Thursday, March 31, 2011

Craft in a Minute!

Need a craft for antsy kids that doesn't take long? Grab those eggs (you know you have HUNDREDS lying around!!) and a paper plate with some glue and scissors too! Cut out the center of the plate and glue on the eggs!!! We gave these out to Nana and Grandpa and have one on our door too! Super cute and super fun! Best of all? Super fast and inexpensive! Yay!

Just Write!

I bought the kids some journals for journaling our Spring Break! Since my son goes to 2 different schools (one on spring break this week and another on spring break later in April) we are not able to go away the entire break, but we will do a brief weekend long trip, there is Easter and all the other day trips I have planned. I plan on adding in journaling starters on every other page to get ideas flowing and then letting them have free writing on that other page for them to just write whatever they feel.
If any of the days turn out too rainy to get in our daily outdoor hike, we will use that day to decorate the cover of our journals!
On the left side of every page it is blank and this will leave them the ability to draw on this page, I like to push art as much as the writing!
How do you document Spring Break???

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thrifty Teaching Aids!

We LOVE board games at my house, but if your kids are like mine, the small pieces tend to wander off and get lost in that big black hole of nowhere! I Love to swing by the Goodwill and pick up any games that have small pieces that we go through like crazy! It's a super inexpensive way to build up extra pieces! As far as the game boards and extra pieces, we use many in crafts and others we just recycle if the local daycare doesn't need them!

This post is about thrifty teaching aids though! My kids are all at different stages in learning, but I find that if I get creative, I can use 1 tool many different ways! This week I stopped at the Goodwill with a purpose! I needed some letter tiles and I couldn't use Scrabble ones, because I go though those like crazy in my shop! As I strolled the game aisle, I found exactly what I was looking for! I picked up 3 games for less than 5.00 total with tax and had exactly what I wanted! Boggle Junior, UpWords and Quip Qubes! These games are some of our favorites to play normally, so I was able to replenish the games we had and still have loads and loads leftover for
our learning games!
With the letter dice from the boggle game, I love to use these by tossing them in my purse with a notepad and pencil. They toss 1 of the die and then they figure out how many words they can come up with (My daughter writes them down and my son just says them). It's a fun game to play at a restaurant when meals get too long or when waiting in line for something etc. The UpWords we use to spell normal words and sentences and then try to change the words up just like the game goes, only using sentences! We use them all for other fun stuff too!!
I had purchased these yellow teaching tiles before (at the Goodwill of course!!) and even though I got them for only .99, they sell for so much more money than that, if i ever wanted to replenish them! I knew I had to get creative!
I found this freezer bin at the goodwill for .99 and it was perfect to hold all our letter tiles! It gives the kids easy access to them and allows me to keep an eye on them too! This is one of their favorite tools for spelling!
I used the cards from the Boggle Jr. Game and put them on a binder ring, so that my younger two can flip through and spell the words they see! Perfect way to get them spelling and playing with words!!
My favorite find was the Qube game! It had all these cubes in it and they all have words on each and every side!! These are AWESOME for sentence building and also just popping in between words we make with the tiles! I sometimes have my daughter grab 4 of them and toss them and see what kind of sentence she can come up with!
Keep your eyes open and get creative!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things I Am Loving Right Now....

This week, I am going to share normal every day things or inexpensive activites that have me swooning in love!

#1 and the entire reason for this post this week is the library self check out station! It is ALWAYS empty, even when the 6 staff members are all 3 people deep with lines, nobody ever wants to try this and it's so so so simple!! The best part? You don't have to print out receipt, you can just have it e-mailed to yourself!! (I love this, because it allows me to incorporate it into my online calendar, where I can pop in their return date and the list of books that we have out!)
Rub on letters! These were .99 from Michaels and are a total dream to a Mommy that needs a craft that all of her kids (3,5 and 6) can do together!! We've put them on rocks, paper, wood cut outs and easter eggs! All in preparation for Easter!!
Our new magnetic chore chart that is as simple as library pockets, popsicle sticks and paper men! We had fun creating it and also assigning jobs for the week!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Creative Experiment Rubber Bands!

I love to read blogs in the morning with my cup of tea, feeling the warm sunshine on my face (after I have driven the carpool, and tidied up of course! haha) and taking an hour to myself. When I came across Tinker Labs Creative Experiment Post today, I knew I had just the project for my youngest and I! The weather went from fabulous to blahh this week and I wanted something that would cheer us up and get our gears cranking! We pulled out his ducky blanket, popped some Vivaldi on the radio (okay the Comcast classical channel!!) and got to thinking! Within 5 minutes he yelled "Make Guitar!" and we were off and running!!

