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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!

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!

Happy New Year!

2013 was filled with a lot of changes and new beginnings for us. Cutie Pie entered full-time first grade. Sweet Pea started 3 day preschool at a new school. I started working very part-time from home. Hubby has an orchestra piece in the works to be published. Hubby and I celebrating 20 years of marriage!

It’s been an exciting year!

2014 promises to be even more exciting with Cutie Pie starting violin lessons and swim lessons, Hubby playing an awesome gig (hopefully more!) and Sweet Pea starting full-time school in the fall. I’m sure there will be many more new and exciting experiences for us, too!

I’m always so thankful for what has been given to us. Time with my incredible husband…time together as a family, extended family…learning, growing…material things such as a roof over our heads…being able to stay home as a full-time mom…and I am so thankful for what this new year has in store for us!

I have taken some time this past month to spend with family, but will be back more regularly again in January. Until then,

Happy New Year to you and yours!

May this year be filled with blessings, wonder, love, love, love and more love!

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!

Letter D – Dinosaur Dig

Do you have a dinosaur lover in your house? Do you have a big tub/bin, one that you can fill with sand? What about plastic dinosaurs and/or homemade dinosaur bones?

If you do, then I think you have the makings of a dinosaur dig!

I have tended to shy away from sensory bins since our rice level has deteriorated in our rice box, but recently rediscovered how much Cutie Pie enjoys this type of play when it is centered on something he likes so much, like dinosaurs.

Through our local recreation center, Cutie Pie had the opportunity to enjoy a dinosaur class for kids his age. He told me he really enjoyed the ‘dig’ and making a fossil! (I now have the materials for the fossil so we’ll be doing that soon!) At the class there was a huge tub of sand with cleaned chicken bones, shells, small plastic dinosaurs and a variety of other things in it, resembling a tiny dig site.

On an unusually warm day a few weeks ago we got outside when Cutie Pie got home from school (no rain). Before he got home I buried some dinosaurs in our sandbox. It took a bit of coaxing, but we dug in the sandbox for a bit and he was totally surprised to actually find something! (He really wanted to ride his bike!)

I love that this little idea worked! I love being able to do just a tiny bit of prep and have an activity for the boys that they totally love! I even buried a letter D for Sweet Pea!

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!

Loving Art

watercolor painting
Have you found your child’s interests changing as they are exposed to experiences in new ways?
Cutie Pie always seemed uncomfortable with anything that would potentially get his hands messy prior to going to art class with his first grade classmates! He would almost grudgingly paint and definitely wouldn’t fingerprint after about age 2!
I’m finding the more he has opportunities to try new things, and even re-try things he hasn’t done in a while due to the messy factor, the more he is asking to do them at home!
Imagine our surprise when we noticed the house was quiet and found Cutie Pie masterfully painting a dragon while his brother played with LEGOs! (The concentration and coordination….)

He seems to have become a little artist overnight, loving crafts, drawing, painting, coloring…Is this just an age/stage thing? What has been your experience with your kiddos regarding their interests changing?

Crafting with Grandma – Quilling

quilling with children
quilled dinosaurs

Cutie Pie has decided he likes to do crafts (maybe this has something to do with loving his art class at school?) and on a recent visit to Grandmas house he had the opportunity to try something he hasn’t done before!


Have you ever tried quilling? It involves making something beautiful simply by rolling thin strips of paper and sometimes pinching the resulting spiral to make leaves, teardrops, scrolls, hearts…You can then place these on a flat surface and leave them as is or work them together to make a scene or all sorts of beautiful things. If you’ve quilled before have you done quilling with children?

My mom makes simple shapes then arranges them into flowers on the fronts of cards, or sometimes even wheels for cars on the kids’ birthday cards. I showed Cutie Pie some pictures of quilling on the internet and he got very excited and talked about what creatures he could make!

This sort of craft involves a lot of fine motor work and patience. Cutie Pie truly enjoyed working with Grandma and made a few dinosaurs out of his (that pic in the upper right)! Very simple, but hard work for him! When we left he asked if we could get the quilling tool that my mom had and some quilling paper so he could make more things! This will turn out to be a great stocking stuffer!

Has your child been introduced to something new recently and loved it? I’m eager to hear about it! Maybe it’s something we can try too!

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.

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!

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.

