Friday, May 31, 2013

Digging for Dinos!

Welcome Friday! This weekend, I am on a new mission! After visiting the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit at our local zoo, the kids have been non-stop chatter about dinosaurs and all the cool things that they saw and did. They loved learning about different dinos and then being able to move them as they learned about each one. Hands on exhibits are some of the most fabulous things around for children. 
One of the exhibits allowed the children to dig up dinosaur bones that were buried in rubber pellets, using paint brushes. My 3 kids stayed here for 45 minutes and could have stayed longer if I let them! It was amazing how involved they were and how well they worked together. I knew right away that it was time for mommy to come up with a Dino Dig of their own and turn it into a lesson as well!
First, I am going to start with our thrifty sandbox from years past! You can read all about this HERE! I just plan on using the sand and not the other toys that I normally pop into these boxes. I have a plan on what else I want to add into this box! I plan on adding 2 TOOBS from the Safari Ltd. Collection that are absolutely PERFECT for this! Each child will also get a skinny paint brush from the hardware store for their digging/dusting needs. 
The Dino Skulls Toob and Ancient Fossils Toob are absolutely perfect for going on a Dino Dig! You can shop online for them HERE. I like to buy mine at Michael's or Hobby Lobby and use a 40% off coupon, so that I am saving every way possible.
Once I add all the pieces into the box and then cover them with sand, I plan on making sure the children learn as they play. Each will be given a bucket for their collection along with a clipboard with photos of each fossil that is in the sand. They will then check off the ones that they collect by matching up their find to the proper photo. These checklists are made using the ones on the Safari LTD. site and then adding on a check box as well as the names of the dinosaurs.
Once their dig is complete, they will then do research on the dinosaur skulls and or fossils that they found and write up a research paper on it. It combines so many different subjects in one lesson, that the children will be wondering why we aren't covering more lessons on those days! I will share photos as this progresses! Print out these checklists HERE! 
Truer words were never spoken, then those in the above quote. It makes you realize how simple it really is to raise good children. Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Teaching Time!

Whoa, where did I go? Sorry to disappear on you all for a bit and then of course not have anything set up to just post ahead of time. For some odd reason, I have been feeling overwhelmed and I just left for our vacation without all of the insane prep work I normally do. We left on a super long weekend and just got back yesterday! It was absolutely fabulous in every way, we even got to see some very cool dinosaurs. Yes, it was a memorable trip, but it was most memorable because we were all together!
Our raised bed garden is doing so well, that I cannot wait for Summer to be in full swing! In fact, yesterdays dinner used so many herbs from our garden, I was just smiling ear to ear! There is really something grand about growing your own food!
As Roman tackles the world of telling time, I have many games that we play along with some worksheets. I like to vary this up a bit by also having crafts tie into our lessons. Some toilet paper and paper towel tubes, along with fasteners (Or use glue/tape if you are only making 1 watch per tube) and a circle punch and we were ready to roll!
I made a blank chart like this, that I could change up times on as often as I liked. If you would like a copy of this page, GO HERE!
I typed in the times that Roman is working on now (quarter after, half past, quarter til) and then filled them in to this worksheet. I stuck this sheet into a page protector, to turn it into a dry erase sheet, so that he can cross off the times that he has already made.
I had already cut the tubes to size and punched the papers. All the supplies sits in a basket at his math station, so he is ready to roll. After making one and showing him how it was done, he was off and running! He was having so much fun that, the other kids wanted to make their own! If you are using this as a classroom exercise, feel free to give everyone only 1 tube and they can make multiple faces that can be changed out with the fastener.
Of course being gone so long and having friends in and out yesterday and today, this sign is MUCH needed!
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Outdoor Fun and Learning

Our outdoor patio garden grown from scraps is doing really well. The celery has the most growth and our green onions have been harvested 5 times now!
Keep a garden tray with soil in your kitchen and have your kids drop seeds into the pots as they get a decent grouping together! We have peas and cherries growing so far! Who knows what may happen! Use popsicle sticks to identify what seeds are where.

While transplanting hostas from one part of our yard to another, the littles found these baby ferns! How cute! We transplanted them into a yogurt container for now.

A nature basket is always at the ready for when we head outdoors but it can also be slipped easily into a nylon backpack for a hike! I include homemade nature journals, small flexible ruler, marker, tweezers, sample collection vials and labels.
Enjoy the long weekend my friends!!! Enjoy every minute!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hide Your Crazy!

Hello friends! Today I am writing about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Normal. I'm someone that loves to throw back my head in raucous laughter and dance to music in my head. I'm definitely NOT what you would call normal and this often times works against me. My children were once in an ultra conservative private school (what a mistake that turned out to be) and from the minute they laid eyes on me, I was enemy #1, because I didn't fit their version of 'normal'. It didn't matter that my beliefs were the same as theirs, it mattered that I didn't look like them. Judgement was passed and it was sad and hurtful to see. 
I often times sit and wonder what is normal anyway? My sons love to play Barbies with my daughter and my daughter loves to dig in the dirt with the boys. They all play soccer and baseball and are happy and healthy. That's all that matters right? Then why do I find myself scolding my children when my daughter begins to twirl like a ballerina in the middle of Target? When my son starts dancing with reckless abandon at the library? Why am I quick to tell them to 'act normal' when all 3 of them decide to spend the day speaking in various accents?? As I get older am I worried about what the outside world will think of my children? If so, why do I care? I see how their faces look as soon as I tell them to stop, but why should they have to? They are not in the way of anyone and not disrespectful in the least, they are in their own world of imaginative play and I just squelched it. 
It's time for us to buck societal pressures and let our children live. As long as they are not disrupting anyone around (yelling, screaming, running in inappropriate places etc.), why are we taking away their spirit? I'm going to let go of what people think and worry about what my children think. What are you going to do?
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Signs of Spring!

