Monday, June 20, 2016

Strawberry Fun

It is FINALLY strawberry season!  The one fruit my entire family loves is strawberries.  I have been waiting for this delicious berry to finally be at it's peak and the time is here!

We took the kids strawberry picking recently and it was such a fun experience.  We picked just over 4lbs of strawberries and wanted to use these freshly picked strawberries right away.

Here are a couple of fun ways we used to prepare our batch of strawberries and I wanted to share these ideas with your family........

When we got home my husband got straight to work making strawberry sauce to put over vanilla ice-cream.  My daughter loved just taking scoopfuls of the strawberry sauce and I enjoyed putting it over yogurt!  We also used the strawberry sauce for waffles! (sorry no pics of the waffles, we devoured them too fast, ha!)

I knew that I wanted to make something light and cool to fit nicely with summer.  I spotted those mini graham cracker crusts at the store and knew that I could use them with the strawberries.  I decided on mini no bake cheesecakes that took only minutes to make and no baking which I try and avoid during summer.

We were able to use up our strawberries between what we made above but if you need to freeze them and want to know the best way, here's a good 'how to' post.....

Freezing Fresh Picked Strawberries  from Taste of Home.

Check the local farms in your area to find out where you and your family can experience strawberry picking.  If the season has already ended where you live, be sure to check out other 'pick your own' varieties as this is really a fun and inexpensive activity to share with the family!

Here are some photos from our strawberry picking experience:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sight Word Messages

Two summers ago my husband was able to get his hands on a chalk board.  I was thrilled because I knew my kids would love using it outdoors!  You can check out all the fun my kids have had with our Outdoor Slate Chalkboard post.

My daughter has been working hard this past school year learning sight words.  I thought it would be fun to reinforce what she's learned by writing messages every day on the chalkboard.  My messages always include sight words from the list her kindergarten teacher has sent home, in addition to some new ones.

Here are some of the messages:

Every morning I change the message before my daughter wakes up.  Now that she knows they will be there every morning, she runs to the back door first thing to read her new message.  

I will continue doing this every day throughout the summer.  If you don't have something like this to leave messages on, simply writing on a piece of paper and leaving a  'note' for your child will be fun too and a great way to learn sight words!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Roly-Poly Egg Book and Craft

My daughter and I really enjoy our library visits and then reading all the books we find.  Some are real treasures like this one by Kali Stileman called, Roly-Poly Egg.  This is a cute book about a bird named Splotch who lays an egg, an absolutely perfect and beautiful egg of course.  But the egg rolls away and begins an adventure rolling, somersaulting and flying all while meeting some new animal friends along the way.

Besides reading books we also enjoy pairing them with crafts.  We both thought it would be fun to paint our very own Splotch and egg.  Here's what we used and how it turned out:

You will need:
Paint brushes
Googly eyes
Craft foam

We happened to have red paint just like the color of Splotch in the book.  But, if you do not have red paint,  you can make your very own unique Splotch with any colors you have on hand.  What's great about this painting is that Splotch is just that a 'splotch' or a 'glob' so really easy for even the littlest of kiddos to paint!

Start off by painting Splotch

Add some googly eyes

Next add the tree by painting the tree branch and some leaves.

My daughter also wanted to paint Splotch's egg AND the baby bird after it hatched.  We kept a page in the book open so that she could have something to work from.

The egg was fun to paint, especially sticking on the colored dots.  I cut out small circles from craft foam to use as the dots for the egg.

I wanted in on the fun too so I also painted a version of Splotch and his egg.

Mom's finished painting.....

Tiffany's finished painting.....

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Gift

My children's school celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week this week.  It's a wonderful opportunity to show our great teachers how much we thank them for all they do for our children.

I purchased this flower pot from Etsy and filled it with gift cards and scratch off lottery tickets.

Here's what I added and supplies needed:

  • Floral foam 
  • Skewer sticks
  • Foam flowers
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tape
  • Artificial grass
I cut the floral foam to size and placed it into the bottom of the pot.  Next, I cut out some flowers from craft foam and hot glued them to the skewer sticks.  I then stuck the skewer sticks into the foam and added the gift cards to the fronts of the flowers.  Finally, I topped it off by adding some artificial grass.

My hope was to give my child's teacher a gift that she would be able to enjoy now; the gift cards and then the flower pot, hopefully something she'll be able to use for years to come.  

