Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bottle Cap Letter Matching and Memory Game

We are working on my 4 year old's uppercase and lowercase letter identification.  She's doing well with uppercase but it's the lowercase I think she could use more practice with.  Recently we worked on a similar activity which you can read more about here.  I've been saving bottle caps and thought I could use them to play a letter match and memory game. 
Here's what you need for this game:
  • Bottle Caps
  • Construction Paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
Set up: Trace the bottle caps you will be using onto your construction paper and cut out the circles.  I cut just inside the circle so that they weren't too big and they fit perfectly inside the cap, no glue needed!  Once the circles are in place use your marker and write the lowercase and uppercase letters onto the caps.  Because I am doing both uppercase and lowercase letters and did not have 52 bottle caps I chose to do just the first 10 letters of the alphabet.  Besides, I think it would be to overwhelming to use that many letters in the game so even if I did have all the caps to use I still would have used only half.   

Here's how they turned out....

How to play: The child turns over a cap they see a letter, for example uppercase "A" they will be looking for a match by finding the lowercase "a." I thought of different ways of playing this game but since I want my daughter to recognize both uppercase and lowercase in print I went with this option.  

Playing this game is much like playing any other memory game.  Whoever makes the most matches wins! It's really simple and really fun!!  My daughter asked to play several games in a row!! 

How is your child learning their letters?  Please let us know in the comments below or by visiting us on my Facebook page!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Touring Through Blogland

What is Touring Through Blogland, you ask?!  Allow me to explain.  Touring Through Blogland is a fun way to share some things about me with my readers and other bloggers that I may not normally share on my blog.  I will welcome you all to my neck of the woods to give you a sneak peek of what's going on around our home along with answering some other fun questions.  By sharing this I hope to connect in a different way with my readers and fellow bloggers.  It's also a great way to connect my readers with other great bloggers who might just be blogging about something their interested in!

First, a big thanks to Heather from Krafts & Kiddos who invited me to join this 'tour.'  Heather's site is filled with great ideas.  Whether you are looking to craft with  your kids, find delicious treats or DIY ideas, Heather has it covered!!  I promise that you will fall in love with all her ideas so please make sure to stop by!! 

Lets get started, shall we.....

We built our home and have lived here for 16 years. We've made many memories here and I'm excited to make more and to continue raising our kids in this home hopefully through their adulthood.  I love my whole home but I do have some favorite spots. Our front porch is one of them.  I love to decorate it, take photos of my kids on it or watch my kids play or chat with friends and family.  Whatever the reason our porch is a fun place to make memories!




Playing with friends

Summertime gazing

I really love it here.......

My other favorite thing about our home are the flower beds we have planted through the years.  Even though some were planted more than a decade ago it feels like just yesterday.  I have a beautiful mum that's planted to the side of our porch that was given to us from my Mother in-law shortly after we moved in.  That mum has bloomed each year for just shy of 16 years and I look forward to seeing it's beauty every fall.  It's not bloomed just yet so no picture to share, sadly.  I wish I had taken one in past years but I will remember this year! 
Over the years we have welcomed more flowers to surround us.  These flowers are in full bloom or shall I say full beauty right now and I truly enjoy looking at them and finding peace and solace in them.  These flowers can put a smile on my face and a peace in my heart......

Now onto the questions part of the tour.....

Question 1: What am I working on?
Currently, I am preparing for the upcoming school year.  My son will attend public school but my preschooler will be home with me.  Last school year she attended pre-school and she enjoyed it so much.  We had her all registered and ready to begin for this upcoming year but the school had some changes and pulled one of the sessions.  Because of that we made the decision to not send my daughter which means I will be teaching her here at home.   With my daughter at 4 years old I believe strongly that the most important thing is socialization.  So, I am scheduling her for a class or 2 with gymnastics/dance and she already attends karate.  I am also in the process of putting together a pre-school curriculum.  