We pulled out our yogurt container of rubber-bands from the craft bin, pulled down our big art case for the oil pastels and finally snagged the right size box from our cardboard bin! He started slipping on the bands, while I handed them to him and then we decorated the box afterwards! He loves it and is now off and singing Bannie Bill (No CLUE!) and dancing around! SO CUTE!

Do you have any ideas on what to make with rubber-bands???

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Caps Caps Caps!

I have been saving caps for quite some time (If you can see the bucket, we started around Halloween time!!)! We keep this small bucket on the kitchen counter (Does wonders for the decor!) and then empty it out regularly to our box the holds the real collection, hey how did that Box Top get in here?? We first started saving caps when we made a space ship and used the caps as buttons and dials and knobs and even a steering wheel with the largest one! It was so much fun we decided to keep on saving!!
One of our first and favorite creations with the caps was an alphabet memory game! We put stickers in matching white bottle caps (yikes, you can tell how much bottled water we drink!!) and then we turn them upside down and get matching!! We plan on putting colored garage sale dots on the one side of these eventually, because if we play outside, you can see through a little bit with the bright sun!!

Pictured here is only 1 set, just so you could see the letters closely!!
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Week in Photos!

Welcome to our week in photos! We had another Blessed week and cannot wait to enjoy our weekend! I hope you are having a fantastic Saturday! We are headed out to dinner to celebrate my birthday with friends and family!! (Yes, I had a birthday on the 23rd! I turned 31 YIKES!! Lol!
With the chill still in the air, we headed out anyway and hit one of our favorite hideaways on the bike path in search of river rocks for our nature table and rock project. we enjoy spending time together and being outdoors!
This week my youngest (he is not in school yet) and I worked on Easter wreaths! This was made of a paper plate and tiny eggs (will post more about this later in the upcoming week) and some ribbon. We plan on giving these out this weekend to family members to help them decorate their home for the Holiday!!
We also worked on our address book after school one day! We are sending out Easter cards and this helps my older two know how to address and envelope and get stamps etc. A fun project that gets everyone involved!
My oldest boy (I really dislike the middle son title! I don't like him thinking that he's in the middle, I know that probably makes me weird! haha) is leader of his school this week (They call it the Big Cheese) and he is all smiles about it!! I am very proud of him, as this is his 3rd time this year!!
We found this tutorial on how to make a felt bunny on Natural Kids, I am hoping to eventually make a pin for the teachers this year, but for now we are using it as a template to cut out Bunnies for our Easter Cards!!!
We made magnets out of a 1.00 puzzle and we had a BLAST!!! The process is so much fun for little fingers, but at the same time we can even use them!! They want to make more and for 1.00 I just may give in!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Corner of my Home...

Welcome to another Corner of my home! This is our educational nook. I am hoping to find the RIGHT rainbow colored rug some day to place right in front of it! In these shelves are games and toys and books that are for learning and educational play! These toys are ONLY allowed to be played with right here, since things have a tendency to grow legs and walk away to their bedrooms and the playroom etc. There are 8 bins in this shelf and I wish we had actually gone with something bigger! I may purchase and set of 4 if I can find one! The unit is the Expedit from Ikea, the BEST store for organizing children!
At the top left you will find workbooks and school curriculum books that I am building up to keep the Summer learning going this year. We will have 'school' for 3 hours every day (Broken up into 2 portions with lunch, playtime and relaxing in the middle). I also have a small bit of markers, pencils etc. here for quick projects or games that we need something to write with and then a large jar of crayons!!

Going to the right, we have our reference books like a couple Atlases, maps, Dictionaries, experiment books etc. and the bell for our reading game (I will touch more on this reading game in another post!!). The next shelf holds our reader books (Levels 1-4), I have 2 beginning readers in the home and I like to keep these out in the open and not their personal book shelves, so that they can look up any words they need in the dictionaries. This also holds our Microscope, that I LOVE LOVE LOVE, it's by Geo Safari and it's FANTASTIC! Even the little one gets into being a Scientist! (This may move to our Science Nook, if I ever get it more under control). The little silver tin holds the slides.

The Microscope Nook is the only one that has recently changed! I moved the beginning readers to the reading nook, where they can snuggle in better with them! I now added the reading manipulatives here, since that seems to be the 1 part of our collection that continues to grow!

The next bin is 'organized' but it still looks like a mess! I really don't know what I want to do with this area (hence the need for the bigger shelf!) This entire corner is full of some learning board games that fit in the nook (I change out these games weakly, so it's like getting new games each time!!), and magnetic boards!