Know though that showing your child's teacher appreciation doesn't have to cost alot or anything at all.  In addition to the flower pot I helped the children learn a quick and easy song to sing to their teacher.  I think the song was the real winner!!  

Lets remember our teachers!!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Who Am I? A National Geographic Kids Book Activity

Each month my daughter brings home the Scholastic book order forms.  I love how she sits down and circles the books that she wants.  One of the books she circles every time are these National Geographic Kids books.  My daughter is in kindergarten and the books are perfect because they are in line for pre-readers.  This series of books are great for kids as they explore a child's interest and motivate their minds to want to read.  National Geographic for Kids is considered informational reading, which is critical to success as the child progresses through school.  This series of informational books also helps a child learn about the world, while helping them with reading comprehension.  There was also another book I included not in the National Geographic Kids series, which goes to show that you can do this activity with any of your childs favorite book(s)

This Who Am I activity was an extension to these books to help with comprehension skills.

I simply copied the covers of each of the books we ordered, laminated them, cut out and attached popsicle sticks to them.

Next, I made up a list of questions.  Things like: "which animal hibernates in the winter."  OR "which animal is an amphibian."  I made sure to ask questions about each of the animals in the series we have.

It really made my daughter think about the animals we read in each book, working on her comprehension skills.

We also tied a craft into this activity by using the frog book and made our very own frog craft.

What you'll need to make this paper plate frog:
Paper plate
Green Construction paper
White Construction paper
Green paint
Paint brush
Black crayon or marker

Start off by painting your plate green.
While your paper plate is drying help your child trace their hands.  Once the plate is completely dry, use some tape and attach your child's cut out hands to the bottom of the plate.  This will be the frog's feet.
Next, cut out 2 circles from the white construction paper to serve as the frog's eyes and draw black dots in the center of each circle.  Attach to the top of the paper plate.
Take your black marker or black crayon and draw a smiley face.
Finally, take your yarn, attach to the back of the paper plate and hang up.

If you are looking for an educational book series for your pre-reader this National Geographic series is highly recommended.  

Note: The thoughts in this post are strictly my own

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sight Word Game

My daughters kindergarten class is in full blown sight word learning mode!  Each week the students learn a new sight word and my daughter comes home with worksheets that I keep so that we can practice at home.  I decided to use these words and make up a game to make learning/memorizing these new words more fun.

Before Easter I picked up these paper Easter eggs from the dollar section at Target.  I then wrote the sight words on a piece of paper, laminated them and cut them out.  I also added a GO card and a STOP card just to make the game a bit more interesting. The laminating part is optional. 

The rules of the game are simple.  All the sight words are put into a pile and each player draws one of the cards.  If the player can read the sight word they take an egg.  If a STOP card gets drawn, the player loses a turn and can't go again until they draw a GO card.  If the GO card is drawn first, the player holds onto the card and can use it if they draw a STOP card. The player with the most eggs at the end of the game, wins.

I used the eggs because it was around the Easter season but anything can be used.  Other ideas could be matchbox cars, pom-pom's, candies, anything that will catch the attention of your child.

Trying to read one of the sight word cards

Yay......she read the word!!

Their are so many fun ways to learn/memorize sight words.  For more ideas, check out my Sight Words Pinterest board. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Books That Will Make Your Kids Giggle

I love to read books with my 5 year old.  We visit the library about once every 2-3 weeks and usually borrow about 25 books at a time.  We've been doing this for about 2 years and over the course of this time I've seen how my daughter has evolved from the board book section to the non board book section.  She's learning to look at her book choices in a different way and it's really fun to watch how she decides on whether a book is to her liking or not.

We've read many books, some that bring smiles, laughter, tears and sleepy eyes.  For bedtime reading I try and choose books that have a more calming tone to them.  Here are a list of our favorite bedtime stories.

I love watching my daughter as I read to her and her reaction to the story.  I especially love the stories that make her giggle or out right laugh.  Here is a list of books that we have read that might make your little ones giggle too!

Bark, George

Knuffle Bunny

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

The Duckling Gets a Cookie

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves

Peanut Butter & Cupcake

These are just a few of our favorite 'giggle' books.  Mo Willems especially has a line of not just funny but hilarious books guaranteed to make your little ones laugh.

I hope you enjoy our favorites as much as we do!  Happy reading!