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Category: 6 yr old

Paper Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Paper Hearts Valentines at https://momistheonlygirl.comWe all know Valentine’s Day is coming up, so I’m sharing a very simple paper heart craft from my childhood today! I think we called these Magic Hearts when I was little.

All you’ll need is a sheet of both red and white construction paper, scissors, a paint brush, and vinegar.

Paper heart Valentines at https://momistheonlygirl.comFirst, cut out your red paper hearts. Great scissor fine motor practice!

Next, using your paintbrush and vinegar, wet down your white construction paper. The wetter, the better! (Of course, we all know kids like to use a lot, but no puddles or it will take a long time to dry!) I know for some kiddos with dry hands the vinegar might sting. You can certainly do this with water, but the resulting color will be faint.

Paper heart Valentines at https://momistheonlygirl.com Then, press your paper hearts onto the wet paper and rub them down. Follow this by painting the hearts with vinegar. Again, the wetter, the better! (If you are using water, you’ll want to make sure both the heart and paper are saturated and reapply water several times before letting everything dry.)

Set them aside to dry.

Paper Heart Valentines at https://momistheonlygirl.com
Once dried, gently lift the hearts and you’ll see the color transferred to the white construction paper. If the color is not as dark as desired, simply repeat the process!

This paper is great with just an “I love you!” note written inside the heart, or use the paper and the hearts to make a card!

I think you can tell this project isn’t about the process or a glamorous finished product. Its a great activity to keep little ones busy using their hands! As always, adult supervision is an awesome idea!

Bonus: use the leftover vinegar for some bubbly projects like these: Inflating Balloon Experiment, or Exploding Paint Experiment.


Shy Blue science experiment

Affiliate links imageWith the bitterly cold weather we’ve been doing a few more things inside. (Read – experiments!)

Science Experiment at https://momistheonlygirl.com

I’m sharing a fun one today. It’s called Shy Blue and requires only a few materials which you most likely have in your home. (We’ve done this experiment before. I took pictures this most recent time, but only the one with green food coloring came out. The one below is from last year when I prepped another post, but never published it.) Read more

Jax – a snow day treat

Have you ever made Jax? Oh, it is delicious and only takes a fresh snowfall and some maple syrup to make. Well, I guess a bowl, a spoon, and someone to eat it! I thought after all of the snow falling in the northeast some may be looking for a snow day treat!

Snow and Maple Syrup Jax at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Jax is something my dad used to ‘make’ for us when I was a kid. I have no real idea where the name came from, he just always called it that! It’s a great memory!

After a fresh snowfall, when the snow is clean and white, scoop some into a bowl. Pour maple syrup (real or fake, but real is delicious!) over the snow. The syrup will get just a little gooey – and that is the tasty part! Sit back and enjoy!

Jax is a simple, fun, snow day treat for your sense of taste!

Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers

A very simple, fun craft involving hearts, a little scissor work and creative coloring/drawing is on tap today. It’s a bright, sunny day here, and these Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers are the perfect thing to catch the sun as it streams in the windows!

Valentine's Day Sun Catchers https://momistheonlygirl.com

You’ll only need a few items:


Vegetable oil (any kind)

A cotton ball (or use a paper towel)


Hole punch

Wax paper

Simply draw a heart (or any other shape) on the paper and get creative with coloring it. Cut it out, making sure to hole punch where you’ll hang it from.

https://momistheonlygirl.com Sun Catchers

Lay out some paper towels over wax paper and place your creation on the towels. Place some oil in a small bowl on your prepared surface close to your project.

Take your cotton ball, dip it in the oil, and generously spread the oil over the top of your creation. Turn your project over and spread the oil over this side as well. You’ll know when you have enough on when it appears sort of translucent.

Sun Catchers https://momistheonlygirl.comPlace a fresh paper towel over one side and pat it dry. Repeat on the other side. Of course, your creation won’t be completely dry. At this point set it aside on clean paper towels for a few hours to dry some more.

Once it is dry, lace a pretty yarn, ribbon or even rope through the holes and hang it in front of a sunny window!

https://momistheonlygirl.com Sun Catchers

You are not limited to crayons and markers, nor is this craft limited to Valentine’s Day. The small sun catchers on the lower right is made with colored tissue paper glued onto white paper. Have fun with it! (Of course, the bright sunshine went away when I took the picture!)