The Bottom shelf is full of 8 bins (one was in use at the moment!!) with the larger ones being labeled (I am having my daughter WRITE the labels for the top row) with photos so that everyone knows how to put stuff away right where it belongs! The Lego Box, is topped with a bin full of Unifix Linking Cubes that are the perfect thing to use with Legos or even alone as a Math manipulative (More on these in a future post). The craft box holds a little bit of everything crafty and the bin above it holds construction paper). MagnaTiles are next and they are FABULOUS!! These magnetic tiles have the kids AND mom and dad enthralled every single time they come out! I even posted about them here! The green bin on top of that one, holds more MagnaTiles! haha! We are obsessed and running out of space!! Finally is our flashcard bin, this holds all flashcards of any sort! We even make our own and those are in there too. The green bin above that holds our Spanish bin, I speak Spanish fluently and will be teaching the kids this Summer as part of our curriculum!! I am so excited!!!
All of this sits beneath our Nature Table! There is so much going on in this nook, that is seems to be their favorite place to play. 

Hope you enjoyed this corner of my home! Share yours in the comments please!!
Have You Added Me Yet?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Join Us on a Virtual Vacation Around the World!

This Summer Break, join us on a Virtual Trip around the World!!! We are so excited, I hope you are too!! We will visit 1 or 2 big cities around the world every week of Summer Vacation and will learn what we can about that city! The language they speak, the food they eat (we will eat it too!), what there is to see! Join us up the Eiffel Tower, on a Safari in Africa, to see the Mayan Pyramids and so much more!
Grab your passports and be ready to get them stamped and don't forget your tickets and suitcases and maps! We are so excited that we've already started to prepare! We've made our luggage tag, decorated our suitcase and purchased some of our guidebooks!
Care to join us? Please do! I will have an itinerary soon, so you too can prepare! Remember that old guide books can be purchase for less than 1.00 at most thrift shops and you can download so much for the internet! Have any questions? Please ask in the comments! If you want to join, we can start a blog ring and link to each other! I have so much planned, so just ask and I will answer!!

Our Plane Tickets!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Love to Spell!

As my kids grow, I notice how much they love to learn new things! Sometimes doing everything the same way gets a little old and boring. I try very hard to keep the writing manipulatives fresh and fun. We often times make them, so that the kids get even more of a letter work out! Every now and then I will introduce some here! Our latest ones are the ones shown above! I found coasters on clearance at Michaels for .50 and my brain got working right away! These are large letter tiles once I added on the vinyl letters (Leftover from Autumn's Science Fair project)! We sometimes string a rope in the living room and use large clothespins to hang them and spell out words or we just write out Spelling Words on the floor crossword style. Learning can be fun!!
I made a game up for Roman, my youngest (He is 3)! Together we stamped the letters of the alphabet on clothespins and I laid out the clips on the floor in groups of 5,6 or 7. I handed him a letter tile (made above) and told him to match the letter as he says it out loud. Once he matches it, he has to clip them together and make a pile of completed ones. He loved it and kept playing over and over again!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Headed to the Zoo!

Headed to the Zoo and I got their gear ready the night before, so they can investigate things on the nature trails that are all around! There is so much more to look at than just the animals!
We are members of the Zoo, and we know how much the kids loooove their maps! We decided to have the maps laminated (1 for each child), so that they could use a dry erase marker to mark off what we have seen, our path walked and what they want to see. This is a way of keeping GREEN and not wasting every time we go.

Their to-go kit is all tucked away into our re-usable Zoo bag along with some snacks and a water bottle to tide them over between meals. They have their laminated maps, dry erase markers, magnifying glasses on a lanyard for them to keep at hand whenever they want to check something out up-close! There is also tissues and wipes for allergies and messes and the much needed hand sanitizer! The final item is just a reusable container that they use to store any specimens they may find along the way that would fit into their nature table. Let's hope we get some good weather! By the time you read this post on Tuesday, we will have already gone (we are going Sunday), so I will hopefully be able to post photos and an update on my Friday WEEK IN PHOTOS post!

The weather was definitely rainy, but you know what? We had a BLAST! Dance in the rain is what we did! We had our umbrellas, a wagon and smiles galore! The kids still managed to find some things on our nature walk through the trails at the zoo and we all came home exhausted!
They found this twig from a tree, but the kids insist it is a birds foot, so it got PRIME placement in the specimen box on our Nature Table!
All in all a wonderful day that left us feeling blessed and happy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Right Now...

