Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Flower Cutting and Fine Motor Skills

My 4 y/o daughter loves flowers and enjoys wandering in our front and back yard picking them.  Some flowers she can easily pluck off with her fingers but our Black Eyed Susan flowers require something more to get the flower off.  I saw this as an opportunity to let her use her scissors, with my supervision of course.  By no means should a child ever be left unattended with scissors.  I went over the safety rules of using scissors by explaining how to safely hold scissors when walking with them in your hand and that you should never use scissors to cut anything other than paper unless your are doing a craft/activity with Mom, Dad, Teacher or another adult.  We also use scissors appropriate for children which are not as sharp as regular scissors.

This cutting activity helped with her fine motor skills and is also a practical life lesson.  We even got a short lesson on bees since we have these beautiful white and purple flowers, which I don't know the name of, but the bees love them.  This gave us the chance to talk about bees and how they get nectar from the flower and bring it back to the hive to make honey.  

After my daughter is finished cutting the flowers I always make sure to display them!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Outdoor Slate Chalkboard

After seeing some play spaces involving chalkboards I wanted to add one of our own to the backyard.  The chalkboards I had been admiring on Pinterest were mostly DIY and since I'm no good when it comes to creating things involving wood and tools I instantly went to my husband!  We talked about what materials we would need, where it would go and I was getting excited that our chalkboard was becoming more of a reality!  Only a few days later my husband calls me from work and asks me if I remember what one of his companies buildings use to be?  I thought it was a strange question but I answered his question as I recalled that one of his companies buildings use to be a schoolhouse.  My husband remembering our chalkboard discussion took it upon himself to ask the facilities manager if they by chance had any old chalkboards lying around from when it was a school.  Low and behold they did!!  I was super excited that we would be acquiring an authentic old schoolhouse slate chalkboard!

Once my husband and a co-worker transported this massive chalkboard to our home my husband quickly got to work.  He cut some wood pieces for the frame, nailed everything in place and voila, our chalkboard had found its new home!

We hung a small bucket (yard sale find!) threw in some chalk and the kids were ready to go!

My daughter is learning to write her name so we have been practicing that alot on our chalkboard.  

The kids enjoyed a few rounds of Pictionary too! 

We have an easel in our basement that has a chalkboard on one side and we have used water to 'paint' the board.  Since it's in our basement I've always had to be extra careful with the water.  Now that we have a huge chalkboard and it's outside my kids can use as much water as they want!  I grabbed a bowl, a paintbrush and some rags and I let the kids go wild!  My daughter said she was making a maze and my son was having fun simply 'washing' the board!

So far I have been really pleased with how well the chalkboard is working out!  It's one of the first things my kids go to now!  I especially love that the chalkboard easily allows the children to express their creative and artistic sides!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ice-cream and Birthday Cake Play dough

My 4 year old loves play dough whether home-made or store bought.  Personally, I love home-made!  We have tried several different home-made play dough's my least favorite being peanut butter, not sure why just wasn't fond of it and my most favorite.....frosting!!  I first learned of  ice-cream play dough from Smart School House.  After searching a bit further I came across a few other blogs who shared their experience with this fun and easy to make play dough:  Wildflower Ramblings and A Little Pinch Of Perfect

After reading these posts I quickly checked my cupboards to see if I had the ingredients needed.  I had the frosting and I had the powdered sugar so I chose to go with the recipe used by Smart School House.

I paid close attention to the instructions on how to make and the most important is to be sure that when you add the powdered sugar that you add it slowly until your play dough is not too sticky or too dry.  I like a drier play dough so I may have added a bit more of the powdered sugar.  

After mixing both the frosting and the powdered sugar together this is how the play dough should look.

My daughter happened to have a friend over for a play date when I decided very last minute to make this.  Please note that this play dough is SUPER EASY to whip up!  After the girls were finished playing outside I had 2 cones with the play dough sitting on top of them.  Of course the first thing they wanted to do was eat it!  Being that this is a completely edible play dough I let them know that it was ok to take a tiny bite but that was it and they complied!!

Both girls enjoyed making what they called, 'birthday cakes!'  The candles were a big hit!  I used up the entire bag of candles that I had on hand!  I also gave them some sprinkles, a rolling pin, plastic knife and cupcake liners.  

This play dough was so much fun to play with and this activity kept the girls busy for 30 minutes!!  I won't lie the clean up was more than I had expected BUT I didn't mind because my daughter and her friend thoroughly enjoyed this!  
I would do it again in a heartbeat! 

I would love to hear about your favorite play dough recipe!  Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spell With Stickers

We think of ourselves lucky to live in an area that has lots of yard sales!  Our Saturday mornings are spent browsing the local yard sales and I must say I find TONS of great deals! The stickers used for this activity were purchased brand new, never opened from a yard sale and I spent $1 on them and got some foam crafts thrown in for FREE!!  Another great find was an assorted bag of gems for .25cents!

