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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Marty the Monarch!

During the spring, Grandma broke the rule of "no live gifts" to our kids :)  Its a good thing that Grandma had already taught us that the rules don't apply to Grandma!  Thus, we fell in LOVE with Marty the Monarch.

This is what we did:

  1. Grandma took walks around the neighborhood looking for milkweed.
  2. She found one of the little bugs and put it in a terrarium with a stick and fresh milkweed. Then, handed it over to the boys.
  3. We kept milkweed in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator and placed new leaves in the terrarium each day for about 2 weeks.
  4. We watched the little bug grow.  He grew really fast!  You have to pay attention or you will miss him spin the Chrysalis (and that is really cool).
  5. We watched him hang upside down for awhile - and then AMAZING!
  6. He shreds his skin? and he is a beautiful butterfly.
  7. After about a day in the terrarium he is ready to fly.
This was fun because my husband and I have committed to being a no pet household.  We only had to care for the bug for a couple of weeks. We plan to do this every spring!  As the boys get older we will do it more scientifically and log our observations.  We watched a cool YouTube video about the metamorphosis.  You can watch it here:  life cycle of the monarch butterfly

Did you know that monarchs eat milkweed as a form of protection?  Milkweed is bitter.  Predators learn that monarchs also taste bitter after feasting on milkweed and therefore leave them alone! 

Go Fish

I am always looking for fun ways to teach my twin toddlers. They are very busy and LOVE to move from project to project.  This kept them busy for 30-40 min. They like to play games. I like them to learn while doing activities! 
This is what we did:



1. I gathered supplies; Paper, fishing pole, (you can use a stick and string) magnets, paper clips, marker, scissors, and hot glue gun.
2. I cut out the fish and placed paper clips in the mouth.
3. I used the hot glue gun to glue magnets to the end of the pole.
4. We Loved Playing! We made up rules as we played.

Preschool Math at Home

My Big Guy attends an awesome preschool.  He's learned a lot and LOVES going to school.  Yesterday, as we pulled up to the door, he asked if I would just drop him off!!  What?? When did he get so big that he doesn't want his mom to walk him in? (tears) Like all moms, I want the very best for my kids.  I've been supplementing his preschool curriculum at home each morning with fun stuff  that is helping my son learn core skills he will be expected to master in kindergarten.  One part of our morning routine is to complete two pages in his numbers book.  For the most part, he LOVES doing the worksheets.

This is what we do:

  1. I picked up this book at Barnes and Noble.  I wasn't really sure what to choose (there are a lot of options).  This one costs less than $10.00.
  2. Each morning, my son sits at the kitchen counter while I'm preparing breakfast and completes at least two pages.
There are several reasons I really like this book.  It is fun!  The book is sequenced from easy to difficult.  It mixes fun pages with more traditional styled worksheets.  So, after my son has completed a "hard" page (writing all the numbers in order without being able to see an example) it is followed by a connect the dots.  I appreciate the large print and numbers.  My son isn't overwhelmed when he looks at the page.  I've seen improvement.  We are a little more than halfway through the workbook (about 3 weeks) and I see a noticeable difference in his ability to recognize numbers (out of order) and to write them correctly (his ability to write them smaller is improving too).  I will definitely purchase the next level once we have completed this one.

Next time, I will slip the pages into plastic sleeves and use a dry erase marker so that we can re-use the pages!

Here is a link to the Barnes and Noble website:  Kumon Workbook

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rudolph Hats

My kids had a great fascination with Rudolph this Christmas.  They LOVED his red-nose.  We made Rudolph "hats" one evening.  I think they turned out cute.  We got a good laugh because Little Guy gave Rudolph three eyes.

This is what we did:

  1. I cut a strip of brown paper that would be long enough to fit around their heads.
  2. The boys glued googly eyes and a pom to the brown strip.
  3. We used masking tape to attach two craft sticks for the antlers.
  4. I traced and cut out each boys' hands.
  5. The boys glued the hands to the craft sticks.
  6. Lastly, we used masking tape to fit the "hat" around their heads.
This activity took us about 15 minutes.