It goes without saying that this could be a messy project that should be done with adult supervision. Working on the coordination skill of cutting with scissors and working with an oily substance can be messy and dangerous. That said, it is a great activity for fine motor skills – coordination through coloring, cutting, pincer grasp for holding the cotton ball; science of working with colors. You could even make several hearts and number them turning it into a counting game!

If you take a few moments and prepare your work surface, clean up will go much more quickly and smoothly. I have a friend who pulls out a cheap shower curtain, covers her table, and then places an old tablecloth over that when doing projects like this.

(This idea was gleaned from a young lady teaching my kids’ Sunday School class.)



Ice ornaments

I don’t know about where you are, but in my area it is sooooo cold! Cold enough for people to be doing those experiments you hear about every winter like throwing boiling water outdoors and it turning into snow.

It’s also a dreary time. Everything seems grayish white unless there is fresh snow in the air or it is bright and sunny, but too cold to go outside. Today is, thankfully, one of the sunny days, however, it is below zero!

Ice at https://momistheonlygirl.com

It seems like the perfect day to share a fun, easy little activity we do when it gets this cold. Ice ornaments! (Adult supervision is a good idea!)

Ice ornaments at https://momistheonlygirl.com

First, get out some tins, cupcake tins, empty yogurt containers, anything you’d like to use as a mold for your ornaments. (Any size will do as long as it isn’t too big to fit flat in your freezer and hang by a string/rope from something!) Outside one house a couple of years ago I saw large ice wreaths with cranberries inside, made from an angel cake mold. It was beautifully big!

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Getting Kids Moving Indoors

As I sit writing this it is 20 degrees outside with a light wind that makes it feel -50! It seems like a good day to post a variety of ways I keep my boys active when it’s too cold outside to get that gross motor play in just by playing in the snow (or green grass as we currently have). Following are just a few of the ideas I turn to. I need a few more in my arsenal now that my almost-eight year old is getting bigger. Any ideas?


Venturing Out

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Melted Crayon Homemade Ornaments

Have you been enjoying this week of simple homemade Christmas ornaments you and your child can make together? This last one I’m sharing seems like it should be for older children, but I think with supervision and help preschoolers would enjoy getting involved, too! I’ve provided an affiliate link for the ornaments for you below.

This homemade Christmas Ornament the boys and I made last year involved a heat gun (or hair dryer), crayons, clothespins and small glass ornaments. (Make sure they are glass! Using heat and glass makes this a no-brainer – adult supervision is strongly encouraged!)

Melted Crayon Christmas Ornaments

These came out so beautifully that we are making some for our own tree this year! I bought the ornaments from JoAnn Crafts this year, but you can also find them on Amazon by following this (affiliate) link. I’m going to warn you making these can be addicting! It’s strangely relaxing, so you might even want to make these by yourself!

Using a grater or whatever method you find easiest to make your crayons into small pieces, crush them up! It’s up to you if you’d like to group the shavings by color, but we found that to have the best results.

Be careful with little fingers
Be careful with little fingers

As you remove the ornaments from the packaging try not to ruin the plastic package, as this makes a neat, safe place for the ornaments to cool off.

Everything you should need
Everything you should need

Carefully take the top hook portion off the ornament by squeezing the round loop and pulling gently. Remember, these are made of glass. They are pretty sturdy, but can still break if squeezed too hard. (If it helps to know, we didn’t break any!) Set the loop aside for now.

Get those little crayon shavings in there!
Get those little crayon shavings in there!

Decide what color(s) you’d like your ornament to be, use your imagination, and place a few crumbs of crayon in your ornament. Experiment with color – its a great activity to review colors and introduce shades of colors and color creating to younger onese. Get the science lingo going if you’d like to make this into a mini science lesson! Then carefully put the hook back into the ornament. Clip the clothespin to the round hook and hold tightly as shown above.

Use your hair dryer or heat gun to melt the crayon. I suppose you could also hold your ornament over a stove burner as well, but be very careful with whatever method you use. We used the clothespin to help keep our hands away from the heat.

Keep turning the ornament and heat source until the desired swirling effect is achieved.

Let the melted crayon ornament cool!
Let the melted crayon ornament cool!