Question 2: How does my work differ from those in my genre?
I think that most bloggers who blog about children's activities all have the same hope which is to share ideas with others who can in turn share them with their children.  The only difference may be in the approach taken to get the idea across.  I try to share activities that most others can pull off with as little setup/preparation as possible.  

Question 3: Why do I write/create what I do?
To share ideas with others who can in turn share with their children.

Question 4: How does my writing creative process work?
It's not the same every time.  Sometimes, I will be throwing something away and I will think how can I re-use this for a craft or activity?  From their the wheels start turning, what is my daughter interested in right now, what does she need to work on and ideas start to come to mind.  Other times it's simply about what stage my daughter is at and what she should be learning to do.  I think that through and come up with ideas on how to teach her in a fun way because learning should be fun!!

And now on to our next tour...........

It is with much pleasure to introduce you to Angel Casale who blogs over at The Loving House of Mama Casale.  She blogs about her 3 boys and shares so many fun kids activities.  I met Angel through blogging and so glad I did.  One of the best reasons to blog is meeting wonderful people like her!  For more about Angel, read on!!

The one thing I enjoy most is spending time with my family.  Not only with my Husband and kids but with my Mother and siblings.  We are a very close family and I don't know what life would be like without them.

I really enjoy watching Netflix when I have the time, which is rare but I do enjoy it when I can.

Of course, my newest enjoyment has been blogging.  I love creating, sharing post and meeting fellow bloggers.  It is a pleasure and I really look forward to it.        

Here are Angel's social media links so that you can connect with her:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Summer Message

My son who will be 9 in a little over a month is starting to have questions and doubts about Santa and our Elf on the Shelf, Cuddles.  After seeing this postcard from East Coast Mommy I knew I needed to act!

Once our mail was delivered I announced to the kids that they had mail, which they always love!  My son opened the envelope and read the postcard message, looked at it for a few more seconds and handed it back to me.  Hmmmm, was that a good thing or not that he said nothing!?!?!  I've convinced myself that it is a good thing and that maybe just maybe I can squeeze one more year of my little man still believing in the magic of the season!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Organize Measuring Cups and Spoons

I don't know about you but the cabinet where I keep my bowls and lids is not pretty!  This cabinet also houses my measuring cups and measuring spoons which needless to say gets lost in the mess.  I really need to do a complete overhaul of this cabinet but I'm taking baby steps and decided to start off with the measuring cups and spoons.

Command hooks are prominent around our house and so I knew their must be a way to incorporate using command hooks to organize this cabinet.  I really did this cabinet on a whim using materials I already had around the house.  I didn't want to go and buy more cork sheet so I did the best with the cork I had on hand.  It wasn't a perfect fit but it works.  I also used ribbon I already had and thankfully had some extra command hooks lying around! One of my command hooks is even off center but who cares, anything is better than the mess I was dealing with!! With 2 kids home while I did this I'm certain at least one of them was tugging on me for something! But this is really an easy diy project,  here's what you'll need:

Cork Sheet (I used a very thin sheet)
Re-stickable tabs or double sided tape
Mini Command hooks or push pins
Ribbon or twine

First, you want to measure your cabinet door and cut the size of cork that will fit it.  Keep in mind that cork sheets come in different thickness so be sure to get one that will work best for you.  I already had some cork in my craft supplies so I used that.  If you use a thinner sheet, like I did, the command hooks will work best.  If you have a thicker cork sheet you can use push pins.

You may want to use either double sided tape or Scotch re-stickable tabs, which is what I used so that the cork has something to stick against.  If the cork you use is thin enough you may be able to just tack the cork around and under the edges of your cabinet door.

Now you're ready to stick on the mini command hooks or push pins to the cork sheet.

Finally, grab some ribbon or twine, loop it through the holes on the handles of your measuring cups and spoons, tie it off and hang!!  Voila, you now have a new home for all your measuring cups and spoons!  I never have to dig around anymore in a jumbled mess of bowls, lids and containers!!