They had fun running around the house wearing the Rudolph hats for the evening.  I think I got a cute Christmas picture from it too.  I might try the same concept for another holiday - bunny ears would be cute (a cotton ball tail on the back side?).  We LOVE celebrating Christmas!

You could also use this as a character lesson.  Everyone has special gifts!  Sometimes, our uniqueness, is the best gift we receive.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gratitude Craft

Give Thanks to the Lord:  (Psalm 33:2)  At Sunday school we celebrated Thanksgiving by reading the book:  Bear Says Thanks (super cute).  For our craft project we made a brown bear (Just like the one in the book) and the kids got to write what they would "Bring to the Feast".  Most of the kids wrote that they would bring food - which simply misses the point.  In the book, Bear brings stories because his cupboards are bare.  If I had had more time (any teachers able to relate?) I would've worked harder to develop this concept with the kiddos.  I LOVE the book and the craft project turned out cute anyway.

This is what we did:

  1.  I cut out all the peices for the kids.  They just had to glue them in place.
  2. You need a round head, oval body, and 4 boot legs.  You will need two semi-circle ears, and a pom for the nose and another pom for the tail (missing in my picture), and two wiggly eyes.
  3. Print out:  To the Feast I will Bring: and let the kids write their answer.
I Love the way the end product looks but it does lack creativity.  The kids had fun making it but for the most part all of the projects looked exactly the same.  I might try to change it up a bit to account for differences among kids.  Older kids could have a good time with the writing prompt.... (and cutting out the peices).
My inspiration came from: Here

I Love You Bunches!

Nothing says, "I love you" better than a boquet of Valentine's day flowers made by your son!  Today, my little guy and I made a bunch of heart shaped flowers to put in a vase on our crafting table.  He loved that he could do most of it himself!  This is a great idea to help develop fine motor skills and decision-making.

This is what we did:

  1. Little Guy strung a button onto a chenille bendy thing.  He chose the color of the button and the chenille.
  2. I cut out hearts for him and put a hole punch through the bottom.
  3. He strung 4-5 hearts on the chenille.
  4. He picked out another button and then strung that behind the rest of the flowers.
  5. Finally, he picked out several beads and decorated the chenille with it.
This project didn't take us very long - 15 minutes. We made a bunch of them to put  in a glass vase.  You'll probably need to help a toddler twist the chenille around the buttons so that everything doesn't fall off.  I think my pre-schooler could do the entire thing by himself (including cutting out the hearts).  I hope our guests will LOVE the flowers at our Valentine's Day craft party. 
My inspiration came from:  Here


Fizz?  We LOVE it at our house!  We took a drab MN too cold to go outside or even get in the car kind of morning from frightful to delightful!  We decided to test out the old scientific volcanic eruption experiment.  It was fun!

This is what we did:

1.  I covered the counter with a disposable tablecloth.  It made clean up way easier.
2.  Each boy got a muffin tin.
3.  They spooned baking soda into each of the muffin tins.  My little guy thought the baking soda should be shoveled like sand! :)
4.  I put a little food coloring into each muffin tin.  That part was fun...later.
5.  The boys each had a little measuring cup and they poured vinegar into the baking soda.
6.  We laughed and screamed as the tin overflowed with colored fizz!  (the more vinegar, not baking soda, produced the greatest result!)
We did this activity for about an hour!  They seriously LOVED it.  We went through a gallon of vinegar and 2 boxes of baking soda!


We got messy making ladybugs and gentlemenbugs!  This was a great sensory activity for the boys!  They LOVED dipping their hands in the finger paint and squeezing it through their fingers!

This is what we did:

  1. Each boy dipped his hands in finger paint and smeared it over a paper plate!
  2. I cut out a 4 circles for the dots, a strip to differentiate the wings and a semi-circle head.
  3. The boys glued them into place.
  4. Finally, we stuck a chenille bendy thing through the head as an antennae.
This activity took about 20 minutes.  Both kiddos were able to do most of it on their own.  Each kid made 2 bugs!  Aren't they LOVELY ?

