Thursday, August 20, 2015

Learn with Nursery Rhymes


Nursery rhymes are said to have been around for centuries and for most children nursery rhymes are probably their first experience with literacy.  Kids love them because they are fun to listen to or sing and dance to.

Here are some ways your child can learn from nursery rhymes:

  • The rhyme and rhythm in nursery rhymes helps children hear the syllables in words which helps kids learn to read and helps with their language and cognitive development.

  • Sequencing helps children become good readers as they learn the beginning, middle and end of a story.  Nursery rhymes are a great place to start sequencing.  We did this nursery rhyme sequence activity and my daughter had alot of fun with it.  

  • Build self confidence with nursery rhymes! I wish I had a video clip to share but each night my kids and I send a good night message to their Grandparents.  They live 7 hours away and this has been a really special way to include them in our lives.  Our video messages are always songs and one of the things we love to do is take a traditional nursery rhyme song and change the words to it.  I believe doing this helps my children build confidence in how they express themselves.

  • Most importantly, whether singing or reading nursery rhymes you and your child are bonding and creating memories that will last a lifetime!

I picked up this nursery rhyme book at a yard sale and it's one of my daughters favorite bedtime reads.  If you can find this book it's a must buy or borrow from your local library!


Speaking of lifetime, 40 years later I still have the Mother Goose book that my Mother read to me from. Now I share this same book with my children.  










Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reading Comprehension Activity


My daughter loves when we have storytime at our house.  Every day we can easy read for 15-30 minutes.  Visits to our local library is always exciting because of the idea of finding new books to enjoy.  There has been one book that is not new to most, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  Although I've heard great reviews about this book I never made the decision to borrow it.  I have found another fun way to find books and that is at yard sales!  When I see a bin of books I'm all over it!  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was one I recently found and grabbed it for .25 cents!!  



After the first read my daughter was hooked!  She smiled and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the story.  She loves how it rains and snows food!  Each night before bed my daughter chooses a book which is alot more fun and easier now that we have our rain gutter book shelf.   Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a favorite for at least a week straight!

To help my daughter with reading comprehension I made up this activity, here's what I used and how we played:

Giant Post it Notes (these are awesome!)
Permanent Marker
Brown paper bags
Prizes for bag

This was such an easy set up.  I had a list of questions I asked my daughter about the story and wrote 2 choices to each question onto the Post It Notes.  After I read the question my daughter had to choose which was the correct answer by jumping on it.



At the end of each path I taped a brown paper bag, if she chose the right path she would receive some goodies I hid in the bag.  If she chose the wrong path the bag would be empty.  She chose the correct answers so she got the prizes on the first try - had she not we would have just kept playing until she got it right!



This was a really fun activity that helped my daughter with her reading comprehension and got her moving at the same time.....and a little prize at the end never hurts!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

What's the Missing Number?


We have been working on words so much that we haven't done much math lately. This past Christmas I made up a number sequence activity and my daughter seemed to really enjoy it so I decided to do a kind of follow up to that.  (note: before I go on I'd like to mention that yes I realize my daughter is in a super girl outfit and Halloween is still 3 months away! We have been reading our Ladybug Girl books and I think she's being encouraged to 'dress up')

This is a simple number sequence activity where the child identifies the numbers and fills in the blank spot with the next number in the pattern.  Our last number sequence activity went up to number 12 and this time we went up to 20.

Their are lots of cool computer games and worksheets available to learn number sequencing but I thought it would be fun to grab the sidewalk chalk and head outdoors!

Simply draw some shapes, I drew squares, and write the number inside the shape.  Leave one box blank for your child to fill in.  If you want to challenge your child a bit more you could leave 2 boxes blank!







This is such a simple activity that only requires sidewalk chalk and a driveway or sidewalk.  After my daughter filled in the missing numbers she wanted to call out the numbers as she drove over them with her bike.  I am also happy to report that my soon to be kindergartener knew every missing number in the sequence but needed help knowing how to write the number, for example, does the 1 or the 3 come first in 13.  Something else we'll be working on......


With summer here it's fun to take learning outdoors.  Here are some of our other chalk and driveway activities:

Pedal to the Number

Driveway Rhyme and Match Game



10 Free and Budget Friendly Summer Ideas


If you're like us than you might still have another 5 weeks before the kids get ready to go back to school.  Last year I made up a Summer Cup of Fun for things we could do on those "I'm bored" kind of days.  This year we are just winging it and finding fun in the more simple things.