Where do you keep your measuring cups and spoons?  Let me know in the comments below!

Ice Play and Frozen Dinosaur Eggs

Over the last few weeks we have been experiencing with ice play.  It all started after I read about Ice Play Activities from Little Bins for Little Hands and ever since then the kids have been addicted!  Who knew playing with ice could be so much fun!?!  So far we have rescued dinosaurs, sea creatures, astronauts and various other figures from our toob collection.  Ice play is a great sensory experience.  Whether the feel of the cold ice, watching the ice melt, or smashing the ice my kids absolutely loved playing with it!

I started off using some containers and throwing in some things like starfish and turtles basically things from under the sea.  As 'accent ice' I filled some bathroom cups with water, froze them and added them to our sensory table, they look like mini ice castles!  You could even add some food coloring as we did with our sea creatures.

'Rescuing' the sea turtle

I wanted something taller to freeze so I started rinsing out some plastic cups, filling with water and adding whatever figures or things inside and then freezing.  I also layered the ice which means I filled the cup part way, froze, put in whatever figure I wanted, filled with water again and froze again. The ice comes right out after leaving it out for a few minutes or running under warm water, works the same way when using a container.
Before frozen

After frozen

The kids trying to melt the ice by pouring warm water over it!

'Rescuing' more of our trapped figures!

We're saved!

More excitement came after I read about frozen dinosaur eggs! Find out how to make frozen dinosaur eggs at Little Bins for Little Hands. This activity is so cool and so easy to do!  Both my 8 and 4 year old were super excited to 'rescue' the dinosaur!  That's how we've handled our ice play so far - always trying to 'rescue' whatever is trapped inside the ice, which makes for great imaginary play too!

 Check out these 2 other sites that also share their fun with dinosaur ice eggs: Paging Fun Mums and A Nest for All Seasons.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dragons Love Tacos Book and Craft

My daughter was given a book called, Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin as a gift from her Preschool last Christmas. We have read this book so many times and each time she laughs as done my 8 year old.  The book is about hosting a taco party for dragons!  The dragons love tacos but hate spicy salsa even more!  So when it comes time for the taco party what could possibly go wrong??

I thought pairing the story with a taco craft would be fun.  I literally got the supplies ready within minutes for this craft and most everything we used are common craft supplies which are:

Construction paper (red, green, orange and yellow)
Glue stick
Paper plate (optional)

I would have used paper plates for each of us but only had one on hand so I used that one to make my very own Mommy taco creation!  Here's how to do it:

You can draw a circle onto the construction paper or trace a paper plate to make your circle.   Cut out circle from the paper and fold almost totally in half but not quite - doing it this way will help see the taco toppings better!  This will be your 'taco shell!'  If using a paper plate instead mix together yellow and brown paint to make a lighter brown color, paint the plate, dry and fold paper plate almost in half just as you would with the paper.

This next part is great for working on scissor cutting/fine motor skills.  Have your child cut strips of paper for the cheese and for the lettuce.  I already had some shredded green paper from our letter matching activity so we used that.  For the tomatoes they can do the same thing or they can try and cut circles for the tomatoes.

Last part is just taking the glue stick rubbing it onto the paper or plate and then sticking on the taco toppings!

They both decided to write something on the taco shell.  My son wrote the word Taco on the side of his but he put the "c" in the wrong place and then scribbled over it.  They both ended up writing their names and my son added a little smiley face too!

We all had fun creating tacos!!

8 year old's taco

4 year old's taco

Mom's taco

p.s. these are veggie tacos only - had no brown paper for the meat!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers

With the new school year upon us one is left to wonder what  to do with the plethora of papers and artwork that comes home from school.  Seriously, how much can a refrigerator hold!?  Last school year I used some of these methods of displaying artwork:

  • Using clipboards which makes changing the artwork super simple!

  • Artkive, an app that stores your children's artwork.
  • Framing art that's extra special.