B is for…

So much fun reinforcing the letter B through different play experiences!

Building with the giant building blocks at
The National Strong Museum of Play’s Little Builder’s exhibit
Helping Daddy build the train table in our basement
Building with our wood blocks 

Bonging the bells in the garden at The National Strong Museum of Play
(yes, we love this place, and yes, we did go here twice!)

And playing with our giant ball in the back yard!
Sweet Pea went around all week being amazed at words he said that begin with B! It was almost like a puzzle to him all week – he loved it!

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)

B is for Ball

B is for BallSweet Pea learned all about the letter B in preschool, so I extended his learning at home!

Books we read: Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton, 1001 Bugs to Spot by Emma Helbrough, Explore Bugs by Maurice Pledger.

Games we played: Richard Scarry’s Busytown. (Lots of I spy work and fine motor, too!)


I also found some paper 3D letters on Mr. Printables. They are a bit tricky to assemble (read: not for kids to make), but 4 year old Sweet Pea loved touching it and making it dance. I think it being 3D so he could handle it and physically touch it all over helped him really ‘feel’ that it was the letter B.

To extend this a little further I had him think of things that started with B and we found some of those items around the house. Since we had a ton of buttons, and buttons starts with the letter B, he decided to cover his letter with buttons. This was great fine motor work for him!

Of course, the weather was still nice so we spent time outside…playing with a big, big ball!

This post contains an affiliate link to products my children and I love. I may or may not receive benefits from your following the links.

We are Unique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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!

A is for Apple painting

After your little apple investigation you can paint with apples!

You’ll need a paper covered work area (trust me, I should have done this step!), paint brush, paint, paper and an apple for this activity.

Take the apple and a paint brush, and coat the apple with red paint (or color of your choosing).

Lay the apple paint side down on some paper, like you do with a stamp.

You’ll get a pretty star design if the slice across the apple you made was flat! If not you can have another great little investigative discussion! I found a large knife to work better at making a flat slice than a smaller one. Just be careful around your little one with the knife and make sure to put it where they can’t get to it when you’re done!

Since we had the red paint out I quickly printed out a large letter A and laid it on the table, hoping he’d paint it. He remembered it from preschool the day before and set to work painting it!

My 4 year old loved this more than I thought he would! Of course he ended up with hands covered in red paint, but he had used his brush and painted them very well!

What A is for Apple activities have you been doing with your little ones this fall?

A is for apple/Apple Investigation

In the spirit of fall and wanting to get back into more learning activities with Sweet Pea (like I did with Cutie Pie at this age) we took a little trip to the apple store and did some fun ‘A is for apple’ letter activities!


After talking about the possibilities of why apples are sometimes red, sometimes green and sometimes both red and green, we picked out some that we thought would taste yummy! We plan to make apple crisp with some and eat the others! We also did a little investigation with one.

Here’s how to do our quick little Apple investigation Activity:

First, set out the apple.

  • Touch it. Talk about what it feels like -soft, hard, smooth, bumpy.
  • Talk about it. Here are some questions that might spur your kiddos mind:
    • What color(s) it is?
    • How/where did it grow?
    • How long did it take to grow?
    • How did it get to the store?
  • Talk about why it has a peel.
  • What does the inside look like? How can you open it to find out?
Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers to the questions raised. Take the opportunity to look up the answer together, or give the question back to them and ask what they think!

Then, slice the apple around it’s diameter instead of through it stem-wise.

  • What shape do you see?
  • What else is in there? (seeds)
  • What can you do with what you find?
Tomorrow I’ll share what we did with the apple after we investigated it!

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!

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!

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!

Size Order

Sweet Pea, my 4 year old, and I were playing with his lovies (stuffed animals) before bed last night. I love this one on one time, I never know what sort of conversation we’ll have before he decides to stop talking and fall asleep.

He has several lovies and they are all different sizes, different species, different colors.  In addition to counting them and talking about what letter each lovie’s name started with, we found ourselves comparing each to him and then to me.

Before we said goodnight we had us all arranged (in sequence) from biggest (me) to littlest (his baby jaguar) and had talked about every way they were similar and different from each other and us. Baby jaguar was smaller than hippo, him and I. Hippo was smaller than him and I but bigger than baby jaguar and so on.

I never really thought about how fun sequencing could be before saying goodnight to my little boy!

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!