Here are 10 ideas that are either free or budget friendly that you can enjoy with your family for the last few weeks of summer!  We have personally enjoyed all of these activities and although not over the top exciting, we have still made lots of fun memories.

1. Cloud Talk: Lay a blanket outdoors or if it's too hot find a spot inside near a window and talk about the shapes you and your child see in the clouds.  My daughter LOVES telling me the shapes she sees. Doing this will encourage your child to use their imaginations and work on their vocabulary skills at the same time!

2. Basketball: As I think about our summer so far their is one thing I think of first and it's playing basketball in the driveway!  Yup, so simple but yet, so memorable!  Since my kids are almost 5 years apart it can be challenging to find an activity that they can both play and enjoy together.  Shooting hoops is definitely one of them!  I join in too and every day no matter what we're doing we stop and play basketball even for just 15 minutes! If you don't have a basketball net at home most local parks have basketball courts.

3. Make Your Own Ice-cream Sundaes: Next time you are out doing your grocery shopping add ice-cream to your list along with some fun toppings and let the kids create their own yummy sundaes!

4. Backyard Story Time: Simply curling up on the couch and reading is always enjoyable but to make things a bit more exciting head outside for story time!  We laid out a large blanket, brought out some pillows, snacks and believe it or not it changes the experience of reading.


5. Visit Your Local Pool: This isn't a free activity but most pools are fairly economical.  Our local pool does not charge for children 5 and under and if you have older kids who can swim independently and who don't need Mom's help in the water
our pool offers a non-swimmer admission of just $1! Check out the prices of your local pool and enjoy a carefree day of fun in the sun!

6. Feed The Ducks: We have a few local places around our house with some pretty hungry ducks.  My kids always get a kick out of feeding them.  Just keep in mind to try and feed 'duck friendly food' like peas, oats or corn instead of bread.

7. Skip or Toss Rocks: We are also lucky to have alot of rivers and lakes in our neck of the woods.  The river runs through some of our local parks and the kids enjoy searching for rocks and tossing or skipping them into the water.  Literally, my kids can spend an entire morning or afternoon doing this!

8.Family Day: My kids enjoy having their friends over or going to their houses but it's also nice to designate a day where it's just you and the kids.  Pull out the board games or even the video games like Just Dance on Wii and enjoy each other!

9. Slip N' Slide Fun: For under $10 you can pick up a single lane slip n' slide at Walmart!  This year we sprung for a metal frame inflatable type pool but every year for about the past 5, we have had one and made a ton of use of it!  For less than a $10 investment your kids will have lots of splish splashin' fun and you can use it year after year!


10. Visit Rita's Italian Ice: We LOVE Rita's and no I'm not getting paid to say that!  We literally couldn't stay away last summer and even though delicious I needed to curb our Rita's habit this summer.  So, this year we usually only go on Wednesdays since it is half price on all their ices that day!  It's more of a treat this way than going as much as we did last year!  Check for a Rita's near you.




Monday, July 20, 2015

Rain Gutter Bookshelf


My daughter is a book worm and I LOVE it!  My favorite place to find books are at yard sales.  I've found so many classics like Dandelion, The Cat in The Hat, Goodnight Moon and many others and usually all for under a buck, can't beat that!!  However, with this collection of books comes less and less space to store and display them.  We were using my daughter's toy bin organizer.


As you can see that was not working, at least not for me.  It was messy and I've been reading how displaying books with covers facing outward draws the child to the book.  My search began but where to start......?  Pinterest, of course!

Lately, when it comes to organizing I'm thinking hanging more since floor space is limited.  We went vertical with organizing my daughter's stuffed animals and it has worked GREAT!  I knew the bookshelf would have to be something that could hang too. I found lots of great wall book shelves but most were a bit too pricey. Finally, I found what I felt to be a fantastic idea and inexpensive........rain gutter book shelves!  It sounds strange, I know BUT it works really well!

I found a great tutorial for hanging these bookshelves at Raising Olives.  I so wanted to hang on my own but I have been known to have a tad of trouble even with hanging a picture so hubby to the rescue!  My husband was a real trooper about it and we even spent part of our date night at the local Lowe's!

This bookshelf was really easy to hang and it took my husband about 2 hours start to finish.  You can probably get this done in less than that but my husband is a bit of a perfectionist  procrastinator!

If you decide to do this keep these things in mind: 

  • Gutters are sold in one 10 ft piece that you will need to cut down to size UNLESS you have a wall that can hold the entire 10 feet.  
  • If you have a small car you may want to consider borrowing someone's SUV or larger truck.  We have a Ford Explorer and the piece literally went from the back ALL THE WAY to the front dash. 