These are great options but I still needed help to organize my children's school work whether artwork, report cards, etc.  One day while wandering Michael's Arts and Crafts I came across an art portfolio that looked like it might just work.  Before purchasing, I decided to research and read some reviews about it.  I was pleased with what I read and quickly went back and purchased 2, one for my son who at the time was in 2nd grade and one for my daughter who was in her first year of preschool.  It has 24 pages front and back so can hold up to 48 pieces of paper.  Now, depending on how much stuff you hold on to you might be able to get 2 school years out of one book.  I am a bit sentimental when it comes to my kids artwork so for my son I will be purchasing another portfolio for this upcoming school year.  As for my preschooler I still have a few pages left in hers.

Most of what I have added to these portfolio's is artwork and for my son I've also included his report cards and other schoolwork that was not necessarily 'art.'

This is about how thick my son's portfolio became by end of the school year

Their are so many great ideas out there, just google "organize school art/paper work" and tons of fantastic ideas will pop up.  Every family is different so a system that works for one may not work for another.  The key is to do your research and then pick the one that's best for you and your family! I hope this post will give yet another idea/alternative on how to organize your children's school papers.

For me, I am pleased enough organizing my children's school work this way that I will continue purchasing these portfolio's, putting them into a large bin and storing the bin in our basement or attic.  This way whenever I want to take a walk down memory lane or pass them onto my children once they are grown I should be able to simply grab the bin and reminisce!

More info about the Itoya Profolia is online at Amazon.  The opinions were 100% my own and I was not compensated by Amazon or anyone associated with Itoya Art Profolio.

I would love to know how you are storing your kids school work papers so share away in the comments below!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Matching Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Tiffany knows how to write her name using uppercase letters but not with lowercase.  I was almost certain that she could identify lowercase but to be sure I decided to put together this simple activity.

Here's what  I came up with:

Supplies used:
Uppercase foam alphabet letters
Contact paper
Construction paper
Painters tape

I taped the contact paper to the wall but you could attach it to anything such as an easel, table, etc.  Next, I stuck the foam letters to the contact paper and finally cut the construction paper into squares and wrote the lowercase letters onto them and added them to a bowl.  My daughter picked out a letter randomly which I liked because I did not want her to go in order of the alphabet.

After picking a lowercase letter Tiffany had to find the matching uppercase letter and stick it to the contact paper.

Happy face while playing our matching game!  

And I am a proud Mommy, Tiffany matched every letter correctly!!

To top it off once finished she asked to play again!!

Check out our other letter matching activities here

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Minnie Mouse Cupcakes

We are big Disney fans over here so for my daughter's 4th birthday she asked for Minnie Mouse cupcakes.  I am really not the decorator when it comes to cakes and desserts but I always give it a fair try. I checked Pinterest for ideas and found some that I felt I could pull off.  I wanted to do something cute that I felt comfortable taking on and that wouldn't take too much preparation.  This is what I came up with:

I used a store bought yellow cake mix and pink frosting. Bake according to package directions, cool completely and spread frosting. I made 2 separate batches.

Batch number 1:  I used regular size Oreo cookies for the face, strawberries cut up to make Minnie's bow and mini size Oreo's for the ears.

Batch number 2:  I only made ears and simply broke in half a full size Oreo cookie and pressed them into the icing. Added some pearl sprinkles and voila, Minnie Mouse cupcake!

The guests at the party said they looked and tasted great....phew!  That was a relief!  I always worry when it comes to making and creating food for others.  Not sure why I just do!

Like I said I am not the best at decorating cakes/cupcakes but this was honestly a super simple, fun way to make Minnie Mouse cupcakes! If I can do it anyone can, trust me!

I've always enjoyed reading about birthday party ideas whether it be food, decorations, etc.  Have you pulled off a really fun birthday party?  If so, I would love to hear about it.  You can share in our comments below or on our facebook page!