Saturday, February 25, 2012

Recognizing Words Through Labels

Family and friends who come to our house do not ever have a hard time finding their way around the kitchen.  Yes, it is indeed because of what you see in that picture.  Our house is labeled with words of all kinds.  

I know this is not a knew idea and is in fact it is a popular one among families with new readers and those hoping to learn another language!  Peggy Kaye is one person who recommends this idea in her book Games for Reading Playful Ways to Help Your Child Read.  

When we first put up our labels, our son was just turning 4.  He definitely noticed at first but a lot of the words were more complicated than the beginner words.  For a while it seemed that he had forgotten about them completely.  They had just become lovely decor.  He has, however, begun to realize that the beginning sound of the object matches the first letter of the words. He may also be recognizing the whole word itself and the object it's paired with or that some of the letters are often next to other particular letters even if he does not know what all of these words say.  

I've also been meaning to brush up on the French I had learned at one time and then help myself learn Spanish as well. We may have words covering most of our house but if it's stimulating all of our brains I'll take it.  :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Volcano Experiment

Here is the ever popular volcano eruption experiment.  I remember doing this one as a kid.  My brother had a dinosaur birthday party and Dad asked us to make a small volcano out of clay.  It was tough working with the hard clay but we made a small one.  Next Dad surrounded our little volcano with a lot of dirt and a few twigs to make trees. We thought it looked just like a real volcano.

Here in this photo I attempted to re-create Dad's volcano.

  1. I found part of a box to build the volcano in. We used half a box that clothing is gift wrapped in.  The sides are flimsy so we taped them straight. 
  2. Here I made a small volcano with model magic.  That stuff is much easier to use than modeling clay/air dry clay.  Model magic is stretchy, soft and light weight.  
  3. The dirt in our yard did okay.  We (Zachary and I) poured dirt in the box and shaped it around our model magic volcano.  
  4. To make the volcano erupt I put baking soda in the bottom.  I was not sure how much to put but the more vinegar you pour in later, then the more baking soda you will need at the bottom. 
  5. Next I squirted the red food coloring in. The more the better.  
  6. Last is the vinegar. Once you mix it with the baking soda it's all coming up. 
  7. We erupted our volcano at our dinosaur play group. It was definitely the highlight of the day.

Lent...a Time of Improvement

As a kid I usually gave up coke for lent. That was something my mother gave up so I gave it up too. I liked it a lot and it was a big offering for me.  Back then though I did not quite get the idea of "offering" and giving up something to improve myself.  

In college I started giving up dessert every year.  That was a tough lent each time.  I have a major sweet tooth.  I did not do the Sunday exception either so I went more than 40 days without it.  It was very good for my self control but as soon as lent was over I went back to eating lots and lots of dessert.  Now looking back with my 20/20 hindsight vision I think maybe setting myself to limits for my self change during lent my have led me to better habits all year long such as dessert only on weekends or only after dinner.  

There are many people who give something up or fast as a form of prayer to God which I think can be wonderful so long as you are taking care of yourself (what I consider a very important gift!) and remaining healthy.  If you are in this category hopefully you pick something that helps you improve yourself in some way to love yourself better and to become closer to God because of it.

My category this lent is choosing a behavior to change to improve myself and create a better habit for the rest of the year.  In moments of frustration we may say something or act in a way we regret.  I know I do this.  My goal is to respond with positive behavior instead of negative behavior during moments of frustration.  I'm focusing on stopping myself, taking a deep breath, and thinking about the most successful response would be for all involved.  If I am to be an example of Christ to my family then this is something I need to work towards.  

You do not have to be any type of religious to participate in lent.  To some people it can be a time to examine themselves and find an area of improvement, come up with an attainable goal (does not have to be huge.  Set yourself up for success), and execute the plan.  

What are you doing for lent? Please share your ideas.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crayon Hearts

So the popular pinterest picture of crayon melts... it worked well for us! Zachary and Adelyn brought these for Valentines at MDO.  

This was perfect for using up the tiny broken crayons.  The most difficult part was pealing the paper off.  We used a rubber heart muffins/cupcakes mold.  We cooked ours at 280 for 10 minutes.  The top looked like the colors had just run together but when we peeled it out it looked pretty! It did not stick at all to our molds.  The directions on the pinterest page actually say to cook them at 230 for 15 minutes.  They cool in about 5-10 minutes. 

I enjoyed this myself!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bill Nye the Science Guy!

I remember browsing through the TV guide channel when I was 12 or 13 and noticing an educational science show for kids which played at the same time as some of my other afternoon favorites.  This science show was the same one we saw clips of at school during science class.  It's the one with a tall guy and silly ways to show experiments or facts.  You know who I'm talking about! It's none other than the famous Bill Nye the Science Guy! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!