If you have letter stickers lying around or if you have to buy some at the store this is a great way to help your child learn how to spell their name.  We dumped all the stickers out on the table and for each name we practiced my daughter had to find the letters to make the name. My 4 year old knows all the letters in her name and the order they go in so she had no problem finding the stickers of her name.  For her brother I wrote his name on a post it and had her search for the letters and spell it out.  Finally, we sounded out MOM and DAD and she had to tell me the letter for each sound and spell them out.

This activity also helped with fine motor skills by using those little fingers to peel off the backing of the stickers!

Here are some other ideas on how to help your child spell their name:

If you have a favorite way to teach your child how to spell their name please share in the comments below!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Leaf Creatures

I love gifts that keep on giving and this Sesame Street craft book is no exception!  This book was given to my son about 5 years ago from his Grandparents.  We used this book back then with my son and we are still currently using it with my daughter.

Our most recent craft is one that Tiffany asked to make from the book called Leaf Creatures.  We have a good amount of trees in our backyard and with them all so beautiful and in full bloom I thought this craft would be a good one to attempt.

We started off by picking out some leaves of different sizes and shapes.  Once our leaves were gathered it was time to assemble our leaf creatures!

Making the creatures were fun and super easy:
We glued our leaves to card stock
Used markers to draw arms and legs
Cut out pieces of paper to make teeth and a smiley face
And of course.....googly eyes

My daughter wanted to do two creatures, a happy face and a monster face!  This craft was great for fine motor skills since their was a lot of gluing going on with the hands, feet and facial expressions.  Once our craft was complete we hung it on our fridge and they were SO adorable, I smiled every time I looked at them!

If you and your little one(s) would like to try your hand at Leaf Creatures, here's what you'll need:
Card stock or construction paper
Googly eyes

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Making Slime or Goo

I've been wanting to make slime or goo for awhile and with both kids home for summer vacation I figured now was the best time.  I've seen several recipes for making slime/goo but I searched for one that seemed to be the easiest for this first time goo maker!  Teach Preschool used only 2 ingredients and since I was looking for simple I chose to use their recipe.

Here are the 2 ingredients used: (I also added a few drops of blue food coloring)

Making it was SO easy and not messy at all!  I am not one for messy projects although I realize the importance of them for my children, this one was not a messy one to put together! In a small plastic container I poured in glue which I used the entire bottle of, about 1/2 cup.  I then poured in the liquid starch which was also a 1/2 cup.  I read enough about making slime to know that it's important to first shake your bottle of liquid starch before pouring and to keep kneading and kneading until the slime gets to the right consistency.  The slime should not be super slimy or wet and should not be too stringy.  After the slime is exposed to the air it will begin to get more solid.  If you have a failed attempt at making slime you may want to check out this post from Fun At Home With Kids which has some great tips on how to fix failed slime!

This is how the slime looked after just making it:
Sorry it's not a closer shot but the slime kind of looks like....brains!  Sorry, but true!

This is how the slime looks after playing with it:

My 8 year old son took to it immediately while my 4 year old daughter wanted nothing to do with it!

In this picture he is burying one of his Lego men in the goo!

Finally and only after the following day when the goo had become a bit more solid did my daughter decide to give it a try.  She said she was putting her squinkies in the 'pool!'  To my surprise she asked for the goo again this morning!

 All in all I am happy that I attempted making the slime because my kids truly have had fun playing with it and using their imaginations on what to do with it!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pedal For Numbers!

We have been working on double digit numbers since about the beginning of this year.  It is so encouraging when I see that she is getting better and better at identifying these numbers.  Tiffany loves to ride her bike and we love using chalk on our driveway so I came up with a way we could incorporate both of these things and learn too!!

Initially, I was going to use bean bags to toss onto the numbers, which would work great, but as I was preparing the activity Tiffany was zooming around on her bike which made me think we could use her bike instead.  If you notice that some of the numbers are grouped together it's because those numbers were suppose to have bean bags tossed on them.  After I figured it out I started spacing the numbers further apart.

The idea of this activity was for Tiffany to ride her bike to the number I called out to her.  Doing it this way turned the activity into a gross motor activity as well and because I told her to stop on the number she became really comfortable at applying the brakes on her bike.

We learned numbers, used our gross motor skills and got a ton of exercise going up and down and all around our driveway!

If you would like to try this activity at home keep in mind that you can gear it towards whatever it is your child is currently learning.  It could be shapes, letters, colors, sight words, etc.....!

Learn while having fun, can't beat that!!

Here are some of our other posts on ideas for learning numbers:

Helicopter Number Hide n' Seek

Learn double digits re-using play doh containers

Egg match up 

Jump to the number

I would love to hear how you teach your children number identification.  Comment below or visit our facebook page.