Spring is here and the signs of it are everywhere!
Colorful totes are ready to be carried to the library!
Snacks are being served outdoors!
Lilacs are in bloom!
Weather is too warm for the stove or oven! Time for Crock Pot meals!
Evenings are spent on the screen porch just talking about the day.
What are your signs of Spring? Share them in the comments below please!
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Money Math Centers!

Math is a huge subject that we focus on over here, my kids have a love of numbers that I just could not understand. I was a poor Math student that just ended up detesting the subject in every way. With the passion my kids have for numbers, it has made me look at Math in a totally different way. With Roman, my youngest, I am starting at the bottom and looking at it all with open eyes. I can see how they enjoy this as I teach him and then the other children new things, there is a true beauty in Math, almost a language in itself. Maybe I truly can get to like it too!
My youngest is tackling Money in math and gets the coins confused when they are on paper. I figured a hands on approach was needed here. I decided to make some Math centers to help him familiarize himself with his Math & Money lessons. I took a variety of coins and glued them onto Popsicle sticks to give them a handle and make them easier to handle. When he sees them on a worksheet, he matches up the right plastic coins, so that he can hold them as he counts. Roman has found this way much easier to learn with. The back of each stick has the value of the coin on it in case the child needs help with it and is using them alone.
I made a full set of coins with the Tails side up as opposed to the rest, which had the heads side up. Now, they become an easy matching game! Sometimes on worksheets, children confuse the coin, because they are not familiar with the backs of them. It makes learning fun!
These can also be used with 'store' cards! These cards all have items and prices on them and the kids can make up the change needed to purchase the items. If you don't have a set of these, it's easy to make them up on your own. You can give the child some cards of things to 'buy' and then a handful of sticks. See if they have enough money and how much change they would get back or how much more they would need.
Add and Subtract! I took a wooden block from the craft store and put addition and subtraction symbols on each side. The idea of the game is to pull out 2 sticks (more if they are advanced) and roll the die. Now add or subtract! Get it right and keep the sticks! Winner has the most sticks at the end of the game.
How true this is!! Enjoy the day my friends!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rainy Days and Sundays...

We've had our bout of rainy days recently and you know what? We LOVE THEM! The kids like to snuggle up together on the couch and read as we all listen to the rain that falls on the roof. Once we get our outdoor curtains installed on the screen porch, that will be an AWESOME place to sit and read as the rain falls. 
A few weeks ago we won the BEST package of nature DVD's from our news station! We are so blessed to own these movies and I have already begun creating lesson plans around them! The kids are eager to learn daily. 
We have been on the go so much lately, it has been time to just take a break from being in the car ALL.The.Time. There really comes a time when you just need to STOP and put yourself first.
As I am sure you have gathered on your own, we travel a lot. Whether it be long distances or just a couple hours, we are always on the go. One of the things I LOVE LOVE LOVE to keep in the car is a coloring pack for each child. I got these cases at a library sale and they originally held books on tape! We kept those, but stored them differently and used these cases for this. The tape section is sunken in and helps keep the crayons and pencil in place, while the book clips on the opposite side are perfect for holding paper! 
Be Happy and Enjoy Every Minute my Friends!!!

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up

Happy Tuesday everyone!!! My days are all screwed up, because my husband gave me the greatest gift of all for Mother's Day & he gave it to me yesterday!!! We have hectic holidays with a lot of travel and a lot of hustle and bustling that makes it quite tiring. With all the running around and travel, our house takes a big the entire week before in preparation and my Monday is usually full of cleaning, and pulling my hair out, instead of relaxing and unwinding. Yesterday, my husband had the day off and he did all the cleaning and work for me! He allowed me to sit in our library and just enjoy. It was wonderful! 
Friday is when Mexico, where my family is from, celebrates Dia de Los Madres (Mother's Day) and I had been telling my husband recently how much I miss Mexico. He surprised me with a gift of  a Gardenia tree! This tree blooms everywhere in Mexico, but mainly in the parks where we stroll hand in hand every time we are there!! 
 Our pumpkin plants are sprouting like crazy!! It's so amazing to see them come to life and lean towards the sun, trying to get in as much as it can. The kids are absolutely loving the idea of a garden as it takes shape before their eyes.
Saturday, we were in the city of Chicago for National Train Day! It took place at Union Station, and we even took the train there! It was so much fun for everyone, that we still have not stopped talking about it! I love events like this, that are fun for the entire family.

I took the kids to have their pictures taken and because I matched them, the photographer insisted I get in the photo too, blahh! I hate having my photo taken, anyone else feel like that? I'm a fan of being behind the camera. 
Can someone explain to me why the coffee table ends up looking like a tornado blew through EVERY SINGLE DAY??? Oh and not at the end of the day, this is usually by noon!

I hope you all enjoyed every minute of your weekend!

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