I first gave him this activity I sat down with him and we decoded the secret message together. I thought aloud as I did it with him, saying things like ‘Let’s look at the picture above the first line and find it on our chart. Now, let’s write the letter on the line. OK, now on to the next line…’ I was intentional with sharing the thought process I used making sure it was clear how to discover the message. When all the spaces were filled in we read it together. He loved it!

Cutie Pie loved this so much that after a few tries he didn’t need my help or reminders of what to do. He came back a few days later asking if I had made any more! I actually haven’t done this with him for a week or so, but plan to. I think this time I will make messages that are clues leading him to something!

This is a great sneaky learning word game to get Cutie Pie writing. What fun ways have you encouraged your kiddos writing?

Waiting

How often do your kiddos have to wait for something to happen? My dad and his girlfriend came out to visit this weekend and to my boys I think it felt like an eternity from the time they woke up until the car pulled in the driveway. I have to say, they played rather nicely while waiting, but for 4 year old Sweet Pea we could see it get increasingly harder for him to wait!

We tried to distract them with a little trip to the Farmer’s Market (free samples!) and a run to the store for some special treats for later in the day, but it was so hard to avoid the constant question of ‘when will they get here?’

Do you have a secret something you pull out when this happens with your kiddos? Please share!

About the Absence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balancing Act

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

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


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

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

Encourage Writing – Balance and coordination activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For other posts in this series check out:

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


Encourage Writing – Balance and coordination activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For other posts in this series check out:

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

Excuse this absence

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

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

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

Encouraging Writing – Vision Gross Motor fun

young child laying on floor drawing and writing
Encouraging Writing

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

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

For other posts in this series check out:

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

Encouraging Writing – Vision Activities Gross Motor

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

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


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

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

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

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

Encourage Writing – Sensory Motor activities

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

For the past several Mondays I’ve been posting about the materials/ideas sent home by the Occupational Therapists at 6 year old Cutie Pie’s school to help with his handwriting here at home.

Today I’ll be sharing some items from their list of Sensory-Motor activities:

  • Play in wet sand (bury and find objects)
  • Fingerpaint
  • Trace sandpaper letters
  • Practice air writing
  • Practice writing on a vertical surface, like an easel or in shaving cream on the tub wall
  • Wheelbarrow walking
  • Crab walk/Bear Walk
  • Blow and pop bubbles (use fingers only or clapping hands)
  • Ball games

As you can tell a lot of these games increase coordination at the gross motor level, but all contribute to the overall coordination of a child’s body, including the finer movements like forming a pincer grasp.

If you like this, you might want to check out other Encouraging Writing posts for more ideas!

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

Partner Storytelling

brothers reading together
Brothers Reading

Cutie Pie and Hubby were having fun playing by making up a story together the other night. I think making up stories is a great way to encourage reading (it’s not really that far of a stretch), growing the imagination in all sorts of ways!

Cutie Pie was in charge of all of the details and telling Hubby what would happen next based on what Hubby said he’d want to do. Hubby was a character and could only ask questions about what was around him. This really brought out Cutie Pie’s imagination! (creativity, processes, imagination)

Their story involved Hubby being a knight in a castle and needing to rescue a person trapped in a net being held in place by a friendly bear. Through a series of questions and actions Hubby had discovered the castle was surrounded by fields, but the bear was in a tree on the other side of the village. Hubby ultimately became a rescuer and was given a feast in exchange, however he had to obtain his own food!

I love the way questions like where am I, what is around me, what am I’m trying to do and what am I looking at (among many others) can result in an intricately woven story as told by a 6 year old and his Daddy!

What a great activity to have in your arsenal for long waits, car rides and any time you need a little distraction or imaginary play. Can’t you see this happening while playing with dolls or driving little cars around or building with LEGOs!

I’d love to hear the adventures you and your child experience this way!

Giant Yoda

If you ever see a LEGO building event in your area, your kids would love it! To ease your frustration a little bit, though, you might want to consider taking them on a Friday!

The local mall was having a one-year celebration and a Master Lego Builder was on hand to build an 8 foot tall Yoda in recognition. I thought “Field Trip!”

My 4 year old wasn’t as interested as 6 year old Cutie Pie. We set ourselves up at a table in front of bins of bricks and followed the instruction sheets before us.

In all we made 3 large bricks that were then placed on a pile of other bricks that were being used one by one to build the bottom of Yoda’s robe. (coordination, fine motor) 

In exchange for their help the boys were rewarded with a certificate saying they helped. They were very excited!

Encouraging Writing – fine motor visual motor activities we like

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

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

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

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