Bill Nye definitely does a great job capturing the attention of the audience.  His show displays captivating images, interesting experiments, catchy sounds and a bit of humor.  All of these things together provide an enlightening and entertaining 30 minutes. 

My son loves to check out the DVDs from our local library.  A few of the DVDs we've borrowed include earthquakes, sound, oceans, and light/color.  After we check out our newest episode my husband makes a point to come home a few minutes early from work so he can sit down with Zachary to watch it. They both look forward to the show as well as their quality time together. 

Of course my 4 year old does not get all of the concepts in the show yet however the show has given him positive experiences and therefore a more positive outlook on learning about science.  There are some experiments you definitely should not try at home but there are many that are wonderful. 

To find clips of Bill Nye check:
Your local library! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pudding Paint

Pudding Paint! We got this fun idea from a friend in our Meet Up playgroup! Pudding paint brings out the artist in all of us. Kids can learn to mix colors and use their imagination for pictures or designs.  It's also a fun activity for toddlers.  Since it's edible your mind can be at ease when it comes to worrying about little fingers in mouths! My 4 1/2 year old loved it too. In fact it can also be a way for our preschoolers practicing letters.  

As far as mess, it really was not bad at all. We cut up some cheep plastic garbage bags we happen to have. It stuck to the table pretty well. Adelyn, my toddler used a bib and managed to not put her hands in her hair. 

I would love to hear about any similar ideas or how you have had fun with pudding paint!

1. Box of vanilla pudding. Follow directions.
2. When ready spoon several little globs onto white paper plates.
3. Add a drop of food coloring to each glob.
4. Have a great time painting!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The 5 Love Languages Affecting Children

A group I belong to called MOMS (ministry of mothers in service) and today we met for our monthly meeting.  Today we discussed the 5 Love Languages, a book written by Gary Chapman to help couples understand how they themselves as well as their spouse, feel loved.  We also talked about how learning about the love languages helps us understand our children.

For anyone not familiar, the love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, acts of service and physical touch.

The more I dwell on the topic, the more I realize that my son is a definite quality time little guy.  Although he plays by himself, he definitely prefers to have me play with him.  Of course little children delight when their parents play with them, however I have noticed how much his attitude and mood increases when he receives this time compared with the other love languages.

So I guess the question is, what determines the love languages we respond to best? Is it genetics or is it what we get used to growing up? Or is it a little bit of both? Although I'm not an expert, my opinion like many others is that it's both.

I don't have all the answers but what we can do is observe our children and notice how they respond to the different forms of love. We can also notice their response when they do not receive the love language they favor. Perhaps we notice a change in attitude or behavior.

A good friend Sarah pointed out that if a little child thrives on words of affirmation they could also be more affected by hurtful words.  That is a great point and maybe we have to work a little harder to teach them appropriate responses to situations of that nature. It could also be possible that the response to hurtful words has to do with how we as parents have responded to our children's negative situations or behavior (information and techniques from The Optimistic Child). It is so hard to know where behaviors and responses originate sometimes. We can get a general idea but knowing how to change it for the better is what is important.

Resources like the 5 Love Languages and The Optimistic Child I have found extremely helpful in getting to know my children and seeking to improve emotional health.

Please leave your thoughts if you have any!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Books about time

A great book that helps to explain time zones to children. It also shows a little bit of the culture in the cities shown.

A very sweet book showing the daily life of this bunny family.  Each page has a clock on it as well as a rhyming poem which explains the time and what the bunnies do during that time.

A great book that explains how time is related to the earth turning and revolving around the sun.

Teaching Tools

I love this puzzle clock for several reasons. One is because each number has a different shape which makes it easier to figure out where they go, helping the children to figure out the number placement on their own.  I like how the minute hand and hour hand are two different colors.  This made explaining and learning which one was which much easier for Zachary.  The final feature I'd like to point out is the numbers painted on the clock inside the puzzle pieces.  It has 1-12 and also 5-60 counting by 5s to assist in helping to learn the time.

Clock Craft
Teaching Time
A home made clock from  This could be a fun craft!

Peek a Boo Clock Craft
Peek-A-Boo Clocks made from paper plates
A fun and easy craft from Teacher Web

Months of the Year- Greg and Steve
Days of the Week- to the tune of Oh My Darlin or Addams Family
Measuring Time- Ron Brown
Quarters of an Hour- Ron Brown

Online Clock Teaching Tools

Online clock teachers can adjust
Stop the Clock Game
More Online Time Games