  • Don't forget the end caps for the gutters!  Be sure they fit before leaving the store
  • Don't forget brackets - you will need 2-3 brackets per 5 foot piece.  (we used 2)
  • Be sure to get the more decorative gutter that looks more like a crown moulding.  They also sell the less decorative ones and although it will work, it is not as 'pretty.'
A little secret - we originally bought the 'non pretty' ones and I didn't realize they were not the right ones until after they were hung, yikes!  My husband did take it down because I really wanted the 'prettier' ones.  But if you can't get the 'crown molding' type this will work too:

Here's a shot of the less decorative rain gutter.  The main difference is the brackets can be seen.



The bookshelf cost a total of $16!  Way cheaper than other bookshelves I found.  It does not hold as many books as when we had it in the toy bin but since I rotate her books I put out some and put the others in a shelf in her closet. 


The best part is my daughter loves looking at her books now more than ever.  I use to pick her books at night but since this has been up I find her sitting in front of the shelf picking out books before I even come into the room!  

And if you're looking for other ways to display books check out some ideas from Alpha Mom.




Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sight Word Journal

My daughter will be starting kindergarten in September and one of the things that was suggested from the school for the children to learn were sight words.  I am so pumped up with all the great ideas floating around out there!

We happened to have some composition books lying around so I grabbed one, printed up my daughter's name, added some butterflies and wrote SIGHT WORD JOURNAL on it.  I've seen journals available through stores but the price tag was too steep for me so I've opted for a DIY and it has worked great so far.


We are starting off using the most common sight words for children entering kindergarten.  I don't think there is an order in which to start teaching the sight words so I just chose the words that I wanted to start with.  On each page I wrote a heading/title and somewhere in the upper corner I wrote the sight word we would be learning so she could see it as she wrote it. Underneath that I wrote out a sentence that had something to do with the heading/title and left a blank line for the sight word.  I've seen some journals where words and pictures are used, "rebus reading" but since I wasn't using a printable and my artistry skills is something to be desired I chose to use just words.  Once my daughter wrote in the sight word I had her draw a picture at the bottom that had something to do with the 'theme' for that page of her journal.


Normally my daughter would have drawn a cat but on this day she wasn't feeling up to drawing and I didn't push!



We learned 3 sight words and then did a review of those words.  


Like I said, their are journals you can buy and they are really fantastic. But in an attempt to be frugal I used a composition book we already had on hand and I think the overall concept with our journal is still there!

If you are looking for more sight word ideas check out Miss Kindergarten who shares some really great ones!!



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

11 Children's Books That Teach Compassion


This past week we had some awesome finds from our local library.  On the top of that list is a book by David McPhail, The Teddy Bear.  This book was the perfect read for not only my 5 year old but for my 9 year old also.


I skimmed through it at the library and immediately knew I had to borrow this one.  The book is about a little boy who has a favorite teddy bear (something most kids can relate to) that goes everywhere with him.  Sadly, the boy loses his bear but the bear is not lost for long as another finds it and loves it just as much if not more.  It's the person who finds it that's the surprise and from there a very strong message is shared.  The Teddy Bear is a story of compassion, love and kindness.

Once I finished reading this aloud to both of my children I asked questions to be sure they understood the message.  My 9 year old grasped it better than my 5 year old which I expected but with a bit more explaining my 5 year old understood enough to appreciate this sweet read.

This book and the message it shares encouraged me to find a way for my children to spread the same compassion as the boy in the book.  As most kids, my two have their fair amount of stuffed animals and normally we save them up and donate them to Goodwill. However, I wanted to take things a step further so I searched and found organizations that accept stuffed animals for children AND the elderly who are experiencing traumatic type situations.  Places like firehouses, police stations, emergency services even nursing homes are happy to accept stuffed animals to have on hand.  They use them to comfort the sick, injured or whatever emergency/crisis they are tending to.

From now on as my kids go through their stuffed animal friends we will put them away until we have a large enough bin and then we will donate them to our local police, fire and emergency services.

If your child(ren) or organization that you might belong to, like boy or girl scouts, would like to do the same simply contact your local authorities and ask if they would be interested in your gently used stuffed animals.  Or you can contact the organizations I've listed below and share with them.  I will be leading a girl scout troop this upcoming year and this will definitely be one of our projects.

It's so great when a simple book like The Teddy Bear can send such a strong message that it encourages acts of kindness and love.

Organizations accepting stuffed animals:

Stuffed Animals for Emergencies

Project Smile

More books that share the message of compassion:

Click here to be brought directly to the page with these books