Get creative with your color combinations and pattern attempts! Even one swirl of a bold or shimmering color has wonderfully beautiful results! For some ornaments, we heated until just starting to melt and it created a spotty effect! I wish I had taken pictures of all the ornaments, or at least of a couple on a tree! I loved every creation for a different reason. You’ll know what I mean when you make your own!

Once the ornaments are cooled package them in a pretty container and wish the recipient a very Merry Christmas!

If you try this with your kiddos let me know what you think! And if you missed any of the previous kid-friendly ornaments I shared, feel free to check out the star ornament or the cutout ornament!

Thank you for letting me share these homemade ornaments with you! Go spend some time with your kiddos and create something beautiful!

More Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Continuing with the idea of homemade Christmas ornaments, here are some baked dough ornaments we made and adorned to use as gifts.


Being a rubber stamper/card maker in my pre-child years (honestly, where does my time go that I cannot craft?!) I pulled out my stamps after the kids cut simple Christmas shapes out of this great three-ingredient salt dough recipe. (We used this recipe from The Imagination Tree.)


Anyway, after cutting out your shapes, lay them as directed on a cookie sheet. Before popping them in the oven to bake, let the kiddos pick out a few stamps to adorn the ornaments. Make sure they don’t press too hard, just enough to leave a clear indentation. Another option is to roll out the dough, then stamp all over the dough if you are working only with patterned stamps. And then make your cut-outs.


We used a paisley-patterned roller stamp, swirls, initials…we even tried stamping in ink then onto the dough, but I think painting the ornaments afterwards would have worked better for us as the ink didn’t stick too well, although you can see some of the pink showing up.


These ornaments came out beautifully white and delicate-looking and my kiddos did surprisingly well keeping the shapes intact! However they turn out, this ornament gift will be special! (And you’ll be working on coordination and fine motor skills without them realizing it!)


We packaged these with the more traditional cinnamon dough ornaments and our melted crayon ornaments to make special gifts for grandparents!


Sweet Pea is Six!

leaves and rake
The family time spent raking leaves and jumping in them!

Thanksgiving break is never a relaxing time for us. We celebrate Sweet Pea’s birthday, celebrate Thanksgiving twice (once with each family) then celebrate my niece’s birthday. Then we are soooooo ready to relax into the meaning of Christmas and the Christmas season.

Seriously, though, Thanksgiving has always been special to me, but six years ago it took on an entirely different kind of special when we brought Sweet Pea home from the hospital on Thanksgiving day.

Turning six!

I love seeing life through my children’s eyes and this year’s birthday was a little milestone for Sweet Pea. He turned six, and to him that meant he could finally have that LEGO train he wanted – because, after all it was for ages 6+ so he wouldn’t have been able to play with it before then! Don’t you love how their minds work?

The joy of opening that one gift you were so desiring!

With all that excitement behind us I can rest and think about the special moments we had this past week with family.

I’m going to spend some time thinking again on January 1st. Not about the resolutions I will make or what the year will hold for me, but about the memories made in the Christmas season throughout December.

The peacefulness of fallen leaves…introducing the colors of Christmas.

Do I want to remember myself being stressed trying to find the right gift at the right price? The running around trying to get things done? Or do I want to remember the meaning of Christmas? The celebration of my Savior’s birth. The memories made as my family gathered together again…

Bright fall colors remind me that although the white of winter is coming, new life will follow.

May we all take time to rest in the thought of memories we will cherish when this Christmas season has faded into the New Year. I encourage you to think about how you want to remember the month of December and act on it!

The Invisible Boy, a book I really like

This post contains an affiliate link, which is for an item I highly recommend. Making a purchase through this link in no way increases the cost of the product. It just gives this blogger a (little) extra income.

Yesterday I shared a great book about colors, counting and bullying. Today I thought I’d share a book for the shy child. I can totally relate to this book because I could have been the main character in my early elementary grades.

The Invisible Boy, by Trudy Ludwig, (links to author’s page) starts out with “Can you see Brian, the invisible boy?” The illustrations show him in pencil sketch at the beginning of the book. He was always the last to be picked for group games and was never invited to parties. No one seems to notice him. But then a new boy starts at the school and invites him to be involved. As he participates more and more he becomes more than a pencil sketch!