Family Tree

In my Sunday school class I taught about the Holy Family (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus). In order to help the students relate to Jesus growing up in a family - like them, each child made a family tree using pretzels!  They LOVED using the pretzels but it was hard not to EAT them!

This is what we did:

  1. Each child got one pretzel rod to glue to his peice of construction paper.
  2. They glued pretzel sticks anywhere they wanted for branches.
  3. I cut out oversized green leaves that they drew family members on.  (notice that my son's dad (and my husband) is so tall his head doesn't fit on the leaf :))
  4. They also glued tissue paper blossoms on their trees, if they wanted.
This activity was done by 4-6 yr. olds.  It took them about 20 minutes.  The conversations about their families while making the project were wonderful!
  I. LOVED. IT!  Many of the kids also drew pictures of their family pets!


My boys and I decided to try our hand at making a pinata!  The boys LOVED the goopy mess it created! 

This is what we did:


  1. We blew up a balloon for each child.
  2. Then I created the "glue mixture"  (1 cup water to 1 cup flour).
  3. We ripped newspapers, dunked it in the mixture, and layed it on the balloon.  You have to flatten/smooth out the newspaper once you put it on the balloon otherwise it will be lumpy.
  4. We hung the wet newspaper covered balloon from the ceiling to let it dry over night. (ceiling of an unfinished basement)
  5. The next day we glued cut-up squares of tissue paper all over the balloons.
  6. Currently, the pinatas are hanging in the basement.  We need to get stuff to fill them before we pop the inside of the balloon fill 'em up, and smash 'em.
The boys LOVE the idea of getting to smash the pinatas and keep the candy!
This activity kept us busy for about 2 hours.  1 hour each day.  I did have to help the boys (the toddler mostly) with this project.  It was also very messy.  Next time, I will lay a plastic tablecloth over my counter so that I can just throw it away when we are finished!

Kindness Craft

I teach pre-K/K Catholic Sunday school.  Our lesson was on Kindness.  I used a variety of activities to help the children understand ways to be kind.  Our craft activity was a lot of fun!  We LOVED it!  We did a variation of the "Long-Distance Hug" that I saw on pinterest.  I have a class of 18 students ages 4-6.  They were all able to do this project (on their own for the most part) and Loved thinking of who they could mail/give the hug too. 

 This is what we did:

1) Each child got a piece of red yard that was the length of their wingspan!

2) I knotted one end of the yarn and put masking tape on the other end to prevent the yarn from fraying in order to make it easier to string the decorations.

3) The children began stringing beads and hearts on the yarn.

4)  They had fun cutting out hearts and punching holes in them with a paper punch.

5) Many of the children decorated their hand cut-outs too (I bought my hand cut-outs because many of the kids woudn't have been able to cut them out themselves and I didn't have the time to do it for them).  My son didn't decorate his.  He spent a lot of time cutting out hearts and then chose not to put them on his yarn :)

6. We taped the hands to each end of the yarn.

This activity took about 20 minutes for each child to complete.  Many probably would've worked longer but it was almost time for parents to pick them up!

I found my inspiration:  here

Heart Garland

Valentine's Day is just a few weeks away.  To help my family get in the LOVING spirit my toddler and I created a few Valentine's Day crafts.  The crafts aren't fancy but we had a lot of fun while developing his fine motor skills and sense of accomplishment. 

 This is what we did:

Toddler Activity (almost 2.5 years old)
1)  I cut out hearts in red, pink, and white
2) He took the backs off heart foam stickers (Dollar Store) and placed them on the hearts I cut out.
3) I taped the hearts to a ribbon.
4) We taped the ribbon across our sliding glass door.

If I do this project with my pre-school aged son I will make a few adaptions:

Pre-School Age (4.5 years old)
1) I will fold a peice of paper in half and draw half a heart.
2) My son will cut out the hearts.
3) I will have him lay the hearts out in a pattern such as 2 red, 1 white, 2 pink, 1 white, etc...
4) I will have him write one letter on each heart spelling out HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY
5) I would probably tape the hearts to the ribbon for him while he is writing out the letters.

It actually turned out pretty cute!  I LOVE it!