Right Now, I Am....
::Crafting with my 5 year old little boy, we are making magnets!
::Enjoying the light left outside.
::Relaxing from running around all morning.
::Trying to reign in my emotions with something that has come up.
::laughing at what my children think is a bird foot (pictured above).
::Wanting to begin a new project for the kids this Summer.
::Listening to the 5 Browns.
::Moving around to the beat of the music!
::Feeling a little sad when I realize how quickly my kids are growing!

Share what you are doing right now with a link in the comments please!

Things I Am Loving Right Now....

With 3 young kids (ages 6,5,3) in my house, I am falling in love with things constantly! The latest are educational and so much fun! As you have read we are very into our Nature Table ! We love going on nature walks and checking out new and fun stuff from the great outdoors. With Spring coming we are ready for our leaf hunting to begin and (1) FANDEX Family Field Guides has helped us GREATLY with their deck on TREES! Check them out to see how cool it is to find a leaf and just fan through the pages to match it up!! LOVE!
(2) TARGET has their new Summer season Dollar Spot out and they have AWESOME little magnifying glasses! Perfect for tiny hands! Our larger one is from a nearby teacher store and it's by far our favorite, but the smaller ones are perfect for taking out into the field and popping in a pocket!
(3) We love informational books that are written for kids, our favorites of the moment are both from Scholastic, I love buying from them and helping out the classroom! Colorful Leaves a Science and Vocabulary Reader is great for younger kids and gives a brief intro on the topic, while Why Do Leaves Change Color? is an EXCELLENT in-depth book that really captures their attention with great photos! Can you tell we love books?
(4) Next, I am IN LOVE with 103 questions children ask about Right and Wrong with answers from the bible. A great reference when kids ask you a question that even YOU have to think of an answer for! Finally, we are at the Time and Money stage in school and Scholastic has an AWESOME pocket chart for counting money with a Piggy Bank in the background! The kids LOVE that one! We play it with a deck of money cards also from a Teacher Store.

This one needed it's own shout out, because my kids AND husband and I AND Grandpa and Nana LOVE to play with these! They are Magna Tiles and easily the coolest toy on the market now! They have had them for 2 months now and they still get played with EVERY DAY! Check them out and TRY not to get addicted!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Right Now....

Right Now, I Am....
::Waiting for my Dad to get here, my husband and I are volunteering at Bingo tonight!
::Hugging my 3 year old who just got his first ever splinter while playing on the deck :(
::Relaxing from cleaning all morning.
::Trying to come up with a way to organize the art supplies better.
::Loving the warm breeze billowing in from our windows and doors!
::Wanting my Birthday to get here before Wednesday!! (I'm such a kid)
::Listening to the chattering of the 2 big kids playing outside at the water table.
::Smelling the scents of lavender cleaning supplies and apple candles.
::Feeling the soft cushion of my comfy red couch! I need to sit more often!

Share what you are doing right now with a link in the comments please!

It's a Sad Day

It's always a sad day when the telephone books arrive! So much waste of paper and so much gas and fumes in the air from the driving by delivery of them and that PLASTIC they are wrapped in!! I wish that they would either get rid of them altogether as they had spoken of in the past or just have a sign up for them on their web site. I understand that there are still people that use them, but for the most part they go straight to the trash. Why not take a step in the right direction and let US decide if we need them. Save the TREES (5 million are cut down every year for these books), Save the ENVIRONMENT! Sign the petition to BAN THE BOOK!! Head over and join their FACEBOOK PAGE!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Week in Photos!

Look at what the Leprechaun brought! The kids had to follow his footsteps to see all the goodies he brought them! After finding out the mischief that he caused! (He put the boys sock bin in Autumn's room and her sock bin in the Boy's dresser! He also dropped some green food coloring in the milk!). We are looking to make a small herb container garden, so he brought us those goodies and some Science books to read an also some fantastic reference fan out cards about the 50 states for our geography corner and one about trees for our nature table to help us identify the leaves we find!

BOATS! We made sponge boats while learning about floating and sinking and wind power! We made them for our craft-of-the-day and then floated them in the newly-uncovered-for-the-Season water table! (can you tell how excited we are for Spring in the Midwest??)
Our Nature Table is finally ready for Spring, now that we have cleared out the Winter finds!
Read more on yesterday's post at Corner of my Home!
This is our educational nook, it was a disaster from a busy weekend, so I got to work this week in organizing it back to how it should look! I will go into more depth on this corner of my home next week!
Another craft-of-the-day project! We made tea bags Waldorf style for our tea parties! This was an easy and fun project that even the 3 year old got involved with!

Another excellent week has gone by and I would like to think I am quite Blessed!

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