As a shy child I had a difficult time, hesitating to be involved because I was so unsure of myself. I could relate to Brian, sometimes feeling I was just a figment of someone’s imagination, watching everything go on around me, but not being part of it. I know there are kiddos today who will be comforted by this book.

This book is a gentle reminder for children to be nice to everyone and include all in their activities. It shows them they can make a difference by being a friend.

If you have a child who is feeling a little shy or a child who easily makes friends, this is a very good book to share with them!

What books can you recommend for a shy child?

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Colors, counting and bullying

This post contains an affiliate link, which is for an item I highly recommend. Making a purchase through this link in no way increases the cost of the product. It just gives this blogger a little extra income.

Are you trying to help a young child learn to count or learn their colors? Or, maybe even more importantly, trying to help a younger child deal with a little bullying situation? Then you would really like this book!

One, by Kathryn Otoshi, is such a simple color and counting book (it covers the numbers one through seven), but has a hidden message about bullying.

See, in this book “Blue was a quiet color. He like being blue… except when he was with Red.” Then one comes and teaches the colors “If someone is mean and picks on me, I, for One, stand up and say, No.”

In the end all of the colors realize that “Everyone counts!” Even Red.

I love the way this book addresses bullies in such a simple way. It is simply, in our humble opinion, a great book for every early elementary child.

Mom is the Only Girl participtes in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This means there is no additional cost to you if you click on the link and purchase this item.

Separation Anxiety Resources

Five year old Sweet Pea has been going to Kindergarten Camp for three weeks and still has not gotten over his separation anxiety. The first several days was very excited to go to camp so I thought ‘finally he’s over this.’ However, today he was still clinging to me and screaming when I left. This is really stressful for this mom, although I try very hard not to show it, especially to him. Read more

LEGO Book-Character Building

*This post contains affiliate links, where, at no additional cost to you, I may receive compensation for your clicking on a link.

I remember a few years ago there was a blog hop of sorts that included doing a craft after reading a book with your child. Maybe it’s still going on?
The craft would be somehow related to a character in the book, or go along with the theme of it. I think I tried this a few times with my boys, but they were never really excited about it, which is probably why I cannot remember what the linky is called. Help me if you know it, I can’t for the life of me figure out what to search for to find it!
LEGO Story Character Building at https://momistheonlygirl.com
The Little Engine That Could
Fast forward to a week ago. Five year old Sweet Pea and I read the book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Then he wanted to watch the movie, too. Did you know there was a movie? We found it on Netflix. So cute!

After reading The Little Engine That Could and watching the movie, I simply suggested my LEGO lover try to build a train that resembled The Little Engine. Sweet Pea loved the challenge! (After hearing him repeatedly tell me throughout the week that he does not like crafts, there was no way I would suggest one!)

Reading books and following it up with crafts is great, (really, because I would love to do a book-based craft with him) but for someone who doesn’t like crafts, building story characters with LEGOs is a great alternative!

(It is also a great activity for working on fine motor skills, story building, and great for older ages, too!)

I would really love to see what your little ones create with LEGOs after reading a book! Please share if you do this at home!

*Mom is the Only Girl participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. By clicking on a link and making a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I may or may not be compensated for your purchase.

Chalkboard Letter Learning

Have you ever watched your kiddos drawing on the chalkboard and all they do is scribble all over it and erase it over and over? Sweet Pea loves to do that!

One day I saw an idea of putting clear tape onto the chalkboard and letting your child draw all over it then pull the tape off, sort of like resist painting, but with chalk. I didn’t want to try this for fear our cheap tape wouldn’t come off, so I replaced the clear tape with masking tape. (I tried to find the original place I saw this idea, but I couldn’t. If you know the link please let me know and I will update this!)

When Sweet Pea was once again scribbling all over the chalkboard making a dusty mess, I put some masking tape on it. He was totally confused at first, but once he helped me remove the tape after scribbling on it he was hooked!

This was great and then he started to put the tape on himself, trying to make it in the shape of his name!

What a great activity for fine motor work as well as a little gross motor drawing!

O is for opposites

Love these signs at The National Strong Museum of Play

O is for opposites.

Sweet Pea is really good at coming up with opposites. He’s also really good at trying to act them out or finding them around the house. (Try to imagine that if you can!)

Hard – soft
Up – down
In – out

This is also a good challenge for when we need to keep the boys occupied for a few minutes…we call out a word and they have to come up with the opposite, or we sneakily ask them to call out the first word that comes to mind when we say a word. That’s always interesting!

This idea sort of piggybacks on the similar or different ‘game’ we played the other day. I’m not sure why, but it seems our boys have fun with thinking games….

What kind of games do your kids like?

Snow Day Fun – dinosaurs

snow day paper play fun - cutting and drawing at https://momistheonlygirl.com
cutting out dinosaurs!

We had two snow days this past week. The first we expected as a blizzard made it’s way through western New York State. The second day was unexpected, due to the storm not racing through our area quite as soon as anticipated, delaying when the roads could be cleared safely for buses filled with children.

Hubby and I tried to keep the kiddos from going stir-crazy on the second (and bitterly cold) day by providing some art materials. I had also come across a dinosaur song on Made by Joel and played it for Cutie Pie, who was completely intrigued by the way Joel illustrated the song continuously on one long piece of paper.

First, Cutie Pie wanted to make the paper pieces from Joel’s website for the song and got busy with Sweet Pea cutting them out almost immediately after he saw them. As soon as he finished that, though, he was on to trying to draw what Joel did, the same way he did!

I love that Cutie Pie was so inspired to try drawing a little more out of the box than he is used to! I was also pretty shocked that he drew what Joel drew for the song, but in miniature and with only watching the video once!

You’ve really gotta check out Made by Joel for some neat paper-based play ideas that you can print and play with!

How fast does snow melt?

How fast does snow melt experiment at https://momistheonlygirl.comYou know how cold it’s been lately. That means the snow is still sticking around. Are you as tired of the cold as me? And if you are reading this from some nice warm place, please comment so we can all live vicariously through you! And hopefully we’ll see some green grass soon!

Here’s a simple science experiment that you can do with any age – preschool up through mid-elementary would probably find it interesting and stay interested.
Since we have lots of the white stuff I thought it might be fun to do a little science experiment with the boys one recent Saturday when it was bitterly cold. I grabbed 4 cups and filled them up with snow.

I asked if they thought the freezer would keep the snow just as old as the outdoors, and what would happen to the snow if we put it in other locations, too.

We set one cup on the table, put one in the refrigerator, put one in the freezer, and one outside after marking on the glass the level of the snow (using dry erase markers).

The boys thought something would happen to the snow in the freezer, that it might not be cold enough. They thought the other cups would just have ‘melted snow’ in them after a few minutes.

To test their hypothesis, we set a timer for 10 minutes. When it went off we checked the glasses of snow in each location and talked about what we observed, then set the timer for another 10 minutes. We continued the process until the evening, talking about our observations each time.

The boys were surprised by what they saw happen with the snow in the freezer. Will the same happen for your kiddos when they do this little experiment?

It was very simple, but kept the boys interest. They were determined nothing could keep the snow cold like the conditions outside.

If you do, or have done, this with your child comment and let us know your results! (And if it’s warm where you are, let us know so we know there is hope that spring really is coming!)

Preschool Paper Games – tic-tac-toe

Everyone knows how to play tic-tac-toe, right? (Or, tic-tac-tow, as some of my friend spell it.)

Sweet Pea has really liked this game lately. In the past he only played this with blocks that had X’s and O’s on. Lately, though, he’s getting better with his pencil grip, so has liked trying to make is letters just right!

It’s a simple pencil and paper game, reinforcing the letters X and O, and takes fine motor coordination and lots of thinking through the process of playing the game!

Dr. Seuss Book Fun

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is celebrated practically everywhere on mom blogs. It’s also celebrated in preschools and elementary schools. This pretty much sums up what I’ve heard about all last week from my kiddos, so it was hard not to extend this focus to some of the things we did here at home, too.

Each night last week we read a different Dr. Seuss book. I had thought about making gloppity glop (flubber) after we read that, but sweet pea had a lot of playdough action last week and didn’t seem that interested, when normally he does, so we didn’t.

We read The Foot Book once at night and as always the boys loved it. I pulled it out again one morning and Sweet Pea and I did it ‘action style’. Meaning we found, or tried to find or act out, every kind of foot described in the book.

It was so much fun doing the motions with him…high feet, low feet…we even went on a search for furry feet and 24 feet! (He still has a little trouble counting to 20, so 24 was hard!)

It’s been a long time since he was this giddy doing something ‘educational’. Of course, he didn’t really see it as educational, so that was probably part of it!

Did you do anything silly and fun for Dr. Seuss’ birthday at your house? What was it?

Sprouts Paper Game (for preschoolers and early elementary)

Pencil and paper games for preschoolers and young elementary at https://momistheonlygirl.com

Dots and Squares and Sprouts are two games in my ‘waiting time’ arsenal (at least, when I have access to paper and a pencil.) What are some of yours?

Oh, don’t know what Sprouts is? It’s another paper game I used to play as a child. Of course, I’m not sure why it’s called that…

How to play?

  • First, make dots all over a piece of paper. They don’t have to be in a neat grid like in Dots and Squares, just random.
  • Take turns drawing lines between the dots, making a dot on the center of each line after it is drawn. The lines do not have to be straight, since there is no grid, and can curve and loop around, but they can’t cross another line.
  • Each dot may have only three lines connecting to it. Remember, the lines don’t have to be straight.
  • The last person to draw a line wins!

This paper and pencil game is a little more complex than Dots and Squares, so its probably better for a little bit older children, or preschoolers that can understand the instructions, since they’re a little more complex than just drawing a line. It still works on many of the same skills; coordination, pencil grip, processes.

Recently I’ve pulled out both of these games for the kids and I while we had to wait for something. They were equally interested in both, but Sprouts did take a little more explaining as we were playing the game.

So, what other paper games should I add to my arsenal? Any ideas?

Easy Last Minute Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! Just thought I’d share this really quick and easy Valentine’s note that you or your preschooler can do in a jiffy! I’m sure you haven’t forgotten to make all those cards for your kiddo’s classmates, but sometimes we all forget someone in our lives that could use one or who deserves a special one from your child.

Quick and easy (look here for other ideas, too!)

Sweet Pea’s preschool class has integrated simple sign language into their everyday learning. I thought this was perfect for Valentines for his classmates, and it took a very short time to make 20 of them!

  • Cut as many small hearts out of construction paper as you need.
  • Trace your child’s hand (or yours if this is from you!) onto construction paper of a different color.
  • Cut out the hand you just traced.
  • Glue the heart onto the palm of the hand, then bend the middle and ring fingers down over the heart, forming ‘I love you’ in sign language.

So simple, yet it can communicate so much!

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, and remember to show love to everyone on this day that it is completely acceptable to do so (at least, within reason!)

L is for Listening – a game

Listening games - https://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?

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 – 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!

First Team – fall soccer

When your child takes to something new, do they go all in and peeter out? Or do they sort of try it half heartedly as if once signed up they realize they are in for the long-haul? How do you encourage your kids when they try something new?

I’m asking because Cutie Pie has been interested in soccer since having the chance to play with some big kids after church a few times this summer. His interest didn’t wane into the school year so we signed him up for the local soccer association. His first time going was a very rainy, I mean heavy down-pour rainy, Saturday morning. We were really worried after his first try he wouldn’t want to go again, but he was not deterred! He really liked being part of a team.

I like this soccer association so far. The organization pushes having fun and learning at the younger levels and moves to a focus on strategies and achievements at the older levels. That’s not to say they don’t actually play games at the younger levels, they do. However, the focus is on how they played, not on whether they won or not, which seems different than how they won or lost.

His first time they played a fun game chasing each others’ tails (like touch football flags) and grabbing them. They moved on to kicking soccer balls around and while practicing dribbling tried to protect their soccer balls from being taken, like their tails were. Then they donned pinnies and worked on teamwork, making goals. All along Cutie Pie was out there running his hardest, trying his best.

It was very obvious some kids have played this before or have been on some sort of team before, while others, like Cutie Pie, have never even thought of being on a team before or maybe never even kicked a soccer ball! I liked the encouragement of the coaches – for all the kids, not just the ‘good’ ones.

I’m proud of him for wanting to try something new. I’m also proud that he stuck it out in the rain (at about half of the sessions!) and stayed excited about playing. And that he went to every practice excited to kick the ball, gave it his all while he was there, and wants to do it again!

What new thing has your child tried lately?

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.

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


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!

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?